September 20, 2012
Homeland Security boss Janet Napolitano told a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday that a blatantly unconstitutional Obama administration executive order is “still being drafted in the inter-agency process” and “is close to completion depending on a few issues that need to be resolved at the highest levels.”
The latest Obama EO – he has issued 135 thus far – is a response to the failure of a cybersecurity bill to pass in the Senate. The Lieberman-Collins Cyber-security bill failed 52-46. Following the vote, Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, said “the President is determined to do absolutely everything we can to better protect our nation against today’s cyber threats and we will do that” despite the will of the American people.
So-called cybersecurity is a crucial element of the surveillance state. “Cyber will overtake terrorism as the persistent, gnawing, constantly-at-us kind of threat and danger,” said Ashton Carter, deputy secretary of Defense, at a conference held in San Francisco in February.
Carter’s prediction fell on the heels of a long and drawn out propaganda campaign by the government warning that hackers and other shadowy miscreants would take down “America’s financial systems, water treatment plants, or the electrical grid that keeps lights on and homes heated,” as the Christian Science Monitor put it.
As we have pointed out on numerous occasions, cyber attacks do not threaten the power grid in the United States. Critical infrastructure in the U.S. is rarely connected directly to the public internet. “The fact of the matter is that it isn’t easy to do any of these things. Your average power grid or drinking-water system isn’t analogous to a PC or even to a corporate network,” writes Michael Tanji for Wired.
Instead of protecting Americans, Obama’s unconstitutional EO will allow the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security to extend their surveillance capability. The Senate “bill specifically authorizes companies to use cybersecurity as an excuse for engaging in nearly unlimited monitoring of user data or countermeasures” like blocking targeted internet traffic, the Electronic Freedom Foundation noted in July.
Transnational telecoms invariably cooperate with the government. Under the NSA’s Operation Shamrock in the early 1950s, the CIA worked with the NSA and ITT World Communications, Western Union International, and RCA Global to illegally intercept telegrams. In 2004, a veteran AT&T communications technician, Mark Klein, discovered that telecom was diverting massive amounts of internet traffic to the NSA.
EFF argues elsewhere:
Data collected under the Cybersecurity Act can be shared with law enforcement for non-cybersecurity purposes if it “appears to relate to a crime” either past, present, or near future. This is overboard and contrary to the spirit of our Constitution. Senator Wyden, talking about a similar provision in CISPA, noted “They would allow law enforcement to look for evidence of future crimes, opening the door to a dystopian world where law enforcement evaluates your Internet activity for the potential that you might commit a crime.” The CSA suffers the same “future crime” flaw.
In short, if enacted or pushed through by executive mandate, the legislation would nullify the Fourth Amendment.
The Pentagon, the NSA and the military-industrial-intelligence complex tried to shove this monstrosity down our throats by ramming it through Congress, but now that the legislative effort and months of scary propaganda have failed they will resort to the tried and true practice of having their selected teleprompter reader issue an executive fiat.
One of the authors of the Senate bill, Joe Lieberman, said he “was encouraged to hear that the administration was close to wrapping up work” on the unconstitutional order. He urged the White House to “move forward on implementing the executive order and not wait to see if Congress passes cybersecurity legislation during the lame-duck session after the election.”