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Civil Rights / Liberties


Coal Baron and Major Ken Cuccinelli Campaign Donor Sues Blogger for Defamation, Invasion of Privacy

Robert Murray, owner of the Ohio-based coal giant, Murray Energy Corporationfiled a defamation lawsuit against a prominent liberal blogger and The Huffington Post

Government gangsterism: NSA’s ‘MUSCULAR’ Program Secretly Invaded the Google and Yahoo Servers

By Alfredo Lopez


What a week! Shortly after Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that maybe our government had gone "too far" in its surveillance programs, the Washington Post dropped another Edward Snowden bombshell demonstrating that it is going a whole lot farther than we knew.

What’s done abroad can be done at home too...: Is NSA spying really about blackmail?

By Dave Lindorff


A revealing page-one article in today’s New York Times (“Tap on Merkel Provides Peek a Vast Spy Net”) reports on how the NSA’s global spying program, dating back at least to early in the Bush/Cheney administration, was vacuuming up the phone conversations (and no doubt later the internet communications) of not just leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but opposition leader Merkel before her party took power in Germany.


UNAC Statement on the Arrest of Rasmea Odeh

The United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) condemns the politically-motivated attack on Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian community leader arrested in her Chicago home on October 22, by agents of the Department of Homeland Security.

Odeh is charged with immigration fraud. Allegedly, in her application for citizenship, she didn’t mention that she was arrested in Palestine 45 years ago by an Israeli military court that detains Palestinians without charge, and that does not recognize the rights of Palestinians to due process. Rasmea Odeh withstood vicious torture by Israeli authorities while imprisoned in Palestine in the 70s. She is one of the millions of Palestinians who have not given up organizing for their rights of liberation, equality, and return. It is shameful that the US government is now attempting to imprison her once again.

The charges against her carry ten years in prison; in addition, she faces being stripped of her citizenship, and as a result, it’s likely she will be deported when she finishes that sentence.

(For more about Rasmea, read Maureen Murphy’s article on Electronic Intifada:  http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/maureen-clare-murphy/palestinian-arrested-chicago-because-her-community-activism-groups-say )

Odeh’s arrest this week appears to be related to the case of the 23 anti-war activists, including members of UNAC, who were subpoenaed to a grand jury in 2010.  The 23 were targeted as organizers of the 2008 anti-war march on the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Undercover law enforcement agents spied on the anti-war organizers and their movement allies for two years, sabotaged a 2009 solidarity trip to Palestine, and then the FBI raided their homes and offices, claiming that they had provided material support to foreign terrorist organizations in Palestine and Colombia.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas is leading the investigation against the 23, and he was at the courtroom in Chicago, consulting with the assistant U.S. attorney who brought the indictment against Rasmea.  Jonas was also the prosecutor in the case of the Holy Land Five, the heads of the largest Muslim charity in the U.S. before 9/11.  He was successful in getting prison sentences for as long as 65 years for the five men, who provided charity to children in Gaza.

The case against Rasmea is not about immigration, but an attempt to silence her, to cut short her important community organizing, and to attack the struggle for a free Palestine.

UNAC stands with Rasmea Odeh and against those who would silence and imprison her. This attack is another example of the continuing repression of Palestinians and people who stand in solidarity with them. Homeland Security, the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s office are carrying out enforcement of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. We ask all those who have stood against the government attack on organizing, to stand with us today to support Rasmea Odeh.

Drop the charges against Rasmea Odeh!

Actions to take in support of Rasmea:

1)            Call Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit, at 313.226.9501 or 313.226.9100, or email barbara.mcquade@usdoj.gov to demand that she Drop the Charges Now!

Example script and talking points to use:

Hello, my name is ________ and I am calling from _________.

I am calling to demand that U.S. Attorney McQuade drop the immigration charges against Rasmea Odeh. She is a beloved leader in the community and has worked tirelessly to serve and help empower Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim families throughout the Chicagoland area.

Rasmea is a community icon and was recently awarded an "Outstanding Community Leader" award from the Chicago Cultural Alliance for her over 40 years of dedication and service to people across the Arab World and the U.S.

These charges are a political attack on her as an individual and on the collective Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim communities across the U.S.

I stand in unequivocal support of Rasmea and demand that these charges be dropped immediately!

2)            Join us to pack the courtroom in mid-November for the first court appearance in Detroit.  Stay tuned for the date, time and exact location.

3)            Like the “Drop the Charges Against Rasmea Now” Facebook page -

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Drop-The-Charges-Against-Rasmea-Now/678264732186412

4)            Send statements of support and solidarity to stopfbi@gmail.com

5)            Send us your pictures holding up a sign with the following message:

“I am _________ and I support Rasmea” cppr@aaan.org

You can fill in the blank with any self-identifier: your name, your occupation, or any other description.  Some examples are:  "I am a stay-at-home dad and I support Rasmea!"  "I am a youth organizer and I support Rasmea!"  "I am a supporter of Palestinian human rights and I support Rasmea!"  

Hold the sign up and snap a selfie, then send it to cppr@aaan.org. Put it up as your Facebook/Twitter profile pic, Google Account image, or anything else! Just remember we may use your image in future publications and informational pamphlets that get published online or distributed as hard copies. 

6)            Stay tuned to www.stopfbi.net for updates on the case.

 

Join UNAC

Today, UNAC is the largest and most active antiwar coalition in the country.  During this time of increasing military intervention throughout the world, it is more important than ever that the people of the United States show their solidarity with the victims of US foreign policy and war.   If you are not on UNAC’s email list and would like to be, please send an email to  UNAC-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.  If your peace or social justice group is not affiliated with UNAC please fill out the form and join us.  The form for your group to join UNAC is located here: https://unacpeace.org/Join_UNAC.html.
 
To contribute to UNAC, please click here: https://unacpeace.org/Donate.html
 
Join UNAC’s Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/unac1/
 

Like UNAC’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/EndTheWars


Armed cops raid home of American reporter, seize files

 

Armed agents bashing down your door before dawn, while you're still asleep in bed or in the shower or on the toilet, pointing guns at you and screaming, scaring the shit out of you and your children, and often, one of their favorites, shooting your family pet? And sometimes, for good measure, raiding the wrong house?

Where does this happen? And how often?

 

Read the rest at ABombazine.

Twittered Out: Washington Does Not Like Snarky

By John Grant


To: Jofi Joseph, Washington DC

Dear Mr Joseph:

I read of your firing as a national security adviser in the White House thanks to your “snarky” tweeting about various White House officials above you in the pecking order.

TSA announcements about jokes — still bogus

 

Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, and I don’t care how many times the TSA tries to refute it with their lies:

There is no law saying you can’t crack a joke at the checkpoint.

There is no law saying you can’t crack a joke at the checkpoint.

US Security Forces Harassing People Even Before They Travel

When are people going to get it??

Our government is spying on all of us and using the information it collects not only to gate-rape us at the airport, which the masses of sheeple don't give a shit about, but to target and harass people based purely on their ethnicity. 

Leaked TSA document causing trouble for Jon Corbett

 

Our buddy Jon Corbett is back in the news again.

 

TSA air marshal taking pix up women’s dresses

 

Gee, why am I not surprised?

Just another criminal in the already criminal ranks of the TSA.

Read the rest at TSA News.

Political Prisoners in the U.S.: Systematically Neglected and Ignored

North American Anarchist Black Cross Medical Justice Committee statement on the state of health care of Political Prisoners in the U.S.

Denver, October 16, 2013 - On October 4, 2013, the world lost one of its greatest fighters in the struggle against oppression and injustice.  Herman Wallace spent 41 years in solitary confinement after being targeted by the state for his work against racism and oppression from within the prison system.  Amnesty International and mainstream news sources recently highlighted the release of Herman Wallace from prison. Tragically, Herman was able to breathe the air of freedom for only 3 days before he passed away.  Herman was denied any kind of compassionate release by the state of Louisiana, despite his advanced liver cancer and the prognosis of a mere two months to live.  Though it was the circumstances of his original conviction that compelled a judge to grant Herman his freedom, it was the state’s lack of concern for his medical condition that led to the resurgence of public and media interest in his case.

Herman was just one of many, ageing political prisoners (and prisoners of war) in the United States who are currently being denied adequate medical care and the compassionate release for which they qualify.  These people are incarcerated for their opposition to actions or policies of the US government that are in violation of human rights, and as such should be afforded the protections of international law.  It is the opinion of the North American Anarchist Black Cross Medical Justice Committee that these captured dissidents and combatants be granted compassionate release and dignified medical care, with respect to their age, health and sacrifice in service of legitimate struggles against oppression and exploitation.  It was too little, too late for Herman; that must not be the fate of our other elder comrades.

Unfortunately, cases like Herman’s are far too common.  Albert “Nuh” Washington, Bashir Hameed and Marilyn Buck  are other recent victims of prison medical neglect.  Some, such as Merle Africa, have died under suspicious medical circumstances.  More will soon follow, if swift action is not taken. 

Lynne Stewart is a 73 year old movement attorney convicted of materially aiding a terrorist organization for issuing two press releases on behalf of her client Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman. Lynne was initially sentenced to 2 years in prison. But after publicly claiming that she could survive the 2 years, the government appealed her sentencing and she was punitively re-sentenced to an outrageous 10 years in prison. Diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer prior to her sentencing in 2009, Lynne was denied compassionate release because the BOP (Bureau of Prisons) claimed "she is not suffering from a condition which is terminal within 18 months," though treating physicians have estimated her life expectancy at 12 to 18 months. She is currently awaiting a decision from an independent committee within the BOP. From there it will go to the director of the BOP for the final recommendation and request for a motion to the Judge.  Lynne’s health deteriorates daily.  Her case is one example of many ongoing cases of medical neglect, including Abdul Majid, Robert Seth Hayes, Tom Manning, Jalil Muntaqim, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Chelsea Manning, and Leonard Peltier.

There are currently over 100 political prisoners in the United States. These women and men are listed and recognized as political prisoners by numerous human rights, legal defense and progressive/socialist organizations. They come from the Civil Rights/Black Power/New African Liberation struggles, the Puerto Rican Independence Movement, Indigenous Peoples survival struggles, Chicano/Mexicano Movements, anti-imperialist/anti-war movements, anti-racist/anti-fascist struggles, the Women’s Movement, social and economic justice struggles, and especially in the past several years, from the Environmental/Animal Rights movement. They are Black, white, Latino and Native American. Most of these political prisoners have been in captivity since the 1970s and 80s. Some were convicted on totally fabricated charges, others for nebulous political conspiracies or for acts of resistance. All received huge sentences for their political beliefs or actions in support of these beliefs. 

Despite international recognition of political prisoners within the US, the US government continues to deny their existence.  An article in the Harvard Black Letter Law Journal Vol. 18, states that “Despite their prevalence in United States society, U.S. Government officials have long denied the very existence of political prisoners. When Andrew Young, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, publicly acknowledged the existence of over 100 political prisoners in his country, he was swiftly removed from office.” - The Reality of Political Prisoners in the United States: What September 11 Taught Us About Defending Themby J. Soffiyah Elijah

The harsh punitive conditions of confinement, often in special “control unit” type prisons, that political prisoners face daily, decade after decade, exposes and refutes this government myth.

The Geneva Conventions contain the internationally recognized standard of care for prisoners of war.  The standard of care for Political Prisoners in the United States ought to be at least as sound as the Geneva Conventions.  It currently is not.  We have many ageing comrades struggling for the most basic health care while incarcerated.  Even the Office of the Inspector General found that the existing BOP compassionate release program has been poorly managed and implemented inconsistently, likely resulting in eligible inmates not being considered for release and in terminally ill inmates dying before their requests were decided, as noted in the Department of Justice April 2013 review of the BOP compassionate release program .  We cannot allow this to keep happening.  What’s happened to Herman Wallace should never happen again.  No one should die in prison.  Least of all, perhaps, those who have spent their lives fighting oppression and injustice.

The Faces of Medical Neglect

The problem of medical neglect is a systematic one and affects many Political Prisoners / Prisoners of War.  Following you will find some examples of folks who are suffering right now, as well as a list of people who have died because of medical neglect in prison or who were denied compassionate release before dying in prison:

•Abdul Majid:  Black Liberation Army / Republic of New Afrika POW who recently suffered pressure on his sciatic nerve and was rendered unable to walk. After a week in this condition, he still had not been seen by a doctor, despite following the "sick call" procedure and all other necessary steps to get medical attention. After a call-in campaign, he was seen by a doctor but had not received the surgery he needed. It is presumed he is still unable to.

•Oso Blanco (Byron Shane Chubbuck): Indigenous POW, long-term chronic liver patient. Oso Blanco has been denied medical treatment for daily vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, irregular breathing, etc. He was unable to eat and had a large, hard mass in his liver, though Florence medical staff refused to do anything about it except look in his cell and pronounce him "fine." A call in / letter-writing campaign was necessary to get him a blood test, and he still did not receive a proper ultrasound (which was part of the call-in request). More answers from Oso are required before Dr. Lana Habash can properly interpret the results of his blood test.  Oso also faced retribution from the call in campaign in the forms of mail being held and phone calls being cut short. As of right now he is still experiencing liver pain.

•Robert Seth Hayes: Black Liberation Army POW with Type II diabetes and Hep C.   Seth has been fighting for adequate blood sugar monitoring since 2000. He had been consistently denied medical care for frequent, insulin-shock-induced blackouts in 2004 at Clinton Correctional facility. In 2009, when his sugar plunged to 32 and then up to 620 in a short amount of time, he had a seizure, for which he was taken off of honor block and thrown in keep-lock in Wende Correctional facility (supposedly a medical facility, though they denied him the diabetic diet necessary for his health). In August of 2012, at Sullivan Correctional Facility, he broke his index and middle fingers (injuries to the hands and feet, which can heal on their own, are very dangerous for diabetics). He was given x-rays and seen only by a physician’s assistant (not a doctor), and the diagnosis as to which fingers were broken kept changing. He has now lost the full range of motion in his hand.

•Tom Manning:  United Freedom Front POW. In February of 2010, he needed a transfer to a medical prison to biopsy a lump in his groin, under his nipple and inside his shoulder blade. Recently, he was in need of knee replacement surgery. Also suffering from two tears in his shoulder tendons and advanced muscle atrophy, he was unable to lift a cup and unable to participate in the physical therapy necessary for walking (after eventually getting the knee replacement surgery). Nothing was done until a call in campaign was launched.

•Jalil Muntaqim: Black Liberation Army POW. Jalil had a stroke in January. The treating physician recommended he be transferred to an outside hospital, but the head physician refused. Four months later, he was given a CT scan, which reported brain damage consistent with a stroke. In June he was finally taken to Wende, where a neurologist examined him.  After refusing Jalil's request for an MRI, the neurologist said that all the damage that will be done has been done, and that he should continue to exercise as he has been.

•Mutulu Shakur: Black Liberation Army / Republic of New Afrika POW, up for release in 2015. Mutulu has yet to be given physical therapy for the stroke he suffered in February.

•Chelsea Manning: "Whistleblower" who made available thousands of classified files pertaining to US war crimes / crimes against humanity.  We do not know if her gender reassignment needs will be met by the military prison in which she is incarcerated, and how this will affect her physically and psychologically (she has already been subjected to torture while in the penal system).

•Leonard Peltier:  American Indian Movement POW who had a prostate cancer scare (was exhibiting symptoms) in 2010. In June of that year, after being pressured by lawyers and the community, the BOP ordered blood tests. He received the results 4 months later. A biopsy was deemed necessary for proper diagnosis (and had not been performed as of April, 2011), and even if cancer is/was not present, a serious medical condition was nonetheless indicated by his symptoms. He has suffered a stroke which left him partially blind in one eye. For many years, he had a seriously debilitating jaw condition which left him unable to chew properly and caused consistent pain and headaches. The prison medical facilities could not properly treat this condition. In fact, two prison surgeries only worsened Leonard Peltier's condition. A physician from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, offered to repair Leonard Peltier's jaw free-of-charge, but was turned down again and again by prison authorities until the United Nations sharply rebuked the United States for subjecting Leonard Peltier to inhumane conditions. Surgery was performed and Leonard's condition improved somewhat. Subsequent surgeries are required, however, to fully address his condition. To date, such treatment has not been approved by prison officials. In recent years, Leonard Peltier has again begun to experience severe discomfort related to his jaw, teeth, and gums. Today, Leonard Peltier suffers from bone spurs in his feet and is affected by diabetes, high blood pressure, a heart condition, and other emerging health issues. According to an affiliate of Physicians for Human Rights, he risks blindness, kidney failure, and stroke given his inadequate diet, living conditions, and health care.

- Bashir Hameed, a Deputy Chairman in the Black Panther Party and COINTELPRO target, was charged and convicted of the murder and the attempted murder of two police officers in April 1981. This conviction came as a direct result of his political activity. Bashir Hameed and his co-defendant, Abdul Majid were tried three times (Queens Two) before the state was able to convict them. Bashir was serving a sentence of 25 years to life when, in 2008, he began to physically suffer. He was continuously denied any kind of medical attention or care. In May 2008, the Anarchist Black Cross Federation joined with comrades from Malcolm X Commemoration Committee, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and Jericho Movement to coordinate call-in days during the month of June of 2008, demanding immediate medical attention. By early July, Hameed was receiving the requested care and testing thanks to consistent agitation from his family and supporters. Bashir Hameed died from complications of a triple bypass surgery at the New York prison system on August 30th 2008 because the prison administration refused to take him to an outside hospital.

-Kuwasi Balagoon, a member of the Black Liberation Army. Captured and convicted of various crimes against the State, he spent much of the 1970s in prison, escaping twice. After each escape, he went underground and resumed BLA activity. He was captured in December 1981, charged with participating in an armoured truck expropriation in West Nyack, New York, on October 21 of that year, an action in which two police officers and a money courier were killed. Convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, he died of pneumocystis carninii pneumonia, an AIDS-related illness, on December 13, 1986.

-Albert Nuh Washington, former member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army. Washington was imprisoned in 1971 as a result of the U.S. government`s war against the Black Liberation Movement and subsequently spent 29 years as a political prisoner (one of the New York Three). He died of cancer in the U.S. prison system on April 28, 2000.

Protesting pot prohibition while black: Angered by Racist Prosecutions, Activist Makes Inflammatory Name Change Request

By Linn Washington Jr.


Ed Forchion, recognized as America’s foremost black marijuana legalization activist, freely admits that he “agitates” people – powerful people from prosecutors to politicians and even more mainstream anti-pot prohibition advocates who bristle at his antics.

The activism of Forchion, often outrageous like his March 2000 stunt of smoking a marijuana joint inside the New Jersey State Assembly chamber while dressed in bold black and white stripped jailhouse garb, has drawn praise and prison terms.

Dry Runs and Dry Ice: the United States of Paranoia

Two stories have come to light in the past few days that have some people on edge and others suspicious.

First is the story of a so-called "dry run" (or two, depending on who you read) aboard an airplane from Washington, D.C. to Orlando, Florida in September.

TSA still assaulting, abusing passengers – so what else is new?

 

The Arizona Republic filed a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request, and guess what they found out? That the TSA abuses people at the checkpoint.

Gee, I’m shocked.

Albany Common Council upholds U.S. Constitution!

 
Linda LeTendre's Waging Peace
by Linda LeTendre

Waging Peace

A Daily Gazette community blog
Linda LeTendre fights for a peaceful world.
 
Thursday, October 10, 2013

Finally, some good news to report.

On Monday, Oct. 7, the Albany Common Council (ACC) unanimously voted to make Albany the first city in the USA to outright prohibit indefinite military detention of its citizens without charge or trial, declared that the city is not in fact a battlefield and that said citizens are not subject to the “detention under the law of war,” all of which are specifics under the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The ACC declared to the US government that the U.S. Constitution, the unabridged, unadulterated version, as the framers intended it, reigns supreme in Albany. All ACC members can expect to be on the non-mythical NSA watch list now -- if they weren't already -- as THAT part of the government is still up and running. Come to think of it, the parts of our government that kill people and spy on us are all fully operational, as it the Congressional gym/spa. Headstart and government burial funds for soldiers killed in action are not. Says volumes doesn't it?

I come from four generations of veterans and the two that are still living (father and brother) are very pleased that the ACC has enough appreciation and respect for the fact that they risked their lives in their military service to defend the rights and freedoms guaranteed by that sacred document, to take the risk to uphold it themselves. I say with all certainty that if the other two generations (grandfather and great grandfather) were alive they too would share in that appreciation.

For those not familiar with the NDAA, this law declares the entire United States of America to be a battlefield in the “war on terror” (which oddly enough has come to look like a war on our rights and freedoms). Sections 1021 & 1022 give the military the authority to hold indefinitely, without charge or trail, ANYONE, including American citizens accused of “support” for terrorist actions or for committing a “belligerent act” -- with neither “support” nor “belligerent” being specifically defined. Purposely. Despite the fact that this violates several sections of the U.S. Constitution, as well as at least seven amendments, the NDAA overwhelmingly passed Congress in 2011 and Obama was only too happy to sign it on Dec. 31, 2011, as he had specifically requested the two sections that the ACC repealed for Albany.

It is the strongest rebuke in the country to the NDAA, recognizing it to be unconstitutional. Other states that voted to block the law require that the state “stand down,” allowing federal officials to drag people off to G-d knows where, under G-d knows what conditions (you can bet it will not be a four star hotel), for G-d know how long. In Albany, they have to protect you.

What does this have to do with peacemaking as this blog is supposed to be about that? People who disagree with the U.S. government have been declared “low level terrorists” by the Pentagon. If you're working for peace and your government is at war....remember the vague definitions referred to earlier?

Many thanks go to People Against the NDAA (PANDAA) -- find them on Facebook, the Tom Pain Chapter of Veterans for Peace, 518 Liberty Action Alliance, Project SALAM, Campaign for Liberty New York, and numerous other organizations and citizens who wrote letters, sent messages, called and attended Monday's meeting. The later being a real sacrifice, as any one who has ever attended one of these meetings can tell you, they can be deadly long and there are not enough o's in boring to describe them.

Daniel Hogan of PANDA and John Amidon of VFP were two folks that worked hard on this issue. I would like to thank them and say, “I am proud to know you both.”

I am hoping that people in other cities and towns across America follow suit and take back their rights, their freedoms, their government. PANDAA has the material already for you to get stared. Download it here and get to work.

Activists announce call campaign to repeal NDAA with truckers

Washington - With over 2,000 truckers estimated by organizers due to start arriving in the nation's capitol today, anti-NDAA activists have announced a call campaign to Congress to demand it enact one of the truckers' principle demands, repeal of the NDAA.  The National Defense Authorization Act, or the NDAA as it has come to be known, authorizes the US military to detain US citizens without charge or trial, indefinitely, in secret, upon mere suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity.

The truckers are carrying the message "Restore the Constitution." They are gathering at a staging area in Virginia today and will be descending on Washington, DC tomorrow.

Another person finally wakes up to TSA abuse

Hard to believe as it is that people still don’t know what the TSA is doing in this country ("as long as nothing happens to me, it's all okay!"), I’m always glad to meet a new convert. Even if it means that in order to be converted, that person has to be mistreated him- or herself. Unfortunately, that seems to be the way the world works. As the saying by Livy goes, “Eventus stultorum magister est” — “Fools must be taught by experience.”

Park rangers ‘punked’: Government Shuts Down But Perversions Persist

By Linn Washington, Jr.


On the first day of the federal government shut-down, as hundreds of tourists were turned away from the shuttered Liberty Bell and other fabled sites within the Independence National Historical Park in downtown Philadelphia, Richard Dyost stood near the building housing the Bell and received a big laugh.

'One Million Truckers' Ride to Restore Constitution Next Week

Originally published at:
http://digitaljournal.com/article/358989


Having had their Facebook page shut down by Facebook administrators earlier this month, a group spearheaded by the Independent Truckers of America is calling for a three-day 'buy nothing' period from October 11 - 13.

‘Freedom’s just another word...’ The Police State of America

By Dave Lindorff


I no longer recognize my country.

Back in 1997, after two years living in China, and five more living in Hong Kong, during which time, as a correspondent for Business Week magazine, I slipped in and out of China regularly as a journalist to report on developments there, I got a good dose of life in a totalitarian society. When I alit from the plane in Philadelphia where my family and I were about to start a new chapter of our lives, I remember feeling like a big weight had been lifted off my chest.

Obama’s Justice Department: Trumpeting a New Victory in War on Freedom of the Press

By Norman Solomon

There’s something profoundly despicable about a Justice Department that would brazenly violate the First and Fourth Amendments while spying on journalists, then claim to be reassessing such policies after an avalanche of criticism -- and then proceed, as it did this week, to gloat that those policies made possible a long prison sentence for a journalistic source.

Welcome to the Obama Justice Department.

While mouthing platitudes about respecting press freedom, the president has overseen methodical actions to undermine it. We should retire understated phrases like “chilling effect.” With the announcement from Obama’s Justice Department on Monday, the thermometer has dropped below freezing.

You could almost hear the slushy flow of public information turning to ice in the triumphant words of the U.S. attorney who led the investigation after being handpicked by Attorney General Eric Holder:

“This prosecution demonstrates our deep resolve to hold accountable anyone who would violate their solemn duty to protect our nation’s secrets and to prevent future, potentially devastating leaks by those who would wantonly ignore their obligations to safeguard classified information.”

Translation: This prosecution shows the depth of our contempt for civil liberties. Let this be a lesson to journalists and would-be leakers alike.

Audibly on the chopping block are provisions in the Bill of Rights such as “freedom … of the press” 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.”

The Obama administration’s pernicious goal is to normalize circumstances where journalists can’t credibly promise confidentiality, and potential leakers don’t believe they can have it. The broader purpose is to destroy independent journalism -- which is to say, actual journalism -- which is to say, freedom of the press.

Impacts are crystal clear to just about any journalist who has done reporting that’s much more than stenographic services for official government and corporate sources. When unofficial sources are choked off, not much is left other than the Official Story.

The Official Story is routinely somewhere between very selective and mendacious. A case in point, ironically enough, is the Justice Department’s righteous announcement that the prison term for the leaker of information to The Associated Press reflected the Department’s “deep resolve to hold accountable anyone who would violate their solemn duty to protect our nation’s secrets.”

“Hold accountable anyone”? (Laugh, scream or cry; take your pick.)

Like others before it, the Obama administration has made a frequent practice of leaking classified “secrets” to media outlets -- when its calculus is that revealing those secrets will make the administration look good. Of course in those cases the Justice Department doesn’t bother to track down the leakers.

Such extreme hypocrisy in high places has become so normalized that major media outlets often seem completely inured to it.

Hours after the Justice Department’s announcement on Monday that its surveillance of AP phone records had resulted in a lengthy prison sentence, the PBS “NewsHour” did not devote a word to it. Perhaps the program could not find a few seconds to shave off the lengthy beach-ball interview that Judy Woodruff conducted with former President Clinton.

To the top echelons of quasi-journalistic enterprises that are bankrolled by corporate advertisers and underwriters, the disappearance of confidentiality -- along with routine violations of the First and Fourth Amendments -- might hardly matter. Official sources flood the media zone.

But the New York Times coverage should have given attentive readers indigestion over breakfast Tuesday“A former F.B.I. agent has agreed to plead guilty to leaking classified information to The Associated Press about a foiled bomb plot in Yemen last year … Federal investigators said they were able to identify the man, Donald Sachtleben, a former bomb technician, as a suspect in the leak case only after secretly obtaining AP reporters’ phone logs, a move that set off an uproar among journalists and members of Congress of both parties when it was disclosed in May.”

The Times added: “Sachtleben … has agreed to serve 43 months in prison for the leak, the Justice Department said. His case is the eighth leak-related prosecution under the Obama administration. Only three such cases were prosecuted under all previous presidents.

How did the Justice Department catch Sachtleben in the first place? By seizing records of calls on more than 20 phone lines used by Associated Press reporters over a two-month period.

This is more than a chilling effect on the First Amendment; it’s an icy wind, threatening to put real freedom of the press into a deep freeze. Journalists -- and the rest of us -- should respond with outraged opposition.

________________________________________


Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.

A fight against the very essence of the Internet: Attacking Net Neutrality Once Again

By Alfredo Lopez

 

Last week, Verizon, the telephone giant, went to court to accuse the Federal Communications Commission of "overstepping its authority" and reverse the authority's over-step. It's a legal wrangle that, bottled and distributed, would be a safe substitute for sleeping pills.

NSA Conspires with Israel Against Americans

 

NSA Conspires with Israel Against Americans

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Millions worldwide owe Edward Snowden sincere gratitude. He revealed what's vital to know. He connected important dots to do so. 

 

He revealed unconstitutional NSA spying. He did it courageously. When governments operate lawlessly, exposing wrongdoing is crucial. Doing it entails risks. 

 

NSA Undermines Encrypted Communications

 

NSA Undermines Encrypted Communications

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Unconstitutional spying is official US policy. Privacy no longer exists. Even encrypted communications are vulnerable.

 

On September 5, London's Guardian headlined "Revealed: how US and UK spy agencies defeat internet and privacy security."

Busted for Playing Banjo on Independence Mall: Park Rangers Brutally Arrest Iraq War Vet at Anti-Syria Bombing Demo

By Dave Lindorff


Independence Mall, Philadelphia -- The US has yet to launched President Obama’s latest war crime of massively bombing Syria -- a country that does not threaten this nation -- and already federal police thugs, in this case National Park Service Rangers, have brutally arrested an Iraq War Veteran who was peacefully playing her banjo in the shade on Independence Mall in Philadelphia following an anti-war protest and march.


Hackers do damage but government and corporations are the real problem: Internet Hackers and the Real Threat They Expose

By Alfredo Lopez


While certainly not over-shadowing the Obama Administration's military threats against Syria, the cyber attack that brought the mighty New York Times [1] to its knees last week is a major development and should get us all thinking.

What Kind of Man? (or woman, for that matter?)

I have posted and reposted this comment all over the place since I first saw it at Time magazine in June of 2011:

 

Read the rest at ABombazine.


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