Social Repression and Internet Surveillance

H. Res. 1695, 1955 & S.1959

 By Nikki Alexander

01/04/08 “ICH” — – Perhaps a clear and simple law is needed that states: “Congress shall pass no law abridging the freedom of speech. Speech includes ‘the broad and constant streams of information’ freely exchanged on the Internet.” Does the Internet need to be singled out? Or is this self-evident in the First Amendment to the Constitution?  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”  

Clearly, Jane Harman (D-CA) who sponsored H.Res.1955 does not respect the Constitution. Nor does her partner, Dave Reichert (R-WA), who authored the original bill, H.Res.1695. Both bills seriously violate the most precious amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) are preparing to follow suit with a Senate companion bill, S.1959. Did any of the 404 members of the House of Representatives who voted for the passage of this bill understand that they violated our Constitutional rights, once again? The “immanent threat” charade seems to nullify their capacity for critical thinking and erase their memory of the Constitution, as well as their oath to defend it. How many Senators will succumb to terrorist fear tactics and betray the American people?  

Among the Powers granted to the Federal Government by the People of the United States which one authorizes Congress to investigate the so-called “belief systems” of private citizens? Which Power granted by the People endows Congress with authority to investigate the motivations and clairvoyantly predict the intentions of private citizens? Which Power granted by the People authorizes Government surveillance and censorship of the Internet? Which Power granted by the People authorizes the Government to data mine the personal records of US citizens, subjectively filter the personal beliefs of Americans and categorize them for acceptability or to infiltrate local communities and eradicate ‘unacceptable’ beliefs? Which Power authorizes the Federal Government to gather intelligence on American citizens for use by Federal, State and local law enforcement? What is the Constitutional authority for Frau Harman’s storm troopers to terrorize the public through “vertical information sharing from the Intelligence Community to the local level and from local sources to State and Federal agencies”?   

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Police State America – A Look Back and Ahead

Something to ponder while you eat your X-mas turkey.

Operation FALCON – Police State America in Real Time

Mike Whitney won a 2008 Project Censored Award for his February, 2007 article titled “Operation FALCON and the Looming Police State.” In it, he reported that the Bush administration “carried out three massive sweeps in the last two years, rolling up more than 30,000 minor crooks and criminals” that he calls a “blueprint for removing dissidents and political rivals” reminiscent of Nazi Germany or any other repressive police state. Those chickens now reside at home, but the public is largely unaware and unconcerned. We all should be as Whitney raises a “red flag for anyone who cares at all about human rights, civil liberties, or simply saving his own skin.”

Operation FALCON stands for “Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally” and came out of the Bush Justice Department and right-wing think tanks “where fantasies of autocratic government have a long history” and are now playing out in real time. The scheme centralizes power in Washington and uses resources of local authorities for its own purposes.

Whitney traces its short history starting in the week of April 4 – 10, 2005 when over 10,000 criminal suspects were arrested in “the largest criminal sweep in the nation’s history” in a “single initiative.” Its aim was “quantity,” not “quality,” but Whitney asked why did the Feds get involved in local police work and suggested something more sinister was involved “than just ensuring public safety.” His answer – “to enhance the powers of the ‘unitary’ executive” by giving Washington power over local law enforcement, and that makes perfect sense under an administration obsessed with wanting unchallengeable control.

Operation FALCON II followed a week later from April 17 – 23 and swept up another 9037 “alleged fugitives.” The final FALCON III came from October 22 – 28, 2006 with 10,773 more arrests. Each sweep was the same and concentrated on alleged criminal types out of character for a federal operation, so clearly another motive was involved. Further, no one arrested was charged with a terrorist-related crime, and that alone looks fishy. Whitney thought so and called FALCON “new drills for a new world order” that’s waging permanent war, defiles the law, ignores checks and balances, condones torture, repealed habeas, and illegally spies on everyone.

Police State America Preparations

Today, dissent is an endangered species, and preparations are underway for mass detentions in the “war on terrorism” targeting anyone seen as a threat. Halliburton is the beneficiary with a DHS contingency contract worth nearly $400 million to build US-based camps for “detention and processing” in case of an “emergency influx of immigrants….or to support the rapid development of new programs (for planned) expansion facilities (for anyone with capacity for 5000 or more persons).”

This language is cover for planned US-based concentration camps for anyone labeled an enemy of the state or threat to “national security.” The plan is clear – to have facilities in place if martial law is declared with plenty of reasons to fear it’s coming. Why else these camps and why all the repressive laws, EOs, NSPDs, and HSPDs put in place if they weren’t for a purpose.

The Pentagon is also ready with a DOD action plan called “Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support.” It envisions an “active, layered defense” both within and outside the country that pledges to “transform US military forces to execute homeland defense missions in the….US homeland.” It lays out a strategy for increased reconnaissance and surveillance to “defeat potential challengers before they threaten the United States.” It also “maximizes threat awareness and seizes the initiative from those who would harm us.”

These are ominous developments that suggest a likely real or contrived homeland terror attack severe enough to warrant suspending the Constitution and declaring martial law with the public acquiescing out of fear. If it comes, anyone may be targeted as a “national security” threat, indefinitely detained in a camp, and no evidence is needed for proof. The state and military will be empowered by law to act preventively through mass roundups and detentions that appears the reason for three test-run FALCON operations.

Full-scale militarization of the country is already lawful under the 1988 Reagan administration’s “national security emergency” EO 12656. It was meant for “Any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States.” “Police state America” has been in the works a long time, and it now may be near the boiling point.

The Role of Blackwater USA in Police State America

Most people know about Blackwater but not how it operates. We better learn because it’s coming to a neighborhood near you, and that means trouble. Author Jeremy Scahill wrote the book on the company he calls “the world’s most powerful mercenary army” and describes it as a “shadowy mercenary company (employing) some of the most feared professional killers in the world accustomed to operating without worry of legal consequences (and) largely off the congressional radar.” It has friends in high places who give it “remarkable power and protection within the US war apparatus” with unaccountable license to practice street violence with impunity to include cold-blooded murder wherever their paramilitaries are deployed.

For now, that’s mostly abroad, and controversy surfaced about the company after its mercenaries killed two dozen or more Iraqis and wounded dozens more in al-Nisour on September 16. It was the latest incident involving a company with a disturbing history of unprovoked violence and then claiming self-defense. Blackwater is contracted to provide security services for US diplomats, officials and others that once was assigned to the military at one-sixth or less what the company charges under an administration that believes anything government can do private business does better, so let it whatever the cost.

Using Blackwater and other paramilitaries is part of the scheme to militarize America, and New Orleans is its first test case. Scahill wrote that “about 150 heavily armed Blackwater troops dressed in full battle gear” arrived in the Crescent City right after Katrina hit and spread out into the city’s chaos. Others came later. Their cover was to provide hurricane relief, but that was a ruse as local residents still around in the wrong places soon discovered. They patrolled like Gestapo in SUVs with tinted windows and their logo on the back. Others used unmarked cars with no license plates, and relief wasn’t their mandate. They came to secure neighborhoods from their legal residents and treat those wanting to return like criminals. They wore flak jackets, carried automatic weapons and had extra guns strapped to their legs. They weren’t for show.

Instead of helping hurricane victims, they came as vigilantes to terrorize them and be empowered by federal, state and local authorities to do it. Blackwater USA is the face of paramilitarism on US streets as the “war on terrorism” comes to a neighborhood near you with New Orleans the first test case to see if the company can operate here the way it does in Iraq and get away with it. It’s doing it.

More than two years after Katrina, New Orleans is still a disaster zone, and many thousands of its residents are still without homes. Instead of helping them rebuild and restore their lives, federal funds instead go to private mercenaries to protect the privileged from desperate people needing help. Blackwater is another element in place in “police state America” where the streets of Boston, Boise or Buffalo may one day resemble Baghdad and bring the “war on terror” to the homeland with chilling implications of what that means.

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