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I vote for liberty

We haven’t talked much directly here about the ongoing NSA/FISA and related scandals in the news. After all, one could say, it’s not directly about drug policy. And yet, it seems pretty obvious to me which “side” the vast majority of my readers is likely to find themselves.

This article helps to articulate it. NSA scandal separates liberty lovers from poseurs

Most Americans who pay any attention to politics believe the nation’s great chasm is between “Red State” Republicans and “Blue State” Democrats. While the nation’s two major parties have their differences, the real divide is and always has been between those who reflexively trust the authorities and those who recognize that their own government poses the gravest threat to their liberties.

The latest scandal, in which a whistleblower revealed two National Security Agency programs that gather the phone and computer records of Americans in a fishing expedition designed to find links to terrorists, has jump-started this debate. As the Associated Press reported, this has “reinvigorated an odd-couple political alliance of the far left and right. A number of Democratic civil liberties activists, along with libertarian-leaning Republicans, say the government actions are too broad and don’t adequately protect citizens’ privacy.”

And that’s correct. Drug policy reform has a lot less to do with red vs. green than between authoritarians and those who value liberty.

For those who have seen the destruction of the drug war, who could possibly trust the government to be responsible with our communications while operating in total secrecy? Being concerned with these revelations is a no-brainer.

The real disturbing part of the story is the large number of sheep who are willing to give up their freedom for some vaguely imagined undefined benefit, and who strangely trust government officials to not abuse power.

Finally, I’m a huge fan of the incredible journalistic work done by Glenn Greenwald, who has always been more concerned with performing critically important government watchdog functions than propping up some political party. There are a lot of people in power trying hard to tear him down right now. I hope he gets through this unscathed.

Update: See also Diane Goldstein on this topic. The Surveillance State: How The War On Drugs And The War On Terror Go Hand In Hand

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37 comments to I vote for liberty

  • stlgonzo

    Pete,
    Again you took the words right outta my mouth.

    Sorry for the gratuitous Meatloaf that will now be stuck in your head.

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      I’ve been tortured for the last day and a half by “Bat Out of Hell”…can’t get that damn song to quit playing in my brain. It’s not nice to torture people with Meatloaf!

  • ageduncle g

    Dude…right on.

  • The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.

    JAMES MADISON, Dec. 2, 1829

    Any agency capable of perpetrating a hoax as grandly as the federal government has about the dangerousness of marijuana, and destroyed so many thousands or millions of lives in the process, cannot be left unquestioned. The drug war was designed, not just happened upon.

    I agree with Ronald Regan when he said : “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.” And so has gone the war on drugs.

    Now, we should trust the NSA to sift the chaff from the wheat? They are more likely to serve up a storm that can blow us all into servitude.

    My best to Glenn Greenwald, a true American press hero in my book.

  • […] news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&usg=AFQjCNHmIAYWU0iczM4RtJ8zTvBMMAD25g&url=http://www… […]

  • cy klebs

    What if there was a prohibition on cock-rings!

  • Freeman

    Well-said, Pete.

    The charges against Greenwald’s reporting seem pretty weak to me. They basically amount to “the words you reported verbatim don’t mean what people think they mean, so you are being deceptive”. Greenwald calls bullshit on that:

    (4) As we were about to begin publishing these NSA stories, a veteran journalist friend warned me that the tactic used by Democratic partisans would be to cling to and then endlessly harp on any alleged inaccuracy in any one of the stories we publish as a means of distracting attention away from the revelations and discrediting the entire project. That proved quite prescient, as that is exactly what they are attempting to do.

    The Guardian has not revised any of our articles and, to my knowledge, has no intention to do so. That’s because we did not claim that the NSA document alleging direct collection from the servers was true; we reported – accurately – that the NSA document claims that the program allows direct collection from the companies’ servers. Before publishing, we went to the internet companies named in the documents and asked about these claims. When they denied it, we purposely presented the story as one of a major discrepancy between what the NSA document claims and what the internet companies claim, as the headline itself makes indisputably clear:

    The NSA document says exactly what we reported. Just read it and judge for yourself (Prism is “collection directly from the servers of these US service providers”). It’s endearingly naive how some people seem to think that because government officials or corporate executives issue carefully crafted denials, this resolves the matter. Read the ACLU’s tech expert, Chris Soghoian, explain why the tech companies’ denials are far less significant and far more semantic than many are claiming.

    On the subject of Democratic partisans, it’s no surprise, then, that some of our favorite propagandists are opining on the authoritarian side of the issue:

    Does Being a Journalist on the Internet Mean Never Having to Say You’re Sorry?

    Greenwald and Gelman have been sort-of backpedaling from some of their original claims, although neither to my knowledge has given a full and clear accounting of what they got wrong and why.

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for Harrumphrey-Dumpty (words mean just what I choose them to mean—neither more nor less.) to “give a full and clear accounting of what he got wrong and why” about this or any other subject he spins.

  • jean valjean

    pete we will have to wait for more revelations about nsa/fisa before we can say it is not about the drug war, at least in part. i dont doubt for a moment that dea has made use of illegal data mining in its victimising of drug consumers and lets not forget the attempts to link cannabis consumers with terrorism which we have seen in recent years. its all grist to the drug war mill

  • Your post prompted my post (actually two of them) at my new FB fan page (https://facebook.com/libertyshield for those of you interested in connecting further), and thought your audience might find value in having me share it here too…

    In my last post, we saw two divides. One is the typical major political party divide. The other is the authoritarians/libertarians divide.

    The ultimate (yet unmentioned) divide is the one between people wielding real power in the private and public sectors (whoever they are in a likely tumultuous oligarchical group constantly competing for power) and the rest of us.

    Laws (which basically don’t apply to the oligarchy) clearly serve to strengthen the needs of the powerful.

    Our Constitution and fundamental rights were carefully set by revolutionaries victimized by the abuse of law, though generations throughout American history have demonstrated a lack of sufficient appreciation for the need to first wield such national constructs to prevent the abuse of law.

    Too many people are not actually interested in liberty, but “selfish liberty”. Instead of liberty being unalienable to protect people from the abuse of law, liberty is legally limited by the results from dominant self-interests in the guise of reducing societal risk.

    Too many people buy into those results (at times feeling they have something to gain by it), because our education system (formal and otherwise) is weak in the area of liberty.

    No one ultimately benefits from the slippery slope resulting from society bombarding our judicial system to legally define risk against the unalienable right to liberty. This system of law makes it painfully easy to apply bad law and painfully slow to remove it (usually needing generations of people with enormous suffering to do so).

    The answer, as clearly put in place by our Founding Fathers, is to prevent bad law before it starts. This requires a hardline making it clear where law can be applied (we call it the Liberty Line here for short). Such clarity can only come from separating acts objectively and conclusively proven to be directly rights infringing (e.g. murder, assault, theft, slander, etc.) from all others.

    Despite its gross popularity, risk should never be defined by liberty-infringing law, as that ironically puts in place the serious risk of the abuse of law (the worst form of abuse given its mainly broad scope of destruction).

    Risk must be minimized purely by education. Entertainment (with educational nutrients) accurately directed to a fitting audience (instead of the crude one-size-fits-all entertainment dominating history and leaving out such nutrients to supposedly reduce financial risk) is possible (both technologically and financially) with the Internet.

    Our national obligation necessitating embracing the Liberty Line cannot be rationally presumed to be any worse than the chaotic societal nightmare we’re all experiencing by the reckless and unwieldy application of law (mainly perceived as civilized due to propaganda largely reverberated by the mainstream media).

    Even the people in power have a lot to fear these days. Their growing list of self-serving laws (and the growing visibility of such blatant selfishness at society’s expense) threatens a violent backlash when the oppression ruins too many lives. The oligarchy benefits from embracing the Liberty Line, as it can be used by those wielding power responsibly to keep the occasionally unreasonable masses (too often misguided by charming spin doctors) from demanding bad law.

    The bottom line is our nation is failing. The abuse of law is the primary reason, not the inability to legalize the dominant sense of morality or apply regulations (i.e. more laws) to defeat corruption (both of these popular beliefs conflicting with our unalienable right to liberty).

  • Duncan20903

    Rand Paul doesn’t want our support. linky

    • Irie

      He wasn’t even on my list of consideration for a vote anyway!

    • Windy

      The virulence against Rand and his dad, Republicans and Tea Party members in general, on that article, just floors me. Those dems posting there think they are so smart, and they are so blind to their own faults, I just want to strangle them and I’m neither, full on libertarian here (and they come down on us, too). Unfortunately, the “other side” is just as bad when describing dems/libs/progs, too, and yes, they don’t like us libertarians, either.

  • Servetus

    “…I could hear him [Harry Reed] during the American Revolution: ‘Calm down. The British troops have been engaging in unreasonable searches for years, so what’s the big deal?”’

    As it relates to drug enforcement, the British troops were searching people’s homes without a warrant to find contraband goods—those not produced or provided by Britain—and therefore not taxed by the Royal Crown.

    Discoveries of un-taxed foreign goods resulted in confiscation. As is the case with America’s forfeiture laws, corruption ensued. If even a set of pins was discovered to be contraband, the British troops would seize everything else in the household, despite the British origins of the items. Ironically, such activities by the British may be why in 1781 two of my ancestors joined Captain Thomas Robinson’s Rangers in North Hampton County, and the 4th Battalion Lancaster Militia with Captain William Johnson’s company PA, to take a few potshots at Redcoats (pun intended). People are deadly serious when motivated by the territorial imperative.

    The territorial imperative is why the 4th Amendment was held in such high regard in early America. That, and freedom of the press, were some of the best defenses the colonists had to guard against tyranny. Today’s tyrants search people’s homes to find non-pharmaceutical medications—drugs also not taxed. Just finding a few separated packages of contraband is enough to justify seizing a home, a farm, or an automobile. In some cases, it’s used to summarily execute people and their dogs.

    Such tyranny can not and will not stand.

  • claygooding

    I was reading where Ecuador is banning baby bottles to encourage women to breast feed more,,,I ain’t to sure but I imagine a black market for baby bottles is being set up as we type,,
    I am not in support of forcing any person to do something they don’t want too so I don’t support it however I would like to know if there is an age limit.

    • stlgonzo

      Not to mention what happens when the mother can’t produce enough milk, or the child doesn’t take to the breast? In the hospitals here you supplement formula from the bottle with the breast milk if the child loses 10% body weight in the next couple of days. Banning stuff is just stupid.

      • Irie

        I agree, banning baby bottles does seem a bit cruel, but having some experience as giving birth to my oldest in a third world country, Jamaica (and I don’t recommend giving birth in a third world country if you don’t have to), there are other ways of getting around this. 1) There are other mothers who can breast feed another mother’s baby. 2) in Jamaica, where there is no extra money for formula and/or the luxury of a baby bottle, Jamaicans use a spoon, yes a spoon to dribble milk into the baby’s mouth. It works, I can attest to this as my son wouldn’t take to the breast right off, had to use the spoon to get nourishment into him and then to teach him how to latch on by dribble milk on the breast (sorry for being to graphic gentlemen, but this is how it is done in the poor counties!) My best girl friend from Jamaica, who raised 3 boys, taught me about this, as there is no money for baby bottles for these mothers!

  • stlgonzo

    The War on Drugs Is Worse Than NSA Spying

    We’ve simply become accustomed to older, more ingrained abuses.

    John Stossel

    http://tinyurl.com/nmvyr2m

  • Eridani

    The Drug War is now such a huge mess that it’s hard to believe that it doesn’t touch every aspect of our government. I think it is related, indirectly at the very least, to the War on Terror; aren’t the individuals that want to perpetuate the War on Terror the same ones that want to keep drugs and drug money in the hands of criminals?

    • War Vet

      The War on Drugs is the exact same thing as the War on Terror and both are directly related, if not the same thing . . . if your enemy was funded by drug money and you had to fight drug money and lose troops to drug money bought weapons/bombs/fighters, would you not call it the War on Drugs . . . likewise, if drug money purchased a bunch of airplane tickets and those airplanes parked into the sides of buildings, would that not be the same thing as the War on Drugs since the War on Drugs has a defaulted consequence: drug money and violence. Do we consider the death in Mexico in regards to the Cartels as the War on Drugs? I worked in a CIA/DoD/Iraqi prison and can you guess what kinds of people we held in it? If you guessed members from the Russian and Italian Mafia, Nigerian Gangs, Asian Triad Gangs, Latin American drug traffickers, then you know more about it than most do . . . most people only assume we only held people from the Middle East in our prison . . . War Costs money for both sides.

      If one’s enemy is financed by drug money, then one will be forced to fight a long time and if war happens as a result of drug money financing, then your big-shots in America will gain money (KBR, Halliburton, Xe, L3 etc). When Americans fear a drug money financed series of terrorist attacks (and a war) and fear for their economy because of a recession (could a long expensive war help create the recession?), then would not these Americans seek a cure for fear and economic recovery via giving up a few freedoms? Do we really think Osama Bin Laden used his own money? I’m assuming lots of money is what is needed to make men rich, therefore it behooves Osama to use his money to buy drugs . . . that way, Osama gains back his money and then some –or a lot of some.

      I have a hard time believing the War on Terror and the War on Drugs are not the same exact things . . . to separate them is like saying Peanuts don’t make Peanut butter . . . or like saying that Chicken is in the meat group while poultry is in the vegetable group . . . at least as long as drug money exists. If drugs were still illegal and sold on the black market and through some weird phenomena in science didn’t create drug money, then we could call them separate and indirect.

  • Frank W

    I don’t know why there was no reaction to the fact that the Department of Homeland Security was an agency participating in the raids of several southern Oregon medical cannabis sites.

    • claygooding

      After the PSA’s released following 9-1-1 that drug money was funding terrorism raiding a domestic pot field is HS,,HS is now running the eradication programs for the ONDCP so they can hide part of the drug war budget by channeling it through other bureaucracies.

      • War Vet

        The problem with the PSA following is that it’s foreign people’s drug habits financing terrorism (thank you 1961 U.N. Single Convention) . . . the last time I checked, America and Canada are located within Mexican, South American, Jamaican etc drug territory. I doubt the coke Americans sniff gets recycled and thus reshipped to Guinea-Bissau etc off in Africa. I don’t think America’s Middle East smack habit supplies enough of our terrorist enemies.

        This is why I always question: why isn’t the American Highway Patrol, sheriffs and cops doing their job in places like Kenya, Somalia, Iraq, Greece, China etc etc . . . don’t we let the DEA globetrot? If so, then why doesn’t the rest of American law enforcement globetrot too? “Organized Crime is why you are in Iraq.” I’ll never forget those words from our officers on our mission briefing. I have this eerie suspicion that drug money looks more like and acts like legal tender than it does to monopoly money. But what do you suspect from the DOJ: Euros and other foreign cash look like monopoly money to them . . . that’s the loophole in regards to making sure our American cops don’t follow in the precedents of the DEA going worldwide. And sadly, not enough DEA are dying from drug money purchased/enhanced/transported road side bombs. They’ve got no balls and therefore no honor.

  • kaptinemo

    Ol’ Tom Jefferson saw this coming a long time ago.

    Read it. Read all of it. Yes, it’s long, and written in what we would consider to be an archaic form, but read it, and tell me if Jefferson’s ghost is not speaking to us today as much as he addressed his contemporaries.

    They didn’t have the technology, of course, but the Founders had the benefit of a classic education – to include Machiavelli’s The Prince – to warn future generations of government’s tendency to slip the leash and threaten its’ masters.

    Tell me soberly, straight-faced, that that is not what has happened today…and you will have earned every epithet denoting mental deficiency in every language there is.

    • primus

      Read Machiavelli’s Prince. I assume all political leaders have done so, and are following the advice contained therein. Once you have read it, their actions will appear more ‘logical’, though not in a good way.

    • curmudgeon

      Tom’s “Chains of the Constitution” need to be wrapped around many of the members of Congress; then we can drop them overboard.

  • claygooding

    Mexico City To Consider Legalizing Marijuana

    http://tinyurl.com/mea3ol2

    The leftwing Party of the Democratic Revolution is preparing legislation that would make it legal to smoke weed in Mexico City, news site Sin Embargo reports.

    The potentially game-changing legislation, which legislators plan to introduce in September, would allow people to grow marijuana at home, smoke it in designated clubs and carry up to 25 grams.

    Lawmakers say the bill aims to permit marijuana use for medicinal reasons, but also opens the door to legalizing its recreational use.

    “Most marijuana consumers aren’t addicts,” Mexico City Deputy Vidal Llerenas Morales told Sin Embargo. “They aren’t criminals. They are functional people.” “snip”

    It sounds to me like Mexico just punched the “need more funding” button the US installed when they talked to the SA convention recently. Anyway here goes another trip for a bureaucrat with a checkbook.

  • DdC

    D.C. Doctors Able to Recommend Medical Marijuana
    to Be Kept a Secret, Department of Health Says Jun 19 2013
    Looking for a doctor to recommend medical marijuana in the District? You’ll have to do some searching.

    The TPP is a large, secret trade agreement
    Alan Grayson

    Noam Chomsky:
    Obama’s Policies Are Creating Terrorism Around the World

    Chomsky: Spying Does Not Protect You
    ‘If we had anything like a free press, there would be headlines saying this is a bad joke’

    Fisa Court Oversight:
    A Look Inside a Secret and Empty Process
    Obama and other NSA defenders insist there are robust limitations on surveillance but the documents show otherwise by Glenn Greenwald

  • Servetus

    Citizens of Mexico have decided to run a cat named Morris for mayor of Xalapa. Just recently, another candidate, Chon the donkey, joined the hotly contested mayoral campaign for Ciudad Juarez.

    Chon the donkey promotes democracy and promises an action plan for ending the drug war: “50,000 murders during PAN’s rule are more than enough,” he says.

    Naturally, polls for both candidates have them leading their human counterparts by wide margins.

  • mr Ikasheeni

    It doesn’t appear likely that the repubs will run with the “traitor” Snowden’s revelations about continual warrantless snooping.

    • nonpartisan

      Snowden is such a hypocrite! If he values free speech so much why did he run and hide in a Chinese-controlled territory? The Chinese have an actual totalitarian government who actually does filter the internet. Oh, and they also execute drug offenders.

  • Irie

    Pete,
    “Click to Edit” button not working??

    [Testing]

  • Irie

    Found this article on my fb page, very interesting…..
    http://www.lifehealthpro.com/2013/06/19/exploring-the-effects-of-marijuana-use-on-life-ins?t=life-products

    “Marijuana usage is not viewed as other drugs such as cocaine, for example. Testing positive for THC will not lead to a flat rejection of a life insurance policy. However, the use of this substance can result in receiving a cigarette smoker’s rates, which are substantially higher than those of a non-smoker.”

    Hmmmmmm….very interesting indeed.

  • Daniel Williams

    I recently read an article about the origins of the NSA (and even efforts before them) and their methods. No warrants were used in the early days; flashing a government badge usually got the voluntary cooperation of the communications provider, and often times hand-written copies of telegrams were made. It was clearly illegal, but rather than stop the snooping – the much wiser choice – government decided to make it legal. So they came up with the NSA and FISA and all that.

    Pete may be correct that it is not directly related to drug policy, though I believe there is more than just a casual connection. The mindsets are quite similar; protecting America and her children, as are their methods. The failure of the drug war has long been known, but the public exposure of NSA capabiilities is new. Perhaps the NSA took its cue from witnessing citizens cowed by draconian drug policies for decades, and figured, What’s the big deal? And if that’s the case, it is most directly related to our current mess.

    Question: Whether you favor Obamacare or not, who trusts the IRS to be in charge of its enforcement? (We must prove to the IRS we have insurance, and the right kind, by the way, or they have the ability to fine us and put us in jail.)