Some months back, I wrote about an engrossing TV series, ‘A Person of Interest’, which was created by Jonathan Nolan. The series centers round a former CIA paramilitary operator, Reese, played by Jim Caviezel, as the man in the black suit, who is presumed dead by the military and a reclusive billionaire Finch, who has developed an ultra, super-duper ‘Tracking and Monitoring’ machine, that can access and eavesdrop all cell phone calls and intercept all SMS and email messages made in the US and also monitor CCTV cameras anywhere in the city of New York.

(http://www.free-tv-video-online.me/internet/person_of_interest/).

And now, thanks to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is also on the run like Wikileaks whistle blower, Julian Assange, documents detailing the top-secret surveillance program have been published for the first time. The documents reveal that Uncle Sam is not only watching and listening to its own politicians and citizens, but also listening to world leaders and politicians. The whistle has turned in to a piercing shrill, that has snowballed and echoed through the corridors of power around the world and triggered shrieks of protests from all major countries.  

According to Snowden, the objective of the program was to ‘eavesdrop’ on the conversations of terrorists and criminals and detect any planned terrorist or criminal attack like the one on 9/11 and prevent them from happening.

These cameras are now placed on almost all public places, street corners, parks, airports, railway stations, important buildings, etc., as a routine in all major cities in the world and record and ‘eavesdrop’ all cell phone calls and intercept all SMS and email messages.

In other words, prevention is better than cure, something that is desperately needed in Pakistan, in order to stop terrorists and targeted killings and the old poster of a stern Uncle Sam, pointing a menacing finger at you, with a caption, ‘Big Brother is Watching You’, is a reality. But now, the Americans are not alone and have been joined by other Big Brothers and Sisters around the world. This futuristic type machine and technology is a glimpse of what the US is developing and was exposed by William Binney, one of the best mathematicians and code breakers in National Security Agency (NSA) history.

He worked for America’s premier covert intelligence gathering organization for 32 years before resigning in late 2001, because he “could not stay after NSA began purposefully violating the Constitution.”

He claims that NSA took one of the programs he built, known as Thin Thread and used the program to spy on virtually every U.S. citizen under the code-name Stellar Wind. Binney says that Thin Thread was built to track electronic activities, phone calls, emails, banking, travel records, social media , etc. and map them to collect “all the attributes that any individual has” in every type of activity, building a real-time profile based on that data. He claims that the U.S. government was operating an illegal mass surveillance program. ‘The program can pull your entire life together from all those domains and map it out, showing your entire life. The program is able to monitor what people are doing and who they are doing it with. I apologize to the American people, as the program violates everyone’s rights and can be used to eavesdrop on the whole world.’                                                                                            (http://www.businessinsider.com/nsa-whistleblower-william-binney-was-right-2013-6)

Like Binney, Snowden genuinely believes that the government has no business tapping into the private communications of citizens, which has started a debate into the ethics and legality of the clandestine operation by the US government.

Considering that a 29-year old systems manager like Snowden could have access to so much information about the covert electronic signals interception program is in itself very disturbing.  What is even more troubling is that NSA, which has a much larger budget than the CIA, subcontracts much of this surveillance work to contractors. According to media reports, Snowden worked for Booz Allen, a consulting firm and is one of some 1.4 million Americans, with top-security clearance.

Such a large number of people with access to sensitive information make the whole system prone to leaks. Also, what is there to stop many from spilling the beans, if the price is right?

But it seems that other NATO countries, including Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the NSA’s counterpart in the UK, has also been tapping vast amounts of cable traffic entering its shores.

Both countries state, ‘Trust us. We are doing all this to keep the world safe.’  And to back up this claim, Washington asserts that some 50 terrorist plots have been averted because of the PRISM program.  No doubt, these surveillance programs to detect and prevent terrorist and criminal activities are the need in today’s world, but they also violate the fundamental rights of citizens, which Uncle Sam always claims, should always be protected.

And on top of this, we are told that the US government is developing a Mother of all drones, the high-tech Mosquito size drones. (http://www.snopes.com/photos/technology/insectdrone.asp).

These Mosquitoes can be remotely controlled and are equipped with a camera and a microphone. It can fly through an open window, land on you and have the potential to take a DNA sample, leave RFID tracking nanotechnology on your skin, inject a deadly poison or attach itself to your clothing, thus taking it into your home without your knowledge.

Among the more extreme applications for such devices is that they may eventually be used as “swarm weapons”, which could be launched en masse against enemy forces. The project is being funded by the US Government and is already in production,

If this information is right, then Uncle Sam will not only have the technology to watch and listen to any citizen, but will also have the ultimate drone and a weapon that is  licensed to kill, making the Dreaded Drones and 007 James Bond and his super spies a thing of the past. 

The recent American drone attack, which killed the Taliban leader, who some regard as a martyr, while others, as a ruthless killer, has exposed the highly volatile fault line in our society, which, together with the widening gap between the haves and the have not’s, could have a devastating effect in time to come.   So it is possible that the present drones could soon be replaced with the Mother of all drones, the high-tech Mosquito Drones, that sting like a bee and float away like a butterfly.

(http://www.snopes.com/photos/technology/insectdrone.asp).

n The writer can be reached at trust@helplinetrust.org