Thursday, May 11, 2006

2006

Your every phone call is being secretly logged and stored by an ultra-clandestine arm of the federal government. As part of a government partnership with billion-dollar global telecom companies, the federal government has paid large undisclosed sums in compensation for their work in the program. The billions of calls made by every American -- the contents ranging from highly confidential business discussions to news about a family death -- take their place in a massive repository of information. No one is supposed to know that this database exists, and it will comprise the largest database of any kind in the history of the world. The records will be maintained in perpetuity. One of the major telecoms refuses to go along with the arrangement, is threatened by the federal government with the loss of government contracts, and told that their refusal places national security in jeopardy.

While other businesses who don't support the president are bullied and excluded from receiving public contracts, a collection of child refugees from a catastrophic natural disaster attend a function at the White House, held to celebrate the highest holy day of your nation's predominant religion. Once there, the child refugees sing the praises of the head of state and members of his political party, celebrating the opportunity to join him hand in hand. The child refugees do not know that approximately two hundred members of the government have been accused with acts of theft and other types of fraud in relation to the federal government's efforts to rebuild their now-destroyed homes. Many of these crimes arose when government employees solicited bribes from contractors sympathetic to the dominant party.

To go home tonight, you walk to a Chambers Street subway station, knowing that your movements are recorded by government security cameras at all turns. You're carrying with you a knapsack containing your sweaty gym clothes. Met at the subway entrance by four polite and professional law enforcement officers, you have no choice but to submit to the search. Maybe you're an attractive 25-year-old-girl, and you notice one of the officers smirk as he inspects your belongings. You feel demeaned, but practically speaking, you're not going to make a spectacle of yourself by refusing, walk two blocks to another entrance, and miss the next train.

You return home that night and call your sister to wish her a happy birthday, using your carrier, Verizon. You have no way of knowing that your call instantly, secretly, and efficiently was placed into a database with the hundreds of millions of other calls placed that day.

Still, you're luckier than others. You haven't been forbidden from air travel and denied an explanation as to why, after writing a book that criticized the head of state. Or you're not Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly, who finds himself on a watch list and thinks that it's because his next movie negatively depicts the current political climate. Homeland Security hasn't seized your computer server for unexplained reasons. You've never been arrested and monitored for encouraging people to eat vegetables instead of ham. Cops didn't cause any nerve damage after they arrested you for acting as legal monitor to a group of protesters.

You did, however, attend a protest against the Iraq War in 2003. You read about California's head of anti-terrorism, who said, "You can make an easy kind of a link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that's being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that protest. You can almost argue that a protest against [the war] is a terrorist act."

So yes, it could be worse. You could have to live in California, where the state would label you a terrorist.

5 comments:

Flop said...

I know it's a little uncomfortable, but I just feel safer knowing that they're listening in on the terrorists. That's why I voted for Bush. Besides, the only people who have anything to fear are those who are doing something wrong. [/Diane McCune of Grove City, Ohio]

spinachdip said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
spinachdip said...

Enough of your pre-9/11 mindset. Why do you hate America? Don't you realize that this president cannot, or will not protect the American people without a carte blanche? Either you're with warrantless wiretaps or you're against America.

CrimeNotes said...

Flop and 'dip: This could all be a highly advanced plan to put an end to the terrorists hating us for our freedom. No freedom, no hatred.

Crunk Raconteur said...

Sure, all this SEEMS bad, and it could be, in the wrong hands. But, remember...we can TRUST President Bush. He's a good and honorable man, one I'd like to have a beer with.