Even knowing the incredibly pervasive and intrusive nature of NSA spying, people still tell me it really doesn’t matter because they have nothing to hide.
Well, last week a former U.S. Army general gave us a glimpse into the mind of security staters and revealed why ubiquitous spying poses such a danger.
During a recent interview on MSNBC, Gen. Wesley Clark suggested America needs to consider internment camps for “radicalized” Americans.
We have got to identify the people who are most likely to be radicalized. We’ve got to cut this off at the beginning. There are always a certain number of young people who are alienated. They don’t get a job, they lost a girlfriend, their family doesn’t feel happy here and we can watch the signs of that. And there are members of the community who can reach out to those people and bring them back in and encourage them to look at their blessings here.
But I do think on a national policy level we need to look at what self-radicalization means because we are at war with this group of terrorists. They do have an ideology. In World War II if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech, we put him in a camp, they were prisoners of war.
Before you laugh off Clark’s statement as hyperbole and claim “it can never happen here,” you should stop and consider that it already has. The general wants to resurrect an actual WWII policy.
President Roosevelt’s Executive order 9066 authorized the Secretary of War and the U.S. Army to create military zones “from which any or all persons may be excluded.” The order left who might be excluded to the military’s discretion. When Roosevelt inked his name to EO9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, it opened the door for the roundup of some 120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese citizens living along the west coast of the U.S. and their imprisonment in concentration camps. German and Italian-Americans also found themselves staring out from behind barbed wire fences.
Clark wasn’t merely pulling some far-out fantasy out of thin air. His idea roots in frightening historical precedent.
So, how does one find these so-called “radicalized” Americans in order to ship them off to camps?
You listen to their phone calls.
You read their emails and text messages.
You pry into their online habits.
But here’s the thing. You can’t just spy on the so-called radicals. How do you even know whom they are? It’s not like they tattoo the word “radical” on their forehead. In order to find the “radicalized” within the population, you hunt them down and find them. To do that, the government needs to spy on everybody.
The NSA, and other state and federal agencies that make up the surveillance state, already vacuum up vast amounts of information on Americans. The government already has the structure in place to seek out the “radicalized” among us and ship them off into Wesley’s camps. We stand literally only a step away from making the general’s plan a reality.
But some of you reading this think, “Yeah, OK. But I’m still not worried. I’m not a terrorist. And really, we probably do need to get these people out of society. I’m not concerned.”
Stop for just a moment. You need to ask yourself some very important questions.
Who decides what constitutes radical?
What words or phrases could possibly get you thrown behind the wire?
Who says once the government gets the structure in place that finding “terrorists” won’t turn into finding “political agitators.”
Could reading an article critical of government surveillance – like this – get you labeled a radical? Or protesting war? Or complaining about government health care?
What exactly is a radical?
Maybe you do have something to hide.