May 11, 2006

The Burlesque Show of Bush & Co: Shredding Our Constitution, Shedding our Secrets, Stripping our Liberties

Leave it to the professionals to protect us. Don't you worry, unless you have something to hide!
Why not give up your freedom if this would keep you safe? Come on, what's more important, some ..liberal & probably mostly theoretical notion of freedom, or, being safe here in our home? In a practical sense, it's easier to leave fighting the terrorists in a war with no fronts & no end to the experts than to worry about it yourself. Besides, as a nation we've already decided that we don't really want many of our freedoms & civil rights. Our actions speak louder than our words. Most Americans don't care about voting and they show it; especially if you don't count those who are single-issue [ie. ban the homosexuals from making our marriage worthless; the Democrats from taking away our Bibles] and very infrequent voters. Just note how many will cast a ballot in November in this critical election. Maybe those who don't vote approve what's going on! I bet you that you haven't thought of it in this light.

Right Chief, I'm on the case. America is safe from KAOS, but next time we talk we should use the Cone Of Silence... I have the feeling someone is eavesdropping in my shoe conversations.

Americans don't care about reality, to the extend that they want to be aware of the truth if truth is uncomfortable. We are a people who like comfort, and bigness, and splurging, and speed. It's rather comforting to have a feeling of being taken care of. Why, even our president feels the truth, doesn't think about it. If it feels good do it. I'm all for feeling good too! I'm a hedonist. I believe life should be about joy not suffering--especially unnecessarily--but some common sense should prevail. I can't, for example, assume I'm a rich person and live the posh life by maxing my credit cards today. The pain later isn't worth it. But, who lives for ever? Better enjoy this day and let others worry about tomorrow. Who knows, I may become rich by then. Why, act like most Americans who don't vote their reality but their dreams!

Those others have been proactive in the massive surveillance of Americans. I'm sure President Bush mis-spoke when he said his government is spying on terrorists only, or on phone calls with overseas connections. At any rate, Big Brother can only be effective if we give in and give up. However, once He gets what he wants it's very difficult to return to the land of the free. Americans in a recent poll said that they are willing to give the President anything he needs to keep us safe. Anything! [some readers were offended when, in another posting, I asked whether babies on ..skewers would be an appropriate measure under the "anything" permit the majority were willing to give the President. Obviously that would be extreme, but we've already crossed the line of legality and, I'd argue, of sanity]

So, when the government is monitoring the phone calls of 200 million Americans, is an appropriate action for safety's sake. The law? Bush said the FISA Court--established in 1979 and Congress amended its rules to make it easier for the government to get permission to eavesdrop, even after the fact--does not reflect the needs of today! He had to break the law in order to protect us. He said that much. Our Attorney General, who supposedly represents the law & order and the citizens of this country, told Congress that he wouldn't "rule out" the domestic spying program. The telcos had a choice to comply or not, but they thought Americans want us to find the terrorists in our midst and it never hurts to make a buck or two. Our government is paying (that's our money) the telcos to spy on us! [click this link for more info & telco contacts]

I feel like singing, oh say does that spangled banner yet wave, o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave... Ben Franklin is so out of touch with today's reality when he said that "those who are willing to sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither." Or, maybe Americans have changed over the years. And, every time we remove a freedom and make Big Brother stronger, our national psyche changes. Authoritarian/totalitarian regimes produce a certain kind of citizen. Wouldn't you act much differently if you knew that your activities were being monitored? Perhaps you wouldn't mind a little ..attitude adjustment if you believed your safety increased. Some day, you could end up in a locked cell, for your protection of course. Or, for the protection of the society at large! Better be safe than sorry! And, you don't have to be friends with Al Queda. Your criticism of the war, our President, or, simply your resistance to comply, is a threat to our national cohesion. You either with us or against us. It's that simple!

Amendment IV, US Constitution:
Τhe 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.

ADDENDUM: As I've said many times before, despite all the complaining about the quality of the politics in our country, collectively we get what we deserve. The quality of our democracy isn't independent of the citizens' attitudes and actions. Those of us who are very concerned about the government's domestic spying program should be aware that we are in the minority! Only 35% of us think this illegal NSA program is unacceptable, while 66% say they're not bothered by this, and 63% said it's an "acceptable way to investigate terrorism." Here's the latest poll that scoffs at Ben Franklin's adage.

16 comments:

Anderson said...

Senator Schumer (D-NY) tried to introduce a bill that would prevent the telecoms from selling our records, the Republican Senate leader Frist would NOT even bring this bill to the floor for a vote!!

Mr. O'brien said...

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

I guess Verizon was trying to tell us something....

Samantha said...

Instead of technology liberating the individual, it is used to create masses of automatons!

Kelly said...

"Why, act like most Americans who don't vote their reality but their dreams!"

One of the best succint observations I've ever heard! This explains why so many Americans vote against their own economic interests. Especially those who can least afford it.

Brodie said...

I wonder how many people are familiar with George Orwell. 1984 is a masterful piece of "fiction" though if we change some names around it is so easily applicable to reality!

Great post!

Andros said...

I think everyone should read Orwell's works, and study history. Peoples everywhere keep repeating the same mistakes.

I require 1984 as mandatory reading in my PoliSci classes. It's a classic and has lots to teach.

little me said...

Mining domestic calls is a highly unusual, and probably unprecedented, activity for a spy agency set up to intercept and analyze foreign intelligence. And it is striking that the three telcos, AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon, handed the information over sheep-like to the spooks without pressing for warrants or court approval.

Only Qwest Communications balked, in spite of the NSA's arm-twisting

bug exterminator said...

Before changing your shopping over to Quest, I have to tell you that Quest has HORRIBLE service and customer (dis)service!

Now, if it's true that the gov. offered to pay the three big telcos, maybe Quest wasn't offered the same or was irrelevant as the data from the big 3 were enough.

Blissful nymph said...

Colbert referenced the fact that Bush and others FEEL don't think. The facts/reality are dismissed. What FEELS good is preferable. Follow your GUT even if your brain is telling you otherwise.

tsarina said...

Of course, TRUTHINESS is better to the ugly truth!

By the way, why our government is now criticising Vladimir Putin for not being a democrat in Russia?!!!!


I thought Bush looked into Putin's eyes, saw his ..soul, and decided that Putin was a good man!

Anonymous said...

Telcos Could Be Liable For Tens of Billions of Dollars For Illegally Turning Over Phone Records
This morning, USA Today reported that three telecommunications companies – AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth – provided “phone call records of tens of millions of Americans” to the National Security Agency. Such conduct appears to be illegal and could make the telco firms liable for tens of billions of dollars. Here’s why:

1. It violates the Stored Communications Act. The Stored Communications Act, Section 2703(c), provides exactly five exceptions that would permit a phone company to disclose to the government the list of calls to or from a subscriber: (i) a warrant; (ii) a court order; (iii) the customer’s consent; (iv) for telemarketing enforcement; or (v) by “administrative subpoena.” The first four clearly don’t apply. As for administrative subpoenas, where a government agency asks for records without court approval, there is a simple answer – the NSA has no administrative subpoena authority, and it is the NSA that reportedly got the phone records.

2. The penalty for violating the Stored Communications Act is $1000 per individual violation. Section 2707 of the Stored Communications Act gives a private right of action to any telephone customer “aggrieved by any violation.” If the phone company acted with a “knowing or intentional state of mind,” then the customer wins actual harm, attorney’s fees, and “in no case shall a person entitled to recover receive less than the sum of $1,000.”

(The phone companies might say they didn’t “know” they were violating the law. But USA Today reports that Qwest’s lawyers knew about the legal risks, which are bright and clear in the statute book.)

3. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act doesn’t get the telcos off the hook. According to USA Today, the NSA did not go to the FISA court to get a court order. And Qwest is quoted as saying that the Attorney General would not certify that the request was lawful under FISA. So FISA provides no defense for the phone companies, either.

In other words, for every 1 million Americans whose records were turned over to NSA, the telcos could be liable for $1 billion in penalties, plus attorneys fees. You do the math.

– Peter Swire and Judd Legum
Think Progress

elizabeth said...

Andros- you better be careful. If you continue to be against him...

Just kidding, of course. Keep up the great insights, we need them. But it is truely frightening to me when I feel myself think twice about what I say or write because I know I am being watched. This is America! What kind of democracy do we have if all citizens do not feel safe enough to express thier dissent? Bush Co. says they are "spreading democracy" in the Middle East. What kind of democracy? Not this kind, I hope. Bush has proved that he knows nothing about democracy. Spying on citizens is not in any book on classic democracy that I have ever read. I propose we send a copy of Plato's Republic to Bush (not that he could read it anyway) But, really, "spreading democracy..." (?) Apparently the "take-all-liberties-and-spy-on-your-citizens-democracy."

Tuli said...

Exactly, we have the government that was elected. The new Newsweek poll has a majority saying that the administration has gone too far. Where were these folks in the last election? If according to the latest Harris poll W’s approval rating is 29% who were the 51% who voted for him and why did they? It’s not as if it wasn’t apparent before 2004 who and what he was and where this administration was going. They may have wanted to have a beer with this dry drunk, but now that the beer is stale what to do?

NSA said...

There's a new poll out from USA Today that shows the majority of Americans do NOT approve of the wiretapping of their phones.

Andros said...

OK, I see. I know there are going to be flactuations in public opinion as the story develops and sinks in.

However, I still maintain that TOO MANY Americans fail to see the danger of creeping totalitarianism.

Tuli makes a great point, and if I may expand it a bit... Within 6-8 months after the last election, there was a widespread "buyer's remorse" regarding the re-election of Bush. There was no NEW info or NEW policies that would account for this turnaround. I think that too many voters didn't exercise the proper care when they voted. The citizens must invest in their political system, at least some time and effort because their decision is a very important one, unlike ordering at the drive-through window of McDs.

As for the latest USAToday poll, if you look closely, you'll see that:

* 32% don't really know about the big 3 telcos giving customers' records to the gov.

* 69% are OK if civil liberties are violated as long as the government says it's for fighting the terrorists...

* 64% say they're NOT concerned AT ALL....

And, more people say that the media shouldn't report the secret methods the gov is using in fighting terrorism [vague definition]

Personally, I find these polls very disturbing. Creeping totalitarianism is real and can happen to any country, especially when the politics of terror come into play.... Just think, a war with no fronts and no end.....

resident of oceania said...

Prez spokesman Snow said today that although he could not confirm or deny the NSA spying program he cited that poll which shows most Americans "don't mind" being spied upon as long as it's to fight terrorism....