Category Archives: Surveillance

Ron Paul Statement to the National Press Club

Ron Paul held a news conference today at the National Press Club. Sixty percent of the American people do not approve of either of the two major party candidates, in part because;

We cannot expect withdrawal of troops from Iraq or the Middle East with either of the two major candidates. Expect continued involvement in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Georgia. Neither hints of a non-interventionist foreign policy. Do not expect to hear the rejection of the policy of supporting the American world empire. There will be no emphasis in protecting privacy and civil liberties and the constant surveillance of the American people. Do not expect any serious attempt to curtail the rapidly expanding national debt. And certainly, there will be no hint of addressing the Federal Reserve System and its cozy relationship with big banks and international corporations and the politicians.

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His advice? vote for a “third party” candidate. All of the candidates (except the major ones) agreed to the following four principles as part of being mentioned by name by Ron Paul in his speech;

Foreign Policy: The Iraq War must end as quickly as possible with removal of all our soldiers from the region. We must initiate the return of our soldiers from around the world, including Korea, Japan, Europe and the entire Middle East. We must cease the war propaganda, threats of a blockade and plans for attacks on Iran, nor should we re-ignite the cold war with Russia over Georgia. We must be willing to talk to all countries and offer friendship and trade and travel to all who are willing. We must take off the table the threat of a nuclear first strike against all nations.

Privacy: We must protect the privacy and civil liberties of all persons under US jurisdiction. We must repeal or radically change the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the FISA legislation. We must reject the notion and practice of torture, eliminations of habeas corpus, secret tribunals, and secret prisons. We must deny immunity for corporations that spy willingly on the people for the benefit of the government. We must reject the unitary presidency, the illegal use of signing statements and excessive use of executive orders.

The National Debt: We believe that there should be no increase in the national debt. The burden of debt placed on the next generation is unjust and already threatening our economy and the value of our dollar. We must pay our bills as we go along and not unfairly place this burden on a future generation.

The Federal Reserve: We seek a thorough investigation, evaluation and audit of the Federal Reserve System and its cozy relationships with the banking, corporate, and other financial institutions. The arbitrary power to create money and credit out of thin air behind closed doors for the benefit of commercial interests must be ended. There should be no taxpayer bailouts of corporations and no corporate subsidies. Corporations should be aggressively prosecuted for their crimes and frauds.

Reads like an essential list of principles to me. Based on this list, even I would vote for Ralph Nader. But I’m still pulling the lever marked “L” and voting for all the Libertarian candidates, just as I have done for the last 16 years.

Here’s Ron Paul on the Glenn Beck show discussing the substance of the news conference;

He was also on Wolf Blitzer. You can watch that one on the Campaign for Liberty site, I’m not posting it here. I found Blitzer’s wheedling of both Dr. Paul and Ralph Nader (trying to get them to admit they want to ruin the election for Obama) to be so transparent as to be disgusting. May the ghost of Edward R. Murrow haunt you for the remainder of your (limited) days, Mr Blitzer. Yellow journalism doesn’t begin to describe your function in life. You are no more, and no less than a common propagandist; and of which you are nothing in comparison to Ol’ Joey himself.

It’s being reported that C-Span will have the conference available on the website after it airs.

I think it’s a good sign that the so called “third parties” have come together to present a united opposition to the sham that is the US election cycle. If only one of them could be elected instead of one of the Mc-bamas.

My money is still on the guy with the better teeth and hair. Not that I think he’ll do a good job, I just think Americans are really that shallow when it comes right down to it.


The Raw Story has a video clip from CNN of the News Conference. It is also available as a purchase from C-span, or you can watch it in 9 segments on the Campaign for Liberty Channel on YouTube. Here’s the first segment:

I want to live in a surveillance society

The title might give you pause, but if you read far enough into the article, you stumble across this comment:

Shouldn’t recording your own police interrogation be a constitutionally protected right, like the right to an attorney? If not, why not?

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The subtitle did it for me. “Big Brother is always watching you. But who’s watching Big Brother?” You can always get me with a 1984 reference; and truthfully, why shouldn’t you be able to produce your own record of a police encounter, or an interrogation, etc?

American Freedom Agenda Act

Today’s DownsizeDC post. This is one we should all get behind.

The full text of this bill can be found on our Background page for this campaign. This legislation will . . .

  • Repeal the “Military Commissions Act of 2007” and thereby restore the ancient right of habeas corpus and end legally sanctioned torture by U.S. government agents
  • Restore the “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” (FISA) and thereby outlaw warrantless spying on American citizens by the President of the United States
  • Give Congress standing in court to challenge the President’s use of “signing statements” as a means to avoid executing the nation’s laws
  • Make it illegal for government agents to kidnap people and send them abroad to be tortured by foreign governments
  • Provide legal protection to journalists who expose wrong-doing by the Federal government
  • Prohibit the use of secret evidence to label groups or individuals as terrorists for the purpose of criminal or civil sanctions

This one simple 3-page bill will . . .

  • Restore basic Constitutional protections
  • Empower Americans to support human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in the world at large, free from the stink of hypocrisy
  • Protect Americans and American soldiers from blowback by foreign powers in retaliation for our government’s transgression of America’s most hallowed principles

read more | digg story

I have been agitating congress on all of these issues for quite some time. We must make them understand that a failure to act now will be an inexcusable act of negligence on their part.

The Surveillance State: 1984 in 2006

Last week was the news story concerning talking cameras in Britain:

The revolutionary ‘nanny camera’ scheme was first piloted in Wiltshire in 2003 and just seven weeks ago the loudspeakers were introduced by Middlesbrough Council, whose spokesman Mike Clark said they had already made a difference.

He said: “People have been shocked when a voice from a camera tells them to pick up sweet papers and cigarette butts. They tend to follow the request.

“Another example involved a number of people gathering outside the doorway of a pub. They were asked to disperse and they did.”

Cllr Peach added: “The talking cameras would be another weapon in our armoury. They could be used to crack down on any anti-social offence in the street.”

This week is the story concerning the future of cameras in Chicago, one of the US’ largest cities:

“By the time 2016 [rolls around], we’ll have more cameras than Washington, D.C. … Our technology is more advanced than any other city in the world — even compared to London — dealing with our cameras and the sophistication of cameras and retro-fitting all the cameras downtown in new buildings, doing the CTA cameras,” Daley said.
“By 2016, I’ll make you a bet. We’ll have [cameras on] almost every block.”

Both stories make casual allusions to “Big Brother” the almost mystical leader of Engsoc in George Orwell’s novel 1984. How they can acknowledge the kinship of the emerging surveillance state with Engsoc without screaming of the travesty of it all is beyond me. Yet they drop the phrase Big Brother, as if the words are devoid of any meaning.


WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

Or maybe they are without meaning anymore. With the advent of ‘reality’ TV shows (one of them named Big Brother, unless I’m mistaken) in which the most private moments of a persons life can be transmitted for the titillation of the viewing audience, perhaps we have become numb to the concept of prying eyes checking up on our every move. Personally, I can’t think of a more dangerous tool to place in the hands of gov’t.

True, crime is down when cameras are placed on the street. It’s also a fact that crime goes down when martial law is declared. Crime sort of becomes a moot point when everyone is a prisoner in their own society, when someone is always watching to report the slightest transgression.

‘You are the dead,’ said an iron voice behind them.
They sprang apart. Winston’s entrails seemed to have turned into ice. He could see the white all round the irises of Julia’s eyes. Her face had turned a milky yellow. The smear of rouge that was still on each cheekbone stood out sharply, almost as though unconnected with the skin beneath.
‘You are the dead,’ repeated the iron voice.
‘It was behind the picture,’ breathed Julia.
‘It was behind the picture,’ said the voice. ‘Remain exactly where you are. Make no movement until you are ordered.’
It was starting, it was starting at last! They could do nothing except stand gazing into one another’s eyes. To run for life, to get out of the house before it was too late — no such thought occurred to them. Unthinkable to disobey the iron voice from the wall. There was a snap as though a catch had been turned back, and a crash of breaking glass. The picture had fallen to the floor uncovering the telescreen behind it.
‘Now they can see us,’ said Julia.

Yes, now we can see you.


Mea culpa review, 2017. I keep running across references to Neil Postman’s book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business of late. I apparently missed this book back when it was released, but it was widely read (or at least everyone pretends they have read it now) and predicted the numbing of the public mind that endless entertainment sets up.

This development (and one of the thesis in that book) makes Aldous Huxley and Brave New World more prescient in the minds of many pundits; more prescient than George Orwell in 1984.

I don’t know. The two books were completely different animals and were focused on two different facets of the human condition. I think what is truer is that none of us knows what the future holds but all of us are convinced by our own experiences that we have better insight than those around us.

The surveillance state as it is developing in the US is almost benign in comparison to the way that it developed in Europe and Britain. At least it appears that way on the surface. I’m sure the victims of drones in our endless terror war in the Middle East would disagree on the subject of the deadliness of the US surveillance state. 

Boiling Frogs

DC City Council Approves Temporary Expansion of Video Surveillance was posted to a list I belong to today with the body of message being “And so it begins”.

Begins? This is just the latest phase here in the US. In Britain and in many other places across the world, this type of technology is already in place, being used by gov’t to keep track of it’s population on a day to day basis.

This is not a beginning, it’s an ending. The beginning is lost to history. Perhaps it occurred following the Civil War; when the gov’t that succeed Lincoln’s, fused what was a collection of independent states into a federal conglomerate that would be henceforth declared “indivisible”. Perhaps it goes all the way back to the time of the founders, when Alexander Hamilton got in bed with the bankers of his time and created the first central bank in the US.

Whenever the ‘beginning’ was, it makes very little difference now. The current (and growing) police state has very little to do with the free nation that existed before it. As the old adage goes, frogs will jump out of hot water, but will stay put until it’s too late if the temperature is slowly raised.

…It’s getting very hot around here.


The entirety of this post is a slippery slope fallacy.  As much as any one of us can see 1984 in the surveillance technologies in use today, there is also no denying that crime is averted or solved, lives are saved, with this technology.  The real question is, where do we draw the limits? That is the conversation that (still) needs to occur.

The title is a reference to a myth, as is the closing statement. As this article points out;

First, a frog cannot jump out of boiling water. Remember the last time you dropped some egg white into boiling water: the proteins coagulated into a mess of thin, white strands. Unfortunately, the proteins in the frog’s skinny legs would do the same thing. So the frog in boiling water could not jump anywhere. It would die a nasty death.

Second, a frog would notice the water getting hot. Professor Hutchison states, “The legend is entirely incorrect! The ‘critical thermal maxima’ [the maximum temperature an animal can bear] of many species of frogs have been determined by several investigators. In this procedure, the water in which a frog is submerged is heated gradually at about 2 degrees Fahrenheit per minute. As the temperature of the water is gradually increased, the frog will eventually become more and more active in attempts to escape the heated water.”