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Boardman writes: "Adoption of the USA Freedom Act largely perpetuates the powers of the USA Patriot Act, but with a kinder, gentler image. The argument over them was as meaningless as debating whether prisoners would be happier exchanging their orange jumpsuits for lavender ones."

Rand Paul. (photo: Getty Images)
Rand Paul. (photo: Getty Images)


USA Police State Celebrated as Defense of Freedom

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

07 June 15

 

USA Freedom Act replaces USA Patriot Act, sort of, and so?

ne needs a wicked sense of humor these days to fully appreciate the present moment in American history, as a supposedly free country debates which police state practices to adopt, while ignoring any thought that maybe the United States should not be a police state at all.

For a brief shining moment early on June 1, parts of the USA Patriot Act expired and, miraculously, the republic remained standing. Now the lapsed portions of the USA Patriot Act have been replaced by the USA Freedom Act, and officials from President Obama on down are saying things like “this will strengthen civil liberty safeguards,” when the real accomplishment has been an effective defense of the USA Police State. Orwell would be proud.

Quickly signing the USA Freedom Act into law on June 2, the President’s first reaction was to complain euphemistically about the brief interruption of some police state powers: “After a needless delay and inexcusable lapse in important national security authorities, my administration will work expeditiously to ensure our national security professionals again have the full set of vital tools they need to continue protecting the country.” [emphasis added]

Having the full set of vital police state tools revitalized, the President then felt free to lie about the achievement and give the people propaganda guidance as to how they should react: “Just as important, enactment of this legislation will strengthen civil liberty safeguards and provide greater public confidence in these programs.”

The danger is exactly that. The danger is that the American people, fear-mongered into accepting the USA Patriot Act in 2001, will now accept the USA Freedom Act as some sort of reform even though it comes nowhere close to defending civil liberties as the Constitution requires. More honored in the breach than in the observance in recent decades, the Constitution remains “the law of the land,” however unenforced it may be:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
          – Amendment IV, U.S. Constitution, effective 1791

Do we no longer have the courage of our constitutional convictions?

The recent argument between proponents of the USA Patriot Act and self-styled “reformers” calling for the USA Freedom Act had nothing to do with patriotism or freedom. It had nothing to do with the Constitution as written. It was an extra-constitutional argument about raw power, about which set of police state methods the government should be able to use to spy on and, when necessary, to control the American people. Adoption of the USA Freedom Act largely perpetuates the powers of the USA Patriot Act, but with a kinder, gentler image. The argument over them was as meaningless as debating whether prisoners would be happier exchanging their orange jumpsuits for lavender ones.

The mindless rush to reinstate government police powers undreamed of in the Constitution was a bitterly comic charade of American democracy. Some now celebrate the USA Freedom Act as “a cultural turning point for the nation.” Others condemn the USA Freedom Act as “a significant weakening of the tools” to protect the country. People on all sides claim to “welcome the debate” on national security.

What are these people talking about? Pontificating and posturing, the American leadership class pretends it’s meaningful to debate the merits of competing legislation efforts to corral personal liberty. Covering their totalitarian impulse in the rhetoric of liberty and security, what they are really talking about is how to decide which authoritarian governmental powers to adopt or expand next.

The USA Freedom Act makes no one any safer from the US government than they were under the USA Patriot Act. That law partially lapsed mainly because of the efforts of a lone US senator, Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky. His filibuster in May and stalling tactics on May 31 briefly prevented the Senate from voting overwhelmingly to maintain the “security” authorities later re-dressed in the empire’s new clothes of the USA Freedom Act. In effect, Rand Paul was pointing out that the empire has no clothes, that it’s a naked police state. But unlike the citizenry in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, most Americans continue to see only what they are expected to see.

Security agencies need more competence, not more power

The drift toward an American police state long pre-dated the 9/11 attacks that could easily have been prevented by competent national security agencies using the powers they had at the time. They had more than enough information to figure out the threat and prevent the attacks, but they were incompetent to do so. President Bush was even briefed by the CIA on the growing likelihood of an attack, but our arrogant putz of a president dismissed the CIA briefer, telling him he’d covered his ass.

Instead of calm resolve in the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration peddled panic and fear to achieve unrelated political goals, like the Iraq war, based on another, deliberate intelligence failure (A CIA-authored book, “The Great War of Our Time,” quotes Bush saying in a briefing: “F—k diplomacy. We are going to war.”). Another post-9/11 failure was the USA Patriot Act, “USA Patriot” being a ten-letter backronym that stands with unintended irony for the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” Act of 2001. There is no credible evidence that the law has deterred any terrorism.

Elements of police state legislation had already been written before 9/11, after which they were cobbled together and pushed through a fearful Congress by large majorities in both houses. There were 66 NO votes in the House (including Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont), but the only senator in opposition was Democrat Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. There was enough constitutional concern in 2001, that sunset clauses were included for constitutionally dubious sections of the USA Patriot Act, but none had any difficulty being renewed until 2015.

A co-sponsor of the “reformist” USA Freedom Act was Vermont Democratic senator Patrick Leahy, the Senate’s longest-serving member and former chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He voted for the USA Patriot Act in 2001 and has since supported its extensions, while attempting to tinker at the periphery. With all too unfortunate precision, Leahy calls the USA Freedom Act “the most significant surveillance reform in decades.” That’s a far cry from rolling back police state powers that the lawless NSA continues to exercise without restraint on internet users, as revealed June 4 in documents from Edward Snowden.

Fear still governs reason in considering the USA Police State

Opponents of extreme anti-terrorism laws still don’t talk in terms of a police state. They speak quietly of reform, like Leahy. More forcefully, referring to “this sort of Orwellian surveillance,” Bernie Sanders wrote in Time recently:

I voted against the Patriot Act every time, and it still needs major reform….

Let me be clear: We must do everything we can to protect our country from the serious potential of another terrorist attack. We can and must do so, however, in a way that also protects the constitutional rights of the American people and maintains our free society.

By contrast, former Florida governor Jeb Bush said May 31, “There is no evidence, not a shred of evidence, that the metadata program has violated anybody's civil liberties.” That seems to demonstrate that Bush has no understanding at all of what civil liberties are.

Polls reportedly show that the American people are less afraid of terrorism than at any time since 9/11, although what that really means is imprecise. Apparently it means that the American people are appropriately less fearful of angry Islamists, but remain inappropriately unconcerned about assassin police officers, abortion clinic bombers, campus killers, or armed and angry militias. The fearmongers continue to dominate the lack of conversation in the country, as Glenn Greenwald documents in The Intercept, and it’s bi-partisan:

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC – “We have never seen more threats against our nation and its citizens than we do today.”

Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-CA – “I have never seen a time of greater potential danger than right now and I’ve never said that before.” [Except she sort of has, in 2013]: “I think terror is up worldwide, the statistics indicate that. The fatalities are way up. The numbers are way up. There are new bombs, very big bombs. Trucks being reinforced for those bombs. There are bombs that go through magnetometers. The bomb maker is still alive. There are more groups than ever. And there is huge malevolence out there….”

There was a time when the US was a country that took its cues from a president who told us that “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” What happened to that country?

Now we have a CIA chief who lies to Congress and the American people, but keeps his job. That’s John Brennan, who was peddling fear on CBS recently:

I think terrorist elements have watched very carefully what has happened here in the United States. Whether or not it’s disclosures of classified information or whether it’s changes in the law and policies, they’re looking for the seams to operate within. And this is something that we can’t afford to do right now, because if you look at the horrific terrorist attacks and violence that’s being perpetrated around the globe, we need to keep our country safe.

An FBI official warns ominously of “dark space” where terrorists lurk on the internet. In Boston, a cop-killed suspect has his character assassinated by police reports that he had some connection to ISIS. Fox News promotes the idea that ISIS has recruits in all 50 states. Does anyone mention the sad reality that the best way to reduce terrorist threats in the US is to make the FBI stop organizing plots to entrap people?

Breaking News: Fear is a big winner for the permanent USA Police State.



William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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+31 # Billy Bob 2015-06-07 12:26
..."officials from President Obama on down are saying things like “this will strengthen civil liberty safeguards,” when the real accomplishment has been an effective defense of the USA Police State. Orwell would be proud."

-Leave poor George Orwell out of this! All he did was PREDICT it. Don't blame the messenger. He wouldn't be "proud" at all. He'd be disgusted that his predictions came true, rather than forcing to take a hard look at ourselves and take measures to avoid this outcome.
 
 
+20 # WBoardman 2015-06-07 17:05
Of course Billy Bob is right about Orwell.

Irony is so hard to convey in print....
 
 
+9 # John S. Browne 2015-06-07 17:08
#

No, he isn't right on that point at all. You were right on that point. You were NOT blaming Orwell; you were simply stating, by using the ironic word, "proud", as facetiousness, or a sarcastic statement meaning, that Orwell would be DISGUSTED by what's going on in his home country, the U.K., and in the West, and that the P.T.B. are making his book, "1984", come true, and its dystopian, draconian global totalitarian police and surveillance (of everyone), as well as endless war, state into a complete reality, today!

#
 
 
+9 # Adoregon 2015-06-08 14:14
War is peace.

Freedom is slavery.

Ignorance is strength.

“I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace.” — George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States

Whatever most of these oily motherfuckers say, the truth and intent is the opposite.

Like, we're bringing democracy and stability to Iraq.
Uh, huh.
 
 
+25 # jdd 2015-06-07 14:02
And yet the "left" of the Democratic Party, which knows better, continues to pretend that this president is different than Bush. At least if a Republican were (officially) president we might see some protests.
 
 
+5 # economagic 2015-06-07 19:43
That's not the "left" of the Democratic party, debased as it has become, but the magical thinking faction.
 
 
+13 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-06-07 21:30
There is no left in the Democratic party. The Dems and the Repubs are playing an unending game of leapfrog, constantly jumping over each other in their effort to be the farthest to the right. Doesn't this look like fascism to anyone?
 
 
+40 # danireland46 2015-06-07 14:18
Orwell's message was a warning about mind control, and propaganda: convincing people that things are true that aren't, propagating ignorant compliance, and keeping people fearful. The best way to assure this is to control the message - own the media. I have a perfect example of media control. Yesterday, I joined thousands of sign carrying marchers in downtown St. Paul, opposing the keystone pipeline and all the other proposed pipelines carrying dirty oil through our country. We marched from the banks of the Mississippi to the steps of the State Capital where Bill McKibbon and others thanked the reported five thousand , and said we are winning the war against fossil fuel.
Feel good moment? not so much, after checking the St. Paul Pioneer press today, and seeing the front page dominated by an article on "Straight-shoot in' at the Cowboy Church" In fact, nowhere in the paper was there any mention of the rally.
A controlled Media leads to the downfall of Democracy.
 
 
+18 # Sweet Pea 2015-06-07 14:41
Quoting danireland46:
Orwell's message was a warning about mind control, and propaganda: convincing people that things are true that aren't, propagating ignorant compliance, and keeping people fearful. The best way to assure this is to control the message - own the media. I have a perfect example of media control. Yesterday, I joined thousands of sign carrying marchers in downtown St. Paul, opposing the keystone pipeline and all the other proposed pipelines carrying dirty oil through our country. We marched from the banks of the Mississippi to the steps of the State Capital where Bill McKibbon and others thanked the reported five thousand , and said we are winning the war against fossil fuel.
Feel good moment? not so much, after checking the St. Paul Pioneer press today, and seeing the front page dominated by an article on "Straight-shootin' at the Cowboy Church" In fact, nowhere in the paper was there any mention of the rally.
A controlled Media leads to the downfall of Democracy.

It's too bad that all people would follow the ancient warning that my father taught to me, "Believe half of what you see, and nothing of what you hear. The media, with a few exceptions, is owned by the wealthy, and guess whose benefit they are working for?--Not for the common working person.
 
 
+20 # Old Uncle Dave 2015-06-07 14:45
Establishment media's #1 job has become perception management.
 
 
-12 # Robbee 2015-06-07 15:26
re : # jdd 2015-06-07 14:02
And yet the "left" of the Democratic Party, which knows better, continues to pretend that this president is different than Bush. At least if a Republican were (officially) president we might see some protests.

- if obama was no different from bush 2, how did he end bush 2's tax cuts for the rich? 2) how did he cut the capital gains loophole for the rich? 3) how did he stimulate employment instead of just wall street? 4) how did he extend unemployment benefits? 5) how did he extend healthcare to 11 million workers who otherwise could not afford it?

bush 2 did not raise taxes on rich folks twice or recover us from the great recession

- obama deserves your apology - zomblicans ate your brains - you have the memory of a zomblican, none - you have the shame of a zomblican, none - you have the gratitude of a zomblican, none - start making sense!
 
 
+6 # economagic 2015-06-07 19:46
Nobody is claiming "no difference" -- OK, HARDLY anybody. The point is simply that the lesser of two evils is still evil, and it still kills you, though in a slower and more painful fashion while you choke to death on "hope."
 
 
+4 # dquandle 2015-06-08 12:50
Obama extended and ramped up Bush/Cheney's wars. He extended and ramped up the surveillance apparatus, and operations of the national security state against its own people. He continues the torture of prisoners. He bailed out the banks.
He gave the Insurance/Med-B iz everything it wanted in Obama/Romneycar e/. He prosecuted and jailed more whistle blowers than any president in history. He and his filthy Clinton started wars in Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Ukraine, engaging in executive mass murder. He has given big oil a pass to drill wherever the hell it pleases. He is trying to ram the treasonous TPP down the throats of Americans at any cost. He spent the last 7 years giving military hardware and tactics to US police forces, which responded by increasing their murder rate of unarmed civilians, staggeringly. He shredded and shat on the constitution in the name of national security, giving us the filthy liars Alexander, Brennan, Clapper etc. to replace the filthy liars Bolton, Yoo, Gonzalez etc. He is a vicious, treasonous war criminal, just as Bush/Cheney et al. were, and just as the appallingly sickening war-monger Clinton will be.
 
 
+6 # John S. Browne 2015-06-07 15:31
#

Oh please, Boardman! As I was reading along the beginning(s) of this article, it was so right-on that I was thinking about how I would praise it; e.g., "You speak it, Boardman! This is what I've been saying for over a week about 'PATRIOT' being replaced with 'FREEDOM', and that no true reform, and/or true win for civil liberties, was had! All that's happened is that the American people have been 'had'... AGAIN, and for the umpteenth time!"

Then I got to where you ridiculously stated that the Bush administration was "incompetent" over 9-11; when, in truth, they were NOT incompetent, they INTENTIONALLY ignored warnings of an impending "planes-used-as -weapons" attack because they KNEW 9-11 was coming and were facilitating it along with other U.S. government, and non-U.S. government, factions. And you've claimed that you're now coming to believe in 9/11 Truth, but you still believe this false-propagand a hogwash that the powers-that-be want us to believe just so we won't believe in 9/11 Truth.

You don't really believe in 9/11 Truth at all, or only partially still, right? You have commented in your article threads in the past, sounding like you're a 9/11 Truther, or somewhat of one, just to appease the 9/11 Truthers commenting in those threads, haven't you, while laughing behind 9/11 Truthers' backs, and criticizing them to others behind their backs? Thus, your disingenuous, two-faced and prevaricating articles aren't worth reading. You need to stop being spineless.

#
 
 
+9 # futhark 2015-06-07 16:14
It seems that NOT being a 9/11 "Truther" involves accepting the whole of the neocon Cheney/Bush version of these events as being absolutely true. This is paradoxical. Once a person begins to detect some of the glaring flaws and perhaps begins to entertain the possibility of alternate scenarios, that person becomes a Truther. Wow! It is fiendishly clever how the media has changed the word for having healthy skepticism into a pejorative.

I agree for John S. Browne that whatever else you can say about the PNAC neocons, they were not incompetent. They were able to achieve their fantastic goals of destruction and dominance with outstanding success, all the while enjoying widespread support and applause. They have even been able to carry along the "opposition party" in their rush to murder and madness. We can only hope for a similar "Mission Accomplished" result for those working for peace, liberty, and justice.
 
 
+3 # John S. Browne 2015-06-07 16:34
#

If one truly looks at 9/11 Truth with a properly open mind, and without a typical tendency to a knee-jerk reaction and rejection of 9/11 Truth because of how insidiously and nefariously effective the indoctrination and conditioning against it has been, the evidence for 9/11 Truth and an inside job, both concrete and circumstantial, is so colossal and strong, that no amount of planes used as missiles could take that truth down, such that there is absolutely no room for so-called "healthy skepticism"; in fact, any doubt(s) of that extremely- strong and colossal amount of damning evidence, is nothing but UNhealthy skepticism, period. It's looking for and finding any excuse(s) to reject 9/11 Truth because of the intentionally- implanted cognitive dissonance making sure that it happens in most "Amerikan's" and other's cases; again, period.

#
 
 
+18 # WBoardman 2015-06-07 17:20
John S, Browne rather over-reads my single paragraph
averring to 9/11.

My piece is about the USA Police State, which 9/11helped
accelerate.

The reality that the intelligence agencies were incompetent,
as measured by current evidence, does not preclude that
their incompetence was part of a larger complicity.

Browne's conspiratorial projections and ad hominem
insults don't advance his argument.

Presumably any sentient reader, especially on RSN
has long since understood that 9/11 did not happen
as told by the cover story.
 
 
-7 # John S. Browne 2015-06-07 18:00
#

See, just more disingenuousnes s, in addition to further deflecting from 9/11 Truth by falsely calling a 9/11 Truther like myself, supposedly "guilty" of "conspiratorial projections". I wasn't going to come on even stronger; but now, with your latest attack of me (the true ad hominem), I must. You are a fool and a tool, Boardman. You have made it absolutely clear to the discerning that that is nothing but accurate and the truth. W.T.F.U.!

Most of the people who "grace" RSN's pages fully believe the real conspiracy theory, or at least greatly do, one of the biggest conspiracy theories of them all, that is the 9-11 official "cover story"; and so, they don't believe 9/11 Truth AT ALL, or very little. The only time(s) that 9/11 Truther's comments are voted (highly?) into the green, is when the threads, as your threads alluding to 9/11 Truth have done, attract several if not many 9/11 Truthers. Otherwise, when RSN threads mainly attract those who swallow, at least most of, the official fairy tale, 9/11 Truther's comments are (heavily?) voted into the red.

Could you be any more disingenuous, so to speak? I don't think so. You aren't a 9/11 Truther AT ALL; but only capitalize on the discussion of it to further prevaricate, and to disingenuously attempt to benefit yourself; though, yes, you may have [if you're not also being disingenuous about that too(?), which you probably are], "long since understood that 9/11 did not happen as told by the cover story".

(Continued)
 
 
+1 # John S. Browne 2015-06-07 18:01
#

Furthermore, the U.S. Police State is inextricably tied up with (a nice, pretty bow---the false propaganda, including against 9/11 Truth), and was CREATED through the use of, 9-11; not simply through the use of it to help accelerate it, although it has been used for that, too. In other words, no one can fully-accuratel y discuss the U.S. Police State without also discussing 9-11, its "new Pearl Harbor" 'justification' , 'legitimization ' and 'enabler' [according to the Project for a New (World Order {NWO}) American Century's paper, "Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New (World Order {NWO}) Century"]; for, without 9-11, the erection of the U.S. Police State we now have would not have been possible to the extent that it has so-quickly been realized, and is so rapidly increasing to the point of totalitarian fascism.

You've no doubt heard it said, but sloughed it off, that 9-11 was the neocon's (neoliberal corporate-fasci st "Fourth Reich" globalist's) "Reichstag fire"; well, indeed it was. Without the Reichstag fire, the Third Reich Nazi's could not have successfully completed the erection of their totalitarian militarized police state; and, without 9-11, the "Fourth Reich" neo-Nazi's, the neo-corporate-fasci st's, could not be successfully realizing the erection of their totalitarian militarized police state panopticon (mass-surveilla nce) and control grid (absolute control of everyone). "Welcome" to Orwell's "1984".

(Continued)
 
 
+1 # John S. Browne 2015-06-08 17:48
#

Again, W.T.F.U.!

ARCHITECTS & ENGINEERS FOR 9/11 TRUTH

http://www.ae911truth.org/

AND NOW THE APOCALYPSE! Living In A World Full Of Lies

http://www.form-legal.com/wordpress/

#
 
 
+11 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-06-07 21:46
The official story of 9/11 is impossible. Jet fuel is not hot enough to melt steel and to keep it in that molten state for weeks. Steel frame buildings can not fall at free fall speed. Free fall speed means the speed an object may fall when there is no interference--- nothing in the way to slow down the descent. Tons of steel and concrete would surely be an interference. The official report admits building 7 fell at free fall speed by the video of the collapse of that building.
 
 
+13 # djnova50 2015-06-07 16:27
...President Obama on down are saying things like “this will strengthen civil liberty safeguards,”...

For whom? The Government? Federal, State, and Local?

There are folks in the United States who are more afraid of the Government than they are of terrorists. Whether a person or group is considered to be a terrorist depends upon the perspective. There are some who actually view the US as a terrorist nation. Would a person actually feel safer living with the USA Freedom Act in place, if he lost all of his civil rights?
 
 
+5 # John S. Browne 2015-06-07 16:46
#

...(W)hich we essentially, and very effectively, already have, at least outwardly (the rights are still inside us as a birthright, and cannot, in truth, be taken away from us AT ALL; but, if there is absolutely no honoring of them by the authorities, as is increasingly and rapidly the case, they will be mass-violated with immunity and impunity, and without restraint, or less and less restraint, as we see happening more and more today)?

#
 
 
-5 # perkinsej 2015-06-07 16:38
Glad to hear that nothing much has changed since any major domestic attack would be blamed on Obama or Hillary and might lead to election of a Republican president.
 
 
+8 # cordleycoit 2015-06-07 20:02
Obama is an empty suit,he's a classic useless feeder. He is simply driving into tyranny and double talking his way. The people nod blankly.
 
 
+2 # Sam Seaman 2015-06-10 21:51
So what´s a terrorist? We could advance this discussion if someone could define what a terrorist is.

As it stands, it sounds like a general smear -like queer or commie.

My rebel might be your freedom fighter.....

Let´s drop terrorist -and define more -is this IRA or FARC or Elizabeth Warren?
 

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