Tag Archives: USA PATRIOT Act

Data-gate Shows We’re On the Cusp by Justin Raimondo — Antiwar.com

… Between liberty and tyranny

by , August 14, 2013
It’s a small detail, in the general scheme of things, but one indicative of a troubling recent trend: when Congress voted on reauthorization of the Patriot Act, in 2011, the administration sent summaries [.pdf] to the House intelligence committee describing – without going into too much detail – the data dragnet conducted by the NSA under section 215. “We believe that making this document available to all members of Congress, as we did with a similar document in December 2009, is an effective way to inform the legislative debate about the reauthorization of Section 215,” read the cover letter accompanying the documents. Apparently Rep. Mike Rogers, the neocon tool who heads up the committee, didn’t agree: the summaries were never seen outside the committee.
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February 15th, 2011

By Susan Lindauer, 9/11 Whistleblower indicted on the Patriot Act

I confess that since November I’ve been holding my breath, watching the clock for how long Tea Party newcomers could hold out against the entrenched Republican elite on Capitol Hill. Collapse was inevitable, however I admit to feeling bitterly surprised at how rapidly they have thrown in the towel.

For the record, most of the Tea Party quit their principles of liberty on February 14, 2011—20 days into the new Congress—when Tea Party leaders abruptly abandoned their opposition to the Patriot Act and voted to extend intrusive domestic surveillance, wire tapping and warrantless searches of American citizens. In so doing, they exposed the fraud of their soaring campaign promises to defend the liberty of ordinary Americans, and fight government intrusions on freedom. All those wide eyed speeches that flowed with such thrilling devotions, all of it proved to be self-aggrandizing lies.

The Tea Party didn’t even put up a fight. Briefly they rejected a sneak attack to renew three surveillance clauses of the Patriot Act on a suspension vote. That filled my heart with hope. One push from the Republican elite, however and they went down with a loud thud.

My disappointment is particularly acute. Rather notoriously, I am distinguished as the second non-Arab American to face indictment on the Patriot Act, after Jose Padilla.

My status was pretty close to an enemy non-combatant. One would presume that I must have joined some terrorist conspiracy? Or engaged in some brutal act of sedition, such as stock piling weapons and munitions to overthrow those crooks in Congress?

You would be wrong. I got indicted for protesting the War in Iraq. My crime was delivering a warm-hearted letter to my second cousin White House Chief of Staff, Andy Card, which correctly outlined the consequences of War. Suspiciously, I had been one of the very few Assets covering the Iraqi Embassy at the United Nations for seven years. Thus, I was personally acquainted with the truth about Pre-War Intelligence, which differs remarkably from the story invented by GOP leaders on Capitol Hill.

More dangerously still, my team gave advance warnings about the 9/11 attack and solicited Iraq’s cooperation after 9/11. In August 2001, at the urging of my CIA handler, I phoned Attorney General John Ashcroft’s private staff and the Office of Counter-Terrorism to ask for an “emergency broadcast alert” across all federal agencies, seeking any fragment of intelligence on airplane hijackings. My warning cited the World Trade Center as the identified target. Highly credible independent sources have confirmed that in August, 2001 I described the strike on the World Trade Center as “imminent,” with the potential for “mass casualties, possibly using a miniature thermonuclear device.”

Thanks to the Patriot Act, Americans have zero knowledge of those truths, though the 9/11 Community has zoomed close for years. Republican leaders invoked the Patriot Act to take me down 30 days after I approached the offices of Senator John McCain and Trent Lott, requesting to testify about Iraq’s cooperation with the 9/11 investigation and a comprehensive peace framework that would have achieved every U.S. and British objective without firing a shot. Ironically, because of the Patriot Act, my conversations with Senator Trent Lott‘s staff got captured on wire taps, proving my story.

You see, contrary to rhetoric on Capitol Hill, the Patriot Act is first and foremost a weapon to bludgeon whistleblowers and political dissidents. Indeed, it has been singularly crafted for that purpose.

The American people are not nearly as frightened as they should be. Many Americans expect the Patriot Act to limit its surveillance to overseas communications. Yet while I was under indictment, Maryland State Police invoked the Patriot Act to wire tap activists tied to the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, an environmental group dedicated to wind power, solar energy and recycling. The DC Anti-War Network was targeted as a “white supremacist group.” Amnesty International and anti-death penalty activists got targeted for alleged “civil rights violations.”

All of these are American activists engaged in lawful disputes of government policy. All of them got victimized by the surveillance techniques approved by Tea Party leaders, because they pursued a policy agenda that contradicted current government policies. The Tea Party swore to defend the freedom of independent thinking in Congressional campaigns. One presumes those promises are now forgotten until the next election.

I cannot forget. I cannot forget how I was subjected to secret charges, secret evidence and secret grand jury testimony that denied my right to face my accusers or their accusations in open court, throughout five years of indictment. I cannot forget my imprisonment on a Texas military base for a year without a trial or evidentiary hearing.

I cannot forget how the FBI, the US Attorneys Office, the Bureau of Prisons and the main Justice office in Washington — independently and collectively verified my story— then falsified testimony to Chief Justice Michael Mukasey, denying our 9/11 warnings and my long-time status as a U.S. intelligence Asset, though my witnesses had aggressively confronted them. Apparently the Patriot Act allows the Justice

Department to withhold corroborating evidence and testimony from the Court, if it is deemed “classified.”

I cannot forget threats of forcible drugging and indefinite detention up to 10 years, until I could be “cured” of believing what everybody wanted to deny— because it was damn inconvenient to politicians in Washington anxious to hold onto power.

Some things are unforgivable in a democracy. The Patriot Act would be right at the top of that list. Nobody who has supported that wretched law should ever be allowed to brag of defending liberty again. That goes for the Tea Party. By voting to extend surveillance of American citizens, they have abandoned the principles of freedom that brought about their rise to power. They have shown their true face.

It is a face that we, the people, will remember. I, for one, have no intention of allowing them to forget.


Susan Lindauer is the author of Extreme Prejudice: The Terrifying Story of the Patriot Act and the Cover Ups of 9/11 and Iraq | Audio interview | Book review

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Copyright © 2011 The People’s Voice


The Intent of the U.S. Ruling Class Is Total Tyranny: We Must Stop It!

by Gary D. Barnett

Recently by Gary D. Barnett: Politicians Who Start Wars: The Real Cowards Among Us!


As I’m writing this, Egypt is enmeshed in turmoil. The people have literally taken to the streets in opposition to oppressive government. It is about time, and it seems they have had enough. I pray that they are successful in overthrowing the entire Mubarak regime. But why did they wait so long? The long-time U.S puppet dictator, Hosni Mubarak, has been in power for over 29 years, and during that time has been able to amass a huge fortune for himself and his family at the expense of Egypt’s citizens. His rule, like that of most dictators, has been filled with corruption, war, murder, torture, and an abhorrent “Emergency Law Rule.” (For more on Mubarak and Emergency Law Rule, see here.)

Under Mubarak’s “Emergency Law Rule,” police powers are vastly increased, constitutional law and individual rights are suspended, and completecensorship is legalized. This law forbids any non-governmental political activity like street demonstrations, non-approved political organizations, and all “unregistered” financial donations. In addition, and even more heinous, is that under this law, the government has the right to imprison individuals for any period and for virtually any reason. They may be kept in prison without trial for as long as the government desires. Considering recent events there, with police and military actions, rules and curfews, murder of innocents, and the shutdown of communications, including the Internet, this evil law is obviously in place. Does any of this sound familiar? It should, because the U.S government has either committed many of these same crimes, or is threatening to do so. Just consider Guantanamo, secret renditions, black prison sites, suspension (or elimination) of habeas corpus, incarceration without charges or trial, suppression of speech, spying and wiretapping, and brutal torture. The U.S. government and its police-state accomplices have committed all of this and much more for some time now.

The United States government and its corporate partners in crime have already achieved a level of corruption beyond any in history. I base this on the monumental scope and reach of this empire. Many I fear will doubt this bold statement, but before you do, be very careful not to dig too deep. If you do, be prepared for a startling dose of truth and reality. This newest round of tyrannical behavior began with the passage of the atrocious USA PATRIOT Act, the Military Commissions Act, the development of the Department of Homeland Security, the legalizing of assassinations of Americans, and more civil liberty destruction continues constantly. This does not include the atrocities being perpetrated by American forces overseas such as aggressive wars of occupation, operating military bases in over 170 countries, infrastructure devastation causing the displacement of millions of innocents, torture, and murder. Even with all this, the surface has barely been scratched. Most all police in the U.S. have now become militarized and federalized. Large-scale holding centers have been opened or constructed, and the regular military has taken up residence on American soil; not for the purpose of protection from enemies from afar, but strictly for the control of Americans. I’ve written about this here and here.

While the U.S. is obviously one of the most advanced nations on earth, with a very high standard of living, politically speaking, our country is deteriorating at a very accelerated pace. But most in this country still cling to the false notion that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, and that all other countries, especially those in the Middle East, are either far inferior, or simply third-world parasites with a populace that is less than human. Those who continue to cling to this most arrogant and farcical notion will be the last to grasp the reality that in many regards, the U.S. political structure is little different than that of its so-called enemies. The reason this truth is still so elusive to most is due to the fact that the general citizenry of this country has over time been dumbed down by the government school system. In addition, our society has become one based on almost total dependence, with little concept of personal responsibility or self-reliance, one without morals, and one that is consumed with a belief in the myth of American exceptionalism. This distorted conventional thinking will have to change dramatically before any true progress can be made.

The Imperial United State of America is headed straight to hell, and without an honest awakening by the conceited, and seemingly unconcerned sheep-like masses, this departure from grace will happen before most are aware of the imminent collapse.

This, in my opinion, is why the revolutionary events in Egypt and elsewhere in the world are so important. We all can learn valuable lessons from these revolts. We can learn first that tyrannical governments can be ousted and overturned. We can learn that freedom is still entrenched in the hearts and minds of the human species, regardless of where one lives or was born. We can learn that violence is never the way to achieve a proper revolution unless self-defense is absolutely necessary. We can learn that the people can achieve great strides toward liberty even if the odds are stacked against them. We can learn that a people who do not possess those inherent rights to life, liberty, and property are nothing more than slaves!

The U.S. is headed toward total tyranny in my opinion. I don’t think this is arguable. The government and its controlling partners are in perpetual war with those who never attacked or threatened to attack us. The military power structure is entrenched in most all countries around the world. We are now a people that are spied upon, groped, x-rayed, harassed, and stolen from on a daily basis. The United States while considered the freest country on earth, has the highest incarceration rate in the world. With less than 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. houses over 23% of the world’s prison population. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1 in every 32 adults, or 3.1% of the population was either on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole in 2009. To add to this insanity, approximately 70 percent of those “criminals” are being held for victimless “crimes”; this due mostly to the evil war on drugs, which is nothing other than an anti-liberty prohibition used to expand the power and scope of the State. The number of normal citizens that are abused and beaten by the domestic police state gendarmes is increasing beyond imagination. Our government can now legally assassinate its own citizens, and is threatening to shut down our main lines of communication should it deem it necessary. This cannot be allowed to happen!

The U.S. government, as is true of all governments, has nothing, creates nothing, and produces nothing. It can only steal and kill in order to survive. By definition, as the great Ludwig von Mises pointed out, government is force, and force is the absolute antithesis of freedom and liberty. Therefore, government is always against freedom, and does everything in its power to squelch the voice of the individual, and to squash the natural rights of man. Government literally lives and thrives on the blood and sweat of others, a literal vampire in disguise living off its gullible host. That host of course, is the very people who put the government in power in the first place. This is an irony that is almost impossible to bear.

Considering the modern history of the developed nations, the masses have continually sought a governing system ruled over by their peers who are simply common men. But all men are fallible. Those same fallible men when placed in a position of power have invariably become tyrants. This seems to be the natural progression. Why then, have we never learned from the past? Why do the people of this earth continue to place themselves in the servitude of other common men in government; common men who when given the chance will always abuse the trust given them?

We have little time left. When tyranny rears its ugly head for all to see, as is the case now in the U.S., then it is time to cut off the dragon’s head. The people of this country should look upon the Egyptians as prognosticators of our future. We should all understand that if we simply continue to behave as serfs, we will continue to be serfs. All great societies in history have fallen for the same reasons, and America is no different. Instead of repeating history, wouldn’t it be better to change it? Wouldn’t it be better to rid ourselves of this albatross we alone have created? Even if the masses wanted to continue to have a government, wouldn’t it be better if that government had no power to destroy freedom? Wouldn’t it be better if we were truly free?

The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning. Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.

~Ludwig von Mises, Human Action [1949]


February 10, 2011

Gary D. Barnett [send him mail] is president of Barnett Financial Services, Inc., in Lewistown, Montana.

Copyright © 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

The Best of Gary D. Barnett


DHS Declares War: “Homegrown Terrorists Fueled by the Internet”

Thu Feb 10 2011 20:43 


by Zen Gardner

Give me a freakin’ break. They get away with this fascist hype and no one screams?

This tripe from the insatiable stooge Napoleon-itano was on ABC News:

“One of the most striking elements of today’s threat picture is that plots to attack America increasingly involve American residents and citizens,” Napolitano said, referring to so-called homegrown terrorists fueled by the Internet and connections with operatives overseas.


They haven’t done anything but decimate Afghanistan and Iraq, murder millions of people in pursuit of a fabricated enemy, while sacrificing our own youth in the process with no “victory” in sight! All with the pretense of “fighting terrorism”.

And now? “Sorry, our bad. The real enemy is at home after all.”

All with the obvious target of real truth and freedom loving Americans and our communication line – theinternet. Funny it was developed by DARPA. I wonder what else is going to backfire on them? As it is we’re more empowered than ever.

But couch potato America will buy it. Why not? The American “image-ination” was founded on Disneyesque story telling. It goes right along with 24, the Superbowl, CSI, (etc. etc.) and every flippin’ news and talk show you can imagine…

It’s Mind-boggling!

More from Napoleon-itano:

“The terrorist threat facing our country has evolved significantly in the last ten years — and continues to evolve — so that, in some ways, the threat facing us is at its most heightened state since those attacks,” she said before the House Homeland Security Committee.

Her comments were a sobering reminder that the potential of another attack is real and growing, most notably from individuals radicalized inside the United States, despite elaborate security measures implemented by the government since 2001. Source

Don’t have to say much more.

Grab your boots boys and girls, they’re coming after us. If you DARE to question ANYTHING that might be considered “suspicious” you are now, and have been for awhile, liable for questioning and detention, for as long as they like.

As this hype grows they’re only counting the days.

Next False Flag Near?

Always. They can nuke one of our own cities, a la Oklahoma City, only meaner; they can do something nasty overseas, and blame anyone they want. The unaware world is a sitting duck.

And yes, it’s also to grease the wheels for the Patriot Act extension. Congress is in the tank–it’s the American people they don’t want coming out of their coma.


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Politicians Who Start Wars: The Real Cowards Among Us!

by Gary D. Barnett

Recently by Gary D. Barnett: A Real Mortgage Fraud: Pre-Bailout Bailouts!

Why are young Americans being maimed and killed every single day in Afghanistan and Iraq? Why is it that tens of thousands (or more) of innocents in the Middle East have been maimed and murdered, and millions have been displaced from their homes and country? Why is it that their infrastructure has been completely destroyed? Is it because both these countries have nuclear and chemical weapons and the capability to use them against us, and have threatened to do so? Is it because the federal government is protecting us from an eminent air or naval attack by these countries? Is it simply due to the false notion that these countries were responsible for the 9/11 attacks? Of course none of these reasons exist, nor are they valid at any level. Neither of these countries, nor for that matter any other Middle Eastern country, has ever attacked, threatened to attack, or even had the capability to attack the United States. The U.S after all, is the most powerful nation on planet earth with the most powerful military force.

These wars then are being waged for other reasons; reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with national security. So why then are U.S. forces there? In my opinion, there are many reasons, but not a single one is moral, constitutional or right. The general reasons are always the same it seems, those reasons being money and power. War of course is all about both money and power, and war is big business exemplified. Just consider a few of the major recipients of military contracts; contracts that result in hundreds of billions of dollars in additional revenue every year for those businesses who are dependent on death for their survival. Some of those include companies like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Raytheon, United Technologies, and of course the infamous Halliburton and XE Services, formerly Blackwater, and yes, even General Motors. Of course, many oil companies are also on this list. There are of course, hundreds of thousands of U.S. defense contracts awarded or “won” each year. According to this site, over 530,000 defense contracts worth over $362,000,000,000.00 were issued (“won”) in 2009 alone. This list of companies receiving tax money for military contracts is staggering to say the very least. You see, when I said war is big business, I wasn’t kidding. When considering that these current wars have been going on for over ten years, it is obvious that these wars alone create a multi-trillion dollar business!

Now consider all the politicians who represent all the towns, cities, and states across this nation, and one can begin to understand the relationship between war, money, and political power. Then consider all those political contributions made by all the contract companies scattered across America to these same politicians. Are you beginning to get the picture? If you think you are, then think some more. Who finances all these transactions and controls all the money during this process? The big banks do of course, and because of this they are able to expand by leverage these huge sums of money into very questionable investments; investments that garner them billions in profits. These massive profits are obtained at the expense of us all. What about all the foreign companies getting defense contracts? What about all the foreign governments gaining money and protection to participate in these wars of aggression? What about all the oil and oil pipelines, and other natural resources being stolen and controlled by the U.S. due to these unholy wars? Who will reap the monetary benefits of this piracy in the future? Believe me when I tell you: It won’t be you or me!

In addition to the monstrous monetary benefit to government and its agents in business during a time of war, the increase of power over the individual and the destruction of civil liberty expand at an alarming speed. The aggression and occupation against Afghanistan began in 2001, and the additional war of pure aggression and occupation against Iraq began in 2003. Given that most across this country are now celebrating Veteran’s Day because they have been brainwashed into believing that war protects freedom, let’s look at just a few of the things that have not saved, but destroyed our freedom just since these wars began.

In September of 2001, the Office (later Department) of Homeland Security was established. With that came the passage of the most evil USA PATRIOT Act, this atrocity passed even before either of these immoral wars began. This legislation was the beginning of the end of freedom and liberty as we know it. In 2002 the Homeland Security Act was passed. To follow was the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, which created the rights destroying and depraved TSA. Also to come of course was sanctioned torture, NSA warrantless spying, wiretapping, and surveillance of American citizens, the heinous Military Commissions Act of 2006, extraordinary rendition, virtual elimination of habeas corpus, CIA secret prisons, and “enhanced” interrogation. Along with this came draconian financial regulation and data basing of all financial transactions. Please keep in mind that these are but a few of the destructive events against freedom that have taken place just since 2001. There have been literally thousands of new laws and regulations passed over the past ten years that have done nothing but harm liberty. Does anyone in this country really believe that these wars of aggression protect or enhance freedom and liberty? Is anyone that gullible and blind? Is there one shred of truth in the notion that the troops warring overseas are fighting for our freedoms? Not only no but hell no!

The ugly truth of the matter is that those troops, whether they realize it or not, are doing nothing but helping to abolish freedom by doing the bidding of the State, and advancing the real goal of government, which is to enhance its power over the citizenry. In the process, the politicians and their partners in crime become rich, while the rest of us become poor. They become more powerful while we become more enslaved. They act like wolves while the dumbed-down citizenry become sheep awaiting the slaughter. What has happened to the once sovereign and free individual?

There is a way to alter this march toward serfdom and the murderous behavior of the state apparatus. I suggest a reversal of roles where the beneficiaries of this aggression and murder are forced to fend for themselves, while the citizen victims of this immoral imperialism refuse to be used as cannon fodder any longer. How would this work?

First, since all modern wars are started by the executive branch of government, the president should be the very first to go to the front line of battle. All in the executive branch of government, including all cabinet members, should accompany him. All members of Congress, those who acquiesced their duty to control and declare constitutional war, should then go marching off behind them. Those in the judiciary should quickly join in since they sanction these atrocities in their corrupt courts. We cannot of course, leave out all the CEOs of those corporations who benefit monetarily from defense contracts, and all the Federal Reserve and major investment bank presidents across the country. From a military standpoint, all who go to actual battle should go in order of rank, officers only, from the top down. This means the first to be in harm’s way should be the generals. This progression should be a good start to end all aggressive and occupational wars.

Why is this so? This is so because these are the cowards among us. They only want to start and benefit from wars; they are not willing to prosecute them. And why should they when they can send the children of others to die for their gain? Why should they put themselves at risk when the parents of the young are willing to sacrifice their own flesh and blood for the gain of their elected “leaders?” These are “leaders” I might add, in name only, because they will always refuse to lead into battle. True cowards you see will never risk their own lives when they can use the lives of others as their cannon fodder. This is the hard truth, and all should be willing to accept it.

Many of these political trimmers will scream at the top of their lungs that they already did their part in the past, but this argument should fall on deaf ears. Only politicians start wars, so politicians should be fully responsible for leading the way into this hell that only they create. Sending others who were never responsible for sanctioning murder abroad into the trenches of death should never be an option. Let’s get back to the personal responsibility that evil and corrupt politician’s talk about from their podium on high. They should lead by example, and if they refuse, they should be forced to do so. This would be the only conscription I would ever agree to enforce. The result of this posture will be an end to all wars, because these cowards will never voluntarily put themselves into harms way. They will simply slink away into the background, hoping to escape all danger.

This is my recipe for peace. It is not complicated nor is it difficult to accomplish. It simply requires those who want to war to be the first in line to do so. If the war is justified, others will voluntarily join with them in order to protect their families and their country, but if it is not, the warmongers will be on their own.

If nothing else, look on the bright side. If the lowest among us, who are those we call politicians, were actually willing to do their own bidding by prosecuting their own wars, then we would no longer have to worry about career politicians, and incumbents would not continue to be parasites feeding off the citizen host. In reality, this would never happen, but what would happen is that war would become a thing of the past, and peace would finally be achievable! What a wonderful world that would be!

November 13, 2010

Gary D. Barnett [send him mail] is president of Barnett Financial Services, Inc., in Lewistown, Montana.

Copyright © 2010 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.


Birth of the National Security State

From: http://www.campaignforliberty.com/article.php?view=1138

By Philip


Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served 19 years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was Chief of Base in Barcelona from 1989 to 1992, was designated as senior Agency officer for support at the Olympic Games, and served as official liaison to the Spanish Security and Intelligence services. He has been designated by the General Accountability Office as an expert on the impact of illegal immigration on terrorism.

Phil Giraldi is now the Francis Walsingham Fellow at The American Conservative Defense Alliance and provides security consulting for a number of Fortune 500 corporate clients. As a counter-terrorism expert, he has assisted multinational corporations in the upgrade of their security at overseas sites to help them comply with the Patriot Act. He was one of the first American civilians to travel to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban, was brought in for consultation by the Port Authority of the City of New York in its planning, has assisted the United Nations security organization, and has helped develop a security training program for the United States Merchant Marine. He has written op-ed pieces for the Hearst Newspaper chain, is a columnist for AntiWar.com, and a contributing editor to American Conservative magazine. His media appearances include Good Morning America, MSNBC, NPR, BBC, FOX News, Polish National Television, al-Jazeera, and 60 Minutes. Phil was awarded an MA and PhD from the University of London in European, and speaks Spanish, Italian, German, and Turkish.

It is not far fetched to speculate that the United States has, over the past ten years, been sliding into a form of authoritarianism that retains only some aspects of the constitution and a limited rule of law. America’s president can, for example, commit soldiers to combat overseas without a constitutionally mandated declaration of war by congress while it is quite possible to be detained by the authorities and locked up without any prospect of trial or opportunity to defend oneself. The government even believes it can kill American citizens based only on suspicion. I prefer to think of this transformation as the National Security State because it rests on a popular consensus that liberties must be sacrificed in exchange for greater public safety from various threats, international terrorism being the most prominent. It might just as well be called the National Warfare State as it also requires constant conflict to justify its existence.

Three elements are necessary for the creation of a National Security State. First, there must be a narrative that can be sold to the public justifying the transformation. Second, a system of laws and regulations must be created that enable the state to act with impunity and also to protect the government from challenges to its authority. Third, technology must be harnessed to enable the state to surreptitiously monitor and control the activities of its citizens. All of these elements have fallen into place over the past decade.

A recent example of abuse of authority by the government demonstrates how several of the key elements can come together. On September 24th, the Obama Administration declared that it would ask a federal court to block a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in opposition to the government’s contention that it has the authority to assassinate American citizens overseas if they are suspected of involvement with a terrorist group. The White House has invoked the state secrets privilege, contending that vital national interests would be betrayed if the case were to proceed and further that the president has the authority to target anyone for death in time of war. The state secrets privilege is the ultimate weapon to avoid exposure of government wrongdoing. It has been used frequently by the Obama administration in spite of Obama-the-candidate’s pledge that he would run an open and accountable government.

The ACLU case focused on the one US citizen known to be on the administration’s assassination list, Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Now, by all accounts al-Awlaki is an unsavory character, involved with at least one extremist group in Yemen, but the evidence that he is an actual terrorist or that he has been closely involved with plotting terrorist attacks has not been made public. At this point, he appears to have been condemned to death without any due process and without any opportunity to defend himself. The Obama Administration abuse of the state secrets privilege in this case is little more than justifying the practice of extrajudicial murder at the whim of a government bureaucrat. It also assumes that the whole world is a battlefield without any declaration of war by congress. If all of that is so, al-Awlaki can be killed and so can any other American for any reason or no reason.

State secrets is only one weapon in the arsenal employed by the government to create a framework of regulation that permits the government to act with impunity. The Military Commission Act, which candidate Obama vowed to let expire, was renewed in 2009 with virtually no changes. Under the MCA, someone can be imprisoned indefinitely on suspicion that he or she has provided material support to terrorism. Material support is not defined and can be interpreted to mean nearly anything. If accused, right to a trial by peers does not apply as the detainee is subject to a military tribunal and habeas corpus is null and void. And how does the government determine if someone is a “terrorism supporter?” Through evidence derived from Patriot Act authorized National Security Letters, which the FBI can obtain without any judicial process whatsoever to look into the private lives of each and every citizen. Nearly 25,000 National Security Letters were issued in 2008 alone. When someone receives a letter demanding that information be provided to the authorities it is a felony to reveal to the subject of the investigation that he or she is being looked at.

The second key element in the National Security State is the media depiction of a threat that makes the public fearful and willing to sacrifice rights in exchange for security. This effort is aided and abetted by the government, which is the principal cheerleader for the fear mongering. In the al-Awlaki case the media obediently depicts the man as a terrorist, never challenging the established narrative so it makes it easier for the public to accept that he should be killed for reasons of public safety. Another recent initiative of the same sort is the narrative that there are numerous American Muslims who have been radicalized and might carry out terrorist acts. One might reasonably note that as there are possibly ten million Muslims in the US if that were true there would be hundreds of incidents occurring annually, possibly one or two a day. Where are they? Yet the government suggests that there is an “emerging” threat and the media buys into it hook line and sinker. The public is again scared into supporting the National Security State.

Finally, there is the technical ability to look into the private lives of each and every citizen, which is increasing exponentially as the technology is refined. The federal government is currently seeking legislation to enable it to monitor internet, blackberries, and social networking sites. The centers of most American citizens are criss-crossed by surveillance cameras, while “traffic control” cameras record automobile information, and cell phone and internet providers maintain complete records on calls and emails for up to a year. These are records that the government can access through the National Security Letters, without any judicial review. Cell phone system monitors are able to locate anyone with a phone turned on within a distance of three feet and whenever a call is made the location is recorded. This means if you attend an anti-war rally your participation might wind up in a security file. Much of this and other information is collected into data bases, together with public record material like driving license information, credit reports, and details of criminal and civil litigation. How much of the information is actually retained is anyone’s guess, but it is safe to assume that it is all kept for some time and that government computers can retrieve it at will.

Having lived in Europe, I know that most of these intrusive technologies first appeared on that continent, where people accept a high level of state control, only to be picked up subsequently in the US. The British government is currently introducing legislation proposing that all wage and salary earners have their paychecks sent directly to the tax agencies for processing. The government’s stated intention is to make sure that taxes are being collected, but Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs service computers would also be alert to possible money laundering and terrorist connections, raising the fear level to justify the action. After processing, the British government would then pass whatever money remains on to the person who actually earned it. Scary, but it is perhaps something that will also be proposed in the US by a Joe Lieberman, John McCain or Lindsey Graham, all of whom have used fear of terrorism to justify curtailment of civil liberties and intrusion into areas once regarded as private. Or even by Barack Obama, who appears to believe that a benign big government provides a solution to whatever ails you and is already moving towards monitoring all financial transactions.

The only answer to the National Security State a demand on the part of US citizens to return to constitutionalism and a rule of law. The government should not be empowered to kill citizens extrajudicially, start wars of choice, detain suspects indefinitely and without charges, use state secrets claims to avoid scrutiny, and obtain private information without a warrant. It is difficult to imagine a return to normalcy under the best of circumstances, but congress is complicit in the process and will do nothing. Genuine change will only come about when we the people insist on it.

Copyright © 2010 Campaign for Liberty

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