Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Daniel Ellsberg Speaks Out On The Police State

State Surveillance

An article  (“Edward Snowden: saving us from the United Stasi of America”), by Daniel Ellsberg, in The Guardian says that the NSA Scandal is far worse than what took place forty years ago with his 1971 release of the Pentagon Papers; then, it revealed much about the U.S.’s illegal involvement in the Vietnam War. Now, it’s a “digital war” against its own citizens.

To that end, Ellsberg writes on how the United States has all the apparatuses in place to become a police state:
In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden's whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an "executive coup" against the US constitution.
Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.
The government claims it has a court warrant under Fisa – but that unconstitutionally sweeping warrant is from a secret court, shielded from effective oversight, almost totally deferential to executive requests. As Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, put it: "It is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp."
For the president then to say that there is judicial oversight is nonsense – as is the alleged oversight function of the intelligence committees in Congress. Not for the first time – as with issues of torture, kidnapping, detention, assassination by drones and death squads –they have shown themselves to be thoroughly co-opted by the agencies they supposedly monitor. They are also black holes for information that the public needs to know.
The fact that congressional leaders were "briefed" on this and went along with it, without any open debate, hearings, staff analysis, or any real chance for effective dissent, only shows how broken the system of checks and balances is in this country.
Obviously, the United States is not now a police state. But given the extent of this invasion of people's privacy, we do have the full electronic and legislative infrastructure of such a state. If, for instance, there was now a war that led to a large-scale anti-war movement – like the one we had against the war in Vietnam – or, more likely, if we suffered one more attack on the scale of 9/11, I fear for our democracy. These powers are extremely dangerous.
Indeed they are. That the U.S. says it will keep the surveillance apparatus in place is troubling; huge amounts of money have been invested in it, so it will be used. I also fear for  the American Republic. It is not now in the best shape as a representative of healthy democracy.

There is already an effort to discredit the brave and idealistic individual, Edward Snowden, who revealed state secrets; such is not surprising, giving what is at stake here—democracy itself.

Some of the media, blind to realities and staffed by fearful men and women, have allowed themselves to be used by the government, acting as agents of state propaganda. A recent article in the New York Times, for example, says there will be no national debate, no investigations in Congress, no changes to the law on the  NSA surveillance program, suggesting that the majority of Americans support it.

I doubt the veracity of such statements and I would love to see the poll and how questions were formulated. But then again, the NYT has a spotty inconsistent record when it comes to human rights, for example, willingly ignoring the plight of Jews during the Holocaust, chiefly because the owner found such news inconvenient.

Others, like the Guardian and Washington Post, have not. Lines will be drawn, sides will be taken and history will be written. There will be good guys and bad guys, many of the bad guys thinking themselves good.The end is uncertain.

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You can read the rest of the article at [The Guardian]