May 4, 2015
Apologists for the National Security Agency (NSA) point to the arrest of David Coleman Headley as an example of how warrantless mass surveillance is necessary to catch terrorists. Headley played a major role in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack that killed 166 people.
While few would argue that bringing someone like Headley to justice is not a good thing, Headley’s case in no way justifies mass surveillance. For one thing, there is no “terrorist” exception in the Fourth Amendment. Saying a good end (capturing terrorists) justifies a bad means (mass surveillance) gives the government a blank check to violate our liberties.
Even if the Headley case somehow justified overturning the Fourth Amendment, it still would not justify mass surveillance and bulk data collection. This is because, according to an investigation by ProPublica, NSA surveillance played an insignificant role in catching Headley. One former counter-terrorism official said when he heard that NSA surveillance was responsible for Headley’s capture he “was trying to figure out how NSA played a role.”
The Headley case is not the only evidence that the PATRIOT Act and other post-9/11 sacrifices of our liberty have not increased our security. For example, the NSA’s claim that its surveillance programs thwarted 54 terrorist attacks has been widely discredited. Even the president’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies found that mass surveillance and bulk data collection was “not essential to preventing attacks.”
According to the congressional Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 and the 9/11 Commission, the powers granted the NSA by the PATRIOT Act would not have prevented the 9/11 attacks. Many intelligence experts have pointed out that, by increasing the size of the haystack government agencies must look through, mass surveillance makes it harder to find the needle of legitimate threats.
Even though mass surveillance threatens our liberty, violates the Constitution, and does nothing to protect us from terrorism, many in Congress still cling to the fiction that the only way to ensure security is to give the government virtually unlimited spying powers. These supporters of the surveillance state are desperate to extend the provisions of the PATRIOT Act that are set to expire at the end of the month. They are particularly eager to preserve Section 215, which authorizes many of the most egregious violations of our liberties, including the NSA’s “metadata” program.
However, Edward Snowden’s revelations have galvanized opposition to the NSA’s ongoing violations of our liberties. This is why Congress will soon vote on the USA FREEDOM Act. This bill extends the expiring surveillance laws. It also contains some “reforms” that supposedly address all the legitimate concerns regarding mass surveillance.
However, a look at the USA FREEDOM Act’s details, as opposed to the press releases of its supporters, shows that the act leaves the government’s mass surveillance powers virtually untouched.
The USA FREEDOM Act has about as much to do with freedom as the PATRIOT Act had to do with patriotism. If Congress truly wanted to protect our liberties it would pass the Surveillance State Repeal Act, which repeals the PATRIOT Act. Congress should also reverse the interventionist foreign policy that increases the risk of terrorism by fostering resentment and hatred of Americans.
Fourteen years after the PATRIOT Act was rushed into law, it is clear that sacrificing liberty does little or nothing to preserve security. Instead of trying to fool the American people with phony reforms, Congress should repeal all laws that violate the Fourth Amendment, starting with the PATRIOT Act.
As the Western establishment works to bolster the communist regime ruling mainland China, Beijing has been intensifying its brutal campaign of persecution against Christians and other believers as part of a broader war on dissent. In fact, according to a recently released report by Christian human-rights organization China Aid, the dictatorship’s crackdown on believers of numerous faiths last year reached levels unseen in at least a decade, surging by more than 10,000 percent in one category over 2013. Analysts are warning that the worst may be yet to come as the Communist Party of China seeks to smash any and all perceived challenges to its ruthless rule and propaganda. Even government-approved and -managed churches have found themselves in the autocracy’s crosshairs.
The latest numbers documenting the dramatic surge in persecution make a mockery of claims that mainland China’s new Communist Party dictator, Xi Jinping, is more “moderate” or “Western-minded.” The brutal repression and attacks on believers also have extraordinarily troubling implications for the rest of humanity, as establishment forces seek to boost Beijing’s role in the “global governance” system being imposed on the planet. Billionaire Obama ally George Soros even called for the Chinese dictatorship to “own” what he calls the “New World Order” in the same way that the United States owned the previous one. The regime itself is also openly pushing for a leadership role in what it, too, regularly refers to as the “New World Order.”
The most recent data are stunning and offer a troubling preview of what a future global system led in part by an emboldened Communist Chinese regime might look like. China Aid’s 2014 Annual Report of Religious and Human Rights Persecution in China, dubbed “The Year of ‘Persecution and Endurance,’” shows that religious persecution and human-rights abuses perpetrated by the regime in Beijing have risen by a shocking 153 percent over 2013. The figure factors in six specific categories of persecution: the number of religious persecution cases, the number of believers being persecuted, the number detained, the number sentenced, the number of severe abuse cases, and the number of individuals in severe abuses cases.
Every category saw drastic increases in 2014 over the year before, Texas-based China Aid documented in its report. The increases range from a spike of 104 percent in one field to a surge of 10,517 percent in another. The steepest rise was in the number of citizens sentenced, going from 12 in 2013 to 1,274 in 2014. China Aid also documented 572 cases of persecution in which 17,884 religious practitioners were persecuted — a 300 percent increase over the prior year. Because information is so tightly controlled by the communist regime and its Orwellian censorship and repression apparatus, the real figures of abuse are probably much higher, China Aid acknowledged.
With Christians potentially set to outnumber members of the Communist Party of China in the coming years, the regime has been vicious in its crackdown. “The Chinese government’s persecution campaign included forced demolition of churches and crosses, the detention and imprisonment of pastors and church members on criminal charges, forcing churches into bankruptcy by confiscating church property and imposing fines, and manipulating state-run media to label house [unapproved] churches as ‘cult’ organizations,” the 2014 China Aid report explained. In addition to “cult” charges, Christian leaders are also routinely persecuted on trumped up charged ranging from “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order” to “fraud.” The sham “trials” are often conducted in secret.
Considering the explosive growth of Christianity despite the persecution, scholars now estimate that by 2030, the number of Christians in Communist China could exceed the number in America — making China the “largest Christian nation” on Earth. That has the regime nervous. “It is fair to say that the rapid increase in the number of Christians in China over the past decade has triggered a unique sense of crisis within the CPC,” the China Aid report explains. “As the Christian faith continues to grow in China, so does the number of Chinese citizens who embrace rule of law, oppose totalitarian governance, and support the expansion of civil society.”
It is not just followers of Jesus Christ who face the wrath of the regime, however. While the non-profit group primarily receives reports of abuse from persecuted Christian communities, other minorities are also suffering. According to China Aid, Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghur Muslims, and Falun Gong practitioners are all in the regime’s crosshairs as well. Indeed, under the guise of suppressing “cults,” the Communist Chinese regime has perpetrated some of the most horrifying atrocities imaginable. Among other crimes: harvesting body organs from imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners for the benefit of senior Communist Party operatives and the mega-wealthy.
China Aid said there were a number of factors that led to the dramatic increase in persecution from 2014 over the year before. One of those is a campaign of intense persecution in Zhejiang province. As The New American reported on multiple occasions last year, the Beijing-sanctioned crackdown in the province targeted so-called “house” churches, as well as regime-controlled “Three-Self Patriotic Movement” (TSPM) churches. Under the guise of removing “illegal structures,” Communist Party officials ordered the demolition of crosses atop churches, in addition to demolishing entire church buildings in many cases — even when the construction had been approved by officials. The persecution sparked an international outcry and headlines worldwide.
“The heightened level of persecution can also be attributed to President Xi Administration’s so-called political reforms, which appear to be a guise to persecute religious communities, non-governmental organizations, human rights lawyers, and other religious and political so-called ‘dissenters,’” China Aid said in a statement announcing the release of its latest report. “In response to the growth of Christianity in China, the Chinese government has instituted various campaigns to persecute both house churches and government-sanctioned TSPM churches throughout China by harassing, abusing, arresting, and, in many cases, sentencing pastors and church members to prison.”
According to China Aid’s report, the regime is also cracking down hard on TSPM churches, which are approved by and under the strict control of the Communist Party regime (TSPM “Catholic leaders” are appointed by the regime rather than the Vatican). The dictatorship and its operatives in the state-controlled churches are reportedly even forcing members to attend “patriotic education centers” to learn Communist doctrine, and the “sinicization” of the faith — so-called “Christianity with Chinese characteristics.”
The Chinese dictatorship, of course, is officially atheist. After originally butchering tens of millions of innocents who disagreed — the regime has killed more victims than any other entity in human history, not even including through forced abortions — it began a new strategy. It now formally tolerates the TSPM “Catholic” and “Protestant” churches it controls directly, which have an estimated membership of around 30 million. As many as 70 million to 100 million may worship in unapproved churches, according to estimates.
The latest scheming is part of a coordinated effort to subvert the truth about Christianity, according to China Aid and various analysts. “The sinicization of Christianity amounts to de-Christianizing the church in China and eradicating the universal nature of Christianity under the appearance of constructing a ‘Christianity with Chinese characteristics,’ and, in the name of prioritizing the interests of the Communist Party, usurping Christian doctrine that ‘Christ is the head of Church,’” explains the 2014 report documenting the abuses. Of course, communist dictatorships have always sought to install their lackeys as “leaders” of the “church” while ruthlessly terrorizing and persecuting those who stand firm.
China Aid said it expected the stepped up persecution trends to continue for some time, and Christians will not be the only victims. “All aspects of Chinese society will continue to be subjected to increased suppression, including the denial of religious freedom and related human rights,” the group said. Still, despite the latest round of terror unleashed against Christians and others, China Aid, citing the Book of Exodus 20:5-6, sounded optimistic. “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
Persecution is increasing worldwide as well. All throughout Church history, though, savage government persecution of the faithful has existed, and yet, it has never succeeded in stamping out the Christian faith. In fact, if anything, despite the horrors, which believers were warned about almost 2,000 years ago, persecution often helps grow the church — in terms of numbers, faith, and spiritual strength. It is likely, then, that Beijing’s brutal campaign of persecution will not only fail to achieve its objective, but may even backfire in spectacular fashion. In the meantime, though, the pro-Beijing Western establishment and the vicious Communist Party regime enslaving the people of China must be exposed and held accountable for their crimes.
Photo: AP Images
Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is normally based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org