“I can build you a perfectly safe city, but it will look like a prison.”
Who said that?
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh (pronounced “Jay”) Johnson recently, following the “failures” of computers at the New York Stock Exchange, United Airlines and The Wall Street Journal. Of course, those events – which occurred nearly simultaneously – have since been seen as likely cyber attacks.
But Johnson wasn’t finished. Speaking at the Center for Security and International Studies, he also said this:
Cybersecurity involves striking a balance. I can build you a perfectly secure email system but your contact will be limited to about ten people and you would be disconnected entirely from the Internet and the outside world.
That sounds an awful lot like life in some sort of prison, doesn’t it? Limited contact with the outside world, walls, guards, rules.
Few Americans would care much for that kind of life. And yet, while most of us don’t actually live inside a prison, we are nonetheless in a sort of “free-range prison,” as this report notes.
A ‘virtual prison’?
The report, “Free Range Prison: You don’t know what you don’t know,” continues on the concept of the free-range prison:
In a camp you have no fences, no walls, no barbed wire, no perimeter guards, no armed guards. There are no jail cells, no bars. You have vending machines and a day job. You have a convenience store. You have no forced ‘bed time’. You have unlimited television. You can move from A to B at will, most of the time. If you have ever been to college, you understand 80% of the Federal Minimum Prison experience. If you have been to boot camp – you have experienced a higher state of ‘restrictive’ lifestyle than prisoners in a Federal Camp. Prison is defined by the loss of your Rights. Click through the Bill of Rights – when you are in prison you lose those Rights.
Have we lost some or most of the freedoms and liberties contained in the Bill of Rights? Are we living in a “free-range prison“? In a very real sense, the answer is yes, this report says.
Rights? What rights?
— Most of us don’t live inside a fence – or do we? If we travel too close to one – say, along the U.S.-Mexico border (like, within 100 miles), we are subject to being stopped, searched and frisked by federal agents.
— Under certain statutes, such as those pertaining to civil asset forfeiture, we can have our personal property literally taken from us by “guards” (police, federal agents), and never get them back, even if we can afford a lawyer.
— We can own firearms, sure, but we can only own the kinds of firearms the “guards” (federal and state bureaucrats) say we can own. And we certainly can’t take them everywhere we might like to – even though they can take their weapons where they want.
— There are free speech, free expression and freedom of religion provisions in the Constitution, but these days if we say “the wrong thing” or display the wrong symbol or make a business decision based on our religious beliefs, and someone is “offended,” we will be ostracized, prosecuted, fined or even jailed (if we don’t pay the fine).
— We are free to travel, per se, but we must always be ready to present our “papers” to the “guards” – a driver’s license or other ID, “proof” of insurance, etc.
— If we want to travel by certain modes, such as commercial airliner, we are subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures of our bodies and our property by the “guards.”
— The “guards” (federal and state officials) know who we associate with, our medical conditions, what we purchase, where we go, what we do and even what we think.
— And just think how many times per day we have to “ask permission” to do something.
That, the report notes, is prison.
You can read the entire report here.