Update: The surveillance society that Americans chose to live in

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

There has been quite a bit of discussion today about a New York Times editorial in which the editors declare "The administration has now lost all credibility" as a result of the NSA data mining program(s). President Obama’s Dragnet.

I would point out that the New York Times lost all credibility on this subject years ago when it withheld publication of a report on the Bush-Cheney administration's unconstitutional and illegal Terrorist Surveillance Program for over a year until 2005 — after the presidential election had passed — when this report might have affected the outcome of the 2004 election.

And Judith Miller, the Times reporter who peddled the bogus weapons of mass destruction to justify the unnecessary and illegal war in Iraq, and who went to jail for her role in the outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA covert operative.

That's pretty much "hello pot, meet kettle." The Times is in no position to judge anyone's credibility.

I prefer Charles Pierce's take on this topic at Esquire, President Obama's War:

To his credit, the president mounted his defense
of the NSA's data-vacuuming programs on the simple historical fact that
this has been going on since we all started hiding under the bed on
September 12, 2001. Unfortunately, that was the only completely
convincing part of his presentation.

Obama spoke at length about the need to find a proper
balance between national security prerogatives and civil liberties.
"You can't have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent
privacy and zero inconvenience," Obama said. "We're going to have to
make some choices as a society."

You can argue — and I have — that we all tacitly consented to this
kind of thing when we allowed our legislators to pass the Patriot Act
without facing any substantial pushback at the polls, and that we all
continued to consent to it by not making it a bigger issue in our
politics than we have. But on a lot of the operational details, we
didn't make any choices as a society at all. They were made for us by
faceless bureaucrats, and in secret. We made one large global choice —
to get scared out of our Bill Of Rights 12 years ago — but as for all
the other "choices," they were not ours.

* * * *

Listen very closely, Mr. President, because I voted for you twice
and, given the alternatives, I would do so again. OK? Here it is. I…don't…believe…you.

There are 20,000 people working at the NSA. I do not believe they are
all holding to the letter of the law. Nor do I think they are all being
held to the letter of the law by their supervisors. And I think you
were awfully damn glib about why I should believe you, because all of us
out here now live in a world where anonymity, once a right, is now an
anachronism . . .

* * *

(Once again, I am old enough to remember when FISA itself was
the primary offense against the Constitution. Now, it's the last
bastion against government overreach. It's a strange, strange world we
live in, Master Jack.)

When the president talks about "oversight" in this context, it is to
laugh. Most members of Congress were more than willing to hand this all
over to the Executive because it's easier than actually exercising their
constitutional functions — Same thing with war powers in general —
and the ones that aren't discover that they can't exercise true
oversight because most of what need for the oversight function is,
itself, secret. Sooner or later, the snake eats his own tail, and there
is no reason to believe any president in this area again. Ever.

And that's just the government. What about corporations who are not constrained by the Constitution? Every time you use a credit card, bank card, shopper discount card, use the Internet (where advertising cookies, spy ware and malware are prevalent), make a phone call or use social media, corporations are compiling a detailed profile of you — and then sell that profile to other corporations. The government is only able to access this information because corporations are already doing this on a commercial basis without constitutional restraints.

I don't hear anybody complaining about the collection of this data by corporations for a commercial purpose. This should be part of any discussion of privacy rights in the digital age.

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