Every Single Person, Every Voice & Every Signature Counts
Have you ever pulled over your car on a highway shoulder to be a Good Samaritan and help a driver of a broken car desperately in need of assistance? Have you done it despite the heavy traffic, and a remaining long commute to get home after an exhausting long shift at work? Do you remember thinking ‘hope someone, some day, will do the same for me or my loved one’?
Have you ever found a wallet or a cell phone, and then taken the time and effort to locate and contact the owner? Have you done it despite a hectic schedule, having a long to-do list, and in the midst of daily crisis and demands? Do you recall thinking ‘hope someday, someone, will do the same for me?’
Have you ever been before a federal court judge, with your rights being taken away one by one, your entire biographical existence being classified one after another, and during all this, your entire legal team and advisors being removed from the court room in order to make the screwing of your Constitutional rights completely secret and unobserved? I have:
A federal court in Washington yesterday took the rare step of closing an entire oral argument to the public in the case of a former FBI translator who says she was fired for complaining about security breaches. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit announced that today's 30-minute argument in the case of Sibel Edmonds, a Middle Eastern language specialist fired in 2002, will be conducted behind closed doors. The court gave no reason for its decision.
The unsettling story of whistleblower Sibel Edmonds took another twist on Thursday, as the government continued its seemingly endless machinations to shut her up. The U.S. Court of Appeals here denied pleas to open the former FBI translator's First Amendment case to the public, a day after taking the extraordinary step of ordering a secret hearing.
I am not going to recount that incredibly awful experience as far as the butchering of our Constitution and liberties goes. Instead I want to briefly recount a minor detail with a major effect on me.
As always on that rainy April day in court there weren’t many mainstream media, or even alternatives to speak of. Of course I had a few family members and supporters who had become my close friends. However, among those few people in front of the court stood a young man who walked up to me and said: ‘I truly appreciate and support your efforts, and I am here in solidarity.’ I asked if he was with one of the DC coalitions or organizations. He said ‘No,’ and added, ‘I drove all night last night to get here. I live in Kentucky, and after reading about the upcoming trial I decided to drive to DC and be here for you. I know the addition of one person is not much help, but still, better than none…’
He was right. But he was also wrong. He was right in what he believed and put in action. But he was wrong about the addition of one person not being of much help. It helped me tremendously. It had a major effect on my resolve to keep pushing. It had a long-lasting impact on believing in the power of one. It turned my battle from one’s battle to one’s cause. And much more.
I was thinking of all this yesterday when I started reading about the protests and demonstrations for whistleblowers rights and transparency being organized around the Grand Jury investigations of Wikileaks and Bradley Manning.
Human rights defenders are presently heading to an Alexandria, Virginia courthouse to protest United States human rights violations of whistleblowers, targeted individuals persecuted for opposing government corruption, illegal wars, and unjust foreign policies. The Bradley Manning Support Network's founding member David House, ordered to testify today, Wednesday, June 15, before a federal Grand Jury in the WikiLeaks investigation, will be met by some of America's strongest rights defenders plus others demonstrating outside the courthouse at 9:30am ET before House enters the courthouse at 10:30am.
Human rights advocates defending the rights of whistleblowers will also be demonstrating at 6:00 ET today in Boston, House's city of residence.
"By conducting the people’s business in secret and persecuting transparency advocates, government decision-makers have abandoned core American values.” (Emphasis added)
According to the Bradley Manning's Support Network, the protests are designed for supporting David House, opposing the grand jury investigation of WikiLeaks, and gaining attention to the ongoing pretrial confinement of PFC Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army intelligence analyst who stands accused of blowing the whistle on illegal and unjust foreign policies.
And I wanted to tell these protesters, organizers, and you, that what they do counts; no matter what the results or documentable success by various measures. I wanted to say that every single person’s participation makes a difference. I wanted to emphasize that every single action and participation, however small, is never too small or insignificant.
I know how easy it is for people to shrug off the importance of one signature, one participation, or any one action item. I know how often we disregard an opportunity to participate or contribute, and justify it to ourselves as ‘one signature won’t make any difference,’ or ‘one additional body in a demonstration won’t be noticed or felt,’…Please resists that tendency. Please overcome that defeatist pull. Please. Because for every one of these:
The Washington Post yesterday reported that a widespread FBI investigation has been invading the privacy of various groups of political activists, prompting objections from many civil libertarians on First Amendment grounds. This particular probe included “subpoenas to 23 people and raids of seven homes last fall.”
The search was part of a mysterious, ongoing nationwide terrorism investigation with an unusual target: prominent peace activists and politically active labor organizers.
…The apparent targets, all vocal and visible critics of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and South America, deny any ties to terrorism. They say the government, using its post-9/11 focus on terrorism as a pretext, is targeting them for their political views.
They are “public non-violent activists with long, distinguished careers in public service, including teachers, union organizers and antiwar and community leaders,” said Michael Deutsch, a Chicago lawyer and part of a legal team defending those who believe they are being targeted by the investigation.
Add this to the multi-year FBI effort to investigate self-described anarchist and political activist Scott Crow who has been deemed a domestic terrorist and arrested a dozen times, despite having never been convicted of anything. They tracked his phone calls and emails, infiltrated his community of activists with undercover informants, sat outside his house in unmarked cars surveying his activities and visitors, went through his trash to find his personal finance documents, colluded with the IRS in a failed attempt grab him for tax evasion, and installed cameras along street poles outside his home, among other things. Mr. Crow filed a Freedom of Information Act request and got about 440 semi-redacted pages of the 1200 total pages of FBI documents on him.
We need to have more of these:
The following petition was co-written by Coleen Rowley and me, and has been backed by more than 25 government whistleblowers and over 20 organizations. Awarding the worst president in US history when it comes to government whistleblowers with a Transparency Award is a huge insult. Presenting a president who has dramatically increased government secrecy with an Anti-Secrecy Award is ridiculous. Rewarding one of the worst US presidents when it comes to invocation of unconstitutional state secrets privilege is ludicrous. This award is a major insult to all liberty-loving Americans. This award is a slap to all freedom-liberty seeking activists. This award is dumb, highly damaging, and extremely dangerous by what it says it represents. Please stand up and say ‘NO’ to this award by signing this petition. I urge you to demand that this award be taken back immediately. I implore you to not let them get away with this in your name. I am asking you to sign this petition and encourage everyone you know to do the same. Don’t let them mock our nation, our people and our values: Take Obama’s Transparency Award Back Now.
Today, when I was having one of those defeatist and negative moments, I reached out to two friends. They helped pick me up, and this is what one of them sent me:
“The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. In order for somebody to win an important, major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got to be willing—for the sheer fun and joy of it— to go right ahead and fight, knowing you’re going to lose. You mustn’t feel like a martyr. You’ve got to enjoy it.” —I. F. STONE
Two days ago we started our petition campaign Take Obama’s Transparency Award Back. The organizations that awarded this awful president are not hearing you. They are not acknowledging you. So far, they are refusing to take their award back, with an added insult. Maybe we are not screaming loud enough. Maybe not enough people are resisting the negative pull. Please overcome that. Please shout louder, or at least take a few seconds and sign the petition here:
And or tell these organizations that you count:
Tel: (202) 347-1122
Blog Site: http://pogoblog.typepad.com
Please help us accomplish this and then move to our next campaign: Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.