congress passes usa freedom act nsa
Freedom, from a distance. I guess.

The Freedom lovers in the US House of Representatives recently voting against the Freedom-loving National Security Agency’s wholesale data collection of domestic phone calls—where both of whom justify their actions by professing their desires for American citizens to enjoy Freedom and be safe from terrorism—reminds me of a hilariously pathetic but true story about a guy with this strange growth on his right leg.

The justifiably concerned wife sent him to the doctor’s office, plus phoned the physician in advance to “look at my husband’s leg.”

The doctor saw the guy in the office and asked “Let me see your leg.”

Hubby showed him the left leg.

The doctor called the wife and said “I see nothing wrong.”

Yeah, she was initially puzzled before she became outright pissed.

Well, your friends at the House just played a game on you—the same way that husband played with his wife’s common sense—and no one wins in the end.

nrol 39 national intelligence
Believe it or not, this is an actual mission patch from a US National Reconnaissance Office satellite launch. NROL-39, to be precise…

The House dissed the NSA phone collection scheme, but passed the USA Freedom Act (that Freedom emphasis is mine)—a bill that requires the phone companies to hold the call data which the NSA will no longer collect.


So, the NSA not only gets to maintain its access to your phone call details, but it also scored a savings in data storage costs by placing the burden of digital record keeping on the phone companies.

You can be sure those savings will be promptly reinvested in preserving Freedom.

Here’s another pour of pathetic—despite America’s growing and expensive global surveillance capabilities, it apparently didn’t have a clue that an attack on “Freedom” was imminent in Garland, Texas, and it took the hacktivist group Anonymous to tip-off the Garland police department that terrorists planned to bum-rush the city’s silly Prophet Muhammad cartoon drawing contest—an event, mind you, held in the name of the precious name of “Freedom.”

Garland Texas shooting
Aftermath of Garland, TX shooting

I have two questions about this Freedom everyone talks about, but we first need to revisit the 1990s so that you can dig where I’m coming from.

Way before the creation of today’s KeyScore, Prism and other National Security Agency Weapons of Mass Surveillance, the Agency developed Echelon, an intelligence-gathering technology that was capable of monitoring almost all telephone, email and fax traffic across the globe. In the name of fighting terrorism and other enemies Freedom, of course.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

(Laughing) This 90s spy network on steroids even snooped on baby monitor conversations…

nsa echelon listening stations
An old Echelon listening station…

Did you like to use slang words during phone conversations back then like “bomb” and “blew up”? Too bad—Echelon would isolate your conversation and route you to an intelligence analyst to flag you as a possible terrorist.

If Echelon didn’t provide the rest of the world with a Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot moment because of the technology’s breadth of surveillance, the global community damn sure went bonkers when suspicions arose that Echelon was stealing trade secrets from America’s corporate competitors around the world.

I know—some of you won’t believe this without a mainstream media source, so look up CBS 60 Minutes‘ February 24, 2000 story about Echelon. The NY Times also covered Echelon…

But here’s an arguably bigger W-T-F moment…how come Echelon, a surveillance apparatus designed to protect “Freedom,” did not prevent the September 11th attacks?.

september 11 twin towers

That was a rhetorical question. My two questions will come later.

Determined not to fail again in protecting Americans, the US government’s post-9/11 activities amounted to a quadruple-down bet on letting Freedom reign by passing legislation that gave the green light to domestic spying; restricting airline passengers from bringing sharp objects like wine corkscrews and manicure kits on planes; fighting several wars abroad; and creating an ever-expanding suite of spy technologies which not only can figure out what keys you press on your keyboard, but can also determine who your friends are and how often you like to send naughty pics.

The European Union—all-the-way down with the US, as they say—and despite the argument that siding with the US against Russia runs counter to the EU’s interests, must also be considered enemies of Freedom since the NSA has also been spying on EU heads of state and legislators.

edward snowden whistle blower
Edward Snowden, the whistle-blower who exposed the most recent NSA global surveillance scheme.

But even by the US government’s admission, these anti-terror measures—which seem to create virtual bondage so that you may be Freeprevented only one or two terrorist attacks.

Note to you: Uncle Sam making the embarrassing disclosure of “one or two” means the real number is likely one, or possibly none at all, but in this case, the “one’ remotely-defined “thwarted” terror plot was an $8,000 donation from a San Diego cab driver to a terrorist organization fighting in Somalia…

But let’s assume that “one” really exists; it certainly wasn’t the shoe bomber, his distant Hot Pants bomber colleague or the driver that Cheech and Chong Going up in Smoke SUV parked at Times Square. The smokey car caper was foiled by the on-scene intelligence of a local street vendor.

times square bomber from pakistan
A close call in Times Square on May 10, 2015.

By the way, don’t count entrapment tactics as instances of thwarted terror plots.

Do you think Freedom is enjoying a safer world for existence after nearly 15 years of US military invasions?

How’s Freedom doing in Afghanistan, after the US invasion in 2001? The country remains a breeding ground for terrorists.

Where’s Freedom in Iraq, another country invaded by the US? Among the mishaps which are too many to list in this post, Iraq is currently in a fight to save Baghdad from the clutches of yet another enemy of Freedom called Islamic State.

How Free is Libya these days? The once-prosperous North African nation became a direct beneficiary of the US government’s “Bomb to Protect” civilians strategy, and has now deteriorated into a deadly, failed state, as well as a terrorist recruitment portal for operations throughout the Middle East and Africa.

And what’s the state of Freedom in Syria’s civil war? America’s decision to choose a side in this conflict has illuminated how this Love for Freedom can be equally blind and deadly. Regardless of any assurance the US government has made about the precautions taken to ensure lethal military aid will only go to the good Syrian rebels who yearn to be Free, policymakers seem to conveniently forget that the jihadists—who are also fighting against the Syrian government and have deeply infiltrated the ranks of those good rebels—have their own perverted vision of Freedom. Besides, Syria’s civil war has multiple sides as opposed to the traditional two, and rebel alliances can be dangerously fluid. Therefore, the current dilemma facing America’s global Freedom campaign stop in Syria has effectively become whether to arm the modrate jihadists to fight the Syrian government, or to take a chance on the off-the-scale crazy jihadists. Meanwhile, Syria is becoming destroyed beyond repair.

islamic state is a new source of middle east instability
islamic state – disposable jihadists.

Back to Anonymous for a moment . the US has spent over 5 trillion dollars in wars to defend Freedom since 9/11. The cost does not include spy technology during the past 15 years, nor does it include the Echelon project.

But it took a hacktivist group to pass along Intel about a terror attack it overheard on Twitter?

There you have it. A 5 trillion dollar investment in Freedom, but the world has become a more dangerous place.

Spending a fifth of that amount would help to expand domestic freedoms like social mobility and education achievement—two areas which, unlike a military expense, will create decades of sustainable returns on investment.

Which brings us to those two questions about Freedom I mentioned earlier…

Is there something else the US fears which makes them think that spending $5 trillion is necessary?

If the answer is “Yes,” then what is it?

song currently stuck in my head: “don’t explain” – cassandra wilson


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