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The prominent Democratic website Think Progress recently took aim at the anti-NSA surveillance movement with a warning to “Beware of Libertarians Bearing Gifts”. The blog suggests bipartisan alliances between civil liberties advocates and libertarians will sink the New Deal, which some might say is already taking on a bit of water.

The direct target of authors Zack Beauchamp and Ian Millhiser is the Offnow.org coalition, a partnership anchored by the right-wing Tenth Amendment Center and the left-wing Bill of Rights Defense Committee.

(Disclaimer: Media Alliance, my organization, recently joined the coalition).

The premise of Offnow is local legislation in states, counties, and universities to make it policy to dis-invest in mass surveillance. Twelve state legislatures have introduced versions of the 4th Amendment Act(Alaska, Arizona, California, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Washington). The big target is Utah, home of the huge Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, where the provision of 1.7 million gallons of water by the state every day cools the huge supercomputers.

Think Progress’s objection to turning off the utilities on the NSA emanates from a liberal nightmare of a state like Texas darkening health clinics for poor people or cutting off water supplies to voting rights attorneys.

Let me be clear. I buy the idea that nutty contingents of the Tea Party might advocate for such things. Texas’s recent foray into fetal survival within the carcass of a deceased woman is evidence to never say never. But there is one basic difference.

Mass blanket surveillance of telephone metadata, email and Internet searches without individualized warrants and probable cause, I s unconstitutional. The Bill of Rights doesn’t allow it. Congress didn’t approve it. The American public didn’t know about it until a certain contractor took a trip to Hong Kong. The idea Think Progress is embracing – the rogue activities of the NSA are established government policy – isn’t true.

Even the unaccountable secret FISC court has agreed: “The Obama administration, under pressure from continued NSA leaks, declassified documents Wednesday showing the agency scooped up tens of thousands of emails and other online communications from Americans beginning in 2008 that it wasn’t allowed to target, and was told to stop by the secret court that oversees the program”.

The Dems at The Center for American Progress also seem stricken by an attack of amnesia about the long tradition of local disinvestment movements to impact American policy – by progressives.

The anti-apartheid movement advocated for disinvestment in South Africa under apartheid from both private and public sources including state universities. By 1984, 53 U.S institutions divested, by 1987, 128 including the University of California. By the end of 1989, 26 states, 22 counties and over 90 cities had taken some form of binding economic action against companies doing business in South Africa. Most of this pre-dated the 1986 Comprehensive Apartheid Act by Congress.

Over 110 American cities have declared themselves sanctuary cities that will provide limited or no local cooperation with the Secure Communities deportation program run by the Department of Homeland Security.

Vermont, the state most often described as a progressive Disneyland has developed a virtual cottage industry in defying the federal government. In just the last few years, the state has authorized hemp growing without a permit, passed a law prohibiting patent trolling not addressed by the US Patent Act, opted out of the Affordable Care Act, and has considered a GMO labeling bill, currently stalled by litigation threats from Monsanto.

If the New Deal is sinking, the most progressive state in the nation appears to be steadily poking holes in the hull of the boat.

In the latest version of “you’re with us or you’re against us”, the Center for American Progress has embraced an a-historical definition of progressivism that prioritizes not sleeping with the enemy over principled dissent against unconstitutional activities.

The last line of the Think Progress article is “Ideology matters”.

Does it really matter more than justice?

Tracy Rosenberg is the executive director of Media Alliance (www.media-alliance.org), an Oakland CA-based democratic communications advocacy organization. Research assistance with this article was provided by Alexander Houk.

(Republished from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Government Surveillance 
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  1. ghouri says:

    This isthe worst senario that evvnour bedroom isno more secure. These survaillnce agncies have crossed the limits. Instead of contining to military now they try totap every thing. Which country is going to respect america and why?
    Tese agencies are damaging the makind and killing millions of people for their miscalculation that how damaging will these reports.
    We have devil but human devil is worst than real devil.

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  2. Tate says: • Website

    Fantastic article. I love how it questions the idea that progressive ideals
    and centralization of power necessarily go hand-in-hand. As well, I love
    the swipe at the line “ideology matters.” Depending on how we define them
    (as my fellow editor did in this piece: http://thenewpolis.com/secession-ideology-common-life/), ideology can be
    very dangerous. It’s principles that are important. Clearly, the Center of
    American Progress is has sold out any principles regarding civil liberties
    if they believe not associating with libertarians is more important than
    stopping NSA spying.

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  3. I agree with both comments. Both put the entire story in perspective. Regarding progressive ideals, it depends on which type of ideals that are fostered and centralization of power go hand-in-hand. Those ideals fostered by Karl Marx certainly would go hand-in-hand with centralization of power.

    Examples: The Soviet Union from 1918 until its dissolution in 1990, China from 1949 to present, and N. Korea from 1945 to today. These three are the main examples of progressive ideals gone bad; Cuba under Fidel Castro, another.

    Compared to Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence is the epitome in progressive ideals. He feared and detested centralization of power, as most, if not all, of America’s Founding Fathers did. James Madison introduced the Bill of Rights, which entail Amendments 1 through 10, and nullification is included.

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