Archive for the ‘NSA’ Tag

The Serfs Who Pay the Piper   Leave a comment

Becky Akers

Found on Lew Rockwell

Source: The Serfs Who Pay the Piper

Image result for image of edward snowdenLast week, the “House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence” (talk about an oxymoron!) proved yet again that though its members live in the most fragile of glass houses, they throw stones with gusto. These mass murderers, thieves and congenital liars slandered Edward Snowden as a “criminal” as well as a “serial exaggerator and fabricator” with a “pattern of intentional lying.” If that doesn’t describe Our Rulers rather than their nemesis to the proverbial T, I’ll vote for Hitlary this November.

We all know why the Feds viciously hate poor Ed: he outsmarted, outwitted, and shamed them before the world. A lone, principled, 29-year-old geek revealed beyond a shadow of any doubt DC’s criminality, despotism, double-dealing, hypocrisy, and unspeakable arrogance. It’s as though the six-year-old kid next door not only caught you in flagrante with his five-year-old sister but filmed your predation so quietly you never suspected. Then, with simple brilliance, he posted his video to Facebook. (Yeah, I know: the analogy doesn’t hold since you’d be doing serious time while not a single federal sociopath suffered so much as a slap on the wrist.) 

Predictably, then, the Committee released its smear a mere two days before Oliver Stone’s “biopic” of Heroic Ed debuted at theaters. Even more predictably, most of Our Rulers’ hit-job, which they dignified as “an investigative report” and “the result of a two-year inquiry,” is “classified,” i.e., withheld from us chumps who paid for it.

Product DetailsWhy? Where else but the State does such perversity reign? “Hello, Bankster? I want 3 trillion dollars but I’m not saying for what.” “Yeah, Boss, I’ll work for you, but it’s a secret, OK? Just give me my paycheck without knowing what I did.” “Honey? You got a spare billion? Nope, I won’t say why I need it. You should trust me.”

Only lunatics give or lend money—and stunning amounts of it, too—under such circumstances. Yet the Feds for decades have cloaked the atrocities they commit on our dime in deepest darkness.

Even an “investigative report” as silly, false and petty as the committees is reserved for “members of the House of Representatives”; they alone may peruse its 36 pages and 230 footnotes. We peasants must content ourselves with “an unclassified executive summary” of this trash. I daresay said “summary” contains every juvenile insult launched at Ed. Nice try, but their target probably isn’t too worried: in America’s celebrity-obsessed, “I-saw-it-in-a-movie,-so-it-must-be-true” popular culture, a dry précis in Congressional doublespeak will never even come close to trumping Hollywood’s hagiography.

Meanwhile, the Committee’s reasoning about Heroic Ed and our reaction to him shows how out-of-touch and absurd its tyrants are. They seem to think that we, too, will hate our benefactor if we realize that he “stole…documents…pertain[ing]” to “national security,” not just to the NSA’s trashing of our privacy: “Mr. Snowden stole 1.5 million classified documents from National Security Agency networks. The vast majority of the documents had nothing to do with programs impacting individual privacy interests, but instead pertain to the military, defense, and intelligence programs of great interest to America’s enemies.”

Product DetailsTo be fair, the Committee—and the rest of the central government—aren’t alone in this supposition. Many of Leviathan’s lovers, especially “conservative” ones, claim to despise our hero because he disclosed “national security secrets.” Even the Washington Post, which not only published Snowden’s revelations but won Pulitzers for doing so, now condemns him in one of the most craven, staggeringly hypocritical betrayals in journalism (be sure to catch the readers’ comments on this editorial. They’ll renew your faith in your fellow man).

Yet Ed’s exposure of “national security secrets” should endear him to us even more.

First, search the Constitution over, but nowhere does it authorize the Feds to create or keep secrets from the peons footing the bills. If we’re paying for it, we have an inviolable right to know.

Furthermore, given DC’s penchant for designating everything from “airport Screening Management SOPs” (translated from the Jargon, that’s “the TSA’s gate-rape”) to the BATF’s control of our guns as “sensitive security information,” most of what the government does either to us or in our name remains obscure. How, then, can the citizenry inform itself as a Constitutional republic requires?

Second, the secrets of which the Amerikan Empire is inordinately fond are without exception horrifically evil: experiments in mind-control; barbaric medical “research” on unwitting patients; “black sites” and torture; assassinations, both at home and overseas; false-flag attacks, again both at home and overseas; etc., ad infinitum.

“National security” is a handy cover for such wickedness and skullduggery. It implies that the “secrets” protect us, that if Al Qaeda or the Chinese discovered them, they’d immediately exploit them to attack the ol’ Homeland. In reality, “national security secrets” have nothing to do with protecting us and everything to do with advancing government’s interests and those of its cronies at our expense; no wonder, then, that the Feds dub such assaults on the Constitution, liberty and us as the NSA’s PRISM a “national security secret.” We should never permit government at any level, local, state, or federal, to hide even the smallest of its details or proceedings.

“Even when we’re actively at war?” you minarchists, libertarians and conservatives out there are protesting. Especially then! Think of all the unjust, unconstitutional conflicts we’d have avoided by prohibiting bureaucrats and politicians from suppressing any of their machinations. For starters, if Franklin Roosevelt’s administration hadn’t clandestinely manipulated the country from its pacifism, Pearl Harbor’s nearly 2500 American casualties might have survived, let alone the additional 416,800 Americans sacrificed on Word War II’s battlefields. Ditto for the “military actions” in Korea, Vietnam, and so many other killing fields.

The only just war—and, by happy coincidence, the only sort most taxpayers are willing to fight—is defensive. A government whose people refuse to countenance its secrecy cannot embroil them in offensive wars of conquest.

Ergo, we owe Heroic Ed another huge debt of gratitude. May he and a multitude of patriots continue leaking each and every one of Leviathan’s “national security secrets.” 

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Abuse of Power with Becky Akers   1 comment

Christian AnarchyBecky Akers and I are continuing our conversation on anarcho-capitalism and how it is or could be compatible with Christianity. Welcome back, Becky.

Becky: Thanks, Lela, it’s good to be here again!

Last week you said in closing, “Christians like the idea of liberty, but we’re afraid of too much liberty. We know human nature is not a lovely thing since the Fall, so we believe that government is necessary to prevent human nature from riding the society off the rails.”

You’ve raised an essential point, one that not only keeps many folks from embracing anarcho-capitalism but also troubled the Founding Fathers. You reflected the latter’s quandary when you paraphrased James Madison’s “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Some anarcho-capitalists damn the Founders because of such sentiments. I’m not one of them. Recall that Madison lived before the Nazis, Marxism, Waco, Ruby Ridge, the Pentagon and NSA. Recall as well that the philosophy of liberty has grown and developed since the eighteenth century just as our knowledge of nutrition or physics has. The Founders didn’t benefit from the Austrian school of economics; they knew nothing of Bastiat or John Stuart Mill. If they had, Madison would more likely have said, “Because men aren’t angels, government is hellish.”

Lela: Those are all fine examples of government out of control and Waco, Ruby Ridge and the NSA do certainly indict the US government along with the other examples. I’m not sure they are strong enough arguments against all governments everywhere.

Becky: Well, we can also look at “good” Christian governments, such as England’s during Queen Elizabeth’s reign or Spain’s during the Inquisition. Or the United States’ administration in the late 18th and early 19th centuries when it passed and enforced laws condemning many people to chattel slavery. Or Israel’s government under beloved King David, who fought a civil war when the northern tribes preferred a different ruler and later compelled prisoners of another war to lie on the ground while his men slaughtered two out of three. Or… alas, the examples stretch endlessly, given that men aren’t angels, and even more so when the State’s power strengthens their evil.

Which brings us back to your original question and a first, very obvious response; I’ll try not to belabor it though the State offers such an enticing target! It’s best encapsulated in that old Latin proverb, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?, i.e., Who watches the guards? We’ve all heard or read endless stories about cops’ brutality, political corruption, bureaucratic sloth, judicial absurdities, etc. And where do these horrific “public servants” come from? Yep: those fallen human beings we so distrust! There’s no difference between them and us except our naive idea that picking up a paycheck from Uncle Sam turns sinners into heroes ready and willing to save us from danger.

Lela: Okay, I can buy that. All human beings are fallen and their essential nature does not change when they are hired to do a job.

Becky: And even if we could magically ensure that the State employs only “good” people, folks who would never accept a bribe, who would work hard and consistently put the public’s good (whatever that means) ahead of their own interests, there’s still government’s innate incompetence. Again, I won’t belabor this despite its being another big, fat bull’s-eye because we’ve all experienced it. But let me emphasize that it is indeed innate, built into the political process, and unalterable regardless of “reforms” or tweaks. Why? Because government’s nature deprives its employees of critical information.

Lela: How so?

Becky:  When an entrepreneur provides a product or service, he gleans enormous amounts of information from the market (and the freer from the State’s regulation that market is, the more accurate its information). We haven’t time to explore this exhaustively; indeed, economists have written whole tomes on the topic. So let me cite just one example: prices. They tell an entrepreneur how much people value his product (does anyone out there want haggis for lunch? Will a haggis restaurant in the business district succeed? Or do most workers choose hamburgers and pizza?), which varieties of it they prefer (do more people order a whole haggis, or do they prefer it sliced?), etc. The entrepreneur must please his customers or suffer bankruptcy—and thanks in part to the information prices give him, he can decipher his patrons’ desires. (Entrepreneurs who fail at figuring out such clues go bust. Behold the market’s built-in regulation to rid us of unsafe or inefficient products and services!)

But taxes replace prices when we’re dealing with government. And taxes continue to support government’s “products” and “services” no matter how much their “customers” loathe them. For example, the TSA never has to worry about pleasing passengers: Congress will continue renewing its budget—and stealing the taxes for that budget from us—no matter how long the lines at checkpoints are, how offensive the TSA’s gropings, or how many iPads its thugs swipe.  The TSA has absolutely no incentive to improve its “service” because its “revenue” doesn’t decline despite its assaulting, harming and inconveniencing “customers.”

LELA: Okay, that makes sense.

BECKY: Ditto for cops, the CIA, the NSA, and all the other “policing” bureaucracies that supposedly protect us from bad guys. Even if all cops and bureaucrats were devout Christians, they would still lack the information they need to function competently. Private investigators who can’t solve a murder or find stolen jewelry won’t attract clients. Christian cops who can’t do either may be righteous and compassionate, but they’ll continue to fail at locating killers and missing diamonds because our taxes keep them and their inefficient methods afloat year after year.

To the State’s inherent corruption and its incompetence at protecting us, we must add that governments also specialize in rendering their subjects defenseless. Sometimes that’s as obvious as confiscating guns. Other times it’s as subtle as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, among other evils, forced airlines to seat anyone who bought passage, regardless of how menacing or bizarre he seemed, and thereby exacerbated the skyjackings of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Lela:  This sounds like a topic to pursue more fully. As a Christian, I believe we all stand equal before God, which would say to me that airlines, lunch counters, churches and other public venues shouldn’t be segregated by race.

Becky: You’re right that we all stand equal before God—but not one another. Some older folks who savor peace and quiet don’t enjoy kids; construction companies seldom hire the elderly as employees. The owners of Hooter’s Restaurants don’t appreciate ugly women; neither do the readers of Playboy Magazine. I doubt that Hillary Clinton has ever patronized Hooters or thumbed Bill’s copy of Hustler. Some black people don’t like white people and vice versa.

But this topic cries out for a much longer discussion: may we return to it next time?

Lela:  Yes, that would be fine. I want to give the topic its full due, so we can come back to it.

Becky:  Meanwhile, let’s consider your question’s corollary: who will protect us from predators in an anarcho-capitalist world? Government by its nature cannot provide protection—but freedom affords other, far superior safeguards.

Lela:  Such as?

Becky: First, let’s remember that government creates many of the dangers that frighten us. For example, the Drug War and all other prohibitory laws never rid us of a particular bugaboo; they only drive it underground with all the attendant violence and crime.

LELA:  Prohibition emboldened and increased organized crime because the demand for booze didn’t go away; it just became illegal to supply it. I’m with you so far.

BECKY: Exactly!

I was discussing anarchy with a fellow Christian recently; perhaps because he’s the father of three teens, he’s particularly concerned about heroin’s availability and abuse in a free world. “We need more laws against it,” he moaned, “more cops to stop the traffic in it!” I reminded him, however, that the places under government’s direct control are the ones where “illicit” drugs flourish: public schools, which the State forces kids to attend; prisons; inner cities, which, between subsidized housing and food stamps, are pretty much federal plantations. Abolishing government eradicates the breeding-ground for an overwhelming majority of the perils that now terrify us.

LELA: I don’t buy that yet. I agree that government sets up the conditions in which drug use is most attractive, but without public schools you have the illiterate offspring of people who cannot afford to send their kids to private schools; without prisons, we’d have criminals loose on the streets continuing to commit crimes like theft, rape and murder. It seems to me that illiteracy would actually drive criminality. While I agree with you on subsidized housing and food stamps, I know many people, including Christians, who would say we’d be relegating those people to starvation and homelessness.

BECKY:  Lela, the most literate generations in American history coincided with the decades that enjoyed the lowest amounts of government: only patchy requirements for very basic schooling existed in some areas during colonial days, yet out of that freedom rose the scholars who fought the American Revolution (and I’m not limiting “scholars” to the intellectual giants of the first Continental Congress, either, such as Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin. For a sample of the widespread erudition then, peruse the journals or letters of ordinary soldiers. These “uneducated” men wrote and reasoned far more elegantly than doctoral candidates today). Since “education” became “compulsory” (what an oxymoron!) in the mid-19th century, levels of intellectual attainment have plummeted across the board, year after year.

As for prisons, even with them, we have criminals loose on the streets – until we elect them to political office, that is. Prison is not the only response to crime; in fact, it’s among the worst (which explains the State’s infatuation with it) since it twice victimizes the innocent: first, the thief, rapist, or murderer preys on them, and then the State does, forcing them to pay for their predator’s food, lodging and guards. Freedom offers far better alternatives, ones that make victims whole instead of looting them to “punish” the offender.

Finally, Christians—or anyone else—who insist that it’s OK to steal as long as we use the proceeds to feed and house the poor violate Scripture’s clear command against theft.

But to return to the subject of how we’ll protect ourselves in a free society: you may have noticed that I’ve frequently specified “political government.” That’s because there are other kinds, and you might choose to submit to one in an anarcho-capitalistic world. Homeowners’ associations are somewhat analogous, except in a free society, the variety of their prohibitions and requirements would expand vastly to satisfy every preference. Scared of teenaged vandals spray-painting graffiti on your garage? Choose an HOA that prohibits children. Hate loud rock blasting from your neighbor’s DVD-player? Rent from a landlord who loves classical music and terminates the lease of anyone disturbing his tenants’ peace.

LELA: Okay, I see where you’re headed with that. We’re running out of time for this week, but I want to come back to the topics I highlighted, particularly the idea of non-state governance. I think Christians ask the state for help with some particularly “good” things … like eliminating institutional racism and arresting people who are legitimately harming others … and I’d like to explore the alternatives.  So we’ll come back to it next week.

 

Becky Akers is a free-lance writer and historian who has written two novels about the American Revolution, Halestorm and Abducting Arnold.

No group of men is above scrutiny or criticism. NO ONE   4 comments

No group of men is above scrutiny or criticism. NO ONE.

So very true! Often we think there are certain kinds of people or personalities or jobs that do not require accountability, but this is NEVER wise. We always find out later that the lack of accountability corrupted good habits.

Spying and the Administrative State   1 comment

History can teach us a lot if we study it. For example, the current administration’s spying on American citizens is not new.

I honestly had planned to end my series on the administrative state with my last post, but this came up and it’s timely. The National Security Agency (NSA) has a long history … a Woodrow Wilson history. That’s right. The Great Administrator was responsible for creating the predecessor of the NSA, the Cipher Bureau in 1917 as part of the First World War effort. It was part of Military Intelligence – an executive branch. However, and this is the salient part, the Department of State partially funded it.

Remember what I said about the administrative state’s hallmark features? Whenever you see a department that doesn’t quite fit under one department, you’re looking at the administrative state.

At least as far back as Franklin Roosevelt, the United States presidency has used national security and law enforcement offices to spy on their domestic enemies. Following the close of World War II, President Truman’s administration became concerned that there might be Soviet sympathizers in the United States, and so he extended the purview of military intelligence organizations that had previously operated only in wartime and entangled them with law enforcement agencies like the FBI. At one point, in 1946, the Federal Bureau of Investigation actually joined the NSA for a brief time. Around the same time, the Joint Chiefs of Staff – previously only convened during wartime – because a permanent fixture. Before Truman’s administration was done, there were proposals for a centralized security agency under the control of the Central Intelligence Agency. The idea was that military and non-military intelligence would be comingled and given even weight. Truman’s plan isn’t completely a reality now, but agencies like Homeland Security, the NSA, the FBI and the CIA often blur the lines between protecting the homeland from outside enemies and investigating domestic concerns that can and do sometimes dig up dirt on American citizens for political rather than law-enforcement or national security reasons. In other words, whatever the official delineation might be, the reality is that there’s a multi-armed kracken of intelligence agencies operating more or less autonomously and remaining in place from one administration to the next.

The Kennedy administration FBI wire-tapped Martin Luther King Jr.’s phone, Lyndon Johnson spied on Barry Goldwater’s president campaign, and Nixon had Watergate as the tip of his iceberg. Iran-Contra reflected badly both on Ronald Reagan and the first President Bush, who was former CIA, let us remember. The Clintons were famous for the dirt they collected. Bush 43’s administration conceived of the current spying system, so they bear equal responsibility for it even if it was the Obama administration that started keeping data on all of us.

At the risk of sounding like I have a one-track mind, it’s not about politics. It’s about the administrative state. Operating largely independent of the elective branches of government, bureaucrats in organizations like the FBI, the NSA, and ATF continue with their primary goal of consolidating their own power regardless of the goals of the politicians in power at the moment or the people who elected them to represent us. If these organizations didn’t exist or at least were called to account by our elected representatives, when a president wanted to dig dirt on political enemies, he’d quickly find himself being told – uh, we don’t do that and if we did, we’d all lose our jobs after the next Congressional review. And 200 million Americans would cheer robustly, I’m sure.

Washington has tried to deal with this penchant for constitutional violations in the past – most notably after the Watergate mess – but – from a non-partisan perspective – these efforts have been hindered by their partisan nature. It’s usually the party not in the White House that objects to the misuse of government authority and that lasts until their party gets into the White House and then it stops until their guy does something that gets the other party to investigate, which lasts until ….

It’s no wonder the American people are cynical. I can’t help thinking that the reason we’re confused is that the ones calling the steps aren’t elected officials at all, but career bureaucrats who operate just outside of our field of vision.

The current anti-corruption effort in Congress might be a little different because it is championed by the “civil liberties caucus” of Republican libertarians such as Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Justin Amash and ACLU-type Democrats like Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Jared Polis, raising hopes for a transpartisan challenge to the national security state and its defenders in both major parties. By scrambling the usual partisan lines, the current effort may be more than just a red/blue food fight. Whether that small alliance can overcome the entrenched DC apparatus allied with a president who acts as if he has a voter mandate is still questionable. The reforms that were put in place after the Watergate mess are proof that reform is a tough show that has historically only had short-term effects.

“[Public scandals are] ritual moments in which the sacrifice of the reputation of one or more individuals allows many more to continue their scandalous ways, if perhaps with minimal safeguards and protocols that are meant to ensure that the terrible excess of the past will not occur again”. Nicholas Dirks (anthropologist)

The greatest challenge to transforming the system is to assure that we accomplish more than a political blood sacrifice. The Patriot Act was passed with a general consensus about what it meant or what it allowed. Twelve years later, we learn that the law Congress passed has been interpreted by the executive branch into something very different from that intention.

So what do we the people plan to do about it?

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