Well, maybe a little.
I really don't care about my personal privacy either. I was joking with a friend the other day who, after listening to me rant for 20 minutes about how the banker robbers were systematically destroying our country and how it was probably going to take exisystemic measures to detach their tentacles from the power centers of our former democracy, said only half jokingly, "I hope your phone isn't tapped."
I said I hope my phone is tapped so whoever is listening will have to think about what kind of country they want to live in. My position is, since whoever is monitoring our communications is probably being paid with my tax dollars, even if they are a private contractor, they should have to listen to me bitch.
As for congressman Weiner, I could really care a less about his personal privacy either. But I care very much about his political privacy. And I care about the potential of this massive surveillance apparatus erected after 911 to be used as a weapon to take down politicians, activists, or journalists who are seen as a threat.
The idiots in Congress, in their rush to appear tough on security, have given the quasi corporate-national security state the unprecedented power to spy on Congress.
Are they really so stupid that they forgot how Nixon used surveillance to target his political enemies, which is what prompted the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in the first place? Or are they just corrupt?
You know that right? FISA was enacted following the Church Committee investigation of the Nixon machine's attempt to use surveillance techniques against Democrats and political activists. It wasn't enacted to prevent Big Brother from knowing what color your underwear is or what kind of medications you take. It was enacted to prevent one branch of government from having unspeakable power over another.
If knowledge is power, knowledge about your political enemy's private communications is absolute power.
Who did Nixon target? Democrats - not to mention grassroots groups who opposed the Vietnam war. The Church Committee report should be required reading for every American, especially former comedian and now right wing hack Dennis Miller, who says, "Why should I care, I have nothing to hide". As though anyone would give a shit what he had to hide anyway.
It has never been about personal privacy. It has always been about political power.
This, of course, has nothing to do with how Anthony Weiner's photographs came into the possession of biggovernment.com. Except possibly, for this question that keeps nagging me.
BigGovernment.com and BigJournalism.com were approached regarding this information more than a week prior to the separate, independent event of Friday, May 27, 2011, when a link to the now-infamous “gray underwear” photograph appeared publicly on Rep. Weiner’s Twitter feed.
This is a citation from a post at biggovernment.com. It states that, while Weiner's bizarre Twitter posting of a nude photo to a public forum is what broke the story, biggovernment.com actually received separate photos a week earlier.
I'm sure this is all very innocent. But what a chain of events:
*On a date no later than May 20, biggovernment.com comes into some explosive photos of not just any Democratic congressman, but one of the most dangerous Democratic congresspeople on the Hill in terms of being a threat to the corrupt corporate interests in Washington.
*Then, one week later, the congressman makes the miraculous mistake of posting, presumably, one of these photos, or one just as explosive (yet anonymous and therefore deniable enough to hang himself with lies) to his very own Twitter feed.
Amazing. And I'm sure completely coincidental. And, of course, has nothing to do with the surveillance state. But it got me thinking, and this is pure fantasy for the sake of thought... What if someone had been monitoring Weiner's communications. What if they had scooped up his photo library, and then, delivered it to someone known for doing the Right's dirty work. To cover the surveillance operation, they would have to either make up an anonymous woman or buy one off, or maybe even plant the woman for a setup down the road knowing the congressman would probably take the bait. Then maybe they really did use a security flaw to upload one of the photos, specifically one that the congressman will be tempted to deny since it doesn't show his face, which will prompt the congressman to say he was hacked because he was (he would later retract the hacking claim because his handlers rightfully advised him to just take responsibility for the whole thing to make it go away. Then, a week later as the story is losing legs, release another photo, this time with the congressman's face visible. Checkmate.
Now all of this is just a flight of fancy. And I don't believe it. But it would make a good movie. And if not a movie, a warning: even though it didn't happen this way this time, it very well may happen this way some time.
How easy would it be to monitor, say from ATT's infamous Room 641, the communications of a sitting Senator or a prominent political activist or perhaps a journalist doing a story on, for example, Room 641?
For the last 40 years, and especially since 911, we have witnessed the emergence of the greatest national security state in human history. And I am not just referring to the expanded powers of the NSA and their contractors to spy on American citizens.
I am talking about everything from our internet searches to our GPS data being secretly collected by our phone companies.
Your cell phone is one of the best spying tools ever created. Remotely, it can be sent a command to activate its microphone and transmit that audio data to whoever wants to listen:
Cell phone users, beware. The FBI can listen to everything you say, even when the cell phone is turned off.
A recent court ruling in a case against the Genovese crime family revealed that the FBI has the ability from a remote location to activate a cell phone and turn its microphone into a listening device that transmits to an FBI listening post, a method known as a "roving bug." Experts say the only way to defeat it is to remove the cell phone battery.
"The FBI can access cell phones and modify them remotely without ever having to physically handle them," James Atkinson, a counterintelligence security consultant, told ABC News. "Any recently manufactured cell phone has a built-in tracking device, which can allow eavesdroppers to pinpoint someone's location to within just a few feet," he added.
This article refers to a case of the FBI using suspects' cell phones as a bugging device (an incredibly effective bugging device I should add). What it doesn't mention is that ATT, Verizon, and scores of other private interests can use this trick as well.
Now, if someone were to monitor my cell phone they would probably fall asleep with boredom. But imagine turning on the mic of a US senator's cell phone, say, during a meeting with other senators on a net neutrality bill. Or while he or she is engaged in an extra-marital affair.
That is political power. And most of this technology is not, as is usually thought, in the hands of government bureaucrats. It is in the hands of private corporations.
It is surprising how few intellectuals on the left have updated their conception of Big Brother as a government entity to include the fact that most of these intelligence operations have been privatized. This is crucial to understand. Not only has Wall Street captured the legislative process, they have captured the national security state as well.
Big Brother has now become Big Brother Inc. And Wall Street could care a less about the 4th Amendment. Wall Street cares very much about political power though. And while I have no reason to believe that the Anthony Weiner scandal was the product of some covert intelligence operation, I have no doubt at all that such use of the surveillance corporate state is not at the very least under consideration.
It is simply stupid to think that you can give someone that much power and then expect them not to use it.
I wish I could say what we need to do about all of this. But I really feel like our country is slipping slowly, permanently away from us. There is new talk of mounting protests in the US against the Great Banker Robbery and the austerity measures. How valuable will our 4th Amendment protections be if the people really do utilize their right to free assembly and march on Washington? Do you think there would be any hesitation to surveil anyone and everyone planning or even promoting such an event?