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Signs of the Times for Sat, 18 Feb 2006

Signs Editorial:

Kurt Nimmo

Earlier today, I called Jack Blood’s radio show on GCN and complained loudly and mightily about how the PATRIOT Act was rubber stamped by the Senate yesterday, paving the way for all manner of continued and increasing malfeasance against the people and the now jackboot trampled and seriously bruised (if not comatose) Bill of Rights.

“The Senate voted 96-3 to move toward final passage of new civil liberties protections to the Patriot Act, which the White House negotiated with a handful of Republicans,” reports Knight Ridder. “Some Democrats remain convinced that the post-Sept. 11, 2001, anti-terrorism law gives the federal government too much power to intrude into the lives of innocent Americans. It is set to expire next month unless it is renewed.”

Of course, these are the same Democrats who apparently don’t have a problem with the NSA snooping in on your phone calls and email, almost effortlessly crumbling under “heavy pressure” from the Straussian neocons, according to ranking Senate Intelligence Committee Democrat Jay Rockefeller (the name alone should provide a clue why he has acquiesced).

Instead of protecting the people of the United States from the heavy-handed and authoritarian tactics of the neocons, Pat Roberts has suggested the 1978 FISA law governing electronic “eavesdropping” (basically underwear drawer snooping) be modified to allow “extensive briefings on the closely guarded National Security Agency program,” in other words a select few enemies of the people will be included in the loop.

NSA snooping is nothing new—it has simply taken on a new urgency under the Bushian neocons as they inexorably wend their demented way toward total war and, in the process, strive to silence (if not eliminate) their growing number of critics. General Michael Hayden—the guy who believes the Fourth Amendment contains no requirement for probable cause—made sure to tell us the NSA is operating under Executive Order 12333, signed by Reagan in 1981.

EO 12333 was created to allow the FBI to use intrusive “investigatory” techniques, such as mail openings, wiretaps and burglaries, when there was supposedly probable cause to suspect a “terrorist” threat. “Executive Order 12333, permits the FBI and CIA to surveil individuals even if they are not breaking the law or acting on behalf of a foreign power,” explains Margaret Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “Searches need not be limited to offices, or to premises under the control of a suspected agent, nor need they be linked to the alleged commission of an unlawful act.” In short, so-called searches can be conducted in massive, sweeping, and indiscriminate fashion. “Ratner noted with irony that the FBI’s remarkable claim of this unconstitutional inherent authority came after the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ‘turned down an FBI request for a warrant to conduct a black bag job, holding that Congress had given it jurisdiction only over electronic surveillance,’” according to PublicEye (see previous link). FISA was chucked as useless more than two decades ago.

In other words, we have lived under the eye of a fascist and technocratic Panopticon for some time now and the NSA “scandal” is nothing new—instead, under the direction of the Machiavellian neocons, untethered and muscular surveillance has reached a quite natural and logical (under the authoritarian rubric) height. If the technology now currently employed existed in the 1930s, no doubt the Nazis (and Stalin) would have used it in similar fashion.

As the history of COINTELPRO reveals, the idea here is not to monitor Osama’s phone calls placed from an Afghan cave, but instead investigating and disrupting dissident political organizations and individuals (and thus violating the Constitution and the Bill of Rights). First and foremost, the NSA snoop program (and parallel efforts such as CIFA at the Pentagon) is all about psychological warfare, harassment, intimidation, infiltration, black bag jobs, and even so-called extralegal force and violence. COINTELPRO, however, was illegal—but under the newly enshrined PATRIOT, the COINTELPROesque efforts of the Straussian neocons are entirely legal—and will be put to good use.

In the months ahead—as the Straussian neocons shock and awe Iran and other selected enemies—no doubt we will find out how effective massive snooping (and psywar unbound) is against those of us who speak and act out.

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