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Response to reACTIONary (Reply #180)

Wed Dec 18, 2013, 04:52 AM

184. If this is true--

"the NSA does not want your phone records and does not want to know who you are and are not talking to - they want to know who suspected foreign terrorists are talking to," then the NSA does not need to and should not be collecting my metadata. I don't want them to, and I think I have a Fourth Amendment right to ask that, as in Smith v. Maryland, they collect it only if they suspect me of a crime or need my information in order to investigate a specific crime.

Famous last words:

"What the East German, Polish and Soviet governments were up to (I use the past tense, because, in case you have not noticed, they DO NOT EVEN EXIST any longer) is not relevant to what the government of the United States of America is up to." The NAZIs, the East Germans, the Polish and Soviet government abuses of personal information and of their internal intelligence gathering systems is extremely relevant to what our NSA is now doing.

After WWII, we hired Reinhard Gehlen and used information from that NAZI's spy organization in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Why? Because we had very little information about what was going on in Eastern Europe and he had a network of spies there.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhard_Gehlen

Further, Americans (including me) know very little about how the STASI worked in East Germany. It was apparently not nearly as effective in spying on every communication and anyone it wanted to spy on as our NSA is. Of course, that is, in part because the internet and the capacity we have today to use algorithms to analyze the metadata did not exist.

We would all like to believe that we will never have and never know the widespread oppression that terrorized people in Germany during the NAZI era or in Eastern Europe and China during the Communist era (the oppression that still exists today to some extent in those countries).

But, let's remember, we have imprisoned a larger percentage of our population than any country on earth at this time.

This chart shows that we are number 1 in the percentage of citizens in prison:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_incarceration_rate

Keeping these facts in mind, the examples of Eastern Europe and of NAZI Germany are quite relevant to a discussion of the excessive surveillance in the US today.

Of course, the NSA surveillance is providing a lot of make-work, useless jobs to computer nerds. I realize that. But maybe we could provide more useful, more socially productive work for the talented people caught in the horrible, demeaning business of spying on their fellow countrymen.

And why were we spying on Angela Merkel? Do we also spy on the Pope? How about the British Prime Minister? What hubris.

Read your friends' diaries without their permission and you are likely to lose their friendship. That's not a hard one to figure out.

I predict (based on my past experience) that there will be some sort of scandal that awakens Americans to the excesses of the NSA unless the NSA curbs its enthusiasm for spying on innocent people.

Smith v. Maryland is very familiar to me. The facts were totally different from the current NSA spying program. This spying program's collection of metadata is not even based on reasonable suspicion. It isn't even random. It is, as I understand it, a broad sweep of data.

At the very least, the NSA should be far more honest and open about the circumstances under which it decides to place someone under surveillance. It can't expect citizens to trust it or suspect it of the worse if it does not tell us the parameters of its collection -- honestly tell us the parameters. It is inexcusable that the NSA "inadvertently" or "unintentionally" gathers our data and does not inform us and apologize to us when it does.

The NSA seems to think it is above the law. I strongly disagree.

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