So, the feds are collecting phone records of millions of Americans under a secret court order, and monitoring our email. Why would anyone be surprised?
Under President Obama and his minions, the public’s privacy has been trampled, and reporting the news has been threatened to be considered a criminal activity. But whoa! Now it’s not just phone records from the Associated Press that have been ruthlessly grabbed by Eric Holder’s Chicago-style Justice Department, it’s all 121 million customers of Verizon, and presumably all the nation’s other phone companies, plus our major online entities as well, caught in a web spun by the National Security Agency under the post-9-11 Patriot Act.
In a story broken by reporters for the Guardian newspaper (some irony there), it was revealed that the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ordered Verizon to turn over — every day — to the NSA information on all land line and mobile phone calls in its system. Then came more “revelations” about Internet and email monitoring.
The administration claims the data and the scrutiny are needed for national security purposes.
There’s a blip of outrage, with even Democrats such as former Vice President Al Gore and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon raising issues. Gore tweeted, “Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?” Senate leaders, however, acknowledged that the phone-records program has been going on since 2007, and other little-known invasions of privacy have a longer history.
In reality, this amped-up, intrusive electronic snooping was begun under former President George W. Bush with screening of email and phone calls. In this specific reported instance involving Verizon, the information being gathered includes location data, the time and length of each phone call and any pertinent unique identifiers, such as the phone numbers of the calling and answering parties.
The fact of the matter is that Americans no longer enjoy any expectation of privacy. Unfortunately, our fate seems to resemble the story of the frog that was placed in a pot of room-temperature water on a stove. Gradually the heat was turned up and the frog boiled; if it had been tossed into a pot of boiling water it would have tried to jump free. We’re beyond the jumping-free point. We’re being boiled in invasive surveillance, from local offices, stores and businesses to the top levels of government, all supposedly for our own good.
And, oh, that piece of paper, that foundational thing — whatchamacallit? — the Constitution. Might as well be in the garbage can. We have met the enemy, as Pogo said.