Get PJ Media on your Apple

Roger L. Simon

Government Surveillance: the View from Misgav Am

June 9th, 2013 - 11:07 pm

It didn’t take the IRS scandal, the Benghazi debacle, and the surveillance of the press to make me think Barack Obama was one of the worst, if not the worst, president in American history. I already did.

But I’m not sure the latest scandal — the mass sweep of everyone’s metadata by the NSA — is everything it’s cracked up to be. Certainly, it’s not surprising. I rather yawned at the revelation that the comings and goings of all our emails, phone calls, texts, etc., were being recorded. I always assumed they were. And I always thought we were all leaving an indelible digital trail.

In fact, I had long since ceased putting my most serious private communications online or even making them over the phone, except in moments of haste or laziness, when I held my nose and went ahead with it. I imagine many of us have done that.

And this has little or nothing to do with Bush, Obama, or any politician. It’s the nature of technology. Privacy, as we once knew it, is over. We can put in strong checks and balances to prevent the improper exploitation of this information to bolster the provisions already in place, but we’re fighting the proverbial uphill battle — and not just because of Obama’s quasi-totalitarian behavior (although who would like the crew behind the IRS scandal peering into our email?).

Sad, but true…. but there is another side to it. I spent part of Sunday at Kibbutz Misgav Am in a part of the extreme north of Israel known as “The Finger.” This is because, like a finger, the kibbutz juts up into Lebanon so that parts of it are bordered by the Arab state on three sides. (Earlier in the day, I had driven an ATV right along that border.)

I stood in the lookout booth at the kibbutz high point with a spokesperson looking down at a Shiite village perhaps two hundred meters away. You could see yellow Hezbollah flags flying in front of the houses, one of them just yards from a small UN installation. To our right were some sculptures made from primitive Hezbollah mortars in previous wars. (By the way, later I saw several UN jeeps heading south on the main road. I couldn’t tell if they were Austrian soldiers who were reported leaving the Golan Heights to avoid involvement in the Syrian civil war, but they looked European.)

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
All we need to know about how much trouble we are in is that Obama was able to defuse the hole episode by telling the MSM that "no one is going to read your emails or listen to your phone calls"

Well Mr. Superstrawman strikes again. As if that is the problem. Did any of the Rhodes scholar reporters and news anchors do a quick mental calculation of how many government workers it would take to do that anyway? The problem is that when someone who might get in the way of the regime's agenda comes into focus . . That is when they read the emails and listen to the phone calls. And this will be done by a much smaller group - probably those re-assigned from the Cincinnati IRS office.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't know, Roger. All of you Johnny-come-lefties seem to be on the wrong side of this. I don't think your worldview has yet been properly aligned. Perhaps the Constitution and Western Heritage courses at Hillsdale online would help. They're free - just as our Founding Father's hoped we would always be.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
In Israel, they are surrounded by enemies who wish to obliterate their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness because of merely who they are as a people...and the government is designed to protect them.

In Obama's America, we are surrounded by enemies who wish to obliterate our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness because of who we are as a people,...and his government is designed to ensure that happens during his tenure.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (50)
All Comments   (50)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
It's really pretty up there, Roger, though its greener in March. The view into Lebanon, I mean. Haven't been up there in a year or so but I still have a nice memory of it. Easy to forget, just looking at it, how unpleasant it can get from time to time, thanks to Hezbollah and their masters in Iran.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
living in science fiction. more to come. all of it worse.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Has anyone else noticed the Federal Government will exacerbate a problem and then claim the need to take away liberties in order to fix it? These politicians refuse to seal the boarder, they bring in those on visas from countries teeming with the enemy who end up disappearing and so on. No, with new technology we STILL CAN protect our constitutional rights. Nothing says all technology thought up needs to be implemented or allowed here.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Re:
" Nothing says all technology thought up needs to be implemented or allowed here. "

How're you going to keep out all of this technology thought up? Social change has already happened, it can't be legislated away now or "prohibited". Prohibition just eggs on the really interested.

This cyber-stuff ignores national borders.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
One must consider exactly why the government accumulates such a broad range of data, and why its value is so limited.

The government insists that terror can come from "anywhere", and no source is more likely than another. There is thus no reason to focus on any source, and certainly no reason to "profile". So it casts a giant dragnet, sucking up everything without discrimination. It's the same reason everyone is expected to subject himself to scrutiny and personal examination going through an airport (except Muslims, for whom we must respect their culture and personal modesty).

But lacking any conceptual framework and analytic skills to make sense of this mountain of data, it's not surprising it's brought such meager results - arresting one Islamist terrorist trying to enter the country, for example, as if a more focused effort might not have accomplished as much or more.

Consider the case of the Kahane assassination of 1990. Prosecutors left behind a mountain of documentation, much of it in Arabic for which the FBI had insufficient translators. But since they "got their man" and there was "nothing more to see here", they failed to prevent the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center from the larger cell. Why assume the FBI, DHS and CIA, convinced there's no such thing as Islam-based terror, will make sense of all the data accumulated by the NSA, except perhaps after the fact, if even then?
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
They'll make sense of it, alright. The problem is their concept of the problem. Citizens are a problem, if you are tyrannical in your thinking. They'll be able to identify the enemy, as they see it, just fine. They see me as the enemy, and I reciprocate because of that.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't buy this idea:

" Why assume the FBI, DHS and CIA, convinced there's no such thing as Islam-based terror,...."

Surely they know very well where this terror comes from.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nothing like a visit to indian country to to focus the mind.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Privacy, as we once knew it, is over. "

If so, then the Bill of Rights is over.

The liberty of America’s past
Buried in darkness and shadows cast
Erased through all of eternity
No more hope for humanity
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
ironic that we rightly pillory Al Qaida as the Stone Age Barbarians they are, incapable of building the planes they flew into the WTC. The irony is that they were prescient in communicating by human messengers and not trusting technology.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
All we need to know about how much trouble we are in is that Obama was able to defuse the hole episode by telling the MSM that "no one is going to read your emails or listen to your phone calls"

Well Mr. Superstrawman strikes again. As if that is the problem. Did any of the Rhodes scholar reporters and news anchors do a quick mental calculation of how many government workers it would take to do that anyway? The problem is that when someone who might get in the way of the regime's agenda comes into focus . . That is when they read the emails and listen to the phone calls. And this will be done by a much smaller group - probably those re-assigned from the Cincinnati IRS office.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
What shocks me is the number of people who have no problem losing their privacy. They actually agree with the sentiment, "If you're doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear." Here I thought we were innocent until proven guilty.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Losing privacy for commercial gain......isn't that the whole concept behind these "Facebook" and "LinkedIn"?

That's not affected "innocent until proven guilty", unless you're the subject of an enraged spouse's discovery on "FaceBook".
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
The other head scratcher is "well Merle, we just have to do this to protect ourselves against terrorism" when the surveillance is domestic not foreign
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment

Unfortunately we have many recorded instances of our Government actively breaking the law to gather information. The PROMIS software scandal of the 80's is one glaring example of criminal activity by our government.
When people accept we have no constitutional right to privacy, then the government will certainly encroach further, since the only obstacle to government is the people saying NO !

The rights enumerated in the Constitution did not change with invention of internet, just as they did not change with invention of Radio, Television, telephone, or other device. We must simply insure government understands we are watching them as closely as they are watching us. And as sure as we can be placed under mass surveillance, they can be voted out of office until we have true representation and the Constitution is again followed.



44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
And the 2nd-A didn't change with the invention of repeating firearms either.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
1 2 3 Next View All