SNOWDEN REVEALS AMERICA TO BE A TOTALITARIAN STATE
“Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the
State was to make men free to develop their faculties, and that, in its
government, the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary. They
valued liberty both as an end, and as a means. They believed liberty to be the
secret of happiness, and courage to be the secret of liberty. They believed
that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means
indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth; that, without
free speech and assembly, discussion would be futile; that, with them,
discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of
noxious doctrine; that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that
public discussion is a political duty, and that this should be a fundamental
principle of the American government. They
recognized the risks to which all human institutions are subject. But they knew
that order cannot be secured merely through fear of punishment for its
infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope and imagination;
that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces
stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss
freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies, and that the fitting remedy
for evil counsels is good ones. Believing in the power of reason as applied
through public discussion, they eschewed silence coerced by law -- the argument of force in its
worst form. Recognizing the occasional tyrannies of governing majorities, they
amended the Constitution so that free speech and assembly should be guaranteed.
“Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free
speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of
speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears. To justify suppression
of free speech, there must be reasonable ground to fear that serious evil will
result if free speech is practiced. There must be reasonable ground to believe
that the danger apprehended is imminent. There must be reasonable ground to
believe that the evil to be prevented is a serious one. Every denunciation of
existing law tends in some measure to increase the probability that there will
be violation of it. Condonation of a
breach enhances the probability. Expressions of approval add to the
probability. Propagation of the criminal state of mind by teaching syndicalism
increases it. Advocacy of law-breaking heightens it still further. But even
advocacy of violation, however reprehensible morally, is not a justification
for denying free speech where the advocacy falls short of incitement and there
is nothing to indicate that the advocacy would be immediately acted on. The wide
difference between advocacy and incitement, between preparation and attempt,
between assembling and conspiracy, must be borne in mind. In order to support a
finding of clear and present danger, it must be shown either that immediate
serious violence was to be expected or was advocated, or that the past conduct
furnished reason to believe that such advocacy was then contemplated.”
Louis D. Brandeis, J., concurring opinion, Whitney v. California,
274 U.S. 357, 375-377 (1927).
We sometimes forget
that when the framers of the Bill of Rights sought to guarantee Freedom of the
Press, by “the press,” they contemplated an independent class of citizens
dedicated to reporting the news in a truthful manner. They never contemplated that the news media
would themselves be part and parcel of an international oligarchy that would
come to rule the United States on the basis of plutocratic, rather than
democratic, principles. Moreover, as determined in the Whitney case, freedom of expression and
yes, of the press, belongs to the individual, not to the State or to any
conglomerate. We could have expected
that Nancy Pelosi (D. Cal.), House Minority Leader, might have declared Edward
Snowden guilty, because he exposed totalitarian citizen surveillance by the
National Security Agency – and its sixteen allied government intelligence
groups. After all, Nancy Pelosi has allegedly made
millions of dollars in the House of Representatives trading on insider
information, which places her squarely on the side of the plutocrats.
What is more
shocking: The trend in the news media to pile on Mr. Snowden. The latest example is their snide remarks
that because he may be seeking asylum in a country or through a country that
may have a different governing philosophy than that of the United States, he is
somehow to be lowered in the public’s esteem.
However, if his very point is that the United States of America has
embarked upon a totalitarian scheme of rule, how is he diminished by turning to
any other State for protection? Socrates
was convicted of the dangerous behavior that comprised teaching young men how
to think for themselves by asking them provocative questions. He accepted the verdict of Athens and drank
the hemlock, rather than flee the jurisdiction, because he believed that the
Athenians had, until then, developed the best arrangement all told regarding
the relationship between the citizen and his government. Perhaps Mr. Snowden has learned something
worse about America.
The questions before a free press should
contain no conclusions whatever about Mr. Snowden’s guilt or innocence. Rather, the first valid question is whether
Mr. Snowden should be charged with any infringement of law, at all. If a charge would lie, in good faith, then
the question is whether the charge accurately reflects the words, the tenor and
the intention of the relevant statute(s).
If the charge is accurately grounded, then the question is whether the
law in question – on its face OR as applied, comports with the requirements of
the Constitution. Even if the law is
within the purview of the Constitution, there is the further consideration that
the law may nonetheless be an unjust law.
And still further, though this idea might surely come as a surprise to
the pseudo journalists of the news media today, the presumption of innocence
would STILL pertain: Mr. Snowden should
not be determined to have committed a crime by pundits nor by public opinion
polls, wherein “he who puts the question determines the answer,” but by the verdict
of a jury based upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt. For contrary to the current media practice,
the Constitution contemplates that “infamy” be determined through due process
of law, not in the arena of ratings and commercial sales. [See, Amendment Five.]
The most serious instance, in these regards,
of the press succumbing to the sway of the military junta led by NSA Director,
General Keith Alexander, is their acquiescence in the notion that universal
surveillance could have averted the tragedies of 9/11/2001. What is this: mass hypnosis by way of the
General’s fruit salad? Have you
forgotten already that during the summer of 2001, Condoleezza Rice was asleep
at her desk? As National Security
Advisor, she knew or should have known the following. In 1993, Osama bin Laden had bombed the
basement garage of the World Trade Center.
His purpose was to topple one of the Twin Towers into the other, so as
to bring them BOTH down. During the
earlier part of 2001, she had received notice that Osama was planning a major
attack on U.S. interests. The planned
attack was likely to occur within the United States. Airplanes were going to be employed. Between 1996, when Vice President Gore issued
a Report outlining the vulnerability of U.S. international airports, with
recommendations for closing the security gaps, and the enactment by Congress of
laws mandating the closure of those gaps, and 2000, the FAA had issued numerous
public notifications to the Executive that none of these changes had been made
and that our airports remained vulnerable to international terrorism. As late as August of 2001, all Rice needed to
do was to get George W. Bush’s approval to increase security at a mere 59
international airports within the United States to have averted the attacks on
9/11. Universal totalitarian
surveillance would have added nothing.
Universal surveillance yields nothing that could not be ascertained by other, lawful means
or by surveillance subject to the normal conduct of Fourth Amendment compliant
information gathering and law enforcement.
The Fourth Amendment reinforces, by right of privacy, the guarantees of
the First Amendment. Freedom of
conscience leads to private opinion.
Private opinion leads to public opinion.
Public opinion leads to public policy.
Each stage in this progression, so essential to democracy, is subject to
the chilling effect of universal surveillance, with no real countervailing
benefits – except perhaps to reinforce the power and self-importance of
martinets like Keith Alexander.
It turns out that
Barack Obama is a very bad President.
Having failed in more spheres than half a dozen volumes of history could
encompass, he has now been found out, into the bargain, to spy on journalists
and to spy on citizens, no longer presumed innocent. The only protection afforded us is a secret
court, acting in secret, and issuing secret decisions-instructions to America’s
secret police. This FISA Court would
have been well known to absolute tyrants like Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, who
would have recognized at once the modern equivalent of the STAR CHAMBER. Obama insists that to probe the content of
our millions of phones, e-mails and other communications, permission of the
FISA Court must be obtained. But there
is no consequence for anyone in government ignoring that requirement and
according to Mr. Snowden, the secret FISA Court has secretly found such
violations. Moreover, using the
coincidence of secretly vacuumed telephone numbers and addresses to create
probable cause to get a FISA warrant to examine their content is ITSELF a
violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Barack H. Obama, has proved, time and time again, that he has just one real talent. This “king of shreds and patches” has but
only, sad to say, A TALENT TO DISAPPOINT!
Harvard Hollenberg is a writer and an appellate attorney in New York City.
© Copyright Harvard Hollenberg 2013. All rights reserved.