Plans To Police Internet Is Likely Tied To S 1959, Thought Crime Prevention Bill
Would Americans be outraged if the government decided to read every piece of our personal mail? Think about it, letters and notes which are sent to a lover, things we all say in anger, regret later, and never follow-through on? What about confidential financial information, plans to trump your competitor with a new product or service, and a host of personal issues that are too numerous to mention?
People in the United States have become accustomed to their privacy and believe it is one of those “unalienable constitutional rights” which are guaranteed to all American citizens that most of us take for granted. Our constitution and Bill of Rights demand it, yet here we are, one year before Bush leaves office, and the government is planning on doing almost exactly what I described. The only difference is that instead of snail-mail (which can also be opened), the government’s proposed directive covers any and all computer communications and correspondence that everyday citizens send and receive on their computer systems. This includes any all financial information as well as personal matters of anyone in your home;the communications of your teenagers will be monitored as well, and issues that are normally kept within the family unit(s) will suddenly become part of your governmental profile.
Now that our society if firmly entrenched in the digital world, a multitude of personal activity is carried out on the Internet. Millions of people use dating services, communicate with prospective “dates” and often bare their souls. We know this occurs on a regular basis by the huge amount of people that are finding successful relationships and oftentimes marriage through the internet. People often find it easier to discuss extremely personal matters on the Internet because the embarrassment and shy nature of many of the people who use these services tend to become more honest and speak of matters they never would have in person - all because of the unique privacy the internet has offered those who are seeking friends, lovers, and permanent relationships. How will these services perform when the subscribers know that every word they write is monitored and read, possibly ending-up in a file on that individual with the FBI or other law enforcement office, most likely Homeland Security?
Don’t forget the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, also known as “The Thought Crime Prevention Bill.” S-1959 is the vehicle Homeland Security will use to judge and imprison those who they deem are guilty, but it is this directive that will help to compile what they will classify as “thought crimes”, and suddenly, like those who lived in fear while attempting to keep themselves alive in other societies that traded personal privacy for “security”, Americans will be fearful when they use any means of communication, worried that words said in anger or while being particularly emotional could be used against them and given credibility when none actually exists. In similar situations and throughout history, families were broken-up, the people as a whole lived in misery and fear, always afraid they would be picked-up by the Gestapo or other governmental storm troopers merely because they had communicated with someone the government blieved to be a “dissident”.
Many of those that were caught-up in the government’s witch-hunt were enlisted to spy on their neighbors to keep from being arrested themselves, and in the era of Stalin, Hitler, Mao’s China, and the old Soviet Union, these tactics were used to turn entire populations into informants and spies; as more and more people were arrested, those who were attempting to save themselves would often make-up stories about innocents they believed the “authorities” wanted to hear, others were turned-in and eventually the stench of mistrust was felt throughout the respective countries; even family members had to be careful, ever watchful that someone from within had been compromised and was attempting to escape their own death or incarceration by implicating another family member. Anyone that was identified as a dissident or radical was arrested, executed or sent off to a concentration camp. What was left behind was a terrified, subservient populace, easy to manage through fear and intimidation, and cowed into submission because they watched members of their own family and friends being arrested, even executed in front of them for crimes that never existed. (The implementation of similar programs in the United States could very well result in similar situations as were experienced with other societies that were morphed into “police states.” This is surely a matter where we can look upon our past in order to know what to expect from our future. One constant is that history always repeats itself. )
For reasons none of us fully understand, our Congress is powerless to stop Bush and Cheney from doing as they damn well please, and even though they have broken laws and committed war crimes, lied and stand in utter defiance of Congress and the people, neither is touchable and act with impunity, safe in the knowledge that Congress is too cowed to impeach. To allow these tyrants to gain the power to read any email or computer communication they desire is unconstitutional on its face, and now that the Supreme Court is stacked, a directive such as this is likely to succeed in court if legislation isn’t passed to prohibit any such intrusion(s) into the privacy of innocent Americans. This is what the government is proposing:
January 13, 2008, 12:00 am
Dancing Spychief Wants to Tap Into Cyberspace
Siobhan Gorman reports on the U.S. spychief.
Spychief Mike McConnell is drafting a plan to protect America’s cyberspace that will raise privacy issues and make the current debate over surveillance law look like “a walk in the park,” McConnell tells The New Yorker in the issue set to hit newsstands Monday. “This is going to be a goat rope on the Hill. My prediction is that we’re going to screw around with this until something horrendous happens.”
At issue, McConnell acknowledges, that in order to accomplish his plan, the government must have the ability to read all the information crossing the Internet in the United States in order to protect it from abuse. Congressional aides tell The Journal that they, too, are also anticipating a fight over civil liberties that will rival the battles over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Part of the lawmakers’ ire, they have said, is the paltry information the administration has provided. The cyberspace security initiative was first reported in September by The Baltimore Sun, and some congressional aides say that lawmakers have still learned more from the media than they did from the few Top Secret briefings they have received hours before the administration requested money in November to jump start the program. Please note that the funds to “jump start” this program were requested in November. If I were to hazard a guess, this program is already running somewhere in tests, or for all we know, may already been implemented. This administration hasn’t exactly been truthful with the people or Congress. MORE
Scholars and Rogues posted an insight into this situation that makes perfect sense, and I agree with them, there are no coincidences!
All your Internets belong to ATT & the NSA!
Two seemingly coincidental bits of news crossed my desk yesterday morning. First, the Wall Street Journal contains excerpts of an interview with Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell in which he outlines a vast new initiative to police Internet traffic “for abuse.”
Meanwhile, AT&T announced that it plans to extend its initiative to examine packets of information on its network for illegally traded content, becoming, in effect, the Internet’s traffic cop.
Let’s see…the world’s largest telecom company states it’s in negotiations with major entertainment conglomerate to police the Internet on their behalf, on the same day the DNI announces the government wants more eyes on Internet traffic?
Mike McConnell is an old friend to the major telecom companies, having most recently stumped on their behalf to grant them retroactive immunity from prosecution in the NSA’s illegal surveillance program. He’s also a big fan of privatizing national security functions, favoring everything from outsourcing background checks to enlisting credit bureaus to handle the work of verifying identities. I find it not at all unfeasible that even as AT&T is offering its services to Big Content, Big Government is waiting expectantly in the visitors’ room for its turn at the till.
There are no coincidences.LINK
Make no mistake, this is the directive that will give S 1959 its teeth. If they make it retroactive, think about the many emails we have written, sometimes blowing-off steam, all the time critical of those attempting to steal our most basic liberties. How much can you say on the Internet or in private communication with family or friends until you’re branded as a dissident and find yourself guilty of a “thought crime?” Why is the government becoming so aloof from the people that they trample on our most basic rights of privacy, evidently attempting to sneak it through as quietly as possible.
We already live in a society where the FBI or other law enforcement agencies (sic) can break into your home while you’re away, search your home, and then plant surveillance devices as they leave. If their search and subsequent surveillance draw a blank, the “suspect” is never told of the incident. The governments request to have access to all of our computer communications is an intrusion into the very essence of privacy. We believe that our home is our castle, that mail used to be private, and now the privacy of the Internet is being assaulted and the average American is being treated as a suspect, guilty until proven innocent, and no one knows exactly what will be the deciding factor in declaring whether an individual is a “dissident.”
If the government has complete control of the Internet and could access all communications, think of the Congress, attorneys, investigative (sic) reporters, groups that actively protest the government, opposition parties, whether they be Democrat, Republican, or Independent, and the many entities “Big Brother” would like to peek into and search for anything they can claim is anti-government. How will Americans communicate on a mass scale as we do now attempting to fight elements that seek to steal our freedoms, knowing that when we do, everything we write is cataloged and filed to be used against us at a later date? As it stands now, the legality of the current program is in question, therefore, unless it’s terrorism related, is information that has been gathered illegally. We know they are reading and watching now, but this “vast new initiative”, if implemented, would then make that information legally obtained (IMO), thereby circumventing almost all of the criminal law we have on the books in regard illegal search and seizure, the right against self-incrimination would disappear, and Miranda would become meaningless. The very nature of the program is one of surveillance and intimidation, followed by an eventual removal of dissidents who were posing a “credible threat” against the government (sic).
This “vast new initiative to police Internet traffic” is presented in such broad terms that it defies common sense and logic. The imposition of a program this draconian has the potential to turn neighbor against neighbor. We were suspicious and contacted Congress and the media by the thousands or hundreds of thousands demanding an answer as to why HR1955 and S 1959 were needed and written in such broad language, a list of other questions, and why we needed this law when it is obvious we have an abundance of laws currently in force that effectively address violent behavior or any such conspiracy to plan or attempt to destabilize our country . As the Bill is written, it could be interpreted any way they choose, and in circumstances like that, it’s always the people who lose. To the best of my knowledge and belief, There’s A Press Blackout on S 1959, the Thought Crime Prevention Bill; Why? Even though HR1955 and S 1959 are of great concern to the public, all we received for our efforts was a statement issued by the House of Representatives that was double-speak and avoided the primary issues as if they were the Black Plague.
Senate Bill S 1959 is still in committee, and now this “vast new initiative to police Internet traffic” is introduced out of thin air, and to anyone looking closely, this “initiative” is an intricate piece of the heart and soul of the “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007.” The “Thought Crime Prevention Bill” is the framework to implement and create the program, and this directive is obviously one of many tools to monitor and sort through the nations email and other communications. None of us are exactly sure “what” it is they will be searching for, however, it’s obvious that Bush and Cheney are violating the last vestiges of privacy we have, effectively treating our entire population as suspects instead of respecting our most fundamental rights of privacy and due process of the law.
This directive, initiative, or whatever it is must not be allowed to go into effect, or remain in effect if it’s currently in operation. This wanton invasion of privacy is hurled at us with absolutely no probable cause, and the number of constitutional amendments and criminals laws, state and federal, which it violates is staggering. With a directive in place that allows the government unfettered access to all of our personal computer transmissions, it would be an incredible stretch to keep labeling the United States as a democracy. Once we are stripped of those rights that afford us privacy and the expectation that our lives will be free from invasive and illegal searches, when Habeas Corpus is suspended for anyone that is designated as an “enemy combatant, the very essence of democracy disappears!
This directive, which could already be in operation, exemplifies our initial fears in regard the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. Whereas S 1959 loosely defines the concept of “Thought Crimes” and potential threats against the government, this is an enabling act that will provide the detailed information which Homeland Security would likely rely upon to determine who it was that were actually guilty of these (sic) crimes. From past experience, we know the FBI has investigated peaceful protest groups and a host of others whose only “crime” was belonging to, or having ties to organizations that vigorously oppose our loss of liberty and the failure of the Bush administration to comply with the rule of law; thousands have been added to “terrorist watch lists” by virtue of their peaceful disagreement with the government:
President Bush called upon every agency of government to provide his administration with the names of every so-called person of concern contained in their millions of files. Those records included not just potential terrorists, but also deadbeat dads, people wanted by the federal Marshal, and Drug Enforcement Administration suspects, among others. But they all found themselves on what has come to be called the “terrorist watch list.” By June 2004, that list had swelled to 158,000 names. In May of this year, it clocked in at 755,000. Today, only five months later, it’s at 860,000 and counting, according to the Government Accountability Office. LINK
The above figures were posted on November 1, 2007. Based on how fast this list has been growing I believe we can safely project the total is well over a million and still growing. How does a “dead-beat Dad” qualify in anyone’s reality of having committed a crime or act so horrendous that it merits inclusion on the “terrorist watch list? ” It also states “Drug Enforcement Administration suspects“. If they are only suspects and included on this list, when the round-up occurs there’s little-doubt that “suspect” will equate to being guilty. We need a better break-down of what type of individuals are on this list. When you note people as innocuous as “dead-beat Dads” being added to this list, we have to question if this “terrorist Watch List” is nothing more than a list of undesirables this administration would like to - or has plans to purge from our society.
For those who have diligently been participating in the fight against HR1955/S 1959, a companion measure has shown its ugly head that provides the real teeth for S 1959; it’s important to note that many parts of this program are being kept secret from members of Congress, and that doesn’t bode well for the American people:
Part of the lawmakers’ ire, they have said, is the paltry information the administration has provided. The cyberspace security initiative was first reported in September by The Baltimore Sun, and some congressional aides say that lawmakers have still learned more from the media than they did from the few Top Secret briefings they have received hours before the administration requested money in November to jump start the program.
Americans are again being saddled by an illegal wiretapping program, however this one is exceptionally bold, violates countless issues of privacy, due process, and essentially makes everyone in America a “suspect.” No information that we process through the Internet will be “private” or exempt from the governments prying eyes. This is an unconscionable attack against the basic privacy that every American is guaranteed under our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Monitoring America’s email and private computer communications is the epitome of a “police state”; the “National ID Card” was just approved, all of which are tools to track, monitor, and catalog us for whatever awaits those who are on the “Terrorist Watch List” or other lists that DHS has or will be compiling in the future. Based on the scant information that has been released, there doesn’t appear to be any “exemptions” and at first glance, it looks like our children’s communications will be monitored as well!
Is this program already operational? In the below press release, it states:
The cyberspace security initiative was first reported in September by The Baltimore Sun, and some congressional aides say that lawmakers have still learned more from the media than they did from the few Top Secret briefings they have received hours before the administration requested money in November to jump start the program.
Was the money to “jump start” this illegal surveillance program approved when it was requested - and if so, is it already operational in selected areas to test its capability - or is the entire program already functional? These are questions that must be answered immediately; even though Mike McConnell didn’t state this program is in any way associated with S 1959 and the “Thought Crime Prevention Bill”, anyone of average intelligence that examines the intent of the program can easily make the connection and understand that McConnell’s plans for “policing the Internet” is the actual mechanism the government will use to identify and subsequently begin cataloging all of those who are guilty of “thought crimes” and supposedly pose a threat to our national security.
As citizens that refuse to give-up our freedom(s) and privacy without a fight, this is a segment of the program that must be fought-out in the courts, our legislature, and in the court of public opinion. Matters as serious as these must be injected into the Presidential debates, and above all, we as patriotic Americans must force this issue out in the open and somehow, break the “press blackout” that has been imposed on all aspects of the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. Once again, we are faced with an urgent call to action, and this time, we need to re-double our efforts and drown Congress and the White House with emails and calls demanding that this program and its successors be suspended pending further legislative and judicial review.
As we first predicted when HR 1955 was passed in the House, this Bill threatens the very essence of freedom and democracy in the United States. There is no matter that is more serious than protecting our basic rights of privacy, freedom, due process of law, equality, and the inherent right that every American possesses in regard self-incrimination; this latest “request” by the government to obtain unfettered access to our most private information and documents very clearly demonstrates that President Bush and the intelligence community have now departed from any semblance of democracy and are now running this country as if it were a dictatorship, and if we don’t rise-up and make ourselves heard, much louder than before, saving our country from tyranny may prove to be impossible.
For your convenience, the below link reveals a huge amount of phone numbers and extensions that will facilitate making phone calls as we again call to demand that our government honors our own laws and constitution. Try to make at least two calls per day, and as we did last time, keep making those calls on a daily basis, and invite your friends to do the same. Pay special attention to the Presidential candidates, and if they refuse to address this matter, then why even consider voting for them in 2008? Tell them so in no uncertain terms that they will not receive your vote unless these issues are brought out in the open.
Send copies of your email and letters to the local editors of your newspapers, and cross-post this information on every discussion and political forum you can find. Last time, the House of Representatives responded with a statement that was double-speak; if we can keep up the pressure again, this time we shouldn’t stop until we break the press blackout and the issue is brought forth so that the entire population will know about its existence rather than being confined to those of us who receive our news from the Internet. It’s hard to believe that the situation has actually become worse, but as you read SpyChief Mike McConnell’s request and understand that every last bit of privacy we possess is being threatened, the real possibility exists that if we don’t join together in solidarity on a massive scale, this concept that we call freedom could very well disappear forever, and as patriotic Americans, none of us can stand idly by while Bush and Cheney are attempting to destroy the very foundations of democracy and freedom.
William Cormier - January 20, 2008 - http://www.justanothercoverup.com/