In my last article, I outlined 3 lessons I learned as an intelligence officer.
1. Information is power (and absolute information is absolute power!).
2. Intelligence gathering is an extraordinary activity and should be used only for extraordinary purposes.
3. It should not be the role of a government to spy on its citizens
In this part, let’s talk about just the first one, you have to understand it, feel it and be certain of it, otherwise none of this makes sense.
Information is power. With my background of collecting information and my current profession in the political world, I can tell you information is powerful with respect to individuals. Further, and I’m sure I’m not the first to say this — Information is power, absolute information is absolute power.
If I can analyze your phone data, I know who all of your friends are, if I can tap your computer I can probably tap into your bank account, so I know the resources you have and perhaps have the ability to bankrupt you. And I can likely determine “plans and intentions” the basic prize of intelligence gathering. If I can tap into your credit card profile and know what you buy, I can profile you in a variety of other ways and do endless damage.
A grain of truth can be twisted a variety of ways with some amazingly powerful techniques (state a fact, assign a motivation, it’s easy…). With constant video surveillance how tough is it to find footage of someone in an apparently compromising position, be it picking one’s nose, scratching one’s butt, staring in the direction of a child (obvious a pedophile), walking with someone other than one’s spouse (must be having an affair), or simply driving past an adult bookstore. The tabloids do this kind of thing all the time. But when combined with the subtlety available in political operations these techniques can quickly destroy an opponent.
If I can track you by your cellphone (all cellphones now have GPS), then I can arrange for an embarrassing incident to occur and get it on video. If I can listen to your phone calls, I can interfere, spread rumors, threaten your associates, and basically arrange for any business you do to go down in flames.
Medical information is even more critical. If you have had a venereal disease in your past (even one that is cured) who will want to socialize with you? If you have a heart ailment, should they pick you for that important (and possibly stressful) position in your company? It will be even worse when DNA sequencing becomes more prevalent and having that “alcoholic” gene or that “schizophrenic” gene will disqualify you (even though the tendency might move you only from a .001% to a .005% chance). You may be also be tainted if a relative or friend has issues (AIDS or ebola?).
If a politician or other leader can tap into information like this he can hang onto power for a long time. He can also get away with corruption since anyone in opposition can be targeted using this information.
Can someone get this information now? Not legally, but with enough money these can certainly be done. Will someone do this to you? That depends. Do you have something somebody else wants? Are you interfering with illegal or immoral actions some corrupt leader is planning? It may not matter to you at this point, until your rights are so much infringed that you can do nothing.
Our Constitution provides for the shifting of power and the election of the powerful for very good reasons. If the powerful grant themselves enough power to destroy their opponents, we no longer will have a democracy, we will have an unbreakable tyranny.
Stay tuned for Part 3 – Intelligence gathering is an extraordinary activity.