Is It Possible That Snowden Is A Hero?
By now everyone knows that the Internet has made any personal privacy impossible but many believe that they have nothing to hide so they are unconcerned. They should be concerned; in fact they should be terrified. Even those who do not use the Internet or have a computer are having all their data and information collected by the government as well as political marketers.
By Alicia Colon
Until I began reading Brad Thor's thriller, "Black List", I was undecided about whistleblower Edward Snowden. The plot of this novel is eerily similar to the NSA scandal and involves an IT whiz who discovers that the government is collecting data on American citizens, not terrorists, to control our lives and she steals the proof but is hunted down and killed. Maybe Snowden blew the whistle because the extent of the data collection and how it is being used by this administration terrified him. The irony is that the book was published in 2012 before the IRS and AP scandals.
In the introduction to his novel, author Thor writes: "All of the technology contained in this novel is based on systems currently deployed, or in the final stages of development, by the United States government and its partners."
In, 'Black List', the doomed IT analyst works for a technological company named Adaptive Technology Solutions that is partnered with the NSA and is the villain responsible for the snooping on our lives. In real life, the company is Booz Allen Hamilton and Edward Snowden sought a job there specifically to get surveillance evidence because this private company has access to all the government data. Now how is that even possible? What does the NSA stand for? It certainly isn't guarding our national security. In addition, Judicial Watch has learned that a secretive data collection program run by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau allows private contractors access to millions of Americans' personal financial information. Obama has paid millions to these contractors to snoop on... you.
By now everyone knows that the Internet has made any personal privacy impossible but many believe that they have nothing to hide so they are unconcerned. They should be concerned; in fact they should be terrified. Even those who do not use the Internet or have a computer are having all their data and information collected by the government as well as political marketers. Every swipe of a credit card, supermarket card, library card, debit card, is downloaded to the Net at relatively low cost to the government. GPS in cars and smartphones, Onstar vehicles, can have their locations tracked by the Department of Defense which developed this technology.
Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags can be used to track everything from household products, casino chips, animals and even people who have them inserted under the skin at fancy VIP club to facilitate faster access to club. These RFIDs are in our passports. Authorities can place GPS devices on suspect vehicles without court orders thanks to the Patriot Act. This is not fiction. It is real and it is happening to all of us now.
Google, Facebook and Twitter facilitate the government's access to personal information. Nothing is sacred, nothing is safely encrypted. It is all being stored in that new NSA data warehouse facility out in Bluffdale, Utah. That means that millions of tweets, Facebook entries, emails, E-Z pass toll records, Amazon purchases, cell phone data, texts, GPS information, search engine queries generated each day are in the most sophisticated artificial intelligence system in the world. All that information can be stored and can be retrieved at any future point to conduct retroactive surveillance on any individual. A perfect behavioral profile can be created based on the data and will alert the government of your opposition to administration policies.
This super surveillance is not being used to track terrorist activity; otherwise the Boston Marathon bombing would not have happened. It is being used by this administration for political purposes to destroy opposition to its policies. Thus, it has become dangerous to have an anti-Obama sticker on your car or to post negative comments on the social networks. Anyone can become an enemy of the state and therein lies the real importance of Edward Snowden's whistleblowing. We've all known that we're being monitored but we never suspected that our information could be used or manipulated to make us suspected criminals. A Texas teen, Justin Carter, has been jailed since March for making a violent threat while playing a fantasy video game, even though he ended it with LOL and JK to show that he was joking. Big Brother is not only watching us, he's taking prisoners.
There is another possibility that the government uses all this information to finance its surveillance programs. Insider trading is illegal but imagine being able to listen in to all corporate meetings and examine all the CEO's emails and texts without their knowledge. Potential merger information could lead to profitable investments and no one would be the wiser or subject to SEC regulations. Wonder what Martha Stewart thinks about this.
As details of the NSA spying emerge, Democrats in Congress and liberals in the media are quick to suggest that this kind of surveillance has been around for decades and that Bush was responsible for the passage of the Patriot Act which legalizes it. There is an enormous difference which these sycophants ignore. The data gathered in the previous administration was targeting foreign terrorists not Americans in this country. It certainly did not target political opponents or Democrats would never have been able to gain so much power in 2007 when they took over Congress.
Was the surveillance and data gathering responsible for the dismantling of Republican campaigns? How come Herman Cain's campaign ground to a halt because of scurrilous unfounded charges that erupted mid-campaign? Mitt Romney's donors were easily identified and had the IRS to deal with and this harassment possibly affected the campaign's funding. What made it so easy for the IRS to target conservatives? It couldn't have just been the name of the organization but rather the data compiled on it by the surveillance machine. Did the data uncover the Petraeus adultery that made him ineffective in Benghazi? Remember Congressman Mark Foley whose embarrassing emails to a page destroyed his career in 2006? This snooping, however, never seems to turn up radical Islamists in the Muslim community or sleeper cells here.
The bigger question is what are we going to do about this information considering that the chief law enforcement official, Attorney General, Eric Holder, has not had the country's best interest at heart? In spite of the ongoing scandals, no upper level officials have been charged or even fired. The administration has been claiming that these data collection programs have been responsible for thwarting terrorist attacks. That is a lie. Local law enforcement has played a bigger role in halting these attacks. Just check out the NYPD reports.
So is Edward Snowden a traitor or a hero? What I do know is that he's smart and the fact that he's been able to stay off this massive electronic grid is testament to that. Much debate has arisen as to why the government hasn't been able to catch him and I believe the answer to that is that the administration doesn't want him here. He has too much dirt on its activities. Maybe he even has the president's sealed academic records-jk.
Whatever Snowden's motives were in undertaking this undercover mission, he has certainly opened our eyes. I have a better understanding of those Americans who have opted out of the electronic era. I'm not quite ready to head for the hills like those recent survivalists but whenever I see an ad from a telecommunication giant touting how we can share our information with family and friends, I will be grateful to Snowden for letting us know who else is listening.
I'm not sure if Edward Snowden is a traitor but it's pretty clear that many in this administration deserve that description.
Alicia Colon resides in New York City and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org and at www.aliciacolon.com