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Why is anyone surprised about data collection?
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

I read your column Wednesday (“Coming up next: Pre-Crime Police using wholesale mining of data”) (concerning government data mining, and wonder where you and the rest of our fellow citizens who are so shocked and surprised by this latest revelation and ‘scandal’ have been since October of 2001. Those of us born prior to 9-11 who have been paying attention are fully aware that our  personal privacy has been seriously eroded since the introduction of the Patriot Act over a decade ago, long before Obama became President.

The USA Patriot Act was introduced by Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner on October 23, 2001, passed the House on the 24th and the Senate on the 25th, and was signed into law by George W. Bush. It has been the law of the land ever since. Many of the Act’s provisions were scheduled to sunset in 2005, but instead have been reauthorized time and again by past and present Congresses and Presidents, and even by those current Congressmen who swear up  and down that they knew nothing about it until only recently.

You might recall Admiral John Poindexter who was responsible for the DARPA established Information Awareness Office in 2002. His pride and joy was the Total Information Awareness program. It’s goal was to create enormous computer data bases to gather and store information on everyone in the country, our credit card records, e-mails, phone records, medical records, even the library books we checked out. Sound familiar? The huge public outcry against that program of mass surveillance led to it’s defunding by Congress in 2002, but it survived and continued to be secretly funded and run under different names by the NSA which originally designed it, and is no doubt what we are hearing about today.

Don’t get me wrong. I am delighted that the good citizens of this country are up in arms about this domestic spying, but if the past is any indication of how our government will act now and in the future, we can’t assume that these programs will really be terminated.  When the current outrage blows over, they will probably just be assigned new titles and be handed off to different branches of the intelligence community to be run quietly until some whistle blower in the future reminds us once again that we must be ever vigilant when our rights and freedom are concerned.

Stephen Breacain
June 13, 2013