MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘civil rights’

Coronavirus Is Setting Dangerous Precedents For American’s Civil Rights | The National Interest

Posted by M. C. on April 6, 2020

It’s a universal truth that governmental power always expands during periods of perceived crisis.  It also is a universal truth that politicians and bureaucrats seize opportunities to expand their missions and power.  We must keep those dynamics in mind when evaluating government actions with respect to the coronavirus threat.

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/coronavirus-setting-dangerous-precedents-americans-civil-rights-140362

by Ted Galen Carpenter

Worries about the threat the coronavirus posed to public health are entirely understandable. The disease spreads easily and has a disturbingly high mortality rate among its victims (especially the elderly).  Nevertheless, some important and potentially dangerous policy precedents are being set without much consideration or reflection. That approach is unwise, since many of the measures being taken to combat the coronavirus epidemic entail major restrictions on liberties that Americans take for granted. A sober discussion of those precedents is needed, or they may come back to haunt our country.

The original reaction in the United States to the corona outbreak was surprisingly casual, but the prevailing attitude and the resulting policy responses in both the private and governmental sectors have changed dramatically over the past two weeks. A deluge of announcements cancelling or postponing major public events, including concerts, plays, the “March Madness” NCAA basketball tournament, and the Masters tournament, has now occurred. Even when there is no outright cancellations or indefinite postponements, barring the public from attending events, such as the scheduled primary debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders and upcoming NASCAR races, is increasingly the norm. Schools and businesses around the country are shutting their doors, likely for weeks, with employees and students expected to work or study from home. The economic and social impact of such dislocations is certain to be enormous.

Many of those decisions were by private organizations that concluded that having large numbers of people congregate posed an unacceptable risk of the corona pandemic becoming even more widespread.  However, other closings occurred because of government edicts—including some that seemed highly arbitrary.  Local authorities in Austin, Texas, for example, cancelled the annual South by Southwest music festival at the last minute, blindsiding the festival’s organizers.  Government orders banning “large gatherings” reflected great imprecision about what constituted “large.”  Depending on the jurisdiction, the threshold ranged from 250 to 1,000—and in one case, 2,500–with little or no explanation or justification from authorities for choosing a particular number. Worse, in most cases, event sponsors or other affected parties had no recourse to appeal the decision.  In some cases, they did not even have an opportunity for input regarding the restriction or ban.

The scope of governmental restraints is growing steadily as well.  In late February, President Trump barred entry of foreign travelers coming from China, and he gradually expanded that restriction to other countries, culminating in his March 11 announcement barring non-American travelers from most European nations for 30 days. Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on March 13 gave him extensive additional powers.

Even well-established political rights are now conditional and at potential risk.  On March 13, the Louisiana Secretary of State postponed the state’s April 4 presidential primary election. The Louisiana move is especially troubling.  There have been only a handful of postponed elections in the United States since the end of the Civil War.  A rare recent case was the primary election in New York, which was supposed to be held on September 11, 2001.  The 9-11 terrorist attacks were such a disruptive event that there was little choice but to reschedule the balloting.  But deciding to postpone an election scheduled for three weeks later because of professed fears about a public health issue is far more questionable. That decision illustrates the potential for diktats made in response to the coronavirus outbreak to set worrisome precedents and create opportunities for abuse in less dire situations.

Therein lies a serious concern and the need for a comprehensive public discussion about policies going forward.  It’s a universal truth that governmental power always expands during periods of perceived crisis.  It also is a universal truth that politicians and bureaucrats seize opportunities to expand their missions and power.  We must keep those dynamics in mind when evaluating government actions with respect to the coronavirus threat.

The pervasive assumption is that the coronavirus outbreak is a temporary menace that will be overcome in the next few weeks or months, the current restrictions will be lifted, and life in America will return to normal.  But what if that assumption is wrong?  What do we do if this lethal virus (or one like it) becomes a feature of the annual flu season?  Do we (indeed, can we) lock down the country under such repeated “crisis” conditions?  The economic disruption and damage alone would likely preclude such a response; it doesn’t seem possible to operate a modern economy in a bunkered society.  Taking draconian steps in reaction to a public health problem less severe than the current epidemic would be needlessly destructive to both the economy and to America’s system of liberty.

It’s not too soon for sober reflection and debate about such matters. Unfortunately, the current atmosphere increasingly exhibits the characteristics of a collective panic—and that is always a poor basis for intelligent policy decisions.  Americans must not passively accept government edicts and restrictions without raising pertinent questions, and when necessary, voicing objections.

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We Were Warned About the Deep State, but Refused to Listen by Larry C Johnson – Sic Semper Tyrannis

Posted by M. C. on January 2, 2020

What has happened to Donald Trump can happen to any of us. It is time to take this threat seriously and put the intel agencies back into a properly monitored corral. Otherwise, we will lose this Republic.

https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2019/12/we-were-warned-about-the-deep-state-but-refused-to-listen-by-larry-c-johnson.html

by Larry C Johnson

Larry Johnson-5x7

Many of the critical tools employed in the coup to paint Donald Trump as a tool of the Russians and to manufacture a pretext for removing him from office, were created more than twenty years ago. I am talking about the surveillance state that the American electorate has ignorantly accepted as necessary in order to keep us safe from terrorists. Despite previous warning from whistleblowers like Russ Tice, Bill Binney, Ed Loomis and Kird Wiebe, no action to rein in the surveillance monster was taken until Edward Snowden absconded with the documents exposing the vast amount spying that the U.S. Government is doing to its own citizens. But even those weak efforts to supposedly rein in the NSA proved to be nothing more than mere window dressing.

The spying got worse. Just ask Donald Trump and the members of his campaign that were targeted first by the CIA and NSA and then by the FBI. Fundamental civil rights were trampled.

The real irony in all of this is that Barack Obama, as President, took credit for helping revise the laws in order to prevent the spying exposed by Edward Snowden. But under the Obama Administration, spying on political opponents–both real and perceived–escalated. We know for a fact that journalists, such as James Rosen and Sheryl Atkinson, were targets and their communications and computers attacked by the U.S. Government.

We know, thanks to a memo released by Judge Rosemary Collyer, that “FBI consultants” were making illegal searches of NSA material using the names of Donald Trump, his family and members of his campaign staff.

Some of this NSA material came courtesy of the Brits and their collection on U.S. targets. Some of this material came from the NSA’s own collection and storage of all electronic communications and was obtained using a nifty NSA tool called XKEYSCORE. Listen to Ed Snowden’s description. Also, take time to appreciate the irony that CNN and other journalists were actually trying to report real news. Now they are full blown apologists for the abuse of the intelligence collection tools. 

Six years ago, former NSA Technical Director for Military and Geopolitical Issues, Bill Binney, and Russ Tice, a former NSA analyst, appeared on the PBS News Hour. Once again, they make very clear the enormous nature to the threat to our civil liberties.

Too bad Donald Trump did not listen to their warning.

Given the robust, wide ranging ability of the NSA to probe all communications by any person in the United States, it is remarkable that no real dirt on Donald Trump was ever uncovered. Had such information existed, it would be in the NSA’s storage vaults in Utah and crooked CIA analysts under Brennan’s direction would have found it and used it. But that did not happed. The best the intel folks could fabricate were the salacious claims attributed to reports ostensibly created by former British spy, Christopher Steele. Turns out that the titillating account that Trump hired hookers to perform coprophilia (could of been worse, coprophagia) was nothing more than idle bar talk.

What has happened to Donald Trump can happen to any of us. It is time to take this threat seriously and put the intel agencies back into a properly monitored corral. Otherwise, we will lose this Republic.

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FIB

 

 

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