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Surveillance and National Security: Where is America Going?

June 23, 2008

More and more, there is a movement within the American populace to consider their personal security as more and more important. Lawmakers have been very supportive, even engineering the need for more intervention where surveillance is concerned. After all, isn’t national security personal security?

On Friday, U.S. lawmakers voted anonymously on the record (a count was taken versus a role call) to pass the legislation on HR 6304. Critics have noticed that the executive branch, the presidential administration has been given a license to spy on U.S. resident without a warrant. Phone calls and emails can be intercepted, allegedly to other countries without court approval if the administration considers the matter of some urgency. If the current administration bypasses the most basic of the fuzzy boundaries, even the situation of “exigent circumstances”, telecommunications companies are immune from prosecution for the use of illegal wire taps. Furthermore, a new court system has been initiated to run the surveillance measures behind the scenes in what could be seen as a German-style surveillance force. The media isn’t really discussing the new surveillance court system.

The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, did not have an enthusiastic endorsement of the measure. “I’m not asking anyone to vote for this bill, I’m just telling you why I was.” Meanwhile, the ghostly figure of a Muslim terror attack or bioterrorism weighs heavily on the minds of lawmakers.

Lawmakers are willing to take a trusting attitude where any presidential administration and the new court system are concerned. The newly established Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court will approve and enforce protections for all U.S. residents. Some see this as a positive as the president will no longer set his own rules for surveillance.

While surveillance of Americans citizens by the federal government is to be conducted only under exigent circumstances or with the permission of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the preponderance of cameras and other surveillance is multiplying, even in places as rural as Nashville, Tennessee, all in the name of security and lawfulness.

Our British cousins have been a little more liberal in their use of surveillance up to now. They have established a circle of intelligence to monitor and capture terrorists while virtually every action of British residents in largely populated areas is under watchful eyes. What is the network of cameras and surveillance used for? The Guardian states that the Brits “are routinely using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to snoop on dog foulers, litterbugs and illegal parkers.”

Surveillance in Britain is even being used to follow up on families. For example, a family in Dorset were tracked covertly for three weeks to be certain that they lived where they said they did. A British citizen was watched covertly as he worked “while off sick”. These actions are defended by saying the cases are treated as potential criminal activity, which allowed the British authorities to spy under the auspices of law. The determination of what the definition of criminal activity is in Britain remains under hot debate.

This same approach is exactly where the United States is going in the name of peace and security. Is covert surveillance and invasion of civil rights what is best for America?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Wriggle permalink
    September 17, 2009 2:32 am

    There is NO threat from any terrorists, its a stinkin’ hoax designed to wreck our constitution and freeoms. Rich bankers and other greedy lice want control and power all to themselves, and the only way to do it is use lies and deceit. Next will come concentration camps for dissenters (Freedom Lovers) seizure of private property and a host of other hellish things. Hitler started it, and our bums in DC are following his lead. Dead tho he may be.

  2. June 24, 2008 10:08 am

    Surveillance is a bigger problem for everyone concern, The trust issues is a old age problem. It looks like we need to level the playing field with a new regulated Surveillance law. We can not sit here on stupid. I say whatever will make us a safer people.

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  1. Does Government Surveillance Harm Society? « TNTalk! Smarter Thinking, Better Times.

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