Domestic Surveillance in the USA

Ideas and Issues

023-0216144320-info_fusionWaveland        The holidays are slow news days, but not no news days.   One item that caught my attention in the list of big stories of the year was the ongoing tale of domestic surveillance in the USA, which I reread again.

Much of this was the post-9/11 reality that we forget is as much about us, as about the unknown “them” that threaten national security according to the experts.  There are a number of “fusion” centers now around the country that collect random information from different intelligence agencies, local police departments, and others.  Fusion because they are supposed to connect the dots, pull the strands together, bring order to the random pieces of “intel.”

Occupy Wall Street was a big moment for the fusion centers from these reports for reasons that escape explanation.  Of all of the things that the Occupy movement might have been, it takes a bizarre kind of imagination to believe that it might have been a national security threat.

Bizarre though seems to have been the order of the day.  The reports monitored Noam Chomsky, the linguist and political activist, when he spoke in Boston to an Occupy group.  Other reports tracked random car loads of activists as they left their town to head for an Occupy site, even noting that there seemed to be nothing to worry about.   If there’s nothing to worry about, why were they monitoring such movement and sending the “intel” to the fusion centers though?

Part of the reason I find this troubling is that I also bet the current wave of protests about the excesses of police powers have probably blown the roof off of the surveillance system in the USA.  Think about it.  If we now allow domestic surveillance of US citizens on the flimsiest of excuses, and most of the Occupy activity around the country has to fully qualify in that regard with all due respect, it’s not hard to imagine that direct protests, lie-ins, die-ins, and what not directed at the police forces themselves are probably seen as wild security threats.

On many levels we’ll never know or at least we won’t know for several years until some redacted freedom-of-information request is processed that has as many words blackened as we are able to decipher, but my bet is that restraint has flown out the window, and organizers and activists that are moving these ongoing protests can bank on the fact that their names are front and center in communiques being sent between local and state police and federal authorities these days.  I would bet the fusion centers are blowing a fuse keeping up with all of these so-called “security” threats.

All of which in my book calls for a clampdown on domestic surveillance, but if the CIA can spy on a Senate committee, and it’s “no harm, no foul” as far as the CIA is concerned, then it’s clearly open season on the rest of us.

Keep your eyes open and watch your backs, brothers and sisters, we’re being watched!