- The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life.
I knew our privacy had been shot all to hell once the Patriot Act was signed into law. For years now, I’ve simply assumed the federal government was spying on our email and monitoring our phone calls. Why wouldn’t I? They said they were going to do it and we said “fine.” Many of us might have been more than a little uncomfortable with the move, but there was no political uprising against it sufficient to push the cowards in Congress to take action in defense of our declining individual liberties. Consequently, we gave away another big chunk of our right to privacy in exchange for the promise that the federal government would keep us safe from the lingering Al Qaeda threat. It was what it was. Right or wrong, we decided to go with it. However, this most recent revelation regarding millions of Americans phone calls being monitored is too much. The fact that so many Americans are less than outraged, means we have now officially crossed over into Orwellian madness.
It’s a truism. Throw a big enough scare into the masses and they’ll let you do almost anything. And so they did.
Forget the First Amendment, the government is monitoring the phone messages of our formerly free press. Forget the Fourth Amendment, the government can break down your door and ransack your house if some bureaucrat tapping your phone line thinks you represent a threat to our national security. Remember the old “national security” chestnut? Remember how Nixon was pilloried for using it to defend his every move, legal or illegal? Well, now it’s not just the White House. Now it appears the entire federal government is using it. All three branches, the President, the Congress and the Judiciary, are going along with our new and more than ever liberty-reduced society according to Mr. Obama, giving them cover to twist the law so that they can send out military goon squads to kidnap any American they believe to be a threat on or off U.S. soil without a declaration of martial law. It provides cover for politicians to order the military to take you away to a detention center with no legal representation and no court hearing where you will be held indefinitely while your family and friends wonder whether you were snatched by space aliens because surely our own government would never do such a thing. So much for due process provided by the Fourteenth Amendment. Forget it. It was apparently…inconvenient? So they threw it out? But what happened to the police, the FBI and the courts? When did the United States Government, become one massive black op?
And then there are the drones. Our President, is committing continuing acts of war against foreign nations with no declaration of war from the Congress. In our names. While we cower at home allowing our federal government to annihilate our civil liberties – to undermine the very principles that give America its foundation.
It’s the Statue of Liberty out there in New York Harbor, not the “Statue of Conditional Liberty,” contingent upon our level of fear at any given moment. Think about it the next time you write an email, post something on Facebook, or hear a click at the other end of the telephone line. These people, these public servants, should be doing all they can to preserve our individual liberties, our freedoms, as American citizens. They are in fact, bound by law to do all they can. They swore an oath to that very effect. Instead of living up to their oaths of office, our liberties are being erased by these very same “public servants” in the name of a little temporary safety. Which, by the way, is an illusion. There is no way any government can guarantee our safety, with or without our phones being tapped on a daily basis, but it makes it a whole lot easier for federal overseers to keep an eye on us without the pesky necessity of being forced to show cause and getting a court order. What’s next? Federal “handlers” for all Americans? All in the name of national security?
Have members of the House and Senate gone completely brain dead? Have they read the Constitution, the document they took an oath to defend? Why do they think, those that can, that this document contains definitive protections for our civil liberties? Protections against the very oppressive government behaviors they are now sanctioning?
President Obama, may have the very best of intentions. He may see this as our new world reality, the only way to confront an international criminal conspiracy. That may be his view. But what about the next man or woman to take the office? Will they be willing to not use all that personal information the feds are collecting on a daily basis to deny rather than support our individual freedoms? Will it be used to control us? To deny us our self-determination?
I love Mr. Obama’s statement, “You can’t have 100 percent security and then have 100 percent privacy — and zero inconvenience. We’re going to have to make some choices as a society.” He’s so very right. And you know what? I never expected 100 percent security or zero inconvenience and I am not comfortable with the choices that are being made on my behalf, nor do I recall anybody asking the American people if they would be willing to set aside the Constitution.
I had such high hopes for Barack Obama. My only consolation is that I have absolutely no doubt we’d be even worse off with the other side in power.
Freedom must be defended, both on the battlefield, and politically at home. Perhaps we no longer have the collective will to stage such a defense. Perhaps we no longer deserve it.