IMPORTANT UPDATE: This post was written literally one day before the horrific October 31 terrorist attack in lower Manhattan–a hideous event that resulted in 8 deaths and 11 injuries.
Although the Department of Homeland Security and various law enforcement agencies are still investigating whether there was any “direct” connection between attacker Sayfullo Saipov and ISIS, the Radical Islamist organization to whom Saipov had pledged allegiance (based on symbols and notes found in the truck which he used to conduct his terrorist actions), there’s no evidence as of yet indicating whether he entered the US with the intention of committing terrorist acts or whether he was radicalized while on US soil.
This article is about the expansion of Executive Order 12333, aimed at extending government’s surveillance efforts to identify “homegrown extremists.” Events such as the one that just took place make for a strong argument in favor of such expansion.
For the record, the author finds such attacks against innocent civilians to be cowardly, heinous, and detestable.
In light of these attacks, and with a view toward potential unintended consequences in the long run, this article aims to pose a couple of questions:
- Are you ready to sacrifice some of your privacy and freedom to weed out potential terrorists?
- What if, in the future, a political class were to begin using this platform to identify and monitor citizens who disagree with their over-reaching political agenda?
In short, supporting expanded surveillance is a gambit, one whose long-term implications may be indeterminate, but certainly severe.
So with this long-term view in mind, are you willing to permit government to exercise enhanced surveillance and greater control–giving up your privacy and freedom as an individual–for your own security?
Are you willing to sacrifice the “experience” of freedom to save the “idea” of freedom?
Here’s the original post.
In today’s age of electronic surveillance, it’s the role of government to determine whether you are a danger to society, a risk to national security; a threat to be dealt with swiftly.
You claim to be a patriot–one who abides by the law, one who follows the rules of government, one whose faith and actions simply embody what it means to be an “American.”
Perhaps you are. But to government, all that means is that you think you are a patriot. There may well be a time when your personal actions count for very little.
Ultimately, it’s up to government— their algorithmic data-software and band of experts and analysts. In fact, you don’t even have to be connected to an extremist group to associated with one. Be careful who you communicate with; what sites you visit; what search terms you use online; and what you express on social media. Your data footprint is being watched, monitored, and scrutinized.
Executive Order 12333 has been expanded to monitor your activities
Originally signed by President Reagan in 1981, and later modified by President George W. Bush, Executive Order 12333 establishes the terms by which US intelligence agencies are to investigate foreign matters concerning national security. This includes the surveillance of US citizens, particularly in cases where “counterintelligence” is suspected.
Under Reagan’s administration, however, government would have had to demonstrate that a target under surveillance was working for a terrorist group or foreign power. Now, such investigations can bypass review by Congress and the courts.
The new “manual” was released in August 2016; its expanded rules presented in a training slide for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI). The expansion permits the collection of information on Americans even “when no specific connection to foreign terrorist(s) has has been established.”
Human Rights Watch was able to obtain these slides upon request via Freedom of Information Act. These documents were then shared with Reuters. When Reuters asked whether the documents were authentic, both the Air Force and Department of Defense confirmed the document’s authenticity.
The modifications to 12333 were expanded to counter the growing threat of homegrown terrorism that has no demonstrably direct connection to foreign powers or terrorists.
For instance, the December 15 attacks in San Bernardino, California and the June 2016 attack in Orlando, Florida are prime examples of such homegrown terrorist actions without “direct connection” to terrorist groups. In both attacks, the killers claimed allegiance to ISIS. But no direct connection was ever found.
Electronic media has become so powerful in its capacity to reach across geography and into the minds of the masses that it has become an efficient tool for targeting, radicalizing, and recruiting anybody who is vulnerable and open to the message.
But this should this surprise you? Who isn’t vulnerable to the medium-as-message? How many times have you rallied behind political content without fully considering the validity (or true origin) of those messages? Government knows that most people misrecognize their own personal biases for sound reason (people often see only what they want to see). Hence, the enhanced surveillance.
What does Executive Order 12333 mean for you in the long run?
Right now, it’s about trying to weed out the potential terrorists among us.
But imagine what would happen if a new government–a new party–that disagrees with your beliefs and lifestyle decides that your traits are undesirable…perhaps calling it “Un-American.”
What if government gave itself the right to further tighten the controls over your cash (war on cash), your gold and silver (CUSIP is doing it right now), your cryptocurrencies (many governments are trying to stamp them out), your private assets…your transactions…your opinions…etc.
What’s left of you as a private individual?
Again, it’s about the bad guys for now. But the government considers anyone a “bad guy” who doesn’t comply with their goals toward unrestrained governance.
That means even freedom-loving Americans may one day be considered the “bad guys.” The question is whether you would consider such powers to be necessarily far-reaching or intrusively over-reaching.
To frame the question differently, how deeply would society be willing to lacerate itself in order to rid its body of this seemingly cancerous threat of homegrown extremism?