Restore the Fourth, The Beginning Is Near

On this 4th of July, while many Americans were celebrating the country’s Independence Day, rallies were held nationwide to counter the massive violation of privacy and the Fourth Amendment by the NSA. The campaign ‘Restore the Fourth’, spearheaded by a grassroots, non-partisan group of Internet activists emerged about a month ago in light of the mass surveillance revelation by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. It launched protests in over 100 cities across America. Reddit, Mozilla and others staged the largest online protest since SOPA.

Citing the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, the campaign demands the United States government respect the law and shut down the egregious spying; “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated… ”

Further disclosure from Snowden’s NSA files show the broad scale of spying activities was active around the globe. Information obtained by SPIEGEL reported that not only were European citizens spied on, but politicians and diplomats were also primary targets of this mass surveillance. Snowden’s leak revealed that among the EU’s 27 member states, the NSA spying was more active in Germany and that American intelligence service systematically monitors and stores half a billion telephone and internet collection data each day.

The NSA story revealed that the US has become a worldwide spy. It also confirmed what many knew, yet perhaps couldn’t quite call out; the real face of an Imperial US government behind the thin façade of ‘international diplomacy’. It is now fast gaining a black reputation of self-appointed world police, making its own laws as it goes along, like a rogue-state empire. The US reacted indignantly when China and Russia demurely declined to send the 30 year whistleblower back to the States when the US demanded it.

Snowden is believed to still be in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. He has so far applied for asylum in 21 countries. Ecuador initially received severe pressure from Washington. After first trading threats with the US regarding trade preferences, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa reported that on June 29th US vice president Joe Biden asked him in a cordial telephone conversation not to grant Snowden asylum.

Ever since it came to light that Ecuador played a key role in Snowden’s fate, the country seemed to have become an overt target of US aggression. On June 14, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said officials found a secret recoding device inside the London embassy where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is staying under asylum protection. Shortly after that, Ecuador’s primary email server for the second biggest stock exchange and the country’s official website for tourists were taken down with denial of service attacks. Self-described ‘patriot’ hacktivist ‘the Jester’ claimed these actions were part of his protest against Ecuador’s consideration for granting asylum to Snowden.

The US seems to retaliate against any country that might show support for the former NSA worker who revealed the egregious violations of basic human rights and international trust. During a flight home from a Moscow conference, the presidential jet of Bolivian president Evo Morales was prevented from flying over France and Portugal, diverted to Vienna and searched on suspicions that Snowden was on board. Although U.S. officials refuse to comment on Bolivian claims that the flight was illegally boarded in an attempt to capture Snowden, the US made it clear that the administration was in contact with various countries trying to prevent him from evading capture.

The European Union’s seeming deference to the will of the US when push come to shove revealed that they eventually fell in line to support the US global manhunt. One must admit that this was generally spineless, considering that an international arrest warrant was not even issued against the whistleblower.

Sean Bonner (@seanbonner) tweeted: “Do other countries have to put a little US logo on their money/docs now? Like when a start up is acquired and has ‘transitional branding’.”

Co-founder of Electric Frontier Foundation John Barlow remarked: “If #Snowden can’t find asylum, it will be depressingly clear that the US not only eavesdrops on the world but runs it.”

Almost 237 years ago, when the original Declaration was signed, The founding fathers declared independence from the executive monarchic power of King George. The US Declaration of Independence begins:

WHEN in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another ….. WE hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — THAT whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles …

This seminal document then lists the indictments against King George’s imperialism. Perhaps, we are now reaching a climate where the crimes of empire are once again being exposed and recognized by people around the world. Malaysian High Court has found 8 members of the Bush-Cheney Administration guilty of Torture and War Crimes, including Yoo, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush. Former Malaysian Premier, Mahathir Mohamed attended the hearings and commented,“These are basically murderers and they kill on a large scale.”

This recognition of criminality clearly extends to the current US President. When Barack Obama recently traveled to South Africa, the Muslim Lawyers Association filed a demand in court to have him arrested for genocide. Irish Parliamentarian Claire Daily outlined in a speech at the G8 meeting in Ireland how Obama’s deeds meet the classic definitions of a war criminal; killing children indiscriminately with drones and sending arms and other aid to Syrian Jihads. Former US Intelligence officer Scott Rickard pointed out how the US public has been funding wars in Africa without even knowing it for 4 years that have been responsible for killing tens of thousands by cutting off their food and water so Western companies can access natural resources.

If the Declaration were written today, what would the indictment be? Let Facts be submitted to a candid World:

— He has waged illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere, conducting wars of aggression. — He has implemented torture, stripped innocent men naked, humiliated and water-boarded them. — He has committed war crimes targeting civilians, such as the Haditha and Fallujah Massacres. — He has made a prison Camp in Guantanamo, stripping men of due process, force-feeding detainees who remain innocent until proven guilty. — He has conducted illegal wiretapping implementing spying program that put the entire world population under illegal surveillance. — He has refused to follow the laws written by Congress, sidestepping them with signing statements or secret interpretations. — He has declared the world a battlefield, drone-killing innocent people and asserting the right to kill anyone, including US citizens by assassination. — He has declared the right to kidnap and indefinitely detain any US or World citizen with no given reason or due process.

Who would have imagined that we would need to declare independence from the US government? We are seeing them act like a tyrannical King of the world, ignoring all but the semblance of the rule of law when it suits them. They bully and undermine the sovereignty of other nations whenever they feel the need. In the face of the undeniable illegitimate power of the US empire, more and more people around the world are uniting. As of July 27, half a million people have now joined a campaign to rein in NSA spying.

One day after Morales’ flight was searched, Bolivia rejected the U.S. extradition request for Snowden, with the Foreign Minister stating that the U.S. request was “strange, illegal and unfounded”. In retaliation for this US – triggered transgression of their national sovereignty involving the presidential plane, Bolivia has threatened to close the US embassy.

Iceland lawmakers made a proposal to grant Snowden citizenship. While many countries have already denied him asylum, president of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro Venezuela acknowledged Snowden did something very important for humanity. He asked “What has he done? Did he launch a missile and kill someone? Did he rig a bomb and kill someone? No. He is preventing war.” Maduro said Snowden “deserves the world’s protection”.

From Los Angeles to Dallas, demonstrations were held on the Fourth to re-found a commitment to the Constitution. Protesters marched in San Francisco and New York. At the rally in Washington DC, former senior executive and NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake declared, “On this day, the 4th of July, 2013, I call for a new American Revolution declaring our independence from the surveillance state and government control of information.” He reminded citizens that the US has become, “the secret undemocratic authoritarian imperialist nation against whom we fought the first American revolution.”

Perhaps we are seeing the beginnings of a Second American revolution. This time, though, it is not only for US citizens but for all people of the world. In his most recent statement, Snowden wrote how the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like him, but is afraid of ordinary people like you and me; “It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.” There is nothing more powerful than informed citizens standing up for themselves. Every government should be afraid of its own people. The beginning is near. On this Independence Day, people are truly waking up to their own power.

Nozomi Hayase, Ph.D., is an essayist and author of WikiLeaks, the Global Fourth Estate: History Is Happening (Libertarian Books, 2018). Find her on twitter @nozomimagine. Read other articles by Nozomi.