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The Prison State of America December 30, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Capitalism, Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Labor.
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Roger’s note: Some twenty odd years ago I traveled to Munich, Germany and took the opportunity to visit, with my daughter and infant granddaughter, the Dachau Concentration Camp.  We took a short train ride from Munich to the small quaint Bavarian town of Dachau, and a walk from the town took us to the Camp, which has been turned into a museum, with most of its original facilities intact.  It is impossible not to ask the question: how could the people of Dachau not known of the systematic murder that was going on a stone’s throw from their village?  I have read that when the Allied forces liberated Dachau, they took the townspeople to the Camp to show them what was going on almost literally under their eyes.  Some responded that they had noticed a strange burning odor, but had no idea what it was (!).

Of course, this was true not only of Dachau, but also of dozens of other German and Polish towns around which were located the various death factories and slave labor factories.

I don’t think it is far fetched to ask the same kinds of questions about what Americans know with respect to the myriad atrocities that are being committed by their government, with their tax dollars, and in their name.  The truth abut the barbaric torture of recent years is finally seeping out to the mainstream, not that the current government under Barack Obama is going to do anything about it.  As well, it may not be generally known, but the fact of the thousands of civilians killed by drone missiles in several Islamic countries is well documented in various mostly alternative news sources, largely on the Internet and available to anyone who cares to investigate.

This brings me to the question of the Prison Industrial Complex as reported in the article below.  The author doesn’t go deeply into the torturous brutality of systematic solitary confinement, rather he concentrates on the increasingly abusive reality of prisoner slave labor in the context of our voracious and inhuman capitalist economy.  If you are like me, you will ache with sorrow and indignant anger when you read the details.

And I wonder if some day, when the sorry state of American neo-Fascism is finally brought to account, will we be asking the question of what the American people knew of their government’s various atrocities; and probing further to uncover those in the corporate, media and government spheres, who were criminally responsible for obfuscating the ugly truth.

Dec 28, 2014

By Chris Hedges

Prisons employ and exploit the ideal worker. Prisoners do not receive benefits or pensions. They are not paid overtime. They are forbidden to organize and strike. They must show up on time. They are not paid for sick days or granted vacations. They cannot formally complain about working conditions or safety hazards. If they are disobedient, or attempt to protest their pitiful wages, they lose their jobs and can be sent to isolation cells. The roughly 1 million prisoners who work for corporations and government industries in the American prison system are models for what the corporate state expects us all to become. And corporations have no intention of permitting prison reforms that would reduce the size of their bonded workforce. In fact, they are seeking to replicate these conditions throughout the society.

States, in the name of austerity, have stopped providing prisoners with essential items including shoes, extra blankets and even toilet paper, while starting to charge them for electricity and room and board. Most prisoners and the families that struggle to support them are chronically short of money. Prisons are company towns. Scrip, rather than money, was once paid to coal miners, and it could be used only at the company store. Prisoners are in a similar condition. When they go broke—and being broke is a frequent occurrence in prison—prisoners must take out prison loans to pay for medications, legal and medical fees and basic commissary items such as soap and deodorant. Debt peonage inside prison is as prevalent as it is outside prison.

States impose an array of fees on prisoners. For example, there is a 10 percent charge imposed by New Jersey on every commissary purchase. Stamps have a 10 percent surcharge. Prisoners must pay the state for a 15-minute deathbed visit to an immediate family member or a 15-minute visit to a funeral home to view the deceased. New Jersey, like most other states, forces a prisoner to reimburse the system for overtime wages paid to the two guards who accompany him or her, plus mileage cost. The charge can be as high as $945.04. It can take years to pay off a visit with a dying father or mother.

Fines, often in the thousands of dollars, are assessed against many prisoners when they are sentenced. There are 22 fines that can be imposed in New Jersey, including the Violent Crime Compensation Assessment (VCCB), the Law Enforcement Officers Training & Equipment Fund (LEOT) and Extradition Costs (EXTRA). The state takes a percentage each month out of prison pay to pay down the fines, a process that can take decades. If a prisoner who is fined $10,000 at sentencing must rely solely on a prison salary he or she will owe about $4,000 after making payments for 25 years. Prisoners can leave prison in debt to the state. And if they cannot continue to make regular payments—difficult because of high unemployment—they are sent back to prison. High recidivism is part of the design.

Corporations have privatized most of the prison functions once handled by governments. They run prison commissaries and, since the prisoners have nowhere else to shop, often jack up prices by as much as 100 percent. Corporations have taken over the phone systems and charge exorbitant fees to prisoners and their families. They grossly overcharge for money transfers from families to prisoners. And these corporations, some of the nation’s largest, pay little more than a dollar a day to prison laborers who work in for-profit prison industries. Food and merchandise vendors, construction companies, laundry services, uniforms companies, prison equipment vendors, cafeteria services, manufacturers of pepper spray, body armor and the array of medieval instruments used for the physical control of prisoners, and a host of other contractors feed like jackals off prisons. Prisons, in America, are a hugely profitable business.Our prison-industrial complex, which holds 2.3 million prisoners, or 25 percent of the world’s prison population, makes money by keeping prisons full. It demands bodies, regardless of color, gender or ethnicity. As the system drains the pool of black bodies, it has begun to incarcerate others. Women—the fastest-growing segment of the prison population—are swelling prisons, as are poor whites in general, Hispanics and immigrants. Prisons are no longer a black-white issue. Prisons are a grotesque manifestation of corporate capitalism. Slavery is legal in prisons under the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It reads: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States. …” And the massive U.S. prison industry functions like the forced labor camps that have existed in all totalitarian states.

Corporate investors, who have poured billions into the business of mass incarceration, expect long-term returns. And they will get them. It is their lobbyists who write the draconian laws that demand absurdly long sentences, deny paroles, determine immigrant detention laws and impose minimum-sentence and three-strikes-out laws (mandating life sentences after three felony convictions). The politicians and the courts, subservient to corporate power, can be counted on to protect corporate interests.

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest owner of for-profit prisons and immigration detention facilities in the country, had revenues of $1.7 billion in 2013 and profits of $300 million. CCA holds an average of 81,384 inmates in its facilities on any one day. Aramark Holdings Corp., a Philadelphia-based company that contracts through Aramark Correctional Services to provide food to 600 correctional institutions across the United States, was acquired in 2007 for $8.3 billion by investors that included Goldman Sachs.

The three top for-profit prison corporations spent an estimated $45 million over a recent 10-year period for lobbying that is keeping the prison business flush. The resource center In the Public Interest documented in its report “Criminal: How Lockup Quotas and ‘Low-Crime Taxes’ Guarantee Profits for Private Prison Corporations” that private prison companies often sign state contracts that guarantee prison occupancy rates of 90 percent. If states fail to meet the quota they have to pay the corporations for the empty beds.

CCA in 2011 gave $710,300 in political contributions to candidates for federal or state office, political parties and so-called 527 groups (PACs and super PACs), the American Civil Liberties Union reported. The corporation also spent $1.07 million lobbying federal officials plus undisclosed sums to lobby state officials, according to the ACLU. CCA, through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), also lobbies legislators to impose harsher detention laws at the state and federal levels. The ALEC helped draft Arizona’s cruel anti-immigrant law SB 1070.

The United States, from 1970 to 2005, increased its prison population by about 700 percent, according to statistics gathered by the ACLU. The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, the ACLU report notes, says for-profit companies presently control about 18 percent of federal prisoners and 6.7 percent of all state prisoners. Private prisons account for nearly all newly built prisons. And nearly half of all immigrants detained by the federal government are shipped to for-profit prisons, according to Detention Watch Network.

But corporate profit is not limited to building and administering prisons. Whole industries now rely almost exclusively on prison labor. Federal prisoners, who are among the highest paid in the U.S. system, making as much as $1.25 an hour, produce the military’s helmets, uniforms, pants, shirts, ammunition belts, ID tags and tents. Prisoners work, often through subcontractors, for major corporations such as Chevron, Bank of America, IBM, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Starbucks, Nintendo, Victoria’s Secret, J.C. Penney, Sears, Wal-Mart, Kmart, Eddie Bauer, Wendy’s, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Fruit of the Loom, Motorola, Caterpillar, Sara Lee, Quaker Oats, Mary Kay, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, Dell, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin and Target. Prisoners in some states run dairy farms, staff call centers, take hotel reservations or work in slaughterhouses. And prisoners are used to carry out public services such as collecting highway trash in states such as Ohio.

States, with shrinking budgets, share in the corporate exploitation. They get kickbacks of as much as 40 percent from corporations that prey on prisoners. This kickback money is often supposed to go into “inmate welfare funds,” but prisoners say they rarely see any purchases made by the funds to improve life inside prison.

The wages paid to prisoners for labor inside prisons have remained stagnant and in real terms have declined over the past three decades. In New Jersey a prisoner made $1.20 for eight hours of work—yes, eight hours of work—in 1980 and today makes $1.30 for a day’s labor. Prisoners earn, on average, $28 a month. Those incarcerated in for-profit prisons earn as little as 17 cents an hour.

However, items for sale in prison commissaries have risen in price over the past two decades by as much as 100 percent. And new rules in some prisons, including those in New Jersey, prohibit families to send packages to prisoners, forcing prisoners to rely exclusively on prison vendors. This is as much a psychological blow as a material one; it leaves families feeling powerless to help loved ones trapped in the system.

A bar of Dove soap in 1996 cost New Jersey prisoners 97 cents. Today it costs $1.95, an increase of 101 percent. A tube of Crest toothpaste cost $2.35 in 1996 and today costs $3.49, an increase of 48 percent. AA batteries have risen by 184 percent, and a stick of deodorant has risen by 95 percent. The only two items I found that remained the same in price from 1996 were frosted flake cereal and cups of noodles, but these items in prisons have been switched from recognizable brand names to generic products. The white Reebok shoes that most prisoners wear, shoes that lasts about six months, costs about $45 a pair. Those who cannot afford the Reebok brand must buy, for $20, shoddy shoes with soles that shred easily. In addition, prisoners are charged for visits to the infirmary and the dentist and for medications.

Keefe Supply Co., which runs commissaries for an estimated half a million prisoners in states including Florida and Maryland, is notorious for price gouging. It sells a single No. 10 white envelope for 15 cents—$15 per 100 envelopes. The typical retail cost outside prison for a box of 100 of these envelopes is $7. The company marks up a 3-ounce packet of noodle soup, one of the most popular commissary items, to 45 cents from 26 cents.

Global Tel Link, a private phone company, jacks up phone rates in New Jersey to 15 cents a minute, although some states, such as New York, have relieved the economic load on families by reducing the charge to 4 cents a minute. The Federal Communications Commission has determined that a fair rate for a 15-minute interstate call by a prisoner is $1.80 for debit and $2.10 for collect. The high phone rates imposed on prisoners, who do not have a choice of carriers and must call either collect or by using debit accounts that hold prepaid deposits made by them or their families, are especially damaging to the 2 million children with a parent behind bars. The phone is a lifeline for the children of the incarcerated.

Monopolistic telephone contracts give to the states kickbacks amounting, on average, to 42 percent of gross revenues from prisoner phone calls, according to Prison Legal News. The companies with exclusive prison phone contracts not only charge higher phone rates but add to the phone charges the cost of the kickbacks, called “commissions” by state agencies, according to research conducted in 2011 by John E. Dannenberg for Prison Legal News. Dannenberg found that the phone market in state prison systems generates an estimated $362 million annually in gross revenues for the states and costs prisoners’ families, who put money into phone accounts, some $143 million a year.

When strong family ties are retained, there are lower rates of recidivism and fewer parole violations. But that is not what the corporate architects of prisons want: High recidivism, now at over 60 percent, keeps the cages full. This is one reason, I suspect, why prisons make visitations humiliating and difficult. It is not uncommon for prisoners to tell their families—especially those that include small children traumatized by the security screening, long waits, body searches, clanging metal doors and verbal abuse by guards—not to visit. Prisoners with life sentences frequently urge loved ones to sever all ties with them and consider them as dead.

The rise of what Marie Gottschalk, the author of “Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics,” calls “the carceral state” is ominous. It will not be reformed through elections or by appealing to political elites or the courts. Prisons are not, finally, about race, although poor people of color suffer the most. They are not even about being poor. They are prototypes for the future. They are emblematic of the disempowerment and exploitation that corporations seek to inflict on all workers. If corporate power continues to disembowel the country, if it is not impeded by mass protests and revolt, life outside prison will soon resemble life in prison.

Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

Hedges was part of the team of (more…)

‘Gagged’ by the Government December 26, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Constitution, Criminal Justice, Surveillance State.
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Roger’s note: Here is a phrase I find myself using with increasing frequency: “this is truly frightening.”  Do you know what a National Security Letter is?  Do you think that one in a hundred thousand Americans has any idea what a National Security Letter is, or that the notion even exists?  It is a lock-you-up-and-throw-away-the-key kind of thing, the kind of thing Kafka and Orwell tried to warn us about.  The government orders you to provide certain information.  You will go to jail if you refuse to  provide it.  You are not allowed to tell anyone that you have been so ordered.  You are not allowed to tell anyone that you have been ordered not to tell anyone.  If you do, you will be financially ruined and thrown into jail.  No appeal.  No recourse.  Add this to the loss of habeas corpus, indefinite detention, state sponsored and sanctioned systematic torture programs, and presidential kill lists.  Does “truly frightening” really do the trick here anymore?

 

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A Police State Story

by ALFREDO LOPEZ

For the past three months, I and other leaders of the organization May First/People Link have been under a federal subpoena to provide information we don’t have. During that time, we have also been forbidden by a federal court “gag order” to tell anyone about that subpoena, although we had already announced it and commented on it before the order was sent. Finally, we were forbidden from telling anyone about the gag order itself.

It all sounds comical but any laughter would end if we violated that “gag order,” because that would be a felony and we could face prison sentences and huge fines.

We were silenced by our own government in a case we had nothing to do with and over information we didn’t have…and we couldn’t tell anyone about any of it.

Alfredo Lopez writes about technology issues for This Can’t Be Happening!

 

UN Condemns U.S. Police Brutality, Calls For ‘Stand Your Ground’ Review August 31, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Police, Race, Racism.
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Roger’s note: the United States was founded on the genocide of the First Nations peoples and much of its enormous wealth was derived from the forced labor of African slaves.  Racism is as American as apple pie.  This is not leftist ranting, it is historical fact.  Sadly, under the “leadership” of the country’s first African American president, the situation is only getting worse.  Obama’s immigration extradition policies, his orientation towards Wall Street and away from Main Street, the federal government’s militarization of urban police forces — all this contributes to the discrimination and impoverization mostly of peoples of color.  The Republican Party may be more overtly racist in its ideological bias, but it is a Democratic president that is implementing racist policies.  God help America.

 

Posted: 08/30/2014 8:31 am EDT Updated: 08/30/2014 9:59 am EDT
453768716

* Panel issues recommendations after review of U.S. record

* Says killing of Michael Brown “not an isolated event”

* Decries racial bias of police, pervasive discrimination

* ACLU calls for addressing racial inequality in America

 

GENEVA, Aug 29 (Reuters) – The U.N. racism watchdog urged the United States on Friday to halt the excessive use of force by police after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman touched off riots in Ferguson, Missouri.

Minorities, particularly African Americans, are victims of disparities, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) said after examining the U.S. record.

“Racial and ethnic discrimination remains a serious and persistent problem in all areas of life from de facto school segregation, access to health care and housing,” Noureddine Amir, CERD committee vice chairman, told a news briefing.

Teenager Michael Brown was shot dead by a white police officer on Aug. 9, triggering violent protests that rocked Ferguson – a St. Louis suburb – and shone a global spotlight on the state of race relations in America.

“The excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against racial and ethnic minorities is an ongoing issue of concern and particularly in light of the shooting of Michael Brown,” said Amir, an expert from Algeria.

“This is not an isolated event and illustrates a bigger problem in the United States, such as racial bias among law enforcement officials, the lack of proper implementation of rules and regulations governing the use of force, and the inadequacy of training of law enforcement officials.”

The panel of 18 independent experts grilled a senior U.S. delegation on Aug. 13 about what they said was persistent racial discrimination against African-Americans and other minorities, including within the criminal justice system.

U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper told the panel that his nation had made “great strides toward eliminating racial discrimination” but conceded that “we have much left to do”.

Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown, has been put on paid leave and is in hiding. A St. Louis County grand jury has begun hearing evidence and the U.S. Justice Department has opened its own investigation.

Police have said Brown struggled with Wilson when shot. But some witnesses say Brown held up his hands and was surrendering when he was shot multiple times in the head and chest.

“STAND YOUR GROUND” LAWS

In its conclusions issued on Friday, the U.N. panel said “Stand Your Ground” Laws, a controversial self-defense statute in 22 U.S. states, should be reviewed to “remove far-reaching immunity and ensure strict adherence to principles of necessity and proportionality when deadly force is used for self-defense”.

Ron Davis, father of Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old shot dead in a car in Jacksonville, Florida during an argument over loud rap music in November 2012, attended the Geneva session. Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen killed in Miami, Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer, testified.

The U.N. panel monitors compliance with a treaty ratified by 177 countries including the United States.

“The Committee remains concerned at the practice of racial profiling of racial or ethnic minorities by law enforcement officials, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Transportation Security Administration, border enforcement officials and local police,” it said, urging investigations.

The experts called for addressing obstacles faced by minorities and indigenous peoples to exercise their right to vote effectively. This was due to restrictive voter identification laws, district gerrymandering and state-level laws that disenfranchise people convicted of felonies, it said.

Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the U.N. recommendations highlighted “shortcomings on racial equality that we are seeing play out today on our streets, at our borders and in the voting booth.

“When it comes to human rights, the United States must practice at home what it preaches abroad,” he said.

The Chilling Reason Our Government Wants to Erase These Americans from History July 28, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Racism, Religion, War on Terror.
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Most of those held in Communications Management Units, which imprison people linked to terrorist activity, are Muslims.

July 24, 2014, Molly Crabapple, http://www.alternet.org

Andy Stepanianis one of the kindest humans I have ever met.

An activist publicist, Andy draws attention to Americans imprisoned for their beliefs. He is straitlaced and gentle, and the only time he ever declined to buy me dinner was when I offended his veganism by eating chicken fingers. But Andy is also a felon. As one of the SHAC7, he spent three years locked in a cage for urging people to employ militant protest techniques against the animal-testing corporation Huntingdon Life Sciences. He spent his last six months in prison in a Communications Management Unit (CMU).

CMUs exist to cut off prisoners from the outside world. The prisoners’ every word is recorded. They are strip-searched before and after each visit from loved ones (in case they write messages on their body). Letters are severely restricted; phone calls are limited to two 15-minute calls a week. CMU prisoners may spend decades without hugging their wives or children.

Like Guantanamo Bay, the CMU is a child of the war on terror. In 2006 and 2008, respectively, the Bureau of Prisons, under the directorship of Harley Lappin, created two secret units: one in Terre Haute, IN, and the other in Marion, IL. The bureau’s stated purpose was “Limited Communication for Terrorist Inmates.” But as at Guantanamo, Muslims were the real targets. Muslims make up roughly 70 percent of the prisoners in CMUs but only 6 percent of the federal prison population. The CMUs are part of a philosophy that makes Muslim synonymous with terrorist, that views “terrorists” as both contagious and superhuman—so dangerous that they must be subject to ultimate control.

Andy was the rare white CMU prisoner. Guards told him he was there as a “balancer.” CMUs are another reflection of the double standard to which the United States holds Muslims. Acts of speech, travel or association that would be A-OK for a Christian are enough to get a Muslim branded a terrorist.

Shifa Sadequee, 2014.
Photo Credit: 
Molly Crabapple
Click to enlarge.

CMU prisoner Shifa Sadequee was kidnapped by U.S. forces in Bangladesh at the age of 19, allegedly tortured and rendered to the United States. He spent three years in solitary awaiting his trial for terrorism. His crimes? He played paintball and took video footage of U.S. monuments. The former activity was labeled “paramilitary training”; the latter, “casing videos” for an attack. The judge sentenced him to 17 years.

Pharmacist Tarek Mehanna should be called a dissident—but that’s not a label America allows Muslims. A scathing critic of U.S. foreign policy, Mehanna believed Muslims under attack in their own countries had the right to armed self-defense. He translated and subtitled some jihadi materials and briefly traveled to Yemen. Nothing he did would have been looked at askance if he were a Tea Party member speaking about fellow gun enthusiasts. But as a Muslim Mehanna was convicted of material support for terrorism. His sentence? Seventeen years.

At his sentencing, Mehanna delivered a chilling, eloquent statement about resisting oppression: “In your eyes, I’m a terrorist, I’m the only one standing here in an orange jumpsuit and it’s perfectly reasonable that I be standing here in an orange jumpsuit. But one day, America will change and people will recognize this day for what it is. They will look at how hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed and maimed by the U.S. military in foreign countries, yet somehow I’m the one going to prison for ‘conspiring to kill and maim’ in those countries…

“The government says that I was obsessed with violence, obsessed with ‘killing Americans.’ But, as a Muslim living in these times, I can think of a lie no more ironic.”

Tarek Mehanna, 2014.
Photo Credit: 
Molly Crabapple
Click to enlarge.

Mehanna is in a CMU for speech. Few American free speech defenders noticed.

While most Americans were rightly nauseated by the NSA programs revealed by Edward Snowden, they gave less thought to the brutal surveillance that Muslim communities have suffered since 9/11. Mosques, student associations and even restaurants were monitored throughout the country. Informants tried to rope the naive or the mentally ill into expressing support for jihad. If an agent was able to pressure an unstable young man into driving a car or buying some backpacks, he could arrest him for assisting terrorism. The agent would receive professional accolades for making the arrest; the young man, decades in jail. For the untold cash it poured into spying on Muslims, the FBI seldom discovered a plot that it did not concoct itself.

Shahawar Siraj, 2014.
Photo Credit: 
Molly Crabapple
Click to enlarge.

CMU prisoner Shahawar Matin Siraj had no explosives or concrete plan of attack, but that did not prevent a judge from sentencing him to 30 years for plotting to bomb New York’s Herald Square. The informant who befriended him, and then goaded him into the plan, was paid $100,000 by the NYPD.

Imprisonment is erasure. The state locks a person in a cage—without context, without community, without love. He becomes not human but a widget passing through a system of absolute control. The CMU enacts a double erasure: it represents the ultimate scission of the prisoner from his non-prison self. You are in a box. You are no one. You belong to us.

Andy is working on a documentary about CMUs. He asked me to draw pictures of some prisoners. Drawing is slow, deliberate. It is an antidote to forgetting men the state wants the world to forget.

One night I worked on a portrait of Ghassan Elashi. A former vice president of an internet company, Elashi was sentenced to 65 years in prison for running the Holy Land Foundation, which was the largest Muslim charity in the United States until the Bush administration shut it down in December 2001. Through charitable organizations in Gaza, Holy Land allegedly funneled money to Hamas, which the United States classifies as a terrorist organization.

Ghassan Elashi, 2014.
Photo Credit: 
Molly Crabapple
Click to enlarge.

Andy invited Elashi’s daughter, Noor, to my studio. She brought a photograph of her father. I was unable to draw him from life, as the USP Marion is not easy to visit. The three of us stayed up late into the night, me rendering Noor’s father’s eyes in careful watercolor, Andy filming us as she watched me draw.

Noor is a stylishly dressed young writer who sidelines as a baker of gluten-free cupcakes. But when she talks about her father, her voice grows cold with pain. She remembers how FBI agents threw him to the floor when they raided their home. She remembers prison guards screaming at her young brother, who has Down syndrome, when he tried to hug his dad (she and her brother were subsequently denied visits for months). She remembers how her father was barred from making phone calls for writing his name on a yoga mat.

She does not believe for a moment that her father deliberately funneled funds to Hamas.

Noor’s situation shows how CMUs rip apart not only prisoners’ lives but also the lives of their families and community. Noor is still fighting for her dad.

In “Counterpunch,” Noor wrote, “My father is my pillar, whose high spirits transcend all barbed-wire-topped fences, whose time in prison did not stifle his passion for human rights.”

Noor’s words point to one of the war on terror’s most insidious legacies. The war on terror flattened Muslims into bogeymen. They could no longer be troubled young men. Nor could they be political dissidents, heads of charities or defenders of human rights. Dissent was equated with terrorism.

In making a fetish of the word “freedom,” America revoked the freedom of so many within her borders. Civil liberties defenders must remember that Muslims are not a separate class of people. Attacks on Muslims’ rights are attacks on human rights.

Revealed: Gov’t Used Fusion Centers to Spy on Occupy May 23, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Constitution, Criminal Justice, Democracy, Occupy Wall Street Movement.
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Roger’s note: The Patriot Act and the establishment of the Orwellian named Homeland Security have taken the United States one giant step forward towards a police state.  Criminalizing dissent is nothing new, goes back to WWI and further; but the scope of it today is truly frightening.

New report exposes US government’s treatment of social movements as ‘criminal or terrorist enterprises’

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

(Photo: David Shankbone / Wikimedia Creative Commons)

U.S. government Fusion Centers, which operate as ill-defined “counter-terrorism” intelligence gathering and sharing centers, conducted spy operations against Occupy protesters involving police, the Pentagon, the FBI, military employees, and business people.

So finds a report released Friday by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund based on 4,000 public documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The release was accompanied by an in-depth article by the New York Times.

“The U.S. Fusion Centers are using their vast counter-terrorism resources to target the domestic social justice movement as a criminal or terrorist enterprise,” PCJF Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard stated. “This is an abuse of power and corruption of democracy.”

“Although the Fusion Centers’ existence is justified by the DHS as a necessary component in stopping terrorism and violent crime, the documents show that the Fusion Centers in the Fall of 2011 and Winter of 2012 were devoted to unconstrained targeting of a grassroots movement for social change that was acknowledged to be peaceful in character,” the report states.

Police chiefs of major metropolitan areas used the Southern Nevada Counter Terrorism Center to produce regular reports on the occupy movement.

Furthermore, “The Boston regional intelligence center monitored and cataloged Occupy-associated activities from student organizing to political lectures,” according to the report. That center also produced twice-daily updates on Occupy activities.

The New York Times notes:

The Boston Regional Intelligence Center, one of the most active centers, issued scores of bulletins listing hundreds of events including a protest of “irresponsible lending practices,” a food drive and multiple “yoga, faith & spirituality” classes.

Nationwide surveillance has included extensive monitoring of social media, in addition to a variety of spying methods used across Fusion Centers.

“[T]he Fusion Centers are a threat to civil liberties, democratic dissent and the social and political fabric of this country,” said Carl Messineo, PCJF Legal Director. “The time has long passed for the centers to be defunded.”

_____________________

Obama Worse than Bush? October 17, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Civil Liberties, Constitution, Criminal Justice, Democracy, War on Terror.
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Roger’s note: Obama worse than Bush?  On the face of it it seems a ludicrous idea.  But digging a little deeper …  Here are two articles that give much food for thought.  I especially encourage you to play the video at the very end of the second article and watch Rachel Maddow take apart Obama’s academy award winning performance for convolution.

http://www.opednews,com,  10/17/2013 at 09:10:31

Hersh Says bin Laden Kill Story “One Big Lie”

 

By (about the author)    

If Seymour Hersh says the tale of the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of US Navy SEALS is “one big lie” and “not one word of it is true,” President Obama will be hard pressed to keep his job when Hersh’s new book comes out. Over a lifetime, investigative reporter Hersh has become famous for his accuracy, honesty, reliability and integrity and if he says the bin Laden tale is a fake, you can take it to the bank.

 

Hersh told “The Guardian,” Britain’s investigative daily, “Nothing’s been done about that story.” A Pakistani report on the killing of bin Laden, Hersh says, was published with considerable U.S. input and is “a bullshit report.”  bin Laden allegedly was killed by a SEAL team in Abbottabad, Pakistan, May 1, 2011.
Hersh is writing a book about national security, “The Guardian” says, and he’s hinted it will include a chapter on the Seals raid in Pakistan that allegedly bumped off bin Laden.
President Obama’s administration lies systematically, Hersh asserts, yet is never challenged by America’s supine media. “It’s pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy (Obama),” Hersh said.
Hersh claims President Obama is worse than Bush, “Guardian” writer Lisa O’Carroll, who interviewed Hersh, reports.”Do you think Obama’s been judged by any rational standards?” Hersh asks.”Has Guantanamo closed? Is a war over? Is anyone paying attention to Iraq? Is he seriously talking about going into Syria?”How does Obama get away with the drone program?” How does he justify it? What’s the intelligence?”Why don’t we find out how good or bad this policy is?”
Hersh concludes, “The republic’s in trouble, we lie about everything, lying has become the staple.”
In his bid for re-election in 2012, the Obama campaign milked the bin Laden slaying for all it was worth, making a video narrated by actor Tom Hanks about it. The “Huffington Post’s” Ben Feller at the time wrote an article headlined, “Obama Campaign Using Osama Bin Laden Killing As 2012 Campaign Tool.”
Obama earlier had trumpeted the killing as “the most significant achievement in our fight against Al Quida.”
And Hersh says today the “gotcha” story is all “One Big Lie.” Sounds like an investigation, perhaps even a prosecution, may be in order. #
(Sherwood Ross, who formerly reported for major dailies and wire services, is a public relations consultant for good causes.)
http://www.opednews.com,  8/24/2013 at 03:14:38

Obama Explains the FEMA Camps

 

 

By (about the author)

From http://www.flickr.com/photos/11846056@N06/8151482123/: Federal Emergency Management Agency relief trucks stage in New York, as seen as Army Gen. Frank Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau; Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall and other National Guard senior leaders visit areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey and New York and Guard members supporting recovery operations on Nov. 2, 2012. (Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill) (Released)
Federal Emergency Management Agency relief trucks stage in New York, as seen as Army Gen. Frank Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau; Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall and other National Guard senior leaders visit areas impacted by by jim.greenhill
The Conspirosphere has been buzzing about FEMA camps – mass incarceration/relocation centers – for some years now.
There is no shortage of videos and more videos from conspiratists and mainstream sources alike.
Some purposes seem benign, even helpful, like using the camps to house natural disaster victims, instead of warehousing them in horrific conditions like what ensued after Hurricane Katrina, when up to 20,000 people were jammed into the Louisiana Superdome.

But the use of such camps can be expanded greatly, especially in the new Amerika, where everyone is a suspect, and Constitutional rights are a sometime option.

Rachel Maddow has compiled and dissected some recent speeches by Obama in which he explains the future use of FEMA camps directly, and his twisted but very real legal theory allowing, at least to him, indefinite pre-emptive detention for crimes that have not been committed yet, and Obama’s overreach, far beyond anything Bush and Cheney ever attempted, and completely outside even the constitution’s Article 1, Section 9, which allows for suspension of Habeas Corpus during times of “Rebellion (e.g. as in the Civil War) or Invasion.”  She compares Obama’s evolving policy to that of the Tom Cruise science fiction movie: Minority Report, in which Cruise works as a cop in the department of pre-crime, arresting people for things they haven’t done yet.

So, FEMA camps: helpful shelter systems for the next super-storm, or involuntary detention centers for the round-up by the next super storm-troopers…or both?  You can decide…for now.

Humanity Is Drowning In Washington’s Criminality August 14, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Constitution, Democracy, Whistle-blowing, Wikileaks.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

 

Roger’s note: before reading this article, please not that the author is not Noam Chomsky or Ralph Nader, but rather a former official in the Reagan administration and writer for the Wall Street Journal.  

 

1a-jpg_12495_20130813-522

 

By (about the author)

OpEdNews Op Eds 8/13/2013 at 16:06:54
Americans will soon be locked into an unaccountable police state unless US Representatives and Senators find the courage to ask questions and to sanction the executive branch officials who break the law, violate the Constitution, withhold information from Congress, and give false information about their crimes against law, the Constitution, the American people and those in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Guantanamo, and elsewhere.  Congress needs to use the impeachment power that the Constitution provides and cease being subservient to the lawless executive branch. The US faces no threat that justifies the lawlessness and abuse of police powers that characterize the executive branch in the 21st century.

Impeachment is the most important power of Congress. Impeachment is what protects the citizens, the Constitution, and the other branches of government from abuse by the executive branch. If the power to remove abusive executive branch officials is not used, the power ceases to exist. An unused power is like a dead letter law. Its authority disappears. By acquiescing to executive branch lawlessness, Congress has allowed the executive branch to place itself above law and to escape accountability for its violations of law and the Constitution.
National Intelligence Director James R. Clapper blatantly lied to Congress and remains in office. Keith B. Alexander, Director of the National Security Agency, has also misled Congress, and he remains in office.  Attorney General Holder avoids telling Congress the truth on just about every subject, and he also remains in office.  The same can be said for President Obama, one of the great deceivers of our time, who is so adverse to truth that truth seldom finds its way out of his mouth.
If an American citizen lies to a federal investigator, even if not under oath, the citizen can be arrested, prosecuted, and sent to prison.  Yet, these same federal personnel can lie to Congress and to citizens with impunity. Whatever the American political system is, it has nothing whatsoever to do with accountable government. In Amerika no one is accountable but citizens, who are accountable not only to law but also to unaccountable charges for which no evidence is required.
Congress has the power to impeach any presidential appointee as well as the president.  In the 1970s Congress was going to impeach President Richard Nixon simply because he lied about when he learned of the Watergate burglary. To avoid impeachment, Nixon resigned. In the 1990s, the House impeached President Bill Clinton for lying about his sexual affair with a White House intern. The Senate failed to convict, no doubt as many had sexual affairs of their own and didn’t want to be held accountable themselves.
In the 1970s when I was on the Senate staff, corporate lobbyists would send attractive women to seduce Senators so that the interest groups could blackmail the Senators to do their bidding. Don’t be surprised if the NSA has adopted this corporate practice.
The improprieties of Nixon and Clinton were minor, indeed of little consequence, when compared to the crimes of George W. Bush and Obama, their vice presidents, and the bulk of their presidential appointees. Yet, impeachment is “off the table,” as Nancy Pelosi infamously declared. Why do Californian voters send a person to Congress who refuses to protect them from an  unaccountable executive branch? Who does Nancy Pelosi serve? Certainly not the people of California. Most certainly not the US Constitution. Pelosi is in total violation of her oath of office. Will Californians re-elect her yet again? Little wonder America is failing.
The question demanding to be asked is: What is the purpose of the domestic surveillance of all Americans? This is surveillance out of all proportion to the alleged terrorist threat. The US Constitution is being ignored and domestic law violated. Why?  Does the US government have an undeclared agenda for which the “terrorist threat” is a cover?
What is this agenda? Whose agenda is more important than the US Constitution and the accountability of government to law? No citizen is secure unless government is accountable to the Constitution and to law. It is an absurd idea that any American is more threatened by terrorism than by unaccountable government that can execute them, torture them, and throw them in prison for life without due process or any accountability whatsoever. Under Bush/Obama, the US has returned to the unaccountable power of caesars, czars, and autocrats.
In the famous play, “A Man For All Seasons,” Sir Thomas More, Chancellor of England, asks: So, you would have me to cut down the law in order to chase after devils? And what will we do, with the law cut down, when the devil turns on us?
This is the most important legal question ever asked, and it is seldom asked today,  not in our law schools, not by our bar associations, and most certainly not by the Justice (sic) Department or US Attorneys.
American conservatives regard civil liberties as mere excuses for liberal judges to coddle criminals and terrorists. Never expect a conservative Republican, or more than two or three of them, to defend your civil liberty. Republicans simply do not believe in civil liberty. Democrats cannot conceive that Obama — the first black president in office, a member of an oppressed minority — would not defend civil liberty. This combination of disinterest and denial is why the US has become a police state.
Civil liberty has few friends in government, the political parties, law schools, bar associations, or the federal judiciary. Consequently, no citizen is secure. Recently, a housewife researched online for pressure cookers looking for the best deal. Her husband was searching for a backpack. The result was that a fully armed SWAT team appeared at the door demanding to search the premises and to have questions answered.
I am always amazed when someone says: “I haven’t done anything wrong. I have nothing to fear.” If you have nothing to fear from the government, why did the Founding Fathers put the protections in the Constitution that Bush and Obama have stripped out?

Unlike the Founding Fathers who designed our government to protect the citizens, the American sheeple trust the government to their own demise.
Glenn Greenwald recently explained how the mass of data that is being accumulated on every American is being mined for any signs of non-terrorist-related criminal behavior. As such warrantless searches are illegal evidence in a criminal trial, the authorities disguise the illegal way in which the evidence is obtained in order to secure conviction based on illegally obtained evidence.
In other words, the use of the surveillance justified by the “war on terror” has already spread into prosecutions of ordinary criminals where it has corrupted legal safeguards and the integrity, if any, of the criminal court system, prosecutors and judges.
This is just one of the many ways in which you have much to fear, whether you think you are doing anything wrong or not. You can be framed for crimes based on inferences drawn from your Internet activity and jokes with friends on social media. Jurors made paranoid by the “terrorist threat” will convict you.
We should be very suspicious of the motive behind the universal spying on US citizens. The authorities are aware that the terrorist threat does not justify the unconstitutional and illegal spying. There have been hardly any real terrorist events in the US, which is why the FBI has to find clueless people around whom to organize an FBI orchestrated plot in order to keep the “terrorist threat” alive in the public’s mind. At last count, there have been 150 “sting operations” in which the FBI recruits people, who are out of touch with reality, to engage in a well-paid FBI designed plot. Once the dupes agree, they are arrested as terrorists and the plot revealed, always with the accompanying statement that the public was never in any danger as the FBI was in control.
When 99 percent of all terrorism is organized by the FBI, why do we need NSA spying on every communication of every American and on people in the rest of the world?
Terrorism seldom comes from outside. The source almost always is the government in power. The Czarist secret police set off bombs in order to blame and arrest labor agitators. The Nazis burned down the Reichstag in order to decimate the communists and assume unaccountable power in the name of “public safety.” An alleged terrorist threat is a way of using fear to block popular objection to the exercise of arbitrary government power.
In order to be “safe from terrorists,” the US population, with few objections, has accepted the demise of their civil liberties, such as habeas corpus, which reaches back centuries to Magna Carta as a constraint on government power.  How, then, are they safe from their government?  Americans today are in the same position as the English prior to the Great Charter of 1215. Americans are no longer protected by law and the Constitution from government tyranny.
The reason the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution was to make citizens safe from their government. If citizens allow the government to take away the Constitution, they might be safe from foreign terrorists, but they are no longer safe from their government.
Who do you think has more power over you, foreign terrorists or “your” government?
Washington defines all resistance to its imperialism and tyranny as “terrorism.” Thus, Americans who defend the environment, who defend wildlife, who defend civil liberties and human rights, who protest Washington’s wars and robbery of the people on behalf of special interests, all become “domestic extremists,” the term Homeland Security has substituted for “terrorist.” Those who are out of step with Washington and the powerful private interests that exploit us, other peoples, and the earth for their profits and power fall into the wrong side of Bush’s black and white division of the world: “you are for us or against us.”
In the United States independent thought is on the verge of being criminalized as are constitutionally guaranteed protests and the freedom of the press. The constitutional principle of freedom of speech is being redefined as treason, as aiding an undefined enemy, and as seeking to overthrow the government by casting aspersions on its motives and revealing its secret misdeeds. The power-mad inhabitants of Washington have brought the US so close to Gestapo Germany and Stalinist Russia that it is no longer funny. Indeed, it is sometimes difficult to see the difference.
The neoconservatives have declared that Americans are the “exceptional” and “indispensable people.” Yet, the civil liberties of Americans have declined the more “exceptional” and “indispensable” that Americans become. We are now so exceptional and indispensable that we no longer have any rights.
And neither does the rest of the world. Neoconservatism has created a new dangerous American nationalism.  Neoconservatives have given Washington a monopoly on right and endowed its military aggressions with a morality that supersedes the Geneva Conventions and human rights. Washington, justified by its “exceptionalism,” has the right to attack populations in countries with which Washington is not at war, such as Pakistan and Yemen. Washington is using the cover of its “exceptionalism” to murder people in many countries. Hitler tried to market the exceptionalism of the German people, but he lacked Washington’s Madison Avenue skills.
Washington is always morally right, whatever it does, and those who report its crimes are traitors who, stripped of their coddling by civil liberties, are locked away and abused until they confess to their crimes against the state. Anyone who tells the truth, such as Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden, are branded enemies of the state and are ruthlessly persecuted.
How does the “indispensable, exceptional nation” have a diplomatic policy? How can a neoconized State Department be based on anything except coercion?  It can’t. That is why Washington produces nothing but war and threats of war.
Wherever a person looks, whatever a person hears, it is Washington’s threat — “we are going to bomb you into the stone age” if you don’t do what we want and agree to what we require. We are going to impose “sanctions,” Washington’s euphemism for embargoes, and starve your women and children to death, permit no medical supplies, ban you from the international payments system unless you relent and consent to being Washington’s puppet, and ban you from posting your news broadcasts on the Internet.
This is the face that Washington presents to the world: the hard, mean face of a tyrant.
Washington’s power will survive a bit longer, because there are still politicians in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America and in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the NGOs in Russia, who are paid off by the almighty dollar. In exchange for Washington’s money, they endorse Washington’s immorality and murderous destruction of law and life.
But the dollar is being destroyed by Quantitative Easing, and the domestic US economy is being destroyed by jobs offshoring.
Rome was powerful until the Germans ceased to believe it. Then the rotten edifice collapsed. Washington faces sooner or later the same fate. An inhumane, illegal, unconstitutional regime based on violence alone, devoid of all morality and all human compassion, is not acceptable to China, Russia, India, Iran, and Brazil, or to readers of this column.
The evil that is Washington cannot last forever. The criminals might destroy the world in nuclear war, but the lawlessness and lack of humanity in Washington, which murders more people as I write, is no longer acceptable to the rest of the world, not even to its European puppet states, despite the leaders being on Washington’s payroll.
Gorbachev is correct. The collapse of the Soviet Union was a debacle for the entire world. It transformed the US from the “city upon the hill,” the “beacon for humanity,” into an aggressive militarist state. Consequently, Amerika has become despised by everyone who has a moral conscience and a sense of justice.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente’s Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Failure-Capitalism-Economic-Dissolution-ebook/dp/B00BLPJNWE/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1362095594&sr=8-17&keywords=paul+craig+roberts

Lavabit, Email Service Reportedly Used by Snowden, Shuts Down August 9, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Constitution, Criminal Justice, Dick Cheney, Whistle-blowing.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

 

by Abby Zimet

Offering the elusive explanation that he wanted to avoid “being complicit in crimes against the American people,” Lavabit founder Ladar Levison has suspended operations, evidently the first time a service provider has publicly closed down rather than cooperate with court-ordered government surveillance. In a statement on his site, Levison notes, “I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot….the First Amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise.” He also suggests he is preparing a legal fight, offers a link to a legal defense fund – “Defending the Constitution is expensive!” – and ends with a warning. More on the implications for other possible NSA targets here.

“This experience has taught me one very important lesson: Without Congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.”

 

 

  • galen066

    Hurrah for Mr. Levinson and his principled stand.

    Now the thousands of other Lavabit E-mail users know to blame the NSA for screwing them over.

  • yohocoma

    “…I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.”

    I strongly recommend against anyone having a physical tie to the United States, especially with their body.

  • drone1

    hat tip to mr. levison for doing the hard, but right, thing. one of the few examples of an ethical business decision in an unethical time. and most importantly, he’s right. there’s no safe info provider in the US or with ties to the US.

  • minitrue

    “I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot….the First Amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise.”

    What he is telling us (without telling us) is that he, or his company received a Nazional Security Letter which tells you to do something, turn over documents or records, allow surveillance, etc. The other thing these letters do is forbid you to tell anyone that the letter even exists let alone what it orders you to do. Huge fines and imprisonment for breaking this Fascistic dictum.

    Many people have gotten these things. The Nazional Surveillance Aparat hands them out like popcorn at a county fair. Likewise Homeland (In)Security and the FBI. When you get one of these damned things, you are to do whatever it tells you to, then are not supposed to ever admit you got it, or that it exists, anywhere.

    The Fourth Reich is certainly trying to sew things up before we get too restive.
    ;-})

    • VinnyThunder minitrue

      Handed down by the FISA court, we know they are objective

    • readytotransform minitrue

      Is that the same as a ‘gag’ order?

      • minitrue readytotransform

        I think it is more insidious. A gag order is issued forbidding one to discuss, for instance, a court case in progress. the Nazional Security Letter orders you to do something (usually unconstitutional) regarding someone, or some group. It also orders you to tell no one that the letter exists, or what you are ordered to do, under horrific penalties should you do so.
        ;-})

        • readytotransform minitrue

          Thanks minitrue. I had heard the other day about a gag order on a family somewhere in PA regarding their poisoned water and illnesses due to fracking nearby.

          http://www.theguardian.com/env…

          I knew it was probably on a whole other level. But the gag order, including the kids…..I realized once again that americans have been sheltered, in certain ways, from the corporate criminality done in the name of u.s. foreign policy in other countries the world over. But the big shift is that the U.S. is now no different.

          That is major blowback in my book. Well, not blowback. Maybe instant karma is more like it, because anyone living here has been compliant. Even those of us who have been activists. But that is just my own thought.

          Sorry for going a bit off topic. But actually, the whole spying issue is actually part of it coming to the ‘homeland’.
          rita

    • RedRavenSounds minitrue

      That is patently vile and illegal – but then who needs laws when you have super dee dooper State secret courts, and letters which you do not have a say in which gags you………This is where we are ladies and gentlemen. Again, I ask everyone to please watch “Good Night and Good Luck” This is the precise tactic used against Milo Radulovich (who was this man? I ask you to find out. ) – See it Now (before its to late). Steve, I suspect you know who he was.

      • gardenernorcal RedRavenSounds

        Did anyone ever get a look at the contents of that manila envelope that was used to smear Milo Radulovich? I’d be interested to know what was inside it. You’d think it would be available under the Freedom of Information Act.

        • RedRavenSounds gardenernorcal

          That is a very good question. Its a possibility (because no one ever saw it, that there was nothing in it.) I should follow up on that. Mr. Radulovich passed not too many years ago. An equally terrifying case was what they did to poor Annie Mae Potts. Tail Gunner Joe McCarthy would not even let her lawyer speak for her, she had to defend herself by herself against McCarthy and his minions. Imagine how terrifying that would be to this woman. But that was what McCarthy and his hideous HUAC was all about terrorizing anyone he wished, that was either in his sights and he could increase his fame (infamy) or too weak to fight back. That is what the enabling (oh sorry spit take – hate-riot act) is all about. This is the HUAC writ large – Joe would be very happy that his hate and his lies were not in vain Are we next to sign loyalty oaths???? Why in the name of Dog are we doing this again???

  • Tom Carberry

    Congratulations to Ladar Levinson for sticking to his principles. Things should work out for him. I expect most of the other email providers will shut down, unless of course the government forgets to ask them for our stuff.

    Don’t worry. Every thing will work out. Just because the 1% has almost everything, doesn’t mean they want more. They wouldn’t want absolute control of all electronic communications. Who really would want something like that? Full spectrum dominance can’t really mean that.

    Trust Barack Obama. Has he ever lied to you?

  • Aneesia

    You Sir are a hero. The rest of the media are cowards.They would sell out their mother to a rapist…the best analogy of what they are doing and the type of human feces that the media moguls are.

    • Caleb Abell Aneesia

      You may have unwittingly provided us all with a time-saving efficiency tip. Instead of taking the time and energy to type out “Professional Main Stream Media News Journalists” we can use the more efficient term “feces.”

  • Daedalus Trust

    For anyone watching and following the obliteration of freedom of speech, the Constitution and freedom in general in the US, it shouldn’t be surprising that Levison issued an “elusive explanation” – Given the recent turn of events with WikiLeaks, Manning, Snowden and the other whistleblowers, anyone with a half an ounce of brain can understand why.

    Coincidentally, Tor will be next. Our gracious defenders at the FBI have devised a program to specifically attack Tor and have been relentlessly at it. Still, the USG has the Chutzpah to criticize China. I guess it’s the competition they hate and the threat to their hegemony as the world’s foremost hackers…next to ISreal that is.

    “Feds Are Suspects in New Malware That Attacks Tor Anonymity”

    http://www.wired.com/threatlev…

    • winston Daedalus Trust

      Considering the internet is a product of ARPA (now DARPA) and the most commonly used os’ have back doors written right into them (Windows and OSX), and Tor was created by US Naval Intelligence. I think, to a large degree the whole notion of online privacy is a bit of a pipe dream.

    • RedRavenSounds Daedalus Trust

      I have heard rumours in the tech security world that they are building our very own great firewall of China – modeled after the the PRC. All comms in and out of the US will first have to pass through this virtual iron curtain. All traffic decrypted, all VPN tunnels penetrated. We the awake citizens of the US – many of us who gave up our rights to stop this (lied upon lies told to us during the ‘cold war”, our brothers who died for the lie in Vietnam, parents who died at Normandy, and Iwo Jima, who froze to death in B-17’s – the doughboys who died in the Argonne …….. all for naught. Fools we were, but fools no more.

  • Cangle

    This sounds so sane, so very sane, thank you Mr. Levison.

  • 0utof0rder

    And today on NPR, about a minute and a half was spent on the NSA spying revelations. It went something like this:

    Interviewer, “So are we to expect now that most or all Internet activity and emails are monitored by the NSA? Are they collecting and reading everyone’s email?”

    New York Times Reporter, “No that would be illegal. The government can not read Amercians email without a warrant. There is no proof of of that.”

    END OF INTERVIEW

    Then the next 30 something minutes were spent discussing the resurgence of Al Queda all across the middle east and how many plots we have foiled so far.

    It was incredible.

    • WhiteRoses 0utof0rder

      During the Bush’s’ “Iraq War”, NPR’s obsequious reporting earned it the moniker “National Pentagon Radio”. It seems that NPR’s development goals included becoming a propaganda mouthpiece just like the mainstream media. I wouldn’t be surprised if certain people in the top management at NPR have some sort of connection to the state surveillance/security apparatus of the US.

    • RedRavenSounds 0utof0rder

      “No, that would be illegal” Holy spit take Batman!!!
      I watched “Good Night and Good Luck” again last night…. I recommend everyone get a copy NOW before it goes on the States banned list. Edward R. Murrow fought and helped bring down McCarthy. McCarthy and his witch hunts are back. Only NOW McCarthy is on the inside working within the media (Mockingbird). They co-opted ever newspaper, television station (R.F. and cable) (almost) every radio station, and of course “the interwebs” The fascists learned their lessons well in the early 50’s……… NPR???? Bah!

      Also please read his speech given to the RTNDA in 1958
      These are excerpts from that speech, but I ask you to read it in its entirety:

      * We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.

      * We are to a large extent an imitative society.
      This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and even it can inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it’s nothing but wires and lights in a box.

      *There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful.

      *Stonewall Jackson, who knew something about the use of weapons, is reported to have said, “When war comes, you must draw the sword and throw away the scabbard.” The trouble with television is that it is rusting in the scabbard during a battle for survival.

      …if what I say is responsible, I alone am responsible for the saying of it… Good Night and Good Luck……..

      see more

    • Magellan 0utof0rder

      That’s what you get when the Koch brothers are on various NPR boards …

    • readytotransform 0utof0rder

      I wrote WHYY two insulting letters last week for the same kind of b.s. They are worse than CNN, which I just read somewhere that some CIA type agency ended up buying. I think it was back when they made it big showing all that war porn during the ‘first Gulf war’.

      As I recall, I also thought it was a big ad campaign to the world for certain weapons companies. They got to show their latest high tech wares in the attacks and it got televised internationally.

  • Ferdinand Artego

    I hope this is the beginning of the end to the US government spy operation.

  • Harley Burton

    The more effective evil at work, right before our very eyes.

    Can anyone honestly see the Democrats reacting so meekly to stuff like this if Romney were in charge?

    • ErnestineBass Harley Burton

      They meekly rolled over for the Shrub, didn’t they?

      • Harley Burton ErnestineBass

        Sure, when push came to shove, the Democrats funded his wars and corporate welfare policies and protected the SOB from prosecution. The difference then was that a number of Democratic politicians expressed enough disapproval to at least keep other options in the media spotlight and in public view, something that is not happening now.

        That disapproval mostly boiled down to grandstanding and pandering to the base, but it at least brought public exposure to an opposing view. In the D vs R corporate media circus roadshow, if it doesn’t come from one of the major parties, it isn’t covered.

        • wantrealdemocracy Harley Burton

          Yes, under the second bush the Democrats were vocal in disapproval of his programs–to the point of a massive demand for his impeachment—but then came Obama. Obama said he wanted to look forward, not backward and the impeachment movement died. This was just another of Obama’s lies. He sure is looking backward and continuing and expanding the Bush programs.

  • Abigail00

    Levison’s principled action will have economic consequences for the U.S. economy. No individual or company wanting to use like services will ever use a US based provider, thus business moves elsewhere. Were congress ever to concern itself with the issue, it will be because of the risks to the economy, not the people’s rights.

  • revlimid

    The United States is getting more paranoid and dangerous everyday and once again we see that the patriot act does indeed supercede the constitution which Americans claim to love.

  • dogsface

    For what it is worth…here is what I would do. I call it information
    overload.

    Everyone has to be involved …..just send out emails using the trigger words, bomb, terrorist, plot, murder…. or whatever. Give them so much ‘crap’ the system becomes unmanageable.

    The system is unmanaged now and to make it worse the access to
    the system by the lower echelon minions makes for great nationwide rumor spreading. Stay tuned.

    Then we can always wish for gigantic some Sun spots……or we learn how to generate and aim our very own EMP’s. Electromagnetic pulses. Ta da!

    • RedRavenSounds dogsface

      Our best hope is for a giant super CME that is aimed right at the earth, to shut the whole card game down. It could, if the magnitude was great enough, fry the antiquated power grid, the communication grid, and every car built after about 2005. We are talking the day the Earth stood still. Mama nature cleans house, and stops the Earth destruction machine (humanity) in its tracks. As to sending a DDoS to their (the peeping tom’s) toys – probably not likely. If the legislative would get off their compromised, pwnd buts and repeal the spit-take-hate-riot act, it would stop them, but we can wish for that in one hand and do a doo in the other and see which happens first. No, our best bet is a day the earth stood still CME scenario, where all of nature takes charge. It would be chaos (anyone remember when the lights went out in N.Y.C??) , but it would stop the “manchine”.

    • galen066 dogsface

      “… or we learn how to generate and aim our very own EMP’s….”

      You can make a pretty simple EMP gun from an old microwave oven. Instructions can be found online.

      • RedRavenSounds galen066

        Too deep, and too well shielded to get to the heart of the beast – You would have to be talking Starfish Prime.

        • galen066 RedRavenSounds

          I was thinking perhaps the local bank… or telecom exchange.. Y’know “Think global, act local.”

          • RedRavenSounds galen066

            They would just get new machines and recover from backups. You might want to look at some of the papers and work that Nikola Tesla left us though. An EMP is nothing more than a very fast rise time 500 picosecond to a nanosecond or so pulse with sufficient current and electromotive force to either ionize the atmosphere, or load an antenna. You can really do it with no more than a large bank of capacitors and a very fast switch – a high pressure mercury switch can close very quickly. If you want to see what this takes – check out the trestle facility, in New Mexico (at an AFB within the Albuquerque city limits (used to put an entire B-52 or EF-111 out there and hammer it)). There are certain types of gasses, which in the presence of an alpha emitting source can also do it. But again, you may find the papers of Nikola Tesla quite interesting. No, I think our best hope is the big azz CME with the release from the sun aimed directly at the earth. It would be quite a light show too…. You would have the aurora bright enough you could see it during the day, all the way down to S. America! Bzzzztttt krrrpow…. brrrrtt fry fry fry zzzzzzt – boom boom out go the lights (and the computers and the cars etc etc etc)

  • NC_Tom

    This REALLY sucks. I was a Lavabit user for a few years now. I used that email address in dozens and dozens of places and now I have to find another somewhat secure email service, ( overseas), and change everything to point there.

    Although it will be a pain to do this, it appears it is necessary because, despite what Obomba says, the government really is reading all our emails.

  • bgrbill

    This guy is worthy of respect . Remember murdered, investigative journalist Danny Casolaro. He was looking into the ‘Octopus’ and set to meet a ‘source’ when found in the bathtub of his motel in Martinsburg , WV. The key words are ‘ Inslaw Affair’ and Promis software. This was the precursor of ‘Total Information Awareness’ and today’s N.S.A. revelations. Any search engine will provide the details. In the words of the great Satchell Paige…” Don’t look back…”. It is not paranoia when there are forces out to eliminate all opposition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Justice for Lynne Stewart April 15, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Democracy, Human Rights.
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Roger’s note: to learn more about Lynne Stewart, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynne_Stewart

 

Statement by Ed Asner in support of Lynne Stewart

April 15th, 2013

Statement by Ed Asner in support of Lynne Stewart:
April 13, 2013

“Given the enormous good that Lynne Stewart has done for humanity throughout her life as a courageous lawyer for the poor, the oppressed and the unjustly accused, I am shocked by the cynical perversity of a government that has pursued her savagely and vengefully.

Lynne Stewart’s treatment by the government has been demonic. Prevented from scheduled surgery, her breast cancer spread to her lymph nodes, bones and lungs. Denied proper medical  treatment, she has been bound with 10 pounds of shackles and chains, even when in a hospital bed.

In tormenting Lynne Stewart the government seeks to terrorize all lawyers who would defend those targeted by State repression. The treatment of Lynne Stewart is a threat to due process, an assault on fundamental rights that date to Magna Carta.

Lynne Stewart must be free. The law requires her compassionate release and the medical care that can save her life. We must deny the State a death sentence aimed at the freedom of us all.

The State power that torments Lynne Stewart invades countries at will, murders hundreds of thousands with impunity and creates a climate of fear and repression to prevent the people of this country from calling those in power to account.

The fight to free Lynne Stewart is a front-line battle for basic rights secured through the American revolution and is a measure of our will to reclaim a land of the free in the home of the brave.”

Dick Gregory Supports Lynne Stewart

April 4th, 2013

DECLARATION BY DICK GREGORY — APRIL 4, 2013 (PDF Verison)

I hereby declare on this day commemorating the life and sacrifice of my friend and brother in struggle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that in the spirit of his moral legacy, I demand the immediate release from prison of the legendary lawyer Lynne Stewart, who devoted her entire professional life to the poor, the oppressed and those targeted by the police and a vindictive State.

I further declare that from this day forth, I shall refuse all solid food until Lynne Stewart is freed and receives medical treatment in the care of her family and with physicians of her choice without which she will die.

There is no time to lose as cancer, which had been in remission, has metastasized since her imprisonment. It has spread to her lymph nodes, her shoulder and appears in her bones and in her lungs.
Read the rest of this entry »

Over 6000 and Counting Sign the Petition for Lynne!

April 2nd, 2013

VIEW PETITION SIGNATURES (PDF)
(as of March 31, 2013)

 

VIEW COMMENTS FROM PEOPLE IN SUPPORT OF LYNNE! (PDF)

Lynne Stewart sends her appreciation to petition signatories:
I want you, individually, to know how gratifying and happy it makes me to have your support. It is uplifting, to say the least, and after a lifetime of organizing it proves once again that the People can rise.

The acknowledgement of the life-political, and solutions brought about by group unity and support, is important to all of us. Equally, so is the courage to sign on to a demand for a person whom the Government has branded with the “T” word — Terrorist.  Understanding that the attack on me is a subterfuge for an attack on all lawyers who advocate without fear of Government displeasure, with intellectual honesty guided by their knowledge and their client’s desire for his or her case, I hope our effort can be a crack in the American bastion.  Thank you. Lynne

03/20/13 Federal Medical Center, Carswell

Letter from Lynne to Desmond Tutu

April 1st, 2013

Letter from Lynne responding to Desmond Tutu’s message of support:

My dear honorable Desmond Tutu:

I hardly know how to address you, for while we have never met face to face we are bonded as only those who fight for the rights and justice of humanity can be. As my husband and I are activists of many years and struggles, we can claim this lovely unity with you harking back to Nelson Mandela at Robbin Island, the original ANC and before. While I know you are still engaged in helping South Africa reach the highest level of the expectations of freedom, I am most pleased and amazed that you have taken the time to support my efforts against the US prison system.

I have now been in jail as a political prisoner since 2009, but only recently been diagnosed with fatal cancer. The “mechanism” in the US law that allows “compassionate release” is so infrequently utilized that the New York Times did an editorial criticizing the system.  Anytime the key to the jailhouse is placed in the hands of uncaring bureaucrats, freedom is at stake.

Having been informed that their “rule” is that one must have death in the room–a prognosis of a year or less, to be considered, once again forces me to don my armor and do battle—not just for me but for all the millions of prisoners who do not receive the consideration that they deserve.  It is a fight to demand that each person is treated with individual care and attention. It is with great joy that I see you joining me and this renews my hope and belief that the worldwide network of good caring people exists and can be made manifest.

Thank you.
Lynne Stewart

Pete Seeger: “Lynn Stewart Should be outa jail!”

March 29th, 2013


Write Lynne

      To send Lynne a letter, write:

 

      Lynne Stewart #53504-054

 

      Federal Medical Center, Carswell

 

      PO Box 27137

 

      Ft. Worth, TX 76127

Contact Information

      For more information e-mail us at

1lawyerleft at gmail.com

Please donate.
Click here for information on contributing to the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee, as well as contributing to Lynne’s commissary.

Open Letter to ACLU Director Anthony Romero February 23, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Democracy, Occupy Wall Street Movement.
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OpEdNews Op Eds 2/22/2013 at 16:59:12

Dear Mr Romero-

 

   I’m writing to ask you to direct ACLU activities where stakes are highest, and opposition will be fiercest.  Arguably, we’re in a civil liberties emergency in this country, and it may be hard to know where to allocate resources.  I wouldn’t want to downplay the importance of any of the Union’s work. But in my mind, the most effective, leveraged and important thing the Union can do is to defend journalists who have been fired, prosecuted, jailed without charge or murdered.  A few well-publicized jailings serve to chill an entire community of muckrakers, and the worst elements in our government remain un-exposed.
Media consolidation has tamed the tiger that was once American journalism.  Print and broadcast giants cover the stories they’re supposed to and report the version of the facts that the Administration wants them to report.  Most important, they refrain from asking pointed questions.  But meanwhile, the internet has grown up as an alternative source of information, an anarchically-democratic mosaic of truth and nonsense.
As the newspapers become at once sensationalist and insipid, readers are turning to the internet for their news.  The Bush Administration was a criminal syndicate from top to bottom, and they saw clearly what was at stake in internet freedom.  Surprisingly, horrifyingly, the Obama Administration has continued and intensified Bush’s war against truth.  They have murdered Al Jazeera reporters with drones.  They have simultaneously managed the news through leaking what they want the public to know, while prosecuting whistleblowers whose leaks embarrass their allies.  Gary Webb and Aaron Swartz are dead.  Julian Assange is a refugee in asylum, functionally a prisoner.  Bradley Manning is in his third year of torture.  I recently learned of the story of Barrett Brown, who is being held without bail after posting in an e-chat room a link to documents that others had leaked.  “Local” police have been recruited by Homeland Security to break the back of the Occupy movement with violence and intimidation, while the movement’s leadership has been thrown in disarray by infiltration and FBI agents-provocateurs.  All this from the administration of a former Constitutional Law professor, who campaigned in 2008 promising a new openness and transparency in the White House. This all appears to be part of an initiative to smash dissent that was proposed and now is being implemented by the President’s friend and program head, Cass Sunstein,
 If ACLU stands strong beside those who are courageously seeking to provide us with a window into government corruption and its corporate sponsors, then ACLU will have the allies in the press that it needs to win all its other battles.  But if we lose our free press, we lose our democracy, and all the channels through which ACLU has been fighting its good fight become blind alleys.
- Josh Mitteldorf
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