I am befuddled by all the faux outrage in the online media bout the National Security Agency spying on us via our internet behavior and telephone calls.  Should we really be surprised by any of this?  After all, this sort of panopticonic staring by self-anointed government elites is nothing new.

Let’s take a quick Boles Blogs trip back through time to examine our intrepid reporting on this matter of the NSA spying on us.  We begin on June 30, 2006 — You are an Electronic Jigsaw Puzzle:

It’s horrifyingly fascinating how this government effort to connect all our dots appears to be orchestrated in pieces using separate private companies to deter detection of a non-severed surreptitious intent — banks for banking records; conservative ownership of personal web portals for access to MySpace data; internet providers who reply upon government regulation to stay in business are required to help monitor and analyze internet traffic patterns and process email keyword triggers — leads the cogent among us to question who we really are and if we actually own a right to any sort of privacy whatsoever.

December 3, 2008 — Microsoft and the NSA and the Texas Cryptology Center:

I had no idea Microsoft worked so closely with the NSA to parse our email. We’re in for a reckoning as a total lack of privacy — in public or at home — is the new standard for ordinary behavior in America.

December 18, 2008 — Will Obama Watch the NSA?

Is the NSA returning us to the days of British soldiers stopping us in the streets and reporting our behavior for punishment?

Should an American government agency ever spy on its own citizens?  Is there any irony in knowing we pay taxes so that money can be turned around against us in a Panopticonic gaze?

Do we have any right to privacy under the Constitution or is that terrorism’s biggest win against us:  Less freedom, less choice and more punishable wants out of the public eye?

July 7, 2009 — The NSA and You: Guilty, but Uncharged:

When the government fails its sworn duty to protect its citizens from unwarranted incarceration by Panopticonic watching — every freedom and ideal is shot down the sewer as a once great nation bends and then breaks under the paranoid eye in the curdling possibility of the next terrorist strike.

The current NSA spy policy blanketing us — smothering us — is proof enough the terrorists have already won.

Our government lives in fear of the unknown and of the unhappened while dreamily — even wistfully — reflecting back on that day when the towers fell in order to perpetuate and excuse their imprisonment of our most delicate and fragile freedoms.

While I am delighted that we have sounded the alarm against the NSA since 2006, I am bemused by the current reaction of the populace to this “new” NSA scandal of watching us — because they’ve always been watching us and they will continue to watch us at will.

It’s too easy to just say, “Live a right life, and you won’t be in any trouble,” because we’ve all tumbled down the path of good intentions being paved in fire and glass shards.  It really isn’t enough any longer to just “behave” and all will go well.

You need to start thinking about hiding a little bit more of who you are in the wild essences to take more of your personal blips off the national surveillance radar.  You can’t totally disappear because that, in itself, will now raise red lights against you, but quieting your stream a little bit over there, and a little more over yonder, might begin to baffle your volume in the new echo chamber Panopticon that are these United States.

12 Comments

    1. Obama also said he’d close Gitmo and hasn’t:

      President Obama called today for a renewed effort to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. But back in 2009, the White House dropped the ball on closing the controversial military prison by failing to come up with a plan in time, refusing to help House Democrats who were fighting for its closure, and then abandoning the plan altogether and blaming Republicans.

      http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/05/23/how-obama-bungled-the-guantanamo-closing.html

      Again, as I said in the article, none of this is new, and government promises mean nothing.

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  1. No there is nothing new about how much our governments watch us – all in the name of security and this is the kind of animal that cannot be stopped once it has started. It will be added to , the picture will be made more complete as they add in health records, school records , the weekly shop etc etc – not only for security, but possibly for insurance and also in the future health – you will go to buy pizza and be refused as you are overweight – you will be refused alcohol and cigarettes as you have a health condition and anything more than three handbags will attract more tax !

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    1. Spot on!

      Right now cash is king — you can buy and hide — so how much longer will cold hard paper money and coins be available? I’m sure our governments want us wholly on the charge and credit card because it makes it so much easier to track every single want, desire, peccadillo and want we have… they are our new national identification cards. You pay for what you want and need and you spend on those you love and covet.

      Obamacare rings in the electronic prescription and zero-paper health records — all in the name of “saving trees.” They’re already weighing us with every visit medical — even for psychiatry — and you cannot refuse, or they will refuse you service… and likely mark that refusal fact on your electronic record!

      It is simple now to create your shadow twin — a perfect match and copy of you in every way — and they wouldn’t even need your body, or your fingerprints, any longer to make a whole new you… for their use, not yours. You would now be in at least two places at the same time.

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  2. UPDATE:

    This just posed on Mother Jones:

    Obama voted for the 2008 FISA amendments, a position that outraged liberals at the time. He continued the Bush-era surveillance of communications networks. He ramped up the war in Afghanistan. He vastly increased drone use overseas. He’s declared a war on leakers. He participated in the assault on Libya. He’s approved the assasination of American citizens abroad. His DOJ has aggressively made use of the state secrets privilege. He’s fought relentlessly to block lawsuits challenging privacy violations and presidential abuses.

    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/06/obama-bad-civil-liberties-shouldnt-surprise-anyone

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  3. Paranoia has driven us into a 1984-esque mindset and it will only get worse as time goes on. You made a good point with the casual, constant tracks that we leave behind via credit cards, insurance, etc. It’s so vital for everyday life that I don’t know how we could stop (except for people who are flush with cash and I’m definitely not in that category).

    I’m glad that a lot of people are now aware and outraged about this, but I wonder if the publicity will do any good. Even if we do put up a fight or make new privacy laws, couldn’t and wouldn’t it most likely just continue behind closed doors? It’s a defeatist attitude to have but I don’t think there’s any way to actually stop it– just ways to remove yourself from it, like you suggested.

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    1. Emily —

      The only people who are safe now are those who have never been “on the grid” and never owned a bank account or a credit card. There is now power in that non-identity, but it would be extremely hard to “rejoin” society without some sort of electronic breadcrumbs trailing you or you will immediately get redlined.

      People your age are already cooked. You’ve been been watched and quantified and recorded since you were born. There’s no way out.

      What would happen to all the data they’ve been collecting on us over the years if this process were suddenly outlawed? Would all that information be deleted or retained? I think we all know what they know about us isn’t going anywhere they don’t want it to go…

      The NYTimes just posted an article that there’s national resignation:

      “I don’t mean to be cynical, but this is nothing new,” Mr. Talley said. “If people think the government hasn’t been monitoring whatever they want to, whenever they want to they are sorely mistaken.”

      At the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago, Cedric Hudson, 55, an unemployed machine technician who described himself as a Democrat proud to be from Mr. Obama’s home-state, said he was resigned to these kinds of governmental intrusions.

      “It doesn’t bother me because the government is going to do what they’re going to do regardless of what anyone thinks,” he said. “There’s nothing we can do about it.”

      In Atlanta, Mike Brooks, 65, a construction worker, said he lived his life assuming that he was being watched. “Anything and everything you say — they could be privy: That’s what I assume,” he said. “If you’re dumb enough to put this online, then it’s your stupidity.”

      And Molly Flores, 28, a fashion designer walking in Midtown Manhattan said she was neither surprised nor concerned by the surveillance.

      “Personally, I have nothing to hide, so it’s not really affecting me,” she said. ” It’s not like they’re invading my privacy. I worry about New York because it’s such a target.”

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      1. Yes, exactly! They’ve already collected a ton of data about us and they’re not just going to delete it because we ask them nicely. Resignation is the reaction of most people, including me.

        Molly Flores basically sums up how I feel– and she’s not that much older than me, so that’s probably not a coincidence. We were born into it, especially me, and are sort of used to it. I’m not even an interesting person and I assume I’m still have precautionary tabs kept on me!

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        1. Yes, we’re all stuck! The fact that they now want our weight is a new metric. Our height rarely changes, so once they have that number they have us in adulthood — but weight can fluctuate like crazy for some people — so having our weight “re-evaluated” and remarked down with every medical visit is an important identification portrait for them. All of our doctors now scan our insurance card and also take a photo of us — to prevent medical fraud — uhm…. riiiiight… so our MDs now have our mug shots, height, weight… quite a lovely new arm of the NSA, eh? Some doctors even want palm scans!

          http://hamptonroads.com/2013/01/palm-scanning-meant-add-security-patients

          http://gcn.com/articles/2011/06/20/nyu-hospital-biometric-palm-scanner-patient-id.aspx

          Yes, you’re born into it — and under it and inside it! SMILE!

          Oh, you’re interesting alright… you’re now a part of the subversive, anarchic, Boles Blogs… now and forever! GRIN!

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