Archive for the ‘dissent’ Category

REAL ID UPDATE: Border states Texas, New Mexico and other southwestern states are actively increasing public discourse on terms of immigration policy and whether or not federal legislation will perform or deliver terms of relief promised to put limits on undocumented migrants seeking work.  North Carolina seems to be reinforcing terms to reduce federal spending on Real ID; while a Youngstown, NC legislator seeks to move legislation prohibitive of federalizing local drivers licenses.  A Real ID compliant discourse is stirring Nevada two years after the state passed a local resolution requesting that the federal law be repealed.   States are expected to be federally compliant with the law by May 11th, 2011.  More opinion here and here.

D.I.Y. Accountability: Send a message to Google and Facebook: Protect Our Privacy!

Here’s second life for news that matters:

US Bill Would Prohibit Internet ‘kill Switch’

Decentralizing the Internet So Big Brother Can’t Find You

FBI pushes for surveillance backdoors in Web 2.0 tools

Patriot Act Extension Lands on Obama’s Desk

SENDING OUT AN S.O.S….Clinton delivers speech to support nonviolent dissent on the web, as Ray McGovern arrested, brutalized. Analysis of the content of Clinton’s speech here.

DISCUSSION: The Internet and Social Media: Tools of Freedom or Tools of Oppression?

TSA agents admit to stealing $160,000 from bags at JFK Airport

HBGary -Anonymous- WIKILEAKS : @arstechnica @ggreenwald

WHAT DO YOU THINK?  Do-Not-Track bill facing criticism 
Add comments! RE: DoNotTrack

BTC – According to grassroots airline boycott organizer James Babb, recent TSA patdowns include “pushing into your testicles” and “squeezing your breasts”.  These accounts are some of the reasons why he and his family are telling airlines “We Won’t Fly“.

In instances like this, one always has more questions than answers as to why the feds can’t just focus on actual terrorist threats vs. invasive national dragnet strategies. If you are already at the ENOUGH level, you may be considering an airline boycott this season by opting to drive or use alternate transport.

More independent grassroots groups, just like We Won’t Fly[.com], have been springing up around the country since the UPS terror threat.  Despite coverage in national media, there are still transport workers and passengers who don’t understand the risks involved with using the virtual strip search machines installed in airports.

We interviewed James Babb about his approach to an airline boycott this Thanksgiving and how We Won’t Fly is working to inform others about common privacy concerns.  [Witness the entrepenurs at work!]

BTC- It’s looking like national identity and RFID have coupled up again finding another place to burrow into the German population.  It brings me sadness to see a nation who has overcome so much, coming so far from their past of fostering some of the most oppressive, fascist societies in Europe’s modern world history only to watch history repeat itself.  Germany’s RFID embedded ID cards will be available by November 1st, 2010.

After the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, the people of East Germany began to recover from a psychologically and economically oppressive government.  Prior to this, both the Nazi SS and Stasi East German policies made demands for citizenship papers at every turn of citizens and travellers. It is one the most obvious symptoms a facist society in full swing.  It was tragic to find that these policies were invited by the DHS in an effort to control our open and liberty-oriented society by creating an identity mandate for Americans.  We foolishly believed we could never be “like Germany”.

Americans  engaged in the struggle for personal liberty are fighting successive attempts by DHS machinery to reinvent a plan for national identity.  However, it is important to understand how to retain and express empathy and compassion for all nations who are struggling with the very mandates which trouble us.   One time tested venue for expressing company in misery is through music.

Talib Kweli, musician and intellectual, connected with the arbitrary demand for citizenship papers and the potential for racial profiling in the State of Arizona, over SB1070 in his song Paper’s, Please!

He was detained in the hall after asking to see the officers’ ID cards before he left the building. They are required according to their own manual to provide ID upon request, but apparently don’t like to be asked for it. When the supervising officer ordered Bruno to turn around and put his hands behind his back, Bruno instantly turned around and put his hands behind his back with absolutely no resistance.

This story was forwarded to me from Tim Biancalana, musician and friend.  9-11 Truthers have long been in the intelligence crosshairs for questioning the events surrounding the September 11th bombings in America.  Everyone has a post 9-11 story.   Some people got more involved in securing our nation.  Others embarked on a seemingly endless quest to uncover esoteric truth in efforts to mitigate individual accountabilities for the direction our country pursued into the Iraq-Afghanistan oil and drug wars.  

This story is about an activist who may have unwisely provoked criminal justice authorities, but it is also an illustration of our freedom to non-violently and legally challenge authority on the basis of our Bill of Rights.  9-11 Truthers have been labeled, among other things, conspiracy theorists.  Obama appointed Cass Sunstein to put together a task force of special emphasis on those who continually question the government sprawl into fascism and human rights violations with their unproven guesswork.  The point is in asking who makes you more uncomfortable: the hystrionic error prone propagandists or the executive government with a task force employed to silence them as noisy targets with your tax dollars?  You can get annoyed and decide to opt out of only one of the two.

Someone asked me yesterday about my history with 9-11 Truth.  I explained: regardless of whether or not the government was “behind 9-11” – the outcomes for our nation are exactly the same: we subsidize torture, rendition, continuous denial of due process, the subversion of Habeas Corpus and sedition,  human rights violations (including experimentation), pre-emptive war, established exceptionalism as the new standard to conserve the erosions of basic civil rights and civil liberty, bankruptcy, and multinational corporate sociopathy emerging as untouchable power over US and International ethics and rule of law.  All of these things were successively exposed from the populist plumblines surrounding the 9-11 Truth movement.  My other point is if you have the intestinal fortitude to explore dystopian theory, then you might have enough to be a serial resister to totalitarian government. 

I don’t stand with 9-11 Truth because I love their tinfoil hats.  I stand with them for their right to wear a hat which, however flimsy, has the mettle to defy authoritarian conventions established to dominate their right to question criminal acts of governance.   

-Sheila M. Dean

Your government appointees at work:

Cass Sunstein seeks ‘cognitive’ provocateurs
Cass Sunstein is President Obama’s Harvard Law School friend, and recently appointed Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
In a recent scholarly article, he and coauthor Adrian Vermeule take up the question of “Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures.” (J. Political Philosophy, 7 (2009), 202-227). This is a man with the president’s ear. This is a man who would process information and regulate things. What does he here propose?

[W]e suggest a distinctive tactic for breaking up the hard core of extremists who supply conspiracy theories: cognitive infiltration of extremist groups, whereby government agents or their allies (acting either virtually or in real space, and either openly or anonymously) will undermine the crippled epistemology of believers by planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups, thereby introducing beneficial cognitive diversity. (Page 219.)

Read this paragraph again. Unpack it. Work your way through the language and the intent. Imagine the application. What do we learn?
* It is “extremists” who “supply” “conspiracy theories.”
* Their “hard core” must be “broken up” with distinctive tactics. What tactics?
* “Infiltration” (“cognitive”) of groups with questions about official explanations or obfuscations or lies. Who is to infiltrate?
* “Government agents or their allies,” virtually (i.e. on-line) or in “real-space” (as at meetings), and “either openly or anonymously,” though “infiltration” would imply the latter. What will these agents do?
* Undermine “crippled epistemology” — one’s theory and technique of knowledge. How will they do this?
* By “planting doubts” which will “circulate.” Will these doubts be beneficial?
* Certainly. Because they will introduce “cognitive diversity.”
Put into English, what Sunstein is proposing is government infiltration of groups opposing prevailing policy. Palestinian Liberation? 9/11 Truth? Anti-nuclear power? Stop the wars? End the Fed? Support Nader? Eat the Rich?
It’s easy to destroy groups with “cognitive diversity.” You just take up meeting time with arguments to the point where people don’t come back. You make protest signs which alienate 90% of colleagues. You demand revolutionary violence from pacifist groups.
We expect such tactics from undercover cops, or FBI. There the agents are called “provocateurs” — even if only “cognitive.” One learns to smell or deal with them in a group, or recognize trolling online. But even suspicion or partial exposure can “sow uncertainty and distrust within conspiratorial groups [now conflated with conspiracy theory discussion groups] and among their members,” and “raise the costs of organization and communication” — which Sunstein applauds as “desirable.” “[N]ew recruits will be suspect and participants in the group’s virtual networks will doubt each other’s bona fides.” (p.225).
And are we now expected to applaud such tactics frankly proposed in a scholarly journal by a high-level presidential advisor?
The full text of a slightly earlier version of Sunstein’s article is available for download here.

Gov. Sanford Updates Sec. Napolitano on REAL ID
Letter to Janet Napolitano 11.30.09.pdf [134 KB]

Columbia, S.C. – December 4, 2009 – In a letter sent earlier this week, Gov. Mark Sanford both updated Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on South Carolina’s progress in making the state’s driver’s licenses more secure, and reiterated the administration’s strong concerns that the federal REAL ID law represents both an infringement on constitutional liberties and an unacceptable cost burden to the states.

“South Carolina continues to make strides toward protecting the personal information contained in our driver’s licenses, including technological advances that enhance security and guard against fraud and ID theft,” said Gov. Mark Sanford. “Given that our state’s driver’s licenses continue to be among the most secure in the nation, we remain skeptical of claims that REAL ID or PASS ID is the safest and wisest route for our state and country. While attempts to contain some of the costs associated with REAL ID in the recently amended legislation are commendable, this federal mandate still infringes on liberty and privacy rights, and in this case, discretion and caution indeed seem the better part of valor. So for that reason, and for the fact that our state law currently prevents South Carolina from complying with REAL ID, we will continue to stand out from under this unfunded federal mandate.”

In March of 2008, Gov. Sanford refused to apply for an extension of the federally imposed deadline on compliance with REAL ID – in effect forcing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to issue an assurance that South Carolinians would not be penalized during travel or when visiting federal buildings. Gov. Sanford argued that the South Carolina DMV had already met 90 percent of REAL ID’s benchmarks; that the legislation had never been properly debated in Congress; that the law represented a $9 billion unfunded mandate; and – most importantly – that REAL ID presented serious threats to individual liberty.

In July of this year, Gov. Sanford again raised concerns about PASS ID, the legislatively-revised REAL ID, and specifically questioned whether secondary levels of screening would be mandated, and whether the new bill’s voluntary pilot program establishing a centralized hub of citizens’ identities would in time become mandatory. To date, these concerns have not been addressed.

“We’ve all mistaken politics for personal relationships. Our role is not to be a friend or an enemy to a politician. Our role is to encourage them when they work for what we believe is needed, and to discourage them when they move in a different direction. We can best do either of those things by remaining independent and indifferent to the childish notion of being with them or against them. And we can best do either of those things by nonviolent means. In fact, nothing would move our government in a more dangerous direction than anti-governmental violence. And nothing would encourage such violence more than insistence that everyone refrain from criticizing politicians.

David Swanson for OP-ED News

BTC – On November 5th many observed Guy Fawkes day. Thankfully, dissent, also known as expressing public disapproval of a direction of our government, is a privilege we participate in without fear of being killed or jailed by our government. Public exploration of ideas and new ways to express non-violent dissent is something we all have a healthy right to examine and observe on days like, November 5th.

However, nothing could have been further from my mind than a mass shooting to stop deployment to Iraq from within the ranks of active servicemen. The violence which took place November 5th at Ft. Hood was a complete aberration in American dissent.

The danger for millions of Americans is how this tragedy will define dissent. More specifically, dissent and non-violent dissent among those in the military. They have voices too. Had someone simply heeded more carefully the signs and signals of service members distress, 13 people would be alive today.

At the the time of the shootings, I was speaking with author & reporter Dahr Jamail. He explained the trials and tribulations of active service members trapped in a vicious cycle of redeployment. He reports that active military have been sent back to Iraq with untreated PTSD and advanced suffering from war related injuries. Many service members are held to excruciatingly painful standards. In some cases, these circumstances have caused extreme hardship and losses for some of their families. Hours later, published this article.

It is saddening on all fronts to see such misery manifest in a strikingly close and tragic way. The interpretation of this shooting on an obscure day of dissent, really observed by another country (the UK), hammers home the notion that actions speak louder than words. It is obvious today that our soldiers are leading an isolated and insular existence. They need our support and help to find healing. Their immediate families need help and support during deployment. They need our friendship and a listening ear. Call and write often to help get them through this difficult time.

We mourn with those who lost their health, family and lives in this complete psychological fracture of military conscience at Ft. Hood.