Michael Battalio


Friday, February 20, 2015

My Politics (part 4): Government Surveillance

This series deals with some of my stances on political affairs and topics of the day. I am quite liberal on some issues, but more conservative with others. I self identify as an independent, but I definitely lean left. I begin brief discussion on government surveillance here.

        With all the hubbub recently over the PRISM program, I suppose this should be one of the first topics I come to. Allow me to start off with just opinion. I am terrified by what has been revealed by Snowden as to the extent of the spying. In other places I’ve made the point that, admittedly, only a naive person would think that the government wouldn’t suck up every piece of info it could off the internet, but only a cynic would know that the government would just lie to us about it.  And I really don’t want to be a cynic, but it seems I have little choice in the matter. I am very scared of what government spying on its own citizens means. I would much rather be a bit less “safe” and have my privacy guaranteed.
        Spying is a terrible invasion of privacy, and frankly, I don’t understand why there hasn’t been more public outrage because of it. Whether or not you believe that government observation can serve a useful purpose, Snowden revealed that what the NSA was doing was illegal at the time. They twisted a law allowing the FBI to monitor external threats (FISA 1978) into allowing them to monitor all threats. They used the letter of the law to subvert the spirit of the law.
        I mostly have a problem with their blatant disregard of the law, not that they were surveying. Not only that but just before the Snowden revelations,
James Clapper specifically told Congress that they weren’t doing it. He lied to everyone and has suffered no consequences. And he has had the audacity to condemn Snowden for letting the truth out. I would condemn Mr. Clapper and demand an apology of his egregious lies to Congress and the American people and further demand his resignation and that a grand jury looks into his perjury. That would make me feel better, but that isn’t going to happen. I certainly don’t trust him, since he quite obviously has no problem lying, and as he is in charge of the program, I don’t trust the program.
        I think that the reason that most distrust the government is because of the corrupting influence that all that information would have. The
NSA has already been shown to be unable to follow their own rules. (We wouldn’t know about the violations in the previous article without Snowden.) That corrupting influence occurs because fallible people are in charge; they are the weak links in the machine. Suppose one NSA contractor has a vendetta again someone; with very little effort they could find information that could be used as blackmail against that person. So, for me it isn’t that I only distrust the government. I don’t trust the people working for the government even more. At the moment they are the real danger.

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