Ever since Islamic terrorists hijacked several airliners and crashed them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, Republicans and Democrats have used the tragedy as an excuse to destroy liberty and freedom in the name of safety and security.
Many of the “solutions” proposed by our overlords in Washington bear a frightening resemblance to the world George Orwell described in his novel, 1984. Just like Big Brother, federal and local governments have taken steps to control our thoughts, limit our speech, and identify criminal behavior even before a crime is committed.
One of Washington’s creations following 9-11 is the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) who recently appeared before Congress along with Representatives from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to defend government’s use of facial recognition technology in airports and border areas. This technology sounds eerily similar to the face-scanning technology described by Orwell in his novel that was used by The Party to identify a “facecrime” against the state.
“It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself – anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.
“The Party’s surveillance tactics and technology are so advanced that even the smallest twitch can betray a rebellious spirit.”
– 1984, Book 1, Chapter 5, George Orwell
John Wagner with the CBP assured Congress that the face-scanning project — known as Biometric Entry/Exit — is “absolutely not a surveillance program.” An ironic claim because the reason a hearing on the program was being held was due primarily to the ability of the government to do just that since there are currently no restrictions on how the technology is used.
Ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) loves the potential of “Biometric” technology to “improve law enforcement.” And even though the technology poses “unique privacy considerations,” it still has “clear security benefits.”
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) essentially concurred with his fellow Republican about the benefits of the biometrics program. “It’s always a balance in this committee when we deal with security issues, we deal with privacy and civil liberties, we always have to balance these as Americans. But I wouldn’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Maybe it’s just me, but shouldn’t the fact that government keeps looking for ways to “work around” the Constitution be all the evidence we need to prove they are doing things not permitted by the Constitution?
A coalition of 35 organizations led by the Electronic Privacy Information Center sent a letter to Congress calling for a halt the use of facial recognition technology on the general public due to the threat it poses to privacy and civil liberties.
“The use of face recognition technology by DHS poses serious risks to privacy and civil liberties, threatens immigrants, broadly impacts American citizens, and has been implemented without proper safeguards in place or explicit Congressional approval.
“Congress should not permit the continued use of face recognition in the United States, absent safeguards to prevent such abuses.”
Alas, Big Brother Washington isn’t all that concerned about trivial matters such as privacy and liberty. George W. Bush created the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA, and neither Obama nor Trump have done anything to rein them in. In fact, in his first year in office, Trump launched a plan to create a secret global spy network accountable only to him. And last year he equipped ICE to create a nationwide license plate recognition database.
Republican love for Biometrics technology has been growing since January 2018 when then-Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced the Securing America’s Future Act, a bill that would have created a biometric national ID card capable of tracking every American. This ID card would have been required to hold a job, open a bank account, or get on a plane.
Goodlatte’s bill failed, but we could see it resurrected in the future as the border crisis continues to grow. On the other hand, why go through the hassle of creating ID cards when you can simply use facial recognition technology to surveil every American?
Oh, that’s right. Big Brother Washington has assured us the technology isn’t used for surveillance.
David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative.
His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.