US President Barack Obama sent the NSA chief, General Keith Alexander, to Capitol Hill Tuesday in order to persuade politicians that spying by way of PRISM was acceptable and should not be abandoned. A motion tabled by Justin Amash had the US administration running scared.
It seems Obama's pressure won out but only just. Aljazeera reports "The House of Representatives voted 217-205 on Wednesday to defeat an amendment to a defence bill that would have limited the NSA's power to collect electronic data to individuals under investigation. It also would have ended "authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act".
The vote followed a motion by Justin Amash. Amash tweeted after the vote: "We came close (205-217). If just 7 Reps had switched their votes, we would have succeeded. Thank YOU for making a difference. We fight on." Early in the day, he tweeted: "When's the last time a president put out an emergency statement against an amendment? The Washington elites fear liberty. They fear you."
The NSA, National Security Agency, have been carrying out warrantless spying on citizens at home and abroad for years. European partners have been in the quagmire up to their grubby little necks. PRISM, the spy mechanism, is being sold to people on its ability to prevent terrorist activity. That of course is a flawed argument.
Would be terrorists will simply shift their activities elsewhere, away from prying eyes of intelligence officers. Terrorist events such as the Woolwich soldier murder in the UK and the Boston bombings in the USA were not prevented. Neither was the massacre at the Sandy Hook school in December 2012.
We already know that the British government used its US related spy technology to spy on its supposed allies at a G20 summit in 2009. We now know that Germany has been involved deeply too. All in all a set of crooks running our countries. Crooks we must call them when they break the law, spying on citizens without a warrant. Little wonder the British government wanted to bring in the Data Communication Bill which would legalize their snooping activity.
Politicians seem to have forgotten lately that they are only public servants. The military too is there to serve, not to hold military coups, like the one playing out in Egypt. They should not be spying on those they serve - period. Young people should be trying to protect their freedoms as it is they who will face the full force of censorship and restrictions in life if spying becomes the norm. Give it 10, 20 or 30 years and the west could be a very draconian place to live. Hell it could happen much sooner.
Friday the trial of wikileaks whistle blower Bradley Manning continues in the USA, the falsely called Land of the Free and home of the Brave. Manning is being portrayed as "evil" by the prosecution. His defence claim he was naive and troubled but the prosecution claim he knew exactly what he was doing and happily supplied the enemy with secret information. He is another "dead man walking", like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden if the USA ever get hold of those whistle-blowers.
Manning's defense closed their arguments Friday and the prosecution will now start their character assassination and verbal onslaught. Most people believe this trial is a kangaroo court as Manning is doomed. We shall have to wait and see if that assumption was correct.
One piece of good news is some supporters of Bradley were in court. They cheered him as court recessed, with one man calling out "You're a hero, Bradley, as far as I'm concerned." Several others murmured support for Manning in what became a loud buzz. An angry judge bellowed "Gallery, that's enough!".
Bradley already faces up to 20 years in jail for reduced sentences he admitted earlier this year.
The prosecution wants to portray Manning as a man who revelled in any glory leaking secrets attracted, not caring that they were seen by a group of "anarchists". Once again the claim that leaked information was seen by Osama Bin Laden was voiced but there is no independent proof of that.
The Home of the Free and Land of the Brave may have to re-name itself but at least there are some brave American individuals such as Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning still out there.