Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Section 215 to Room 101

Chances are, someone at the NSA read this blog post before I even published it.

That’s not hyperbole. Because I sent it to my personal Yahoo! email account, it’s quite likely it got routed overseas before it hit my inbox at home. And since I have a poor record of cleaning my email out at home, even if it didn’t go overseas when it got sent, Yahoo! has the right and the means to send it overseas to be stored until such time that I delete it. And even then . . .

Yes, I work as a government subcontractor. In documents. But I have never come across anything worth sharing -- aside from the desire, before this project closes out, to insert the phrase “monkey nostrils” into a significant portion of one of our working documents.

But what the National Security Agency and associated agencies and programs can do – with full sanction by our own government – is a bit scary. Even if I have nothing to be scared about.

If you have not watched John Oliver’s interview with Edward Snowden, you should. Even if you don’t approve of salty language.

OLIVER: Would a good takeaway from this be, ‘Until such time as we’ve sorted all this out, don’t take pictures of your d***. Just don’t do it any more’?

SNOWDEN: No, if we do that, if we. . .  You shouldn’t change your behavior because a government agency somewhere is doing the wrong thing. If we sacrifice our values because we’re afraid, we don’t care about those values very much.

What is our greatest fear? To read even a summary of Section215 of the Patriot Act, it’s clear the fear isn’t clear at all.

But with the help of Oliver and Snowden, it’s clear the fear isn’t in Section 215, but in Room 101.

“You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world,” the sinister O’Brien tells the dupe Winston Smith in George Orwell’s novel 1984 (and this is in contrast to my theory that we’re descending not into 1984, but Brave New World – though Oliver’s report certainly has a certain BNW vibe to it as well). We’re witnessing Room 104 as the government uses the Patriot Act to overreach.

So what do we do? Oliver is a little scant on the details. Contact our congressmen, I suppose.

I’ve emailed Simpson, as he tends to be the more rational of the two. I merely asked him what his intentions are on renewing the act on June 1, 2015. We’ll see what kind of response I get.

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