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Ear to the Ground

Chris Hedges: ‘Stop the New FISA’

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Posted on Jul 11, 2008

Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges warns in an L.A. Times Op-Ed that “If the sweeping surveillance law signed by President Bush on Thursday—giving the U.S. government nearly unchecked authority to eavesdrop on the phone calls and e-mails of innocent Americans—is allowed to stand, we will have eroded one of the most important bulwarks to a free press and an open society.”


Chris Hedges in the Los Angeles Times:

If the sweeping surveillance law signed by President Bush on Thursday—giving the U.S. government nearly unchecked authority to eavesdrop on the phone calls and e-mails of innocent Americans—is allowed to stand, we will have eroded one of the most important bulwarks to a free press and an open society.

The new FISA Amendments Act nearly eviscerates oversight of government surveillance. It allows the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review only general procedures for spying rather than individual warrants. The court will not be told specifics about who will be wiretapped, which means the law provides woefully inadequate safeguards to protect innocent people whose communications are caught up in the government’s dragnet surveillance program.

The law, passed under the guise of national security, ostensibly targets people outside the country. There is no question, however, that it will ensnare many communications between Americans and those overseas. Those communications can be stored indefinitely and disseminated, not just to the U.S. government but to other governments.

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By troublesum, July 12, 2008 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment

There will never be a time when our constitutional freedoms and liberties are not threatened, but these times are worse than ever.  Power corrupts and absolute, unchecked power corrupts absolutely.

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By troublesum, July 12, 2008 at 1:38 pm Link to this comment

Txrebel,
The founders did not intend that the 4th amendment was only for those with nothing to hide.  It is all inclusive.  They never said that only those with nothing to hide should enjoy freedom and liberty.  Furthermore it is up to the government to prove guilt in criminal cases.  It was deliberately intended that it should be difficult for the state to do so.  This is a defense against tyranny which the founders were well aquainted with.

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By jersey girl, July 12, 2008 at 10:56 am Link to this comment

txre: Well, think of it this way, would you want EVERYONE to know EVERYTHING that you do behind closed doors?

I didn’t think so.  Nuff said.

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By txrebel, July 12, 2008 at 10:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks “Outraged”. You did come up with some legitimate concerns.  But maybe I can alleviate some of your fears.  I was downsized because of foreign imports and cheep labor.  In fact my whole plant was shut down, but I survived.  I disagreed with my company’s policies several times and management later would seek my advice on how to solve problems.  I was once asked what I thought of my boss, I told them I did not want to jeopardize his career, but I also told them of his shortcomings.  I did not get fired, in fact I think I confirmed earlier reports about him, and they were appreciative.  Once they wanted me (and other employees) to meet with, and have our picture taken with our local U.S. house representative.  I told management, no thanks, I did not like the guy.  I did not want people reading the local paper to think I was endorsing this guy.  I survived that and other disagreements.

Government is not the enemy.  Some people in government, and out of government, are stupid and/or have different ideas on how to solve problems.  A few names that comes to mind are John Kerry, both presidents named Bush, and Jimmy Carter.  Now, do not be afraid to turn in a crook in your company if they are doing something wrong.  You may even be rewarded under the whistle blower act.  I have turned in a list of subversives (I found on internet) to government and TV news organizations.

Speaking of stupid.  You are correct in saying that no one should give out their SSN or bank information on the phone, although I don’t think government would be interested in wire tapping a nobody,  unless they think that person is a crook.  Being misinformed is just as bad as being stupid.  Everyone born after, say 1945 has been brainwashed for 60 years now.  Subversives, in and outside government, want to destroy this God fearing country and set up a one world utopia with them in control. But that is not to say all government is bad.

Most companies, when you hire in have you sign a contract saying you will not divulge any of their trade secrets.
I think this is a good and common business practice.

Thanks again “Outraged” for your input.  I too am concerned about certain things going on, as my internet name implies.

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By troublesum, July 12, 2008 at 1:41 am Link to this comment

This battle has been fought for centuries.  I think of Thomas Moore in the movie “A Man for all Seasons.”
Someone once said, “The price of freedom and liberty is eternal vigilance.”  Jefferson?

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By P. T., July 12, 2008 at 12:40 am Link to this comment

We’ve been through this before.  It was called Watergate.

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By P. T., July 12, 2008 at 12:37 am Link to this comment

Human rights groups are worried that their sources from repressive countries might find their lives in jeopardy if they were found out.  Out of fear, the sources will quit providing information.

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By Outraged, July 11, 2008 at 11:20 pm Link to this comment

Re: txrebel, July 11

Yes.  I can think of a whole slew of things.  One of which, Hedges brings up this article, which is information exposing powerful interests or individuals.  BTW, knowing who exposed criminal offenses could cost that person their life.  Another would be business secrets of the legal kind, such as prototypes, customer base and the like.  What about talking to a co-worker about a superiors “bad behavior” and issues regarding its resolve?  What if you were diagnosed with an incurable disease and this is offered to your employer…do you think you could be suddenly downsized?  What about your political affiliations…what if the current administration doesn’t “approve”?  What about SSN, bank acct. numbers, passwords… etc? Could these be “sold” under the table?  Think for a minute how “creative” crooks can be with information they shouldn’t have. 

This is not about protecting criminals.  It’s about protecting the innocent or unaware from the crooks.

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By Outraged, July 11, 2008 at 9:13 pm Link to this comment

A Thanks to Chris Hedges and ALL the groups and individuals who are initiating this lawsuit.  This is such an abombination of rule of law its hard to grasp the totality of what just went on here.  Are our “public servants” so easily bought off that they are willing to completely destroy one of the very basic tenets of our constitutional protections?

There is a group called “Strangebedfellows” which a conglomeration of many groups and blogs working to ensure civil liberties, they describe themselves this way:

“Strangebedfellows is a unique and diverse left—right coalition which has come together to put a stop to the eradication of civil liberties in America. Modeled on a similar group in Britain, the initial Strangebedfellows group encompasses Ron Paul supporters (BreakTheMatrix.com, Rick Williams and Trevor Lyman), leading bloggers from the left (Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com, Jane Hamsher of firedoglake.com) and many more who share the view that warrantless surveillance, telecom immunity and other such outrages of the lawless surveillance state MUST END—AND END NOW. Our group of Strangebedfellows is organizing a moneybomb on behalf of AccountabilityNowPAC, and we’re reaching out to friends and colleagues from across the political spectrum who believe in the Bill of Rights and freedom in America. So join us—become a Strangebedfellow! Add your name and group to our list of backers, and enter your pledge today to donate to AccountabilityNowPAC. Let’s reverse these police state sellouts by our political leaders—FOREVER.”

Their link: http://accountabilitynowpac.com/

Check out the diverse fellowship on their “sponsoring groups and blogs” tab… many, many familiar names.

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By txrebel, July 11, 2008 at 8:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Does anyone else find it strange that someone would be so ashamed of what they say or do, that they do not want anyone else hear what they say on the phone ?  There are only few things I can think of that I would not want anyone to know about.  If I was planning a crime, or had already committed a crime, if I was running around on my spouse, if I were planning to overthrow the government, if I were a spy for a foreign enemy country, if I were using or selling illegal drugs, If I was some sort of pervert. Well, I guess thats about it for me.  Maybe someone else can think of a few things.

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By kdnc, July 11, 2008 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment

True warriors of the pen do not have the luxury of an option of escape, they live and war by a creed that dictates they fight to the death. Those who have fought and chose to lay down their pens prove themselves, in so doing, to have been mercenaries or hit men, not warriors in the truest sense.

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By P. T., July 11, 2008 at 8:28 pm Link to this comment

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

—Benjamin Franklin

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By P. T., July 11, 2008 at 8:05 pm Link to this comment

ALL OF THE GROUPS WITH AN INTEREST IN CIVIL LIBERTIES NEED TO JOIN IN THE LAWSUIT—AND GET THE ATTENTION OF THE COURTS !!!

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By Fadel Abdallah, July 11, 2008 at 8:00 pm Link to this comment

An Open Letter to Chris Hedges:

Dear Chris,

I love you! I love what you stand for! And I, like you, consider myself a warrior of the pen (or keyboard these days) for freedom, truth and justice. Though I am not a nationally syndicated known name, I, like you, have been writing against colonialism, tyranny, and injustices. Just what I wrote on Truthdig alone since its inception about three or four years ago, my files show that I have written close to a thousand page.

These pages include angry posts, lamentations, disappointments, refutations of misguided posts, racists and bigots, all that mixed with hopeful dreams for change and plans for action towards change, in addition to stating factual and historical facts for the benefits of others.

Few of my pieces saw the light and were published in major local newspapers like The Minneapolis Star and Tribune, the Pioneer Press of Saint Paul and The Blade of Toledo and other minor publications in English, and some Spanish publications and underground Arabic outlets.

Yet, things continued to move from bad to worse, and despite the billions and trillions of words written by you and other warriors like you, I reached a point where I don’t see light at the end of the tunnel!

So my message to you is this: Is there a way we, the disenchanted and crushed average people, can move from cursing, lamenting, despairing and writing into a concrete plan of action, to stop the ruinous path our military-industrial complex is taking us, if not making this country again a light unto the nations?!

The last piece I read for you had all the ingredients of despair and escapism into the ideals of books! I feel I am heading the same direction, but my escapism would be to the fantasies of One Thousand and One Nights and Don Quixote de la Mancha.

I would appreciate any uplifting thoughts from you or any other reader!

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