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Forum Post: Surveillance Backlash

Posted 10 years ago on Oct. 12, 2013, 11:32 a.m. EST by Nevada1 (5843)
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[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

Activists of Color Lead Charge Against Surveillance, NSA

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 09:49 By Rania Khalek, Truthout | Report


"We been exposed to this type of surveillance since we got here," declared Kymone Freeman, director of the National Black LUV Fest as he emceed the historic rally against NSA surveillance in Washington, DC. He continued, "Drones is a form of surveillance. Racial profiling is a form of surveillance. Stop-and-frisk is a form of surveillance. We all black today!"

This was the mood that characterized the atmosphere of the Stop Watching Us rally on October 26, 2013, organized by broad coalition of more than 100 public advocacy groups from across the political spectrum, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundations and Color of Change, and attended by thousands. The purpose of the rally, which began as a march from Union Station to the reflecting pool outside Capitol Hill, was to deliver a petition to Congress demanding an end to NSA mass spying.

A White-Centric Movement? Not Even Close

Throughout the day, Freeman's voice could be heard praising whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning or reminding the crowd of the racial significance of surveillance history. As a result, the intersection of surveillance and race remained at the forefront of the day's event, which the crowd happily welcomed with applause. Yet somehow this was lost on most journalists in attendance.

Despite the crowd's diversity and repeated acknowledgements of America's sordid history of aggressive spying on communities of color, the few outlets to cover the rally portrayed it and the movement against NSA surveillance as one dominated almost exclusively by privileged white people.

USA Today managed to interview white men only and failed to quote a single speaker of color. Neither the Huffington Post nor The Guardian fared any better. To be fair, big-name speakers, such as Jesselyn Radack, director of the Government Accountability Project, and Thomas Drake, former NSA senior executive turned whistleblower, were featured prominently in news reports most likely because they are well-known. But that still doesn't explain why almost all the attendees interviewed were white when the crowd was far from homogenous.

Not a single media outlet bothered to mention the moving and powerful performance of Malachi "Malpractice" Byrd, a member of the DC Youth Poetry Slam Team whose piece began, "I pledge civil disobedience to the flag of the hypocritical tyrants that expect us to assimilate and to the republic, which somehow stands, as one nation, under many gods, of individuals stripped of their liberties and in need of justice for all."

But it was Slate political reporter Dave Weigel who seemed to have attended a different rally altogether. "Among the attendees: More than a few Tea Partiers and young, small-l libertarians, possibly equaling those who could be put on the left," Weigel reported. While there's certainly nothing wrong with recognizing the presence of right-leaning civil libertarians who value privacy, this portrayal is inaccurate and ignores the voices of those who suffer the most from the NSA dragnet.

Surveillance State Was Built on Targeting Communities of Color Two days prior to the Stop Watching Us rally, Busboys & Poets, a progressive DC restaurant, hosted "Enemies of the State? Government Surveillance of Communities of Color," a panel discussion organized by Free Press, the Center for Media Justice and Voices for Internet Freedom. The room was packed mostly with activists of color concerned about the implications of NSA surveillance on already-marginalized and increasingly surveilled communities.

Steven Renderos, national organizer for the Center for Media Justice, who helped put together the panel, told Truthout that examining the legacy of surveillance in communities of color could help lead to solutions. "It's critical to understand the history so we can learn how to dismantle it," Renderos said.

"Those of us from marginalized communities grew up in environments very much shaped by surveillance, which has been utilized to ramp up the criminal justice system and increase deportations," Renderos said. "It's having real consequences in our communities where children are growing up without parents in the home and families are being torn apart through raids and deportations, a lot of which is facilitated through the use of surveillance."

Panelist Fahd Ahmed, legal and policy director for the South Asian-led social justice organization Desis Rising Up and Moving, argued that mass surveillance is the predictable outgrowth of programs that have targeted marginalized communities for decades.

"Just by the very nature of [the United States] being a settler-colonialist and capitalist nation, race and social control are central to its project," Ahmed said. "Anytime we see any levels of policing - whether it's day-to-day policing in the streets, surveillance by the police or internet surveillance - social control, particularly of those that resist the existing system, becomes an inherent part of that system."

But, he warned, "These policies are not going to be limited to one particular community. They're going to continue to expand further and further" because "the surveillance has a purpose, which is to exert the power of the state and control the potential for dissent." Seema Sadanandan, program director for ACLU DC, acknowledged the collective resentment felt by people of color who are understandably frustrated that privacy violations are only now eliciting mass public outrage when communities of color have been under aggressive surveillance for decades.

"The Snowden revelations represent a terrifying moment for white, middle-class and upper-middle-class people in this country, who on some level believe that the Bill of Rights and Constitution were protecting their everyday lives," Sadanandan said. "For people of color from communities with a history of discrimination and economic oppression that prevents one from realizing any of those rights on a day-to-day basis, it wasn't a huge surprise."

But Sadanandan argued that NSA surveillance still "has particular concerns for communities of color because of their unique relationship to the criminal justice or social control system, a billion-dollar industry with regard to, for example, border patrol or data mining as it's applied to racially profile." Sadanandan warned that NSA surveillance more than likely would strengthen that system of control.

Former political prisoner and Black Panther Party leader Dhoruba Bin-Wahad declared that "the United States has moved into a full garrison police state," which "has been exported and institutionalized all over the globe." His antidote? "We have to put together an international movement to check the development evolution of the modern national security state," which requires linking globalized labor exploitation to the prison industry to the war on terror to institutionalized white supremacy rooted in the "European-settler state." Bin-Wahad was skeptical about the ability of "legal" remedies to reform the system. "You cannot make the police state better. You cannot reform white supremacy. We need to abolish the system as it now stands," Bin-Wahad said.

Disappointed With Obama

Bin-Wahad's most scathing indictment was of African-Americans in positions of power. He referred to Barack Obama and the Congressional Black Caucus as "black enemies of black people" for sanctioning drone strikes and NSA spying" and called Obama "the worst thing to happen to black people since Reconstruction." At the rally, Steve, who traveled from Philadelphia and declined to give a last name, said that growing up as a black man in South Africa instilled in him a desire to speak out against rights abuses. "I feel sensitive when I see here in America people having their rights infringed upon," he told Truthout. "The US government must act consistently with what it preaches around the world. They can't preach to the world about human rights if they're not providing them to the people over here."

Anthony Wilson, who traveled by bus from Philadelphia with the software company ThoughtWorks, told Truthout at the rally that despite being an enthusiastic Obama voter, he is disappointed in the president. "I believed that when Obama was elected things would be more open, but to my surprise it went in the other direction." Wilson also expressed frustration with his own community, saying, "A lot of black people give Obama a pass." "When I voted for him, I thought I was voting for a Martin Luther King or a Malcolm X. But he is not progressive enough. He has no intention of changing anything. And if he hasn't done it by now, then he never will."

Renderos expressed similar sentiments. "A lot of communities of color are deferring to the president with very blanketed support for his policies."

Renderos said organizing and educating can help combat this. "When the framing around surveillance is posited around the first and fourth amendment, that's unfortunately a reality that doesn't necessarily resonate with communities of color. The fourth amendment has been eroded through programs like stop-and-frisk and Secure Communities," he said. "We need to build a consensus around the increase in deportations and the jail population by communities of color and how this is intrinsically connected with the increase of a surveillance state here in the US."

Learning From History

Ignoring activists of color does more than just rob marginalized communities of having a voice in the NSA surveillance conversation. It also overlooks potential strategies for fighting it.

Renderos put it best: "We need to learn from history about how movements like the Black Panther Party, American Indian Movement and the Brown Berets responded to living under a surveillance state."

Copyright, Truthout.


[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

Who Buys the Spies? The Hidden Corporate Cash Behind America’s Out-of-Control National Surveillance State

Sunday, 27 October 2013 13:43 By Tom Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen and Jie Chen, The Next New Deal | News Analysis


Long before President Obama kicked off his 2008 campaign, many Americans took it for granted that George W. Bush’s vast, sprawling national security apparatus needed to be reined in. For Democrats, many independents, and constitutional experts of various persuasions, Vice President Dick Cheney’s notorious doctrine of the "unitary executive" (which holds that the President controls the entire executive branch), was the ultimate statement of the imperial presidency. It was the royal road to easy (or no) warrants for wiretaps, sweeping assertions of the government’s right to classify information secret, and arbitrary presidential power. When Mitt Romney embraced the neoconservatives in the 2012 primaries, supporters of the President often cited the need to avoid a return to the bad old days of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld National Security State as a compelling reason for favoring his reelection. Reelect President Obama, they argued, or Big Brother might be back.

But that’s not how this movie turned out: The 2012 election proved to be a post-modern thriller, in which the main characters everyone thought they knew abruptly turned into their opposites and the plot thickened just when you thought it was over.

In early June 2013, Glen Greenwald, then of the Guardian, with an assist from journalists at The Washington Post, electrified the world with stories drawn from documents and testimony from Edward Snowden, an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton working under contract with the National Security Agency, who had fled the country. They broke the news that the U.S. government had been collecting vast amounts of information on not only foreigners, but also American citizens. And the U.S. had been doing this for years with the cooperation of virtually all the leading firms in telecommunications, software, and high tech electronics, including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Verizon, and Facebook. Sometimes the government even defrays their costs.

For most election analysts, the revelations came like a bolt from the blue, despite a whole series of warning signs. These included Obama’s rapid fire decision to step up the war in Afghanistan right after he took office, the alacrity and severity with which his administration prosecuted national security whistleblowers after promising greater transparency and the administration’s sweeping claims about the government’s right to hold citizens without trial for indefinite periods. Not to mention the Justice Department’s insistence that killing American citizens without any kind of court hearing is lawful, the efforts to prosecute journalists for simply posting links to leaked documents, the overkill that attended official responses to the Occupy movement and protests at the national party conventions, or the White House claims that press freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights do not cover bloggers in an era in which everyone, including the New York Times, uses blogs.

Even now, the suggestion that the Obama administration embodies a distinctively new form of extensively privatized National Security State organically linked with the famously contentious Bush-Cheney structures takes some getting used to. In particular, many readers are likely to wonder what a bitter, partisan stalemate such as the U.S. just witnessed over raising the debt ceiling can possibly mean in a situation where Big Brother and Big Money are working hand in hand through it all.

As the storm over surveillance broke, we were completing a statistical analysis of campaign contributions in 2012, using an entirely new dataset that we constructed from the raw material provided by the Federal Election Commission and the Internal Revenues Service (which compiles contributions from so-called “527”s). In light of what has transpired, our quantitative analysis of presidential election funding invites closer scrutiny, particularly of the finding that we had already settled upon as perhaps most important: In sharp contrast to endlessly repeated claims that big business was deeply suspicious of the President, our statistical results show that a large and powerful bloc of “industries of the future” – telecommunications, high tech, computers, and software – showed essentially equal or higher percentages of support for the President in 2012 than they did for Romney.

Though documenting the claim would take us far beyond this post, we believe that the emergence of these new industries is a key factor in transforming the old National Security State into its new, even more sinister twenty-first century model. They are not the only important influence in that transformation, of course. These would include not only 9/11, but the rapid growth of the rest of the homeland security “industry,” including private prison companies and many other non-obvious players focused on data collection in particular domains, such as the vast infrastructure built out to service and support U.S. interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The policy of macroeconomic austerity, which made privatization of the old National Security State so seductively attractive to policymakers under pressure to cut government expenditures, has also played a significant role.

But the point that our findings document is perhaps most instructive of all. Many of the firms and industries at the heart of this Orwellian creation have strong ties to the Democrats. Bush and Cheney may have invented it, but national Democratic leaders are full-fledged players in this 21st century National Surveillance State and the interest group pressures that now help to sustain its defenders in Washington work just as powerfully on Democrats as on Republicans.

Over the next few weeks on AlterNet, we will explore what our data show about the 2012 election. But for now, we want to focus on the telecommunications, high tech, computers, and software industries, which contain many firms deeply involved in the surveillance programs.

We built two datasets for our research. One covers big business, meaning firms big enough to rank among the 350 largest on Fortune's lists plus members of the Forbes 400 richest Americans. The second is a much larger sample containing every firm of every size, from the smallest to the largest.

We assess support by firms and their executives (our dataset is the first to integrate contributions from both, including “independent” expenditures and, of course, Super Pacs) in two ways: We count the percentage of firms that make any contribution at all to each candidates’ campaigns (and their party’s national committee) and we track the money split between the two candidates. For more details, see the preliminary version of our full length study, available here. In our big sample, which pretty well approximates “business as a whole,” Obama trailed far behind Romney. 41 percent of all the firms (or, thanks to the Supreme Court, their executives) contributed to Romney; only 24 percent donated to Obama. But rates of contributions from big businesses were much higher for both candidates: Just over half (56 percent) contributed to Obama, while fully 76 percent donated to Romney. Our conclusion is straightforward: the traditional view that the Republicans are the party of business finds some support, but our results suggest much stronger backing for the President within big business than any account of the election suggests.

But the really significant findings emerge when you look at particular industries. Six industries where the President ran especially strongly attracted our attention: telecoms, software, web manufacturing, electronics, and computers, plus the defense industry. His support in these industries ran far above his average levels of support either for business as a whole or the rest of big business. In fact, it equaled or exceeded the backing these firms afforded Romney.

In subsequent posts we will look at other industries in which Romney showed particularly strongly and consider the now red hot question of support by business groups for Tea Party and “main line” Republican congressional candidates. But we think this finding is the most significant of all: Firms in many of the industries directly involved in the surveillance programs were relative bastions of support for the President.

It is a sobering conclusion. At the time President Obama took office, many of his supporters expected a radical change in course on national security policy. This did not happen. For sure, limitations on some of the worst excesses were put in place, but there was no broad reversal. The secret programs of surveillance expanded and the other policies discussed above, on indefinite detention, treatment of whistleblowers, and executive prerogatives relative to Congress stayed in place or broke even more radically with tradition.

Our analysis of political money in the 2012 election shines a powerful new light on the sources of this policy continuity. We do not believe that it would be impossible to strike a reasonable balance between the demands of security and freedom that accords with traditional Fourth Amendment principles and checks abuses of government surveillance rapidly and effectively. But a system dominated by firms that want to sell all your data working with a government that seems to want to collect nearly all of it through them is unlikely to produce that.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[+] -4 points by oktoberchill (-3) 10 years ago

A very sobering analysis. But what can "we" do about it, locked in as we are to a 2 party system? It's hard to unseat an incumbent since they very seldom get primaried.

[-] 4 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

Not so much a matter of what we can do as what we're willing to do.


A 'Free Democracy' third party can be created that campaigns nationwide at the local and state level through initiatives and only votes for partisan candidates to have signed affidavits addressing the demands of the electorate. It comes down to a mere democratic exercise of power for those who have the will to do it. We are not locked into a two party system, we simply enable it by continuing to settle for it without a set of political principles to uphold.

[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

Secret US court approves further phone tracking


15 hours ago

Washington (AFP) - The secret federal court overseeing US wiretapping programs has extended the government's authority to collect US telephone records, the office of the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said late Friday.

Clapper "has decided to declassify and disclose publicly that the government filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking renewal of the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and that the court renewed that authority," the statement read.

This disclosure is "consistent with his prior declassification decision and in light of the significant and continuing public interest in the telephony metadata collection program," the statement read.

In mid-August President Barack Obama pledged to overhaul US spy programs amid a debate sparked by the leaks of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, which revealed vast telephone and Internet surveillance programs.

Obama promised a new era in intelligence with more supervision, transparency and safeguards in the NSA's collection of electronic information.

His administration has however maintained a hard line against the leaking of such information, and is seeking to prosecute Snowden on espionage charges.

After the disclosures Snowden fled to Hong Kong and then to Russia, where he has been granted one year's temporary asylum despite Washington's demands that he be returned.

[-] -2 points by oktoberchill (-3) 10 years ago

Why am I not surprised? I figured the results of a national "conversation" on .gov surveillance would result in the status quo. And then we won't be able to complain since we "knew" they were spying. What a joke. A scary, scary joke

[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

Snowden: mass surveillance making us less safe


56 minutes ago

MOSCOW (AP) — Former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden says surveillance programs used by the United States to tap into phone and Internet connections around the world are making people less safe.

In short video clips posted by the WikiLeaks website on Friday, Snowden said the NSA mass surveillance he revealed before fleeing to Russia "puts us at risk of coming into conflict with our own government."

Snowden, who faces espionage charges in the U.S. over the leak, described the techniques as "dragnet mass surveillance that puts entire populations under sort of an eye that sees everything even when it's not needed."

"They hurt our economy. They hurt our country. They limit our ability to speak and think and live and be creative, to have relationships and to associate freely," Snowden said.

The videos are the first of Snowden speaking since July 12, when he was shown at a Moscow airport pleading with Russian authorities to grant him asylum, which they did on Aug. 1.

That decision has strained the relations between the U.S. and Russia. President Barack Obama called off a meeting with President Vladimir Putin at a summit hosted by Russia in September.

Snowden said the U.S. government was "unwilling to prosecute high officials who lied to Congress and the country on camera, but they'll stop at nothing to persecute someone who told them the truth."

In a note accompanying the videos, WikiLeaks said Snowden spoke on Wednesday in Moscow as he accepted the Sam Adams Award, given annually by a group of retired U.S. national security officers and named for a CIA analyst during the Vietnam War who accused the U.S. military of deliberately underestimating the enemy's strength for political purposes.

Four former U.S. government officials who were at the ceremony told The Associated Press on Thursday that Snowden is adjusting to life in Russia and said they saw no evidence that he was under the control of local security services. They refused to say where they met with Snowden or where he is living.

[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

Living the Orwellian Life

Saturday, 12 October 2013 01:38 By Kathleen Sharp, Truthout | Opinion


Sixty-five years ago today, in a remote part of Great Britain, George Orwell was finishing his prescient novel, 1984. At the same moment a continent away in Hollywood, an American woman was actually living Orwell's fictional story. In the fall of 1948, actress Dorothy Comingore of Citizen Kane fame had no clue that the U.S. "thought police" was spying on her, but she could feel a shadow dogging her steps. Dorothy couldn't find a job to save her life and grew so upset about her difficulties, she wondered aloud: "If I've done something wrong, I'd like to know what it is."

It was as if the moody, random terror that Orwell had so vividly created in his manuscript had drifted across the Atlantic and slipped onto a westbound train for California. Unbeknown to Dorothy, she was being tailed by federal agents, monitored by Congressional investigators, and ranked as dangerous on a top-secret "security" list. These facts seemed more ludicrous than Orwell's parody of a "security state." But America already was constructing it. Today, many U.S. writers, artists and activists undergo similar surreal experiences thanks to the National Security Agency (NSA). While we may think that our government's scrutiny of our private lives is somehow new and shocking, it isn't. America has a tradition of spying on its own. I realized this recently when I picked up my yellowed copy of Orwell's classic after reviewing Dorothy's private papers. I was struck by the parallels between Orwell's imagination, his real-life contemporary in America and what's happening to us today. Covert surveillance, travel restrictions, detentions, loss of work and worse. ... This is what happens to Americans who think differently than those in power.

This is what's happening now.

To understand the beauty of - and potential punishment for - independent thought, let's go to postwar Britain, a cold and dreary place. To finish his novel about "The Ministry of Truth," Orwell felt that he had to go to an even darker place. In late 1948, he lived on the Scottish isle of Jura, a remote and barren scratch of Hebridean rock. With little more than a camp bed and a table, the author used his "natural hatred of authority" to write a satirical fantasy about a totalitarian world. In it, eternal warfare is the price for a bleak prosperity. The "Party" remains in power by controlling the people. Giant telescreens scan the actions of everyone, disembodied voices deliver "newspeak" to the masses, and citizens are bombarded with nonsensical slogans such as "Freedom is Slavery" and "Ignorance is Strength." (Sound familiar?)

In 1984, the Party prohibits any display of individuality, and the worst crime is thinking for oneself. Yet, before long, two lovers, Winston Smith and Julia, begin to do just that. They try to evade the thought police by joining the underground opposition. But the Party finds them, turns one against the other, and tortures Winston until his spirit finally breaks.

When Orwell's book was published, it was called a fantasy. But it served as a warning to Americans such as Comingore. The fiery actress had become famous for starring in Citizen Kane (1941). She portrayed Susan Kane, the mistress of industrialist Charles Foster Kane, who was based on media tycoon William Randolph Hearst. She had rendered the mogul's paramour with such skill and vulnerability that she was rumored to be short-listed for an Academy Award. She already had won the hearts of millions of moviegoers, according to Variety readers' polls, and her gorgeous face graced the pages of Life, Look and dozens of other publications. In the 1940s, Dorothy was a star with a promising career, the admiration of peers, a fine marriage and two children.

The star also had acquired a powerful enemy - the 78-year-old Hearst. The media mogul so hated Dorothy's portrayal of his mistress, 44-year-old Marion Davies, that he used his chain of newspapers and radio stations to smear the young woman. Hearst's columnists Hedda Hopper and Walter Winchell publicly accused Dorothy of belonging to the "Party," in this case the Communist Party, and borrowed Orwellian "newspeak" to malign her. As it was, Dorothy never was a dues-paying "commie." But even if she had been, it was her constitutional right to be one. She did associate with screenwriters who were communists or had been at one time: Budd Schulberg (On the Waterfront), Dorothy Parker (A Star Is Born) and dear friends Cleo and Dalton Trumbo (Spartacus). These people were called to testify about their beliefs in front of America's ersatz Ministry of Truth - the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Publicly, union members and artists had to convince the HUAC that their "incorrect" affiliations and thoughts no longer existed - or if they did, they were not dangerous to the state. Orwell would have loved the irony of it all.

U.S. political leaders at the time distrusted labor organizers and free thinkers even if those thinkers had raised money for the war and its victims, as Dorothy had. The FBI began tailing the actress. According to her files, agents reported her attending parties with Russian guests and giving speeches that, among other things, praised Soviet painters for their realism. But her biggest sins were working alongside black musician Leadbelly and singer Paul Robeson to try and desegregate USO clubs (they did), canvassing voters in Watts for state Assembly candidate Albert Dekker (who won) and trying to overturn the judicial lynching of Mexican youths in the corrupt Sleepy Lagoon Murder Trial (they succeeded).

Dorothy's triumphs embarrassed the status quo.

Agents began collecting all of Dorothy's stage names, addresses and names of relatives and traveling companions. Officials tapped her telephone, opened her mail, and went so far as to ransack her tiny apartment. By then the actress was blacklisted and divorced, struggling to raise her children. It's no wonder she descended into depression, alcoholism and a few nervous breakdowns. Still, the FBI didn't let up. Director J. Edgar Hoover had added Dorothy to his secret expansive "Security Index." He'd devised a system of writing the names of "subversive" citizens on white index cards and ranking them according to how far that person's beliefs strayed from what Hoover considered acceptable. It was easy to get on the list; it was impossible to get off. Dorothy was ranked a "Category C" danger, which meant that in the event of war she could be hauled off to an interment camp. As absurd as that sounds, the U.S. in mid-1950 was fighting the Korean War and, under Hoover's plan, Dorothy and some 12,000 other "potentially dangerous" dissidents were about to be arrested and detained in prison camps. Fortunately, President Harry Truman considered the plan unconstitutional and vetoed it.

But instead of learning from our old, cold mistakes, the U.S. is now repeating them. In fact, we're expanding the old surveillance and intimidation tactics, only we're using far more sophisticated digital tools. NSA agents can access our personal bank codes, voter registration rolls, property records, tax history, GPS coordinates, Facebook profiles and Twitter threads.

The alleged purpose of this giant stakeout is not to stamp out "communism" but to quash "terrorism." But these efforts edge perilously close to punishing "thought crimes," too. The only difference is that, unlike Orwell's telescreens or Hoover's binoculars, individuals (not the Party) pay for the new spy tools by purchasing big-screen computers, private smartphones and the latest high-tech gadget.

Of course, we wouldn't know any of this without the painstaking work of documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, American journalist Glenn Greenwald and their source Edward Snowden. Poitras is no stranger to heavy surveillance. She has been harassed by the United States ever since she began filming My Country, My Country, which documents the abuse of American power in Iraq. In 2006, her government began marking her flight tickets with "SSSS" - Secondary Security Screening Selection. This designation is just as mysterious as Dorothy's Category C was 65 years ago, but it too means that Poitras faces extra scrutiny. Authorities have seized her private work papers, her computers, cellphones and other equipment, sometimes for weeks at time. They've detained her for hours, interrogating her without specifying why. Poitras has written to members of Congress and submitted multiple Freedom of Information Act requests. But she has never received an explanation as to why she is being hounded.

As Poitras told Salon and The New York Times Magazine, she no longer feels safe in her own country. Incredible as it seems, the woman now lives in Berlin.

Greenwald, too, has long chronicled how the United States has abused its powers and eroded our freedoms; naturally, his views have made him unpopular with US institutions. The author has been smeared as a "communist terrorist," and legislators from both political parties have said he should be prosecuted for revealing our domestic spy program. His past has been dredged up, including his work in defense of the First Amendment rights of neo-Nazis, his work at a gay adult film company (critiques of Greenwld often are drenched in homophobia) and recent financial problems. To stay ahead of spymasters, Greenwald has used encryption software, prepaid phones and track-blockers. But that hasn't gone far enough. Greenwald's spouse recently was detained for nine hours by authorities; officials seized documents he was carrying for Greenwalkd then denied him counsel.

[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

At least Greenwald and Poitras have the protection of shield laws and public notoriety. Unfortunately, ordinary citizens do not. Lately, officials have been detaining a string of women for mysterious reasons. Clay Nikiforuk was stopped for carrying a stash of condoms. Sarah Abdurrahman, a producer for On the Media, was detained by U.S. officials on her way home from Canada. They eventually let Sarah go but never explained why they had detained her. And then there's Michigan resident Mary Scott. She said she received threatening e-mails and was tailed by detectives after she blew the whistle on a health-care company.

The company was fined millions of dollars. Then the government began harassing the whistleblower. Mary and her daughter were placed on a TSA watch list; they've been pulled out of airline boarding lines and detained. According to court documents, Mary also has been denied some basic legal remedies. In fact, when a judge in North Carolina heard about the actions that the U.S. government and company had taken against Mary and her family, he was shocked. The official retaliations, he said, "violate everything related to American jurisprudence."

Yet, this happens increasingly in a country where power has grown more secretive and unaccountable in the past 13 years. Americans cherish their basic rights such as privacy, equality and free expression. Yet the fact that those rights are no longer guaranteed to all is a sign of how far we've fallen.

All of which brings us back to Orwell. He didn't think much of the king and queen. But he loved his country and its working people. He was a socialist but in a pragmatic way, hoping that the conditions of the poor and powerless would be improved. But most importantly, he opposed abstractions of every kind: fascism, Communism and nationalism. He recognized that Americanism was a term that easily could be exploited for totalitarian ends.

How right he was.

Copyright, Truthout.

[-] 2 points by Nevada1 (5843) 10 years ago

Thank you Leo, for articles. The viciousness of TPTB, grows everyday.

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner and Sen. Patrick Leahy just introduced the USA Freedom Act, which would end the NSA’s bulk collection of our phone records and require more oversight and transparency of the agency’s domestic surveillance programs.1

Tell Your Members of Congress to Support the USA Freedom Act.

Even Sensenbrenner — one of the Patriot Act’s authors — thinks the NSA has gone too far. This bipartisan bill would prevent the NSA from spying on all of us — limiting the agency to collecting data on actual targets of criminal investigations. And it would mean the end of the NSA’s “back-door” warrantless searches of Americans’ private information.

Tell Congress to Protect Our Privacy and Pass the USA Freedom Act.

The momentum has shifted in our direction. Thousands of people attended Saturday’s Rally Against Mass Surveillance,2 foreign heads of state have expressed outrage over NSA spying — and your emails, phone calls, social-media shares and chats by the watercooler have changed the conversation about government surveillance.

But we need to keep the pressure on. Local and federal agencies are monitoring our phone calls and mining our Internet use. They’re tracking millions of innocent people and targeting communities of color, immigrants and Muslim Americans, who live in fear of these programs. And these agencies won’t stop until people from across the country and across the political spectrum unite in opposition.

The USA Freedom Act will go a long way toward restoring our Fourth Amendment rights to connect and communicate in private. At a moment when journalists are under attack like never before and the open Internet is in peril, we need to make sure Congress comes out in support of this bill.

Urge Your Members of Congress to End the Surveillance. Tell Them to Support the USA Freedom Act.

Making change on this front will take years — but passing this bill is the first step.

Thanks for all that you do,

Josh, Matt, Candace and the rest of the Free Press Action Fund team

P.S. The Free Press Action Fund fights every day to protect your privacy. We don’t take money from business, government or political parties and rely on the generosity of people like you to fuel our work. Please donate $15 (or more!) today. Thank you!

  1. “Leahy and Sensenbrenner Join to Introduce USA Freedom Act,” Oct. 29, 2013: www.leahy.senate.gov/press/leahy-and-sensenbrenner-join-to-introduce-usa-freedom-act

  2. “Rally Against Mass Surveillance,” rally.stopwatching.us

The Free Press Action Fund is a nonpartisan organization building a nationwide movement for media that serve the public interest. The Free Press Action Fund does not support or oppose any candidate for public office. Learn more at www.freepress.net.

[-] 2 points by Nevada1 (5843) 10 years ago

Hey DKA, Signed. Thank you for post.

[-] 3 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago


I added this comment:

Stop going against the Constitution of the USA. Keep your activities in the Public sector = Shopping Malls, Parking lots, Alleys, Streets, Parks. Using visual systems to look for people being assaulted or for street drug sales etc. But leave our ( American Citizen ) privacy on the internet cell phone or tele-phone intact. Keep an eye on the borders and on the ports and the air terminals - BUT LEAVE OUR PRIVACY ALONE.

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

But - Hey Guys - it's all good - it's "US" - the good ol US of A - but don't let us catch any of you spying........um........yeah.....US? . . we are protecting the public.....................that's not spying......ahem hack cough spit.... OH - HEH - forgot to mention - we do it only to terrorists........... ahflem hack cough choke spit.......

[-] 2 points by Nevada1 (5843) 10 years ago

The thing is, they will never stop. NSA needs to be dismantled.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

To start moving in the proper direction - We need to remove Corp(se)oRATions from government. Then addressing the alphabet soup of agencies may very well be able to be done. As well as introducing Good legislation or cleaning up or removing Bad legislation.

[-] 2 points by Nevada1 (5843) 10 years ago

Agree, go to the heart of the problem.

[-] 3 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 10 years ago

I have the results of two votes supporting no GMO labeling and deregulating derivatives. I am putting together lists with contact addresses for their site as well as whatever social media addresses I can find - then I am gonna post them so that they can be called out for supporting corp(se)oRATions and not the people.

[-] 2 points by Nevada1 (5843) 10 years ago






[-] 2 points by beautifulworld (23782) 10 years ago

"It's going to take a groundswell of support from lots of Americans across the political spectrum," he said, "communicating that business as usual is no longer OK, and they won't buy the argument that liberty and security are mutually exclusive."

Aha, well said, liberty and security are not mutually exclusive, of course they aren't.

Interesting article. Thanks, Nevada.

[-] 1 points by Nevada1 (5843) 10 years ago

Congressional Duo Launch NSA Overhaul Bill And Urge 'Meaningful Reform'



[-] 1 points by Nevada1 (5843) 10 years ago

Anti-NSA Rally Attracts Thousands To March In Washington


[-] -2 points by Devonshire (81) from Norwich, VT 10 years ago

The rest of the World is as angry as hell about our spying on their communications....not us though, we're still in a stupor

Good post, thanks

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 10 years ago

We all spy on one another. Don't take it so seriously. The US is just blatant and stupid enough to get caught.

The real damage was done by the shutdown tantrum from the GOP, and it isn't the first time either.

"EVER since World War 2, the United States has played an indispensable role, ensuring peace and order in the world and creating conditions that allowed the revitalisation of war-torn countries in Europe and Asia. During the cold war, of course, the US also expected beneficiaries of its public goods to line up on its side against the Soviet bloc.

For this, the world by and large has been content to exist within a Pax Americana where Washington largely set the rules, because the rules benefited not just the US but other countries as well.

It was under this US-led system that China was able to grow phenomenally over the last 35 years, with America opening its markets to Chinese products, without which such explosive growth would have been impossible.

But the US has always had an isolationist streak, and that, plus superpower hubris, caused it to arrogantly, often cavalierly, put its own interests ahead of those of its friends and allies."

Read more: We're fed up with America - Columnist - New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnist/we-re-fed-up-with-america-1.383348?cache=03%252F7.202804%253Fpage%253D0%2F7.261895%2F7.261895%2F7.261895%2F7.308059#ixzz2igk33RQY

[-] 0 points by Devonshire (81) from Norwich, VT 10 years ago

I know that we were taught in school that our country was a force for 'good' in the world, but I wonder now more than ever how true that was then and how true it is today.

Just starting history's clock in my life-time.....Did we really go into Vietnam for good reasons, or was it to take over where the French Colonials left off?

And I think it would be safe to say the families of the hundreds of thousands of people who were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq wished we would have never shown up there.

And yes "China was able to grow phenomenally," but at what cost? As the capitalists in neoliberalism.. whose only allegiance is to $$ ..chased after the lowest production costs....shiny new albeit polluted cities...popped up in China..., and us...we have devastated cities like Gary IN, Detroit, Camden and Trenton NJ etc, etc. to show for this phenomena.

[-] 3 points by shoozTroll (17632) 10 years ago

I take it you read a very different article.


[-] 0 points by Devonshire (81) from Norwich, VT 10 years ago

No..you can "take it" that I do not form my opinions about any issue from reading a single "article." Rather..I analyze what I have learned from a multiple of sources over a period of time and then apply my strong sense of right and wrong to it before I write or speak.

[-] 3 points by shoozTroll (17632) 10 years ago

So you get yours from Limbaugh then?????

Other than that, from what you just said, I have to believe you didn't read a thing.

That would make you pro current healthcare system, which as has been pointing out, is acting like it always did, it just gets to place the blame for it's behavior elsewherer now.

Besides, if the STATES ( think right wing....again) had stepped up in the first place, it's likely that none of these things would be an issue..

The proof is out there among the States ( one again....right wing), you just never looked, or ignored, as you did the links I provided.


[+] -4 points by oktoberchill (-3) 10 years ago

Wow! So the STATES are rightwing and DC is left? Is THAT how it works???? No wonder we are so polarized/.balkanized!! Thanks for that kernel of wisdom I was missing since it goes without saying that DC represents far fewer people but the BULK of political money. You have perfectly defined the PEOPLE vs THE MONEY

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 10 years ago

Now you're just makin' stuff up.

Why would you do that?



[-] -3 points by HCHC4 (-28) 10 years ago

That sounds like a decent plan :)

[-] -2 points by Devonshire (81) from Norwich, VT 10 years ago

Thanks, it works for me.

[+] -5 points by oktoberchill (-3) 10 years ago

Dev, I am responding in some way to shooz response below, but am responding to you to ask.....what is wrong with shooz. You had a nice little discourse, but because you are not buying his view he comes out of left field accusing you of being a Ditto Head???? Kinda like how he and a few others call anyone that doesn't buy the "party line" are repelicans, teathugs, or whatever.

How did Rush EVEN come into your conversation? Did I not read enuf of this thread

[-] -3 points by Devonshire (81) from Norwich, VT 10 years ago

I don't know what's up with him. When he is confronted with good sound reasoning and facts, he seems to obfuscate the issue we were talking about by bringing in a lot of extraneous crap that does not pertain to the discussion we were having.

[+] -5 points by oktoberchill (-3) 10 years ago

Nail on the head!!!! I have found that when he is losing a debate he LOVES to explore left field (oh, a double entendre without trying!)

[-] -3 points by HCHC4 (-28) 10 years ago

The thing has been a trainwreck since day one. MTA- "The entire country's history has been nothing but a struggle for rights".

[-] -2 points by Devonshire (81) from Norwich, VT 10 years ago

And those forgotten struggles which which most all of us and our predecessors benefited from were waged to bring justice to our society and to make life more bearable/enjoyable. We can learn from them and emulate them.... if we have the cajonnes.

[-] 1 points by Nevada1 (5843) 10 years ago

Rules Shielding Online Data From NSA And Other Prying Eyes Advance In Europe----


[-] -1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 10 years ago

Grateful Dead - Eyes Of The World - We are responsible for reporting injustice