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What Obama Really Meant Was ...

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Posted on Jan 19, 2014

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

In the 1960s, the U.S. government spied on civil rights leaders, the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement and critics of the Vietnam War, just as today we are spying on Occupy activists, environmentalists, whistle-blowers and other dissidents. And partly in response to these revelations decades ago, especially regarding the FBI’s covert dirty tricks program known as COINTELPRO, laws were established in the 1970s to ensure that our intelligence capabilities could not be misused against our citizens. In the long, twilight struggle against communism, and now in the fight against terrorism, I am happy to report that we have eradicated all of these reforms and laws. The crimes for which Richard Nixon resigned and the abuses of power that prompted the formation of the Church Commission are now legal. The liberties that some patriots, including Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, have sought to preserve have been sacrificed at the altar of national security. To obtain your personal information, the FBI can now freely issue “national security letters” to your bank, doctor, employer or public library or any of your associates without a judicial warrant. And you will never be notified of an investigation. We can collect and store in perpetuity all metadata of your email correspondence and phone records and track your geographical movements. We can assassinate you if I decide you are a terrorist. We can order the military under Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act to arrest you, strip you of due process and hold you indefinitely in military detention centers. We can continue to throw into prison those who expose the illegality of what we are doing, or force them into exile, as all totalitarian secret police forces from the SS to the KGB to the East German Stasi have done. And we can torture.

The fall of the Soviet Union left America without a competing superpower. This threatened to delegitimize our massive spending on war and state security, now more than 50 percent of our budget. But a group of Islamic radicals who had never posed an existential threat to our country emerged to take the place of the old communist bloc. The politics of fear and the psychosis of permanent war were able to be continued. The war on terror placed new and in some ways more complicated demands on our intelligence agencies. Our illegal and disastrous occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and our indiscriminate bombing of other countries, along with the war crimes Israel is carrying out against the Palestinian people, are driving people in the Muslim world into the arms of these militant groups. We are the most hated nation on earth. At the same time, globalization—our corporate policy of creating a worldwide neofeudalism of masters and serfs—means we must spy on citizens to prevent agitation and revolt. After all, if you are a worker, things are only going to get worse. To quash competitors of American companies, we spy on corporations in Brazil, including Brazil’s biggest oil company, Petrobras, and on corporations in Germany and France. We also steal information from the leaders of many countries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose personal cellphone we tapped. However, Ms. Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, should not, as she has done, accuse us of being the Stasi. We are much more efficient than the Stasi was. We spied successfully on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in addition to Pope Francis and the conclave that elected him last March. Senior U.N. officials and Roman Catholic cardinals are highly susceptible to recruitment by al-Qaida. The reasons are classified. I won’t share them with you. Believe me.

Threats to the nation raised new legal and policy questions, which fortunately our courts, abject tools of the corporate state, solved by making lawful everything from torture to wholesale surveillance. I would like to take a moment to thank our nation’s compliant judges, the spineless deans of most prestigious law schools and most law professors and lawyers for refusing to defend the Constitution. They have been valued partners, along with the press, in our campaign to eradicate your civil liberties.

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