Jul 17, 2013

Virtual Tiger Trap of America, Great Firewall of China And Other Innovations in Repression

Totalitarian government clamp down on free flow of ideas and communication under the presumption that doing so will extinguish any subversiveness. That same hetero-ideology that is being attempted to be eradicated is what burnishes the open society with so much innovation and economic progress. So a Nazi or a Soviet regime is successful to instill fear throughout the populace that anyone could turn them into the authorities and they may disappear for saying a disparaging remark; in the fear-centric world of a totalitarian regime the economic innovation also comes to a screeching halt since what was acceptable economic activity yesterday is still acceptable today and no new business paradigms are ever attempted. People's Republic of China under Mao was certainly a totalitarian regime, But Deng Xiaoping was able to open up the country at least economically and provided pseudo-property rights to get GDP growth going. As the rise of the Internet made it essential for China to participate in the global economy, the CCP found it necessary to allow the Chinese people to have access to the internet for commerce but necessitated a solution to prevent political or anything non-economic from being communicated. Thus the invention of The Great Firewall of China that prevented domestic Internet communications of undesirable (at least by the CCP's judgement) ideas or speech that was not benefiting the state/status quo.

In many third world totalitarian regimes counter-intuitively there often were elections held; these elections never were intended to let the people's voice be heard instead they were to identify where or even who was the opposition. It typically was so effective that the people (to avoid being disappeared) voted unanimously for the tin-pot dictator, who then go to the world community to show that his people loved him.

The combination of both technological surveillance and use of misdirection is where the American innovation in political repression gets both genius and diabolical. Instead of blocking websites proactively and other known undesirable forms of communication the American intelligence community allows every American with an Internet connection to freely say anything they want to whomever they want, and nothing changes in their day-to-day life. All 300+ million Americans have their communications cataloged and archived, with some secret algorithm scanning to determine who may be a threat (threat to whom and what constitutes as a threat is evidently not up for discussion), so at some future date FBI agents on the order of the Department of  Homeland Security comes and arrests a citizen either at home or at work. Any attempt to ferret why the citizen was arrested will initially be informed "Sorry, but that is classified." A tenacious attempt to get information about a love one may very well result in the questioner also in custody. Let all of the citizens run around on the internet looking up subversive information about Ag-Gag rules, financial service industy's improprieties, and the like; they can be deemed terrorists after the fact and receive the "Bradley Manning" treatment stuck in a hole for years without ever being charged. Bonus points for constitutional flexibility since it is unlikely to have public attention and therefore never need to be taken out of the hole.

But the defenders of the status quo will respond to my dystopian perspective: "Sean you have it all wrong, America isn't like that-- we are the land of the free and home of the brave. We have a constitution that strictly forbids what you are describing." The constitution is no defense if there is no means to determine what the government is doing under the veil of secrecy. The U.S. government has already dispensed with the fourth amendment since it is very explicit: ."..no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. Can not get less particular in describing who and what is to be searched than everybody and everything. Edward Snowden's whistle-blowing  has had a very telling response from those already in the know, no on has denied the veracity of Snowden's claims. So we know it is true that all of our internet communication and telephonic communication both content and metadata is being archived for the past 7-8 years and also going forward for the foreseeable future.

But I would have to also have evidence that our government has disregarded constitutional protections of due process, specifically that some authoritative federal judge being instrumental to being deprived of freedom or life. Except there is already evidence that has been done to American citizens all without any judicial review nor anything other than  committee of people individuals who gather for "terrorism Tuesday" within the White House. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder when questioned why American citizens abroad could be killed without even an indictment via drones responded:
“Due process and judicial process are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security,” Holder said. “The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”
The previous 225 years since the ratification of the constitution it has been interpreted that due process was judicial process-- but here we have amazing legal innovation to squeeze what is clearly not constitutional to be pseudo-constitutional but only in practice while ignoring our tradition and legal precedent. So what would prevent our government from implementing my dystopian foreshadowing? Is it left to each of the individuals that are directed to carry out unconstitutional orders? The individuals that question the orders constitutionality, are they assured they won't be targeted for obstructing justice or prosecution under the Espionage Act or no actual crime charged but held in custody indefinitely in some legal limbo like the 80+ detainees held in Gitmo and have been cleared for release for at least 5 years now? Thomas Drake released budget overruns of NSA surveillance programs that were not classified in 2006 and was not charged until 2010 for violating the World War I era Espionage Act. But Barack Obama when coming into office in 2009 said repeatedly would look forward and not back regarding the unconstitutional torture/enhanced interrogation program, but decided to look back when he perceived the State was being embarrassed.

Arbitrary execution of law is a vacuum of law, and we were such a fine upstanding country that once long ago abode by our own self-determined laws. Alas that was so antiquated, so old fashioned, so 20th century.