By David William Pear
Spying on US citizens may have more to do with Continuity of Government (COG) than with foreign terrorists. COG is the Top Secret plan the president has to declare a national emergency, suspend the US Constitution, shut down Congress, replace the courts with military tribunals and declare national martial law. COG has its origins in the Cold War. It is now part of the War on Terror and the Global Economic Order.
What little we do know about COG and Continuity of Operations (COOP), the president reserves unto himself the right to unilaterally declare a state of emergency and run the government under a coordinating committee, currently under the Department of Homeland Security.
However there is no such contingency plan under the US Constitution for such plans. The Constitution only addresses the succession of the office of the president and the suspension of habeas corpus “in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it”. The Constitution maintains three separate and equal branches of government under all circumstances. It does not give the president any authority to hijack the government.
The lesson we should have learned since 911 is that the president will abuse the office, obey the law or ignore it and make up new rules at will. This is especially so in matters of national security. It is clear that the president, contrary to the oath of office, does not feel constrained by the US Constitution even when it comes to US citizens inside the borders of the USA.
The War on Terror has now gone domestic. The US government fears domestic unrest from its own citizens more than it does any illusory international conspiracy of Islamic jihadist terrorists. We see evidence of the governments fears from the militarization of our local police departments. It also explains why our government is spying on us.
The various government federal, state and local spy programs are collecting data on everyone. Everything about us from our friends, family, and membership in organizations, our health, prescription drugs, fingerprints and now our DNA is being collected. They know who we are and where we live.
The massive collection of raw electronic data from cell phone calls, emails and web use is designed to find out everything about us. They may not be listening to our cell phone calls and reading our emails yet, so they say. They just want to know who we hang out with. Obama and the brass have admitted it.
Our government can listen to our phone calls and read our emails later or now if we raise any suspicion or cause the government any trouble.
Why our government wants to keep a tab on everybody is so that US citizens cannot now or in the future organize any meaningful protest or civil disobedience movements.
Occupy Wall Street had a much bigger impact and frightened the powers more than we realize. The austerity deficit hawks got quiet for a while after OWS flared up. They don’t want the OWS movement to get organized and cause them any real trouble such as happened with the civil rights movement and anti-war protests of the 1950”s to 1970’s. There was plenty of government spying then too, but they did not have the technology they have today to be as effective.
The FBI had an illegal spy program called COINTELPRO back then to spy on American citizens. It spied on civil rights leaders including tapping the telephone of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The FBI tried to smear him with allegations of extramarital affairs. Anti-war protesters, activists, suspected subversives, politicians and even presidents were spied on too.
COINTELPRO’s activities included spying, infiltration, agent-provocateurs and blackmail. The legendary Deep Throat that toppled President Richard Nixon over the Watergate scandal is believed to have been Mark Felt, then J. Edgar Hoovers associate director of the FBI.
Spying on US citizens has always been a legal gray area. It crosses the line of legality when spying is done by the CIA, NSA and military. It also breaks the law and violates the Constitution when law enforcement agencies do not follow the protocol of the Bill of Rights against “unreasonable search and seizure and probable cause”.
A search warrant giving the FBI the right to search every home in America and listen into every phone call would clearly be unreasonable. So is a court order that says the government can sweep up every cell phone call and email in the world including in the USA.
Our president has little regard for legal technicalities such as the US Constitution. The higher one goes up the ladder of government the less respect they have for the law.
President Richard Nixon infamously said: “When the president does it…that means it is not illegal”. He was ridiculed and the butt of jokes after he said it. People were outraged. President Bush and President Obama now certainly believe what Nixon said. No longer is the public outraged. The War on Terror and government propaganda has terrorized people into letting our government do whatever they want as long as it promises to keeps us safe.
The events of September 11, 2001 resulted in a paradigm shift for the US and its citizens. The public still does not know all the facts of that day. It is ripe for conspiracy theories. Much of the information known about what happened are classified as secret and kept from the public. We do know that there has been a cover up of the cover up of 911.
The people have willingly given our president unprecedented power because of 911, and looked the other way and made excuses for presidential abuse of power. Our government lied about WMD and launched wars of aggression. It committed torture, assassinations, abductions, war crimes against civilians and broke international and US laws. Our government has built an elaborate system to spy on every American citizen. Our government has been able to do all of these things with the approval of most of the American people in exchange for the promise to keep us safe from terrorists.
The terrorist threat against the US homeland exists only in the propaganda of the government and the imagination of the American people. That is why the government brass can’t name a single case in which domestic spying has prevented any terrorist attacks in the US.
Terrorism abroad is also a red herring. All of the so-called terrorist attacks have been mostly against US troops that have invaded their lands. Or they have been about blowback from covert US actions.
The US now has declared the whole world a war zone. There are boots on the ground in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, Uzbekistan and all the other “stans” and much of Asia. It is a war of shadows and mirrors without end.
There are boots in the air with drone strikes and Tomahawk missiles terrorizing and killing wedding parties and funerals in foreign lands. The Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) sends out dozens of nightly assassination teams everywhere in the world. Many would call those resisting US aggression freedom fighters. Protecting their own lands from US invaders is not terrorism. They are not the terrorists. We, with our drones and night raids are terrorizing them. If there are few terrorist at home and abroad why is the US so engaged in massive domestic spying? It has more to do with social and economic inequality than with terrorism.
The global economy has created a class of the few with all the wealth and power, while the many have to endure more suffering and making do with less. The US has watched worldwide civil unrest caused by economic hardships. The Arab Spring was more about the cost of bread than the desire for freedom. Turkey is now embroiled in street protests that started over the closing of a park. When there is so much underlying anger at the government, the rich and the powerful; then any little spark can set off an explosion that causes governments to fall. We are witnessing that in Syria now as the Assad government of the privileged few tries to hang on against the underprivileged many.
In the US inequality has never been so widespread. The poverty rate is over 50% of the population. People are still losing their homes to foreclosure. There remains massive unemployment and under-employment. Workers’ wages and benefits are being cut. Social Security is on the chopping block, public employee unions are under attack and safety net programs are being slashed. Public education is being destroyed. Post Offices are being closed. Privatization is taking over public functions and skimming off excessive profits. People still cannot afford healthcare. Our prisons are overflowing with African Americans for non-violent crimes.
Wall Street bank robbers walk free. Telecommunication companies are given retroactive immunity for breaking the law. The powerful are bailed out by the government because they are too big to fail. White collar criminals escape punishment because they are too big to prosecute. War criminals brag about their crimes and we are told to look forward not backward.
The US government is spying on Americans because it fears civil unrest. The government is arrogant and fears its own people. The privileged few cling to their privileges and fear the have-nots.
Our government fears a public backlash. It fears that a domestic protest might explode. It fears that the people will go to the streets as they have in Greece, Turkey and the Arab world. Our government is spying on us so it can crush any uprising in its cradle.
Once the government identifies trouble makers they will label them as domestic terrorists. They can easily tap into protesters’ communications and pick up their entire network of friends. They will all be labeled terrorists and co-conspirators by guilt by association. They will be stripped of their civil liberties.
The US government now has so much extra-legal power that it can arrest, imprison torture and even assassinate anybody it wishes. If the situation ever arises that the president wants even more powers then the president can implement COG and the US will become a virtual military dictatorship. Continuity of Government is the purpose of domestic spying.