This episode is made possible in part by the new Nullification Movie. Now available for order at tenthamendmentcenter.com/movie
Shahid Buttar of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee reports that even in the wake of Constitution Day, last week Congress is very close to some major constitutional abuses – once again. This time it was the House of Representatives who prematurely voted to extend FISA by a vote of 301-118.
When Congress first voted back in 2008 to give the National Security Agency the power to eavesdrop on any—in other words, every–American without any reason for individual suspicion, it did so without a full picture of what it allowed. Indeed, the full contours of the program remain secret even today.
The only reason the NSA’s spying powers have survived this long is because courts have refused to consider claims that they are unconstitutionally invasive. The Supreme Court will consider one such case this fall — which, if successful, will merely allow the several year process of a litigation challenge to finally begin.
Even though much of it remains shrouded in secrecy, we do know a few things about the NSA’s warrantless spying program authorized by FISA.
We also know that the Obama administration has supported the Bush-Cheney NSA policy, extending it once before — even though Senator Obama, before winning the White House, promised at one point to vote against it. Until President Obama signed a 2011 law granting our military the potential power to detain any American indefinitely without proof of crime, FISA was the high water mark of the post 9-11 national security state.
We know that FISA has enabled the most pervasive state surveillance system ever known to humankind. The only settings in which powers like it have ever existed are dystopian science fiction novels.
Even the former Soviet Union and contemporary China, for all their efforts to control their people, lacked the resources to conduct the kind of monitoring that the NSA does every day — not only on terror suspects, but on you and your family.
According to Joe Wolverton in the New American magazine, a leaked Executive Order is attempting to give the feds Control over all cybersecurity.
On September 11 the Associated Press reported it obtained a draft of the cybersecurity executive order. According to the AP story the draft follows the lines leaked last week regarding the creation of an “infrastructure cybersecurity council manned by the US Department of Homeland Security that will be staffed by members of the departments of defense, justice and commerce, and national intelligence office.”
BusinessWeek describes the new program as a “a council that would work with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish the cybersecurity standards.”
Of course, the information being leaked about the proposed edict makes it clear that the adoption of such standards will be voluntary.
The threshold question that arises from the announcement of such a radical step toward federal control over our information infrastructure is not being answered. That is: Is the power grid of the United States being regularly attacked?
In a word: no. As Michael Tanji of Wired pointed out in a recent article refuting the government’s insistence that we are the target of frequent cyberattacks, “To start, these systems are rarely connected directly to the public internet. And that makes gaining access to grid-controlling networks a challenge for all but the most dedicated, motivated and skilled — nation-states, in other words.”
Last week, Ron Paul published a column that reminds us of something important about the American system – it was designed to be a republic, not a democracy.
Democracy is majority rule at the expense of the minority. Our system has certain democratic elements, but the founders never mentioned democracy in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or the Declaration of Independence. In fact, our most important protections are decidedly undemocratic. For example, the First Amendment protects free speech. It doesn’t – or shouldn’t – matter if that speech is abhorrent to 51% or even 99% of the people. Speech is not subject to majority approval. Under our republican form of government, the individual, the smallest of minorities, is protected from the mob.
Sadly, the constitution and its protections are respected less and less as we have quietly allowed our constitutional republic to devolve into a militarist, corporatist social democracy. Laws are broken, quietly changed and ignored when inconvenient to those in power, while others in positions to check and balance do nothing. The protections the founders put in place are more and more just an illusion.
This is why increasing importance is placed on the beliefs and views of the president. The very narrow limitations on government power are clearly laid out in Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution. Nowhere is there any reference to being able to force Americans to buy health insurance or face a tax/penalty, for example. Yet this power has been claimed by the executive and astonishingly affirmed by Congress and the Supreme Court. Because we are a constitutional republic, the mere popularity of a policy should not matter. If it is in clear violation of the limits of government and the people still want it, a Constitutional amendment is the only appropriate way to proceed. However, rather than going through this arduous process, the Constitution was in effect, ignored and the insurance mandate was allowed anyway.
And in closing, a quick thought on Constitution day, which was mandated by Federal law in 2004.
Federal politicians, who are taking billions upon billions of dollars from the American people to carry out programs not authorized by the Constitution, are unconstitutionally mandating that schools unconstitutionally funded by the unconstitutional department of education will teach your kids about constitutional limits on federal power.
If that’s not some kind of sick joke, I don’t know what is.
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