Even as we write this entry, we are reminded of the horrendous events that unfolded in Oklahoma City in April 1995, when terrorists bombed a nine-story federal building, allegedly with a single truck bomb parked in front of the structure. Supposedly, Timothy McVeighjust parked the truck, drove away in another vehicle, and detonated the massive bomb from a remote location, or perhaps with a timing device.
This terrorist act affected the federal building, which housed primarily what would be referred to as civilian activities, i.e., Social Security offices, federal assistance offices, and a sizable daycare center, as well as a few such as FBI, CIA, and Secret Service, but the devastation was not limited to that one building. The shock was felt as far away as fifty miles, and the glass in buildings as far away as four to five blocks was blown out, injuring many unsuspecting pedestrians and office workers, as well as a number of other children in the YMCA facility across the street.
The fatalities surpassed one hundred sixty, with a few bodies never located. The medical personnel ran out of body bags and requested that people donate sheets. Dogs with high-tech, extremely sensitive microphones were sent through the rubble in an attempt to locate any remaining survivors. One victim had a leg amputated on the spot in order to be extricated from the debris and have her life saved.
The nine floors “pancaked” down on top of one another and landed in a crater created by the bomb. Despite all the efforts of the engineers to shore up the wreckage, and despite the extreme care taken by the rescue workers, one rescuer was killed and two others were injured in the heroic attempts. The devastation has been compared in magnitude with the earthquake of two years earlier in Northridge, California.
However, there is a big difference between the two events…and the resulting effect on the population both in Oklahoma and across our nation is much more explosive. This act of violence was committed by radical people with a religious or political agenda…hard-line fanatics who practice the principle that the end justifies the means—regardless of the innocent victims who were in no way involved in their cause, either pro or con.
Since this has been hashed and rehashed for nearly twenty years on every TV station, newspaper, magazine, talk show, and in books, you may be asking yourself why we’re bothering to include it here. It is because, when this kind of terrorism strikes the heartland of America, rather than its big cities (such as New York City on September 11, 2001, where people assume such actions may occur), fear grips the hearts of everyone, and prevention becomes the top priority in our minds. A groundswell of cries for justice and protection starts to rise from the grassroots.
Why did this happen? It could be for any reason in any distorted mind. Will it happen again? Undoubtedly. Can we stop it? Probably not. What are we willing to do to try to stop it? Bingo. You are willing to give up some more of your freedoms and willing to submit to more covert surveillance and more control of your lives…because how else can we protect the safety of all those innocent victims?
Of course, the ultimate example of this social phenomenon has increased exponentially since the September 11, 2001 attack on America. The subject has since been discussed and rehearsed ad nauseam with the conclusion that we need to increase our surveillance techniques and strengthen our laws to aid law enforcement units in the tracking and capturing of dangerous dissidents. It has already been pointed out that the CIA, FBI, and Secret Service should have better information-gathering abilities, so they can know about these events before they happen and arrest the culprits on some kind of conspiracy charge before a criminal act has actually been committed.
Everything that’s in us wants to shout, “Yes!” But that brings us back to the question of how much liberty and freedom we’re willing to forego. Are we going to invite “Big Brother” to turn this country into an armed camp (someone on the news referred to it as the “bunker mentality”), with all rights of privacy tossed out the window in the process? If we give over that kind of power, will it stop the terrorism? No. Did it stop the IRA from bombing London on a regular basis? Has it stopped the Islamic terrorists from bombing Israel on a regular basis? Did it protect our Marine base from a terrorist bombing? No, to all of the above. The very nature of terrorism means that you can’t stop it. Terrorists don’t operate by the rules, and they are willing, if necessary, to die to deliver the explosives to the target…and they don’t care who dies with them.
We might succeed in making them go a little farther undercover, and their actions may become more covert, but if they are crazy enough and determined enough, they’ll find a way.
So, what will be accomplished by forfeiting our liberties? We will give the government the right to meddle even more into our businesses and lives…for our own good, of course, as with all the other things it is doing to us for “our benefit.”
In addition to adding personnel to law enforcement investigative agencies, the government wants to enhance the ability of these agencies in its electronic eavesdropping, via emails, telephones, fax transmissions, etc. Also, Big Brother wants to help the telecommunications companies pay for the mandated purchase and installation of new software and equipment to provide access to their digital systems, which would allow the government to intercept and monitor all telecommunications—in many cases without a warrant. Because prior to the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11, the government was trying to force the telecommunications companies to pay for all these expensive conversions themselves, the companies were trying to avoid cooperating.
As far back as 1994, a particularly enlightening article titled “Privacy in the Digital Age” by Bill Machrone for PC Magazine pointed out, among other hair-raising information, that the “pending legislation provides for fines up to $10,000 a day against telecommunications companies who don’t give the Feds the access they want to the decoded data streams.”
The loss of our privacy and electronic bondage go hand in hand. Once you are in the system, it is impossible to extricate yourself from it. And now the various agencies, i.e., social services, health care, insurance systems, medical groups, retail sales, credit bureaus, Social Security, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), vehicle/driver’s license registration, voter registration, etc., are sharing the information in their files about you.
As much as you might like to avoid it, there are plenty of places you probably already exist in Big Brother’s “big brain.” One of the biggest cracks in the security of your privacy is the rampant use of your Social Security number to currently identify you just about everywhere. The fact that many of the people who use it to identify you freely print it in public view—or make it easily accessible to anyone who seeks it—makes it relatively easy to obtain information on your most personal activities, and even to make changes in your file.
Then there’s the IRS. While its mission statement says it exists to “enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all,” we’ve all felt for quite some time that its staffers know more about us than they need to. This was thoroughly illustrated in 2013, following a series of eye-opening developments that led to the resignation of the IRS commissioner and a second IRS official pleading the Fifth Amendment when refusing to answer questions before Congress. The fuss followed the discovery that the agency had been inappropriately harassing conservative organizations—such as veterans groups and the Tea Party movement—and selectively investigating them, demanding private details about their religious preferences, and intentionally delaying applications for tax-exempt status. More recently, the Thomas More Society has filed multiple lawsuits to stop the IRS from also singling out pro-life groups with intrusive questions including, “How often do you pray?”
|Recent IRS issues plague the Obama administration. Is it|
all leading to a breaking point? A "trigger" event?
Before these recent events, the Los Angeles Timesreported:
If you have a back tax bill with the Internal Revenue Service, watch out. In the midst of a program called economic reality, the federal tax agency is going on line, searching for signs of noncompliance as well as electronic records of cars, credit and real estate it can seize from delinquent taxpayers.… A cadre of IRS agents with computers and modems now will be searching records filed with Department of Motor Vehicles, county tax assessor’s offices, credit-reporting companies and the U.S. Bureau of the Census in an effort to find people who are underreporting their business sales, overestimating their deductions or trying to hide assets—or themselves—from federal tax collectors. IRS officials say… “We will be using information from various [electronic] sources as part of our economic-reality approach”… The IRS will begin compiling a host of demographic information about people in each district.… This information will include currency and banking reports, license information, construction contact information and census data.… The IRS will get current addresses for taxpayers who have apparently dropped off the rolls by buying them from credit-reporting companies.… It can get your full credit file to determine whether you have enough credit to pay the bill.… DMV records will be tapped…to see if you have a car to sell to pay taxes—and to help determine whether a taxpayer is lying about income or deductions. The IRS will be suspicious, for example, of a waiter who reports $20,000 in total income but drives a new Porsche. Property records will be used in the same way.… A few credit experts warn that it also puts a burden on individuals who are under IRS scrutiny. Why? The records are not always right. And the tax agency does not need to inform you that it is searching these records, nor is it required to allow you to correct records that are in error…it cannot correct somebody else’s database.… If you’re under IRS scrutiny, it may behoove you to check your own records for accuracy.
Another article on the IRS from the Reno Gazette-Journal discussed how IRS auditors have become “gumshoes” and are training auditors—formerly accountants, for the most part—to be detectives, using all databases at their disposal to compile a composite of YOU—what you should be driving and where you should be living (based on the income you reported), weddings of your children, your cultural background, vacations, home furnishings, etc. They want to develop a complete profile on you. And these techniques have now become standard practice for all audits.
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