Finally, a move towards freedom and the restoration of rights… well, not quite so fast.
Hold your applause.
The passage of the USA FREEDOM Act and the expiration of parts of the PATRIOT Act are being hailed as monumental steps in ending unwarranted surveillance, but – signed into law by President Obama – it is largely a weak half measure aimed at giving the appearance of restored trust in government:
Yesterday the Senate passed and President Obama signed into law the USA Freedom Act, a piece of legislation meant to curb the government’s ability to conduct widespread surveillance.
The American Library Association’s executive director Emily Sheketoff wrote in a statement to Business Insider that the bill’s passage was “a milestone,” going on to explain that it’s the “first meaningful reform of our surveillance law in almost 15 years.”
Similarly, the Mozilla Corporation’s senior vice president of business and legal affairs Denelle Dixon-Thayer described it as “a significant first step to restore trust online, and a foundation for further needed reform.” (source)
The Electronic Frontier Foundation noted the limited hangout and hunger for actual reform:
In the wake of the damning evidence of surveillance abuses disclosed by Edward Snowden, Congress had an opportunity to champion comprehensive surveillance reform and undertake a thorough investigation, like it did with the Church Committee. Congress could have tried to completely end mass surveillance and taken numerous other steps to rein in the NSA and FBI. This bill was the result of compromise…
Former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul went much further, decrying the fact that laws to curb mass surveillance are rather meaningless when dealing with lawless, rogue unaccountable parts of the shadow government.
Criminals don’t follow the laws, and regardless, there is no one who has the CIA, the NSA or a dozen other intelligence agencies on a leash.
Ron Paul took the occasion to delve into the problems with the CIA. Sputnik reports:
While some may be cheering the expiration of the Patriot Act – however temporary it may be – former presidential candidate Ron Paul notes: before Americans applaud a minor step toward transparency, they should recognize the corrosive nature of the CIA, a secret government operating far above the law.
It’s a sobering reminder […] Ron Paul points out that US intelligence organizations have always – and will continue – to operate outside the law.
“They are a secret government,” Paul says of the CIA. “Way out of control.”
“In a true republic, there is no place for an organization like the CIA,” Dr. Paul says, quoting former FBI agent Dan Smoot. “I think he’s closer to the truth than a lot of what’s going on today.”
As Paul notes, the CIA is out of reach from oversight or directions from the President or anyone else in Washington:
And according to Paul, [the CIA is] a covert army that doesn’t answer to Congress, the Supreme Court, or even the president.
With that extreme unaccountability has come many misdeeds.
The CIA’s worldwide programs to sponsor coups, revolutions, regime change and assassinations have become notorious, and the actions of this secretive government vessel knows no bounds.
“There are certainly a lot of theories about the CIA being involved in even domestic assassinations, and they certainly are now involved in presidential directed assassinations,” Paul says.
“That, to me, was the most frightening experience in Washington, is there were black budgets. We never knew exactly how much money was spent,” Paul says.
Those secret budgets have allowed the CIA to carry out some pretty shady practices over the years. Chiefly, assassinations.
“The US has covertly and overtly influenced elections overseas a number of times,” McAdams says. “It’s a very open secret that the CIA infiltrates monitoring organizations like the OSCE with their personnel.”
No doubt the flags will wave during the Fourth of July and every other occasion, and politicians will celebrate their role in reigning in the mass surveillance programs… but in truth, we are no freer now, and never will be until the shadow government – manifest in the CIA, the Federal Reserve, the Council on Foreign Relations, the think tanks and propaganda outlets – is seen for what it is and dealt with.