"In every government on earth is some trace of human weakness, some germ of corruption and degeneracy, which cunning will discover and wickedness insensibly open." - Thomas Jefferson, in 'Notes on Virginia'.
"Those who would sacrifice an essential liberty for the purpose of a temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."- Benjamin Franklin
One of the stock canards (or maybe bromides) spouted all through the 12 years of the 'War on Terror" has been that the "troops are fighting for our freedoms". As we behold the latest leaked (thankfully!) releases that government has an enormous PRISM program raking up all our personal and online info and data (they use the euphemism "metadata") we now know this is so much bullshit. The troops are merely pawns deployed in far off places to justify the ongoing massive security-surveillance network at home - which essentially has tossed all our fourth amendment rights into the dumpster. But this has been long in coming, and to me - the real outrage is those higher ups like Dianne Feinstein now calling for pursuit of the leakers when THEY are the ones ensuring we aren't sent hurling into total tyranny! Because make no mistake - as long as the "patriotic" eavesdroppers know more about us than we do about them and their doings, we are merely consumer-ite tools, hardly citizens in a democracy!
Let's back up some decades to the Church Committee, which under Sen. Frank Church found in the course of its investigations that the NSA had gotten too big for its breeches and was involved in numerous excesses. Thanks to the Church Committee there was issued Executive Order 12333 launching 'The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978' which mandated several limits, including:
- NSA can intercept any communication - phone call, fax, electronic mail, etc. as long as at least one end is in a foreign country
- NSA cannot target individual Americans, for example, by entering the citizen's name or phone number into a computer that scans calls.
- If NSA accidentally picks up an American during targeting of a foreigner..the American's name must be removed from reports of the call and replaced with the words 'U.S. Person'.
- When NSA (or CIA) eavesdroppers are training or testing equipment they may intercept an American's calls, as long as records are destroyed 'as soon as possible'
Well, all that changed after the 9/11 attacks, when the nation allowed a group of robed lunatics to achieve the leverage of a superpower, as our misguided leaders launched a 12-yr. military buildup and two invasions- "wars" - now bankrupting us - even as they induced us to limit our OWN civil liberties in the name of protecting us from the terrorists. In many ways then, the robed lunatics and OBL got our leaders, so-called reps to do their dirty work for them and thereby emerge victorious. All this horse shit you've heard about they haven't changed our way of life? It's a cock and bull story! Just read the headlines from today's papers if you still think that's true! The sad fact? Our lives and every move are fully transparent to the gov't while its sundry machinations are mostly hidden from us- thanks to over-classification of everything. Is this democracy? No freaking way!
Many warnings were sounded, especially after the bogusly named "Patriot" Act emerged in 2002. Alas, few Senators had read it but most were ready to approve it at the drop of a hat because...oh my.....if they voted against it they'd be deemed UNPATRIOTIC! In fact, the REAL patriots were those like WI Sen. Russ Feingold who rejected it - recognizing it for the Trojan horse it was. Out of the Patriot Act's clauses emerged much of the sinister manuevering, pseudo-legalistic mumbo jumbo justifying the over reach going on now, including the deliberate muzzling of internet companies so they wouldn't inform customers they'd been compromised by backdoor gates- supplied by NSA, FBI etc..
Flash forward to 2005. At least the FISA Act was still protecting us, i.e. our 4th amendment rights. But then the Bushies began taking shortcuts with it, doing their snooping without proper judicial warrants. It violated the heart of the FISA laws but given how many congress critters had been turned into lily-livered punks they didn't halt it, no -- they changed the LAW to make the FISA violations lawful! The chance then came up in 2011 to halt the renewal of this insanity and unconstitutional over reach once and for all, but all our congress whores punked out, and approved it - so here we sit- with the NSA snoops likely watching even as I type this. Obama could have chucked the unconstitutional FISA law revision-renewal with a veto but he let it pass by signing. Odd, because as a Senator he offered a full throated defense of the Billl of Rights and warned against the very over reach we're now seeing on a mammoth scale.
On May 3, 2011, meanwhile, Gordon Rachman - writing in The Financial Times - advised it was time to declare victory in the "war on terror" and end it. Of course, to the hyper-militarists and security mavens this was anathema, since god forbid, they need a driving shtick to keep on pulling in federal dollars. Shut down all their anti-terror toys, surveillance and so on and what's left? Well, nothing to do but play golf every day and what fun is there in that? So, their response naturally kept the fear pipes blaring, warning of this and that or now - after Bin Laden's killing- some kind of obscure retribution from the terror cells. But as Rachman noted, this game could go on forever, because no one is going to kill or eliminate every terrorist on the planet. Those warnings sounded by the Spy complex two years ago were re-echoed yesterday by the same Complex and its self-righteous bloviators (as well as assholes like Lindsey Graham), who are chagrined that the leaks which informed us of the extent of their snooping will now "not protect us as well". The question emerges from what?
You're going to turn the whole country into a fascist panopticon out of fear of one or two odd attacks? Evidently yes, and both parties are hostage to this syndrome because neither wants to be known as the party of "terr'ist lovers", anti-Patriots, commies or whatever. But as Rachman noted in his piece: citing a report for the Rand Corporation by Brian Jenkens who makes a similar point:
"The average American has about a 1 in 9,000 chance of dying in an automobile accident and about a one in 18,000 chance of being murdered.".
Meanwhile, in the five years after 9/11 (including the people killed there) "the average American had only a one in 500,000 chance of being killed in a terrorist attack". By way of comparison, the chance of dying in an airline crash is one in 346,000 and the chance of being annihilated by a monster asteroid (> 0.5 km dia.) in its collision with Earth, is the same, according to Sir Martin Rees ('Our Final Hour'). SO in other words, the chance of being killed in a terrorist attack is much much less than the chance of being wiped out in an asteroid collision.
So all this hullaballoo about "protecting us" is really about taking away all the basic fourth amendment rights in the interest of trying to halt one or two odd attacks (or even more possibly) which don't even claim as many lives as gun homicides every year - and for which this nation does absolutely squatto. (As we've witnessed after the Newtown massacre). I betcha if Newtown had been a terrorist attack, there'd be no multi-clip magazine weapons left out there!
You do remember those 4th amendment rights, don't you? You're not one of those fool 'Muricans who in a poll taken ca. 2004 couldn't name 3 of the Bill of Rights? Let us recall the words from that once sacred Constitution now treated as toilet paper by most of our aristocrats in the Senate:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
As noted by blogger Norman Solomon (http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/norman-solomon/49920/the-bill-of-rights-exists-an-open-letter-to-dianne-feinstein):
"One of the most chilling parts of that just-revealed Surveillance Court order can be found at the bottom of the first page, where it says “Declassify on: 12 April 2038.”
Apparently you thought—or at least hoped—that we, the people of the United States, wouldn’t find out for 25 years. And the fact that we learned about this extreme violation of our rights in 2013 instead of 2038 seems to bother you a lot."
Why 2038? Obviously, because the powers-that-be, bless their little hearts, know that most Boomers will all be dead by then. And we are the last generation living that can still trace back historical memory to the era of the Kennedy assassination in 1963 - while for most Gen X'ers and Millennials that is all distant fairy tale stuff so they'd have little interest anyway. (Recall, the JFK file hiders also wanted to keep hidden all the relevant files until 2037, but thanks to Oliver Stone - whose film 'JFK' launched the JFK Records Act, that was shot down)
Solomon goes on, addressing Sen. Dianne Feinstein:
"Rather than call for protection of the Fourth Amendment, you want authorities to catch and punish whoever leaked this secret order. You seem to fear that people can actually discover what their own government is doing to them with vast surveillance."
But in fact, it is the leakers who have ensured a level playing field in the matter of deep politics knowledge, at least keeping the PEOPLE somewhat knowledgeable of what their government is doing, as opposed to the gov't having it all its own way and hiding everything!
Rachman himself warned of the dimensions of the extensive surveillance state - complex barely two years ago, noting that the Washington Post's expose ('Top Secret America') pointed out that:
"In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September, 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons.. Adding - and "that is just the organizations created since 9/11, whle the CIA and NSA were hardly modest or under-resourced operations before the war on terror".
Indeed now, at least five counties within 150 miles of D.C. are the richest in the country, in terms of median income, and all are beneficiaries of this monstrous security state. One in which I used to live, Howard County, Maryland, is the 5th wealthiest and features the NSA headquarters, the subject of an extensive investigative piece when I lived in Columbia, MD ('No Such Agency: America's Fortress of Spies', by Scott Shane and Tom Bowman, The Baltimore Sun Special Section (Dec. 3-15, 1995)).
Of course, NSA's complexes have vastly grown since then, with its budget more than quadrupled. Recall also my earlier blog on their new facility in Bluffdale, Utah - designed to approach the state of "total information awareness" that the (Bush)- reconstructed Iran-Contra criminal John Poindexter once hoped to implement - and in a way has succeeded, since the reported data scrafing functions approach it. I noted the extent of this here: http://www.brane-space.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-biggest-spy-center-on-earth-lets.html
For example, the program known as PRISM gives the
Be alert, be aware. Raise a hue and cry as opposed to remaining merely a passive consumer. Now is the time for all real citizens to come to the aid of the country, if a country of democratic principles we are to still have when it's all over! If not, and the Military-Spy Complex has total control, we will know once and for all (as many of us suspect now) Osama bin Laden - though dead 2 yrs. - will have gotten our own government to do his dirty work for him in taking away our rights!
Footnote: I just saw a nice little spiel Obama gave today about how the data collectors are all "professionals" and doing their jobs - also that he will be a private citizen soon and he may be snooped on by an administration after that. My thought? Isn't he the LEAST worried about that? He ought to be! Again, the extent of MASS surveillance - which is what he's trying to defend - is not supported by the explicit wording of the 4th amendment which calls for individual warrants for searches! This is an abomination and no amount of rhetoric can make it right. Not to me, anyway! Either we return to the 1978 FISA law, or admit we're now a lawless nation carrying on unconstitutional searches.