Living in an Imperial World: A National Surveillance State to Watch Over Me
Following on the heels of NYC's recent decision to emulate inner London's "ring of steel" comes this note from Washington DC media on the latest outbreak in unregulated governmental "security" surveillance.
An excerpt from the NYPD story:
...The NYPD is looking to install permanent license plate scanners at each of the 20 crossings into Manhattan as part of an elaborate new safety scheme.
"We can't deny the reality that we've had two attacks at that location - two successful terrorist attacks," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
The security ring would coordinate the scanners, 3,000 public and private security cameras, as well as radiation detectors capable of tracking a dirty bomb entering Manhattan. The plan is designed to prevent an attack on the rebuilt Trade Center.
The plan, as first outlined by the Daily News in April, improves on London's famed "Ring of Steel" with a $106 million program of barriers and guard booths encircling the World Trade Center footprint.
By the time the 16-acre World Trade Center site is restored, the NYPD hopes to have 100 license plate scanners working below Canal St., police said.
"Our goal is to make lower Manhattan the safest and the most inviting business area in the world," Kelly said yesterday.
License plate information would be held for 30 days, and then purged, if not needed for an investigation, Kelly said...
Here's the Washington metro gist:
...Officials from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia have agreed to install 200 license plate readers on police vehicles, at airports and along roads. The plan announced Friday will be funded by federal homeland security grants for the area.
Britain used the readers in the 1990s to deter Irish Republican Army attacks. But in the United States, the devices have mostly been used to regulate parking or catch car thieves.
The readers will scan every license plate that passes by and will run the numbers through federal criminal and terrorist databases...
Where is this all headed?
The Belmont Club gives us some perspective, as does this new paper from Yale Law School Professor Jack Balkin.
Take the time to read these articles (especially that of Professor Balkin), and then ask yourself the following four questions:
1. How do free men and women fight and defeat these technologies?
2. Assuming that global resistance can be mustered against the surveillance state, how do free men and women hold the government leaders who implemented these Orwellian technologies accountable?
3. Or is already too late?
4. And if it is too late, what exactly does that mean for thought criminals who believe in individual freedom and responsibility, limited government, unalienable human rights, and a place once known as the "land of the free and the home of the brave"?
Orwell tells us the most likely scenario:
...It was always at night - the arrests invariably happened at night. The sudden jerk out of sleep, the rough hand shaking your shoulder, the lights glaring in your eyes, the ring of hard faces round the bed. In the vast majority of cases there was no trial, no report of the arrest. People simply disappeared, always during the night. Your name was removed from the registers. Every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vaporized was the usual word.
It was unusual for political offenders to be put on trial or even publicly denounced. The great purges involving thousands of people, with public trials of traitors and thought-criminals who made abject confession of their crimes and were afterwards executed, were special show-pieces not occurring oftener than once in a couple of years. More commonly, people who had incurred the displeasure of the Party simply disappeared and were never heard of again. One never had the smallest clue as to what had happened to them. The only real clue lay in the words 'refs unpersons', which indicated that the person was dead. He did not exist: he had never existed. Perhaps thirty people personally known to Winston, not counting his parents, had disappeared at one time or another. Very occasionally some person whom you had believed dead long since would make a ghostly reappearance at some public trial where he would implicate hundreds of others by his testimony before vanishing, this time for ever.
The proper thing was to kill yourself before they got you. Undoubtedly some people did so. But it needed desperate courage to kill yourself in a world where firearms, or any quick and certain poison, were completely unprocurable...
However, in the next chapter, Orwell also suggests that resistance - however defined and however dubious its chances - is its own justification:
...He was a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would ever hear. But so long as he uttered it, in some obscure way the continuity was not broken. It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on the human heritage. He went back to the table, dipped his pen, and wrote:
To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone -- to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink -- greetings!
He was already dead, he reflected. It seemed to him that it was only now, when he had begun to be able to formulate his thoughts, that he had taken the decisive step. The consequences of every act are included in the act itself. He wrote:
Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death.
Now he had recognized himself as a dead man it became important to stay alive as long as possible... (emphasis added)
For one suggestion, the Marines amongst our readers will recognize Lieutenant General Lewis "Chesty" Puller's classic statement in defiance of overwhelming odds (a pretty good sitrep for the pro-freedom forces at this time):
"We're surrounded. That simplifies the problem."
Sic semper tyrannis.