by Stephen Lendman
Sweeping mass surveillance continues. It won't stop. It's intensifying. It reflects rogue state governance. It has nothing to do with national security. Claiming it's a red herring.
It's about control. It's to advance America's imperium. It's political and corporate espionage. It's monitoring truth-tellers. It's targeting constitutional rights.
It's eliminating freedom altogether. It's institutionalizing tyranny. It made America a police state. It's coup d'etat authority. Too few Americans understand. Two few who do challenge it responsibly.
Washington "lacks constitutional and legal legitimacy," said Paul Craig Roberts. "Americans are ruled by usurpers."
They claim they're "above the law." George Bush called the Constitution "just a goddamned piece of paper." Obama feels the same way. So do key officials around him. They're rogues. They're unindicted criminals.
They do what they want with impunity. They're accountable to no one. They're unrestrained by checks and balances. They're words, not reality. "(L)ies and naked force" drive policy.
So does over-the-top spying. It's lawless. It's sweeping. It's unprecedented. It's worsening as technology advances. It's Big Brother beyond anything Orwell imagined. It's humanity's worst nightmare.
On July 14, Russia Today headlined "Greenwald: Snowden has enough information to cause US govt 'worst damage in history," saying:
If more of what he leaked comes out, it'll "cause more damage to the US government in a minute alone than anyone else has ever (done) in the history of the United States."
"He has a huge number of documents that would be very harmful to the US government if they were made public."
He gave thousands of documents to several people. They have his entire file. They show global spying is unprecedented in scale and intensity. What's revealed is just the tip of the iceberg.
What's ongoing won't stop. Plans call for much worse. On July 15, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) headlined "Bills Introduced by Congress Fail to Fix Unconstitutional NSA Spying."
It doesn't surprise. Congress, the executive and courts conspire against freedom. They spurn rule of law principles. They mock democratic governance. Rogue states operate that way.
Bills introduced since early July responded to what's publicly known. NSA conducts unrestrained widespread, sweeping domestic and global spying.
It does so covertly. Now it's known. It was known years ago. Snowden connected more dots. He did so responsibly. He let millions know everywhere.
Four congressional bills address the problem. They fall woefully short.
They address DOJ's "abusive interpretations of (the Patriot Act's) Section 215â€¦apparently approved by the reclusive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) in secret legal opinions."
EFF sued DOJ. It demands answers. It wants lawless spying stopped. Its FOIA suit seeks disclosure of FISC opinions and orders.
It wants more information on illegal government surveillance. It wants congressional briefings. People have a right to know.
Congressional legislation ignores Prism. It gives NSA access to search histories, emails, file transfers and live chats. It's gotten directly from provider servers.
Doing so facilitates mass surveillance. Nine or more major online companies are involved. Until Snowden's leak, they did so without customers' knowledge. They violate their right to privacy. They do it unapologetically.
They're misusing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). They're collecting customer emails and phone calls. They're doing it lawlessly.
Congress lacks full information on NSA's abuse of power. According to EFF:
"Congress must find out more about the programs before it can propose fixes."
"That's why a coalition of over 100 civil liberties groups and over half a million people are pushing for a special congressional investigatory committee, more transparency, and more accountability."
America's run secretly. Transparency is verboten. Most people have no idea what's going on. America's Fourth Amendment was gutted. So were other constitutional freedoms. They lie in history's dustbin.
EFF and dozens of other civil liberties groups demand action. They want maximum transparency. They want congressional Judiciary Committee meetings.
They want them open to the public. They want vital information released. They want secret FISA Court legal opinions published. They want DOJ Office of Legal Counsel ones revealed.
Some proposed bills marginally narrow Section 215. They do so by "heightening the legal standard for the government to access information."
The FBI has access to "any tangible thing." It permits anything goes. It destroys personal privacy. EFF et al want "reasonable grounds to believe" that so-called tangible things are "relevant" to investigations.
They want legislation requiring the FBI to show exactly why information sought is relevant. Less than adequate fixes won't work. They deter unconstitutional spying.
It's vital to know precisely how government defines key terms. Bills proposed fall short. They fail to stop "bulk records orders."
Legislators haven't done their homework. They're "drafting in the dark." Measures proposed show it. They lack a thorough understanding of how government uses key definitions.
They ignore how FISA Court judges use and misuse laws abusively, recklessly and illegally. The New York Times discussed it. On July 6, it headlined "In Secret, Court Vastly Broadens Powers of NSA," saying:
"In more than a dozen classified rulings," FISA Court judges "created a secret body of law giving (NSA) the power to amass vast collections of data on Americans while (allegedly) pursuing not only terrorism suspects, but also people possibly involved in nuclear proliferation, espionage and cyberattacks, officials say."
Rulings show they expanded their powers extrajudicially. They acted with no public oversight. Current and former officials familiar with their decisions say so.
On July 8, the Wall Street Journal headlined "Secret Court's Redefinition of 'Relevant' Empowered Vast NSA Data-Gathering," saying:
"People familiar with (FISA Court) rulings (said) the special nature of national-security and terrorism-prevention cases means 'relevant' can have a broader meaning for those investigations."
In other words, laws are twisted to meet policy. Terms are redefined. Anything goes substitutes for accountability.
"Relevant" permits "an entire database of records on millions of people, in contrast to a more conservative interpretation widely applied in criminal cases, in which only some of those records would likely be allowed, according to people familiar with the ruling."
"Relevant" now means everything. It's the new standard. It's the new normal. It turns rule of law principles on their head. It replaces them with police state justice.
Fourth Amendment protections and others once meant something. No longer. Actions made public "strike at the very core of our Constitution," said EFF.
Most congressional members aren't aware of specific language and legal interpretations used to justify spying. Vital change is needed. Privacy is to important to lose. It can't be held hostage to secrecy.
Transparency and accountability are long overdue. Constitutional rights are essential. Societies can't be free without them.
Diktat authority runs America. Mass surveillance threatens everyone. Anyone can be targeted any time for any reason or none at all.
They can be murdered in cold blood. They can be hunted down ruthlessly and disappeared. They can be charged and prosecuted.
They can be denied due process and judicial fairness. They can be pronounced guilty by accusation. They can face long prison terms.
They can be tortured in military dungeons.
Stalinists once targeted truth-tellers. Washington does so now. Doing the right thing should be its own reward. Now it can be a death sentence or long prison term.
Criminals run things. Law-abiding people are threatened. Truth is an endangered species. So is freedom when it's most needed.
A Final Comment
On July 13, the Washington Post headlined "The White House is turning up the pressure on Moscow over Snowden. Will it make any difference?"
He remains stuck in Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport transit zone limbo. He's a man without a country. He seeks temporary asylum in Russia.
Washington "shifted strategies." Public comments hardened. They did so "from mildly irritated impatience to outraged insistence."
State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki accused Moscow of "providing (Snowden) a propaganda platform."
White House spokesman Jay Carney "urge(d Russia) to afford human rights organizations the ability to do their work throughout Russia. Not just at the Moscow transit lounge."
"Snowden's case isn't just about his legal status any more." It's more than about the public service value of his leaks.
"It's about the symbolic diplomatic and political value he's increasingly accrued and, at times, cultivated." It could make it harder for Russia to quietly hand him over.
The harder Obama pushes, the less likely Putin will comply. Snowden's a pawn on their chessboard. Resolving his status may take time.
On July 15, Russia Today headlined "Putin: Snowden will leave Russia at earliest opportunity," saying:
For now things remain unclear. "He is familiar with the conditions of granting political asylum, and judging by the latest statements, is shifting his position," said Putin.
He's trapped in Russia. "He arrived on our territory without an invitation. He was not flying to us. He was flying in transit to other countries."
"But as soon as he got in the air it became known, and our American partners, in fact, blocked his further flight."
"They scared other countries. No one wants to accept him."
Putin repeated conditions for staying in Russia. He must stop leaking classified information.
"We have certain relations with the United States, and we don't want your activities to harm our relations with the United States."
"He said no. You're laughing, but I'm serious. He said, I want to carry on with my activities."
"I want to fight for human rights. I believe that the United States departed from certain legal standards, from international legal standards."
It interferes in people's private lives, and my purpose is to fight this today."
"We said, go ahead but we'll keep out. We've got enough to fight."
"Eventually, he wants to move to another place of permanent residence. He wants to be a permanent resident in other territory."
Asked about whats next for him, Putin said "(h)ow should I know? That's his life, his fate."
Russia's Migration Office said it hasn't received Snowden's asylum request. It has to be submitted in writing.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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