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Sunday, April 16, 2017

 

SHARYL ATTKISSON: Obama-era Surveillance Timeline

You can find many timelines that follow allegations of Russia tampering in the U.S. election and alleged involvement of Trump officials. But I couldn’t find any comprehensive timelines cross-referencing Obama-era surveillance of whistleblowers, journalists and other U.S. citizens with Russia surveillance allegations. So I built one.
Read the whole thing.

If you want to know how badly Obama and his henchmen (and henchwomen) spied on Americans in violation of the law, Attkinson creates a list. It's only a partial list that will lengthen and involve more criminals as more information comes to light.

At what point will the people who commit really big crimes against the people be brought to answer and held accountable?  Because right now the American people realize that government officials seem to be exempt from laws that send the ordinary citizen to jail.  This systematic differentiation between he ruling class and the peasant class is corrosive of democracy.  It destroys faith in the fairness of laws.  In many respects an ordered society depends on the voluntary acceptance of rules that govern all of us.  When it becomes apparent that there is an political aristocracy that does not have to obey the rules; that literally gets away with murder, the glue that holds a free society together dissolves.  If you can't trust the authorities, you have to trust the people around you who look like you and think like you.  You join a gang for self-protection.  That's the point at which tribal warfare breaks out.  

I suggest we start to think about a tribunal like the Nuremberg Trials that exposed the war crimes of the Nazis in World War 2. That may the the only way that the American people will regain their trust in the integrity of the American government.

Andy McCarthy raises the point that If the Government Cannot Be Trusted, Can It Protect the Nation? 
...foremost in our minds will be how readily the government’s awesome intelligence capabilities can be abused. That is the real significance of the controversy over Obama-administration spying on the Trump campaign and transition.

The scandal that CNN is hell-bent on ignoring brings into sharp relief the very abuses the media, echoing civil-liberties activists, have warned against for years: pretextual uses of intelligence-collection powers to spy on political opponents and dissenters. As a national-security conservative with no illusions about government, I’ve acknowledged these concerns. I’ve countered, though, that the powers are, yes, essential to national security. The abuse of power is thus a reason to get rid of the abuser, not the power.

In our modern political dysfunction, that seems impossible. Washington protects its own. No one gets fired anymore, let alone impeached. So just as we make war on “terror” because we don’t want to identify the enemy, we condemn “power” because we can’t bring ourselves to hold the rogue officials accountable.

Did the Obama administration have compelling foreign-intelligence reasons to monitor its political opponents? Or was Russian espionage mainly a cover for political spying?

As I’ve said before, there is enough risk on both sides that I doubt we will get definitive answers to these questions. There is little doubt, however, that Republicans and Democrats will mutually find intelligence-collection power to be a convenient scapegoat. That’s where this is heading: the showdown over FISA reauthorization.

So can we trust the government with this power? It is worth remembering that, before someone decided that the perilous complexities of the modern world left us with no choice but to trust the government, we built a governing system on the premise that it can’t be trusted.


The American experiment in democracy has always meant that a new administration did not use it's police powers to jail members of the previous administration as a means of stifling dissent.  We are not supposed to jail our political opponents.  That's what "banana republics" do and we're supposed to be better than that.  The Civil War was an exception, and it was the losers of the election that started the conflict.  

But at some point the issues become so egregious that things have to be done.  What's interesting is that it's the Democrats, who - like their counterparts in 1860 - dispute the validity of the election.  They do it under the pretext that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin conspired to steal 2016 election.  They insist that interference with an election is so serious that it's an act of war.  

But if interference in an election - working to steal an election - is a form of warfare, should we not take their word for it that it's serious enough to put the people responsible in jail?  Even if the people responsible are officials of the previous government?  And even if they did not actually succeed in stealing an election but are using information collected by spying to undermine a legitimately elected administration?  

If Donald Trump really wanted to shake Washington up and "Drain the Swamp" that would be one way he could do it. Send a few of the top criminals to jail and there would be fewer government officials who would commit these crimes.  

Trump is not part of the government power elite.  He's an outsider who does not owe allegiance to the government ruling class of either party.  He has set himself up in opposition to them.   There is a large and steadfast core of people in the country who agree with his position.  They are beginning to emerge across the country, even in places like Berkeley, demonstrating that after being subjected to physical attacks in the past they will not be silenced nor intimidated by America's Red Guards.   They will fight back, eagerly.  

If we do not want to see this issue settled by bloody clashes in the streets, I suggest that settling it in court may be better for the country and for the safety of the country.  Trump would be doing the country a favor by breaking the understanding that the ruling class has and actually sending some of them to jail.

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