The Two Obamas, Zombies, and the Move Towards an Orwellian Society
There are two Barack Obamas. On one hand, there is candidate Obama, the young charismatic eloquent brother on the campaign trail who says all of the right things. That Obama condemned the excesses of the Bush Administration. As a candidate, Obama challenged the Bush Administration for violating our civil liberties. He opposed data mining. He opposed the government snooping around and gathering our information at public libraries.
The other hand, there is the older, greying President Obama. In the name of fighting terrorism, this Obama has no problem with the federal government gathering and analyzing the phone and Internet records of millions of innocent Americans.
The UK Guardian reports that:
The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.
The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.
The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.
Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.
But wait, there is more. The UK Guardian also reports that:
The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.
The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.
The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims “collection directly from the servers” of major US service providers.
Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies, all those who responded to a Guardian request for comment on Thursday denied knowledge of any such program.
This is contrary to basic notions of civil liberties. This is an indefensible violation of our fundamental right to privacy. It is a gradual step toward an Orwellian society. This problem did not start with Obama. However, contrary to his beautiful campaign rhetoric, he continued those Bush era abuses. The President is not solely to blame. Congress is to blame as well for repeatedly reauthorizing the Patriot Act and the FISA courts. To justify their actions, the Administration and Congress conjure up the mysterious boogie man called terrorism. The fight against terrorism does not justify the government violating the privacy of millions of innocent and ordinary Americans.
To make matters worst, there are legions of sycophants and Obama groupies who no longer think for themselves. They suffer from a condition that Princeton University professor Eddie S. Glaude Jr. calls “selective moral outrage.” Those people condemned Bush when he violated our civil liberties. They also rightly condemned Bush for his imperial wars and drone attacks.
Yet, they are silent as church mice when Obama does the same thing. As the government monitors our phone records, emails, Skype calls and Facebook activities, these Obamaholics believe anything that the Obama Administration tells them to believe. They rationalize and justify any and everything that this President does.
These people are nothing but zombies. Like an episode of the Walking Dead, herds of mindless Obama zombies lurk on the Internet and elsewhere ready to grab and devour anyone who has the audacity to question their Lord and Savior, Barack Obama. It is a damn shame and disgrace.
For fear of being ostracized and devoured like Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, many black progressives are reluctant to speak out. Black progressives are reticent for another reason as well. We support the many positive accomplishment of Barack Obama. We are immensely proud of the first African American president. We understand that President faces Republican obstructionism. We understand the Republicans are desperately trying to undermine the President’s second term agenda by diverting the public’s attention to fake controversies like Benghazi. In such a toxic political environment, our natural impulse is to defend the President.
However, the violation of our fundamental right to privacy is not a fake controversy. It is real. Our liberty is at stake. Therefore, we must speak truth to power. Just because something is legal that does not make it just or right. Like we ended the oppressive Jim Crow laws in the South, we must end tyrannical laws like the Patriot Act and the Authorization for Use of Military Force Act. If we do not act now, Obama’s successors may take away even more of our civil liberties.