Happy New Year! We always approach a new year with anticipation, hope, and also some worries. Last year was one of the strangest political years I have seen in some time. A new Republican president spent his first year pursuing more or less the same foreign policy as his Democratic predecessor and the Democratic Party spent the year looking under every rock in the US for a “Russian connection” or any other reason to see him impeached over it.
The neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment on both the Left and Right were so furious that candidate Trump dared suggest we could get along with our “enemies” overseas that they jumped on the impeachment bandwagon — even though once he became president Donald Trump filled his Administration with neocons and began dropping bombs.
Like “peace candidate” Obama, Donald Trump quickly dropped his “get along with others” rhetoric to become just another aggressive, interventionist US president. He slammed missiles into Syria over unproven claims of a chemical attack, he built US military bases on Syrian soil, he dropped the “mother of all bombs” on Afghanistan, he continued helping Saudi Arabia destroy Yemen, he expanded the US military occupation of Africa, he put NATO troops on the border of Russia, did his best to tear up the Iran nuclear agreement and in fact may have just launched a “color revolution” on Iran, and continued rattling sabers over China’s presence in the South China Sea.
That tells us quite a bit about what’s wrong with American political life these days. The “opposition party” doesn’t really oppose the other party’s policies. They are just angry that other the party is in power. With no real philosophical or policy differences, politics is essentially pointless. It is a game of spoils for the well-connected and little more than a sporting event for the rest of the country. Everyone wants to see his team come out on top.
Still, I have much hope for 2018. I know we are continuing to make steady progress waking up the American people to the idea that ideas do matter! Our interventionist foreign policy, responsible for so much misery around the world, is not inevitable. Our destructive economic and monetary policies, which enrich the well-connected while impoverishing the rest of us, are not inevitable. The further destruction of our right to privacy, to live our lives as we see fit, to pursue our own happiness without the government looking over our shoulder, is not inevitable. We can turn this around!
In 2018 I strongly believe more Americans will wake up to the seriousness of the total debt the US is facing and will begin blaming Washington for pumping up the warfare-welfare state. I believe more Americans will understand the role of the Federal Reserve in facilitating this ocean of debt. We will continue to make progress toward ending the Fed!
While the media loves to tell us all about how the millennials are attracted to discredited ideas like Bernie Sanders’ socialism and the dead-end of cultural Marxism, I believe 2018 will demonstrate that young people are actually attracted to the ideas of liberty more than ever. Liberty is a new idea and a winning idea, while the twin tyrannies of socialism and cultural Marxism should remain in same dustbin of history they were tossed into more than 25 years ago.
In 2018 my Institute for Peace and Prosperity will be reaching more people than ever with plenty of new projects, events, and of course our daily Liberty Report! Yes, we will turn this around. Liberty will prevail!
“PRISM” lets the NSA access emails, video chats, instant messages, and other content sent via Facebook, Google, Apple and others. “Upstream” lets the NSA worm its way into the internet backbone—the cables and switches owned by private corporations like AT&T that make the internet into a global network—and scan traffic for the communications of tens of thousands of individuals labeled “targets.”
Under Section 702, the government collects and analyzes over 250 million internet communications every year. There are estimates that at least half of these contain information about U.S. residents, many of whom have done nothing wrong. This information is then shared with law enforcement and “routinely used for purposes unrelated to national security.”
So beware of what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, and with whom you communicate, because it will all be recorded, stored and used against you eventually, at a time and place of the government’s choosing. Privacy, as we have known it, is dead.
For all intents and purposes, we now have a fourth branch of government.
This fourth branch came into being without any electoral mandate or constitutional referendum, and yet it possesses superpowers, above and beyond those of any other government agency save the military. It is all-knowing, all-seeing and all-powerful. It operates beyond the reach of the president, Congress and the courts, and it marches in lockstep with the corporate elite who really call the shots in Washington, DC.
The government’s “technotyranny” surveillance apparatus has become so entrenched and entangled with its police state apparatus that it’s hard to know anymore where law enforcement ends and surveillance begins.
The short answer: they have become one and the same entity.
The police state has passed the baton to the surveillance state.
This hasn’t fazed President Trump who, much like his predecessors, has thus far marched in lockstep with the dictates of the police state.
Every second of every day, the American people are being spied on by the U.S. government’s vast network of digital Peeping Toms, electronic eavesdroppers and robotic snoops.
Talk about a system rife for abuse.
Ask the government why it’s carrying out this warrantless surveillance on American citizens, and you’ll get the same Orwellian answer the government has been trotting out since 9/11 to justify its assaults on our civil liberties: to keep America safe.
Yet warrantless mass surveillance by the government and its corporate cohorts hasn’t made America any safer. And it certainly isn’t helping to preserve our freedoms. Frankly, America will never be safe as long as the U.S. government is allowed to shred the Constitution.
Now the government wants us to believe that we have nothing to fear from its mass spying program because they’re only looking to get the “bad” guys who are overseas.
Don’t believe it.
Warrantless mass surveillance of American citizens is wrong, un-American, and unconstitutional.
Clearly, the outlook for reforming the government’s unconstitutional surveillance programs does not look good.
As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, whenever the rights of the American people are pitted against the interests of the military/corporate/security complex, “we the people” lose. Unless Congress develops a conscience—or suddenly remembers that they owe their allegiance to the citizenry and not the corporate state—we’re about to lose big.
It’s time to let Section 702 expire or reform the law to ensure that millions and millions of Americans are not being victimized by a government that no longer respects its constitutional limits.
Mark my words: if Congress votes to make the NSA’s vast spying powers permanent, it will be yet another brick in the wall imprisoning us within an electronic concentration camp from which there is no escape.
Civil asset forfeiture has been a key topic here at Liberty Blitzkrieg over the years for one very obvious reason. The practice has absolutely no place in any halfway humane and decent civilization. The fact that this barbaric, authoritarian practice somehow has legal protection in these United States says so much about the state of the nation and the level of thuggishness we’re willing to put up with as a people.
For new readers who aren’t familiar with the subject, here’s a quick refresher:
Asset forfeiture is a disputed practice that allows law enforcement officials to permanently take money and goods from individuals suspected of crime. There is little disagreement among lawmakers, authorities and criminal justice reformers that “no criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime.” But in many cases, neither a criminal conviction nor even a criminal charge is necessary — under forfeiture laws in most states and at the federal level, mere suspicion of wrongdoing is enough to allow police to seize items permanently.
The practice is ripe for abuse. In one case in 2016, Oklahoma police seized $53,000 owned by a Christian band, an orphanage and a church after stopping a man on a highway for a broken taillight. A few years earlier, a Michigan drug task force raided the home of a self-described “soccer mom,”suspecting she was not in compliance with the state’s medical marijuana law. They proceeded to take “every belonging” from the family, including tools, a bicycle and her daughter’s birthday money.
The main reason I haven’t been writing on the topic as much over the past couple of years it because it seemed the tide had turned on the issue, at least from the standpoint of the American public. The more we learned about it, the more horrified we became, and movements to reduce the practice have become widespread at the state and local level. While many of the new state laws are far from perfect, they’ve at least been moving in the right direction, as we saw recently in Connecticut.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed HB 7146 on Monday, which curbs the state’s civil forfeiture laws. Not only did the bill earn endorsements from the Yankee Institute for the Public Policy and the state chapter of the ACLU, HB 7146 even passed both the House and the Senate without a single no vote.
Under the new law, in order to permanently confiscate property with civil forfeiture, the property must be first seized in connection to either a lawful arrest or a lawful search that results in an arrest. If prosecutors do not secure a guilty verdict, a plea bargain or a dismissal from finishing a pretrial diversion program, the government must return the property to its rightful owner. With the stroke of a pen, Connecticut now becomes the 14th state to require a criminal conviction for most or all forfeiture cases.
Similar to his clownish campaign against cannabis, nothing seems to bother Jefferson Sessions more than uppity citizens deciding matters for themselves at the local level. Whenever he sees plebs making decisions on their own, his answer is to use the threat of federal force to get the rabble in line. Aren’t Republicans supposed to be in favor of States’ rights? Not Jeff Sessions.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Justice Department will issue new directives to increase the federal govenment’s use of civil asset forfeiture, a controversial practice that allows law enforcement to seize property from suspected criminals without charging them with a crime.
The Justice Department plays a huge role in asset forfeiture through its Equitable Sharing Program, which allows state and local police to have their forfeiture cases “adopted” by the federal government. The feds take over the case, and the seized money is put into the equitable sharing pool. In return, the department gets up to 80 percent of those funds back. The equitable sharing program distributes hundreds of millions of dollars a year to police departments around the country.
Darpana Sheth, an attorney for the Institute for Justice, a libertarian-leaning public interest law firm, called Sessions’ announcement “a disheartening setback in the fight to protect Americans’ private property rights” in a statement Monday.
“Ordinary Americans see that civil forfeiture is unconstitutional, and 24 states have taken steps to roll back civil forfeiture laws,” Sheth continued. “The Attorney General’s plan to increase forfeitures is jarringly out of step with those positive developments.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), a consistent Republican advocate for reforming asset forfeiture laws, said in a statement to Reason Monday: “As Justice Thomas has previously said, there are serious constitutional concerns regarding modern civil asset forfeiture practices. The Department has an obligation to consider due process constraints in crafting its civil asset forfeiture policies.”
Lee was referring to conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ notable dissent in an asset forfeiture case this June. Thomas wrote that forfeiture operations “frequently target the poor and other groups least able to defend their interests in forfeiture proceedings.”
Data on asset forfeiture backs up what Thomas says. A Reason investigation of more than 23,000 police seizures in Cook County, Illinois over the last five years showed that Chicago’s poor neighborhoods were hit hardest by asset forfeiture. A similar investigation of Mississippi court records showed that law enforcement recorded many big hauls of cash, but the records were also littered with petty and abusive seizures.
More than twenty states have passed some form of asset forfeiture reform in recent years, but forfeiture opponents say the equitable sharing fund essentially allows local and state police to avoid those new laws by going through the federal government.
Although the details have yet to be released, Sessions’ directive appears likely to loosen the restrictions on “adoptions” of forfeiture cases by the federal government—an alarming prospect for opponents of asset forfeiture.
“Reversing the ban on adoptive seizures would revive one of the most notorious forms of forfeiture abuse,” Sheth said. “So-called ‘adoptive’ seizures allow state and local law enforcement to circumvent state-law limitations on civil forfeiture by seizing property and then transferring it to federal prosecutors for forfeiture under federal law. Bringing back adoptive seizures would create a road map to circumvent state-level forfeiture reforms.”
Americans understand that this goonish practice has no place in a free society, which is why the people have mobilized to dismantle or stifle the practice across many states. The fact that Jeff Sessions is actively plotting to suppress States’ rights tells you all you need to know about how the federal government views the citizenry. The writing is on the wall and the message is crystal clear. Communities and states need to aggressively mobilize to take back the political power we have let atrophy for far too long.
To conclude, it’s absolutely critical to read everything I wrote above within the context of my view that the U.S. empire is currently within the throes of what I believe to be an irreversible decline. This is why it’s so important to decentralize now, before total imperial collapse. If we wait, an overly centralized government ruling over disempowered, disconnected serfs will be what everyone turns to for all their “solutions” when the ship goes down. These solutions are likely to draconian and anti-freedom, so we need to plant the seeds of self-government right here, right now. We need to take charge and empower our local communities as much as possible before things get worse. If our response to imperial decline is to try to grasp onto its last remaining vestiges, the aftermath will be a hundred times worse. There are many ways to respond to adversity, and I hope we can choose the more conscious path.
Washington D.C. has become a clear threat to hundreds of millions of Americans who just want to lead a decent lives for themselves and their families. The only policies coming out of that cesspool have made things far worse for the political and economic well-being of the vast majority of us. The time for us to take our constitutional powers back and reinstate self-government is long overdue.
I feel safer already. After recruiting five of the dumbest crack heads in the city of Cleveland, Ohio and convincing them to “blow up a bridge”, the FBI halted the operation just in time — a move that wasn’t too difficult considering the FBI plotted the whole thing to begin with.
And thanks to the FBI, we have all been saved from the masterminds of evil shown in the pictures below. As you can clearly see, these evil geniuses were a clear and present threat to America’s national security. If the FBI hadn’t stopped them in Cleveland, no doubt they would have gone on to break the Pentagon’s high security encryption, acquire the launch codes to nuclear missiles, and unleash a global thermonuclear war through sheer brain power alone.
Here are the mug shots of the five mastermind villains now thwarted by the clever FBI:
The FBI: Dreaming up fake terror plots for job security
Now, as you can probably tell from all the fake terror plots the FBI has dreamed up recently, this is an agency desperate to engineer job security. Since the agency can’t find any REAL terror plots in America, they routinely resort to planning and carrying out their own terror plots against America while recruiting drugged-up morons to take the blame.
These five individuals in Cleveland look like they could have been recruited by the FBI with little more than five crack pipes. Or five hits of meth, perhaps. In no way are these the “criminal masterminds” they’re being made out to be by most of the mainstream media and the FBI itself.
Speaking of the MSM, more and more newspapers across the USA are waking up to the FBI’s fake terror plot routine. Believe it or not, even the New York Times recently ran a feature story questioning the FBI’s role in planning, providing weapons and even helping carry out all these fake plots.
The United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years — or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts.
But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naively played their parts until they were arrested.
When an Oregon college student, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, thought of using a car bomb to attack a festive Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Portland, the F.B.I. provided a van loaded with six 55-gallon drums of “inert material,” harmless blasting caps, a detonator cord and a gallon of diesel fuel to make the van smell flammable. An undercover F.B.I. agent even did the driving, with Mr. Mohamud in the passenger seat. To trigger the bomb the student punched a number into a cellphone and got no boom, only a bust.
This is legal, but is it legitimate? Without the F.B.I., would the culprits commit violence on their own? Is cultivating potential terrorists the best use of the manpower designed to find the real ones? Judging by their official answers, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department are sure of themselves — too sure, perhaps.
What you are witnessing in all this is government-sponsored theater carried out across the stage of America. The terror plots are all fake, the terrorists are all drugged-out patsies, and the “domestic terrorism” threat against America is non-existent.
The only terrorists the FBI can actually find are the ones it recruits!
This is all done to play to the cameras and keep the American sheeple reminded that terrorism is everywhere around them so that they continue to give up their rights and liberties.
The entire “war on terror” was completely faked, of course, starting with the 9/11 attacks which were themselves planned and plotted in advance by shadow government insiders who wired the entire WTC 7 building with explosives. That’s how they managed to level THREE buildings using only TWO airplanes. The third building — WTC 7 — was brought down demolition-style. This fact is so obvious that I often use it as an IQ test to find out if the new people I meet have any brains at all: https://www.naturalnews.com/033684_911_truth_…
So now to keep all this whole police state game going, the security agencies run around desperately trying to recruit morons, drug addicts and insane patsies to play roles in their little terror plots, all of which are planned, engineered and carried out by the FBI themselves. Heck, in the Portland bombing threat, an FBI agent even drove the van!
FBI = Fabricated Bombing Instigators
I’m sure there are fine men and women in the FBI. But I have to ask the obvious question: Don’t you guys have any REAL terrorists to track down? Don’t you have something more important to do with your time and taxpayers’ money?
Or has the FBI done such a great job of keeping America safe from real terrorists that they now have to recruit pretend terrorists just to stay in practice?
Or has all this crossed a threshold to the point where the FBI has become the chief terrorist plotting organization in America?
In other words, if the FBI stopped staging fake terror plots, would the era of terrorism in America come to a screeching halt?
Coming soon: The Big Kahuna False Flag
All humor aside, the really big news for my fellow Americans is that it’s rather obvious the FBI is planning and plotting a “Big Kahuna” false flag attack that will inevitably use LIVE explosives.
After all, the entire credibility of the FBI is eroding by the day. When even the New York Times admits the FBI is staging and engineering fake, false terror attacks, you know these guys are going to resort to desperate measures to try to keep everyone stunned into a state of freedom-crushing terror.
Unfortunately, that need for a government escalation of the terror almost certainly means they’re working on another 9/11-style event with massive loss of life. Speculation of what they’re planning runs the gamut across the ‘net, from a “dirty bomb” set off at a sporting event, to an intentional release of a deadly biological weapon in a train station somewhere. Or maybe an attack on a nuclear facility that results in a massive release of radiation across North America. Who knows? Are there any limits to what these people will do in order to save their own jobs and remain in power? If they would “almost” blow up a bridge in Cleveland and “almost” fly explosives into the Pentagon using a remote-controlled airplane, then what happens when they remove the “almost” and just let the explosions happen? Then they get raises and promotions! Because suddenly the FBI is more important than ever!
The FBI has the expertise to carry out false flag terror attacks in America
So when the next domestic terrorism attack happens, look first to the FBI as the source, because they’re becoming quite well-informed about terrorist bombings and attacks these days, aren’t they? In fact, it can be accurately argued that the FBI has the most terrorism expertise of any group in the country, exceeding even the experience and knowledge of actual terrorists (if there are such things).
Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, Leprechauns and Woodland Fairies… and then “terrorists” in America. It’s all fiction, my friends. Fiction that is staged for your psychological enslavement under a system of false fear.
The more you are kept afraid, the more easily you’ll give power to the centralized government — the very government staging all these terrorist plots! Do you yet realize just how insane this is?
It’s the new Amerika: We’re all told that “Americans are the enemy” but no one can find actual Americans trying to blow anything up. So the FBI stages the whole thing and manages to find a group of total drug-heads to unwittingly play their part in something they are cognitively incapable of understanding, much less carrying out.
And then, to add yet more stupidity to the entire equation, the FBI parades these morons to the public, claiming they were terrorist masterminds who threatened our entire nation! Yeah, right. They might be a threat to your refrigerator if you’re hiding some beer in there, but the odds of this band of knuckleheads actually pulling off anything real is just about zilch.
In observing all this, ask yourself this question: If the terror threat is so real, then why do terrorist plots have to be FAKED by the FBI?
While the nation has been distracted by a media maelstrom dominated by news of white supremacists, Powerball jackpots, Hurricane Harvey, and a Mayweather v. McGregor fight, the American Police State has been carving its own path of devastation and destruction through what’s left of the Constitution.
Set in the fictional town of Mayberry, N.C., The Andy Griffith Show portrays the two stars of the show—Sheriff Andy Taylor and his bumbling deputy Barney Fife—as peace officers in the truest sense of the word as opposed to law enforcers.
Both Sheriff Taylor and Deputy Fife dress in khaki uniforms, a far cry from the black, militarized Stormtrooper getups worn by police today. Andy refuses to wear a gun and only allows Barney to wear his gun on the proviso that he keep his single bullet out of the chamber and in his shirt pocket. Most of all, the two lawmen relate to those under their protection as equals, rather than as enemy combatants or inferiors.
Contrast the idyllic Mayberry with the American police state of today, where local police—clad in jackboots, helmets and shields and wielding batons, pepper-spray, stun guns, and assault rifles—have increasingly come to resemble occupying forces in communities across the country.
Thanks to Trump, this transformation of America into a battlefield is only going to get worse.
To be fair, Trump did not create this totalitarian nightmare. However, he has legitimized it and, in so doing, has also accelerated the pace at which we fall deeper into the clutches of outright tyranny.
Everything America’s founders warned against—a standing army that would view and treat American citizens as combatants—is fast becoming the norm. Certainly, this lopsided, top-heavy, authoritarian state of affairs is not the balance of power the founders intended for “we the people.”
Yet in the hands of government agents, whether they are members of the military, law enforcement or some other government agency, these weapons of war have become accepted instruments of tyranny, routine parts of America’s day-to-day life, a byproduct of the rapid militarization of law enforcement over the past several decades.
In Montgomery County, Texas, the sheriff’s department owns a $300,000 pilotless surveillance drone, like those used to hunt down al Qaeda terrorists in the remote tribal regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Augusta, Maine, with fewer than 20,000 people and where an officer hasn’t died from gunfire in the line of duty in more than 125 years, police bought eight $1,500 tactical vests. Police in Des Moines, Iowa, bought two $180,000 bomb-disarming robots, while an Arizona sheriff is now the proud owner of a surplus Army tank.
Since 1990, $4.2 billion worth of equipment has been transferred from the Defense Department to domestic police agencies through the 1033 program, in addition to various other programs supposedly aimed at fighting the so-called War on Drugs and War on Terror. For example, the Department of Homeland Security has delivered roughly $34 billion to police departments throughout the country since 9/11, ostensibly to purchase more gear for their steady growing arsenals of military weapons and equipment.
Police departments are also receiving grants to create microcosms of the extensive surveillance systems put in place by the federal government in the years since 9/11.
For example, using a $2.6 million grant from the DHS, police in Seattle purchased and setup a “mesh network”throughout the city capable of tracking every Wi-Fi enabled device within range. Police claim it won’t be used for surveillance, but the devices are capable of determining “the IP address, device type, downloaded applications, current location, and historical location of any device that searches for a Wi-Fi signal.”
It’s a militarized approach to make-work programs, except in this case, instead of unnecessary busy work to keep people employed, communities across America are finding themselves “gifted” with unnecessary drones, tanks, grenade launchers and other military equipment better suited to the battlefield in order to fatten the bank accounts of the military industrial complex.
You know who gets stuck with the bill for all of this unnecessary military gear, don’t you?
“We the taxpayers,” of course.
First, taxpayers are forced to pay millions of dollars for equipment which the Defense Department purchases from megacorporations only to abandon after a few years. Then taxpayers get saddled with the bill to maintain the costly equipment once it has been acquired by the local police.
It’s like the old adage: “never look a gift horse in the mouth.” The catch is that this gift horse is an expensive and deadly boondoggle.
In addition to being an astounding waste of taxpayer money, this equipping of police with military-grade equipment and weapons also gives rise to a dangerous mindset in which police adopt a warrior-like, more aggressive approach to policing.
The danger of giving police high-power toys and weapons is that they will feel compelled to use it in all kinds of situations that would never normally warrant battlefield gear, weapons or tactics.
This “if we have it, we might as well use it” mindset, by the way, is also used to justify assigning SWAT teams to carry out routine law enforcement work such as delivering a warrant. That’s how you end up with SWAT tactics being employed when police are tasked with searching for a stolen koi fish and enforcing barber licensing laws.
Suffice it to say, we’re long past the days of Mayberry when cops were peace officers and recognized their role as public servants, a marked contrast to the climate of entitlement that has cops today acting like overlords and authoritarians.
Just look at Trump: he’s been on the police unions’ payroll from the moment they endorsed him for president, and he’s paid them back generously by ensuring that police can kill, shoot, taser, abuse and steal from American citizens with impunity.
Still, the responsibility rests with “we the people.”
The truth is that the police reflect America in all of its will and fear, and whatever we might make of this country’s criminal justice policy, it cannot be said that it was imposed by a repressive minority. The abuses that have followed from these policies—the sprawling carceral state, the random detention of black people, the torture of suspects—are the product of democratic will. And so to challenge the police is to challenge the American people who send them into the ghettos armed with the same self-generated fears that compelled the people who think they are white to flee the cities and into the Dream. The problem with the police is not that they are fascist pigs but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs.
After 9/11, the United States government preyed on the fear felt by many Americans to justify the passage of the USA Patriot Act—a law that was supposed to prevent future terrorist attacks. Now, after the Las Vegas shooting, the government has another proposed law ready to go, and just as with the Patriot Act, it also infringes on Americans’ liberties, and does very little for their security.
The USA Liberty Act is the latest trendy name for a law that would reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2017. According to the House Judiciary Committee, the act would preserve “the core purpose of Section 702: the collection of electronic communications by non-U.S. persons for use in our nation’s defense.”
However, it should be noted that while the purpose of FISA was reportedly only to allow surveillance on the communications of foreign targets who were suspected terrorists, it has been used to spy on the communications of innocent Americans—despite the practice being ruled illegal—and any reauthorization of the law will only allow the practice to continue under the guise of “preventing terrorism.”
The USA Liberty Act claims that it will “better protect Americans’ privacy” by requiring the government to have “a legitimate national security purpose” before searching an individual’s database. Then when they do have that purpose established, they will be required to “obtain a court order based on probable cause to look at the content of communications, except when lives or safety are threatened, or a previous probable cause-based court order or warrant has been granted.”
But what the USA Liberty Act does not advertise is the fact that it does not actually address the legitimate problems that exist with Section 702. The FBI’s “legitimate national security purpose” could be justified by just about any reason the agency chooses to give, and agents will only need supervisory authority in order to search Americans’ metadata.
One of the most important things to remember about Section 702 is that, as the Constitution Project noted, it gives domestic law enforcement agencies access to the data seized by the NSA, while allowing the NSA to “retain and disseminate Americans’ communications that may contain any evidence of any crime.”
In a press release on the new act, the House Judiciary Committee bragged about the “bipartisan success” of the USA Freedom Act in June 2015, claiming that it “ended the bulk collection of data, protected civil liberties and national security, and provided robust oversight and transparency of our vital national security tools.”
Virginia State Police cleared Emancipation Park Saturday after a white nationalist demonstration turned violent, but the action forced attendees into a crowd of counter-protesters.
The rally was organized as a protest to the ordered removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee in downtown Charlottesville, Va. The rally was named the “Unite the Right” rally, but attendees largely identified as white nationalists or white supremacists when asked by reporters on the ground. Both Black Lives Matter and then antifa declared they would bring members to Charlottesville to protest the rally, setting up a showdown between the two groups.
The white nationalists applied for a permit from City Hall, and originally obtained a permit for McIntire Park, a location roughly a mile and a half away from the statue. But white supremacist Richard Spencer declared that the group would meet at the much smaller Emancipation Park, the home of the famed Lee statue. City Hall approved the permit Friday evening.
Protesters on both sides roundly criticized police behavior, but police officials say they did the best with the resources they were given. The Daily Caller News Foundation provides an exclusive look into what steps the police took in their effort to clear the park, based on accounts from reporters on the ground.
The call for police assistance echoed through the streets until police took control of the downtown area after a car slammed into a group of protestors Saturday afternoon. Several protesters cited the lack of a police presence as they tried to get help for their injured.
“Where are the police?” one antifa protester said in the crowd. “I don’t see any police here!”
“The police actually allowed us to square off against each other,” a Black Lives Matter protester told CNN. “There were fights and the police were standing a block away the entire time. It’s almost as if they wanted us to fight each other.”
The police initially offered to keep the rally attendees and the protesters separated. The department provided a line of police support at the southern edge of the park. Both Charlottesville Police (CPD) and Virginia State Police were present on the scene Saturday morning, but CPD maintained control of the scene until Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency. The state police took control of the scene and pushed rally attendees and protesters together on East Main Street. Police then stood back, only stepping in to intervene after a white supremacist ran a Dodge Challenger through a crowd of protesters.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) initially reported that members of the local police department were ordered to stand down and not engage with members of either the rally or protest in any way, according to the ACLU’s paid observers. Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas quickly refuted that report during a press conference Monday afternoon. He said that members of the police force pulled back because Gov. McAuliffe declared a state of emergency in order to change into protective riot gear. He also argued that limited resources resulted in the stretched law enforcement, according to the New York Post.
McAuliffe originally asserted during a Sunday interviewthat the police didn’t come between the protesters and members of the alt-right protest because of the existence of the militia during an interview with The New York Times.
“You saw the militia walking down the street, you would have thought they were an army … I was just talking to the State Police upstairs. [The militia members] had better equipment than our state police had,” McAuliffe said in a Sundayinterview. “And yet not a shot was fired, zero property damage.”
Thomas asserted those claims were false during the Monday press conference.
The police force on-site originally consisted of local officers who cordoned off the northern access to the park. Thomas reported that the force offered rally attendees a protected entrance into the park from the north, something that he says alt-right organizers refused to do.
“We had a plan to bring them in at the rear of the park,” Thomas said in a Monday press conference in Charlottesville “They had agreed to cooperate with the plan. Unfortunately, they did not follow the plan. They began entering at different locations in and around the park, and we had to quickly adjust our force to facilitate the process.”
The red lines in the photo above illustrate the area blocked off my local and state police. The white arrow shows the route taken by members of the alt-right, and the yellow arrow shows the path taken by a majority of the antifa and Black Lives Matter protesters toward the event.
Members of law enforcement blocked off the north, east, and west entrances of the park, leaving only the south entrance open. Members of state police occupied a line through the middle of the park to ensure that there was a barrier between the alt-right rally in the park and the antifa and Black Lives Matters protesters on East Market Street. Attendees entered the park from the westward stair of Emancipation Park starting at about 8 a.m. until the initial conflict began around 10 a.m.
Daily Caller News Foundation reporters on the scene were forced to walk from several blocks away to the north due to the roads that local police closed in anticipation of the event. Members of the local police department stopped from checking their phones to point the reporters in the general direction of the rally. The rally was four blocks out of the way to East Market Street, where a crowd of protester gathered front of the park on the South side.
There were three lines standing between the protesters and the white supremacists in the park. The first was a line of state police in normal uniforms. There was also a line of heavily armed militiamen who carried semi-automatic rifles, as well as pistols. Finally, a line of “faith leaders” held themselves arm in arm to provide an additional barrier.
Groups of white supremacists began to march in from the East, and they were pelted with water balloons, glitter bombs, and spit. The stench of urine filled the air as more and more protesters joined the crowd at the front of the park. Some protesters tried to push their way past into the entrance of the park but were stopped by a small group of “enforcers” donning handmade shields and batons to contain the protesting groups to the street.
TheDCNF reporters worked our way through the crowd towards the park, where members of the protests began yelling at us and pointing their middle fingers toward the camera. Occasionally, a protester would scream at us, but then quickly cover their face when the camera moved to them. The police maintained their distance through all of this.
Eventually, we made our way to the entrance of the park but were turned away. Members of the white supremacist groups told us no press was allowed.
Shortly before 10 a.m. we noticed protesters making way for a new group marching from the east. We ran over to discover that the new group was a battalion of antifa members from all across the country.
Protesters began testing the limits of the civilian barriers. The “faith leaders” were the first to go as they silently fell back towards the down town mall, but the militia and the state police stayed in place for the time being. Members of both groups threw filled water bottles at each other. Often, the targeted group would return fire by throwing the water bottles back……..
First broadcast in Great Britain 50 years ago, The Prisoner– a dystopian television series described as “James Bond meets George Orwell filtered through Franz Kafka”–confronted societal themes that are still relevant today: the rise of a police state, the freedom of the individual, round-the-clock surveillance, the corruption of government, totalitarianism, weaponization, group think, mass marketing, and the tendency of humankind to meekly accept their lot in life as a prisoner in a prison of their own making.
Perhaps the best visual debate ever on individuality and freedom, The Prisoner (17 episodes in all) centers around a British secret agent who abruptly resigns only to find himself imprisoned, monitored by militarized drones, and interrogated in a mysterious, self-contained, cosmopolitan, seemingly tranquil retirement community known only as the Village.
The Village is a virtual prison disguised as a seaside paradise: its inhabitants have no true freedom, they cannot leave the Village, they are under constant surveillance, their movements are tracked by surveillance drones, and they are stripped of their individuality and identified only by numbers.
The series’ protagonist, played by Patrick McGoohan, is Number Six.
“I am not a number. I am a free man,” was the mantra chanted on each episode of The Prisoner, which was largely written and directed by McGoohan.
In the opening episode (“The Arrival”), Number Six is told that he is in The Village because information stored “inside” his head has made him too valuable to be allowed to roam free “outside.”
Throughout the series, Number Six is subjected to interrogation tactics, torture, hallucinogenic drugs, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of social indoctrination and physical coercion in order to “persuade” him to comply, give up, give in and subjugate himself to the will of the powers-that-be.
Number Six refuses to comply.
In every episode, Number Six resists the Village’s indoctrination methods, struggles to maintain his own identity, and attempts to escape his captors. “I will not make any deals with you,” he pointedly remarks. “I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.”
Yet no matter how far Number Six manages to get in his efforts to escape, it’s never far enough.
Watched by surveillance cameras and other devices, Number Six’s getaways are continuously thwarted by ominous white balloon-like spheres known as “rovers.” Still, he refuses to give up. “Unlike me,” he says to his fellow prisoners, “many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment, and will die here like rotten cabbages.”
Number Six’s escapes become a surreal exercise in futility, each episode an unfunny, unsettling Groundhog’s Day that builds to the same frustrating denouement: there is no escape…..
“This Is Fascism”: Shocking Footage Of Spanish Police Firing Rubber Bullets, Brutally Beating Peaceful Voters | Zero Hedge
Update (10:30 am ET): The number of people injured in clashes between pro-independence voters and riot police dispatched to the restive region by the government in Madrid has climbed to 337, including at least 11 police officers, the Daily Star reports.
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Update (10 am ET): In a statement condeming the Spanish government’s efforts to stamp out the “free expression” of the Catalan people, FC Barcelona announced that it will be playing today’s match against Las Palmas, its first of the season, behind closed doors after the Professional Football League refused to postpone it.
Update (9:15 am ET): So far, Catalonian emergency services says that 91 people have been injured in violent clashes between Catalonians trying to vote in today’s “illegal” independence, according to AFP.
In scenes one would expect to see in Turkey, or some token third-world dictatorship, on Sunday morning Spanish riot police violently cracked down on the scheduled Catalan independence referendum, smashing their way into polling stations in Catalonia in a dramatic quest to shut down the banned Catalan independence referendum, as they fired rubber bullets and brutally beat peaceful people trying to vote for or against independence from a Spanish government, which many commentators this morning have called “fascist.”
The Spanish police are hitting these peaceful people really hard… this is disgusting. #CatalanReferendum
Police fired rubber bullets in central Barcelona, El Periodico newspaper reported, at the intersection of two streets as violence erupted during the vote which has thrown Spain into its worst constitutional crisis for decades.
According to Reuters, Catalan emergency services said at least 38 people were hurt as a result of police action, although as the footage below shows the final number will likely be orders of magnitude greater.
As Conflicts creator Gissur Simonarson said, “Looking at the footage from Spain. It’s clear the policy got an order to break this up by any means. They are tossing ppl like rag dolls” adding that “The Spanish government has managed to turn me from indifferent/against #CatalanReferendum to a supporter.”
✔@GissiSimLooking at the footage from Spain. It’s clear the policy got an order to break this up by any means. They are tossing ppl like rag dolls.
Police burst into the polling station in a town in Girona province minutes before Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont was due to vote there. They smashed glass panels to force open the door as voters, fists in the air, sang the Catalan anthem.
This is what democracy looks like: People defending democracy in Sant Carles, Catalonia. #CatalanReferendum
The referendum has been declared illegal by Spain’s central government in Madrid, which says the constitution states the country is indivisible and has drafted in thousands of police from around Spain into Catalonia to prevent the vote.
The Catalan regional government had scheduled voting to open at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT) at around 2,300 stations, but Madrid said on Saturday it had shut more than half of them. Voting started at some sites in the region of 7.5 million people, which has its own language and culture and is an industrial hub with an economy larger than that of Portugal. Leader Puigdemont changed plans and voted at a different station after the police action, the regional government said.
As Reuters adds, people had occupied some stations with the aim of preventing police from locking them down. Organizers smuggled in ballot boxes before dawn and urged voters to use passive resistance against police. In a school used as a polling station in Barcelona, police in riot gear carried out ballot boxes while would-be voters chanted “out with the occupying forces!” and “we will vote!”.