Safe and Sorry – Terrorism & Mass Surveillance

Terrorism is very scary, especially when it happens close to home and not in some faraway place. Nobody likes to be afraid, and we were eager to make the fear go away. So we demanded more security. In the last decade, it’s become increasingly normal for civil liberties to be eroded and for government agencies to spy on citizens, to collect and store their personal information. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of right- or left-wing policies, this affects every one of us. So we have to take a look at the data and ask ourselves honestly, “Has all of this actually made us safer?” In the aftermath of 9/11, the US government concluded that the law had not kept pace with technology. It created the Terrorist Surveillance Program initially to intercept communications linked to al-Qaeda. Officials were confident that if the program had been in place before 9/11, the hijackers could have been stopped. But soon the new powers were also used to prove guilt by association. The FBI used immigration records to identify Arab and Muslim foreign nationals in the US.

On this basis, 80,000 individuals were required to register, another 8,000 were called in for FBI interviews, and more that 5,000 locked up in preventive detention. Not one terrorist was found in what’s been called the most aggressive national campaign of ethnic profiling since World War II. How commonplace it’s since become for government agencies to collect and store the personal data of citizens was made plain by the leak of the Snowden documents in 2013. They showed how the NSA can demand information about users from firms like Microsoft or Google in addition to their daily collection of data from civilian internet traffic such as email content and contact lists. So, instead of focusing on criminals, governments are increasingly turning their attention to everyone. But if you are looking for a needle in a haystack, adding more hay to the stack isn’t going to make it any easier to find the needle.

On the contrary, every recent success announced by the NSA has come from classic target surveillance. Despite high hopes, the NSA surveillance program has not stopped any major terror attack. For instance, one of the Boston Marathon bombers was already a target of the FBI. So what we need is not even more random data, but better ways to understand and use the information we have. Spy agenices are also pushing to cripple encryption. In early 2016, the FBI asked Apple to produce a backdoor program to disable the encryption of a terrorist’s iPhone. Apple publicly declined, not only because this tool could be used to permanently weaken the privacy of law-abiding citizens worldwide, but fearing to open the floodgates for governments requesting access to a technology used by billions of people, a fear shared by security experts and cryptographers. A few weeks later, the FBI revealed that they had hacked the phone themselves, basically admitting that they lied to the public about the need for a backdoor, which questions how trustworthy spy agencies are in the debate about privacy and security, especially considering that the NSA, for example, already has the capability to turn on your iPhone microphone or activate your laptop camera without you noticing. Concerns about this are often met with the argument, “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

” But this reasoning only creates a climate of oppression. Wanting to keep certain parts of your life private doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. Right now, we live in a democracy. But imagine the damage the wrong person could do with all our data and such easy access to our devices. Anti-terrorism laws allow the authorities to investigate and punish non-terrorism-related crimes more aggressively. If you give law enforcement powerful tools, they will use them. That’s why democratic oversight is so important: even if those tools and laws aren’t used against you today, they might be tomorrow. For example, following the November 2015 Paris attacks, France expanded its already extensive anti-terrorism laws by giving law enforcement greater powers to conduct house raids and place people under house arrest. Within weeks, evidence emerged that these powers were being used for unintended purposes, such as quashing climate change protests. The governments of Spain, Hungary, and Poland have introduced more restrictive laws on the freedom of assembly and speech.

Freedom of expression and the press in Turkey has been seriously undermined in the last few years, with people sentenced to prison for criticizing the government. None of this is effectively helping us fight terrorism. The motivation behind this might be good, even noble, but if we let our elected governments limit our personal freedom, the terrorists are winning. What’s worse, if we’re not careful, we might slowly move towards a surveillance state. The data is pretty clear: the erosion of rights, along with mass surveillance, hasn’t led to significant successes so far, but it has changed the nature of our society. Terrorism is a complicated problem… …without simple solutions. No security apparatus can prevent a few guys from building a bomb in their basement. We should keep the principle of proportionality in mind. Creating master keys to enter millions of phones is not the same as searching a single house. In most countries, the law already permits a wide range of actions, including targeted surveillance. To take full advantage of this existing potential, we need better international cooperation and more effective security and foreign policies, better application of our present laws instead of new and stricter ones that undermine our freedom.

Let us not, out of fear, destroy what we are most proud of: democracy and our fundamental rights and liberties. This video was made possible by your support on Patreon.com and the European Liberties Platform, <http://www.liberties.eu>. Subtitles by the Amara.org community.

Trump pulls U S out of non binding Paris Climate Accord — Here’s why he was right to do it

Trump pulls U.S. out of non-binding Paris Climate Accord � Here�s why he was right to do it by: JD Heyes Far-Left Democrats and so-called �environmentalists� who still believe the global warming hoax are furious at President Donald J. Trump for keeping his campaign pledge to withdraw the United States from the �non-binding� Paris Climate Accords signed onto by the Obama administration. But perhaps after they calm down and allow their blood pressure to return to normal, they can take a rational, reasoned look at why the president made his decision; if they afford him that courtesy, there is no way they can conclude that his decision was wrong. In making the announcement from the White House Rose Garden Thursday afternoon, Trump stated that he felt obligated to withdraw from the agreement � which should have been sent to the U.

S. Senate by Obama to be ratified as a treaty, because that�s what it was, in both style and substance � because it is �a bad deal� for American workers, taxpayers and companies. (RELATED: The Paris Climate Accord is GENOCIDE against plants, forests and all life on our planet) Trump also knocked the cost of the agreement � which will rise to some $450 billion a year, much of which would have to come from the U.S. � while major polluters who are also signatories to the deal do not have to comply with the accords� emissions limitations for more than a decade. Meanwhile, the U.S. has to comply immediately. The president also lashed out at his critics who said pulling out of the deal would be a disaster for the country, noting that remaining in the agreement would cost American families and businesses billions per year. Also, he said, the agreement prohibited the U.S. from �conducting its own domestic economic affairs� by preventing the development of our own natural resources, like clean coal and natural gas, both of which create far fewer emissions than other forms of energy.

�I was elected to represent the people of Pittsburg, not Paris,� Trump said. �It�s time to pursue a new deal that protects� the environment, as well as the American people. Trump, according to various experts and analyses, was right to withdraw from the current agreement as written. �Through a litany of regulations stemming from the agreement, Obama has essentially offered up the U.S. economy as a sacrificial lamb to further his own legacy,� Americans for Tax Reform noted Wednesday in a post on its website. �Sadly, the agreement will not just hurt the country�s growth as a whole, but will trickle down to low-and-middle income Americans. As a result of the agreement, energy costs will skyrocket, in turn raising the cost of utility bills for families and increasing the costs of consumer goods.

� (RELATED: UN official actually ADMITS that �global warming� is a scam designed to �change world�s economic model�) A study of the agreement by the Heritage Foundation, released in April 2016, found that the agreement would have resulted in the adoption of government policies that dramatically increased electricity costs for a family of four between 13 and 20 percent annually. In addition, the analysis found that American families would lose out on some $20,000 in income by 2035, regressive (not progressive) economic policies that no doubt would hit the nation�s poorest the hardest. [Meanwhile, we�re sure that Obama won�t have any trouble paying his electric bill, no matter what it costs] Other analysts, as Trump noted in his speech, noted that the loss of U.S. annual gross domestic product would be close to $3 trillion by 2035, while reducing employment in the U.S.

by about 400,000 jobs, half of which would be in manufacturing. But perhaps most galling of all is the fact that even the far Left admitted that the agreement would accomplish virtually nothing � and certainly was not the global carbon emissions destroyer its principle advocates made it out to be. Politico Europe reported: In fact, emissions reductions are barely on the table at all. Instead, the talks are rigged to ensure an agreement is reached regardless of how little action countries plan to take. The developing world, projected to account for four-fifths of all carbon-dioxide emissions this century, will earn applause for what amounts to a promise to stay on their pre-existing trajectory of emissions-intensive growth. As Trump said, �The agreement is a massive redistribution of wealth from the U.S. to other countries.� There is no good reason to remain in it, just as there was no good reason for Obama to have signed it..

 

The decline of American democracy in one graph

There's this graph that I saw recently. It's the most unsettling graph I've seen in American politics in a very, very, very long time. And yet it's really boring to look at. It's just a nearly straight horizontal line. The line doesn't do anything interesting at all. But what the graph shows is something that's somewhat terrifying. What that line shows is the relationship between what the average voter wants, and what they actually get. In a huge study, looking at over 2000 surveys of people's policy opinions, whether people were on the left side of the line which meant they opposed something happening, or on the right side, which meant they all wanted it to happen, it didn't matter. Once you controlled for the opinions of affluent Americans and interest groups and other lobbying organizations — average people, their voice was not heard at all.

Or at the very least their voice didn't appear to matter at all. Average folks only get what they want if economic elites or interest groups also want it. And all this data comes from a time when these groups were arguably less powerful in American politics. America never sold itself as a democracy. It sold itself as a representative democracy. There's accountability from voters onto politicians, but politicians, they get time in office. To step away from the passions of the electorate for at least a little while. And do things that are right for the country, and then voters will judge them on whether they did a good job. So maybe its the case that affluent Americans and interest groups and politicians just — they're always right. And average voters. You can just safely ignore them. But it doesn't look like America's been run so well. We had a massive financial crisis because we didn't do enough to regulate Wall Street, we got into a disastrous war in Iraq. We have median wages that haven't substantially grown in many, many years.

It doesn't seem that we are so incredibly good at running this country. Maybe we need a little more democracy in our representation..