By Jim Hightower on February 05, 2014

President Obama's support for NSA's domestic spying program prompted a critic to say: "Given the unique power of the state, it is not enough for leaders to say: 'trust us, we won't abuse the data we collect.'"

Oh wait, that wasn't a critic speaking – it was Obama himself! He was trying to shush critics by insisting that the threadbare slipcover of reforms he was throwing over the massive spy machine should satisfy us that all is well, so please, people, just go back to sleep.

Less than a week later, however, a blaring alarm went off in Washington, shattering any drowsiness that Obama had hoped to induce. The alert came from a small, little-known federal agency called the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, set up by Congress back in 2007 to be an independent monitor of the spook establishment's privacy infringements. In a stunningly-blunt, 238-page report, the five-member panel of legal experts concluded that NSA's bulk data collection is illegal, probably unconstitutional under the First and Fourth Amendments, a serious, ongoing threat to Americans' privacy and liberties – and essentially useless at stopping terrorist acts.

"As a result," wrote the board's majority, "the board recommends that the government end the program."

Especially telling is the finding that NSA's invasive phone sweeps is an ineffectual anti-terrorism tool. The agency and its apologists keep claiming – without any proof – that total vacuuming of domestic communications is necessary to prevent the next 9-11 attack. But the privacy panel did an in-depth analysis of this repeated assertion, and wrote: "We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the telephone records program made a concrete difference."

To get the whole report go to www.pclob.gov.

------

Photo: "Thinking woman pondering something," via Shutterstock.

Section: 

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

More

By Ed Rampell

Starting on July 28, 1914, a month after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand...

ALEC holds its 41st annual meeting in Dallas, Texas starting on Wednesday, July 30, 2014.

The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) poses as an independent science-based organization devoted to...

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).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project

Newsletter

Get Breaking News and Alerts!