The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

In the Matter of Hedges v. Obama

Back in January of 2012 former war correspondent Christ Hedges and others, including Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg, filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and specifically the Act’s Section 1021(b)(2), which allows for indefinite detention by the U.S. military of people “who are part of or substantially support Al Qaeda, the Taliban or associated forces engaged in hostilities against the United States.” This detention denies those held of the ability to “contest the allegations against them because they have no right to be notified of the specific charges against them.” In this suit filed by Hedges et al., the issue in question was the vagueness of the terms “substantially support” and “associated forces.” For instance, could this vagueness lead to apprehension and detention of journalists who publish interviews with members of Al Qaeda or the Taliban? Could it lead to the same treatment against political activists protesting U.S. policies against these or “associated” groups?

The case, now designated Hedges v. Obama, was initially heard in New York District Court by Judge Katherine Forrest. The plaintiffs claimed that the NDAA violated the 1st (free speech), 5th (due process as well as the stipulation that people must be able to understand what actions break the law) and 14th (equal protection) Amendments to the Constitution. To address the question Judge Forrest asked the government lawyers if they could assure the court that the activities of the plaintiffs would not result in indefinite detention under the act. If they could give such assurances it would, as far as the judge was concerned, eliminate the plaintiff’s “standing” to challenge the law.

The government lawyers refused to give those assurances, and as a result, the judge concluded, “The definitions of ‘substantially supported’ and ‘associated forces’ were so vague that a reporter or activist could not be sure they would not be covered under the provision.” This, in turn, would result in what the plaintiffs considered a “chilling effect on free speech and freedom of the press.” Therefore, in September 2012, the Judge granted a permanent injunction against the practice of indefinite detention as put forth in NDAA.

There is no evidence that the U.S. government ever complied with this injunction, and its lawyers immediately appealed the ruling to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. When the case was heard in this court, the U.S. Justice Department suddenly came up with the assurances it refused to give only weeks before. In part it was because of these assurances that the appeals court decided to overturn Forrest’s ruling and grant a permanent stay of her injunction. In one of its interim rulings, the appeals court observed, “Since the U.S. government has promised that citizens, journalists, and activists were not in danger of being detained as a result of NDAA, it was unnecessary to block the enforcement of 102 (b)(2) of the NDAA.” However, as Carl Mayer, the lawyer for Christopher Hedges, had noted earlier, “The government has not put in any evidence. They just keep making these broad assurances. It’s all a ‘trust us’ proceeding.” And trust them is exactly what the appellate judges did. The appeals court’s final ruling in favor of the government was given on 17 July 2013.

One can seriously ask, is any government that trustworthy? Particularly those governments that see themselves at endless war with shadowy enemies and which claim the need for “broad executive war powers” to wage the struggle? One of the reasons that the rule of law is so important is just because there must be limits to behavior for everyone, including the rule makers. Usually the rules that hold governments in check are set forth in constitutions. Laws formulated by branches of U.S. government should explicitly comply with the U.S. Constitution, not just promise to do so.

Despite the naive faith of the Second Circuit judges in the verbal assurances of government lawyers that the NDAA will be enforced in a constitutional manner, there is evidence that such assurances cannot be trusted. Government personnel seem not to have enough objectivity and simple common sense for trust to be placed in them. For example, consider the 2010 case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project.

This case was argued before the Supreme Court in January 2010 and challenged that part of the USA Patriot Act, which prohibits “material support” to groups designated terrorist organizations by the U.S. government. Just as “substantially support” and “associated forces” are too vague for Hedges and his fellow plaintiffs, so was “material support” too vague for the Humanitarian Law Project. The HLP was seeking to interact with alleged terrorist groups such as the Kurdistan Workers Party of Turkey so as to “help the group enter into peace negotiations and United Nations processes.” In other words, the HLP wanted to help lead such organizations away from violence and toward nonviolent strategies. Could this be construed as giving “material support” to terrorists? The Obama Justice Department, in striking disregard of common sense, argued that it was indeed material support and thus a criminal venture. And, as it turned out, in its June 2010 decision, the Supreme Court agreed.

This was not just an intellectual exercise in front of the highest court of the land. The resulting Supreme Court decision quickly assumed real life significance. Within three months of its decision, the FBI was raiding homes in Chicago and Minneapolis, confiscating computers and files, because they suspected some undefined connection between the residents and various alleged Colombian and Palestinian terrorist groups. The FBI cited Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project as legal justification for their actions.

In addition, enforcement of this law turned out to be blatantly selective. In January 2011 civil rights lawyer David Cole, who represented the HLP before the Supreme Court, noted that well-known political figures, such as former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former head of homeland security Tom Ridge, had committed felonies when they publicly spoke in support of the Mujahedeen Khalq, an Iranian designated terrorist group that happened also to be in opposition to the current Islamic government of Iran. The FBI has not, nor will it, raid their homes.

Under these circumstances, anyone who accepts at face value the assurance of government lawyers that laws such as the Patriot Act and NDAA will conform to the Constitution and not walk all over one’s civil rights should, as the old saying goes, have their head examined.

US court ruling in NY favors anti-terror law (Sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA for 2012) | Boston.com

A federal appeals court in Manhattan has revived enforcement of a law that permits the indefinite detention of people suspected of supporting terrorists, saying a lower court mistakenly ruled for plaintiffs who opposed it.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the ruling Wednesday in a lawsuit challenging the law that allows the U.S. government to detain anyone who “substantially” or “directly” provides “support” to radical forces, such as al-Qaida or the Taliban. The court found that the plaintiffs had no standing to bring the case in the first place.

In response to the decision, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, Bruce Afran, accused the appeals court of failing to address the merits of the case by instead reversing the lower court’s decision on technical grounds. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan had no comment.

The decision sent the case back to the district court to let the judge consider further proceedings. But Afran said it was unclear whether that would happen.

In a ruling last year, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest found that the law was “unconstitutionally overbroad.” She urged Congress to make it more specific so journalists, scholars, political activists and others would not worry that contacting enemies of the United States would put them in jeopardy of indefinite incarceration.

"First Amendment rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and cannot be legislated away," Forrest wrote. “This court rejects the government’s suggestion that American citizens can be placed in military detention indefinitely, for acts they could not predict might subject them to detention."

The appeals court found that the plaintiffs who are U.S. citizens, including Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Christopher Hedges, “do not have standing to challenge the statute” because the relevant section “simply says nothing about the government’s authority to detain citizens.”

Other plaintiffs, including foreign political activists, also failed to show they had ground to fear the law, even though it “does have meaningful effect regarding the authority to detain individuals who are not citizens or lawful resident aliens,” the appeals panel said.

Hedges has interviewed al-Qaida members, mixed with members of the Taliban during speaking engagements overseas and reported on 17 groups named on a list prepared by the State Department of known terrorist organizations. He testified that the law has forced him to consider altering speeches where members of al-Qaida or the Taliban might be present.

Government lawyers had argued that the fears of journalists and others were unfounded. They claimed that the 2011 statute simply reaffirms powers authorized by Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

But Afran said the appeals court decision “follows a disturbing and dangerous trend in which the federal courts are refusing to address the merits of civil liberties cases. It sends a message that you can’t go to court unless the military is knocking at your door ready to take you into custody.”

Here is what Hedges wrote after Wednesday’s decision:

This is quite distressing. It means there is no recourse now either within the Executive, Legislative or Judicial branches of government to halt the steady assault on our civil liberties and most basic Constitutional rights. It means that the state can use the military, overturning over two centuries of domestic law, to use troops on the streets to seize U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military detention centers. States that accrue to themselves this kind of power, history has shown, will use it. We will appeal, but the Supreme Court is not required to hear our appeal. It is a black day for those who care about liberty.

You can read the court’s decision here.

Department of Pre-Crime, Part 4: The NDAA Congress Is Not About to Legislate Targeted Killing | emptywheel

In three earlier posts, I have discussed the problem with turning the FISA Court into the Drone and/or Targeted Killing Court: As I noted, the existing FISA Court no longer fulfills the already problematic role it was set up to have, ensuring that the government have particularized probable cause before it wiretap someone. On the contrary, the FISA Court now serves as a veil of secrecy behind which the government can invent new legal theories with little check.

In addition, before the FISA Court started rubberstamping Drone Strikes and/or Targeted Killings of Americans, presumably it would need an actual law to guide it. (Though Carrie Cordero, who is opposed to the Drone and/or Targeted Killing FISA Court idea because it might actually restrain the Executive, seems to envision the Court just using the standards the Executive has itself invented.) And there’s a problem with that.

The same Congress that hasn’t been successful passing legislation on detention in the 2012 NDAA is certainly not up to the task of drafting a law describing when targeted killing is okay.

[…]

[The] calls for a FISA Drone and/or Targeted Killing Court are just Congress’ (DiFi’s especially) effort to punt this to a place where it won’t embarrass Congress for their refusal to rein in the Executive Branch anymore. The push to give FISA review over this authority is just an attempt to stick this all someplace we can’t see it anymore, not to impose any meaningful review of the Executive. [READ ALL]

As long as the War on Terrorism is being fought with its current policies in tact [i.e. as long as the 2001 AUMF remains as the backbone of post-legal America], Americans can count on presidents who differ little from their predecessor on civil liberties. They will never defend due process, free speech, press freedom, privacy or rights to liberty and justice and risk constraining the ability of government to fight enemies abroad. Each president will be the same or worse than the previous president. Kevin Gosztola

MATT SLEDGE: I think—we’ll get to, you know, WikiLeaks and whistleblowing in a minute, of course. Before we do that, I wanted to re-ask my question from the last panel about this drones memo. You know, what’s the end game with this—with the lawsuit [against the NDAA]? You know, if you win the lawsuit and the administration retains the power to assassinate American citizens, you know, how—is that Pyrrhic victory?

CHRIS HEDGES: The memo is fascinating to read. It looks like it’s written—

MS: Well, they won’t release the memos yet.

CH: Yes, well, the free white paper.

MS: It’s a white paper, the pre-memo white paper.

CH: The white paper. Right, the pre-memo white paper. What is—because it’s so amateurish. It looks like it’s written by a first-year law student. I mean, you know, whatever you think of John Yoo—and I hope he burns in hell—he actually had a much more sophisticated legal argument to torture human beings. Look, the drone wars—this is—it’s not an example of—and I think this is true with the NDAA, I think it’s true with the FISA Amendment Act, I think—go all the way back. What they’re attempting to do is legally justify what they’re already doing. They have argued that under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act they have a right to assassinate American citizens. I have read that act innumerable times, and Bruce and Carl did, and none of us find that in the act. That is, to be generous, a radical interpretation of the AUMF. And so, what they’re seeking to do is legally justify, in the same way that Yoo was attempting to legally justify torture. They’re essentially looking for kind of legal cover.

And so, I think it’s all connected. It’s all a part of this very rapid descent into a frightening form of corporate totalitarianism. And that is just writ large across the landscape. And as we go down—and they know we’re going down. Look, I mean, you know, they—these forces are cannibalistic. Forty percent of the summer Arctic sea ice melts, and here we’re literally watching the death throes of the planet, and these corporations, like Shell, look at it as a business opportunity. They know only one word, and that’s “more.” They have commodified everything. Human beings are commodities, disposable commodities. The ecosystem is a disposable commodity. And they will—now with no impediments, they will push and push and push. It makes Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, which I’m just re-reading, the most prescient study of the American character, because we’re all on the Pequod, and Ahab’s running the ship. And as Ahab said, “My means and my methods are sane, and my object is mad.” And they’re not going to stop themselves. The formal mechanisms of power are not going to stop them. It’s up to us.

And literally, you know, I have a five-year-old, and his favorite book is Out of the Blue. He’ll sit on the floor and look at narwhals and porpoises, and every time I see him do it, it rips my heart out, because I know that if there is not a radical change in our relationship to each other and to the planet, every single one of those sea creatures will be dead within his lifetime. In theological terms, as a seminary graduate, these are forces of death, literally.

MS: Well—

CH: And it is all—

MS: Which is the corporation arguing, you know, or lobbying for Section 1021 of the NDAA?

CH: All of them. All of them. Who writes our legislation but corporate lobbyists? The security and surveillance state is the mechanism. Look, we have, not far from here, a few blocks from here, a joint command center with the NYPD and Goldman Sachs. I was arrested in front of Goldman Sachs with the Occupy movement. And let me tell you that when they—when the security came out, it was a mixed security of Goldman Sachs security and NYPDsecurity. These corporations have created 70 percent of our—we have 16 intelligence agencies, and as Jeremy Scahill has pointed out, 70 percent of their work are outsourced corporations. We have handed the capacity for the security and surveillance state to private corporations.

Hedges v. Obama post-trial panel discussion

The NDAA and the Death of the Democratic State | Chris Hedges

If we lose in Hedges v. Obama—and it seems certain that no matter the outcome of the appeal this case will reach the Supreme Court—electoral politics and our rights as citizens will be as empty as those of Nero’s Rome. If we lose, the power of the military to detain citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military prisons will become a terrifying reality. Democrat or Republican. Occupy activist or libertarian. Socialist or tea party stalwart. It does not matter. This is not a partisan fight. Once the state seizes this unchecked power, it will inevitably create a secret, lawless world of indiscriminate violence, terror and gulags. I lived under several military dictatorships during the two decades I was a foreign correspondent. I know the beast.
“The stakes are very high,” said attorney Carl Mayer, who with attorney Bruce Afran brought our case to trial, in addressing a Culture Project audience in Manhattan on Wednesday after the hearing. “What our case comes down to is: Are we going to have a civil justice system in the United States or a military justice system? The civil justice system is something that is ingrained in the Constitution. It was always very important in combating tyranny and building a democratic society. What the NDAA is trying to impose is a system of military justice that allows the military to police the streets of America to detain U.S. citizens, to detain residents in the United States in military prisons. Probably the most frightening aspect of the NDAA is that it allows for detention until ‘the end of hostilities.’ ”
Five thousand years of human civilization has left behind innumerable ruins to remind us that the grand structures and complex societies we build, and foolishly venerate as immortal, crumble into dust. It is the descent that matters now. If the corporate state is handed the tools, as under Section 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA, to use deadly force and military power to criminalize dissent, then our decline will be one of repression, blood and suffering. No one, not least our corporate overlords, believes that our material conditions will improve with the impending collapse of globalization, the steady deterioration of the global economy, the decline of natural resources and the looming catastrophes of climate change.
But the global corporatists—who have created a new species of totalitarianism—demand, during our decay, total power to extract the last vestiges of profit from a degraded ecosystem and disempowered citizenry. The looming dystopia is visible in the skies of blighted postindustrial cities such as Flint, Mich., where drones circle like mechanical vultures. And in an era where the executive branch can draw up secret kill lists that include U.S. citizens, it would be naive to believe these domestic drones will remain unarmed.

The NDAA and the Death of the Democratic State | Chris Hedges

If we lose in Hedges v. Obama—and it seems certain that no matter the outcome of the appeal this case will reach the Supreme Court—electoral politics and our rights as citizens will be as empty as those of Nero’s Rome. If we lose, the power of the military to detain citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military prisons will become a terrifying reality. Democrat or Republican. Occupy activist or libertarian. Socialist or tea party stalwart. It does not matter. This is not a partisan fight. Once the state seizes this unchecked power, it will inevitably create a secret, lawless world of indiscriminate violence, terror and gulags. I lived under several military dictatorships during the two decades I was a foreign correspondent. I know the beast.

“The stakes are very high,” said attorney Carl Mayer, who with attorney Bruce Afran brought our case to trial, in addressing a Culture Project audience in Manhattan on Wednesday after the hearing. “What our case comes down to is: Are we going to have a civil justice system in the United States or a military justice system? The civil justice system is something that is ingrained in the Constitution. It was always very important in combating tyranny and building a democratic society. What the NDAA is trying to impose is a system of military justice that allows the military to police the streets of America to detain U.S. citizens, to detain residents in the United States in military prisons. Probably the most frightening aspect of the NDAA is that it allows for detention until ‘the end of hostilities.’ ”

Five thousand years of human civilization has left behind innumerable ruins to remind us that the grand structures and complex societies we build, and foolishly venerate as immortal, crumble into dust. It is the descent that matters now. If the corporate state is handed the tools, as under Section 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA, to use deadly force and military power to criminalize dissent, then our decline will be one of repression, blood and suffering. No one, not least our corporate overlords, believes that our material conditions will improve with the impending collapse of globalization, the steady deterioration of the global economy, the decline of natural resources and the looming catastrophes of climate change.

But the global corporatists—who have created a new species of totalitarianism—demand, during our decay, total power to extract the last vestiges of profit from a degraded ecosystem and disempowered citizenry. The looming dystopia is visible in the skies of blighted postindustrial cities such as Flint, Mich., where drones circle like mechanical vultures. And in an era where the executive branch can draw up secret kill lists that include U.S. citizens, it would be naive to believe these domestic drones will remain unarmed.

Stop The #NDAA

anoncentral:

If you are in New York City right now, please try to make your way to 40 Centre St. to support the 7 plaintiffs & 2 attorneys challenging the NDAA in a lawsuit.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing “Hedges vs. Obama” at this very moment.

Show your support.

(Source: basedinternet)

On Wednesday, Obama signed the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, a $633-billion blueprint for Pentagon spending that is objectionable for both what it contains and what it omits. Like last year’s version, the act prohibits the use of Defense Department funds to transfer inmates at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States, effectively making it impossible for Obama to fulfill his long-deferred promise to close the facility or to try some of the detainees in civilian courts. And the act lacks language making it clear that the military’s authority to detain suspected terrorists does not extend to U.S. citizens.

Rights lost to the ‘war on terror’

The LA Times editorial board lays into Obama on civil liberties.

The New York Times lashed out on Friday over the secrecy surrounding targeted killing.

President Obama has utterly failed the first test of his second term, even before inauguration day. His signature means indefinite detention without charge or trial, as well as the illegal military commissions, will be extended. He also has jeopardized his ability to close Guantanamo during his presidency. Scores of men who have already been held for nearly 11 years without being charged with a crime—including more than 80 who have been cleared for transfer—may very well be imprisoned unfairly for yet another year. The president should use whatever discretion he has in the law to order many of the detainees transferred home, and finally step up next year to close Guantanamo and bring a definite end to indefinite detention. Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, NDAA Prevents Closing Guantanamo, Could Lead to Claims of a Right to Discriminate

thepeoplesrecord:

Obama signs NDAA 2013 without objecting to indefinite detention of Americans
January 3, 2013

President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 on Wednesday, giving his stamp of approval to a Pentagon spending bill that will keep Guantanamo Bay open and make indefinite detention for US citizens as likely as ever.

The president inked his name to the 2013 NDAA on Wednesday evening to little fanfare, and accompanied his signature with a statement condemning a fair number of provisions contained in a bill that he nevertheless endorsed.

The NDAA, an otherwise mundane annual bill that lays out the use of funds for the Department of Defense, has come under attack during the Obama administration for the introduction of a provision last year that allows the military to detain United States citizens indefinitely without charge or trial for mere suspicions of ties to terrorism. Under the 2012 NDAA’s Sec. 1021, Pres. Obama agreed to give the military the power to arrest and hold Americans without the writ of habeas corpus, although he promised with that year’s signing statement that his administration would not abuse that privilege.

In response to the controversial indefinite detention provision from last year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) introduced an amendment in December 2012 that would have forbid the government from using military force to indefinitely detain Americans without trial under the 2013 NDAA. Although that provision, dubbed the “Feinstein Amendment,” passed the Senate unanimously, a select panel of lawmakers led by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Michigan) stripped it from the final version of the NDAA two week later before it could clear Congress. In exchange, Congress added a provision, Sec. 1029, that claims to ensure that “any person inside the United States” is allowed their constitutional rights, including habeas corpus, but supporters of the Feinstein Amendment say that the swapped wording does nothing to erase the indefinite detention provision from the previous year.

“Saying that new language somehow ensures the right to habeas corpus – the right to be presented before a judge – is both questionable and not enough. Citizens must not only be formally charged but also receive jury trials and the other protections our Constitution guarantees. Habeas corpus is simply the beginning of due process. It is by no means the whole,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) said after the Feinstein Amendment was removed.

“Our Bill of Rights is not something that can be cherry-picked at legislators’ convenience. When I entered the United States Senate, I took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. It is for this reason that I will strongly oppose passage of the McCain conference report that strips the guarantee to a trial by jury,” Sen. Paul added.

Although the Pres. Obama rejected the indefinite detention clause when signing the 2012 NDAA, a statement issued late Wednesday from the White House failed to touch on the military’s detainment abilities. On the other hand, Pres. Obama did voice his opposition to a number of provisions included in the latest bill, particularly ones that will essentially render his promise of closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison impossible.

Despite repeated pleas that Gitmo will be closed on his watch, Pres. Obama failed to do as much during his first term in the White House. Thanks to a provision in the 2013 NDAA, the Pentagon will be unable to use funds to transfer detainees out of that facility and to other sights, ensuring they will remain at the top-secret military prison for the time being.

“Even though I support the vast majority of the provisions contained in this Act, which is comprised of hundreds of sections spanning more than 680 pages of text, I do not agree with them all. Our Constitution does not afford the president the opportunity to approve or reject statutory sections one by one,” Pres. Obama writes.

Congress, claims the president, designed sections of the new defense bill “in order to foreclose my ability to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.”

“I continue to believe that operating the facility weakens our national security by wasting resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and strengthening our enemies,” he says.

Elsewhere, the president claims that certain provisions in the act threaten to interview with his “constitutional duty to supervise the executive branch” of the United States.

Before the 2013 NDAA was finalized, it was reported by the White House that Pres. Obama would veto the legislation over the provisions involving Guantanamo Bay. Similarly, the White House originally said the president would veto the 2012 NDAA over the indefinite detention provisions, although he signed it regardless “with reservations” on December 31 of that year.

Since authorizing the 2012 NDAA, the president has been challenged in federal court by a team of plaintiffs who say that the indefinite detention clause is unconstitutional. US District Judge Katherine Forrest agreed that Sec. 1021 of the 2012 NDAA violated the US Constitution and granted a permanent injunction on the Obama administration from using that provision, but the White House successfully fought to appeal that decision.

Commenting on the latest signing, American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony Romero says, “President Obama has utterly failed the first test of his second term, even before inauguration day.”

“His signature means indefinite detention without charge or trial, as well as the illegal military commissions, will be extended,” adds Romero. ”He also has jeopardized his ability to close Guantanamo during his presidency. Scores of men who have already been held for nearly 11 years without being charged with a crime—including more than 80 who have been cleared for transfer—may very well be imprisoned unfairly for yet another year. The president should use whatever discretion he has in the law to order many of the detainees transferred home, and finally step up next year to close Guantanamo and bring a definite end to indefinite detention.”

Source
Photo

This administration can indefinitely detain you without due process… but don’t worry: President Obama promises not to abuse this privilege.

Between the continued drone war campaign overseas, GITMO staying open, drone strikes targeting Americans being kept secret & indefinite military detention of Americans without charge or trial, the Obama administration is on a civil liberties slashing spree for 2013. & it’s only January 3.

(Source: thepeoplesrecord)

Echelon Redux | Annie Machon

… [Of] course the whole world now knows, post 9/11, that all foreigners are potential terrorists and are now being watched/snatched/extraordinarily rendered/tortured/assassinated with impunity. In Europe we have had many people suffer this way and some have managed to achieve recognition and restitution. That appears to do little to stop the drone wars and blood-letting that the USA has unleashed across the Middle East.

But the NDAA and the extended FISA should at least rouse the ire of Americans themselves: US citizens on US soil can now potentially be targeted. This is new, this is dangerous, right?

Well, no, not quite, as least as far as the interception of communications goes.

The Echelon system, exposed in 1988 by British journalist Duncan Campbell and reinvestigated in 1999, put in place just such a (legally dubious) mechanism for watching domestic citizens. The surveillance state was already in place, even if through a back door, as you can see from this article I wrote 4 years ago, which included the following paragraph:

ECHELON was an agreement between the NSA and its British equivalent GCHQ (as well as the agencies of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) whereby they shared information they gathered on each others’ citizens. GCHQ could legally eavesdrop on people outside the UK without a warrant, so they could target US citizens of interest, then pass the product over to the NSA. The NSA then did the same for GCHQ. Thus both agencies could evade any democratic oversight and accountability, and still get the intelligence they wanted.

The only difference now is that FISA has come blasting through the front door, and yet people remain quiescent.

The corporate state knows that the steady deterioration of the economy and the increasingly savage effects of climate change will create widespread social instability. It knows that rage will mount as the elites squander diminishing resources while the poor, as well as the working and middle classes, are driven into destitution. It wants to have the legal measures to keep us cowed, afraid and under control. It does not, I suspect, trust the police to maintain order. And this is why, contravening two centuries of domestic law, it has seized for itself the authority to place the military on city streets and citizens in military detention centers, where they cannot find redress in the courts. The shredding of our liberties is being done in the name of national security and the fight against terrorism. But the NDAA is not about protecting us. It is about protecting the state from us. That is why no one in the executive or legislative branch is going to restore our rights. The new version of the NDAA, like the old ones, provides our masters with the legal shackles to make our resistance impossible. And that is their intention. Chris Hedges (via azspot)

(via azspot)