Traded for Security

traded4security1280Naomi begged for the life of her husband and son. She didn’t care about herself. She was still young and offered herself as slave to the judge who held their lives in his hand. Naomi knew of others who had made deals with corrupt federal officials. Only the beautiful ones. The ugly or even normal looking women had no chance. Her husband had complained to her in a phone call during a lunch hour about the amount of taxes that came out of his check. The goverment listened and heard. Her eight year old son had taken a book from the shelf by Mark Twain, and started to read it, when library security took it and called his parents. It was considered to be subversive reading. A few hours earlier at one a.m., a homeland security detail broke down their door with no warrant and found Naomi’s contraband. She had one stick of real butter that she was saving for a special dinner. Real butter was only allowed for government employees above pay grade E4. Now she begged for their lives.

But let’s go back to the beginning.

Those were perilous times. You never knew where they were going to strike next. Not that the terrorist were hitting anything near you or anybody you knew, excluding September 11th of course. More people were killed in the attack on the World Trade Center than were killed in the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. It was horrific beyond comprehension. It is one of those days in a lifetime that everybody can remember where they were at and what they were doing if they lived through it. I do not minimize or desecrate the loss and the lives of those who died there, and who died trying to help others. Even in pain, it was a shining moment that showed the true mettle of the American people.

I do have a problem with what those in power did afterwards.

Amercians became a people who lived in fear. The government psychologist knew that repeated exposure to threats and implied danger can affect people in ways similar to hypnosis, increasing their suggestibility. “Repeated trauma will move the bar to the lower 30 percent of the population, maybe even to half of all people, depending upon how close they are to the trauma, how many stimuli or reminders are surrounding them, and the amount of grief they’ve been exposed to.

So as they went about the world spreading “democracy”, they demanded that we give up some of ours. It was not that they were giving these other countries the tenents of democracy that we gave up, they told us that if we wanted to be safe we had to give them up. One of America’s founding fathers begs to differ. We will not, as Benjamin Franklin once warned, trade our civil liberties to purchase temporary safety.” But his wisdom forgotten, we did.

It started with a homeland security advisory system. A simple color coded chart that went from green, when there was low risk of a terrorist attack to red for a severe risk of a terrorist attack. In the six years after September 11th, it never went below yellow. That was for elevated, which reads a significant risk of terrorist attack.

The federal government started announcing terrorist plots it had foiled with this extra bit of freedom we as American citizens gave up. It started with seven unemployed men with no explosives in Miami. The government supplied them with money and guns, made them swear allegance to al-Qaida and then arrested them. There were four around Detroit, a lone fanatic here and there. They were doing their job, so they told us. See, you are safe.

We allowed them to search and sieze cars around airports without probable cause. We allowed them to tap our phone calls with other countries without a judges order, but they took the liberty of tapping phone calls within the country without a judges approval. We gave them the right to see what books we checked out at the library, but they took all the records of what words we searched for on the Internet and all of our phone records. To dare say NO, would get you branded as unpatriotic or even a traitor.

Charlton Heston an actor and director of the National Rifle Association pointed out some apparent but forgotten facts.

“Our right to privacy, one of our most fundamental rights as free people, is being eroded as we are followed and photographed, scanned and screened, patterned and profiled, cataloged and cross-referenced, compiled in databases, and combed for clues to future behavior in more ways, in more places, for more reasons and more often than ever before. This represents a polar shift in the traditional American relationship between the individual and the state-a shift that, if allowed to continue to its natural end, cannot be easily undone. Because once we’ve handed over the immense power that these surveillance regimes demand-once we’ve untethered the corrupting influence that such power invariably exerts on its bearers-how, exactly, do we get our freedoms back? ?The technology may be new, but its misuses are as old as hatred or greed. We all know from the Hitlers, Stalins and Maos of history exactly where this can lead. But where does it all end? When we’re all strip-searched, DNA-scanned, followed, filmed, tracked and profiled from the cradle to the grave? What are the consequences for freedom when the state can concentrate such power, and such power can be so easily misused?”

In God we trust. All other prepare to be scanned.