In his July 12 letter, Steven Salamon spoke about the need to have a national conversation regarding appropriate limits to government intrusion into the privacy of citizens and their communications. More than once, Mr. Salamon seemed to suggest it was no big deal.
Salamon said we’ve already given up much of our privacy to corporate America for the sake of convenience on the Internet and our cellphones. To that, I would ask: When did Americans vote to give control over the Internet to corporate America? Whatever has been taken from us was done without duly constituted oversight. By that, I mean the traditional necessity to obtain a warrant from a court to record information on American citizens’ communications. Much like our interstate highway system, the information superhighway cannot serve the public interest if it is governed as a series of private toll roads subject to the whims of corporate owners.
Regarding the collection of this information, Salamon suggested since presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have both done it, then it should somehow be more acceptable. That’s the classic “everybody does it” argument parents hear from children too young to appreciate the wisdom of their rules. There is wisdom in maintaining strong limits to check government power over citizens’ rights.
Is the ambiguous promise of security so precious that we should give up our liberties and freedom from unreasonable searches and government intrusion into our private lives? And convenience? Should we just lie down and let the government and corporate establishment (fast becoming one and the same) have their way because it is convenient? For whom?
I have an opinion regarding how the Revolutionary War would have gone if this line of thinking had prevailed in the era leading up to 1776. The British Authority would certainly have stopped Paul Revere if they had advance knowledge of his intent to warn American colonists. In short order, Revere and the founding fathers would have been rounded up and hanged. It would be a convenient solution to abort real democracy and maintain corporate tyranny.
The Boston Tea Party was perpetrated primarily against corporate property and corporate authority to limit and control the freedoms of colonists. When we rebelled, the king’s army was sent to protect those corporate interests over the freedom of colonists.
Now the arms of our own government, the CIA and NSA, are on a mission to protect what, in my opinion, is primarily an interest of the corporate establishment. In light of this, what sort of future will we leave our children if we allow America to continue down this slippery slope? Will it be the world we want them to live in?
Salamon asks, is this really all that onerous, given the shape of the world today socially, politically, strategically, technologically, etc.? Yes, it is. We are free today only because Paul Revere and the founding fathers had an ability to speak and communicate with each other in private. We must remember that.