The revelations about the NSA’s call monitoring program bring to mind the Orwellian worlds of Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s own 1984. In 1984, televisions were two-way, so that the viewer was being viewed by the authorities. In a similar way, the phone calls we all make are being listened to not only by the parties involved, but their metadata is being tracked by our government. The very technology that enables us to be in touch and communicate all over the world, at any time, is used to monitor our every movement. This is not much of a stretch.
Brave New World corresponds to this program in a more interesting way. I question the “national security” defense for not revealing information – I think it’s more to do with hiding information that could be politically damaging. Honestly, in one sense it’d be pretty dumb for a terrorist to believe we were NOT tapping calls in one form or another; therefore, saying that we do tap calls is NOT revealing something people don’t suspect already.
I think the main reason programs like this are classified is because of the reaction currently taking place. This traces back to Vietnam – many argue (unsuccessfully in my opinion) that we lost that war because of lack of support from the public. Peer pressure is used to maintain support, and information that would diminish support is withheld in the name of “national security” – because revealing it would lower support, which could cause us to lose the war.
The objective is keeping the public (”betas”) satiated and supportive; whether the means used is chemical “soma” or withholding of incendiary information, the outcome is the same. By repeating terror threats ad nauseum, the public is in a continuous condition of fear. That fear can be relieved, to some degree, by our thoughtful Government’s efforts to protect us. That protection, we are told, requires techniques and behaviors that we cannot know the details of, because if we knew them the “terrrrrists” might also know them.
The fact that these techniques degrade our civil liberties is treated as a by-product, and the people who reveal such techniques that go around our FISA and other protective laws are considered to be harming “national security.” They are merely damaging the Administration’s reputation, or in another sense, taking away people’s soma.