Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance. -Woodrow Wilson
The Boston Marathon bombings filled all of us with horror and outrage. We want the subjects to face justice, and we want to prosecute anyone who knew of the plot or had anything to do with it, and who allowed it to go on. That is law enforcement’s job, and then, like a Law and Order episode, the case will move to the courts.
But within this story of Russian bombers and justice comes the question of, just how much information is the government gathering on all of us? How much data do they have access to, at any given time, and for how long?
If we want to know the real answers, we should listen to those who have lived within the bubble of secret American surveillance. Tim Clemente is a former FBI counterterrorism agent who was recently interviewed on Erin Burnett’s CNN program, “Out Front.” Read this exchange as Burnett was asking Clemente about gathering information on Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s American widow:
BURNETT: Tim, is there any way, obviously, there is a voice mail they can try to get the phone companies to give that up at this point. It's not a voice mail. It's just a conversation. There's no way they actually can find out what happened, right, unless she tells them?
CLEMENTE: "No, there is a way. We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation.
BURNETT: "So they can actually get that? People are saying, look, that is incredible.
CLEMENTE: "No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not."
Welcome to America?
Clemente appeared on CNN again with host Carol Costello and reiterated his previous remarks to Erin Burnett. Then, he added something else shocking: “all digital communications in the past” are recorded and stored. That means your emails, phone calls, instant messages, texts, etc., are available right now to the American government.
Did you miss that alert on the evening news? Or, perhaps you missed what the Washington Post reported in 2010, which is that every day, the National Security Agency intercepts and stores 1.7 billion emails, phone calls and other communications.
Former NSA official William Binney resigned in protest over what he knew, that the government has assembled “20 trillion transactions about US citizens with other US citizens…the data that's being assembled is about everybody. And from that data, then they can target anyone they want."
These are not conspiracy theorists trying to put together the pieces of a rogue government; this information comes directly from those who were involved with surveillance operations and completely in-the-know about the government’s spying capabilities.
Agencies are pushing for access to your private information on a broader scale, across many platforms: Drones are filling the sky and the President says they have the right to kill an American citizen without due process; there is serious talk of a license plate database; law enforcement in some states are using technology that records cell phone data without a warrant; Congress is finalizing the internet legislation CISPA, which will give the feds access to your online activity, without a warrant; and the government has said, quite clearly, that when it comes to email and cell phone data, you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Sadly, we are becoming a society that does not demand freedom, but rather, we simply demand something for free. Freedom is not the government’s gift to give; it is a natural endowment from our Creator. And we must diligently guard it at all costs.
The writer William Faulkner noted that, “We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” That practice must include active involvement from those of us who see the wrong path. It is not good enough to simply claim freedom because we live in the United States of America.
Without our resistance, America, the Constitution, and the notion of the land of the free and home of the brave will mean nothing, and that will happen sooner than we think. Now is the time to act. Fax Congress and tell them to uphold our Fourth Amendment rights.