Commentary On Things Present
Who knew that just as President Obama was about to browbeat China’s new President Xi at ‘Rancho Mirage’ (a beautiful home in the California desert), a mirage of deceit, deception and duplicity was engulfing our President.
From the highest reaches of China’s dictatorial ‘proletariat’ they have been unremorsefully stealing America’s most-prized commercial secrets, and - worse! - our most-strategic military secrets through internet spying, hackers and bots! The louder they protest from Beijing that it just ain’t so, the more true it has become. And it was now President Obama’s time to protest. He did not stop China from kicking Google out of the middle kingdom, but now he was preparing to lay down a red-line of sabotage, over which the Chinese should not trespass.
Who knew that at that very moment of Chinese contretemps, an unfolding of domestic events in DC and Hong Kong would disrupt our own President’s bestlaid plans? That is, the US apparatus of power was revealed last week to be snooping, not on our adversaries - both domestic and abroad - but on our very own citizens.
The fourth amendment to the US Constitution reads...
“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 nation now asks...is the President, although best-intentioned to protect America, guilty of defying the fourth amendment and making Americans less ‘secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects’? After all, in a beautiful and historic ceremony as each President enters office he swears on the Holy Bible, ‘...and I will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’ Has President Obama violated his oath of office?
During WWII the Brits had ‘Ultra’ and today we have ‘Prism’. The difference, though, is that the English used ‘Ultra‘ to spy on their crazed enemy, the Nazis; while we are using ‘Prism’ to spy on our OWN PEOPLE.
Some respond - in defense of the President and the Department of Defense - that the US has changed dramatically over these past two centuries from Emerson’s ‘self-reliance’ to Facebook’s ‘sharing and collaboration’. ‘But Pete,’ people say, ‘everybody (and especially the kids) expect and want to share their every secret, their every move, their every thought, wish and desire.’ In my own case that’s also very true.
I have Facebook and LinkedIn, and a Waldbaum’s shopping card on which I share - willingly! - my purchases. Waldbaum’s aggregates the data to decipher what’s going on, what’s hot, what’s trending, what their customers really want - so they can better respond to their customers wants and needs to reap bigger sales and higher profits.
However, let’s say The City of New York begins to snoop.
I soon may receive the following: ‘Mr. Stubben, You are in violation of local law 13-000...a law to protect you from obesity and diabetes...that limits purchases of soda to one (1) two-liter bottle per week, and we have data verifying that during the week of April 15th you purchased two 2-liter bottles of Pepsi. Therefore, please pay this $120 fine within 30 days, and please remember that your second violation within the next twelve months will result in a $300 fine.’
As I see it, I’m perfectly willing to share my buying habits with the store, with my neighbors, with my friends if it results in better service, better relationships, and a better life for me.
The City, in this very crude example, had other intentions - just as the NSA, DOD, The Office of the President, IRS, the Attorney-General have other intentions!
Please don’t misunderstand me...with probable cause, I WANT and EXPECT the NSA or DOD to watch me, or anybody on my block; I just don’t want the NSA to surveil EVERYBODY on my block in a so-called ‘fishing expedition’. That is illogical and unconstitutional.
The Chinese, for instance, snoop on their own for purposes of their ‘glorious harmony’, while Uncle Joe (Stalin) snooped on his fellow Russians to preserve a ‘commonweal for all socialist peoples’. Are we now doing the same...to combat Islamic terrorism?
Ti-Anna Wang - named by her parents in honor of Tiananmen Square - has just written ‘Nine Days’ about her father Wang Bingzhang. Wang was abducted in ‘02 from Vietnam; secreted across the border into China; tried in a secret court; and is now serving a life sentence in some filthy prison for championing ‘freedom’, and opposing communism. This Wang behavior of course is disruptive to China’s ‘separate path’. Naturally, 240 years ago the colonists were well aware of royal secret courts and prison sentences for championing freedom... hence our Constitution.
Are we now devolving to Chinese ways?