If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
President Franklin Roosevelt’s State of the Union speech in 1941 proposed four fundamental freedoms that all people should have; freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. These first two, the freedom “of,” were already a part of the U.S. Constitution, and merely require for their observance that the State refrain from restricting the people in their various forms of expression—but the War on Terror changed everything.
The State has been at this for a while now. Freedom of speech was the first casualty in the War on Terror. State functionaries search through our mail and listen in on our private conversations. They read our email and online communications and monitor the websites we visit. Fusion Centers around the country watch our communications for 377 suspicious keywords in 14 categories, among them “assassination,” “attack,” “Taliban,” “nuke,” “anthrax,” “bomb,” “narcotics,” “enriched,” “IED,” “jihad,” and even the seemingly innocuous “Iran,” “exercise,” and “DHS.” You don’t use these words in your emails or texts, do you? You wouldn’t blog with these words, or re-tweet anything that contains such words, or post anything on Facebook that would attract the attention of the State like this, do you? Such suspicious words might indicate a terrorist plot in the works. Any speech or writing that can be taken the wrong way, say the wrong thing, or offend the authorities can get you in big trouble.
Total Information Awareness (TIA), a program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, was launched in 2002. It attempted to combine financial transactions, medical histories, travel and telephone records, reading materials, emails, and Web browsing into a comprehensive database. Officially cancelled after media leaks, TIA changed its name and went underground. It was reported to be developing a massive data mining system to calculate a threat analysis score for everyone in the United States. The National Security Agency’s mass surveillance data mining program, PRISM, reportedly operating since 2007, has a purpose similar to TIA.
Stellar Wind, the codename for yet another surveillance program of the NSA, will operate in conjunction with the Utah Data Center, now under construction. The largest in a network of “data farms,” the Utah Data Center will reportedly intercept, store, and analyze all communications, including the complete contents of emails, telephone calls, Web searches, text messages, and blog entries, and gather data on parking receipts, travel itineraries, financial records, and book purchases.
The various databases will eventually be connected and searchable, of course, so that they can go back over virtually your whole life looking for suspicious behavior. But you haven’t done anything wrong, you say? Things that are unimportant now, and presently of no interest to the authorities, might very well change in the event of an emergency. Knowing what you said and to whom, your circle of social network “Friends,” and anything you’ve written, even innocently, could suddenly assume new importance. So much for free speech. Proceed with caution.