Security Theater

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin.

“The president has put in place an organization that contains the kind of database that no one has ever seen before in life. That’s going to be very, very powerful. That database will have information about everything on every individual in ways that it’s never been done before.” Rep. Maxine Waters

Who expected that 1984 has arrived? I recall that in the actual year of 1984, a great many commenters in the political arena rejoiced that the whole Big Brother thing had not arrived, but it looks like such rejoicing was premature. Now we have the NSA collecting telephone records from Verizon wholesale for the ostensible purpose of security reasons … not so much for tracking specific suspected terrorists, but rather for data-mining … and very likely for opposition research. The revelations of the IRS stalling Tea Party groups’ applications for 501 status? Almost certainly this distracted or discouraged those groups from going all-out in last year’s election season, which I believe was the primary purpose.

Back in the early days of starting the San Antonio Tea Party in 2009, one of our board members – a very thoughtful corporate lawyer and businessman – did have a warning for us who were in leadership positions; as soon as we began to make waves, he pointed out that those of us with embarrassing skeletons in our personal closets should adjust to the reality that those skeletons might magically appear, thanks to oppo research efforts directed against us. As it eventually turned out, several of those people did have rather substantial dark marks on their personal record; I might have been assumed to be one also, but I had gone to the extent of blogging and writing about them all; my life was essentially an open book, available on Amazon for a modest fee.

Our lawyer member had the right idea, but I don’t think we fully grasped that we would be running into a danger from a politicized IRS. I believe he was not quite so cynical as to see that twist coming. But such was the tenor of the very invasive questions asked by the IRS of those later Tea Party groups – asking for information about group leaders and contributors, one might suspect also that this was part of a massive opposition research operation. Map the groups and their connections, get information about individuals; it worked very well in Iraq, in tracking down Al Qaida operators. Now I suppose it is being done wholesale on half the country who doesn’t think Obama is the greatest thing since canned date-nut bread – and this will not end well. The Tea Party group that I am still in connection with sent out an email last week, explaining that they had never applied for 501 status and so could assure anyone contributing toward or participating in their activities that their names were never confided to the tender mercies and the leaky data files of the IRS. Which certainly must have come as a relief to anyone who made big donations … because, curiously enough, information about big donors to various right-of-center causes and politicians just seemed to leak out all over during the last election season; how very curious was that, eh? Up to this very minute, I believe most Americans disliked and dreaded having to do anything with the IRS, but assumed that the revenue-collecting agency delivered their abuse of members of the public on a fair and ecumenical basis. And now to find out that such abuses were not just the actions of a few rogue agents, but directed and controlled from near to if not actually the top?

Congratulations; now at least half the taxpayers in the country have even better reason to dislike and dread the IRS.

So, this IRS thing is one shoe dropping; I wonder if the EPA accidental-on-purpose releasing a wide range of personal information about farmers and ranchers – which they just happened to have accumulated – to a whole range of environmental groups, many of whom seem to be opposed to the whole concept of farming and ranching. Trotting around afterwards and asking for the information back is like shutting the barn door after the horse is gone, to use an agricultural metaphor. It is almost as if … I don’t know … someone is laying the ground work for a campaign akin to radical animal rights activists targeting research facilities which use animal testing. Would the ecological crazies start harassing farmers and their families in flyover country? I wouldn’t have thought so a couple of years ago, but times change. Congratulations, however – a great many food producers in our blessed nation now may have cause to fear and dread agents of the federal government from more than one agency.

This being a Friday afternoon, I confidently expect some other exciting confession from the Ruling Class to be dropped into the news cycle, in the fond hopes that it will die the death over the weekend, and be old news by Monday.

(Crossposted at

27 thoughts on “Security Theater”

  1. I am not opposed to the data mining in principle where terrorists are concerned but two things worry me. I don’t trust this administration and I don’t think they have my best interests at heart as a citizen.

    They are 100% political and they have some odd ideas about who our enemies are.

  2. We apparently are all are terrorists anyway – veterans, Tea Partiers, social and religious conservatives, southerners, small independent business owners and gun-owners – according to this administrations’ statements. Well, I always wanted to be part of an underground resistance. Guess I am getting my chance, now.

  3. penproggtarded

    “your 501c is entirely voluntary.”

    so is the effin’ tax code except when it is not.

  4. Yes, we do understand that, Bic-boy. The groups that I belonged to did understand, utterly – and one had their application passed through without any trouble while the other declined to go through the goat-rope, which may have been the most sensible route after all.

    The thing that seems to escape you utterly – is that Tea Party-affiliated group applications were treated very differently from progressive-oriented group applications put forward during the very same time period. That they were treated such by a supposedly-neutral government body is cause for concern.

    I don’t know how Canadian governmental bodies manage such matters and would not venture to pass judgement on them for their actions. Obviously American standards differ in that we have higher expectations of our federal bureaucrats.

  5. As Tom Sullivan mentioned on his show today – in a “connect the dots” exercise – everyone marveled at Obama’s campaign in getting-out-the-vote via data mining -= now the question is, where did he get the data?

    And does Eric Schmidt of Google come into play?

  6. Would the ecological crazies start harassing farmers and their families in flyover country?

    Farmers and their families in flyover country are fairly well armed. The eco-crazies would be crazy to open that particular box of Pandora’s.

  7. “Who expected that 1984 has arrived?”

    I assume this is rhetorical. A list beginning with the opponents of FDR’s alphabet soup of agencies would be longer than this blog.

    IRS, EPA, and don’t forget the seizure of medical records. A massive database to identify every enemy of the ruling party and to supply the means of blackmail; a government making war on its own people. Like Jim Crow. The 1965 immigration act. Civil Rights. Who wudda thunk it? Anyone not blinded by ideology.

  8. I’m waiting for it to happen to me. My wife and I, especially my wife, are active in the local Tea party oriented political scene in Will County, and she recently won a race for the Channahon Township Clerk against at democrat who had been in office for 16 years. We are also active in another ‘enemy of the state’, the Boy Scouts.

    Any blackmail attempt will be met with “PUBLISH AND BE DAMNED!” reply.

  9. Farmers and their families in flyover country are fairly well armed. The eco-crazies would be crazy to open that particular box of Pandora’s.

    Being armed doesn’t protect you from the IRS, OSHA, the EPA, etc.

  10. I understand. I meant that under the Obama administration the eco and other leftist crazies use the federal bureaucracies to enforce their preferences. Who needs to use bombs or other crude physical means when you can get your enemies audited?

  11. We are in European territory, not American. What two weeks ago was the stuff of tinfoil hat conspiracies has been proved true by government admission. I would note that today the absolute denials by the major internet companies that they were feeding everything by everyone to the government [as shown government documents] were shown to be lies as the methods were revealed. The government filed a motion with the courts to ban reporting on the surveillance system as a matter of national security. An arrest was made in the ricin letters sent recently, and in the court filing it was revealed that the Post Office takes images of the front and back of every piece of mail they handle, and can retrieve them by time, date, location, and addressee.

    Since tyranny is afoot, and is putting on its jackboots as discretion has been discarded, let me offer some recent political history.

    Remember the old school filibuster that Rand Paul did last March against the confirmation of Brennan as head of the CIA? The cause was the public claim by the administration that they had the right to kill American citizens at will, on American soil; without warrant, charge, trial, or due process under the same set of laws “allowing” this domestic spying. Paul’s filibuster made them recant. So Brennan was confirmed. And the administration immediately cancelled their recantation.

    If a government is openly claiming the right to kill its own citizens, at will with no due process; it means that privately they have already made contingency plans to do just that. Look at this spying through that lens.

    Subotai Bahadur

  12. I suppose Romney will have realised that everything about his campaign will have been reported to the Democrats. Who needs Watergate-style plumbers now?

  13. The internet companies deny providing data because the program is classified at the highest secrecy level. To say “yes, we provided data” is to reveal a secret, a felony punishable by torture, dismemberment an death if you’re lucky.

    No one can admit to helping the NSA, the IRS, the FBI, the EPA, or Obamacare. It is forbidden.

  14. Dearieme, that is about the most frightening part of this – that Romney, no less than ordinary citizens – were hobbled from the very gate in the last election. What if the election really-oh, truly-oh was stolen, through a combination of massive fraudulent voting, and an equally massive effort to supress or erase pro-Romney, GOP and Tea Party votes?

    What then, oh, wolves?

  15. We need to bring back the spoils system.

    Members of the Progressive Wing of the Democrat party have penetrated every level of the Federal Bureaucracy over the last fifty years. Only the military has not been penetrated largely because Progressives hate military service.

    The crushing of the Tea Party by the Federal government led by the IRS was accomplished completely without the knowledge of the President, his cabinet or any Progressive senator or representative. They have no control!!!

    The Federal government is run by progressive cliques. It cannot be controlled.

    The solution is to go back to the “spoils system” that prevailed before civil service and unions. We should totally eliminate the unions and civil service. After every election all federal employees should be fired and replaced by people selected by people just elected.

    This may be corrupt but it won’t be secret and it will be a good reason to make government smaller.

    Bring back the spoils system.

    BTW, the current military sex scandal is a crisis progressive are using to put progressive bureaucrats in control of the military.

  16. Sgt. Mom Says:
    June 8th, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    …What if the election really-oh, truly-oh was stolen, through a combination of massive fraudulent voting, and an equally massive effort to supress or erase pro-Romney, GOP and Tea Party votes?

    What then, oh, wolves?

    Since the Heimatsicherheitsdienst already has a fine collection of my seditious support for the Constitution [and not being of the Judeo-Christian persuasion our ruling elites are not into repentence or forgiveness even in the impossible event it would be offered]; allow me to be politically incorrect:

    1) there is no possible doubt that the election was stolen.

    a. Look at the number of counties that have more registered voters than they have people of voting age. There are 17 in my state. Always Democrat controlled.

    b. Look at the number of precincts that regularly turn out over 100% of the number of registered voters for the Democrat, and none for the Republican.

    c) Look at the number of Democrat operatives who have been convicted of vote fraud, even with the Democrats trying to block prosecution.

    d. Look at the number of times that Democrats and their supporters have physically threatened voters to keep Republicans from the polls, and how they are always given a pass by prosecutors in Democrat controlled jurisdictions.

    e. Look at the constant Democrat push to eliminate any security over the voting and vote counting process, and encourage foreign nationals to be able to vote.

    f. Look at the Democrat media, who will not question the most boldfaced lies from a Democrat, and which will make up lies about their opponents. Including protecting the Democrat at the presidential debates.

    g. Note that despite there having been at least a half dozen or more major government scandals in the last 5 years. Exactly none have been broken open or even investigated by American media. Every one has been broken by foreign media. The most major American media will do is make a few minor mentions of the existence of the scandal, and highlight the White House spin as the emphasis of the story.

    2) The illegal release of data about Conservative donors to Democrats, data that by law is classified, the harassment of conservatives by agents of the regime [including demands to know what prayers they prayed] that have been reported in the last few days, and the massive collection of data on every freaking American citizen by the government in violation of the law and the Constitution [which data seems to match up with the fabled Obama datamining operation].

    Yeah it was stolen. And there is no prospect of ever winning an election again, nor of prosecution of any Democrat for any of these crimes, ever.

    What does that imply?

    That the current government of the United States is not legitimate, either morally or Constitutionally. The scope of their power is as far as their political thugs [No, DHS are not cops, not law enforcement, despite putting “Police” all over their equipment. They exist only to support the regime, and do not give a fig about protecting the country.] can coerce.

    Somewhere, somehow, a wolf is going to be pushed too far. “Then only the Great Blue Sky Tengri Nor knows the outcome.”

    Subotai Bahadur

  17. The odd thing is that it seems this far reaching and no doubt expensive operation has paid few dividends in catching terrorists before they act. I don’t know that that is an intelligence failure, a number of perps seem to have been known to the system, it is just that nothing was done. A chain, weakest link, etc. There is a built in dumbness to the system, much of which I think arises from PC and a lack of common sense. No amount of information is likely to be useful in such circumstance.

  18. chuck Says:
    June 8th, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    The odd thing is that it seems this far reaching and no doubt expensive operation has paid few dividends in catching terrorists before they act.

    A far reaching and expensive [and illegal and unconstitutional] operation has had no success in preventing terrorist attacks. It has had major and signal successes in suppressing legal domestic political opposition to the government in power. It is not an unreasonable assumption to make that the successes they have had were the real objective of the effort.

    Subotai Bahadur

  19. Americans have dealt with terrorists ever since the first colonist set foot on American soil. The first colonists called them Indians. Of course, from the other point of view. the Indians called the terrorists white people.

    We have a hundred years of movies and televisions series devoted to the constant battle against terrorists – who, if they were European, were called “outlaws”.

    We do not have to convert the US into the Soviet Union in order to fight terrorists. We do not need passports to travel from one American city to another. We do not need random searches. All we need is an honest local sheriff like Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke. Nothing more.

  20. So, we can no longer communicate by phone, computer or snail mail without it being tracked by the regime. Our physical location is tracked by the GPS in our vehicles or mobile devices. What privacy is left to us? How do we ever regain control of the country? Can it even be done at this point?

  21. 1. Not to say that there aren’t dirty tricks in politics, if the election was stolen, then will Hillary or Michelle steal it in 2016?

    2. Any one who is surprised by any of the NSA revelations is a naif. We pay them to read other peoples’ mail and have been for 65 years. If we did something this hard why wouldn’t we do the easy stuff? And now that we let other people live here, the only way we can get to their mail is to sort through everyone’s. There is no question there is opportunity for abuse, but the way to cure the problem is to minimize the size of leviathan and eliminate the opportunities, not reduce our defense.

    3. You have zero privacy. Get over it. Scott McNealy, libertarian, 1999.

    4. You have to fight for your privacy, or you will lose it. Whenever there’s a conflict, the logic of security will trump the right to privacy. Eric Schmidt, May 25, 2013. Wonder what he was thinking about when he said that.

    5. The Right to Privacy is the result of progressives Warren & Brandeis’ 1890 Harvard Law Review article, The Right to Privacy”. Established so that contraceptives could be sold in Connecticut, it is also the foundation for legal abortion.

  22. “If we did something this hard why wouldn’t we do the easy stuff?”

    Because the easy stuff doesn’t work. It’s easier to spy on our own people than on our enemies. Free American citizens are convenient useful idiots.
    Just like the TSA, this gives the illusion that something is being done with no evidence that it actually does anything.

    We may or not have a right to privacy, but we damned sure have 4th amendment rights against unreasonable searches.

    The WSJ was likening it to police with guns. Just because something bad can happen with guns doesn’t mean police should be prevented from using them.

    Only police have certified rules, codes of conduct, and laws overseeing their behaviour and procedures

    We’ll never know what good the NSA program does or what harm it does because there’s no oversight.
    Where is this data? Who has access to it and when? Where are the audits to insure proper handling.

    Trust us the government says, but as Reagan warned,
    the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’

    All that daily snooping on everything we do didn’t do anything to prevent the Boston bombings. Why?
    We’re our own worst enemies.

    Setting aside the unconstitutionality of this program for a moment (as if that isn’t bad enough), the entire basis of the program is junk:

    that Big Data can solve all our problems. The NSA isn’t looking for individuals, they are looking for patterns

    They’re wrong and actually making us more vulnerable

    This is not a case of security but another case of more unaccountable bureaucracies addicted to control running amok. It’s not just wrong, but it’s dangerous to our collective safety and makes us less secure with each passing day.

  23. grey eagle Says “Americans have dealt with terrorists ever since the first colonist set foot on American soil.”

    Remember the bombing of the Los Angeles Times by union terrorists, which killed about a dozen people and injured about a hundred? That was roughly a hundred years ago.

  24. There is an article I have yet to read about how the signers of the Declaration of Independence literately risked their lives signing that document.

    I am wondering if it will become necessary to have another Declaration with the same implications.

Comments are closed.