There’s a stupid song that this made me think of, and one of the annoying lyrics it contains is “you’re so vain, I bet you think this song is about you don’t you?”. Well I hate to point it out, but if the person involved heard the song then that line makes it about them doesn’t it? Anyway… yes apparently none of us have been too vain when wondering if everything we type on the internet or say on the phone can be read or listened to by someone in Langley Virginia if the mood so takes them.
It seems a bit funny commenting on this now the scandal is a few weeks old, but I’m going to imagine you are all still incredulous to the fact that it turns out the NSA have been secretly recording everything they possibly can all over the world, including the Vatican conclave and Angela Merkel’s mobile phone. There are no possible national security concerns they could reasonably have to justify the above.
Trawling the internet for people who look at jihadi websites or who email each other about the subject is fair game, there is no reason why the internet should be a safe haven for terrorists. But the above cases have proved that the global intelligence community have been hacking specific people, with no link to any crime, simply to be in the know. To have the skinny on whats going on five minutes before it breaks on CNN.
Its fair to say the US (and indeed maybe the UK and other European countries) intelligence services have become addicted to invading the privacy of everyone. There have been a great deal of cynics saying “well everyone knows this is how the game is played” but I’m not buying it. To wage a war with people in mud huts half a globe away the watchers have been watching everyone!?
Yes that is a simplification, but still, are we to endorse this massive infringement of our freedom to fight a perpetual war with a tiny minority? Doesn’t this remind anyone else of George Orwell’s 1984? Its a little known fact that after 9/11 more people were killed on the roads because they were now afraid of flying than the terrorists themselves murdered… We must not become obsessed by the enemy, because to do so is to become the enemy of our own freedom.
Some people love utilitarianism it seems, they love the vicarious thrill of doing the morally questionable in the defense of something they hold dear, this is how the devil works is it not? So we had the CIA torture and rendition scandals. Guantanamo bay and this drone war. All of which have been massive propaganda coups for Islamists.
On a similar theme I worry for the day press censorship laws start getting passed in this country. We already have laws against bribing officials, phone hacking, libel and hate speech. The current press regulation system is already abused by some to stymie free speech. We do not need more of these utilitarians coming along with more regulations. The PC brigade’s power is already far too strong without giving them more rope to hang us with. Anyway this piece by Janet Daley is really saying what I’m saying, only more coherently so maybe I should pack it in. It was Benjamin Franklin who said “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
On a positive note, a friend pointed me towards a fantastic website called Humans Of New York. Just look at it. Read it. We are all in the same boat really, this leaky canoe called life. Three of the top eight articles at the time of writing are bit of a downer, but read on, because it is filled with inspiring stuff.