‘Tis the Risin’ of the Moon – TTG


"James Madison, the father of our constitution, said that the the accumulation of executive, judicial and legislative powers into the hands of any faction is the very definition of tyranny. He then went on to assure the nation that the Constitution protected us from that fate. So, my question to you is: by allowing the executive to secretly follow a secret interpretation of the law under the supervision of a secret, nonadversarial court and occasional secret congressional hearings, how close are we coming to James Madison’s “very definition of tyranny”? I believe we are allowing our country to drift a lot closer than we should, and if we don’t take this opportunity to change course now, we will all live to regret it." 

These words were spoken by Senator Ron Wyden at the Center for American Progress the day before Representative Justin Amash's amendment to block funding for NSA domestic surveillance programs was narrowly defeated on 23 July. The administration and the national security apparatus pulled out all stops in defeating the amendment. Yet, it was damned close. Representative Rush Holt wants to repeal the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act with his "Surveillance State Repeal Act." If and when it comes to a vote, it'll be another close one. The legislative assault on the unrestrained surveillance apparatus will continue into the Fall. 

The revelations about our government's mass electronic surveillance of its citizens continued to trickle out since that vote. The Xkeyscore program gives the NSA access to near all internet traffic, including that of U.S. citizens. All our emails to and from foreign lands are searched for "relevant selectors." Obama says,"No one is reading your emails." Bullshit! The DEA and probably other agencies are using NSA surveillance to build criminal cases and hiding the surveillance evidence from defendants, prosecutors and judges. Parallel construction is just a euphemism for criminal coverup. I bet we'll see more. 

Yesterday President Obama made a concession to this pressure. He proposed an overhaul of surveillance policy, but made it clear that surveillance would continue. His proposals for reform are a move in the right direction. However, it is just a tactical defeat for the national security elite, a delaying action. He also said he would set up a task force to look at the issue and report back to him at the end of the year. That's usually a classic government tactic to deflect criticism and stall for time.  

The pressure has to continue. It looks like Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian will continue to release documents in a steady enough stream to keep the issue in the public eye. Tech companies, except for the beltway bandits, don't like being openly identified as part of the surveillance state. It's bad for business. They will push for changes. The Oath Keepers are placing billboard ads in the Pentagon Metro Station and outside many military and intelligence installations reminding military members and government employees that they took an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. They vow to up their efforts in the future. We can keep the pressure on our legislators through our letters and emails and on the tech companies through the choices we make. You know the national security nomenklatura and aparatchiki will pull out all stops to stem the loss of any of their powers. Yes, 'tis the risin' of the moon


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27 Responses to ‘Tis the Risin’ of the Moon – TTG

  1. turcopolier says:

    As I wrote you, my favorite rendition of “The Rising of the Moon” is in “Farewell to the King.” For SF men, the singing of the Dyaks in a long house led by their king, an American sergeant escaped from the Philippines is a wondrous thing. Who are the copper men in the picture? Those of my ancestors who were Irish left Louth and Meath in the 1820s to settle in St. Lawrence County, New York. They were freeholders in Ireland and bought land along the St. Lawrence River. Their going from the old country may well have had something to do with the United Irishmen’s revolt in 1798. They were quite embittered against nationalist causes and had little use for the Fenians even though they were Catholic. Our government? Ah well, the spectacle of narcissistic self delusion yesterday was disgusting. pl

  2. FB Ali says:

    Excellent discussion of the issue, and what is to come.
    Another very good review is at: http://tinyurl.com/k6277jb

  3. The Twisted Genius says:

    That image is a close up of a monument to the pikemen of ’98 outside of Wexford. Most images show the entire monument against the sky. I like the focus on the men’s faces in this image. I must watch that movie.

  4. mbrenner says:

    Here is an extract from something I wrote yesterday after Obama’s press conference.
    President Obama returned to the matter in a live public announcement last Friday August 9. He offered a vague set of cosmetic initiatives that included introducing some sort of civil liberties advocate into the NSA/FISA court process but without any stipulated formal role or powers. The rest of the message is be summarized is these points:
    1. The NSA and FISA courts have done “a fine job.” There has been no violations of individual liberties or of the law.
    2. The proposed innovations are needed to “help restore public trust.” That trust has been called into question by the uninformed Snowden revelations.
    3. Reassurance that the FISA courts take fully into account “privacy as well as security considerations” is welcome because there is a theoretical possibility that somebody else, in the future, might abuse existing powers that are legally grounded.
    4. Snowden’s actions had no positive value. Indeed, “rather than an orderly and lawful process to debate these issues and come up with appropriate reforms, repeated leaks of classified information have initiated the debate in a very passionate but not always fully informed way.” Obama did not say why he himself never opened such a debate or why he allowed ignorance about surveillance to deepen due to a policy of draconian secrecy.
    5. The Department of Justice released what it calls the the legal justification for the government’s collection activities under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The document is dated August 9, 2013, i.e. it is not the document presented to the FISA court in support of its demands for comprehensive surveillance powers. Nor was there any hint that the crucial FISA court opinion granted those virtually unrestricted powers would be released – as requested by Congress.
    6. Obama did not address the contradiction between his Monday “Leno” declaration that his government does not scan the private electronic correspondence of Americans and Thursday’s revelations that NSA does indeed read the contents of Americans emails.
    7.The president did offer a parable comparing the newfound need to reassure Americans as to the propriety of the government’s prying into their communications with reassuring his wife that he actually has done the dishes by giving her an occasional peek into the kitchen. Now that is well within Leno’s comfort zone.

  5. TTG,
    I looked up the 1798 rebellion on Wikipedia.
    What seems clear is that there was a large element of ancient chaos. Among the elements of this chaos, the fact that nationalists were backed by the French revolutionaries meant that on this occasion the Catholic church sided with the British.
    These complexities sound – how can I put it – a bit like recent events in Syria, or indeed parts of East European history over the past century. (What is the least worst option can be unclear, and often there are good reasons for obscuring the complexities of the history, subsequently.)
    I find myself wondering whether the departure of Colonel Lang’s ancestors for the New World may have had something to do with the fact that conflicting allegiances can become too difficult to handle.
    But these are the kinds of questions where one would love to have firm evidence, but can only make guesses based on fragmentary information.

  6. turcopolier says:

    Wonderful statue. As I recall there were a good many Protestants among the rebels. Up the rebels! DOL the quarter of me that is of Irish descent comes frm people who were odd ducks. They were Catholics who left the Great Glen in 1697 to settle inside the Pale in Louth and Meath. They left Scotland to avoid the oath of allegiance to King William. There were few priests in the family. Perhaps that reflects the position of the hierarchy in 1798. The Langs of St. Lawrence County avoided military service in the WBS by going into the contract teamster business where they made money. A regimental teamster could still get shot but,,, My father’s mother’s family, named Bills, were English from the Puritan settlement in New England. They were abolitionists and couldn’t wait to join up, Sorry for the self referential material. pl

  7. Harper says:

    Greenwald has now hired a team to review the 15,000 pages of additional material provided by Snowden. Obama is clearly responding to public pressure and the actions of a small but growing bipartisan grouping in Congress that is cracking down on out-of-control unitary executive power. Obama has gone further than Bush and Cheney and there is now a degree of fight-back, triggered by the series of revalations regarding IRS enemies lists, NSA, spying on reporters, etc. Obama is responding to all of this with his typical arrogance and denial. It could bite him in the behind. I share Dr. Brennan’s skepticism about Obama’s genuine committment to clean up the illegal spying. He may be a Constitutional law professor, but that does not mean that he actually believes in the principles of separation of power and checks and balances. He has no trouble eloquently lying to the American people, using lofty words to conceal a continuing erosion of Constitutional safeguards.

  8. walrus says:

    The problem you face, in my opinion, is that Government is trying to make you “subjects” instead of citizens. The creation is attempting to wrest control from the creators.
    In the British/Australian context, we get away with this because our sovereign is shackled, castrated in the legal sense, and required to only ever take the advice of a government we elect.
    In the case of America, the President is not just a titular head and, rampant, has already claimed the right to kill anyone on the planet he deems to be “a threat” by any criteria he chooses to use, in secret and without judicial review.
    Did anyone seriously expect Washington to voluntarily give up power it claims for itself?
    A benevolent King Obama will only spy on his subjects a little bit for their own good. Yeah, sure.

  9. turcopolier says:

    “Government is trying to make you “subjects” instead of citizens.” Yes, and the coasties do not understand that in the long run they are doing terrible damage to the “federal republic.” pl

  10. mbrenner says:

    This is a crucial distinction. “Subjects” are not the ultimate source of state legitimacy – as are “citizens.” The failure to differentiate leads to the implicit idea that rulers somehow “possess” the institutions that they head, rather than acting as custodians of the public interest and accountable for the legitimate actions they take in performing their stipulated duties. We see this nowadays all over – in government, universities, public corporations, even private social clubs – such as the one north of Dupont Circle of which I am a member

  11. JohnH says:

    State department whistle blower Peter Van Buren wrote a piece that got the headline: “Welcome to the Post-Constitution,” Whoever gave it that title is right. We have ceased being a constitutional republic.
    Instead, we are an agglomeration of spheres of interest. Wall Street is virtually untouchable in its sphere. Israel rules Middle East policy. Defense contractors have carved themselves a vast, unchallenged entitlement. Energy companies operate with virtual impunity, save the occasional slap on the wrist, like the Exxon Valdez penalty, which they don’t even bother to pay. And the NSA with tens of thousands of employees has seized a sphere of influence in information, though exactly how it translates information into power is yet a work in progress.
    Constitution RIP.

  12. walrus says:

    Washington or Cosmos? I think we have reciprocal rights with Cosmos.

  13. walrus says:

    “Turning information into power” this is easy, let me tell you a story.
    Once upon a time, a young MBA got his first gig as a general manager. It was a clapped out old company, bought by some investors. It operated in a highly competitive market, making OEM stuff for the car companies and high tech industries. By competitive, I mean cutthroat competitive.
    After a while the young MBA decided to try a new strategy, which worked. He called the bluffs of some customers and raised prices. He gave away other customers to his competitors until he had a “stable” of the most profitable. He seemed to have a Sixth sense for what his competitors were doing and always forestalled them. He did very well.
    The strategy? On Sunday mornings, very, very early, he loaded a bicycle into the back of his SUV and went for a drive. Then he parked some distance from his competitors factory, drove his bicycle to their place of business and went dumpster diving. In the dumpster were sometimes spoiled parts made for various businesses, sometimes discarded spreadsheets, business letters and quotes and usually once a month at least one accountants trial balance of the company’s P & L, receivables, creditors ledgers and balance sheet.
    Of course after the first such raid, I bought a lock for our dumpster and also a shredder. Information into power? Easy.

  14. Alba Etie says:

    And the BHO administration wants us to trust them with a national gun registry ? Nope – not going to happen ,- let ‘them ” be sure and keystroke this comment … “Come & Take It ” period full stop end of message .

  15. walter says:

    JohnH, thank you for your post which succinctly summarizes for me what is happening: “spheres of influence” …. I have been trying to figure out where the power is coming from: some organized conspiracy or secret cabals or campaign contributors or the lobbyists , etc …. but your “spheres of influence” theory seems to describe it best….thanks

  16. Alba Etie says:

    Col Lang
    ” To life English to Life! ” .
    Nick Nolte and the entire cast were brilliant in that film .

  17. Ingolf says:

    Good stuff.
    I’d never heard of the “Oath Keepers”. Do you have any sense of whether their billboard campaign (which strikes me as brilliant) is getting any traction?

  18. The Twisted Genius says:

    I have no idea how effective the billboard campaign will be. I do know where those billboards in the Pentagon Metro Station are located. A lot of people in the DoD and IC have no choice but to see them everyday. The Oath Keepers is a controversial group. It was established shortly after Obama was elected by a former Ron Paul staffer. They have been associated with the Tea Party and are seen by some as just angry white men against Obama. I doubt they’re just the latter. Whatever truly drives them, their understanding of the oath to support and defend the constitution seems pretty spot on to me. I wish them success in this endeavor.

  19. The Twisted Genius says:

    I was able to find the last 8 minutes of Farewell to the King on YouTube. I heard strains of The Rising of the Moon in the last minute of the score. Wonderful. My intel sergeant was born and raised in the Londonderry bogside. He sang this and a lot more strident IRA tunes whenever we were around Brits. Got us in a hell of a bar fight outside RAF Skulthorpe one year. Told some Brit paras he was a door gunner on a bread truck during the Bogside troubles.

  20. JohnH says:

    I was thinking more of J Edgar Hoover. “Hoover became a controversial figure, as evidence of his secretive actions became known. His critics have accused him of exceeding the jurisdiction of the FBI. He used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders, and to collect evidence using illegal methods. Hoover consequently amassed a great deal of power and was in a position to intimidate and threaten sitting Presidents. According to President Harry S Truman, Hoover transformed the FBI into his private secret police force; Truman stated that “we want no Gestapo or secret police. FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail. J. Edgar Hoover would give his right eye to take over, and all congressmen and senators are afraid of him”.
    The NSA operates too secretively to know how they have turned information into power. Worse yet, we know even less about their intentions…

  21. Ingolf says:

    Agreed, TTG.
    From their bios they look an eclectic bunch and don’t really seem to fit some of the accusations levelled at them. Still, controversial for sure.
    Came across an interesting article about them in a police magazine.

  22. seydlitz89 says:

    Yes, yours is a nice description to explain the events TTG describes. Various constellations of monied interests using the US gov as a clearing house/milk cow for their own goals/profit. POTUS’s job is essentially to expand, consolidate and sustain this “system” and maintain the facade of legitimacy. Behind this crumbling facade the actual structures of power become ever more visible resulting in confusion and dismay among the people. Former citizens, current subjects (Walrus’s term) having increasingly only the “freedom” of wild applause, dumb silence, or muffled grumbling? Neo-feudalism seems a good label.

  23. Colonel Lang,
    The religious dimension of the 1798 rising looks fascinating. Particularly as, in Ireland as in England, nonconformists were excluded from the 18th-century political class, the rebellion had strong support among Presbyterians in Ulster. The formation of a united Protestant Unionist grouping came later.
    Ironically, then it would be perfectly possible for the ancestors of TTG’s intel sergeant from the Bogside to have opposed the rebellion. Equally, the ancestors of British Army Ulstermen who would quite happily have given him a thrashing should he have been imprudent enough to sing republican sons within their hearing might have supported the rebellion.
    Also relevant may be the important role of Scots-Irish Presbyterians in the American Revolution. From an online essay on ‘Calvinism in America’:
    ‘So intense, universal, and aggressive were the Presbyterians in their zeal for liberty that the war was spoken of in England as “The Presbyterian Rebellion.” An ardent colonial supporter of King George III wrote home: “I fix all the blame for these extraordinary proceedings upon the Presbyterians. They have been the chief and principal instruments in all these flaming measures. They always do and ever will act against government from that restless and turbulent anti-monarchial spirit which has always distinguished them everywhere.” When the news of “these extraordinary proceedings” reached England, Prime Minister Horace Walpole said in Parliament, “Cousin America has run off with a Presbyterian parson” (John Witherspoon, president of Princeton, signer of Declaration of Independence).’
    (See http://reformed-theology.org/html/books/calvinism-history/7.htm )

  24. MS2 says:

    They have a shared interest in a US government that resembles some sort of global human resources department.

  25. Rd. says:

    “and if we don’t take this opportunity to change course now, we will all live to regret it.” 
    The core of the republic is supposed to be “We the people, by the people, for the people..” Unfortunately the ‘people’ part has been diminished by the elites with politicizing every aspect of the the social order, among tohers. So long as the people are sleep at the wheel, we’ll continue the wrong path.
    It may be nice that there are Greenwalds, but that can be eliminated. The essential change needed is the MEDIA.
    Before the de-regulations (in the 80s), there were 50 corps operating the major media in US. By 93, there were only 23. by 97 there were 10. Now, there are only 6. During the Jr presidency and now with the so called defender of progressive in the WH, there are repeated attempts to get that number to 2 or 3 corp individuals to own the bulk of media in US.
    You want to change, wake the people up. For that you need independent media. With that, the corruption (lobbying) in the congress, and or the narcissism in the WH can be eliminated in an election. Otherwise, it is downhill.

  26. haldlock says:

    For what it’s worth, the Southern Poverty Law Center (which is actually pretty prosperous) has added the Oath-keepers to its hate group watch list.
    Think I’ll put that endorsement in the ‘plus’ column.

  27. Edward Amame says:

    He’s losing me (and probably a lot of his base and maybe even independents) over surveillance and Snowden. Many of his failures and concessions on the economy, healthcare, guns, etc can be easily rationalized away (ie: unwavering, single-minded oppo from the GOP). Not in this case.

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