By Matthew Rothschild on February 27, 2013

The Executive Branch just got more freedom to spy on us after the Supreme Court threw out a challenge Tuesday to the FISA amendments.

Under those amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the government can spy on our phone calls, e-mails, messages and Skyping whenever we're overseas or talking to someone overseas.

The government doesn't need to get a warrant to do this, and it doesn't ever need to tell us that it's been targeting us.

It's an obvious affront to the Fourth Amendment, but not according to Samuel Alito and the four other conservative justices on the Court.

They ruled, in a classic Catch-22, that since the lawyers and journalists who were suing the government couldn't prove that they were being spied on, they didn't have standing to bring their case.

Of course, they couldn't prove it because the government, by law now, doesn't have to reveal who it's spying on.

As a result, it's going to be all but impossible to ever challenge this law in court.

"It's a disturbing decision," said ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer, who argued the case before the justices on October 29. "The FISA Amendments Act is a sweeping surveillance statute with far-reaching implications for Americans' privacy. This ruling insulates the statute from meaningful judicial review and leaves Americans' privacy rights to the mercy of the political branches."

So now the CIA and the NSA and the President can merrily spy on us without fear that a court is going to tell them to stop.

And since Congress has refused to stop them, we, as so-called American citizens, have seen our rights shredded once again.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "The Supreme Court's Push to Lift Campaign Limits."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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