America is the “land of the free, home of the brave” in name only.
The majority of us who have long ago realized that ignorance is not bliss have known this for quite a while now. In reality, we’re living in an increasingly sophisticated electronic concentration camp the likes of which would make George Orwell spin in his grave fast enough to cause spontaneous combustion.
Some have suggested America is now “the most surveilled society in human history,” and on what possible basis could anyone disagree?
Surveillance devices are everywhere — from the cell phones in our hands, to the cameras positioned on our street corners, to the satellites floating around our planet in space. In some states, we’re expected to give all ten of our fingerprints for what we are told is the state-regulated “privilege” of driving, and more and more states will be moving toward this model out of what officials will say is security necessity in the 21st century.
Our police are using everything from drones and license plate readers to pre-crime algorithms to assign us a “threat score” based on all of our data (including our purchases and social media posts) before an officer even lays eyes on someone. Utility companies are installing smart meters by the hundreds of millions across the nation, so that eventually every time we use even the smallest bit of energy inside the supposed “privacy” of our own homes, someone somewhere will be analyzing our data in real time.
The list goes on and on. A member of the EU parliament openly accused Obama’s administration of using “American-style Stasi methods,” to no real disagreement. Our government is now running a top secret three-billion-dollar surveillance hub out of the Utah desert that Fox News reported, “could hold as many as 1.25 million 4-terabyte hard drives, built into some 5,000 servers to store the trillions upon trillions of ones and zeroes that make up your digital fingerprint.”
As the media continues to rub former-NSA-contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaks in our faces, essentially to acclimate us to a total big brother society while our politicians and the people running things do absolutely nothing to halt or change it, stories continue to pepper the news of just how watched we all are, every minute of every day.
This week, I’m not sure which is worse: the Army’s billion-dollar spy blimps going up in the east coast skyline or the fact that public schools districts like D.C. have tens of thousands of security cameras all over every campus to watch the kids’ every move and get them used to the idea they will be watched wherever they go.
Let’s start with the Army blimps. Ostensibly, defense contractor Raytheon built the blimps for the Army as part of a defense system against cruise missiles.
Via The Intercept:
In just a few days, the Army will launch the first of two massive blimps over Maryland, the last gasp of an 18-year-long $2.8-billion Army project intended to use giant airships to defend against cruise missiles.
And while the blimps may never stave off a barrage of enemy missiles, their ability to spot and track cars, trucks and boats hundreds of miles away is raising serious privacy concerns.
The project is called JLENS – or “Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System.” And you couldn’t come up with a better metaphor for wildly inflated defense contracts, a ponderous Pentagon bureaucracy, and the U.S. surveillance leviathan all in one.
Built by the Raytheon Company, the JLENS blimps operate as a pair. One provides omnipresent high-resolution 360-degree radar coverage up to 340 miles in any direction; the other can focus on specific threats and provide targeting information.
The blimps, which will be tethered to hover at 10,000 feet near Interstate 95, will be able to “watch” a space the size of Texas, so in this case, from Boston to North Carolina.
Which dystopic future movie was it that had blimps watching people? Blade Runner?
Who is really being protected here? Who is watching the watchers?
Meanwhile, a report out of D.C. found that eight local public school systems had not just ten or twenty or a hundred cameras at each school but some thirty thousands cameras in and around the area schools. Most are monitored from “central security hubs” within the school district, which are readily shared with law enforcement. Thirteen hundred of these cameras had just been added in the past few months, the necessity of which was blamed on school shootings.
Yet Montgomery County Public Schools Security Director Bob Hellmuth told NBC4 Washington, “Well this is something that we’d always planned, so when we started wiring our buildings, we wired them for the maximum number of cameras we could put in.”
To give you an idea for comparison, Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Massachusetts is a maximum security prison with a reputation for being one of the most secure and technologically advanced prison complexes in the world. It is literally being run by a robotic overlord overseeing a keyless computer system.
It only has 370 cameras.
Hellmuth demonstrated the school’s new technology to NBC4 by zooming in on one specific student in a high school lunch line from his security hub four miles away. A recent lockdown in the district just weeks ago involved a student thought to be carrying a weapon which turned out to be headphones.
NBC4 also reported that government agencies have been “dishing out” grant money to public schools to put in such systems.
But, as pointed out, there aren’t nearly enough people to actually watch all these cameras in real-time to stop anything … unless they plan to make them all automated and run by robot in the future.
Hey, the Army blimps will also be able to “see” the schools in D.C. from their position, so technically those kids will be watched by thousands of security cameras at school while they are being watched by military blimps in the sky.
But I guess if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide … Which I guess we’ll all just keep saying here in the “land of the free (surveilled), home of the brave (imprisoned)” even as they find a reason to put cameras in our homes in the interest of national security and our lives become one big reality TV show for the NSA (if we aren’t already there now).
I was just thinking that nothing could keep me feeling safer than having the government watch me brush my teeth in the morning…