If you’ve been reading me for decent length of time, you know that I used to write about politics. Nobody read it, but I still did it as a hobby. I also got a degree in political science. Basically, I’ve been a political junkie since the age of 15 or so, and even before then, I was pretty plugged in. I just loved politics. Recently, I’ve dropped out of the game. I finally understand all those people who told me they were too sickened to keep up with Washington. It’s hard to watch now. Still, I’m not completely unplugged, and that brings us to today’s column. This issue also relates to GamerGate, and all online activity, for that matter.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan) has been been highlighting a provision that the Senate Intelligence Committee appears to have snuck into the Intelligence Authorization Act in the middle of the night. It’s pretty much a backdoor SOPA. It gives congressional authorization to some of the most controversial acts of the NSA, and does so through an amendment tacked on at the last minute. This is banana republic type stuff. Wikipedia explains (I know, fuck them) the executive order that the NSA wants Congress to codify:
“Executive Order 12333 has been regarded by the American intelligence community as a fundamental document authorizing the expansion of data collection activities. The document has been employed by the National Security Agency as legal authorization for its secret systematic collection of unencrypted information flowing through the data centers of internet communications giants Google and Yahoo.”
Here’s the problem Amash, and others, have with the intelligence bill, also known as H.R. 4681:
“The objections from Amash and others arose from language in the bill’s Section 309, which includes a phrase to allow for “the acquisition, retention, and dissemination” of U.S. phone and Internet data. That passage will give unprecedented statutory authority to allow for the surveillance of private communications that currently exists only under a decades-old presidential decree, known as Executive Order 12333.”
Just in case you think this a left vs right issue, let me let Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren have the floor:
“If this hadn’t been snuck in, I doubt it would have passed,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat who voted against the bill. “A lot of members were not even aware that this new provision had been inserted last-minute. Had we been given an additional day, we may have stopped it.”
Lofgren said she believed the Senate Intelligence Committee was the source of the language. The panel did not respond to requests for comment.
Lofgren also said the language was “the exact opposite of what the House passed this summer.” She was referring to an amendment she championed that would have required the NSA to obtain a warrant before reading Americans’ private messages that were collected through a program intended to target foreigners. “Congress is authorizing something very questionable constitutionally,” Lofgren added.”
So, the NSA has once again used scumbag senators like Dianne Feinstein to push their fascist vision through Congress. Don’t let Feinstein fool you. Yea, she released the report on the CIA torture program. But she’s still a tool of the establishment, lock, stock, and barrel. Oh, and did I mention the old hack also hates video games?
Here’s here expounding on this idea some more, including directly referencing censorship by Congress. This woman is a toad, and I’ve known it for years. To be fair, she isn’t the only one that went down this road. People like Lamar Alexander did as well. But he never mentioned censorship! Feinstein has been a consistent enemy of gamers for years, and has no problem with Congress stepping in:
“Feinstein also encouraged the entertainment and video game industries to take voluntary steps to produce products that do not glorify big, powerful guns before Congress feels compelled to step in. She mentioned that Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old man responsible for the Sandy Hook Elementary School slayings, practiced shooting both at a range with his mother and on a video screen.
Video games play “a very negative role for young people, and the industry ought to take note of that,” she said. “If Sandy Hook doesn’t do it, if the knowledge of these video games this young man played doesn’t, then maybe we have to proceed, but that is in the future.”
This is the type of mind that props up NSA overreach. The Orwellian bastards should have been reigned in long ago, but we have a bunch of spineless cowards that serve as our elected officials. This provision has already been passed by both the House and Senate. The only hope to stop this, would be an veto of the Intelligence Authorization Act from President Obama. It’s most likely a long shot, but then again, so was GamerGate. So was the American experiment. Sometimes, you have to play long odds.
Keep in mind, the communications they will now be statutorily enabled to intercept, includes multiplayer convos, and the like. This bleeds into everything. I really hope Obama steps to the plate on this one. He probably won’t, but this could be a defining moment for him, and help restore some of the lost shine. The reason he lost that luster in the first place, was because he lacked conviction in areas like this, at least in my opinion. He ran on intelligence reform, but started sucking CIA and NSA ass as soon as he walked into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. If he were to step up now, he could shed a some of that.
Sign the petition, and contact the White House. Let them know that they will have popular support if they stand up. Tell them that you will put all other grudges behind you, to back President Obama on his veto. There is a cross-party coalition on these issues, we just need the leaders to quit being punks. The rank-and-file in both parties want the NSA reigned in. Not only is a veto the right choice, it’s also the smart political choice.
— Ethan Ralph (@TheRalphRetort) December 12, 2014