Posts tagged homeland
By Eric Blair
By now anyone who pays attention to politics knows that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 contained a provision that allows for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without charge or trial.
Section 1021 of the 2012 NDAA states that anyone suspected of being involved in terrorism or “belligerent acts” against the U.S. can be detained by the military under the so-called Authorization for Use of Military Force, including American citizens.
In other words, the war on terror has been officially declared on U.S. soil and everyone is now considered a potential combatant in this war.
Senator Lindsey Graham pretty much summed it up when he said, “The homeland is part of the battlefield and people can be held without trial whether an American citizen or not.”
Even though this clause is a direct violation of citizen’s rights under the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, there was scarcely any dissent and hardly a peep from the corporate media when Obama signed it into law under the cover of darkness late on New Year’s Eve 2011.
This year Senator Rand Paul once again blocked the passage of the NDAA for 2013, which the Senate hoped to rush through before the Thanksgiving recess. Using a filibuster, Paul is attempting to force a vote on his amendment to exempt American citizens from the indefinite detention clause.
Rand Paul’s amendment simply reaffirms the 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
A citizen of the United States who is captured or arrested in the United States and detained by the Armed Forces of the United States pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40) shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
Compare that to the 6th Amendment of the Constitution:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
It’s sad that it is so difficult to get elected officials to debate, let alone vote on, legislation that is in direct violation to the Constitution that they swore an oath to uphold. But these are certainly Orwellian times where normal thinking no longer applies.
As Rand Paul points out in the video below about the 2012 NDAA vote, “The senate voted 55 to 45 to allow indefinite detention of US citizens without jury trial. We have become Orwellian without even knowing it.”
When the Senate resumes after recess, the NDAA 2013 will likely pass even with a recorded vote on Paul’s amendment, but at least the traitors will put themselves on display for all to see.
If there are any true oath keepers in positions of power, this would be a perfect time to arrest those who vote against this amendment. Their treason to the Constitution couldn’t be any clearer.
The article below is one more example of the Orwellian State coming to impact our lives, cloaked in the banner of safety and security.
Talking Surveillance Cameras Coming to U.S. Streets
‘Intellistreets’ system now being installed with DHS backing
By Paul Joseph Watson
Talking surveillance cameras that bark orders at passers-by and can also record conversations are heading for U.S. streets, with manufacturer Illuminating Concepts announcing the progress of its ‘Intellistreets’ system.
As we first reported last year, high tech street lights with “homeland security applications” are now being installed in major U.S. cities.
The street lights also have loudspeakers that can give audible warnings to individuals, mimicking the talking surveillance cameras in the UK that shout out orders through microphones telling people to pick up litter or leave the area.
A recent press release put out by Amerlux announces the company’s partnership with Illuminating Concepts to further advance the rollout of ‘Intellistreets’. The announcement confirms that the street lights will have a number of “homeland security features” including a loudspeaker system that will be used to “engage captive audiences”.
“The built-in speaker can broadcast emergency information,” states the press release, adding, “SmartSite luminaires can be equipped with a variety of cameras and sensors to ensure real-time 24/7-security coverage. The sensors detect a variety of threats that enable rapid response from emergency personnel or help prevent crime and gain control of the streets.”
The press release adds that the SmartSite system developed to operate the ‘Intellistreets’ surveillance hubs is intended not only for street lighting but also for “retail malls, sports venues, on college campuses, and in new construction,” and “might well become commonplace” in the near future.
Not only can the street lights, now being rolled out in Detroit, Chicago and Pittsburgh with Department of Energy backing, act as surveillance cameras, Minority Report-style advertising hubs, and Homeland Security alert systems, they are “also capable of recording conversations,” according to a report by ABC 7.
The ABC video clip, featured at the end of this article, includes creepy footage of the street lights being used to transmit Orwellian security alerts, including “pay attention please….please stand by for a public safety announcement,” and “this is a security alert”.
Illuminating Concepts responded to the controversy over ‘Intellistreets’ last year by ludicrously claiming the system did not represent a “big brother” intrusion, as if talking surveillance cameras that also record private conversations are a perfectly normal concept.
The company also denied that it had received funding from the Department of Homeland Security yet subsequent reports confirmed that owner Ron Harwood is now “working with Homeland Security” to implement the high tech network, which is connected via a ubiquitous wi-fi system.
In reality, the system represents Big Brother on steroids – George Orwell’s worst nightmare come to life with interconnected wireless ‘telescreens’ blanketing America, all in the name of safety and security.
Republican presidential candidate U.S. Congressman Ron Paul addresses his New Hampshire primary night rally in Manchester, New Hampshire (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)
Imagine having government-approved employees embedded at Facebook, complete with federal security clearances, serving as conduits for secret information about their American customers.
That’s not a hypothetical — those words are a verbatim excerpt from concerned GOP presidential hopeful, Congressman Ron Paul. The Republican representative from Texas asks Americans to consider that draconian dilemma before it becomes a reality. It will all be possible under a new bill slated for discussion on Capitol Hill this week.
The legislation in question is CISPA — the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act — and the United States Congress is expected to meet in Washington, DC this week to propose advancing the bill all the way to the White House.
In an address released to the public on early Monday this week, Congressman Paul addresses to his supporters his concerns over the bill by outlining just what really the federal government could accomplish if it can move CISPA all the way to the oval office for President Barack Obama’s approval.
The bill is being touted as a necessary legislation to crack down on threats of cyber terrorism. What is really being done behind the damning verbiage, though, is something much worse, warns Paul.
“CISPA is essentially an Internet monitoring bill that permits both the federal government and private companies to view your private online communications with no judicial oversight, provided, of course, that they do so in the name of cyber security,” he explains.
Although advertised as an implement to ensure national safety, the lawmakers that penned CISPA were not exactly clear as to what constitutes cyber security when drafting the bill. The result, warns Paul, is a legislation that, if passed, will let the government pry into the personal correspondence of anyone in America if the feds believe that, by their interpretation, it poses some sort of threat to the country.
“The bill is very broadly written and allows the Department of Homeland Security to obtain large swabs of personal information contained in your email or other online communications,” warns the presidential hopeful. “It also allows email and other private information fund online to be used for purposes far beyond any reasonable definition of fighting cyber terrorism.”
“The End of America details the ten steps a country takes when it slides toward fascism. It’s not a “lefty”tot tome, rather a historical look at trends in once-functioning democracies from modern history that are being repeated in our country today. It gives any reader (or viewer of the lecture) a much-needed history lesson and constitutional refresher. Most importantly, it puts the recent gradual loss of civil liberties in the U.S. in a historical context. The average American might not be alarmed at AT&T selling our private information to the Bush administration, but when this action is seen as part of a larger series of erosions and events, a pattern emerges with unfortunate consequences that become disturbingly clear.” – IMDB
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Glad the footage from the DC rally included. That was a good day, although very hot, for Liberty!
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Written by Alex Newman
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) missed a flight to Washington, D.C., this morning after being detained by screeners with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for refusing a full-body pat-down, his staff said. The incident happened at the Nashville, Tennessee, airport when a so-called “naked-body scanner” found some sort of anomaly around the conservative Senator’s knee.
Sen. Paul offered to go through the scanner again to resolve any concerns TSA screeners may have had. He also exposed the relevant portion of his leg to prove that there was nothing there. But the TSA insisted on the full-body pat down.
Sen. Paul refused to submit to what he has in the past referred to as an “invasive” procedure. And the TSA refused to back down.
According to Paul, he was briefly detained by TSA screeners in a small cubicle. He was also prohibited from catching his flight to Washington, where he was supposed to speak at the March for Life rally and vote in the Senate later in the afternoon.
The freshman Senator was eventually escorted from the area by local police, a TSA official told CBS News. He was finally allowed to catch a later flight after a subsequent TSA screening was conducted “without incident,” according to the agency.
Sen. Paul spoke out about the incident at the scene, explaining that he did not have any medical issues that would have set off the TSA scanner. “There is no problem. It was just a problem with their machine. But this is getting more frequent, and because everybody has to have a pat-down, it’s a problem,” Sen. Paul told reporters at the airport, noting that he did not want special treatment because he is a Senator. “I think we need to treat everybody with dignity.”
As usual, the TSA offered few details about what is quickly growing into another scandal for the embattled screening bureaucracy. The agency also claimed Sen. Paul was not “detained” but was merely prevented from boarding his flight.
“When an irregularity is found during the TSA screening process, it must be resolved prior to allowing a passenger to proceed to the secure area of the airport,” various TSA spokesmen were quoted as saying in statements e-mailed to the press. “Passengers who refuse to complete the screening process cannot be granted access to the secure area in order to ensure the safety of others traveling.”
Sen. Paul and his father, GOP presidential contender Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), have both been vocal in their opposition to the TSA and its policies. In June of 2011, Sen. Paul grilled TSA boss John Pistole for conducting an inappropriate pat-down of a six-year-old Kentucky girl and for a broader pattern of abuses.
“I feel less safe because you’re doing these invasive exams on a six-year-old,” Sen. Paul told Pistole during the hearing. “It makes me think you’re clueless, you know, that you think she’s going to attack our country and that you’re not doing your research on the people who would attack our country.”
Sen. Paul also told Pistole that he thought the TSA — part of the sprawling Homeland Security bureaucracy erected after September 11 — should abolish its random pat-downs. “It really just shows that no one is thinking,” he noted, saying that the American people were increasingly fed up with the procedures. “We need to be doing better police work and doing less of the universal giving up of our freedom to live our life the way we would like to live our life.”
News about the incident in Nashville was quickly reported by Sen. Paul’s staff and his father, Rep. Ron Paul. “My son @SenRandPaul being detained by TSA for refusing full body pat-down after anomaly in body scanner in Nashville. More details coming,” read a statement issued on Ron Paul’s Twitter account. A similar statement was posted on Ron Paul’s Facebook profile, and Sen. Paul’s staff also confirmed the incident via social media and press statements.
Following Sen. Paul’s troubles with the TSA, his father’s presidential campaign issued a statement blasting abuses perpetrated by the screening agency. “The police state in this country is growing out of control. One of the ultimate embodiments of this is the TSA that gropes and grabs our children, our seniors, and our loved ones and neighbors with disabilities,” Ron Paul said. “The TSA does all of this while doing nothing to keep us safe.”
Rep. Paul, whose presidential campaign has attracted a broad and enthusiastic base of supporters that helped him become a serious contender despite blatant media bias, also noted that his “Plan to Restore America” would — in addition to shaving $1 trillion in spending the first year — abolish the TSA.
“We must restore the freedom and respect for liberty that once made America the greatest nation in human history,” Rep. Paul concluded in the statement posted on his campaign website. “I am deeply committed to doing that as President of the United States.”
The Obama administration, meanwhile, sided with the TSA in its bizarre treatment of a sitting U.S. Senator. “I think it is absolutely essential that we take necessary actions to ensure that air travel is safe,” White House spokesman Jay Carney was quoted as saying by The Hill.
A damning congressional report released late last year revealed that despite spending around $60 billion on the TSA, screening is based on “theatrics” and the agency has failed to catch a single terrorist. Meanwhile, according to the investigation, passengers and crew are still the most effective line of defense. And air travel is no safer than it was before September 11
DHS Pumping Money into Drones for Domestic Surveillance, Hunting Immigrants and Seizing Pot
DHS is building its drone fleet at a rapid pace despite its continuing inability to demonstrate their purported cost-effectiveness. The unarmed Predator and Guardians (the maritime variant) cost about $20 million each. Yet DHS has little to show for its UAV spending spree other than stacks of seized marijuana and several thousand immigrants who crossed the border without visas.
While DHS is leading the way, national and local law enforcement agencies, as well as private entities, are demanding that FAA open the American skies to drone surveillance. Yet neither the FAA nor the Department of Transportation has been forthcoming in informing the U.S. public about the new robotic presence in the already congested American airways. The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently filed a suit against the transportation department for allegedly withholding information about drones in our skies.
More Predators on Border
For decades, the Border Patrol has annually boasted of the millions of pounds of illegal drugs it has seized and the number of immigrants detained. It’s a practice that border scholar Peter Andreas aptly calls “the numbers game.”
Since the creation of the DHS, illegal immigrants and drugs aren’t just illegal, they are now classified as “dangerous people and goods.”
In fiscal year 2011 CBP reports that it seized “nearly five million pounds of narcotics.” But it fails to note that the domestic consumption of illegal drugs, especially marijuana, is steadily increasing despite these monumental numbers or that most of these “narcotics” enter the country from Mexico despite a massive buildup in border security and U.S. support for the Mexican drug war.
In its latest Predator announcement, Office of Air and Marine (OAM) tried playing the numbers game, but raised questions about the integrity of the numbers in the process:
Since the inception of the UAS program, CBP has flown more than 12,000 UAS hours in support of border security operations and CBP partners in disaster relief and emergency response, including various state governments and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The efforts of this program has led to the total seizure of approximately 46,600 pounds of illicit drugs and the detention of approximately 7,500 individuals suspected in engaging in illegal activity along the Southwest border.
One problem is the low numbers of seizures and apprehensions attributed to drone surveillance.
Another is that all the “narcotics” seizures CBP/OAM attributes to drone surveillance consist of bundles of Mexican-grown marijuana. That’s understandable since marijuana constitutes almost 100 percent of the drug seizures between the ports of entry along the southwestern border – more than 99 percent along the Arizona border.
But is this small quantity of marijuana spotted by the Predators worth their $20 million price tag (including surveillance systems and support)? That’s not a question the congressional oversight committees have asked DHS. Nor has DHS asked itself questions about comparative costs and benefits of border control measures.
Related Story: http://chrisinmaryville.net/congress-approves-30000-spy-drones-over-america-as-us-police-state-tightens.html
“A dictator enjoys unrestrained power over the people. The legislative and judicial branches voluntarily cede this power or it’s taken by force. Most of the time, it’s given up easily, out of fear in time of war and civil disturbances, and with support from the people, although the dictator will also accumulate more power with the use of force.” Those prescient words of Republican presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) are taken from his book Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom. The tyrannical assumption of power by the President and the cession of unheralded power to him by the Congress has taken place precisely as Dr. Paul warned.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is an unprecedented, unconstitutional, and unchecked grant of dictatorial power to the President in the name of protecting the security of “the homeland.” Ron Paul described the bill (soon to be signed into law by the President) as a “slip into tyranny,” one that will almost certainly accelerate “our descent into totalitarianism.”
What of the NDAA? Are there indeed provisions contained therein that so ferociously tear at the constitutional fabric of our Republic?
In a word — yes.
This liberty-extinguishing legislation converts America into a war zone and turns Americans into potential suspected terrorists, complete with the full roster of rights typically afforded to terrorists — none.
A key component of this reconciled bill mandates a frightening grant of immense and unconstitutional power to the executive branch. Under the provisions of Section 1021, the President is afforded the absolute power to arrest and detain citizens of the United States without their being informed of any criminal charges, without a trial on the merits of those charges, and without a scintilla of the due process safeguards protected by the Constitution of the United States.
Further, in order to execute the provisions of Section 1021 described in the previous paragraph, subsequent clauses (Section 1022, for example) unlawfully give the President the absolute and unquestionable authority to deploy the armed forces of the United States to apprehend and to indefinitely detain those suspected of threatening the security of the “homeland.” In the language of this legislation, these people are called “covered persons.”
The universe of potential “covered persons” includes every citizen of the United States of America. Any American could one day find himself or herself branded a “belligerent” and thus subject to the complete confiscation of his or her constitutional civil liberties and nearly never-ending incarceration in a military prison.
In his assessment of the danger inherent in such acts, Paul is in good company. This suspension of habeas corpus, a right central to Anglo-American freedom from despotism for over 500 years, was described by Alexander Hamilton as one of “the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny.”
Congressman Paul eloquently expressed his assessment of such an assault on liberty:
The president’s widely expanded view of his own authority to detain Americans indefinitely even on American soil is for the first time in this legislation codified in law. That should chill all of us to our cores.
As reported by The Hill, in a phone message to supporters, Paul cited the Founders and their intent to bequeath to their descendants a government fettered in such a way as to threaten as little as possible man’s innate freedom:
The founders wanted to set a high bar for the government to overcome in order to deprive an individual of life or liberty. To lower that bar is to endanger everyone. When the bar is low enough to include political enemies, our descent into totalitarianism is virtually assured. The Patriot Act, as bad as its violation against the Fourth Amendment was, was just one step down the slippery slope. The recently passed National Defense Authorization Act continues that slip into tyranny, and in fact, accelerates it significantly.
Adding insult to injury, Congress has stuffed the bill full of funding for illegal and unconstitutional foreign wars so that the American people will pay over $670 billion dollars for the privilege of being deprived of their God-given rights and for the building of the American empire.
This appalling story doesn’t end there, however. The NDAA’s rap sheet of crimes against the Constitution is long. As Congressman Paul explained:
There’s some disturbing rhetoric flying around in the debate over the National Defense Authorization Act, which among other things contains passages that a) officially codify the already-accepted practice of indefinite detention of “terrorist” suspects, and b) transfer the responsibility for such detentions exclusively to the military.
The fact that there’s been only some muted public uproar about this provision (which, disturbingly enough, is the creature of Wall Street anti-corruption good guy Carl Levin, along with John McCain) is mildly surprising, given what’s been going on with the Occupy movement. Protesters in fact should be keenly interested in the potential applications of this provision, which essentially gives the executive branch unlimited powers to indefinitely detain terror suspects without trial.
The really galling thing is that this act specifically envisions American citizens falling under the authority of the bill. One of its supporters, the dependably-unlikeable Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, bragged that the law “basically says … for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield” and that people can be jailed without trial, be they “American citizen or not.” New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte reiterated that “America is part of the battlefield.”
Officially speaking, of course, the bill only pertains to:
“… a person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.”
As Glenn Greenwald notes, the key passages here are “substantially supported” and “associated forces.” The Obama administration and various courts have already expanded their definition of terrorism to include groups with no connection to 9/11 (i.e. certain belligerents in Yemen and Somalia) and to individuals who are not members of the target terror groups, but merely provided “substantial support.”
The definitions, then, are, for the authorities, conveniently fungible. They may use indefinite detention against anyone who “substantially supports” terror against the United States, and it looks an awful lot like they have leeway in defining not only what constitutes “substantial” and “support,” but even what “terror” is. Is a terrorist under this law necessarily a member of al-Qaeda or the Taliban? Or is it merely someone who is “engaged in hostilities against the United States”?
Here’s where I think we’re in very dangerous territory. We have two very different but similarly large protest movements going on right now in the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement. What if one of them is linked to a violent act? What if a bomb goes off in a police station in Oakland, or an IRS office in Texas? What if the FBI then linked those acts to Occupy or the Tea Party?
You can see where this is going. When protesters on the left first started flipping out about George Bush’s indefinite detention and rendition policies, most people thought the idea that these practices might someday be used against ordinary Americans was merely an academic concern, something theoretical.
But it’s real now. If these laws are passed, we would be forced to rely upon the discretion of a demonstrably corrupt and consistently idiotic government to not use these awful powers to strike back at legitimate domestic unrest.
Right now, the Senate is openly taking aim at the rights of American citizens under the guise of an argument that anyone who supports al-Qaeda has no rights. But if you pay close attention, you’ll notice the law’s supporters here and there conveniently leaving out those caveats about “anyone who supports al-Qaeda.” For instance, here’s Lindsey Graham again:
“If you’re an American citizen and you betray your country, you’re not going to be given a lawyer … I believe our military should be deeply involved in fighting these guys at home or abroad.”
As Greenwald points out, this idea – that an American who commits treason can be detained without due process – is in direct defiance of Article III, Section III of the Constitution, which reads:
“No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”
This effort to eat away at the rights of the accused was originally gradual, but to me it looks like that process is accelerating. It began in the Bush years with a nebulous description of terrorist sedition that may or may not have included links to Sunni extremist groups in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.
If You Thought Police Brutality Was Bad … Wait Until You See What Congress Wants to Do Next Week
But next week, Congress will vote on explicitly creating a police state.
The ACLU’s Washington legislative office explains:
The Senate is gearing up for a vote on Monday or Tuesday that goes to the very heart of who we are as Americans. The Senate will be voting on a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield — even people in the United States itself.
The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world.
The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself. The worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which will be on the Senate floor on Monday.
I know it sounds incredible. New powers to use the military worldwide, even within the United States? Hasn’t anyone told the Senate that Osama bin Laden is dead, that the president is pulling all of the combat troops out of Iraq and trying to figure out how to get combat troops out of Afghanistan too? And American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea? And why now?
In support of this harmful bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) explained that the bill will “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield” and people can be imprisoned without charge or trial “American citizen or not.” Another supporter, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) also declared that the bill is needed because “America is part of the battlefield.”
The senators pushing the indefinite detention proposal have made their goals very clear that they want an okay for a worldwide military battlefield, that even extends to your hometown.
Part of an Ongoing Trend
While this is shocking, it is not occurring in a vacuum. Indeed, it is part of a 30 year-long process of militarization inside our borders and a destruction of the American concepts of limited government and separation of powers.