From the July 2008 Idaho Observer:

When government suspends "rights" tyranny inevitably follows

History proves that there is always advance warning when governments enter the final stages of transitioning from freedom to tyranny. The three most obvious warnings are sounded when government begins openly spying on people, publicly punishing opinions and raising up standing armies. The U.S. government and its state, county, municipal and corporate minions have legalized unwarranted surveillance, searches and seizures; those who speak and write in opposition to government policies are subject to punishments ranging from character assassination and harassment to prison sentences and sudden, suspicious deaths and; police at all levels are being militarized in dress, weaponry, demeanor and tactics. What Thomas Jefferson pointed out as historical fact over 200 years ago is supported in contemporary experience as described by Ron Paul. The truth is plain to see: The U.S. government has become obsessed with surveillance and the enforcement of its increasingly unpopular policies with militarized police authority.

The excuse that militarizing police is necessary for making the homeland safe from terrorists is as ancient as tyranny itself. The U.S. government is committed in the direction of tyranny; it cannot and will not turn itself around. To turn an infamous quote from President Bush on its head, "You are either with us [the people] or you are with the terrorists [the U.S. government]."

Thomas Jefferson on surveillance, opinions and standing armies

"There are rights which it is useless to surrender to the government and which governments have yet always been found to invade. These are the rights of thinking and publishing our thoughts by speaking or writing; the right of free commerce; the right of personal freedom. There are instruments for administering the government so peculiarly trustworthy that we should never leave the legislature at liberty to change them. The new Constitution has secured these in the executive and legislative department, but not in the judiciary. It should have established trials by the people themselves, that is to say, by jury. There are instruments so dangerous to the rights of the nation and which place them so totally at the mercy of their governors that those governors, whether legislative or executive, should be restrained from keeping such instruments on foot but in well-defined cases. Such an instrument is a standing army."

~Letter to David Humphreys (1789)

"Freedom of religion; freedom of the press; freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus; and trial by juries impartially selected, I deem [among] the essential principles of our government, and consequently [among] those which ought to shape its administration." ~1st Inaugural Address (1801)

"One of the amendments to the Constitution... expressly declares that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,’ thereby guarding in the same sentence and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press; insomuch that whatever violates either throws down the sanctuary which covers the others."

~Draft Kentucky Resolutions (1798)

"A right of free correspondence between citizen and citizen on their joint interests, whether public or private and under whatsoever laws these interests arise (to wit: of the State, of Congress, of France, Spain, or Turkey), is a natural right; it is not the gift of any municipal law, either of England, or Virginia, or of Congress, but in common with all other natural rights, it is one of the objects for the protection of which society is formed and municipal laws established." ~Letter to James Monroe (1797).

"Did we ever expect to see the day, when, breathing nothing but sentiments of love to our country and its freedom and happiness, our correspondence must be as secret as if we were hatching its destruction!" ~Letter to Elbridge Gerry (1799)

"The attempt which has been made to restrain the liberty of our citizens meeting together, interchanging sentiments on what subjects they please and stating their sentiments in the public papers, has come upon us a full century earlier than I expected."

~Letter to William Branch Giles, 1794.

"No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority."

~Letter to New London Methodists (1809)

"Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men, governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity? But is uniformity of opinion desirable? No more than of face and stature."

~Notes on Virginia (1782)

"None but an armed nation can dispense with a standing army. To keep ours armed and disciplined is therefore at all times important." ~Written comment (1803)

"The supremacy of the civil over the military authority I deem [one of] the essential principles of our Government, and consequently [one of] those which ought to shape its administration." ~1st Inaugural (1801)

"Standing armies [are] inconsistent with [a people’s] freedom and subversive of their quiet." ~Reply to Lord North’s Proposition (1775)

"Bonaparte... transferred the destinies of the republic from the civil to the military arm. Some will use this as a lesson against the practicability of republican government. I read it as a lesson against the danger of standing armies." ~Letter to Samuel Adams (1800)

"The Greeks and Romans had no standing armies, yet they defended themselves. The Greeks by their laws, and the Romans by the spirit of their people, took care to put into the hands of their rulers no such engine of oppression as a standing army. Their system was to make every man a soldier and oblige him to repair to the standard of his country whenever that was reared. This made them invincible; and the same remedy will make us so."

~Letter to Thomas Cooper (1814).

"Our duty is... to act upon things as they are and to make a reasonable provision for whatever they may be. Were armies to be raised whenever a speck of war is visible in our horizon, we never should have been without them. Our resources would have been exhausted on dangers which have never happened instead of being reserved for what is really to take place."

~6th Annual Message (1806)

Ron Paul on surveillance

Last month, the House amended the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to expand the government’s ability to monitor our private communications. This measure, if it becomes law, will result in more warrantless government surveillance of innocent American citizens.

Though some opponents claimed that the only controversial part of this legislation was its grant of immunity to telecommunications companies, there is much more to be wary of in the bill. The House version, Title II, Section 801, extends immunity from prosecution of civil legal action to people and companies including any provider of an electronic communication service, any provider of a remote computing service, "any other communication service provider who has access to wire or electronic communications," any "parent, subsidiary, affiliate, successor, or assignee" of such company, any "officer, employee, or agent" of any such company, and any "landlord, custodian, or other person who may be authorized or required to furnish assistance." The Senate version goes even further by granting retroactive immunity to such entities that may have broken the law in the past.

The new FISA bill allows the federal government to compel many more types of companies and individuals to grant the government access to our communications without a warrant. The provisions in the legislation designed to protect Americans from warrantless surveillance are full of loopholes and ambiguities. There is no blanket prohibition against listening in on all American citizens without a warrant.

We have been told that this power to listen in on communications is legal and only targets terrorists. But if what these companies are being compelled to do is legal, why is it necessary to grant them immunity? If what they did in the past was legal and proper, why is it necessary to grant them retroactive immunity?

In communist East Germany, one in every 100 citizens was an informer for the dreaded secret police, the Stasi. They either volunteered or were compelled by their government to spy on their customers, their neighbors, their families, and their friends. When we think of the evil of totalitarianism, such networks of state spies are usually what comes to mind. Yet, with modern technology, what once took tens of thousands of informants can now be achieved by a few companies being coerced by the government to allow it to listen in on our communications. This surveillance is un-American.

We should remember that former New York governor Eliot Spitzer was brought down by a provision of the PATRIOT Act that required enhanced bank monitoring of certain types of financial transactions. Yet we were told that the PATRIOT Act was needed to catch terrorists, not philanderers. The extraordinary power the government has granted itself to look into our private lives can be used for many purposes unrelated to fighting terrorism. We can even see how expanded federal government surveillance power might be used to do away with political rivals.

The Fourth Amendment to our Constitution requires the government to have a warrant when it wishes to look into the private affairs of individuals. If we are to remain a free society we must defend our rights against any governmental attempt to undermine or bypass the Constitution.

Excerpts from Ron Paul’s "farewell address" to Congress—Sept. 19, 1984

"Thousands of men and women have come and gone here in our country’s history, and except for the few, most go unnoticed and remain nameless in the pages of history, as I am sure I will be. The few who are remembered are those who were able to grab the reins of power and, for the most part, use that power to the detriment of the nation. We must remember that achieving power is never the goal sought by a truly free society. Dissipation of power is the objective of those who love liberty."

"We learned nothing from the Depression years and continue to pay farmers to raise crops not needed, then pay them to stop planting. Our policies drive prices of commodities down, so we prop up the prices and buy up the surpluses. The consumer suffers, the farmer suffers, the country suffers, but our policies never change; we just legislate more of the same programs that cause the problems in the first place."

"We pay for bridges and harbors throughout the world and neglect our own. If we feel compulsion to spend and waste money, it would make more sense at least to waste it at home. We build highways around the world, raise gasoline taxes here, and routinely dodge potholes on our own highways."

"Certain individual groups, against the intent of the Constitution and the sentiments of a free society, agitate to make illegal privately owned guns used for self-defense. At the same time, they increase the power of the state whose enforcement occurs with massive increase in government guns – unconstitutionally obtained at the expense of freedom. Taking away the individual’s right to own weapons of self-defense and giving unwarranted power to a police state can hardly be considered progress."

"We have strict drug laws written by those who generously use the drug alcohol. Our laws drive up the price of drugs a thousandfold, to the delight of the dealers, the pushers, and terrorist nations around the world who all reap huge illegal profits."

"The crisis we face is clearly related to a loss of trust – trust in ourselves, in freedom, in our own government and in our money. We are a litigious welfare society gone mad. Everyone feels compelled to grab whatever he can get from government or by suit. The "something for nothing" obsession rules our every movement, and is in conflict with the other side of man’s nature—that side that values self-esteem and pride of one’s personal achievement. Today the pride of self-reliance and personal achievement is buried by the ego-destroying policies of the planned interventions of big government and replaced by the "satisfaction" of manipulating the political system to one’s own special advantage. Score is kept by counting the federal dollars allocated to the special group or the congressional district to which one belongs. This process cannot continue indefinitely. Something has to give—we must choose either freedom and prosperity or tyranny and poverty."