STOP NSA! Authoritarianism Ending Individualism!
Re the NSA scandal, Obama postures that he wants to open a CRIMINAL investigation of what amounts to an information leakage on his own CRIMINALITY in defying our first, fourth and fifth amendment rights. His along with the other two branches of our government.
Fascistic enough for you? It is for me.
Norman Solomon in “Obama’s Willing Executioners of the Fourth Amendment”:
It’s now painfully clear that the president has put out a contract on the Fourth Amendment. And at the Capitol, the hierarchies of both parties are stuffing it into the trunks of their limousines, so each provision can be neatly fitted with cement shoes and delivered to the bottom of the Potomac.
Barry Grey in “Who Rules America” points out that Obama, POTUS and a former professor of CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, refers to the backlash of citizen outrage as “hype” and the NSA programs as a “MODEST ENCROACHMENT” on the Bill of Rights.
We’re in trouble here. All of us.
Grey explains that we have these huge surveillance corporations, members of an amoral financial elite, collaborating with the military, FBI, CIA and other intelligence and national security agencies of the United States to access the data of all of us Americans (not to mention all the millions in other countries via “Boundless Informant” and whatever other programs) that said agencies have NO LEGAL RIGHT TO POSSESS!!!!
We’re in trouble here because the mainstream media won’t help rally the citizens since it more and more has become a propaganda arm of the financial elite that controls it as well as pimped out politicians who are so corporate-captured they will sell-out those they represent and our bill of rights in a New York minute for political opportunism and survival.
An interesting aside, Grey points out that after Obama’s graduation from college he worked for a year for Business International, the founder of which has admitted it helped provide “cover” for global CIA operatives.
But we know it is not only Obama who is anti-democracy. It is so damn many especially most sabotagingly in the Democratic Party, including the faux-progressive establishment more and more proving UNCOMMITTED TO DEMOCRACY. Team Dem/Obama uber alles, even now????
We are shocked at the mass -- total -- surveillance. Just as we have been shocked, many of us, by revelations of illegal executive policies involving torture, rendition, detention, death squads, CIA destabilization, droning, extrajudicial assassinations, secret wars, etc. We just keep watching more and more of our democracy circle the bowl. It becomes after a while tragically desensitizing for too many, particularly when the media yawns over amoral and violent atrocities and titillates with shallow distractions.
Obama and the executive branch of course defend themselves as having “briefed” the Congressional branch. As if this should absolve the WH of its criminality. We should instead be indicting ALSO Congress for joining in on Bush's and then Obama's high crimes and misdemeanors!
Daniel Ellsberg in his article “Edward Snowden: Saving Us from the United Stasi of America” quotes Senator Frank Church in 1975:
"I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return."
“The dangerous prospect of which he warned was that America's intelligence gathering capability – which is today beyond any comparison with what existed in his pre-digital era – "at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left."
Christopher H. Pyle in “Edward Snowded: Profile in Courage” reminds us that the intelligence agencies were encroaching on our fundamental rights during the Nixon era against civil rights and anti-war protesters. Woodward and Bernstein disclosed some of their shenanigans then, like breaking into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office for leverage against him. Congress, explains Pyle, then set up watch-dog structuring because of those revelations of gross legal violations by our executive-directed intelligence and military branches.
Pyle points out Nixon was forced out of office. NSA’s watch list of political protesters was closed. FBI did what it was supposed to once again, real law enforcement. The FISA courts were established to mandate warrant-seeking, and intelligence committees were established in both houses of Congress.
Today it is clear the watch-dog structures, along with most of the media, have been co-opted and have joined the ranks of the real enemies of the constitution and the general citizenry, the on-high abusers of secrecy and trashers of our constitutional rights.
Re the intelligence committees, Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal), chair of the Senate one, recently admitted that she had no idea how our data was actually being used. Also, “classified” meetings with Congress apparently mandate that once briefed -- opaquely and vaguely -- there is a bond to secrecy. The Congressional briefees can’t even talk about what they learned with their own staffs.
Pyle goes on to point out that 70% of the federal intelligence budget goes to private corporations -- intelligence contractors. He continues that members of Congress favor these corporations with obscenely profitable contracts so they will generously contribute back to the politicians' own campaign coffers.
Not hard to figure out why democracy has derailed, now is it?
Pyle reminds us that both Intelligence Committee member Randy Cunningham and CIA Exec Dir. Kyle Foggo went to prison for illegally helping to arrange government contracts to a certain defense contractor. Senator Feinstein, with such power as Intelligence Committee chair, has been embarrassed over revelations of her generosity to defense lobbyists.
Juan Cole in “Why we are 2nd Amendment fundamentalists but the 4th Amendment doesn’t count” writes:
But since the misnamed PATRIOT USA Act, the government is asserting that it can look at your email, telephone records, etc., without a warrant and at will. No precise specification. No evidence of wrong-doing. This scatter-shot snooping can take place even though your email has nothing to do with the government– you haven’t given it to them, you are typically a private person using a private company with an expectation of privacy.
If US Federal agents swooped into Google’s headquarters in SWAT gear and raided Google’s file cabinets without a warrant, the Republicans in Congress and the anchors at Fox would all have brain aneurysms. But if Federal agents swoop into Google’s servers and read the email of ordinary people, that seems to be all right. Our Constitutional rights increasingly only extend to Corporate citizens; the rest of us are second class.
I don’t think you have to be a fourth amendment fundamentalist to find this government intrusion unconstitutional and creepy
I am genuinely puzzled as to why the Fourth Amendment is no longer taken seriously, much less literally, by any significant faction in American politics. My hypothesis is that whereas the gun manufacturers clearly make big bucks off their weird absolutist interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, there is no set of corporations that would lose billions of dollars if the government snoops into your phone records or email traffic. Oh, Google might suffer versus Yahoo among consumers if the former let the NSA have access to its servers but the latter did not, but the government has neutralized that issue by dragooning both of them. (They deny it, but they are forced to deny it by the terms of the PATRIOT Act, which disallows victims’ disclosure of government bullying).
... If there were a corporate sector that made billions off the fourth amendment, we’d be told that a little terrorism is the price of living in a free society. It is the amendments that affect the first class citizens that are important.“
In Glenn Greenwald’s “Democratic Establishment Unmasked: Prime Defenders of NSA Bulk Spying”, the journalist points out that Obama’s policies are often robustly supported by the most RADICAL members of the Republican Party. War, assassination, drones, surveillance, secrecy, etc. lists Greenwald. Rabidly anti-Muslim pro-war maniac Repubican Peter King, who used to be chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is often an enthusiastic supporter of Obama’s.
The Roberts/Scalia/Thomas team on SCOTUS often endorses Obama’s anti-civil liberties defenses, particularly re NSA over-reach. SCOTUS recently dismissed a lawsuit 5-4 brought by Amnesty and the ACLU that the NSA domestic warrantless activities were in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
On July 25, declares Greenwald, an “extraordinary event” did occur in the US House. A young Michigan House Tea Party candidate turned representative named Justin Amash co-sponsored an amendment with 24-term senior Dem on the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers to “de-fund” ONE SINGLE NSA PROGRAM! The bulk collection of our telephone records. This amendment cites Secton 215 of the Patriot Act that requires “production of records that pertain only to a person under investigation” as grounds for reining in the NSA's dragnet.
Greenwald believes there is hope even though the vote lost because it was a CLOSE vote. 205 to 217.
Greenwald especially credits House Speaker John Boehner as coming to the rescue of the Obama White House.
Greenwald goes on to reveal that it was the House DEMOCRATIC leadership that also significantly enabled the defeat. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi as well as her deputy, Steny Hoyer, “whipped” against the bill. Greenwald accuses them of using Cheney “terrorism rhetoric" in rallying against the bill.
Greenwald reminds us that for years (since 2001) Ms. Pelosi lied about knowing about Bush’s illegal wiretapping program (just as she apparently did his torture program according to Greenwald). She was briefed on its implementation. Greenwald calls Ms. Pelosi’s posturing all these years “pretend opposition.”
Greenwald concludes by emphasizing that this issue is not about Dems vs. Republicans, it is about “authoritianism vs. individualism.”
According to Norman Solomon, cited above, 134 Republicans and 83 Democrats voted against the Amash Amendment.
94 Repubilcans and 111 Democrats voted for the amendment.
83 Democrats rose to smite down the fourth amendment-honoring bill!
Some of the names of the ones voting against break the hearts of awakened progressives.
Some in the House voting against the Amash Amendment on July 25th and in favor of the Obama White House's illegitimate NSA surveillance per Greenwald and/or Norman Solomon worth mentioning:
Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) war-mongering Chair of House Intelligence Committee
Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota)
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Minority Leader
Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland), deputy of Minority Leader
Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) Majority Leader
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) Dem. Nat. Committee chair
Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip (R-CA)
Peter King (R-NY)
Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) former Dem. Cong. Camp. Comm. chair
Steve Israel (D-NY), current DCCC chair
Ami Bera (D-CA)
Joaquin Castro (D-TX)
Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)
Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Joe Kennedy (D-MA)
Annie Kuster (D-NH)
Nita Lowey (D-NY)
Louise Slaughter (D-NY)
Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) vice chair of Cong Progressive Caucus
Jan Schakowsky (D-Chicago) vice chair of Cong Progressive Caucus
Those worth-mentioning among promoters of the Amash amendment and DEFENDERS OF OUR BILL OF RIGHTS per Greenwald and/or Solomon:
Justin Amash (R-Michigan), a Tea Party electee mind you
John Conyers (D-Michigan), House Judiciary Committee
Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan)
Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii)
James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) and prime author of the Patriot Act back in 2001 and defender of GWOT
Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Rush Holt (D-NJ)
James Clyburn (R-NC)
Nydia Velazquez (D-NY)
Alan Grayson (D-FL)
Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota)
Jared Polis (D-CO) eloquently spoke promoting amendment
Zoe Lofgren - (D-CA) eloquently spoke promoting amendment
Jerrold Nadler - (D-NY) eloquently spoke promoting amendment
I think it is high time we really look at who is defending our needs and rights and who is talking the talk with positive media branding and sound bites and walking the walk a betraying other direction. I think we need to stop looking left and right, Republicans vs. Dems. Cronyism in either group has fostered chilling amorality and betrayal.
Norman Solomon ends his article with these insights and observations:
While the House has grown somewhat restive, the Senate has remained notably pliant for the surveillance state. An egregious—and, for some, surprising—example is Al Franken, who declared his support for the NSA surveillance program when news of it broke in early June. “I can assure you, this is not about spying on the American people,” Franken said. From his Senate office, one press release after another has been packed with blather like overstuffed sausages.
Franken is now saying he’ll introduce a bill for "transparency" because the public will support the current surveillance programs if they grasp what’s really involved: “I think that if there were greater transparency, Americans would have a better understanding of these programs.” Count on transparency to be a buzzword cloak for more of the same.
Another Democratic senator, Ron Wyden, has been vastly more candid. At a forum the day before the Amash amendment vote, Wyden said that for surveillance, as far as the Obama administration is concerned, “the authority is essentially limitless.”
An ACLU staff attorney, Alexander Abdo, was driving at the same point when he wrote days ago: “Perhaps the most fundamental problem with the NSA’s constitutional theory is that it has no limit. If the constitution is blind to the collection of our data and limits only the NSA’s later uses of it, then the NSA truly can ‘collect it all’ now and ask questions later. Our emails, phone calls and internet activities would all be very simple for the NSA to collect under the NSA’s theory. But it could go much further. It could put video cameras on every street corner, it could install microphones in every home and it could even remotely copy the contents of every computer hard drive.”
All three branches of the U.S. government are now largely under the control of forces with stunning contempt for basic legal processes required by the Bill of Rights. Mere words and mild reforms from members of Congress may mollify the gullible, but only a direct challenge to the Obama administration’s policies can rise to the level of the current historic imperative to restore civil liberties in the United States.
[cross-posted on open salon]