Whistleblowers Thomas Drake and Coleen Rowley spoke to Aaron Maté and the Real News about the horrifying consequences of the new bill that is about to extend the government's warrantless surveillance of American citizens.
As they point out:
The database is so large that if people now check a name, and they don't need probable cause to check any American's name in there, and they come up with something, they can build a criminal case based on whatever information is already collected in that database. That would just affect ordinary Americans.
What it's doing is simply extending the Executive Branch's ability to do warrant-free monitoring of a significant portion of domestic communications involving Americans. It also permits what-about searches against the database and it provides a "loophole," what Senator Ron Wyden has referred to as the backdoors mechanism, and all under the guise of "conducting foreign intelligence for national security purposes."
Not only does it monitor, which is otherwise known as surveilling Americans as part of this program, if Jeff Sessions declares that it's for National Security purposes, it is unreviewable by the courts. In essence, the Executive Branch is now taking onto itself the review process, which is a violation of the separation of powers in terms of the three branches of the government. Of course, Congress is just going along with this.
This is simply a continuation of what has been in place now since shortly after 9/11 under "legal means."
A first serious impact here is that Whistleblowers will be fiercely prosecuted automatically with absolutely zero chance to fight-back in courts, even if they expose big crimes of any US administration against US citizens or foreign countries. Which is actually the key target of this totalitarian bill on the pretext of 'terrorism'.
But we have to look back at some stories related with the first days of the Internet to understand that the US deep state will become more powerful and authoritarian than ever.
One of the leading exponents of the idea that cyberspace could be a place where we would be liberated from the old, corrupt hierarchies of politics and power and explore new ways of being, was John Perry Barlow. Barlow wrote a manifesto that he called A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. It was addressed to all politicians, telling them to keep out of this new world. It was going to be incredibly influential, because what Barlow did was give a powerful picture of the internet not as a network controlled by giant corporations, but, instead, as a kind of magical, free place. An alternative to the old systems of power. It was a vision that would come to dominate the internet over the next 20 years.
But two young hackers in New York thought that Barlow was describing a fantasy world, that his vision bore no relationship at all to what was really emerging online. They were cult figures on the early online scene and their fans followed and recorded them. They called themselves Phiber Optik and Acid Phreak and they spent their time exploring and breaking in to giant computer networks that they knew were the hard realities of modern digital power.
In a notorious public debate online, the two hackers attacked Barlow. What infuriated them most, was Barlow's insistence that there was no hierarchy, or, controlling powers in the new cyber world. The hackers set out to demonstrate that he was wrong.
Acid Phreak hacked into the computers of a giant corporation called TRW. TRW had originally built the systems that ran the Cold War for the US military. They had helped create the delicate balance of terror.
Now, TRW had adapted their computers to run a new system, that of credit and debt. Their computers gathered up the credit data of millions of Americans and were being used by the banks to decide individuals’ credit ratings. The hackers broke into the TRW network, stole Barlow’s credit history and published it online. The hackers were demonstrating the growing power of finance. How the companies that ran the new systems of credit knew more and more about you, and, increasingly, used that information to control your destiny.
Today, the US deep state becomes more powerful than ever. It will be able to do what corporations and hackers did, combined, almost twenty years ago.
But it's even worse: its mechanisms will be able to collect any kind of data, any time, without being prosecuted by any court. If you still believe that Democracy is not dead in the US empire then you are suffering heavily from some kind of illusion ...