A news report says that the New York city police department has been sending undercover agents to infiltrate Muslim student organizations on college campuses outside their jurisdiction and even outside their state. The names of students taking part in such things as white water rafting are deemed worthy of entering in their files if they pray several times a day or discuss Islam, though you would expect that a Muslim student group would do just these things.
Before this is dismissed as a trivial intrusion into people’s lives that is necessary to fight ‘the war on terror’, recall that once your name enters any police or other security-linked database for any reason, you are at the mercy of the vast eavesdropping apparatus that the government has created that monitors all forms of communications and can then troll through its data and search for you by name and thus monitor almost everything you do. The danger of this is pretty clear since it can be used to target individuals even if they have done nothing wrong at all.
Those who attempted to create an alternative data-mining system that partially preserves civil liberties by initially searching the data only for evidence of potential threats and dangers, and which would reveal the names of those involved only if it found credible evidence of wrongdoing, were thwarted, shunted aside, and eventually prosecuted by both the Bush and the Obama administrations.
Richard Nixon was widely ridiculed for his ‘enemies list’ and reviled for using the IRS to hound his political enemies. Now if for any reason you are marked as an ‘enemy’ by anyone in authority, practically your whole life can be monitored and you can be harassed in myriad ways, such as being routinely subjected to intrusive pat-downs or body scanning at airports or even ending up on a no-fly list.
And that would be just the beginning of your troubles.