Toothless Legislation Gumming at US Spy Program

March 24, 2014

By: Kelly Diamond, Publisher

toothless eu policies gumming us spyingIt’s often a point of debate as to whether embargoes, sanctions or blockades are acts of war.  When we listen to pundits talk about the foreign policies surrounding Iran and the US, the US sanctions are regarded as acts of diplomacy.  The same is said of Israel’s sanctions on Palestine.

History has a different take on the matter.  Look at the war seeds sewn for World War II.  A few MAJOR, and rather deliberate, actions lead to that war.  It was by no means inevitable.  While other factors undeniably played a part in the US involvement in the war, the two most significant ones that the US had 100% control over were:

  1. Involving ourselves in World War 1 unnecessarily.  By allowing a draw between England and Germany, there would not have been the Treaty of Versailles, which was brokered by the US and all but set up Germany to fail and set the course of future events toward a second world war.
  2. Ignoring the diplomatic pleas of Japan in the lead-up to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  The US had sanctions and blockades set up against Japan.  The people were suffering, and Prime Minister Tojo wrote countless letters seeking talks with President Roosevelt to lift the blockades.  The final letters indicated that he and Hirohito would have no choice but to attack the US if they did not engage in discussions to lift the blockades.  FDR ignored them.

A constituency which suffers at the hands of other countries’ leaders is indeed an act of war.  Japan saw it as such.  Palestine absolutely sees it as such.  Iran indubitably sees it that way.  But for some reason, the US won’t own up to it yet. 

Bobby has pointed out several times in various articles, including the most recent one “Do I REALLY Need a 2nd Passport?” the sanction already placed on Americans for opening foreign bank accounts.  Perhaps the inconvenience isn’t as widely felt amongst the general population for it to hurt yet. 

I don’t know if the recent measure voted on by the European Parliament will have the profoundly adverse effects of real sanctions, but it would seem they are moving in that direction.

A recent article from Falkvinge.net outlined these bullet points, covering the recent agreement reached in the European Parliament, which is meant to address the revelations of one Edward Snowden:

  • The European Parliament disapproves of mass surveillance of everybody, all the time. Surveillance is reserved for people under concrete suspicion of a crime.” 

We want to make it a law that only criminals be treated as criminals.  Wow.  Never take for granted that what is self-evident to you, is self-evident to politicians.  Still, the open disapproval of US spying activity is a demonstration of courage the likes of which have not seen from the EU to date. 

  • The European Parliament desires to suspend negotiations of the protectionist agreement TTIP until the United States issues credible guarantees of respecting fundamental citizen rights of European people. More specifically, it declares that it will vote to kill such an agreement (“withhold consent”) unless these conditions are met.” 

Sounds rather heavy handed.  And it would be if the trade barriers were that prohibitive in the first place.  They are, in fact, virtually non-existent.  What the TTIP (i.e. Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) really does is override regulations.  Regulations ranging from safety, to environmentalist concerns, to ethics surrounding GMO’s and fracking. 

I’m not a huge advocate for regulations, but those who are concerned with the fall-out of relaxing regulations in the name of trade, do take issue with this and rightly understand that this is the real agenda behind TTIP.   In fact, the only people it will likely hurt is the consumer.  I balance my anti-regulation stance with simple recourse for everyone against corporations that decide to trample the little guy.  Also, with lack of regulation comes an abundance of choice and competition.  But I don’t think the deregulation will go so far as to open the markets to more competition.  I have this feeling that TTIP is tailored to the existing “club” of large corporations.

The suspension of this agreement being contingent upon demands being met doesn’t have the leverage they want us to think it has.

  • The Europarl wants to terminate the Safe Harbor agreement about transfer of European personal data, when such data is transferred to U.S. corporations, under the condition of proper protection and safeguards of such data. (It’s become increasingly apparent that U.S. corporations completely ignore the obligations of said agreement.) 

I literally spit my coffee out when I read this.  YA DON’T SAY!?  There are some gaping holes in this agreement.  Again, I’m all about deregulation… really!  But when a corporation has the barrel of a government gun pointed at their heads, they are going to violate some casual agreement to keep the government from pulling the trigger!  The US government literally coerces corporations into selling out on their privacy policies.  Don’t believe me?  Explain Google and Facebook then!  Explain Verizon and AT&T!  They all flushed their privacy policies down the toilet the moment the NSA, DHS and/or IRS decided to play the “national security” card.  I covered this nearly 6 months ago in “All Bark, No Bite”.  This article is basically a follow-up to that piece, actually.

  • The so-called Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme, also known as the SWIFT agreement, which transfers data on bank transactions to the United States, is to be suspended immediately.”

Would I be praying to unicorns to believe that this includes FATCA??????? 

  • Calls for a European program to protect whistle-blowers.”

YAY!  Will any of them be offering asylum or sanctuary to Edward Snowden???  No.  I’ll let you marinate in the irony for a spell… I mean, it’s not like the revelations of Edward Snowden are the catalyst to what brought all this new legislation to bare in the first place or anything right?  How else can they sit there on their high and mighty horses and perpetuate the strawman narrative of Snowden having secret allegiances with Russia if they give him somewhere else to go!? 

  • More European IT solutions, located in European jurisdictions, to protect European sensitive data from the spying of United States. (This ties well in to Chancellor Merkel’s calls for a European-only storage cloud, designed specifically for data to not become available to the NSA.) 

Earlier in this article, how did I define acts of war?  Oppression perpetrated by an outside government.  It’s a type of tribalism, when you think about it.  Example: Parents who reserve the right to yell at and hit their kids, but will lose their minds over someone else doing that to their kids.  Those types of parents are like mini tyrants: they regard their children as subjects and property who can only serve ONE master. 

Am I wrong to say that this is what’s happening here?  I read that last bullet as the EU saying, “Hey, America!  You can’t spy on our people!  Only WE can do that!  So we will protect our people from YOUR spying by collecting all the information of our people on a more exclusive and proprietary system.”  It solves the EU’s turf war problem, but not the individuals’ civil liberty violation problem.

  • Named countries are strongly criticized for the way they conduct mass surveillance and violate civil liberties: United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden.

And finally, a list of shame.  It’s a real nail-biter as to whether or not this will come with a slap on the wrist or just a very stern talking to…

Still a rather toothless list of remedies, if you can even call them that.  But what exactly could the EU withhold from the US that would hit us where it hurts… aside from banking?  Travel?  Nah… Not without punishing the citizens of the EU in the process.

How about an embargo on US treasuries?  Someone should tell Belgium that…  since they are picking up the slack of where China has recently dropped off.  I wonder if THAT would have the US finally recognize sanctions as acts of war.

Note: The link provided for “Falkvinge.net” is spotty.  It works… sometimes… but I’m leaving it there because it is accurate and if you can catch it when the site is working, you can see the information.  Sorry for the shaky link.

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Comments

  1. Jack Worthington says

    You’re right about WW I and WW II. Both Wilson and FDR provoked nations that were not a threat and should not have been so treated (comes out of Robert Stinnett’s book: Day of Deceit). The real infamy was that FDR stood up on Dec. 8, 1941 and condemned Japan when it was he who had created the conditions that force Japan to attack.

    Snowden was and is a hero. He stood up, at great risk, and said what the NSA/government/bureaucrats/politicians were doing was wrong! Imagine what might have happened if 1000’s of “Snowdens” had stood up to the commie/socialists of Germany or the Soviet Union and said stop it! Well, they would most likely have been murdered and in fact many were. But, as was explained at the Nuremburg Trials after WW II to those who claimed they were only following orders, yes, but you were expected to know the difference between right and wrong. The real shame and guilt is on all those other bureaucrats who stood by and did nothing, expecting that they were covered by the “I was or am only following orders” scheme. Well, as we learned from WW II trials and from A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens), Madame Defarge and her sisters have long memories and when the day for settling accounts arrives, the punishments travel deep in the family tree, not stopping with the immediate perpetrator but going to the long extensions of the family.

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