The King’s Propaganda

The Astounding Hypocrisy of King Obama

“We must tell our children about how this evil was allowed to happen -- because so many people succumbed to their darkest instincts, and because so many others stood silent.”  – Barack Obama

propagandaWhen President Obama spoke those words at the Holocaust Memorial Museum last Monday, he was referring to atrocities committed by the government of Nazi Germany.  He urged nations to learn from the Holocaust and commit to preventing new atrocities. Then, he unveiled a plan for America’s implementation of this “core responsibility.”

“I’ve signed an executive order that authorizes new sanctions against the Syrian government and Iran and those that abet them for using technologies to monitor and track and target citizens for violence. These technologies should not empower -- these technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to repress them. And it’s one more step that we can take toward the day that we know will come -- the end of the Assad regime that has brutalized the Syrian people -- and allow the Syrian people to chart their own destiny.”Barack Obama

The president made no mention in his speech of torture and extraordinary rendition under his predecessor; no mention of his own administration’s efforts to silence disclosures of government wrongdoing.  In the US government lexicon, “evil” apparently means the use of technology by a government to monitor, track and target citizens for human rights abuses except when the government is the United States or when the government is too powerful to risk angering or a US ally.  This propagandistic definition of evil provides the framework for US foreign policy and the executive order mentioned in Obama’s speech. [Read more...]

UNESCO Shuns WikiLeaks as Speaker at Conference on Implications of WikiLeaks

… And, that’s not all that doesn’t make sense

unescoThis week, the organizers of a UNESCO conference, “The Media World after WikiLeaks and News of the World,” refused to let a WikiLeaks representative participate as a speaker. In so doing, they deprived the world of a full and balanced discussion of issues critical to protecting human rights.  Neither UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) nor the conference organizer, the USA-based World Press Freedom Committee, are apologizing, and traditional news media (with one exception) looked the other way.

As the central player in information-sharing partnerships that changed journalism, WikiLeaks unquestionably has important insights to share on conference topics such as the relationship between new and traditional journalism. But, only half of that partnership, WikiLeaks points out, was invited to speak at the UNESCO conference—and a bias was evident even in the questions selected for debate. [Read more...]

FBI Enlists Internet Café Owners to Spy on Customers

The Government’s Pretexts for Arresting Virtually Anyone

cafeThe US government has developed massive surveillance capabilities to monitor communications, travel and financial transactions in this country and abroad. But, even the government cannot monitor everything Americans do—not directly, anyway.  Thus, it created the Communities Against Terrorism (CAT) program to enlist your friendly local businesses as spies for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The CAT program, funded by the State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training program (SLATT) is described as a “tool to engage members of the local community in the fight against terrorism.” The program interprets “local community” to mean businesses, and only registered businesses may access the program’s flyers listing “potential indicators” of terrorist activity.

Each flyer is designed for a particular kind of business. For example, this list was prepared for owners of internet cafes. Unquestionably, someone planning a terrorist attack has engaged in one or more of the “suspicious” activities on that list. But so, too, have most of the estimated 289 million computer users in this country. [Read more...]

Notorious “Star Chamber” Courts Protect Government Wrongdoing

U.S. Embraces Tool of Despots


starchamberRecently, Mark Hosenball dropped the bombshell that a secret panel of White House Security Council members meets to draw up a “kill list” of American militants. Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald wrote a scathing critique of the panel, comparing it to a notorious English court known as the “Star Chamber.”

“[A] panel operating out of the White House — that meets in total secrecy, with no known law or rules governing what it can do or how it operates — is empowered to place American citizens on a list to be killed by the CIA, which (by some process nobody knows) eventually makes its way to the President, who is the final Decider.  It is difficult to describe the level of warped authoritarianism necessary to cause someone to lend their support to a twisted Star Chamber like that.”

The Star Chamber, an English court dating back to the middle ages, reportedly was named for the stars on the ceiling of the courtroom, located at Westminster Palace.  Over time, it grew increasingly powerful and corrupt.  By the 17th century, under Charles I, it had become a vehicle for prosecuting political dissent.  The court’s procedures made it virtually impossible for defendants to get a fair hearing and served as a rubber stamp for the monarchy.

“Court sessions were held in secret, with no indictments, no right of appeal, no juries, and no witnesses. Evidence was presented in writing. Over time it evolved into a political weapon, a symbol of the misuse and abuse of power by the English monarchy and courts.”

The Star Chamber also punished religious dissent, ultimately driving the Puritans to seek refuge in North America’s wilderness. Their descendents would form a new nation and endow it with laws that prohibited Star Chamber abuses. Today, “star chamber” is a pejorative term used to describe any administrative body with “strict, arbitrary rulings and secretive proceedings” that “cast doubt on the legitimacy of the proceedings.”  Notwithstanding its infamous past, the Star Chamber appeals to government officials who abhor accountability.

The panel that authorized the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki is the most public U.S. example of a star chamber--but it is far from the only one.  The federal government operates a network of star chamber courts administered by government agencies for the purpose of hearing appeals from military and civilian federal employees stripped of their security clearances. Many of those employees are whistleblowers who have disclosed government wrongdoing, thus implicating senior officials.  Senior officials use the star chambers to punish whistleblowers, to discredit their disclosures and to discourage other employees from exposing negligence, waste and corruption.  Existing whistleblower protection laws are helpless to protect federal employees with security clearances from agency reprisal.

Security clearance star chambers violate the U.S. Constitution’s due process protections by presidential order--Executive Order (E.O.) 12968.  These courts go by a variety of names.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Star Chamber is the “Personnel Security Review Board.” The Department of Defense (DOD) calls its star chamber the “Department of Hearings and Appeals.” Each federal agency interprets the executive order differently, and some—for example, USDA—actually provide less due process than E.O. 12968 allows.  All are offensive to modern notions of justice, but none have been held accountable.  Government officials argue that national security requires the suspension of due process; but, a close examination of the appeals process shows that the government’s claim is a fraud. [Read more...]