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At a congressional hearing in March, Senator Ron Wyden asked the question that a leaked FISC order answered weeks ago. “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
“No sir,” replied James Clapper, the NSA’s Director of National Intelligence. “Not wittingly.”
This was, needless to say, a lie; the NSA is trampling upon the Fourth Amendment on an appalling scale, collecting all of Verizon’s phone records on “an ongoing, daily basis.”
For the past few weeks, our public servants have tried to assure us that all is well. It would be comforting to believe these reassurances; nobody wants to think that our government has become intrinsically malevolent. The NSA’s deception, however, leaves us with little reason to trust them. It seems probable that Edward Snowden’s revelation is only the tip of the iceberg.
Even from the programs we know about, it’s apparent that the Obama Administration is ushering in an era of cradle-to-grave surveillance. Absent a severe course-correction, a child born today will be tracked for his entire life in a litany of ways.
The Common Core initiative, for instance, will mine data from public schools, indexing students' income, religious affiliation, and blood type. The Orwellian program will track students’ homework completion, “appreciation for diversity” and “cultural awareness and competence.”
Moreover - thanks to a recent Supreme Court ruling - police may take DNA samples from people who they arrest for any reason. Americans who have never even received a speeding ticket may now have their genetic material permanently stored in a state database.
Perhaps the most ominous of these new programs is the Obama Administration’s Federal Data Services Hub. In the near future, this database will collect reports about Americans from government-approved health insurance providers. The IRS will monitor these reports and cross-check them against tax returns. Given recent events, I can hardly be blamed for speculating that the IRS might use this new power to persecute its political enemies.
President Obama says (correctly) that “you can't have 100% security and also then have 100% privacy” – and its clear which option he’s chosen for us. His policies are propelling us towards a dystopian future in which government intrusion has left the reasoned constraints of a republic far behind.