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Commentary

February 26, 2013

Government expands search into private lives

President Obama's campaign promise to run "the most transparent administration in history," was worth about as much as his promise that if you weren't a "millionaire" making $250,000, your taxes wouldn't go up "by one dime."

This administration is one of the most secretive in history - even sane liberals acknowledge as much. But what ought to trouble us a lot more is that the president and his team are still very much interested in transparency - yours.

George Orwell was off by a few decades, but based on the march of technology and the willingness of the administration to use it, Big Brother is here. He's in your computer connections to the Internet, he's in thousands of surveillance cameras already in use and, increasingly, he will be overhead.

So far, he only makes selected appearances. But disgraced former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus got a visit. Perhaps you recall last fall, when the FBI accessed what Petraeus had thought was a private, anonymous, e-mail account and read intimate communications he had with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

Soon after that, the general resigned.

Perhaps you think that wouldn't apply to you, since you're not a high U.S. government intelligence official, vulnerable to blackmail, like Petraeus.

Perhaps you should think again.

William Binney, who worked for the National Security Agency for 32 years, resigned in protest in 2001 after President George W. Bush's administration launched a top-secret surveillance program of warrantless spying on U.S. citizens. That, Binney said many times, was directly counter to the charter of the NSA, which was to collect foreign intelligence. But it apparently is one of a number of Bush policies that Obama criticized but now thinks is a very good thing.

In recent interviews, Binney said the U.S. is collecting and storing every electronic activity of its citizens. He said spying on citizens has gotten worse under Obama than it was under Bush.

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