Frightening Signs of An Emerging Police State
via Project Censored – Compiled by Gary Stamper
Since the passage of the 2001 PATRIOT Act, the United States has become increasingly monitored and militarized at the expense of civil liberties. The 2012 passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has allowed the military to detain indefinitely without trial any US citizen that the government labels a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism, while President Barack Obama’s signing of the National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order has authorized widespread federal and military control of the national economy and resources during “emergency and non-emergency conditions.” Since 2010, the Department of Homeland Security’s If You See Something, Say Something™ campaign has encouraged the public to report all suspicious activity to local authorities, even though actions that the DHS identifies as “suspicious” include the constitutionally protected right to criticize the government or engage in nonviolent protest.
Censored News Cluster: The Police State and Civil Liberties
Spencer Ackerman and Noah Shachtman, “Read the FBI Memo: Agents Can ‘Suspend the Law,’” Wired, March 28, 2012 http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/03/fbi-memo-bend-suspend-law/
James Bamford, “The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say),” Wired, March 15, 2012, http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter.
Chris Hedges, “Why I’m Suing Barack Obama,” Truthdig, January 16, 2012, http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/why_im_suing_barack_obama_20120116.
White House, Executive Order: National Defense Resources Preparedness, Office of the Press Secretary, March 16, 2012, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/16/executive-order-national-defense-resources-preparedness.
White House, “Statement by the President on H.R. 1540,” Office of the Press Secretary, December 31, 2011, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/12/31/statement-president-hr-1540.
Student Researcher: Robert Usher (San Francisco State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows (San Francisco State University)
Top 10 Signs of the Impending U.S. Police State
1. The Internet Clampdown
One saving grace of alternative media in this age of unfettered corporate conglomeration has been the internet. While the masses are spoon-fed predigested news on TV and in mainstream print publications, the truth-seeking individual still has access to a broad array of investigative reporting and political opinion via the world-wide web. Of course, it was only a matter of time before the government moved to patch up this crack in the sky.
Attempts to regulate and filter internet content are intensifying lately, coming both from telecommunications corporations (who are gearing up to pass legislation transferring ownership and regulation of the internet to themselves), and the Pentagon (which issued an ” Information Operations Roadmap” in 2003, signed by Donald Rumsfeld, which outlines tactics such as network attacks and acknowledges, without suggesting a remedy, that US propaganda planted in other countries has easily found its way to Americans via the internet). One obvious tactic clearing the way for stifling regulation of internet content is the growing media frenzy over child pornography and “internet predators,” which will surely lead to legislation that by far exceeds in its purview what is needed to fight such threats.
2. “The Long War”
This little piece of clumsy marketing died off quickly, but it gave away what many already suspected: the War on Terror will never end, nor is it meant to end. It is designed to be perpetual. As with the War on Drugs, it outlines a goal that can never be fully attained — as long as there are pissed off people and explosives. The Long War will eternally justify what are ostensibly temporary measures: suspension of civil liberties, military expansion, domestic spying, massive deficit spending and the like. This short-lived moniker told us all, “get used to it. Things aren’t going to change any time soon.”
3. The USA PATRIOT Act
Did anyone really think this was going to be temporary? Yes, this disgusting power grab gives the government the right to sneak into your house, look through all your stuff and not tell you about it for weeks on a rubber stamp warrant. Yes, they can look at your medical records and library selections. Yes, they can pass along any information they find without probable cause for purposes of prosecution. No, they’re not going to take it back, ever.
4. Prison Camps
This last January the Army Corps of Engineers gave Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root nearly $400 million to build detention centers in the United States, for the purpose of unspecified ” new programs.” Of course, the obvious first guess would be that these new programs might involve rounding up Muslims or political dissenters — I mean, obviously detention facilities are there to hold somebody. I wish I had more to tell you about this, but it’s, you know… secret.
5. Touchscreen Voting Machines
Despite clear, copious evidence that these nefarious contraptions are built to be tampered with, they continue to spread and dominate the voting landscape, thanks to Bush’s “Help America Vote Act,” the exploitation of corrupt elections officials, and the general public’s enduring cluelessness.
In Utah, Emery County Elections Director Bruce Funk witnessed security testing by an outside firm on Diebold voting machines which showed them to be a security risk. But his warnings fell on deaf ears. Instead Diebold attorneys were flown to Emery County on the governor’s airplane to squelch the story. Funk was fired. In Florida, Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho discovered an alarming security flaw in their Diebold system at the end of last year. Rather than fix the flaw, Diebold refused to fulfill its contract. Both of the other two touchscreen voting machine vendors, Sequoia and ES&S, now refuse to do business with Sancho, who is required by HAVA to implement a touchscreen system and will be sued by his own state if he doesn’t. Diebold is said to be pressuring for Sancho’s ouster before it will resume servicing the county.
Stories like these and much worse abound, and yet TV news outlets have done less coverage of the new era of elections fraud than even 9/11 conspiracy theories. This is possibly the most important story of this century, but nobody seems to give a damn. As long as this issue is ignored, real American democracy will remain an illusion. The midterm elections will be an interesting test of the public’s continuing gullibility about voting integrity, especially if the Democrats don’t win substantial gains, as they almost surely will if everything is kosher.
Bush just suggested that his brother Jeb would make a good president. We really need to fix this problem soon.
6. Signing Statements
Bush has famously never vetoed a bill. This is because he prefers to simply nullify laws he doesn’t like with “signing statements.” Bush has issued over 700 such statements, twice as many as all previous presidents combined. A few examples of recently passed laws and their corresponding dismissals, courtesy of the Boston Globe :
–Dec. 30, 2005: US interrogators cannot torture prisoners or otherwise subject them to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.
Bush’s signing statement: The president, as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing terrorist attacks.
–Dec. 30, 2005: When requested, scientific information ”prepared by government researchers and scientists shall be transmitted [to Congress] uncensored and without delay.”
Bush’s signing statement: The president can tell researchers to withhold any information from Congress if he decides its disclosure could impair foreign relations, national security, or the workings of the executive branch.
–Dec. 23, 2004: Forbids US troops in Colombia from participating in any combat against rebels, except in cases of self-defense. Caps the number of US troops allowed in Colombia at 800.
Bush’s signing statement: Only the president, as commander in chief, can place restrictions on the use of US armed forces, so the executive branch will construe the law ”as advisory in nature.”
Essentially, this administration is bypassing the judiciary and deciding for itself whether laws are constitutional or not. Somehow, I don’t see the new Supreme Court lineup having much of a problem with that, though. So no matter what laws congress passes, Bush will simply choose to ignore the ones he doesn’t care for. It’s much quieter than a veto, and can’t be overridden by a two-thirds majority. It’s also totally absurd.
7. Warrantless Wiretapping
Amazingly, the GOP sees this issue as a plus for them. How can this be? What are you, stupid? You find out the government is listening to the phone calls of US citizens, without even the weakest of judicial oversight and you think that’s okay? Come on — if you know anything about history, you know that no government can be trusted to handle something like this responsibly. One day they’re listening for Osama, and the next they’re listening in on Howard Dean.
Think about it: this administration hates unauthorized leaks. With no judicial oversight, why on earth wouldn’t they eavesdrop on, say, Seymour Hersh, to figure out who’s spilling the beans? It’s a no-brainer. Speaking of which, it bears repeating: terrorists already knew we would try to spy on them. They don’t care if we have a warrant or not. But you should.
8. Free Speech Zones
I know it’s old news, but… come on, are they fucking serious?
9. High-ranking Whistleblowers
Army Generals. Top-level CIA officials. NSA operatives. White House cabinet members. These are the kind of people that Republicans fantasize about being, and whose judgment they usually respect. But for some reason, when these people resign in protest and criticize the Bush administration en masse , they are cast as traitorous, anti-American publicity hounds. Ridiculous. The fact is, when people who kill, spy and deceive for a living tell you that the White House has gone too far, you had damn well better pay attention. We all know most of these people are staunch Republicans. If the entire military except for the two guys the Pentagon put in front of the press wants Rumsfeld out, why on earth wouldn’t you listen?
10. The CIA Shakeup
Was Porter Goss fired because he was resisting the efforts of Rumsfeld or Negroponte? No. These appointments all come from the same guys, and they wouldn’t be nominated if they weren’t on board all the way. Goss was probably canned so abruptly due to a scandal involving a crooked defense contractor, his hand-picked third-in-command, the Watergate hotel and some hookers.
If Bush’s nominee for CIA chief, Air Force General Michael Hayden, is confirmed, that will put every spy program in Washington under military control. Hayden, who oversaw the NSA warrantless wiretapping program and is clearly down with the program. That program? To weaken and dismantle or at least neuter the CIA. Despite its best efforts to blame the CIA for “intelligence errors” leading to the Iraq war, the picture has clearly emerged — through extensive CIA leaks — that the White House’s analysis of Saddam’s destructive capacity was not shared by the Agency. This has proved to be a real pain in the ass for Bush and the gang.
Who’d have thought that career spooks would have moral qualms about deceiving the American people? And what is a president to do about it? Simple: make the critical agents leave, and fill their slots with Bush/Cheney loyalists. Then again, why not simply replace the entire organization? That is essentially what both Rumsfeld at the DoD and newly minted Director of National Intelligence John are doing — they want to move intelligence analysis into the hands of people that they can control, so the next time they lie about an “imminent threat” nobody’s going to tell. And the press is applauding the move as a “necessary reform.”
Remember the good old days, when the CIA were the bad guys?
And since then?
Obama Outdoing Bush, Cheney on Police State
By Victor Thorn
Is it possible that Barack Obama’s White House is joining forces with Republican neocons in order to overturn a decision that deemed the use of indefinite military detention an unconstitutional offense? The answer, regrettably, is yes.
Teaming up with war hawk senators such as John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), on February 7, officials from Obama’s Department of Justice (DoJ) appeared in New York’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals in an attempt to nullify a 2012 decision by federal judge Katherine Forrest where she ruled that indefinite detention under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) violated the United States Constitution.
Ironically, notable leftists who originally applauded our so-called antiwar president filed this lawsuit. Among those suing the government were academics, peace protesters, authors and reporters like Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame, and The New York Times‘s Christopher Hedges.
In essence, these individuals objected to the fact that under Obama’s NDAA, the U.S. military could arrest and jail them—without specific charges, trial, or an end to their detainment—simply because they spoke to or associated with someone that the government considered a terrorist.
When Forrest determined that these provisions of the NDAA violated a citizen’s First and Fifth Amendment rights, the Obama White House filed an appeal, while also seeking an immediate stay on her injunction.
In response to the Obama administration, Ellsberg stated during a February 6 interview with Amy Goodman, a liberal talk show host on Democracy Now, “I believe we have impeachable offenses by all of the people arguing this case.”
What’s most deplorable about the notion of indefinite detention is that, according to Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.), “It was his [Obama’s] administration that insisted this language be included in the [NDAA] bill.”
In response, many on the left have finally thrown down the gauntlet in terms of Obama’s foreign policy. On November 6, 2011, Taylor Tyler, a writer for the nonpartisan, Internet-based Independent Voter Network, pointed out, “Many of Obama’s policies—from the use of extraordinary rendition, targeted killings and state secrets, to indefinite detention and domestic spying—have become nearly indistinguishable from those of the Bush administration.”
Another slap in the face arose when Obama not only refused to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention center, but also suggested that the DoJ proceed with Bush-style military tribunals against detainees. Moreover, with Obama continuing his support for the use of drones to indiscriminately kill American citizens on foreign soil—essentially becoming judge, jury and executioner—those who formerly cheered the anti-waterboarding candidate are aghast by how much his actions mirror the neocons.
Even as far back as August 1, 2009, Sheldon Richman, vice president of The Future of Freedom Foundation—an organization promoting libertarian causes—complained, “In Obama we have a new Jekyll and Hyde. From harsh critic of Bush’s trampling of individual rights, Obama has transmogrified into a champion of the omnipotent state.”
Similarly, on March 6, 2012, civil rights litigator Glenn Greenwald penned an article about Attorney General Eric Holder’s defense of the CIA secretly targeting U.S. citizens for execution without even charging them with a crime. Greenwald issued a stark warning: “We supposedly learned important lessons from the abuses of power of the Nixon administration, and then of the Bush administration: namely, that we don’t trust government officials to exercise power in the dark, with no judicial oversight, with no obligation to prove their accusations. Yet now we hear exactly this same mentality issuing from Obama, his officials and defenders to justify a far more extreme power than either Nixon or Bush dreamed of asserting.”
Such unbridled abuses of power come with repercussions. Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, stated that Obama’s legacy is irrevocably tarnished by such legislation. “He will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law.”
Obama Bamboozles Loyalists
Why Do So Many on the Left Still Have Their Heads Buried in the Sand?
When assessing a president’s effectiveness, one of the best gauges is to speak with those who initially placed faith in him. On February 6, AMERICAN FREE PRESS contacted two individuals that increasingly feel a great deal of disappointment in Barack Obama’s policies.
J.D. Tuccille, the online managing editor of Reason magazine, a publication that specializes in libertarian issues, told this writer, “Obama has gone back on a number of vows, such as closing Gitmo, ending the PATRIOT Act, and the use of indefinite detention. He hasn’t lived up to a lot of his verbiage.”
When asked why ardent leftists like filmmaker Michael Moore were surprised by Obama’s actions, Tuccille responded, “They shouldn’t be because Obama did the same thing during his first term. It’s accurate to say there’s policy continuity from Bush to Obama. The only difference is that Obama has a ‘D’ [for Democrat] beside his name.”
Chris Ernesto, a longtime organizer for the Florida-based antiwar group St. Pete for Peace, held even more reservations. “Nobody imagined that this president would carry forward the policies of Bush-Cheney,” Ernesto began. “But now I realize why he’s the perfect person to promote a neocon agenda. Obama has a pretty face and speaks real well. So, he’s perpetuated the myth that its okay to detain people, kill them, or target and invade countries like Libya and Mali.”
Ernesto next addressed a topic that AFP has covered at length. “The Obama administration claims that it’s acceptable to assassinate American citizens without charges or bringing them to trial. In fact, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that such practices were ‘legal, ethical and wise.’ That was a real jaw-dropper.”
Another sore point for Ernesto is the antiwar movement itself. He stated, “The left hates when we bash Obama, but they can’t admit that they got tricked. After Obama’s election, the left went to sleep. I soon realized that, other than a few passionate organizations like CODE PINK and the Answer Coalition, these people were hypocrites. They weren’t really antiwar. They were anti-Bush. Where are all the peace rallies now that Obama is doing the same thing as Bush and Cheney by assassinating people and using indefinite detention?”
Akin To His Predecessors, Is Obama’s CIA Also maintaining Black Sites?
Amid the controversy surrounding Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director David Petraeus’ November 9, 2012 resignation, the media largely ignored a riveting comment uttered by his mistress Paula Broadwell. During an October 26, 2012 speech at the University of Denver, Broadwell may have peeled back another layer of the Benghazi cover-up.
In addition to being used as a hub for running guns from Libya to Syrian rebels, did the U.S. consulate also serve as a black site to illegally hold detainees—an act in direct violation of Obama’s January 2009 Executive Order 13491?
Broadwell told her audience, “The CIA annex had actually—had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner, and they think that the [September 11, 2012] attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back.”
As someone privy to classified information, Broadwell seemingly acknowledged her illicit lover’s knowledge of this situation. “The challenging thing for General Petraeus is that in his new position [as CIA Director], he’s not allowed to communicate with the press. So he’s known all this—they had correspondence with the CIA station chief in Libya.”
On November 12, 2012 Jennifer Griffin of FOX News not only substantiated Broadwell’s statements, she took them one step further. Griffin wrote, “According to multiple intelligence sources [that] have served in Benghazi, there were more than just Libyan militia members who were held and interrogated by CIA contractors at the CIA annex in the days prior to the attack. Other prisoners from additional countries in Africa and the Middle East were brought to this location.”
While the CIA has fervently denied these claims, on July 12, 2011, Jeremy Scahill of The Nation, an unapologetic hard-left publication, verified that the CIA maintained a secret rendition prison in the basement of Somalia’s Mogadishu Aden Adde International Airport where suspects from as far away as Kenya were snagged off the streets
John Brennan: An Ugly Choice For CIA
Barack Obama cemented the continuity in foreign policy from his predecessors with the nomination of Bush-era spook John O. Brennan to head the CIA. As director of President George W. Bush’s National Counterterrorism Center, Brennan received regular briefings on that administration’s use of rendition and torture—including waterboarding—yet he never publicly denounced these policies.
Pushback by human rights activists was so intense during Obama’s first term in office that Brennan’s name had to be yanked from consideration to lead the CIA. Yet, such opposition hasn’t dampened Obama’s enthusiasm for Brennan, who over the past four years has been the architect of this administration’s drone strikes, in addition to playing a role in determining who gets exterminated for extrajudicial assassination under their “kill list.”
Moreover, in a recently released book, Benghazi: The Definitive Report, former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb and former Green Beret Jack Murphy claim that Brennan ran covert weapons transfer programs operating out of Libya, Africa and the Middle East.
Considering his appalling track record, when Obama introduced Brennan last month to takeover the CIA, he stated, “[The] reason I value John so much is his integrity and commitment to the values that define us as Americans.”
Astounded by this message, on January 8, journalist Conor Friedersdorf asked, “Are the American people being asked to entrust our clandestine spy agency and its killing and interrogation apparatuses to a man who was complicit in illegal torture? There is strong circumstantial evidence that the answer is yes.”