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Posts Tagged ‘Liberty

The Digital Surveillance State: Vast, Secret, and Dangerous

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“we have a Secret Government of 854,000 people, so vast and so secret that nobody knows what it does or what it is. That there is a virtually complete government/corporate merger when it comes to the National Security and Surveillance State is indisputable”

by Glenn Greenwald
Lead Essay     Cato Unbound August 9th, 2010

It is unsurprising that the 9/11 attack fostered a massive expansion of America’s already sprawling Surveillance State. But what is surprising, or at least far less understandable, is that this growth shows no signs of abating even as we approach almost a full decade of emotional and temporal distance from that event. The spate of knee-jerk legislative expansions in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 trauma — the USA-PATRIOT Act — has actually been exceeded by the expansions of the last several years — first secretly and lawlessly by the Bush administration, and then legislatively and out in the open once Democrats took over control of the Congress in 2006. Simply put, there is no surveillance power too intrusive or unaccountable for our political class provided the word “terrorism” is invoked to “justify” those powers.

The More-Surveillance-Is-Always-Better Mindset

Illustrating this More-Surveillance-is-Always-Better mindset is what happened after The New York Times revealed in December, 2005 that the Bush administration had ordered the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on American citizens without the warrants required by law and without any external oversight at all. Despite the fact that the 30-year-old FISA law made every such act of warrantless eavesdropping a felony, “punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both,” and despite the fact that all three federal judges who ruled on the program’s legality concluded that it was illegal, there was no accountability of any kind. The opposite is true: the telecom corporations which enabled and participated in this lawbreaking were immunized by a 2008 law supported by Barack Obama and enacted by the Democratic Congress. And that same Congress twice legalized the bulk of the warrantless eavesdropping powers which The New York Times had exposed: first with the 2007 Protect America Act, and then with the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, which, for good measure, even added new warrantless surveillance authorities.

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A Police State You’d Better Believe In

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We should not let a smooth talking political leader like our current President talk us out of the civil liberties he seemed zealous to protect.

by Jack Kenny    Thursday, 29 July 2010

The New American

When our nation is waging “war on” so many things (drugs, crime, poverty, terrorism), it’s hard to know where to enlist and when to defect. Or put another way, when should a patriot oppose his government? One answer, which we may hope is obvious, is when his government is waging war on liberty. The trick, of course, is to recognize it as such, since the government will always claim to be defending liberty when waging war against it.

Thus it is that in the “war on terrorism” our government is building, brick by brick, a new police state, called “Security.” Consider, for example, this item from The Washington Post:

The Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual’s Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation.

The administration wants to add just four words — ‘electronic communication transactional records’ — to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge’s approval. Government lawyers say this category of information includes the addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user’s browser history. It does not include, the lawyers hasten to point out, the ‘content’ of e-mail or other Internet communication.

But what officials portray as a technical clarification designed to remedy a legal ambiguity strikes industry lawyers and privacy advocates as an expansion of the power the government wields through so-called national security letters. These missives, which can be issued by an FBI field office on its own authority, require the recipient to provide the requested information and to keep the request secret. They are the mechanism the government would use to obtain the electronic records.

There now. Don’t you feel safer and more secure already? Or do you have that creepy feeling that somebody is looking over your shoulder? Read the rest of this entry »

Obama Sides with Republicans; PATRIOT Act Renewal Bill Passes Senate Judiciary Committee Minus Critical Civil Liberties Reforms

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 EmptySuit obama
Electronic Frontier Foundation  

It looks like most of the Senators on the Judiciary Committee weren’t swayed by last week’s New York Times editorial, which suggested they consider USA PATRIOT Act renewal a “critical chance to add missing civil liberties and privacy protections, address known abuses and trim excesses that contribute nothing to making America safer.” Instead, the Committee passed a bill to renew all of the PATRIOT powers that were set to expire at the end of the year, with only a handful of the original reforms that were first proposed by Senators Feingold and Durbin’s JUSTICE Act and Committee Chairman Leahy’s original PATRIOT renewal bill.

No, rather than adding more protections to the bill, the Committee voted to accept seven Republican amendments to the USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act to remove the few civil liberties protections left in the bill after it was already watered down at the previous Committee meeting. Surprisingly and disappointingly, most of those amendments were recommended to their Republican sponsors by the Obama Administration.

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It Ain’t About Hot Dogs & Fireworks

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fireworksSibel Edmonds  

Reflections on this Fourth of July

 

‘We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.’- – William Faulkner

We have two more days to the 233rd anniversary of our Independence Day. I know this is a day that is commonly associated with fireworks, good old fashioned hot dog and burger barbecues, heavenly kegs of beer, picnics, and baseball. I know many recognize this day as the anniversary of the American Colonies’ announcement declaring themselves as free and independent states, separated from allegiance to Great Britain. However this day is far more than just that. This day marked our nation’s definition of legitimate government and the proclamation of a political system under the sovereignty of the people. Thus, this is an occasion calling for more than hot dogs and fireworks. This should be an occasion to reflect upon where we are today, to take a hard look at the current state of our liberty and the rights we were fortunate to inherit, and to renew our pledge to revive and defend those precious principles of liberty and justice.

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Written by laudyms

July 3, 2009 at 12:02 pm

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