By Jill Dalton
I'm finding New York City harder and harder to deal with. First, I'm accosted by the "If you see something, say something" signs painted on the steps in the subway stations. And once I'm on the train there's the disembodied voice straight out of Orwell's "1984" warning me, "If you see a suspicious package, we have the right to search all bags and backpacks; if you see something, say something;" and on and on it drones.
And the other evening, as I exited from the 5th Avenue/Bryant Park stop I came upon two police officers standing by a table with a large sign that read, "We have the right to search your bags." I wanted to take a photo, but I was running short on time, and would have needed to situate myself so as to not be detected, so instead, I kept moving. And then there are the ubiquitous security cameras I see everywhere, including in Central Park.
It's really all about fear isn't it? Be afraid. "Be very afraid" is the message the security state wants to convey; because when people are afraid they'll do anything to feel safe, including giving up their civil liberties. The Soviets used this fear tactic in the 50's, and then the Bush Administration incorporated this tactic into their propaganda bag of tricks. Remember those red/orange/yellow terror alerts?
And now the kinder, gentler face of American empire, the Obama Administration, uses fear to control us with their pathetic, lame excuses for massive spying on U.S. Citizens. "Be afraid. Yes, be very afraid. After all, the terrorists are coming! But we're here to protect you. We spy on you for your own good."
Really? Is anyone actually buying this anymore?
Since 9/11 the security state has systematically taken our civil liberties away, and Americans have barely uttered a whimper. President George W. Bush signed the USA PATRIOT Act into law on October 26, 2001. The title of the act is a ten letter bacronym that stands for Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing
Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001. The act was in response to the September 11th World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. According to Wikipedia the act,
significantly weakened restrictions on law enforcement agencies' gathering of intelligence within the United States; expanded the Secretary of the Treasury's authority to regulate financial transactions, particularly those involving foreign individuals and entities; and broadened the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorism-related acts. The act also expanded the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism, thus enlarging the number of activities to which the USA PATRIOT Act's expanded law enforcement powers can be applied.
Then Obama extended three key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act on May 26, 2011:
roving wiretaps, searches of business records ("library records provision"), and conducting surveillance of "lone wolves" -- individuals suspected of terrorist-related activities not linked to terrorists groups.
by Jill Dalton
After Bush was caught spying, the solution found and implemented was FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). But FISA has proved to be a rubber stamp--2,000 or more requests for domestic spying, and all but one was approved.
The NSA (National Security Agency) is caught spying on Americans and to rectify the situation "the senate passes the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) amendments act which overhaul government eves- dropping rules in terrorism and espionage cases, granting immunity to telecom companies that participated in domestic surveillance. Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) votes for this bill. -- Washington Post
Once FISA was installed many of us assumed the spying had stopped. Au contraire. And now, so as not to be outdone, Obama has used the USA PATRIOT Act to illegally spy on Americans as well.
Top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian illustrate what the FISA court actually does -- and does not do -- when purporting to engage in "oversight" over the NSA's domestic spying. That process lacks many of the safeguards that Obama, the House GOP, and various media defenders of the NSA are trying to lead the public to believe exist.