Immunity

Listening to NPR last night, I was amused to hear Mr. Bush saying that we would be “more vulnerable” as a result of the fact that the House refused to pass a widespread surveillance bill, because they quite reasonably opposed retroactive immunity for telecoms. This kind of rhetoric always amazes me, because I know that someone, somewhere, is buying it, and this person really does believe that we are in mortal danger because the House refused to cave. And that makes me really rather disappointed.

Personally, I think that if the government thinks that someone poses a potential threat, they should be forced to apply for a warrant. If Mr. Bush really believes that there are dangerous potential terrorists under every stone, that’s all well and good, but I don’t like the idea of warrantless wiretapping, and I don’t like the idea of giving telecoms retroactive immunity for complying with the government. It sounds like a lot of the House doesn’t either.

I think the telecoms should be sued for what they did, and I think that they, in turn, should put pressure on the government to set up a rapid warrant processing system for people who are deemed to be credible threats.  I’m rather disappointed that none moved to protect their customers from unreasonable search and seizure, “patriots that they are,” as one Congressman calls them. A true patriot refuses to do something which is wrong, no matter who gives the order.

Obviously legal wiretaps are going to continue even as this act lapses. Therefore, people who are actual, credible threats complete with evidence will be, er, monitored. I somehow doubt that American intelligence is going to collapse as a result of the House’s decision. If the domestic intelligence community is relying entirely on illegal means to gather information to protect American citizens from potential attack, I don’t think very highly of domestic intelligence agencies.

This whole thing really reminds me of how much I loathe surveillance, and how repugnant I find things like cameras. I was extremely disappointed when one of my favourite local businesses chose to install cameras, because it forced me to make a choice between enduring something I am fundamentally opposed to or never setting foot in that business. In the end, I go anyway, but I feel deeply uneasy, anxious, and frustrated during my time there. And I spend the entire time wishing that I had the strength to leave and to never come back, because it makes me so ferociously angry to be watched. To be recorded. I feel like something is being stolen from me every time I am forced to interact with a surveillance camera.

Why, exactly, do we tolerate surveillance? Why aren’t we rising up to vocally declare our rage, tearing the cameras from their pillars, and living our lives in privacy? I think that it’s not unreasonable to expect some privacy, especially at home, but it’s also an entirely logical thing to expect in the world. I can’t stop someone from seeing me while I walk down the street, and I don’t really have a problem with that, because I can see the person who is watching me. But I hate that more and more businesses are using cameras, because it’s forcing me to take my business elsewhere in a lot of cases, when I think that the cost of being constantly watched is simply too high. I hate that people complacently accept cameras and other obscene measures in the name of “safety.” I spit on “safety.”

I hate that I read a letter to the editor this week saying that we need cameras downtown. I hate that this country is becoming more Orwellian every fucking minute and no one is doing anything. I fear that I’m going to wake up someday soon to see a telescreen on the wall, and then I’m going to be hauled away for thoughtcrime, simply because I was thinking. And not many people in this country seem to be thinking, these days.