Photo: Occupy Wall Street
I wanted to do a piece briefly outlining what I consider to be the absolute biggest threats to our liberties right now. Please feel free to share this with your family and friends. We need a national discussion on this topic. It’s long overdue.I love the United States and my fellow citizens, but our post-9/11 collective paranoia needs to end. Even with more than a decade of distance between us and that terrible morning, we continue to be stripped of basic civil rights by a government that appears to be acting in the interests of creepy “anti-terrorist” salesmen, rather than in the interests of the American people and our founding documents.
The PATRIOT Act: “Hastily passed 45 days after 9/11 in the name of national security, the Patriot Act was the first of many changes to surveillance laws that made it easier for the government to spy on ordinary Americans by expanding the authority to monitor phone and email communications, collect bank and credit reporting records, and track the activity of innocent Americans on the Internet. While most Americans think it was created to catch terrorists, the Patriot Act actually turns regular citizens into suspects,” writes the ACLU.
See the ACLU’s shocking info sheet here. Hundreds of thousands of us — innocent American citizens — may have had our online activities, financial records, and even our own homes searched under this disastrous law. PATRIOT Act provisions allow federal agents to do so, even without a warrant or proper court authorization, using something called a national security letter. And using “Sneak & Peek” searches, such agents can search your home and belongings — without notifying you until later, according to the ACLU.
The PATRIOT Act was set to expire last year, but President Obama renewed it moments before it would have ended. This surprising move received very little media coverage and commentary.
The FY2012 NDAA: “President Barack Obama rang in the New Year by signing the NDAA law with its provision allowing the indefinite detention of citizens. It was a symbolic moment, to say the least. With Americans distracted with drinking and celebrating, Obama signed one of the greatest rollbacks of civil liberties in the history of our country … and citizens partied in unwitting bliss into the New Year,” wrote law professor Jonathan Turley in The Guardian back in January.
The ACLU stated:
“On December 31, 2011, President Obama signed the National defence Authorization Act (NDAA), codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial into law for the first time in American history. The NDAA’s dangerous detention provisions would authorise the president — and all future presidents — to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison people captured anywhere in the world, far from any battlefield.”
Despite an ongoing federal court case to stop NDAA’s imprisonment without trial provisions, this issue has received very little media coverage. Until recently, a search for “NDAA” on CNN.com returned zero search results, even though the case’s plaintiffs include such heavy-hitters as former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges and Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg.
TrapWire: Although still a developing story, ZDNet explained TrapWire thusly: “Wikileaks has released as part of its The Global Intelligence Files series another vast cache of leaked emails from private intelligence firm Stratfor. Brought to the public eye is a system called TrapWire. This previously little known technology may have the ability to impact our everyday lives in the U.S. and abroad.”
Based on some of the leaked emails, this technology may be currently deployed — or could be deployed — to monitor the whereabouts and activities of political protesters and activists, rather than “just” potential terrorists and violent criminals.
Full-body scanners and the fear-driven TSA: No one I speak to likes the TSA, nor have the American people demanded this agency continue to rapidly expand and grow in influence, yet it has done exactly that. TSA receives a budget that is nearly half the size of NASA’s annual budget, and employs roughly three times as many people.
The new full-body radiation scanners used by TSA have been outlawed in Europe due to health concerns, according to Scientific American, and as such you won’t find this worrying new technology deployed within European Union airports. Yet these extremely expensive machines are now here at our airports, and when I politely “opt-out” of walking through them, I have been subjected to harassment and intimidation by TSA agents. In fact, the best case outcome is an invasive patdown that makes you feel angry and violated for the remainder of your business trip.
I don’t believe that “go through a potentially dangerous x-ray scanner” OR “be treated like a potential terrorist and subjected to an utterly humiliating bodily search” should even be options. Not with our tax dollars. Again, we did not ask for this. Aside from the humiliation and the violation of our Constitutional rights, there is considerable anecdotal evidence that the TSA’s fear tactics drive away foreign tourism money, lower revenues for airlines, and lessen domestic tourism activity.
Follow me for more stories on the surveillance state, which I consider to be troubling and a waste of our money.
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