On April 23, Obama signed a new executive order. This order is intended to
hereby determine that the commission of serious human rights abuses against the people of Iran and Syria by their governments, facilitated by computer and network disruption, monitoring, and tracking by those governments, and abetted by entities in Iran and Syria that are complicit in their governments’ malign use of technology for those purposes, threaten the national security and foreign policy of the United States.
To be sure, the Obama administration is in effect chastising (however needed it may be) the governments of Iran and Syria for using technology to track, disrupt, and suppress/oppress its people’s expression of political (or otherwise) speech. Surely, as Americans and ‘westerners’ in general, we can agree that a government that suppresses free speech, that spies on its citizens, and violently counters political opposition is no friendly government.
The great irony is the fact that the United States has become a global leader in suppressing free speech and political dissent. This fact has become exceedingly apparent over the course of the last 6 months especially, but also the last 11 years. Indeed, most of us have heard of SOPA/PIPA/CISPA by now and the outlandish and unprecedented efforts these bills present in order to censor the internet.
Of course, these bills are presented to us with the most benign of intentions; to stop those rascally internet pirates; to end terrorism; to catch a child predator. But the simple fact is that when read between the lines these bills are put in place in order to suppress free speech, spy on the citizenry, and to violently oppose political dissent.
But the ironies of Obama’s disdain for the actions of those horrible authoritarian governments in Syria and Iran do not end there. For in the United States we have had our own form of burgeoning political dissent in the form of the Occupy movement. Indeed, the various wings of national defense, anti-terrorism, and state and local police have been used to suppress Occupy’s free speech and political dissent. The United States government has spied on American protesters and violently suppressed American free speech. The links that I provide are simply a skimming of the surface of what has happened. Indeed, a former U.S. Marine has suffered some of the most violent attacks when he was protesting freely with his fellow Americans only to be confronted with greater harm than he ever faced on his tours of duty abroad in a warzone.
But Obama remains silent while his own constituency suffers the abuse of tyrannical powers.