Friday, September 20, 2013

The Actual Surveillance State

I've been saying ever since the NSA Domestic Surveillance story broke that there is a whole vast apparatus of domestic surveillance that is much, much closer to the ground than the almost Star Trek fantasies of the NSA.

The NSA is part of the National Surveillance State, of course, but I have maintained that its surveillance of Americans is relatively less significant than the surveillance that goes on all the time by commercial interests and local, state and federal police forces. For whatever reason -- and I have my theories -- those more fundamental aspects of domestic surveillance were routinely dismissed or ignored while quite a few of those on the internet were literally ordering people to only pay attention to the story of the NSA, nothing, NOTHING else mattered.

Comes now the story of the ACLU's ongoing investigations into the breadth and depth of domestic surveillance as described in Suspicious Activity Reports filed with local, state and federal police forces by suspicious citizens and others and processed by authorities at 77 fusion centers throughout the country.

This is part of the domestic surveillance apparatus I have been railing about for months, but because there were few or no sensational media stories about it, people had a hard time focusing on it. It was much easier to focus on the NSA -- because it was a sensational story, even though it is a story that serves to mask just how deep and pervasive domestic surveillance is and long has been.

And this is still only a part of the surveillance apparatus in place and affecting all of us all the time. There's much, much more to it.

I maintain that the NSA should not be the focus of concern about domestic surveillance largely because its contribution to the domestic surveillance apparat is relatively minor compared to the daily surveillance by government and private agencies we're all under all the time, and due to which some communities and individuals face terrible and too frequently arbitrary consequences.

This is the reality of domestic surveillance that the obsessive focus on the NSA story has all but completely obscured.

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