"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
OMG! We've become the neighborhood's busybody. Worse yet, the "neighborhood" is the entire planet. Inquiring minds want to know... everything.
No wonder the US intelligence community wet their collective pants when Edward Snowden leaked all those NSA documents blowing their cover. It was like a peeping Tom getting outed to his entire extended family, friends and complete strangers live and in living color on CNN - only worse.
This morning we learn that we can add the French and Mexican peoples to those in the world whose phones and email our crazy uncle has been taping. Before that it was Brazil and Germany. All these countries are allies, not enemies. But never mind, the more Uncle Sam overhears the more he's certain "someone" is holding out on him.
Apparently the NSA and CIA and DIA and ... well it goes on and on... has adopted the old Mafia adage that you need to "keep your enemies close and your friends even closer." And, when you have a habit of big-footing everyone around you, you create enemies out of former friends. So keeping more and more folks "closer" becomes a kind of perpetual process. And now that France, Germany, Mexico and Brazil feel our uncle has been looking up their skirts, are they still friends? Or do we need to add them to our growing list of enemies? Or, and maybe this is the key question, does it matter to uncle any more?
I think we've reached a point now where there's maybe a more critical question to be asked: Just when does a completely rational desire for security cross the line to irrational obsession, bordering on, if not becoming, a form of mass, clinical paranoia?
Well, the first clue that line has been crossed is when someone starts spying on their own immediate family. And, thanks to Snowden, we now know Uncle Sam has already way-crossed that line. He is spying on us, all of us, all of the time. Uncles elves in the NSA may have no idea what to do with all the mountains of data they collect on us everyday, but they've just built a gigantic repository in the middle of Utah where it can all be stored. Why? Well, you know, just in case one of us goes sideways on them someday. The $1.7 billion facility plays host to miles of supercomputers that can store gargantuan quantities of data from emails, phone calls, Google searches and other electronic transactions.
The Utah facility is so large, the computers so hungry, that it will consume enough electricity each year to fuel 33,000 homes. Is that a sign the line has been crossed? If not, when? When it consumes enough electricity to fuel New York City? Or New York State, or California? There's a line there somewhere. There sure as hell better be.
So has this reached a stage where it's just "odd" behavior, or crazy? All of us have folks in our families who have a screw or two loose. And, if we love them, we do our best to make excuses for them while hoping that someday they'll get help. But when they start terrorizing the neighbors, and innocent passersby, we know it's time for an intervention, we know it's time they get help, like it or not. And, if they refuse to get help, we locked them up, for their own and everyone else's piece of mind.
Let's see where we are today: We're cyber-spying on France?
(Reuters) - France summoned the U.S. ambassador on Monday to protest allegations in Le Monde newspaper about large-scale spying on French citizens by the U.S. National Security Agency. The allegations that the agency was collecting tens of thousands of French telephone records.
Really? Why the hell would we spy on France? Are we worried that the country right wingers delight in mocking as. "Surrender Monkeys," are about to launch squads of suicide bombers disguised as mimes on US cities? Maybe a serving of Freedom Fries is called for here. ("Lafayette, estamos aquÃ!")
And we're spying on Mexico?
CNN -- According to the German news magazine, the National Security Agency "systematically" eavesdropped on the government. It hacked the public e-mail account of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, which was also used by Cabinet members, Der Spiegel said.
If we are so worried about would-be Mexican terrorists, then all those tony folks in LA and San Diego and Texas might want to start by firing their gardeners and field workers instead of scooping up sus mensajes de telÃ©fono y correos electrÃ³nicos.