Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
02-07-13 America, Passive Nation: Why Can't We Stand Up for Ourselves When Our Rights Are Stolen?

02-07-13 America, Passive Nation: Why Can't We Stand Up for Ourselves When Our Rights Are Stolen?

Ratings: (0)|Views: 3|Likes:
Published by William J Greenberg
Not long after the Guardian and Washington Post first started publishing the leaks describing the National Security Agency's vast surveillance [4]dragnet, an item appeared about a White House petition [5] urging President Obama to pardon Edward Snowden [6]. The post brought this reply, among others:
"Once upon a time I would have signed a White House petition to this administration with no qualms. Now, however, a chilling thought occurs: what 'watch lists' will signing a petition like this put me on? NSA [7]? IRS? It's not a paranoid question anymore, in the United States [8] of Surveillance."
Not long after the Guardian and Washington Post first started publishing the leaks describing the National Security Agency's vast surveillance [4]dragnet, an item appeared about a White House petition [5] urging President Obama to pardon Edward Snowden [6]. The post brought this reply, among others:
"Once upon a time I would have signed a White House petition to this administration with no qualms. Now, however, a chilling thought occurs: what 'watch lists' will signing a petition like this put me on? NSA [7]? IRS? It's not a paranoid question anymore, in the United States [8] of Surveillance."

More info:

Published by: William J Greenberg on Jul 08, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as DOC, PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

08/10/2013

pdf

text

original

 
America, Passive Nation -- Why Can't WeStand Up for Ourselves When Our RightsAre Stolen?
 July 2, 2013
|I'm a longtime subscriber to an Internet[3] mail list that features items from smart, thoughtful  people. The list editor forwards items he personally finds interesting, often related to technologyand/or civil liberties. Not long after the Guardian and Washington Post first started publishingthe leaks describing the National Security Agency's vast surveillance[4]dragnet, an itemappeared about aWhite House petition[5] urging President Obama to pardonEdward Snowden  [6]. The post brought this reply, among others:"Once upon a time I would have signed a White House petition to this administration with noqualms. Now, however, a chilling thought occurs: what 'watch lists' will signing a petition likethis put me on? NSA[7]? IRS? It's not a paranoid question anymore, in the United States[8] of  Surveillance."As we Americans watch our parades and fire up our grills this 4 July, the 237th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence – the seminal document of the United States – we should takethe time to ask ourselves some related questions: how did we come to this state of mind and behavior? How did we become so fearful and timid that we've given away essential liberties? Dowe realize what we're giving up? What would the nation's founders think of us? No one with common sense believes Obama is planning to become a dictator. But the mail listquestion was indeed not paranoid – because Obama, building on the initiatives of his immediate predecessors, has helped create the foundation for a future police state. This has happened with bipartisan support from patriotic but short-sighted members of Congress and, sad to say, thegeneral public.The American media have played an essential role. For decades, newspaper editors andtelevision programmers, especially local ones, have chased readers and ratings by spewing panic-inducing "journalism" and entertainment that helped foster support for anti-liberty policies.Ignorance, sometimes willful, has long been part of the media equation. Journalists haveconsistently highlighted the sensational. They've ignored statistical realities to hype anecdotal – and extremely rare – events that invite us to worry about vanishingly tiny risks and whileshrugging off vastly more likely ones. And then, confronted with evidence of awar on journalism[9] by the people running our government, powerful journalists suggest that their  peers – no, their betters – who had theguts to expose government crimes are criminals [10]. Do they have a clue why the First Amendment is all about? Do they fathom the meaning of liberty?The founders, for all their dramatic flaws, knew what liberty meant. They created a system of  power-sharing and competition, knowing that investing too much authority in any institution wasan invitation to despotism. Above all, they knew that liberty doesn't just imply taking risks; it
 
absolutely requires taking risks. Among other protections, the Bill of Rights enshrined an unruly but vital free press and guaranteed that some criminals would escape punishment in order to protect the rest of us from too much government power. How many of those first 10 amendmentswould be approved by Congress and the states today? Depressingly few, one suspects. We'reafraid.America has gone through spasms of liberty-crushing policies before, almost always amid real or  perceived national emergencies. We've come out of them, to one degree or another, with therecognition that we had a Constitution worth protecting and defending, to paraphrase the oathfederal office holders take but have so casually ignored in recent years.What's different this time is the surveillance infrastructure, plus the countless crimes our lawmakers have invented in federal and state codes. As many people [11] havenoted[12], we canall be charged[13]with somethingif government wants to find something[14] – the Justice Department under Bush and Obama has insisted that simply violating an online terms of serviceis a felony, for example. And now that our communications are being recorded and stored (youshould take that for granted, despite weaselly government denials), those somethings will beavailable to people looking for them if they decide you are a nuisance. That is the foundation for tyranny, maybe not in the immediate future but, unless we find a way to turn back, someday soonenough.You may believe there's no possibility of America turning into a thugocracy, that the amassedinformation – conversations, business dealings, personal health and financial data, mediaconsumption, gun records and so much more – will never be systematically misused that way.But even if you do, ask yourself this: if a young employee of one of the countless privatecompanies administering the surveillance state could get access to so much for idealistic reasons,how vulnerable is this material to people with baser motives? Do you suppose corporate spies or foreign security services might be able to tempt some of the holders of this information withmoney, or find others who are vulnerable to blackmail? We're creating the ultimate treasure chestof information, and it's value is nearly limitless.America's founders would be horrified at what we've done, and what we've become. They wouldhave denounced our secret laws, Kafka-esque "no fly lists" and so many other recent creations of  power-grabbing presidents emboldened by feeble lawmakers and compliant courts. While theywouldn't have understood the modern concept of privacy – though they've have wanted to protectit once they did understand – they would have engineered checks and balances to prevent today'swholesale abuses, made so much worse by active corporate participation, reluctant or not, in thedigital dragnets.I live in California. My senior US senator, Dianne Feinstein, is a former prosecutor and acts likeit. In her no doubt sincere desire to protect Americans from harm, she has been a consistentDemocratic enabler of untrammeled presidential and law-enforcement powers. She calls EdwardSnowden, a whistleblower whounquestionably broke the law[15], a traitor. But he pulled back the curtain on an increasingly lawless surveillance state. She has helped shred the Bill of Rights.Who, in the end, will have done more to "preserve and protect the Constitution"? For me, that'san easy call.
 
Will we confront what's happening and move now to change our trajectory? There areglimmerings of rationality amid the fear-mongering, including the public's growingunderstanding – despite politicans' foot-dragging and the media's longstanding refusal to do its job on this issue, like so many others – that the war on (some) drugs has been an internationalcatastrophe and, at home, a useful tool for those who'd curb liberty.Obama says he wants to have a "conversation" about surveillance, even though hisadministration works mightily to keep so much of its workings – on these and other matters – secret from the American public, Congress and the judiciary other than opaque, rubber-stampcourts. What we really need is a larger conversation about state power and the actual risks weface, with context and clarity. In the process we need to confront the people who amass power and profits by fueling the ever-expanding, increasingly militarized surveillance state, and insistthat they explain and justify what they're doing. Their "trust us" nostrums are hollow.I don't know what the American public will conclude if we ever have that conversation. I woulddo whatever I could to help everyone understand that a surveillance society is profoundly un-American. I implore journalists to be part of the truth-telling, to take a stand for the Bill of Rights by doing their jobs as the founders intended. If we're to preserve the risk-filled but nobleAmerican experiment of trusting people with liberty, we'd all best get started.I'm proudly American, in large part because we've so often faced hard facts and ultimately, if  belatedly, done what's right. I have faith that the American people want the unadorned truth andwill think through what's at stake this time – and that they'll take to heart BenjaminFranklin's eternally wise admonition[16]: "Those who would give up essential liberty, to  purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
See more stories tagged with:
Source URL:
Links:
[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/dan-gillmore[3] http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/internet[4] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/the-nsa-files[5] https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/pardon-edward-snowden/Dp03vGYD[6] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/edward-snowden[7] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/nsa[8] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/usa[9] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/video/2013/jun/25/dirty-wars-jeremy-scahill-video-interview[10] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/26/nsa-revelations-response-to-smears[11] http://www.amazon.com/dp/0300172338[12] http://reason.com/archives/2013/06/12/three-reasons-the-nothing-to-hide-crowd[13] http://www.wired.com/opinion/2013/06/why-i-have-nothing-to-hide-is-the-wrong-way-to-think-about-surveillance/

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->