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Current location: Potlandia
Member since: Fri Sep 28, 2007, 04:39 PM
Number of posts: 11,520
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Once the Iron Fist comes fully out of its Velvet Glove, all bets will be off. And since there is no telling anymore exactly when all the lights may go suddenly and completely dark, I may as well say it now, or forever hold my peace. Judging by the dense volatility going on behind the Curtain, it appears that the dreaded moment may be closer than anyone might care to imagine.
The culmination of the Manning, Assange, Snowden collective revelations has thrown our 100%-Saturation-Surveillance & Security State (you know, the guys who really ‘run things') into a hissy-fit because they were caught with their pants down, for all to see. Now literally every US citizen knows that they have been -- and are still being -- buggered by Big Brother. Now we are all “suspected terrorists”, until proven innocent by the NSA plowing through all our daily phone calls and emails. Privacy is a thing of the past, or so we are being told to “get over it”, to passively accept as “just the way it is”. Fuck that.
Unless you just fell off a turnip truck, the end of US Constitutional Democracy as we knew it probably does not come as a complete surprise. After all, we’d all been warned. Occupy Wall Street -- along with it’s brutal repression at the hands of our militarized police state -- said it loud and clear: “WE”VE ALL BEEN HAD!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! WE THE 99% WANT OUR COUNTRY BACK!” But no, these voices were calously silenced by kettling pepper-spraying, club wielding, gun-toting militarized thugs, the same ones hired with tax dollars by the public, to supposedly “protect and serve” the public.
The deathly silence that befell our nation in the wake of the demise of OWS, still stinks in the air. The message from armed-to-the-teeth Big Brother is clear. “Trust and Obey. There is NO other way. Do it or we’ll beat you, kill you and/or imprison you!!” Now who can argue with that logic? Never mind that this amounts to a complete nullification of the US Constitution & Bill of Rights. Move along now. Nothing to see here.
Anyway I digress. I want to express my love and appreciation for the United States of America, as a citizen by birth, as a passionate Left-leaning patriot, as a life-long champion of human rights and more just (cooperative) economics. I hereby cry out for a renewed sense of what is possible, for imagination geeks & day dreamers everywhere, this is your call to actively participate in collaboratively dreaming our collective selves up to the highest. John Lennon’s song ‘Imagine’ comes to mind. Albert Einstein comes to mind. MLK Jr.’s I Have A Dream speech comes to mind. Daniel Ellsberg comes to mind, as do John & Robert Kennedy.
When it comes to dreaming up a better world, a dear friend of mine also comes to mind: Paul Levy. He recently authored a book on archetypal evil, called “Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil”. I served as one of 3 first-in-line editors on the book. Here are are a few quotes from the book:
"Our looking away (from Evil), our contraction, is itself the disease; our evasion is wetiko (Evil) in action, our distracting ourselves is wetiko’s ‘ticket to ride’. Our resulting complacency and inaction in the face of our species self-extinction is, in fact, an expression of our lack of compassion”
What people are saying about the Wetiko book:
Sting writes: “The world would be a better place if everyone read this book”.
Thom Hartmann: “Paul Levy summons us by Wisdom’s call to community, action and our higher humanity. Truly initiatory, this book is inviting us to step through the Looking Glass and consciously participate in our own evolution. In exposing our psychic blindness, Levy is helping us to open our eyes and see”.
Paul Levy website:
So dream on DU. I love you all, regardless of whether we agree or not; and if we disagree, then I forgive you for being a dumb-ass. ~99th_Monkey
Posted by 99th_Monkey | Sat Jul 27, 2013, 06:13 PM (20 replies)
America's Real Subversives: FBI Spying Then, NSA Surveillance Now
As the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington nears, let's not forget the history of agency overreach and abuse of power
July 26, 2013 * Common Dreams * by Amy Goodman
As the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington approaches, commemorating that historic gathering where Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous "I have a dream" speech, it is important to recall the extent to which King was targeted by the government's domestic spying apparatus. The FBI operation against King is one of the most shameful episodes in the long history of our government's persecution of dissenters.
Fifty years later, Edward Snowden, who is seeking temporary asylum to remain in Russia, took enormous personal risk to expose the global reach of surveillance programs overseen by President Barack Obama. His revelations continue to provoke worldwide condemnation of the US.
In a heavily redacted, classified FBI memo dated 4 January 1956 – just a little more than a month after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger – the Mobile, Alabama, FBI office stated that an agent "had been assigned by to find out all he could about Reverend Martin L King, colored minister in Montgomery and leader in the bus boycott … to uncover all the derogatory information he could about King."
The FBI at that time was run by its founding director, J Edgar Hoover, who was deploying the vast resources he controlled against any and all perceived critics of the United States. The far-reaching clandestine surveillance, infiltration and disruption operation Hoover ran was dubbed "COINTELPRO", for counterintelligence program.
The FBI's COINTELPRO activities, along with illegal operations by agencies like the CIA, were thoroughly investigated in 1975 by the Church Committee, chaired by the Democratic US senator from Idaho, Frank Church. The Church committee reported that the FBI "conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of first amendment rights of speech and association." Among COINTELPRO's perverse activities was an FBI effort to threaten Martin Luther King Jr with exposure of an alleged extramarital affair, including the suggestion, made by the FBI to King, that he avoid embarrassment by killing himself.
Following the Church committee, Congress imposed serious limitations on the FBI and other agencies, restricting domestic spying. Among the changes was the passage into law of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa). Fisa compelled the FBI and others in the government to go to a secret court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, in order to engage in domestic wiretapping.
Then came 11 September 2001, and the swift passage of the Patriot Act, granting broad, new powers of surveillance to intelligence agencies, including the FBI. Section 215 of that act is widely criticized, first for allowing the FBI to obtain records of what books people are signing out of the library. But now, more than 10 years later, and thanks to the revelations that have come from the Snowden leaks, we see that the government has used this law to perform dragnet surveillance on all electronic communications, including telephone "metadata", which can be analyzed to reveal intimate details of our lives, legalizing a truly Orwellian system of total surveillance.
In what is considered to be a litmus test of the potential to roll back the Obama administration's domestic spy programs, a bipartisan coalition of libertarian Republicans and progressive Democrats put forth an amendment to the latest defense authorization bill. Justin Amash, a Republican, and John Conyers, a Democrat, both of Michigan, co-sponsored the amendment, which would deny funding to the NSA to collect phone and data records of people who are not subjects of an investigation.
The White House took seriously the potential that its power to spy might get trimmed by Congress. On the eve of the debate on the Amash/Conyers amendment, House members were lobbied by NSA Director General Keith B Alexander, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, as well as by hawkish members of the congressional intelligence committees.
The amendment was narrowly defeated. A full bill that would similarly shut down the NSA program is currently in committee.
Thanks to Edward Snowden, and the journalists who are writing stories based on his whistleblowing, we now know that the Obama administration is collecting oceans of our data. Martin Luther King Jr was a dissident, an organizer, a critic of US wars abroad and of poverty and racism at home. He was spied on, and his work was disrupted by the federal government.
The golden anniversary of the March on Washington is 28 August. Deeply concerned about the crackdown on dissent happening under Obama, scholar Cornel West, professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, wondered if "Brother Martin would not be invited to the very march in his name."
Posted by 99th_Monkey | Sat Jul 27, 2013, 03:36 PM (18 replies)
The militarization of America
By Bill van Auken * OpEdNews * 7/26/2013
This week's deployment of Blackhawk helicopters in Chicago is only the latest in a series of "urban warfare training" exercises that have become a familiar feature of American life.
As elsewhere, this exercise was sprung unannounced on a startled civilian population. Conducted in secrecy, apparently with the collusion of local police agencies and elected officials, Democrats and Republicans alike, the ostensible purpose of these exercises is to give US troops experience in what Pentagon doctrine refers to as "Military Operations on Urban Terrain."
Such operations are unquestionably of central importance to the US military. Over the past decade, its primary mission, as evidenced in Afghanistan and Iraq, has been the invasion and occupation of relatively powerless countries and the subjugation of their resisting populations, often in house-to-house fighting in urban centers.
The Army operates a 1,000-acre Urban Training Center in south-central Indiana that boasts over 1,500 "training structures" designed to simulate houses, schools, hospitals and factories. The center's web site states that it "can be tailored to replicate both foreign and domestic scenarios."
What does flying Blackhawks low over Chicago apartment buildings or rolling armored military convoys through the streets of St. Louis accomplish that cannot be achieved through the sprawling training center's simulations? Last year alone, there were at least seven such exercises, including in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Tampa, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Creeds, Virginia.
The most obvious answer is that these exercises accustom troops to operating in US cities, while desensitizing the American people to the domestic deployment of US military might.
Preparations for such deployments are already far advanced. Over the past decade, under the pretext of prosecuting a "global war on terror," Washington has enacted a raft of repressive legislation and created a vast new bureaucracy of state control under the Department of Homeland Security. Under the Obama administration, the White House has claimed the power to throw enemies of the state into indefinite military detention or even assassinate them on US soil by means of drone strikes, while radically expanding electronic spying on the American population.
Part of this process has been the ceaseless growth of the power of the US military and its increasing intervention into domestic affairs. In 2002, the creation of the US Northern Command for the first time dedicated a military command to operations within the US itself.
Just last May, the Pentagon announced the implementation of new rules of engagement for US military forces operating on American soil to provide "support" to "civilian law enforcement authorities, including responses to civil disturbances."
The document declares sweeping and unprecedented military powers under a section entitled "Emergency Authority." It asserts the authority of a "federal military commander" in "extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the president is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances." In other words, the Pentagon brass claims the unilateral authority to impose martial law.
These powers are not being asserted for the purpose of defending the US population against terrorism or to counter some hypothetical emergency. The US military command is quite conscious of where the danger lies.
In a recent article, a senior instructor at the Fort Leavenworth Command and General Staff College and former director of the Army's School of Advanced Military Studies laid out a telling scenario for a situation in which the military could intervene...
"The Great Recession of the early twenty-first century lasts far longer than anyone anticipated. After a change in control of the White House and Congress in 2012, the governing party cuts off all funding that had been dedicated to boosting the economy or toward relief. The United States economy has flatlined, much like Japan's in the 1990s, for the better part of a decade. By 2016, the economy shows signs of reawakening, but the middle and lower-middle classes have yet to experience much in the way of job growth or pay raises. Unemployment continues to hover perilously close to double digits..."
In other words, the Pentagon sees these conditions -- which differ little from what exists in the US today -- producing social upheavals that can be quelled only by means of military force.
What is being upended, behind the scenes and with virtually no media coverage, much less public debate, are constitutional principles dating back centuries that bar the use of the military in civilian law enforcement. In the Declaration of Independence itself, the indictment justifying revolution against King George included the charge that he had "affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power."
Side by side with the rising domestic power of the military, the supposedly civilian police have been militarized. An article published by the Wall Street Journal last weekend entitled "The Rise of the Warrior Cop" graphically described this process:
"Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment -- from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers -- American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield. The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the US scene: the warrior cop -- armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties."
The article describes the vast proliferation of SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) units to virtually every town in America, fueled by some $35 billion in grants from the Department of Homeland Security, "with much of the money going to purchase military gear such as armored personnel carriers."
Posted by 99th_Monkey | Sat Jul 27, 2013, 02:08 PM (9 replies)
It's a sad day for America when Russia is "safer" than the USA for a Whistle-blower
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Edward Snowden better off in Russia than US, his father says
NSA whistleblower's father says he has lost faith in the US justice department and his son needs a safe haven
Associated Press in McLean, Virginia * The Guardian * Friday 26 July 2013 21.16 EDT
The father of the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden says his son has been so vilified by the Obama administration and members of Congress that he is now better off staying in Russia.
Lon Snowden had been working behind the scenes with lawyers to try to find a way his son could get a fair trial in the US. Edward Snowden has been charged in federal court with violating the Espionage Act by leaking details of NSA surveillance.
But in a telephone interview with the Associated Press, the elder Snowden said he had lost faith in recent weeks that his son would be treated fairly by the justice department. He now thinks his 30-year-old son is better off avoiding the US if possible until an administration that respects the constitution comes into office.
"If it were me, knowing what I know now, and listening to advice of sage people like Daniel Ellsberg ... I would attempt to find a safe haven," Snowden said.
As a military analyst more than four decades ago, Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers, a secret study of America's involvement in Vietnam, to newspapers.
The elder Snowden said he thought Russia was probably the best place to seek asylum because it was most likely to withstand US pressure. Edward Snowden applied for temporary asylum in Russia last week.
Posted by 99th_Monkey | Sat Jul 27, 2013, 01:59 PM (1 replies)
Bradley Manning's 'sole purpose was to make a difference', lawyer insists
In closing arguments, defence lawyer paints portrait of Wikileaks source as someone without 'evil intent'
Ed Pilkington at Fort Meade * The Guardian * Friday 26 July 2013 15.27 EDT
The lawyer representing the WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning has asked the judge presiding over the soldier's court martial to decide between two stark portrayals of the accused – the prosecution's depiction of him as a traitor and seeker of notoriety, and the defence's account that he was motivated by a desire to make a difference in the world and save lives.
Over four hours of intense closing arguments at Fort Meade in Maryland, David Coombs set up a moral and legal clash of characterisations, between the Manning that he laid out for the court, and the callous and fame-obsessed Manning sketched on Thursday by the US government. "What is the truth?" the lawyer asked Colonel Denise Lind, the presiding judge who must now decide between the two accounts to reach her verdict.
"Is Manning somebody who is a traitor with no loyalty to this country or the flag, who wanted to download as much information as possible for his employer WikiLeaks? Or is he a young, naive, well-intentioned soldier who has his humanist belief central to his decisions and whose sole purpose was to make a difference."
Coombs answered his own rhetorical question by arguing that all the evidence presented to the trial over the past seven weeks pointed in one direction. "All the forensics prove that he had a good motive: to spark reforms, to spark change, to make a difference. He did not have a general evil intent."
Coombs ridiculed the prosecution case as a "diatribe" and said that its account of his client as someone who only cared about himself as the opposite of the truth. "He is concerned about everybody, he is concerned to save lives."
The lawyer continued: "He felt were were all connected to everybody, we had a duty to our fellow human beings. It may have been a little naive, but that is not anti-American, it is really what America is about."
Posted by 99th_Monkey | Sat Jul 27, 2013, 01:47 PM (2 replies)
Tensions continued to flare between the military and journalists covering the closing arguments in the Bradley Manning trial on Friday.
On Thursday, journalists reported that armed military officers were walking the aisles of the media center, leaning over and looking at their computers, and telling them they were barred from tweeting.
HuffPost's Matt Sledge, who is at Fort Meade, wrote that the ramped-up security was a result of a direct order from Denise Lind, the military judge overseeing the trial.
O'Brien said things were "less tense" than on Thursday, but there were clearly lingering issues, judging from the tweets being sent out:
TWEETS at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/26/journalists-bradley-manning-trial-libya_n_3660309.html?utm_hp_ref=media
Posted by 99th_Monkey | Fri Jul 26, 2013, 05:12 PM (1 replies)
Even who we’re in a drone war with is classified
By Pro Publica
Friday, July 26, 2013 11:22 EDT
In a major national security speech this spring, President Obama said again and again that the U.S. is at war with “Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated forces.”
So who exactly are those associated forces? It’s a secret.
At a hearing in May, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked the Defense Department to provide him with a current list of Al Qaeda affiliates.
The Pentagon responded 2013 but Levin’s office told ProPublica they aren’t allowed to share it. Kathleen Long, a spokeswoman for Levin, would say only that the department’s “answer included the information requested.”
A Pentagon spokesman told ProPublica that revealing such a list could cause “serious damage to national security.”
“Because elements that might be considered 2018associated forces’ can build credibility by being listed as such by the United States, we have classified the list,” said the spokesman, Lt. Col. Jim Gregory. “We cannot afford to inflate these organizations that rely on violent extremist ideology to strengthen their ranks.”
It’s not an abstract question: U.S. drone strikes and other actions frequently target “associated forces,” as has been the case with dozens of strikes against an Al Qaeda offshoot in Yemen.
During the May hearing, Michael Sheehan, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, said he was “not sure there is a list per se.” Describing terrorist groups as “murky” and “shifting,” he said, “it would be difficult for the Congress to get involved in trying to track the designation of which are the affiliate forces” of Al Qaeda.
Posted by 99th_Monkey | Fri Jul 26, 2013, 01:47 PM (9 replies)
Programmer Barnaby Jack dies a week before showing off heart-attack hack that can kill a man from 30 feet away
By Reuters * Friday, July 26, 2013 10:19 EDT * By Jim Finkle
BOSTON (Reuters) – Well-known hacker Barnaby Jack has died in San Francisco, a week before he was due to show off techniques for attacking implanted heart devices that he said could kill a man from 30 feet away.
The San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office said he died in the city on Thursday. It gave no details.
Jack, a security expert, became one of the most famous hackers on the planet after a 2010 demonstration in which he forced ATMs to spit out cash, dubbed “Jackpotting,” (reut.rs/gIGXVq )
The hacking community expressed shock as the news of his death spread via Twitter early on Friday. Jack was due to appear at the Black Hat hacking convention in San Francisco next week, demonstrating how he could attack heart devices.
“Wow … Speechless,” Tweeted mobile phone hacker Tyler Shields.
Jack’s most recent employer, the cyber security consulting firm IOActive Inc, said in a Tweet: “Lost but never forgotten our beloved pirate, Barnaby Jack has passed.”
Jack had served as IOActive’s director of embedded device security.
Jack’s genius was finding bugs in the tiny computers that are embedded in equipment such as medical devices and banking machines. He received standing ovations at hacking conventions for his creativity and showmanship.
“You grimy bastard. I was just talking up about your awesome work last night,” Tweeted Dino Dai Zovi, a hacker known for his skill at finding bugs in Apple products. “You’ll be missed, bro.”
Posted by 99th_Monkey | Fri Jul 26, 2013, 01:34 PM (18 replies)
Obama 'Concerned and Disappointed' After Journalist Who Exposed US War Crimes Freed
Abdulelah Haider Shaye 'put in prison because he had the audacity to expose' deadly US drone strike
Thursday, July 25, 2013 * Common Dreams * Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer
The White House is "concerned and disappointed" over the news that Yemeni Journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye, who was kept in a Yemeni jail for three years per the request of the Obama administration after he exposed a deadly U.S. drone strike, was released Tuesday.
Following news of Shaye's release, journalist Jeremy Scahill, who has written extensively about Shaye's story, contacted the White House for a comment.
The White House's response was brief and alarming:
We are concerned and disappointed by the early release of Abd-Ilah al-Shai, who was sentenced by a Yemeni court to five years in prison for his involvement with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
According to Scahill and numerous other journalists who have followed the story, Shaye's only involvement with Al Qaeda was conducting interviews with their members for major news outlets that included the Washington Post, ABC News and the New York Times.
Shaye's legal troubles only arose after he uncovered the deadly U.S. strike that killed dozens of innocent Yemeni civilians, after which he was thrown in prison. At one point Shaye was slated for early release, but a phone call from president Obama urged Yemeni officials to keep him behind bars.
"We should let that statement set in," Scahill said of the White House's response. "The White House is saying that they are disappointed and concerned that a Yemeni journalist has been released from a Yemeni prison."
"This is a man who was put in prison because he had the audacity to expose a U.S. cruise missile attack that killed three dozen women and children."
Watch Scahill in an interview with Democracy Now!, which aired Thursday morning:
Posted by 99th_Monkey | Fri Jul 26, 2013, 01:06 PM (167 replies)
Grayson is on the move. Woot!
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NSA surveillance critics to testify before Congress
Democrat congressman Alan Grayson says hearing will help to stop 'constant misleading information' from intelligence chiefs
Paul Lewis in Washington * guardian.co.uk * Friday 26 July 2013 07.00 EDT
Congress will hear testimony from critics of the National Security Agency's surveillance practices for the first time since the whistleblower Edward Snowden's explosive leaks were made public.
Democrat congressman Alan Grayson, who is leading a bipartisan group of congressman organising the hearing, told the Guardian it would serve to counter the "constant misleading information" from the intelligence community.
The hearing, which will take place on Wednesday, comes amid evidence of a growing congressional rebellion NSA data collection methods.
On Wednesday, a vote in the House of Representatives that would have tried to curb the NSA's practice of mass collection of phone records of millions of Americans was narrowly defeated.
However, it exposed broader-than-expected concern among members of Congress over US surveillance tactics. A majority of Democrat members voted in support of the amendment.
Grayson, who was instrumental in fostering support among Democrats for the the amendment, said Wednesday's hearing would mark the first time critics of NSA surveillance methods have testified before Congress since Snowden's leaks were published by the Guardian and Washington Post.
"I have been concerned about the fact that we have heard incessantly in recent weeks from General Keith Alexander and Mr James Clapper about their side of the story," he said. "We have barely heard anything in Congress from critics of the program.
"We have put together an ad hoc, bipartisan hearing on domestic surveillance in on the Capitol. We plan to have critics of the program come in and give their view – from the left and the right."
Grayson said the hearing had bipartisan support, and was backed by the Republican congressman Justin Amash, whose draft the amendment that was narrowly defeated.
"Mr Amash has declared an interest in the hearing. There are several others who have a libertarian bent – largely the same people who represented the minority of Republicans who decided to vote in favour of the Amash amendment."
The hearing will take place at the same time as a Senate hearing into the NSA's activities. That will feature Gen Alexander and possibly his deputy, Chris Inglis, as well as senior officials from the Department of Justice and FBI.
The simultaneous timing of the hearings will lead to a notable juxtaposition between opponents and defenders of the government's surveillance activities.
"Both Congress and the American people deserve to hear both sides of the story," Grayson said. "There has been constant misleading information – and worse than that, the occasional outright lie – from the so-called intelligence community in their extreme, almost hysterical efforts, to defend these programmes."
Although not a formal committee hearing, Grayson's event will take place on Capitol Hill, and composed of a panel of around a dozen members of Congress from both parties.
Grayson said those testifying would include the American Civil Liberties Union as well as representatives from the right-leaning Cato Institute.
"They are both going to come in and make it clear that this programme is not authorised by existing law - and if it were authorised by existing law, that law would be unconstitutional," Grayson said.
The congressman added that Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who first revealed details of the surveillance programmes leaked by Snowden, had also been invited to testify via video-link from his base in Rio.
"Even today, most people in America are unaware of the fact the government is receiving a record of every call that they make, even to the local pizzeria," Grayson said.
"I think that most people simply don't understand that, despite the news coverage, which my view has been extremely unfocused. There has been far too much discussion of the leaker, and not enough discussion of the leak."
Posted by 99th_Monkey | Fri Jul 26, 2013, 12:59 PM (43 replies)