“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." This is the government's greatest fear. Aeschylus is supposed to have said that “In war, truth is the first casualty.” He may have been technically correct, but truth is a casualty before the war even starts. Truth is a casualty of government. Government subsists on lies. How can it be otherwise, when lying is the path to advancement in government?
Lies have always served government well because people have a tendency to trust their government for some inexplicable reason and even when lies were exposed, it was usually long after the fact and the thing lied about forgotten. There have always been a few people who point the lies out at the time, but they are almost always ignored. There were probably some people at the time who doubted the Gulf of Tonkin Incident or the “surprise” attack on Pearl Harbor, but they had no effective means of disseminating their views.
Herein lies what I believe to be the greatest problem for government. There is a concept in economics called the velocity of money, and if I may borrow from it I would say that the internet has brought about what I call the Velocity of Truth. The theory works like this: the government puts out a lie to justify some act or contemplated action, but before it can even agree on the details, somebody exposes it as a lie. This usually necessitates another lie – sometimes called a clarification – to cover up the first one. Before you know it, the government has woven itself a tangled web in its efforts to deceive.
Truth and government are antonymous.
This is a problem for government that seems as though it can only get worse. Daniel Ellsberg was an anomaly in his time, but just in the last few years people like Julian Assange, William Binney, Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, Thomas Drake, Sibel Edmonds, et alia have pullulated like chickens. Before the internet they would have been voices crying in the wilderness and could be safely ignored, but not any more because the Velocity of Truth is increasing.
Surveillance can only become a worse problem for the government as video and audio recorders get smaller and ubiquitous and data storage devices shrink and gain capacity. It is similar to an elephant fighting ants or a dog biting at fleas.
Not too long ago, the police could concoct any story to justify their actions, but now they are constantly being caught on video recording devices that contradict their account of events. If John Kennedy were assassinated today, Abraham Zapruder would only be one of thousands with a video record of it, and the modern version would also have audio. As it becomes more common for devices to upload information to a remote location, the cat will be out of the bag, vanished and had kittens. Today government goons can seize the equipment and destroy it or erase the information, but that option will soon evaporate.
The current program of fabricating a reason to attack Syria is an example of the pesky internet. The Daily Mail ran a story on January 29, 2013, titled U.S. 'backed plan to launch chemical weapon attack on Syria and blame it on Assad's regime' that mysteriously vanished, but it was archived here by web.archive.org. Just a few years ago, it would have required digging up a copy of the original story and making copies of it to disseminate.
Most of us can't imagine the inventions that will soon be commonplace, and many of them will help increase the flow of information. Every advance in the flow of information damages the government's ability to deceive and increases the Velocity of Truth.