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Espionage Act: How the Government Can Engage in Serious Aggression Against the People of the US

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Joanne98 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 08:54 AM
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Espionage Act: How the Government Can Engage in Serious Aggression Against the People of the US
This week, Senators Joe Lieberman and Dianne Feinstein engaged in acts of serious aggression against their own constituents, and the American people in general. They both invoked the 1917 Espionage Act and urged its use in going after Julian Assange. For good measure, Lieberman extended his invocation of the Espionage Act to include a call to use it to investigate the New York Times, which published WikiLeaks' diplomatic cables. Reports yesterday suggest that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder may seek to invoke the Espionage Act against Assange.

These two Senators, and the rest of the Congressional and White House leadership who are coming forward in support of this appalling development, are cynically counting on Americans' ignorance of their own history -- an ignorance that is stoked and manipulated by those who wish to strip rights and freedoms from the American people. They are manipulatively counting on Americans to have no knowledge or memory of the dark history of the Espionage Act -- a history that should alert us all at once to the fact that this Act has only ever been used -- was designed deliberately to be used -- specifically and viciously to silence people like you and me.

The Espionage Act was crafted in 1917 -- because President Woodrow Wilson wanted a war and, faced with the troublesome First Amendment, wished to criminalize speech critical of his war. In the run-up to World War One, there were many ordinary citizens -- educators, journalists, publishers, civil rights leaders, union activists -- who were speaking out against US involvement in the war. The Espionage Act was used to round these citizens by the thousands for the newly minted 'crime' of their exercising their First Amendment Rights. A movie producer who showed British cruelty in a film about the Revolutionary War (since the British were our allies in World War I) got a ten-year sentence under the Espionage act in 1917, and the film was seized; poet E.E. Cummings spent three and a half months in a military detention camp under the Espionage Act for the 'crime' of saying that he did not hate Germans. Esteemed Judge Learned Hand wrote that the wording of the Espionage Act was so vague that it would threaten the American tradition of freedom itself. Many were held in prison for weeks in brutal conditions without due process; some, in Connecticut -- Lieberman's home state -- were severely beaten while they were held in prison. The arrests and beatings were widely publicized and had a profound effect, terrorizing those who would otherwise speak out.

Presidential candidate Eugene Debs received a ten-year prison sentence in 1918 under the Espionage Act for daring to read the First Amendment in public. The roundup of ordinary citizens -- charged with the Espionage Act -- who were jailed for daring to criticize the government was so effective in deterring others from speaking up that the Act silenced dissent in this country for a decade. In the wake of this traumatic history, it was left untouched -- until those who wish the same outcome began to try to reanimate it again starting five years ago, and once again, now. Seeing the Espionage Act rise up again is, for anyone who knows a thing about it, like seeing the end of a horror movie in which the zombie that has enslaved the village just won't die.

I predicted in 2006 that the forces that wish to strip American citizens of their freedoms, so as to benefit from a profitable and endless state of war -- forces that are still powerful in the Obama years, and even more powerful now that the Supreme Court decision striking down limits on corporate contributions to our leaders has taken effect -- would pressure Congress and the White House to try to breathe new life yet again into the terrifying Espionage Act in order to silence dissent. In 2005, Bush tried this when the New York Times ran its expos of Bush's illegal surveillance of banking records -- the SWIFT program. This report was based, as is the WikiLeaks publication, on classified information. Then, as now, White House officials tried to invoke the Espionage Act against the New York Times. Talking heads on the right used language such as 'espioinage' and 'treason' to describe the Times' release of the story, and urged that Bill Keller be tried for treason and, if found guilty, executed. It didn't stick the first time; but, as I warned, since this tactic is such a standard part of the tool-kit for closing an open society -- 'Step Ten' of the 'Ten Steps' to a closed society: 'Rename Dissent 'Espionage' and Criticism of Government, 'Treason' -- I knew, based on my study of closing societies, that this tactic would resurface.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/naomi-wolf/post_1394_b_79...
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Stuckinthebush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 09:16 AM
Response to Original message
1. Scary
I had no idea about the abuse of this act during the Wilson years.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 09:21 AM
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2. "Presidential candidate Eugene Debs received a ten-year prison sentence in 1918
under the Espionage Act for daring to read the First Amendment in public."

So much for all that "free people" bullshit.
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snappyturtle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 09:34 AM
Response to Original message
3. I didn't know this, of course there's lots I don't know!
I think TPTB would have a difficult time tagging Assange with the Espionage Act. Would the gov't. have to prove Assange's intent to harm the U.S.?
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sce56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 09:58 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. In the Kangaroo courts they setup for this stuff it would be a piece of cake!
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GodlessBiker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 10:47 AM
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5. I hope Obama knows he is playing with fire.
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tomm2thumbs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 12:07 PM
Response to Original message
6. a stain on Democrat Woodrow Wilson - filthy and dark

footnote on Debs - he ran for president in the 1920 election while in prison in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. He received 3.4% of the vote.

an interesting character:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_V._Debs

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