The following tutorial was presented by Dr. Dennis Loo at the Emergency Forum at Cooper Union on June 19, 2013.
Saying “I’ve nothing to hide” means giving up NOT only your right to privacy but even more importantly, giving up your right to dissent AND everybody else’s right to dissent – ever.
The 4th Amendment guarantees against “unreasonable search and seizure.” It requires the government to have “probable cause” for issuing warrants to search and seize persons and/or their possessions. As such it is the cornerstone of the 1st Amendment. Why? Free speech and free assembly become impossible if authorities obliterate all privacy and know everything there is to know about everybody – who they associate with, who their friends and foes are, what they think, what they read and watch, how they spend their money, what they are afraid of, what they plan to do next, etc.
What do authorities tend to do when someone challenges what they’re doing? Do authorities tend to say: “Ok, let’s have a rational debate and see what’s true? I will let you and others have as much time as I do to air your positions before all of the people and if you’re right I will stop what I’m doing and adopt your suggestion?” Even merely strong-willed authorities who are not venal or authoritarian but just convinced that they are right and that anyone else doesn’t know as well as they what should be done, will they refrain from using their powers to shut out those they disagree with? If the people now in charge regard anyone coming forward to whistleblow by telling the American people and world the truth about what their government is doing as deserving of prison and execution, then what does that tell us about why we cannot tolerate letting these same people who regard merely telling the truth as a capital offense steal everything there is to steal about our lives and our thoughts and feelings?
What happens if your government has unchecked powers to use all the information that exists – which they are now gathering into their sole hands – to those who would seek to challenge their policies? What happens when the authorities know what you’re thinking just after you have thought it, as you have expressed it in writing or orally to someone else? What Snowden has revealed, in short, is much worse than even that nightmare envisioned by Orwell in 1984.
Defending the 4th Amendment means defending against the abuse of power by government. That is the essence of the 4th Amendment.
There are many other indicators of this policy being implemented against the people besides the NSA spying, part of which I will get into later tonight, but let me just mention one more here. In 2009 I broke a story based on what ACLU found that the DOD was training all of its employees that “protest” = “low-level terrorism.” This isn’t just something that Obama was guilty of doing; this is matched by other governmental policies that have been implemented around the world. I will elaborate on this latter point more later.
It’s not just meta-data – as bad as that is!
It’s ALL the data.
In response to Snowden’s revelations that Obama and the NSA were lying to Congress and to all of us about the level of their spying on us, Obama has retreated to saying that it’s merely a “modest encroachment” to spy on all of our communications and that they’re only collecting meta-data and not listening to the content of our communications, domestically and internationally. Obama says that to listen in on our domestic conversations the government needs a warrant.
Two things I want to say here:
- It’s not just meta-data, it’s all the data, who we’re calling, who’s calling us, what websites we’re going to, what books we’re reading, who we send email to and who send email to us, and so on, AND they are storing ALL OF THE CONTENT. It would be horrendous if they were really only doing what they claim now to be doing, which is collecting all there is to collect about our networks and associations, but they’re not even only doing that! A few of us have been writing about this for years but now that Snowden is providing the documentation for it, the people are now learning what’s really going on and the government has to feint and weave and accuse the truth-tellers of being narcissists and traitors. Who is betraying the interests of the American people and the world? Those who reveal the truth or those who keep telling us “move along, nothing going on here, not to worry, we’re taking care of it?”
- Obama’s claim that they need a warrant to listen to and read content of purely domestic communications is a flat out lie. See what Sen. Ron Wyden who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee said about this on 12/27/12: “under the FISA Amendments Act the government does not have to get the permission of the FISA Court to read particular emails or listen to particular phone calls. The law simply requires the Court to review the government’s collection and handling procedures on an annual basis. There is no requirement in the law for the Court to approve the collection and review of individual communications, even if government officials set out to deliberately read the emails of an American citizen.” When he and Sen. Udall point blank asked the NSA director if they were collecting data on purely domestic calls of Americans the NSA repeatedly refused to answer.
The ubiquitous, warrantless, suspicionless surveillance over the whole world, the trillions of bytes of information that our government is gathering, did not begin after 9/11. This NSA program was concocted by the Bush team before Bush II took office by Michael Hayden, incoming NSA director. They implemented this plan secretly SEVEN MONTHS BEFORE 9/11, in February 2001, within weeks of taking the White House. The NSA gathered all of the major telecom companies together and demanded that the telecoms give the NSA access to their server networks to intercept all US electronic communications. AT&T, Verizon and Sprint all agreed, only Qwest refused on the grounds that this was unconstitutional. In honor of Qwest’s stand on behalf of the rule of law, their CEO was railroaded into prison by the government. And AT & T et al were rewarded with the Telecom Amnesty Act, which retroactively gave the Telecoms immunity from lawsuits for their felonious actions, a bill that Obama voted for.
This Eternal Surveillance State (as a blogger named The Polemist, a former college professor, has aptly dubbed it) is not principally for the purpose of combatting anti-state terrorism. Terrorism by groups like al-Qaeda did not even exist until after these ESS policies began being constructed. The ESS is part of a new paradigm for governance called Public Order Policies that date from the late 1970s in Europe and that have since spread to the whole world. These policies treat “everyone as a suspect and everyone as a target.” They are based on instilling fear among the people against unlikely occurrences in order to justify and batter down resistance to eviscerating fundamental civil liberties for the new normal of everyday life. Why? I get into this in my book GDS, but the most concise answer is that authorities and those they are part of and beholden to, the 1%, cannot continue to attack the people’s living standards and continue to vastly expand the gaps between themselves and the rest of us unless they have the ability to tightly control what people hear and see – this means whistleblowers and alternative voices and protest of any kind are to be suppressed. Only fake change, nothing more than surface appearances and pretty words from the president, are permitted under these policies to deceive people as long as possible so that they don’t see what’s really going on and are like the frog in the pot being warmed up slowly until it’s cooked.
If you treat everyone as a suspect and everyone as a target, which is what the US government and Obama are doing, and you are collecting more than 4x the amount of data daily that is contained in the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world, then you are drowning in data.
Obama’s spying on the entire world to combat terrorist plots is like treating a small tumor by using radiation on the ENTIRE BODY of someone repeatedly – second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, year by year.
To use a slightly different analogy: trying to find out if someone has a tumor by giving them an X-ray 24 hours around the clock is going to do what to the patient?
WOT = Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.
As the Nazi leader Herman Goering said while on trial at Nuremberg for his crimes against humanity and war crimes – “the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”
This is what the War on Terror is. As I describe it in Chapter Four of my book Globalization and the Demolition of Society, it’s like Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy where a parent secretly harms their own child in order to keep their child wholly dependent upon that parent. The US government is secretly harming the American people and the world and what Snowden and Manning have done is exposed the way the people are being secretly poisoned by our own government.
It’s important to also understand, however, that Goering’s tactic doesn’t entirely work: a majority of people in this country, according to major pollsters, Gallup, CBS, and Rasmussen, ranging from 53-59% disapprove of the NSA spying on us.
The question comes down to one of whose framing of the events prevails. The government wants to frame this as a question of dire existential threats from terrorists and get people to accept atrocities and outrageous measures that actually attack our rights. In order to do this they resort to profoundly immoral logic that includes at its heart the idea that American lives are more important than any other people’s lives. They want us to believe that holding people who have committed no crimes, that torturing and killing people to supposedly save American lives, that robbing of us of our most precious rights, all of this is acceptable. They want us to accept destroying due process, and punishing those who those who are innocent, and suspending the rule of law forever.
Snowden said recently in response to a question about US government efforts to suppress and eliminate him: “All I can say right now is the US Government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped.”
We have our marching orders? Don’t you think?