The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the importance of privacy in a free society. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States guarantees privacy for Americans: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
As I hear and/or read about the various ways our federal government is spying on us, I think of the books (Red Horizons: Chronicles of A Communist Spy Chief and Programmed To Kill) written by Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa, the former chief of the DIE (the Romanian equivalent of the CIA or the KGB). General Pacepa worked very closely with the Communist regime of Romania’s President Nicolae Ceausescu. He is one of the highest ranking officials of the Soviet bloc countries to ever defect, and his defection to America caused the entire DIE operation to collapse. General Pacepa received a new name and identity before he arrived in America because Romania continues in their attempts to locate and destroy him.
I reviewed in Red Horizons more than two years ago. “Red Horizons describes how Romania maintains an unbelievable, worldwide, network of spies and `agents of influence.’ These spies and agents range from ambassadors to archbishops in America, and they hold positions in our government. It also details the surveillance under which every citizen in Romania is subjected to and how the most private conversations and intimate acts are recorded and revealed to government leaders. I was shocked to read that every building in the nation is bugged and monitored. All the property in Romania is owned by the government and nearly all rooms are bugged. Public buildings are also bugged. Centerpieces in restaurants hold microphones so that the government can listen in on conversations. In an effort to control Romanian citizens, the government wants to know what every person in the country thinks, says and does. In order to completely control Romanians, Ceausescu ordered handwriting samples from the entire population (including children), licensing of typewriters, and the decree that every Romanian family have four children…. Ceausescu was able to control his citizens because he knew everything that was happening. If anyone got too far out of line, they would simply disappear.”
I encourage you to read Red Horizons in order to better understand how a rogue government can completely destroy the privacy of its citizens. I do not want to live in a nation where the government has all citizens under surveillance, and yet I fear we are heading in that direction. Edward Snowdenrecently released classified documents from the National Security Agency (NSA) exposing the government’s systematic surveillance of innocent citizens.
Rush Limbaugh quoted Herbert Meyer who was in the national security apparatus during the Reagan Administration: “Herbert Meyer, if I may quote him again, asserted that essentially what’s taking place in the United States right now is a coup, not a violent coup, and not a million artistic coup, but nevertheless a takeover of a government, and it’s being done by the Obama Administration.
“He referred to it as a coup. I don’t know if he used the word `peaceful,’ but clearly there’s a coup d’état going. You know it and I know it. This is what animates us. This is why the Tea Party exists. This country was founded on certain concepts, principles, beliefs – and they’re under assault. Chief among them under assault is the right to privacy, and that’s what all this is about. So in the midst of this coup d’état….
“There are people attempting to take over this country and to make it something that it wasn’t founded as; turn it into something that it wasn’t intended to be. That is happening. You know it and I know it. It’s peaceful, nonviolent. The military isn’t involved. But nevertheless it’s a coup. So in the context of that and the realization that’s happening, in the midst of learning that the National Security Agency is literally `Hoovering,’ vacuuming every telephone record they can, what do we hear?
“`Nothing to see here…. Calm down! Slow down…. This is nothing to get concerned about. There’s nothing illegal here. The Fourth Amendment’s not being violated or breached. This is nothing whatsoever to get concerned about.’
“The basic tenet of this story is that somebody in the intelligence community – NSA, somewhere – is so concerned over what he’s seeing take place that he went to the Washington Post and took with him a little PowerPoint slide presentation and gave it to the Post and their reporters, and they wrote a story up and put it on their website. The story is that practically every major tech group and company in this country is participating with the government in allowing the government access to their servers.
“E-mails, texts, phone calls, photographs. Virtually any communication that’s taking place via the Apple servers, the Microsoft servers, the Google servers, the NSA is able to look at in real time. This is the story now. The guy that went to the Washington Post said, `It was so scary. They can watch us as we type.’ The Washington Post published some of the PowerPoint slides. I’m reading this after being told that the Verizon thing is no big deal. `It’s nothing to get concerned about.’
“`Nothing to see here. Don’t get too worried about that. Don’t go off half-cocked!’ Here comes the Prism story, and then shortly after the Prism story hits, all of these tech firms start denying it. Apple says, `I never heard of Prism. We don’t know what this is about. We never let anybody have access to our servers without a warrant, without a court order. We never!’ Google said the same thing. Microsoft said the same thing. Facebook said the same thing.
“They’re all out there denying it. So I thought, `Did the Washington Post get set up?’ I’m asking myself, `Did they get set up by somebody walking in and telling them something that wasn’t true?’ But then I saw that Prism was reported someplace else by this Glenn Greenwald guy at the UK Guardian. So there were two sources for the Prism story, but the tech firms involved continue to deny it. `Nope, couit’s not happening.’ …
“There was a time when the United States government earned the trust of its people. There was a time when most people believed that the United States government was protecting them. There was a time when most people believed that the United States government was spying on the bad guys, that the United States government was in fact earning the trust of the people. But this current data collection, scanning, whatever you want to call it, unfortunately has to be judged in context: the IRS leaks, the now unquestionable, undeniable, admitted-to-it IRS tactic of suppressing the vote of Tea Party conservatives, denying them their First Amendment rights.
“The regime and its tricks with the Associated Press and Fox reporter James Rosen, the Benghazi cover-ups, the Fast and Furious operation, suing the state of Arizona for simply endorsing essentially federal immigration law. You can’t just try to be the smartest guy in the room and say, `Well, we must be levelheaded about this and understand that this is just metadata.’ We cannot take the motives and intelligence guided by experience watching this administration over the last four-and-a-half, five years, and what their express purpose is.”