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2001-2011: A decade of civil liberties' erosion in America -- Part Two

By       Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali     Permalink
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As Tom Burghardt, the San Francisco Bay Area-based activist reports [2]:

The National Security State's assault on our right to privacy comes hard on the heels on moves in Congress, spearheaded by troglodytic Republicans (with "liberal" Democrats running a close second) to criminalize whistleblowing altogether.

In February 2011, the Muslim-hating Rep. Peter King (R-NY) introduced the SHIELD Act in the House, a pernicious piece of legislative flotsam that would amend the Espionage Act and make publishing classified information, and investigative journalism, a criminal offense.

Also in February, legislation was introduced in the Senate that "would broadly criminalize leaks of classified information," Secrecy News reported.

Sponsored by Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), the bill (S. 355) "would make it a felony for a government employee or contractor who has authorized access to classified information to disclose such information to an unauthorized person in violation of his or her nondisclosure agreement," Secrecy News disclosed.

In an Orwellian twist, Cardin, who received some $385,000 in campaign swag from free speech advocates such as Constellation Energy, Goldman Sachs and Patton Boggs (Mubarak's chief lobbyist in Washington) according to OpenSecrets.org, said that the bill would "promote Federal whistleblower protection statutes and regulations"!

As Secrecy News points out, the bill "does not provide for a 'public interest' defense, i.e. an argument that any damage to national security was outweighed by a benefit to the nation." In other words, you don't need to know about government high crimes and misdemeanors. Why? Because we say so.

In November 2010, shortly after WikiLeaks began publishing Cablegate files, King fired off a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder demanding that WikiLeaks be declared a "foreign terrorist organization" and the group's founder declared a "terrorist ringleader." We know the fate reserved for "terrorists," don't we?

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Obama Wants to Read Your Email [3]

The Obama U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) also wants another new law too. This one would require Internet companies to retain data and records of user activity online. In doing so, the Obama administration is supporting measures advocated by the Bush administration that pose a grave threat to free speech and the freedom of the Internet. The sweeping legislation would cover cell phone service, Internet records, and email.

Data retention legislation would jeopardize the privacy of millions of Americans who use the Internet. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) notes, "A legal obligation to log users' Internet use, paired with weak federal privacy laws that allow the government to easily obtain those records, would dangerously expand the government's ability to surveil its citizens, damage privacy, and chill freedom of expression."

Once again, congressional Republicans are more than happy to cooperate in passing such a dangerous law; anything to go after those awful terrorists -- even if it shreds the U.S. Constitution.

Laptops Galore [4]

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Although they can cite no legal basis for their high-handed actions, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security claims that its agents have the right to look though the contents of a international traveler's electronic devices, including laptops, cameras and cell phones, and to keep the devices or copy the contents in order to continue searching them once the traveler has been allowed to enter the U.S., regardless of whether the traveler is suspected of any wrongdoing.

Documents obtained by the ACLU in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records related to the DHS policy reveal that more than 6,600 travelers, nearly half of whom are American citizens, were subjected to electronic device searches at the border between October 1, 2008 and June 2, 2010.

No law authorizes this power nor is there any judicial or congressional body overseeing or regulating what DHS is doing.   And the citizens to whom this is done have no recourse -- not even to have their property returned to them.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 

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