— I.F. Stone, great media critic
Two federal district courts are divided about the National Security Agency surveillance of the American people. One ruled recently that NSA’s vast dragnet is highly likely to be unconstitutional. The other declared its enormous trove of phone records constitutional.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon of the District of Columbia court found the phone data collecting program “almost certainly” in violation of the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches.
The seven-year-old NSA program was established by the Patriot Act and repeatedly reauthorized by a secret intelligence court. But even five years before it was legalized, it was run clandestinely.
Judge William Pauley of the federal district court in Manhattan came to an opposite conclusion. “The effectiveness of bulk telephony metadata cannot be seriously disputed,” he declared.
Which judge to believe? Put your money on Judge Leon.
You may not be as cynical as media critic Stone. But all Americans should be skeptical of what the government says about anything smacking of the nefarious. Recall that James Clapper, director of national intelligence, lied to the Senate Intelligence Committee last March, protesting that NSA was not collecting data on Americans.
The response of President Obama to accusations of government spying was disappointing as he so often is on major policy questions. He offered what the New York Times called “bland reassurances on the runaway surveillance” but never proposed specific changes on a serious “ethical, moral and constitutional” issue.
Obama, as a senator from Illinois, advocated many reforms in the spying program. Obviously his “view from the top” differs vastly. As the Times noted after Obama’s speech Friday, he “spoke eloquently of the need to balance the nation’s security with personal privacy and civil liberties but his speech was frustratingly short on specifics.”
Obama is once again and always a master of rhetoric without substance...
Saudi Arabia, the most oppressive dictatorship in the world, beheads people and discriminates against women. But human nature cannot be suppressed. The Saudi women are fighting back.
The monarchy bans women from driving but a few are driving anyway. Moreover, they are documenting on social media their confrontations with the moral cops. The idea is to put pressure on the government and keep the issue before the public.
One woman, pulled over by the enforcers, had the car stereo blaring the ironic words of a late Saudi singer: “My beloved country, you are the land of pride and a beacon of shining light.”
There is rebellion, too, on women’s university campuses. Trendy sneakers and colorful tank tops abound. Among the myriad of hairstyles: bleach blonde and dip-dyed blue.
Off campus, freedom ends. Their religion is cruel, requiring women to cover their hair and face with a black veil. Women in the male-dominant society need the permission of male relatives to work, go to college and travel.
In 2012, a Saudi novelist tweeted that Islam was not the “message of love” preached by the Prophet Muhammad. He was jailed for six months without a trial.
Despite the rebellion of a few doughty women, freedom is scarce in Saudi Arabia. Political parties are non-existent. Movies, theater and bars are taboo. Religious zealotry rules.