Friday, June 7, 2013

PRISM: Has Tyranny Triumphed in America?

The NY Times editorial board, after the revelation of the NSA's collection of phone data from millions of Verizon customers daily, slammed the Obama Administration as having "lost all credibility."

The NY Times' withering assault on Obama was apparently before the revelation that all the cellular and telecom companies were having to provide such data to the government, and it was certainly before this evening's screaming internet headlines about PRISM, the top-top-secret government internet server harvesting program implicating nine or more major internet companies including Microsoft, Google, Apple and AOL (many of whom are already denying that the government has direct access to their servers — much more to play out yet here).

According to the Washington Post article which broke the story, two senators whose clearance gave them classified knowledge of the system, were unable to speak of it openly:

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who had classified knowledge of the program as members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, were unable to speak of it when they warned in a Dec. 27, 2012, floor debate that the FISA Amendments Act had what both of them called a “back-door search loophole” for the content of innocent Americans who were swept up in a search for someone else.
Is this not one of everyone's worst fears about our ever more intrusive, powerful, bullying and sinister government? The past several weeks have seen wave after wave of shocking scandals crash upon the generally accepting American public, to the point where we can glimpse the monster of tyranny behind the slipping mask of Uncle Sam.

  • Benghazi Cover-up
  • IRS intimidation of Conservative groups
  • AP phone records scandal
  • James Rosen of Fox News treated as a conspirator for doing his job as a reporter
  • Wiretapping of members of Congress - Holder refuses to deny
  • NSA harvesting data on billions of U.S. citizens' phone calls every day
  • PRISM: total surveillance of all Americans who are in any way on the grid

Even the author of the Patriot Act Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis, stated the NSA collection of phone data was never the intent of the law. But with the temptation of power in government, this is what happens. And the law will never be repealed, it will only be expanded as technology for surveillance improves. This is the future. This is our future.

Late last night, in an extraordinary statement, the Director of National Intelligence condemned the disclosure of data harvesting procedures, not the procedures themselves:

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called the disclosure of an Internet surveillance program "reprehensible" and said it risks Americans' security... "The unauthorized disclosure of a top secret U.S. court document threatens potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation," Clapper said in an unusual late-night statement.
This is precisely the "newspeak" of a 1984-style, Orwellian totalitarian regime which is applying Soviet control principles to a pacified populace sedated and distracted by comforts, gadgets, and a sham pop culture that rots the brain.

As Fr Seraphim Rose said nearly forty years ago during the Soviet dictatorship: "Today in Russia, tomorrow in America."

But Christians should not be surprised, nor overly distraught, at this turn of events. We know what the future holds thanks to the promises of the Lord. We know there will be horrendous tribulations and temptations, yet we are assured to never lose hope. Strange though it may seem, these times that we are given to live through are meant for the salvation of our souls.

Thanks be to God we can still make the Sign of the Cross, can still proclaim our faith, and can still worship freely. And no matter what they do next, if we remain faithful, their tyranny will never enslave us.

In the words of Archimandrite Vasileios of Iveron Monastery, Mt Athos (from The Orthodox Word #279, July-August 2011):
When you say, “Glory be to God for all things,” then all things become holy.

Giving thanks for all, everything becomes holy, sanctified. Whereas if we complain —we’re murmuring, we’re grumbling—then things change. One who lives in Christ and breathes in Christ—even if you put him in Hell he would rejoice. One who complains and never says “thank you”—even if you put him in Paradise, he would consider it Hell. Therefore it is greatly important to have trust in the love of Christ. And I think this is what the Church teaches us. When you realize that whatever Christ does He does out of love, then you accept everything. 
Whoever is patient, suffers afflictions and says internally “God’s will be done,” the grace of God visits him, and all within him becomes a doxology to God.

The one who is in spiritual health is the one who has no complaints about any person or any problem or situation in his life. So if we suffer from certain situations or certain people, we say “Glory to God.” 
We actually say “Glory to God” even more for those people who hurt us and those situations which can cause us suffering, because we understand, after the fact, what the Lord says: “I am the vine, you are the branches, and my Father is the vine-dresser” (cf. John 15:1-5). 
We will live well when we feel and understand that there is one who almightily loves and understands us. 
In a single moment one can find eternity. 
“Thy will be done” is a voluntary offering of ourselves to the one who is love. When you say truly, “Thy will be done,” you have found rest: all problems have been solved. 
And the problems of life are not solved by our own logic, but by entrusting everything to Christ God—that which we say so often in church: “Commemorating our Most Holy, Most Pure, Most Blessed and Glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary with all the saints, let us commend ourselves and one another and our whole life unto Christ our God.” 
Therefore, we need to have a realization of our own powerlessness and the power of him who loves us, so that we can be calm and at peace, even though everything around us is in turmoil and threatening us, because there is one who orders everything invisibly and guides all to the way he desires them to be. 
Tyranny may have triumphed in America, but as long as we remain faithful, giving thanks to God, and trusting our whole selves to Him, tyranny will never triumph over His Church. "Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever..."  IC-XC NI-KA

"Thy will be done," and Glory to God for all things...