Yeah, of course, we knew - we always knew, right? - that the National Security Agency and the FBI were spying on American citizens without any cause more than "Name That Sounds Funny" and "Thinks Terrorists Might Be People." Here we go again, again, with documents provided by Edward Snowden that show that five American Muslims were the targets of months of surveillance. This would include Faisal Gill, a Republican who worked for Homeland Security under George W. Bush, and Nihad Awad, the head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Of course, of course, no one in the government is going to confirm the FISA-approved spying, which occurred until 2008, but you know - you always knew, right? - is still going on. Of course, of course, the targets themselves can never be told why they were the subjects of FBI surveillance because that's secret. Maybe their organizations are suspected of supporting terrorists or terrorist-related groups or groups related to groups that might be related, in some vague way, to terrorism. Besides, they know. Surely, they know. Or they wouldn't be targeted by our great and mighty state security apparatus that would never overstep its bounds or behave irrationally. Just ask Mohammed Raghead.
Yeah, see, someone in the intelligence community put out a document in 2005 showing how to format memos for FISA-approved surveillance (or, you know, "surveillance"). Under "Identity," the author created a mock name, a little ha-ha joke to show where to put the name. The author could have put "John Doe." He or she could have put "Terrorist Guy," if he or she was feeling perky. No, instead, the author put "Mohammed Raghead." Because of course they did. The Obama administration has promised to investigate to discover who is the spy/D-level comedian.
What's most fun is that if you are in any way associated with someone who is under surveillance, you will get swept up in the net, like we're playing "Six Degrees of Mohammed Raghead." And when they're tossing that fishing net into the vast ocean of the web, it'll pick up everything: "[M]edical records sent from one family member to another, résumés from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren. In one photo, a young girl in religious dress beams at a camera outside a mosque. Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers. In some photos, men show off their physiques. In others, women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam or striking risque poses in shorts and bikini tops."
The Washington Post got to check these Snowden docs out, and it found a whole spank bank of material being kept by the NSA. Remember: the spooks didn't glance at it and dump it. They archived it. By the way, "The material spans President Obama’s first term, from 2009 to 2012, a period of exponential growth for the NSA’s domestic collection."
It's wearying, innit, dear, sweet lefties, in a quite profound way? Trying our hardest to support President Obama, if for no other reason than those who attack him unceasingly are such worthless dunderheads who have undermined the presidency and the Congress, with the Supreme Court pretty close behind. Goddamn, we prop him up, we attempt to defend him even when his actions are mind-boggling and aggravating.
But then some of us, at least, turn a corner and run smack into the massive expansion of spying under Obama. Sure, we can go back to the old "We knew," the quiescent "So?", the assured "We trust him," the righteous "It's for our safety." But, at the end of the day, or perhaps always and at the beginning, the spying on Americans is far, far worse than it first seemed. And we're probably at the beginning of learning just how many of us and for what thin reasons were watched by our own government.
Maybe we'll be mature enough one day to be trusted to have the debate on how far our leaders can go in undermining privacy for the chimera of security.