The US Government Has Constructed a Ubiquitous Surveillance State

(In keeping with the article I just posted about how the Reagan White House helped the fascist state in Guatemala set up death squads and in understanding what the government did in conjunction with the brutally murderous state of Indonesia and so many others, here is a little current events note to make you think about the VERY NEAR future this country is racing to meet)

by Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian

The five right-wing justices hand Obama a victory by accepting his DOJ’s secrecy-based demand for dismissal…

The Obama justice department succeeded in convincing the five right-wing Supreme Court justices to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 2008 law, the FISA Amendments Act, which vastly expanded the government’s authority to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants. In the case of Clapper v. Amnesty International, Justice Samuel Alito wrote the opinion, released today, which adopted the argument of the Obama DOJ, while the Court’s four less conservative justices (Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan) all dissented. This means that the lawsuit is dismissed without any ruling on whether the US government’s new eavesdropping powers violate core constitutional rights. The background of this case is vital to understanding why this is so significant.

One of the most successful government scams of the last decade has been to prevent any legal challenges to its secret surveillance programs. Both the Bush and Obama DOJ’s have relied on one tactic in particular to insulate its eavesdropping behavior from judicial review: by draping what it does in total secrecy, it prevents anyone from knowing with certainty who the targets of its surveillance are. The DOJ then exploits this secrecy to block any constitutional or other legal challenges to its surveillance actions on the ground that since nobody can prove with certainty that they have been subjected to this eavesdropping by the government, nobody has “standing” to sue in court and obtain a ruling on the constitutionality of this eavesdropping.

The Bush DOJ repeatedly used this tactic to prevent anyone from challenging the legality of its eavesdropping on Americans without the warrants required by the FISA law. That’s another way of saying that the Bush administration removed their conduct from the rule of law: after all, if nobody has standing to obtain a court ruling on the legality or constitutionality of their conduct, then neither the law nor the Constitution constrain what the government does. Simply put, a law without a remedy is worthless. As Alexander Hamilton put it in Federalist 15:


“It is essential to the idea of a law, that it be attended with a sanction; or, in other words, a penalty or punishment for disobedience. If there be no penalty annexed to disobedience, the resolutions or commands which pretend to be laws will, in fact, amount to nothing more than advice or recommendation.”

Thus did the Bush DOJ exploit their secrecy extremism into a license of lawlessness: they never had to prove that even their most radical actions were legal because by keeping it all a secret, they prevented anyone from being able to obtain a ruling about its legality.

The Obama DOJ has embraced this tactic in full.

[read the rest, here]

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10 Responses

  1. Every day I get reminders like this one of what is to come. I’m always getting the feeling that my lifetime is running out…

    • Hey, Greenmon, if the austerity plan takes 10 years to knock us down, then you got 10 years…… hey, much can happen in10 years…..
      OK… I am trying to be positive in a difficult situation….
      take a big glass of milk and add chocolate syrup… and slowly drink it… awwwww
      everything will seem nicer… for a few minutes….. if you drink 10 glasses a day …. then that will give you at least an hour of feeling OK….
      guess that is my best shot, Greenmon… …:(

      • I actually really appreciate that, Jan. I don’t mean to make you feel old, but you actually sort of reminded me of my grandmother just now. In addition to giving me advice, she would most likely try to give me some goodies too.

        You mentioned before you had a grandson if I remember correctly…

        Haha I will try.

        Also, I meant to ask you earlier, but have you been faring yourself in the midst of this nasty stuff?

        • Yes, Greenmon, I am old enough to be your grandmother and I have three grandchildren…. :)

          I am not faring well… this all makes me very nervous for myself and my sons and grandchildren and my America…. and being nervous at my age is a bad thing… I do drink chocolate milk… :)
          and the idea that if I have to go to the hospital, will they just ignore me… now…. if I yell loud…. will they put me to sleep …like a forever sleep?
          I like looking at the blue sky and hearing music and seeing my son and reading stuff and being alive….
          I wonder where my shadow will go…..
          Can spirits get revenge? I hope so…. :)

  2. I read this Greenwald. Recently on facebook I was unfriended because I listed to a women who supports Obama what he’s actually doing. My words were chosen carefully as not to appear fanatical. She repeated the kind of response from other Obamanicks.
    They always give me the “He’s better than Romney line.” Actually, as Greenwald points out time and again, Obama is able to get stuff through that Bush could not have. Obama is actually expediting the neocon agenda.

    • I wrote that Obama was more useful to them because he was going to be able to gain support for policies and programs that McCain never would be able too. I also said that that Obama would normalize criminal behavior, behavior that would never have been tolerated by the left were McCain to win.

      The difference between me and Glenn is, I wrote all that in the run-up to the election of 2008.

      • Yes, I know your opinion. But to clear, he has been saying that too since the first days of the of Obama’s 2008 win.

        • Glenn Greenwald encouraged people to vote for Obama in the 2008 election season. In 2012, he split his “expert” opinions of support between Obama and Jill Stein.

          DB Schell = Glenn Greenwald sock puppet.

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