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Freedom's Phoenix

National Security and a Bloated Bureaucracy

August 2, 2010
 by Austin Raynor


The U.S.'s intelligence operations epitomize the behavior of our government: inefficient, wasteful, disrespectful of privacy, and potentially tyrannical.

Last week the Washington Post ran the results of a two-year study, “Top Secret America,” co-written by Dana Priest and William Arkin, detailing the mind-boggling magnitude of the U.S.’s surveillance operations. The amount of waste, fraud, and abuse in the system described by the Post is difficult to comprehend.

Priest and Arkin describe our rapidly expanding surveillance state as a “hidden world, growing beyond control.” They write, “[t]he top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.”

Consider some of the statistics: 1,271 governmental organizations and 1,931 private companies operate in the counterterrorism sector. 854,000 people hold top-secret security clearances. Priest and Arkin point out that “[a]fter nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.”

It is important to note that this incredible expansion of the surveillance bureaucracy has made been possible only by a state of continual warfare. The most extensive abridgements of civil liberties and unjustifiable expansions of the intelligence sector have been excused time and again in the name of national security.

As James Madison, the father of our Constitution, declared, “[o]f all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes….In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended....[There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war....No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

Three problems of tremendous significance are clarified by this data. First, the system is massively inefficient. Second, the programs are so lacking in oversight and so extensive that they constitute the apparatus of a fledgling police state. Third, the public-private axis generates fraud and waste of monumental proportions.

Inefficiency is the most obvious problem arising from the existence of over 3,000 security agencies. Work is frequently duplicative and uncoordinated; without synchronization, agencies are unable to “connect the dots.” Lack of coordination among security departments, not lack of information, was, after all, what allowed 9-11 to occur.

The second point, less glaring but perhaps more disturbing, is the serious threat such police state machinery poses to American liberty. Although this threat is reduced by the point made in the preceding paragraph—sheer incompetence—the utter magnitude of the security operations is indicative of an overbearing government.

Consider the fact, as Priest and Arkin observe, that “[e]very day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications.”

Not all the intercepted communications involve foreigners, much less suspected terrorists. Americans’ personal lives are being monitored with startling consistency. 1.7 billion communications are equivalent to approximately six phone calls or emails per person in the United States each day.

The number of top-secret officials working in the counterterrorism field also belies the claim that innocent Americans are not the subject of intelligence monitoring. As Ron Paul has pointed out, 854,000 intelligence workers equate to 11,000 counterterrorism employees per Al-Qaeda member in Afghanistan. These officials’ operations are obviously not confined to spying on terrorists.

The third problem inherent in the system, and symptomatic of a wider issue, is the continuing partnership of government and corporations, including contractors. The security state serves as yet another case study—alongside the military-industrial complex and the War on Drugs—of economic interest groups and government profiting at the expense of the politically unconnected, average American.

The intelligence budget has grown 250 percent since 9-11 and continues to expand. Defense Secretary Robert Gates describes the deluge of government intelligence spending since 2001 as a “gusher” of money. The high levels of profit available in the counterterrorism field are particularly striking when considered in light of the federal deficit and high unemployment rates.

The economic problem meshes with the inefficiency problem described earlier. Flooding a poorly-supervised government industry with money is an invitation for waste and abuse (consider the Defense Department’s recent announcement that it cannot account for $8.7 billion of the $9.1 billion Iraq Development Fund). Employing multiple, uncoordinated companies to perform the same work is an instance of wasteful public spending, not effective protection of national interests.

The U.S.’s intelligence operations epitomize the behavior of our government: inefficient, wasteful, disrespectful of privacy, and potentially tyrannical. It can only be hoped that public outcry over this outrageous situation will frighten some of our elected officials, fearful of their reelection prospects, into trimming this security leviathan.

Related Content:

Fortunately, We Don't Get All the Government We Pay For - Richard Sutton
Changing Spying - Austin Raynor
Government Efficiency - Richard Sutton

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Larry L. Stuler, on 9/01/2010 at 2:54pm, said:

There is a large number of Americans who now believe that the federal govít is ignoring the Constitution and enacting unconstitutional laws. Nothing could be further from the truth - the federal govít is quite aware of its limited jurisdictions. In fact, the following dissertation will actually evidence this to be true - the federal govít has meticulously gone to great lengths to stay within its limited jurisdictions. What the govít has done is to create legal ďtermsĒ that have meanings only within its jurisdictions.
The Declaration of Independence is the organic law of the land and its main tenet is that "all men are created equal". Under such a tenet no person or group of people, including some group called government, may ever initiate force or fraud against any other person or group of people. This is the basis of individual sovereignty. The Constitution was adopted to form a gov't that would uphold this tenet.
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The FED bankrupted the gov't in the 1930's. This is easily evidenced by the correlation between the United States Code (USC) and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR): title 11 USC, "Bankruptcy", is implemented by title 11 CFR, "Federal Elections". Our vote is simply to elect a bankruptcy "administration".
However, bankrupting the federal gov't wasn't enough to make Americans pay the interest on the FED's counterfeit money loans to the gov't. Sovereignty lies with the individual American, not the federal gov't. as evidenced above by the Supreme Court.
To get around all of the chains that the Constitution imposes on the federal gov't, Social Security was created to destroy American sovereignty. The "Form SS-5" that an applicant uses to apply for a S.S.# is actually a federal employment form. After all, only a federal employee is liable for federal employment taxes. You know the name of the federal employee - the "taxpayer". "Taxpayer" is a legal term defined at 26 CFR 2.1-1(a)(5) as a member of the Merchant Marine - a federal employee. 26 CFR 2.1-1(b) states that this is the definition of the term as used throughout the Code and the regulations for all calculation of taxes.
The govít has been given jurisdiction over its possessions by Article IV, section 3 of the Constitution. By checking the box "U.S. citizen" on the "Form SS-5" the applicant has given the gov't prima facie evidence that he has U.S. possession citizenship. "U.S. citizen" is also a legal term exemplified at 26 CFR 25.2501-1(c) as a person born in one of the States who then establishes a residence in a U.S. possession (Puerto Rico is cited in the example) and, further, acquires U.S. possession citizenship. This regulation then references back to 26 USC sec. 2501(b) where it states that this is the definition of the term "citizen" "wherever used in the title". The U.S. possessions are treated as foreign countries (see 26 USC sec. 865(i)(3), 872(b)(7), and 2014(g) for example). This makes a ďU.S. citizenĒ a foreigner in relation to America. This is the 14th Amendment citizen.
The combination of the legal terms "taxpayer" and "U.S. citizen" is known as the legal term "U.S. resident" at 26 USC sec. 865(g). A "U.S. resident" is a "U.S citizen" living in America - a foreigner.
So by applying for a S.S.# an American has given away all sovereignty and become a slave to the federal gov't.
All of this evidences that the owners of the gov't are quite aware of its limited jurisdiction, but they have absolutely no regard for freedom.
The federal gov't is legislating today on two main premises - under foreign commerce and that everyone is a federal employee.
The CFR was created during the bankruptcy proceedings in the mid-1930ís to evidence the correlation of which of the new federal regulatory agencies would be in charge of implementing the regulations under the statutes of the USC.
Obviously, federal govít regulatory agencies can have no jurisdiction over a sovereign American since ďall men are created equalĒ and the federal govít has no jurisdiction over intrastate commerce. But a ďU.S. residentĒ has no constitutional protections.
Since one becomes a ďtaxpayerĒ by applying for a S.S.#, that person is now subject to the income tax.
The income tax was ruled to be constitutional in several U.S. Supreme Court decisions - see Brushaber v. Union Pacific R.R. Co., 240 U.S. 1 (1916), Stanton v. Baltic Mining, 240 US 103 (1916), Peck & Co. v. Lowe, 247 US 165 (1918), Eisner v. Macomber, 252 U.S. 189 (1920). These Supreme Court decisions all stated that the govít always had the power to tax income and, further, that no new power of taxation was granted to the federal govít by the 16th Amendment. In other words, the income being taxed must be within the limited jurisdiction of the federal govít to begin with since no new power was granted to the federal govít. Cites from each of these cases can be found at http://wp.me/pCW6e-3a on my Blog.
Internal revenue is within the customs. Customs gains revenue for the gov't from importing duties from foreign countries. Internal revenue gains revenue for the gov't from importing duties from the U.S. possessions - thus a source of "internal revenue". Customs is foreign commerce. Internal revenue is a legal term.
The 3 commerce jurisdictions are cited separately in title 28 USC, "Judiciary and Judicial Procedure", chapter 85, "District Courts; Jurisdiction". Section 1336, "Surface Board Transportation Orders", which was renamed from "Interstate Commerce Commission's Orders" in late 1995, is the interstate commerce jurisdiction. Section 1362, "Indian Tribes", is obviously the trade with the Indians commerce jurisdiction. Section 1340, "Internal revenue; customs duties", is the foreign commerce jurisdiction. Income tax is the second plank of the Communist Manifesto. Inheritance tax is the third plank of the Communist Manifesto. These communistic taxes are only available to the federal govít under foreign commerce along with the presumption that the individual is a federal employee.
Now the federal govít and its owners have an unlimited reservoir of revenue from the ďtaxpayersĒ that can be used to expand the govítís apparent powers.
I have evidenced the entire Social Security Scam on my Blog at LLSTULER.wordpress.com.

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