Progressive Calendar 08.22.13 /3
From: David Shove (
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

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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

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

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.

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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.

*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, 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

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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

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.

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Obama’s Sinister Crackdown on the Press
Detention of Greenwald Partner in London Clearly Came on US Orders
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

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

“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)


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