Sunday, June 9, 2013

Of Course None of This Is About Keeping the People "Safe"

There is no justification -- whatever -- for the universal domestic surveillance that has been going on and intensifying for more than a decade. "Protecting the people from terrorism/terrorists" is one of the often-cited justifications for extensive domestic surveillance, but given the paucity of actual terrorist plots thwarted by this surveillance (as opposed to the law-enforcement-manufactured plots "thwarted") and the designation of such participatory efforts as Occupy as "domestic terrorists," this justification doesn't wash. It's absurd on its face.

Domestic surveillance has nothing to do with thwarting terrorism against the People. It is entirely a matter of protecting the government from the People, as anyone familiar with past or present surveillance states should easily comprehend.

The US government has been barricading itself behind walls (literal walls, not just walls of secrecy) and various forms of access control and denial for most of its existence, but especially since the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. It's understandable, given the increasingly virulent animosity that "government" as a concept has inspired in radicalized segments of the population, as well as the numerous efforts in and out of government to attack or bring down whatever government is sitting.

When force protection, agency protection, and self-protection become the principal objectives of government as they did following Oklahoma City and intensified after 9/11, extensive and even universal domestic surveillance become necessities, not options.

Those who rail in OUTRAGE!!!!® against the surveillance currently going on without recognizing its source in perceived necessity, are ultimately seen as cranks. Those who accept the surveillance as necessary to protect the People, on the other hand, are complete fools. It has nothing to do with protecting the People, it has to do with protecting the government from the People, something I will probably repeat several more times in this post, simply because it seems to take many repetitions before comprehension sets in.

The necessity arises primarily from reaction to genuine threats -- such as the OKC bombing threat, the 9/11 threat (that directly targeted the Pentagon and -- apparently -- other government seats), and the many other threats to the security of government facilities and personnel that have become a constant.

Public protection, to the extent it exists at all, is an offshoot, "collateral protection" you might call it, from the primary objective of protection of the government and its sponsors from the public.

Given the tens of thousands of shooting deaths and the hundreds of thousands of shooting injuries that take place every year in this country, and the inability of elected representatives to do anything about it, I think it is pretty clear that there is little or no interest within the halls of government to "protect the People" from the daily threats they face, whether from the specter of "terrorism" or anything else.

But to change the situation something more fundamental than merely railing against government is needed. In fact, railing against government or personalizing the problem of universal surveillance by railing against particular presidents or political parties, has the effect of making the situation worse.

Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) now suggests that dragnet domestic surveillance might be better done in the private sector "the way it used to be..." What progress, eh? Let's let the our Corporate Overlords do what needs to be done...

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