The Ron Paul Institute
July 16, 2013
In a Washington Post profile today, we read that NSA Director Keith Alexander’s “passion” to protect us from terrorist threats led him to “collect it all,” meaning to intercept and store our every electronic interaction. According to the Post, Alexander used the “collect it all” approach in Iraq to help make it a safer place in the mid-2000s, and his success there led him to use it against the rest of us at home. Was Iraq really a success? Does Iraq seem like a safe place?
Alexander is quoted in the article arguing in favor of NSA’s domestic spying, stating, “if we give up a capability that is critical to the defense of this nation, people will die.” There is no guarantee that people will not die, regardless of what the government claims to be doing to protect us. One thing is certain, however: if we give up our Constitution and its protections against a power-hungry government, the United States as we know it will die.
The article repeats the justification we have heard earlier for the “collect it all” approach: if you want to find a needle in a haystack you need the haystack. But this makes no sense. How can artificially manufacturing an infinitely larger haystack make it easier to find the needle? Shouldn’t the haystack be as small as possible so that the needle can be located?
What “collecting it all” does mean is that our every electronic human interaction is stored indefinitely by the federal government for possible future use against us should we ever fall out of government favor by, for example, joining a pro-peace organization, joining a pro-gun organization, posting statements critical of government spying on our Facebook pages or elsewhere. This massive database will be used — and perhaps has already been used — to keep us in line. The absence of meaningful Congressional oversight – unless cheerleading counts as oversight — means that no one will put the brakes on people like Keith Alexander, whose “passion” to “protect” us is leading us into totalitarianism.