The free speech chill is on. Welcome to Amerika.
The Director of National Intelligence, Mr. James Clapper, recently signed the ‘Security Executive Agent Directive Five’ (SEAD5) Which, when adopted as part of public policy, would give far-reaching powers to the U.S. federal government to incorporate publicly-available posts on social media sites in the security clearance procedure [for government employees]. As part of the process, the government will be legally able to use applicants’ posts on sites like Facebook and Twitter to either grant or deny government security clearances to them. The new policy is all set to come into effect fairly soon, adding more fuel to the already raging fire over the national security vs. privacy debate. Even though investigative agencies won’t be legally bound to consider social media information as part of their investigations, the policy would allow federal authorities to do so if deemed appropriate on a case-to-case basis.
So if you want a federal job, you better watch what you say on social media like Facebook. In what way should you watch yourself? No specifics are given. Only don’t do anything a federal official “deems” as a threat to the nation.
I wonder when or if this approach will apply to citizens who are not government employees. It’s not far-fetched to think so. Virtually all of us are in some way — direct or indirect — wards of the federal state. The federal government certainly considers us so. In the forthcoming presidential election, we get to choose between the angry, fear-provoking, name-calling and intimidating Daddy or the embittered, manipulative, passive-aggressive, nasty shrew of a Mommy. But either way, an even more controlling parent we shall get. In the eyes of the twenty-first century federal government, we are all its children.
The government is involved in just about everything. It controls nearly all of health care and education. It regulates everything from our shower pressure to dog grooming facilities to public restrooms. It’s the final and really the only word on medical care and education. If government maintains and continues to expand its role in every area of life, then why not tell everyone, not just federal employees, what they may or may not express on Facebook?
“Even though investigative agencies won’t be legally bound to consider social media information as part of their investigations, the policy would allow federal authorities to do so if deemed appropriate on a case-to-case basis.”
Deemed appropriate … based on what criteria? Read on.
According to the ODNI, information collected about anybody other than the one being actively tracked, will not be pursued unless it raises national security concerns or falls under existing federal laws regarding criminal reporting requirement. What the agency also clarifies is that investigators will not have any authority to demand that individuals or organizations reveal their social media passwords or login credentials. They will also not attempt to obtain any information that’s not publicly-available. Those are important caveats according to Mr. Evanina, who believes that this new policy in particular and the whole process of granting security clearances in general, are “a small price to pay to protect our nation’s secrets and ensure the trust the American people have placed in us”.
Here’s the rub: “[Investigation] will not be pursued unless it raises national security concerns.” What constitutes national security concerns? A reasonable answer would consist of physical threats to innocent, peaceful citizens. You know, people like ISIS.
But if you listen to the current Attorney General of the United States, a security threat might consist of someone who’s deemed hateful or disparaging to Islam. Our present government officials are more concerned with people who engage in speech “deemed” “inappropriate” towards their favored victim groups as they are with actual, real and objective threats to national security. And let’s not forget that Vice President Joe Biden once referred to opponents of Obamacare as economic “terrorists.” It doesn’t take a whole lot to be a threat to national security by today’s subjective, always left-biased political standards.
If you’re a federal employee, you had better watch yourself. What you say on social media like Facebook can easily be distorted or taken out of context, for anyone who wishes to engage in some kind of a “gotcha” attack with government force behind them. Did the IRS scandal against Tea Party organizations teach us nothing? Particularly since the perpetrators of that government abuse were never held accountable in any way?
If you think about it, we are all federal employees now. Every time you turn around the government exerts more power and control over what’s left of private industry. They do it for our “own good,” and we the people sheepishly comply.
In a way, you can’t blame the federal government for wishing to police our speech on social media, given that we expect the federal government to do just about everything else conceivable for us. If we give the federal government not just the responsibility to protect us from criminals, but also to feed us; shelter us; insure us; clothe us; provide us with free cell phones; maintain free primary and secondary schools; free college education; and regulate just about every aspect of our working and personal daily lives, then it stands to reason that this same all-encompassing, all “caring” federal government will start to concern itself with whether or not what we say on Facebook and Twitter is a threat to “national security,” subjectively defined by politically correct, conforming regulators and officials.
Rest assured, their efforts have little to do with actual security and everything to do with the security of their own unrelenting quest for power.
Brace yourselves, even on social media. The chill is on.
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