• author
    • Kelvin Wade

      Columnist
    • June 13, 2013 in Columnists

    Is anyone shocked that Amerika is spying on us?

    “The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

    “‘It’s the largest database ever assembled in the world,’ said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA’s activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency’s goal is ‘to create a database of every call ever made” within the nation’s borders, this person added.'”

    That’s not from whistleblower Edward Snowden’s NSA leak from last week. That’s from an article in the USA Today on May 11, 2006.  Privacy is a 20th century concept. Civil liberties are a quaint notion 18th and 19th century Americans living in a world without atomic weapons, fussed over. In the new Amerika, things have changed.

    9/11 changed everything.  On 9/11, 19 hijackers stole four jets and used them to kill 3,000 people. Yes, 9/11 changed everything but it’s rarely asked, should it have? Some think it’s inappropriate to even ask. Three thousand people murdered is monstrous but it’s about .001 percent of the population.Why did we let it change who we are?

    The worst terrorist attack in Canadian history took place on June 23, 1985 when a bomb aboard Air India flight 182 detonated killing 329 people aboard en route from Montreal to Delhi. That was a greater percentage of Canada’s population killed at the time than the U.S. on 9/11. Canada pursued the perpetrators and ended up putting some men on trial 20 years later. All but one were acquitted.  Canada didn’t lose their identity in the aftermath.

    Our response to 9/11? Just three days later, Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that basically said the President could use the military to go after any nation, organization or persons involved with 9/11 and use the military to prevent future attacks. It pretty much made the President king. It passed the House 420-1. The Senate? 98-0.

    Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse. Where was the due diligence and debate? Where was the balance?

    In October 2001, the Patriot Act, the most sweeping expansion of federal law enforcement power and one of the most significant rollbacks of civil rights legislation, in history became law. The House voted 357-66. The Senate voted 98-1.

    Again, where was the debate?

    In September 2002, the Iraq War authorization passed the House 296-133 and the Senate by a vote of 77-23. Why is the Iraq war vote significant in privacy matters? Because that vote was just a continuation of the aftereffects of 9/11, where our leadership with the public’s blessing, used fear to drive policy. To move an agenda. 

    According to one study, almost $800 billion has went into homeland security since 9/11. We’ve fought two wars with nearly 4,500 killed and thousands more wounded in Iraq, and over 2,000 killed and more than 17,000 wounded in Afghanistan. We’ve killed over 200,000 hostiles and civilians in those wars.

    We’ve imprisoned many without charge or trial. We’ve violated international law by torturing prisoners and we’ve rendered many to third parties for torture and interrogation. We’ve tortured and mistreated prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Camp NAMA and Abu Ghraib in Iraq, Bagram in Afghanistan and at black sites around the world.

    We have violated international law and the national sovereignty of nations. We’ve given money to vicious warlords to kill our enemies in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and other places. We’ve killed American citizens with aerial drones with no charges or trial.

    The administration served the public fear and we gobbled it down like a fat bastard at an all you can eat buffet. Look at the aforementioned votes in Congress… our representatives. We were more than willing to trade some liberty for security. We had  former president Bill Clinton cosigning attorney Alan Dershowitz’s call for “torture warrants.”

    So the NSA’s telephone spying program and PRISM, the internet spying program, aren’t shocking in the context of what we’ve done after 9/11. While these programs are the very definition of Big Brother, just how outraged are we supposed to be in light of all the other things we’ve done?

    Here’s how much the U.S. has changed since 9/11: Mr. Snowden, by revealing these programs, could find himself placed on a kill list by the administration. At some point in the future, a Reaper drone may lock on his position and fire a Hellfire missile at a vehicle he’s traveling in and blow him to pieces. Or maybe while he’s lying low in some other country, a SEAL team or DELTA unit may find him in the dead of night and put a bullet in his brain. It’s not fiction. It’s not the movies. It’s what we’re doing right now. And it’s all legal.

    So America has an enormous spy program. Welcome to the new Amerika.


      • davidlacy

      • June 13, 2013 at 8:48 am
      • Reply

      I just ranted about this on FB. But great column Kelvin!

      What I said: “I have a different problem with these secretive programs authorized by the Patriot Act than other people have: They’re NOT for terrorism. And they seriously have Americans believing they are — 56 percent are in support since they believe they are used to fight terrorism. LOL.

      One of the other major formerly “secret” programs in the Patriot Act we now know about are so-called “sneak-and-peek” warrants, which the previous administration claimed were only for terror investigations (sound familiar?):

      “Out of the 3,970 warrants issued, only 37 pertained to a terrorism investigation. That accounts for less than 1 percent of the warrants issued. This abusive “anti-terrorism tool” is really being used to fight the war on drugs (76 percent) and to investigate other crimes that have nothing to do with protecting national security.”

      While the following is a link to the ACLU (has an agenda of course), they provide direct links to the reports on the sneak-and-peek warrants from congress:

      http://www.aclu.org/blog/criminal-law-reform/tool-governments-war-privacy-absolutely-its-war-terror-not-so-much


        • Kelvin

        • June 13, 2013 at 9:24 pm
        • Reply

        Great article. Thanks for the link. Here’s how trusting I was…Of course I couldn’t stand Dubya but after 9/11 I supported him as Commander in Chief. i had a friend say Bush was going to use the attacks to push his agenda and I told him that he wouldn’t do that. “No U.S. President would use something like this for political purposes to push their own partisan agenda.” Yeah, I believed that. I was an idiot. Just one of the sheeple. They’ve drastically expanded executive power and President Obama has ran with it. The other branches have to be in tension, not in cahoots. And the public has to give a shit or else nothing will change.



    • Nice. For me, your headline says it all. Why is anyone surprised?



    • I am not surprised because we are a fear based country now. As I travel through the Baltics and as I write this I am sitting in a hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia. I remember the fear that was told into me from age 10-15 that the Russians were coming to America and were going to destroy us. Now I sit in Russia and can’t believe I am here. If you had told me that one day I would be in our arch enemies country, I would have told you that hell would have had to freeze over. Well it didn’t and I am here. I am not sure what that has to do with the above but when I read your truthful column, this is what I came up with.



    • J Edgar Hoover ordered the FBI to put a tape recorder under MLK’s bed. America has been spying on us forever. Excellent work Mr Wade!


      • Kelvin

      • June 13, 2013 at 9:26 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you. I know I don’t have privacy anymore. We have the illusion of privacy.



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