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Land of the Free?

Posted on March 12, 2014 at 5:05 PM

There was once a time when the Gestapo was demonized, the Stazi feared,and the KGB hated by Western Democracies. To them, government intervention in personal matters, forced obedience under threat of extreme punishment, and the de facto loss of civil rights and liberties were the absolute antithesis to the free and civilized world. Leading the freedom pack was the undisputed leader of the free world and champion of freedom for all: the United States of America!

Then 9/11 happened… or did 9/11 really change anything?


Today, the LA Times reported that Senator Dianne Feinstein, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, escalated tensions with the CIA by publicly accusing the agency of spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee itself.[i]

While the Senate Intelligence Committee acts as oversight for the CIA and others, it has also been a staunch defender of actions taken by the CIA when the committee has deemed questionable actions necessary. However, it seems that those actions have now crossed a line by spying on the committee, as Senator Feinstein touted from the Senate floor, "I have grave concerns that the CIA search may well have violated the separation of powers principles. I am nottaking it lightly."[ii]

In the midst of NSA spying (both foreign and domestic), IRS targeting,and AP monitoring, the last thing the intelligence community or this governmentcan afford (and still call itself “free” is another scandal resulting in thebreaching of Constitutional rights. While for more than a decade 9/11 has beenused as justification of these actions, the truth is that history shows us thatthe only thing that 9/11 MIGHT have done, is speed up this kind of disregardfor the US Constitution.

In 1994, against the valiant efforts of telephone companies and privacy advocates, the House of Representatives approved legislation that forced phone companies to make their networks accessible to law-enforcement wiretaps as the switch from analog to digital was made. While the phone companies said it was unnecessary due to their practiced compliance with law enforcement and privacy groups called it too much of an intrusion into private affairs, both the Bush(41) and Clinton Administrations championed this bill to law.[iii]

By 1996 “2.2 million conversations were intercepted… 1.7 million of which were deemed innocent by prosecutors.” the ACLU reported in 1998. The Clinton administration defended their actions by saying if it wasn’t allowed to do the spying, its "ability to fight crime and prevent terrorism" would be"devastated."[iv]

But this was in 1998, three years before the attacks on New York City andWashington DC. When looked at from this standpoint, it is easy to see why the PATRIOT ACT was so easily implemented. The infrastructure for the programs detailed within it had already been built, 9/11 merely gave the intelligence community carte blanche in using it.

So Senator Feinstein will most likely continue to bash the CIA for misconduct against the Senate and find herself waiting a long time for CIA acknowledgement and apologetic gestures as CIA Director, John Brennan is expected to publicly defend his agency later today. However, given the agency’s past and legislature support for that past, one must wonder if the Senator is truly upset about lines crossed and laws violated, or simply upset that her committee were the ones being spied on this time?

 

 

[i] (Times) 2014)

[ii] (K. D. Times) 2014)

[iii] (S. C. Times) 1994)

[iv] (American Civil Liberties Union 1998 )


Works Cited

American Civil Liberties Union. 1998. Big Brotherin the Wires: Wiretapping in the Digital Age. March 1. Accessed March 11,2014. https://www.aclu.org/technology-and-liberty/big-brother-wires-wiretapping-digital-age" target="_blank">www.aclu.org/technology-and-liberty/big-brother-wires-wiretapping-digital-age.

Times), Ken Dilianian (Los Angeles. 2014. Feinsteinpublicly accuses CIA of spying on Senate computers. March 11. AccessedMarch 11, 2014. www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-pn-feinstein-cia-20140311,0,4351864.story#axzz2vfXrdguM.

Times), Sabra Chartrand (New York. 1994. Clintongets a Wiretapping Bill that Covers New Technologies. October 9. AccessedMarch 11, 2014. www.nytimes.com/1994/10/09/us/clinton-gets-a-wiretapping-bill-that-covers-new-technologies.html.

Categories: Government, Reality

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