Ten years ago to this day, the major news story was the crash of ValuJet Flight 592 into the Florida Everglades. A tragic event which killed all 110 passengers and crew onboard, it was nothing compared to what we see today.
Today we learn that the already highly dubious NSA wiretapping program was more sinister and deeply rooted than we thought. Many dismissed the original objections on the grounds that all calls ended on one side or the other outside of the country. Others simply were apathetic. Some supported it as a political matter to shore up waning approval rating in the President and the dipping public trust in the republican party as a contrast to those who opposed it on the very same grounds, but from opposite motivation.
Today, however, we find that it was much more sinister. Anybody who is a customer of or has recently called a customer of any of the major telephone companies, save anybody who has somehow managed to call from and to only Qwest customers, is currently on file with the NSA. At this moment, you almost certainly have a record at a federal agency in the executive branch of government.
Many people are focusing on the fact that this is an obvious abuse of governmental power and fourth amendment rights, but the more dangerous lesson here comes when one combines this news story with the news story that broke alongside of it: the NSA has killed investigation into its practices by refusing to grant clearance to review its practices.
While the wiretapping and collection itself is alarming and dangerous, the most dangerous part of all this is that nobody is making any serious move to stop it. The NSA has flexed its muscles and, for the time being at least, declared itself untouchable. As an agency with the power to litterally enter into any home in the U.S. undetected, citizens of all political affiliations should be deeply and fundamentally frightened by this turn of events.
It is important that we stop focusing on the "Big Brother of 1984" aspect and recognize that comparisons to fiction necessarily diminish the gravity of the current situation. We need to stand up and flush the system in power to remove all of the detritus that has caked the walls of our system over the years. All the corruption that has come to be taken for granted, all the abuses that have been met with apathy, and all the influence that is peddled by dangerous minority groups with overbearing agendas.
It is about time people stopped blindly following politicians, whether because you "trust" that they won't abuse their power, or that you "trust" that they're actually trying to stop abuses. People are people, not political toys and segmentable machines. It's time we started acting more like people, and less like pawns in a chess match.