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Civil Rights / Liberties
They’re always there to cup your genitals — because the TSA’s unskilled workers violating your body and your rights aren’t about security. They’re about jobs for people who’d otherwise be out of work, money for the connected Chertoffs of the world, and training you to be obedient when your rights are yanked from you.
Read the rest at TSA News.
By Ron Ridenour
Yes, I mean it: the worst ever!
We’ve had James Monroe and his doctrine of supremacy over Latin America. We’ve had Theodore Roosevelt and his invasion of Cuba; Nixon, Reagan, Bush-Bush and their mass murder, and all the war crimes and genocide committed by most presidents. Yes, but we never had a black man sit on the white throne of imperialism committing war crimes.
Last May, TSA News writer Bill Fisher reported on the TSA’s backlog of background checks at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.
Read the rest at TSA News.
The great blues guitarist and singer Eric Clapton is also fed up with the TSA.
Read the rest at TSA News.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
The controversial acquittal of a Philadelphia policeman caught on video violently punching a woman at a Puerto Rican Day parade last fall quickly produced a second stink bomb.
The Philadelphia judge who freed fired Lt. Jonathan Josey during a non-jury trial where that jurist brushed aside compelling evidence recorded on that video is married to a Philadelphia policeman.
The intertubes are full of wailing about the automatic, across-the-board cuts called sequestration that are set to take effect in 30 days if Congress doesn’t get its act together.
By Alredo Lopez
If it wasn't so harmful, it would be funny: a marketing battle between the two technology giants MicroSoft and Google over who lacks integrity and is exploitative. It's been going on for a while and with every thrust and block the thing becomes more grotesque and more revealing.
First, by way of introduction, well...you don't need an introduction.
If you're using Windows, your computer lives MicroSoft. If you don't, you use a MicroSoft product (like Word or some smaller program you don't notice on your desktop) or someone sends you stuff using one. You can't escape MicrosSoft if you use a computer.
Tristan Higgins details in the Huffington Post how she was made to suffer for failing to conform to a TSA screener’s gender stereotypes. Tristan says, “I stepped out and waited in that spot where we all wait while some anonymous stranger decides whether we are a threat, whether our body scan matches up with expectations. Well, it turned out that mine did not.”
The TSA’s machine told Tristan Higgins that her body was unacceptable, therefore she was unacceptable.
I am re-posting something one of our writers posted at TSA News last year, because it’s important and because not everyone, obviously, reads everything all the time. The things we talk about need to be reinforced, the points we make need to be repeated, again and again. We have new readers all the time. It’s impossible for them to go back through the hundreds of archived posts, no matter how assiduous they are. So here is Richard Walbaum’s post from April 2, 2012: Why you must protect your children from TSA groping
Many readers reacted to the recent story of the crying three-year-old girl in a wheelchair who was searched and harassed by the TSA at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (after she had already successfully cleared the checkpoint) as though this were an uncommon incident.
As we’ve indicated umpteen times (yes, I, too get tired of having to use that phrase) and as the TSA itself indicates on its own website, photographing, videotaping, or otherwise recording at the TSA checkpoint is legal.
The only time it isn’t legal is when a specific airport indicates by a public sign that that particular airport in that particular jurisdiction has regulations against it. And that’s very few airports.
A careful study of the FBI's own data on terrorism in the United States, reported in Trevor Aaronson's book The Terror Factory, finds one organization leading all others in creating terrorist plots in the United States: the FBI.
Imagine an incompetent bureaucrat. Now imagine a corrupt one. Now imagine both combined. You're starting to get at the image I take away of some of the FBI agents' actions recounted in this book.
Now imagine someone both dumb enough to be manipulated by one of those bureaucrats and hopelessly criminal, often sociopathic, and generally at the mercy of the criminal or immigration courts. Now you're down to the level of the FBI informant, of which we the Sacred-Taxpayers-Who-Shall-Defund-Our-Own-Retirement employ some 15,000 now, dramatically more than ever before. And we pay them very well.
Then try to picture someone so naive, incompetent, desperate, out-of-place, or deranged as to be manipulable by an FBI informant. Now you're at the level of the evil terrorist masterminds out to blow up our skyscrapers.
Well, not really. They're actually almost entirely bumbling morons who couldn't tie their own shoes or buy the laces without FBI instigation and support. The FBI plants the ideas, makes the plans, provides the fake weapons and money, creates the attempted act of terrorism, makes an arrest, and announces the salvation of the nation.
Over and over again. The procedure has become so regular that intended marks have spotted the sting being worked on them simply by googling the name or phone number of the bozo pretending to recruit them into the terrorist brotherhood, and discovering that he's a serial informant.
Between 911 and August, 2011, the U.S. government prosecuted 508 people for terrorism in the United States. 243 had been targeted using an FBI informant. 158 had been caught in an FBI terrorism sting. 49 (that we know of, FBI recording devices have completely unbelievable patterns of "malfunctioning") had encountered an agent provocateur. Most of the rest charged with "terrorism" had little or nothing to do with terrorism at all, most of them charged with more minor offenses like immigration offenses or making false statements. Three or four people out of the whole list appear to be men whom one would reasonably call terrorists in the commonly accepted sense of the word. They intended to and had something at least approaching the capacity to engage in acts of terrorism.
These figures are not far off the percentages of Guantanamo prisoners or drone strike victims believed to be guilty of anything resembling what they've been accused of. So, we shouldn't single out the FBI for criticism. But it should receive its share.
Here's how U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon understood a case that seems all too typical:
"The essence of what occurred here is that a government, understandably zealous to protect its citizens from terrorism, came upon a man both bigoted and suggestible, one who was incapable of committing an act of terrorism on his own. It created acts of terrorism out of his fantasies of bravado and bigotry, and then made those fantasies come true. . . . I suspect that real terrorists would not have bothered themselves with a person who was so utterly inept."
When we hear on television that the FBI has prevented a plot to blow up a crowded area of a big U.S. city, we either grow terrified and grateful, or we wait for the inevitable revelation that the FBI created the plot from start to finish, manipulating some poor fool who had zero contact with foreign terrorists and more often than not participated unwittingly or for the money offered him. But even those of us who do the latter might find Aaronson's survey of this phenomenon stunning.
During some of its heretofore darkest days the FBI didn't use informants like it does now. J. Edgar Hoover's informants just observed and reported. They didn't instigate. That practice took off during the war on drugs in the 1980s. But the assumption that a drug dealer might have done the same thing without the FBI's sting operation is backed up by some statistics. There is no evidence to back up the idea that the unemployed grocery bagger and video game player who sees visions, has never heard of major Islamic terrorist groups, can't purchase a gun with thousands of dollars in cash and instructions on how to purchase a gun, understands terrorism entirely from the insights of Hollywood movies, and who has no relevant skills or resources, is going to blow up a building without help from the FBI.
(Which came first, the FBI's terror factory or Hollywood's is a moot question now that they feed off each other so well.)
Read this book, I'm telling you, we're looking at people who've been locked away for decades who couldn't have found their ass with two hands and a map. These cases more than anything else resemble those of mentally challenged innocent men sitting on death rows because they tried to please the police officer asking them to confess to a crime they clearly knew nothing about.
Of course the press conferences announcing the convictions of drug dealers and "terrorists" are equally successful. They also equally announce an ongoing campaign doomed to failure. The campaign for "terrorists" developed under President George W. Bush and expanded, like so much else, under President Barack Obama.
Aaronson spoke with J. Stephen Tidwell, former executive assistant director at the FBI. Tidwell argued that someone thinking about the general idea of committing crimes should be set up and then prosecuted, because as long as they're not in prison the possibility exists that someone other than the FBI could encourage them to, and assist them in, actually committing a crime. "You and I could sit here, go online, and by tonight have a decent bomb built. What do you do? Wait for him to figure it out himself?"
The answer, based on extensive data, is quite clearly that he will not figure it out himself and act on it. That the FBI has stopped 3 acts of terrorism is believable. But that the FBI has stopped 508 and there wasn't a 509th is just not possible. The explanation is that there haven't been 509 or even 243. The FBI has manufactured terrorist plots by the dozens, including most of the best known ones. (And if you watched John Brennan's confirmation hearing, you know that the underwear bomber and other "attacks" not under the FBI's jurisdiction have been no more real.)
Arthur Cummings, former executive assistant director of the FBI's National Security Branch, told Aaronson that the enemy was not Al Qaeda or Islamic Terrorism, but the idea of it. "We're at war with an idea," he said. But his strategy seems to be one of consciously attempting to lose hearts and minds. For the money spent on infiltrations and stings, the U.S. government could have given every targeted community free education from preschool to college, just as it could do for every community at home and many abroad by redirecting war spending. When you're making enemies of people rather than friends, to say that you're working against an idea is simply to admit that you're not targeting people based on a judicial review finding any probable cause to legally do so.
The drug war's failure can be calculated in the presence of drugs, although the profits for prisons and other profiteers aren't universally seen as failures. The FBI's counterterrorism can be calculated as a failure largely because of the waste of billions of dollars on nonexistent terrorism. But there's also the fact that the FBI's widespread use of informants, very disproportionately in Muslim communities, has made ordinary people who might provide tips hesitant to do so for fear of being recruited as informants. Thus "counter terrorism" may make it harder to counter terrorism. It may also feed into real terrorism by further enraging people already outraged by U.S. foreign policy. But it's no failure at all if measured by the dollars flowing into the FBI, or the dollars flowing into the pockets of informants who get paid by commission (that is, based on convictions in court of their marks). Nor do weapons makers, other war profiteers, or other backers of right wing politics in general seem to be objecting in any way to the production of widespread fear and bigotry.
Congressman Stephen Lynch has introduced a bill that would require federal law enforcement agencies to report to Congress twice a year on all serious crimes, authorized or unauthorized, committed by informants (who are often much more dangerous criminals than are those they're informing on). The bill picked up a grand total of zero cosponsors last Congress and has reached the same mark thus far in the current one.
The corporate media cartel has seen its ratings soar with each new phony incident. Opposition to current practice does not seem to be coming from that quarter.
And let's all be clear with each other: our society is tolerating this because the victims are Muslims. With many other minority groups we would all be leaping to their defense.
It may be time to try thinking of Muslims as Samaritans, as of course some of them are.
By Dave Lindorff
I’m fed up with the trashing of the Baby Boom generation.
Sure you can find plenty of scoundrels, freeloaders, charlatans and thugs who were born between 1946 and 1964, but you can find bad and lazy people in every generation. In fact, the so called “Greatest Generation” who preceded the Boomers abounds in them. That doesn’t prove anything.
Why we won’t stop writing about the abuses of the TSA, DHS, and the entire National Security State, why we won’t stop naming things by their proper names, calling them out for what they are, and speaking the truth, no matter how many people it disturbs.
Read the rest at TSA News.
In time-honored fashion, the TSA, once again, offers a weak, responsibility-avoiding apology to 3-year-old Lucy Forcke and her parents Nathan Forcke and Annie Schulte.
It took a while, but the national media finally picked up on the story we reported here three days ago about the TSA harassing the family after they had already successfully cleared the checkpoint.
By Alfredo Lopez
In the madness of our media-fed consciousness, the greatest threat to an informative news story is time. Given enough time, and the dysfunctional and disinformative way the mainstream media cover news, even the most important and revealing story quickly dies out.
That is, unless we who use alternative media keep that story alive.
Legal scholar Jonathan Turley has written about this more than once.
It is simply false to claim that someone is violating a law if he/she makes a joke — about bombs or anything else — at the airport security checkpoint. I repeat: it’s false.
I wish I could say that this is a new low for the contemptible thugs in blue for whose equipment and “services” taxpayers pay billions of dollars every year.
Sadly, it isn't. It’s just par for the course; another Day in Despotism here in the Land of the Meek, Home of the Afraid.
by Debra Sweet I really encourage you to view Raymond Lotta's presentation and the interesting discussion from this past Sunday's webcast. Lotta went into the history of political opponents of governments targeted in 1930's Germany, and in the U.S. in the 50's, 60's and 70's, as well as what he called the "disturbing turn" in the lawsuit against the NDAA, Hedges v.
Bradley Manning has been in jail awaiting trial for nearly 1,000 days for exposing war crimes, corruption, and widespread abuse. Demonstrations have been organized internationally.
When he returns to court in Fort Meade, MD, for a pretrial hearing from February 26 to March 1, Judge Denise Lind will rule on the defense’s motion to dismiss charges for lack of a speedy trial. Defense lawyer David Coombs has laid out the ways in which the government has violated the 5th and 6th Constitutional Amendments, Rule for Court Martial 707, and Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 10 in taking this long to try Bradley Manning. Prosecutors were supposed to arraign Manning within 120 days but took well over 600. They’re also supposed to remain actively diligent throughout the proceedings, but Coombs has showed substantial periods of their inactivity and needless delay. Bradley’s due process rights have been clearly violated, and the only legal remedy is to dismiss charges.
Judge Lind should dismiss the charges with prejudice, if she determines the government intentionally delayed Manning’s trial, which would set the young Army private free. She could also dismiss without prejudice, which would allow the government to retry the case and restart the speedy trial clock. If she does not dismiss the charges, she will condone the government’s unconstitutional delays and the deprivation of Bradley’s due process rights.
We will also hear Bradley’s updated plea offer, in which he’s expected to offer to plead guilty to several lesser-included offenses, which could carry a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison. The government can still charge as planned, including using the Espionage Act and UCMJ Article 104, alleging Manning indirectly “aided the enemy” simply because he knew Al Qaeda could access WikiLeaks.
By the time that pretrial hearing begins, Bradley will have been in jail for over 1,000 days. In response to this historic abuse, supporters around the country and around the world are planning demonstrations, rallies, and marches on February 23. From California, to Florida, to Italy, to Germany, supporters of PFC Manning will make their protests known.
Tucson, AZ Feb 23, 11am-5pm
Write Bradley Manning for Valentine's Day!
A little known fact about Valentine's Day is that it originated not as a romantic holiday, but as a way to honor a crusader for social equality.
Show heart! Write a letter of support to Bradley!
We think that Valentine's Day is a fitting time to send Bradley a message of support. You can send cards and letters to the following address:
Commander, HHC USAG
Attn: PFC Bradley Manning
239 Sheridan Ave, Bldg 417
JBM-HH, VA 22211
You can also submit a picture of yourself with a message of support holding a sign that reads "I Am Bradley Manning" to http//iam.bradleymanning.org.
Bradley's attorney David Coombs has said, "the best evidence for me that I am not standing alone when I stand for Brad is a website called 'I Am Bradley Manning'. I personally have to tell you, I go to this site at least once a day. I go to this site when I need to recharge my batteries after working a long day on the case, and I just peruse the photographs – people with a simple statement in front of their face, “I am Bradley Manning.” The power of those simple words is amazing."
We agree. Thank you for supporting Bradley Manning!
Kansas is joining a list of states that are trying to curb the abuses and crimes of the TSA, since it’s apparent that Congress isn’t going to do it.
Read the rest at TSA News.
The millimeter wave scanners are no better at detecting contraband than their radiation-emitting counterparts, the backscatter scanners. But then, we’ve only been telling you that for years.
Read the rest at TSA News.
German cellist Alban Gerhardt says the TSA damaged his $20,000 bow (at Dulles International Airport or O’Hare International, depending on which press account you read).
Like most infrequent air travelers, Vicki Burton just wants to get through security without causing a scene. So on a recent flight from Chattanooga, Tenn., to Miami, she obediently stepped into the airport’s full-body scanner, held her arms up, and waited for the agent to wave her through.
Read the rest at TSA News.
We’ve only said it a hundred times, so what’s one more?
If the TSA can take something out of your bag, they can also put something in.
Read the rest at TSA News.
Friends, Americans, countrymen, never fear! Your crack security agency is on the case.
The TSA has issued a special alert to its employees to be on the lookout for ex-cop Christopher Jordan Dorner, who’s the subject of a multi-state manhunt.
Good for him.
Though most of us can’t afford to bring suit against this worthless agency, some people can.
By Dave Lindorff
The US government doesn't like Iran. I get that. It claims, on pretty dubious grounds, that Iran might be planning, at some point down the road, to take some of the uranium it is processing into nuclear fuel to a higher level of purity and make it into an atomic bomb.