STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Obama: Renew Patriot Surveillances
By Staff News & Analysis - November 27, 2009

With the health care debate preoccupying the mainstream media, it has gone virtually unreported that the Barack Obama administration is quietly supporting renewal of provisions of the George W. Bush-era USA Patriot Act that civil libertarians say infringe on basic freedoms. And it is reportedly doing so over the objections of some prominent Democrats. When a panicky Congress passed the act 45 days after the terrorist attacks of Sep. 11, 2001, three contentious parts of the law were scheduled to expire at the end of next month, and opponents of these sections have been pushing Congress to substitute new provisions with substantially strengthened civil liberties protections. But with the apparent approval of the Obama White House and a number of Republicans — and over the objections of liberal Senate Democrats including Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Dick Durbin of Illinois — the Senate Judiciary Committee has voted to extend the three provisions with only minor changes. Those provisions would leave unaltered the power of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to seize records and to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mail in the course of counterterrorism investigations. – AlterNet

Dominant Social Theme: Bad things must be done for the greater good.

Free-Market Analysis: This seems to be our non-mainstream press day. Yes, we try to comment on the mainstream press, but in this case there really has not been a whole lot in the mainstream press about this subject, as covered above by the leftist AlterNet. So how do you cover a vacuum? You need an article that notes the "sounds of silence," and this AlterNet article fits the bill.

We are not at all surprised by it, of course, just as we are not surprised by the lack of coverage on this issue. Barack Obama promised change, but we never expected much of the change would be good, and thus we have not been disappointed. Obama has certainly delivered change – an ever more perilous economy, continued warfare, an extension of America's ruinous fiscal and monetary policies. He has built, we observed recently (to the dismay of some of our readers) on almost every policy enacted (or not enacted) by President George Bush and thus it is that America's ruin progresses, along with its nascent police state.

One needs to take a step back and look at what is taking place in America to appreciate the gravity of the situation. Wars may come and go, as will "national emergencies" but the new security powers grabbed by government remain. Airports are almost like prison camps, the domestic security apparatus of the US, supervised by the sprawling Department of Homeland Security, is resurgent and the FBI is free to wiretap and investigate at will.

Much of the necessity for such expansive security is based on 9/11. Yet as we have pointed out before, there are questions that yet remain. And, of course, there is this from 2008, (again little noticed by the mainstream press in America) a BBC program by Adam Curtis, writer, producer and narrator of The Power of Nightmares.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/4202741.stm

Q: Are you saying that there is no threat?

Adam Curtis: No, the series did not say this. It was very clear in arguing that although there is a serious threat of terrorism from some radical Islamists, the nightmare vision of a uniquely powerful hidden organisation waiting to strike our societies is an illusion. As the films showed, wherever one looks for this "al-Qaeda" organisation – from the mountains of Afghanistan to the "sleeper cells" in America – the British and Americans are pursuing a fantasy.

BBC investigative reporter Curtis, after interviewing higher-ups at both the CIA and FBI, calls Al Qaeda a "fantasy." Meanwhile, we have pointed out that John Farmer, lead attorney for the 9/11 Commission, claims that the commission was lied to at all levels by US military and intelligence personnel. Yet still the US, its congress and its president progress toward some ill-defined security Nirvana – renewing legislative elements that add up to what can fairly be described as a growing police state.

Of course, it could be that the BBC is wrong. Perhaps top CIA officials will at some point retract statements made to Curtis about the "fantasy" that is al-Qaeda. Perhaps attorney Farmer will retract his statements as well. Until that happens, we wonder if the "war on terrorism" is yet another dominant social theme. These are promotions aimed at a general public for purposes of extracting wealth and extending control.

After Thoughts

One of the obvious elements of a dominant social theme (one promoted by the monetary elite) is that it propels itself forward (we compared it to the move character the "Terminator" recently) in a manner that seems impervious to criticism or even common sense. Climate change is one such obvious meme, or promotion. Nothing seems to kill the movement, not even leaked documents that show clearly that the data has been "cooked" (literally?). The "war on terror" seems to us to have some of the same signifiers.

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