NSA Spying On Americans: We Are The Reason It Will Continue

There’s a simple reason the National Security Agency’s (NSA) data mining of phone records and internet content/traffic will continue unabated — This is how Americans now expect their government to behave. We want to be protected, and so many of us have made peace with it. As long as it’s out of sight, out of mind, there’s no civil liberty concerns.

Enemy of the State - Will Smith

There are any number of concocted justifications, and maybe some are sound from a logic perspective, but just because you can make a convincing argument for the need to erode civil liberties, it doesn’t automatically justify the act of doing so.

The Wall Street Journal (“Thank You for Data-Mining”) — The effectiveness of data-mining is proportional to the size of the sample, so the NSA must sweep broadly to learn what is normal and refine the deviations. A nongovernment analogue might be the credit card flags that freeze payment when, say, a New Yorker goes on a shopping spree in Phoenix. The Washington Post also revealed Thursday that NSA has a parallel metadata program for Internet address packets called Blarney.

If the NSA’s version of a computer science department operates like the rest of FISA, the government is cautious to ensure that its searches are narrowly tailored and specific protocols are reviewed by FISA judges. Mike Rogers, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Thursday that the program had helped disrupt a major domestic terror attack in recent years.

So one such argument is that this kind of data mining has already thwarted terrorist attacks. I know for most Americans that’s probably a good enough reason, but is it really? You will never hear a politician ask that question, at least not one holding or seeking office.

And another argument is that the NSA, to fine tune their algorithms, requires a stockpile of data. Without seeing all possibilities, they will be unable to refine their targeting.

Both of these arguments are reasonable, they might even be logical, but that doesn’t make it right. You could make a reasonable and/or logical argument to profile a particular race because of a particular crime, but again, that doesn’t make it right.

But as I said, most Americans are fine with this. They’ve watched movies like Enemy of the State, and so they already believe government has done this kind of data mining for decades. For most Americans, as long as the state security apparatus violates our privacy in a cloak of secrecy instead of rolling through our front door, all is good. It’s the price required to keep us safe.

In fact, we might not even know how to react if the police state and/or military-industry complex stopped doing what they are so good at…

Why did they stop lying? My government has always lied to me. I’m comfortable with that. Son of a bitch!

– Comedian Lewis Black

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