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Obama's War on Civil Liberties

The Constitution Shredders

by SEBASTIAN AB

The Fourth Amendment:

“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.”

US President Barack Obama was a civil rights attorney and a “senior lecturer” at the University of Chicago on constitutional law. He campaigned on an anti-surveillance state platform.

Now he spends his days drone-striking children and operating secret prisons all over the world, deporting a million immigrant workers, persecuting whistleblowers at home and supporting the corporatocracy with bailouts and privileges. In recent weeks, he’s also spent a great deal of time pleading ignorance about major privacy scandals.

“I was a constitutional law professor, which means unlike the current president I actually respect the Constitution.” — Barack Obama, March 30th, 2007

The politically biased IRS tax targeting scandal came to light recently, but before we’ve had a chance to reread 1984, another, more devastating report has emerged.  The National Security Administration has been collecting everyone’s data for years, and doing so through unrestrained backdoor access to at least nine of the largest Internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Apple and Skype.

The Washington Post and the Guardian broke the story:

“Through a top-secret program authorized by federal judges working under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the U.S. intelligence community can gain access to the servers of nine Internet companies for a wide range of digital data. Documents describing the previously undisclosed program, obtained by The Washington Post, show the breadth of U.S. electronic surveillance capabilities in the wake of a widely publicized controversy over warrantless wiretapping of U.S. domestic telephone communications in 2005.”

The NSA calls this the PRISM program. Obama knew about PRISM — the NSA brags that most of his Daily Brief reports are generated with PRISM data.

These are not “oops, my neighbor saw me naked” privacy breaches, this is a predatory state tearing through every communication you make and storing it in databases like the new $2 billion National Security Administration Data Center facility in Utah. All it does is store American data, 24/7. This Orwellian monitoring began years ago, in tandem with the evolution of information technologies, with such secret spy programs as Carnivore and Echelon.

The train of civil rights abridgments which picked up steam under Bush just keeps rollin’ with the Obama administration at the throttle. Add this to the list alongside the persecution of political activists like Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and Occupy protesters  and most recently anarchist legal advocate Gerald Koch.

If you have nothing to hide, what’s the problem with a surveillance state, right?  Imagine if the British crown had this level of intelligence gathering capacity during the American Revolution, or if the government had this Panopticon technology during the early 20th century Labor Movement, or if the FBI had this much firepower during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement (indeed, the FBI already assassinated Fred Hampton and tracked and subsequently played a major role in the killing of Martin Luther King, Jr.).

Just because you don’t think the state will persecute you today, remember that Japanese Internment wasn’t so long ago, or that according to Noam Chomsky “The most civilised part of the world, with the highest cultural standards 70 years ago was Germany. No more need be said.” Just because the government appears less psychopathic or genocidal today does not mean it will be this way tomorrow. Even still, you might get thrown in jail for recreational drug use, political speech or tax “evasion” more easily than ever before.

What is to be done?

“Anarchism is not a romantic fable but the hardheaded realization, based on five thousand years of experience, that we cannot entrust the management of our lives to kings, priests, politicians, generals, and county commissioners.” — Edward Abbey

Whittle away state power. Use encryption methods when transmitting sensitive information. Withdraw support for the system in whatever way you can — and reinforce your own autonomy with alternative currency and the decentralized stability of your community with local forms of production and consumption.

Sebastian AB is a finance and science writer, biology major and history minor.