Using Internet Media To Fight Domestic Surveillance

Jul 7th, 2008 | By | Category: General

Four-hour work week author and blogger Tim Ferris talked to Daniel Ellsberg about new FISA (Foreign Information and Surveillance Act) amendments that promise to let big telecommunications off the hook, retroactively, for giving the government access to spy on you without warrant, and to make this type of activity legal.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 is a U.S. federal law prescribing procedures for the physical and electronic surveillance and collection of “foreign intelligence information” between “foreign powers” and “agents of foreign powers”.

If you want to stand up against the FISA changes, it’s easy to do.

The interview is powerful, controversial and example of the power that individuals have through Internet media.

Some highlights of the interview:

Why does the vote this Tuesday, July 8th matter to normal people who have nothing to hide?

Ordinary citizens who want to live in a democracy — including those with nothing to hide — should be concerned about the ability of the government to use private, sensitive personal information to blackmail, manipulate, and intimidate their representatives, journalists and their sources, potential whistleblowers, and activists or dissenters of any sort.

Couldn’t it be argued that this type of surveillance ability has prevented another 9/11 from happening? Isn’t it possible that this type of legislation has saved American lives?

The administration has claimed that is has, but without presenting a single piece of evidence that this is so, even in closed hearings to Senators with clearances on the Intelligence Committee. The FISA court has granted warrants in virtually every request that’s been made of it that has any color of helping national security. The administration’s decision to bypass that court, illegally, leads to a strong suspicion that they are abusing domestic spying, as some of their predecessors did, in ways that even the secret FISA court would never approve.

Police officers have the legal right to stop you if you’re going 56 mph in a 55-mph zone, but this right isn’t often abused or applied to harass citizens. What makes you think the administration would abuse their surveillance powers if this amendment is approved?

The abuses of surveillance to which governments are drawn are those that keep them in office, used to intimidate and manipulate their rivals, and to avoid debate and dissent on their policies. These are exactly the abuses that the Church Committee discovered in 1975, which had been conducted on a wide-scale by the Johnson and Nixon administrations, and in some cases even earlier, which is what lead to FISA in the first place.

To remove judicial oversight, which this amendment would effectively do, is to invite the same kind of repressive abuse that lead to FISA in the first place

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