Krugman at 4 AM — Hey, They’re Orwelling My Privates!

March 28, 2011

As these modern times gets more complicated, the ability of government to stare way-down into your bowels to catch a terrorist turd has come a long way, baby, and the future of freedom doesn’t appear too inconspicuous, either.

In fact, any private aspect of our daily lives is open to be scrutinized, filmed, recorded and posted on some government watch list just in case there’s a need, any need at all.
And the shit part is that you don’t have to be a terrorist, a criminal, or even a bad person who kicks puppies, or slaps little babies hard in the face — you just have say or do something the powers-that-be, or in our particular case nowadays, the right-wing hard-cases, do not like or agree with and whim-wham, thank-you ma’am, you’re under surveillance.

(Illustration found here via Google Images).

A case in point is from the illustration link above (Wired magazine) which details a situation reported from September 2007 where a co-founder of the AIDS Housing Network is placed under an unknown government observation routine.
As if:

Flynn is a co-founder of the AIDS Housing Network.
One day before an AHN rally, she went to New Jersey to visit her parents.
She noticed a car with New York plates parked outside their house.
When she drove home to Brooklyn that night, the car followed her — and was joined by two others.
She did all the detective story check-your-tail maneuvers: making random turns, changing lanes, parking. They continued to follow.

And when Men-In-Black like cars followed her home, two other vehicles were already there with occupants watching laptops — even at 4 a.m. the assholes were still there.
Despite a personal investigation, Flynn could not discover the IDs of the culprits.

Since her experience, Flynn has continued to organize, though she says she’s not so enthusiastic before, and has seen other activists pull back.
Was she really followed?
We might never find out.
But when we hear stories about political activists losing their civil liberties, we shouldn’t assume that they’re potentially violent folks bent on smashing Starbucks and the capitalist state.
They might just want a cure for AIDS.

One sad, fearful tale.
Similar to this story reported in early March: An Egyptian-American college student who says he has never done anything that should attract the interest of federal law enforcement officials filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the FBI for secretly putting a GPS tracking device on his car.
And, of course, the FBI replied that they were just following “well-established Department of Justice and FBI guidelines,” which should tell you everything.

And to unsettle one’s self, there’s the government’s use of biometric technology, which in its actual defintion is freakin’ frightful — The word “biometrics” is derived from the Greek words ‘bios’ and ‘metric’ ; which means life and measurement respectively. This directly translates into “life measurement.”
No shit, Sherlock.
From Raw Story:

A recent announcement by the Federal Bureau of Investigations detailing plans to embark on a $1 billion biometrics project and construct an advanced biometrics facility to be shared with the Pentagon has the American Civil Liberties Union on red alert.

The FBI’s forthcoming biometrics center will be based on a system constructed by defense contractor Lockheed Martin, and part of that system is already operating today in Clarksburg, West Virginia.
Starting with fingerprints, and creating a global law enforcement database for the sharing of those biometric images, the system is slated to expand outward, eventually encompassing facial mapping and other advanced forms of computer-aided identification.
To help ramp up the amount of data flooding into this center, the FBI said that electronic fingerprint scanners would be sent to state and local police agencies, which would be empowered to capture prints from any suspect, even if they haven’t been arrested or convicted of a crime.

“That’s what we’re really talking about here: a shift in American values, from a place where you can live your life unencumbered by government scrutiny to one where you really have to worry whether the government is watching you either through a video camera, or a police officer who could step up and potentially ask you for a fingerprint at any time,” (Chris Calabrese, an ACLU’s legislative counsel in Washington, D.C.).

“What we have instead is secret watch lists, where people don’t know they’re on the list, they don’t know the standard for putting them on the lists and there’s no way to get off the lists,” Calabrese said.
“That’s a serious problem.”
“We’re not opposed to technology, but we are seeing technology advancing rapidly and often times legal protections aren’t keeping up.
When it’s now technologically possible to do things like capture a facial recognition image and use the various cameras across a city to track somebody using that image automatically … When that’s technologically possible, the only barrier between us and widespread mass surveillance is legal protections.
They don’t exist right now, in many cases.”

And what got me interested in this shit this morning was a Monday column in the New York Times by Paul Krugman, who flashed on the recent situation where a historian who teaches at the University of Wisconsin started a blog on the nefarious doings of the state’s GOP.
The historian wrote the Republican governor, the infamous Scott Walker, has turned his back on the state’s long tradition of “neighborliness, decency and mutual respect.”

So what was the G.O.P.’s response?
A demand for copies of all e-mails sent to or from Mr. Cronon’s university mail account containing any of a wide range of terms, including the word “Republican” and the names of a number of Republican politicians.
If this action strikes you as no big deal, you’re missing the point.
The hard right — which these days is more or less synonymous with the Republican Party — has a modus operandi when it comes to scholars expressing views it dislikes: never mind the substance, go for the smear. And that demand for copies of e-mails is obviously motivated by no more than a hope that it will provide something, anything, that can be used to subject Mr. Cronon to the usual treatment.

Someone like Mr. Cronon can stand up to the pressure. But less eminent and established researchers won’t just become reluctant to act as concerned citizens, weighing in on current debates; they’ll be deterred from even doing research on topics that might get them in trouble.
What’s at stake here, in other words, is whether we’re going to have an open national discourse in which scholars feel free to go wherever the evidence takes them, and to contribute to public understanding. Republicans, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, are trying to shut that kind of discourse down.
It’s up to the rest of us to see that they don’t succeed.

Shades of the AIDs worker, huh?
Just watch that camera angle, and don’t use e-mail.

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