Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: Repeal the Entire Patriot Act!

Peter B. Collins Presents Rep. Mark Pocan

With the USA Patriot Act expiring in a few months, Rep. Mark Pocan has introduced the “Surveillance State Repeal Act”, which would completely repeal the 2001 Patriot Act, the 2008 FISA amendments and put limits on Executive Order 12333. We discuss the failure of the weak “USA Freedom Act” that was watered down further before it died last year, and Pocan is optimistic that more of his colleagues are now ready to put limits on domestic surveillance. His bill includes whistleblower protection that covers employees and contractors like Ed Snowden, and calls for a special master in the FISA Court to assist judges with technical matters.

* Mark Pocan is in his second term in Congress, a Democrat representing Madison, Wisconsin. He spent 14 years in the Wisconsin legislature

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Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: How Did “NSA Reform” Bill Get Shredded in the House?

Peter B. Collins Presents Nadia Kayyali

In this interview with EFF activist Nadia Kayyali, we look at the process that drastically changed the already-weak “USA Freedom Act” that was passed by House Judiciary and Intelligence committees before it went to the floor and was rammed through with no amendments and only an hour of debate. As we detail, the NSA and FBI substituted vague language that actually appears to expand the government’s ability to collect massive amounts of data on millions of innocent Americans and others. We talk about concerns that this bad bill will be the only effort at reform, using NSA to deflect attention from possible abuses by the 16 other intelligence agencies.

*Nadia Kayyali was 2012 Legal Fellow at Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation earlier this year, where she is an activist on surveillance and related issues.

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We’ve had more than enough Revelations …and the American Majority has spoken

The American Majority & Its Deadly Chronic Disease Called Apathy

They say we need more revelations. I say we have had more than enough revelations on synthetic wars, atrocities, surveillance and torture. They wonder when the majority of Americans are going to speak up. And I say: The American Majority has already spoken—loud and clear.

The United States government has been engaged in the worst kind of human rights abuses, detention and torture around the globe. That’s a fact. And the American Majority knows this. The US Congress, NGOs and various human rights organizations, numerous reports, witnesses, leaks and whistleblowers, even the government propaganda outlets (aka US media) have established this as an undisputable fact: The United States has been engaged in unthinkable ongoing operations involving kidnapping, torture, black sites and detention centers, and murder all over the world. The American Majority knows this. They have spoken: with their silence.

The United States government has been engaged in ongoing police state operations, utilizing all sorts of surveillance and witch-hunt methods. Whether through the NSA’s massive surveillance, or the FBI’s massive informant cadre, or its joint operations with corporate partners, the United States government has been spying on and collecting a wide range of private information from its citizens at home and those abroad. Again, this is a known fact. And everybody knows. Ongoing revelations and leaks have made this an undisputable fact. And the American Majority has already spoken: with their silence.

So is it really more revelations we need? More whistleblowers? More alternative websites in the business of educating the people on these issues? Because from where I stand I can tell with one hundred percent certainty: The American Majority already knows. They have spoken: with their silence. And their silence speaks more than a million words.

Then, what is it that we are trying to do? If knowing, being aware, has so far translated into a loud deafening silence, then, what is the next logical step? Keep telling them what they already know? Ask more whistleblowers to put their lives on the line to tell them what they’ve been told for years?

As a whistleblower and activist for a dozen years I spent much time and energy pointing a finger at entities such as the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Courts and the media. In the end I have come to identify the real culprit in all of this: The American Majority and its deafening silence and persistent indifference. I have known and worked with hundreds of government whistleblowers, who in the end came to much the same conclusion. Sure, the U.S. government can intimidate, gag, classify, prosecute, jail and torture us. But you know what? All that would be for a noble worthy cause if the people were on our side. All those prices paid would be worthwhile and justified, if only the people utilized those sacrifice-driven revelations and reports to fight against our government’s crimes against humanity-and us, the people.

This is why I no longer expect or demand additional whistleblowers and more revelations. We do not need more revelations. We do need less apathy. We do not need additional whistleblowers. We do need a vocal majority. It is not the State and the one percent that is destroying our liberties, world peace and humanity. It is the silence of the American Majority and its deadly disease called pure apathy.

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Jamiol Presents

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The EyeOpener- National Security Letters

Eviscerating the Constitution Since 1978

BFP VideoThe passage of the Patriot Act in October 2001 is by now an all-too-familiar story. The American people, already suffering from the trauma of 9/11, were pushed into outright panic by the anthrax attacks, a series of anthrax-laced mailings that killed five, injured 17 and shut down Congress for the first time in modern history. The Act itself was introduced on a Tuesday and signed into law on Friday, before anyone had read let alone understood the sweeping changes it would introduce to American law.

Some of those changes were amendments to a little-known and little-used FBI instrument called National Security Letters, which allow the FBI and other agencies to issue businesses and institutions requests for private data on citizens, including financial transactions and communications records, regardless of whether or not they are even suspected of any crime, and to hold that data indefinitely. One of the most worrying aspects of the letters is the non-disclosure clause, which not only prohibits recipients from disclosing the contents of the letter, but even the fact that they have received a letter at all.

This is our EyeOpener Report by James Corbett, presenting the FBI’s National Security Letters and its predecessor- the 1978 Right to Financial Privacy Act, the aggressive expansion of the program’s scope with the passage of PATRIOT ACT, the gag order accompanying the letters - the non-disclosure clause, the collusion between the FBI, CIA and DOD in the issuance and implementation of these letters, and exposing the macrocosm of the police state control grid as a whole through this tyrannical tool.

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The EyeOpener- Resisting the Police State: Solutions & Answers

Leveling the Playing Field between the Oppressor & the Oppressed

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With TSA abuses back in the headlines, continued concern over the NDAA and other legislation codifying martial law, President Obama's unchallenged use of his self-proclaimed authority to assassinate American citizens without trial, and an increasingly bewildering array of tracking, tracing and pain-compliance technology being used against law-abiding citizens, more and more people are becoming aware of the police state that currently exists in the US, and indeed throughout much of the so-called "free world."

With this understanding comes a certain amount of apprehension: after all, the enemies of liberty are organized and persistent, and they inhabit positions of authority. The defenders of liberty, meanwhile, seem few and far between, and more time seems spent convincing others that the police state even exists than in working to dismantle these systems of control.

This is our EyeOpener Report by James Corbett, presenting the police state as a system of coercion that relies upon the majority’s compliance, the myriad tracking technologies that are used to keep the population docile and compliant, the mental prison constituted by the police state, and the need to shatter the illusion that the system is all-seeing, all-knowing and all too powerful.

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The EyeOpener- Police State International: The globalization of Control

Consolidation & Leveraging of Power in the Hands of a Select Few

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With the National Defense Authorization Act, the Enemy Expatriation Act, and other startling measures by the US government to crack down on their own population making headlines around the world at the moment, the idea of an American police state is becoming an all too familiar tale. Less examined, however, are the international aspects of this encroaching police state, a high-tech 21st century control grid which adheres to no national boundaries and whose influence is increasingly being felt in countries throughout the so-called "free world."

Just as the tracking, surveillance, pain-compliance and database technology behind this control grid is manufactured and marketed by multinational corporations who profess no loyalty to any nation state, so too is the police state itself nothing more than an idea for the consolidation and leveraging of power in the hands of a select few at the apex of business, government and finance. This idea in turn can be marketed, adapted and adopted from nation to nation, and that is the exact process that has been developing for decades now.

This is our EyeOpener Report by James Corbett, presenting the internationalization of the police state through the increasingly sophisticated technological control grid, and the collusion of international corporations and institutions to implement a homogenous and interconnected system for tracking, tracing and controlling the citizenry of the world regardless of nationality.

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The EyeOpener- Police State 2012: No Need to Wait, It’s Already Here

The Real Key to Dismantling Our Police State

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One of the greatest problems in talking about the police state is that all such discussion of the subject is hampered by the lack of a clear-cut definition. Given the public's own ignorance of the true nature and function of a police state, story after story after story of intolerable levels of official oppression, secret illegal surveillance, and increasingly sophisticated technology for tracking, apprehending, incapacitating and even killing dissenters can be dismissed because these stories are reported one at a time, in a contextless and therefore meaningless way that invites the interpretation that these stories are only warnings of what is to come instead of sign posts of a reality that is already here.

Those who seek to sow discord amongst the potential opposition to the growing control of the state over every aspect of the public's lives can confuse and distract those opponents by engaging them in endless dialogues fretting about what a police state is, and whether our society is becoming one. Distracted in this way, the public can be tricked into believing that the police state is some imaginary future possibility, one that will only be realized when menacing troops in brown shirts, red arm bands and jack boots goose step people into internment camps against their will.

This is our EyeOpener Report by James Corbett, presenting the police state as a present reality rather than a future possibility, the distraction of the public by design, the need to look at the decades-long history documenting the step by step construction of our current system in order to recognize, understand and acknowledge our current police state status, and finally, the real key to dismantling our current police state.

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A Major Fallacy in Liberty Advocates’ Argument

It is not Give & Take: It is Take-Take & Give-Give

freedomsI cringe every time I read or hear this self-defeating fallacy repeatedly used in almost all arguments and advocacies intended to counter our government’s assault on our liberties. I know those who use this fallacy, whether a lone-wolf noble politician, enlightened commentators, or civil liberties experts and representatives, all mean well and have the best intentions with what they put forth in defense of our liberties. Nonetheless they are doing a great harm by unintentionally promoting a myth, an illusion, and a major fallacy.

Allow me list a few old and recent examples:

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” – Benjamin Franklin

PBS Headline- America at a Crossroads: ‘Security Versus Liberty: the Other War’

If we allow the interests of national security to take away our freedoms, we surrender what it is to be an American.” – ACLU

Title: “Ten Years of Trading Liberty for Security” – Anthony Gregory, Independent

Title: “Guantanamo Bay Detainees: National Security or Civil Liberties” – Pamela M von Ness, FAS.Org

Just read the civil liberties related headlines daily and you will compile a very long list of similar titles and arguments. Most, if not all, fortify the false notion of ‘security vs. liberties,’ ‘the compromise between safety and rights,’ ‘sacrificing Constitutional rights to fight terrorism,’ … Granted, some, actually only a few, bother to include the notion of ‘perceived security;’ only in passing, a long way into the body text. For most Americans, busy with life, hassled with chores, too distracted by entertainment news, the part that quickly and easily sticks is the notion of making a choice between security and idealistic liberties.  And for many the answer comes down without any hesitation- it becomes a choice between life and death. And hey, when you face a life and death situation you ain’t gonna bother with some idealistic liberties concerns. Right? [Read more...]

The Latest on the Police State Front

Pilots vs. Indignities at the Airports, Midland FBI Spying, Snitching on Your ‘Terrorist Neighbor,’ & More

Here are a few updates for those of you who may have been wondering about the continuity of my interest in our nation’s police state status. I may be too busy to write my usual ten-page plus editorials on this topic, but never too busy to monitor the issue; never! It is about me, my daughter, you, your friends, basically, this is about all of us.

ProtestI am going to start this update with something positive. The following ‘something’ shows that we indeed can take a stand, however little, and challenge what’s being forced upon us in the game of fear-mongering and in the name of security. Here is a group of ‘true’ Americans who have enough patriotism and real backbone to stand up for our liberties and dignities. I am going to post their entire letter instead of a couple of paragraphs. It deserves to be published and shown in its entirety, so I hope I won’t be frowned upon or penalized for violating the quote limitation…

Letter: Indignities at the Airports

As professional pilots, some colleagues and I recently issued a statement to our airline. We voiced our rejection of the policy changes being enacted by the Transportation Security Administration at airport security checkpoints across the country, including Memphis International (Sept. 18 article, "Virtual strip search / Random full-body scans launched at Memphis airport").

We do not consent to the indignity of virtual strip searches as a matter of course in performing the duties of our profession. Neither can we conscientiously accept being physically frisked by federal agents every day as a reasonable alternative.

Obviously, our work places us inside the flight deck door by necessity. We wouldn't have to smuggle a weapon into the airport to take control of an aircraft. After running the gantlet of required background checks, security training and screening procedures, it's just plain silly to confiscate pilots' pocket knives and corkscrews before we enter the cockpit. In short, here's hoping the crew for your next flight is on the home team.

But that's not even the point.

We are appalled that any citizen who is not under arrest, has made no threats, nor raised any suspicion of terrorism or other malice should be made to submit to either of these "options" in order to move about within his or her own national borders.

Federal airport security guards are often unskilled, entry-level responders to help-wanted ads affixed to pizza boxes. Perhaps novice agents lack the perspective to grasp the full implications of their work. Forgive them, for they know not what they do. But please don't show them your naked body. Don't let these strangers put their hands on you or your children. Their abuse protects no one. No, the good citizens of a free society must resist such authoritarian overtures at least as much as any foreign threat.

I offer my condolences if your flight should be delayed or canceled because the TSA won't let us in the door. But I suggest that your freedom is more important. At any rate, ours certainly is.

Michael Roberts

Memphis

Mr. Roberts, kudos to you and your colleagues. You have my respect and support.

…………………………………………………………………

HooverNow here are three related articles showing how our guys at the bureau aren’t able to find real criminal or terrorism related cases to chase and investigate. They are bored, and as we all know boredom can lead to all sorts of nefarious deeds and activities. On one hand we are constantly reminded of Al-Qaeda and related boogieman’s plans to destroy us here in the States, thus the urgency to give up all our rights, liberties and dignities. Yet, on the other hand, here is our nation’s federal police agency bored out of its mind going around and harassing American citizens for exercising their rights guaranteed under the Constitution. I guess they are contradicting their bosses! Hmmm…or maybe they are keeping J. Edgar Hoover’s spirit alive?!

FBI Files on Investigations of Iowa City Peace Activists Made Public

David Goodner, a former member of the University of Iowa’s Antiwar Committee, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for files associated with an FBI surveillance of groups in Iowa City prior to the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. What he discovered was the investigation was far more extensive than previously known. Now, Goodner has turned over the files he received from the FBI exclusively to The Iowa Independent for publication.

As the documents show, the investigation into activities of peace groups in Iowa City involved staking out homes, secretly photographing and video taping members, digging through garbage and even planting a mole to spy on the peace activists up close.  Known as the Wild Rose Rebellion, the protesters were described by the FBI as an “anarchist collective.” In an interview with The Des Moines Register, the FBI defended its actions.

Weysan Dun, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Omaha field office, which oversees Iowa and Nebraska, said in a statement that every investigative technique that was employed was authorized under guidelines established by the U.S. attorney general “and was deemed necessary to resolve the allegations.” …

Dun said the Iowa City investigation was warranted because of allegations that certain people were possibly going to engage in criminal activities to disrupt the national conventions of one or both major political parties.

The group’s plans were to help organize nonviolent acts of civil disobedience, such as street blockades, at the 2008 RNC convention. In an interview Monday with progressive radio host Ed Fallon, Goodner said the FBI investigation didn’t make sense.

And here is the second related article:

Midlands FBI spying under scrutiny

In August 2003, two FBI agents watched over an Omaha rally organized by peace activist Frank Cordaro, a former Catholic priest.The agents observed no criminal activity at the rally but still sent notes on those in attendance to local military and law enforcement officials so they could plan security measures for a conference on U.S. nuclear policy at Offutt Air Force Base, according to a Justice Department report.

Also, FBI files reveal that agents, working under the direction of the bureau's Omaha field office, secretly monitored the activities of Iowa City protest groups before the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

“I learned early in my peace and justice career to assume the government knows what's going on,” said Cordaro, who has spent a total of about five years in jail for trespassing on Offutt property. When the FBI was monitoring him, Cordaro was planning a protest against nuclear weapons at the Offutt conference.

Now the FBI, including its Omaha office, is under intense scrutiny for investigations that revive memories of the bureau's Vietnam-era intrigue.

Unsealed agency documents and a report from the Justice Department detail the FBI's broad investigations of protest groups in Nebraska, Iowa and other parts of the country based on its authority to look into allegations and threats of domestic and international terrorism.

“In several cases there was little indication of any possible federal crimes,” Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said in his report, which detailed similar investigations the agency conducted around the country. “In some cases, the FBI classified some investigations relating to nonviolent civil disobedience under its ‘Acts of Terrorism' classification.”

A domestic terrorism designation can have a large impact, the inspector general said, because people who are subjects of such probes are normally placed on watch lists and their travels and interactions with law enforcement may be tracked.

The FBI investigated whether the Iowa activists were part of a national network of radicals who wanted to disrupt the GOP convention in Minnesota and the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. The records show that the investigation lasted from roughly March to December in 2008.

During that time, authorities went through activists' garbage and their cell phone and motor vehicle records.

Okay, you can read the rest here.

And finally, here is a hard-hitting recent news article for those who don’t consider the two above alarm-worthy:

FBI Raids: An End to ‘Covert’ Spying on Antiwar Groups?

Earlier this week the Justice Department revealed that the FBI had been using false claims of “counter-terror” operations to justify covert spying operations against antiwar groups in Pittsburgh and elsewhere across the country. As officials downplayed the report the matter seemed to be just another in a growing list of Bush era abuses of power, about which little is ever said.

PittProtestThen this morning FBI agents and SWAT teams started kicking doors in across Minneapolis, across Chicago, across the rest of America. The target: antiwar activists of various stripes, but particularly those likely to be involved in antiwar protests at the next Democratic National Convention.

It seems the era of “covert” FBI spying has come to an end, and not in the good way like you’d hope. Rather it seems to have moved with surprising alacrity from behind the shadows and become an overt program of intimidation and surveillance of what is left of America’s antiwar movement. [Read more...]