Silencing dissent through fear, intimidation, litigation and potential incarceration
[F]or anyone who is engaged in meaningful dissent from and challenge to government officials -- the Jim Risens and other real investigative reporters, the Thomas Drakes and other whistleblowers, the WikiLeaks supporters, the Midwest peace activists -- these prosecutions and these ever-expanding surveillance, detention and even assassination powers are inevitably intimidating. Regardless of how those powers are used or even whether they are, they will, as Risen put it, have "a chilling effect" on the exercise of core freedoms. As Risen explained in his Affidavit, even if Brian Ross' story turned out to be false, the mere claim by anonymous officials that the phone records of journalists are being monitored -- combined with threats of prison for their sources and even for reporters who are subpoenaed -- means "the Government further contributed to creating an atmosphere of fear for journalists who publish stories about national security and intelligence issues."
The most odious aspect of this Climate of Fear is that it fundamentally changes how the citizenry thinks of itself and its relationship to the Government. A state can offer all the theoretical guarantees of freedom in the world, but those become meaningless if citizens are afraid to exercise them. In that climate, the Government need not even act to abridge rights; a fearful populace will voluntarily refrain on its own from exercising those rights.
Nobody wants to believe that they have been put in a state of fear, that they are intimidated, so rationalizations are often contrived: I don't perceive any violations of my rights because there's nothing I want to do that I'm not able to do. Inducing a fearful population to refrain from exercising rights -- as it convinces itself no such thing is happening -- is a far more effective, and far more pernicious, means of suppressing freedoms. That's what a Climate of Fear uniquely enables. The vast National Security and Surveillance State has for decades been compiling powers -- and eroding safeguards and checks -- devoted to the strengthening of this climate, and the past two-and-a-half years have seen as rapid and concerted intensification as any other period one can recall. Read Jim Risen's Affidavit if you doubt that.
there are shockingly few activists, journalists and whistleblowers willing to speak out as it is... this kind of blatant oppression is calculated to guarantee even fewer... Submit To Propeller
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