If he were President right now, Richard Nixon would absolutely adore today’s National Security Agency. Nixon would be able to snoop, shadow and spy at will. He could read your e-mail; see what you’ve googled; check out your browsing history; find out whom you called, who called you, when you spoke and for how long; and know where you are at every moment, because of that GPS chip in your phone.
And he wouldn’t have to offer that lame, barefaced excuse that there was a Communist hiding under your bed. No, all he’d have to say is that there is a terrorist hiding under your bed.
(Maybe you need a bed that’s closer to the floor. But then you’d have to watch out for the rats.)
When I was a kid, I sure didn’t trust Tricky Dick. But as I grew up, I realized that the problem went well beyond The Trickmeister. He was simply exploiting spytech to its fullest. I learned that President Eisenhower had spied on Eleanor Roosevelt, that J. Edgar Hoover had recorded Martin Luther King Jr.’s private conversations, and that Lyndon Johnson had enlisted the FBI’s assistance during his 1964 campaign. For almost a century, the federal government has used surveillance to keep tabs on civil rights, environmentalist, and antiwar activism. Spying on us: it’s the one thing that Republicans and Democrats seem to agree on. It’s bipartisan. It’s as American as apple spy.
That’s one reason why the revelations over the past few days of near-universal government surveillance are so disturbing. Microsoft, Google, Apple – they’re all in on it. Former NSA official William Binney has said that we are “on a slippery slope to a totalitarian state.” I don’t know what’s worse: that I’m not sure he’s right, or that I’m not sure he’s wrong.
Fortunately, I’m a Member of Congress, so I can do something about it. And you are likely an American citizen and voter, which means that you can help.
I’m introducing a bill that I call the “Mind Your Own Business Act”. This bill prohibits our government from spying on us, or collecting data on us, unless there’s probable cause that you have committed or you will commit an act of terrorism or similar criminal offense.
I submitted this provision as an amendment to the House Rules Committee today. I am attempting to attach it to the National Defense Authorization Act, which will come up for a vote in the House later this week. Sign your name here to show your support for the Mind Your Own Business Act:
You’d have to be nuts to think that it’s necessary to inquire into the personal web browsing habits, telephone calls and physical location of 320 million Americans in order to keep us safe. What’s next – are we going to try to prevent hijackings by all flying naked?
Are we going to ban forks and knives? And if so, then how will we eat spaghetti?
Mass indiscriminate surveillance is a necessary ingredient in tyranny. It’s also an utterly inefficient means to protect us. Osama Bin Laden routinely sent e-mails for years, completely evading the NSA. Here’s how he did it (pay attention, would-be terrorists): He wrote up e-mails, saved them on a $10 thumb drive, and had some lackey send them from a web cafe in Pakistan. Maybe the reason why the NSA couldn’t find Osama Bin Laden’s e-mails was that they were too busy spying on everyone else in the world. They’re the gang that couldn’t snoop straight.
Ben Franklin said that “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Leaving aside those quirky initial caps, I agree wholeheartedly.
We didn’t give up our constitutional rights 150 years ago, when 1,000,000 heavily armed soldiers rose up in rebellion. Those rebs had cannon, the nuclear weapon of the 19th century. Why should we give up our constitutional rights when a small number of barely armed men on the other side of the world, garbed in sheets, try to threaten us?
We have preserved our freedom and our rights for the past half-century, with over 10,000 nuclear warheads pointed right at us – enough to kill all of us even if we were like cats, and had nine lives. Why should we forsake our freedom and our rights now?
This is not North Korea. This is not Maoist China. This is not East Germany. This is the United States of America. If we put the word “Freedom” on our stamps, then we should put it in our lives, too.
For God’s sake, we are not cattle. We Are Human Beings!
You’re innocent until you’re proven guilty, and therefore you ought to be un-snooped until you do something wrong. Let’s force the NSA to stop snooping — join me:
Rep. Alan Grayson
“Everybody knows the scene is dead.
There’s gonna be a meter on your bed.
That will disclose
What everybody knows.”
-Leonard Cohen, “Everybody Knows” (1988).
P.S. Please, please, please forward this to your friends, and urge them to sign the petition.