Are We Really Free When Big Brother Is Systematically Turning America Into A Giant Prison?

Prison - Photo by Sean MunsonEvery year on July 4th we celebrate our “independence”, but is America really free?  How could we possibly be free when “Big Brother” is constantly intruding in our lives in hundreds of different ways?  And I am not just talking about NSA snooping.  Sadly, the truth is that the United States is beginning to fully embrace a “police state” culture.  We have learned that the government monitors and keeps a record of all of our cell phone calls, emails, Internet searches, credit card transactions, and every piece of mail that we send.  But most Americans don’t seem to care.  We are “encouraged” to report the “suspicious activity” of our neighbors to the authorities, we are told that having security thugs touch the private areas of our women and children at our airports is necessary “for our security”, and 80,000 SWAT team raids are conducted each year in the United States.  But the American people don’t seem to care.  America was once a great country, but now it is being turned into a giant prison, and only a small minority of the citizens are raising their voices in objection.

When I was a child, I was taught that totalitarian societies such as North Korea, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were the bad guys.

So why in the world would we want to become more like them?

Do we actually believe that these ridiculous security measures are keeping us safer?

At this point, we have already given up so much privacy that we barely have any left.

For example, up until recently I actually believed that our mail was private.  But now we have learned that the government is monitoring every piece of mail that the American people send.  And according to the New York Times, the government has flagged the mail of thousands of problem citizens for special attention…

Leslie James Pickering noticed something odd in his mail last September: a handwritten card, apparently delivered by mistake, with instructions for postal workers to pay special attention to the letters and packages sent to his home.

“Show all mail to supv” — supervisor — “for copying prior to going out on the street,” read the card. It included Mr. Pickering’s name, address and the type of mail that needed to be monitored. The word “confidential” was highlighted in green.

But even if you are not on the list of those that get special attention, your mail is still photographed.  In fact, 160 billion photographs of our mail were sent to the government last year…

Mr. Pickering was targeted by a longtime surveillance system called mail covers, a forerunner of a vastly more expansive effort, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, in which Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images.

Together, the two programs show that postal mail is subject to the same kind of scrutiny that the National Security Agency has given to telephone calls and e-mail.

The tyrants of the past never dreamed of having some of the technologies that we have today.  Virtually everything that we do is watched, monitored, tracked or recorded in some way.

And as technology continues to advance, there will be very little that the authorities will not be capable of.

Some of the technologies that are coming out these days are absolutely frightening.  For example, over in Europe one company is now running talking ads that seem like they are coming from inside our own heads

Passengers leaning their head against the window will “hear” adverts “coming from inside the user’s head”, urging them to download the Sky Go app.

The proposal involves using bone conduction technology, which is used in hearing aids, headphones and Google’s Glass headset, to pass sound to the inner ear via vibrations through the skull.

A video for the Talking Window campaign released by Sky Deutschland and ad agency BBDO Germany states: “Tired commuters often rest their heads against windows. Suddenly a voice inside their head is talking to them. No one else can hear this message.”

How would you respond if a “voice inside your head” suddenly started talking to you?

In other instances, “Big Brother” can intrude in our lives in more old-fashioned ways.

For example, just check out the rules for July 4th that were posted at the entrance to one park in Lakewood, Ohio.  This photo comes from a recent article by Paul Joseph Watson

July 4th Park Rules

Why would anyone want to go spend the 4th of July at that park?

But this is what America is turning into.  We are turning into a society that is absolutely obsessed with security and control, and this is manifesting in hundreds upon hundreds of different ways.  If you doubt this, just check out the following articles…

-“21 Facts About NSA Snooping That Every American Should Know

-“29 Signs That The Elite Are Transforming Society Into A Total Domination Control Grid

-“America Is Being Systematically Transformed Into A Totalitarian Society

-“America Is Embracing The Secret Police Culture Of The Nazis

-“America’s Roads Have Been Turned Into A Revenue Generating Surveillance Grid

Fortunately, the recent revelations about the NSA have spurred some Americans into action.  For example, a new non-partisan organization known as “Restore The Fourth” is calling on the U.S. government to restore our Fourth Amendment rights.  The following is from a press release that the organization recently issued…

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Restore the Fourth is a grassroots, non-partisan, non-violent movement that seeks to organize and assemble nationwide protests on July 4th, 2013. Protesters in over 100 cities across America will gather to demand that the government of the United States of America adhere to its constitutionally dictated limits and respect the Fourth Amendment. http://www.RestoretheFourth.net provides a detailed list of protest locations.

Restore the Fourth maintains that justification of the Fourth Amendment beyond the original text need not be given; the legitimacy of which is self-evident. “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.” The Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights clearly protects all citizens’ assets, both digital and physical, against searches and seizures without warrant; they aim to assert those rights. They insist that the proper channels of government work to ensure that all policy complies with the supreme laws of the United States of America in their entirety.

Restore the Fourth requests that American citizens’ right to privacy is respected and stands with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and StopWatching.us on their open letter to Congress. As informed members of the American electorate, they endorse and echo the letter’s demands.

1. Enact reform this Congress to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to make clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity and phone records of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court;

2. Create a special committee to investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of this domestic spying. This committee should create specific recommendations for legal and regulatory reform to end unconstitutional surveillance;

3. Hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance.

The July 4th demonstrations seek to demand an end to the unconstitutional surveillance methods employed by the U.S. government and to ensure that all future government surveillance is constitutional, limited, and clearly defined.

Restore the Fourth aims to ensure that the will of the people is reflected in the government of the United States of America. This movement intends to bring an end to twelve years of Fourth Amendment abuses, and demonstrate the need for a return to the Constitution. All Americans should stand with them in this cause to protect the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

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I would encourage you to speak out about these issues however you can.  For some people, that may mean participating in a street protest.  For others, it may mean making a great YouTube video.  Others spread the word on radio shows or by speaking with their friends.  Personally, I have written about these issues extensively on my websites and in my new book.  We all have ways that we can object to the fact that America is being systematically transformed into a giant prison.

So what do you think?

Do you believe that America is really free?

Please feel free to share your opinion by posting a comment below…

Multiple Government Agencies Are Keeping Records Of Your Credit Card Transactions

Credit CardsWere you under the impression that your credit card transactions are private?  If so, I am sorry to burst your bubble.  As you will see below, there are actually multiple government agencies that are gathering and storing records of your credit card transactions.  And in turn, those government agencies share that information with other government agencies that want it.  So if you are making a purchase that you don’t want anyone to know about, don’t use a credit card.  This is one of the reasons why the government hates cash so much.  It is just so hard to track.  In this day and age, the federal government seems to be absolutely obsessed with gathering as much information about all of us as it possibly can.  But there is one big problem.  What they are doing directly violates the U.S. Constitution.  For those that are not familiar with it, the following is what the Fourth Amendment actually says: “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.”  Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment is essentially dead at this point.  The federal government is investigating all of us and gathering information on all of us all day, every day without end.

Many Americans have never even heard of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but Judicial Watch has discovered that they are spending millions of dollars to collect and analyze our financial transactions…

Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained records from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) revealing that the agency has spent millions of dollars for the warrantless collection and analysis of Americans’ financial transactions. The documents also reveal that CFPB contractors may be required to share the information with “additional government entities.”

Judicial Watch was able to obtain some absolutely shocking documents thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request that it filed in April.  The following is a summary of some of the things those documents show…

  • Overlapping contracts with multiple credit reporting agencies and accounting firms to gather, store, and share credit card data as shown in the task list of a contract with Argus Information & Advisory Services LLC worth $2.9 million
  • A provision stipulating that “The contractor recognizes that, in performing this requirement, the Contractor may obtain access to non-public, confidential information, Personally Identifiable Information (PII), or proprietary information.”
  • A stipulation that “The Contractor may be required to share credit card data collected from the Banks with additional government entities as directed by the Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR).”

How do you feel about the fact that the government has contracts with “multiple credit reporting agencies and accounting firms to gather, store, and share credit card data”?

How do you feel about the fact that your credit card data and other “non-public, confidential information” may be shared with “additional government entities”?

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton put it very well when he said that this “warrantless collection of the private financial information of millions of Americans is mind-blowing.  Is there anything that this administration thinks it can’t do?”

But of course the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not the only one keeping records of your credit card transactions.

We have also recently learned that the NSA is doing it too.  The following is from a recent Time Magazine article

Networks are most likely giving the government “metadata.” That is, the credit card issuers could provide the NSA details such as an account or card number, where and when a purchase was made, and for how much. Even though the exact items purchased aren’t revealed, Brian Krebs, who blogs at KrebsOnSecurity.com, says “merchant category codes” in such data give clues about what was bought.

If the NSA is collecting data at the processor level, “at that point the transaction gets cleared and posts to an account, so, yes, you can track it down to a person,” Aufsesser says.

The NSA conceivably could — and probably would — be able get the names of individual account holders from banks issuing credit cards. ”I don’t see how you would anonymize it,” says Al Pascual, senior analyst for security, risk and fraud for Javelin Strategy & Research.

We are rapidly becoming a “Big Brother society” where the government tracks virtually every move that we make.

And don’t think that you can escape this by not using credit cards or by staying off of the Internet.  The truth is that we are being tracked in hundreds of different ways.

For example, have you heard of automated license plate readers?

They are being installed on police vehicles all over the nation, and the amount of information that they are gathering on all of us is frightening.

A computer security consultant named Michael Katz-Lacabe asked the city of San Leandro, California for a record of every time that these license plate readers had scanned his vehicle, and what he discovered absolutely stunned him

The paperback-size device, installed on the outside of police cars, can log thousands of license plates in an eight-hour patrol shift. Katz-Lacabe said it had photographed his two cars on 112 occasions, including one image from 2009 that shows him and his daughters stepping out of his Toyota Prius in their driveway.

That photograph, Katz-Lacabe said, made him “frightened and concerned about the magnitude of police surveillance and data collection.” The single patrol car in San Leandro equipped with a plate reader had logged his car once a week on average, photographing his license plate and documenting the time and location.

At a rapid pace, and mostly hidden from the public, police agencies throughout California have been collecting millions of records on drivers and feeding them to intelligence fusion centers operated by local, state and federal law enforcement.

Most Americans do not even know that these devices exist, but they have been “collecting millions of records” and feeding them into law enforcement databases all over the nation.

In San Diego alone, more than 36 million license plate scans have been fed into a regional database just since 2010

In San Diego, 13 federal and local law enforcement agencies have compiled more than 36 million license-plate scans in a regional database since 2010 with the help of federal homeland security grants. The San Diego Association of Governments maintains the database. Like the Northern California database, the San Diego system retains the data for between one and two years.

“License-plate data is clearly identifiable to specific individuals,” said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “This is like having your barcode tracked.”

Is this the kind of society that we want to become?

Do we really want the police to be taking millions of photographs of us?

Do we really want all of our financial transactions to be fed directly into federal databases?

Do we really want the government to track every phone call we make and every email we send?

As I wrote about recently, it has been documented that literally thousands of companies have been handing over customer data to the NSA.

Is this the kind of legacy that we want to leave for our children and our grandchildren?

Fortunately, it appears that at least some Americans are waking up to all of this.

According to a brand new Rasmussen survey, 56 percent of likely voters in the United States now believe that the federal government is a threat to individual rights…

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 56% of Likely U.S. Voters now consider the federal government a threat to individual rights rather than a protector of those rights. That’s up 10 points from 46% in December.

While 54% of liberal voters consider the feds to be a protector of individual rights, 78% of conservatives and 49% of moderates see the government as a threat.

Overall, only 30% believe the feds today are a protector of individual rights. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

If the American people do not stand up and demand change, the people that are constantly violating our privacy are going to continue to do so.

Sadly, the vast majority of the politicians in both major political parties seem to think that there is nothing wrong with the status quo.  So I wouldn’t expect any major changes in the short-term.  But hopefully government surveillance will start to become such a major issue with the American people that the politicians will be forced to start addressing it.

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