– Government-Granted “Freedom” (Acting Man June 5, 2015):
Orwellian Language – the Slide toward “Velvet Glove” Fascism Continues
Sometimes we get the feeling the ruling elites are investing the laws they enact with a kind of impertinent, slap-in-your-face black humor. How else to explain the Orwellian names given to the liberty-crushing laws that have been put in place since the “war on terror” started?
The latest example is the misnamed “Freedom Act”, the purpose of which appears to be to make legal what was hitherto plainly illegal – inter alia whole-sale spying by the government on the citizenry. The legislation has been sold to the serfs as absolutely necessary to “prevent terror attacks”. As we have previously pointed out, the average US citizen is statistically far more likely to die from drowning in a bathtub or simply by falling from a chair rather than from a terror attack. No special laws have been proposed yet to save us from the evil of bathtubs and chairs, in spite of the danger evidently emanating from these deadly household furnishings.
Many people indeed begin to watch what they are saying once they are aware of being under constant surveillance. As we have previously argued, this undermines an important pillar of civilization.
Cartoon via Terrence Nowicki
Apart from the vanishingly small statistical likelihood of actually being harmed by terrorists, it is noteworthy that such laws – the true purpose of which is highly unlikely to be congruent with their stated purpose – are enacted even while the government engages in activities that are bound to worsen these statistics in the future. The so-called “war on terror” so far actually seems to be similarly successful as the “war on poverty” and the “war on drugs”. In fact, it appears to be ranking quite high on the list of the biggest government boondoggles.
Since the “war on terror” started, terrorism has grown like never before. One should expect such outcomes to some extent, but this one is actually putting quite a few other failed government schemes to shame … via Washington Post, click to enlarge.
To call a law the “Freedom Act” makes it sound as if freedom were something the government generously grants to its serfs. This is not so. Not surprisingly, upon closer inspection it looks like the new law hasn’t improved the previous state of affairs in the slightest. Instead it has probably made it even worse.
Just keeping in touch with the newly liberated citizens – now and forever, Cartoon by Walt Handelsman
Due to a FOIA request by Judicial Watch it has recently emerged that the government knew full well that its intervention in Syria (arming moderately mad mullahs in order to overthrow Assad) would probably result in the emergence of an “Islamic State” in Iraq and Syria. As Washington’s Blog and Zerohedge have pointed out, there are quite a few choice passages in this 2012 assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency (we have left the typos and grammatical mistakes in the transcription below intact, we have only added a few commas to improve readability):
“The general situation”:
Internally, events are taking a clear sectarian direction.
The Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.
The West, Gulf countries and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China and Iran support the regime.
“The effects on Iraq”:
The opposition forces will try to use the Iraqi territory as a safe haven for its forces, taking advantage of the sympathy of the Iraqi border population, meanwhile trying to recruit fighters and train them on the Iraqi side, in addition to harboring refugees.
If the situation unravels, there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor) and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).
The deterioration of the situation has dire consequences on the Iraqi situation and are as follows:
This creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi and will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers the enemy, the dissenters. ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory.
The renewing facilitation of terrorist elements from all over the Arab world entering into Iraqi arena.”
It is startling to learn that all of this was already known to government agencies in 2012, well before the world at large became aware of ISIS. Just think for a moment about this sentence: “…. there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor) and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want.”
Midwifing in the Middle Eas, Cartoon by Adam Zyglis
In other words, ISIS has not only done precisely what was expected, but what the governments supporting the Syrian opposition wanted to happen. Radical salafists were armed to overthrow a tinpot dictator who represents no threat whatsoever to us. Many of the same politicians who voted in favor of this have at the same time incessantly promoted the alleged need to keep civil liberties undermined. According to them, provisions of the “Patriot Act” shouldn’t have been allowed to expire under any circumstances, inter alia to enable us to “defend against the threat posed by groups like ISIS”. Someone should perhaps remind these slime-molds that they knowingly and willingly helped to create this threat. The cynicism and hypocrisy are truly remarkable.
John McCain posing with “moderately mad mullahs” in Syria. The man with the camera was later identified as terrorist Muhammad Nour, while the second man from the left was said to be his associate “Abu Ibrahim”. Both have allegedly been involved in the abduction of Lebanese Shia pilgrims. McCain’s office commented: “If the individual photographed with Senator McCain is in fact Mohamed Nour, that is regrettable.”
Why should “we” get involved in the Sunni/Shia religious dispute at all, what has any of this got to do with us? Note that prior to the Iraq war, Sunni, Shia and Christian communities were living peacefully side by side in the region. One certainly cannot deny that both Saddam and Assad were, respectively are, quite unsavory dictators. And yet, the West has no problem with supporting the brutal theocratic regime of Saudi Arabia and the even more brutal junta of General al-Sisi that is currently ruling Egypt (where the courts are routinely sentencing hundreds of people to death in one go in Stalinesque show trials). This support is provided under the cover of “realpolitik”, the term regularly invoked when policies completely bereft of morals are pursued.
Just trust us…, cartoon by Simon Kneebone
Supporting radical fundamentalists in order to fight a regime one happens to dislike at a given moment is per experience especially dangerous. If there is a “lesser evil” in the Syrian conflict, we have yet to be apprised of its existence. The radicals fighting Assad are certainly happy to take Western money and weapons, just as the mujahedin of Afghanistan once did, but they are definitely not our “friends”. On the contrary, arming them will ultimately only invite blowback, a term coined by the CIA to describe the rash of unintended consequences that usually results from such interventions. It should be known by now that Islamist fundamentalists have especially large blowback potential. The recent murder of cartoonists in Paris has once again underscored this fact (the French government has reacted as one would expect, by curtailing the liberties of French citizens further).
Spot the difference, Cartoon by Matt Wuerker
Amending the Amendments
No-one is saying that genuine terrorist threats shouldn’t be defended against. The question is whether surveillance of the entire population actually serves this goal. The evidence so far suggests that it doesn’t. As the former NSA chief publicly admitted, “one, or perhaps two” terrorist plots have actually been foiled by the NSA’s extended spying activities. Or perhaps none, as Michael Krieger avers. Who knows really? Our money is on “none”.
Similarly, the extraordinary powers the government has arrogated to itself in other areas via the likewise Orwellian-sounding “Patriot Act” are unlikely to actually improve its record of providing safety. The previously allowed methods of detection and prevention of crime should be more than sufficient for this purpose. After all, “ticking bomb” scenarios exist only in Jack Bauer movies. If such a scenario were against all odds ever encountered in real life, we’re quite sure that those confronted by it wouldn’t let protocol stand in their way (and we can be just as certain that no-one would subsequently complain). For the citizens who are supposedly going to be “protected”, there is definitely no mileage in the shredding of the bill of rights.
All over the world, anti-terror laws have been abused for purposes that have absolutely nothing to do with terrorism. These range all the way from “investigating copyright infringement” to “spying on noisy children”.
Cartoon by Joel Pett
If the process were honest, one would simply have to amend the 4th and 5th amendments a bit further. We propose the following changes:
“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.
There are certain exceptions when these rights shall be violated on a grand scale. As soon as the government declares something called “the war on drugs”, no-one shall be safe from arbitrary seizure of his effects by anyone ranging from Hicksville sheriffs to DEA agents at their whim. As soon as the government declares something called “the war on terror”, the passage about being secure from “unreasonable searches” will be suspended for the duration of the conflict, i.e., forever.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
As soon as the government declares the never-ending “war on terror” mentioned in amendment 4, the whole rigmarole about “due process” shall be suspended as well.
If these amendments were duly altered as proposed above, the courts would no longer have to engage in an unseemly song-and-dance about who has “standing” every time people are attempting to get them to rule on whether assorted anti-terror laws represent an infringement of the constitutional order.
A vision of the potential future consequences of complaining too loudly, Cartoon by Ben Sargent
The fact that the newest anti-terror law has been named the “Freedom Act” is a big red flag all by itself. It certainly appears as if nothing has improved relative to the previous situation. At the same time, government intervention in far-away lands continues to be the biggest force generating more terrorism in the world. When blowback eventually ensues, we will no doubt be told that if we want to be “safe” we will need to surrender even more civil liberties. Unfortunately experience suggests that most people are either going to sleep through this or will even cheer their own enslavement on.
History also shows that no society moves from a relatively free political system to full-scale authoritarianism in one fell swoop. Instead the process moves forward step-by-step, almost imperceptibly at first (in “salami tactic” fashion). A major characteristic of this process that can be observed time and again is that governments enact increasingly repressive legislation on the pretext of emergencies – at times real ones, and more often than not imagined ones. By the time people are waking up to what is going on, it is usually too late. None of this should therefore be taken lightly.
Reaching the “too late” phase.