Guest Post: Why The Surveillance State Must Be Erased
Submitted by Brandon Smith of Alt-Market blog,
In America today there is a great rushing storm, a swirling hurricane of clashing opinions and ideologies that defy coherent organization and classification. This social tempest has been triggered by certain revelations among the general public on issues which we in the Liberty Movement have long been aware. The fact that our government is bought and paid for by international corporate interests, the fact that our government has positioned itself to spy on ALL Americans without warrant and without probable cause, the fact that our government is instituting policy initiatives that target common citizens as enemy combatants, the fact that every one of our Constitutional rights is being deliberately torn away; these things are not news to us, but to many once ignorant people, they are a shock to the system.
Open corruption on the part of a criminal establishment has a funny way of politicizing everyone, even those people who go out of their way to avoid the bigger picture. In the end, no man or woman gets a pass. Whether you like it or not, one day soon, you will have to choose a side; freedom or tyranny. There is no middle ground. There is no Switzerland.
With all the rationalizations and counter-rationalizations flying around concerning the current avalanche of admissions and data leaks, it is easy to lose track of the root of the overall conflict. It’s as if we have been dropped into the heart of an Amazonian swamp, our feet encased in a thick sludge of social inaction as a dark cloud of mindless mosquito-people buzz about us, pecking hungrily at our veins with their warped and uneducated world views. The deafening chorus distracts us from what is truly important.
Here is the reality of our situation:
1) Both the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration supported FISA domestic surveillance legislation. FISA is the legal tool which the federal government now uses to justify the monitoring of journalists and recently exposed mass surveillance programs such as PRISM. Politicians from both the Republican and the Democratic parties have defended the use of FISA and PRISM. Both parties support the destruction of your 4th Amendment rights.
2) The Obama Administration openly admits to the monitoring of journalists phone and email records in an attempt to thwart whistleblowers that might actually bring the truth of what the government is doing into the light of day. Obama of course defends this position by claiming that “national security” is at stake.
3) Part of the motivation for surveillance measures against journalists has clearly been the Benghazi conspiracy, which is a thorn in the side of the establishment that refuses to go away. Like Watergate, or Iran-Contra, the White House has been caught with its pants down and instead of admitting its guilt, has decided to attack the messengers instead.
4) Another motivation was certainly the exposure of the ATF’s “Fast And Furious” program, which funneled U.S. firearms into the hands of Mexican drug cartels so that American firearms dealers and owners could be blamed for the escalation of deadly violence south of the border. Again, Obama and his handlers seek to use a suffocating surveillance grid in order to thwart whistleblowers and prevent federal crimes from being aired in public.
5) The use of the IRS as a weapon against the political enemies of the establishment (namely Tea Party groups) verifies that government surveillance without oversight can indeed lead to political profiling and unjustified punishment.
6) The PRISM scandal, leaked by former CIA operative and NSA contractor Edward Snowden, has given the general public a raw naked look at the reality of the FISA spy initiative. In the past, Liberty Movement champions have been derided as “paranoid” for pointing out that there were no limitations to FISA, and that the entire nation might one day be monitored and catalogued like animals in a great technological cage. Today, the public now knows that this concern is concrete and undeniable. EVERYONE is being watched. Reports now estimate that NSA hackers harvest over 2.1 million gigabytes of data on American citizens per hour.
7) Privacy rights have been so debased that the invasion of our electronic communications is the least of our worries. The Supreme Court has ruled in Maryland v. King that police now have the authority to extract DNA samples from any person placed under arrest, without a warrant, and without due process. This means that the second a law enforcement officer places you in cuffs, your genetic materials are no longer your property, even if the charges against you are erroneous, if charges are ever filed at all. The government admits to having at least 10 million people catalogued in their genetic database already.
8) Since 9/11, U.S. cities have added approximately 30 million new CCTV cameras on top of those already in operation. After the Boston Bombing, even more are expected to be installed. There are few places in most major cities where you are not being watched, and even smaller municipalities with miniscule crime rates are beginning to follow suit.
It would seem that our government has somehow overlooked the 4th Amendment of our Constitution, and statist rationalists would do well to study it before defending their actions. Let’s read it, shall we?
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Now let’s examine the arguments of the establishment in favor of the Surveillance State:
Argument #1: Mass Surveillance Has Been Going On For A Long Time And Is Nothing New
Dianne Feinstein and Lindsey Graham, perhaps the most evil political duo since McCain and Lieberman, have both used the above talking point in order to rationalize the mass surveillance of FISA and PRISM. But let’s put this in perspective…
Feinstein and Graham are essentially saying that because the government has criminally trespassed on our privacy for years, we should not complain when we discover that the invasion was a bit more elaborate than we had originally suspected. They are saying that because we allowed them to get away with taking an inch, we might as well allow them to get away with taking a mile. This is the logical fallacy of incrementalism, and tyrants use it in their arguments all the time.
Despotism rarely establishes itself overnight. Rather, it slithers slowly into the midst of a society like a parasite, and carefully entrenches itself under our skin bit-by-bit so that we do not notice until it is buried so deep we fear removing it at all. A line must be drawn in the sand eventually. Past mistakes are not a license for future failures and future regrets, and anyone who claims otherwise is trying to take something away from you.
Argument #2: If You’re Not Talking To Terrorists, Then You Have Nothing To Worry About
Another debate point from the bottom feeding Lindsey Graham. First off, our Constitutional rights are not predicated on whether or not we are guilty of “terrorism”. Even a so-called terrorist is supposed to be protected under the Bill of Rights. The law is very clear, and this is not a negotiable position. Every American, regardless of government suspicion, has a right to privacy, and is protected from unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause. Period. Graham’s argument perpetuates the fallacy that the word “terrorism” is somehow a magical password that allows the federal government to bypass Constitutional barriers. I’m sorry to tell Lindsey that he is greatly mistaken.
Secondly, the very foundation of a free society requires that every person be treated as INNOCENT until proven guilty. Mass surveillance twists this principle, so that all people are treated by the state as guilty until proven innocent. Such a system will inevitably generate a vast rift between the populace and the government because it designates the political elite as the “watchers” and the public as the “watched”. As history has shown us, the "watchers" always become the enslavers, and the "watched" always become the enslaved.
I’m not sure why so many people, including U.S. senators, do not seem to grasp this concept.
Argument #3: We Must Trust That The Government Is Using The Surveillance Apparatus For Good
Barack Obama in defense of the leaked PRISM initiative and all encompassing NSA surveillance stated that Americans must simply “trust” that the federal system is using the data they have criminally harvested for the good of the country. That is to say, we should have “faith” in the White House.
I’m sorry, but the Constitution was written exactly because governments are run by men, NOT benevolent gods, and men are notorious for abusing power. The Constitution exists because NO government can be trusted to act in a principled manner. We do not have to “trust” them because tight constitutional restrictions are in place to ensure that they aren’t given enough slack to become dangerous. When those restrictions are diminished, we get programs like PRISM…
The checks and balances of due process and warrants are supposed to be absolutely public and transparent so that we can see, with our own eyes, that all is being handled justly and honorably. Mass surveillance in particular is an affront to the 4th Amendment because there is no conceivable way that warrants could ever be issued for the incredible volume of materials gathered, and therefore, there is no conceivable way that any legitimate judicial oversight is being enforced. Secret courts, secret charges, secret programs targeting entire subsections of the population, were expressly forbidden by the Founding Fathers as totalitarian in nature.
In February of this year, Obama boasted during a Google Plus “Fireside Chat” that his was “the most transparent administration in history”. The ability of politicians to lie with sociopathic expertise is well documented, hence, my lack of faith.
The government and the Obama White House in particular do not deserve our trust. Trust has to be earned…
Argument #4: Surveillance Programs Are Essential To The Safety Of The Public
At this point I find that anyone who still uses the “safety” position to justify the trampling of our freedoms is a lost cause. Years ago, when the surveillance grid was being put into place through legal chicanery, the common skeptic would insist that such subversive laws had not yet hurt anyone, and that the concerns of the Liberty Movement were “overblown”. Today, it’s no longer about theory. Our cultural pain is real, people are being targeted, people are suffering, and it’s only going to get worse from here on. And, as we warned a long time ago, the concept of “collective safety” would be the primary persuasion technique used to lead America further into oblivion.
In a race to spin the leak of PRISM, lawmakers and establishment shills have come out in droves to suggest that the secret surveillance state has “stopped terrorist attacks” and “saved lives”. Of course, because all the details of the program are classified, we’ll never see any proof that such claims are true. What a conundrum. Frankly, I know enough about government sponsored terrorism to understand that even if PRISM thwarted an attack, our clandestine alphabet bureaucracy has created far more death and destruction than they have ever prevented.
In the end, I couldn’t care less if PRISM stopped a terrorist act. The point is irrelevant. Our civil liberties are not subject to the supposed success of an unconstitutional government action. The promise of safety does not nullify our rights, nor does it give government capital to do whatever it pleases.
Comfort Means Death
I believe the establishment has moved away from the denial of so many abuses because it hopes to convince us that this is the “new normal” of our society. They want us to embrace the surveillance state and become comfortable in its cradling arms. I do not plan to get “comfortable”. When political villains no longer fear the exposure of their villainy, it is time to start worrying.
There has been a lot of unrestrained conjecture on the motivations of the suddenly world-famous Edward Snowden. The fact is we still know very little about him, and for now I will reserve judgment; partially because I know that one day people like myself could be accused of “fomenting controlled opposition” or “working for the enemy”. Our culture has become so cynical that we refuse to believe that anyone does anything anymore out of a sense of principle.
Whatever Snowden’s original intentions, I find his admitted reasons inspiring. When asked why he forced the truth of PRISM into the mainstream, Snowden replied:
"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things ... I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under…"
"I'm willing to sacrifice all of that [career and former life] because I can't in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building."
"My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which was done in their name and that which is done against them…I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions. I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant."
The surveillance machine is the key to control. When each person feels the eyes of the state constantly upon them, dissent and rebellion becomes unthinkable. At the very least, those of us who are aware of the great Orwellian shift before us must take an immovable stand.
The right to privacy is an inherent right of natural law. No individual or government system should be allowed legal precedence to invade my privacy, and all people have the right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty rather than guilty until proven innocent. As an individual, I do not owe the collective, or the government, a constant update on whether or not I am a "threat". In fact, I don't owe anyone anything.
If someone continues to treat me as an enemy and constantly tramples my natural right to privacy, I am going to fight them, and I am going to hurt them, perhaps mortally. This is what people who support surveillance society need to understand; there will be consequences for their trespasses against the natural rights of others.
There can be no negotiation. There can be no compromise. The surveillance state must be erased.
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