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The Obvious Question

Oh my god, the posts are practically writing themselves today.  Here’s what Obama just said about the surveillance mess:

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Friday offered a robust defense of the government surveillance programs revealed this week, and sought to reassure the public that his administration has not become a Big Brother with eyes and ears throughout the world of online communications.

“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” Mr. Obama said, delivering a 14-minute answer to two questions about the surveillance programs at an event that was initially supposed to be devoted to the health care law. “That’s not what this program is about.”

So, here’s the question: If we are to believe that nobody is listening to our telephone calls, how would we actually *know* that??  Isn’t it the current policy to not let you have access to that information?  If I recall correctly, you need to go to court to find out if the telecomms have turned over your personal communications to government officials and that in many cases, this has been classified as “state secrets” so you can’t ever really be sure.  To have standing in court, you have to show you were harmed by the surveillance but if you only suspect harm and can’t prove you were surveilled, then you’ll never know the extent to which your communications have been monitored.  Jeez, does the Obama administration think we’re stupid??  Based on the previous two presidential election cycles, yeah, probably.

There are other obvious questions, such as, who decided that the surveillance was “legal” and whose definition are we using when we say it was “limited”?  Then there is the “what are you going to do with information that you accidentally dig up that indicates a citizen has been engaged in questionable activities”?   I’m talking about anything from setting up a secret rendezvous with your mistress, to scoring a dime of pot with your pizza delivery, to meeting up at the local Occupy event* (which isn’t illegal but with the batallions of police around the events, sure feels like you’re doing something wrong)?

The final question I have is will an ordinary citizen who gets ensnared for doing something non-terrorist in nature get the same kind of immunity as the bankers did for destroying the world’s economy?  Just askin’ because otherwise, I’m not sure I’m very sympathetic to any sort of surveillance activity.  If you can’t nail the bankers, who are the biggest domestic and global terrorists around, for anything, you shouldn’t be allowed to listen in on ordinary people doing ordinary human things.

Otherwise, it’s not fair or just, it doesn’t sound like equal access to the law, and the people in charge should be held accountable and/or impeached.

*RD’s Law: The power intrinsic to a legal citizen action is directly proportional to the magnitude of the police presence.