Antroposofisch tijdschrift voor politieke en maatschappelijke vraagstukken van deze tijd
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By Sam Jacobs
The USA PATRIOT Act provides a textbook example of how the United States federal government expands its power. An emergency happens, legitimate or otherwise. The media, playing its dutiful role as goad for greater government oversight, demands “something must be done.” Government power is massively expanded, with little regard for whether or not what is being done is efficacious, to say nothing of the overall impact on our nation’s civil liberties.
No goals are posted, because if targets are hit, this would necessitate the ending or scaling back of the program. Instead, the program becomes normalized. There are no questions asked about whether the program is accomplishing what it set out to do. It is now simply a part of American life and there is no going back.
The American public largely accepts the USA PATRIOT Act as a part of civic life as immutable, perhaps even more so than the Bill of Rights. However, this act – passed in the dead of night, with little to no oversight, in a panic after the biggest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor – is not only novel, it is also fundamentally opposed to virtually every principle on which the United States of America was founded. It might not be going anywhere anytime soon, but patriots, liberty lovers and defenders of Constitutional government should nonetheless familiarize themselves with the onerous provisions of this law, which is nothing short of a full-throttle attack on the American republic.
What’s Even in the USA PATRIOT Act?
What is in the USA PATRIOT Act? In the Michael Moore film Fahrenheit 9/11, then Rep. John Conyers cracked wise about how no one had actually read the Act and how this was in fact par for the course with America’s laws. Thus, before delving into the deeper issues surrounding the PATRIOT Act, it is worth discussing what the Act actually says. Here’s a brief look at the 10 Titles in the PATRIOT Act:
A group of former intelligence agency directors and other trustworthy cybersecurity pros has launched a charitable initiative to protect US elections against foreign interference. So who are these noble guardians of democracy?
The “US Cyberdome” claims to apply top-of-the-line cybersecurity capabilities to the country’s vulnerable election systems, motivated by nothing more than a selfless devotion to protecting democracy against “sophisticated attacks by constant and ever-evolving threats.” Stuffed with sinister ex-spooks like former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Cyberdome will keep America’s democracy safe from “purposeful attacks and exploits” and even “undue influence from enemies both foreign and domestic” – at no cost!
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One might be forgiven for looking this particular gift horse in the mouth. Clapper, after all, stood in front of Congress and denied under oath that the NSA was collecting data on US citizens, an apparent act of perjury he attributed first to forgetting about the Patriot Act section used to authorize the agency’s StellarWind surveillance program and later to simple misspeaking. He has also claimed Russians are “genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor” – not exactly the kind of impartial authority one wants guarding one’s democracy. And Chertoff, a member of the infamous Atlantic Council, co-wrote both the Patriot Act and the CIA interrogation memo advising agents on the judicious use of waterboarding.
Other members of Cyberdome’s board of advisors include former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who oversaw Obama’s targeted drone assassination program and approved the killing of US citizens like Anwar al-Awlaki without due process; and former CIA director Michael Morell, another Atlantic Council member who was responsible for reviewing the “intelligence” that went into then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s infamous United Nations speech in which he claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. A less trustworthy bunch has not been assembled on an advisory board since the Orwellian browser plugin NewsGuard was unveiled.
It’s not like Cyberdome’s tech isn’t expensive – the group was founded by Matt Barrett,