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Published: Tuesday 13 August, 2013

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But after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, thenPresident George W. Bush used the pretext of an illdefined and openended war on terror to push through a fascist agenda which treats the Constitution as a mere piece of paper. Its centerpiece was the USA Patriot Act, whose Section 215, the business records provision, allows government agencies, such as the National Security Agency NSA and the FBI, to engage in broad and unwarranted surveillance that invades the privacy of millions of innocent Americans, while requiring no level of suspicion, a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.

As a senator, Barack Obama, a cons isabel marant black high tops titutional scholar, unsuccessfully fought to protect civil liberties when the Patriot Act came up for renewal. When he ran for president, Obama campaigned on a platform of transparency, criticizing Bush for offering a false choice between civil liberties and national security.

But once elected president, Obama proved to be a hypocrite, secretly continuing Bushs surveillance policies and maybe even expanding them, while his administration has engaged in heavyhanded prosecutions of such whistleblowers as Bradley Manning, John Kiriakou and Thomas Drake. Back in March, when Sen. Ron Wyden DOR asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper if the NSA collects any type of data on millions of Americans, Clapper lied under oath with a reply of No, which amounted to perjury.

The problem with telling any lie is that, no matter what lengths are taken to cover it up, the truth will come out at some point. This exactly what occurred in recent weeks, as reported by the British newspaper The Guardian and the Washington Post. First, we learned that a secret court order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act FISA requires Verizon Business Network Services to supply telephone records to the NSA and FBI of all of its customers from April 25 to July 19, providing phone numbers used, location, time and duration of all calls. This metadata is then analyzed to look for patterns and anomalies in hunting for terrorists, but is also available for abuse. It is clearly just the tip of the iceberg, for this program has been operating for seven years and it is likely that other major telecommunications carriers, such as AT and Sprint, are also subject to such orders.

Secondly, an even more reprehensible program, PRISM, was revealed. It gives the NSA direct access to the computer servers of such tech giants as Microsoft, Google, Apple, Yahoo, YouTube, Facebook, Skype and AOL, allowing it to spy on Internet use, email content, search histories, photos, documents, file transfers, connection logs, and live audio and video chats, virtually destroying the privacy of online communication.

Edward Snowden, a 29yearold computer systems analyst who had previously worked for the CIA, gained access to the NSA programs while working for computer support technology contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. As a whistleblower, he leaked information on the programs to the two newspapers, saying that the NSAs reach poses an existential threat to democracy.

I dont want to live in a world where theres no privacy, and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity, said Snowden. government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine theyre secretly building. Snowden, who is likely to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act, has fled to Hong Kong and is seeking political asylum.

Supporters of Snowden see him as a hero, while those who oppose his actions view him as a traitor. Snowden supporters include former VicePresident Al Gore, Wyden, Sens. Mark Udall DCO and Rand Paul RKY, Reps. John Conyers DMI, Jerrold Nadler DNY, Robert Scott DVA and Justin Amash RMI, former Rep. Bob Barr RGA, Michael Moore and Glenn Beck, as well as such earlier whistleblowers as Daniel Ellsberg and Coleen Rowley.

The other side includes Obama, who claims the NSA programs are a modest encroachment on privacy, the chairs and ranking minority members of the Senate and House intelligence committees, Sens. Dianne Feinstein DCA and Saxby Chambliss RGA and Reps. Mike Rogers RMI and Dutch Ruppersberger DMD, House Speaker John Boehner ROH, Sen. Lindsey Graham RSC and Rep. Peter King RNY.

NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander claims the surveillance programs disrupted dozens of terrorist attacks, but so far has failed to provide any details to back up these allegations. Meanwhile, Udall, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said terrorist plots mentioned so far appear to have been identified with other collection methods. Whatever methods are used to combat terrorism, we can ne isabel marant black high tops ver be 100 percent safe, and this kind of government surveillance is fundamentally unAmerican and deeply undemocratic. Benjamin Franklin said it best when he remarked, They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little t isabel marant black high tops emporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Snowden said, I am neither traitor nor hero. Im an American. But uncovering these NSA surveillance programs that are unAmerican to the core was an act of courage and conscience. Edward Snowden is a true American hero. isabel marant black high tops