...Too much freedom wandering around loose in the streets and too many people having thoughts of their own undermine the ambitions of the state; long before the evil date of 9/11, the rapidly metastasizing national security agencies were separating the homegrown damned from the homegrown saved. The recent and even more rapid technological upgrades attest to the pathology of a government so afraid of its own citizens that it classifies them as probable enemies.At this hour, the US Senate is locked in a debate over the renewal of the PATRIOT ACT, or the retiring of it, (it's sunset clause fulfilled at midnight), May 31st, 2015.
Hydra-headed databanks target schoolchildren and the mothers of schoolchildren, church congregations, credit card members, and Facebook friends, anybody at work or at play with a tracking device sold under the label of an iPhone. An NSA device code-named COTTONMOUTH-I can remotely monitor anybody's computer; the CANDYGRAM asset is capable of setting up a telephone tripwire to mimic a cell phone tower. Tens of thousands of surveillance cameras conduct "truth maintenance" and "event prediction". If all goes well, what comes up on the screens is an American democracy as safely dead as a pheasant under glass.
--Lewis H. Lapham, LAPHAM'S QUARTERLY, Winter 2015, Volume VIII, #1
Come July, JADE HELM 2015, a three month military exercise, is due to be conducted across parts of Texas , Utah, and California; and as such, it will spread over a huge swath of land. It is seen as practice for civil unrest, --interacting with civilian population,--which is something quite unusual. Yet while it may be the butt of jokes, at the expense of those who are projecting their political agendas and ambitions onto it; there surely must be some valid reasons to inquire about its nature, its objectives. The very scale of it geographically, and the duration from July to September, is meant to teach a number of specialists what?--about confronting enraged civilians, about arresting and detaining civilians? "Mastering the human domain" is its sales pitch--whatever in the hell that means!
Well, we have enough bugs in our bonnets already without troubling ourselves unduly about our own military, rumbling around in our rural communities, trying to gauge the level of our "permissiveness", how it feels having special forces troops milling around amongst us, as they go about their business hobnobbing with crisis actors: just a big training exercise for a time when--heaven forbid--they should have to subdue, arrest, and detain civilians. But enough about that.
The question is about democracy that expires in the presence of absolute surveillance, and about the prior restraint that is placed on justice, in that repressive sort of environment.
Justice, after all, is about the treatment of persons. Justice is an ideal toward which we must strive as a community. There is a question of a competing balance of rights, as one would weigh two claims upon a scale: the right of those who are injured, against the rights of those accused of doing the injury.
One looks in vain to find justice in a surveillance state. What disappears is that side of the scale which respects the rights of the accused. The rights of the injured can be ignored too, as everyone is treated like a bug under a microscope
Surveillance information is used to ensnare people with trivial arrest records or trouble with immigration; and the FBI or other intelligence services coerce them into working as informants. Being blackmailed this way, these unlucky are sometimes put in dangerous situations. The justice that should be afforded to them is sacrificed. Sometimes they are sacrificed as patsies, so that a political trick or illusion can further beguile the public.
And so the state breaks the laws, shreds our civil rights, grinds the pawns and small fry into dust, and keeps on recording all our personal data and our conversations. The state looks over our shoulders, as technology permits, to glean what they may from our thoughts.