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Silencing Dissent in America

By Stephen Lendman - Posted on 18 August 2012


Silencing Dissent in America


by Stephen Lendman


Freedom in America is endangered. Bipartisan complicity plans destroying it altogether. 


America is on a fast track toward tyranny and ruin. Police state laws threaten everyone.


Increasingly dissent is marginalized. It's not tolerated. Resistance is called dangerous to national security.


Federal authorities target activists. So do militarized local police. No holds barred tactics are employed.


In October 2010, the Center for Constitutional Rights said:


"The growing threat to the right to dissent has been demonstrated in the U.S. government's efforts to silence speech, and criminalize and target peaceful movements." 


"These efforts are becoming more aggressive, emboldened further by the Supreme Court's increasingly conservative decisions, for instance regarding material support in the form of humanitarian aid to so-called terrorist organizations."</blockquote>


Howard Zinn called dissent "the highest form of patriotism." Michael Ratner and Margaret Ratner Kunstler's book "Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in Twenty First Century America" discusses what everyone needs to know.


It explores how activism and dissent are targeted. Demonstrations are attacked and disrupted. Protesters are called terrorists. They're arrested and jailed for expressing constitutionally guaranteed First Amendment and other rights.


Authorities claim they give "material support" to perceived enemies. "Hell No" provides advice on dealing with a menu of police state practices.


American's First Amendment guarantees free expression, a free press, the right to peacefully assemble, free exercise of religion, and right to petition government for redress of grievances. 


Without these rights, all others are at risk. They've been fast eroding in America for years en route to eliminating them altogether. Forgotten are numerous Supreme Court decisions upholding free expression and assembly rights.


In Edwards v. South Carolina (1963), the Court ruled against state authorities for prohibiting protesters from marching for civil rights.


In Cox v. Louisiana (1965), the Court held that state government cannot employ "breach of the peace" statutes against protesters engaging in peaceful demonstrations by claiming they may incite violence.


In Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), the Court ruled government can't punish inflammatory speech unless it's "directed" to incite lawless action.


In Texas v. Johnson (1989), Justice William Brennan wrote the majority opinion, saying:


<blockquote>"(I)f there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable."</blockquote>


In Wooley v. Maynard (1977), the Court upheld "the right of individuals to hold a point of view different from the majority" with respect to "idea(s) they find morally objectionable."


Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:


<blockquote>"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."


Article 20(1) states:


"Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association."


Article 29(2) states:


"In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society."</blockquote>


Post-9/11, dissent has been increasingly marginalized.


In October 2008, so-called (Attorney General Michael) Mukasey/(FBI Director Robert) Mueller Guidelines gave federal authorities "flexibility (to) protect the Nation from terrorist threats."


Consolidated new rules include criminal and national security issues. Surveillance restrictions were eased. Domestic spying became institutionalized. Constitutional rights are ignored.


"War on terror" authority escalated FBI abuses. Intrusive surveillance tools used against alleged spies now target ordinary Americans. Mukasey/Mueller Guidelines underwent four separate changes. Each one increased FBI surveillance powers.


Tactics include intrusive spying, commercial database data retrieval, paid informants infiltrating groups or targeting individuals on false pretenses, and letting covert unidentified agents conduct "pretext" interviews for information.


Mukasey/Mueller Guidelines left ordinary Americans increasingly vulnerable to abuse. Anyone may be investigated for any reason or none at all.


Authorization permits surveillance and infiltration of anti-war and other social justice groups. Occupy Wall Street (OWS) activists are targeted. Any organization or individual is vulnerable. Anything goes is now policy. Obama is more repressive than Bush.


Data mining collects vast amounts of information on ordinary Americans. How it's used, who knows. Against targeted individuals and groups, it's used abusively.


Everything is fair game. Personal records of all kinds are obtained. Activities are closely monitored. So-called "suspicious activity reports" allege possible criminal activity.


The USA Patriot Act authorized so-called National Security Letters (NSLs). They expanded the FBI's authority to obtain personal customer records from ISPs, financial institutions, credit companies, and other sources without prior court approval.


Innocent people are targeted. Virtually anything in public or private records can be gotten. "Gag" orders prevent targeted individuals or groups from revealing the information demanded. NSL use continues increasing exponentially. 


Lawful rights are violated in numerous ways. Classic police state tactics are used. No one's safe when authorities act this way. Freedom is perilously close to vanishing. Mueller has virtual carte blanche authority.


Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protesters have been targeted and criminalized. Constitutional rights are violated. Beatings and other forms of excessive force are used. Nonviolent protests are called terrorism.


Patriot Act provisions criminalized dissent. Innocent people are arrested, indicted and imprisoned. "Terrorist profiles" let FBI and local police investigate anyone for any reason. Obama and congressional allies sold out constituents for Wall Street and other monied interests.


Obama escalated repressive Bush practices. The Oregorian newspaper reported that heavily armed FBI units raided homes of OWS protesters in Seattle and Olympia, WA and Portland, OR over the last month.


Actions have been ongoing since early July. Authorities claim violent crimes are being investigated. Eyewitnesses report dozens of FBI agents in body armor and military fatigues armed with assault rifles involved.


One witness said:


<blockquote>"I just heard lots of pounding at 6 o'clock, and I got up and I saw the whole thing. I saw them screaming to get in. They were using the battering ram, and then finally the door just opened."


FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele told the Oregonian"


"The warrants are sealed, and I anticipate they will remain sealed."


Authorities alleged searches were for "anti-government or anarchist literature or materials," as well as "documentation and communications related to the offenses, including but not limited to notes, diagrams, letters, diary and journal entries, address books, and other documentation in written or electronic form."</blockquote>


In fact, nonviolent activists were targeted, terrorized, and criminalized. At issue is engaging in constitutionally protected protests. Militarized FBI agents used stun grenades and battering rams. Victims were pulled out of bed at gunpoint.


Personal possessions were seized. They included computers, suspect literature and other materials in written or electronic form, cell phones, thumb drives, and clothing with political slogans.


False charges remain sealed. Fundamental rights are criminalized. Post-9/11, similar raids were conducted. At issue is political dissent as well as America's ongoing war on Islam.


Disproportionate force is used. Victims were handcuffed while homes were searched. Arrests weren't made, but about six protesters were subpoenaed to appear before grand juries.


On August 1, Dennison Williams and Leah Plante read a statement outside a Portland, OR courthouse, saying:


<blockquote>"This grand jury is a tool of political repression. It is attempting to turn individuals against each other by coercing those subpoenaed to testify against their communities." 


"The secret nature of grand jury proceedings creates mistrust and can undermine solidarity. And imprisoning us takes us from our loved ones and our responsibilities."</blockquote>


Williams and Plante said they'll invoke the Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to answer grand jury questions.


America's Grand Jury System


They're convened to determine possible probable cause to return  indictments. Critics say they rubber stamp aggressive prosecutions.


Federally, they have extraordinary investigative powers. Prosecutors abuse them to manipulate proceedings for outcomes they wish. Victims are vulnerable to bogus indictments. The Fifth Amendment requires grand jury indictments for federal criminal charges.


Prosecutors have extraordinary discretion. They choose witnesses, grant selective immunity, and do nearly all questioning.


Proceedings are conducted in secret. No one may disclose what goes on unless ordered to do so judicially. Anyone may be subpoenaed. Answering questions is mandated unless special privilege is granted. For example: lawyer/client confidentiality or self-incrimination. 


Lawyers can't intervene to help clients while testifying. Double jeopardy doesn't apply to grand juries, but without indictments, prosecutors need Criminal Division Attorney General permission to try again. Victims have no protections against false witness testimonies perhaps gotten for leniency on existing or threatened charges.


Prosecutors routinely want grand jury indictments. The system is rigged to get them. Targeted victims are defenseless. Many innocent people languish wrongfully in prison. Justice is routinely denied.


Numerous past incidents occurred. In September 2010, administration ordered raids targeted Chicago and Minneapolis anti-war/pro-Palestinian activists. Arrests weren't made, but homes were ransacked. Computers, cell phones, books, photos, correspondence, papers, and other possessions were seized.


Twenty-three victims were subpoenaed to testify before grand juries. Activists were again targeted during NATO's May invasion. False terror plots were claimed. Activist homes were raided. Five victims faced terrorism-related charges.


Numerous other arrests were made. Everyone charged is innocent. Police brutality was reported. Most injuries were from baton head and body blows. Over two dozen were hospitalized for broken bones, concussions, knocked out teeth, and open wounds requiring stitches.


NATO arrives nowhere peacefully. Obama officials and local police wage war on dissent. Legal restraints don't apply for anyone charged with alleged terrorism or conspiracy to commit it. Abolition of constitutional rights shows what everyone faces. 


It's the wrong time to be activist in America. Doing so means possible indictment, prosecution, and imprisonment for doing the right thing.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at 


His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"


Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

All class systems are class deformed civil societies, where parasitical control is in its ruling classes and its class hierarchies, housing class shills, ideological thugs, totalitarian shock troops which in Late capitalism, produces the same failed class states, but its form is proto fascism, producing the Fascist Axis of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and class empire of Japan.   Once Capitalism has been restored as it was after World War II, IT RESUMES ITS TOTALITARIAN, PROTO FASCIST CLASS CYCLE, this time as failed post colonial class states, deformed Stalinist workers class outcomes, and the Second Western Fascist Axis, this time, a global Late Capitalist form, forming A GLOBAL FASCIST MATRIX, WESTERN FASCISM.  The ancient Greeks, as the first social thinkers observed the class deformed (class) character of their civil society and its inverted, dialectical, degenerating class cycles, also Orwell's inverted totalitarian, class principle, devolving class outcome, from class republics, class democracies, to class tyrants and the permanent militarism of all class Empires.   So long as social control of civil society HAS NOT, and still is not accomplished, establishing independent, indivisible, social , middle layes, globally, having accomplished the negation of class hierarchies tied to all class systems, and its Patriarchal class mechanism, class history and Patriarchy, totalitarian , parasitical class systems will continue to rule.

ONLY A GLOBAL REJECTION, GLOBAL REVOLT AGAINST FASCIST AUSTERITY, FASCIST CAPITALISM, MISLABELED NEO LIBERAL ECONOMICS, THE REJECTION OF ALL CLASS PARTIES, ALL CLASS POLITICIANS, FOR A GLOBAL SOCIAL AGENDA, will end not only Patriarchy, Feudalism, Capitalism, but it late stage THE CORPORATE FASCIST STATES, supported by a devolving fascist democratic party and Obama, republican fascists, and all Western fascist elites, ending the parasitical class control over civil society, its wealth, its social labor, and kick starting through critical global social forces, the social historical mechanism, that was turned up side down, into Patriarchal class history.   End Fascism through this strategy, and you give new meaning to the definition of "civilizations", which have been milleniums of totalitarian, parastical (class) "civilization".    WE MUST ALSO PROSECUTE, HOLD ACCOUNTABLE, ALL WAR CRIMINALS, ALL CORPORATE FRAUD, AND ITS CLASS POLITICIANS, who enable slavery, enslavement, permanent war, and their support for FASCIST ZIONISM, FASCIST ISRAEL, through its Fascist NATO and Fascist U.S. CLASS EMPIRE:

You Live In a Fascist State

By Timothy Gatto

"They are all war mongering bastards that are brainwashed into wanting world domination. There will be more wars and more conquests until we are faced with a China and a Russia that will not stand for it. It's bad enough that they devote 53% of the discretionary budget to the military industrial complex in other terms "The War Machine". Is this a nation that you want to live in?




When Obama talks about job growth, what kind of jobs is he talking about? IT jobs, Engineering jobs, or jobs that MBA's can get? Is he talking about construction jobs, pipefitter jobs, plumber's jobs, mechanics jobs or regular day worker jobs?  I'm asking for a reason. The middle-class holds all the jobs I'm talking about. Where are jobs for the middle class? Let me ply you with some statistics you may not feel comfortable about.<?xml:namespace prefix = o />

Let's look at the figures before the crash of '08. Let's look at the numbers in 2007. This is when the middle class has wealth from their home values. The figures are startling this comes from The University of California at Santa Cruz....


The Constitution said that they should provide for the General Welfare. Apparently that is yesterday's news. We live in a state of permanent war. We live in a country that is bent on conquering the World.






This is borne out by the last fifteen years of our history. Wake up and smell the coffee. Be happy in your fascist state. I think I'm moving. At 61 I think it's time to clear out. I don't want to be part of this any longer...."

What's gone wrong at The Guardian?

Hiring Joshua Trevi?o, who endorsed the killing of Gaza flotilla members, is a worrying step for journalism






"On 15 August, the Guardian announced the hiring of Joshua Treviño as a correspondent with the paper's US politics team. Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of the Guardian US, said that Treviño would bring "an important perspective" to readers.

Treviño is a Republican party operative, paid political consultant and ideologue for hire. But while some may not like those attributes, they would not make him unique among columnists. What does distinguish Treviño is his propensity to call for violence.

Endorsing the killing of unarmed civilians

In June 2011, as several boats carrying unarmed civilian activists attempted to set sail from ports in southern Europe to break the blockade of Gaza, Treviño tweeted out a message to the Israeli army: "Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla - well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me."


"Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla - well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me."

- Joshua Treviño, blogger and columnist

When another Twitter user called on Israel to "sink the flotilla", Treviño chimed in that the effort to reach Gaza was "not morally different from a Nazi convoy". A third Twitter user asked Treviño point blank if he was "Endorsing killing Americans overseas," and Treviño left no room for doubt: "Sure, if they adhere to our enemies. Flotilla participants do."

Among the passengers, whose killing by Israel Treviño endorsed, were poet and author Alice Walker, elderly Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein and several journalists, including Joseph Dana on assignment for The Nation.

I'll lay my cards on the table. I had many friends and colleagues who travelled on these and previous boats, and I do take calls for their murder personally. And Treviño knew that a year earlier, Israeli forces had shot dead nine unarmed civilians attempting the same journey aboard the Mavi Marmara.

The Guardian responds

I wrote to the Guardian's editors, including Gibson, sharing with them a blog post I published expressing outrage that they would hire a columnist who "who openly called on the Israeli army to kill Americans".

I also asked the editors if they had been aware of Treviño's violent statements - and whether publicly calling for the killing of those whose positions you disagree with is merely another opinion we are bound to respect and tolerate.

The response was disappointing. "We have long held that a range of voices is one of the great assets of The Guardian's comment section" the company's press office said in an emailed statement. "We look forward to the open and robust debate that we are sure will follow between Josh and Guardian readers," the statement added.

The press office also sent me the link to a piece Treviño wrote - no doubt at the urging of his new bosses - to counter the growing outrage over his calls to kill flotilla passengers.


"Who is Treviño kidding? He never managed to explain away his tweets actively endorsing sinking the flotilla and killing fellow Americans - whom he deemed "enemies" just because they tried to sail to Gaza."

Disingenuous and dishonest

Treviño's response, titled "My 2011 Gaza flotilla tweet: a clarification" (notably not an apology or retraction) is a disingenuous and risible piece of spin in which he further maligns flotilla passengers as seeking to "render aid to their country's enemies" and implies that Gaza's entire population of 1.6 million - half of them children - amounted to a "terrorist group".

He argued that the words in his tweets did not mean what they plainly mean and that readers had just misunderstood.

Treviño claimed he wasn't calling for flotilla passengers' deaths, but merely saying that it is "mainstream" opinion that if Israel killed US citizens aboard the boats, it would have been their own fault. "Any reading of my tweet of 25 June 2011 that holds that I applauded, encouraged, or welcomed the death of fellow human beings, is wrong, and out of step with my life and record," Treviño wrote, "I do not apologize for my views or my ideology."

Who is Treviño kidding? He never managed to explain away his tweets actively endorsing sinking the flotilla and killing fellow Americans - whom he deemed "enemies" just because they tried to sail to Gaza.

Nor did he address the fact that, a year earlier, as the first reports of the massacre aboard the Mavi Marmara came in, he tweeted: "Whether you're for the #flotilla or against it, we can all agree on one thing: its dead are with Rachel Corrie now."

This was a sneering reference to the American student and solidarity activist killed by Israeli occupation forces in Gaza in 2003 while attempting to block the demolition of a Palestinian family's home.

"Let me be clear: even if the worst reports of Israeli actions on the #flotilla are true - and I doubt that - Israel is still right," Treviño added. Treviño did not need to wait for any additional facts before concluding that Israel was right, because in his eyes Israel is always right.

Neither was that apparent glee at the killing of unarmed civilians out of step with Treviño's record when it came to Iraq. In 2007, Treviño had called on the United States to follow the example of the colonial British in Africa during the Boer War of the early 1900s.

"The British achieved victory over the Boers by taking their women and children away to concentration camps" and "by laying waste to the countryside," Treviño wrote admiringly, and suggested the US apply similar tactics to quash resistance in occupied Iraq.

That tens of thousands of men, women and children died was no deterrent; "Make no mistake: those means were cruel," Treviño wrote, "I have stated previously that I endorse cruel things in war."

And there's the small matter of hypocrisy. If trying to break the siege of Gaza, or endorsing those who do, amounts to complicity in supporting terrorism, as Treviño wrote, then Treviño himself has accepted employment from supporters of terrorism since The Guardian's own editors strongly condemned Israel's lethal attack on the Mavi Marmara - placing responsibility for the bloodshed "entirely" on Israel..."



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