… 4. Ever More Distrust (Ever Less Privacy):
- For years, the prospect of warrantless wiretapping in the name of national security has had a chilling effect on Americans who have opposed government policies in the war on terror. In 2008, President Bush signed a new FISA Amendments Act (FAA), which authorized the government to snoop on citizens with minimal oversight from the already secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts. (They were set up in 1978 to oversee the granting of surveillance warrants against potential foreign intelligence agents.) The Obama administration has continually opted to uphold this power and the government’s freedom to warrantlessly tap electronic communications between people outside the United States and people inside the country in the name of national security.
- Meanwhile, the latest revelations in the ever-more-distrust, ever-less-privacy sweepstakes are led by news that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has implemented surveillance programs that violate the civil liberties of that city’s Muslim-American citizens. The NYPD infiltrated mosques and universities, collecting information on individuals suspected of no crimes, in conjunction with a CIA officer (now withdrawn) using methods traditionally reserved for that agency.
- This surely represents, however informally, an abrogation of the CIA’s mandate to conduct its surveillance only abroad, and it’s likely that no one involved will pay a penalty for it. In addition, in a striking combination of security overreach and police profiling, the NYPD has been investigating and surveilling Muslim-American citizens well outside the city limits — from New Haven, Connecticut, to Newark, New Jersey.
- To make matters worse, the government just approved the use of surveillance drones as part of a growing law enforcement arsenal for gathering information in the United States. On February 14th, President Obama signed a bill allowing for the use of such drones in a broad array of arenas, ranging from business activities to law enforcement.
- The message is clear enough: this year (next year and the year after) will be the year of more snooping. For law enforcement, your life is apparently an open book.
5. Ever More Killing (Ever Less Peace): … (full long text).
[Karen Greenberg is the director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School, a TomDispatch regular, and the author of The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First One Hundred Days, as well as the editor of The Torture Debate in America. Adam Brody, Rebecca Kagan, and Sasha Segall contributed research to this article. To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Greenberg discusses a new American state of “legal limbo,” click here, or download it to your iPod here.
This article first appeared on TomDispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news, and opinion from Tom Engelhardt, long time editor in publishing, co-founder of the American Empire Project, author of The End of Victory Culture, as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing. His latest book is The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's (Haymarket Books)].