by Michel Chossudovsky (CRG),- Nine thousand heavily armed police including SWAT teams were deployed in a manhunt to capture a 19 year old student at U-Mass, after his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the alleged Boston Marathon terror mastermind was shot dead by police allegedly after a car chase and shoot out with police.
Prior to the conduct of a police investigation, the 19 year old student has already been designated as “guilty”. The fundamental legal principle of “innocence until proven guilty” has been scrapped. In the words of President Obama (a graduate of Harvard Law School), the Boston 19 year old student is “guilty” of heinous crimes (without evidence and prior to being charged in a court of law):
“Whatever hateful agenda drove these men [suspects] to such heinous acts will not, cannot, prevail. Whatever they thought they could achieve, they’ve already failed…. Why did young men who grew up and studied here as part of our communities and our country resort to such violence?” (emphasis added)
Coupled with the alleged anthrax and ricin letters in Washington D.C. which mysteriously surfaced in the immediate wake of the Boston tragedy, both Washington and the media have underscored the Tsarnaev brothers tenuous ties to Chechnya’s militant jihadist insurgency.
According to the Wall Street Journal, quoting expert scholarly opinion:
”...the Chechen [family] background is maybe a part of what leads them [the two suspects] to do what they do,” said Lorenzo Vidino, an expert on Chechen militants at the Center for Security Studies in Zurich.” … A profile on the Russian social-networking site Vkontakte that appears to belong to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev includes a propaganda clip rallying jihadists to go to Syria to fight alongside rebels there, citing sayings from the Prophet Muhammad. [Amply documented, it just so happens that the jihadist foreign fighters in Syria are recruited by the US and its allies] (Wall Street Journal, op cit.)
What is implied is that even if the suspects are not tied to a Muslim extremist network, their embedded cultural heritage and Muslim “background” incites them –quite naturally– to commit acts of violence. How does this concept –which routinely associates Muslims with terrorism– repeated ad nauseam in the Western news chain, affect the human mindset?
While the identity and motives of the suspects are currently being examined by police investigators, the Tsarnaev brothers have already been categorized –without supporting evidence– as “Radical Muslims”.
Across the land, Muslims are being smeared and demonized. A new wave of Islamophobia has been set in motion.
The Creation of A New Legend: “The Chechen Connection”
A new legend is unfolding: “The Chechen Connection” is threatening America. Islamism homegrown in the Russian Federation is now being “exported to America”.
Plastered on news tabloids across the United States, the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings on Patriots’ Day are relentlessly compared to September 11, 2001.
According to the Council of Foreign Relations:
Law enforcement agencies at all levels have made advances in surveillance and policing since the September 11, 2001 attacks, but security risks persist. Many counterterrorism experts call for a renewed focus on the ability of the United States to weather and recover from such incidents… (emphasis added)
Is the Boston tragedy being used by Washington to usher in a new wave of police state measures directed against different categories of “domestic terrorists?
Is this catastrophic event being applied to foster public reaction against Muslims?
Is it being used to build acceptance for America’s holy crusade –initiated during the Bush administration– directed against a number of Muslim countries, which allegedly “harbor Islamic terrorists”?
According to the powerful Council of Foreign Relations (which exerts a pervasive influence on both the White House and the State Department), the Boston bombings once again “raise the specter of terrorism on U.S. soil, highlighting the vulnerabilities of a free and open society”. (Ibid)
Counter terrorism and Martial Law –implying the suspension of civil liberties– rather than civilian law enforcement are the proposed solutions. In the words of Secretary of State John Kerry, ‘‘I think it’s fair to say this entire week we’ve been in pretty direct confrontation with evil.’’
The unfolding mass media consensus (including that of Hollywood) is that America is once again under attack. This time, however, the alleged perpetrators are “Muslim terrorists” not from Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia but from the Russian Federation:
If a connection between the marathon bombing suspects and Chechen separatists was established, it would mark the first time militants from the former Soviet republic have launched a deadly attack outside Russia. Chechen insurgents deny any link to marathon bombing – U.S. News
“The Chechen Connection” has become embedded in a new media consensus. The American Homeland is potentially threatened by Muslim terrorists from the Russian Federation, who have links to Al Qaeda.
There is also a foreign policy agenda behind the bombings. The White house has hinted that in the course of the police investigation that if the “Chechen brothers” had links to radical Islam, the administration “could expand intelligence-gathering efforts overseas, as well as widen surveillance and screening measures in the United States.” Moreover, will the Chechen Connection be used by the administration as a renewed pretext for pressuring Moscow?
Al Qaeda and the CIA
The American public is misled. The media reports carefully overlook the historical origins of the Chechnya jihadist movement and its pervasive links to US intelligence.
The fact of the matter is that the jihadist movement is a creation of US intelligence, which has also led to the development of “political Islam”. While the role of the CIA in support of the Islamic jihad (including most Al Qaeda affiliated organizations) is amply documented, there is also evidence that the FBI has covertly equipped and incited would be terrorists within the US. (See James Corbett,The Boston Bombings in Context: How the FBI Fosters, Funds and Equips American Terrorists,Global Research April 17, 2013)
The CIA’s agenda starting in the late 1970s was to recruit and train jihadist “freedom fighters” (Mujahideen) to wage “a war of liberation” directed against the pro-Soviet secular government of Afghanistan.
Ronald Reagan meets Afghan Jihadist Commanders at the White House in 1985 (Reagan Archives)
The “Islamic Jihad” (or holy war against the Soviets) became an integral part of the CIA’s intelligence ploy. It was supported by the United States and Saudi Arabia, with a significant part of the funding generated from the Golden Crescent drug trade:
“In March 1985, President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 166 … [which] authorize[d] stepped-up covert military aid to the Mujahideen, and it made clear that the secret Afghan war had a new goal: to defeat Soviet troops in Afghanistan through covert action and encourage a Soviet withdrawal. The new covert U.S. assistance began with a dramatic increase in arms supplies — a steady rise to 65,000 tons annually by 1987 … as well as a “ceaseless stream” of CIA and Pentagon specialists who travelled to the secret headquarters of Pakistan’s ISI on the main road near Rawalpindi, Pakistan. There, the CIA specialists met with Pakistani intelligence officers to help plan operations for the Afghan rebels.”(Steve Coll, The Washington Post, July 19, 1992.)
Mujahideen from a large number of Muslim countries were recruited by the CIA. Jihadists from the Muslim republics (and autonomous regions) of the Soviet Union were also recruited.(For further analysis see Michael Chossudovsky, Al Qaeda and the “War on Terrorism”, Global Research, January 20, 2008)
Al Qaeda and the Chechnya Jihad
Chechnya is an autonomous region of the Russian Federation.
Among the recruits for specialized training in the early 1990s was the leader of the Chechnya rebellion Shamil Basayev who –in the immediate wake of the Cold War– led Chechnya’s first secessionist war against Russia.
During his training in Afghanistan, Shamil Basayev linked up with Saudi born veteran Mujahideen Commander “Al Khattab” who had fought as a volunteer in Afghanistan. Barely a few months after Basayev’s return to Grozny, Khattab was invited (early 1995) to set up an army base in Chechnya for the training of Mujahideen fighters. According to the BBC, Khattab’s posting to Chechnya had been “arranged through the Saudi-Arabian based [International] Islamic Relief Organisation, a militant religious organisation, funded by mosques and rich individuals which channeled funds into Chechnya”.(BBC, 29 September 1999).
The evidence suggests that Shamil Basayev had links to US intelligence as of the late 1980s. He was involved in the 1991 coup d’Etat which led to the break-up of the Soviet Union. He was subsequently involved in Chechnya’s unilateral declaration of independence from the Russian Federation in November 1991. In 1992, he led an insurgency against Armenian fighters in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. He was also involved in Abkhazia, the largely Muslim breakaway region of Georgia.
The first Chechnya war (1994-1996) was waged in the immediate wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was part of a US covert operation to destabilize the Russian Federation. The Second Chechnya war was waged in 1999-2000.
Broadly speaking the same guerrilla terrorist tactics applied in Afghanistan were implemented in Chechnya.
According to Yossef Bodansky, director of the U.S. Congress’ Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, the insurgency in Chechnya had been planned during a secret summit of HizbAllah International held in 1996 in Mogadishu, Somalia. (Levon Sevunts, “Who’s Calling The Shots? Chechen conflict finds Islamic roots in Afghanistan and Pakistan”, The Gazette, Montreal, 26 October 1999.)
It’s obvious that the involvement of Pakistan’s ISI in Chechnya “goes far beyond supplying the Chechens with weapons and expertise: The ISI and its radical Islamic proxies are actually calling the shots in this war.”(Ibid)
The ISI is in permanent liaison with the CIA. What this statement signifies is that US intelligence using Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) as a go-between was calling the shots in the Chechnya war.
Russia’s main pipeline route transits through Chechnya and Dagestan. Despite Washington’s condemnation of “Islamic terrorism”, the beneficiaries of the wars in Chechnya were the Anglo-American oil conglomerates which were vying for complete control over oil resources and pipeline corridors out of the Caspian Sea basin.
The two main Chechen rebel armies (which at the time were led by the (late) Commander Shamil Basayev and Emir Khattab), estimated at 35,000 strong, were supported by CIA and its Pakistani counterpart the ISI, which played a key role in organizing and training the Chechen rebel army:
“[In 1994] the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence [in liaison with the CIA] arranged for Basayev and his trusted lieutenants to undergo intensive Islamic indoctrination and training in guerrilla warfare in the Khost province of Afghanistan at Amir Muawia camp,set up in the early 1980s by the CIA and ISI and run by famous Afghani warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. In July 1994, upon graduating from Amir Muawia, Basayev was transferred to Markaz-i-Dawar camp in Pakistan to undergo training in advanced guerrilla tactics. In Pakistan, Basayev met the highest ranking Pakistani military and intelligence officers: Minister of Defence General Aftab Shahban Mirani, Minister of Interior General Naserullah Babar, and the head of the ISI branch in charge of supporting Islamic causes, General Javed Ashraf (all now retired). High-level connections soon proved very useful to Basayev.” (Ibid, emphasis added)
Following his training and indoctrination stint, Basayev was assigned to lead the assault against Russian federal troops in the first Chechen war in 1995. His organization had also developed extensive links to criminal syndicates in Moscow as well as ties to Albanian organized crime and the KLA. (Vitaly Romanov and Viktor Yadukha, “Chechen Front Moves To Kosovo”, Segodnia, Moscow, 23 Feb 2000)
The Chechen insurgency modeled on the CIA sponsored jihad in Afghanistan has also served as a model for several US-NATO sponsored military interventions, including Bosnia (1992-1995), Kosovo (1999), Libya (2011), Syria (2011- ).
Chechen Rebels: US Covert Operation to Destabilize the Russian Federation
The 1994-1996 Chechen war, instigated by the main rebel movements against Moscow, served to undermine secular state institutions. The adoption of Islamic law in the largely secular Muslim societies of the former Soviet Union served US strategic interests in the region.
A parallel system of local government, controlled by the Islamic militia, had been implanted in many localities in Chechnya. In some of the small towns and villages, Islamic Sharia courts were established under a reign of political terror.
Financial aid from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States to the rebel armies was conditional upon the installation of the Sharia courts, despite strong opposition of the civilian population. The Principal Judge and Ameer of the Sharia courts in Chechnya was Sheikh Abu Umar, who “came to Chechnya in 1995 and joined the ranks of the Mujahideen there under the leadership of Ibn-ul-Khattab. … He set about teaching Islam with the correct Aqeedah to the Chechen Mujahideen, many of whom held incorrect and distorted beliefs about Islam.” (Global Muslim News, December 1997).
The Wahabi movement from Saudi Arabia was not only attempting to overrun civilian State institutions in Dagestan and Chechnya, it was also seeking to displace the traditional Sufi Muslim leaders. In fact, the resistance to the Islamic rebels and foreign fighters in Dagestan was based on the alliance of the (secular) local governments with the Sufi sheiks:
“These [Wahabi] groups consist of a very tiny but well-financed and well-armed minority. They propose with these attacks the creation of terror in the hearts of the masses. … By creating anarchy and lawlessness, these groups can enforce their own harsh, intolerant brand of Islam. … Such groups do not represent the common view of Islam, held by the vast majority of Muslims and Islamic scholars, for whom Islam exemplifies the paragon of civilization and perfected morality. They represent what is nothing less than a movement to anarchy under an Islamic label. … Their intention is not so much to create an Islamic state, but to create a state of confusion in which they are able to thrive.( Mateen Siddiqui, “Differentiating Islam from Militant ‘Islamists’” San Francisco Chronicle, 21 September 1999)
The second Chechnya war was launched by Vladimir Putin in 1999, with a view to consolidating the role of the central government and defeating the US sponsored Chechen terrorists against the Russian Federation.
The 19 year old suspect is being used as a patsy. He left Chechnya shortly after his birth. While he and his brother had no connection to the jihadist movement, the US media is carefully crafting a “Chechen Connection” pointing to an inherent behavioral pattern associated with Muslims:
The brothers spent 10 years in the U.S. during a formative period of their lives, exhibiting normal behavior for first-generation immigrants, said Mitchell Silber, a former intelligence official in the New York Police Department. “The question is, what catalyzed the change? Was it Chechen nationalism? Did it start with Chechen nationalism and somehow migrate to a pan-Islamist jihad cause?” (Renewed Fears About Homegrown Terror Threat,” WSJ April 20, 2013)
There is evidence, however, from the testimony of family members that the Tsarnaev brothers were on the radar of the FBI for several years prior to the Boston bombings and were the object of recurrent threats and harassment. Confirmed by the Wall Street Journal, the FBI had “interviewed” Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011. (Ibid)
What is abundantly clear is that the US government is not committed to fighting terrorists.
Quite the opposite. US intelligence has been recruiting and grooming terrorists for more than thirty years, while at same time upholding the absurd notion that these terrorists, who are bona fide CIA “intelligence assets”, constitute a threat to the American Homeland. It is also part of a propaganda ploy carried out to justify in the eyes of public opinion the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT).
The development of an Islamist terrorist militia in different countries around the World is part of an intricate US intelligence project.
While the Tsarnaev brothers are casually accused without evidence of having links to Chechen terrorists, the important question is who is behind the Chechen terrorists?
In an utterly twisted logic, the protagonists of the ‘Global War on Terrorism” directed against Muslims are the de facto architects of “Islamic terrorism.”
The “Global War on Terrorism” Mindset
The “war on terrorism” mindset builds a consensus: millions of Americans are led to believe that a militarized police apparatus is required to protect democracy. Little do they realize that the US government is the main source of terrorism both nationally and internationally.
The corporate media is Washington’s propaganda arm, which consists in portraying Muslims as a threat to national security.
At this juncture in our history, at the crossroads of global economic and social crisis, the Boston bombings play a central role. They justify the Homeland Security State.
The evolving US Police State is thereby upheld as a means to protecting civil liberties. Under the guise of counter-terrorism, extrajudicial killings, the suspension of habeas corpus and torture are rightfully considered as a means to upholding the US Constitution.
At the same time, the terrorists –created and supported by the CIA– are used to participate in “False Flag” terrorist acts with a view to justifying the conduct of a global military crusade against Muslim countries, which so happen to be major oil producing economies.
“Massive Casualty Producing Events”
Former CENTCOM Commander, General Tommy Franks, who led the invasion of Iraq in 2003, had outlined a scenario of what he described as “a massive casualty producing event” on American soil, (a Second 9/11) . Implied in General Franks statement was the notion and belief that civilian deaths were necessary to raise awareness and muster public support for the “global war on terrorism”.
“[A] terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event [will occur] somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event.” (General Tommy Franks Interview, Cigar Aficionado, December 2003, emphasis added)
While the Boston bombings are of an entirely different nature to the “catastrophic event” alluded to by General Tommy Franks, the administration appears, nonetheless, to be committed to the logic of “militarizing our country” as a means to “protecting democracy.”
The Boston events are already being used to galvanize public support for an extended domestic based counter-terrorism apparatus. The latter would be implemented alongside extrajudicial assassinations against so-called “homegrown self radicalized terrorists”:
“U.S. counterterrorism policy has since 2001 focused largely on killing terrorists overseas or preventing them from getting into the U.S. But the Boston bombings show how the diffusion of terrorist tactics easily transcends borders. Countering small groups of individuals inside the U.S. can be a bedeviling assignment.
Bruce Riedel, director of the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan Washington think tank, said the Boston attack was likely a harbinger. “We are likely to see this as the future face of terrorist threats to the United States,” he said, adding that the case of a small number of radicalized participants who have lived in the U.S. and execute a plot is “the counterterrorist community’s worst nightmare, homegrown, self-radicalizing terrorism that learns its skill set off the Internet.” (WSJ, April 20, op cit)
The “terrorist massive casualty-producing event” was upheld by General Franks as a crucial political turning point.
Do the Boston Bombings constitute a point of transition, a watershed which ultimately contributes to the gradual suspension of constitutional government?
Michel Chossudovsky Center for Research on Globalization
Monthly Archives: April 2013
PsyWar is a sterling debut documentary from writer-director Scott Noble. It is chock full of interviews with thinkers, historical background, and excellent narration by Mikela Jay.
This film explores the evolution of Mainstream Media and Public Relations in the United States. It is one of my all time favorites. Enjoy!
Please visit the authors of this film at http://metanoia-films.org/
Peace and Love
(By D. Kravets) There’s many reasons to password-protect — or encrypt — one’s digital data. Foremost among them is to protect it during a security breach.
Another top reason is to keep the government/boss out of your hard drive.
The issue is front and center as a federal magistrate is refusing to order a Wisconsin computer scientist to decrypt his data that the authorities seized from kiddie-porn suspect Jeffrey Feldman. The reason is simple: The Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination protects even those suspected of unsavory crimes, according to U.S. Magistrate William Callahan Jr. of Wisconsin, who wrote:
This is a close call, but I conclude that Feldman’s act of production, which would necessarily require his using a password of some type to decrypt the storage device, would be tantamount to telling the government something it does not already know with ‘reasonably particularity’—namely, that Feldman has personal access to and control over the encrypted storage devices. Accordingly, in my opinion, Fifth Amendment protection is available to Feldman. Stated another way, ordering Feldman to decrypt the storage devices would be in violation of his Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination. (.pdf)
Hanni Fakhoury, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, stressed that the decision was important, and not because it might hinder a kiddie-porn prosecution.
“This isn’t just about child porn. It’s about anything on your computer that prosecutors or government officials may want,” he said in a telephone interview.
Federal prosecutors did not immediately respond for comment, but said in court papers they have spent months trying to decrypt the data.
“The FBI is performing admirable in the digital arms race between those seeking to hide evidence of their wrongdoing through encryption and law enforcement officers seeking to uncover that evidence; but the expense in time and resources in investigating cases like this one is beginning to inhibit the provision of justice,” the government said (.pdf) in seeking the magistrate to compel the suspect to unlock the data.
The suspect was not immediately reachable.
To be sure, decryption orders are rare, and they have never been squarely addressed by the Supreme Court despite varying opinions in the lower courts.
Just last year, for example, a federal appeals court rejected an appeal from a bank-fraud defendant who has been ordered to decrypt her laptop so its contents could be used in her criminal case. The issue was later mooted for defendant Romano Fricosu as a co-defendant eventually supplied a password.
Contrary to the Wisconsin child pornography case, however, the Fricosu matter was distinguishable because the authorities had evidence that her hard drive might contain evidence against her, meaning the court felt her Fifth Amendment rights were not at issue. That’s because the authorities had recorded a jailhouse conversation between her and a co-defendant, in which the laptop’s contents were discussed.
It’s worth noting that encryption is not 100 percent effective.
And failing to comply with a judge’s decryption order — or any order for that matter — might result in a contempt charge and land you in jail pending compliance. Alleging you forgot your encryption password is another story.
(By C. Bonnington) A lot of Kickstarter projects never get fully funded. Others that do never see the light of day. With the continued strain on gas prices, masses of commuters opting to pedal to work rather than sit in rush hour traffic, and our growing reliance on mobile devices, a bike-powered mobile device charger is something that should become real. And it doesn’t hurt that the company behind it, Siva Cycles, hopes to donate one of their wheel-mounted chargers to people in need in developing countries for every 10 sold.
The Atom is a lightweight (300 gram), high-efficiency bicycle generator that can charge your mobile device while you pedal–or after the fact thanks to a detachable 1300mAh battery pack. It’s kind of like a Mophie that you don’t have to plug in.
The good news is that, if funded, this project actually stands a chance of becoming a real thing. Siva cofounder and CEO David Delcourt has ten years of entrepreneurial and product development experience, and cofounder and CTO Aaron Latzke has been in the mechanical engineering space for a decade, most recently designing and constructing metrology tools for the semi-conductor space.
Though early in the product’s development, the engineering is evident in how easy the Atom is to use: simply mount it on a standard-sized bicycle by removing the rear quick release or wheel nut, attach the Atom to the hub, and then put the wheel back in place.
And though it’s not invisible, the Atom is relatively unobtrusive at 7.5 inches tall, 3 inches wide, and 1.2 inches deep. The design is simple: black, and rectangular, with the removable USB battery pack easily accessible at the upper end of the generator. Or you can run a ribbon cable discretely up your frame to a plug underneath the saddle and charge your device directly.
Being able to charge mobile electronics directly is how the Atom differs from current bike generators on the market. Existing hub generators provide AC power, which is not suitable for directly charging USB devices. They require chunky cables burdened with AC-DC converters and batteries to make them useful for charging mobile devices, Latzke explained. By comparison, the Atom has all the electronics you need to deliver immediately usable power inside its package: an integrated battery, a 3:1 gear ratio for greater efficiency, AC-DC converter and regulators so a constant stream of power is delivered, maxing out at 4.5 Watts and 500 mA if you’re averaging 15 mph.
The Atom will retail for $105. Support it on Kickstarter here.
Pesticides are harmful to the health and intelligence of America’s children, according to an October 2012 report released by the Pesticide Action Network of North America. Titled, “A Generation in Jeopardy,” the study notes how chemicals from pest control products are one key cause of a range of disorders such as ADHD, autism, cancer, disrupted metabolism, and even low IQs.
The report notes that since 1975 childhood cancer has risen 25% while autism is up 78% from 2002. The study shows that organophosphate pesticides block enzymes that control neurotransmitters. As a result, neurons misfire, inhibiting nervous system function and proper brain development.
The Pesticide Action Network of North America is an organization dedicated to replacing “the use of hazardous pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives.” While PANNA and others continue to speak up about the dangers of pesticides, corporate media routinely dismisses the issue.
Viji Sundaram, “Pesticides Harm Kids Health and Intelligence, Study Finds,” Truth-out.org, October 11, 2012, http://truth-out.org/news/item/12057-pesticides-harm-kids-health-and-intelligence-study-finds
“Mission,” The Pesticide Action Network of North America, last modified February 5, 2013, http://www.panna.org/about/mission
Student Researcher: Joe Raspolich, Florida Atlantic University
Faculty Advisor: James Tracy, Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University
My Grandfather served proudly in the US Navy on the USS Blackhawk during WWII. He was a frogman, underwater demolitions and recovery, underwater demolitions teams. The UDTs pioneered combat swimming, closed-circuit diving, underwater demolitions, and midget submarine (dry and wet submersible) operations. They were the precursor to the present-day United States Navy SEALs.The United States Navy’s Sea, Air, Land Teams, commonly known as the Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy’s principal special operations force and a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command and United States Special Operations Command. This is how they PT
Congress Exploits Our Fears to Take Our Liberty
By Ron Paul
April 22, 2013 “This week, as Americans were horrified by the attacks in Boston, both houses of Congress considered legislation undermining our liberty in the name of “safety.” Gun control continued to be the focus of the Senate, where an amendment expanding federal “background checks” to gun show sales and other private transfers dominated the debate. While the background check amendment failed to pass, proponents of gun control have made it clear they will continue their efforts to enact new restrictions on gun ownership into law.
While it did not receive nearly as much attention as the debate on gun control, the House of Representatives passed legislation with significant implications for individual liberty: the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). CISPA proponents claim that the legislation is necessary to protect Americans from foreign “cyber terrorists,” but the real effect of this bill will be to further erode Americans’ online privacy.
Under CISPA, Internet corporations are authorized to hand over the private information of American citizens to federal agents, as long as they can justify the violation of your privacy in the name of protecting “cyber security”. Among the items that may be shared are your e-mails, browsing history, and online transactions.
Like the PATRIOT Act, CISPA violates the fourth amendment by allowing federal agencies to obtain private information without first seeking a warrant from a federal judge. The law also allows federal agencies to pass your information along to other federal bureaucrats — again without obtaining a warrant. And the bill provides private companies with immunity from lawsuits regardless of the damage done to anyone whose personal information is shared with the government.
CISPA represents a troubling form of corporatism, where large companies cede their responsibility to protect their property to the federal government, at the expense of their customers’ privacy and liberty. In this respect, CISPA can be thought of as an electronic version of the Transportation Security Administration, which has usurped the authority over airline security from private airlines. However, CISPA will prove to be far more invasive than even the most robust TSA screening.
CISPA and the gun control bill are only the most recent examples of politicians manipulating fear to con the people into giving up their liberties. Of course, the people are told the legislation is for “limited purposes,” but authority granted to government is rarely, if ever, used solely for the purpose for which it is granted. For example, the American people were promised that the extraordinary powers granted the government by the PATRIOT Act would only be used against terrorism. Yet soon after the bill became law, reports surfaced that it was being used for non-terrorism purposes. In fact, according to data compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union, 76 percent of the uses of the controversial “sneak-and-peak” warrants where related to the war on drugs!
Sadly, I expect this week’s tragic attacks in Boston to be used to justify new restrictions on liberty. Within 48 hours of the attack in Boston, at least one Congressman was calling for increased use of surveillance cameras to expand the government’s ability to monitor our actions, while another Senator called for a federal law mandating background checks before Americans can buy “explosive powder.”
I would not be surprised if the Transportation Security Administration uses this tragedy to claim new authority to “screen” Americans before they can attend sporting or other public events. The Boston attack may also be used as another justification for creating a National ID Card tied to a federal database with “biometric” information. The only thing that will stop them is if the American people rediscover the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin that you cannot achieve security by allowing government to take their liberties.