Who could have predicted that so many years after Orwell typed the final words to his dystopian novel, “He loved Big Brother,” we would come to love Big Brother?
“To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone— to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink — greetings!”—George Orwell
1984 portrays a global society of total control in which people are not allowed to have thoughts that in any way disagree with the corporate state. There is no personal freedom, and advanced technology has become the driving force behind a surveillance-driven society. Snitches and cameras are everywhere. People are subject to the Thought Police, who deal with anyone guilty of thought crimes. The government, or “Party,” is headed by Big Brother who appears on posters everywhere with the words: “Big Brother is watching you.”
We have arrived, way ahead of schedule, into the dystopian future dreamed up by not only Orwell but also such fiction writers as Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood, and Philip K. Dick.
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”―George Orwell
Much like Orwell’s Big Brother in 1984, the government and its corporate spies now watch our every move. Much like Huxley’s A Brave New World, we are churning out a society of watchers who “have their liberties taken away from them, but … rather enjoy it, because they [are] distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing.” Much like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the populace is now taught to “know their place and their duties, to understand that they have no real rights but will be protected up to a point if they conform, and to think so poorly of themselves that they will accept their assigned fate and not rebel or run away.”
And in keeping with Philip K. Dick’s darkly prophetic vision of a dystopian police state—which became the basis for Steven Spielberg’s futuristic thriller Minority Report—we are now trapped in a world in which the government is all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-powerful, and if you dare to step out of line, dark-clad police SWAT teams and pre-crime units will crack a few skulls to bring the populace under control.
What once seemed futuristic no longer occupies the realm of science fiction.
Incredibly, as the various nascent technologies employed and shared by the government and corporations alike—facial recognition, iris scanners, massive databases, behavior prediction software, and so on—are incorporated into a complex, interwoven cyber network aimed at tracking our movements, predicting our thoughts and controlling our behavior, the dystopian visions of past writers is fast becoming our reality.
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”―George Orwell
The courts have shredded the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. In fact, SWAT teams battering down doors without search warrants and FBI agents acting as secret police that investigates dissenting citizens are common occurrences in contemporary America. And bodily privacy and integrity have been utterly eviscerated by a prevailing view that Americans have no rights over what happens to their bodies during an encounter with government officials, who are allowed to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.
“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”―George Orwell, Animal Farm
We are increasingly ruled by multi-corporations wedded to the police state.
What many fail to realize is that the government is not operating alone. It cannot. The government requires an accomplice. Thus, the increasingly complex security needs of the massive federal government, especially in the areas of defense, surveillance and data management, have been met within the corporate sector, which has shown itself to be a powerful ally that both depends on and feeds the growth of governmental overreach.
In fact, Big Tech wedded to Big Government has become Big Brother, and we are now ruled by the Corporate Elite whose tentacles have spread worldwide. The government now has at its disposal technological arsenals so sophisticated and invasive as to render any constitutional protections null and void. Spearheaded by the NSA, which has shown itself to care little to nothing for constitutional limits or privacy, the “security/industrial complex”—a marriage of government, military, and corporate interests aimed at keeping Americans under constant surveillance—has come to dominate the government and our lives.
Money, power, control. There is no shortage of motives fueling the convergence of mega-corporations and government. But who is paying the price? The American people, of course.
Orwell understood what many Americans are still struggling to come to terms with: that there is no such thing as a government organized for the good of the people. Even the best intentions among those in government inevitably give way to the desire to maintain power and control over the citizenry at all costs.
“The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.” ― George Orwell
Even our ability to speak and think freely is being regulated.
In totalitarian regimes—a.k.a. police states—where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used. In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind.
Dystopian literature shows what happens when the populace is transformed into mindless automatons.
In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, reading is banned and books are burned in order to suppress dissenting ideas, while televised entertainment is used to anesthetize the populace and render them easily pacified, distracted, and controlled.
In Huxley’s Brave New World, serious literature, scientific thinking, and experimentation are banned as subversive, while critical thinking is discouraged through the use of conditioning, social taboos, and inferior education. Likewise, expressions of individuality, independence, and morality are viewed as vulgar and abnormal.
In my debut novel The Erik Blair Diaries, the dystopian future that George Orwell predicted for 1984 has finally arrived, 100 years late and ten times as brutal. In this post-apocalyptic world where everyone marches to the beat of the same drummer and words like “freedom” are taboo, Erik Blair—Orwell’s descendant and unwitting heir to his legacy—isn’t volunteering to be anyone’s hero. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always go according to plan. To save all that he loves, Orwell will have to travel between his future self and the past.
And in Orwell’s 1984, Big Brother does away with all undesirable and unnecessary words and meanings, even going so far as to routinely rewrite history and punish “thoughtcrimes.” Orwell’s Big Brother relies on Newspeak to eliminate undesirable words, strip such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and make independent, non-government-approved thought is altogether unnecessary.
Where we stand now is at the juncture of OldSpeak (where words have meanings, and ideas can be dangerous) and Newspeak (where only that which is “safe” and “accepted” by the majority is permitted). The power elite has made their intentions clear: they will pursue and prosecute any and all words, thoughts, and expressions that challenge their authority.
This is the final link in the police state chain.
“Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”—George Orwell
Having been reduced to a cowering citizenry—mute in the face of elected officials who refuse to represent us, helpless in the face of police brutality, powerless in the face of militarized tactics and technology that treat us as enemy combatants on a battlefield, and naked in the face of government surveillance that sees and hears all—we have nowhere left to go.
We have, so to speak, gone from being a nation where privacy is king to one where nothing is safe from the prying eyes of the government.
“Big Brother is Watching You.”―George Orwell
Wherever you go and whatever you do, you are now being watched, especially if you leave behind an electronic footprint. When you use your cell phone, you leave a record of when the call was placed, who you called, how long it lasted, and even where you were at the time. When you use your ATM card, you leave a record of where and when you used the card. There is even a video camera at most locations equipped with facial recognition software. When you use a cell phone or drive a car enabled with GPS, you can be tracked by satellite. Such information is shared with government agents, including local police. And all of this once-private information about your consumer habits, your whereabouts, and your activities is now being fed to the government.
The government has nearly inexhaustible resources when it comes to tracking our movements, from electronic wiretapping devices, traffic cameras, and biometrics to radio-frequency identification cards, satellites, and Internet surveillance.
In such a climate, everyone is a suspect. And you’re guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. To underscore this shift in how the government now views its citizens, the FBI uses its wide-ranging authority to investigate individuals or groups, regardless of whether they are suspected of criminal activity.
“Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.” ― George Orwell
Here’s what a lot of people fail to understand, however: it’s not just what you say or do that is being monitored, but how you think that is being tracked and targeted. We’ve already seen this play out on the state and federal level with hate crime legislation that cracks down on so-called “hateful” thoughts and expression, encourages self-censoring and reduces free debate on the various subject matter.
Total Internet surveillance by the Corporate State, as omnipresent as God, is used by the government to predict and, more importantly, control the populace, and it’s not as far-fetched as you might think. For example, the NSA has been working on an artificial intelligence system designed to anticipate your every move. Aquaint (the acronym stands for Advanced Question Answering for INTelligence) has been designed to detect patterns and predict behavior.
No information is sacred or spared.
Everything from cell phone recordings and logs, to emails, to text messages, to personal information posted on social networking sites, to credit card statements, to library circulation records, to credit card histories, etc., is collected by the NSA and shared freely with its agents in crime: the CIA, FBI, and DHS.
What we are witnessing, in the so-called name of security and efficiency, is the creation of a new class system comprised of the watched (average Americans such as you and me) and the watchers (government bureaucrats, technicians, and private corporations).
Clearly, the age of privacy in America is at an end.
So where does that leave us?
We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed, and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers. This is the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction lesson that is being pounded into us on a daily basis.
It won’t be long before we find ourselves looking back on the past with longing, back to an age where we could speak to whom we wanted, but what we wanted, think what we wanted without those thoughts, words, and activities being tracked, processed and stored by corporate giants such as Google, sold to government agencies such as the NSA and CIA, and used against us by militarized police with their army of futuristic technologies.
To be an individual today, to not conform, to have even a shred of privacy, and to live beyond the reach of the government’s roaming eyes and technological spies, one must not only be a rebel but rebel.
Even when you rebel and take your stand, there is rarely a happy ending awaiting you. You are rendered an outlaw. Just look at what happened to Julian Assange.
So how do you survive in the American surveillance state?
We’re running out of options.
Whether you’re dealing with fact or fiction, as I make clear in Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in my new novel The Erik Blair Diaries, we’ll soon have to choose between self-indulgence (the bread-and-circus distractions offered up by the news media, politicians, sports conglomerates, entertainment industry, etc.) and self-preservation in the form of renewed vigilance about threats to our freedoms and active engagement in self-governance.
Talk about taking one step forward and two steps back.
Precrime, straight out of the realm of dystopian science fiction movies such as Minority Report, aims to prevent crimes before they happen by combining widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining, precognitive technology, and neighborhood and family snitch programs to enable police to capture would-be criminals before they can do any damage.
This particular precrime division will fall under the Department of Homeland Security, the agency notorious for militarizing the police and SWAT teams; spying on activists, dissidents, and veterans; stockpiling ammunition; distributing license plate readers; contracting to build detention camps; tracking cell phones with Stingray devices; carrying out military drills and lockdowns in American cities; using the TSA as an advance guard; conducting virtual strip searches with full-body scanners; carrying out soft target checkpoints; directing government workers to spy on Americans; conducting widespread spying networks using fusion centers; carrying out Constitution-free border control searches; funding city-wide surveillance cameras; and utilizing drones and other spybots.
The intent, of course, is for the government to be all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-powerful in its preemptive efforts to combat domestic extremism.
Where we run into trouble is when the government gets overzealous and over-ambitious and overreaches.
This is how you turn a nation of citizens into snitches and suspects.
In the blink of an eye, ordinary Americans will find themselves labeled domestic extremists for engaging in lawful behavior that triggers the government’s precrime sensors.
Of course, it’s an elaborate setup: we’ll all be targets.
In such a suspect society, the burden of proof is reversed so that guilt is assumed and innocence must be proven.
It’s the American police state’s take on the dystopian terrors foreshadowed by George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and Phillip K. Dick all rolled up into one oppressive pre-crime and pre-thought crime package.
What’s more, the technocrats who run the surveillance state don’t even have to break a sweat while monitoring what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, how much you spend, whom you support, and with whom you communicate.
Computers now do the tedious work of trolling social media, the internet, text messages, and phone calls for potentially anti-government remarks, all of which are carefully recorded, documented, and stored to be used against you someday at a time and place of the government’s choosing.
In this way, with the help of automated eyes and ears, a growing arsenal of high-tech software, hardware, and techniques, government propaganda urging Americans to turn into spies and snitches, as well as social media and behavior sensing software, government agents are spinning a sticky spider-web of threat assessments, behavioral sensing warnings, flagged “words,” and “suspicious” activity reports aimed at snaring potential enemies of the state.
It works the same in any regime.
As Professor Robert Gellately notes in his book Backing Hitler about the police state tactics used in Nazi Germany: “There were relatively few secret police, and most were just processing the information coming in. I had found a shocking fact. It wasn’t the secret police who were doing this wide-scale surveillance and hiding on every street corner. It was the ordinary German people who were informing on their neighbors.”
Here’s the thing as the Germans themselves quickly discovered: you won’t have to do anything illegal or challenge the government’s authority in order to be flagged as a suspicious character, labeled an enemy of the state, and locked up like a dangerous criminal.
In fact, all you will need to do is use certain trigger words, surf the internet, communicate using a cell phone, drive a car, stay at a hotel, purchase materials at a hardware store, take flying or boating lessons, appear suspicious to a neighbor, question government authority, or generally live in the United States.
The following activities are guaranteed to get you censored, surveilled, eventually placed on a government watch list, possibly detained, and potentially killed.
Use a cell phone: Simply by using a cell phone, you make yourself an easy target for government agents—working closely with corporations—who can listen in on your phone calls, read your text messages and emails, and track your movements based on the data transferred from, received by, and stored in your cell phone. Mention any of the so-called “trigger” words in a conversation or text message, and you’ll get flagged for sure.
Drive a car: Unless you’ve got an old junkyard heap without any of the gadgets and gizmos that are so attractive to today’s car buyers (GPS, satellite radio, electrical everything, smart systems, etc.), driving a car today is like wearing a homing device: you’ll be tracked from the moment you open that car door thanks to black box recorders and vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems that can monitor your speed, direction, location, the number of miles traveled, and even your seatbelt use. Once you add satellites, GPS devices, license plate readers, and real-time traffic cameras to the mix, there’s nowhere you can go on our nation’s highways and byways that you can’t be followed. By the time you add self-driving cars into the futuristic mix, equipped with computers that know where you want to go before you do, privacy and autonomy will be little more than distant mirages in your rearview mirror.
Attend a political rally: Enacted in the wake of 9/11, the Patriot Act redefined terrorism so broadly that many non-terrorist political activities such as protest marches, demonstrations, and civil disobedience were considered potential terrorist acts, thereby rendering anyone desiring to engage in protected First Amendment expressive activities as suspects of the surveillance state.
Serve in the military: Operation Vigilant Eagle, the brainchild of the Dept. of Homeland Security, calls for surveillance of military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, characterizing them as extremists and potential domestic terrorist threats because they may be “disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war.” Police agencies are also using Beware, an “early warning” computer system that tips them off to a potential suspect’s inclination to be a troublemaker and assigns individuals a color-coded threat score—green, yellow or red—based on a variety of factors including one’s criminal records, military background, medical history, and social media surveillance.
Disagree with a law enforcement official: A growing number of government programs are aimed at identifying, monitoring, and locking up anyone considered potentially “dangerous” or mentally ill (according to government standards, of course). For instance, a homeless man in New York City who reportedly had a history of violence but no signs of mental illness was forcibly detained in a psych ward for a week after arguing with shelter police. Despite the fact that doctors cited no medical reason to commit him, the man was locked up in accordance with a $22 million program that monitors mentally ill people considered “potentially” violent. According to the Associated Press, “A judge finally ordered his release, ruling that the man’s commitment violated his civil rights and that bureaucrats had meddled in his medical treatment.”
Limp or stutter: As a result of a nationwide push to certify a broad spectrum of government officials in mental health first-aid training (a 12-hour course comprised of PowerPoint presentations, videos, discussions, role-playing, and other interactive activities), more Americans are going to run the risk of being reported for having mental health issues by non-medical personnel. Mind you, once you get on such a government watch list—whether it’s a terrorist watch list, a mental health watch list, or a dissident watch list—there’s no clear-cut way to get off, whether or not you should actually be on there. For instance, one 37-year-old disabled man was arrested, diagnosed by police and an unlicensed mental health screener as having “mental health issues,” apparently because of his slurred speech and unsteady gait, and subsequently locked up for five days in a mental health facility against his will and with no access to family and friends. A subsequent hearing found that Gordon Goines, who suffers from a neurological condition similar to multiple sclerosis, has no mental illness and should not have been confined.
Appear confused or nervous, fidget, whistle, or smell bad: According to the Transportation Security Administration’s 92-point secret behavior watch list for spotting terrorists, these are among some of the telling signs of suspicious behavior: fidgeting, whistling, bad body odor, yawning, clearing your throat, having a pale face from recently shaving your beard, covering your mouth with your hand when speaking and blinking your eyes fast. You can also be pulled aside for interrogation if you “have ‘unusual items,’ like almanacs and ‘numerous prepaid calling cards or cell phones.’” One critic of the program accurately referred to the program as a “license to harass.”
Allow yourself to be seen in public waving a toy gun or anything remotely resembling a gun, such as a water nozzle or remote control or a walking cane, for instance: No longer is it unusual to hear about incidents in which police shoot unarmed individuals first and ask questions later. John Crawford was shot by police in an Ohio Wal-Mart for holding an air rifle sold in the store that he may have intended to buy. Thirteen-year-old Andy Lopez Cruz was shot 7 times in 10 seconds by a California police officer who mistook the boy’s toy gun for an assault rifle. Christopher Roupe, 17, was shot and killed after opening the door to a police officer. The officer, mistaking the Wii remote control in Roupe’s hand for a gun, shot him in the chest. Another police officer repeatedly shot 70-year-old Bobby Canipe during a traffic stop. The cop saw the man reaching for his cane and, believing the cane to be a rifle, opened fire.
Stare at a police officer: Miami-Dade police slammed the 14-year-old Tremaine McMillian to the ground, putting him in a chokehold and handcuffing him after he allegedly gave them “dehumanizing stares” and walked away from them, which the officers found unacceptable.
Appear to be pro-gun, pro-freedom, or anti-government: You might be a domestic terrorist in the eyes of the FBI (and its network of snitches) if you: express libertarian philosophies (statements, bumper stickers); exhibit Second Amendment-oriented views (NRA or gun club membership); read survivalist literature, including apocalyptic fictional books; show signs of self-sufficiency (stockpiling food, ammo, hand tools, medical supplies); fear an economic collapse; buy gold and barter items; subscribe to religious views concerning the book of Revelation; voice fears about Big Brother or big government; expound about constitutional rights and civil liberties, or believe in a New World Order conspiracy. This is all part of a larger trend in American governance whereby dissent is criminalized and pathologized, and dissenters are censored, silenced, or declared unfit for society.
Attend a public school: Microcosms of the police state, America’s public schools contain almost every aspect of the militarized, intolerant, senseless, over criminalized, legalistic, surveillance-riddled, totalitarian landscape that plagues those of us on the “outside.” From the moment a child enters one of the nation’s 98,000 public schools to the moment she graduates, she will be exposed to a steady diet of draconian zero-tolerance policies that criminalize childish behavior, overreaching anti-bullying statutes that criminalize speech, school resource officers (police) tasked with disciplining and/or arresting so-called “disorderly” students, standardized testing that emphasizes rote answers over critical thinking, politically correct mindsets that teach young people to censor themselves and those around them, and extensive biometric and surveillance systems that, coupled with the rest, acclimate young people to a world in which they have no freedom of thought, speech or movement. Additionally, as part of the government’s so-called ongoing war on terror, the FBI—the nation’s de facto secret police force—has been recruiting students and teachers to spy on each other and report anyone who appears to have the potential to be “anti-government” or “extremist” as part of its “Don’t Be a Puppet” campaign.
Speak truth to power: Long before Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden were being castigated for blowing the whistle on the government’s war crimes and the National Security Agency’s abuse of its surveillance powers, it was activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon who were being singled out for daring to speak truth to power. These men and others like them had their phone calls monitored and data files collected on their activities and associations. For a little while, at least, they became enemy number one in the eyes of the U.S. government.
There are 10 steps that every tyrannical government has followed. We are now at step 10. Once the 10th step locks into place, there will be no going back
The 10 steps toward tyranny start with the invocation of a terrifying internal and/or external threat. From 2001 onward, that threat was terrorism, which was used as the justification for stripping us of our liberties
With the declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic, we entered step 10, where emergency powers and laws are used to strip remaining freedoms from the people, censorship is enacted and certain kinds of speech is criminalized
We must get involved and fight to enact state legislation that protects against continued erosion of freedom and reestablishes rights and liberties
The Daily Clout platform was created for this purpose. It allows citizens to lobby already drafted, turnkey bills to their legislators
Naomi Wolf, a former adviser to the Clinton administration, is a prolific author and Yale University graduate. She also received a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship that allowed her to complete her Ph.D. in English and literature at Oxford University in 2015. Eight years before that, she wrote a book called “The End of America,” which is the topic of this interview.
Already in 2007, Wolf warned us of where we were headed. In her book, she points out that would-be tyrants are found on both sides of the political spectrum. We must not get locked into generalizations about political affiliations, because they simply do not give us a truthful picture of who the enemy is.
While Wolf and I could be said to be on opposite sides of the political spectrum, Wolf being a long-time progressive while many would view me as a conservative, our views are in perfect alignment when it comes to the issues of protecting American freedom and liberty.
In “The End of America,” Wolf lays out the 10 steps toward tyranny. These steps have been followed by virtually all would-be tyrants, be they on the political left or right. They were followed in Italy in the ’20s, Germany in the ’30s, East Germany in the ’50s, Chile in the ’70s, and China in the ’80s.
“They all took the same 10 steps, and they always work,” Wolf says. “I warned people that when you start to see these 10 steps, you have to take action, because there is no way to recover once things go too far without a bloody revolution or a civil war.
We are [now] at Step 10. People have said, since I wrote that book in 2007, ‘Tell us when we’re at Step 10.’ I’ve always said, ‘Things are bad, they’re getting worse, but there’s still hope.’ We’re literally at Step 10 now. I’ve been trying to warn people, tirelessly, as much as I can, that we are at Step 10 and that once Step 10 locks in, there is no going back.”
We’re in the Final Step of the Implementation of Tyranny
The 10 steps toward tyranny start with the invocation of a terrifying internal and/or external threat. It may be a real threat or an imagined one, but in all cases, it’s a hyped-up threat. From 2001 onward, that threat was terrorism, which was used as the justification for stripping us of our liberties. Ultimately, that wasn’t effective enough.
“There was still freedom in the world. People were not saying, ‘ISIS exists; therefore, I’m going to give up my First Amendment liberties, my Fourth Amendment liberties, my Second Amendment liberties and so on.’ Sadly, this medical crisis — which is now not a pandemic in many states and countries, it’s an endemic; it doesn’t meet the formal definition of a pandemic — was the perfect excuse for leaders to usher in Step 10,” Wolf says.
The last and final step in the implementation of tyranny, Step 10, involves the creation of a surveillance state where citizens are spied upon, and critique of the government is reclassified as dissent and subversive activity.
The surveillance state is now being rolled out in the form of vaccine passports, while certain kinds of speech are said to be dangerous and freedom of speech is being criminalized. Needless to say, the mainstream press is an important part of this scheme.
“The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have essentially bought up the western press and coerce them, bribe them, into following the party line, brought up by the CDC and so on,” Wolf says.
“Toward the end of the steps, which is Step 10, is emergency law, [which is a] subversion of the rule of law, also called martial law. We’re here. I’m [in] New York State. We’re under emergency law.
Every 30 days, I get an email saying that tyrannical Governor Cuomo has extended emergency powers, even though in Columbia County where I live, there are only eight deaths a month with COVID, average age 85, which is older than the average American life span.
It’s not a pandemic where I live, but I’m living under emergency law, which means the legislature has no power. The governor can do whatever he wants. It’s the same in Massachusetts, same in California — 49 states, all states except Alaska, are technically under emergency law.
This is terrifying. You get what you’re seeing, which is governors deciding, or the federal government deciding, that you can’t assemble, you can’t worship, you have no medical choice, the coercion of vaccine passports, your child can’t go to school, your young adult can’t get a college education if they don’t agree to an experimental vaccination.
You get suspension of the right to property. You can’t run your business — 110,000 restaurants have closed. You get a suspension of freedoms of speech. People are being deplatformed left and right and there are movements in Congress to criminalize what had been First Amendment protected speech.
You get the invocation of martial powers and there’s no end to it. Literally, with Massachusetts emergency law, I have no rights. I have no ability to lobby the governor. With New York’s emergency law, I have no representative with the power to end emergency measures. The governor has to end emergency measures, [and] he’s the one who benefits from them. It’s catastrophic.
We’re seeing a complete takeover of American rights, freedoms and bodies by Big Tech, which is up double digits to triple-digit billions since the pandemic began.
China has moved in to … establish its role as the global superpower under the guise of this pandemic, buying up community groups, elected officials and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which are flooding K through 12 education … community groups [and] universities with money to engage in COVID education — which means a strict party line [narrative] that is aimed at destroying what’s human about us and what’s free. That’s it in a nutshell. It’s unbelievably terrifying.”
What the COVID-19 Passports Are Really About
Wolf was recently interviewed by Fox News’ Steve Hilton (above), in which she warned that mandatory COVID-19 passports will spell the “end of human liberty in the West”:2,3 In essence, they’re a precursor to the social credit system that has already been implemented in China.
The vaccine passes have already been rolled out in New York, where Wolf lives. Surveillance is nothing new, of course. We’ve been digitally surveilled for years, through social media platforms, Google, and all manner of “smart” technology.
Since the early 2000s, Google and Facebook in particular have been data mining online users. These data, then, have been applied to deep learning computers, giving them unprecedented ability to predict the type of messaging triggers that will create the maximum amount of fear — and thus compliance.
There’s also every reason to assume that this information has also been shared with people like Bill Gates, who largely controls the World Health Organization. If it wasn’t for the WHO, we would not be in this situation, because it was the central organization with the authority to declare a global pandemic and keep it in place long past its natural expiration date.
They actually changed the definition of “pandemic,” removing the requirement of mass casualties, and if it wasn’t for that, COVID-19 simply would not qualify as a pandemic.
The Pandemic Is Hypothetical at Best
Wolf points out that COVID-19 dashboards, such as Johns Hopkins’ COVID-19 tracking project that mainstream media keep citing, cannot tell us anything about who’s actually getting infected, or who’s dying. We don’t even know if they are showing real or made-up data.
Wolf, being the CEO of a tech company, builds digital dashboards based on government data, so she knows what she’s talking about. You have to have the raw datasets. Since none of the dashboards provide the raw data, nothing can be verified. “Basically, they can dial up cases, which are positive PCR tests, or dial them down,” she says. So, the entire pandemic narrative is unverified.
We do know, however, that the CDC has shifted influenza and pneumonia deaths to COVID-19 deaths, and tens of thousands of Americans die from these conditions every year. When lawmakers in Minnesota audited death records, for example, they found a 40% over-attribution of deaths to COVID-19.
Then there’s the PCR test scandal. Not only have laboratories everywhere been using excessively high amplification cycles resulting in staggeringly high false-positive rates, but they also do not account for duplicate tests. If you get a positive test and test once a week until you test negative, each positive test result you obtain is counted as a separate “case.”
“We literally can’t know if there’s been a pandemic, there’s so much faulty attribution, inflation of numbers, and so on,” Wolf says. “Those numbers, I can’t stress enough, have never been audited …
We have to do a freedom of information request in Britain to take a look at the raw data sets that are being fed into the Office for National Statistics, COVID dashboard. We looked at where the data were flowing from for the Johns Hopkins dashboard, which again, was used by every major university, every major news outlet. One of the data providers was a hedge fund! …
I know something else about APIs. It is virtually impossible to, in real time, get hundreds of thousands of reports from hundreds of thousands of doctors, hospitals, CVS and Rite Aid, feeding into a live digital dashboard. I keep asking the developers to show me, ‘How did you do this? It’s virtually impossible.’ There’s no answer, there’s crickets.
Literally, we don’t know if the dashboards are just dialing up and dialing down infection rates. Everyone’s taking for granted that these must be real numbers, but there’s no evidence that they are real numbers. I’m willing to stand corrected if there’s a FOIA and we see the raw data sets. But right now, it is a hypothetical pandemic.”
Collusion by Tech Companies
Tech companies have also engaged in what Wolf likens to criminal collusion. She explains:
“In March of last year, for the COVID-19 response project, Zoom, NASDAQ, Nintendo, Microsoft, Amazon — all the people who benefited from the lockdown — coordinated so that wherever you go on the internet, across platform to platform, you see these alerts about COVID-19, warnings about COVID, instructions about COVID, and of course, censorship … if you run afoul of the narrative about COVID.
I run a tech company. The question, when you run a tech company, is how do you get people to not do things in the real world, and do things on your platform? That’s the business model.
If people are gathering in churches, gathering in real school rooms, if they’re going for walks together, go on picnics, having dinner parties, going to clubs, that’s an opportunity lost to Microsoft and Google and so on. But if they can drive you indoors, terrify you from being around other people, or make it unlawful to be around other people through these emergency powers that restrict assembly [then they can profit] …
Digital learning curriculum were turnkey, ready to go. Suddenly, it was like, ‘Oh, kids have to be at home and do distance learning.’ That’s a $300 million industry for just one company that creates digital curriculums. They’re not going to let go of that.
I think we are in a small loop of six tech companies [and] the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, having bought legislators in China, who’s up 32% while the economies of the West have crashed, and that’s the fight that we have to fight.”
The Legalization of Tyranny
Few people realize that dictators such as Mussolini and Hitler came to power in legal working democracies. They became subverted and rules of law were rewritten in such a way as to allow these leaders to legally take over. That’s one of the primary dangers we now face in the U.S. because at the end of step 10, the leader obtains the legal authority to become a tyrant.
“This is especially true of the National Socialists,” Wolf says. “They kept passing a set of laws called the Enabling Acts that are very much like the laws that are being passed now. They criminalized certain speech, created a surveillance apparatus for citizens … and they did this lawfully. They were elected, and they passed restrictive law after restrictive law.
Then, once democracy was fragile enough, it really only took six months for thugs to beat up opposition leaders, union leaders, the outspoken and clergy. After that, everyone was too scared to speak. We’re seeing the same thing happen now, but faster.
It’s very scary that China has created a white paper — the World Economic Forum has it on its website — that maps how biofascism, as I call it — vaccinations, the managing of people’s bodies, biometrics and health — is being launched as a way to control civic engagement, governance, private life, assembly and every other aspect of human life, to bring about super-fast totalitarianism.
That’s why focusing on legislation is something I’ve been doing with my company DailyClout, very seriously, because if we don’t pass laws immediately to make unlawful some of the things we’re seeing, there will be no more hope for us.”
Using the Legal System to Save the Law
One strategy of totalitarianism that must be fought through legislation is the requirement of vaccine passports.
“Once these are launched … people like you and I, Dr. Mercola, will be switched off of society. ‘Oops, my vaccine passport is positive. I guess I can’t go food shopping for my family.’ ‘I said something critical of biofascism on Dr. Mercola’s show, so now my child can’t get into school.’ Just as in Israel, people who are critics are being surveilled [and] marginalized from society.
It has turned into a two-tier society. If you choose not to get vaccinated, then you’re really in a marginalized minority in an apartheid state. The more we know about these vaccines, the scarier it is to have coercion that is social. It’s also illegal. In America, we have the Americans with Disabilities Act. It means it’s illegal to even ask me anything about my medical status.
You can’t ask me if I’m pregnant. You can’t ask me if I’m disabled. You can’t ask me if I have diabetes or HIV. You cannot ask me anything. By definition, these intrusive measures are unlawful. We have to use the law to save the law, basically. In Michigan, there’s an edict from the governor that 2- to 4-year-old children have to be masked. This is child abuse. Science doesn’t support it.
Unlawful, tyrannical laws are being passed across the country under the guise of emergency measures, and stupid people going along with it, like in Congress, I’m embarrassed to say, because I voted for Biden. We have to fight before we are living in fascist regime where every move is tracked and we’re marginalized from society.”
The Courts Are Our Last Hope, And They’re Now Under Attack
One area in which “The End of America” excels in helping you understand is that the United States was founded by people who had repressive societies. Their goal was to prevent such a repressive society from emerging again. The founders had to personally reckon with criminalized speech, arbitrary arrest, state-sanctioned torture, and even murder.
So, at a great personal sacrifice, they signed the Constitution. Had they lost the Revolutionary War, they would all have been executed, so the stakes could not have been higher. As a result, our founding fathers constructed a carefully balanced system to make sure no tyrant could ever come to power.
We’re now facing a scenario that could obliterate that delicate balance, namely the Biden administration’s call to “pack the court,” i.e., add, in this case, four, additional Justices to the Supreme Court.
We’re now facing a shift in our legal structure that will allow for the legalization of tyrannical reign and “legally” override the carefully constructed governmental balance between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches that has previously served to prevent tyranny in the U.S.
This three-tier branch, constructed to safeguard our freedoms, is under direct attack, and this is NOT a partisan issue. Not by a longshot, and everyone needs to wake up to this fact. It’s an issue of freedom versus tyranny.
“Absolutely,” Wolf says. “Sadly, this is clear. That’s why I’m saying progressives have to wake up … I worry very much about the role of China in this, because I think we’ve seen that some people connected to the Democratic Party have close ties with members of the Chinese Communist Party. That is just established fact.
I’m not saying that the tyrants are on the left. In Britain, it’s Tories cracking down on liberty, holding the country under house arrest. In Australia it’s conservatives, in Canada it’s Trudeau, a liberal. This isn’t partisan. But in America, we do have to face the fact that this administration is drunk on power and has some bad actors aligned with it, including Silicon Valley.
They are crushing conservative voices, kicking them off of public platforms in addition to voices critical of the COVID narrative.
They’re also moving at warp speed to use their own phrasing about something else to lock in power in a way that is against everything our founders set in place — the most beautiful, delicate system of checks and balances any human beings have ever created; an ideal of people all over the world who want freedom and balanced accountable government.
Yeah, packing the Supreme Court is a horrific tampering with some of the last checks and balances that we have … I can’t believe I keep saying thank God for the conservatives on the bench. But these days, I have to say it, and I’m ashamed. But thank God, because they were the ones who in California said ‘No, you cannot keep people from assembling to worship. That is a violation of the Constitution.’
They’re our last hope. The courts are our last hope. It is catastrophic, and I see other scary movements against accountable democracy that are being put forward by this administration.
Among them, President Biden is not saying to the blue states: ‘You have to give up your emergency powers. You have to open up. You can’t control people in their homes, you can’t force people to have vaccinations and you can’t keep people from assembling and worshipping.’
These are all violations of their constitutional liberties. He’s not saying that. That’s a complete failure of leadership, if not worse. My people have to rise up and face it. Conservatives have to face cleaning up their own houses … What’s at stake is everything, and we all have to unite across party lines and save our Constitution and make these people accountable, whatever their party [affiliation].”
Urgent Call to Action
The good news is, the would-be tyrants have not won yet. That said, we have no time to spare. We have no time to remain idle, hoping it will all just go back to normal on its own. The answer is peaceful mass civil disobedience.
“There’s hope in mass peaceful civil disobedience … when things are really dire,” Wolf says. “My favorite story is about the singing revolution of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, in which they were under the grip of the Soviet Union, a massive tyrannical monolith. They all decided to just peacefully gather on a highway that extended the length of their three countries and sing.
They kept peacefully disrupting business as usual in their cities, making it impossible for work to continue, for traffic to go on. They sat down, they linked arms and they sang. Over time, they just wore down the Soviet Union. That’s a beautiful model. Same thing with Dr. Martin Luther King. His was a peaceful revolution of civil disobedience.”
This strategy is time-consuming, however, so be prepared to stand your ground for as long as it takes. It can take months, years even when you have nothing else in your arsenal. Peaceful disobedience is the primary strategy in armed countries as well. As mentioned, we must also rally behind legislation that prevents the alteration of laws that safeguard our freedoms.
Join the Five Freedoms Campaign!
To that end, Wolf has started the Five Freedoms Campaign, which you can find on her Daily Clout website. The campaign focuses on creating legislation to preserve key freedoms and prevent emergency laws from infringing on our freedom to assembly, worship, protest and engage in business. Legislation is also being crafted to open schools, remove mask mandates and eliminate requirements for vaccine passports.
“We’ve had overwhelmingly high levels of support,” Wolf says. “I hope your followers will also join us. We hired a really distinguished lawyer who is drafting model legislation. She has finished the new vaccine passport bill and we’ve gotten state legislators in Maine, New Hampshire and Michigan to sponsor to pass that legislation.
I’m sending out the request for 47 other state legislatures to adopt this model legislation. Contact me, I’ll come out, I’ll speak to your legislature. We’ll do a rally, we’ll do a press conference, as we’re doing in Maine on April 27. We’ve got to pass these bills.
Then she’s going to work on an omnibus bill to make all five freedoms inviolable so that no one can pass mask mandates as they did in Michigan today. No one can force vaccine passports as they’re doing in New York, so that we can get our freedoms back.”
Wolf and her team are making this interactive process as easy as possible by posting good model bills on dailyclout.io, and proactively drafting much-needed bills. Many state legislators are not lawyers, and they don’t have lawyers at their beck and call. Citizens can now send these model bills to their legislators, knowing that they’ve undergone a legal review and are ready to be passed. You can also go even further than that:
“You can tell us the bill you want. We can upload a campaign for that bill. We can hire our lawyer to draft a model bill and then you can pass it. What we’ve been doing is gathering names and zip codes, so that we can add real voters to this piece of model legislation in real states and send it to real state legislators and say, ‘Look, the supporters are all there. All you have to do is pass this.’
It’s a fantastic intervention in the political process, restoring real democracy. It’s why we founded Daily Clout, but it’s beautiful to see hundreds and hundreds of people from all walks of life rushing to give us support and resources, to become members and give us donations, which we appreciate, so that we can keep our lawyer busy creating these draft bills. It’s not just for this issue. Once we get our rights and freedoms back, whatever [citizens] want, we can draft a bill for you, and you can [call on your legislators to] pass it.”
Limiting Emergency Powers
Another facet that needs to be addressed is governors’ emergency powers. Some states have been locked down under emergency power for more than a year, which is insane, considering we’re not in an emergency and haven’t been for many months. These emergency powers need to be limited in some way, as they are at the heart of all this unlawful behavior. As explained by Wolf:
“Emergency law basically suspends the Constitution of the United States. As I’ve said elsewhere, the Constitution doesn’t say all this can be suspended if there’s disease. We’ve been through typhus, cholera, smallpox, HIV, Spanish flu, polio, tuberculosis — disease after disease, without ever having emergency law extended without review month after month.
We’ve had world wars fought without emergency laws. We were attacked on our soil without emergency law being declared in New York state after 9/11. There’s no justification for it. It’s against everything we believe in. It’s unconstitutional.”
So, one of the five freedoms Wolf’s campaign focuses on is the restriction of emergency laws. New Hampshire has become the first state to pass a bill that accomplishes this. It reforms emergency law such that the Governor’s emergency powers cannot be indefinitely extended without review by the legislature. They also passed a bill that guarantees freedom of worship, and another bill that ensures emergency law cannot be invoked indefinitely in any future crisis.4
“We’ve now passed along our model ‘No vaccine passport’ bill to the New Hampshire legislators,” Wolf says. “If they can do it in New Hampshire, with our help, with your help, they can do it across the country. But we need to get that model legislation out to every legislature and mobilize that grassroots movement to pass the end of emergency law.
I mean, look what’s happening in New York State. It’s insane. Fourteen state legislators are trying to get Governor Cuomo to end emergency law. But as our laws are written, Governor Cuomo has to be the one to end his own emergency law.
There’re a huge amount of lobbying that has to happen for these legislators to understand that there are eyes on them, that they’re accountable. I’m going to be reporting and … hopefully millions of people will be following and helping to pass these laws to get back our rights.”
Daily Clout Empowers Citizens to Lobby for Freedom
To be clear, the Daily Clout is not a lobbying group. YOU are the ones lobbying your legislators. Daily Clout simply provides the needed assistance so that you can do that easily and effectively.
“It’s such a beautiful effort, because you’d have to come out and say, ‘The people of New Hampshire have no right to pass their own legislation’ in order to oppose an effort like this,” Wolf says. “We’re not a special interest. It’s just the people. It’s the people of New Hampshire, people of Maine, passing their own legislation.
I do hear, consistently, that Democrats won’t help, that in many states with their democratic majorities, it’s going to be difficult if Democrats don’t reach across the aisle and add their names. I’m sending out the call to Democrats to support this legislation.
I’m going to warn everyone, speaking as a former political consultant, that the party that embraces the restoration of freedom is going to be the party that wins in 2022 and 2024. There’s no question about that. This is going to be a winning issue.
People know something is terribly wrong, but they don’t know what to do. This is a completely unprecedented assault on liberty. With my many years in national politics, I know what to do. This is why we developed Daily Clout. If you show up with a turnkey piece of legislation and some turnkey supporters, that’s a very quick fix for a really catastrophic crisis that has a legislative solution.
As long as there’s still legislatures, we can pass good legislation at the state level. At the federal level, it’s going to be harder, because there isn’t any balance right now.
I’m very inspired there’s so many people serving at the state legislature level who are really decent citizens, who are not partisan hacks. People who really ran to help their neighbors and help their communities and who are not wholly owned by China, Big Tech or whatever, and who want to do the right thing.
I could be wrong, but in two weeks [since we launched the Daily Clout site] we’ve already been invited to address state legislators and draft legislation for three, and that’s without any marketing budget or anything but platforms like this, where I say it’s available.
We started Daily Clout because citizens didn’t have a platform to be effective at lobbying for their own issues. This is a turnkey platform that does that for them. I designed it that way. I designed it, as a former political consultant, knowing that the way things are set up, ordinary citizens don’t have a seat at the table. There is no easy way to engage in civic action. This makes it easy, makes it digital and people are using it.”
There’s also a feature called BillCam, where you can see who your state legislator is by entering your zip code. Daily Clout will also email you links and explain how to find your state legislator. If you provide your name and zip code, which will remain confidential, your state legislator’s contact information will be included in the email.
“We’re creating a widget right now to attach your name and zip code to the model bills so it goes right to your state legislator, showing that the bill already has support,” Wolf explains. “But in the meantime, you can look up any bill on BillCam. Those are bills that have already been introduced or passed.
There are ‘No vaccine passport’ bills, for instance. We’re showcasing them on BillCam. It’s already set up, so you can just tweet it to the sponsor, tweet it to representative. You can Facebook it to your community. It already goes through social media and you can show support by ‘voting on it’ in the widget on BillCam as you share legislation with your community.”
Once you’re a subscriber or member, you’ll get regular updates about happenings around the U.S. and community events. They’re also installing a widget that will allow you to meet with like-minded people in your state who want this legislation passed. Lastly, you can write to Daily Clout and ask them to draft a bill. A lawyer will then be assigned to draft it for you.
“Right now, we’re focused on the Five Freedoms Campaign, but there is that functionality. You can write a blog and explain the bill that you want. You can send us a video and explain what your issue is, and all of this goes to shining a light on the legislators. They’re not used to having a light shone on them. That really does drive outcomes. Those are the steps that you can take,” Wolf says.
We’ve already seen how effective this strategy can be, with New Hampshire passing three bills to protect citizens’ freedoms.
“I never want to take credit away from legislators working hard to pass bills, but I know that we helped,” Wolf says. “I know that our lawyer has been in close touch with some of those state legislators in New Hampshire and provided language that we pay for, so that those legislators would have a turnkey bill to act on.”
Hundreds of people also wrote to New Hampshire’s Governor Christopher Sununu, urging him to lift the mask mandate, which he recently did. Knowing that the Daily Clout would report on the outcome of that campaign, he not only felt the political pressure, but he also knew he had support from his constituents. So, please, use this unprecedented opportunity to get involved, in any capacity that you can.
“The fundamental political question is why do people obey a government. The answer is that they tend to enslave themselves, to let themselves be governed by tyrants. Freedom from servitude comes not from violent action, but from the refusal to serve. Tyrants fall when the people withdraw their support.”—Étienne De La Boétie, The Politics Of Obedience
Don’t pity this year’s crop of graduates because this COVID-19 pandemic caused them to miss out on the antics of their senior year and the pomp and circumstance of graduation.
Pity them because they have spent their entire lives in a state of emergency.
They were born in the wake of the 9/11 attacks; raised without any expectation of privacy in a technologically-driven, mass surveillance state; educated in schools that teach conformity and compliance; saddled with a debt-ridden economy on the brink of implosion; made vulnerable by the blowback from a military empire constantly waging war against shadowy enemies; policed by government agents armed to the teeth ready and able to lock down the country at a moment’s notice, and forced to march in lockstep with a government that no longer exists to serve the people but which demands they be obedient slaves or suffer the consequences.
It’s a dismal start to life, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, we who should have known better failed to maintain our freedoms or provide our young people with the tools necessary to survive, let alone succeed, in the impersonal jungle that is modern America.
We allowed them to languish in schools that not only look like prisons but function like prisons, as well—where conformity is the rule and freedom is the exception. We made them easy prey for our corporate overlords while instilling in them the values of a celebrity-obsessed, technology-driven culture devoid of any true spirituality. And we taught them to believe that the pursuit of their own personal happiness trumped all other virtues, including any empathy whatsoever for their fellow human beings
No, we haven’t done this generation any favors.
Given the current political climate and nationwide lockdown, things could only get worse.
For those coming of age today (and for the rest of us who are muddling along through this dystopian nightmare), here are a few bits of advice that will hopefully help as we navigate the perils ahead.
Be an individual. For all of its claims to champion the individual, American culture advocates a stark conformity which, as John F. Kennedy warned, is “the jailer of freedom, and the enemy of growth.” Worry less about fitting in with the rest of the world and instead, as Henry David Thoreau urged, become “a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought.”
Learn your rights. We’re losing our freedoms for one simple reason: most of us don’t know anything about our freedoms. At a minimum, anyone who has graduated from high school, let alone college, should know the Bill of Rights backward and forwards. However, the average young person, let alone citizens, has very little knowledge of their rights for the simple reason that the schools no longer teach them. So grab a copy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and study them at home. And when the time comes, stand up for your rights before it’s too late.
Speak truth to power. Don’t be naive about those in positions of authority. As James Madison, who wrote our Bill of Rights, observed, “All men having power ought to be distrusted.” We must learn the lessons of history. People in power, more often than not, abuse that power. To maintain our freedoms, this will mean challenging government officials whenever they exceed the bounds of their office.
Resist all things that numb you. Don’t measure your worth by what you own or earn. Likewise, don’t become mindless consumers unaware of the world around you. Resist all things that numb you, put you to sleep, or help you “cope” with so-called reality. Those who establish the rules and laws that govern society’s actions desire compliant subjects. However, as George Orwell warned, “Until they become conscious, they will never rebel, and until after they rebelled, they cannot become conscious.” It is these conscious individuals who change the world for the better.
Don’t let technology turn you into zombies. Technology anesthetizes us to the all-too-real tragedies that surround us. Techno-gadgets are merely distractions from what’s really going on in America and around the world. As a result, we’ve begun mimicking the inhuman technology that surrounds us and has lost our humanity. We’ve become sleepwalkers. If you’re going to make a difference in the world, you’re going to have to pull the earbuds out, turn off the cell phones and spend much less time viewing screens.
Help others. We all have a calling in life. And I believe it boils down to one thing: You are here on this planet to help other people. In fact, none of us can exist very long without help from others. If we’re going to see any positive change for freedom, then we must change our view of what it means to be human and regain a sense of what it means to love and help one another. That will mean gaining the courage to stand up for the oppressed.
Refuse to remain silent in the face of evil. Throughout history, individuals or groups of individuals have risen up to challenge the injustices of their age. Nazi Germany had its Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The gulags of the Soviet Union were challenged by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. America had its color-coded system of racial segregation and warmongering called out for what it was, blatant discrimination and profiteering, by Martin Luther King Jr. And then there was Jesus Christ, an itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist, who not only died challenging the police state of his day—namely, the Roman Empire—but provided a blueprint for civil disobedience that would be followed by those, religious and otherwise, who came after him. What we lack today and so desperately need are those with moral courage who will risk their freedoms and lives in order to speak out against evil in its many forms.
Cultivate spirituality, reject materialism, and put people first. When the things that matter most have been subordinated to materialism, we have lost our moral compass. We must change our values to reflect something more meaningful than technology, materialism, and politics. Standing at the pulpit of the Riverside Church in New York City in April 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. urged his listeners:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motive and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Pitch in and do your part to make the world a better place. Don’t rely on someone else to do the heavy lifting for you. Don’t wait around for someone else to fix what ails you, your community, or nation. As Mahatma Gandhi urged: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Stop waiting for political saviors to fix what is wrong with this country. Stop waiting for some political savior to swoop in and fix all that’s wrong with this country. Stop allowing yourselves to be drawn into divisive party politics. Stop thinking of yourselves as members of a particular political party, as opposed to citizens of the United States. Most of all, stop looking away from the injustices and cruelties and endless acts of tyranny that have become hallmarks of the American police state. Be vigilant and do your part to recalibrate the balance of power in favor of “we the people.”
Too many wars are fought almost as if by rote. Too many wars are fought out of sloganry, out of battle hymns, out of aged, musty appeals to patriotism that went out with knighthood and moats. Love your country because it is eminently worthy of your affection. Respect it because it deserves your respect. Be loyal to it because it cannot survive without your loyalty. But do not accept the shedding of blood as a natural function or a prescribed way of history—even if history points this up by its repetition. That men die for causes does not necessarily sanctify that cause. And that men are maimed and torn to pieces every fifteen and twenty years does not immortalize or deify the act of war… find another means that does not come with the killing of your fellow-man.
Finally, prepare yourselves for what lies ahead. The demons of our age—some of whom disguise themselves as politicians—delight in fomenting violence, sowing distrust and prejudice, and persuading the public to support tyranny disguised as patriotism. Overcoming the evils of our age will require more than intellect and activism. It will require decency, morality, goodness, truth, and toughness. As Serling concluded in his remarks to the graduating class of 1968:
“Toughness is the singular quality most required of you… we have left you a world far more botched than the one that was left to us… Part of your challenge is to seek out truth, to come up with a point of view not dictated to you by anyone, be he a congressman, even a minister… Are you tough enough to take the divisiveness of this land of ours, the fact that everything is polarized, black and white, this or that, absolutely right or absolutely wrong. This is one of the challenges. Be prepared to seek out the middle ground … that wondrous and very difficult-to-find Valhalla where man can look to both sides and see the errant truths that exist on both sides. If you must swing left or you must swing right—respect the other side. Honor the motives that come from the other side. Argue, debate, rebut—but don’t close those wondrous minds of yours to opposition. In their eyes, you’re the opposition. And ultimately … ultimately—you end divisiveness by compromise. And so long as men walk and breathe—there must be compromise…
Are you tough enough to face one of the uglier stains upon the fabric of our democracy—prejudice? It’s the basic root of most evil. It’s a part of the sickness of man. And it’s a part of man’s admission, his constant sick admission, that to exist he must find a scapegoat. To explain away his own deficiencies—he must try to find someone who he believes more deficient… Make your judgment of your fellow-man on what he says and what he believes and the way he acts. Be tough enough, please, to live with prejudice and give battle to it. It warps, it poisons, it distorts and it is self-destructive. It has fallout worse than a bomb … and worst of all it cheapens and demeans anyone who permits himself the luxury of hating.”
The only way we’ll ever achieve change in this country is for people to finally say “enough is enough” and fight for the things that truly matter.
It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your political ideology is: wake up, stand up, speak up, and make your citizenship count for something more than just voting.
Pandemic or not, don’t allow your freedoms to be curtailed and your voice to be muzzled.
It’s our civic duty to make the government hear us—and heed us—using every nonviolent means available to us: picket, protest, march, boycott, speak up, sound off and reclaim control over the narrative about what is really going on in this country.
Mind you, the government doesn’t want to hear us. It doesn’t even want us to speak. In fact, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the government has done a diabolically good job of establishing roadblocks to prevent us from exercising our First Amendment right to speech and assembly and protest.
Still we must persist.
So get active, get outraged, and get going: there’s work to be done.
John W. Whitehead’s weekly commentaries are available for publication to newspapers and web publications at no charge. Please contact email@example.com to obtain reprint permission.
Big Brother in the Age of Coronavirus: 100+ Groups Warn Against Exploiting Pandemic to Permanently Expand Surveillance State
“Technology can play an important role in the global effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic; however, this does not give governments carte blanche to expand digital surveillance.” (Image: WITNESS/Twitter)
As the number of COVID-19 cases climbed toward a million worldwide on Thursday, over 100 human rights groups issued a joint statement warning that governments’ response to the coronavirus pandemic “must not be used as a cover to usher in a new era of greatly expanded systems of invasive digital surveillance.”
“Now more than ever, governments must rigorously ensure that any restrictions to these rights are in line with long-established human rights safeguards.”
The groups acknowledge that the public health crisis “requires a coordinated and large-scale response” but urge governments “to show leadership in tackling the pandemic in a way that ensures that the use of digital technologies to track and monitor individuals and populations is carried out strictly in line with human rights.”
“An increase in state digital surveillance powers, such as obtaining access to mobile phone location data, threatens privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of association, in ways that could violate rights and degrade trust in public authorities—undermining the effectiveness of any public health response,” says the statement (pdf). “Such measures also pose a risk of discrimination and may disproportionately harm already marginalized communities.”
“These are extraordinary times, but human rights law still applies,” the statement continues. “Now more than ever, governments must rigorously ensure that any restrictions to these rights are in line with long-established human rights safeguards.”
The Coronavirus response “must not be used as a cover to usher in a new era of greatly expanded systems of invasive surveillance.”
We joined 100+ civil society orgs around the world to send a clear message to Governments. We’re watching the watchers 🕵️♀️ https://t.co/e7997GdyFA
Groups behind the statement are from across the globe and include Amnesty International, Access Now, Big Brother Watch, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) Human Rights Watch, Privacy International, Public Citizen, WITNESS, and the World Wide Web Foundation.
Even before the coronavirus outbreak began in China late last year, the country was widely known and criticized for its mass surveillance, including facial recognition technology. In recent months, the Guardianreported in March, “Chinese citizens have had to adjust to a new level of government intrusion” that critics worry will persist even after the pandemic ends.
While the ability to track the virus with digital technology has been pivotal to understanding the outbreak’s development, concerns about how governments and the private sector are using surveillance technology—such as data collection from smartphones—to track people during the pandemic have also emerged elsewhere, such as Singapore, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
“There will be an aftermath to the COVID-19 outbreak. We must ensure that the measures governments are taking right now do not transform this health crisis into a global human rights crisis,” @EstelMPhttps://t.co/YA9HzGad3K
“Governments risk compounding the harms of this outbreak by running roughshod over our privacy and dignity and ignoring protections that arose in direct response to overreach during past global crises,” Access Now general counsel Peter Micek warned in a statement. “By selling tools of surveillance as public health solutions, authorities and all-too-willing companies could rewrite the rules of the digital ecosystem in corona-colored ink—which we fear is permanent.”
“By selling tools of surveillance as public health solutions, authorities and all-too-willing companies could rewrite the rules of the digital ecosystem in corona-colored ink—which we fear is permanent.”
—Peter Micek, Access Now
Amnesty Tech deputy director Rasha Abdul Rahim said Thursday that “technology can play an important role in the global effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic; however, this does not give governments carte blanche to expand digital surveillance. The recent past has shown governments are reluctant to relinquish temporary surveillance powers. We must not sleepwalk into a permanently expanded surveillance state now.”
“Increased digital surveillance to tackle this public health emergency can only be used if certain strict conditions are met,” added Abdul Rahim. “Authorities cannot simply disregard the right to privacy and must ensure any new measures have robust human rights safeguards. Wherever governments use the power of technology as part of their strategy to beat COVID-19, they must do so in a way that respects human rights.”
🧵THREAD: Today @amnesty joins with +100 civil society orgs around the world, incl @accessnow, @privacyint & @hrw, to send a clear message 📢📢📢: Governments using surveillance technologies to respond to #COVID19 must not sign away our privacy.
— Rasha Abdul-Rahim 🇵🇸 #SaveSheikhJarrah 🇵🇸 (@Rasha_Abdul) April 2, 2020
The groups’ statement details eight conditions they believe must be met to justify increased digital surveillance as part of coronavirus containment efforts. The conditions include demands for transparency, time limits, restrictions on how data can be used, privacy protections, measures to prevent discrimination, and participation from relevant stakeholders.
“This crisis offers an opportunity to demonstrate our shared humanity,” the statement says. “We can make extraordinary efforts to fight this pandemic that are consistent with human rights standards and the rule of law. The decisions that governments make now to confront the pandemic will shape what the world looks like in the future.”
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The US Government Just Destroyed Our Privacy While Nobody Was Paying Attention
(ANTIMEDIA) — While the nation remained fixated on gun control and Facebook’s violative practices last week, the U.S. government quietly codified the CLOUD Act, its own intrusive policies on citizens’ data.
While the massive, $1.2 trillion omnibus spending bill passed Friday received widespread media attention, the CLOUD Act — which lawmakers snuck into the end of the 2,300-page bill — was hardly addressed.
The Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (CLOUD) “updates the rules for criminal investigators who want to see emails, documents and other communications stored on the internet,”CNETreported. “Now law enforcement won’t be blocked from accessing someone’s Outlook account, for example, just because Microsoft happens to store the user’s email on servers in Ireland.”
The CLOUD Act will also allow the U.S. to enter into agreements that allow the transfer of private data from domestic servers to investigators in other countries on a case-by-case basis, further globalizing the ever-encroaching surveillance state. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has strongly opposed the legislation, listed several consequences of the bill, which it called “far-reaching” and “privacy-upending”:
Enable foreign police to collect and wiretap people’s communications from U.S. companies, without obtaining a U.S. warrant.
Allow foreign nations to demand personal data stored in the United States, without prior review by a judge.
Allow the U.S. president to enter “executive agreements” that empower police in foreign nations that have weaker privacy laws than the United States to seize data in the United States while ignoring U.S. privacy laws.
Allow foreign police to collect someone’s data without notifying them about it.
Empower U.S. police to grab any data, regardless if it’s a U.S. person’s or not, no matter where it is stored.
The bill is an update to the current MLAT (Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty), the current framework for sharing internet user data between countries, which both legislators and tech companies have criticized as inefficient.
Some tech companies, like Microsoft, have endorsed the new CLOUD policy. Brad Smith, the company’s president and chief legal officer, called it “a strong statute and a good compromise,” that “gives tech companies like Microsoft the ability to stand up for the privacy rights of our customers around the world.”
They echoed the sentiment of lawmakers like Orrin Hatch (R-UT). In February, he said of the bill:
“The CLOUD Act bridges the divide that sometimes exists between law enforcement and the tech sector by giving law enforcement the tools it needs to access data throughout the world while at the same time creating a commonsense framework to encourage international cooperation to resolve conflicts of law.”
But one of the biggest complaints from privacy advocates, however, it that the new legislation places too much-unmitigated power in the hands of governments with abysmal human rights records while also giving too much discretion to the U.S. government’s executive branch. Noting that the executive branch will decide which countries are human rights compliant and that those countries will then be able to engage in data collection and wiretaps without any further restrictions or oversight, the ACLU warned:
“Flip through Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch’s recent annual reports, and you can find a dizzying array of countries that have ratified major human rights treaties and reflect those obligations in their domestic laws but, in fact, have arrested, tortured and killed people in retaliation for their activism or due to their identity.”
The organization pointed out that no human rights organizations have endorsed the CLOUD Act, adding that “in the case of countries certified by the executive branch, the CLOUD Act would not require the U.S. government to scrutinize data requests by the foreign governments — indeed, the bill would not even require notifying the U.S. government or a user regarding a request.”
Further, the ACLU says, if a foreign government’s human rights record deteriorates, there is no mechanism to revoke its access to data. Considering the U.S.’ existing record on supporting regimes that severely restrict basic rights like freedom of expression, the expanded access the CLOUD Act provides is undoubtedly worrisome.
Also predictable is the government’s stale justification for expanding its power. As the CLOUD Act claims, it is purportedly to “protect public safety and combat serious crime, including terrorism” — even if it further empowers governments that support and commit said terrorism.
In an age where the government already engages in mass surveillance and is eager to disable the people’s efforts to protect their privacy through encryption technology, it is unsurprising, albeit dangerous, that Congress continues to encroach on what little is left of safeguards against unwarranted intrusions.
Hollywood magic doesn’t percolate only in the minds of legendary producers and acclaimed directors to be brought to life on the big and television screens where actors’ adept performances capture our imaginations; rather, if the plot pertains to the military, it’s more than likely the Department of Defense had a hand in the script.
From Meet the Parents and America’s Got Talent, to Cupcake Wars and Zero Dark Thirty — even Iron Man, Oprah, Patriot Games, and the James Bond thriller, Tomorrow Never Dies — if the production pertains to the War Machine or Surveillance State, it’s a veritable guarantee government significantly influenced the final product.
Censorship apparently reigns more supremely over Hollywood than we’d ever surmised — nearly 1,800 movies and TV shows have borne the fierce scrutiny of the eagle-eyed Pentagon and CIA.
New docs show Pentagon & CIA attempting to influence the narratives of over 1,800 movies and TV shows https://t.co/uJ1xbsSTzK
In fact, according to documents obtained by Tom Secker and Matthew Alford for Insurge Intelligence, the DoD and CIA, and more frequently the NSA, don’t take kindly to portrayal in a negative light — even when that well-deserved derision and criticism covers past exploits long common public knowledge.
It may be better known how the Pentagon consults with Hollywood to ensure accurate portrayal of chains of command, military culture, proper use of equipment, and other obvious factors, but the DoD, it turns out, might as well pen the script — and, in many cases, that’s exactly what happens.
When applicable, films and television series must be rubber-stamped by the government — no seal of approval, no production.
Most often, DoD chief Hollywood liaison, Phil Strub, grants the ‘seal’ for productions where Pentagon guidance has been officially sought — anything amiss would require rewrites and adjustments to accommodate the military’s best interests. Instances where the two cannot come to agreement can mean scrapping the entire production — and it has happened before.
Secker and Alford — who obtained more than 4,000 documents pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request, which admittedly are not included in the report — write:
If there are characters, action or dialogue that the DOD don’t approve of then the film-maker has to make changes to accommodate the military’s demands. If they refuse then the Pentagon packs up its toys and goes home. To obtain full cooperation the producers have to sign contracts — Production Assistance Agreements — which lock them into using a military-approved version of the script.
This can lead to arguments when actors and directors ad lib or improvise outside of this approved screenplay.
Lest there be any doubt, the DoD’s weighty presence in filmmaking extends to the most picayune of details. Insurge Intelligence describes several instances in which one-liners and dramatic repartee the average moviegoer wouldn’t necessarily think twice about featured as the subject of bitter, behind-the-scenes quarrels pitting itinerant directors against the PR interests of the U.S. military — with the latter, one way or another, forever the victor.
Tomorrow Never Dies provides a sound example, telling of the Pentagon’s fastidiousness as it lords over the silver screen, but more so in the State’s desire to remain a surreptitious influence.
When Bond is about to HALO jump out of a military transport plane they realise he’s going to land in Vietnamese waters. In the original script Bond’s CIA sidekick jokes ‘You know what will happen. It will be war, and maybe this time we’ll win.’
This line was removed at the request of the DOD.
Strangely, Phil Strub denied that there was any support for Tomorrow Never Dies, while the pre-eminent scholar in the field Lawrence Suid only lists the DOD connection under ‘Unacknowledged Cooperation’.
But the DOD are credited at the end of the film and we obtained a copy of the Production Assistance Agreement between the producers and the Pentagon.
So meticulous is the world’s most gargantuan military, even the ostensibly fictitious name of an operation to capture the Hulk in the eponymous 2003 movie had to be switched to “Angry Man” from “Ranch Hand” — because the latter “is the name of a real military operation that saw the US Air Force dump millions of gallons of pesticides and other poisons onto the Vietnamese countryside, rendering millions of acres of farmland poisoned and infertile.
“They also removed dialogue referring to ‘all those boys, guinea pigs, dying from radiation, and germ warfare’, an apparent reference to covert military experiments on human subjects.”
Past transgressions — no matter how publicly excoriated at the time — do not acceptable material for the Pentagon make. References to the Iran-Contra scandal ultimately sounded the death knell for a movie called Countermeasures, because, according to Strub in the documents,
There’s no need for us to… remind the public of the Iran-Contra affair.
Rather than risk summoning the specter of government indiscretion and corruption, production of Countermeasures ceased.
“The majority of the documents we obtained are diary-like reports from the entertainment liaison offices, which rarely refer to script changes, and never in an explicit, detailed way,” Secker and Alford write, adding so many documents remain undisclosed, it would be impossible to evaluate the extent of military censorship in Hollywood. “However, the documents do reveal that the DOD requires a preview screening of any project they support and sometimes makes changes even after a production has wrapped.”
Where the DoD issues official agreements with film production crews, the CIA exerts influence in an expectedly less formal manner through its entertainment liaison officer, Chase Brandon — who sometimes takes on quite more than an advisory capacity, even inserting himself at the foundational writing stages of the creative process. Insurge Intelligence continues,
Brandon did this most prominently on the spy thriller The Recruit, where a new agent is put through CIA training at The Farm — an obvious vehicle for inducting the audience into that world and giving them a glimpse behind the curtain. The original story treatment and early drafts of the script were written by Brandon, though he is only credited on the film as a technical advisor, covering up his influence on the content.
The Recruit includes lines about the new threats of the post-Soviet world (including that great villainous justification for a $600 billion defense budget, Peru), along with rebuttals of the idea that the CIA failed to prevent 9/11. And it repeats the adage that ‘the CIA’s failures are known, but its successes are not’. All of this helped to propagate the idea that the Agency is a benevolent, rational actor in a chaotic and dangerous world.
Why all of this matters comes down to censorship and propaganda — these are top government entities privileged with unhindered access to Hollywood — the result amounting to pro-war American exceptionalism, bereft of wrongdoing anywhere on the planet, where past wrongs vanish and a U.S. agenda can do no wrong.
And that’s at least problematic.
Hollywood beckons those weary of ordinary life — wage slavery, debt, eviscerated freedoms — all of it, gone, for a pricey ticket. Perhaps the penultimate captive audience, moviegoers likely don’t realize — much less, care — about the involvement of the Pentagon or CIA if it contributed to realism in film.
Depicting conflict, war, and clandestine exploits in an heroic manner not only betrays the raw messiness of reality, but erases the fuzzy lines over which the military frequently leaps — the delineation obviating human rights abuse, war crimes, corruption, mendacity, and other indiscretion made couth through the magic of the silver screen. Sometimes, that deflection is accomplished through the vilification of single bad apples — Pentagon and CIA consultants proffer a single patsy for scorn in film — rather than risking their entire existence over bad PR, even when earned and well-known.
“This idea of using cinema to pin the blame for problems on isolated rogue agents or bad apples, thus avoiding any notion of systemic, institutional or criminal responsibility, is right out of the CIA/DOD’s playbook,” Secker and Alford note.
Notably, it isn’t as if the military and CIA act in an official capacity as ‘censors’ — producers would be free to nullify their cooperative arrangements and receive no assistance — but that so many eagerly adopt government strictures and edits to see production completed indicates a power unfettered in Hollywood.
Glorification of war must be achieved with constant bombardment in advertising and the news to keep recruitment viable and service an appealing option — lest the Pentagon be unable to cull order-followers from freer thinkers among us.
Because, in fact, war isn’t glorious. It isn’t glamorous. It isn’t a series of epic battles between wholly honorable soldiers fighting coal-hearted villains at the behest of dictators whose only goal involves the crushing of spines.
War is ugly — impossibly complex, gruesome, duplicitous, savage at times — even from the sterility of a drone control room, the bombs fall on human beings, an interminable list of innocents killed by soldiers from every side fighting their various politicians’ wars can attest to its abhorrence.
And if you know that, you’re less likely to enlist, less likely to approve military escalation — less likely to protest a war in this patriotic wrapping and festooned with a ribbon of tradition.
War and spy games come to life on the big and little screens portray adventure, intrigue, drama, and suspense — but they are not real life — no matter how authentic the Pentagon affirms their details.
Claire Bernish began writing as an independent, investigative journalist in 2015, with works published and republished around the world. Not one to hold back, Claire’s particular areas of interest include U.S. foreign policy, analysis of international affairs, and everything pertaining to transparency and thwarting censorship. To keep up with the latest uncensored news, follow her on Facebook or Twitter:@Subversive_Pen. This article first appeared at The Free Thought Project.
On Tuesday morning WikiLeaks released brand new documents related to surveillance operations conducted by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
WikiLeaks has further exposed the Central Intelligence Agency’s spying capabilities in an explosive new document dump dubbed “Vault 7.” The vault is a massive collection of data regarding CIA surveillance activities with documents that detail everything from the CIA’s infiltration of smart phones, televisions, and cars, to the creation of a hacking station posing as a U.S. Consulate in Germany.
The release of the documents was not without controversy, as the electronics of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange were reportedly “under attack.” A tweet from WikiLeaks states, “the press conference is under attack: Facebook+Periscope video used by WikiLeaks’ editor Julian Assange have been attacked. Activating contingency plans.”
Press conf under attack: Facebook+Periscope video used by WikiLeaks' editor Julian Assange have been attacked. Activating contingency (1/2)
WikiLeaks claims that the CIA recently lost control over a “majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized ‘zero day’ exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation”. The archive was apparently circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors before being shared with WikiLeaks.
“The first full part of the series, “Year Zero”, comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina,” WikiLeaks wrote in a press release. Year Zero focuses on the CIA’s global hacking program, their full arsenal of malware programs, and so-called “Zero Day” exploits for the U.S. and Europe’s most popular computer products, phones, and televisions.
The documents detail how the CIA’s hacking squad had blossomed to over 5000 registered users by the end of 2016 and produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware. The hacking agency is under the command of the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence as seen in the image below. WikiLeaks compares this growth to the CIA creating its own version of the National Security Agency, but with even less management and accountability.
The source of the leaks claims that the goal was to encourage public debate regarding the CIA’s hacking abilities and the larger issue of the security and creation of cyberweapons. “There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons’. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such ‘weapons’, which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade,” stated Julian Assange. “But the significance of “Year Zero” goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective.”
The documents reveal that the hacking tools are built by EDG (Engineering Development Group), a software development group within the CCI. The EDG creates, tests, and offers support on all backdoors, exploits, trojans, viruses, and other malware used by the CIA in its surveillance operations. As part of a program code-named “Weeping Angel,” the CIA was able to target Samsung Smart TVs via a ‘Fake-Off’ mode which would deceive the owner into believing the TV is off. In this ‘Fake-Off’ mode the CIA could use the TV as a recording device for conversations in the room.
Another interesting piece of information from Vault 7, reveals that the CIA uses the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt as “a covert base for its hackers covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa.” Instructions for CIA hackers detail a lack of concern for security or being exposed. “Breeze through German Customs because you have your cover-for-action story down pat, and all they did was stamp your passport,” one document reads.
The documents also seem to indicate vulnerabilities in popular encrypted messaging platforms WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Wiebo, Confide, and Cloakman by hacking the “smart” phones that they run on and collecting audio and message traffic before encryption is applied. However, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted, “PSA: This incorrectly implies CIA hacked these apps / encryption. But the docs show iOS/Android are what got hacked – a much bigger problem”. Snowden did seem to confirm that the documents were real. Snowden even offered a bit of advice to journalists digging through the documents.
The release of Vault 7 is yet further proof that the United States of America is now a real world representation of George Orwell’s infamous dystopian novel, 1984. The free hearts and minds of the world must resist this surveillance at every turn and stop participating in their own enslavement.
(COMMONDREAMS) “We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted…the Patriot Act. As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows. This is a problem, because it is impossible to have an informed public debate about what the law should say when the public doesn’t know what its government thinks the law says.” – US Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall
The President, the Head of the National Security Agency, the Department of Justice, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, and the Judiciary, are intentionally keeping massive amounts of information about surveillance of US and other people secret from voters.
Additionally, some are, to say it politely, not being factually accurate in what they are telling the public. These inaccurate statements are either intentional lies meant to mislead the public or they are evidence that the people who are supposed to be in charge of oversight do not know what they are supposed to be overseeing. Either way, this is a significant crisis. Here are thirteen examples of what they are doing.
One. The Government seizes and searches all internet and text communications which enter or leave the US
On August 8, 2013, the New York Times reported that the NSA secretly collects virtually all international email and text communications which cross the US borders in or out. As the ACLU says, “the NSA thinks it’s okay to intercept and then read Americans’ emails, so long as it does so really quickly. But that is not how the Fourth Amendment works…the invasion of Americans’ privacy is real and immediate.”
Two. The Government created and maintains secret backdoor access into all databases in order to search for information on US citizens
On August 9, 2013, The Guardian revealed yet another Edward Snowden leaked document which points out “the National Security Agency has a secret backdoor into its vast databases under a legal authority enabling it to search for US citizens’ email and phone calls without a warrant.” This is a new set of secrets about surveillance of people in the US. This new policy of 2011 allows searching by US person names and identifiers when the NSA is collecting data. The document declares that analysts should not implement these queries until an oversight process has been developed. No word on whether such a process was developed or not.
Three. The Government operates a vast database which allows it to sift through millions of records on the internet to show nearly everything a person does
As noted above, two US Senators warned the Attorney General“We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted section 215 of the Patriot Act. As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows. This is a problem, because it is impossible to have an informed public debate about what the law should stay when the public doesn’t know what its government thinks the law says.”
Six. The Government is fighting to keep Top Secret a key 2011 decision of the FISA court even after the court itself said it can be made public
Seven. The Government uses secret National Security Letters (NSL) issued by the FBI to seize tens of thousands of records
With a NSL letter the FBI can demand financial records from any institution from banks to casinos, all telephone records, subscriber information, credit reports, employment information, and all email records of the target as well as the email addresses and screen names for anyone who has contacted that account. Those who received the NSLs from the FBI are supposed to keep them secret. The reason is supposed to be for foreign counterintelligence. There is no requirement for court approval at all. So no requests have been denied. The Patriot Act has made this much easier for the FBI.
Nine. The Government falsely assured the US public in writing that privacy protections are significantly stronger than they actually are and Senators who knew better were not allowed to disclose the truth
In the public part of their letter they did say “In our judgment this inaccuracy is significant, as it portrays protections for Americans’ privacy as being significantly stronger than they actually are…” The Senators point out that the NSA public statement assures people that communications of US citizens which are accidentally acquired are promptly destroyed unless it is evidence of a crime. However, the Senators wrote that the NSA does in fact deliberately search the records of American citizens and that the NSA has said repeatedly that it is not reasonably possible to identify the number of people located in the US whose communications have been reviewed under the authority of the FISA laws. The NSA responded to these claims in an odd way. They did not say publicly what the misleading or inaccurate statements were nor did they correct the record, instead they just deleted the fact sheet from the NSA website.
Ten. The chief defender of spying in the House of Representatives, the Chair of the oversight intelligence subcommittee, did not tell the truth or maybe worse did not know the truth about surveillance
Mike Rogers, Chair of the House Permanent Intelligence Subcommittee, repeatedly told Congress and the public on TV talk shows in July that there was no government surveillance of phone calls or emails. “They do not record your e-mails…None of that was happening, none of it – I mean, zero.” Later, Snowden and Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept disclosed the NSA program called X-keyscore, which intercepts maybe over a billion emails, phone calls and other types of communications each day. Now the questions swirl about Rogers, whether he lied, or was lied to by those who engaged in surveillance, or did not understand the programs he was supposed to be providing oversight to.
Eleven. The House intelligence oversight committee repeatedly refused to provide basic surveillance information to elected members of the House of Representatives, Republican and Democrat
Twelve. The paranoia about secrecy of surveillance is so bad in the House of Representatives that an elected member of Congress was threatened for passing around copies of the Snowden disclosures which had been already printed in newspapers worldwide
Others who are defending the surveillance may not actually know what is going on but think they do because the government, like the President, is telling them there is nothing to worry about. For example, Senator Diane Feinstein, Chair of Senate Intelligence Committee, the congressional oversight committee which is to protect people from unlawful spying, and another chief defender of surveillance, publicly responded to Edward Snowden’s claims to have the ability to wiretap anyone if he had their personal email by saying, “I am not a high-tech techie, but I have been told that is not possible.” How that squares with revelations about the Xkeyscore program is not known. She also stated her committee’s position about protecting the privacy of people against government surveillance, “We’re always open to change, but that does not mean there will be any.”
Thomas Paine said eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
Launching its new series last month, the X-Files was an immediate hit with the premier drawing more than 20 million viewers, plus another 1.1 million streaming on Hulu and FoxNow.
But how many of those 21 million viewers actually grasped what was talked about in the episode that premiered on Jan 24th?
In an eye-opening 3 minutes, that was broadcasted to millions, the X-Files exposed the chilling reality that is the police state control grid and the surveillance state.
The X-Files writers, while mixing in alien and weather control theories, are unafraid to bring up the very real notion of perpetual war, the surveillance state, the PATRIOT Act, the NDAA, and the horrid police state created by these measures.
During the segment, the speaker even explains how the police have been militarized as a means to control.
A government that taps your phone, collects your data, and monitors your whereabouts…with impunity. A government can use that data against you when it strikes, and a final takeover begins.
Whether or not that takeover has begun or when it will begin, is arguable. However, the government tapping your phone, collecting your data, and monitoring your every move — is here and now — and it is most assuredly being used against you.
Privacy as we once knew it is dead. We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology—specifically the technology employed by the government against the American citizenry. As a result, warns John W. Whitehead, we are becoming a nation where even the most virtuous citizen risks becoming an outlaw.
Mass surveillance is now a part of our social, economic and political lives—governments and companies snoop on us like never before. But are we really heading toward an Orwellian future?
When George Orwell finished work on 1984 he was already a man without a future. Fading rapidly from tuberculosis, his most celebrated novel was to be his last.
He died shortly after its publication.
Yet more than half a century later, his dystopian vision of the future is alive and in rude good health.
The Shake & Stir theatre company is just completing a national tour of Australia with an adaptation overseen by noted director and dramaturge Michael Futcher.
The play wasn’t originally meant to tour, but for Futcher, its popularity with a contemporary audience is entirely understandable.
‘The world of 1984 is a perfect metaphor for today,’ he says. ‘People want to understand the nature of the type of power which is wielded in this story and how it relates to our own society. I think the audience just get it, they get the parallels very clearly, because they are so obvious these days.’
‘When we did the show here originally in 2012 we had packed houses pretty much every night and it was sold out almost before opening night. The whole season was sold out.’
As Futcher points out, sales of the novel on Amazon.com increased last year by nearly 9,000 per cent following the revelation by US whistleblower Edward Snowden that US security organisations—in particular the NSA—were engaged in global mass surveillance on an unprecedented scale.
‘All of this space that we thought was open to us and was free for us to express ourselves in, suddenly seems very closed,’ says futurist and digital culture analyst Mark Pesce, who believes the Snowden expose has not only made 1984more relevant, but also caused many people to reassess the nature and direction of our digital world.
‘For 29 years after 1984 we really thought we’d dodged a bullet, that western democracies were safe, powerful and we were all living in freedom. Then last year when the Snowden revelations came out it started to become clearer and clearer that in fact 1984 wasn’t far off the mark; that the NSA and its associated organisations were all colluding in massive wide-scale surveillance of populations and specific targeted surveillance of world leaders.’
More troubling still, according to Pesce, is the fact that the governments cooperating with the United States in wholesale global surveillance include Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia—all nations with strong democratic and anti-totalitarian traditions.
‘Everything that we projected onto the Stasi in East Germany as being this ultimate totalitarian state with its monitoring of the population has in fact become reflected back to us in the scale of what the NSA is doing.’
Complicating matters further, Pesce says, is the fact that the economic and social basis for much of our modern digital existence is now centred firmly around some form of surveillance; a social media platform like Facebook, for instance, only works the way it does because its users allow the company to trawl their personal data in return for recommendation-based services.
We may not always recognise this more benign form of surveillance for what it is, but Pesce believes its prevalence complicates our understanding of the difference between healthy data-tracking and unhealthy surveillance.
‘Younger people share and share freely because this is the culture they’ve grown up in. Folks who are a little bit older, they’re new to it and they do it, but it’s something that they learned when they were a little older and they maybe have a bit more critical distance around it.’
‘That critical distance can range from wide open “yes, I’m going to share everything” all the way to tinfoil: “I don’t even own a mobile phone”. You meet people like this, who are really that scared of the surveillance aspects that they don’t own a mobile. You can’t say that there’s any one right reaction to this. This is all still very new. In some ways we are all learning together.’
‘What we haven’t really had is that moment of critical distancing. We look the other way when Google is watching us, but when the government is watching us it makes our blood run cold, and in this last year, more and more people have had that moment of blood running cold.’
However, Pesce sees a growing tension developing between those involved in surveillance for commercial reasons and those conducting surveillance on people’s digital lives on the grounds of state security.
‘This is a big dilemma, because surveillance for Google has a strong commercial component and that places them at loggerheads with the government where there’s a security component … So there’s a fundamental tension there between the needs of commerce and the needs of state security.’
‘You could imagine in some weird science fiction future that the NSA will be getting its data feed from Google. Oh actually, it turns out that the NSA was tapping Google’s data feed, that’s right! Or you could imagine a different science-fiction future where Google would be getting the NSA data feed in order to provide you with better products and services. Already half of that very weird science-fiction future has been proven to be the case. So you do have this situation where, although their aims are very different, it’s possible for the state to subvert the aims of commerce for its own ends.’
There are clear signs of pushback from social networks and communications providers against being co-opted into an Orwellian security apparatus, however.
In June this year global communications company Vodafone went public with its disquiet over the encroaching nature of state surveillance. The organisation released what it called a Law Enforcement Disclosure Report accusing governments of all persuasions of pressuring online service providers into surveillance cooperation.
Speaking in London, Vodafone’s Group Privacy Officer, Stephen Deadman, called on governments to be more open and transparent in their dealings with telecommunications operators; he also confirmed long-held suspicions that some governments operated on a ‘direct access’ basis when dealing with telcos. That is, they’ve set-up covert systems which allow them to access the communications data of citizens without first seeking a court order or warrant, and without even notifying the telco in question when the harvesting of personal communications data is taking place.
For legal reasons, Vodafone refused to name those governments involved in such a practice, but said at least six were employing the direct access approach.
‘Technology companies don’t want to be the proxy for government and then to take the blame for whatever surveillance is occurring, no matter how legitimate it is,’ says data specialist Rob Hillard, a managing partner with Deloitte Consulting Australia.
Hillard speaks of increasing levels of frustration among social networks over the restrictions they face which prevent them from informing their users/customers about the nature of government surveillance activity.
He argues that in order to fully understand the true drivers of the 21st century surveillance society, you have to focus not just on the tracking, but on what’s being tracked.
‘Data is all around us and we are constantly looking for ways to join it together. While we aren’t being monitored visually, we are increasingly giving away large amounts of personal information in terms of our location,’ he says ‘This isn’t a new phenomenon. The thing that’s changed is that the volume of information that we are putting out about ourselves has created new opportunities. Then the question is “where is the balance?”’
While describing himself as a digital optimist, Hillard admits feeling troubled by last year’s Snowden/NSA revelations and the implications they present for the future of personal privacy and freedom.
To better understand just how intermeshed our modern lives are with tracking and big data, Hillard recently set himself a unique task: to try and live for an entire day without leaving a data footprint. It was an exercise he dubbed his1984 challenge.
‘My life is so integrated with the digital world, and I really wanted to see whether it was possible for me to completely disconnect and still live a productive life,’ he says.
‘I very much benefit from the digital world in which I live, it makes me more productive. I believe that my data is used overwhelmingly for the purposes for which I want it to be used—to my benefit and to society’s benefit. But I also want to know that it’s in my control. So I set out to live for a day creating the smallest possible footprint that I could.’
Problems began to arise almost immediately: ‘One of the things I got caught out on was when I logged in to work. I initially avoided using services that touched the internet,’ he says. ‘But, of course, like most people, my PC is connected to a whole lot of cloud services and automatically just the act of logging on left a digital crumb of when I logged on and what I did.’
For Hillard, the clear message is that it isn’t all about government, that citizens need to develop a better understanding of their own digital behaviour and the importance of the data they generate.
‘Many of George Orwell’s fears are coming true,’ he argued in a recent blog post, before adding: ‘The cause is not an oppressive government but rather an eagerness by the population as a whole to move services onto new platforms without demanding the same level of protection that their previous custodians have provided for a couple of centuries or more.’