Posts tagged civil liberties
Early Lessons of Bunkerville
The rush and rapidity of events in Bunkerville, Nevada surprised and cheered many, and there is a lot to learn from this case.
It’s too soon to know the long-term impact of people standing up against armed federales last week, but here are some early takeaways.
Location matters. This insurrection, brought on by federal government arrogance and greed, happened in part because people could get there, physically and intellectually. Wide open rangeland (for hardy cattle and 100 year old turtles) physically and visually juxtaposed with the artificial stupidity of “free speech zones,” domesticated citizens penned in by red government tape, tell a story without words, history lessons, or politics. The imagery brings to mind the words of one of my favorite heroes, “[T]he truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.”
Sifters like Drudge and Alex Jones are of enormous value in the struggle for human liberty. I use Jeff Deist’s phraseology here because it is so perfect. These market-driven and individualist information selectors, empowered by the low cost of the Internet and its associated technology, shared information in real time, live-streaming government actions and reactions, while providing the needed context of history, politics, economics, religion and culture, directly to people, not through their unions, their political parties, or their employers or their churches. The search for the “truth” can be activated and shared across state lines and political party prejudice. With timely information and honest context, government missteps and abuse can captivate and compel and even organize instant armies.
Sparks cause fires, and fires can radically change landscapes. But the humble spark that invites sympathy may be more powerful than other even more deserving sparks. Who doesn’t love family farmers, dogies on the range, and even a poor mistreated turtle? The lockdown of Boston a year ago was highly offensive, illegal in any constitutional sense, and chock-full of federalized law enforcement excess and abuse. Actual truth about every aspect of the backpack bombers has proven hard to get, to this day. Yet, because the government abuse was presented as justified, and was delivered with shock and awe, it succeeded as a practice run for Any City, USA. The thousands of innocent citizens in Boston who had their rights abused were also faceless and unsympathetic. Apparently, no puppies or kittens were harmed during the collective violation of their owners. Contrast this to what the feds did and intended to do to the Bundy family and their cows and calves. Property lines mattered, the victims had faces, children and traditions, and innocent mothers, children and cattle were caught in the threatened crossfire. The turtle situation also mattered, as news about how the government really treats endangered species boiled and bubbled across the Internet. The favor-trading and rent-seeking of state and federal politicians and their financiers were also exposed. The facts conspired to reveal the face of evil in the bland spineless government officials, in steely-eyed government snipers targeting unarmed Americans should they step out of line, in jackbooted government thugs and their machines itching for total dominance.
Simplicity is not 100% necessary in a spontaneous revolution, or any other kind. The Bundy case is not legally simple, and it has been over twenty years in the making. One could easily make the case, as the feds clearly rationalized, that the Bundys’ knew this was coming, they had to pay the demanded fines, and that public land is for public, re: “governmental” uses, as defined by whatever appropriate bureaucrat is in charge this decade, often as directed by bought-and-paid-for Senators and Congressmen. Given how much of Nevada is already considered federal property, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to expect that average Americans would agree with the government position. Perhaps they did – but the tireless and fed up minority not only did not agree, because of the location, information and empathy, they showed up, like mushrooms after a spring rain, it must have seemed. Mechanistic calculations failed the bureaucrats, and a certain spirit of shared spontaneous sacrifice of brothers and sisters prevailed. Putting aside their own lives for the moment, and standing together, without violence but with an unusual and praiseworthy commitment to justice – this little army accomplished a great thing. Was it just property rights defense, or a simple reaction to an ugly power grab by a bristling state security apparatus? Or was this fight many things to many people, all arriving at the same place and frame of mind from various religious, constitutional, political, economic and cultural perspectives and interpretations?
Location, broad access to real-time information, a humble sympathetic spark illuminating a multifaceted and even complex problem of justice – these four ingredients seemed present in Bunkerville. Like the similar sounding Battle of Bunker Hill, the first battle of Bunkerville also illustrates that a weaker and inexperienced group opposed to tyranny can prevail against (or deliver a Pyrrhic victory to) the well-armed existent power structure. The BLM drawback will be publicly presented as a “good government” victory. In fact the federales and the politicians are already busy with their post-game analysis.
In their analysis, I believe they will determine that, 1) location matters (and hence must be carefully selected and controlled); 2) information is a domestic battleground and if messages cannot be managed, then technology and access should be; 3) empathy must be created and controlled (either for the government position, or for some government-controlled and friendly vector) and; 4) a more effective surveillance state, with better “mood” research, citizen tracking and list-keeping must be created, in order to prevent future “losses” such as at Bunkerville last week. Until we can shut down the printing presses at the Fed, the incessant borrowing, and the outrageous taxation in this troubled country, we cannot stop the state from more carefully choosing and hiding their mistreatment of citizens and their property. We will be unable to reverse the pre-emptive criminalization of every person in the country that is the fundamental driving purpose of the surveillance state.
As with the British Army in 1775, the state’s institutions sow the seeds of their own destruction. Inflation, crushing debt, and rats leaving the sinking ship will conspire towards ultimate collapse. As Bunkerville publicly demonstrated, we the people can peaceably help this process along. The state will call it reform, transformation, or even rehabilitation, even as politicians begin to scramble to “lead” the leaders of this liberty and justice movement. The state will shrink, in influence at first, as we have seen, then in physical presence, cohesiveness, and consumption. We will call it victory, and tell our children instructive fables of evil statist monsters. God bless the Bundys and their friends, and all of us. It has started!
LRC columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, blogs occasionally at Liberty and Power and The Beacon. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here or join her Facebook page. She ran for Congress in Virginia’s 6th district in 2012..
Copyright © 2014 Karen Kwiatkowski
Reprinted with permission from LRC.
An Iowa City with a Population of 7,000 Will Receive Armored Military Vehicle
I’ve covered the militarization of the domestic police force on several occasions on this website. For those of you who need a refresher, I suggest reading the following:
Moving along to the subject of today’s absurdity, the tiny city of Washington, Iowa with a population of 7,000 and 11 police officers, will be receiving a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle. Yes, they will be employing one of these in the field:
These things normally cost $500,000, but will be given to Washington, Iowa for free under a Defense Department program that gives surplus military equipment to domestic law enforcement.
Matthew Byrd writes in the Daily Iowan that:
Sometimes the news is just so drearily awful that you have to sit back and almost appreciate the pure comedy induced by it.
Take this item from Washington, Iowa, where the local police have recently acquired an MRAP vehicle (short for Mine Resistance Ambush Protected) through a Defense Department program that donates excess vehicles originally produced for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to local police departments across the United States, including other Iowa towns such as Mason City and Storm Lake.
The MRAP weighs an impressive 49,000 pounds, stands 10-feet tall, and possesses a whopping six-wheel drive. Originally designed to resist landmines and IEDs, it sure seems like the MRAP will come in handy for the notorious war zone otherwise known as Washington County, Iowa.
If you’re having a bad day, I highly recommend watching a video produced by the Des Moines Register in which Washington police officials try to justify the possession of a vehicle it clearly has no use for. The excuses range from school shootings (which are an actual concern but an MRAP seems like overkill) to a terrorist attack happening in central Iowa (because if there’s any place that seems ripe for a high-profile terrorist attack it’s Washington, Iowa, population 7,000).
As Radley Balko, the author of the book The Rise of the Warrior Cop, an expose of the police militarization of the last decade, found, in 2006 alone the Pentagon, “distributed vehicles worth $15.4 million, aircraft worth $8.9 million, boats worth $6.7 million, weapons worth $1 million and “other” items worth $110.6 million to local police agencies.”
The effects of cops moving from handguns to assault rifles and being equipped with tanks, bazookas, and Kevlar has been twofold. First, civil liberties have absolutely been eroded, with police-brutality rates skyrocketing in last decade according to the Justice Department. Not only that, but, with the influx of military gear into local police forces, cops begin to view themselves as soldiers whose main job is combat rather than keeping the peace. How else can you explain the rise in police shootings since 9/11?
USA! USA! USA!
Keep chanting like idiots until one of these rolls up to your doorstep.
Full article here.
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Image credit: http://libertyblitzkrieg.com
By Adam Dick
Ron Paul on CIA Targeting Congress
RPI Chairman and Founder Ron Paul, speaking on the Fox Business show The Independents Wednesday night, addresses the Central Intelligence Agency’s spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee — seemingly to cover up torture revelations against the agency. Paul notes the irony that Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) “doesn’t care about our privacy, but, lo and behold, she does care about her own.”
Watch the complete interview here:
Murray Sabrin Issues Statement on “Double-Dealer” Diane Feinstein
The Murray Sabrin campaign has issued the following statement, following news that the CIA has been spying on Congress.
“When it comes to respecting the Constitution and the privacy rights of Americans, for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, what’s good for the goose is an outrageous violation of the gander’s rights,” said U.S. Senate candidate Murray Sabrin. “It’s no skin off her nose when the National Security Agency does it to us, but when the Central Intelligence Agency does it to her, it’s a constitutional crisis.”
“Shouldn’t the same rules apply to both the goose and the gander?” questioned Sabrin.
In the wake of revelations that the CIA may have rooted through U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee files as part of an ongoing congressional review of agency practices, Feinstein, a California Democrat and chair of the committee, took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to fulminate against it for violating “principles embodied in the United States Constitution.”
In her speech she accused the agency of violating “Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches, as well as laws against domestic surveillance.”
All well and good and, when the facts are revealed, perhaps entirely justified, but Ms. Feinstein sang a markedly different tune last month when she offered what one report called “a full-throated defense of the (NSA’s) collection of data on billions of American phone calls.”
“There’s no question but what the NSA’s monitoring of the private communications of law-abiding Americans is unconstitutional,” said Sabrin. “And this view is shared across the political spectrum - even former Vice President Al Gore agrees with it.”
“Yes, there are real threats, and we must be cognizant of them, remaining vigilant at all times. The best way to do that is to start in our own backyard by respecting and zealously guarding our constitutionally protected civil liberties, including the right to be free from unwarranted government snooping,” said Sabrin.
“If the purpose of our national intelligence effort is to protect our freedom and liberty, it makes absolutely no sense to destroy them in the process. That thinking tosses the baby out with the bath water,” he said. “My next door neighbor on her cell phone is no less deserving of constitutional protection than Sen. Feinstein.”
Feinstein has a track record of double dealing on constitutionally protected civil liberties. For years, she’s been one of the Senate’s leading advocates of harsh and punitive gun-control legislation, never seeing a restriction on or the outlawing of a type of firearm she didn’t like. But in the meantime, she didn’t think twice about arming herself when faced with threats against herself and her family, a right she doesn’t think Americans deserve as if they can’t be trusted with it.
And what of New Jersey’s junior Sen. Cory Booker, the politician Sabrin seeks to replace this coming Election Day – how has he weighed in on the important issue of safeguarding the constitutional liberties of Americans? Apparently, he’s a complete MIA.
A search of online news sources revealed that Booker has been silent on Fourth Amendment and surveillance issues since last October’s Senate Special Election campaign, where he was harshly criticized by fellow New Jersey Democrats who ran against him in the primary for being all over the lot on the issue in a seeming effort to please whomever he was speaking with at the moment.
This time around, he’s completely silent.
“While issues of violations of our constitutionally protected civil liberties are being debated in the U.S. Senate and throughout the country, Cory Booker is dropping F-bombs on Twitter and talking about driving to Hawaii ,” said Sabrin. “He’s not even bothering to phone it in. Maybe he’s afraid the NSA will listen in.”
Imaged added to Bob’s original post with image credit to murraysabrin2014.com
Policing for Profit: Teaparty, ACLU, AFP Join Forces to Fight Worst in Nation Georgia Forfeiture Laws0
Policing for Profit: Teaparty, ACLU, AFP Join Forces to Fight Worst in Nation Georgia Forfeiture Laws
The ALCU and the Tea Party groups got together to fight the IRS last week. Looks like the’re getting together again in Georgia to keep cops from taking people’s property. Good.
Where possible all those who care about civil liberties (perhaps for different reasons) should pool their resources to push back against a state which has tested the limits of our Constitution. Just because one has $10,000 in cash and the police find it doesn’t mean that the police get to keep all or part of it. But that’s what many civil forfeiture laws now allow, even if one is never convicted of anything.
“Why do you have $10K in cash? “Good” citizens don’t carry $10,000 in cash. You must be a drug dealer. Because you’re a drug dealer the police department will now take your $10,000. Thank you.
What’s that you say? Did we find any drugs? You say you’re not a drug dealer? Well, that’s not how it works citizen. We don’t need to see any drugs when you have a pile of cash.
What’s that? A pile of cash is legal to own? Sure it might be legal to own it, but its also legal for us to take it.”
Critics say some law enforcement officers unfairly keep money seized from motorists who are investigated for drug trafficking and other offenses and eventually cleared. One man spent $12,000 in legal fees to recover $43,000 police took from him when he was pulled over in South Georgia, the institute noted.
The coalition wants the Georgia Legislature to pass House Bill 1, which would put law enforcement and prosecutors under greater scrutiny over how they use cash and property seized in criminal investigations. Supporters want Georgia’s forfeiture laws to be patterned after the rules in North Carolina, in which a jury can consider seizing property only after a conviction, and only if it was used for a crime.
Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org
About Nick Sorrentino
Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.
The Day We Fight Back – Tomorrow We Take A Stand!
As I posted last month, on February 11, a broad coalition of internet-involved organizations will go online to protest massive electronic surveillance by governments around the world including illegal NSA spying. The Day We Fight Back action hopes to repeat the successful beating of SOPA/PIPA bills in 2012. The protest coalition includes organizations holding high stakes on online freedoms, like the open-source software developer Mozilla Foundation, link aggregator Reddit, the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, Demand Progress, Campaign for Liberty, the ACLU, Tumblr and almost 6,000 more as of writing this post.
If Aaron Swartz was still with us I am sure he would be on the front line.
ChrisInMaryville will be participating in this protest.
Per Mike at Liberty Blitzkrieg who will also be participating: The protest is encouraging websites to put up a banner that will highlight ways to call and email your Congressional representatives in order to push them to support the USA Freedom Act, the only NSA focused legislation currently moving through Congress that actually has teeth to it in order to defend the 4th Amendment.
The organizations web site explains it’s mission:
DEAR USERS OF THE INTERNET,
In January 2012 we defeated the SOPA and PIPA censorship legislation with the largest Internet protest in history. Today we face another critical threat, one that again undermines the Internet and the notion that any of us live in a genuinely free society: mass surveillance.
In celebration of the win against SOPA and PIPA two years ago, and in memory of one of its leaders, Aaron Swartz, we are planning a day of protest against mass surveillance, to take place this February 11th.
Together we will push back against powers that seek to observe, collect, and analyze our every digital action. Together, we will make it clear that such behavior is not compatible with democratic governance. Together, if we persist, we will win this fight.
WHAT WE’LL DO ON FEBRUARY 11th:
If you’re in the US: Thousands of websites will host banners urging people to call/email Congress. We’ll ask legislators to oppose the FISA Improvements Act, support the USA Freedom Act, and enact protections for non-Americans.
If you’re not in the US: Visitors will be asked to urge appropriate targets to institute privacy protections.
The Hill covered the protest. Here are some excerpts:
Thousands of websites on Tuesday will take a stand against government surveillance by plastering protests across their home pages.
Tech companies and civil liberties organizations are hoping the demonstration, called The Day We Fight Back, will replicate their success in defeating the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) in 2012.
This time activists are focusing their energy on supporting the USA Freedom Act, which would end or curtail many of the most controversial surveillance programs at the National Security Agency and elsewhere.
More than 4,500 websites have pledged to help people contact their representatives in Congress to push for the Freedom Act, which was authored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Many sites are planning to post a banner on their pages with a widget so people can make a phone call or send an email to the lawmakers’ offices.
“Dear Internet, we’re sick of complaining about the NSA,” the banner reads. “We want new laws that curtail online surveillance. Today we fight back.”
Advocacy groups across the political spectrum, from the environmentalist organization Greenpeace to the conservative FreedomWorks have signed onto the push.
Now here’s a very powerful video on the protest. In many ways this is a tribute to the legacy and sacrifices of the late Aaron Swartz.
This is the civil rights issue of our time. 5,443 websites have announced their participation. Be on the right side of history.
Why Obama Speech Spells No Change to Global Surveillance| Brainwash Update
Published by breakingtheset
Abby Martin calls out Obama’s long awaited speech regarding NSA surveillance, dissecting aspects of the speech that suggest no real change to global surveillance policies.
By Ron Paul
Congress Defers to President On NSA Reform
Congress’s decline from the Founders’ vision as “first among equals” in government to an echo chamber of the unitary executive, has been a slow but steady process. In the process we have seen a steady stream of unconstitutional wars and civil liberties abuses at home. Nowhere is this decline more evident than in the stark contrast between the Congressional response to intelligence agencies’ abuses during the post-Watergate era and its response to the far more serious NSA abuses uncovered in recent years.
In 1975, Senator Frank Church (D-ID) convened an historic select committee to investigate the US intelligence services for possible criminality in the wake of Watergate. Thanks in part to reporting by Seymour Hersh and others, abuses by the CIA, NSA, and FBI had come to light, including the monitoring of US peace activists.
The Church Committee played its proper Congressional role, checking the power of the executive branch as it had been spiraling out of control since the 1950s and the early CIA covert action programs. The Committee sought to protect US citizens against abuses by their government after those abuses had come to light through leaks of secret government documents.
The parallel to the present NSA scandals cannot be ignored. What is completely different, however, is that Congress is today acting as an advocate for the executive branch’s continuing abuses, and as an opponent to the civil liberties of US citizens. Not only has Congress – with a precious few exceptions – accepted the NSA’s mass spying program on American citizens, it has actually been encouraging the president to continue and expand the program!
Where once there was a Congressional committee to challenge and oppose the president’s abuse of power, today the president himself has been even allowed by a complacent Congress to hand pick his own NSA review commission!
Are we really expected to believe that a commission appointed by the president to look into the activities of the president’s intelligence services will come to anything more than a few superficial changes to give the impression of real reform?
One of the president’s commission recommendations is that the NSA cease holding our phone records and demand that the private phone companies retain those records instead – for the NSA to access as it wishes. This is supposed to be reform?
The president will make a speech this Friday to tell the rest of us which of the suggestions made by his own commission he will decide to implement. Congress has no problem with that. Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) admitted last week that Congress has no intention of asserting itself in the process. “It’s my hope that [Obama will] do as much as he can through the executive process because the legislative process will be difficult, perilous and long.”
Senator Church famously said back in 1975:
In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air… We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left… There would be no place to hide…. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”
Have we reached that point? Let us hope not. Real reform begins with the repeal of the PATRIOT Act and of the 2001 Authorization for the use of military force. If we keep our eye on that goal and not allow ourselves to become distracted with the president’s phony commissions we might force Congress to listen.
Propaganda Trance: 2014 NDAA Approved While Media ‘Ducks Out’
As if history were repeating itself, the approval of the 2014 Fiscal National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Capitol Hill was over-shadowed by a trivial controversy that was hyped by media.
Two years ago, President Obama signed the first NDAA during New Year’s Eve after publically protesting the legislation and threatening to veto.
Just this week, while the public has been distracted with drama and sensational news headlines, the lawmakers presented Obama with the current approved version of police state legislation that hand over $607 billion to the Pentagon, $527 to build bases across the globe and $80 billion to finance global military operations.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the 2014 NDAA “is legislation that … puts muscle behind America’s most important strategic objectives around the globe.”
Senator Jay Rockefeller ensured that attached as a rider to the 2014 NDAA, proposal S 1353, there would be CISPA-like measures to maintain cybersecurity efforts with the backing and support of the federal government.
Rockefeller said his bill “creates an environment that will cultivate the public-private partnerships essential to strengthening our nation’s cybersecurity. I’ve always thought this was a great way to emphasize the critical need for a public-private approach when it comes to solving our most pressing cybersecurity issues.”
Back in April, the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) has been stalled in the Senate after being approved in the House of Representatives.
According to senators and staff members, there are additional bills being drafted that will protect cybersecurity while allowing digital information to be shared by federal agencies and private sector corporations; including internet service providers.
Should a “threat” present itself, the current incarnation of CISPA will allow corporations such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft to hand over personal user information.
According to an anonymous member of the US Senate Committee on Commerce: “We’re not taking [CISPA] up. Staff and senators are divvying up the issues and the key provisions everyone agrees would need to be handled if we’re going to strengthen cybersecurity. They’ll be drafting separate bills.”
Ensuring that CISPA is implemented, regardless of whether it is passed into law, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III spoke at the Center for Strategic Decision Research’s 28th International Workshop on Global Security wherein he outlined the Defense Industrial Base Cyber Pilot (DIBCP).
The DIBCP aligns the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and “participating defense companies or internet providers” to make sure that the US government’s digital infrastructure is protected and each federal agency can communicate with private sector corporations.
Lynn said: “Our defense industrial base is critical to our military effectiveness. Their networks hold valuable information about our weapons systems and their capabilities. The theft of design data and engineering information from within these networks greatly undermines the technological edge we hold over potential adversaries.”
In April, the House of Representatives approved the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) which gives the Obama administration the power to impose taxes online.
Online businesses would collect a local and state sales tax for online purchases and the tax will be decided by the state where the purchaser resides.
Just before the new version of CISPA was presented to the House, it included a provision that would empower employers to demand Facebook passwords and logins as a condition of employment to spy on their employees.
House Representative Mike Rogers, co-author of CISPA, claims that the bill does not infringe on American’s 4th Amendment rights with regard to setting up concentrated government surveillance on the internet.
Rogers said: “It does something very simple: it allows the government to share zeroes and ones with the private sector . . . a critical bipartisan first step for enabling American’s private sector to defend itself . . . improves cybersecurity without compromising our civil liberties.”
Bill of Rights Inherently Usurped by Presidents – Shahid Buttar
Published by NextNewsNetwork
Published on Dec 17, 2013
Every December 15th, people celebrate Bill of Rights Day. Although not a major holiday, liberty supporters and fans of American history make note of the anniversary each year.
The Bill of Rights was adopted in 1789, containing the first ten amendments to the Constitution. These changes were written just eight days after the earlier founding document. It was adopted to appease anti-federalists, who may not have otherwise supported ratification of the Constitution. These amendments are meant to restrict power exercised by the national government.
Many people are now concerned that actions by governing bodies at all levels are violating human rights guaranteed by that document. Other observers contend that modern concerns like terrorism and increasingly deadly weapons make parts of the bill obsolete.
Shahid Buttar s a civil rights lawyer, author and community organizer. He is head of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and is co-director of the Rule of Law Institute. In 2004, he led the movement in Washington DC, legalizing same-sex marriage.
Buttar is our guest on the show today.
Meet the Next News Team: http://youtu.be/2QnNKwQ2WkY