John Cornyn's current response to questions of NSA's illegal actions.

Dear Mr. Gulledge:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the National Security Agency (NSA) and related intelligence activities of the U.S. government. I recognize the time and effort that you are dedicating to actively participate in the democratic process, and I appreciate that you and other concerned citizens have provided me the benefit of your comments on this important matter.

As you know, various laws provide law enforcement and intelligence officials with tools to investigate spies, terrorists, and foreign-based enemies of the United States. At the same time, the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution guarantees privacy by protecting our homes, persons, and property from unreasonable government searches and seizures. It is sometimes necessary to balance privacy interests against other important values, such as national security. Though these questions are often difficult, members of Congress must always respect and obey the Constitution.

Privacy is an essential part of the freedom that makes America great. It is the duty of members of Congress to uphold the protections of the Constitution while also ensuring the safety and security of Americans. I have worked with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure that relevant laws are constitutional and that government searches are no broader than necessary to protect our nation from the continuing threat of terrorism.

On June 14, 2013, I attended the classified briefing provided to Senators by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, NSA Director Keith Alexander, and other Obama Administration officials. You may be certain that I take seriously the role of Congress in providing oversight of these programs, and that I have been and will continue to closely monitor the intelligence activities of the U.S. government.

I am always appreciative when Texans take the time to reach out and share their concerns. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Sincerely,
JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator


Naomi Wolf's '10 steps to fascism' reassessed

Naomi Wolf posted an article at Guardian in 2007 on "Fascist America, in 10 easy steps" and her 10 points needed an updated review, based on current revelations.


 

Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

US Government leaders are doing an excellent job of this, going after whistleblowers as if they're enemies of the state, openly ruling them guilty of espionage, and publicly speculating on them being spies.

 

Create a gulag

One word: Guantanamo -
The number of hunger-striking Guantánamo detainees being force fed by military medical teams has jumped to 41 and now makes up a quarter of the camp's prisoner population. (source)
Many of these prisoners have been cleared for release by one, if not two US presidential administrations. One wonders why these men are still wasting away in horrid conditions, and why many of them have not had a single day in court. They're being indefinitely detained, and currently being tortured. If you're curious what their feeding conditions are like, watch this video.

 

Develop a thug caste

Our police are starting to look more like a paramilitary force. The police certainly behaved like thugs during Occupy protests in New York and in Oakland (and some other places).

 

Set up an internal surveillance system

Thanks to Edward Snowden, an avalanche of leaks has hit the public space, revealing countless ways in which the NSA is engaging in surveillance of nearly everyone through a program called PRISM.

 

Harass citizens' groups

FBI has a long history of harassing citizens' groups, through psyops, CIs, and specifically targeting leaders of groups. Jacob Appelbaum got harassed at the border, as have members of the Bradley Manning Support Network.

 

Engage in arbitrary detention and release

This happens often with protestors. "You can beat the charge, but you can't beat the ride" is a phrase many protestors know, told to them by police, letting them know that they WILL be going to jail under dubious charges, or no charge at all.

 

Target key individuals

This is absolutely happening. Specifically, whistleblowers are being viciously targeted for repression, harassment and are under lawfare.

 

Control the press

A troubling trend is developing in this area. Recently, journalists are facing criticism not only from other journalists, but also from US politicians as "potential collaborators" with whistleblowers. Famously, this recently happened to Glenn Greenwald and he was called a criminal for, essentially, being a journalist.

 

Dissent equals treason

We're not quite there, but under the Obama administration blowing the whistle has amounted to treason. More specifically, the DOJ under Obama have charged more people under the section of law pertaining to espionage than all other presidents combined. This is a troubling trend. (source)

Suspend the rule of law

The law hasn't exactly been suspended, but it certainly has been subverted, and a secret realm of government is being erected, where secret interpretations of law thrive. The FISC has ruled some of NSA's actions unconstitutional but the executive branch of our government has classified the court's opinion, essentially setting a dangerous precedent. Ignoring the fact that we have a secret court rubber-stamping nation-wide surveillance, when that court disagrees with the administration, the administration squashes it.


You don't have to accept this behavior

Prior to the NSA revelations, there was plenty of anti-China going around, in which people equated China's "cyber-espionage" activities with "acts of war".

Not only are we seeing a reverse of that kind of rhetoric, we see plenty of people defending government actions, with arguments similar to what is shown below.

None of this should be surprising, should it? It's a reasonable assumption that all intelligence agencies share their data on a pretty regular basis - certainly with 'friendly' nations, and almost certainly with others, on a quid pro quo basis. It's always been that way.

liberationtech subscriber
Jacob Appelbaum, an independent computer security researcher, makes an excellent point in reply to this kind of thinking.

Hi,

Whenever I see this kind of response I wonder, is it a surprise that people are robbed? Or that wars kill innocent people? Is it a surprise that our governments spy on us? Is it a surprise that people are sexually assaulted? It is a surprise that computers get hacked? That bankers who pillage walk free?

I wonder though - do such people who may or may not be surprised - do they have any other thoughts?

Would you tell a victim of the Stasi - "I'm not surprised you were harassed!" or would you tell a friend who was beaten for being gay "I'm not surprised you were beaten up!"

Is there a thought that comes after that lack of surprise?

One wonders if some cynical feelings might smother all other thinking.

What comes after surprise? Do you - for example - think it is wrong? Do you - for example - want it to be this way? Jacob Appelbaum


Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Anonymous is here

Anonymous was at Versailles. They're everywhere

A night at Versailles

At the midnight masquerade ball at Versailles, I ran into A guy named Guy.


"But do you know the rest of the story?"

Thomas Drake (link)

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