Repeal the Patriot Act – LewRockwell

This article by Judge Napolitano is eye-opening and well worth the read.

I have been writing for years about the dangers to human freedom that come from government mass surveillance. The United States was born in a defiant reaction to government surveillance. In the decade preceding the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the villains were the Stamp Act and the Writs of Assistance Act. Today, the villain is the Patriot Act. Here is the backstory. In 1765, when the British government was looking for creative ways to tax the colonists, Parliament enacted the Stamp Act. That law required all persons in the colonies to purchase stamps from a British government vendor and to affix them to all documents in one’s possession. These were not stamps as we use today, rather they bore the seal of the British government. The vendor would apply ink to the seal and for a fee — a tax — impress an image of the seal onto documents. All documents in one’s possession — financial, legal, letters, books, newspapers, pamphlets, even posters destined to be nailed to trees — required the government stamps. How did the British government, 3,000 miles away, know if one had its stamps on one’s documents? Answer: The Writs of Assistance Act. A writ of assistance was a general warrant issued by a secret court in London. A general warrant does not specifically describe the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized. It merely authorized the bearer — a civilian or military government official — to search where he wished and seize whatever he found.

Repeal the Patriot Act – LewRockwell

To Deprive a Free People of Their Rights Part III

When the Nazis came to power in Germany in the 1930s, they had numerous ways to suppress any dissent. One was to assign Blockleiters to spy on their neighbors. They were to report anything ant-Nazi at all to the local Gestapo office. People who were denounced in this way more often than not wound up in prison or concentration camps. No due process, no defense, no chance. It was remarkably effective in controlling the population because you never had any idea who you could trust, so it was better to keep any “unpopular” opinions to one’s self. It didn’t eliminate resistance to the Reich, but it did make such defiance much more isolated and dangerous.

Red Flag laws such as those proposed in Virginia are a step in this direction. I can hear you now, “You’re Crazy,” “You’re an alarmist,” “You’re a Conspiracy Nut,” and all kinds of other things that will help you convince yourself not to listen to unpleasant ideas. I know, because I don’t want to think about these things either. I prefer to believe we are living in a free society where everyone has a right to express themselves in a frank and open exchange of ideas. But the Blockleiters are already among us, and most of us do not even know it. Or worse, we willingly participate in this growing and festering cancer eating away at our right to free speech.

What am I talking about? Look at social media. When anyone can post on the internet, anyone does. But this brought about areas of speech not protected by the First Amendment. Threatening, stalking, defamation, bullying, and a whole lot of other things were becoming a problem. So mechanisms were set up to try to prevent some of this activity. The catchword that became popular was hate speech. But the criteria for judging what “hate speech” entailed was so vague that it rapidly became an instrument to remove from social media those with firmly held and powerfully expressed opinions offended some group or other. There have been numerous instances of people being removed from the major social media platforms of Twitter and Facebook because they were too passionate in making their case. James Woods is a case in point. There have been many others.

Indeed, today’s Cyber Blockleiters do not report to a government Gestapo and no one being dragged away to a concentration or re-education camp. Yet. But repression in a free society begins as a mustard seed. It is up to us to determine whether that seed germinates and strangles the freedoms we hold so dear.

To Deprive a Free People of Their Rights Part I

If you want to take away such fundamental rights as speech, the press, religion, and political association, the formula is quite simple. You don’t need to force new draconian laws on the populace and send out the military to enforce them. You don’t need to change the Constitution or elect a totalitarian government headed by a dictator. That would be inefficient, difficult, and in a country like the United States, probably unsuccessful. No, all you have to do is scare the hell out of people, and they will cheerfully and voluntarily give up their rights in the name of security. As a case in point, it is happening right now, here in our own country, and in many areas, we are not even offering token resistance. 

There has always been a struggle between the government and the private sector for dominance in society. And that is a healthy tension, one acting as a check on the other, neither becoming strong enough to impose its will entirely on the other. For many years this tug of war functioned as it should, but then came 9/11/2001. 

There was a lot of blame thrown around at the time, particularly of the intelligence agencies, wanting to know how they missed what in 20/20 hindsight seemed to be apparent clues as to what was coming. How could this happen? Why wasn’t it stopped? Lower Manhattan had seen this before with the previous WTC bombing, so it would seem that any chatter regarding this target would raise red flags. How come information was not made available to local authorities to stop these monsters? The response to these questions naturally led to demands that we prevent this from ever happening again. The freedom we have enjoyed in this country for over 200 years was about to take a hit. This attack would not come from our enemies, but ourselves.

I can still remember the announcement by President George W. Bush that we would be creating a new security agency to coordinate the activities of existing organizations on the Federal and local levels. There was something not right about this. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, but I had a gut feeling that this was not going to bode well for us in the long term. Everything wasn’t laid out for the public, of course, but just enough for me to wonder if giving this much power to an already too powerful State was the best answer to this threat. 

There were some concerns at the time pointed out by some that this was all just an excuse for a massive power grab, the chance to monitor and control citizens in ways that were Constitutionally suspect. These voices were dismissed as alarmists, conspiracy theorists, and crackpots. We were so sure our government would never be a totalitarian state, that ee had sufficient checks and balances to prevent even a despotic President from overtly abolish our freedoms, keep tabs on us or repress political opposition. Despite my misgivings, I was among the critics of those voices raised in alarm. They indeed did have some crackpot theories, but given developments in the past few years, some of those pots are beginning to look a little less cracked.  

More to come on this.