Tag Archives: Invasion of privacy

Ben Franklin: Thoughts from the grave…

Ben Franklin

Ben Franklin

As scandal after scandal seems to be uncovered, people are still clinging to their liberal leadership regardless of the magnitude.   As some used to say “Nixon was the only person who could go to China” my father, and political cartoonist A.F. Branco, coined the phrase “ Only Obama can get away with a scandal.”

The NSA has decided that privacy is not important.   So what?

Benjamin Franklin once said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” So why should Franklin , the man Walter Isaacson stated was “the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become”, be an expert on things of this nature?

Ben Franklin wasn’t just a major figure in the American Enlightenment. He was an author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat.  Benjamin had a resume that arguably gave him a platform to suggest relevancy in our era, at least enough relevancy for some to lend an ear to his advice from the grave.  But if that’s not enough, it’s important to remember the setting in which Franklin lived.

For most of us, regardless of social status, we live in a time and place where we aren’t in the immediate midst of war or invasion.  We all have struggles, trials and tribulations, but many of us are also comfortable sitting behind our computers attempting to put into perspective the violence and insanity that we hear about in the middle east, and other parts of the world.   During Franklin’s era however, he was all too familiar with war.  He also knew the negative effects of a government who did not see “faces” but instead, faceless “numbers.”  Franklin was against authoritarianism in the government and in religion.  He had a profound respect for the teachings of Christ, stating that they were “the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see” but he also rejected the effects of religion, and realized the possibility that Christ’s words may have been corrupted over time.

All in all, Franklin was a brilliant man who realized the potential for human nature to create an environment that was none too friendly to the common hard working person.  His fundamental principles were built around the practical values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, and self-governing institutions.  Those same values built the country that we have today, rapidly disintegrating under the utopian façade of progressivism.

It isn’t just this current issue with the NSA.  We were warned before by another man, who’s fundamental principles were similarly aligned with Franklin.  Ronald Reagan stated that we would never vote for socialism ” but under the name of liberalism the American people would adopt every fragment of the socialist program.”  Reagan had a specific scathing review for governmental reform of healthcare, because under the false pretense of providing healthcare for the masses, we would also be subject to an intrusion of privacy.  I would encourage everyone to watch Reagan’s 10 minute speech he gave in 1961, which was an eery pre-cursor to the health care system being implemented today.  (You can find it on you tube)

WHY IS PRIVACY IMPORTANT?  If everyone is doing the right thing, they shouldn’t have anything to worry about right?  Hypothetically, sure.  But who exactly is to say what is “right“?  Ideology grounded in the Ten Commandments and Red Letters from the New Testament are something that have guided many in life when all else has proven rocky and unreliable.

With an ever creeping government intent on keeping tabs on its people, we are more and more subject to what the minds of the political elite deem the “correct” way of living which, according to the government, may often coincide with our personal morals, but what happens when it doesn’t?  Franklin and Reagan believed quite seriously in the following creed: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Franklin, Reagan, and the many others before them were correct. Their intent was always to give people the freedom to make their own decisions, and pursue their personal motivations with minimal hindrance from the government.  They took their positions seriously, but more importantly they took seriously the fact that they derived “their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

The administration espouses that their actions are in the name of the safety of its people, but we will always be faced with enemies of our way of life.  “Essential” to our life and liberty is the ability to  make decisions without being put under a microscope, so to speak.  Furthermore, we’ve already seen the government take steps to re-establish some of the foundational belief systems our forefathers had, in the name of tolerance.

So, in an era where president Obama advises to reject the voices suggesting “tyranny is always lurking around the corner“, one may contend that a biblical perspective that advises  “test everything; hold fast to what is good,” might be a better alternative.  Having humbly taken the time to logically “test” some of the actions of the Obama administration, one can’t honestly say that the idea of tyranny is out of the question.

1. The Benghazi scandal
2. Fast and Furious gun running scandal
3. An IRS scandal targeting Conservative Tea Party groups.
4. A scandal involving collection of private phone records of several AP reporters.
5. The NSA and Prism scandals, essentially allowing the government access to all internet and phone activity.
6. The “Affordable” Healthcare Act that coincidentally will be deemed the largest tax increase in history.
7. Signing the NDAA which authorized the indefinite detention of American citizens without due process at Obama’s own discretion.

(THOSE ARE JUST A FEW)

Obama quoted his administration:
“I will also hold myself as president to a new standard of openness …. Let me say it as simply as I can: Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

Jay Carney stated:
“This president has demonstrated a commitment to transparency and openness that is greater than any administration has shown in the past, and he’s been committed to that since he ran for president and he’s taken a significant number of measures to demonstrate that.”

Whether its through rhetoric, mounds of confusing paperwork, or just plain denial,  the products of this administration have been anything but transparent.  It makes me uneasy to think that an administration that blatantly LIES about transparency will now have an unprecedented amount of access into our personal lives.  You can argue perhaps that some of these measures are necessary to ensure the safety of the American people,  but given the fact that our president has shown his disregard for our foundational documents, it doesn’t make me confident that he has our best interests in mind.

Ben Franklin also famously said,  “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”  Given the current IRS, and AP scandals its almost as if Franklin is here looking over our shoulders.  Everyone should stay grounded and “test everything.”  Not through the partisan side of Republican or Democrat, but through the humble eyes of a human being.  Right is right.

Violence is not the answer, but with enough people taking the time to hold fast to their values and not let political correctness sway them into feeling wrong, or obsolete,  good will prevail.  At the very least it will hold accountable those who think our foundation is changeable.

Expectation of Privacy?

Are we losing our right to privacy?  News channels this week are covering the story about a young girl who was forced to give her FaceBook password to school officials.  Colleges and employers are requiring passwords to FaceBook and other social media from new students and employees.  A bill to put spy drones in American skies recently passed Congress.  The TSA announced “to better protect the public” they will begin conducting roadside searches.  It’s something to think about.

Judge Andrew Napolitano, an outspoken Constitutionalist recently spoke out on the ‘expectation of privacy.’  While private businesses should follow the First Amendment, he said, “The closer we get to the government, the more we must expect our First Amendment Rights to be upheld.”  In the case where the young girl was coerced into sharing her password the school, as a government agency, may have violated her First Amendment Rights.  Your personal FaceBook account should be considered the same as a locked diary.  One can understand in the shadow of Columbine that schools want to be more proactive looking for troubled children yet the ACLU and others believe they crossed the line.

In an effort to stem further terrorism in the United States the Patriot Act was enacted.  But did we go too far? Will we be sorry for hasty actions in the aftermath of 9/11?  In the Land of the Free is it now acceptable to have spy planes overhead and roadside checks monitoring our movement?  A former Justice Department attorney stated that a person could not automatically expect privacy just because something is on private property.  What does this belief of government empowerment mean to the citizens?

Every day we voluntarily give up some privacy.  If we shop at the local grocery store using our super saver card the store collects data on our purchase habits, our location, how we pay and more.  When we apply for a job we may voluntarily sign a waiver that allows the employee to check our background, credit and sometimes even driving records.

If we give up information voluntarily we no longer have the same expectation of privacy.  Our youth, in particular, often are unaware of the dangers sharing openly about personal topics.  Many forget that digital information is never completely removed.  There are many concerns that as we openly share information, especially through digital sources, our expectation of privacy becomes lessened.  The Electronic Privacy Invasion Center was developed in concern that, We The People, are losing our First Amendment and Constitutional rights.

Giving government more access to our personal thoughts and actions takes away our privacy.  Can we trust the government not to take advantage this information or, as Orwell wrote, will we find ourselves in a Big Brother controlled world?  Once the line shifts and the expectation of privacy changes it will be difficult, if not impossible to change it back.

Fox In the Hen House

Our founding fathers knew the dangers of letting government officials and the groups that enforce our laws go unchecked. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has recently granted itself an expansion of power. Don’t get me wrong, I fully support our law enforcement officers and hold them in high regards. However, the problem I have is that they can just expand their powers at any given time of their choosing.

According to the new rules and guidelines in which the FBI operates, many of the expanded liberties they have given themselves do not require creating a paper trail or even opening an investigation. Agents can search law enforcement and commercial databases without any evidence of criminal or other wrongdoing. New relaxed guidelines for administering lie-detector tests do not require the opening of a “preliminary investigation” either. The new guidelines heavily relax multiple forms of surveillance.

One of the things that jumped out at me was the fact that investigations involving public officials require “oversight”. It appears to me that they made sure to make rules to use kid gloves on the politicians. For once I would like to see the same rules that apply to the common citizen apply to the politicians.

“For in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery”.
-Jonathan Swift

The other group that requires “oversight” has been labeled scholars and press. Bloggers are not considered members of the press under these guidelines unless they are “prominent” bloggers, therefore giving them the same status as the regular media.  Bloggers that are less “prominent” will not receive the same treatments that are given to people considered media.

With the implementation of the new guidelines it is easy to see that the FBI wants to make sure they stay in the good graces of the politicians and mainstream media. The FBI presents the new guidelines as ways to better fight terrorism but the fact that they want to save the politicians and media seems strange. If these changes were about better protecting the citizens of the United States, why do the politicians and media get special treatment? Something just doesn’t quite add up right to me!

“Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”
-Thomas Paine

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For those of you that own firearms, train hard and well and teach those that do not know how. Be good stewards of the right to bear arms, for we are the last line of defense against tyranny.

-Benjamin Wallace

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Sources:

Washington Post Article
Yahoo News

 

F.B.I Grants Themselves New Powers: Congress Proves Irrevelant

There was a time in America when law-abiding citizens were protected from privacy-invading illegals searches and fishing expeditions into their private lives. We no longer have those protections today thanks to the F.B.I. deciding to rewrite their manuals and give themselves the power to basically invade Americans privacy without so much as a reason.  The F.B.I. will have the right to search your trash, read your emails and other Internet correspondence without having a shred of proof that you have done anything illegal. Meanwhile, so far Congress sits on their hands and has made no effort to stop this illegal and unconstitutional breach of our citizen’s right to privacy.  Aren’t all Federal laws and regulations supposed to go through our Congress before things like this can be done to the American people? 
  I first saw hints about this new F.B.I. “handbook” that gives them unchecked power to spy on American citizens without so much as a reason about  a week ago on the news. I have been awaiting the uproar from the informed citizens and groups upon discovering this new set of rules ( or total lack of) that the F.B.I. will be using against American citizens. The N.Y.Times published an article on this new F.B.I. “handbook” on Sunday, June 12th,2011, which you can read here.  In that Times article we see the following new guidelines and changes to the F.B.I. operating manual:

The new rules add to several measures taken over the past decade to give agents more latitude as they search for signs of criminal or terrorist activity.  

 The “more latitude” they refer to there, is generally what are termed illegal fishing expeditions into citizens personal lives without such things as warrants or any reasonable proof of criminal activity. This is what happens when uninformed citizens let the government pass seemingly harmless laws or regulations upon the citizenry and the accompanying “mission creep” that comes with it. Remember the Patriot Act, and its subsequent numerous extensions that have originally passed through congress on a steady basis since 2001 ?  The Patriot Act was started as a tool to fight terrorism. On May 26th 2011 Barack Obama signed a four year extension of key Patriot Act provisions.  Also in the Patriot Act is the clause that allows National Security Letters which allow the F.B.I. to search telephone, e-mail and financial records without a search warrant. Now the F.B.I. wants to  will expand that privacy invasion power to basically let them spy on anyone in America without a valid reason, search through their trash and search any database on the Internet that holds citizen’s personal records and communications without a warrant or reason!  And they are doing it all under the guise of “fine-tuning the F.B.I. manual. Further on in the Times article we see that they have sent us a General Council, Valerie Caproni to spin this into making it appear to be harmless changes:

“Every one of these has been carefully looked at and considered against the backdrop of why do the employees need to be able to do it, what are the possible risks and what are the controls,” she said, portraying the modifications to the rules as “more like fine-tuning than major changes.”

  Maybe Ms. Caproni will answer as to why former F.B.I. agent and current ACLU attorney, one Mr. Michael German replied that ” It was unwise to further ease restrictions on agents’ power to use potentially intrusive techniques, especially if they lacked a firm reason to suspect someone of wrongdoing.” That doesn’t sound like any “fine-tuning”  of the F.B.I. manual, but instead sounds like a huge privacy invading power grab! The F.B.I. is now using cloudy terms to try to hide this unconstitutional action also. Terms like assessment are being used as some sort of justification to spy on American citizens without any justification here.

Some of the most notable changes apply to the lowest category of investigations, called an “assessment.” The category, created in December 2008, allows agents to look into people and organizations “proactively” and without firm evidence for suspecting criminal or terrorist activity.
Under current rules, agents must open such an inquiry before they can search for information about a person in a commercial or law enforcement database. Under the new rules, agents will be allowed to search such databases without making a record about their decision. (emphasis mine) 

 Another added tidbit concerning this privacy invasion of American citizens concerns possible “informants” also known as paid government snitches. One could deduce that if the F.B.I. wants to make someone an informant, having some dirt on them would aid them in persuading said person to become an informant, so lets just change the F.B.I. manual to allow that privacy invasion without a shred of proof of wrong doing by the subject.   And Ms Caproni said not only could that information be used to pressure people to assist the government, but it could also be used to determine whether the subject, ( notice it is not suspect, as there is no crime involved that gives them the authority to do this in the first place) poses a threat to the agents.
Last but certainly not least, the F.B.I. will protect the privacy rights of certain people in this new manual. Just who would that be? How about sensitive investigative matter subjects ?  These are the F.B.I. types of privacy invasions that are being done to public officials. (IE: Corrupt Government officials and politicians) members of the news media, and of course  academic scholars! They need extra protection, which is also at the  discretion of the F.B.I. as to just who gets said protection. With the recent killing of the FCC’s fairness doctrine, we now see the F.B.I. is going to do it anyway, Congress be damned:

The manual clarifies the definition of who qualifies for extra protection as a legitimate member of the news media in the Internet era: prominent bloggers would count, but not people who have low-profile blogs. And it will limit academic protections only to scholars who work for institutions based in the United States.  

So now the F.B.I. will be in fact, censoring and monitoring the internet, and labeling anyone who speaks out against this type of unconstitutional tyranny as some sort of domestic terrorist or person of interest. With the writing of this article, you can bet yours truly qualifies under the new F.B.I. manual, as they now need no proof of wrong doing of any sorts to invade the privacy of  U.S. citizens. This new F.B.I. manual also just happens to come just in time to try to use it to harass anyone who expresses their political views. That’s right, and I am expressing my views right here and right now, and I do not like the F.B.I. granting themselves carte blanche to read American citizen’s email, snoop in their trash, listen to their phone conversations and basically invade their private lives just because they decided to change their damn manual! Note to F.B.I.; You are not elected members of our congress.You have no right to enact what amounts to unconstitutional laws against the very taxpaying citizens that pay your salaries! People had better wake up here and speak up! We are losing our freedoms and rights granted to us as American citizens at a very rapid rate today, all due to an out of control, too powerful government. This is also a great example of why it is wrong to allow our President the power to make appointments without Senate approval. See here. The very same “minor appointments” mentioned in that article are the type of government employees who in fact, wrote this new F.B.I. manual that in fact declares that the F.B.I. has a right to spy on American citizens without so much as a valid reason or proof of wrong-doing!