Comrades, let’s all give a collective cheer for Uncle Joe. Not only was Stalin a fun guy around the Kremlin, but also he was an expert at security… for himself! Just have a look-see at Article 58 (RSFSR Penal Code) from 1927 Soviet Russia. Once Stalin took over the USSR in 1929, Article 58 was enhanced by the addition of fourteen amendments. No Soviet subject wanted his name on a list signed by Uncle Joe. No sirree Bob! Get on a Stalin’s list of "enemies of the people" and poof, here today, gone tomorrow.
Oh, if only Stalin had possessed today’s modern technological advances, his achievements in "security" would have been even more staggering. NKVD disappearance lists could have been compiled electronically. The process would have been watertight and fewer undesirables would have slipped through the net. Still, when it came to silencing dissident voices, Uncle Joe had a remarkable track record.
Well, Stalin is pushing up daisies now so that chapter is all vodka over the gulag.
Cut to 2008. Congress, The Decider and acting President Cheney are still locked in a pretend squabble over the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act, a.k.a. FISA. One wonders what all the hoopla is about.
Now, I’ve always held to the belief that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. And comrades, FISA was never broke until the Bush regime dropped it… probably deliberately. The law worked perfectly from its 1978 get go. In the post-Nixon world, FISA was put in place to protect Americans from eavesdropping. As well FISA has been used for monitoring potential foreign terrorist evildoers while simultaneously protecting all us poor schmucks from federal snooping when we made that dutiful long distance phone call to Aunt Gertrude in Bismarck, North Dakota on Christmas day.
But No! The existing provisions of FISA are not good enough for the proponents of the New American Century! They gotta eavesdrop on everybody and record and store everybody’s conversations and emails in dark rooms hidden away in cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego. Not satisfied by the USA Patriot Act (2001), Bush heaped on more provisions with the Protect America Act (2007). Wouldn’t it be cheaper for AT&T to bring back the old-fashioned party lines?
According to I.T. expert and AT&T whistleblower Marc Klein: "Despite what we are hearing, and considering the public track record of this administration, I simply do not believe their claims that the NSA’s spying program is really limited to foreign communications or is otherwise consistent with the NSA’s charter or with FISA. And unlike the controversy over targeted wiretaps of individuals’ phone calls, this potential spying appears to be applied wholesale to all sorts of Internet communications of countless citizens."
That’s a lot of fertilizer to dig through!
How many people does it take to listen to every single phone call (and read all those emails) in the US? There’s only one Ernestine. Now there’s a cunning plan to hide those grim unemployment figures. Here’s a fun little tidbit:
"Are you considering a government job? The federal government employs more than 2,715,000 workers and hires hundreds of thousands each year to replace civil service workers that transfer to other federal government jobs, retire, or stop working for other reasons. Average annual salary for full-time federal government jobs exceeds $67,000. The U.S. Government is the largest employer in the United States, hiring about 2.0 percent of the nation’s civilian work force. Federal government jobs can be found in every state and large metropolitan area, including overseas in over 200 countries."
What a bonanza for the otherwise unemployable! Hop on the gravy train folks.
And all this warrantless eavesdropping is supposed to "protect" us from terrorists? How? Does the Bush/Cheney double dictatorship seriously believe a bona fide terrorist is going to be daft enough announce the details of his demonic schemes via email or the telephone?
But what if a terrorist was a flaming idiot and used his cell phone to call Osama bin Laden for instructions? Months before September 11, 2001, Bush had a nice, legally compiled file from the FBI and daily briefings from CIA Director George Tenet who alerted Bush that "U.S. intelligence was picking up an unprecedented level of ominous chatter" from potential terrorists. Plenty of people were warning Bush "a major al Qaeda attack is going to happen against the United States somewhere in the world in the weeks and months ahead." Those warnings and F.B.I. files didn’t protect anybody. Talk about attention deficit. Uh, Mr. President…you gotta read those things. The goat book can wait.
Regarding Bush’s lazy response to CIA warnings of al Qaeda activity, former top terrorist advisor to the White House, Richard Clarke had this to say about the President: "He never thought it was important enough for him to hold a meeting on the subject, or for him to order his National Security Adviser to hold a Cabinet-level meeting on the subject."
Sorry folks, but legalizing past illegal spying on Americans ain’t gonna protect any Americans from future terrorist attacks.
I don’t know about you, but I’m more concerned about one gentleman in the White House who is itching to bomb Iran and a certain Republican Senator’s suggestion that "It would be fine with me" if the war in Iraq goes on for 100 years.
See, this FISA-fixing scheme isn’t really about protecting us is it? No way Jos. It’s about protecting the Bush (and Clinton) Dynasty. It’s about retroactive protection for the telecommunications companies that, writes Matt Renner of Truthout, "possibly" have broken the law by "allegedly" giving "spy agencies access to their communication networks and databases without a warrant." Hey, those telecoms were only following orders! What if some judge made them spill the beans?
Ultimately, FISA-enhancement is designed to fulfill the neoconservative dream of an energized, imperial executive working hand-in-glove with a thriving military-industrial complex.
How will it work, you ask. Simple. You see, it’s real handy to "have the goods" on people. The threat of blackmail makes for great leverage. If you want to maintain control of your citizenry (and what despot doesn’t?), you need to have records of every little subversive act or remark on file. If fifteen-year-old Billy figures out how to defeat the parental controls on the family computer and downloads a Pamela Anderson video (sorry Billy, I refuse to supply a link), it’s best for Bush that this blot goes on Billy’s permanent record… permanently. One never knows, when Billy grows up he may want to run for Congress. If he has friends at Diebold, he might even get "elected."
What do "elected officials" fear the most? Scandals. Those skeletons in the closet must be kept locked up tight or political careers will collapse faster than you can say Spiro T. Agnew. As long as Americans value the appearance of propriety, a clean-living candidate is what sells on "election" day. Americans don’t actually want to lead clean lives themselves; they elect others to put on the charade for them. On rare occasions scandals have landed our "elected" representatives in the stripy hole… unless those officials have friends in high places.
But I digress.
How does one achieve the lofty position of "elected official?" Through honesty and integrity? Balderdash! That’s for suckers. While looking as clean as Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua your average politician lies down with all manner of mangy dogs. Wonder if any members of Congress have fleas and ticks?
And this is where the big picture comes into focus.
Speaking of the big telecom companies, we know from Dick Cheney’s own words that: "We need retroactive liability protection for the companies that have worked with us and helped us prevent further attacks against the United States."
At least there’s some truth for a change. The Executive Branch and the telecom companies have been working together in illegal spying activities… and Cheney admits it! Surprise, surprise. We know that the Leader of the Free World is adamant about changing the law to protect these companies. And we know, courtesy of Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s own declaration in 2006: "impeachment is off the table."
You don’t suppose The Bush (and Clinton) Dynasty have the goods on a whole lotta Members of Congress do you? You don’t think that yesteryear’s co-ed Nancy herself got caught in a compromising position in the back of a Studebaker after a raging kegger at the Frat House? Ask George W. Bush.
Now it all makes sense. If the White House re-writes FISA to permit unfettered spying on all Americans, then who will Bush spy on and subsequently control?
- Britney Spears?
Check the correct box and you could win a free Hillary Clinton Nutcracker!
Bush is in a position to force those who have most to lose into voting for the very legislation that will ensure that they are even more vulnerable to the prying eyes of the state. Vote against FISA enhancement, and a past dirty story will be leaked to the press. Vote for FISA enhancement and no wrong-doing in your future will remain a secret from whoever is in the White House. Checkmate.
I bet Bush sings The Rolling Stones classic "Under My Thumb" in the shower.
And here we’ve been comparing the Bush Regime to the Third Reich when all along a comparison to Stalinist Russia may be more accurate. What? Us worry? We know the scheme. Our Democratic Dictator isn’t interested in controlling our actions and thoughts… for now.
** Franklin Delano Roosevelt with 3687 for his entire presidency beat out Bill Clinton’s measly 456 in eight years.
Tom Chartier [send him mail] played lead guitar in legendary Los Angeles punk band The Rotters for 26 years until their final appearance in January of 2004. He has lived in Tokyo and Los Angeles. Currently he resides somewhere in the Caribbean. Elizabeth Gyllensvard [send her mail] no longer lives in Washington D.C., and spends her time reading British history.