Let's think through the troubling implications of the latest surveillance-state news. "The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches," Glenn Greenwald, Ryan Gallagher, and Ryan Grim report.
NSA apologists would have us believe that only terrorists have cause to be worried. A surveillance-state spokesperson told the Huffington Post, "without discussing specific individuals, it should not be surprising that the US Government uses all of the lawful tools at our disposal to impede the efforts of valid terrorist targets who seek to harm the nation and radicalize others to violence."
As the story notes, however, the targets are not necessarily terrorists. The term the NSA uses for them is "radicalizes," and if you're thinking of fiery orators urging people to strap on dynamite vests, know that the NSA chart accompanying the story includes one target who is a "well known media celebrity," and whose offense is arguing that "the U.S. perpetrated the 9/11 attacks." It makes one wonder if the NSA believes it would be justified in targeting any 9/11 truther. The chart* shows another target whose "writings appear on numerous jihadi websites" (it doesn't specify whether the writings were produced for those websites or merely posted there), and whose offending argument is that "the U.S. brought the 9/11 attacks upon itself." That could be a crude description of what the Reverend Jeremiah Wright or Ron Paul thinks about 9/11.
~ from The NSA's Porn-Surveillance Program: Not Safe For Democracy by Conor Friedersdorf ~
You know, if we could be confident that government spooks were gathering this sort of information for the sole purpose of preventing heinous acts, we might grant them a bit of leeway. But there is no reason to be confident in this regard. History has shown that our spy agencies collect this type of information on those individuals who are viewed as ANY kind of threat to policymakers or the elite.
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was never viewed as the type of person who would foment violence against the government or corporations, yet the FBI was very interested in the man's sexual proclivities. They were interested because of his influence on public opinion and how this influence might force the hand of policymakers.
That's one prominent example among hundreds (or thousands) of other examples. This type of surveillance tends to be used on domestic persons of interest who pose a nonviolent threat to the powers that be.
Does anyone really think that a bona fide terrorist organization would recall one of their agents or provocateurs simply because the fellow liked to view porn on the internet?