Recently Indian Chris commented that the Big Brother thing doesn’t scare him (my words), and someone else said that it would be OK if all Americans were required to have ID cards containing retinal scans and DNA. So I cooked up this hypothetical news story, to see if any of you would object to, or applaud, such a program…

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A secret program initiated by the White House has recorded details of more than 96 percent of Americans in a database, supplementing Internet and other surveillance.

Since the 2003 launch of the “Gold Shield Program,” the NSA, FBI, and local police have collected information on about 288 million of the country’s 300 million people, under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security.

“It has helped police uncover many criminal cases,” said an official involved with the program, adding that over 20 percent of criminal cases last year were solved with help from the database.

The database is just one way in which the Department of Homeland Security keeps tabs on citizens.

An estimated 30,000 Web police monitor the surfing habits of America’s 110 million internet users, including topics related to Islam, terrorism, illegal immigration, drugs, and weapons.

11 Responses to Hypothetical

  1. Greta April 9, 2006 at 10:47 pm #

    Can they use these methods for prosecuting a crime? What are the parameters for the info gathering
    & who has access to it? Really, it doesn’t bother me if it protects my family. That is what life is about.

  2. brainhell April 9, 2006 at 11:18 pm #

    Thanks for responding to a hypothetical. I threw in the crime thing to raise issue of state police (Big Brother). Let’s assume that they gather everything that they can, and that only FBI, CIA, DHS and (where needed) local police see it.

    I understand your desire to protect your family. I have the same. But I’m shocked that it wouldn’t bother you. This is the the kind of thing that violates liberty to the core. Are we still Americans under such a hypothetical program?

  3. donsingleton April 9, 2006 at 11:39 pm #

    It sounds reasonably ok to me; I have some qualms about building up a database, but I would like to see them search out websites that focus on Militant Islam, terrorism, illegal immigration (how to do it), manufacturing or selling drugs, and and illegal selling of weapons (although I support the right of the public to buy weapons to protect themselves). I would even be willing to provide a DNA sample, if everyone in the country was to provide one. I also support a national ID card; I would not want the police to be able to demand to see it without cause, but I think it should be required in order to vote.

  4. Greta April 10, 2006 at 12:45 am #

    Here’s one back at you – a loved one is killed by a website psycho that the governement was aware was into some freaky stuff & they were just watching…is there going to be some recourse to your family for not preventing the crime?

  5. Al Kasprzyk April 10, 2006 at 12:55 am #

    I tend not to comment on the US-only posts, but… I’d be absolutely appalled if I discovered that my government had such a program. I genuinely can not understand how Greta and Don can think this would be a tolerable situation.

    There is currently intense debate over introducing ID cards in the UK (with iris scans, fingerprints, etc.). I oppose it absolutely — it is a disgraceful infringement of individual liberties.

  6. brainhell April 10, 2006 at 1:00 am #

    I protect my loved ones. So no website pyscho is going to get at them unless he goes off randomly, e.g. drives through a crowd.

    If the police were on him but failed to note signs that he was about to act, they should face disciplinary review. I don’t now if my family should be entitled to compensation.

  7. Indian Chris April 10, 2006 at 1:34 am #

    Doesn’t bother me one bit.

  8. donsingleton April 10, 2006 at 2:09 am #

    Al, what is it you find so disgraceful

    Now if everytime I walk down the street I run a risk of a cop saying “your papers, please” I can understand, but if I am going to cash a check somewhere I am not known I will be required to show identification. Why should I care if it is my drivers license or a national ID card. Ditto for getting on an air plane, or being caught speeding, etc.

  9. Dale April 10, 2006 at 10:15 am #

    “In other news today, it was once again alleged that DOD has been spying on the back channel contacts of the State Department as they attempted to negotiate a peace process as outlined by the President. The Secretary of State is reportedly livid that the DOD has been using covert surveillance activities to monitor the movements of State Department employees and communication.
    “The NY Times Sy Hersh reported last week on the military’s view that State Department peace efforts were treasonous and should be prevented at all costs. Mr Hersh also reported on the suspicious missile strike that killed the enemy’s peace envoy just hours after the State Department representative concluded his meeting with him.
    ” The Secretary of State himself has challenged the authority of DOD to surveill State Department employees. Efforts of the President and the Secretary of Defense to quell this practice within the ranks has been met with a “wink and a nod” by the troops.
    “DOD was authorized to surveill US citizens in 2005 Patriot Act 2 wording and has kept its efforts secret even from the NSA and CIA efforts to expose it.”

    “In still other news today, the entire Secret Service leadership was arrested for exposing Top Secret information on the President’s movements. The President is now being protected by military guards. The Washington Post reports that US forces were able to piece together a bizarre story of careless disregard for the safety of the President during military surveillance of email and telephone communication among the leadership team of the Secret Service. The President is now unavailable for comment.”

    Perhaps the threat to America is not government versus the people but the military vs Congress vs Supreme Court vs the Executive Branch, etc., etc.

  10. Meg April 10, 2006 at 9:46 pm #

    Ben Franklin was right. If you trade liberty for security, you get neither.

    It’s sad that we have forgotten our historical roots and are so willing to leave our freedom at the alter of security.

    You know, the founding fathers debated this very issue. They were worried that the populous was too stupid to carefully guard our own liberty rights. That’s why they created the US Constitution. Now we are willing even to give that away.

    Thank god the founding fathers gave us a Judicial Branch with lifetime appointments!!!


  1. Hooah Wife and friends » Al K., master of pseudoscience - May 8, 2006

    […] On April 8 I created a hypothetical government spying program and asked the folks at the Hooah Wife blog how they’d feel about it.  I was appalled that several people thought it was a good idea.  The hypothetical I’d described was inspired by a government spying program in Communist China.  When I revealed this, and called them commies, some took umbrage.  Not Hooah Wife commenter Al K., he cooked up a plan to hoist me on my own petard.  Or at least, I assume he did.  We’ve emailed each other before.  A few days after my hypothetical, he emailed me a scientific article called “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.” […]

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