Sunday, June 09, 2013

Editorial: When All The Slaves Are Free

Leave it to The Globe to offer up Barack on the cover and impeachment as a topic last week.

oh bummer

The scandals they were covering was the IRS targeting of political groups, Benghazi and the spying on the press (secretly seizing hundreds of phone records from the Associated Press and seizing various records of Fox News report James Rosen).   Last week, things got a little hotter for Barack.

That's when Glenn Greenwald (Guardian) broke the news:

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.
The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

It was so outrageous that even the timid Center for Constitutional Rights noted, "As far as we know this order from the FISA court is the broadest surveillance order to ever have been issued: it requires no level of suspicion and applies to all Verizon subscribers anywhere in the U.S. It also contains a gag order prohibiting Verizon from disclosing information about the order to anyone other than their counsel."

In addition, AP reports, "Separately, The Washington Post and The Guardian reported Thursday the existence of another program used by the NSA and FBI that scours the nation's main Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, emails, documents and connection logs to help analysts track a person's movements and contacts. It was not clear whether the program, called PRISM, targets known suspects or broadly collects data from other Americans."

Thursday, US Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Justice Dept.  As reported in that day's "Iraq snapshot,"  Senator Mark Kirk estimated that this spying would have involved as many as 120 million phone calls and Kirk was bothered by one issue: Were members of Congress spied upon?

Senator Mark Kirk:  I want to just ask, could you assure to us that no phones inside the Capitol were monitored -- of members of Congress.  That would give a future executive branch, if they started pulling this stuff, kind of a -- would give them unique leverage over the legislature?

Attorney General Eric Holder:   Uh, with all due respect, Senator, I don't think this is an appropriate setting for me to discuss, uhm,  that issue.  I'd be more than glad to come back in a -- in a appropriate setting to discuss, uh, the issues that you have raised but I -- in this open forum, I don't -- I do not

Senator Mark Kirk:  I would interrupt you and say that the correct answer would be:  "No, we stayed within our lane and I am assuring you that we did not spy on members of Congress."

Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski:  You know I'd like to suggest something here.  When I read the New York Times this morning, it was like, "Oh God, not one more thing."  And not one more thing where we're trying to protect America and it looks like we're spying on America.  I think the full Senate needs to get a briefing on this.

Once upon a time, you needed to own a press to have a say in the press.  Now days, you apparently have to be a member of Congress to find out if you've been spied upon.  As C.I. noted, "Kirk, Mikulski and Senator Richard Shelby all agreed it was an important question.  And it's important because it's them.  It's too bad that they don't feel it's important for non-members of Congress.  It's too bad that Mikulski's 'answer' is to call for a closed hearing.  It's too damn bad that she doesn't think the American people are owed answers.  Remember, in American now, 'democracy' translates as something that belongs only to elected members of Congress."

Suzanne Nossel (PEN) points out:

In 1890, future Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and attorney Samuel D. Warren wrote a seminal article defining a right to privacy. They pointed out that the law already recognized a "right to be let alone" and asserted that the common law "secures to each individual the right of determining, ordinarily, to what extent his thoughts, sentiments, and emotions shall be communicated to others." That zone of individual control, they argued, is essential to enable intellectual and creative freedom. The process of drafting and redrafting an article, story, poem, love letter, or advocacy petition would be radically transformed if the writer focused on the fact that every single version could be sucked into a government server somewhere. Brandeis and Warren rejected the idea that voluntary surrender of privacy in one setting or to one group of people (Facebook friends, for example) forfeited the right to privacy in relation to others. They attributed to the individual the right to "fix the limits" of such disclosure. The freedom to create requires the freedom to control who sees your creation. While its parameters would evolve, the right to privacy became enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the world's most influential international human rights instruments.
Brandeis and Warren ground their right to privacy in the principle of an "inviolate personality," arguing that infringements on the individual's ability to decide who sees their thoughts and writings interfere with basic attributes of personhood and human dignity. This intangible but long-recognized form of harm correlates loosely but unmistakably with the discomfort and disgust most people feel at the thought of a national security bureaucrat, human or mechanical, rifling through our emails even if only to dismiss them unread as dull and useless. Although Brandeis and Warren's arguments were set forth in the context of publishing and public disclosure, the prospect of personal information being involuntarily and secretly disclosed to the government is no less troubling, and probably more so.

While some were silent and hoping the whole thing would blow over without hurting Precious of the United State Barack's polling,  Senator Rand Paul was getting active as his office noted in a statement Thursday:

"The revelation that the NSA has secretly seized the call records of millions of Americans, without probable cause, represents an outrageous abuse of power and a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. I have long argued that Congress must do more to restrict the Executive's expansive law enforcement powers to seize private records of law-abiding Americans that are held by a third-party," Sen. Paul said. "When the Senate rushed through a last-minute extension of the FISA Amendments Act late last year, I insisted on a vote on my amendment (SA 3436) to require stronger protections on business records and prohibiting the kind of data-mining this case has revealed. Just last month, I introduced S.1037, the Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act, which would provide exactly the kind of protections that, if enacted, could have prevented these abuses and stopped these increasingly frequent violations of every American's constitutional rights.

"The bill restores our Constitutional rights and declares that the Fourth Amendment shall not be construed to allow any agency of the United States government to search the phone records of Americans without a warrant based on probable cause."

 Click HERE to view the text of this legislation, which will be introduced when the Senate returns to session on Friday, June 7.

While the always ridiculous MoveOn remained silent and Ben & Jerry's US Action remained inactive, PEN e-mailed the following alert:

Back in 2002, John Poindexter proposed a "Total Information
Awareness" program to spy on everybody, including all American
citizens, complete with a creepy totalitarian logo. The American
people were repulsed, Congress defunded the idea in 2003, and they
dropped it, or so we thought.

Instead they just went ahead and did everything they planned on doing
anyway, except in total secrecy. There was another protest during the
Bush administration when it came to light that wiretaps capable of
capturing the totality of U.S. phone communications had been placed
in telecom switching centers. It did not even slow them down,
probably because most Republicans were too partisan to complain.

Now we learn that under the cheerleading of President Obama, these
eavedropping functions have been extended to virtually all the
biggest internet hubs.

Don't Spy On US Action Page:

The New York Times published a scathing editorial last night.

The New Yorker magazine made the critical point that capturing
so-called metadata is at least as bad as, and may be worse than,
listening to individual phone calls or reading individual emails. If
anything, metadata is a more efficient way to track every movement
and association of every American citizen without exception. Indeed,
the same datataps in place can listen to all the content as well, all
in total secrecy, and who's to stop them?

We are. If only you will speak out now. Demand that our government
stop its rampant abuse of government secrecy to perpetrate the most
pervasive eavesdropping outrage in American history.

Don't Spy On US Action Page:

And after you submit the action page above, we invite you to request
the beautiful, new "Don't Spy on US" bumper sticker we rush designed
overnight, and will get printed and shipped as fast as we can. As
with all our policy message stickers you can have one for no charge,
not even shipping, just by submitting the form.

"Don't Spy on Us" bumper stickers:

Of course, if you can make a donation of any amount, that is what
makes it possible for us to send free stickers to anyone who cannot
make a contribution right now.

Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed
to be ours, and forward this alert as widely as possible.
Contributions to The People's Email Network are not tax-deductible
for federal income tax purposes.

How very disturbing that only PEN steps up -- but how very telling.  Establishing yet again that so many organizations on the left which try to bleed you for money constantly are nothing but shills for the Democratic Party.

Enter the multitudes
In Exxon blue
In radiation rose
Now you tell me
Who you gonna get to do the dirty work
When all the slaves are free?
(Who're you gonna get)

-- "Passion Play (When All The Slaves Are Free)," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Night Ride Home.

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