Original commentary published on November 13, 2013 on PrivacySOS blog.
Some of us are very worried. If you regularly read this blog, you are likely one of the worriers.
We worry because we are surveillance state watchers, because we are people concerned about the degree to which US culture has been warped by fear-driven narratives that cast Muslims as the enemy in a never-ending, borderless ‘war on terror’. We worry because we see state institutions, seemingly hell-bent on shredding the Bill of Rights, deploy that fear in the service of any number of anti-democratic horrors: extrajudicial assassination, indefinite detention, secret law, mass suspicionless surveillance, the militarization of the police.
An authoritarian impulse to control, monitor, and oppress appears to guide the hands of our most powerful agencies – those secretive, three letter organizations that suck up increasingly substantial quantities of our hard earned money, with little besides repression and misery to show for it.
Many of we worriers, myself included, regularly warn that if we don’t take drastic action to roll back the surveillance state, to end the wars on drugs and terror, we will become what our leaders claim they most despise. We warn that things are getting very bad, that if we don’t turn back and make significant adjustments, we are headed for a totalitarian or quasi-fascist, dystopian future. We shout that the surveillance state and its fear mongers will swallow what’s left of our open society.
In short, we speak as if this is a new set of problems. It isn’t.