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28 Sep, 2010 20:43

Civil liberties vs. national security in America

Privacy and civil liberties activists in the United States are crying foul as the government begins to encroach on the Internet and raid the homes of anti-war activists.

The Obama Administration is reportedly trying to make it easier for federal authorities to intercept communications over the internet via social networks, Skype and mobile devices. The new regulations would require Internet companies to design their products with a built in backdoor that would allow the government to intercept messages and unscramble encrypted information, the New York Times reported.

And, earlier this month the FBI raided the homes of a number of anti-war activists in Chicago and Minneapolis, claiming they were seeking evidence of terrorist activity.

Radio host Alex Jones said that the government’s focus is not terrorists abroad, but activists at home in the US.

The main focus is anti-war activists, Quakers, conservatives, libertarians, land rights activists, anti-GMO activist, it’s basically everybody and we’ve seen raids all over the country,” said Jones.

With such a diverse set of targets, who’s left?

Really, no one’s left,” replied Jones.

Sara Flounders, the co-director of the International Action Center, shares this point of view, saying that “these raids are consciously attempting to have a chilling effect on opposition to US wars.”

“There is a history in the US of these efforts to intimidate political movements again and again,” she said. “Today when you look at the sheer number of Muslims who have been arrested, detained – their homes broken into, their files, e-mail, cell phones and all of that confiscated – that is what is in the interests of the FBI and the police forces to do.”

Jones explained that government agents and spies are working to infiltrate any and every group that may have some level of influence over others, including churches without any political involvement.

The government has continually said their actions were justified, saying they were “seeking evidence relating to activities concerning the material support of terrorism”.

When you read the USA Patriot Act Section 802, passed in October of 2001, it states that all misdemeanors or the potential for misdemeanors are covered under the anti-terror law and it erases much of our cherished Bill of Rights. Previously they’d have to have evidence to raid someone that they were involved in terrorism or supporting it. Now, they are raiding to look for evidence. This is the essence of the ‘”1984” or Kafka-esque police state by any analysis,” said Jones.

Jones argued that the policies today are a continuation of Bush era policies, where the US Justice Department utilizes pre-emptive measures without evidence.

He further argued that the government and military industrial complex is working to target anyone who opposes the war on terror, aligning the protesting of wars with aiding terrorists.

If you stay at home and just watch the ball game, and take your Prozac and you know drink your whisky, then you’re going to be left alone. But, if you basically have a comment on what color the street signs should be, you’re basically going to have homeland security watching everything you do,” Jones said.

Discussing the Obama Administration’s internet communications interception and wiretapping proposed regulations, Jones argued that the government is working to target free speech and free society online.

The former head of the CIA told the LA Times that the government should be able to shut the internet down, to quote, protect it. So, the system is scared of the power of free speech and the burgeoning free independent media and the system is scared so they are trying to reverse the freedom we’ve seen on the web,” said Jones.