To state the premise once again, as capitalism starts falling apart and elites become ever more predatory and extractive, government and corporations merge and exercise increasingly coercive authority over the citizenry they supposedly "represent." For most of it's history, for all it's flaws and occasional homicidal mania, average living standards increased under capitalism. Now that this has passed a zenith and living standards are declining in the advanced capitalist countries, the authorities are exercising powers similar to those under the regimes of Eastern Europe to keep the system going: mass surveillance, mass incarceration, intimation of dissidents, criminalizing protest, spending vast sums on internal security even as the state goes bankrupt, etc. In addition, it seems the laws are increasingly being rewritten to protect oligarchic elites and big businesses from any scrutiny, and protections for the citizenry are being stripped away. And although they constantly deride government, behind closed doors they know that government is the only thing keeping the capitalist experiment going. So let's have a look at the latest developments:
... For example, a new bill before the U.S. Congress would require black box data recorders to be installed in all new vehicles starting in 2015. These black box data recorders will be able to constantly transmit data about everything that your car is doing to the government and to the insurance companies. The following is from a recent article by Eric Peters....Why Is It Necessary For The Federal Government To Turn The United States Into A Prison Camp? (Economic Collapse Blog)
And naturally, they – the government, insurance companies – will be able to track your every move, noting (and recording) where you’ve been and when. This will create a surveillance net beyond anything that ever existed previously. Some will not sweat this: After all, if you’ve got nothing to hide, why worry? Except for the fact that, courtesy of almost everything we do being either “illegal” or at least “suspicious” we all have a great deal to hide. The naivety of the Don’t Worry, it’s No Big Deal crowd is breathtaking. Did the average Soviet citizen also “not have anything to hide,” and hence why worry?
But the last possibility is probably the creepiest possibility: EDRs tied into your car’s GPS will give them – the government and its corporate **** ******* (edited for language) – literal physical control over (hack) “your” vehicle. This is not conspiracy theorizing. It is technological fact. Current GM vehicles equipped with the same technology about to be mandated for every vehicle can be disabled remotely. Just turned off. All the OnStar operator has to do is send the appropriate command over the GPS to your car’s computer, which controls the engine. It is one of the features touted by OnStar – of course, as a “safety” feature.
Even when you are sitting at home you are still being watched and monitored in countless ways.
For example, every single call you make on your cell phone is intercepted and monitored by the government.
Your Internet activity is tracked and monitored by a whole host of government agencies as well. If you doubt this, just read this article.
Now CISPA would expand government surveillance of the Internet even further. The following description of CISPA comes from the Electronic Frontier Foundation website....
CISPA creates an exception to all privacy laws to permit companies to share our information with each other and with the government in the name of cybersecurity…. CISPA’s ‘information sharing’ regime allows the transfer of vast amounts of data, including sensitive information like internet use history or the content of emails, to any agency in the government including military and intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency or the Department of Defense Cyber Command. Once in government hands, this information can be used for any non-regulatory purpose so long as one significant purpose is for cybersecurity or to protect national security.
Internal Policing and Intimidation:
Is the TSA becoming America's three-letter-acronym internal secret police, a la Eastern Europe?
But now TSA is invading travel by other means, too. No surprise, really: as soon as she established groping in airports, Napolitano expressed her desire to expand TSA jurisdiction over all forms of mass transit. In the past year, TSA's snakelike VIPR (Visual Intermodal Prevention and Response) teams have been slithering into more and more bus and train stations – and even running checkpoints on highways – never in response to actual threats, but apparently more in an attempt to live up to the inspirational motto displayed at the TSA's air marshal training center since the agency's inception: "Dominate. Intimidate. Control."The TSA's mission creep is making the US a police state. The out-of-control Transportation Security Administration is past patdowns at airports – now it's checkpoints and roadblocks. (The Guardian)
Anyone who rode the bus in Houston, Texas during the 2-10pm shift last Friday faced random bag checks and sweeps by both drug-sniffing dogs and bomb-sniffing dogs (the latter being only canines necessary if "preventing terrorism" were the actual intent of these raids), all courtesy of a joint effort between TSA VIPR nests and three different local and county-level police departments. The new Napolitano doctrine, then: "Show us your papers, show us everything you've got, justify yourself or you're not allowed to go about your everyday business."
Airports, bus terminals, train stations, highways – what's left? If you don't like it, walk. And remember to be respectfully submissive to any TSA agents or police you encounter in your travels, especially now that the US supreme court has ruled mass strip-searches are acceptable for anyone arrested for even the most minor offence in America. If you're rude to any TSA agent or cops, you risk being arrested on some vague catch-all charge like "disorderly conduct". Even if the charges are later dropped, you'll still undergo the ritual humiliation of having to strip, squat, spread 'em and show your various orifices to be empty.
Can I call America a police state now, without being accused of hyperbole?
Cue up the Yakity Sax! In case you missed it, there have been a number of Boing Boing posts of late documenting outrageous TSA incidents:This week in TSA awfulness: a recap of recent American airport atrocities (BoingBoing)
• A terminal in Newark airport was evacuated because the TSA forgot to screen a tiny baby.
• TSA agents discovered an "anomaly in the crotchital area" of a 79-year-old woman.
• TSA agents at JFK harassed the family of a 7-year-old girl with cerebral palsy and developmental disability.
• TSA screeners in LA ran a drug ring and took bribes from drug dealers.
• The TSA's anti-hugging squad caught a terrorist masquerading as a 4-year-old girl who loves her grandma.
• A 95-year-old US Air Force veteran from World War II and his 85-year-old friend were humiliated, searched and robbed at a San Diego TSA checkpoint.
In a five-four ruling this week, the supreme court decided that anyone can be strip-searched upon arrest for any offense, however minor, at any time. This horror show ruling joins two recent horror show laws: the NDAA, which lets anyone be arrested forever at any time, and HR 347, the "trespass bill", which gives you a 10-year sentence for protesting anywhere near someone with secret service protection. These criminalizations of being human follow, of course, the mini-uprising of the Occupy movement.How the US uses sexual humiliation as a political tool to control the masses (Naomi Wolf, The Guardian)
Is American strip-searching benign? The man who had brought the initial suit, Albert Florence, described having been told to "turn around. Squat and cough. Spread your cheeks." He said he felt humiliated: "It made me feel like less of a man."
In surreal reasoning, justice Anthony Kennedy explained that this ruling is necessary because the 9/11 bomber could have been stopped for speeding. How would strip searching him have prevented the attack? Did justice Kennedy imagine that plans to blow up the twin towers had been concealed in a body cavity? In still more bizarre non-logic, his and the other justices' decision rests on concerns about weapons and contraband in prison systems. But people under arrest – that is, who are not yet convicted – haven't been introduced into a prison population.
Our surveillance state shown considerable determination to intrude on citizens sexually. There's the sexual abuse of prisoners at Bagram – der Spiegel reports that "former inmates report incidents of … various forms of sexual humiliation. In some cases, an interrogator would place his penis along the face of the detainee while he was being questioned. Other inmates were raped with sticks or threatened with anal sex". There was the stripping of Bradley Manning is solitary confinement. And there's the policy set up after the story of the "underwear bomber" to grope US travelers genitally or else force them to go through a machine – made by a company, Rapiscan, owned by terror profiteer and former DHA czar Michael Chertoff – with images so vivid that it has been called the "pornoscanner".
Believe me: you don't want the state having the power to strip your clothes off. History shows that the use of forced nudity by a state that is descending into fascism is powerfully effective in controlling and subduing populations.
and see also: David Graeber: New Police Strategy in New York – Sexual Assault Against Peaceful Protestors (Naked Capitalism)
Mass Surveillance of the Citizenry
In his first television interview since he resigned from the National Security Agency over its domestic surveillance program, William Binney discusses the NSA’s massive power to spy on Americans and why the FBI raided his home after he became a whistleblower. Binney was a key source for investigative journalist James Bamford’s recent exposé in Wired Magazine about how the NSA is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah. The Utah spy center will contain near-bottomless databases to store all forms of communication collected by the agency, including private emails, cell phone calls, Google searches and other personal data.Exclusive: National Security Agency Whistleblower William Binney on Growing State Surveillance. (Democracy Now)
Truly a terrifying interview. Be sure and listen to how the FBI raided his home at gunpoint after he resigned from the NSA and started speaking out. It's like something out of Stalin's U.S.S.R. or Hussein's Iraq. At least he's still alive, I guess...
US requests for secret spying warrants rose to nearly 2K in 2011, and not a single one was rejected (BoingBoing)
Devon sez, "Portland, OR is the next city to consider a plan to implement police surveillance cameras throughout the downtown area. The proposal is to have surveillance cameras that can be accessed and controlled by police officers through their mobile devices. Although the Portland Police Bureau has assured the city council that the mobile devices will be secure, they are proposing to have the system operated through a wi-fi network. This proposal is coming at a time of significant municipal budget woes, when Portland Police are facing the potential layoff of 56 officers. Mayor Adams maintains that this system will have a deterrent effect upon crime in downtown Portland."Portland, OR considers ubiquitous CCTV surveillance (BoingBoing)
Harassing of dissidents and the media:
Last night USA Today reported that two of its staffers, Tom Vanden Brook and Ray Locker, were the targets of a smear campaign, including fake Twitter accounts and web sites established in their names, launched by a Pentagon contractor specializing in "information operations." For some reason, the paper declined to name the perpetrator: Leonie Industries.Meet the Pentagon Contractor That Ran a Disinformation Campaign Against Two USA Today Reporters (Gawker)
According to USA Today's Gregory Korte, fake web sites purporting to be maintained Vanden Brook and Locker emerged several weeks ago as the pair were reporting a story on "the military's 'information operations' program, which [has] been criticized even within the Pentagon as ineffective and poorly monitored." The site TomVandenBrook.com, for instance, was first registered in January just days after Vanden Brook began making inquiries on the story. It prominently mentioned an erroneous story Vanden Brook had written about the 2006 Sago Mine disaster in West Virginia—Vanden Brook, like the Associated Press, Reuters and several other outlets—had mistakenly reported that 12 of 13 trapped miners had survived based in part on inaccurate information provided by the governor. The site for Ray Locker, who shared a byline with Vanden Brook, listed his stories along with prominently featured negative comments calling his reporting into question. (Both links are to Google's cached copies; the sites have been taken down).
Oddly, the USA Today story on the mischief names only "Pentagon contractors" as likely culprits. But a source familiar with the story confirms that the contractor responsible is Leonie Industries, an information operations company with more than $90 million in Army contracts in Afghanistan. It's doubly odd that USA Today didn't at least seek comment from Leonie on the disinformation, since Leonie was the primary target of the investigation that apparently sparked the sculduggery, and would be the inescapable suspect to anyone who put two and two together.
Merger of corporations and government, including the legal system:
The U.S. Supreme Court limited the reach of a law that protects American citizens from torture in other countries, ruling that victims can sue only individuals, not organizations or corporations.Torture Suits Against Companies Blocked by Top U.S. Court
The justices unanimously threw out a suit filed against the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization by the relatives of Azzam Rahim, an American allegedly tortured and murdered in the West Bank during the 1990s.
The ruling is a prelude to a dispute the court will take up in its next term, when it will use a case involving Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) to consider the scope of a similar law that applies to non-citizens, the Alien Tort Statute.
Multinational companies have faced dozens of suits under the two laws accusing them of playing roles in human rights violations, environmental wrongdoing and labor abuses. Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), Coca-Cola Co. (KO), Pfizer Inc. (PFE), Unocal Corp., Chevron Corp. (CVX), Ford Motor Co. (F) and KBR Inc. (KBR) have all been sued.
I'm sure readers will not the irony of the fast that corporations are considered legal people by the Supreme Court and have rights to "speech," yet they cannot be prosecuted in court for mass murder, as an individual can. This is the law of the land now.
Cartels and monopolies were created in the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, especially during the depressions. Teddy Roosevelt and the great trust-busters restored some competition to the US economy. The New Deal began a new phase of cartelization. Now the US economy has entered a new phase of consolidation – a return to the Gilded age. In its extreme form entire industries fall under the domination of one company (almost monopolies), which sucks the oxygen so that everyone else in the entire supply chain gasps for air.The new American economy: concentrating business power to suit an unequal society (Fabius Maximus)
It’s clearest in what’s misleadingly called the technology sector.
More of these will emerge, as deep structural factors drive this trend. Technology today creates “winner take all” network effects. But there are other factors at work. Large companies can wield the patent system as a weapon, buy political protection and tax breaks, get government contracts, suppress unions, and often break the law with impunity. The banks and drug companies (see here for one of countless examples) illustrate these dynamics.
- Apple nears dominance over the entire consumer electronics industry. Even the large telecoms must dance to their tune.
- Amazon dominates the publishing business, especially electronic publications. Even the largest retailers and publishers fear them. And they’re expanding fast throughout the e-retail space.
- Google dominates the e-advertising business.
- On a smaller scale, eBay dominates the e-auction business.
These giants destroy not just small but even large businesses as independent entities – they become dependent satellites, the business equivalent of Marx’s reserve army of the unemployed. Made or broken by whim, with profit margins set for the convenience of the megacorps in their field. The large regional corporations that were the mainstays of local politics and culture in America’s cities become branch offices, radically concentrating the social and economic patterns of the nation. This process has been running for decades, and now enters a new stage.
This trend of concentration on the industry level mirrors trends on the level of individual corporations, as senior officers take an increasing share of not just total wages, but also corporate profits. Their power is a means, not an end — and they as a group apply it to increase their wealth and income. As a result, the senior officers of these companies become plutocrats, members of our small and interconnected ruling elite – rich beyond the imagination of most people. None of their descendents need work for ten generations. Meg Whitman accumulates $1.3 billion as the senior manager at Ebay, and attempts to buy the Governorship of California as 19th century English plutocrats would buy an earldom.
These are the people who increasingly own America. They run for office (eg, Bloomberg; Senate has become a millionaires club called the US Senate). They buy newspapers and magazine, endow think-tanks, to advocate their views. They fund candidates for President to make their view the law of the land. Their wealth allows them to shape public policy as a hobby. They are becoming America; the rest of us will just live here.
The government has officially stated that fracking can cause earthquakes. And see this. Some fracking companies now admit this fact.
And yet a new law passed in Pennsylvania will allow doctors to access information about chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, but will restrict them from sharing that information with their patients. See the writeups by Mother Jones and Truthout.
The director of the Emmy-award winning documentary on fracking – Gasland – was arrested for attempting to film a Congressional hearing on fracking.
Actor Mark Ruffalo was put on terror watch list after he organized showings of Gasland.
The Washington Post reported in March that the FBI is investigating anti-fracking activists as potential terrorists.
The above is not unique, but part of a trend of using national security laws to protect big companies (more). As just a few of many examples:
Investigating factory farming may get one labeled as a terrorist
The government used national security excuses to prevent reporters and scientists from being able to investigate the BP oil spill. Indeed, the White House pressured scientists to underestimate the size of the spill, and tried to smear scientists who found underwater oil plumes. The government covered up the danger of dispersants
The government’s response to the outbreak of mad cow disease was simple: it stopped testing for mad cow, and prevented cattle ranchers and meat processors from voluntarily testing their own cows.
The government is protecting the nuclear industry by promoting voodoo science about the safety of radiation on human health, and by covering up what’s really going on. Government is simply acting as a cheerleader for the nuclear power companies. Indeed, nuclear power plants would not be built in a free market: without billions in government insurance, subsidies and guarantees, no one would want to build the bloody things
The government underplayed the huge Tennessee coal ash spill. The former head of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy says that the government whitewashed the whole coal ash investigation
Fraud was one of the main causes of the Depression and of the current financial crisis, but nothing has been done to rein in fraud today. Indeed, the only real action the government is taking in regard to the financial crisis is to help cover up the fraud of the giant banks
As the ACLU notes, Fusion Centers – a hybrid of military, intelligence agency, police and private corporations set up in centers throughout the country, and run by the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security – allow big businesses like Boeing to get access to classified information which gives them an unfair advantage over smaller competitors
Law enforcement agencies spy on protesters and then share the info – at taxpayer expense – with the giant Wall Street banks
In an effort to protect Bank of America from the threatened Wikileaks expose of wrongdoing – the Department of Justice told Bank of America to a hire a specific hardball-playing law firm to assemble a team to take down WikiLeaks.
One of the best definitions of fascism – the one used by Mussolini himself – is the “merger of state and corporate power“.George Washington: Our Country Is Being Fracked by the Merger of Government and Big Business (Naked Capitalism)
Killing the competition:
The US consumes more bottles of wine than any other nation in the world. But almost 80 years after the end of Prohibition, buying a drink can still be tricky.US alcohol retailers find law changes hard to swallow (BBC)
It's illegal, for instance, to buy vodka in Delaware to take to a party in Pennsylvania. And retailers in Maryland are not allowed to ship alcohol to anybody living in another state.
That's because of the 4,000 or so different laws that govern the alcohol industry and give individual states unprecedented rights to regulate sales and consumption within their borders.
The protections have often favoured small businesses, but many now fear they're under threat from cross-border wine sales on the internet, and the end of state monopolies that could lead to deregulation.
"The worst-case scenario is that you have a reduction of competition, removal of small businesses from the marketplace or potentially not having small businesses in the marketplace at all," says John Bodnovich, executive director of the American Beverage Licensees, which represents 20,000 small retailers across 34 states.
He's particularly concerned about new laws in the state of Washington which take effect in June. State controlled off-licences are closing, and grocery stores and supermarkets will be allowed to sell what the Americans call "hard liquor", or sprits, instead.
But the biggest threat to small businesses comes from a measure which says "liquor stores" must operate from stores no smaller than 10,000 sq feet.
"What's happened in Washington state is scary," says Chuck Ferrar, owner of Bay Ridge Wine and Spirits in Annapolis, Maryland.
"[The alcohol industry] is the last bastion of small businesses, 50% of our businesses are owned by Asian minorities because it's one of the few remaining industries where somebody can start a small business and see it grow and thrive.
"But Washington will drive the small business under. And I think it will eventually happen here, that alcohol will be sold in groceries and supermarkets."
Criminalization of Protest:
It has become pretty routine for local police to engage in thuggery and run roughshod over Constitutional protections in the name of maintaining order, which increasingly means not annoying big companies.Charlotte to Suspend Constitutional Free Speech and Assembly Protections to Help Bank of America, Duke Shareholder Meetings (Naked Capitalism)
With habeas corpus suspended, our own Attorney General maintaining the Administration has the right to kill suspected terrorists (ie, pretty much anyone) without a trial, and electronic surveillance ever on the rise, it might seem hard to get worked up about small minded suspensions of the right to make a political point in public of the sort planned in Charlotte, NC.
As recounted in the Charlotte Business Journal, the City Council passed strict (meaning of questionable legality) security rules for the Democratic convention this summer. Natch, some of the big local companies seem to have gotten to the city manager, who designated the annual meetings of Bank of America and Duke Energy (May 9) the sort of “extraordinary event” that merits intrusive searches:
Law enforcement will be given broader powers during these events to search backpacks, coolers, satchels and messenger bags. That includes briefcases and carry-on luggage — the kind with wheels often used by lawyers to transport reams of documents.
The new ordinances also detail a list of items that are grounds for arrest. Among them: spray paint, permanent markers, hammers, crowbars, box cutters, utility knives, chains, padlocks, lumber, plastic pipe, pepper spray, mace and police scanners.
Unlimited spending for state security, even in the face of bankruptcy:
Today, in downtown Oakland, @marymad took a picture of this beast, which was used to intimidate crowds of May Day marchers:
Naturally, you are asking yourself, how is it that a cash-strapped city like Oakland can afford a monster like this? Well, luckily, Dave Gilson of Mother Jones has your answers, flagging and tweeting a request from the Alameda Sheriff’s Department to bypass the competitive bid process and purchase this beauty — from Xe, better known as Blackwater — for the bargain basement price of only $323,000. Lest you think this is an unfair price, our dear Sheriff Ahern helpfully describes the pressing need which requires its purchase:
The vehicle is an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), a tactical type of response/rescue vehicle and is intended to counter modern threats in the urban environment. Acquiring this type of vehicle will enhance the security of Alameda County and the surrounding region by providing the appropriate means of response to critical venues and the evolving threat of terrorism. Moreover, the vehicle’s state-of-the-art multi-layered armor technology providing protection from Improvised Explosive Devices (lED’s) and explosive projectiles increases the safety level of officers often called upon to provide tactical assistance in highly dangerous and volatile situations to the various law enforcement agencies in Alameda County.
When you put it that way, well, of course they should skip over the competitive bid process and just hand the money straight to Blackwater. Only then the question arises: where will the county get that kind of money?A Snapshot of Your Security-Industrial Complex (zunguzungu)
As the honorable Sheriff continues:
“Funds totaling $323,000 have been earmarked from the FY 2008 State Homeland Security Grant Program for this purchase.”
To recap: while Oakland Unified School District is closing five elementary schools to save money — here’s a harrowing account of the meeting where they voted to do it — the Alameda County Sheriff’s department can get over 300 grand from Homeland Security for that stupid thing, just in case Occupy Oakland marchers had some improvised explosive devices up their sleeves, I guess. I heard someone threw a bottle. Without state-of-the-art multi-layered armor technology to protect them, scores of police officers might have been destroyed.
With little public attention, dozens of universities and law-enforcement agencies have been given approval by federal aviation regulators to use unmanned aircraft known as drones, according to documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests by an advocacy group.Drone Use Takes Off on the Home Front (Wall Street Journal)
The more than 50 institutions that received approvals to operate remotely piloted aircraft are more varied than many outsiders and privacy experts previously knew. They include not only agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security but also smaller ones such as the police departments in North Little Rock, Ark., and Ogden, Utah, as well the University of North Dakota and Nicholls State University in Louisiana.
The information, released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, came to light as the Federal Aviation Administration gears up to advance the widespread use of the drones. By the fall of 2015, Congress wants the agency to integrate remotely piloted aircraft throughout U.S. airspace.
Disregard for basic human rights:
Q: What do all of the following have in common?Would the Last Civil Right in America Please Remember to Close the Door on Its Way Out?
- Prolonged isolation;
- Deprivation of light;
- Exposure to prolonged periods of light and/or darkness;
- Extreme variations in temperature;
- Sleep adjustment;
- Threats of severe physical abuse;
- Death threats;
- Administration of psychotropic drugs;
- Shackling and manacling for hours at a time;
- Use of "stress" positions;
- Noxious fumes that caused pain to eyes and nose;
- Withholding of any mattress, pillow, sheet or blanket;
- Forced grooming;
- Suspension of showers;
- Removal of religious items;
- Constant surveillance;
- Incommunicado detention, including denial of all contact with family and legal counsel for a 21-month period;
- Interference with religious observance; and
- Denial of medical care for serious and potentially life-threatening ailments, including chest pain and difficulty breathing, as well as for treatment of the chronic, extreme pain caused by being forced to endure stress positions, resulting in severe and continuing mental and physical harm, pain, and profound disruption of the senses and personality.
A: They're all things that government officials could do to an American citizen and still claim later that they didn't know they were "torturing" that citizen, according to a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In fact, they could do all those things to the same citizen and still claim it wasn't clear to them at the time whether it was "torture."
Senator Frank Church – who chaired the famous “Church Committee” into the unlawful FBI Cointel program, and who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – said in 1975:George Washington: Influential Senator Warned in 1975: “Th[e National Security Agency's] Capability At Any Time Could Be Turned Around On The American People, And No American Would Have Any Privacy Left …There Would Be No Place To Hide. [If A Dictator Ever Took Over, The N.S.A.] Could Enable It To Impose Total Tyranny, And There Would Be No Way To Fight Back” (Naked Capitalism)
“Th[e National Security Agency's] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. [If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.“
Now, the NSA is building a $2 billion dollar facility in Utah which will use the world’s most powerful supercomputer to monitor virtually all phone calls, emails, internet usage, purchases and rentals, break all encryption, and then store everyone’s data permanently.
The former head of the program for the NSA recently held his thumb and forefinger close together, and said:
We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state
So Senator Church’s warning was prophetic.
Why is any of this necessary in a "free" society where We The People elect representatives to represent our best interests? Keeping people safe has been the excuse of every authoritarian regime since the dawn of time. Is it going to take citizens and journalists missing in the middle of the night and concentration camps before this trend is reversed? Will it be too late by then?