Archive for Bill of Rights

Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks

(Nafeez Ahmed, The Guardian, 13 June 2013)
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Top secret US National Security Agency (NSA) documents disclosed by the Guardian have shocked the world with revelations of a comprehensive US-based surveillance system with direct access to Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants. New Zealand court records suggest that data harvested by the NSA’s Prism system has been fed into the Five Eyes intelligence alliance whose members also include the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. . . . But why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations? Since the 2008 economic crash, security agencies have increasingly spied on political activists, especially environmental groups, on behalf of corporate interests. This activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning, which has been increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis – or all three. . . . Just last month, unilateral changes to US military laws formally granted the Pentagon extraordinary powers to intervene in a domestic “emergency” or “civil disturbance” . . . Department of Homeland Security documents released in April prove a “systematic effort” by the agency “to surveil and disrupt peaceful demonstrations” linked to Occupy Wall Street, according to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF). . . . Similarly, FBI documents confirmed “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector” designed to produce intelligence on behalf of “the corporate security community.” A PCJF spokesperson remarked that the documents show “federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.” . . . In particular, domestic surveillance has systematically targeted peaceful environment activists including anti-fracking activists across the US, such as the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, Rising Tide North America, the People’s Oil & Gas Collaborative, and Greenpeace. Similar trends are at play in the UK, where the case of undercover policeman Mark Kennedy revealed the extent of the state’s involvement in monitoring the environmental direct action movement. . . . A University of Bath study citing the Kennedy case, and based on confidential sources, found that a whole range of corporations – such as McDonald’s, Nestle and the oil major Shell, “use covert methods to gather intelligence on activist groups, counter criticism of their strategies and practices, and evade accountability.” . . . Indeed, Kennedy’s case was just the tip of the iceberg – internal police documents obtained by the Guardian in 2009 revealed that environment activists had been routinely categorised as “domestic extremists” targeting “national infrastructure” as part of a wider strategy tracking protest groups and protestors. . . . The Pentagon knows that environmental, economic and other crises could provoke widespread public anger toward government and corporations in coming years. The revelations on the NSA’s global surveillance programmes are just the latest indication that as business as usual creates instability at home and abroad, and as disillusionment with the status quo escalates, Western publics are being increasingly viewed as potential enemies that must be policed by the state.

 

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Daniel Ellsberg: Edward Snowden, Saving Us From the United Stasi of America

(Daniel Ellsberg, Alternet.org, June 10, 2013)
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In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material [3] – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago [4]. Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an “executive coup” against the US constitution. . . . Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended. . . . The government claims it has a court warrant under Fisa – but that unconstitutionally sweeping warrant is from a secret court, shielded from effective oversight, almost totally deferential to executive requestsAs Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, put it [5]: “It is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp.” . . . For the president then to say that there is judicial oversight is nonsense – as is the alleged oversight function of the intelligence committees in Congress. Not for the first time – as with issues of torture, kidnapping, detention, assassination by drones and death squads –they have shown themselves to be thoroughly co-opted by the agencies they supposedly monitor. They are also black holes for information that the public needs to know. . » Continue reading “Daniel Ellsberg: Edward Snowden, Saving Us From the United Stasi of America”

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Ethan Nadelmann: The Real Drug Czar

The most influential man in the battle for legalization is a wonky intellectual in dad jeans

(TIM DICKINSON, Rolling Stone,
JUNE 06, 2013)

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The driving force for the legalization of marijuana in America – a frenetic, whip-smart son of a rabbi who can barely tell indica from sativa – has just entered enemy territory. Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, is here in California’s crucible of conservatism, Orange County, to talk about the failure of the War on Drugs and why the government should leave pot smokers alone. As a grizzled ex-DEA agent glares at him from the audience of a lecture hall on the campus of U.C. Irvine, it’s clear that this crowd has not gathered to celebrate cannabis culture. And that’s just the way Nadelmann likes it.

Today, thanks in large part to Nadelmann’s efforts, pot is fully legal in two states and available medically in 16 others. “He is the single most influential policy entrepreneur on any domestic issue,” says John DiIulio, a longtime drug warrior and tough-on-crime academic who has recently come around to Nadelmann’s side on marijuana policy. “He wore me down,” DiIulio says. “What can I say?”

[COMMENT by Lorenzo] This is a somewhat long article, but very much worth the time to read. Here are some of the topics that are covered:
Too High to Fail: Inside Denver’s weed boom
Conservatives Push Marijuana Reform in Congress
The Top 10 Marijuana Myths and Facts

Also, you can listen to a talk given by Ethan Nadelmann in my Podcast 208 – “It’s Time To End The War on Drugs”

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Don’t ever speak to the FBI without a tape recorder running and a lawyer present

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50 Reasons You Despise George W. Bush

( Steven Rosenfeld, Alternet, April 25, 2103)
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Let’s look at 50 reasons, some large and some small, why W. inspired so much anger.

1. He stole the presidency in 2000.

3. He covered up his past.

4. He loved the death penalty.

8. He ignored warnings about Osama bin Laden.

12. Bush turned to Iraq not Afghanistan.

14. He flat-out lied about Iraq’s weapons.

19. Bush pardoned the Plame affair leaker.

22. The war did not make the U.S. safer.

23. U.S. troops were given unsafe gear.

31. He cut veterans’ healthcare funding.

44. Bush let black New Orleans drown.

48. Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld.

49. He’s escaped accountability for his actions.

[COMMENT by Lorenzo: Little Bush is certainly the most simple-minded man to sit in the White House during my lifetime, and most definitely, IMO, one of the worst and most evil of our presidents. But then there was Nixon, who was obviously insane and who had an "enemies list", which was very un-presidential. And now there is Obama with a "KILL LIST", which is very un-American. . . . The Empire is in obvious decline.]

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Richard Dawkins: “Indoctrination of religion” is “child abuse”

(David Edwards, RawStory.com, April 22, 2013)
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Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins on Sunday told a British literary festival that parents who forced their children to believe that religion was a fact were guilty of “child abuse.” . . . Speaking about his family-friendly book The Magic of Reality at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival, the University of Oxford professor warned against the “indoctrination of children,” according to The Daily Mail. . . . “What a child should never be taught is that you are a Catholic or Muslim child, therefore that is what you believe. That’s child abuse.” . . . The author of The God Delusion recommended that children be taught religion in the same way that they are taught literature. . . . “There is a value in teaching children about religion. You cannot really appreciate a lot of literature without knowing about religion. But we must not indoctrinate our children,” he said. . . . In an interview with Al Jazeera late last year, Dawkins had said that being raised as a Catholic was similar to sexual abuse. . . .  » Continue reading “Richard Dawkins: “Indoctrination of religion” is “child abuse””

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Gore Vidal 9/11, war, etc.

This first interview was recorded about one year after the 9/11 events . . . well worth the time to watch.

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Obama Says He Can Use Lethal Force Against Americans on US Soil without a Trial

( Adam Serwer, MotherJones, Mar. 5, 2013)
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Yes, the president does have the authority to use military force against American citizens on US soil—but only in “an extraordinary circumstance,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter to Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Tuesday. . . . “The U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening,” Paul said Tuesday. “It is an affront the constitutional due process rights of all Americans.” . . . The letter concludes, “were such an emergency to arise, I would examine the particular facts and circumstances before advising the president of the scope of his authority.” . . . In a Google+ Hangout last month, President Obama refused to say directly if he had the authority to use lethal force against US citizens. As Mother Jones reported at the time, the reason the president was being so coy is that the answer was likely yes. Now we know that’s exactly what was happening. “Any use of drone strikes or other pre-meditated lethal force inside the United States would raise grave legal and ethical concerns,” says Raha Wala, an attorney with Human Rights First. “There should be equal concern about using force overseas.”

 

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Cornel West: Obama is a ‘war criminal’ who has killed ‘over 200 children’

(Stephen C. Webster, RawStory.com, February 15, 2013 )
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Professor Cornel West argued that President Barack Obama is, like Presidents George W. Bush and Richard Nixon before him, a “war criminal” uniquely responsible for the deaths of “over 200 children.” . . . West’s words were in response to a question about the administration’s seeming preference for killing terrorism suspects from the air rather than risking American lives to take them prisoner and hold them for an indefinite amount of time in military custody. A legal whitepaper obtained by NBC News recently exposed the Obama administration’s once-secret justification for the program, which authorizes a deadly airstrike if intelligence officials believe it may take out any “senior operational leaders” of al Qaeda or “associated forces,” even if that includes an American citizen. . . . “I think, my dear brother, the chickens are coming home to roost,” West told Smiley. “We’ve been talking about this for a good while, the immorality of drones, dropping bombs on innocent people. It’s been over 200 children so far. These are war crimes.” . . . Troublingly enough, West is right on the number: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that up to 216 children have died in three countries the U.S. is not formally at war with — Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia — as a result of suspected U.S. drone strikes starting in 2002 and dramatically escalating during Obama’s first term. Out of an estimated 451 total drone strikes during that period, over 300 were ordered by Obama against Pakistanis alone. The Bureau estimates that up to 4,643 people in all have been killed by drone strikes in those three countries. . . . Similarly, a United Nations committee said this month that “hundreds” of children have been killed by U.S. drone strikes since 2008, many which are personally approved by Obama, according to The New York Times. . . . “I think we have to be very honest, let us not be deceived: Nixon, Bush, Obama, they’re war criminals,” West said. “They have killed innocent people in the name of the struggle for freedom, but they’re suspending the law, very much like Wall Street criminals. The law is suspended for them, but the law applies for the rest of us. You and I, brother Tavis, if we kill an innocent person we go to jail, and we’re going to be in there forever.” . . . “I am not somebody who believes that the president has the authority to do whatever he wants, or whatever she wants, whenever they want, just under the guise of counter terrorism,” he said. “There have to be checks and balances on it.”

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Nader: “Obama is a War Criminal”

(Stephen C. Webster, RawStory.com, September 26, 2012 )
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“He’s gone beyond George W. Bush in drones, for example,” Nader told reporter Patrick Gavin. “He thinks the world is his plate, that national sovereignties mean nothing, drones can go anywhere. They can kill anybody that he suspects and every Tuesday he makes the call on who lives and who dies, supposed suspects in places like Yemen and Pakistan and Afghanistan, and that is a war crime and he ought to be held to account.” . . . President Obama’s own attorneys recognize that key portions of the U.S. drone bombing campaign in Pakistan and other countries are legally questionable, according to a report in The Wall St. Journal on Wednesday. That’s especially the case in Pakistan, which has stopped giving direct approval to U.S. drone strikes, but the bombs continue to fall anyway. . . . Casualty figures collected from media reports by the nonprofit New America Foundation show that between 1,877 and 3,177 people have been killed by drone strikes from 2004-2012, most of them being civilians. The vast majority of deaths reportedly happened during 2010, President Obama’s second year on the job. A study published this week by researchers at Stanford and New York Universities also claimed that only about 2 percent of the people killed in U.S. drone strikes were actual militants, saying at least 176 of those slain were children. . . . Nader added that Obama’s intellect and experience helped legitimize Bush’s “lawless war-mongering and militarism,” making him a “more effective evil” than Romney. However, he warned that the former Massachusetts governor is not to be trifled with either, calling him the greater of the two evils and warning that he’s “basically a corporation running for president masquerading as a human being.”

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