by John Hnatio
Yesterday, more news broke about the National Security Agency (NSA). This time, the NSA demanded that Yahoo go through millions of private e-mails looking for a top secret combination of “characters.” No one knows if it was just an NSA test run to see if they could do it or for some real purpose. Unlike Apple refusing to crack open cell phones for the FBI, there was no resistance by Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayers–just a big, “Yes, sir.” Yahoo was so happy to comply that they even built a piece of custom software to do the job.
Ah you ask, “What’s the big deal?” Well, this time it is different. For the first time, NSA and Yahoo are flagging and reading e-mails in real time as they are being written and sent. In the past, the NSA has invaded the privacy of Americans by looking through archived files of old e-mails. But now they have taken the next big step. Now, not only can the government know what you’ve written in the past they also know what’s in the messages you’re sending to others the second you hit “send.”
Now, just for the sake of argument, let’s suppose that someone with the lowly moral compass of a Senator Joe McCarthy turns up again. Joe McCarthy’s claim to fame was fabricating false claims of treason against anyone he singled out to destroy their lives and create hysteria all for the purpose of gaining his own personal power. And then there’s Richard Nixon who, if he didn’t like you, would turn you into the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for special treatment—the so-called White House enemies list.
Wow! Suppose you are someone in the government who has found out that your bosses are corrupt. Boy, with the help of the NSA and Yahoo could I do a screw job on you!
Of course, there are always two sides to every argument. Right? We can’t just let terrorists run around and destroy the country by letting them use e-mail to plot attacks. To stop terrorism, we need to know what everyone is thinking and actually doing at all times. We can’t afford to let anyone slip through the cracks.
So, we are told that we have no choice but to trust that our government leaders have the moral compass to oversee the “honesty” of the process. Forget about the fact that past experience already shows that the system is entirely bankrupt. The simple fact of the matter is that there are better ways to balance the fight against terrorism with our Constitutional principles. They may not involve blanket violations of the Fourth Amendment but they are certainly just as effective.
Over the past week, we have reported on the actions of the NSA to secretly steal the trade secrets of a small business using clandestine intelligence means and methods because they wanted the company’s technology. The government never told the little firm what it was doing and ended up forcing the small company out of business. The small business didn’t realize until it was too late that they had a secret ‘black” government competitor. The government didn’t care as they destroyed the lives of the entrepreneurs that invested their life savings in their technology, put their houses on the line and forsaken so much else to follow the American dream. Plain and simple it is a form of U.S. Government nationalization of private industry.
The small company turned to Director Comey of the FBI. Of course the FBI is a member of the intelligence community just like its buddy the NSA. Comey did absolutely nothing. Then the small business turned to Capitol Hill—people like Chuck Grassley and Bob Goodlatte, Chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, Richard Burr and Devin Nunes of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees and their own representatives in New Jersey Cory Booker, Bob Menendez and Scott Garrett who all refused to lift a finger to help. The case was politically too hot to handle so they all abandoned the little Company and along with it their sworn responsibility to uphold and defend the Constitution. To kill any possibility of exposure, federal lawyers and judges, when confronted with irrefutable proof of the government’s lies and deceit, simply declared the wrongdoing as “secret” information.
Over the past several decades something fundamental has happened to our country. We now have a political elite in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government who believe in their own form of divine destiny. In other words, they believe that they are endowed by God with the “right” to rule over others. If you are any kind of a history buff, the situation we are all living through today is much like the time before the French Revolution and much like the experience of our founding fathers under British colonial rule in America.
Frederic Bastiat was a famous lawyer who wrote a book called, The Law way back in the 1840’s. Bastiat said that all human beings possess the God-given rights of “individuality, liberty, property.” These “three gifts from God precede all human legislation,” he observed. Bastiat was worried about how the law could be “perverted” into a vehicle for what he termed “legal plunder.” Under Bastiat’s notion of “legal plunder” the law was no longer equal for all but rather used to deprive citizens of their rights for the benefit of the state itself.”
What is happening now is that the government has become much more powerful than our founders ever foresaw. The government is now using this power to create yet more power by establishing two sets of law—one for the privileged and another for the common man. In such a state, the government no longer cares about the fundamental rights of individuality, liberty and property—it only cares about perpetuating its own power.
The ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) gunwalking scandal – where Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress after refusing to release documents concerning the Fast and Furious gun walking operation; the lack of accountability for committing perjury before the Congress by government officials including the NSA when they lied about the use of mass surveillance of the American people; the increasing use of secrecy to hide clandestine government operations and the failure to root out corruption on Wall Street are just a few of the wide ranging danger signals that we are sliding at an ever increasing speed down the slippery slope from a representative democracy to an authoritarian national socialist government. Today, while our government gives lip service to the Constitutional values upon which the United States was founded, it is simultaneously violating the Constitution to take ever increasing control over every aspect of our lives.
So what can Americans do to stop sliding down the slippery slope? First, don’t think about yourself as a Republican, Democrat or Independent, white, black, asian or latino—think about yourself as an American. Then, take a lesson or two from our founding fathers in their battle against the British Empire. “Don’t tread on me!” was the call of the American patriot. Get the word out to cast the light of day on what’s happening in a way that all Americans regardless of political persuasion, creed or ethnicity can understand the danger of what is really going on.
Remember that there is power in numbers. Wide exposure is one of the best ways to keep the power of the government in check. But don’t rely on the mainstream media for an objective view of anything because they are no longer independent. When your elected representatives are not doing their number one job of representing you, their own constituent, get the word out far and wide and then work to get rid of them. Don’t be afraid to use their names—exercise your First Amendment right to free speech. Use exposure to start a dialogue, even with those you may not always agree with. Find common ground based on Constitutional principles, talk about it and then do something to create change.
Finally, and perhaps most important of all we need to find better leaders with the moral compass to do the right things. Electing our government representatives should not be about selecting the candidate that will do the least damage—it should be about having candidates that can do the job well.