The next time you hear a Republican champion the cause of “smaller government,” find out if he or she voted for the Cyber Information Sharing Act.
The Cyber Information Sharing Act (CISA), quietly pushed back in 2014 before being shut down by civil rights and privacy advocates, was added into the Omnibus Appropriations Bill by House Speaker Paul Ryan as a means of circumventing rampant opposition to the anti-privacy legislation.
The CISA legislation, which Rep. Justin Amash called “the worst anti-privacy legislation since the USA PATRIOT Act,” has now been passed by Congress and will be signed into law by President Obama as part of the government spending package.
According to Wired magazine, the new law:
creates the ability for the president to set up “portals” for agencies like the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, so that companies hand information directly to law enforcement and intelligence agencies instead of to the Department of Homeland Security. And it also changes when information shared for cybersecurity reasons can be used for law enforcement investigations. The earlier bill had only allowed that backchannel use of the data for law enforcement in cases of “imminent threats,” while the new bill requires just a “specific threat,” potentially allowing the search of the data for any specific terms regardless of timeliness.
Now think about this for a minute. If you’re Muslim, you identify yourself with a religious-political movement highly supportive of physical threats against citizens.
Yet if you’re Muslim, you are given easier access to enter the country than ever before, thanks to this very same Omnibus bill passed by the Republican Congress.
In fact, it almost appears as if Muslims are given easier access to citizenship than anyone else, in an effort for politicians to show how “progressive” and politically correct they are.
Yet once you become a citizen of this country, or if you happen to be born here, the federal government is entitled to set up “portals” whenever it deems something as a “specific threat,” without having to justify or identify what that threat is.
Clearly, there are all kinds of reasons not to support such a law. That’s why the legislation got nowhere back in 2014.
Some justify the law by claiming it protects businesses from liability for sharing information with the government when the government “requests” it. Yet how is that an asset for individual rights?
Corporate profit-makers who use their profit not to please customers, but to meet the demands of the government? That’s the very definition of fascism.
Nobody rational wants to tie the government’s hands in the task of identifying probable threats by those who intend harm. But today, the government is doing precisely the opposite.
The more you’re identifiable as an actual threat – as in, say, being a practicing Muslim – the more government willfully looks the other way, in the name of political correctness. Yet the more you’re simply a citizen who wants to be left alone, the more you’re a potential object of investigation.
It’s madness now codified in legislation.
Perhaps worse than the law itself is the dishonest means by which Congress pushed it through. The contempt these Republican politicians, in particular, must hold for their constituents may be too immense to even conceptualize any longer.
Law, to be just, must be objective. This law is not objective; nor was it intended to be. Its purpose was simply to give government even more power. Power. On this matter, Democrats and Republicans agree. Citizens and individual rights be damned.
In the meantime, those of us who may wish to comply with the law are left to determine what the nature and definition of a “specific threat” is.
We have already seen what the IRS will do if political groups take a strong and principled stance against the administration in power. And we’ve witnessed how the IRS was never held accountable, and never will be.
What’s to stop the current president, or a future one, from determining that some group, organization or individual poses a “specific threat” to “national interests,” and invoking this law to justify it? Do you think President Hillary Clinton or President Trump would resist the urge to authorize the FBI to go after enemies they deem a “specific threat”?
It’s truly astonishing. Richard Nixon, back in the 1970s, was driven out of office for allegations of being the kind of soft dictator that this new law actually allows an American president to be. Will the Supreme Court strike it down? Not if its stance on Obamacare and other violations of individual rights is any guide.
Increasingly, the question is not whether the American system of individual liberty is floundering. The question is whether that system is already gone. With laws of this unconstitutional magnitude being snuck into the routine federal budget, we’re kidding ourselves if we think we’re still a democratic republic.
Fasten your seatbelts. We’re living in the post-American America. With both parties now against the rights of individual citizens, it’s anybody’s guess what happens next.
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