Two Essential Posts By Greenwald On Civil Liberties We Used To Have

In my humble opinion, these two recent articles by Glenn Greenwald are both absolutely essential reading:

Western justice and transparency:

Greenwald’s vehicle is the case of Bilal al-Berjawi, former UK citizen stripped of his citizenship, targeted by the US for assassination without any due process, unable to talk to lawyers who might introduce an appeal in court because the US was monitoring his communications, and eventually assassinated by a drone/missile attack after a call from his wife informing him of their newborn child was intercepted and (apparently) used to locate him. Greenwald summarizes the implications:

Obviously, those concerns [about interception of al-Berjawi’s phone calls] were valid. So first the U.S. tries to assassinate people, then it causes legal rulings against them to be issued because the individuals, fearing for their life, are unable to defend themselves. Meanwhile, no explanation or evidence is provided for either the adverse government act or the assassination: it is simply secretly decreed and thus shall it be.

So much for Berjawi’s Sixth Amendment right to “be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation” against him. It’s a secret… from Berjawi while he was alive, from any lawyers who might have acted in his behalf, and from the public.

Two lessons from the Megaupload seizure:

The day after our grand demonstration of displeasure at the attempts of MPAA and RIAA to control the entire Internet on mere accusations of piracy (again without due process) through their stable of tame members of Congress acting through the proposed SOPA/PIPA legislation, the DoJ seized, shut down its domain name service (DNS) thereby making it invisible on the Internet, seized or froze millions of dollars of its assets, and indicted the site’s owners, charging that they “deliberately aided copyright infringement” (Greenwald) … all based on unproven accusations of copyright infringement. In other words, the DoJ acted as if SOPA/PIPA were effectively already law, instead basing their actions on a 2008 law. Greenwald:

(1) It’s wildly under-appreciated how unrestrained is the Government’s power to do what it wants, and how little effect these debates over various proposed laws have on that power. Contrary to how it was portrayed, the Obama administration’s threatened veto of the NDAA rested largely on the assertion that they did not need a law vesting them with indefinite detention powers because they already have full power to detain people without a trial: not because any actual law expressly vested that power, but because the Bush and Obama DOJs both claimed the 2001 AUMF silently (“implicitly”) authorized it and deferential courts have largely acquiesced to that claim. …

(2) The U.S. really is a society that simply no longer believes in due process: once the defining feature of American freedom that is now scorned as some sort of fringe, radical, academic doctrine. That is not hyperbole. Supporters of both political parties endorse, or at least tolerate, all manner of government punishment without so much as the pretense of a trial, based solely on government accusation: imprisonment for life, renditions to other countries, even assassinations of their fellow citizens.

I have barely sketched the essence of what Greenwald expounds at length. But even the image in the sketch evidences a terrible reality: our civil liberties as explicitly granted in the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution are now wholly denied at the pleasure of our government. If we consent to this denial, we are no better off than pawns in a game played by a relentless dictatorship.

At the very least, if you do nothing else in response, consider withholding your vote from Obama in November, even if you voted for him in 2008. It is my firm belief that leaders do not change their fundamental nature, and Obama has revealed in his first term that his nature is that of a tyrant, concealing his tyranny behind a façade of human concern. Do not be fooled. No, I am not advocating replacing him with any of the Republican candidates: the worst of our plight is that the totalitarian rules of the game are now accepted by both major political parties. We must find another way. At this point, I cannot say what it would be. But I hear the sound of our nation’s Founders shifting uneasily in their graves, the deceased defenders of Western democracy wailing in their tombs, imploring us to put things right. We cannot do it in an instant… but do it we must.

Oh, and by the way… be sure to keep your head data out of the cloud.

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  • MandT  On Thursday January 26, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    I can see, so definitely, Jefferson, not just shifting but spinning like a top. When I say Obama is an evil intellect I can just see the eyes of my establishment friends roll at the far-gone of it. I can only hope that we prophets of the obvious will pass peacefully before the ends comes down.

    • Steve  On Friday January 27, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      If our Founders still exist in some part of reality, Jefferson is surely the most offended by all this stuff we are having to put up with, and wishes we would get on with the business at hand. But he’s a couple of centuries dead, so I can ignore him if I choose. 🙂

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