Remember when Richard Nixon told David Frost, “When the President does it, it is NOT illegal”?
Richard M. Nixon, TV interview with David Frost, May 20, 1977.
Remember when President Barack Obama announced:
My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
“We were hopeful when Obama came into office that some of what we had seen in the Bush years would be reversed,” said Gary Daniels of the ACLU. “Instead, not only has it continued but it has EXPANDED.”
Guardian Journalist, Glenn Greenwald, and whistle blower, Edward Snowden, recently revealed that Obama has, for years, been in charge of a ‘Big Brother’ surveillance state that would make Richard Nixon blush with envy. The FBI, the NSA, DHS, CIA, plus Federal, military and “privately contracted” agencies, more than you can count using every finger on both hands, has a database of all your iMessages, your photos, your videos, your e-mails, your music playlist, your web search history, your documents and connection logs and your cell phone text messages.
They have put your phone calls into their data base, including recordings of the contents and the ping triangulations — which can enable analysts to track your every movement of every day, even inside your home, if you are carrying your phone. Obama’s spy network has photocopied the front of every one of your snail mail envelopes. There’s evidence the federal government has collected information on your financial and credit card transactions in addition to your health records.
Obama’s spy agencies don’t just snoop on citizens.
Federal agencies used security badge access records to track the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News’, James Rosen’s, comings and goings from the State Department (court affidavit here). They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for Rosen’s personal e-mails.
Associated Press executives and First Amendment watchdogs ALSO have criticized the Justice Department for the broad scope of phone records it secretly subpoenaed from more than 20 phone lines of AP offices in Washington, Hartford, Conn., and New York.
Given the First Amendment’s protection of press freedom, is it ever legal for government to spy on, persecute or prosecute reporters doing their jobs? Just conducting an investigation is intimidating. According to Associated Press CEO Gary Pruit, “the message the government is now sending is — if you talk to the press we are going to go after you.”
To extend his executive power and oversight even further, Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to spy on their colleagues.
“See something, say something” appallingly has overreached into every nook and cranny of our personal lives.
But, if it keeps Americans safe what is the problem? Its not like any of us regular people are troublemakers who might, for example, do something rabble-rousing like doubt the “settled science of climate change” out-loud.
Why should we be concerned about surveillance if we have nothing to hide?
Privacy isn’t simply the option to hide bad things. Privacy enables us to freely pursue the things that we enjoy, on our own terms. Privacy is your right to control the flow of information about yourself. You choose what details to share, when, where, and with whom. You may not be a terrorist, but there are details in everyone’s personal lives that they want to keep private. Privacy should be important to all who value freedom and the security of a comfortable voluntary lifestyle. It would be awkward to have your mother read through your every email and monitor your phone calls — forever. Let alone some stranger from the government.
Who hasn’t used the Internet to learn about and discuss political ideology? Which is something that the government is more likely to take a serious interest in than your embarrassing late night texts to your ex-boyfriend.
Should you trust government with the power to listen to private conversations—some undoubtedly concerning politics — whenever they want?
The answer should always be: no. Some Democrats are willing to defend the NSA-Verizon scandal because Barack Obama is in the Oval Office, just as some Republicans were willing to downplay wiretapping under George W. Bush.
That’s partisan political games.
The protection of civilian privacy is an issue far more important than red versus blue. No one should give any president, any power that they wouldn’t trust with their WORST enemy. A Democrat is POTUS today, but a future presidents could be Republican, Libertarian, from the Green Party or whatever. Parties have come and gone. So far, the Constitution has stood.
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, 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.” ~4th Amendment
Our fourth amendment has been 100% compromised. As well as our first. Most of us did NOT consent. It was kept secret. When confronted by Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) and Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), the Obama administration LIED. They denied what was going on.
Any individual courageous enough to inform the public about secret abuses of our rights risked being prosecuted at unprecedented levels under the Obama administration. Even the Nixon administration was wussy in comparison. Fear of repercussions and intimidation enabled America’s “top secret world” to become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.
Allowing it to go on and stand unchallenged does far more damage to the republic than any law breaking. It sets new boundaries and rules for our government. It confirms what Richard Nixon argued for: “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”
The sheer breadth of America’s behemoth “top secret world” confirms the inadequacy of secret courts. Courts exist to enforce our rights in the face of government abuses. That’s one of the central geniuses of the founding fathers and the system of checks and balances they constructed.
When the decisions are secret, they stop being judicial in character. Law is built on mutual references among courts. When the law can’t reference itself, it stops being law, and emerges as something very different: in this case, a rubber stamp allowing any manner of dragnet violations impacting law-abiding Americans and our fundamental rights.
MUST READ: Top Secret America: a Hidden World, Growing Beyond Control. I can’t recommend this Washington Post article enough. It’s about the scope and size of America’s domestic spying and is shocking. CLICK HERE TO READ ARTICLE — YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS