"All the World's a Stage We Pass Through" R. Ayana

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Welcome to Orwellian America: Land of the Silent, Home of the Submissive


Welcome to Orwellian America:
Land of the Silent, Home of the Submissive

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4e/The_Day_We_Fight_Back_-_banner.jpg


by Michael Payne

Something very ominous is taking place right before the eyes of the people of this nation; far too many Americans don’t seem to grasp what’s happening all around them; and if they actually do, it may be that they don’t have it in them to reject and resist the forces that intend to transform this society into one of subservience and submissiveness. 

Since Edward Snowden blew the whistle and exposed its surveillance activities, the NSA (the National Security Agency) readily admits that it has been collecting all forms of communications of the American people, from emails to cell phone conversations as well as others. It has now also been discovered to have routinely used these same methods to collect the communications of people in other countries, many of them allies of America; even the communications of their leaders.

What we now have in America is a government that has these characteristics: it is omnipresent meaning that it is “present everywhere at the same time.” It is omniscient, or, “it has complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding; perceiving all things.” And lastly, as we well know, it is omnipotent: “it possesses “unlimited and unrestrained authority and power.” 

Do the people of America even care that their privacy is being violated each and every day; that their communications of all forms are being monitored closely by the NSA? On the surface that might be the conclusion because their reaction to this invasion of privacy has been a deafening silence. But it’s more than likely that they are well aware of exactly how their Constitutional right of privacy is being violated and they just don’t have it in them to resist and demand that these actions be terminated. 

One might describe the mass of Americans as greatly resembling the “proles” that existed in the era of “1984”, aka the Orwellian age. The proles constituted 85% of the population of Oceania, they were the working class. Their functions were simple: to work and raise children. About the only things they concerned themselves with were diversions such as family get-togethers, friends and neighbors, playing the lottery, drinking, and watching TV to make them forget about their meaningless jobs.

The proles in Oceania were not subjected to intimate government surveillance because the government considered them to be useless people who would never question or challenge the government in any way. But in the America of today everyone is under surveillance because, quite obviously, this government doesn’t trust anyone; everyone is suspect and needs to have their communications monitored. So the America of today can be in many ways considered as 1984 on steroids.

We have a president, Barack Obama, who has strongly supported and defended the policies and actions of this NSA spying agency and sees absolutely nothing wrong with how it is invading the privacy of Americans. This president, a Constitutional “scholar” no less apparently doesn’t see this as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s 4th Amendment which guarantees the rights of privacy of the American people. 

So while all this skullduggery and spying is going on all around us and our cell phones, emails, and other communications are routinely tapped and recorded for further examination, what is the response from the mass of the American people? Are they incensed, are they in a state of rage and outrage because of this gross intrusion into their privacy? 

Apparently not; there has been little to no response or reaction, just the usual silence that permeates this society. Many Americans don’t even have the slightest inkling of what is going on; they are, like the 1984 proles, busy with their own lives, largely unconcerned with what they government is doing. Others say that they have nothing to hide and, therefore, the government can do whatever it wishes with intercepting their communications.

Or they may well be a throw back to the people in Germany who, in their hearts, knew exactly what was going on in the prelude to World War II and just looked the other way when The National Socialist German Workers' Party established control over the nation and the people no longer had any rights and certainly no privacy. And we all know what happened next.

The degree to which this violation of the privacy of the American people has been pursued by the NSA is simply astounding. It’s starting to feel like we are actually living in the modern-day version of Orwell’s Oceania here in 2014; and their reaction to this situation might be best described as “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” Or “don’t rock the boat”, “let sleeping dogs lie”, and “I could care less.”

This article from Commondreams.org: “Germany's Der Spiegel recently reported that the US National Security Agency (NSA), working with the CIA and FBI, has been intercepting laptops and other electronics bought online before delivery to install malware and other spying tools.” That’s quite clever on its part but maybe the NSA will come up with even a more effective way to install these spying tools; they could just direct all the manufacturers of all these electronic devices to insert these special chips as a part of their normal production operations so that 100% of all electronics manufactured in this country will be covered.

The question is: will there ever be an end to this invasion of the privacy of the American people? What we may be seeing right now with these spying policies is likely only the beginning of something far more intrusive and widespread. Would it be a stretch to think that before long there might be monitoring devices installed in homes and cars?

These observations may seem like conspiracy theory to some but who would have, even five years ago, thought that the everyday monitoring of all forms of communications in this country would be going on? That kind of thinking would have been considered to be delusional. But suddenly that once fictional scenario has become a reality.

Recently a special panel made recommendations for limiting the surveillance activities of the NSA and presented them to President Obama for further actions. Since he has been so supportive of NSA policies and actions does anyone think that he will actually rein in these activities in order to preserve the Constitutional rights of privacy of the American people? Or does anyone think that this Congress will finally say that these practices have gone way too far and enact legislation to reform this agency?

Don’t look for either of those possibilities to happen because neither this president nor the Congress has shown any inclination to curtail the activities of this agency. And what would happen if they even tried to do just that? Here is a very powerful government agency that has the most sophisticated kinds of electronic equipment in existence. Suppose that they were told that certain of their methods of capturing communications could no longer be pursued or would have to be restricted. Could the Congress or this president ever know for certain that they were complying with the directives or know what goes on within that agency’s walls?

What’s really difficult to understand is that we Americans proudly proclaim for all the world to hear that we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, that we are the seat of world democracy, and our Constitution and the rights it provides for us are sacred and cannot and must not be violated. And then the vast majority of us watch in silence and apathy as these violations occur.

The next version of this surveillance of the American people is being prepared as we speak. Coming in the near future will be hundreds of drones that will fill the skies over America. We might call this new intrusion into our privacy as the Big Eye in the sky, watching what the American people do, where they go and what they might be up to. That’s real freedom, real democracy and upholding the Constitution, right?

So what are we to do as these invasions of our privacy continue to evolve? Well, there is nothing that can match the power and voices of over 300 million American people if the majority of them speak out and loudly demand that these attacks on our Constitution and our personal privacy be stopped.

But there is no such outcry, there is no anger and outrage and all we hear from far too many Americans is a deafening silence. Welcome to Orwellian America.




http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/46/UncleSamListensIn.jpg

Beyond Orwell's Worst Nightmare

by Marjorie Cohn

"Big Brother is Watching You," George Orwell wrote in his disturbing book 1984. But, as Mikko Hypponen points out, Orwell "was an optimist." Orwell never could have imagined that the National Security Agency (NSA) would amass metadata on billions of our phone calls and 200 million of our text messages every day. Orwell could not have foreseen that our government would read the content of our emails, file transfers, and live chats from the social media we use.

In his recent speech on NSA reforms, President Obama cited as precedent Paul Revere and the Sons of Liberty, who patrolled the streets at night, "reporting back any signs that the British were preparing raids against America's early Patriots." This was a weak effort to find historical support for the NSA spying program. After all, Paul Revere and his associates were patrolling the streets, not sorting through people's private communications.

Orwell never could have imagined that the NSA would amass metadata on billions of our phone calls and 200 million of our text messages every day. -- Marjorie Cohn

To get a more accurate historical perspective, Obama should have considered how our founding fathers reacted to searches conducted by the British before the revolution. The British used "general warrants," which authorized blanket searches without any individualized suspicion or specificity of what the colonial authorities were seeking.

At the American Continental Congress in 1774, in a petition to King George III, Congress protested against the colonial officers' unlimited power of search and seizure. The petition charged that power had been used "to break open and enter houses, without the authority of any civil magistrate founded on legal information."

When the founders later put the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures into the Bill of Rights, they were attempting to ensure that our country would not become a police state.

Those who maintain that government surveillance is no threat to our liberty should consider the abuse that occurred nearly 200 years later, when FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover conducted the dreaded COINTELPRO (counter-intelligence program). It was designed to "disrupt, misdirect, discredit and otherwise neutralize" political and activist groups. During the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950s, in an effort to eradicate the perceived threat of communism, our government engaged in widespread illegal surveillance to threaten and silence anyone with unorthodox political views. Thousands of people were jailed, blacklisted, and fired as the FBI engaged in "red-baiting."

In the 1960's, the FBI targeted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a program called "Racial Matters." King's campaign to register African-American voters in the South raised the hackles of the FBI, which disingenuously claimed that King's organization was being infiltrated by communists. But the FBI was really worried that King's civil rights campaign "represented a clear threat to the established order of the U.S." The FBI went after King with a vengeance, wiretapping his phones, and securing personal information which it used to try to discredit him, hoping to drive him to divorce and suicide.

Obama would likely argue that our modern day "war on terror" is unlike COINTELPRO because it targets real, rather than imagined, threats. But, as Hypponen says, "It's not the war on terror." Indeed, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent federal privacy watchdog, found "no instance in which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist attack."

The NSA spying program captures all of us, including European leaders, people in Mexico, Brazil, the United Nations, and the European Union Parliament, not just the terrorists. Although Obama assured us that the government "does not collect intelligence to suppress criticism or dissent," our history, particularly during COINTELPRO, tells us otherwise.

Obama proposed some reforms to the NSA program, but left in place the most egregious aspects. He said that the NSA must secure approval of a judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before it gets access to the phone records of an individual. But that is a secret court, whose judges are appointed by the conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, and it has almost never turned down an executive branch wiretapping request since it was created in 1978. Most significantly, Obama did not say that surveillance without judicial warrants or individual suspicion should be halted.

"One of [Obama's] biggest lapses," a New York Times editorial noted, "was his refusal to acknowledge that his entire speech, and all of the important changes he now advocates, would never have happened without the disclosures by [Edward] Snowden, who continues to live in exile and under the threat of decades in prison if he returns to this country."

Snowden's revelations will reportedly continue to emerge. And you can bet that Orwell will continue to turn in his grave for a long time to come.

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Marjorie Cohn is a professor of law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, a past president of the National Lawyers Guild, and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her next book, Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral and Geopolitical Issues," will be published this fall by University of California Press.


From Huffington Post @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marjorie-cohn/beyond-orwells-worst-nigh_b_4698242.html


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12 comments:

  1. Big Brother is alive and well. If the average American is being spied upon, you can bet that Congress and the President are also being spied upon. When transgression are found, they are published. Look at our former Presidents and what was reported. Look at all the politicians in this country whose "sins" have been paraded before the public, made up or real. People believe what they hear and see on television. So, whose blackmailing all these people into voting certain ways or agreeing to fracking or Chem-trails? Is the all powerful like the talking head in the Wizard of Oz. Who are they afraid of and who is bullying them into going along with whatever is decided upon?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Let them watch. This is a maitake all totalitarian regimes make. They let far too many people SPY on others, but soon the spy's TURN on their employers when they learn the truth.

    So go ahead, learn the truth. Google "ISRAEL DID 9/11"!

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  3. Sie is a Democrat and not to be trusted either.

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  4. The U.S. is a nation of many nationalities and we really don't give a rat's behind about anyone but our own tribe. You'd be shocked how many got bored of hearing about 911 after one year. Martial law could be declared tomorrow and you wouldn't hear a peep out of us as long as we could go to work and get that paycheck. "We The People" does not exist here.

    Jessie

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