Thursday, December 16, 2010

Whatever Happened to “The land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?

Whatever Happened to “The land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet

Some months ago I related to you how I stood in the parking lot of one of the Big Box stores and counted 22 cameras observing everything going on around me. Those were just the cameras I could see from my vantage point. There were more. Please note: That was OUTSIDE the store. Upon entering the store there were uncountable cameras peering at shoppers -- some obvious and others strategically located and camouflaged, I expect.

Some years ago, in a nearby city, my wife and I had been shopping in a large grocery store in route home from attending church. As we prepared to pay for our purchases by check, the cashier informed me that I must have my photo taken. I completely lost it.

I launched into a tirade that brought the entire checkout of that giant store to a complete halt. It also brought the store manager -- and security. By the time my wife was able to get me (and my temper) under control, I had become so angry I was literally sick to my stomach.

The long and the short of it is – we left all the groceries at the checkout because, my wife’s protestations not withstanding, I refused to make a purchase of any kind from that company. I have never been inside of that company’s store(s) since. I never will.

Why, you may ask, did I create such a stir? It is really quite simply. I despise being treated as a criminal. I am a free American. I insist upon being treated as such. It is my right as an American citizen.

We Americans had better stand up for our rights and we’d better stand up yesterday! We have very few left. Our right to privacy is GONE! And we, you and I, allowed it to happen.

In the past few days we have learned that not only are we on camera most of our waking hours, but now, every time we use our credit cards, it is reported to the federal government… not in a report at the end of the week or the end of the month, but in real time, at the moment the card is swiped. They know what you bought, where you bought it, when you bought it, how much you spent -- the whole 27 feet!

In an article at entitled “Feds Warrantlessly Tracking Americans’ Credit Cards in Real Time,” it is reported as follows: “Federal law enforcement agencies have been tracking Americans in real-time using credit cards, loyalty cards and travel reservations without getting a court order, a new document released under a government sunshine request shows.The document, obtained by security researcher Christopher Soghoian, explains how so-called “Hotwatch” orders allow for real-time tracking of individuals in a criminal investigation via credit card companies, rental car agencies, calling cards, and even grocery store loyalty programs. The revelation sheds a little more light on the Justice Department’s increasing power and willingness to surveil Americans with little to no judicial or Congressional oversight.”

The article goes on to say: “The document suggests that the normal practice is to ask for all historical records on an account or individual from a credit card company, since getting stored records is generally legally easy. Then the agent sends a request for “Any and all records and information relating directly or indirectly to any and all ongoing and future transactions or events relating to any and all of the following person(s), entitities, account numbers, addresses and other matters…” That gets them a live feed of transaction data.” (SOURCE)

In an article at The Wall Street Journal Online entitled: “Race Is On to 'Fingerprint' Phones, PCs,” It is reported thusly: “It might seem that one computer is pretty much like any other. Far from it: Each has a different clock setting, different fonts, different software and many other characteristics that make it unique. Every time a typical computer goes online, it broadcasts hundreds of such details as a calling card to other computers it communicates with. Tracking companies can use this data to uniquely identify computers, cell phones and other devices, and then build profiles of the people who use them.” (SOURCE)

I have learned that every time you fill a prescription for a painkiller, which happens to be a controlled substance, a medication your doctor has prescribed for you, a record is kept which is “readily available” to the DEA. The term "readily retrievable" means the record is kept or maintained in such a manner that it can be separated out from all other records in a reasonable time or that it is identified by an asterisk, redline, or some other identifiable manner such that it is easily distinguishable from all other records. (SOURCE)

Now I am paranoid about getting my prescriptions filled. I honestly think twice about it. I have no intention of breaking the law, but I have to consider the federal government obviously THINKS I may just violate the US drug laws, somehow.

Now comes word of the new campaign with the government in cahoots with Wal-Mart in their “If you see something, say something” campaign; The Wal-Mart news release says the following: “Washington, D.C. - Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced the expansion of the Department's national "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign to hundreds of Wal-Mart stores across the country - launching a new partnership between DHS and Wal-Mart to help the American public play an active role in ensuring the safety and security of our nation. The news release goes on to say: “"Homeland security starts with hometown security, and each of us plays a critical role in keeping our country and communities safe," said Secretary Napolitano. "I applaud Wal-Mart for joining the ‘If You See Something, Say Something' campaign. This partnership will help millions of shoppers across the nation identify and report indicators of terrorism, crime and other threats to law enforcement authorities." It continues: “A short video message will play at select checkout locations to remind shoppers to contact local law enforcement to report suspicious activity.”

The government is crowing about this new campaign. They LOVE IT! Not only is BIG Brother watching you, now they have all the little brothers and little sisters watching each other, in other words: “spying” on each other.

I don’t know about you, but this sort of activity makes me feel DIRTY! Encouraging Americans to spy on their neighbors is a tactic right out of Nazi Germany or the former Soviet Union. It is certainly not something a free people ought to be involved in.

THIS is where we are in America these days – and I didn’t even mention the “pat-downs” and the naked scanning of our bodies at the nation’s airports.

America is fast becoming a police state. Some would argue we have already arrived.

What is wrong with Americans? We have become sheep herded by an out of control federal government. Why aren’t we in the streets with torches and pitchforks raising hell and demanding a return of our constitutional freedom and liberty?

Remember the expression: “All that is necessary for evil to prevail – is for good men to do nothing.” I submit that THAT is exactly what Americans are doing these days – NOTHING!

How long before the hammer and sickle is raised over the Congress and the White House?

The price of freedom is really eternal vigilance directed at out very own government, not each other. But that is not going to happen as long as so many Americans are on the government dole. The government as bought their acquiescence and their silence.

A truly free America is gone. We are now a banana republic with a socialist government which appears to fancy itself as a benevolent dictatorship.

I have news for America. There is no such thing as a benevolent dictatorship. And Americans are about to learn, to our everlasting shame that we have destroyed our freedom and willing accepted the yoke and chains of a tyrannical government.

Once a nation’s freedom is lost it is almost always lost forever. America has exchanged freedom for some sort of elusive security that can only end in slavery to the state.

How sad. How very, very, sad.
J. D. Longstreet

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