Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: Can you sense the paranoia?

Is it just me or do you also feel like big brother is watching all of us?

Either of my loyal readers might recall that I was in D.C. on 9/11/01. My boss found a rental car and we deadheaded home. As you can imagine, the situation was surreal and the ensuing 24 hours of conversation was intense. The others in the car were looking for revenge and I expressed concerns about how the attacks would affect our liberties.

My traveling companions tried to minimize my concerns, but they couldn’t convince me that I was wrong when I said, “We are going to give up our privacy and many other liberties in order to feel secure…” and wouldn’t you know, I was right.

Once our courts said it was okay to entrap users and dealers, the war on drugs started this erosion into our privacy. This led to the black helicopter paranoia and the Homeland Security Act made all of us fair game… even in our homes.

Our fear of terrorism has led to no-knock warrants backed by a secret court that allows police to search our homes and then get a warrant after they find something… and that certainly erodes my sense of security.

We’ve all become desensitized to these invasions and our right to privacy has been insidiously eviscerated. No one needs permission to pull out their cell phone and record our activities, every move we make seems to be recorded and tracked and no one seems to care.

I read the other day that the military was going to add 13 more UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles-predators-drones) to Grand Forks’ existing fleet. Since they’ll likely be flying them in North Dakota’s airspace it sure didn’t make me feel more secure; rather, it reminded me of Big Brother in the book “1984.”

You need to understand that these UAV’s are presently flying over Afghanistan while being piloted out of Grand Forks and other state side military bases. The optics on these things allow the pilots watch their prey from a long, long ways away. They could likely pinpoint whatever room in your house that you’re presently occupying… not a pleasant thought, huh?

At the same time our military is assisting local law enforcement in finding fugitives in Montana and other places. All they have to do is fly over the field and find your heat signature… which shows up like a beacon. There really is no hiding from UAV’s, and that’s good for law enforcement but bad for those who think it’s not okay to invade our private lives. Like I was saying earlier, we’ve become desensitized to all this in the name of security. One can only wonder when the thought police will become part of our daily lives. And given some of the political fervor we’ve been witnessing lately, one wonders who gets to decide what bad thoughts need to be eradicated… mayhaps this column?

It all seems like we’re stuck in a bad movie and it’s not a movie. Here’s hoping I’m not the only one out there that worries about such things…

May you always be able to stand up and say whatever you think needs sayin’…