No One’s Reading Your Mind. The NSA’s Super Computers IoT Spectrum Dominance is — The War on Your Mind: A Brief History of the U.S. Surveillance-Intelligence Complex By T.J. Coles

The recent U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vindicated the contractor-turned-whistleblower, Edward Snowden, by ruling that the National Security Agency’s blanket data collection was unlawful and likely unconstitutional.

After Snowden alerted the world, the Obama administration claimed that the dragnet was necessary to catch terrorists, specifically Issa Doreh, Basaaly Saeed Moalin, Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mohamud, and Mohamed Mohamud, who were convicted in 2013 for sending money to a group designated terrorists by the U.S. State Department: Al-Shabaab, the Somali youth wing of the non-terrorist Islamic Courts Union, which the US and Britain overthrew in late-2006. The Ninth Circuit ruled that Obama’s assertion was “inconsistent with the contents of the classified record.”

In my new book The War on You, I look into the history of the U.S.-British intelligence complex and how it is used to try to control your thoughts and behaviors.

The Global Information Grid

In the post-WWII era, the architecture of U.S. surveillance expanded exponentially. Since the 1960s, the Pentagon has been building what it calls the Global Information Grid (GIG), first mentioned in Zbigniew Brzezinski’s book, Between Two Ages. The GIG is a network of satellites, telephone, telex, fax, and other interceptable software and hardware.

After WWII, the British and American governments signed the still-classified UKUSA Agreement. Under the Agreement, the Pentagon and UK Ministry of Defence established what journalist Peter Goodspeed calls “a massive surveillance system that can capture and study every telephone call, fax and e-mail message sent anywhere in the world.” According to Goodspeed: “[E]spionage agents from Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand — backed up by a web of ships, planes and radar and communication interception sites that ring the earth — have established the greatest spy network in history.”

One of the largest interception centers is RAF Menwith Hill, Yorkshire, UK. The station hosts 33 large, golf ball-looking spheres full of radars (radomes). As Goodspeed says, Menwith Hill spies on the whole of Europe and parts of western Russia. Another is Canada’s Communications Security Establishment, which spies on North America and eastern Russia. Another was discovered in Israel, which spies on the Middle East and Central Asia. Goodspeed notes that the Australian system “hunts for communications originating in Indochina, Indonesia and southern China. New Zealand sweeps the western Pacific.”

Britain’s Role

The Menwith Hill station was set up in 1956 by the U.S. Army Security Agency. By the year 1992, it was intercepting two million communications per hour, mainly across Europe, Africa, and Russia. The station pioneered the use of IBM computers in the early-1960s. Echelon picks relevant words spoken in telephone calls and alerts agents. It was run via the NSA’s Pathway computer system, which apparently used “off-the-shelf” technologies, from Compaq, Digital Equipment Corp., Tandem, and others (see Loring Wirbel’s book, Star Wars). Jurisdiction was given to the NSA in 1966. The Federation of American Scientists states: “Since then, Menwith Hill has sifted the international messages, telegrams, and telephone calls of citizens, corporations or governments to select information of political, military or economic value.”

Journalist Duncan Campbell notes that in 1970s’ UK, the Post Office installed wideband connections to Menwith Hill and Hunters Stones microwave radio station, as part of the microwave network which carried long-distance telephone calls during the 1970s and ‘80s. Also in the ‘70s, the NSA inserted de-encryption devices into Switzerland’s Crypto AG software, enabling the Agency to decode the traffic of 130 countries.

In 1992, says the Federation of American Scientists, British Telecom installed digital fiber optic cables. By 1996, the cables were able to carry over 100,000 simultaneous telephone calls. In the U.S., the NSA’s Operation Shamrock produced similar results. By the 1970s, the magnetic tapes recording all telegraphic communications allowed the NSA to analyze 150,000 messages per month. In August 1975, then-Director of the National Security Agency, Lt. Gen. Lew Allen, admitted to the Congressional Pike Committee that the “NSA systematically intercepts international communications, both voice and cable.”

Canada’s Role

In the year 2000, 60 Minutes reported: “If you made a phone call today or sent an e-mail to a friend, there’s a good chance what you said or wrote was captured and screened by the [NSA].” It also noted that “Echelon’s computers capture virtually every electronic conversation around the world … [V]irtually every signal radiated across the electromagnetic spectrum is being collected and analyzed.” Mike Frost, a former spy with the Canadian services, says: “Echelon covers … the entire planet … [E]verything that’s radiated worldwide at any given instant … Baby monitors give you a lot of intelligence.”

All phone calls are listened to. Frost gives the example of a woman who told her friend that her son’s theater performance “bombed.” The word “bombed” was in the NSA’s Dictionary and triggered a computer response for officers to listen to the conversation. However, in order to know that the woman was talking about her son’s play, as opposed to an actual bombing, the NSA must have been recording everything she was saying to able to play it back to agents to get the context of the conversation. “The captured signals” of every broadcast made “are then processed through a series of supercomputers, known as dictionaries, that are programmed to search each communication for targeted addresses, words, phrases or even individual voices,” says Goodspeed.

These ground-based systems were (and are) not only linked to the hundreds of satellites orbiting the Earth, they connect to mapping and profiling software. The U.S. Space Command calls this “full spectrum dominance.”

Conclusion

The blanket surveillance is bad enough for domestic social control and international industrial espionage. But even worse is the use of “full spectrum dominance” for murder. As we’ve seen with cases like the drone up- and down-links at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the U.S. Global Information Grid is used to murder the world’s poorest people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere.

Satellites, GPS, and the internet itself were designed in the military sector in the previous decades and transferred to private corporations for profit, creating “dual-use’ technology. But so are the NSA’s Echelon, voice-recognition, and data point-collection software. These technologies are today incorporated into banking, insurance, social media, and marketing in what Professor Shoshana Zuboff conceptualizes as “surveillance capitalism.” These are some of the weapons in the war on you.

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T.J. Coles is a postdoctoral researcher at Plymouth University’s Cognition Institute in the UK and a regular contributor to CounterPunch and The London Economic. His books include Voices for Peace (with Noam Chomsky and others) and The War on You.

Supreme Court Paves the Way for Government to Punish Anti-Government Speech That Encourages Resistance to Tyranny Through Civil Disobedience — The Rutherford Institute

WASHINGTON, DC —In refusing to strike down an overly broad law criminalizing pro-immigration speech, the U.S. Supreme Court has paved the way for the government to punish anyone engaging in so-called “anti-government” speech that encourages resistance to tyranny through civil disobedience. Elevating judicial technicalities and procedure over fundamental rights, the Court unanimously ruled in United States v. Sineneng-Smith that the lower court had overstepped its authority when it, and not the defendant, noticed that the federal statute which makes it a crime to “encourage” undocumented aliens to remain in the country was overbroad in violation of the First Amendment. The Rutherford Institute, in conjunction with the ACLU and the Service Employees International Union, filed an amicus brief in the case arguing that the statute is overbroad and could serve as a model for laws used to punish anyone who urges resistance to government tyranny.

Affiliate attorneys Erin Glenn Busby, Lisa R. Eskow and Michael F. Sturley of the University of Texas School of Law Supreme Court Clinic assisted The Rutherford Institute and its coalition partners in advancing the arguments in Sineneng-Smith.

“With every ruling handed down, it becomes more apparent that we live in an age of hollow justice, with government courts, largely lacking in vision and scope, rendering narrow rulings focused on the letter of the law,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “The justices would do well to heed former Justice William O. Douglas’s reminder that ‘The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of the people.’”

Read more commentaries and cases he’s involved in from one of the best Constitutional-attorney commentartor’s, and bravest we seemingly have on the frontline, John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute:

The Rutherford Institute :: Supreme Court Paves the Way for Government to Punish Anti-Government Speech That Encourages Resistance to Tyranny Through Civil Disobedience |
https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/on_the_front_lines/supreme_court_paves_the_way_for_government_to_punish_anti_government_speech_that_encourages_resistance_to_tyranny_through_civil_disobedience

Next Week: US Senate will consider the permanent reauthorization of sections of the USA PATRIOT Act

By Janet Phelan

Next week, the US Senate will consider the permanent reauthorization of sections of the USA PATRIOT Act which permitted the wholesale spying on American citizens. HR 6172, if passed into law, will give the FBI the powers to continue to spy, surveil and watchlist ordinary Americans.

In addition to new provisions, HR 6172 would reauthorize the government’s ability to collect business and other records of individuals through the FISA court. It would also reauthorize a roving wiretap provision that permits the government to get orders targeting people who frequently change phone lines or use so-called burner devices to avoid traditional wiretaps on individual lines.

And of mounting concern to a growing number of watchlisted Americans, including reporters and activists, is the “lone wolf” provision which grants the government the power to surveil people who have no known connection to terrorist organizations but are nonetheless suspected for unspecified reasons of some level of terrorism. This provision is also up for the Senate vote.

A number of amendments to the Bill, which was passed by the House last March, might serve to soften some of the more draconian implications of the spying bill. Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, has proposed an amendment which would expand the circumstances under which an amicus curiae (Friend of the Court) would be appointed for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court proceedings. These circumstances include those involving religious institutions, political figures and other particularly sensitive cases.

If you are wondering if you read that right, the answer is most likely yes. The FISA court has approved spying on political figures and religious institutions.

An amendment from Senator Rand Paul, R-KY, would stipulate that the FISA court proceedings cannot be used against American citizens.

As quoted in Roll Call, Senator Paul had the following to say:

I think they’ll start with the House bill and we’ll have some amendment votes. I think leadership probably presumes they can beat them all, and, I don’t know, they usually do. We’ll see what happens…But I think it’s an important debate to have, and I will encourage the president to veto it if it still allows Americans to be abused in FISA court.

According to former NSA linguist and whistleblower Karen Melton-Stewart, FISA court proceedings have been used liberally to target Americans. Stewart states that:

A quiet hell was unleashed secretly upon the American public, not so much upon actual terrorists at all but for show, for pretense. It was a gigantic bait and switch, a Trojan Horse by which to target innocent Americans through brand new bright and shiny FBI Fusion Centers for horrific abuses…

She goes on to say that:

The resulting Intelligence Community, Department of Justice (DOJ), and law enforcement wholesale perversion of laws, the trampling of the Constitution coupled with the unquestioning trust of a traumatized population made the Protect America Act in reality into the Prey on America Act….

Stewart states that:

For years victims called “Targeted Individuals” have sounded the alarm that our protectors are actually our predators but few leaders have listened protected by a mountain of cognitive dissonance. Citizens and representatives alike blithely assumed a piece of paper and good intent guaranteed our safety if we gave up our freedoms to a new protector class.

President Trump has been personally impacted by the FISA court. The scandal surrounding the FISA court authorized surveillance of Trump aide Carter Page has resulted in a wider awareness that these sorts of surveillances might not achieve legal muster and could indeed be used for political machinations or even for personal revenge.

According to Karen Stewart,

If the Patriot Act is again reauthorized by oblivious, incompetent, or complicit leadership assuming all is well in their la-la land in Washington, then mark 2020 as the year American vision and foresight finally died from myopic discernment and blind apathy. Reauthorize and die. RIP America 1776-2020.

If you are concerned about rampant spying on Americans, you are encouraged to contact your Senators and tell them what you think. Contact information for US Senators is provided HERE.

Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist and author of the groundbreaking exposé, EXILE. Her articles previously appeared in such mainstream venues as the Los Angeles Times, Orange Coast Magazine, Long Beach Press Telegram, etc. In 2004, Janet “jumped ship” and now exclusively writes for independent media. She is also the author of two collections of poetry—The Hitler Poems and Held Captive. She resides abroad. You are invited to support her work on Buy Me A Coffee here: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/JanetPhelan

“Big Brother” Bill Hits Senate Floor for Vote Next Week – Activist Post

“Big Brother” Bill Hits Senate Floor for Vote Next Week

US Begins To Implement WHO “Contact Tracing” To Forcibly Remove People From Their Homes? May 7, 2020

By Spiro Skouras

This report is a follow-up to one where I cover how Michael Ryan of the WHO stated in a press briefing how the WHO (which is of course in the pocket of Bill Gates) now believes it is time to start removing people from their homes.

I know many people, especially those of you who are in the US, think that could never happen here … well, those are probably the same people who thought just a couple months ago that it would be impossible to lockdown the entire country because people would never put up with it and because we have rights… right? This is being said even as we are ON lockdown.

For those of you who can’t wait for the government to lift the lockdowns, as many states are preparing to do, remember that we were told things will not go back to normal until there is a vaccine and the entire planet has largely received it… we have also been told about how we must embrace the new normal.

Part of that new normal is contact tracing. Hmm, sounds normal enough – or at least harmless – kind of like how the Patriot Act sounds harmless or Operation Iraqi Freedom may have sounded like a good thing to many, despite the fact that it was a war of aggression based on lies which resulted in the death of over a million people… but, hey, it has the word freedom in it.

So what exactly is contact tracing? Well, according to California Governor Newsom…

Contact tracing, combined with expanded testing, is a pillar of the state’s modified stay-at-home order and The goal is to track and trace every person in the state who may have been exposed, then quickly isolate and test them.

So, in other words, the state cannot open up without contact tracing; and only then it would be a modified stay-at-home order, and not actually removing the lockdown in its entirety.

And how are they going to accomplish this? In their own words… “California is building an army of 20k people who will be trained as disease detectives, serving six- to 12-month-long gigs that demand skills ranging from data entry and psychology to project management and crisis intervention.” Saying the state is providing a “customer service,” while others may see this customer service as the new secret police.

California will be the test pilot for this program which they have stated will serve as the template nationwide.

Welcome to COVID1984.

Coronavirus: Inside the Bay Area’s growing army of disease detectives
https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/05/06/coronavirus-inside-the-bay-areas-growing-army-of-disease-detectives/

California County To Remove COVID-19 Patients From Homes Based On ‘Living Situation’ — Will Place In ‘Other Kinds Of Housing’
https://www.zerohedge.com/health/california-county-will-move-covid-19-patients-homes-based-living-situation-will-place-other

Clinton Foundation Discusses creating Army Of “Contact Tracers” to Monitor Citizens who had COVID-19
http://thejewishvoice.com/2020/04/clinton-foundation-discusses-creating-army-of-contact-tracers-to-monitor-citizens-who-had-covid-19/

Bloomberg Philanthropies Commits $10.5 Million for Contact Tracing
http://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/bloomberg-philanthropies-commits-10.5-million-for-contact-tracing

US Begins To Implement WHO “Contact Tracing” To Forcibly Remove People From Their Homes? – Activist Post

US Begins To Implement WHO “Contact Tracing” To Forcibly Remove People From Their Homes?

As the World Turns Its Attention to the #Pandemic, Israel Is Moving Forward with Military Raids By Lucas Leiroz de Almeida |Global Research, March 26, 2020 #CoronaVirus

In-depth Report:

The West Bank situation is becoming increasingly complicated amid the coronavirus pandemic and territorial disputes between Palestinians and Israelis. At first, the Palestinian Authority and Israel showed signs of cooperation in combating the pandemic. A few weeks ago, joint measures were announced between both sides to contain the epidemic of the new coronavirus in the region. The measures include distribution of cleaning and personal hygiene materials, in addition to virus testing kits and medical equipment.

On the part of Tel Aviv, the total closure of the West Bank was promoted, allowing, however, access for Palestinian workers involved in the construction and agriculture sectors to the Jewish state, which is why the proposal was well accepted by Ramallah. On the part of the Palestinians, the West Bank has also been blocked, but only partially and for two weeks, since last Sunday (March 22), in addition to the implementation of a series of control and quarantine measures.

However, efforts to contain the pandemic have not prevented Israeli incursions into the region, which have increased recently. Ibrahim Melhim, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, acknowledged Israeli efforts to contain the coronavirus in the country and in Palestine, but criticized the unstoppable incursions against the Palestinians.

“We have very strong round-the-clock coordination with the Israeli side to prevent the coronavirus from spreading (…) At the same time, Israel continues to operate in the Palestinian Territories as if there is no coronavirus crisis (…) They [Israeli forces] continue their raids across the West Bank, arresting people and confiscating lands, and that harms the existing coordination between the PA and Israel putting an additional burden on the Palestinian Authority,” said the spokesman.

Apparently, Israel pretends to collaborate with Palestine to stop the pandemic, when, in fact, it freely promotes its military maneuvers in the region, which go unnoticed by the mainstream media, strongly focused on covering the viral tragedy. In addition, Tel Aviv’s own collaboration to control COVID-19 in the region seems extremely limited. The blocking measures made it impossible, for example, for doctors from the “Physicians for Human Rights” (an Israeli NGO that serves Palestinians free of charge) to move alongside the West Bank, clearly hampering medical care in the region.

Mention should also be made of the fact that Israel, not Palestine, is the major focus of infections by the new coronavirus in the region. Israel has already more than 1.000 officially reported cases of the disease, in addition to one death, and several suspicions. In contrast, Palestine has around 60 infected people. It is clear from these data that the most stringent containment measures should come exclusively from Ramallah, since the Israeli military presence in the region itself poses a serious risk to Palestinian public health.

According to a survey by the Truman Institute for Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 63% of Israelis say Israel must help Palestinians during the coronavirus crisis. Vered Vinitsky-Serousse, president of the Institute, said that

“the majority of Israelis believe that, when necessary, the government should devise preventive measures to help Palestinians during the Covid-19 epidemic.”

The big problem, however, is how these joint maneuvers are conducted. Perhaps the first step to be taken in establishing joint measures is the definitive and immediate end to military incursions in the region, which constantly bring insecurity and terror to the Palestinian people.

The situation of tensions in the region must still be read in the context of the so-called “Deal of the Century”, the “peace” proposal for the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians announced by American President Donald Trump. The “agreement” was celebrated unilaterally by the Washigton-Tel Aviv axis, with no participation of Palestinians, which is why it was rejected by the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League. The document foresaw the annexation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, leaving around 70% of the region under Palestinian rule – a figure much lower than that proposed by all previous attempts to resolve the conflict. Everything indicates that Israel will not stop its attempts to occupy that territory as much as possible.

It is in this context that the “joint” actions between Israelis and Palestinians must be analyzed with skepticism and suspicion. Are these pandemic containment measures really good, even when behind them the Israeli army expands its occupation in the region with increasingly aggressive incursions? Also, to what extent does Palestine benefit from the help of these joint actions when Israel has an absurdly greater number of infected people? Would Israel be able to help the Palestinians? Or would that aid be a mask for such military incursions? All of these are valid questions.

It is also worth remembering that a few weeks ago, at the end of February, Israel announced the construction of more than 2.000 new settlements in Palestinian territories – and on the same occasion, Netanyahu authorized the construction of other 7.000 units in the East Jerusalem region. These data mean that Israel’s aggressiveness against the Palestinians was increasing recently. Did this aggression really disappear from Tel Aviv’s plans in the face of a “commotion” with public health in Palestine (which is much better than the situation in Israel)? Perhaps, the mainstream media and Human Rights observers should divide their attention between the coronavirus and the conflict in Palestine, before more serious clashes erupt.

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Featured image is from InfoBrics

This Is How Tyranny Rises and Freedom Falls: The Experiment in Freedom Is Failing

We are being ruled by a government of scoundrels, spies, thugs, thieves, gangsters, ruffians, rapists, extortionists, bounty hunters, battle-ready warriors and cold-blooded killers who communicate using a language of force and oppression– John Whitehead

Every day I ask myself the same question: How can this be happening in America? How can people like these be in charge of our country? If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I’d think I was having a hallucination.—Philip Roth, novelist

It is easy to be distracted right now by the circus politics that have dominated the news headlines for the past year, but don’t be distracted.

Don’t be fooled, not even a little, no matter how tempting it seems to just take a peek.

We’re being subjected to the oldest con game in the books, the magician’s sleight of hand that keeps you focused on the shell game in front of you while your wallet is being picked clean by ruffians in your midst.

This is how tyranny rises and freedom falls.

What characterizes American government today is not so much dysfunctional politics as it is ruthlessly contrived governance carried out behind the entertaining, distracting and disingenuous curtain of political theater. And what political theater it is, diabolically Shakespearean at times, full of sound and fury, yet in the end, signifying nothing.

We are being ruled by a government of scoundrels, spies, thugs, thieves, gangsters, ruffians, rapists, extortionists, bounty hunters, battle-ready warriors and cold-blooded killers who communicate using a language of force and oppression.

Our nation of sheep has, as was foretold, given rise to a government of wolves.

The U.S. government now poses the greatest threat to our freedoms.

More than terrorism, more than domestic extremism, more than gun violence and organized crime, even more than the perceived threat posed by any single politician, the U.S. government remains a greater menace to the life, liberty and property of its citizens than any of the so-called dangers from which the government claims to protect us.

This has been true of virtually every occupant of the White House in recent years.

Unfortunately, nothing has changed for the better since Donald Trump ascended to the Oval Office.

Indeed, Trump may be the smartest move yet by the powers-that-be to keep the citizenry divided and at each other’s throats, because as long as we’re busy fighting each other, we’ll never manage to present a unified front against tyranny in any form.

As American satirist H.L. Mencken predicted almost a century ago:

“All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

In other words, nothing has changed, folks.

The facts speak for themselves.

We’re being robbed blind by a government of thieves. Americans no longer have any real protection against government agents empowered to seize private property at will. For instance, police agencies under the guise of asset forfeiture laws are taking Americans’ personal property based on little more than a suspicion of criminal activity and keeping it for their own profit and gain. In one case, police seized $53,000 from the manager of a Christian rock bandthat was touring and raising money for an orphanage in Thailand. Despite finding no evidence of wrongdoing, police kept the money. Homeowners are losing their homes over nonpayment of taxes (for as little as $400 owed) and municipal bills such as water or sewer fees that amount to a fraction of what they have invested in their homes. And then there’s the Drug Enforcement Agency, which has been searching train and airline passengers and pocketing their cash, without ever charging them with a crime.

We’re being taken advantage of by a government of scoundrels, idiots and cowards. Mencken calculated that “Congress consists of one-third, more or less, scoundrels; two-thirds, more or less, idiots; and three-thirds, more or less, poltroons.” By and large, Americans seem to agree. When you’ve got government representatives who spend a large chunk of their work hours fundraising, being feted by lobbyists, shuffling through a lucrative revolving door between public service and lobbying, and making themselves available to anyone with enough money to secure access to a congressional office, you’re in the clutches of a corrupt oligarchy. Mind you, these same elected officials rarely read the legislation they’re enacting, nor do they seem capable of enacting much legislation that actually helps the plight of the American citizen. More often than not, the legislation lands the citizenry in worse straits.

We’re being locked up by a government of greedy jailers. We have become a carceral state, spending three times more on our prisons than on our schools and imprisoning close to a quarter of the world’s prisoners, despite the fact that crime is at an all-time low and the U.S. makes up only 5% of the world’s population. The rise of overcriminalization and profit-driven private prisons provides even greater incentives for locking up American citizens for such non-violent “crimes” as having an overgrown lawn. As the Boston Review points out, “America’s contemporary system of policing, courts, imprisonment, and parole … makes money through asset forfeiture, lucrative public contracts from private service providers, and by directly extracting revenue and unpaid labor from populations of color and the poor. In states and municipalities throughout the country, the criminal justice system defrays costs by forcing prisoners and their families to pay for punishment. It also allows private service providers to charge outrageous fees for everyday needs such as telephone calls. As a result people facing even minor criminal charges can easily find themselves trapped in a self-perpetuating cycle of debt, criminalization, and incarceration.”

We’re being spied on by a government of Peeping Toms. The government is watching everything you do, reading everything you write, listening to everything you say, and monitoring everything you spend. Omnipresent surveillance is paving the way for government programs that profile citizens, document their behavior and attempt to predict what they might do in the future, whether it’s what they might buy, what politician they might support, or what kinds of crimes they might commit. The impact of this far-reaching surveillance, according to Psychology Today, is “reduced trust, increased conformity, and even diminished civic participation.” As technology analyst Jillian C. York concludes, “Mass surveillance without due process—whether undertaken by the government of Bahrain, Russia, the US, or anywhere in between—threatens to stifle and smother that dissent, leaving in its wake a populace cowed by fear.”

We’re being ravaged by a government of ruffians, rapists and killers. It’s not just the police shootings of unarmed citizens that are worrisome. It’s the SWAT team raids gone wrongmore than 80,000 annually—that are leaving innocent citizens wounded, children terrorized and family pets killed. It’s the roadside strip searches—in some cases, cavity searches of men and women alike carried out in full view of the public—in pursuit of drugs that are never found. It’s the potentially lethal—and unwarranted—use of so-called “nonlethal” weapons such as tasers on children for “mouthing off to a police officer. For trying to run from the principal’s office. For, at the age of 12, getting into a fight with another girl.”

We’re being forced to surrender our freedoms—and those of our children—to a government of extortionists, money launderers and professional pirates. The American people have repeatedly been sold a bill of goods about how the government needs more money, more expansive powers, and more secrecy (secret courts, secret budgets, secret military campaigns, secret surveillance) in order to keep us safe. Under the guise of fighting its wars on terror, drugs and now domestic extremism, the government has spent billions in taxpayer dollars on endless wars that have notended terrorism but merely sown the seeds of blowback, surveillance programs that have caught few terrorists while subjecting all Americans to a surveillance society, and militarized police that have done little to decrease crime while turning communities into warzones. Not surprisingly, the primary ones to benefit from these government exercises in legal money laundering have been the corporations, lobbyists and politicians who inflict them on a trusting public.

We’re being held at gunpoint by a government of soldiers: a standing army. As if it weren’t enough that the American military empire stretches around the globe (and continues to leech much-needed resources from the American economy), the U.S. government is creating its own standing army of militarized police and teams of weaponized bureaucrats. These civilian employees are being armed to the hilt with guns, ammunition and military-style equipment; authorized to make arrests; and trained in military tactics. Among the agencies being supplied with night-vision equipment, body armor, hollow-point bullets, shotguns, drones, assault rifles and LP gas cannons are the Smithsonian, U.S. Mint, Health and Human Services, IRS, FDA, Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Education Department, Energy Department, Bureau of Engraving and Printing and an assortment of public universities. There are now reportedly more bureaucratic (non-military) government civilians armed with high-tech, deadly weapons than U.S. Marines. That doesn’t even begin to touch on the government’s arsenal, the transformation of local police into extensions of the military, and the speed with which the nation could be locked down under martial law depending on the circumstances.

Whatever else it may be—a danger, a menace, a threat—the U.S. government is certainly no friend to freedom.

To our detriment, the criminal class that Mark Twain mockingly referred to as Congress has since expanded to include every government agency that feeds off the carcass of our once-constitutional republic.

The government and its cohorts have conspired to ensure that the only real recourse the American people have to hold the government accountable or express their displeasure with the government is through voting, which is no real recourse at all.

Consider it: the penalties for civil disobedience, whistleblowing and rebellion are severe. If you refuse to pay taxes for government programs you believe to be immoral or illegal, you will go to jail. If you attempt to overthrow the government—or any agency thereof—because you believe it has overstepped its reach, you will go to jail. If you attempt to blow the whistle on government misconduct, you will go to jail. In some circumstances, if you even attempt to approach your elected representative to voice your discontent, you can be arrested and jailed.

You cannot have a republican form of government—nor a democratic one, for that matter—when the government views itself as superior to the citizenry, when it no longer operates for the benefit of the people, when the people are no longer able to peacefully reform their government, when government officials cease to act like public servants, when elected officials no longer represent the will of the people, when the government routinely violates the rights of the people and perpetrates more violence against the citizenry than the criminal class, when government spending is unaccountable and unaccounted for, when the judiciary act as courts of order rather than justice, and when the government is no longer bound by the laws of the Constitution.

For too long, the American people have obeyed the government’s dictates, no matter now unjust.

We have paid its taxes, penalties and fines, no matter how outrageous. We have tolerated its indignities, insults and abuses, no matter how egregious. We have turned a blind eye to its indiscretions and incompetence, no matter how imprudent. We have held our silence in the face of its lawlessness, licentiousness and corruption, no matter how illicit.

Oh how we have suffered.

How long we will continue to suffer depends on how much we’re willing to give up for the sake of freedom.

It may well be that Professor Morris Berman is correct: perhaps we are entering into the dark ages that signify the final phase of the American Empire. “It seems to me,” writes Berman, “that the people do get the government they deserve, and even beyond that, the government who they are, so to speak. In that regard, we might consider, as an extreme version of this… that Hitler was as much an expression of the German people at that point in time as he was a departure from them.”

For the moment, the American people seem content to sit back and watch the reality TV programming that passes for politics today. It’s the modern-day equivalent of bread and circuses, a carefully calibrated exercise in how to manipulate, polarize, propagandize and control a population.

As French philosopher Etienne de La Boétie observed half a millennium ago:

“Plays, farces, spectacles, gladiators, strange beasts, medals, pictures, and other such opiates, these were for ancient peoples the bait toward slavery, the price of their liberty, the instruments of tyranny. By these practices and enticements the ancient dictators so successfully lulled their subjects under the yoke, that the stupefied peoples, fascinated by the pastimes and vain pleasures flashed before their eyes, learned subservience as naively, but not so creditably, as little children learn to read by looking at bright picture books.”

The bait towards slavery. The price of liberty. The instruments of tyranny.

Yes, that sounds about right.

“We the people” have learned only too well how to be slaves. Worse, we have come to enjoy our voluntary servitude, which masquerades as citizenship.

Unfortunately, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we won’t be able to sustain this fiction much longer.

“Things fall apart,” wrote W.B. Yeats in his dark, forbidding poem “The Second Coming.” “The centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world… Surely some revelation is at hand.”

Wake up, America, and break free of your chains.

Something wicked this way comes.

This Is How Tyranny Rises and Freedom Falls: The Experiment in Freedom Is Failing

This Is How Tyranny Rises and Freedom Falls: The Experiment in Freedom Is Failing

# # # #John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. He is the president and spokesperson of the Rutherford Institute. Mr. Whitehead is the author of numerous books on a variety of legal and social issues, including Battlefield America: The War on the American People. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Arkansas and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law, and served as an officer in the United States Army from 1969 to 1971.

Tyrannical Noose Tightening Around our US Necks: America in Turmoil

Norman Solomon
November 26, 2019 11:00AM (UTC)
Last week, the Democratic leadership put an extension of the Patriot Act into a “continuing resolution” that averted a government shutdown. More than 95 percent of the Democrats in the House went along with it by voting for the resolution. Both co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Mark Pocan, D-Wis., voted yes. So did all 11 of the CPC’s vice chairs.

This article originally appeared at Common Dreams. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.

It didn’t have to be that way. House progressives could have thrown a monkey wrench into the Orwellian machinery. Instead, the cave-in was another bow to normalizing the U.S. government’s mass surveillance powers.

“There’s no other way to spin this,” a progressive staffer on Capitol Hill told The New Republic. “This was a major capitulation. The Progressive Caucus has touted itself as an organization that can wield power and leverage the votes of its 90 members. And they didn’t lift a finger. Democratic leadership rammed this down their throats.”

A gag reflex was needed from progressive lawmakers, who should have put up a fight rather than swallow rationales for going along with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s maneuver. With the Fourth Amendment on life support, basic civil liberties were at stake.

There were opportunities to push back — if CPC leaders had moved to throw down a gauntlet.

“You could go through and name any strategy for me, and I would tell you why it would fail,” Jayapal said. But if you don’t put up a fight, you’re sure to fail. And showing some strength on a matter of principle can build momentum while marshaling grassroots support in the process.

With a show of resolve, just a few dozen Democrats could have blocked the resolution. Instead, it passed the House on Nov. 19 by a 231-192 margin, thus extending the Patriot Act for three months instead of letting it expire.

“No” votes came from all four members of “the Squad” — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib.

The list of “yes” votes from House members with progressive reputations was stunningly long. Here are just a dozen: Karen Bass, Raúl Grijalva, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Jim McGovern, Jerrold Nadler, Chellie Pingree, Jamie Raskin, Jan Schakowsky, Maxine Waters and Peter Welch.

One factor: Even the best progressives in the House spend a lot more time with congressional colleagues and leaders than they do with constituents. Call it an occupational hazard. Peer pressure and conformity tend to be cumulative. The power of the Democratic leadership is quite tangible and often stern, whereas the power of constituents is routinely diffuse and unrealized.

To the extent that progressives at the grassroots don’t effectively pressure members of Congress, party authorities like Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer maintain a tremendous advantage. To the extent that avoiding conflict with the Democratic leadership is more important than standing up for principles, even the best progressive incumbents succumb to the Capitol bubble. Given the strength of that bubble, it can only be burst with methodical intervention from the grassroots.

Pocan was on target when he commented a year ago: “People in D.C. think we’re the center of the universe, but we’re not — the people who elect us are the center of the universe. It’s when you have that kind of activism in the districts, you’re really going to be impactful.”

In the case of the Patriot Act-laden continuing resolution, which President Trump signed into law shortly after passage, the contrasts between avowed commitments and conformist acquiescence were striking among many progressive luminaries in the House. A few examples:

  • In his first House race, when he unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Rep. Tom Lantos in 2004, Khanna was emphatic in his opposition to the Patriot Act. He declared: “We have a chance to do something absolutely extraordinary in this election: to hold a congressman responsible based on his voting record. Mr. Lantos has had a distinguished career in public service, but his votes for the war and the Patriot Act don’t represent the will of this district.”
  • Lee has been denouncing the Patriot Act for the better part of two decades, as when in 2005 she issued a news release headlined “Barbara Lee Opposes Extension of the Patriot Act, Blasts ‘Big Brother Attack.’
  • In 2015, Lofgren minced no words in opposing even a brief Patriot Act extension. She signed a letter with five colleagues that stated: “We will not vote to reauthorize this program, even for a short period of time.”
  • In autumn 2016, just before she won election to Congress for the first time, Jayapal told an interviewer “why I stepped up to fight back against the Bush administration, against the Patriot Act, against civil-liberties violations. It was very, very personal, in a way, but it was also very political. It was not just about me. It was, ‘Wait a second. We as a country cannot undermine the deepest values that make us who we are.’”

It’s telling that Khanna, Lee, Lofgren and Jayapal — and so many other self-identified progressives in the House — chose to take the path of least resistance last week when faced with a choice of whether to buck their party’s leadership or facilitate the extension of the Patriot Act that they have long opposed. Heightening the sad irony is the fact that the newly reauthorized provisions have enabled far more aggressive surveillance than was envisioned when the Patriot Act first passed — at which time Lee, McGovern, Nadler, Schakowsky, Waters and others who just voted for the reauthorization felt compelled to oppose it.

Last week, they followed leadership that was determined to merge the odious act with the continuing resolution. An amendment, offered by independent Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, would have separated the Patriot Act extension from the resolution — but the House Rules Committee (chaired by McGovern), in step with Pelosi’s marching orders, killed that amendment.

If even 20 more House progressives had signaled a willingness to vote against the continuing resolution unless it was separated from Patriot Act reauthorization, they would have been in a strong position to demand standalone votes on each measure. That would have underscored serious opposition to the Act’s surveillance programs — enhancing progressive leverage in the House and increasing the chances of reform when the issue of further Patriot Act extension comes back to Congress in a few months.

Instead, leading progressive lawmakers chose to sidestep a historic opportunity to do the right thing by registering clear opposition to the Patriot Act. Such retreats end up eroding rather than building the power of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Rolling back key aspects of the military-industrial-surveillance complex cannot be accomplished without putting up a huge fight. Postponing confrontations with party leaders might seem prudent, but such caution has negative consequences. Sooner or later, grassroots activists become exasperated when Democrats in Congress don’t match progressive statements with actions. Just being a member of the Progressive Caucus is not enough.

 

Progressives in Congress just capitulated on the Patriot Act — it’s time to push back | Salon.com
https://www.salon.com/2019/11/26/progressives-in-congress-just-capitulated-on-the-patriot-act-its-time-to-push-back/