Madison Ruppert, Contributor
End the Lie
In a perfect example of how the government treats the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) received documents related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) with almost everything redacted.
|One of the pages from the response to the EFF’s FOIA request (Image credit: EFF)|
Some might find it noteworthy that anything was released at all given the fact that a federal judge ruled the Obama administration never has to explain why they claim it is legal to assassinate Americans without charge or trial, while still being able to claim it is legal to do so.
The so-called compliance with the EFF’s FOIA request is nothing short of laughable. Even when they claim to be “responsive” to the request, everything except a single sentence and the cover page has been redacted from the document.
To make matters even more absurd, the single sentence that has not been removed reads,
The Government has provided copies of the opinions and the filings by the Government to this Committee, and the Government will continue to inform the Committee about developments in this manner.
the government’s secrecy claims are so extreme that it filed to release, even in entirely redacted form, the actual FISC opinions EFF requested.”
“The records released by the government were just summaries (albeit wholly-redacted ones) of those FISC opinions that were provided to Congressional intelligence committees,” Mark Rumold adds, writing for the EFF.
The government’s position on this law is nothing short of mind bending. Despite the fact that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions remain completely secret, both the executive branch and individuals in the Senate have claimed that the secret opinions do not constitute “the law” or “secret law.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein, for example, when opposing the amendment to the FISA Amendments Act proposed by Senator Jeff Merkley which would given at least a slight bit of exposure to the secret law, made some quite nonsensical statements.
‘Nevertheless, I am concerned that what is happening is the term ‘secret law’ is being confused with what the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issues in the form of classified opinions based on classified intelligence programs,’ Feinstein said.
The EFF points out that Feinstein’s statement is strikingly similar to that of the Department of Justice in a brief issued in the EFF’s PATRIOT Act Section 215 FOIA case. That case was also dealing with a secret interpretation of a surveillance law.
In the brief, the Department of Justice claimed that the EFF has attempted to “conflate the meaning of the word ‘secret’ in the phrase ‘secret law’ with the use of the word ‘secret’ for national security purposes.”
Yet, as the EFF rightly points out, such a claim is without merit since, “this much is clear: when a court issues an opinion containing a significant interpretation of a public statute, that court’s opinion is the law.”
“When the court’s opinion is withheld from the public, that opinion is a ‘secret,’ even if the statute the opinion interprets is already publicly available,’ they continue. “Because a court’s opinion constitutes the ‘law,’ refusing to disclose those opinions to the public results in ‘secret law.’”
If you’re confused, you should be.
The simple fact is this: since the interpretation of the law is secret and the interpretation essentially becomes the law, the law itself is secret. Why the government claims they have the ability to keep the law secret is wholly irrelevant.
The EFF rightly contends that the only relevant issue is the public disclosure of the law. In this case, the government is doing everything they can, even responding to FOIA requests in an absurd manner such as this, to avoid such disclosure.
I must say that I agree with the EFF in joining “Senators Merkley, Wyden, Udall, Paul, and the other 33 Senators that voted to support this simple principle: when the government interprets federal surveillance law in a way that fundamentally affects citizens rights, that interpretation must be disclosed.”
While the battle was lost in Congress in attempting to get some semblance of transparency before the legislation was reauthorized in 2012, groups like the EFF are continuing to fight for the public’s right to know in court.
I would argue, however, that just fighting this battle in the courts is not enough. This battle must also be fought in the court of public opinion. Without garnering the support of everyday people who are having their rights trampled upon, the government likely will be able to continue to flout the law in ways as brazen as this.
It seems that the best way to accomplish that is, at least in my estimation, to educate the public on this secret law, how it is being used, and just how illegal it is. The public must know just how little the government cares about their rights and how laughable their so-called transparency really is.
Did I forget anything or miss any errors? Would you like to make me aware of a story or subject to cover? Or perhaps you want to bring your writing to a wider audience? Feel free to contact me at [email protected] with your concerns, tips, questions, original writings, insults or just about anything that may strike your fancy.
This article first appeared at End the Lie.
Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. He is available for podcast and radio interviews. Madison also now has his own radio show on UCYTV Monday nights 7 PM – 9 PM PT/10 PM – 12 AM ET. Show page link here: http://UCY.TV/EndtheLie. If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at [email protected]
Security researchers have uncovered an espionage malware network that’s been operating undetected for at least five years and that has likely stolen quantities of data that stretch into the terabytes.
“The campaign, identified as ‘Rocra’ — short for ‘Red October’ — is currently still active, with data being sent to multiple command-and-control servers, through a configuration which rivals in complexity the infrastructure of the Flame malware,” read research published by Kaspersky Lab.
Operation Red October involves a series of highly targeted attacks. “All the attacks are carefully tuned to the specifics of the victims. For instance, the initial documents are customized to make them more appealing, and every single module is specifically compiled for the victim with a unique victim ID inside,” said Kaspersky Lab. In addition, it said attacks are also customized based on the target’s native language, the specific software installed on their system, and the types of documents they prefer to use.
Alec Scheer, Contributor
It is 2020. Flying cars are zipping past tall metallic sky scrapers. A dismal grey, caused by the pollution, is cast upon the cityscape.
Flashing screens can be seen nearly every block. Apartments, stores, street vendors, commuters, and the tall skyscrapers are dangerously compacted into a small mega-city – truly a chilling Hunger Games-esque scenario.
The city commissioner appears on the screens every hour, disrupting the constant advertisements and videos, to repeat the same well-known fact that the commissioner’s cabinet is keeping close watch over them.
A multitude of cameras can be seen while walking through the city. However, the surveillance state is much worse than the over-abundance of easy-to-see cameras.
There are retina eye scanning cameras perched in high and undetectable places that have the ability to scan your retina to assess your identity and registered background data, which is a feed from the Commissioner’s monitoring echelon.
The city is also filled with pre-crime detecting software, which is installed in numerous locations throughout the city. It allows the commissioner’s police force to determine who is going to commit a crime, when, where, and how. This enables the commissioner’s officers to stop the crime before it happens.
Undercover police agents walk the streets analyzing the gestures and visible emotions of the city’s citizens, while uprisings are quickly thwarted by police with riot shields, X-ray scanning glasses, high-powered riot weapons, advanced stealth armor, riot helmets, and sound dispersing technology.
The brief and isolated scenario I have just provided to you does not sound too enjoyable, does it? What if I told you this extremely frightening and futuristic despotic dystopia is already here, in some respects?
At the turn of the century our inherent rights to privacy and private property, which were enumerated in the United States Constitution, experienced a smashing blow with the passage of the PATRIOT Act, which was signed by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001.
The years preceding 2001, all the way up to now, 2013, were met with an ever-growing police state. A mind-blowing surveillance state has become a partner in despotism with the other government manufactured issue: The police state.
In that same year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was established. The DHS has become – and was at its establishment – an utterly corrupt government institution hell-bent on pushing the establishment’s authoritarian direct and non-direct authoritarian goals.
A DHS subsidiary, the Transportation Security Administration, is also another great contributor to the increasing surveillance state. It has made it difficult, in its early days, for people to travel without harassment.
Their practices have been allowed to perpetuate so long that they have made it difficult for travelers to get to their respective destinations without being molested or radiated by their x-ray back scatters.
Furthermore, there have been numerous innovations in technology over the past ten years.
This innovation has led to the creation street lights that have hidden cameras and speakers, which are being used in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The Department of Energy subsidized IntelliStreets, the manufacturer of the street lights, to produce these “spy lights” for this pilot program.
The next big issue on my mind is the Trap Wire mechanism.
According to Russia Today:
Former senior intelligence officials have created a detailed surveillance system more accurate than modern facial recognition technology — and have installed it across the US under the radar of most Americans, according to emails hacked by Anonymous.
On a side note, which is a key component to the police state, was the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The NDAA allows for the indefinite detention of any American citizen on the pretense of being a suspected terrorist. Of course, that is a simplistic definition of the NDAA, if you would like to read in-depth analyses click here.
President Barack Obama has now renewed the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
FISA was signed into law in the 1970s; however, it included American’s with the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. It allows the monitoring of communications between American citizens and foreigners, that is, if the government deems it reasonable. This can all be done in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Why? Because, as people, we are apathetic.
A few more things I would like to bring forth to you are new innovations, which are bringing my scenario to the surface as a more and more inevitable future.
The construction of The Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation (CITE) has commenced. What is CITE? CITE is the billion dollar ghost town that is supposed to be the prototype for “smart cities.”
The company who is responsible for the construction of this ghost city is Pegasus Holdings.
What will CITE be comprised of?
It is going to be a city designed to test self-driving cars, smart traffic systems, and many more fascinating technologies that are sadly being used to infringe on our rights by the government.
Ultimately, what I mean is that all of these wonderful technologies are being used to further the political agenda of “homeland security”, which is turning out to be a mere operation to further the surveillance operation within this nation.
I also must point out that, in the case of IntelliStreets and CITE, they cannot be considered entrepreneurial feats because they are government subsidized projects. In essence, entrepreneurship can only be considered such when it is done through the free market.
The last example I would like to bring forth to you is a recent article published by the Daily Mail titled, “Minority Report has arrived: Maryland and Pennsylvania using computers to predict future crimes.”
The article finds:
When police in Minority Report predicted who would commit crimes and stopped them before they did it, it was considered so futuristic, the film was set in 2054.
Now, however, law enforcers in two American states are using crime-prediction software to predict which freed prisoners are most likely to commit murder, and supervising them accordingly.
Instead of relying on parole officers to decide how much supervision inmates will need on the outside by looking at their records, the new system uses a computer algorithm to decide for them.
The Minority Report-style software is already being used in Baltimore and Philadelphia to predict future murderers, and will be extended to Washington D.C. soon.
The regimes of the 20th century would have loved to see the advancement of technology that we are witnessing. They would have, like our government is doing, utilized these advancements for the betterment of their agendas.
The scenario I created at the beginning of this article is becoming ever more apparent. If we do not become outspoken opponents to the despots of our time, we will live in the society illustrated; the society of modern authoritarianism built upon the destructive ideology of socialism. I say socialism.
With that said, I hope one day we will see freedom as affluent in this country as it was when it was founded. If not, the futuristic surveillance city may just become OUR reality.
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Alec Scheer is the founder of We Are 1776, a news organization dedicated to facts and documents, advocating the philosophies of Voluntaryism, free markets, and freedom. Their goal is to post high caliber articles, videos, podcasts, and many other forms of content. Please visit his Facebook Page for the latest in activist solutions.
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TSA Opt-Out and Film Campaign Scheduled to Launch January 20th, 2013
January 14, 2012
In a world in which the NSA has access to everything, including – soon – one’s bank accounts, because “the government is there to protect you“, it was only a matter of time before the logical extension of abdicating all privacy was enforced in the city that never sleeps, and which ended up with 24/7 vigilant “alarm clocks” in the form of unmanned aerial vehicles, aka drones, “for the sake of security.”
From RT: “The head of the New York City Police Department announced this week that the largest local law enforcement agency in the United States might soon rely on spy drones for conducting surveillance.
During an open conversation held Thursday between Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, the chief of police confirmed that New York’s boys in blue aren’t entirely opposed to acquiring an unmanned aerial vehicle for the sake of security.
“We’re looking into it,” Kelly reportedly told an audience at the 92nd Street Y Thursday evening. “Anything that helps us.”
Jill Colvin, a producer for the website DNAinfo, says Kelly told his crowd that adding an UAV to their arsenal of surveillance tools could come in handy during future mass protests in the Big Apple.
For starters, she reports, Kelly said cops could begin with using basic civilian models that are available for purchase online and in stores.
“You can go to Brookstone and buy a drone,” Kelly told the crowd.
“The only thing we would do is maybe use the cheap $250 ones to take a look and see the size of the demonstration or something along those lines,” Colvin quotes him as saying.
Should New York City secure a drone of their own, there is little one could do that isn’t already possible in NYC. As of last year, the NYPD had access to around 2,000 surveillance cameras on just the island of Manhattan.
And maybe attach a few missiles (not sold at Brookstone just yet) to said drone, just in case a little additional militarized firepower was necessary in addition to looking and “seeing the size or something.”
And why not: it’s not like there is a law in the US preventing the government for going all Ezekiel 25:17 on any US citizen just because the pilot at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, didn’t like the angle of attack on some guy’s mustache.
Because, remember, “they hate us for our freedoms.”
January 14, 2013
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will remain in the same post as President Obama begins a second term, a White House official said Monday.
Napolitano, who has been dealing with the recent death of her father, had planned to stay and the administration confirmed that she would on Monday. While not unexpected, her remaining in place means that most of Obama’s first-term Cabinet will begin the second term unchanged.
A former governor of Arizona, Napolitano may play an important role in Obama’s push for immigration legislation, a high early priority for the administration.
NYPD Commissioner says they are looking into drone use, defends NYPD offices in foreign countriesMadison Ruppert, Contributor
In a rare public interview, New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Raymond Kelly revealed that the NYPD is “looking into” the use of drones while defending the department’s extensive network of officers placed in a whopping 11 nations around the world. However, Kelly’s comments have been the subject of several contradictory reports.
According to DNAinfo, Kelly cited how drones are already widely used in law enforcement, especially along the border, while admitting that the significant air traffic in New York City could present a challenge.
“The only thing we would do is maybe use the cheap $250 ones to take a look and see the size of the demonstration or something along those lines,” Kelly reportedly said.
Indeed, drones are used across the United States by the military and law enforcement as well as the National Guard and others, spurring lawmakers around the country to propose legislation limiting drone use.
On the drone issue, reports seem to paint completely conflicting images of Kelly’s statements. For instance, DNAinfo reports,
Kelly said the eyes in the sky — which have worried civil rights activists — could prove useful when sizing-up demonstrations, adding to an NYPD arsenal that already includes 3,000 cameras and high-powered anti-aircraft rifles that can shoot down planes.
“We’re looking into it,” Kelly said during the interview with Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen Adler at the 92nd Street Y, according to DNAinfo. “Anything that helps us.”
However, when reporting on the same public interview, Capital New York reported:
Adler asked repeatedly if Kelly would like to use ‘drones’ and if he was actively looking to acquire one.
‘You’re really into this drones [topic],’ Kelly said. The audience laughed.
‘I want to know on their behalf,’ Adler said, prompting more laughter from the audience.
‘Are you actively looking at it?’
‘No,’ said Kelly.
New York Magazine also reported, “Adler, touching on additional civil liberties concerns, pressed Kelly on the possibility of drone surveillance. ‘You can go to Brookstone and buy a drone,’ Kelly suggested. When asked whether the NYPD is actively looking into the technology, he shot back, ‘You’re really into these drones,’ to laughs, and then said simply, ‘No.’”
I reported on the NYPD branch in Kfar Saba, Israel last year, although that’s just one of many branches part of the non-transparent International Liaison Program.
“What we wanted to do was to put people in positions where they could sort of act as trip wires or listening posts for the city,” Kelly said. “They’re there primarily to ask the New York questions: Is there anything going on here that can help us better protect New York or we should know about in New York?”
Last year New York Magazine reported that NYPD officers have been stationed in “London, Lyons, Hanburg [sic], Toronto, and Tel Aviv,” while DNAinfo adds Abu Dhabi, Paris and the Dominican Republic.
During the interview, Kelly also claimed that the Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press series on surveillance of Muslims was “totally unfair, unjustified,” while also making the clearly baseless claim that it “was the product, perhaps, of some jealously [sic] in some other agencies.”
Kelly claimed that no laws were ever broken and that the series was “full of mistakes, half-truths, a terrible job […] meant to besmirch and diminish the reputation [of the NYPD.” One must wonder how illegal surveillance conducted far out of the NYPD’s jurisdiction does not break any laws.
There is apparently some confusion about the substance of Kelly’s comments during the public interview, and the lack of consistent reporting on the exchange makes the truth that much more difficult to determine.
However, when we’re dealing with the surveillance obsessed NYPD – which is now potentially expanding that surveillance significantly in an attempt to stop mass shootings – the idea of drone use is far from unreasonable, especially given their massive budget.
This article first appeared at End the Lie.
January 11, 2013
Revisiting General Warrants – Contextualizing the Fourth Amendment.
The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the force of the Crown. It may be frail; its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storms may enter, the rain may enter, – but the King of England cannot enter; all his forces dare not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement!
– William Pitt, Earl of Chatham (1763)
The history of colonial America is replete with incidents of abominable abuse of power by agents of the Crown. One of the most effective means of oppressing the colonies was through the use of Writs of Assistance, commonly known as General Warrants, which gave British officials a carte blanche to arbitrarily invade private homes and businesses in search of contraband and seize any property with absolute impunity.
James Otis, a Boston lawyer whose stirring denunciations of general warrants as a violation of hallowed natural law principles enshrined in the Magna Carta heralded him to prominence, regarded them as the “worst instruments of arbitrary power” because they placed the “liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer” who “may control, imprison, or murder any one within the realm.” Arguing before the Massachusetts Superior Court in 1761, Otis’ articulation of the systemic despotism spawned by these writs foreshadowed the ideological origins of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution:
A man’s house is his castle; and whilst he is quiet, he is as well guarded as a prince in his castle. This writ, if it should be declared legal, would totally annihilate this privilege. Custom-house officers may enter our houses when they please; we are commanded to permit their entry. Their menial servants may enter, may break locks, bars, and everything in their way; and whether they break through malice or revenge, no man, no court can inquire (emphasis added).
Widespread resistance to these much-reviled instruments of royal tyranny became one of the embers that sparked the Revolutionary War, which culminated in the codification of the Fourth Amendment as an enduring rebuke to the Crown’s overzealous surveillance. Against the backdrop of generalized suspicion, the founding fathers inserted this provision in the Bill of Rights to prevent history from repeating itself. If a man’s home is his castle, then the Fourth Amendment is the mortar binding each brick that makes it an inviolable bulwark against the prying eyes and ears of the government.
This embodies the fundamental truth — the chief characteristic distinguishing a free society from a tyrannical police state — that the individual’s right to privacy and freedom from arbitrary invasions cannot be infringed, unless probable cause “exist[s] where the known facts and circumstances are sufficient to warrant a man of reasonable prudence in the belief that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found,” Ornelas v. United States, 517 U.S. 690, 696 (1996). After having successfully prosecuted Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson eloquently reaffirmed the importance of this safeguard against unbridled governmental intrusion:
Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government. And one need only briefly to have dwelt and worked among a people possessed of many admirable qualities but deprived of these rights to know that the human personality deteriorates and dignity and self-reliance disappear where homes, persons and possessions are subject at any hour to unheralded search and seizure by the police (Brinegar v. United States, 338 U.S. 160, 180-81 (1949)).
Death by Attrition — From Public Safety to National Security.
And then came the “War on Drugs.”
By blaming all of America’s problems on drugs, Nixon’s “tough on crime” rhetoric was portrayed as a necessary step to rid society of nefarious drug dealers and drug-related crimes, just like agents of the Crown sought to justify their abuse of general warrants under the guise of rooting out “smugglers” of tea and molasses.
But the hardline policies of Nixon’s “law and order” administration, far from being an elixir in terms of stopping drug use or crimes, certainly initiated the process of slowly, but inexorably, eroding the fabric of the Fourth Amendment over the course of the next fifty years– from increased canine searches at “drug” checkpoints to militarized SWAT team raids of homes of “suspected” drug dealers, from vague drug-courier profiles that allow law enforcement to primarily target racial minorities to the malicious application of asset forfeiture laws to confiscate the life savings of the innocent. Sadly, however, the death knell for the Fourth Amendment was yet to come.
And then came the “War on Terror.”
The collateral damage to our constitutional rights with the rise of the omnipotent national security state since 9/11 has eviscerated whatever remained of the Fourth Amendment.
Recently, two high-profile NSA whistleblowers, Thomas Drake and William Binney, have revealed the harrowing details of this Big Brother surveillance scheme that, in their own words, involves monitoring conduct not tethered to any suspicious or illegal conduct whatsoever, and creating dossiers on every American, be it senators, congressmen, or even generals. The technology of surveillance has evolved to a degree where the government is monitoring (in real time), collecting and storing vast amounts of data on every citizen — “every phone call, purchases, email, text message, internet searches, social media communications, health information, employment history, travel and student records.” This has turned America into the most surveilled society in history, even more than the Germans under Hitler or the Russians under Stalin.
The twin wars on drugs and terror have coalesced to reenact the same state of generalized suspicion which, both historically and practically, is the enabler of a Soviet-style police state mentality. Such surveillance, moreover, is a throwback to the same conditions that the founding fathers rebelled against, and in violation of the same natural law principles enshrined in the Magna Carta– which predates the US Constitution– that James Otis so eloquently defended in his speeches and writings.
From Man’s Castle to “Turnkey Totalitarian State.”
More than thirty years ago, Senator Frank Church, the chairman of the Church Committee, after investigating the widespread abuses perpetrated by the FBI under the secretive and illegal COINTELPRO, forewarned the nation of the dangers of forsaking essential liberties for temporary safety:
“Th[e National Security Agency’s] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. [If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.”
Arguably, this remorseless modern-day engine of surveillance – the electronic general warrant – has been turned against the American people. As we have now come to learn, the purpose of all-encompassing surveillance is not, as we were first told, to ferret out terrorist or criminal activity. Rather, the aim is to annihilate any sort of political opposition to the powers that be.
As William Binney, himself a target for speaking out against the illegal spying on the American people, states, “If you ever get on their enemies list, like Petraeus did, then you can be drawn into that surveillance.” In such a scenario, Binney explains, the stored information on that particular individual – and remember, they have every conceivable piece of information on everyone – will be used to target, blackmail or intimidate that person.
Take the example of former high-level executive at the NSA, Thomas Drake, who upon exposing the government’s blatant disregard for the Fourth Amendment, was charged under the Espionage Act (the case ended in an eventual misdemeanor plea bargain). In his own words:
People don’t realize the extent to which we’re surveilled in many, many ways. The extent to which vast amounts of our transactional data in all forms – electronic forms, your emails, your tweets, bank records and everything else – are all subject or suspect in terms of surveillance. It raises the specter of the rise of so-called “soft tyranny.” It raises the specter of you being automatically suspicious until you prove that you’re not; the specter of a universal and persistent wiretap on every single person […] what happens if they don’t like you? What if you speak ill will against the government? What if you say something they consider disloyal?…
Our security has become our state religion, you don’t question it. And if you question it – your loyalty is questioned.
Speaking truth to power is very dangerous. The power elites, those in charge don’t like dirty linen being aired. They don’t like skeletons in the closet being seen. Not only do they object to it, they decide to turn it into criminal activity. Remember, my whistle blowing was criminalized by my own government (emphasis added).
After serving in the highest positions of power, Thomas Drake has now been forced to earn his livelihood by working at an Apple store. When society descends into collective insanity, when the apathetic masses fail to realize the dreaded consequences of empowering the all-powerful state with a blank check drawn against their own civil liberties, then the only people with the courage to speak truth to power are demonized in the most diabolical ways.
End Game: The Death of Privacy And the Technologies of Control.
“It would be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of…those liberties…which make the defense of the nation worthwhile” (US vs. Robel, 389 US 258, 264, 1967).
The most common, and perhaps most deceptive, argument marshalled in favor of government spying is that if people aren’t doing anything ‘wrong’, then they should not worry about such surveillance. This ‘not-doing-anything-wrong’ argument is a classic red herring, for if an individual is not doing anything wrong, then the government has no business spying on that person in the first instance. As detailed above, this is exactly what the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent – a state of total generalized suspicion where every person is ‘guilty until proven innocent.’ William Binney also refutes this argument by observing: “The problem is, if they think they’re not doing anything that’s wrong, they don’t get to define that. The central government does” (emphasis added). In other words, a person’s subjective opinion of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ is irrelevant; what matters is that the government believes the person’s actions are wrong.
Apologists for mass government spying also typically invoke the ‘necessary evil’ doctrine – an old Machiavellian ruse – to justify this act. They argue that illegally eavesdropping on the populace, while not good in itself, is necessary to counter the existential threat terrorism poses. They claim that the methods of modern-day terrorism are brutal and unconventional, seeking to inflict mass casualties through horrific means; its nature is irrational, perpetrated by individuals who hold no fear of death in destroying others; its form is impenetrable, consisting of a shadowy network spread across the globe. The danger is ever present, threatening to strike anywhere, anytime. Consequently, the government must be able to exercise “all necessary means” to protect its citizens.
Such an argument, while tempting for the unaware, suffers from historical amnesia. The alluring language of “safety” and “security” has, historically speaking, always served as a convenient excuse for the executive to discard core liberties for the ostensible purpose of pursuing some higher purpose — in this case, “national security” — that renders all other considerations non-issues.
During times of emergency, the instinct of self-preservation naturally impels us to seek the direction of the powers that claim to protect us. The omnipresent fear of the unknown predisposes us to trust the government that assures security conditioned on an absolute grant of what John Locke calls “undoubted prerogative.” The constant, unchanging, and ceaseless mantra of the power-elite is ‘trust us, and we will protect you from the barbarians at the gate.’ The demand seems reasonable; its logic, impeccable. Destabilized by our collective vulnerability and driven by the spirit of patriotism, our inclination is to comply and surrender our rights.
This formula has forever remained the same; so too has the final result, which always stands in stark contrast to the initial promise. The now absolute authority that originally promised to safeguard our liberties uses that same power to subvert what it claims the threat seeks to destroy – our way of life and hard-won freedoms. The Orwellian nature of the scheme – selling ‘control’ in the name of ‘security’ – is slow to crystallize in our collective consciousness. We do, finally, grasp the the fallacy of rendering blind allegiance to absolute power, but it is already too late.
President Abraham Lincoln unilaterally suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1861 under the pretext of fighting the Civil War because “public safety” required it, an order that resulted in the imprisonment of “disloyal persons” without any trial. President John Adams insisted that the Alien and Sedition Act was essential to protect Americans, but he abused that power by using it to suppress dissent in the press. Similarly, President Woodrow Wilson advocated for the necessity of the Espionage Act to save American lives, but he only used this law to prosecute thousands of American pacifists who spoke out against American involvement in World War I. In the same vein, President F.D. Roosevelt cited the exigency of World War II to pass Executive Order 90266, which he utilized to arbitrarily imprison thousands of innocent Japanese-American citizens. And finally, in the aftermath of the tragedy of 9/11, President George Bush assured the American public that the NSA’s wiretapping program was only meant to identify and capture terrorists;
The modus operandi of this scheme of near-total surveillance of ordinary Americans is to streamline and perfect the technologies of controlling the gullible masses. This blueprint was designed a long time ago, long before 9/11 provided a feeble pretext. Elite insider and the founder of the Trilateral Commission, Zbigniew Brezenski, apprised us of this ultimate goal in his 1968 article America in the Technetronic Age:
At the same time, the capacity to assert social and political control over the individual will vastly increase. As I have already noted, it will soon be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and to maintain up-to-date, complete files, containing even most personal information about the health or personal behaviour of the citizen, in addition to more customary data. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities (p.21) (emphasis added).
The founding fathers risked death in opposing the The King’s general warrants. They rebelled against the yoke of monarchical despotism to establish a constitutional republic guided by the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances. Today, the executive wields electronic general warrants to spy en masse, or to target “enemy combatants” for assassinations as part of a “disposition matrix” without a shred of due process.
A man’s home is no longer his castle, and we are all poorer for it.
January 11, 2013
A new smartphone application has been developed to help the Pennsylvania State Police receive reports regarding suspicious activity that may be linked to terrorism.
The new See Something, Send Something app allows suspicious activity to be captured as a photo or written note and sent to the Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center (PaCIC).
“This App provides concerned citizens with an effective communications and reporting tool,” State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said. “The See Something, Send Something mobile app, developed by My Mobile Witness, sends terrorism-related tips directly to PaCIC where tips are evaluated by analysts and assigned for investigation as warranted,” Noonan said.
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