Surgery now underway to transform citizens into subjects

Summary: The Founders hoped that America would be a beacon light of hope and liberty to the people of the world. And so we were for two centuries. But we’ve become an example of another kind, as shown by today’s reading. There’s still time to get angry; time to act wisely.

Artifact of a bygone era?

“I Will Give Up My Gun When They Peel My Cold Dead Fingers From Around It.”
Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, based in Bellevue, Washington. A version of this became a popular bumper sticker distributed by the National Rifle Assn.

While gun nuts fondle their rifles, muttering about defense of liberty, agents of the 1% quietly remove their cojones (and ours, speaking of male FM readers).  Perhaps they will display them in a Park Avenue museum about the history of America.

The 1% spend several decades building political infrastructure, concentrating wealth and income.  Then they extended their influence over our their political machinery.  Now comes the consolidation phase.  Mopping up, laying the foundation for the new order.

  1. The Republican party debates how to cut taxes for the rich, paid for by higher taxes and fewer benefits for everybody else.
  2. Massive increase in the government’s discretionary ability to arrest, imprison, abuse, and even kill citizens.  Today’s installment: Courts allow a new means to abuse people arrested (not necessarily convicted) of minor crimes (eg, peaceful protestors and government critics):  “The Obama DOJ and strip searches“, Glenn Greenwald, 3 April 2012.
  3. Massive increase in government surveillance of citizens.  Today’s installment:  “Data Mining You – How the Intelligence Community Is Creating a New American World“, Tom Engelhardt, 3 APril 2012.
  4. Massive militarization of Federal, State, and Local law enforcement.
  5. Update: Slow erosion of basic freedoms.  Today’s installment:  repealing the 4th Ammendment (see below).
  6. Measures, unprecedented in US history during peacetime, to muzzle the press and citizens (but then the Long War is waged against us).  Today’s installment:  “States shush corporate critics“, David Sirota, Salon, 4 April 2012 — “From factory farms to home foreclosures, state governments are helping hide corporate wrongdoing.’

All of this takes place in the open.  The Shepherd does not hide his activities from the sheep.  Why bother?

There is still time to stop this evolution of America, the death of the Second Republic (soon only the outward forms will remain).  We’ll not like what comes next, but there may be only a window of opportunity to do so.  eventually we — and especially our children — will be broken to the wear the saddles of our new rulers.  Revolutions –whether conducted by the 1% or 99% — take place primarily in the mind.

You can do something today.  Please pass this on to your friends and neighbors.  Or write your own and distribute it.  Building awareness of this problem puts us on the path to reform.

Update:  Repealing the 4th Ammendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Today’s readings:

A note from our history

At the top of this post appears the Gadsden Flag, the first flag carried into battle by the US Marine Corps. For details see this article at Marines Mag. We can seek to live up to the examples set by our forefathers, taking inspiration from their deeds. The Founders considered the rattlesnake a suitable emblam for America.

I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids—She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance. She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shewn and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal. Conscious of this, she never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of stepping on her.

Was I wrong, Sir, in thinking this a strong picture of the temper and conduct of America?

— Benjamin Franklin. Pennsylvania Journal. 27 December 1775

Or we can redesign the flag to suit our temper. Keeping the yellow color as appropriate (for cowards), but revising the text:

Don’t Tread On Me!

It’s our choice. It’s all about choice.

Why gain power over us?

O’Brien:  “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. … The object of torture is torture.  The object of power is power. … How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?”

Winston:  “By making him suffer.”

O”Brien:  “Exactly, by making him suffer.  Obedience is not enough.  Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own.  Power is inflicting pain and humiliation.  … Do you begin to see the kind of world we are creating? … Always there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless.”

— From George Orwell’s 1984

For more information

See other posts about these matters at the FM Reference Page America – how can we stop the quiet coup now in progress?

Some posts about America’s enemies:

  1. Fear the enemies within America more than those without, 21 December 2011
  2. “Lawfare” – using the law to undermine the Constitution (a powerful tool in the quiet coup now in progress), 22 December 2011
  3. Some foes of the Republic revealed themselves by sponsoring the Enemy Expatriation Act, 30 January 2012

33 thoughts on “Surgery now underway to transform citizens into subjects

  1. I can clean up my own act – or at least try. And – given that my state, whatever that might be – is finite while cleanliness is infinite – there’s always room for improvement.

    But I can no more will the United States into some Arcadian version of social justice than I can Star Trek through the galaxy at Warp Factor 9.

    So. I stand berated as a sheep. Bah. Bah. Bah.

    Now what?

    1. Kinder,

      You perfectly explain why you — and we — are sheep. You appear to have lost any concept of collective action. You are powerless; we are powerful. I suggest reading some literature from the Revolutionary War, which discusses this in length and detail — far better than I can.

      For a first cut at what we can do see the FM Reference page section About Solutions.

    2. Thanks for clearing that up. I naively thought that sheep, in their flocks, were the collective ones; while freedom bore some relationship to individual autonomy and empowerment. I must look into this more deeply

    3. Kinder,

      No, that’s not accurate. Both prey and predictors live in groups. Social units, wolves and sheep. The difference is the behavior of the individuals in the groups, their group dynamics.

      Much of our political theory starts with Hobbes insight that a solitary individual can be nothing more than a savage, with a life “nasty, brutish, and short.” Autonomy and empowerment result from a strong and vital society.

    4. It seems that a while ago you were arguing against the need for action based on collective/structural solutions, insisting that the individual was primarily in need of reform.

      From an evolutionary perspective, human beings are social animals. High levels of social complexity and hierarchy, including the “predatory” behavior under discussion, is a product of the very late stages of human evolution (super-tribes), not the majority of it (tribes).

    5. “It seems that a while ago you were arguing against the need for action based on collective/structural solutions, insisting that the individual was primarily in need of reform.”

      You misunderstand. All action is individual action. I have said that we need to care more about the Republic, source of our prosperity and liberty, and that we need to try more. Collective action is part “trying harder”: organizing and acting together.

      As usual, I have no idea what you are attempting to say in your second sentence. Since we have no records of pre-literal human social evolution, such statements are just guesses. Weird guesses, as “predartory behavior” exists in groups far smaller than tribes, such as small groups and families.

  2. I think one of the few avenues for going forward is mass civil disobedience. We must simply disregard laws that criminalize free speech, even if it means going to jail. The problem is that the great majority are too dependent on their corporate jobs to take any risks.

    You seem to be a critic of relocalizers like Mr. Robb at Global Guerrillas, but I think that removing oneself from abject dependency on the government-corporate behemoth is almost a prerequisite for successful reform or the creation of the next Republic.

    At some point, we need to face the truth: the old Constitution is dead, and does not provide the needed protections from a rapacious elite. You would claim that the fault is mainly in We the People. Partly true, yes. But the tools to create a corporate-fascist state was there in the beginning, once the so-called Federalists won and Jefferson lost. Maybe a strong union was necessary to create the American Empire, but who said we wanted an Empire in the first-place?

    Regardless, creating some means of providing shelter, food and clothing and community for oneself and one’s family and neighbors that is independent of the corporate and gov’t nexus has become a requirement for successful change, because that is the only way one will have the freedom to act.

    Regardless, the predation by the elites will continue until the blind and numb middle class is forced to confront the fact that it is now part of the proletariat: having no real skills, no resources, no protection.

  3. Regarding the Sirota article on Ag Gag, making it a crime for an investigative reporter to lie on his employment application, this would be an ideal situation to use jury nullification, “the defendant committed the crime but we find him innocent”. Unfortunately, too few people know about jury nullification and prosecutors and judges do everything possible to make jurors think that using it is a crime. A real effort at education about jury nullification might help.

  4. Existential Courage

    I think the act of signing the Delaration of Independence was actually a possible death sentence…..treasonous.

    One thinks that a galvanizing event or set of moments may arise in a month, a year or few years. Some will just not stop disobeying/protesting and the visuals of the protests/response of the police may draw more and more Telling moments come along now matter what.

    Breton

    1. Actually, what most people fail to recognize is that at the time, the sentence for high treason under British law wasn’t just death…it was execution by one of the most gruesome and barbaric forms of capital punishment that has ever been devised (hanging, drawing, and quartering) which was still being practiced by the 19th Century. My guess is the Founding Fathers knew only too well that literally as well as figuratively, they were probably risking life and limb by signing the Declaration of Independence — this is almost certainly the reason why Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying at the time of the signing “Gentlemen, we must all hang together or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” It was the literal truth and no mere analogy. If the Founding Fathers had lost the Revolution, it is quite possible that at least some of them would have been transported back to England in order to make an example of them — and it is also quite likely that they would have been executed together, forcing them to witness the fate which awaited each one of them in turn.

      For the record, in this form of execution, the condemned was usually tied to a light wooden platform which was dragged behind a horse to the prearranged site of public execution. The condemned was hanged by the neck almost to the point of death but was then cut down, emasculated, and disemboweled while still alive — sometimes still conscious. The entrails were thrown on a fire and the body was dismembered. (As a side note, Guy Fawkes was actually sentenced to be drawn and quartered — not just hanged — but he reportedly cheated his executioners by jumping from the gallows so that the momentum of his fall caused the noose to break his neck.)

  5. The 37th Amendment: A Novel, Susan Shelly (2011)

    “Ted Braden is just trying to collect on a basketball bet when he telephones a fellow Lakers fan one night. That phone call makes him a witness in a sensational murder trial and launches him into a dangerous battle with the California criminal justice system — the year is 2056, forty years after the 37th Amendment has removed “due process of law” from the United States Constitution.

    A fast-moving story set in a surprising future, THE 37TH AMENDMENT is a startling look at what might happen if the federal courts were stripped of their power to strike down state laws, and whether anyone would want to go back again.”

    As if they would bother amending the constitution.

  6. As much as I hate to point this out — as I have mentioned in response to other posts on this site — the very real challenge that we currently face in this country (and yet the one about which many ordinary Americans seem determined to remain ignorant or to ignore) is the fact that despite all the vainglorious posturing from the NRA, the Second Amendment actually doesn’t mean very much anymore. The Second Amendment was intended to give the American people the power to protect themselves from their own government if the need should ever arise. It was almost certainly included in the Constitution in response to a couple of incidents shortly before (and probably contributing to) the Revolutionary War in which the British government removed some or all the gunpowder from the community powder magazine in an attempt to prevent rebellion, but which also left the surrounding colonists ill equipped to defend themselves. The most famous of these was probably the 1775 Gunpowder Incident in Williamsburg, Virginia which the sitting governor, Lord Dunmore, attempted to excuse under the pretense that he was trying to prevent the powder from being seized during a rumored violent uprising by the slaves — however, when the colonists demanded that the powder be returned, he threatened to free all the slaves and “reduce Williamsburg to ashes”.

    However, it’s important to bear in mind that at the time of the Revolutionary War, the most powerful weapons on the planet were probably the 32-pound cannons such as those carried aboard British warships. Could cannons kill a lot of people and do a lot of damage? Definitely. However, cannons were nowhere nearly as far removed from the kind of armaments available to the ordinary people of the time as modern military armaments are from the kind of weapons — whether offensive or defensive — that ordinary citizens are capable of possessing today. The fact is that the American people are vastly outgunned by their government not only at the federal level (as represented by the military) but increasingly at the state level as well (as represented by the police). When you realize that a word had to be created in order to express the potential casualties from some kinds of modern military armaments — that word being “megadeath” — the Second Amendment begins to look pretty irrelevant. Granted, insurgent forces during both the Vietnam and Gulf Wars managed to make a significant impact despite the fact that they were also vastly outgunned by American military forces, but the fact remains that they and the surrounding civilian population suffered a high rate of casualties. Not only that, but insurgent forces battling an outside invader usually have at least two advantages over their opponents which would probably not apply in a putative civil war between the American people and the foot soldiers of the leadership (whether these were primarily the police or the military) — greater familiarity with the climate and terrain, and a shared cultural history which encourages civilians in the surrounding area to sympathize with the insurgents rather than the invading forces.

    I’ve sometimes said that each and every one of us has already potentially been metaphorically fitted with a choke collar, and that the only reason why most people aren’t aware of it is because the people holding the leashes attached to those collars haven’t yet felt much or any need to issue a correction on a national scale (although they have seen fit to do so on an individual or local level, as evidenced by the response of some members of the police to various Occupy protesters in different parts of the country). While ordinary Americans outnumber the national leadership — both the official leadership of state and federal government and the unofficial leadership of the nation’s top 1% (and the two are increasingly becoming one and the same) — the leadership has little or no reason to perceive us as a serious threat because we’re divided and disorganized. The comparatively low rate of voter turnout in national elections combined with the appalling lack of civic literacy (or even functional literacy) also suggests a disturbing degree of apathy if not outright indifference among ordinary Americans. What’s more, there’s no doubt in my mind that there are people in the leadership who recognize this and who are doing everything they can to maintain it — “divide and conquer” is a strategic tactic with a long history of success. One demonstration of this is the way in which people in the government and the media have ignored, dismissed, minimized, or disparaged many regional protests. One possible solution to this would be a massive nationwide coordinated protest since this would be a lot harder to ignore or dismiss.

    However, if a significant majority of the American people should ever show that they’re willing to put their differences aside and join forces with their supposed political adversaries despite all the efforts to keep them divided, then there’s every reason to believe that the dynamics in this country would change dramatically and that the leadership would pull out all the stops — and I do mean *all* the stops — in the effort to maintain their power and put us back in what they evidently see as our “proper place.” Frankly, I think anyone halfway intelligent and perceptive who isn’t metaphorically wearing the flag as a blindfold is painfully aware that the structural framework for a potential dictatorship has been gradually sliding into place piece by piece over the past ten years. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying we should concede defeat and make no effort to resist what’s happening. I’m simply saying that we need to face the facts regarding what we’re really up against and be realistic about what the consequences of that resistance are likely to be…because it probably won’t be pretty. If I may (ironically) quote Emperor Palpatine from the “Star Wars” franchise, all who gain power are afraid to lose it…and what’s more, they usually don’t concede it voluntarily (in fact, they usually fight tooth-and-nail in order to avoid conceding it). All too often, as the Founding Fathers knew very well, the price of freedom is paid in blood.

    As far as I can tell, our one remaining ray of hope may lie with the rank-and-file members of the US military, many of whom not only come from the lower tiers of our society but are struggling (and sometimes failing) to keep their own heads and those of their own families above water despite the sacrifices they’re expected to make for their country. (The fact that the US military is increasingly being deployed in order to serve the interests of corporate America rather than national defense is enough for a rant all by itself.) Not only that, despite all the lofty “Support The Troops” rhetoric from our leadership, people in the military are well aware of the fact that actions speak louder than words — as well as the fact that many of their comrades-in-arms who for whatever reason are no longer able to fight have not been “supported” nearly as well as they deserved to be — remember the Walter Reed scandal? — leaving many with the sense of being casually tossed aside once they’ve worn out their usefulness. One can only hope that if or when there should ever come a time when the American people are compelled to fight their own leaders — either defensively or offensively — that a significant percentage of people in the US armed forces will choose to either desert or disobey orders rather than fight their own people.

    1. Bluestocking, as you probably know, 100+ years ago, when white soldiers balked at firing on striking mine workers, the mine owners had their friends in the Army bring in Buffalo Soldiers. This scared the cr*p out of the miners, and they quit the strike. (Anthony Lukas “Big Trouble”)

      During that same period of labor unrest, many corporations hired private “armies” such as the Pinkertons to attack labor activists.

      How hard would it be for present day corporations (or uber-wealthy individuals with interests to protect) to similarly hire “private contractors” (mercenaries) that are returning from military duty in the middle east, etc.?

      100 years ago, the Plutocrats were eventually willing to compromise, and Teddy Roosevelt and later FDR implemented legal protections for labor activists.

      It might be useful to examine the similarities and differences between then and now to see what the prospects a protest movement that includes armed resistance.might have?

      The establishment now would seem to have far greater power in surveillance and propaganda, not to mention, as you say, in weaponry?

    2. WTF describes the almost-secret history of America. Individuals and even groups opporessed by large-scale force. Often private, but supplemented where necessary by police or even the military. Blacks, both slave and free. Indians. Workers.

      Individually bearing arms accomplishes nothing. Collective action of armed citizens is a ruler’s worst nightmare.

    3. It might be useful to examine the similarities and differences between then and now to see what the prospects a protest movement that includes armed resistance.might have? — WTF

      Individually bearing arms accomplishes nothing. Collective action of armed citizens is a ruler’s worst nightmare. — Fabius Maximus

      Unfortunately — as I attempted to point out in my post — I’m not convinced that even collective armed resistance would be an answer to our problems since that assumes (just for starters) that a sufficiently significant percentage of Americans can be persuaded to wake up, acknowledge what’s happening, and start taking action before it’s too late. Sadly, at least at present, there’s not much evidence to suggest that this is the case (rather the contrary, in fact). Given how complacent and self-centered the majority of Americans seem to have become, circumstances will have to be pretty damn desperate in order to prompt a significant percentage of Americans to realize they don’t have much left to lose and start resisting — at which point it might already be too late. Even then, it’s quite possible that all the government would need to do in order to discourage resistance would be to throw a bunch of people in prison indefinitely and summarily shoot a few more in the streets. For that matter, the Powers That Be already have tools at their disposal which would enable them to make even collective armed resistance difficult without firing a single round of ammunition — and they’re developing others. As I mentioned in a recent post, it’s hard to accomplish much when you can’t see (because the government foot soldiers are using dazzlers or tear gas), can’t hear (because of long-range acoustic devices AKA “sound cannons”), and feel as if your skin is on fire when you try to move forward (because the troops have an electromagnetic Active Denial System aimed at you).

      For another thing, let’s be very clear on this…how is the government likely to perceive and interpret collective armed resistance? In a word…rebellion, and the Constitution is very clear on what the government is free to do in the event of rebellion (even though paradoxically, the Declaration of Independence states that the people have a right to alter or abolish their government when it no longer serves their interests provided that they cite reasons for doing so).

      The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it. — Article I, Section IX (United States Constitution):

      I think we all know that these days, Congress probably wouldn’t hesitate to suspend the writ of habeus corpus in the event of collective armed resistance (in fact, some people would argue that it has essentially already been eliminated through the Military Commissions Act of 2006). Of course, they’d claim that it’s necessary and that they’re only doing it in the interest of public safety…but in reality, a major part of their reason for doing it would be in order to maintain their power at any cost. Once the writ is officially suspended, that’s when the all the bets as well as the gloves are off and things really start to get nasty. Unless or until a significant number of people in the armed forces refuse to fight their own people, the American people will need to be willing to literally risk losing their lives and their freedom — just like the Founding Fathers — in order to “get their country back”

    4. “I’m not convinced that even collective armed resistance would be an answer to our problems since that assumes”

      Are you intimdated by the soldiers around the polling sites? The guns at your head when you vote?

      As I have said, our confidence that we are weak is the 1%’s great weapon. The walls exist only in our own minds.

    5. Observations on the culture front: corruption of youth: “Mumblecore Millennialism and Me“, Eileen Jones, The Exiled, 4 April 2012. Assuming that there is a “wall in the minds” of these young people, how can it be deconstructed?

    6. Moyers guest: Ordinary people are the world’s only hope“, David Ferguson, Raw Story, 7 April 2012:

      Former diplomat Carne Ross believes that the Occupy movement and the power of ordinary people taking action can change the course of history and break the grip in which the wealthiest and most powerful 1 percent hold major world governments.

      On this week’s “Moyers and Company” with Bill Moyers, Ross made a persuasive case for the notion that governments are increasingly out of touch and beholden to the wealthy. A lifelong diplomat, Ross has worked for the British foreign service as lead man in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and was part of the push the invade Iraq.

      It was the Iraq episode that caused Ross to break with government. Ross believes that major world bodies like the United Nations simply aren’t competent to handle the current crop of world problems, and that the solution lies in the empowerment of ordinary people and activist movements like Occupy Wall Street.

      Carne Ross’ web site is here.
      .
      .
      FM Note: see the video at Bill Moyer’s website.

    7. Carne Ross’ method of social change from “Carne Ross: Nine Principles for Action“, Bill Moyer’s, 30 March 2012 — “Former British diplomat and international relations specialist Carne Ross lays out nine principles for empowering ourselves and effecting change in the issues that concern us.”

      • excavate your convictions
      • how’s got the money, who’s got the gun? (see #9)
      • act as if the means are the end (from Gandhi – example: Salt March)
      • refer to the cosmopolitan criteria (ask people what they think, do no assume you understand them)
      • address those suffering the most (Carl Popper)
      • consult and negotiate (don’t bully others)
      • big picture, little deeds (daily)
      • use non-violence (not pacificism) – violence relinquishes
      • kill the king (it is hard to change things) – as in game of chess
      • build “systems” that embody the above values
  7. The right to bear arms was one of the provisions of the English Bill of Rights of 1689, from which our own Bill of Rights was derived.

    From Yale University Law School web site, The part covering arms –

    “By causing several good subjects being Protestants to be disarmed at the same time when papists were both armed and employed contrary to law;”

    “That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law;”

  8. sdward, were the English afraid of being invaded by Spain, or some similar powerful enemy at that time?

    Didn’t the English end up eventually adopting the same general form of Monarchical Absolutism that Spain did? If so, what does that tell us anything about the meaningfulness of the rights of citizens to bear arms in an Imperial State?

    1. WTF: “Didn’t the English end up eventually adopting the same general form of Monarchical Absolutism that Spain did?”

      No. I explained this to you in a previous reply. Monarchical Absolutism ended in Britain in 1651, with Parliament’s victory in the Civil War. It was definitely established by the Glorious Revolution in 1688. The “English Bill of Rights” cited was 1689.

    2. Sorry I missed that. I’m assuming that you are discussing the formal (narrow) definition of Absolutism, not the broader meaning in terms of the Imperial Bureaucracy, Mercantilism-colonialism, etc?

      To which, people advocating Classical Liberalism would find it necessary to take up arms to obtain the right to form representative institutions? (which existed for 500 years *before* Absolutism)

    3. By formal definition, it appears you mean the one commonly used. It’s a waste of our time to write using made-up terms that contradict the standard definitions. You will neither be understood or taken seriously.

      “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'”
      — From Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass

  9. Re: How does [English Bill of Rights] fit in with post? Just historical background showing how much we are indebted to the English. The history of the English Civil Wars as vivid and recent to our Founding Fathers as our Civil war is to us. And the Puritans who settled in New England were the relatives of the Roundheads who fought King Charles.

    The threat the Protestants feared was, I believe, importation of Irish soldiers by King James II. And after what Cromwell did to the Irish, the Protestants had every reason to be afraid.

  10. Van Jones group plans American’s ‘Arab Spring’ revolt“, Washington Times, 7 April 2012:

    An Egypt-styled “Arab Spring,” which has put radicals in charge of the government, will be launched in the United States this spring with a war on “corporate power, Wall Street greed and the political corruption of the 1 percent,” according to the group headed by former Obama green aide Van Jones.

    “They’re really not going to like the 99 percent Spring,” said Rebuild the Dream in an organizing email Friday.

    Comparing the collection of protests last year that are symbolized by the 99 percent campaign and Occupy movement, to those of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., the group said that “we were all inspired by the protesters of the Arab Spring who stood up to totalitarian governments, and inspired the Occupy movement here in America.”

    The plan for now is to hold protest training sessions around the nation next week. Over 900 are scheduled so far.

    Once ready, the group and dozens of others, notably MoveOn.org and labor unions, will launch the “99 Percent Spring” offensive against government and financial centers.

    “We’re at a crossroads as a country. In recent years, millions have lost their jobs, homes have been foreclosed, and an unconscionable number of children live in poverty. We have to stand up to the people who caused of all this and confront the rampant greed and deliberate manipulation of our democracy and our economy by a tiny minority in the 1%,” said Caroline Murray, of Rebuild the Dream Innovation Fund, in the organizing email.

  11. Watch your rights melt away, before your eyes. Truly progress moves in our high-tech world.

    Obama targets journalists“, Jesselyn Raddack, Salon, 9 April 2012 — Attacking whistleblowers to restrain the press. Excerpt:

    While the Bush administration treated whistleblowers unmercifully, the Obama administration has been far worse. It is actually prosecuting them, and doing so under the Espionage Act — one of the most serious charges that can be leveled against an American. The Espionage Act is an archaic World War I-era law meant to go after spies, not whistleblowers. Strangely, using it to target the media and sources is the brainchild of neo-conservative Gabriel Schoenfeld, who would have sources who disclose information to reporters, journalists who then write about it for newspapers, the newspapers that publish the information and the publisher itself all be held criminally liable.

    Everyone wants to know why Obama, with his pledge to “protect whistleblowers,” would do this. After all, Obama’s transition agenda recognized that “[o]ften the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled.” That’s not just a broken promise, it’s a complete reversal.

    At first I thought Obama’s war on whistleblowers was meant to appease the intelligence establishment, which saw him as weak. I soon recognized this assault as a devious way to create bad precedent for going after journalists. All the Espionage Act cases involve allegations that the government employee “leaked” information (or retained information for the purpose of leaking it) to journalists.

    {details of several cases}

    .. The indictment of John Kiriakou, like that of Tom Drake, is meant to chill whistleblowers and the journalists who report their stories. After the Justice Department’s case collapsed, Drake’s prosecutor requested at sentencing that the judge impose a steep fine of $50,000 “to send a message” to intelligence community employees “who live by these non-disclosure agreements.” (“Non-disclosure agreements” are not to be confused with Omertà-style loyalty oaths. Federal employees do take an oath: to the Constitution, not to the President, an Agency, a boss, or a broken classification system.) The judge gave Drake no fine, but the government’s desired message is especially odious because Drake and Kiriakou are the only people to be prosecuted in relation to two of the Bush administration’s biggest scandals—warrantless surveillance and torture. After being put through what a federal judge called “four years of hell,” Drake is out a career, a federal retirement package, and almost a hundred thousand dollars in attorneys’ fees. Kiriakou himself has also spent tens of thousands in attorneys’ fees and is struggling to raise the million dollars his defense is expected to cost. Intelligence community employees with mortgages and mouths to feed no doubt get the message.

    Kiriakou’s Indictment fails to mention that Kiriakou served the CIA and the United States at great personal peril – he survived at least one assassination attempt — for almost 15 years and was trusted with the country’s most sensitive secrets and counter-terrorism operations. It also fails to mention that he was the first CIA officer to call waterboarding “torture” and that he revealed that the CIA’s torture program was policy rather than aberrant playtime. The law-breaking telecoms who received retroactive immunity from Congress, the interrogators who tortured prisoners, the officials who gave the orders, the attorneys who authored the torture memos, and the CIA agents who destroyed the interrogation tapes have not been held professionally accountable, much less been charged with crimes. National security and intelligence whistleblowers have become the glaring exception to the Obama administration’s mantra of “looking forward, not backward.” If you committed crimes under the guise of national security and the war on terrorism, you will not be held criminally liable, but if you blow the whistle on crimes, you risk criminal prosecution under the Espionage Act.

    As I keep saying, John Kiriakou is the new Tom Drake — an assessment with which Drake himself agrees. And the government’s latest dirty little secret? For these heavy-handed, oh-so-serious, America-harming, foreign nation-benefitting Espionage Act charges, the government was willing to let Kiriakou plead guilty to a single felony with no jail time. Desperate.

  12. Another hole punched in the Constitution. The Tea Party members don’t care. Gun nuts fondle their rifles and mutter (only the 2nd Ammendment matters). You don’t care. It’s an election year — an opportunity for Americans to prove the pessimists wrong.

    U.S. filmmaker repeatedly detained at border “, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 8 April 2012 — Yet another civil right ripped away. Excerpt:

    One of the more extreme government abuses of the post-9/11 era targets U.S. citizens re-entering their own country, and it has received far too little attention. With no oversight or legal framework whatsoever, the Department of Homeland Security routinely singles out individuals who are suspected of no crimes, detains them and questions them at the airport, often for hours, when they return to the U.S. after an international trip, and then copies and even seizes their electronic devices (laptops, cameras, cellphones) and other papers (notebooks, journals, credit card receipts), forever storing their contents in government files. No search warrant is needed for any of this. No oversight exists. And there are no apparent constraints on what the U.S. Government can do with regard to whom it decides to target or why.

    In an age of international travel — where large numbers of citizens, especially those involved in sensitive journalism and activism, frequently travel outside the country — this power renders the protections of the Fourth Amendment entirely illusory. By virtue of that amendment, if the government wants to search and seize the papers and effects of someone on U.S. soil, it must (with some exceptions) first convince a court that there is probable cause to believe that the objects to be searched relate to criminal activity and a search warrant must be obtained. But now, none of those obstacles — ones at the very heart of the design of the Constitution — hinders the U.S. government: now, they can just wait until you leave the country, and then, at will, search, seize and copy all of your electronic files on your return. That includes your emails, the websites you’ve visited, the online conversations you’ve had, the identities of those with whom you’ve communicated, your cell phone contacts, your credit card receipts, film you’ve taken, drafts of documents you’re writing, and anything else that you store electronically: which, these days, when it comes to privacy, means basically everything of worth.

    This government abuse has received some recent attention in the context of WikiLeaks. Over the past couple of years, any American remotely associated with that group — or even those who have advocated on behalf of Bradley Manning — have been detained at the airport and had their laptops, cellphones and cameras seized: sometimes for months, sometimes forever. But this practice usually targets people having nothing to do with WikiLeaks.

    A 2011 FOIA request from the ACLU revealed that just in the 18-month period beginning October 1, 2008, more than 6,600 people — roughly half of whom were American citizens — were subjected to electronic device searches at the border by DHS, all without a search warrant. Typifying the target of these invasive searches is Pascal Abidor, a 26-year-old dual French-American citizen and an Islamic Studies Ph.D. student who was traveling from Montreal to New York on an Amtrak train in 2011 when he was stopped at the border, questioned by DHS agents, handcuffed, taken off the train and kept in a holding cell for several hours before being released without charges; those DHS agents seized his laptop and returned it 11 days later when, the ACLU explains, “there was evidence that many of his personal files, including research, photos and chats with his girlfriend, had been searched.” That’s just one case of thousands, all without any oversight, transparency, legal checks, or any demonstration of wrongdoing.

    But the case of Laura Poitras, an Oscar-and Emmy-nominated filmmaker and intrepid journalist, is perhaps the most extreme. …

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