'Constitutions' are Nothing But Words

Sometimes we wonder why the US political establishment doesn't simply copy the Nazi or the Stasi security legislation word for word and be done with it. Oh wait, that could actually be what they're doing.

Does anyone remember the mock outrage of the Left when Bush was caught  in flagrante delicto, letting his security apparatus tap the communications of US citizens without a warrant? Readers of this blog know how cynical we are when it comes to politicians uttering protestations of rectitude and righteousness, regardless of their party affiliation. The fact remains that most modern-day politicians – apart from a very few exceptional individuals such as e.g. Ron Paul – are thoroughly wedded to statism in all its forms. Moreover, as a recent study shows, most of them are probably psychopaths to boot, that would be doing God knows what if they hadn't gone into politics.

If there is anything that we could mildly reproach Dr. Paul for it is his unwavering belief in the constitution.  A good argument can be made that the very moment this piece of paper was signed, it all went downhill with nary an interruption. Epistula non erubescit as Cicero told us ('paper doesn't blush').

Readers may dimly remember that before 9/11 'changed everything' and the very law enforcement agencies that had just produced the biggest cock-up in history were rewarded with an unprecedented expansion of their power and funding, there was a thing called the forth amendment. Something about 'unreasonable searches and seizures', 'warrants' and 'probable cause'. Just words, it turns out.







Anything not clear about what this says?



CNET informs us:


“A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans' e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law.

CNET has learned that Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans' e-mail, is scheduled for next week.

Leahy's rewritten bill would allow more than 22 agencies — including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission — to access Americans' e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant. It also would give the FBI and Homeland Security more authority, in some circumstances, to gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge. (CNET obtained the revised draft from a source involved in the negotiations with Leahy.)


Revised bill highlights

Grants warrantless access to Americans' electronic correspondence to over 22 federal agencies. Only a subpoena is required, not a search warrant signed by a judge based on probable cause.

Permits state and local law enforcement to warrantlessly access Americans' correspondence stored on systems not offered "to the public," including university networks.

Authorizes any law enforcement agency to access accounts without a warrant — or subsequent court review — if they claim "emergency" situations exist.

Says providers "shall notify" law enforcement in advance of any plans to tell their customers that they've been the target of a warrant, order, or subpoena.

Delays notification of customers whose accounts have been accessed from 3 days to "10 business days." This notification can be postponed by up to 360 days.

It's an abrupt departure from Leahy's earlier approach, which required police to obtain a search warrant backed by probable cause before they could read the contents of e-mail or other communications. The Vermont Democrat boasted last year that his bill "provides enhanced privacy protections for American consumers by… requiring that the government obtain a search warrant."

Everyone who voted for this lying slime should probably do several weeks of penance on a bed of nails.


We Wouldn't Want to Make Things Too Difficult for the Minions of the State

Now consider why exactly Mr. Leahy has engaged in this act of clandestine legislative backpedaling. Of course everybody knows the authorities were doing all the things that are now suddenly to be made 'legal' anyway, whether they were legal or not, as this NSA whistle-blower points out. If you have doubts as to how extensive surveillance of the citizenry has become, we would once again recommend looking at this presentation by Jacob Appelbaum (who is by now probably on every governmental black list imaginable. We wonder how he even manages to board a plane).

Anyway, here is what exactly allegedly changed Leahy's mind:

Leahy had planned a vote on an earlier version of his bill, designed to update a pair of 1980s-vintage surveillance laws, in late September. But after law enforcement groups including the National District Attorneys' Association and the National Sheriffs' Association organizations objected to the legislation and asked him to "reconsider acting" on it, Leahy pushed back the vote and reworked the bill as a package of amendments to be offered next Thursday. The package (PDF) is a substitute for H.R. 2471, which the House of Representatives already has approved.

One person participating in Capitol Hill meetings on this topic told CNET that Justice Department officials have expressed their displeasure about Leahy's original bill. The department is on record as opposing any such requirement: James Baker, the associate deputy attorney general, has publicly warned that requiring a warrant to obtain stored e-mail could have an "adverse impact" on criminal investigations.”


(emphasis added)

Wow! One wonders how they ever investigated a crime back when there still was a fourth amendment. Did all the criminals escape? It doesn't appear to be the case, considering the size of the US prison population.

So all it takes is for 'law enforcement' to come whining that it wants to have it as easy as possible and Leahy jumps? Of course they want every power they can possibly get. What else? How about just saying 'no'? Already crime movies from the 1970's and 1980's strike one as quaint and anachronistic when they show all the things the police once were not allowed to do.


The Problem

Ostensibly the surveillance state is erected to 'keep us safe'. What is however routinely glossed over is that one is no longer safe from those doing the surveillance. Even if one were to illegitimately assume that the people engaged in these tasks at the moment are all angels who would never abuse their power, this would by no means be guaranteed to remain so.

We didn't only mention the Nazis above for rhetorical effect. It is important to keep in mind that when they came to power, they actually didn't really have to change all that much in terms of Germany's legislation. There were already countless 'emergency statutes' and decrees on the books that were put there by their democratic predecessors. All it took was for someone to interpret them creatively and apply them in ways that hadn't been thought of before.

The problem with putting in place the tools that could enable tyranny is that thereafter the only thing that's still missing is the tyrant.

No-one can guarantee that such a tyrant will never appear on the scene. People generally underestimate how thin the veneer of civilization really is. Any sufficiently dire emergency can bring forth a radical who seizes the moment. He will then find his bed ready-made thanks to the politicians who have eroded one constitutional protection after another over recent years.

Since all of this has been done in the name of fighting terrorism, it should also be pointed out that terrorists of the caliber of the 9/11 attackers will hardly be held back by any of these measures. So far most of the 'terrorists' caught and prosecuted by the authorities since 9/11 appear to be patsies with the IQ of  fence posts that were talked into impossible schemes by agents provocateurs.

The most recent case was a guy who tried to blow up a Federal Reserve building with a bomb that the FBI had supplied him with. According to the press “Nafis wrote that he wanted to 'destroy America' and that he believed the most efficient way to accomplish this goal was to target America’s economy" , but as one commentator at zerohedge remarked at the time, in that case he should have volunteered to guard the building, not destroy it.

In any case, we are struck by the fact that most of the cases that are usually made public with great fanfare appear to involve 'terrorists' that routinely turn out to be complete idiots upon closer scrutiny (sometimes even genuinely mentally ill drunks from a one horse town, such as in the case of the 'Iran bomb plot'). Presumably these are meant to impress on the public that talk about constitutional guarantees to liberty and any doubts they may have about the huge amounts the agencies involved cost every year are akin to a death wish.

This may be a good moment to recall the words of Benjamin Franklin (who as one of the founders of the Republic would today very likely be regarded as a terrorist as well – at the very least he would be on a no-fly list), who opined that They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

He might have added, that not only do they not deserve them, they will also ultimately not get them either.



Dispenser of wise words: Benjamin Franklin

(Photo Credit: Bettmann/CORBIS)







Spineless backtracking police state supporter: Sen. Patrick Leahy

(Photo source unknown, The Web)




We wish our US readers a happy Turkey Day, notwithstanding the bad news related above.






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4 Responses to “Big Brother Strikes Again”

  • worldend666:

    And the quote of the day from Doug Casey from a discussion about how to explain to Joe Sixpack that his liberties are being curtailed:

    “How can we have a discussion with someone whose emotion trumps their reason? How do we even begin to untangle the thinking of people who will gather this week to give thanks for the bounty produced by freedom and hard work – the famous puritan work ethic – by eating a turkey bought with food stamps?”

  • No6, I think it is time the States hold a convention and expell Washington DC from the Country and revoke the right of all that reside in DC and profit from lobbying DC from coming back into the States.

    The idea these people, from both parties, lead us into one war after another. No one in the general population of the US benefits from a war. I went to a lot of baseball games last season. In every game, they paid tribute to the servicemen in attendance. They play the Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America. The establishment has us eating out of their hands. Support for the troops is brought to mind that we should support all the wars we are engaging in, because to not do so doesn’t not support the troops. The idiot idea is that getting into these wars in the first place does anything to benefit the troops in the first place. Then they use the wars they get into repeatedly to destroy our liberties. The problem with 9/11 was they didn’t start that war, our state department and executive branch started it. They started it long before most of us were even born, so most Americans are clueless. There were real Americans such as Warren Buffets father, Robert Taft back in the 1950’s and others that tried to steer us clear. But, communists such as William F. Buckley, who sold us the nonsense he and his crew were true Americans, pushed us down the hill. Mr. Roosevelt used emergency to destroy the Constitution as it prohibited the socialist activities of taking property without compensation to distribute to their followers in the 1930’s. Stealing and killing are the primary activities of States. All you have to do is watch. If supporting the troops is putting them in harms way repeatedly, if I was a troop, I don’t believe I would want much support.

    • JasonEmery:

      Hey mann, I think you are correct, but let’s look a little beyond that, to the underlying cause. Things happen for a reason, and these non stop wars are no exception. They must be serving someone’s interests. There is the obvious ‘military-industrial complex’ angle. One of the goals of bureaucracies is to sustain themselves, or if possible, to expand.

      Far more important, however, is to project the image of the USA as the world’s only superpower, and not coincidentally, the issuer of the world’s reserve currency.

      Yeah, yeah, we all know the system is hopelessly broke, but that is not a good reason for abandoning it, at least not in the eyes of the bureaucrats. In this case, it will have to run itself off a cliff (already past this stage, actually), and hit the canyon floor (about to happen).

  • No6:

    Its not only Greece that needs a total reboot!

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