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Shades of Totalitarian Rule in the USA

December 30, 2013

I thought it was important to put together a few articles to further understand the changes and overall climate growing out of western society at present.

This is regarding new laws and abilities adopted through government legislation.

The first issue I would like to address regards recent controversy that arose in the mainstream news due to the leaks made by Edward Snowden that governments in Europe and the United States, Canada and other English speaking countries have cooperated to spy on the average citizen as part of a greater intelligence dragnet collected by the NSA.

http://www.businessinsider.com/everything-we-know-about-snowden-leaks-2013-11

Recently, parts of the spying program were ruled as “unconstitutional” by a federal judge:

http://www.ibtimes.com/nsa-phone-spying-program-ruled-unconstitutional-federal-judge-1510756

But this verdict was appealed, and again recently another judge has ruled NSA’s spying practices “legal”:

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/judge-rules-nsa-telephone-spying-programme-legal-1430395

Here is another article about this:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/12/is-the-nsas-spying-constitutional-it-depends-which-judge-you-ask/282672/

The second issue I want to address is regarding a recent trend to censor sensitive material about the government and its practices:

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/internet/government-request-to-remove-political-content-worrying-google/articleshow/28139618.cms

And from the google blog:

http://googleblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/transparency-report-government-removal.html

As well as recent actions against a number of reporters and whistle blowers that raises concerns about freedom of speech and the press:

http://en.rsf.org/united-states.html

The third issue I want to address is regarding the growth of government ability to detain and even execute American citizens without due process.

The first part of this regards a recently passed Patriot Act bill which leads the way to indefinite detention of American citizens:

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2011/12/sena-d02.html

The second part of this regards new legislation being brought forward by journalist Jeremy Scahill. He was the recent subject of a documentary titled Dirty Wars which addresses this issue.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2532528/?ref_=nv_sr_1

He also has a column for The Nation where he writes about this:

http://www.thenation.com/search/apachesolr_search/jeremy%20scahill

But I want to bring forward in particular something he addresses in this article that he wrote following up the issues uncovered in the documentary Dirty Wars:

http://www.thenation.com/article/176869/dirty-wars-continued-how-does-global-war-terror-ever-end

In particular, under the subheading of the article “Redefining “Imminent Threat””

I will now quote from this article at length so that I can address it:

In early 2013, a Department of Justice “white paper” surfaced that laid out the “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a Citizen.” The government lawyers who wrote the sixteen-page document asserted that the government need not possess specific intelligence indicating that an American citizen is actively engaged in a particular or active terror plot in order to be cleared for targeted killing. Instead, the paper argued that a determination from a “well-informed high level administration official” that a target represents an “imminent threat” to the United States is a sufficient basis to order the killing of an American citizen. But the Justice Department’s lawyers sought to alter the definition of “imminent,” advocating what they called a “broader concept of imminence.”

They wrote, “The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on persons will take place in the immediate future.” The government lawyers argued that waiting for a targeted killing of a suspect “until preparations for an attack are concluded, would not allow the United States sufficient time to defend itself.” They asserted that such an operation constitutes “a lawful killing in self-defense” and is “not an assassination.”

In these paragraphs, Scahill reports on a Department of Justice “white paper” written to justify the potential extent of these attacks on American citizens. This article can be found here:

https://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/doj-lethal.pdf

I think it is very important to add at this point to these considerations the information that was broadcasted not long ago through a BBC documentary which reports that “Al Qaeda never existed””:

I would like to finish this post by further quoting Scahill’s article, because I think the message he was trying to impart runs along lines similar to the considerations I am raises through my post.

“But beyond the partisan lens, the policies implemented by the Obama administration will have far-reaching consequences. Future presidents—Republican or Democratic—will inherit a streamlined process for assassinating enemies of America, perceived or real. They will inherit an executive branch with sweeping powers, rationalized under the banner of national security.”

[Dirty Wars, Continued: How Does the ‘Global War on Terror’ Ever End? — Jeremy Scahill]

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