Posted by David Kramer
One more noteworthy news item that went down the memory hole.
An interview with our latest political prisoner.
Newt admits that what he’s saying is “a little controversial.” A little?
And this was the choice of presidential candidates last night in South Carolina?
Now more than every we need the Champion of the Constitution!
Please visit Ron Paul’s official campaign site by following the link below and donate today!
Alright, so I am running a bit behind. A bit as in 3+ weeks, as that was when I meant to post this. Late or not, the facts remain the same so still quite relevant.
This week marks 10 years since the Patriot Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush. The ACLU is hosting a blog series that will address some of the sweeping changes to surveillance laws over the past decade. To learn more about the Patriot Act, visit www.aclu.org/patriot.
This Wednesday will mark 10 years since the Patriot Act was enacted. Pushed through Congress without debate, the massive surveillance bill was hastily passed just 45 days after 9/11, and was the first of many changes to surveillance laws over the past decade that made it easier for the government to spy on innocent Americans.
Since the Patriot Act was first enacted, lawmakers have authorized extension after extension, refusing to make any meaningful changes to the law. This is despite the fact that — according to Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) — there are two versions of the Patriot Act: one that the public sees, and a secret interpretation that the government keeps to itself. Senator Wyden has stated, “When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry.” Furthermore, since its passage, the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General has repeatedly found widespread blatant abuse of the statute. Yet, earlier this year, Congress passed a four-year extension of expiring Patriot Act provisions, which are now set to expire on June 1, 2015.
Our new infographic illustrates some of the most troubling aspects of the Patriot Act, and our new timeline contextualizes the Patriot Act alongside other laws and government surveillance programs expanding suspicionless spying on ordinary Americans (as well as ACLU efforts to fight unchecked surveillance).
While much-needed reform of the Patriot Act is likely a few years away, there is something that we can do today to prevent further erosion of our privacy rights. Just as the Patriot Act swept aside long-standing constitutional protections against government prying into private lives, current cybersecurity proposals threaten to expand the government’s ability to collect personal information — simultaneously violating privacy rights and overwhelming the government’s counterterrorism efforts with too much data. Over the past decade, we have learned that such policies fail on two fronts: they are largely ineffective and they violate civil liberties.
Take action today to tell Congress that we as we move forward to try to protect cyber systems, we must avoid the Patriot Act’s pitfalls: a civil-liberties-defying policy that might actually make things worse.
The terrorist threat continues to be exaggerated to spawn a massive and costly Security State
By Glenn Greenwald
“The number of people worldwide who are killed by Muslim-type terrorists, Al Qaeda wannabes, is maybe a few hundred outside of war zones. It’s basically the same number of people who die drowning in the bathtub each year,” said John Mueller, an Ohio State University professor who has written extensively about the balance between threat and expenditures in fighting terrorism.
Last year, McClatchy characterized this threat in similar terms: ”undoubtedly more American citizens died overseas from traffic accidents or intestinal illnesses than from terrorism.” The March, 2011, Harper‘s Index expressed the point this way: ”Number of American civilians who died worldwide in terrorist attacks last year: 8 — Minimum number who died after being struck by lightning: 29.” That’s the threat in the name of which a vast domestic Security State is constructed, wars and other attacks are and continue to be launched, and trillions of dollars are transferred to the private security and defense contracting industry at exactly the time that Americans — even as they face massive wealth inequality — are told that they must sacrifice basic economic security because of budgetary constraints.
Despite these increasing economic insecurities — actually, precisely because of them — the sprawling domestic Security State continues unabated. The industry journal National Defense Magazine today trumpets: ”Homeland Security Market ‘Vibrant’ Despite Budget Concerns.” It details how budget cuts mean “homeland security” growth may not be as robust as once predicted, but “Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing and Northrop Grumman . . . have been winning more contracts from DHS”; as a Boeing spokesman put it: ”You’ll still continue to see domestically significant investment on the part of the government and leveraging advances in technology to stand up and meet those emerging threats and needs.”
Of course, the key to sustaining this Security State bonanza — profit for private industry and power for Security State officials – is keeping fear levels among the citizenry as high as possible, as National Defense expressly notes, and that is accomplished by fixating even on minor and failed attacks, each one of which is immediately seized upon to justify greater expenditures, expansion of security measures, and a further erosion of rights:
Polls still show that there is increasing public concern about another terrorist attack. It is this fear and an unrealistic American perception of risk that will continue to propel some aspects of the market, analysts say. . . .
Small-scale attacks, whether successful or not, will continue to prompt additional spending, the market analysts at Homeland Security Research Corp. say. They point to the failed 2009 Christmas plot of a man trying to blow up a flight to Detroit with explosives sewn into his underwear and the attempted car-bombing in Times Square early the next year. Though unsuccessful, these events led to immediate White House intervention, congressional hearings and an airport screening upgrade costing more than $1.6 billion.
The LA Times, while skillfully highlighting these wasteful programs, depicts them as some sort of unintended inefficiencies. That is exactly what they are not. None of this is unintended or inefficient but is achieving exactly the purposes for which it is designed. That’s true for two reasons.
First, this wastefulness is seen as inefficient only if one falsely assumes that its real objective is to combat Terrorist threats. That is not the purpose of what the U.S. Government does. As Daniel Weeks explains today, the Congress — contrary to popular opinion — is not “broken”; it is working perfectly for its actual owners. Or, as he puts it, “Washington isn’t broken — it’s fixed”:
Our problem today is not a broken government but a beholden one: government is more beholden to special-interest shareholders who fund campaigns than it is to ordinary voters. Like any sound investor, the funders seek nothing more and nothing less than a handsome return — deficits be darned — in the form of tax breaks, subsidies and government contracts.
The LA Times, and most people who denounce these spending “inefficiencies,” have the causation backwards: fighting Terrorism isn’t the goal that security spending is supposed to fulfill; the security spending (and power vested by surveillance) is the goal itself, and Terrorism is the pretext for it. For that reason, whether the spending efficiently addresses a Terrorism threat is totally irrelevant.
Polls Show that Americans Think We Overreacted, Overspent and Weakened Ourselves Through the War on Terror
As the Brooking Institution reported yesterday, Americans that the government overreacted and overspent in reaction to 9/11:
These are a summary of findings of a new poll conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) and the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland.
Six in ten Americans believe that that the United States weakened its economy by overspending in its responses to the 9/11 attacks. In particular, respondents felt this was especially true of the U.S. mission in Iraq. Two out of three Americans perceive that over the decade since 9/11, U.S. power and influence in the world has declined. This view is highly correlated with the belief that the United States overspent in its post-9/11 response efforts – the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
At this point, a large majority (73%) wants the United States to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan, but less than half (44%) want troops withdrawn completely.
Fifty-five percent say that the United States has spent too many resources in the Iraq war, while a plurality of 49% called the Iraq war a mistake (45% right decision). This criticism is a bit lower than other polls that asked similar questions in 2010 and found a majority ranging from 51 to 62% saying that it was not the right decision.
Support for the decision to go to war is highly correlated with beliefs held by substantial and undiminishing minorities that Iraq was providing support to al Qaeda (46%) and either had a WMD program or actual WMDs (47%). Among those with such beliefs, large majorities say the war was the right thing while among those without such beliefs large majorities have the opposite views.
A modest majority (53%) believes that the U.S. should withdraw its troops according to schedule even if the Iraqi government asks the US to stay another year.
A clear majority (61%) says that the United States should not take sides in its efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while just 27% want the United States to lean toward Israel (5% toward Palestinians).
(Incidentally, top American military leaders agree, saying that the war on terror has weakened our national security).
Rasmussen has repeatedly noted that Americans are strongly opposed to further military or other types of intervention in Arab countries:
As with the recent turmoil in Egypt, most Americans (67%) say the United States should leave the situation in the Arab countries alone. Just 17% say the United States should get more directly involved in the political situation there, but another 17% are not sure.
This was true for Libya. And it is true elsewhere. For example, the overwhelming majority of Americans are also opposed to intervention in Syria.
Polls Show Widespread Doubt About Official Explanations
The results of polls on peoples’ beliefs about 9/11 around the world might surprise you:
- In its January 2011 issue, the popular German magazine “Welt der Wunder” published the results of a poll conducted by the Emnid institute on 1005 respondents. The poll indicated that nearly 90% percent of Germans are convinced that the government of the United States is not telling the whole truth about the September 11 attacks
- A new poll conducted in England by ICM shows that more UK residents agree than disagree that the official account of what happened on 9/11 might turn out to be wrong in important respects. Only 8% strongly agree that they have been told the full story of the 9/11 attacks
- A new poll conducted in France by HEC Paris shows that 58% of French people doubt the official version of 9/11, and 49% believe the U.S. government might have intentionally allowed the attacks to happen
- A Zogby poll conducted in August 2007 found that 51% of Americans want Congress to probe Bush/Cheney regarding the 9/11 attacks, two-thirds (67%) of Americans say the 9/11 Commission should have investigated the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7
- A poll conducted by CNN-IBN in August 2007 found that only 2 out of 5 of those polled in India – the world’s second most populous country – believe that al-Qaeda is responsible for the 9/11 attacks
- Indeed, a poll taken by World Public Opinion, a collaborative project of research centers in various countries managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, College Park, polled 16,063 people in 17 nations outside of the United States during the summer of 2008. They found that majorities in only 9 of the 17 countries believe Al Qaeda carried out the attacks. The poll showed that in the world’s most populous country – China – only 32% believed that Al Qaeda carried out the attacks.
[CIM: Beams of Light photo added to original for improved re-posting.]