This past week, the ugly truth about the NSA and our federal government stole headlines as people realize that all of our Internet communication, from emails to blog posts to status updates, has been collected indiscriminately by those who should be protecting our privacy and liberty.
I have known for years that the government collected information directly from the Internet, in black boxes hooked up directly to the T1s and other data lines that create the backbone. These boxes appeared with no warning, and no oversight. A quick installation and bam! Instant access to... well, everything.
What the media has so far missed is that the federal government has been spying on its citizens since the 1990s, well before even George W. Bush became president. Someone smartly decided that the Internet would be huge, and put in these boxes early on. Who knows how many terabytes of data the government has already collected.
The question now is - what are we going to do about it? Listen to politicians tell us that they didn't know? Or listen to the White House claim, "What we're doing is right"?
Because at this very moment, we live in a gilded cage, a false freedom paraded about to keep you from looking at the bars. Instead of ensuring we have the blessings of liberty, we have the confines of fake security. The worst part is that we, the American people, have passively accepted the loss of liberty and the loss of privacy, until each new loss seems normal, more of the same, and not a gross violation of the trust put into the government.
We took off our shoes to get onto an airplane, even though no one successfully snuck anything onto a plane in their shoes. We allow nursing mothers to be harassed about pumped milk, because every bottle with a liquid in it might be explosive. We fear serial killers, locking our children indoors everyday instead of allowing them freedom to roam. We allow the police to break someone's cell phone if that person videos the officer breaking the law. We allow the police to violently break up peaceful demonstrations, using torture holds and pepper spray.
Now we allow the government to spy on American citizens without a warranty, and we have allowed this for years.
I fear the land of the free is just a mirage, kept up so that those in power can keep their power.