No privacy left for our grandchildren?
BIG BROTHER CAN DIG UP LOTS OF PERSONAL INFO—BUT SOME IS JUST HOGWASH.
by Nat Hentoff for HUSTLER Magazine
Among the Congressional Republican leadership, there has been no active concern about ever-increasing government spying on you, me and the rest of us. So too among the GOP’s leading contenders for the Presidency. However, a lone wolf emerged during the party’s 11th debate when Ron Paul almost roared: “Our founders were very clear. They said, ‘Don’t be willing to sacrifice liberty for security!’” All but one of Paul’s rivals made sharply clear they felt he was going too far with this personal liberty stuff.
As lackeys of our master spy, Barack Obama, Democratic lawmakers and highlevel officials no doubt concur. Even among Americans who were once taught that the Fourth Amendment guaranteed each of us freedom from “unreasonable search and seizure” by the government, how many know that in 1967 the Supreme Court went further? Its Katz v. United States decision assured that we citizens have an “expectation of privacy” in certain areas of our lives.
Can you think of anywhere that such an “expectation of privacy” now exists? Consider this October 14, 2011, banner in the Washington-based Daily Caller : “House subcommittee chair: Is Obama admin. already collecting private health information?”
This grim rumor did arouse, briefly, Representative Denny Rehberg (R-Montana), who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education. Rehberg demanded that he be told whether the health-collecting information was true: “If so, it would represent an egregious violation of the privacy rights that the American public rightfully demands.”
The Obama team denies, robotically of course, that such private information is being collected. But if the President is reelected, despite whatever the Supreme Court decides about Obamacare, his passion for health rationing will grow, and the government will insist on knowing those elements of our healthcare that are too costly for him to maintain.
A few members of the minority Republican Party in the next Congress may be upset, but I’m not aware if there is likely to be anyone in the GOP leadership with anything to say about this invasion of your inner privacy.
Keep in mind that when Obama extended the tenure of FBI Director Robert Mueller— who, with far more intrusive technology than J. Edgar Hoover ever imagined, regularly grinds down the Fourth Amendment—the confirming vote was unanimous. Not a whisper about our “expectation of privacy.”
As long as the First Amendment is still robustly alive, I and other insistent protectors of privacy will keep to the task: trying to inform the citizenry that although we are not already subjects of a “police state,” living in a world that is increasingly adding police states means we are not absolutely immune from making security the ultimate priority of this nation. All the more so because murderous terrorism, under whatever nomenclature, continues to breed new generations of assassins while citizens become more conditioned to privacy being as anachronistic as traditional matrimony.
Have you heard any criticism of Mueller’s fully implementing the FBI domestic security rules that give his agents free rein to start a “threat assessment” (i.e., an investigation) of any of us without going to a judge and without any evidence of a crime having been committed?
And did you know that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are now testing ways to determine if someone is only thinking about or imagining some deep danger to our safety? This pre-crime detection by Big Brother is called “FAST.” I’ll be reporting on it soon.
Dig this additional Robert Mueller contribution for our next Fourth of July celebrations: Under the header “Is the American Way of Life Over as We Know It?” a WorldNetDaily article warned, “Next time you call a talk radio station, beware: The FBI may be listening.”
The story mentioned this ominous news from WMAL.com: “The FBI has awarded a $524,927 contract to a Virginia company to record as much radio news and talk programming as it can find on the Internet. … The FBI says it is not playing Big Brother by policing the airwaves but rather seeking access to what airs as potential evidence.”
Huh? This databasing also includes callers. On many such programs, listeners given an opportunity to express themselves on-air can be even more fiercely opinionated than the hosts. And, as I’ve already reported in HUSTLER, the FBI is now after your garbage.
On what basis? In the Boston Herald, Dan K. Thomasson explained that “[the FBI’s scrutinizing of trash] would be particularly [vital] if you have had any contact, knowingly or unknowingly, socially or otherwise, with someone the bureau finds suspicious.”
Maybe someone who called in complaining that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or Michael Savage was being too mild. Hey, I was a guest of both Limbaugh and Savage and also of Mark Levin. Now what did I say that might be suspicious? Isn’t it about time I taped my call-ins to protect myself?
A friend of mine’s grandchild is seven years old. He’s already quite outspoken and has been reading voraciously. Would the FBI pay attention to a little boy? Well, the kid is so verbal and rambunctious, he just might call in to a radio station. Maybe a listening Robert Mueller agent would be curious about the patriotism of his parents or grandparents. I’m only joking, right?
My first job, when I was a 12-year-old during the Great Depression, was in a Boston haberdashery. I couldn’t remember the store’s name when I was writing my first memoir, Boston Boy: Growing Up With Jazz and Other Rebellious Passions (Paul Dry Books). But there it was in my FBI file along with my having attended, years ago, a meeting of radicals in North Africa. I’ve never been to Africa—North or South.
Nat Hentoff is a historian of the Constitution, a jazz critic and a columnist for the Village Voice and Free Inquiry. His incisive books include The First Freedom: The Tumultuous History of Free Speech in America ; Living the Bill of Rights ; and the forthcoming Is This Still America?