Spying Upon Ourselves

United States Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, is drafting a plan that is supposed to protect America?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s cyberspace. The plan, according to The New Yorker (January 14, 2008) is that “the government must have the ability to read all the information crossing the Internet in the United States.” Yes, you read it right, in order to protect us, we must give up all our rights to privacy. Prisoners in jail have given up their right to privacy, not voluntarily of course, as we are asked to do. Prisoners can be moved, strip searched, cavity searched, and have their mail search at the whim of their jailers. But they are safe. Oh yes, very, very safe. As will be the people of the United States with the Federal Government as our Jailer, at least that is the plan. The prisoners who are following the rules of the jail have nothing to fear, they are told. And yet they still must submit whenever they are ordered. The United States can be both free and safe. A false choice is being created in order to increase the power of the Federal Government. Do we want to be a nation of prisoners? Do we want to be a nation that must watch every word or spend months explaining what was meant by a particular sentence. When all dissent is monitored, dissent becomes impossible.

People act is if there is a difference between civil liberties and liberty. There isn’t. We will be free in all areas or will be in none. There is no difference between those who wish to limit our economic liberty that those who wish to limit or “civil” liberty. Limiting our liberty in one area necessitates its loss in all other areas. The ramifications of one small loss of liberty multiplies across all others. We will be free or not. Half-free and half-slave is a contradiction in terms and impossible in reality. Just as free-trade means the freedom to deal with whom one wishes and free speech means that you can both speak and pay for a venue to make your speech heard, freedom of association implies it can be private if you wish. A State in which all communication is monitored is a police state. A police-state is a very safe state, everyone is an informer, everyone an informee. Everyone is safe both because everyone else is afraid to act, and no one can do anything without being informed upon. No rational person who wants to be free wants to live in such a state though. That is, unless you intend to be the jailer or the minister of information who knows everything about everyone. There can only be one jailer, one minister in charge, and many hundreds of thousands of others plotting to get and keep those jobs.

Mike McConnell wants the Federal Government to become the Nation’s jailer, the entity which knows everything about everyone. You can trust Washington not to abuse that power. Just as much as we trusted Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, and Clinton not to use the IRS to investigate enemies – Kennedy against right-wing fundamentalist Christians, Nixon against many enemies of any stripe, Clinton against right-wing enemies. Just as we trusted Roosevelt not to try to pack the Supreme Court. Just as…on second thought…

Whether McConnell is in charge or someone opposite him on the current political spectrum, the result will be the same. There will be corruption of the monitoring apparatus, and fights for power over who will be the beneficiary of it. Just as the fights over who can divide the spoils of the tremendous yearly tax windfall in Washington have grown with the budget, so too will the fights over who knows all the secrets of the nation and who will be able to exploit them. A person without privacy is a miserable animal, sub-human, existing at the whim of the state. Even the most scrupulously honest person should fear that power in anyone’s hands.

While McConnell’s motives may very well be good, the potential for abuse here is tremendous. Instead of “protecting” the United States and the internet Mike McConnell is preparing the way to ensure that the first totalitarian elected will be able to easily enslave the people of the United States. Who needs to let Islamofascism win when we are faced with a misguided proposal like this, we might as well have our thoughts monitored like Iran and the old USSR. The United States might well be safe from Islamofascism, but the United States as we know it would no longer exist. Nothing would be left to protect. Spying for security is only done for expediency. Thumb-screws and the rack would no doubt get many more confessions and therefor crimes solved, but would we really want that?

McConnell must rethink the plan. You don’t protect American values by ignoring them. You don’t protect the Constitution by destroying it. You don’t defeat evil by adopting its traits. You don’t protect privacy by removing it. You don’t protect your fundamental principles by abandoning them. Compromise on principles means you have no principles. Compromise on principles is a contradiction in terms.

Any compromise on Freedom means freedom loses. Any compromises on Liberty means liberty loses. Those who wish to force you to act as they want, in no matter how little a way, are no better than those who want to force you to act as they want in every way. Every bit of force means lost liberty. A low flush toilet? A different light bulb? All lead to total control by the state. Inch by inch, minute by minute, good intention by good intention, we lose the freedom that heros fought for. Freedom that will exact a terrific cost to regain. Freedom that will be impossible to regain if no one can discuss regaining it in private. Year after year the forces of corruption, and statism push for one small loss after another “for a good cause.” Year after year freedom recedes. Are we still freer than other countries? Sure, but our standard of measure of freedom should be our own history, not the socialist states of the world.


Hancock, Henry, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Reagan, Goldwater, and many others are all turning over in their graves. The creation that was to enshrine liberty is instead being used to justify its destruction. People say “the Constitution is not a suicide pact” in order to justify any power grab they want. Statements such as that are not only ignorant but fallacious, intended to immediately divide and thereby conquer. The relentless force of power hungry statist politicians continues to chip away at the foundations of our freedom, the Constitution of the United States. Those who are willing to give up freedom for security deserve neither.


Mike, read the 4th Amendment. If you wish a copy and can not find one, I suggest you look here:

4th Amendment. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.


And the complete Constitution of the United States can be found here. Read it, but please don’t weep, at least while we still have the freedom to fight for our freedom. By the time you should weep, it will be too late because your weeping will be monitored.