FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Government’s Identity Thieves

The White House has been pointing accusatory fingers at China for cyber hacking. Protests by China that it too has been the victim of cyber hacking were dismissed in some quarters as “well, they would say that, wouldn’t they’’.

But now we realize that the White House has sanctioned and defended snooping, on a far greater scale than what China was accused of, against US citizens.

And St. Barack of Guantanamo, the patron saint of broken promises, still insists he is a defender of civil liberties. Under this president, the commander-in-chief, Bradley Manning is facing life in prison on charges he aided the enemy for putting into the public domain information vital for democracy to function. He, in fact, aided the American people by holding government to account and exposing the targeting by a US Apache helicopter of, among others, two Reuters’ journalist in Iraq.

Possibly, then, it should not be a surprise that under an order signed on April 25 by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the US government has unlimited authority to obtain data on the communication records of US citizens until July 19, when it looks set to be renewed. Data on all telephone calls with the US and between the US and other countries will also be collected

In simple terms, the phone records of American citizens are, as a matter of course, examined by their own government. Americans now live in a state of surveillance.

But hold on. Doesn’t the terror threat justify the draconian measures?

It didn’t in the past. The Soviet Union was a real terror threat, a clear and present danger, to use the vernacular of the intelligence services. Its nuclear warheads were programmed to smash into American cities. The world’s fate hung in the balance. The thirteen days of October, 1962 was not the only time when the spectre of a mushroom cloud appearing over the horizon was a distinct possibility.

But US civil liberties were kept, admittedly frayed around the edges, largely intact.

Make no mistake about it there are people who want to do real harm to the West but this invasion of privacy does not make America or the West any safer. Look at the confusion to justify this breach of trust of the America people. It doesn’t stand up to even the most cursory scrutiny.

The White House says that no authorisation has been given to snoop on the contents of phone calls. Technically, a solid argument. The National Security Agency is not allowed to snoop on the contents of phone calls just the records of them, where they were made, how long they lasted, the numbers. Networks, associations, patterns and times of communication, but not content. This seems incredible that they would not look at the content but let’s just say that is the case. Defenders of what the National Security Agency is doing say it is the equivalent, in the electronic age, of looking at, not opening, a stamped letter.

Now we enter a bizarre world. We have the incredible situation where security services are saying matters of urgent national security require we examine the data, but, crucially, not the content. This, in their mindset, must border on negligence because the content is surely where the important information will be, not the outside of the envelope. By their own admission, they are not taking every step to make America safe.

Americans can still draw comfort that they do not live in a police state, they have protections, legal and constitutional. The alarming aspect of that sentence is that it rings less true than it once did. And that, to our great misfortune, will give comfort to the enemy.

TOM CLIFFORD can be reached at tclifford@praguepost.com

 

More articles by:

Tom Clifford is a freelance journalist and can be reached at: cliffordtomsan@hotmail.com.

December 13, 2018
John Davis
What World Do We Seek?
Subhankar Banerjee
Biological Annihilation: a Planet in Loss Mode
Lawrence Davidson
What the Attack on Marc Lamont Hill Tells Us
James McEnteer
Breathless
Ramzy Baroud
The Real Face of Justin Trudeau: Are Palestinians Canada’s new Jews?
Dean Baker
Pelosi Would Sabotage the Progressive Agenda With a Pay-Go Rule
Elliot Sperber
Understanding the Yellow Vests Movement Through Basic Color Theory 
Rivera Sun
The End of the NRA? Business Magazines Tell Activists: The Strategy is Working
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Historic Opportunity to Transform Trade
December 12, 2018
Arshad Khan
War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned
Paul Street
Blacking Out the Yellow Vests on Cable News: Corporate Media Doing its Job
Kenneth Surin
The Brexit Shambles Rambles On
David Schultz
Stacking the Deck Against Democracy in Wisconsin
Steve Early
The Housing Affordability Crisis and What Millennials Can do About It
George Ochenski
Collaboration Failure: Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections
Rob Seimetz
Bringing a Life Into a Dying World: A Letter From a Father to His Unborn Son
Michael Howard
PETA and the ‘S’-Word
John Kendall Hawkins
Good Panopt, Bad Panopt: Does It Make A Difference?
Kim C. Domenico
Redeeming Utopia: a Meditation On An Essay by Ursula LeGuin
Binoy Kampmark
Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Democratizing Money
Laura Finley
Congress Must Reauthorize VAWA
December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail