Archive for November, 2010

Activism Is Neither Comfortable Nor Convenient

November 24, 2010

The widely publicized call by the head of the TSA NOT to cause slow downs by opting out of scanning at airports today is really the issue.  The only way for protest to work is for it to inconvenience a lot of people, including, but not limited to, the protesters.  If we put comfort above our rights, if we are afraid to cause anyone to be late or to call us names, as we have been doing, we lose our rights, as we have been doing.

No one who has stood in the cold rain holding a No Torture sign or camped in the 115 degree heat to protest the illegal, immoral US wars will ever say that these actions were comfortable nor convenient.  They were the right thing to do and I only wish many more of us were willing to give up comfort and convenience to save our country.

If you were planning on gumming up the works at an airport today, ONWARD.  Do it!  If you have decided to cancel airline travel, don’t back down!

There is ample evidence that the scanners are in place because high level officials and members of Congress have invested in the companies that make them.  These companies have also invested a lot of money in lobbying.

Matthew Harwood reports on TruthOut

The other large, full-body scanner manufacturer, Rapiscan, which makes backscatter X-ray machines, had the biggest name lobbying for them: former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. … Chertoff, however, never let either newspaper [NY Times and Washington Post in which he published op ed pieces advocating scanners] know that he was being paid by Rapiscan to endorse their products. According to Carney, Rapiscan also hired Susan Carr, a former senior legislative aide to Rep. David Price (D-North Carolina), chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee, another proponent of full-body scanners. Chertoff and Carr’s efforts worked. The TSA handed Rapiscan a $173 million contract.  Read the rest here 

You can read The Bizarre Tale of Graft and Sleazy Political Opportunism That Brought Us the ‘Porno Scanners’ here.

And, you can read TSA Gestapo Empire by Paul Craig Roberts here.

You can read the report by Diana Sweet: “Body Scanner Makers Doubled Lobbying Cash Over 5 Years” here. 

Ted Rall has perhaps the most important thing to say in his article Why TSA Molesters Are Striking A Nerve that you can read here.  We have put comfort and convenience ahead of our rights and this is the result.

In another matter where protest may really make a difference, but which will not be convenient, there is the movement to take money out of the banks.  You can read about that here.  The article gives practical suggestions for how to prepare for what to do with your money once you withdraw it.

One way to make this less inconvenient is to put money in not for profit banking.  I have accounts in a credit union that is almost as convenient as commercial banking but is a not for profit concern.  Even if it had been much less convenient, I was no longer willing to support commercial banks.

If we do not take actions, we will see things grow worse and worse.  Will you risk some temporary discomfort and inconvenience or regret that you did not when you find, sooner than you may dream possible, that we are without any rights at all?

I urge you in the strongest way to take actions now.  If you want to let others know how it goes, this is a place to post about your actions.  “Together we can do this.”  We can save our country and pass it on to the next generations.

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It Falls to Us to Stop the FBI

November 10, 2010

This from Bonnie who attended the event in New York held by Stop FBI which is responding to the FBI raids of anti war activists in Minneapolis and Chicago:

“This past Saturday night in a cavernous meeting room within St. Mark’s church on Manhattan’s lower east side I, along with 500 or so fellow concerned citizens, got to hear Jess Sundin — a short, sturdy, perky, non-terrorist looking woman — in person elaborate further along with other victims from the Minneapolis and Chicago areas of this round of FBI repression.

jess_sundin.jpg Jess Sundin protesting the FBI raids of her home and that of other anti war protesters.

“At first glance the panel of about 8 speakers looked like a wholesome team of energetic grade school teachers (the kind who enjoy kids and teaching, remember them?), round- and warm-faced Mid-Westerners, for the most part, in their brightly colored pullover sweaters or curious black T shirts sporting a cartoon witch on a broom stick. It took me too long to fathom that the image referred to the McCarthyism witch-hunting of the Grand Jury investigations the activists had been subpoenaed for.

“Above their heads was a white cloth hanging on the wall with three spray-painted demands on it.

Stop FBI Repression
Stop the Grand Jury
Return Our Stuff

‘“Return our stuff”?

“Jess revealed how the agents scrupulously went over EVERY scrap of paper in her home. The agents spent four to five hours in this meticulous rummaging and removed dozens of boxes of files and personal items and papers. They did that at all the houses. Everything from crayon drawings by children to, in one case, precious private photos of Martin Luther King. One of the activists was apparently the proverbial packrat (“archivist” one of the panelists supplied affectionately) and the FBI removed 80 boxes — yes, 80 — from her home. This is less a reflection on her and more on the lack of parameters on the search warrants, no date ranges apparently, which is unusual and troubling, the punishing, over-the-top confiscation of materials on the pre-emptive fishing expedition of long-time activists.

***

“Anything goes now in terms of low threshhold boundaries between us and the FBI et al.? One civil liberties attorney championing the activists’ case, Bruce Nestor, explained that the Roberts’ court is steadily removing the rights and powers of lower courts, too, sabotaging their opportunities to protect citizen rights and allocating more and more power to the police and FBI, Homeland Security, et al.

[Later he also] “explained that if the Secretary of State deems an organization “terrorist” then that organization has 30 days to legally challenge the status. The individual members of said organization don’t even have that legal recourse to object.

“One testimonial was given by Hatem Abudayyeh, a Palestinian American from Chicago, who was finishing the overnight shift at Costco when he realized his wife had frantically texted him six times. They and their daughter live with his mom, who is in frail health. He raced home to witness 8 or 9 federal agents ripping through his home. As he watched them confiscating his books in Arabic his little daughter asked him why would the white men want to take books they couldn’t read. He encouraged her to ask them, but she understandably declined.

****

“We need to cover the backs of these activists who are on the line now. They refused to give testimony to the Grand Jury. REFUSED. No small act of courage. Three of them have been re-subpoenaed. What will happen to them next? They have organized a “COMMITTEE TO STOP FBI REPRESSION”. Their Manhattan gathering was to pass on information and to seek funding.

“One can access their website here and sign a petition demanding the end of the FBI and Grand Jury intimidation. The petition immediately sends out letters to 78 people, including Obama, Holder, Congresspeople, etc. Already 200,000 people have signed their support. They could use some financial support, too. Being dragged through the court system is not cheap, either.

***
“In the back of the St. Mark’s hall there was a large screen with hundreds of Middle Eastern names written upon it and a large title above, Pre-emptive Prosecution. Apparently, all the people represented by those names had been unfairly prosecuted in this post-9/11, scapegoating climate. When Bruce Nestor [lawyer with National Lawyers Guild and advocate for anit war activists whose homes and offices were raided] pointed out the screen I couldn’t help flashing on what it must have been like for the Jewish people in Germany becoming more and more isolated and vilified in society, at first beneath the public radar. What it was like for Japanese and German Americans in the United States during World War II.

bruce nestor1.jpg Bruce Nestor in his green Legal Observer’s cap at a protest, defending our rights to dissent.

“An eloquent and elegant young Middle Eastern woman spoke, in fact, also read a moving portion of her memoir. Noor Elashi, who is the daughter of the co-founder of the Holy Land Foundation, Ghassan Elashi. She contended that her father had been wrongly convicted of donating to Hamas in 2007 and considers him a hero for his humanitarian aid to Palestinians. He is presently serving 65 years for this. Ms. Noor said the second trial conviction arose from inflammatory references to “terrorism”. Her dad is now being held in one of George Bush’s so-called “communication management unit” prisons. Apparently there is limited access of prisoners to outsiders. Ms. Noor was hoping, but not sure, to be allowed to visit her dad on Thanksgiving this year.”

She also reported:

“This troubling pronouncement from the new head of the FBI eight years ago. Stephan Salisbury:

“’There is a continuum between those who would express dissent and those who would do a terrorist act,’ Mueller said ominously in a 2002 speech. ‘Somewhere along that continuum we have to begin to investigate. If we do not, we are not doing our job. It is difficult for us to find a path between the two extremes.’

“Say what? He sees political dissent as the launching pad for terrorism? Political dissent is the pre-stage and domestic terrorism the post-stage? This is pretty terrifying in itself.

“How many millions of us saw this coming? The criminalization of political dissent. The apparently blank taxpaying check to beef up Homeland Security? Last I heard it was 800,000 employees strong, not including informants, who need to earn and justify those tax-paid paychecks. I think of that adage, when the only tool is a hammer everything … or every one … becomes a nail! I also think of that poem about how first they came for the trade unionists, etc.

“Who is doing harm to America? The citizens of conscience? Or the ruling class trying to jail the citizens of conscience and eliminate the incredibly justified activism that should be expanding NOT shrinking.

“Look at the impunity for the lawbreakers on a massive level. The corporate pirates who broke the economy and were rewarded with $12 trillion of taxpayer money. About to be rewarded with further tax breaks on their billions.

“Look at the mind-numbing atrocities of the military actions — the ones we actually know about. Over one million Middle Easterners dead, four million displaced. I just caught Bush with Matt Lauer denying the American people deserve an apology from him for his being wrong about the weapons of mass destruction. No mention of whether Iraq deserves an apology? Or Afghanistan? By the way, Bush doesn’t think ANYONE deserves an apology. Ego still going strong.

“Look at the rage of this Obama administration, State Department and Pentagon over the Wikileaks disclosures. Rage not ever going near the atrocities actually committed, no, that would be too sane and functional, but group-think team spirit circling the wagons, rage and punishment intended for the whistleblowers who are disclosing the truth to the citizenry, the primarily ostrich citizenry. A healthy proactive government would hasten to right wrongs. Not “kill the messengers.” Not hasten to cover up the amoral horrors and criminal activities at all costs — including human and civil rights.

It’s open season on people of conscience. Our government is hoping the ‘good’ people who do nothing in America will continue to do nothing. Will let the Swiss-cheesing of democracy continue. Will let these vanguard citizens defending their AND our constitutional rights twist in the wind without protest. They are hoping the entitlement of each citizen to enjoy freedom of political protest will morph into fear-motivated reluctance of being labeled a ‘domestic terrorist’.”

The full article quotes many authorities on the encroaching police state in the US and the abrogation of civil liberties. Read the full text here.

The Good Corporal

November 4, 2010

The Good Corporal

Manning.jpg     Edmonds.jpg
Good corporal, good corporal, now what have you done?
You’ve laid out the dead in the light of the sun.
You’ve opened the door where the dark deeds go on,
Where the fine words of freedom are broken like bones.

Good corporal, good corporal, you tell us of crime
Done in the name of your country and mine.
Of torture and murder, corruption and lies,
In a land where no echo will carry the cries.

Good corporal, good corporal, now who do we blame
For the horrors you bring us, for this undying shame?
Should we lay all the guilt on the grunts with no name,
Or the high and the mighty who rigged up this game?

Good corporal, good corporal, don’t you know the fate
Of all those who speak the hard truth to the State
And all who trouble the people’s sweet dreams?
They’re mocked into scorn and torn apart at the seams.

Good corporal, good corporal, what have you done?
You’ve laid out the dead in the light of the sun.

Assange.jpg        Ellsberg.jpg
© 2010 by Chris Floyd

The author dedicated this poem to Bradley Manning, Sibel Edmonds, Julian Assange and Daniel Ellsberg, who are pictured in this post.

This was linked on the World Can’t Wait website