News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
We are watched
Jun 12, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck
This is what we get for our rush to link ourselves electronically to one another
Leaders in political circles are doing their best to create damaging controversy about "news" that the U.S. government conducts widespread surveillance of the American people by monitoring telephone and Internet records.
Polling this week already shows that most Americans don't care very much about this kind of thing. They ought to care, but the point may be moot.
The better time to have risen up in arms over this kind of government snooping would have been when it began. The only problem with that is, we don't really know when it began. It is safe to say that it has been going on for as long as there has been government. The big difference now is that it is so much easier to do, thanks to the constant state of interconnectedness that Americans have embraced, and because there is so much more sophisticated technology available to make sense of the raw data.
From the political point of view, certain congressional leaders who wish to make a huge issue of this in order to damage President Barack Obama, felt little similar compunction a few years back when it was revealed that the administration of President George W. Bush had jumped wholeheartedly into the same sort of electronic monitoring that now is generating headlines under a president from a different political party.
President Clinton's team probably did it too. And imagine what Nixon would have done with it if he could have.
In fact, the Obama administration has instituted regulatory controls that are at least supposed to limit the kinds of abuses that damaged Bush when they were revealed. The key word here is "supposed" to limit abuses, because the methods of the surveillance and the technology behind them are so complex and sophisticated that abuses quite easily could be hidden -- and probably are.
That apparently was the motivation behind the leaking of details of this confidential surveillance program by the man who decided to make them public recently. Some now call him a traitor worthy of the death penalty.
Is that the abuse? Are we to be outraged because of the surveillance that is taking place without our knowledge, or are we to be outraged because we have found out about it?
That is a question for debate and discussion in modern-day America. What is likely not subject to debate or discussion is the future of the surveillance techniques. Rest assured, they will go on largely as before. That is what we Americans get for our rush to link ourselves electronically and stay linked 24 hours a day.
It makes it easier for us to be watched. And the watching will continue, no matter which political party complains about it.