What do Joe Biden, Barack Obama, and Edward Snowden have to do with George Orwell?
Americans face a grave threat today that has the potential to turn the United States into a hellish dystopia, similar to the one in George Orwell's novel, “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” Our grand experiment in democracy is under attack by those who seek to pervert it and enslave “we the people”. In some ways, we have arrived at this moment through certain accidents of history; however, the fact remains that we would not be facing this threat today if our leaders, including Barack Obama, had been faithful to the oaths they swear in front of all the world when they take office.
Most of us have watched politicians put their hands on a Bible and solemnly swear that they will “defend and protect the Constitution”; but what do those words actually mean? As children we are taught that all laws must meet the requirements specified in the Constitution; if they don't, they are deemed to be "unconstitutional", and will be struck down by the Judiciary. However, we are not taught that such laws CAN be passed by Congress, and IF they are passed they will be enforced as the law of the land until such time as they are challenged in court and struck down. I submit to you that "The Patriot Act," which was passed after the September 11 attacks, and signed by George W. Bush on October 26, 2001, is just such a law; it violates an especially precious part of the Constitution known as the Bill of Rights, put there by the founders as a safeguard to protect "we the people" from tyranny. In particular, it violates the Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, 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.
Our government has been routinely spying upon innocent Americans without probable cause because an unconstitutional law, the Patriot Act, was passed by Congress in 2001 and extended by that body ever since. The situation is nothing short of Orwellian. Politicians on both sides of the aisle share guilt in this matter. Bush originally signed the bill into law; however, Barack Obama signed legislation called the USA Freedom Act to renew and extend its powers. And 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden actually brags that he WROTE legislation in 1994 upon which the Patriot Act was modeled.
Why Should I Care About the Fourth Amendment?
The founding fathers had much experience living in a world where British agents had the power to enter their home at any time with no notice and without any reason. Not only were such "visits" annoying as heck, the agents were basically looking to find some kind of excuse to levy a tax or charge them with a crime.
During the Colonial era, the King of England looked at the American colonies as simply a financial investment. Britain passed numerous revenue collection bills aimed at generating as much money from the colonists as possible. Obviously, the colonists resented this act by the King and began smuggling operations in order to circumvent the custom taxes imposed by the British Crown.
In response, King George began the use of the conveniently worded “writs of assistance.” These were legal search warrants that were extremely broad and general in scope. British agents could obtain a writ of assistance to search any property they believed might contain contraband goods. They could actually enter someone’s property or home with no notice and without any reason. Agents could interrogate anyone about their use of customed goods and force cooperation of any person. These types of searches and seizures became an egregious affront to the people of the colonies.
TODAY, the NSA has (unlawful) access to every single email that you have ever written or received. If you ever organize to protest any law, or change any aspect of government, or even attend such a gathering, the government knows about it. The potential for abuse of this information is astounding.
In addition, we live in an age when behemoths like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, are amassing tremendous amounts of personal information about each and every soul who uses their services; these companies were harmless infants when the Patriot Act first became law. Silicon Valley is now working on technology to perform facial recognition; innocents think it's great to identify the name of that person in their photo who they cannot remember; will it be great when that same technology is used to provide evidence of our whereabouts because we just happened to be included in some stranger's snapshot?
Silicon Valley is known for preferring Democratic candidates over Republican ones. Google's Eric Schmidt played a key role on Hillary Clinton's 2020 campaign. Lucrative government contracts are awarded to hi-tech companies ... What happens to "we the people" when NSA data is merged with other data from these companies to create a master spy database about all American citizens?
What might Orwell have to say about a government spying on it's citizens?
In the year 1984, civilisation has been damaged by war, civil conflict, and revolution. Airstrip One (formerly known as Great Britain) is a province of Oceania, one of the three totalitarian super-states that rule the world. It is ruled by the "Party" under the ideology of "Ingsoc" (a Newspeak shortening of "English Socialism") and the mysterious leader Big Brother, who has an intense cult of personality. The Party brutally purges out anyone who does not fully conform to their regime using the Thought Police and constant surveillance through Telescreens (two-way televisions), cameras, and hidden microphones. Those who fall out of favour with the Party become "unpersons", disappearing with all evidence of their existence destroyed.
“Nineteen Eighty-Four” was supposed to be a work of fiction, not a recipe to be followed by American politicians on both sides of the aisle. The book is horrifying.
How Did We Get Into This Mess?
In her book, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism," Naomi Klein puts forth the idea that citizens become distracted during national emergencies, which makes it easier to exploit them via policies that would otherwise be rejected by the general population.
“in moments of crisis, people are willing to hand over a great deal of power to anyone who claims to have a magic cure—whether the crisis is a financial meltdown or, as the Bush administration would later show, a terrorist attack.” - Naomi Klein
September 11, 2001 marks the day that two aircraft crashed into New York City's Twin Towers, causing them to collapse and kill thousands. The Patriot Act was signed into law the next month, as part of Bush's newly launched "war on terror".
In general, the act included three main provisions:
- expanded abilities of law enforcement to surveil, including by tapping domestic and international phones;
- eased interagency communication to allow federal agencies to more effectively use all available resources in counterterrorism efforts; and
- increased penalties for terrorism crimes and an expanded list of activities which would qualify someone to be charged with terrorism.
Guess what else happened DAYS after the Patriot Act was signed into law? Bill Binney retired from the US National Security Agency (NSA) after more than 30 years of service, and holding the title of technical director for the World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Why did he retire? In his words:
Well, I couldn't be an accessory to the violation of the constitutional rights of everybody in the country. I couldn't be an accessory to that, or an accessory to other crimes being committed, like exposing all this data to the FBI. It was acquired without a warrant, you know. And this is the kind of data that they would use to arrest people, which they did. So I couldn't be a party to that. That's just a total violation of our justice process.
Binney's story is fascinating. The NSA had been seeking out terrorists prior to 9/11. Binney had developed a project called ThinThread to monitor communications in a way that focused on meta-data, and also scrupulously omitted data involving normal US citizens. The solution was up and running in November 2000, and ready to fully deploy in January 2001. He needed about $10 million to deploy. Unfortunately, the director of the NSA, Michael Hayden, made a successful appeal at that time to Congress for $4 billion (with a "b") in order to develop a different project called Trailblazer. ThinThread was actually operational and passing tests with flying colors, however the NSA cancelled it because they wanted to keep the $4 billion from Congress. ThinThread made Trailblazer look like a waste of money (which it was). Binney maintains that ThinThread would have detected and prevented the 9/11 attacks, and is furious that it was cancelled.
But there is more ... on the day of the attacks, Binney tried to enter the NSA building, but could not because the building had been closed to everyone. The next day, he was only able to enter by posing as a janitor. He overheard a conversation.
They were in there talking about trying to get things going. But the whole idea at that point changed now, because from Vice President Cheney's 10th anniversary of his 9/11 interview, he said that they, at that time, that Hayden and [CIA Director George] Tenet were talking about what could NSA do further than what they're already doing, and Hayden said he couldn't do it under the current restrictions of the law, so they had to have some exemptions. They took the proposal to expand that, do away with the protections, no encryption of any data about U.S. citizens and collect everything, all U.S. citizens' data as well.
They took that proposal to Vice President Cheney, and he took it to Bush, and everybody all agreed to it. To do that in secret with only -- they didn't even inform the FISA Court. They only informed four people, the chairman and the senior ranking member of both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. Those were the only four who knew about it until, I think, 2004. ...
Let me share one last bit from the Frontline inverview:
... Is there optimism that Obama is coming in, that maybe all of this is going to go away? And what is the rude awakening?
Well, we had hoped that, of course, that he would have done something, because he's a constitutional lawyer, that he would have started to change this and be open about it and make these corrections in the path that NSA was taking.
But instead he went the other way, and he was starting to indict people, like he tried to indict us. And the first turn of it was the report in July that came out from those IG reports under his administration. He was in in 2009; this was July 2009. And they said, well, all they need is more oversight and more monitoring of the programs to make sure they don't violate anybody's rights. Well, they were already doing it [violating people's rights] simply by collecting the data, and he knew that as a constitutional lawyer.
All that said to us was that all this stuff that he was saying before election was simply false. I mean, he was just feeding people a line to get them to vote for him, that's all, because he turned around and did exactly the opposite.
What Else Happened During Obama's Presidency? The Tale of Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden chose to follow in the footsteps of Bill Binney in 2013 when he became a whistleblower himself. He revealed that the government was spying on all of us via the NSA.
From Glenn Greenwald's original reporting:
Snowden will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world's most secretive organisations – the NSA.
In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: "I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions," but "I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant."
Having watched the Obama administration prosecute whistleblowers at a historically unprecedented rate, he fully expects the US government to attempt to use all its weight to punish him. "I am not afraid," he said calmly, "because this is the choice I've made."
He left the CIA in 2009 in order to take his first job working for a private contractor that assigned him to a functioning NSA facility, stationed on a military base in Japan. It was then, he said, that he "watched as Obama advanced the very policies that I thought would be reined in", and as a result, "I got hardened."
The primary lesson from this experience was that "you can't wait around for someone else to act. I had been looking for leaders, but I realised that leadership is about being the first to act."
As one of his final acts, Obama refused to give Snowden a pardon before he left office.
“I can't pardon somebody who hasn't gone before a court and presented themselves, so that's not something that I would comment on at this point,” Obama said in an interview published Friday with German magazine Der Spiegel and public broadcaster ARD.
When Gerald Ford issued a pardon for Richard Nixon over the crimes of Watergate, had Nixon presented himself before a court? No. Indeed, Obama COULD have similarly pardoned Snowden; it is a odd that a constitutional lawyer would be confused on this point. Obama was merely playing politics, saying words to confuse the public.
There have been some recent developments on the part of the NSA and in the courts. Per the NYT in early 2019,
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency has quietly shut down a system that analyzes logs of Americans’ domestic calls and texts, according to a senior Republican congressional aide, halting a program that has touched off disputes about privacy and the rule of law since the Sept. 11 attacks.
The agency has not used the system in months, and the Trump administration might not ask Congress to renew its legal authority, which is set to expire at the end of the year, according to the aide, Luke Murry, the House minority leader’s national security adviser.
I am not sure that I trust this reporting, but regardless, the issue that needs to be addressed is revocation of any unconstitutional laws that empower the NSA to run such a program. Expiration dates were included on Bush's Patriot Act and Obama's USA Freedom Act, however, an effort to extend these powers once again is currently in Congress: H.R.6172 - USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020. The NYT reporter Charlie Savage was obviously misinformed when he wrote
"In a raw assertion of executive power, President George W. Bush’s administration started the program as part of its intense pursuit for Qaeda conspirators in the weeks after the 2001 terrorist attacks, and a court later secretly blessed it."
WTF? How could Savage get this bit so very wrong? Congress GAVE Bush the power to start such a program when they passed the Patriot Act. Joe Biden was a co-sponsor in the Senate. Bernie Sanders voted NAY in the House.
And think of poor Edward Snowden. Imagine living in exile for exposing a program that the government has discontinued? That makes no sense at all. Snowden is a hero for actually attempting to defend and protect the Constitution, unlike Joe Biden and Barack Obama.
The National Security Administration's sweeping program to snoop on Americans' phone records was illegal and possibly unconstitutional — and there's no evidence it led to the arrests of any terrorism suspects — a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
In other words, there is zero evidence the NSA's phone-records program stopped a terrorist attack, contradicting the public statements of US intelligence officials following Snowden's revelation, Judge Marsha Berzon said in the ruling.
Berzon's ruling — which repeatedly mentioned Snowden's role in exposing the NSA practice — emphasized that the NSA broke the law in its surveillance of millions of Americans.
Politicians who advocate for unconstitutional laws are apparently not subject to any kind of criminal penalties whatsoever. Think about that for a moment. Passing a law that violates the Constitution, and/or signing such a bill into law as a sitting president ... shouldn't that be considered one of the gravest sins in our country?
With a hand on a Bible, a President swears that they will “defend and protect the Constitution”. Bush made that oath. So did Obama. And Biden may very well take that oath very soon. Where has been their defense of the Fourth Amendment?
To KNOWINGLY pass or sign an UNCONSTITUTIONAL law that infringes on the rights of "we the people" ... isn't that akin to treason itself?
Our forefathers shed their blood for this country in order to free us from an oppressive and unjust king. Thomas Jefferson wrote
“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government”.
I submit to you that as a country we are walking down a dangerous road that will lead to misery for the masses, and deserved violence and bloodshed against usurpers who rule using laws that violate our precious Constitution.
I refuse to vote for a man who BRAGS that he wrote the Patriot Act. As Bill Binney said about it, "That's just a total violation of our justice process." #NeverBiden