Weekly Round Up for Sunday, April17

The Devolution of the People & Government Czars, Halfhearted Congressional Gestures, Obama’s Drone Obsessions, and More!

I am going to list a few noteworthy articles and commentaries from this past week, and I am going to make it very brief. I am sure you have heard that before. Okay, it will be relatively brief; emphasis on ‘relatively.’ Those of you who have gone through selling your house, while living in it, especially with a kid or two or three …, well, you know how annoying it can be. You get a short notice, you run around trying to organize, clean, put away toys (including those hidden under the sofa, tucked behind the sink …), and then, you have to ‘evacuate’ your house for the potential buyer…Now you have the reason behind the ‘relatively brief’ round up.

I hope you enjoyed our interview with Tom Woods. We also recorded a great interview with Grant Smith on Israel and the Israel Lobby which will be posted next Friday. I don’t know why but I’ve been getting tons of good comments/responses at Facebook, and very little feedback here at BFP. Any ideas as to why? Please let us know.

Here are my noteworthy items from this week: [Read more...]

Weekly Round Up for January 9

Obama’s Whistleblower-Hunt, ‘Rent-A-Generals’ Industry, A Great Example of Intentionally Awful Journalism, One-Tip-Based Terror Watch List & More!

NYA belated happy new year to all our readers and friends here at Boiling Frogs Post. As you can tell I am just coming up for air. The holiday season happens to be the busiest time for my part-time work which involves a retail business, and my full-time motherhood task which has gotten at least three-fold harder during this not-so-terrible-twos stage. You see I say harder, but I’ll never call it ‘terrible’ because despite the tasking aspect it still remains the best and most rewarding role I’ve ever had; ever. My daughter is now 2.5 years old, and I’m happy to report: she is outspoken, highly opinionated, and on her way to becoming a real activist. She is already stopping those engaged in littering in their tracks for an earful lecture, and orders them to stop, ‘Go home, time out, and take bath!’ I am sharing a few of her recent pictures here. Many of you know all about my ‘no venture into my private life’ over here at BFP…except for an occasional relevant experience(s), or, like these here and the ones from last year to mark a new year at Boiling Frogs Post. Again, Happy New Year.

Ela1Ela2Ela3Ela4

For the past two months I’ve been collecting and saving lots of articles to share with you here at BFP. The collection kept getting larger, the list of links grew longer, and I kept falling behind and unable to post regular BFP Round Ups. Some of those articles were time sensitive so they got discarded as ‘stale and no longer relevant’. Some are still sitting on the list waiting for the addition of my comments and analyses. And here are a few important and interesting ones from the past few weeks without much need for added sound bites:

Obama’s Whistleblower-Hunt: Whistleblowers Long for Bush-Cheney Era Leniency?

OBYou thought the Bush-Cheney administration was bad? Think again; especially if you happen to be a whistleblower. Despite its awful record, the current administration witch-hunt like pursuit of whistleblowers and truth-tellers has many whistleblowers and truth-telling advocates longing for the Bush era climate. After all, everything is relevant, right? There was the bad, now it is the worse, or probably worst ever. Despite all the threats and muscle-flexing not a single whistleblower, including myself, got arrested or even pursued criminally under the previous regime. With Obama the era of threats has changed into an era of Punishment-Imprisonment and in some cases even torture. Here is one of the latest:

Former CIA officer indicted for leaks to reporter 
Peter Haldis, RCFP

A former CIA officer was indicted last month for allegedly providing a New York Times reporter with classified information. He is the latest in a string of leakers prosecuted by the Obama administration.

Jeffrey Sterling, 43, of O’Fallon, Mo., was indicted on 10 counts, including six counts of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and one count of obstruction of justice. He was arrested Thursday in St. Louis.Sterling was indicted Dec. 22, 2010, and the indictment was unsealed Thursday.

Sterling is the fifth leaker to be prosecuted by the Obama administration. The others include: former National Security Agency official Thomas Drake, who allegedly sent classified information to an unknown newspaper reporter; Stephen Kim, a former Department of State analyst who allegedly leaked an intelligence report to an unidentified reporter; Bradley Manning, a U.S. Army private alleged to have leaked classified information to Wikileaks; and Shamai Leibowitz, a former FBI linguist who was convicted in May 2010 of charges related to the leaking of classified information to an unidentified blogger and sentenced to 20 months in prison.

………………………………………………………………

 ‘Rent-A-Generals’ Consulting Firms: An Industry in Its Own

genLast month I came across the following coverage at War Is Business by Corey Pein. This Monday Peter and I will be interviewing Mr. Pein, meanwhile if you haven’t seen this great website check it out now, and put it in your ‘Favorite’ list of websites. I am really looking forward to this interview, too many topics of interest to cover!

‘Rent-A-Generals’ & ‘the Militarization of Economy’ 
By Corey Pein, War Is Business

This man is William B Burdeshaw, a retired US Army Brigadier General and founder of what the Boston Globe, in its must-read investigation of rampant corruption in Pentagon procurement, calls “one of the oldest ‘rent-a-general’ consulting firms” in the country.

His company, Burdeshaw Associates Ltd, is essentially a fixer for corporations looking to land military contracts. The firm is apparently so good at this, its influential “associates”—mostly retired, high-ranking officers—can sell the Pentagon things it didn’t even know it needed.

Read Globe reporter Bryan Bender describe how Burdeshaw cleverly wrung $109 million from the Pentagon for the firm’s client, Northrop Grumman, which wanted to build a remote-controlled helicopter called the Fire Scout. [Read more...]

Naked Airlines

The Ultimate Answer by "Loose Bruce" Kerr

This site depends exclusively on readers’ support. Please help us continue by contributing directly and or purchasing Boiling Frogs showcased products.

Podcast Show #36

The Boiling Frogs Presents James Babb

BFP Podcast Logo

James Babb recounts the creation of the grassroots effort We Won’t Fly, and how he and cofounder George Donnelly, two regular dads, founded the group to oppose the full-body airport “porno”-scanners on grounds of privacy, ineffectiveness and health, and demand that the airlines make their maximum lobbying effort in support of customers’ rights and liberties. He discusses the ineffective and dangerous aspects of the TSA Security Theater as a top-down and lumbering bureaucracy, and the intimidation and humiliation of passengers for this false sense of security. Mr. Babb talks about the goal of his group, alternatives to flying, their next Opt Out project, and more!

wewontJames Babb is the co-founder of We Won’t Fly, an informal collaborative effort opposing the full-body airport “porno”-scanners on grounds of privacy, ineffectiveness and health. As an independent, grassroots effort, We Won’t Fly is not affiliated with any political party, corporation, politician or think tank. The group has pledged to stop flying ‘until the porno-scanners are history.’

Here is our guest James Babb unplugged!

This site depends exclusively on readers’ support. Please help us continue by contributing directly and or purchasing Boiling Frogs showcased products.

A Parody for You: ‘Grandma Got Molested at the Airport’

By Donny Aldridge- Singer, Songwriter & Political Satirist

A friend sent me the following music clip; too real yet too funny. Enjoy it, let it be another reminder of how low we’ve stooped as a society, and keep up the spirit of resistance.
 

This site depends exclusively on readers’ support. Please help us continue by contributing directly and or purchasing Boiling Frogs showcased products.

Notes on the Margin-Dec 1

Setting the Record Straight on Satire v. Fiction, A Few Notes on my Opt-Out Support Session at DCA & A Few Words on  Ron Paul Supporters-Activists

My last ‘Boiling Frogs Beltway Buzz’ seems to have caused some unexpected reaction. First, it started several e-mails from the media asking whether they could contact my sources on Jefferson-Franklin being placed on the DHS-TSA Watch List, or, whether I’d recorded my interview with John Pistole. I mean serious inquiries people! Next, I was bombarded with hundreds of e-mails from readers asking whether this was a satirical piece or factual, or, expressing outrage over our Founding Fathers being placed on the Terror Watch List. I was truly taken aback. I didn’t know whether to laugh or to sit down and sob!! I even e-mailed a few BFP partners and asked whether I should add an update spelling out the nature of my ‘Boiling Frogs Beltway Buzz’ series; a mixture of hard facts and satirical comments too close to the ugly truths involving the sorry state of our nation’s governance. Finally this: A Personal Appeal from Wikipedia editors and authors: [Read more...]

Boiling Frogs Beltway Buzz: DHS-TSA Terror Watch List Includes Dead & Long-Dead US Citizens

Resilient Founding Fathers with Propensity for Resistance among One Million+ Terror Watch List Suspects!

 

DHSIn May 2009 the Inspector General of the Justice Department found that 35% of the nominations to the Department of Homeland Security’s Terror Watch Lists were outdated, many people were not removed in a timely manner, and tens of thousands of names were placed on the list without predicate. A September 2009 report by the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security found that the process for clearing innocent travelers from the list is a complete mess. Although significant, both reports failed to mention their findings on the number of names of already-dead US citizens who seem to be stuck there permanently. Even more significantly, it’s been reported that the TSA Terror Watch List includes the names of Long-Dead but well-known and well-respected US citizens, including several members of a group collectively known as the Founding Fathers of the United States. So far, based on our former and current TSA sources, we have been able to confirm the inclusion of two such long-dead persons on at least one DHS-TSA joint Terror Watch List: Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.

A former TSA manager and a member of National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC) provided us with his first-hand knowledge of what he referred to as the ‘DHS-TSA Terror Watch List Black Hole’, where US citizens’ names remain ‘forever.’ According to this source: [Read more...]

Ron Paul Introduces the American Travel Dignity Act

‘We Americans Should Never Give Up Our Rights in Order to Travel’

RPaul Mr. Speaker, today I introduce legislation to protect Americans from physical and emotional abuse by federal Transportation Security Administration employees conducting screenings at the nation’s airports. We have seen the videos of terrified children being grabbed and probed by airport screeners. We have read the stories of Americans being subjected to humiliating body imaging machines and/or forced to have the most intimate parts of their bodies poked and fondled. We do not know the potentially harmful effects of the radiation emitted by the new millimeter wave machines.

In one recent well-publicized case, a TSA official is recorded during an attempted body search saying, "By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights." I strongly disagree and am sure I am not alone in believing that we Americans should never give up our rights in order to travel. As our Declaration of Independence states, our rights are inalienable. This TSA version of our rights looks more like the "rights" granted in the old Soviet Constitutions, where freedoms were granted to Soviet citizens — right up to the moment the state decided to remove those freedoms.

The incident of the so-called "underwear bomber" last Christmas is given as justification for the billions of dollars the federal government is spending on the new full-body imaging machines, but a Government Accountability Office study earlier this year concluded that had these scanners been in use they may not have detected the explosive material that was allegedly brought onto the airplane. Additionally, there have been recent press reports calling into question the accuracy and adequacy of these potentially dangerous machines. [Read more...]

Boiling Frogs Beltway Buzz: Obama’s New Healthcare Plan to Bridge TSA, Department of Health & Human Services, and the Tourism Industry

Taking Medical Tourism One Step Further

TSAThe Obama administration is getting ready to unveil a new innovative healthcare initiative geared to bridge TSA, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Tourism Industry to provide airline travelers with several major physical examinations at No Cost. Based on the proposed plan US travelers will be offered thorough colon, prostate and breast exams, and will be given health certificates as part of their routine and mandatory TSA security checks at airports.

 The White House has already begun its unofficial rounds to garner support from key congressional offices. According to several congressional sources the administration has coined the initiative ‘Triple Win’, a new policy based on the following premises:

-       It will increase public trust, dependency on, and respect for TSA, and improve its highly tarnished image. For the first time the multi-billion dollar TSA will be able to show tangible usefulness for its existence.

-       It will result in significant revenue increases for the long-struggling travel industry. Many Americans will purchase airline tickets and travel solely for these no-cost security checkpoint check-up services.

-       It will provide several highly crucial health check-up services, such as colon and breast exams, to many citizens who are unable to receive these services due to lack of healthcare coverage.

The details of this new initiative have not been released, however the general outline of the proposed initiative that was provided for Congress has been leaking to the media in bits and pieces. From what we have gathered so far, the general proposed guidelines are as follows:

At airport security checkpoints airline passengers will be offered entrances to two separate screening tracks.

Those who ‘Opt-In’ for enhanced security checks with added general sexual health certificate benefits will proceed to Track ‘B’ - which will lead them to enhanced X-Ray screening machines. After going through the enhanced screening machine (able to detect certain general lumps and unusual growths), these passengers will follow a marked pathway to enhanced physical pat-down & examination cubicles. Inside the cubicle an authorized TSA officer will examine the naked passengers and look for lumps, bumps, and unusual growths in colons and or breasts, and or enlarged prostates. Any noticeable unusual odor or discharge will be noted and recorded by the examining TSA officer. Upon exit the airline passenger will be given a stamped certificate detailing the results of the examination.

Those passengers who ‘Opt-Out’ of the enhanced security check will go through existing security checks by following Track ‘A.’ They will be subject to screening machines and possible pat-downs, whether due to random selection or based on unusual screening results (setting off alarms), or completely at the discretion of the agent(s) overseeing the machines and passengers.

The White House declined to provide comments until the official announcement is released. However, one of my sources with the National Security Council had the following to say on condition of remaining anonymous:

This is truly a win-win-win proposition. The airlines love it. Think about it. Many Americans, those without the means or coverage, may very well purchase tickets only for the purpose of getting some of their organs checked out for free! This will restore confidence in the TSA, which has been taking a beating lately; it elevates agents from badge-wearing probers to badge-wearing health-care officers!! I mean this is killing three birds with one stone! I can’t see a single soul opposing this initiative.

When I asked about logistics my source appeared a bit vague and noncommittal: [Read more...]

Little Steps Towards the Big Leap?

Time To Test our Might & Will

BFPWhiteThe movement against TSA’s systematic degradation of our nation seems to be gaining a bit of momentum; long overdue. A few lawmakers are making some noise. Let’s hope it is not for show only. Pilots and related organizations have been making a little headway. And we have more than a few citizens coming up with and organizing actionable plans and ideas. I hope none of this ends up settling for ‘little bones.’ By that I mean quasi cosmetic changes like: giving our CNN’s Fitzpatrick what she is asking for - a heads up and notice signs for coming violations at check points, or installing separate screening detectors for the pilots and flight attendants, or having the screener police touch and violate you using three fingers instead of their entire palm. We seem to have momentum. I believe with solidarity and persistence, refusing to give up or give in to a few ‘bones’ we will succeed. Please watch out for ‘highly coincidental’ terror alerts that may start popping up. OK? After ten years of those interestingly timed and never-sourced possible terror alerts we should be wise enough to recognize our government’s ‘cry wolf’ practices. Also, get ready for a handful of questionable entities who try to blend in with the movement and engage in repulsive (highly offensive) actions to cause backlash for our movement. Our government highly depends on ‘this type’ and of course, our mainstream media loves to showcase them. I am just saying.

I’ve been going through hundreds of e-mails and comments on my previous post. First, I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts and suggestions both publicly in various forums and privately through your direct e-mails; your feedback gives me a sense of solidarity and revives my long-dimming hopes. Next, I  am going to tell you a bit about myself and what I am prepared to do, however insignificant or little it may seem to some. So many of us either don’t do anything or say anything publicly because we as a nation have been long reduced to seeing ourselves and acting as insignificant and powerless subjects of those who govern. We are afraid of being ridiculed, or being rejected as feeble. That’s not the case here at Boiling Frogs Post, and I hope you’ll get that sense and keep your ideas and suggestions coming. You see, I am doing it despite my own set of reservations, and regardless of the ridicule I sometimes endure from the ‘elite academics & talk-and-write only mighty experts.’

Those of you who’ve been members here know that I usually don’t talk about, share, personal information. This is a slight exception, and you’ll see why: [Read more...]

The Not So Gradual Degradation Of A Nation

Paying To Be Raped

Every single day millions of us are being subjected to the shameful processes of being searched, screened and viewed naked, patted, groped, fondled, poked and stroked by badge-wearing strangers- police under a different name. Every single day. Millions of us, Americans. Being violated. Being degraded. You know exactly what I am talking about. I am taking about me, you, your mother, her brother, his brother’s wife and toddler son, their grandmothers. I am talking about the systematic degradation of our people. I am talking about being raped of our dignity, privacy, and decency. I am talking about a daily systematic rape we actually pay to be subjected to. I am talking about severe violations we elect people to bring upon us. Yes, I am talking about traveling, TSA police, and being reduced to naked and helpless subjects of government police practices. 

Considering its short tenure, the motherland police force, aka Department of Homeland Security, has had a one of a kind success. In less than a decade it is now the third largest cabinet police department. It has around 200,000 employees, and that’s without counting contract employees - which exceed this number. Now remember, we still have the FBI, CIA, NSA, DIA…plus all the other state and local police forces from before. TSA makes up over 60,000 of DHS employees. This 60,000 federal police force oversees 450 airports, so that makes it around 133 police per airport. And that’s in addition to local airport police.

What do I mean by not so gradual and systematic degradation? I mean in less than ten years, they went from this:

Degrad1 to This Degrad2 then to This Degrad3

And now to this, this, this, and this all together:

degrad11Degrad22Degrad23Degrad24 

Next, coming soon, very soon, it will be This

Degrad5 and This Degrad6 
 
Last week TSA announced that airline passengers should expect to see and feel additional pat-down procedures at U.S. airports over the coming weeks to provide another layer of security. They said passengers should continue to expect "an unpredictable mix of security layers that include explosives trace detection, advanced imaging technology, canine teams, among others."

The following blurb comes from CNN, thanks to one of its employees who chose to speak up a little, only a little (all emphasis in bold are mine):

Rosemary Fitzpatrick, a CNN employee, said she was subjected to a pat-down at the Orlando, Florida, airport on Wednesday night after her underwire bra set off a magnetometer. She said she was taken to a private area and searched, with transportation screening officers telling her the pat-down was a new procedure.

According to Fitzpatrick, a female screener ran her hands around her breasts, over her stomach, buttocks and her inner thighs, and briefly touched her crotch."I felt helpless, I felt violated, and I felt humiliated," Fitzpatrick said, adding that she was reduced to tears at the checkpoint. She particularly objected to the fact that travelers were not warned about the new procedures.

Okay, up to this point  I was pleasantly surprised to see this piece being run by a mainstream outlet, and the fact that this woman didn’t take the rape in silence and go away the way most do when it comes to these government sanctioned and implemented systematic rapes, but then I reached the following:

"I am appalled and disgusted at the new search procedures and the fact that passengers have not been made aware of the new invasive steps prior to entering the security area," Fitzpatrick wrote. "It appears once you enter the security area, passengers forfeit their rights. There were no signs, video information, etc. at the entrance of the security area at the airport. Why?"

She added: "As an experienced traveler for work who was in tears for most of the search process, I have never experienced a more traumatic and invasive travel event!"

First, let me give her due credit for saying out loud that she objected and felt: helpless, violated, humiliated, appalled and disgusted. But after that, it is my turn to be appalled. Is the process supposed to get less humiliating, appalling, traumatic, and disgusting if the violators give prior notice about the violations, the rapes, to come??!!! Please walk with me through the following reasoning:

Two rapists are brought before a judge. One had caught his victim by surprise through a blitz attack, then violently raped her. The other had stalked his victim for a while, sent her some disturbing warning notes, and then violently raped her. Victim one turns around and tells victim two: Why do you feel violated?! Your rapist gave you the courtesy of warning notes - and that makes his rape much less of an offense than my rapist!!

My question to CNN’s Fitzpatrick is this: Next time, when these people squeeze your breast, poke your buttocks and stomach, and grab your crotch, will you feel okay? Far less violated? All because now you know what to expect?! [Read more...]

The Latest on the Police State Front

Pilots vs. Indignities at the Airports, Midland FBI Spying, Snitching on Your ‘Terrorist Neighbor,’ & More

Here are a few updates for those of you who may have been wondering about the continuity of my interest in our nation’s police state status. I may be too busy to write my usual ten-page plus editorials on this topic, but never too busy to monitor the issue; never! It is about me, my daughter, you, your friends, basically, this is about all of us.

ProtestI am going to start this update with something positive. The following ‘something’ shows that we indeed can take a stand, however little, and challenge what’s being forced upon us in the game of fear-mongering and in the name of security. Here is a group of ‘true’ Americans who have enough patriotism and real backbone to stand up for our liberties and dignities. I am going to post their entire letter instead of a couple of paragraphs. It deserves to be published and shown in its entirety, so I hope I won’t be frowned upon or penalized for violating the quote limitation…

Letter: Indignities at the Airports

As professional pilots, some colleagues and I recently issued a statement to our airline. We voiced our rejection of the policy changes being enacted by the Transportation Security Administration at airport security checkpoints across the country, including Memphis International (Sept. 18 article, "Virtual strip search / Random full-body scans launched at Memphis airport").

We do not consent to the indignity of virtual strip searches as a matter of course in performing the duties of our profession. Neither can we conscientiously accept being physically frisked by federal agents every day as a reasonable alternative.

Obviously, our work places us inside the flight deck door by necessity. We wouldn't have to smuggle a weapon into the airport to take control of an aircraft. After running the gantlet of required background checks, security training and screening procedures, it's just plain silly to confiscate pilots' pocket knives and corkscrews before we enter the cockpit. In short, here's hoping the crew for your next flight is on the home team.

But that's not even the point.

We are appalled that any citizen who is not under arrest, has made no threats, nor raised any suspicion of terrorism or other malice should be made to submit to either of these "options" in order to move about within his or her own national borders.

Federal airport security guards are often unskilled, entry-level responders to help-wanted ads affixed to pizza boxes. Perhaps novice agents lack the perspective to grasp the full implications of their work. Forgive them, for they know not what they do. But please don't show them your naked body. Don't let these strangers put their hands on you or your children. Their abuse protects no one. No, the good citizens of a free society must resist such authoritarian overtures at least as much as any foreign threat.

I offer my condolences if your flight should be delayed or canceled because the TSA won't let us in the door. But I suggest that your freedom is more important. At any rate, ours certainly is.

Michael Roberts

Memphis

Mr. Roberts, kudos to you and your colleagues. You have my respect and support.

…………………………………………………………………

HooverNow here are three related articles showing how our guys at the bureau aren’t able to find real criminal or terrorism related cases to chase and investigate. They are bored, and as we all know boredom can lead to all sorts of nefarious deeds and activities. On one hand we are constantly reminded of Al-Qaeda and related boogieman’s plans to destroy us here in the States, thus the urgency to give up all our rights, liberties and dignities. Yet, on the other hand, here is our nation’s federal police agency bored out of its mind going around and harassing American citizens for exercising their rights guaranteed under the Constitution. I guess they are contradicting their bosses! Hmmm…or maybe they are keeping J. Edgar Hoover’s spirit alive?!

FBI Files on Investigations of Iowa City Peace Activists Made Public

David Goodner, a former member of the University of Iowa’s Antiwar Committee, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for files associated with an FBI surveillance of groups in Iowa City prior to the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. What he discovered was the investigation was far more extensive than previously known. Now, Goodner has turned over the files he received from the FBI exclusively to The Iowa Independent for publication.

As the documents show, the investigation into activities of peace groups in Iowa City involved staking out homes, secretly photographing and video taping members, digging through garbage and even planting a mole to spy on the peace activists up close.  Known as the Wild Rose Rebellion, the protesters were described by the FBI as an “anarchist collective.” In an interview with The Des Moines Register, the FBI defended its actions.

Weysan Dun, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Omaha field office, which oversees Iowa and Nebraska, said in a statement that every investigative technique that was employed was authorized under guidelines established by the U.S. attorney general “and was deemed necessary to resolve the allegations.” …

Dun said the Iowa City investigation was warranted because of allegations that certain people were possibly going to engage in criminal activities to disrupt the national conventions of one or both major political parties.

The group’s plans were to help organize nonviolent acts of civil disobedience, such as street blockades, at the 2008 RNC convention. In an interview Monday with progressive radio host Ed Fallon, Goodner said the FBI investigation didn’t make sense.

And here is the second related article:

Midlands FBI spying under scrutiny

In August 2003, two FBI agents watched over an Omaha rally organized by peace activist Frank Cordaro, a former Catholic priest.The agents observed no criminal activity at the rally but still sent notes on those in attendance to local military and law enforcement officials so they could plan security measures for a conference on U.S. nuclear policy at Offutt Air Force Base, according to a Justice Department report.

Also, FBI files reveal that agents, working under the direction of the bureau's Omaha field office, secretly monitored the activities of Iowa City protest groups before the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

“I learned early in my peace and justice career to assume the government knows what's going on,” said Cordaro, who has spent a total of about five years in jail for trespassing on Offutt property. When the FBI was monitoring him, Cordaro was planning a protest against nuclear weapons at the Offutt conference.

Now the FBI, including its Omaha office, is under intense scrutiny for investigations that revive memories of the bureau's Vietnam-era intrigue.

Unsealed agency documents and a report from the Justice Department detail the FBI's broad investigations of protest groups in Nebraska, Iowa and other parts of the country based on its authority to look into allegations and threats of domestic and international terrorism.

“In several cases there was little indication of any possible federal crimes,” Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said in his report, which detailed similar investigations the agency conducted around the country. “In some cases, the FBI classified some investigations relating to nonviolent civil disobedience under its ‘Acts of Terrorism' classification.”

A domestic terrorism designation can have a large impact, the inspector general said, because people who are subjects of such probes are normally placed on watch lists and their travels and interactions with law enforcement may be tracked.

The FBI investigated whether the Iowa activists were part of a national network of radicals who wanted to disrupt the GOP convention in Minnesota and the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. The records show that the investigation lasted from roughly March to December in 2008.

During that time, authorities went through activists' garbage and their cell phone and motor vehicle records.

Okay, you can read the rest here.

And finally, here is a hard-hitting recent news article for those who don’t consider the two above alarm-worthy:

FBI Raids: An End to ‘Covert’ Spying on Antiwar Groups?

Earlier this week the Justice Department revealed that the FBI had been using false claims of “counter-terror” operations to justify covert spying operations against antiwar groups in Pittsburgh and elsewhere across the country. As officials downplayed the report the matter seemed to be just another in a growing list of Bush era abuses of power, about which little is ever said.

PittProtestThen this morning FBI agents and SWAT teams started kicking doors in across Minneapolis, across Chicago, across the rest of America. The target: antiwar activists of various stripes, but particularly those likely to be involved in antiwar protests at the next Democratic National Convention.

It seems the era of “covert” FBI spying has come to an end, and not in the good way like you’d hope. Rather it seems to have moved with surprising alacrity from behind the shadows and become an overt program of intimidation and surveillance of what is left of America’s antiwar movement. [Read more...]

The Makings of a Police State-Part VI

A Nation of Suspects

Indeed, the interests of the oppressors lie in 'changing the consciousness of the oppressed, not the situation which oppresses them'- - Paulo Freire

The illegal domestic wiretapping of all Americans, the invasive search practices at every airport directed at every single US passenger, the compilation of all data on all citizens in not only one but multiple government databases, the unreasonable and warrantless search and seizure practiced on US masses facilitated arbitrarily by the FBI, are among many known and unknown government practices directed at the entire population of the United States of America.

SheepDespite the current futility, many constitutionalists, legalists, analysts, and activists are writing, talking, and arguing about the legality or illegality, constitutionality or unconstitutionality, practicality or impracticality, of these surveillance and search practices of our ‘National Security State.’ There is a plethora of material out there for you to read or listen to on those points, so there is no need for me to cover all that has been covered already; over and over. I am not going to discuss the tedious and ambiguous laws, nor am I going to waste time on the vague and irrelevant notion of and argument on security. No. I intend to focus on the subjects of these practices; the people; the masses, in fact, the entire population as the willing recipients who have come to view and accept themselves as suspects. Isn’t this what we have become; a nation of suspects?

No one any longer questions the fact that our government has been engaged in domestic surveillance of our communication systems. The news came out. The practitioners admitted to it, in fact, proudly. These activities were challenged in courts and the challenges overridden, thus making the legality or illegality, constitutionality or unconstitutionality, all irrelevant; moot.  Several years have passed and it has become, it is, a fact of life; a fact in every American’s life. And for the majority, not a painful or aggravating fact of life; just ‘a fact’ of life. Why?

Many say ‘look, there are these bad guys out there called terrorists. The government is out there looking for them; everywhere. I ain’t doing nothin wrong, and I ain’t got nothin to hide. So why should I be concerned? My government is doing it to keep me, to keep us all, safe; to protect us against those bad terrorist people lurking here and there…’

If you were to ask most ‘but why do they tap your phone line and capture your data or conversation? You the good citizen?‘ The common answer would be along these lines, ‘I don’t know. They must know something. I don’t understand how intelligence and police stuff like this works. They must know something, if they think tapping my phone and listening to my conversation helps to fight terrorists and keep us safe…I just do my own thing and since I don’t have anything to hide it doesn’t bother me. They’ve got to do what they’ve got to do to protect us…’

Most of you know that the above dialogue is more or less what we get everywhere with almost everyone. I have had that exact same conversation with tens if not hundreds of people, and I can assure you that the above rendition is in no way exaggerated or downplayed. It is the general attitude. It is the common thought and response process. It is a fact of today’s life expressed by today’s people in our country. And to recognize these common beliefs, to draw the most logical conclusion, takes neither a genius nor a philosopher nor a psychologist…But let’s move to the next related fact, and see that same logical conclusion.

Starting immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks, we began to see, and of course become subject to, jacked up security check points and searches in our airports. First, they already had us all going through big complex metal detectors. Then, they had us do the same thing but remove our belts and other metal containing garments and belongings. Then, they had us bend over like servants before kings, remove our shoes, and humbly walk barefoot through the big complex metal detectors. After that, they prohibited us from carrying our drinking water or any other liquid, and they made our lactating women open up their stored breast milk and sip it before the eyes of the traveling masses passing by…

Meanwhile we learned of their massive databases on fliers, where over one million people were divided into no fly lists, almost no fly lists, and maybe no fly lists, with further division into high-risk fliers, medium-risk fliers, and low-risk fliers…But, despite all these massive, complex and secret multiple lists and databases, we all had to go through those same detectors, with no shoes, no liquids, supposed random but all too frequent pat downs…So we never understood the rationale for having all those lists and databases anyway. No worries. We, most of us, said, ‘we may not understand, it may not make the slightest sense, it can defy all logic…but that doesn’t matter. The government must know things we don’t, and they are protecting us against the big bad terrorists…’ So we went on, kept putting up.

Recently, they said all those practices were not nearly enough, so they’ve been erecting body-scanner temples at security checkpoints, and asking us to step in them to be viewed naked-breasts, penises, arses and all. To be technically correct, they are not forcing us to go through the scanners; in fact, they are giving us options:

-You either step in the scanners and let us view you, all your private parts naked, or,

-You go through grabbing, groping, patting, and worse one-on-one searches.

They have been proudly justifying these invasive procedures by presenting them as reasonable options for people to choose from. Think of a rapist saying the following in court:

But I gave her a choice, and I made it clear. I said you either submit willfully and quietly while I rape you, or, you can fight and I’ll beat the hell out of you while I’m raping you….

We’ve been complying with all that. We get to the checkpoints, and as one woman told me:

I just go into this auto pilot mode. I remove my shoes and other items. I move forward towards the screening machine while looking into empty space and avoiding any eye contact. I step in there, slightly spread my arms and legs, pause, and step out on the other side. I then let out a deep breath for making it, without sounding off any alarm bells, and without having to be touched, groped and patted everywhere…Then I walk away quickly and try to wipe away all the memories of those long minutes…It’s the best way to deal with these things…

Again, this sounds very familiar. Just read through documented victim accounts on dealing with highly traumatic experiences. I used to read about and listen to such victims. A woman telling the story of being molested and raped by her father:

I used to pretend not being there…you know, almost like an out of body experience. He’d quietly come to my room, his breath reeking with alcohol…I’d close my eyes when he pulled down my panties…I’d spread my legs, close my eyes, and imagine not being there…imagine it was not happening…It was quicker that way. He’d be done and gone. And I would go on trying to forget, pretending I forgot…trying to erase all the memories and the feeling of being violated…

Doesn’t it feel that way? Don’t we feel violated? Don’t we feel powerless? Doesn’t it feel like total submission to a force greater than any one of us, and obviously the total of all of us? [Read more...]

The Makings of a Police State-Part II

The Discretion Factor & TSA Black Hole

Around 1:00 p.m. on March 9, 2009 I stood in front of the US Air ticket counter in Ft Myers, Florida, and sighed with relief. I had just checked in two suitcases and had an hour and fifteen minutes before boarding my plane to Washington, DC. I was relieved because it is no simple task to make it this far with a teething seven month old baby, two suitcases, a carry on bag, and a diaper bag. However, I was counting my chickens too early.

I joined a fairly long line at the entrance of the TSA security screening station, and did a quick inventory of preparations needed to make it to the other side: My infant girl was securely nestled against my chest inside her baby carrier; I had no liquids in the diaper bag or elsewhere, and that included the bottled water I would need to fix her formula later while on the plane (I had enough time to purchase the water on the other side); I was wearing fairly easy to remove trainers, knowing the difficulty of removing shoes while carrying my infant and holding my boarding passes and drivers license…Basically, based on the Transportation Security Agency’s (TSA) posted rules, I was all set, or so I thought.

I bent over, removed my trainers and placed them on the screening belt. By this time I could sense my infant daughter’s tension from the way she was holding on to me. I couldn’t blame her; with the suffocating congestion of hassled and rushed people in the line closing in on her, the sound of screaming TSA officers reciting the rules at the security check point’s entrance ‘make sure you remove your shoes…’ ‘place all your liquid containers in clear plastic bags…,’ and with her mommy almost squashing her to bend over and remove my shoes, how could I blame her?!

As I approached the metal detector portal I looked ahead and sighed with relief one more time. A few more seconds, and I’d be there; among ‘the checked and let through’ on the other side; one of the lucky crowd who’d made it through.

My daughter and I went through the detector smoothly and silently - the darn thing didn’t blow it’s darn ear-scratching siren. However, waiting on the other side with hands on her plump hips was a badge wearing TSA officer. She pointed at me and sternly yelled, ‘Ma’am, go back again! Remove that baby carrier, put it on the belt, and come through the detector again.’

Confused, I looked at her and asked, ‘But why? I didn’t set off the detector! There are no metal pieces on this carrier, and as you see, it is fabric with no pockets or bags attached…’

The Badge-Woman yelled even louder, ‘Ma’am, you are holding up the line. Just go back and do as I say! We don’t allow wearable baby carriers through the detectors…’

I knew that was not true. I had traveled with my child several times and had gone through screening stations at several airports while carrying my child in the carrier attached in the front, same as here. But I didn’t want to hold up the lines and add hassle to the already hassled crowd waiting in line right behind me. Those of you who are parents and have traveled with infants don’t need me to tell you, but for those of you who have not experienced it let me put it this way, ‘it’s no easy task’! I tucked the boarding pass and my license under my chin. Next, I unbuckled the side-fasteners of the carrier, while watching carefully where I was stepping, because the tiled floor was smeared with some syrupy soda making it slippery. Then, I wiggled my daughter out if the carrier, tucked her under my left arm, while unfastening the rest of the carrier from my waist and shoulder…By this time my baby was wailing; from top of her lungs.

I passed through the detector again with the wailing baby tucked under my arm. Now I had to retrieve my shoes, my hand bag, my carryon, the baby carrier, the diaper bag, which were all piled up at the other end of the security screening belt. Have you ever done this while holding a baby? I don’t think I have to tell you what hell that is…

After I gathered my stuff, with sweat pouring from every pore, I turned around and made my way towards the badge-woman. I stopped right in front of her, looked her in the eye, and said,‘I would like to know why you put me through that when I was cleared first time through. I have gone through five airport security points with my child in a carrier, and no one ever asked me to remove the carrier. I believe TSA rules are supposed to be uniform.’

She snapped back ‘Move on. I don’t have to answer your question.’

I tried very hard to remain calm, and responded, ‘Yes you do. You need to provide me with a response; with an answer…’ She took out her hand-held radio and called her supervisor, ‘We have a big problem here. Someone is disrupting our procedure…’

In less than two minutes two female supervisors clad in suits showed up. The older one with hair glued in the air with two cans of hairspray and make-up two inches thick listened as I repeated my question, then she responded,

‘I am afraid we cannot provide you with an answer. We can’t share our security criteria with you. They are all classified.’

I almost gasped, ‘Why?’

She responded: ‘Because to announce our criteria, our rules, would tip off the terrorists.’

I countered that: ‘You have a list of rules at the check point entrance regarding liquid, shoes, lighters and matches…There is no section there referring to baby carriers. And, I have been through several airports, and none had any issue with the carriers. Are you saying there is a rule on carriers but it is considered secret and classified?’

She blinked several times with eyelashes bending downward from the weight of gunky mascara mud clumped on top of them. Next, with a voice raised about two notches higher she responded ‘Okay. It is not in the actual classified rules. We do things based on ‘Discretion.’ This is one of those. We have discretion.’

I asked again, ‘Okay. I would like to see the guidelines governing this discretion. That way I’ll know how to prepare for security in the future, as I did with your rules on shoes, water, liquid baby formula…’

She snapped back, ‘we have unlimited discretion. There are no rules. And we don’t have to answer your questions…’

I didn’t move, and I repeated my question, and added ‘Unlimited discretion? You mean you can also take us in and do a cavity search based on this discretion? This sounds like unlimited authority, and as a citizen, as a taxpayer, I have the right to know…’

At this point she took out her radio and called the airport police while I stood there looking and listening in disbelief. When two uniformed local airport police showed up, the TSA supervisor told them, ‘This lady insists on seeing our internal rules and classified procedures. I believe she poses a threat at this point and would like to have you either arrest her or keep her under observation until we decide to clear her for travel…’

That’s right. As a petite 5’4, 105 pound mother with an infant I was either being placed under arrest or observation as a security threat because I dared to question my rights and my government’s rules on security screening of its citizens.

The police officer, a gentlemanly young man, looked disgusted with the TSA supervisor. He turned to me and said,

‘Ma’am, why don’t you stop asking these questions and just proceed to your gate? We don’t want to be forced to act on this.’

I calmly responded, ‘Officer, I will proceed as soon as I am provided with an answer. If this is a cause for arrest now, and if you think you can back it up with probable cause, then please go ahead. You know and I know that this is not lawful.’

At the end of the security screening belt, as these events were unfolding, people were rushing past us towards their gates. Most of them were avoiding eye contact; maybe it was too much for them to actual see the reality and the state of their mobility on display before them. Some were shooting quick wondering glances. A very few brave ones actually slowed down or paused to whisper things like, ‘This is disgusting,’ or ‘they have no right to treat people like this,’ or, ‘this is a shame,’…

The TSA supervisor, seeing that her bluff did not have the desired effect and a bit nervously, changed her tune,

‘All we are doing is protecting you and everyone else from the terrorists. These procedures, these measures, are all for your own good; for your own safety.’

I repeated myself one more time, ‘And how do baby carriers pose a threat? How about the endangerment you caused my infant by having me walk across the slippery floor while holding her, handling my belongings…?’

She gave her best line of reasoning, ‘If I remember correctly some one, in some country, tried to hide explosives in a baby toy, or a baby stroller, or something like that…You know how the terrorists used airplanes and lack of airport security to blow up and kill thousands of our people…’

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at this lame and irrational excuse, ‘Okay, in Bali and in India terrorists blew up resorts and hotels, and people got injured and killed. Does this mean we now have to stack up barriers in front of our hotels and resorts, and have government security agents march in front of them? The terrorists hit some fast food chain joint in Turkey; does this mean we now have to have metal detectors and guards in front of our restaurants? With this line of reasoning where will we stop? Will we ever stop?’

By this time I had already missed my plane. Disgustedly I walked towards the US Air counter to get my refund, go rent a car, and drive 20 hours back home. As I walked away with the two police officers accompanying me, the young male officer said sympathetically,‘Ma’am, I am so sorry for that. Even we can’t argue with these TSA guys. Now they are carrying badges and guns, and we see all sorts of abuses, dumb calls, but they are high with a sense of power…’

I don’t know how but I managed to smile, and said ‘I know. My organization has 50 or so DHS/TSA whistleblowers, and I’ve heard stories worse than this…They are able to assert these abusive powers and practices because most people, the majority, just like you, would rather back off and put up with their abuse of power…Does this sound American to you?’

Before I turned the corner I stopped, turned around, and looked at the line moving forward at the security check point. The imagery was almost symbolic. People stopping by the security belt; bending over humbly, as if before Roman Gods or Pharos, to remove their shoes. Then, like a herd of sheep, while holding up their IDs and boarding passes, they took little steps towards the detectors while looking at the other side, hoping soon they’d be ‘cleared’ and ‘allowed’ to join the others who’d ‘made’ it.

# # # #

The No Fly List, also called the terrorist watch list, is a secret list created and maintained by the US government of people who are not permitted to board a plane for travel in or out of the country. The list includes at least 1 million names as of now, up 32% since 2007 as reported by USA Today in March 2009. On September 11, 2001, the FBI’s ‘no transport’ list had the names of 16 people were considered to present a specific known or suspected threat to aviation.

Let’s look at TSA’s definition of No Fly and Selectee list from their own website:

    What are the watch lists?

    Historically, nine government agencies maintained watch lists with names of known or suspected terrorists and criminals. Two of these lists, the "No Fly" and "Selectee" lists were maintained by TSA. The "No Fly" list is a list of individuals who are prohibited from boarding an aircraft. The "Selectee" list is a list of individuals who must undergo additional security screening before being permitted to board an aircraft. After 9/11 the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) was created through a Presidential Directive to be administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, in cooperation with the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, State, and Treasury, as well as the Central Intelligence Agency. The purpose for the TSC is to consolidate terrorism based watch lists in one central database, the Terrorist Screening Center Database (TSDB), and make that data available for use in screening. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies nominate individuals to be put on the watch list based on established criteria, with the list maintained by the TSC. TSA's "No-Fly" and "Selectee" lists are subsets of the TSDB and are maintained by the TSC.

According to a report issued by the General Accounting Office, the "no fly" list is just one of 12 terrorist and criminal watch lists maintained by the federal government.

In the sub header of this piece I refer to this list and the entire system as a ‘black hole’ because the list is sort of a secret, how you end up there is sort of a secret, their criteria for the list is sort of a secret, and if or how an innocent citizen can get off this list also happens to be a secret. Pay attention to the vague, ambigious definition by the TSA cited above. Go to and comb through their entire site and you’ll still come up empty handed as to how or why you may end up on their list, or how you can find out about it, or how you can get yourself off of their list.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) issued a report after it obtained limited information on the No Fly and Selectee lists through FOIA:

“Since the TSA took over, the watch list "has expanded almost daily as Intelligence Community agencies and the Office of Homeland Security continue to request the addition of individuals to the No-Fly and Selectee lists." (TSA Watchlists memo) The names are approved for inclusion on the basis of a secret criteria. The Watchlists memo notes that "all individuals have been added or removed ... based on the request of and information provided, almost exclusively by [redacted].”

There are two primary principles that guide the placement on the lists, but these principles have been withheld. The documents do not show whether there is a formal approval process where an independent third party entity is charged with verifying that the names are selected appropriately and that the information is accurate.”

As one of our readers, Jean Carbonneau, brought to our attention, one of the main reasons people don’t react as they should to such a Kafkaesque police system is that they don’t consider themselves ‘affected.’ They may get a bit grumpy at those long lines in the airports, or the patting and probing, but many consider it just ‘necessary added security,’ move on, and get used to it. When these people, the majority, read about these lists they brush it off as tools directed towards real criminals and terrorists suspects; you know, a tool to protect us against those darn hairy dark-skin foreigners who spend their lives planning to blow us up… They need to see and hear and read about tens if not hundreds of thousands of good ole Americans with spotless records who for one reason or another have ended up in the DHS’ black hole, and most likely due to some ‘discretion.’ Sure, the mainstream media has covered it a tiny bit; certainly not enough; at least not as much as they’ve been covering and exagerating the threats of vague terrorists and boogiemen.

If you come across those, which I am sure you do every single day, have them read the story of a Former US Diplomat John Graham, who actually received an award by the first President Bush for his NGO work, and who somehow ended up in the black hole. Let them read Graham’s own words:

“I'm being accused of a serious--even treasonous--criminal intent by a faceless bureaucracy, with no chance (that I can find) to refute any errors or false charges. (...) Whether it's a mistake or whether somebody with the power to hassle me really thinks I am a threat, the stark absence of due process is unsettling. The worst of it is that being put on a list of America's enemies seems to be permanent. The TSA form states: "the TSA clearance process will not remove a name from the Watch Lists. Instead this process distinguishes passengers from persons who are in fact on the Watch Lists by placing their names and identifying information in a cleared portion of the Lists" (which may or may not, the form continues, reduce the airport hassles).

In protecting ourselves, we can't allow our leaders to continue to create a climate of fear and mistrust, to destroy our civil liberties and, in so doing, to change who we are as a nation. What a victory that would be for our enemies! And what a betrayal of real patriots, and to so many in the wider world who still remember this country as a source of inspiration and hope.”

…or have them check out many stories of US veterans, nuns, doctors, starred generals, librarians…who found themselves in this nightmare of being listed by their government, and learned that there isn’t much they can do to clear themselves:

Bill McDonald, 60, a retired Air Force colonel has a chest full of ribbons and enough frustration with the TSA to fill a bucket.

“With my two tours in Vietnam and active service in support of Desert Storm I find myself a terrorist suspect?,” McDonald says. “Seemingly not even my Top Secret, nuclear and satellite related clearances plus over 26 and half years of service mean much,” he says. “You can surely imagine my disgust at being identified on a terror watch list.”

Although McDonald has flown several times since 9/11, it wasn’t until just last year that he started having problems checking in. McDonald and his wife were fond of online check-in procedures but were rejected and told to report to the ticket counter. “That was our first clue something was wrong.”

When a ticket agent told McDonald he was on the watch list, he was stunned. He took out his military I.D. card that he always carries, but it was of little help. He missed that flight because of the added security.

“I was just kind of flabbergasted that I had to play this game, but decided that I wasn’t going to be reactive,” he said.

He has pulled together all the needed information to apply for clearance, but says he’s hesitating submitting the forms because of all the information they require.

“Somehow, hearing about the wrongful use of info by the TSA does not give me a comfort zone,” McDonald said. “I say this despite the fact that I know I am all over the data bases in the government.”

...or have them watch the following video of the TSA detention, harassment, and abuse of a Ron Paul organization official which was caught on tape at a St. Louis airport:

YouTube Clip:

…tell these people that they or their family members or their friends can easily end up on a secret list for secret reasons by secret persons working behind the walls of their government secret’s agencies. And, that there ain’t a darn thing they can do, or anywhere or any person to go to, even if there were, they wouldn’t know about it, since that too would be secret.

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Introduction: The Makings of a Police State

Aren’t We There?

I am starting my new series on a topic that for some reason, or reasons, has been designated as another of those ‘no no’ subjects. Even the mentioning of this topic is enough to get one labeled as an extremist, radical, nutty, kooky…Why do most people react this way? As with other issues here too we are looking at multiple factors.

For the government, the establishment, side of it, the reasons are obvious, and fit any government that is, has been, or was ever considered a police state. Have you ever come across a police state that actually considered itself to be a ‘police state’? Exactly, I didn’t think so. The governing/ruling powers of police states always seek to legitimize their police measures; whether made necessary by external threats, domestic threats, economic threats, security or terrorism threats…there is always a big threat(s) they point to and base their justification upon, and they always, and I mean always, claim that their measures are for the good of the public, for the security of their people, for the protection of their constituents. They portray their dissenters as collaborators in whatever ‘threat’ they claim they are fighting against, and silence their critics either with extreme authoritarian measures, or, if they are able to, by simply labeling them as radical, nutty, and kooky, enough to marginalize them and neutralize their potential effect.

The same holds true for the media side of this phenomena. After all, one of the major characteristics of a police state is social control and indoctrination through control of the media. These states utilize the media to spread their propaganda, to manufacture consent, to evilize chosen enemies, to paint dissent as unpatriotic, the dissenters as the enemies of the state, and of course the critics as the radical and nutty minority.

Now how about the people? Why are the majority of our people so quick to write off even the possibility of us becoming a police state, and do so in a similar manner as the government and media as described above? Aside from being indoctrinated by the establishment’s calculative presentations, most people seem to be guided by their own biased beliefs and misplaced values. It may be from misdirected patriotism, when their love of our nation subconsciously is coupled with the love of whoever may be ruling it. It may be the simple act of denial; just as parents blinded by their parental love and pride refuse to see and acknowledge the negative realities in their children, there are those who willingly put on blinders before their eyes just so that they don’t see the ugly realities inflicting the country they love and value. Maybe it is a case of extreme pride being misdirected towards those misperceived…

Whatever the reasons, the almost uniform response to those who even attempt to raise the police state question seems to be the same. Perhaps this is the reason why the very few outspoken legal experts, historians, and civil liberties activists, carefully, almost timidly, choose their words when it comes to the question of a police state in the USA. What I hear, what I read is usually along the following lines:

We may be moving toward a police state.

At this rate we may become a police state.

Are we on our way to become a police state?

These people talk about a ‘police state’ as if there is this exactly defined state with even more exactly defined prerequisites, so that when this state is reached it can be uniformly declared by all as a police state at the exact same time. However, most of these same people, when I talk with them privately, in a hushed voice tell me that they actually think we are there, or almost there. They are so afraid to come out and say it. They are terrified at the prospect of being attacked, labeled, and marginalized. So this is why you get the careful phrasing, and when you get close, the hushed voices.

Anyhow, I am not known to shy away too much from being labeled, attacked, and/or ostracized. I have serious concerns for my country, where it is today, and where it’s headed. I have questions that I’ve been seeking answers for, which I want to share and discuss with you, openly and loudly, not in whispers. My main question pertaining to a police state is ‘aren’t we there?’ rather than ‘are we there?’ I keep scrutinizing the broad definitions and characteristics of a police state in every encyclopedia and other source I can get my hands on, then I check and compare those aspects with what we have today as a national security state, and every time I do this my checkmark list tells me we seem to be ‘there’ already:

On Invoking, Creating and Maintaining Perpetual Wars:

Our ambigious unending War on Terror, Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

On Control and Monitoring Mass Communication:

NSA’s domestic spying on US Citizens are made legal & advocated as necessary

On Search & Seizures with No Probable Cause or Judicial Oversight:

FBI’s National Security Letters to be used on American Citizens with its Gag Order Provision

On Controlling & Restricting Citizens’ Mobility:

TSA’s ever expanding secretive No Fly List with the ‘known’ inclusion of One Million Americans

On Government Operating in Extreme Secrecy:

Government expenditures of nearly $10 BILLION to maintain tens of millions of secret documents and operations, and unconstitutional uses of Executive Privileges such as State Secrets Privilege

On Control and Usage of Media as Government’s Own Propaganda Machine:

The American Mainstream Media today is an extension and mouthpiece of the Federal Government

On Silencing & Persecution of Dissent:

Our government’s well-established record of its treatment of whistleblowers and critics, whether by gag orders or other overt and covert measures

On General Disregard for Human Rights and Related International Laws:

Our Government’s documented record on Rendition and Torture

I can easily go on and list more items, and justify every single one of them with supporting documents, cases, and reports, but for now the above criteria should suffice for our upcoming discussions and analyses. While I am at it I want to preempt one expected argument I have heard more than once:

‘Of course we are not a police state, since you and others can write and talk about these issues without getting arrested or executed. Just look at all these bloggers and independent media…’

First, that’s confusing a totalitarian government with a police state. You don’t have to be a totalitarian state in order to be a police state. In fact police states can and do emerge in democratic countries – with the consent and acceptance of the populace. Totalitarianism is simply an extreme version.

Next, not being ‘there’ yet in this regard does not mean we don’t fulfill most if not all other criteria to be considered a police state. Nations gradually creep towards becoming a police state, in various stages and by various degrees.

Finally, this aspect may actually be an indicator of an even more pathetic situation. Meaning, by having complete control over the mass media and utilizing successful propaganda and indoctrination the government doesn’t even feel the need to go after the irate vigilant minority. They let their PR machine marginalize these voices and ensure their exclusion from the broad medium of communication channels.

Okay, now it is your turn. Don’t be shy, and please don’t censure yourself. Where do you see us as a nation? How do you define a police state? Do you think we are already there?

And take a few seconds to participate in our survey on the left column.

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