Tag Archive: Occupy

Jan 26 2014

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: No, you don’t want another OWS by AoT

There's been a common theme lately of calling for a new OWS. I would be overjoyed if all of these calls were in fact calls for a new OWS. But they aren't. I want to make clear that this isn't necessarily an attack on people making these calls. They make them for different reasons, and those reasons are often reasons I agree with. But, they are in fact calls for a completely different movement, one that bears little if any resemblance to OWS. I'm going to go through the common refrains of what “the movement” needs and my responses to them. Let me say first that I think that people really mean that they want another successful and visible social movement when they say they want another OWS they really . I'm completely on board with that, I want another movement with the energy of Occupy. The problem is that the things that made OWS successful are exactly the things people are calling to change.

Jun 12 2013

If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

America is a wonderful place where everyone is caring, competent, conscientious and above average.

America’s law enforcement agencies have never gotten the wrong guy.

A mistaken identity arrest occurs almost every day, said policing experts and officials at the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

America’s courts have never convicted the wrong person, and certainly no innocent person has ever gone to jail in America.

Freddie Peacock of Rochester, New York, was convicted of rape in 1976. Last week he became the 250th person to be exonerated by DNA testing since 1989. According to a new report by the Innocence Project, those 250 prisoners served 3,160 years between them; 17 spent time on death row. Remarkably, 67 percent of them were convicted after 2000-a decade after the onset of modern DNA testing. The glaring question here is, How many more are there?

 

Why, our American anti-terrorist infrastructure is virtually infallible in choosing whom to single out for investigation and actions which challenge their rights to participate in our society.

The meeting had all the hallmarks of an ordinary Congressional hearing. There was Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, discussing the problems faced by ordinary citizens mistakenly placed on terrorist watch lists. Then, to the astonishment of the crowd attending a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, Mr. Kennedy offered himself up as Exhibit A.

Between March 1 and April 6, airline agents tried to block Mr. Kennedy from boarding airplanes on five occasions because his name resembled an alias used by a suspected terrorist who had been barred from flying on airlines in the United States, his aides and government officials said.

Instead of acknowledging the craggy-faced, silver-haired septuagenarian as the Congressional leader whose face has flashed across the nation’s television sets for decades, the airline agents acted as if they had stumbled across a fanatic who might blow up an American airplane. Mr. Kennedy said they refused to give him his ticket.

“He said, ‘We can’t give it to you,’ ” Mr. Kennedy said, describing an encounter with an airline agent to the rapt audience. ” ‘You can’t buy a ticket to go on the airline to Boston.’ I said, ‘Well, why not?’ He said, ‘We can’t tell you.’ “

Individuals working for law enforcement have never abused their authority and knowingly sought to obtain punishment or leverage over another person for political reasons.

Hoping to prove the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was under the influence of Communists, the FBI kept the civil rights leader under constant surveillance.

The agency’s hidden tape recorders turned up almost nothing about communism.

But they did reveal embarrassing details about King’s sex life — details the FBI was able to use against him.

The almost fanatical zeal with which the FBI pursued King is disclosed in tens of thousands of FBI memos from the 1960s. …

When King learned he would be the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, the FBI decided to take its harassment of King one step further, sending him an insulting and threatening note anonymously. A draft was found in the FBI files years later. In it the FBI wrote, “You are a colossal fraud and an evil, vicious one at that.” The letter went on to say, “The American public … will know you for what you are — an evil, abnormal beast,” and “Satan could not do more.”

The letter’s threat was ominous, if not specific: “King you are done.” Some have theorized the intent of the letter was to drive King to commit suicide in order to avoid personal embarrassment. “King, there is only one thing left for you to do,” the letter concluded. “You know what it is … You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”

Individuals working for law enforcement have never abused their access to digital materials for any reason.

Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia. …

“These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones,” said Adrienne Kinne, a 31-year old US Army Reserves Arab linguist assigned to a special military program at the NSA’s Back Hall at Fort Gordon from November 2001 to 2003.

She said US military officers, American journalists and American aid workers were routinely intercepted and “collected on” as they called their offices or homes in the United States. …

Faulk says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of “cuts” that were available on each operator’s computer.

“Hey, check this out,” Faulk says he would be told, “there’s good phone sex or there’s some pillow talk, pull up this call, it’s really funny, go check it out.

America has never prosecuted Americans under the Espionage Act for political reasons.

The impassioned speeches of labor organizer, Socialist leader and five-time presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs were nothing short of evangelical in tone and effect. (He once called socialism “merely Christianity in action.”) Debs inspired groups large and small, and his remarkable charisma is what most concerned the powers that were. …

According to historian Ernest Freeberg, it was precisely Debs’ virtuosity that forced America to grapple with the limits of dissent. In 1918, Debs was convicted under the recently minted Espionage Act for questioning America’s entry into World War I. …

“People should go ahead and obey the law, keep their mouths shut, and let the government run the war.” Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. dismissed criticism of the court’s unanimous ruling against Debs as “a lot of jaw about free speech.”

Don’t worry. Be happy.

Average American citizens have never been targeted inappropriately by the government using authorities intended to combat terrorism

Documents released today by the American Civil Liberties Union reveal new details of Pentagon surveillance of Americans opposed to the Iraq war, including Quakers and student groups. The documents show that the Pentagon was keeping tabs on non-violent protesters by collecting information and storing it in a military anti-terrorism database.

President Obama’s got your back.

President Obama would never allow average American citizens going about their business of participating in American politics to be targeted as terrorist enemies.  

A Department of Homeland Security division produced daily briefings on “peaceful activist demonstrations” during the height of the Occupy Wall Street protests, documents released Tuesday revealed.

The 252 pages of documents were obtained in a March 14 letter from DHS by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which in November 2011 launched a campaign to unearth public records that would show whether the federal government was spying on Occupy Wall Street. FBI records obtained by the group in December showed that the bureau investigated Occupy as a potential “domestic terrorism” threat.

“Taken together, the two sets of documents paint a disturbing picture of federal law enforcement agencies using their vast power in a systematic effort to surveil and disrupt peaceful demonstrations,” Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, said in a statement. “The federal agencies’ actions were not because Occupy represented a ‘terrorist threat’ or a ‘criminal threat,’ but rather because it posed a significant grassroots political challenge to the status quo.”

Aug 10 2012

Countrywide/Bank of America whistleblower practically begs for subpoena

I ran across this posting in Rolling Stone from a management-level whistleblower, who provided information about frauds which took place at Countrywide Home Loans and Bank of America.  The author has prevailed in a wrongful termination ruling from OSHA that requires Bank of America to reinstate her and pay significant damages.

The whistleblower writes:

In 2010, I was interviewed by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) and offered evidence of systemic fraud. Other whistleblowers have done the same. The Commission’s report concluded that fraudulent actions were systemic in certain financial institutions, and referred these practices to federal authorities. Not a single successful criminal prosecution has resulted.

President Obama’s DOJ claims that prosecutors can’t indict and convict financial executives just because they behaved badly; greed, they say, is not a crime. Together with other FCIC witnesses, however, I alleged fraud, not greed, and that is a crime. The DOJ needs to investigate our allegations, and prosecutors could start by contacting whistleblowers like me. We have a lot to say, but many of us are gagged by our former employers unless subpoenaed.

Today, millions of Americans are paying more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, and millions more are facing foreclosure. Meanwhile, those who cashed in while ordinary Americans lost their homes and their jobs remain at large, continuing both the crimes and the cover-up. Whistleblowers like me know who they are because we were there. We’re willing to talk. Why won’t the government listen?

There are people with knowledge of serious crimes that want to come forward and help the justice system to set things right.  But there is a piece missing:

The Obama administration plans to add thousands of investigators to enforce the health care reform law, but has added just 25 positions to investigate whistleblower claims.

The Obama administration does not seem interested in what whistleblowers are reporting, nor does it seem all that interested in protecting whistleblowers that can provide valuable information to prosecutors.

If the Obama administration was paying attention, they would find that public disappointment with the lack of significant and aggressive prosecutions of the serious frauds that caused our financial crisis has spread far beyond the Occupy movement and has now entered the jury pool.  In a recent SEC prosecution of a Citigroup employee, the jury had some interesting thoughts:

As Beau Brendler sat in the jury box listening to the government’s case against a former Citigroup midlevel executive, the same question kept entering his mind.

“I wanted to know why the bank’s C.E.O. wasn’t on trial,” said Mr. Brendler, who served as the jury’s foreman. “Citigroup’s behavior was appalling.”

So, despite the fact that the jury found that the SEC had failed to prove its case against the midlevel employee, in an unusual act for a jury, they issued a statement along with their verdict:

“This verdict should not deter the S.E.C. from continuing to investigate the financial industry, review current regulations and modify existing regulations as necessary.”

The jury foreman explained their reasoning this way:

“We were afraid that we would send a message to Wall Street that a jury made up of regular American folks could not understand their complicated transactions and so they could get away with their outrageous conduct,” Mr. Brendler said. “We also did not want to discourage the government from investigating and prosecuting financial crimes.”

There is a thirst for justice in the American public.  It is long past time for the Obama administration to demonstrate that they are on the side of regular Americans and do something.  

Let’s see, there’s big money on one side of this issue and votes on the other side.  What’s a politician to do?  

Aug 01 2012

9th Circuit ruling favorable for Occupiers to hold police, gov’ts accountable for excessive force

A three judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals filed an unanimous ruling in Nelson v. City of Davis. The student plaintiff, Timothy Nelson was seriously and permanently injured by the excessive use of force by police in a 2004 incident at UC Davis.

The Court found that the police actions violated a basic constitutional right, the Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable seizure and invalidated qualified immunity for the police, meaning that police could be held liable for damages.  This ruling should offer considerable support to Occupiers pressing suit against police and governments for their often brutal and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.

Jul 30 2012

Obama administration stonewalling UN questions about abuse of Occupy protesters

In December of 2011, the U.N. Special Rapporteur for the Protection of Free Expression, Frank La Rue, and the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Peaceful Assembly, Maina Kiai, sent a letter to the Obama administration reminding the U.S. government of its international obligations to “take all necessary measures to guarantee that the rights and freedoms of all peaceful protesters be respected.”

This letter was prompted by the government’s response to the Occupy movement.

The Obama administration many months later has yet to respond:

Federal officials have yet to respond to two United Nations human rights envoys who formally requested that the UI.S. government protect Occupy protesters against excessive force by law enforcement officials.

In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the two envoys called on U.S. officials to “explain the behavior of police departments that violently disbanded some Occupy protests last fall” and expressed concern that excessive use of force “could have been related to [the protesters’] dissenting views, criticisms of economic policies, and their legitimate work in the defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms.” …

In the letter, the envoys raised a particular concern that the “crowd control techniques used to manage and disperse these assemblies might have been intended to insert fear and intimidation on protesters throughout the country.”

The letter to the Obama administration was made public at the UN Human Rights Council meeting.

Jul 15 2012

Let’s Talk ‘Decolonization’ by Unaspencer

I write today to, hopefully, start a dialogue and ongoing series about the concept of decolonization. I’m fairly new to the term. Some of the concepts have been in me for a while, but I did not have connection to a philosophy or political movement, much less a name. So, I’ll share my entry point and early thoughts about decolonization. I invite you to share yours.

When I left my house in Boston and headed to New York City to be present in Liberty Square last September, I was going as an “Occupier”, I suppose, since the action was called “Occupy Wall Street”. So many of us felt so strongly that the message about the deep layers of corruption in our economic and political systems resonated, that we didn’t even think about the word defining this burgeoning movement.

For me, the Occupy movement was connected to Arab Spring and the Encampanadas of Spain and even the Green movement in Iran. And Palestine.

Palestine. How could I even think for one moment that “occupying” was a good thing? Well, clearly, I didn’t think.

Jun 18 2012

A Necessary Evil, or Just Evil? by T’Pau (T. P. Alexanders)

We are told we need the law. We need a million rules to ensure everyone has a fair shake,  a level playing field we rely on as we move through life. But if you are lesbian or gay, the majority have recently passed laws giving  people who prefer heterosexual coupling an advantage. The federal government has done nothing to come to this minority’s assistance. These laws are just the latest in a long litany of discriminatory laws.

We are told we need the law to define culture, to give the boundaries of permissible behavior. Yet, do you think you are aware of every law you live under? In every jurisdiction, outdated laws remain on the books. You are likely to have broken some of them without even knowing. In fact, most new endeavors begin with consultation of a lawyer. Legal professionals research for hours to ensure their clients won’t inadvertently break some little known law. Many of these laws unduly invade our private lives to restrict trivial actions, like putting a window in a wall of your home, so the state or some industry can make money.

We are told without the law, our society would crumble into brutish chaos. To me, the image of John Pike, dressed like an SS officer, strutting around a circle of passive students shaking a can of pepper spray, meant to be used at distance on an advancing crowd, is the image of brutish chaos.

Pepper Spray Police

Or perhaps those words conjure up the image of an octogenarian pepper sprayed in the eyes for speaking out against a government that coddles the rich and abuses the poor.

Or the Berkley students night-sticked in the bread basket to discourage peaceful assembly:

Yet, surely our teachers and parents are right. Surely we need the rule of law to guide society. We need some rules.

Or not.

Today we crawl outside one of our deepest and oldest mental boxes to consider the unthinkable—that changes in the law cannot cure society’s ills, because the law, itself,  is part of the problem. Today we take a walk on the wild side in a lawless society.  

Jun 18 2012

A Necessary Evil, or Just Evil?

We are told we need the law. We need a million rules to ensure everyone has a fair shake,  a level playing field we rely on as we move through life. But if you are lesbian or gay, the majority have recently passed laws giving  people who prefer heterosexual coupling an advantage. The federal government has done nothing to come to this minority’s assistance. These laws are just the latest in a long litany of discriminatory laws.

We are told we need the law to define culture, to give the boundaries of permissible behavior. Yet, do you think you are aware of every law you live under? In every jurisdiction, outdated laws remain on the books. You are likely to have broken some of them without even knowing. In fact, most new endeavors begin with consultation of a lawyer. Legal professionals research for hours to ensure their clients won’t inadvertently break some little known law. Many of these laws unduly invade our private lives to restrict trivial actions, like putting a window in a wall of your home, so the state or some industry can make money.

We are told without the law, our society would crumble into brutish chaos. To me, the image of John Pike, dressed like an SS officer, strutting around a circle of passive students shaking a can of pepper spray, meant to be used at distance on an advancing crowd, is the image of brutish chaos.

Pepper Spray Police

Or perhaps those words conjure up the image of an octogenarian pepper sprayed in the eyes for speaking out against a government that coddles the rich and abuses the poor.

Or the Berkley students night-sticked in the bread basket to discourage peaceful assembly:

Yet, surely our teachers and parents are right. Surely we need the rule of law to guide society. We need some rules.

Or not.

Today we crawl outside one of our deepest and oldest mental boxes to consider the unthinkable—that changes in the law cannot cure society’s ills, because the law, itself,  is part of the problem. Today we take a walk on the wild side in a lawless society.  

May 29 2012

FOIA Revelations Show Administration Role In Occupy Crackdown

DHS documents were released to Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) that despite extensive redactions reveal a greater administration role than previously known in the crackdown on the Occupy movement.

The release is described on the PCJF website:

Homeland Security Documents Show Massive Nationwide Monitoring of Occupy Movement

Documents just obtained by the PCJF from its FOIA request show massive nationwide monitoring, surveillance and information sharing between the Department of Homeland Security and local authorities in response to Occupy. The PCJF, also on behalf of author/filmmaker Michael Moore and the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee, has made a series of FOIA demands regarding law enforcement involvement in the Occupy Crackdown. …

This set of released materials reveals intense involvement by the DHS’ National Operations Center (NOC) in these activities. The DHS describes the NOC as, “the primary national-level hub for domestic situational awareness, common operational picture, information fusion, information sharing, communications, and coordination pertaining to the prevention of terrorist attacks and domestic incident management. The NOC is the primary conduit for the White House Situation Room and DHS Leadership for domestic situational awareness and facilitates information sharing and operational coordination with other federal, state, local, tribal, non-governmental operation centers and the private sector.”

Documents are available in 3 pdfs here, here and here.

Apr 02 2012

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Emergency Alert-OWS Occupies the US. Congress

Reprinted from: Daily Kos

In an unprecedented move, we are delaying the publication of our regular Anti-capitalist meet-up diary to bring you a special report.  Four hours ago, several hundred US citizens and residents, reportedly members of OWS (Occupy Wall Street), occupied both chambers of the United States Congress.

Corporate media sources have refused to report the event until control can be reestablished by authorities. However, according to Al Gazeera, who just started running a live stream an hour ago, the occupiers entered both houses and forced the Senate into the House of Representatives Chamber for a joint session.  We can only speculate whether the occupiers used guns to force the Senators into the Chamber or simply took over using the force of their numbers. We understand they dismantled the microphones in the chamber and began a General Assembly using the human microphone.