Even If Patriot Act Expires, Government Will Keep Spying

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Government Will Use “Secret Interpretations” to Get Around Legal Prohibitions

Mass surveillance under the Patriot Act is so awful that even its author says that the NSA has gone far beyond what the Act intended (and that the intelligence chiefs who said Americans aren’t being spied on should be prosecuted for perjury).

Specifically, the government is using a “secret interpretation” of the Patriot Act which allows the government to commit mass surveillance on every American.

So it’s a good thing that the Patriot Act may expire, but don’t get too excited …

Wikileaks’ Julian Assange said today:

Our sources say that the NSA is not too concerned, that it has secret interpretations of other authorities that give it much the same power that it would have had under the secret interpretation of 215 and other areas of the USA PATRIOT Act.

ZDNet agrees … and notes that Congress doesn’t even know about many of the government’s spying programs. And see this.

Indeed, the government now uses secret evidence, secret witnesses, secret interpretations, and even secret laws. See this and this.

High-level NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake told us:

It’s not rule of law. This secret law, secret rule, executive authoritarianism has saddled up again.

EFF notes:

Under international human rights law, secret “law” doesn’t even qualify as “law” at all.


This includes not just the law itself, but the judicial and executive interpretations of written laws because both of those are necessary to ensure that people have clear notice of what will trigger surveillance.

This is a basic and old legal requirement: it can be found in all of the founding human rights documents. It allows people the fundamental fairness of understanding when they can expect privacy from the government and when they cannot. It avoids the Kafkaesque situations in which people … cannot figure out what they did that resulted in government scrutiny, much less clear their names. And it ensures that government officials have actual limits to their discretion and that when those limits are crossed, redress is possible.


To bring the U.S. in line with international law, it must stop the process of developing secret law and ensure that all Americans, and indeed all people who may be subject to its surveillance have clear notice of when surveillance might occur.

Remember, the Nazis claimed – just like the NSA – that the truth was too complicated and dangerous to disclose to the public. That was B.S. then … and it’s B.S. today.

Constitutional and civil rights attorney John Whitehead writes:

It doesn’t matter who occupies the White House: the secret government with its secret agencies, secret budgets and secret programs won’t change. It will simply continue to operate in secret until some whistleblower comes along to momentarily pull back the curtain and we dutifully—and fleetingly—play the part of the outraged public, demanding accountability and rattling our cages, all the while bringing about little real reform.

Thus, the lesson of the NSA and its vast network of domestic spy partners is simply this: once you allow the government to start breaking the law, no matter how seemingly justifiable the reason, you relinquish the contract between you and the government which establishes that the government works for and obeys you, the citizen—the employer—the master.

Once the government starts operating outside the law, answerable to no one but itself, there’s no way to rein it back in, short of … doing away with the entire structure, because the corruption and lawlessness have become that pervasive.

  • AlanMacDonald

    It remains to be seen whether; Paul, Sanders, or Webb will be the
    first to rise above the mere ‘issue level’ of denouncing spying, and actually have the brains and guts to ‘out’ the broader cancer of the Empire — which is the proximate CAUSE of all spying, wars, looting, tyranny, environmental destruction, et al.

    The prime and only “compelling” reason that Bernie could become president, if he wants to, would be for him to ‘expose’, publicly ‘call-out’ and commit to confront this Disguised Global (crony) Capitalist EMPIRE — which has now captured, controls, and “Occupies” our formerly proud democratic Republic, by hiding behind the dual-party Vichy Empire which both the
    neocon ‘R’ Vichy party and the neoliberal-con ‘D’ Vichy party front and shill for.

    Another candidate who may well have the brains, historical wisdom, and guts to ‘come-out’ against this Disguised Global Capitalist Empire, this “Empire of Chaos” (as Pepe Escobar calls it), the “Empire of Illusion” (which Chris Hedges calls it), and this highly-integrated (but well hidden) six-sectored; corporate, financial, militarist, media/propaganda, extra-legal, and dual-party Vichy-political Global Empire merely ‘posing’ as, and HQed in, the U.S., is Jim Webb.

    As I wrote, more than 8 years ago, before the ’08 selection in OEN:

    OpEdNews Op Eds 1/31/2007 at 23:27:13
    The most important question for ’08 candidates —- “Where do you stand on EMPIRE?”

    “The very most important question that the American people
    should be asking (and looking for) in any candidate for president in ’08 is not, “Where do you stand on the war?”, but, “Where do you stand on the EMPIRE that has taken over our country — an Empire of which the war in Iraq is only its biggest and most visible crime — so far?”

  • Aquifer

    So those are the only 2 people you think are worthy of support?

  • Aquifer

    “Government Will Use “Secret Interpretations” to Get Around Legal Prohibitions”, (especially considering that those “legal prohibitions” are crafted as they are …)

    Well of course it will … This will not change until we change the government …

  • AlanMacDonald

    There are 3 (three) that I mentioned — and any of them could be president if they; raise the issue of this damn Empire, and if they run outside the ‘R’ Vichy and ‘D’ Vichy parties of the Empire.

    Yes, Aquifer, now I think you’ve got it.

    Oh, BTW, Aquifer, I’ve already funded 2 of the 3, written supportively of all three, talked with one in person about ‘outing the Empire’, and will work heavily for whoever ‘outs’ the Empire first.

  • AlanMacDonald

    Thanks, easywriter for your support on ‘outing’ Empire

  • Aquifer

    Sorry – I’ll stick with Stein … Bernie, for one, seems to have no trouble with Israeli aggression … Paul is too “free market” oriented – there are other “empires” out there besides gov’t ones, and Webb, can’t remember just now now why I have dismissed him in the past – but in any case all three are members of the duopoly … how do you square that?

  • AlanMacDonald

    Aquifer, I “square that” with whoever among Bernie, Jim, and Paul is the first to put his balls on the line and publicly ‘call-out’ this Disguised Global (crony) Capitalist EMPIRE as the target of his leading an overt anti-Empire (and anti-domestic-tyranny) Second American Revolution against EMPIRE —- which the First (and only successful) American Revolution against Empire was!

    Whoever talks the talk, and truly walks the walk, against this damn cancer of Empire, and honestly pledges it publicly to ‘we the people’ will be the one to win over the vast majority of the people of America who want to be citizens (rather than the ‘subjects’ of Empire that they are so clearly today), BUT actually saying so and publicly pleasing to do so would guarantee that any such candidate would get no (Zero) financial or media/propaganda support from the Empire — which means that whoever takes this course would be pledging his sacred honor, treasure, and political suicide if he (like Obama and Bill Clinton lied and welshed) on his promise to go after the VEMPIRE and drive a spike through its psychopathic heart.

  • AlanMacDonald

    Wrong again, Aquifer, “this will not change until we change”/destroy by exposing, the EMPIRE —- and thus re-establish “OUR government” as a democratic Republic, instead of the EMPIRE only ‘posing’ as our former country!

  • AlanMacDonald

    Aquifer, I pleaded with Stein (as I did with Nader in ’08 at the Portland UU Church) to make the campaign clearly about ‘outing’ the Empire — just as the First American Revolution was against ALL the ‘issues’, ‘symptom problems’, and our entire “ailing social order” was against the British Empire’s; corporate, financial, militarist, media, extra-legal, and Royalist (pre-Vichy facade of) government by an EMPIRE.

    Neither Stein, nor Nader, would bet on running an overt and public Anti-Empire campaign that honestly exposed the singular cancer of this highly-integrated, but well hidden/disguised Empire.

    So, Aquifer, maybe, just maybe, after eight years of fucking; financial pain, expanding wars, increasing income and wealth inequality, domestic spying, murder of young Black men (just to threaten everyone else), environmental destruction of ‘our’ world, bribery from Wall Street looting classes, and further deterioration of our entire “ailing social order” the people will rise-up in massive “Popular Resistance” and at least support the election of a overtly Anti-Empire president of ‘all the people’ instead of being fooled again, and again, and again (like Charlie Brown by two Lucy’s in different ‘R’ Vichy and ‘D’ Vichy dresses) and vote in a real president of ‘we the people’ instead of another lying puppet of the EMPIRE, like faux-Emperor/president OKie Doke, Secret Agent 008, Obama, who only said of the disguised Empire (while he was actually bombing women and children in Libya) “We’re NOT there for Empire”.

    Yes, Aquifer, I’m putting my bet on someone who will honestly and publicly speak truth and ‘call-out’ the Empire for what it is, instead of lying through his electioneering teeth and answer the peoples’ door with another SNL ‘Land-Shark’ lie of, “It’s NOT the Land Shark” as Bill Clinton and Obama did.

  • Aquifer

    Well in that case – save your money – all those folk have tied themselves to the duopoly …

  • Aquifer

    Ok – so we “expose Empire” but don’t change the government – you think simply “exposing it” will make all our problems disappear?

  • AlanMacDonald

    Yes, my Aquifer doubter, simply ‘exposing’ a well disguised Empire now, today, in the era beyond which any Empire is acceptable to any people — will by simply “exposing it” destroy it.

    By today’s standards nothing can be ‘exposed’ as an EMPIRE and survive.

    In fact, even that dunce, Reagan, ‘called-out’ the next-to-the-last Empire on earth and it collapsed.

    And he was just one single simple person, and actor even, whereas today millions could easily, non-violently, and simply ‘expose’ and publicly ‘call-out’ their captured and “Occupied” former country as an EMPIRE and it would quite quickly collapse the entire dual-party Vichy-political sham of the Empire’s neocon ‘R’ Vichy party and even the smoother lying neoliberal-con artists of the ‘D’ Vichy party.

    Yes, Aquifer, “that’s the ticket” — now you’ve really got it!

  • Aquifer

    Alan – if you recall, Reagan referred to the USSR as “an evil Empire” ; to suggest that calling it an empire is what caused it’s collapse, is rather naive, it seems to me. There are no magic words, like “open sesame” that will accomplish what you wish ….

    Supporting any D/R will only perpetuate it – Millions could even more easily “revolt at the polls” and collapse the corporate owned system that is the backbone of this “empire” –

  • Aquifer

    So which of your candidates has done that?

    And even if they used your magic word in a campaign, what makes you think that would have any effect on how a D/R governs? Bernie. e.g., seems to have no problem with Israel’s genocidal activities …

    As for our American revolution – you really think it was about overturning the evil effects of empire, per se? A country our “forefathers” proceeded to build on the backs of slaves and native genocide? It was about their determination to govern themselves, even determining their ability to form their own “empire” …

    Alan – a stinkweed by any other name, still stinks – we need to root out the stinkweed, not just call it one … And just calling it one, without dealing concretely with all the issues that make any country, whatever you want to call it, a failure is what we need to do – So I would prefer to vote for someone who deals with those issues over someone who simply uses magic words in a campaign …

  • AlanMacDonald

    Aquifer, I can’t really follow your illogic here, when you say, “a stinkweed by any other name, still stinks – we need to root out the
    stinkweed, not just call it one … And just calling it one” BTW, a great three bit word for ‘root-out’ is deracinate, if you would like to use it (I hold the Trademark on that particular word, although I could not get the Trandemark on the word EMPIRE, because it has been so abused over all human history as the ‘root’ word for Caesar, Czar, Kingdom, Monarchy, and all other terms of non-democracy)

    No Revolution was ever started by calling the perversion of government a ‘stinkweed’, eh?

    The name of the form of rule which is most inverse to a democratic Republic is ‘Empire’ plain ans simple. In fact, you will have to admit that Empire is so clearly the common thing that Republics are perverted into, that the famous phrase is that “Empire is commonly called “the disease of Republics”.

    So, now I’ll engage you on that issue of ‘issues’ (which you seem sointent on having the candidates address to see who is being honest).

    Well, Aquifer, my friend, ‘Empire’ is the one=issue proxy and litmus test for ALL Issues!

    If a candidate does not publicly commit to being anti-Empire then he is essentially saying that he will not commit to being against wars, or financial looting, or environmental destruction, or police-state tyranny, or drone assassinations, or, or, or, … ad nauseum.

    A candidate’s position on the single ISSUE of Empire thus gives away his position on all the awful Issues, and ‘symptom problems’, and our entire “ailing social order” that EMPIRE causes.

    A candidate can give waffley answers on hundreds of different troublesome issues and still get away with some other interpretations of how he will stand on issues that he wasnt’ asked about or that he didn’t address.

    But if a candidate has the balls to say, “I’m foresquare against EMPIRE and all the offenses that an EMPIRE causes —- then average people know clearly that he will not tolerate; expanding wars, or vast economic inequality, nor extra-legal deceit, nor domestic tyranny, nor Wall Street looting, nor dumping negative externality costs on the people — because all of these and many more awful issues than you can even think of are ALL associated with and directly CAUSED by one and only one perversion of government — and that is EMPIRE.

    So, if you want real answers from candidates on ‘the issues’, Aquifer, my friend, all you have to do is confront the candidates (as I did Romney in ’12) on the seminal and litmus-test issue of “Where do you stand on the EMPIRE that has captured and now almost fully “Occupies” our former country?” — and that candidate’s answer (which Romney answered by saying there was no dual-party Vichy facade of a Disguised Global Crony-Capitalist EMPIRE) — showed that he was only running to serve the EMPIRE, and that he would do NOTHING against the EMPIRE that is eating our country and people alive on ALL ISSUES!

    Asking any candidate “Where do you stand on this damn disguised EMPIRE” is a universal question that shows how he/she will deal with ALL issues. When I ask Killary how she will stand on the seminal/causal cancer of this Disguised Global Crony-Capitalist EMPIRE that has our country by the balls, she will clearly show her hand (or more accurately her hand-job) for the EMPIRE by claiming that “There is no Empire in the U.S.” —– just as the lying through his teeth ‘Land Shark’ in the SNL skit answered Gilda Radner’s question of the knocking on her apartment door, “Who’s there?” — and the Land Shark answered, “It’s NOT the Land Shark” — and just as Obama, while he was actively bombing innocent women and children in Libya lied through his fucking teeth and said, “We’re NOT there for EMPIRE”.

    Of course that gutless complicit pawn of EMPIRE was bombing Libya precisely for EMPIRE in the Middle East, and he allowed Wall Stree to continue to loot Americans blind exactly because of his service on his knees to EMPIRE, and his willingness to sign the continue spying on everyone Freedom ‘Act’ was precisely for EMPIRE, as everything he and that Glass Steagal murderer Bill Clinton did that and NAFTA entirely FOR EMPIRE!

    Don’t you see, my friend, Aquifer, they all lie ALL the time in the service of EMPIRE on ALL issues, because the American people have never known enough to ask the toughest question in the world to any candidate: Where do you stand on the EMPIRE that is fucking us in every way??

  • Aquifer

    It’s clear you didn’t get my “calling it by any other name” reference, so forget it …

    Hmm, so you “trademarked” “deracinate” – sounds like a very corporate thing to do ….

    You also seemed to miss the significance of preceding the term “Empire” with quite clearly pejorative adjectives, as you routinely do ….

    So, just as an exercise – If Bernie came out with a denunciation of Empire, do you think he would reverse his stand on Israel – support the BDS movement re it, and refuse to give it any further aid of any kind until it dismantled its apartheid, genocidal policies?

  • AlanMacDonald

    Aquifer, I don’t know what “Bernie would do” any more than I could speculate “What Jesus would do” — but I do trust and have ‘faith’ that both of them are of the vast majority of sane and non-violent ‘democracy-thinkers” and trust thst they are not eithr arrogant, psychopathic, nor violent “Empire-thinkers”.

    In fact, Aquifer, now that you ask what I think (and believe), I feel open to tell you that I think that Jesus was sent to earth to non-violently confront Empire with Love — which is why my typical sign-off, which I haven’t been using as ofter as I should is to wish you and yours well in this age of ill diagnosed global Empire and,

    Liberty, democracy, equality, and justice
    Violent / Vichy-disguised


  • Aquifer

    Well right now, Bernie is an Israel supporter – no problem with our “empire” giving billions to an apartheid, genocidal regime – if that’s who you wish to support, hey, your choice, but not mine ….