With news that the British government allowed the NSA to liberally spy on Britons, Jeff Lyon, of the rubbing alcoholic blog, opines about the real meaning behind government surveillance by bringing to light some of the absurdity it entails.
Clearly, the situation is not as bad here in the United States, but we have reason to be concerned. We are told that the government engages in surveillance to protect us from terrorism. The problem is that recently the definition of terrorism has been shifting towards anything the government doesn?t like. Consider the following examples:
· The FBI tracked non-violent Occupy protestors as potential terrorism suspects. They even went so far as to come up with assassination plans on Occupy Wall Street leaders.
· Washington State introduced a bill (SB 6566) that would classify non-violent animal rights activists as eco-terrorists. Specifically, sneaking into a factory farm and taking photographs would be considered a terrorist offense. Many other states have introduced similar proposals.
· The FBI tracks non-violent libertarians who refuse to accept government authority as a domestic terrorist movement, referring to them as "paper terrorists."
· The Department of Justice is prosecuting three anti-nuclear peace activists (including an 82 year-old nun) as terrorists for sneaking into a nuclear weapons facility, spray painting peace slogans on the walls, singing peace songs, and praying.
· The Federal government tried (and failed) to prosecute Chelsea Manning for aiding the enemy. Manning released documents and videos which proved the military had lied and attempted to cover up various embarassing facts about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. By charging Manning as a terrorist, the government was sending a clear message to other would-be whistleblowers: we will ruin you.
Regardless of how you feel (and the legality) of any of these examples, can you with a straight face call any of this terrorism? These are people who were acting out of conscience for a cause they believe deeply in and whose actions didn?t endanger any lives.
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