Big Brother is Peeping YouOne of the scariest trends in America today is the vapid acceptance of whole-hearted chucking of civil rights. Remember civil rights? Civilian rights? Youse and mine rights? Get a load of these apples:
Recently, it was disclosed that the Department of Homeland Security had deployed an x-ray van, previously used in cargo searches at America's borders, in a test run – taking X-ray pictures of parked cars in Cape May, New Jersey. While, the DHS claimed all X-ray surveillance was conducted on empty cars with their owners' consent, one wonders how long this will last. After all, American Science & Engineering Inc, the manufacturer of the Z Backscatter Van (ZBV), notes that "it maintains the outward appearance of an ordinary van," so it can stand unnoticed and peep into cars as they drive past, or with its "unique ‘drive-by' capability [it] allows one or two operators to conduct X-ray imaging of suspect vehicles and objects while the ZBV drives past." Since we're all increasingly suspects (in our "suspect vehicles") in the Homeland Security State, it seems only a matter of time before at least some of us fall victim to a DHS X-ray drive-by.
But what happens after a DHS scan-van x-ray shows a dense white mass in your car (which could be any "organic material" from explosives or drugs to a puppy, a baby, or a head of lettuce)? Assuming that the DHS folks will be linked up with the Department of Transportation (DOT), soon they might be able to call on DOT's proposed Intelligent TransportationSystems' (ITS) Joint Program Office (JPO)'s "Vehicle-InfrastructureIntegration (VII)" system for help.
According to Bill Jones, the Technical Director of the ITS JPO, "The concept behind VII is that vehicle manufacturers will install a communications device on the vehicle starting at some future date, and equipment will be installed on the nation's transportation system to allow all vehicles to communicate with the infrastructure." In other words, the government and manufacturers will team up to track every new automobile (x-rayed or not) in America. "The whole idea," says Jones, "is that vehicles would transmit this data to the infrastructure. The infrastructure, in turn, would aggregate that data in some kind of a database."
Imagine it: The federal government tracking you in real time, while compiling a database with information on your speed, route, and destination; where you were when; how many times you went to a certain location; and just about anything else related to your travels in your own car. The DOT project, in
fact, sounds remarkably like a civilian update of the "Combat Zones That See" program developed by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Noah Shachtman, writing for the Village Voice, reported in 2003 that DARPA was in the process of instituting a project at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, whose aim was "to track 90 percent of all of cars within[a] target area for any given 30-minute period. The paths of 1 million vehicles [w]ould be stored and retrievable within three seconds." It gives a whole new meaning to "King of the Road." -- Tom Englehardt & Nick Turse, January 31, 2005
And that King of the Road, friends? Won't be you or me. I have to go on record that I like being obscure. I'm a law abiding, tax paying, honest person who likes her privacy. Part of the reason I live in a rural community is safety related, but I live outside the chaos of city life primarily because I like being alone. It's a good groove. The thought that the simple act of driving into Orlando to pick up a relative from the airport or to (yawn) take them to Disney would result in my privacy being not only violated, but saved for ongoing viewing bothers me.
Let's do the math. Precisely how many times would civil rights be violated to catch a terrorist suspect? Billions? Is that the best use of assets? Perhaps it is a wee bit darker than that. After all, one you have "permission" to gather that data, its very easy to say, "We have all this data just sitting around, we should be able to release it to other agencies for their use." Paint that bitch up as effective crime fighting, and watch the sheep populace head for the civil rights slaughter.
Concerned? Have another apple:
In the latter years of the Vietnam era, a series of exposures of official lies regarding the FBI's various COINTELPROs, a host of surveillance and dirty tricks programs aimed at American activists, and the analogous CIA program known as MHCHAOS; of domestic spying by military intelligence agents and of the Nixon administration's various Watergate surveillance and illegal break-in operations brought home to Americans at least some of the abuses committed by their military, intelligence, and security establishments. Congressional bodies like the Church Commission and the Senate Watergate Committee even helped to rein in some of the most egregious of these abuses and to reinforce the barriers between what the CIA and military could do overseas and what was permissible on the homefront.
In the 1980s and 1990s, however, oversight and constraints on illegal domestic activities by the military and intelligence community slowly began to drain away; and with the 9/11 attacks, of course, everything changed. Three years later, what was once done on the sly is increasingly public policy – and
done with pride – though much of it still flies under the mainstream media radar as the Bush administration transforms us into an unabashed Homeland Security State.
Today, freedom – to be spread abroad by force of arms – is increasingly a privilege that can be rescinded at home when anyone acts a little too free. Today, America is just another area of operations for the Pentagon; while those who say the wrong things; congregate in the wrong places; wear the wrong
t-shirts; display the wrong stickers; or just look the wrong way find themselves recast as "enemies" and put under the eye of, if not the care of, the state. -- Tom Englehardt & Nick Turse, January 31, 2005
Considering the way the Bush re-election campaign was run, with "invitation only" rallies and forcible removal of citizens of this country who attended and disagreed, I have no difficulty agreeing with this assessment.
To follow is what I consider to be a true terror list.
1) "The FBI obtained 257.5 million Passenger Name Records following 9/11, and that the Bureau has permanently incorporated the travel details of tens of millions of innocent people into its law enforcement databases."
2) Outgoing DHS chief, Tom Ridge recently called for U.S. passports to include fingerprints in the future.
3) In November 2004, California passed the "DNA Fingerprint, Unsolved Crime and Innocence Protection Act" which "allows authorities to take DNA samples from anyone – adult or juvenile – convicted of a felony" and "in 2009… will expand to allow police to collect DNA samples from any suspect arrested for any felony… whether or not the person is charged or convicted.
4) The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced plans to "use the latest in database technologies" to store information on and count the homeless which, the Electronic Privacy Information Center notes, "lay[s] the groundwork for a national homeless tracking system, placing individuals at risk of government and other privacy invasions."
5) According to a recent report in ISR Journal, "the publication of record for the global network-centric warfare community," a "high-level advisory panel recently told U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld" that the Pentagon needs ultra-high-tech tracking tools that "can identify people by unique physical characteristics – fingerprint, voice, odor, gait or even pattern of iris" and that such a system "must be merged with new means of ‘tagging' so that U.S. forces can find enemies who escape into a crowd..." -- Tom Englehardt & Nick Turse, January 31, 2005
What would our nation be like if they decided to integrate number five with any of the others? This isn't Hollywood; these are real, ongoing, quality of life changes that would impact across generations. Want this world for yourself? How about for your children? Before our lives can be turned into some kind of traceable database of material, Homeland Security planners require a critical element. The assent and support of the American people. Once given, I suspect they hope we sort of forget about it while they do their thing.
Therein lies the holy grail. They can't simply take it, we have to give and allow it to happen. Don't like what you just read? Get loud. Talk about it, stir the pot. You may take a little heat, but most of the good things liberals have made happen throughout the history of our nation got pretty hot. If freedom was uncontested, no one would be fighting for it.
Jesus went to town on the moneychangers because what they were inflicting on the community hurt it. God didn't invest humans with free will so we would chose to do nothing, nor provide us our marvelous brains so we can let others think for us.
I believe I've had my fill of this particular apple.