Glenn Beck on Tuesday investigated the history of America's domestic surveillance programs, saying he is disturbed by the "shockingly cavalier" response to the news that the NSA has been secretly collecting Americans' telephone records, among other forms of communication.
"[We're] treated like prisoners, guilty until proven innocent," Beck said. "The amount of personal data the NSA collects on law-abiding citizens is staggering. The amount they plan to collect is nearly beyond comprehension."
Beck said when surveillance cameras are considered, society today is comparable to a "modern-day panopticon."
"A panopticon was a prison design created in the late 1700s and deemed cruel and unusual punishment," Beck explained. "The idea behind it was one guard could monitor all of the inmates. The guard would be in the middle of the cells, and all of the cells and everything in them were in his sight line. But the inmates couldn't see the guard, so they didn't know exactly when they were being watched. This design never came to fruition -- but then again, maybe it has."
"Now we are perhaps the inmates that know we're being watched; we just don't know when the eye is turned on us," Beck continued. "So how in the world did we go from a people who created and revered the 4th Amendment to being trapped in a panopticon-like society?"
Beck tracked the history of domestic surveillance programs from 1919 to the modern day, saying "the answer, as always, can be found in history." He discussed cryptologist Herbert Yardley's role in creating "the cipher bureau," also known as "the black chamber" after World War I, calling it "the birthplace of the U.S.' long history of spying and eavesdropping on foreign governments and its own citizens."
During World War II, Beck said the American government used its new data-collecting capabilities to confine the Japanese in internment camps. And throughout it all, private companies like the Radio Corporation of America partnered with the U.S. government in the data-collecting effort.
"The pattern was clear: when communication companies are approached by government, they obey," Beck said. "[Today] the NSA gets reams of information from companies like AT&T, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo. These companies were simply continuing an illegal tradition that began after World War I. It was improved during World War II, and now has been perfected with mass data collection and PRISM."
Beck said the only difference today is that the NSA "openly argues for the right to spy on you."
"Ironically, the digital war machine that we helped pioneer is actually the most threatening to us," Beck said. "Military victory over the U.S. is not an option for most countries or individuals. But victories on the cyber battlefield are not only possible, but inevitable. Our power grid, our water supply, financial systems, even our nuclear reactors are all vulnerable. But the biggest threat is not our infrastructure -- individual liberties are the costliest casualties in this new type of war."
Buck Sexton, TheBlaze's national security adviser, commented: "Not only do you have, essentially, the archiving of literally everything that every person ever does on the Internet, you also have the government always insisting on easy access to that, not having to go through the court processes. ... That's where we are right now. Everything is archived. It's retrievable. The government can go through it and you are essentially at their mercy when it comes to your privacy."
The motto of the government seems to be "just trust us," Beck said, but "history both distant and recent has shown we can't trust them."
"The feds have lied, they've broken laws, they've intimidated, they've even bullied to get their way. And now what they want is backdoor access to nearly every major communications company around," Beck said. "The pressure to stand against these requests is immense and the consequences can be severe."
Beck said the U.S. government has the resources to infiltrate an underground nuclear facility in Iran and disable their centrifuges, so it's "not really hard to imagine the possibilities of what they could do to you."
"The price to stand on principle has never been costlier," Beck concluded. "But we have reached yet another crucial pivot point. America's eyes have been opened. We are now aware of the eyes on us. Now our choice: do we accept the slavery of a societal panopticon, or do we risk everything and stand?"
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