July 3, 2013
The [future] era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities.
In 1975, the head of the Senate committee investigating illegal spying and harassment by the U.S. government – Senator Frank Church – said about the NSA:
I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.
Indeed, in 1991, a House intelligence committee report found “very limited internal oversight of the Agency [NSA] programs,” as well as no supervision of the agency by either the Defense Department Inspector General’s Office or the congressional watchdog agency, the General Accountability Office (GAO).
The same year, a report prepared by the Defense Department’s inspector general confirmed:
NSA did not have sufficient oversight mechanisms to ensure the Agency efficiently accomplished its mission.
Senator Church also warned in 1975:
[NSA's] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. [If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.
The NSA has, of course, turned its capability around on the American people.
Top NSA whistleblower William Binney – the former head of the National Security Agency’s global digital data gathering program – held his thumb and forefinger close together over a year ago, and said:
We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state
Another high-level NSA whistleblower – Thomas Drake – has also warned that mass surveillance is leading to tyranny.
And another NSA whistleblower – Russ Tice – agrees.
No wonder whistleblower Edward Snowden says:
[If people don't oppose the surveillance state now] it will be turnkey tyranny.
You might also want to listen to what a government official who actually worked for a tyrannical government thinks about the American spying program. A lieutenant colonel in Stasi East Germany told McClatchy:
You know, for us, this would have been a dream come true. So much information, on so many people.
The dark side to gathering such a broad, seemingly untargeted, amount of information is obvious.
It is the height of naivete to think that once collected this information won’t be used. This is the nature of secret government organizations.
Postscript: Mass surveillance doesn’t even help keep us safe.