Friday, November 27, 2015

Terrified Americans Prepared To Sacrifice Liberties Again After Paris

Bwaaaaa! Daddy Reepo pwotekt me fwum dem bad guys! Bwaaaahahah!

"Those who would sacrifice an essential liberty for the purpose of a temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

"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'.

As many Americans take to the skies and roads over the long holiday weekend, you can be sure that despite the assurances of President Obama, millions will still be seized by pathological terror fears.

Just reading the accounts in The Wall Street Journal three days ago, of all the citizens prepared to sacrifice their hard won liberties to "feel safe" was enough to turn a civil libertarian's stomach. Person after person averred of the need to feel safe and how the Paris attacks had again turned them toward their own mortality.  One middle-aged Pennsylvania woman said she'd accept a new surveillance state, anything to "catch the terrorists".

And, of course, it doesn't take too much for crass politicos to exploit those fears (now voiced by 64 % of the country who believe a terror attack is "imminent"  for the U.S.)  and convert them into demagoguery and fear mongering - while vowing  a lot more surveillance - as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie have done. The last guy saying at a Council on Foreign Relations  confab that "Paris changes everything". Uh, no it doesn't.

Add to that hysterical articles like 'Time to Remove the Surveillance Blinders', WSJ, Nov. 24, p. A13) by Michael B. Mukasey and Jamil N. Jaffer, yelping to "restore the metadata programs" and you can understand why so many of our countrymen are in panic mode.

But as yesterday's Denver Post editorial ('Don't Retreat on NSA Surveillance') points out:

"The security hawks are misguided. The Paris attacks are not a cogent argument for their views. "

It goes on to cite knuckledragger Tom Cotton, hell bent on introducing legislation to delay implementation of the USA Freedom Act which passed in June and is set to be fully implemented in December.   (Incidentally, Cotton's cotton-pickin' energy in this, as well as that of other GOOPrs is nothing short of amazing given Republican leaders have recently declared the lower chamber will be closed for a total of 150 weekdays starting next year. That's upward of 30 weeks paid vacation for each!)

But the Post to its credit has noted that while the modest rollback of NSA bulk collection of records threatens national security, the facts do not bear this out. (But what value are facts anymore anyway, when a blowhard nincompoop like Trump can say anything he wants - like he heard and saw people in Jersey City clapping approval after the WTV towers went down - and not one report can support it)

As the Post observes:

"The federal government's own Privacy and Civil Liberties Board was unable in 2014 to identify "a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the telephone records collection program made a concrete difference to the outcome of a terrorist investigation."


"Moreover, we are aware of no such instance in which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist attack."

The Post also pointed out that the Justice Department's own inspector general came to a similar conclusion namely that "even federal anti-terrorism officials in favor of the 'metadata' program could not identify any major case developments as a result of it."

Those are significant findings showing the programs, methods were essentially useless despite all the huff and puff now erupting among politicians eager to gain leverage in the polls by playing on Americans' fears. Or least a certain subset I call "the good Germans".

Go back to the end of World War II and the American occupation of Germany in the years after 1945. We assailed the “weak” German people and mocked them for not standing up to the growing metastasis of Hitler’s Reich which they obviously saw but did nothing about. Hell, too many sided with Hitler, praised him and embraced his ideology while turning a blind eye to the wrongs. The last straw was the Enabling Act (1933) which essentially obliterated the last vestiges of the Weimar Republic. Our military also dragged out these “good Germans” and trotted them into the remnant concentration camps to see first hand what their Fuhrer and his minions did. They were marched in and forced to look at the naked, gassed bodies stacked like cordwood until they puked.
Americans have got to realize that if they're so petrified by the Paris attacks that they are led to vote for any of these tinhorn,  wannabe dictators, our nation will be in deep shit - from which it may never be extricated even after the current threat passes.  Worse, many citizens may be mutated into the same "good Germans" who would deny atrocities committed (e.g. by the security state) to protect them from the bad guys.

Am I a civil liberties “extremist”? Damned right if that means a citizen who understands that the Constitution is not just “a piece of paper” (as Bush once called it) and that the rights inherent in the Bill of Rights are real, apply to individuals, and not mere “compromise abstractions” but rather hold the key to American identity – what truly sets us apart. And once those rights are gone, believe me they won’t be coming back! Once they are gone we will cease to be the nation my ancestor,  Conrad Brumbaugh,  envisaged and fought for in the Revolutionary War  - as one of the Pennsylvania Regiment.

What would Conrad think now nearly 240 years after the War of Independence? He’d likely barf nonstop at the spectacle of what too many of the current crop of Americans have devolved to: arrant, whiny, weak, sissy consumers,  who’d rather give in to their fears and vote for an obvious tyrant than stand tall and face their fears.

Which means not letting the ISIA terrorists win, i.e. getting us to do their dirty work for them by rescinding our had won liberties via the imposition of dubious, hollow laws.

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