By Samuel Abels
Founded by the George W. Bush Administration, the Department of Homeland Security’s primary function should be, as it already obviously sounds: to secure the homeland, and defend it against potential threats. But the primary threat right now appears to be nothing more than journalistic liberty and the very freedom of the American press itself.
As of recent, the DHS put up a contract this past week for something they have entitled as being “Media Monitoring Services,” which is set to compile a database of bloggers, journalists and what are being described by the agency as “media influencers” somewhere in the near thousands in terms of the quantity of individuals being scoped out. What subsequently followed this announcement was an obvious outcry from social media users, and a DHS spokesman sent out a post on Twitter, stating that, “this is nothing more than the standard practice of monitoring current events in the media.”
The DHS request itself seeks a firm with the abilities to monitor upwards of 290,000 global news sources, with an ability to track media coverage ranging from up to 100 languages. Other things the DHS claims to be seeking in a candidate for monitoring is the ability to track online, print, broadcast, cable, radio, local sources, national and international outlets, and social media, among other forms of media. The request also seeks to construct lists of journalists based on factors such as their location, outlet type and size and their respective journalistic role. Creating a proposed online media influence database is another pillar of the operation that is included.
A DHS spokesman by the name of Tyler Q. Houlton also tweeted out that “despite what some reporters suggest, this is standard.”
The suggestion was also followed by the notion that to say otherwise is to promote conspiracy theories.
I think not, Mr. Houlton and company. Plain and simple, this is a slippery slope towards eradicating our republic and all it was founded upon, quite literally starting at the beginning of our basic rights as the people. We need to be careful, cautious, and more aware that we are not forefeting our liberties in order to purchase what can only be seen as being temporary safety. Benjamin Franklin himself stuck to this very ideal. One of our Founding Fathers!
How can we remain blind to our history, to the history of the world, even, when time and time again, history has shown us the true colors of these methods (Germany, Cuba, Russia). Look at the immense powers we have granted the federal government, from the ability to go after private business practices, to the ability to send the fiery wrath of our more militant ways from the skies above. If we are not careful, if we do not take these various arms of the federal government and their motives to account, we may just sorely regret it in the long run.