|Progressive Calendar 08.22.13 /3||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001umn.edu)|
|Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2013 15:38:19 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 08.22.13 1. Chris Hedges - Bradley Manning and the Gangster State 2. Megan Cornish - Obama unmasked 3. Wenonah Hauter - The Un-American Way: On the Anti-Democratic 'Trans-Pacific Partnershi 4. Dave Lindorff - Obama’s Sinister Crackdown on the Press --------1 of x-------- Bradley Manning and the Gangster State By Chris Hedges Posted on Aug 21, 2013 FORT MEADE, Md.—The swift and brutal verdict read out by Army Col. Judge Denise Lind in sentencing Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison means we have become a nation run by gangsters. It signals the inversion of our moral and legal order, the death of an independent media, and the open and flagrant misuse of the law to prevent any oversight or investigation of official abuses of power, including war crimes. The passivity of most of the nation’s citizens—the most spied upon, monitored and controlled population in human history—to the judicial lynching of Manning means they will be next. There are no institutional mechanisms left to halt the shredding of our most fundamental civil liberties, including habeas corpus and due process, or to prevent pre-emptive war, the assassination of U.S. citizens by the government and the complete obliteration of privacy. Wednesday’s sentencing marks one of the most important watersheds in U.S. history. It marks the day when the state formally declared that all who name and expose its crimes will become political prisoners or be forced, like Edward Snowden, and perhaps Glenn Greenwald, to spend the rest of their lives in exile. It marks the day when the country dropped all pretense of democracy, obliterated checks and balances under the separation of powers and rejected the rule of law. It marks the removal of the mask of democracy, already a fiction, and its replacement with the ugly, naked visage of corporate totalitarianism. State power is to be, from now on, unchecked, unfettered and unregulated. And those who do not accept unlimited state power, always the road to tyranny, will be ruthlessly persecuted. On Wednesday we became vassals. As I watched the burly guards hustle Manning out of a military courtroom at Fort Meade after the two-minute sentencing, as I listened to half a dozen of his supporters shout to him, “We’ll keep fighting for you, Bradley! You’re our hero!” I realized that our nation has become a vast penal colony. If we actually had a functioning judicial system and an independent press, Manning would have been a witness for the prosecution against the war criminals he helped expose. He would not have been headed, bound and shackled, to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. His testimony would have ensured that those who waged illegal war, tortured, lied to the public, monitored our electronic communications and ordered the gunning down of unarmed civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen were sent to Fort Leavenworth’s cells. If we had a functioning judiciary the hundreds of rapes and murders Manning made public would be investigated. The officials and generals who lied to us when they said they did not keep a record of civilian dead would be held to account for the 109,032 “violent deaths” in Iraq, including those of 66,081 civilians. The pilots in the “Collateral Murder” video, which showed the helicopter attack on unarmed civilians in Baghdad that left nine dead, including two Reuters journalists, would be court-martialed. The message that Manning’s sentence, the longest in U.S. history for the leaking of classified information to the press, sends to the rest of the world is disturbing. It says to the mothers and fathers who have lost children in drone strikes and air attacks, to the families grieving over innocent relatives killed by U.S. forces, that their suffering means nothing to us. It says we will continue to murder and to wage imperial wars that consume hundreds of thousands of civilian lives with no accountability. And it says that as a country we despise those within our midst who have the moral courage to make such crimes public. There are strict rules now in our American penal colony. If we remain supine, if we permit ourselves to be passively stripped of all political power and voice, if we refuse to resist as we are incrementally reduced to poverty and the natural world is senselessly exploited and destroyed by corporate oligarchs, we will have the dubious freedom to wander among the ruins of the empire, to be diverted by tawdry spectacles and to consume the crass products marketed to us. But if we speak up, if we name what is being done to us and done in our name to others, we will become, like Manning, Julian Assange and Snowden, prey for the vast security and surveillance apparatus. And we will, if we effectively resist, go to prison or be forced to flee. Manning from the start was subjected to a kangaroo trial. His lawyers were never permitted to mount a credible defense. They were left only to beg for mercy. Under the military code of conduct and international law, the soldier had a moral and legal obligation to report the war crimes he witnessed. But this argument was ruled off-limits. The troves of documents that Manning transmitted to WikiLeaks in February 2010—known as the Iraq and Afghanistan “War Logs”—which exposed numerous war crimes and instances of government dishonesty, were barred from being presented. And it was accepted in the courtroom, without any evidence, that Manning’s release of the documents had harmed U.S. security and endangered U.S. citizens. A realistic defense was not possible. It never is in any state show trial. Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, read a brief statement from the 25-year-old after the sentencing: The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life. I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized that (in) our efforts to meet the risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability. In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror. Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown out any logically based dissension, it is usually the American soldier that is given the order to carry out some ill-conceived mission. Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy — the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, and the Japanese-American internment camps — to mention a few. I am confident that many of the actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light. As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.” I understand that my actions violated the law; I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others. If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal. We will pay for our criminality. We will pay for our callousness and brutality. The world, especially the Muslim world, knows who we are, even if we remain oblivious. It is not Manning who was condemned Wednesday, but us. “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly,” Henry David Thoreau wrote, “the true place for a just man is also a prison.” And that is the real reason Bradley Manning is being locked away. He is a just man. --------2 of x-------- Obama unmasked Megan Cornish August 2013 Freedom Socialist The president helped end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that locked LGBT military service members in the closet. During his 2012 campaign, he reduced deportations of undocumented youth who came to the U.S. as children. But, with few other exceptions, his actions have served the wealthy elite and expanded the attacks on working people pushed by G. W. Bush. *Immigration: the Iron Curtain border* Obama has deported more immigrants than predecessor Bush. “We put more boots on the ground on the southern border than at any time in our history,” boasts his official website. His “reform” proposal includes more border militarization — to be implemented before a supposed path to citizenship opens up for undocumented immigrants. That path is barricaded with high fines and fees, and years of waiting, with social services denied in the meantime. His mandatory electronic employment verification system, E-Verify, would require all U.S. workers to prove authorization to work. In other words, it is a national ID system. Low-income “guest workers,” would be deported after 60 days of unemployment, virtually guaranteeing most would be too fearful and desperate to risk their jobs by speaking up for their rights or engaging in union organizing. *Persecuting whistleblowers and activists * Obama has prosecuted more government whistleblowers than any other president — and the list is growing as he ramps up his war on dissent. His take-no-prisoners stance has fallen on Jeremy Hammond, facing up to 10 years for hacking into the website of security contractor Stratfor and giving the lowdown to the WikiLeaks website. Journalist Barrett Brown faces up to 105 years for reporting on exposures on private intelligence firms by the hacker group Anonymous. Environmental activist Tim DeCristopher served 21 months for civil disobedience that saved 22,000 acres of wilderness from illegal sale. See this issue’s article on Pfc. Manning and Edward Snowden for details. Pre-emptive strikes against “troublemakers” are common. In May 2012, nine arrests were made of activists preparing for anti-NATO demonstrations in Chicago. Most were baseless, while four involved cases of entrapment by undercover cops who urged the use of incendiary devices. Civil rights and people’s attorney Lynne Stewart was convicted of “material support to terrorism” for the high crime of passing a press release to the media for a client. Her original sentence of 28 months was extended to 10 years — at age 72 — at the urging of administration officials. Now the Federal Bureau of Prisons has denied her petition for compassionate release for treatment of an advancing cancer. For a link to her petition see www.lynnestewart.org, and see the FS article Release Lynne Stewart for words from her. Two Somali women who sent aid back home were similarly accused of giving “material support to terrorism,” and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. The group they worked with was designated a terrorist organization by Obama’s regime after the fact. Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Black radical journalist falsely convicted of murder after a racist trial in 1982, has consistently been denied justice in state and federal courts. Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, has upheld this legalized lynching by refusing to intervene or urge the release of Mumia for his long unjust imprisonment, much of it in solitary confinement. Sign the petition here. *International crimes* Obama has failed to deliver on his 2008 campaign promise to close the Guantánamo gulag. Of 166 remaining prisoners, 86 are admitted innocent and have long been cleared for release — to no avail. More than 100 detainees are now hunger striking to protest their long imprisonment without trial, and are being tortured by force feeding. The president has greatly expanded the use of unmanned drone aircraft. He personally approves targeted assassinations without trial of those deemed “enemies” of the U.S. Innocent civilians are often “collateral damage.” This secret CIA program has provoked outrage in countries whose sovereignty is violated and citizens slaughtered. Protests forced Obama to announce a revised drone policy. Supposedly, strikes would only occur if there was “near certainty” that innocent bystanders wouldn’t be killed. But a month later, when a drone killed a 10-year-old boy, Obama merely referred all questions to the CIA! The president backed the 2009 coup against elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, swiftly recognizing the new government — and effectively endorsing the repression and assassinations carried out ever since. *Total surveillance state* Obama has greatly expanded the Bush administration’s vast surveillance and spying on ordinary people. Edward Snowden recently revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) has a secret electronic surveillance program called PRISM. It collects emails, live chats, Internet searches, and file downloads of customers of nine of the largest Internet service providers in the U.S. All of the call records of Verizon telephone customers are tracked on an ongoing basis. A report in which the federal government and only half of the states responded, admitted to wiretapping the phones, text messages, faxes, pages and emails of 300,000 people in the U.S. in 2011. Obama justifies this massive intrusion of privacy because it is overseen by the courts. However, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court is conducted in secret. And it denied none of the thousands of government requests in the last three years. Under the Patriot Act, the FBI’s secret national security letters require no judicial oversight. The agency issued 50,000 in the last three years. In pursuit of a whistleblower who talked to an Associated Press (AP) reporter, the Obama administration seized all the phone records of the entire AP. *Choosing the top one-tenth of a percent over the people* The 2008 bank bailout passed by Congress provided for federal purchase and renegotiation of troubled mortgages. Instead of helping homeowners, the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury opted to give direct, no-strings-attached aid to banks. Obama’s senior economic advisor, Lawrence Summers, helped keep the bank bailout from being repealed. Obama’s focus on the federal debt, instead of jobs programs and other economic relief to working people, paved the way for the across-the-board cuts to federal programs called sequestration. Total cuts to non-military programs are more than $42 billion in 2013, and more than $54 billion a year from 2014 through 2021. Obama is pushing severe cuts to Social Security and other earned benefit programs through artificially lowering cost-of-living adjustments. This is done using the so-called chained CPI, which substitutes less expensive items for ones a buyer could no longer afford. These are samples of Obama’s ugly record. Other areas, from labor and the environment to reproductive rights, reveal that dumping a Republican for a Democrat doesn’t work. What does is building a movement for fundamental change. --------3 of x-------- The Un-American Way: On the Anti-Democratic 'Trans-Pacific Partnership' Why the TPP deal threatens food safety and public health by Wenonah Hauter Published on Thursday, August 22, 2013 by OtherWords The United States is negotiating a NAFTA-style trade deal that should be alarming to American consumers. The main reason it’s not getting much attention is that the mainstream media is largely ignoring it. This pact deserves more news coverage. It threatens to undermine our own laws and increase the opportunity for corporate takeovers of public resources in the United States and abroad. The worst part? These negotiations are taking place behind closed doors. This controversial agreement is called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It’s comprised of the United States plus 11 other nations that border the Pacific Ocean. The TPP would boost liquefied natural gas exports and food imports. This increases the real dangers posed by reckless fracking for natural gas and the growth of imported food from several countries whose safety standards fall far short of our own. The TPP could become the biggest corporate power grab in U.S. history. This deal would establish a regime under which corporations would acquire an equal status to countries, allowing them to take legal action against governments both at the national and local levels. With this power, multinational corporations — especially energy companies — could overturn laws enacted to protect the public and the environment if they were to deem that those protections violated the profit-based terms of this trade agreement. The United States currently has enough challenges plaguing our food system, with many of our would-be TPP partners shipping unsafe food even without these so-called free-trade agreements. Seafood imports alone have been particularly troubling. Much of the seafood we import is farm-raised using antibiotics and hormones that are illegal in our own country, and a mere 2 percent of those imports are actually inspected by the FDA. The TPP would encourage increasing the amount of seafood we take in without requiring the trading partners to ban the use of illegal chemicals. This could also hurt the American consumers through the expansion of the oil and gas industry, as it tries to increase its land use at home to frack more gas for export to our new TPP partners. This pact could quickly undermine local, state, and even federal laws that protect public health and the environment. Many localities have recently passed laws to ban fracking. Unfortunately, a lot of the companies that are pursuing hydraulic fracturing in the U.S. are either foreign-owned or have foreign investors. The TPP would potentially give companies the power to sue local governments, granting them their own permission to exploit natural resources and undermine local laws. Treaties like the TPP undermine important efforts by grassroots movements and governments to protect people and the environment against the dangers of infecting our food system with increased use of antibiotics and hormones or the risks associated with fracking for natural gas. Protests against this trade accord have already gotten started in other countries, including Japan and Malaysia, as concerns grow over its expected negative effects. The bottom line is that TPP will bring little, if any, benefit to small-scale growers and producers. As negotiations near completion, it’s critical that we let our members of Congress know that we don’t support this kind of corporate power grab. President Barack Obama is asking Congress to grant “fast-track” authority, allowing him to negotiate the TPP and other trade deals without otherwise requisite congressional oversight. We must stop that from happening. Undermining laws that U.S. citizens voted to put in place isn’t the American way. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License Wenonah Hauter is the executive director of the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch. She has worked extensively on energy, food, water and environmental issues at the national, state and local level. Experienced in developing policy positions and legislative strategies, she is also a skilled and accomplished organizer, having lobbied and developed grassroots field strategy and action plans. --------4 of x-------- Obama’s Sinister Crackdown on the Press Detention of Greenwald Partner in London Clearly Came on US Orders by DAVE LINDORFF August 20, 2013 It is becoming perfectly clear that the outrageous detention of American journalist Glenn Greenwald’s Brazilian partner David Miranda by British police during a flight transfer at London’s Heathrow Airport was, behind the scenes, the work of US intelligence authorities. British police and the British Home Office (the equivalent of America’s Department of Homeland Security) are claiming that the action was taken by them on the basis of an anti-terrorist statute, passed in 2000, with the Orwellian name “Schedule 7.” The give-away that this was not something that the British dreamed up on their own, however, is their admission that they had “notified Washington” of their intention to detain Miranda, a Brazilian national, before the detention actually occurred. Note that they did not notify Brazilian authorities. It was the Americans who got the call. And why was that? Because, clearly, Miranda was on one of America’s “watch lists” and the British police needed instructions from their superiors in the US regarding what do do with him. Miranda was subsequently detained and held, without access to a lawyer, for nine hours — the maximum amount of time allowed under the draconian terms of Schedule 7 — and was during that time questioned by at least six security agents, whom Miranda says asked him about his “entire life.” Never was there any suggestion that he was a terrorist or that he had any links to terrorism. Rather, the focus was on journalist Greenwald’s plans in relation to his writing further articles about the data he had obtained from US National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, now living in Russia under a grant of political and humanitarian asylum. British police confiscated Miranda’s computer, his computer games and memory storage devices he was carrying. (In a related action, police also went to the offices of the UK Guardian newspaper, which is where Greenwald works, though from his home in Brazil, and, in an act of wanton destruction reminiscent of Nazi storm troopers or Chinese public security bureau thugs, destroyed hard drives of the newspaper’s computers containing leaked documents provided by Snowden. The paper’s editors said that this particularly ugly police action against the news media was pointless since the paper has copies of those documents elsewhere, but then, the “point” was the act of destruction, not elimination of the leaked information itself.) It makes no sense that British authorities would have taken these outrageous police-state actions against Miranda, against Greenwald and against one of the UK’s most prestigious newspapers, on their own. The issue after all is Snowden’s leaks, which are primarily of concern to the US and the NSA — the source of the documents. US intelligence authorities these days maintain enormous files on American and foreign citizens, and track their movements by air. Many people are regularly subjected to special searches at US airports, and in some cases have their computers confiscated and searched by immigration authorities. Some are also detained for hours and are denied the right to get on a plane, though they are never charged with any crime. When I investigated the TSA’s watch lists and its “no-fly” list, I learned that there is no way to find out if you are on such a list, or to get your name removed if you are on one. There is not even a right to learn how such lists are compiled, or which agency might be the source of information that is putting you on a watch list. No doubt Miranda was placed on such a watch list by the US because of his relationship with Greenwald. No journalist himself, Miranda had just met in Germany with journalist/filmmaker Laura Poitras, who has been working in collaboration with Greenwald on the Snowden documents exposé. According to the Guardian, which was paying his airfare, he was bringing back to Rio de Janeiro some materials in her position for Greenwald’s use in writing further articles. (Knowing that the NSA is monitoring their every electronic communication, Poitras and Greenwald understandably preferred to use a trusted courier, rather than sending the records electronically.) We have entered a very dark period in terms of freedom of the press, not to mention the basic freedom of travel, association and privacy, when people like Miranda are detained in this manner. No one has suggested that Miranda, Poitras or Greenwald has broken any law. They are doing what good journalists in a free society are supposed to do. But the US security state, which has its tentacles now spread through most of the world, with client state secret services, such as the police in Britain, doing its bidding. “Terrorism” laws are now being overtly used to repress basic freedoms without the state even bothering to pretend that the police actions taken have anything to do with combating “terror.” The only terrorism at this point is the actions state. The only terrorists are government authorities. What started out as universal monitoring by the NSA of all electronic communications is now metastasizing into arrests of journalists and their assistants at the airport. This will no doubt in no time metastasize further to night-time SWAT raids on journalists’ homes and offices. We’ve already seen such things being visited upon political activists, so the new development should not come as much of a surprise. This latest escalation of the US government’s assault on truth and journalism exposes the puerile sham of President Obama’s claim to want to “reform” the National Security Agency’s spying program and to limit the “Justice” Department’s invasive actions against journalists. The detention of Miranda was an act of war on the whole concept of press freedom. Absent a public outcry — and I see none — it will only get worse. DAVE LINDORFF is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- SHOVE TROVE
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