Tag Archive: PRISM

Jun 20 2013

Historian Rick Perlstein Uses the Nation to Whine About My Tweet

I have to admit, I was surprised to be notified that Historian Rick Perlstein of Nixonland fame, devoted an entire column in the Nation to two tweets replying to him; one from myself and one from another commentator on twitter. It’s also surprising, because I have been a fan of some of what Perlstein has written in the past, and I have cited him before. However, after this, I and certainly a lot of other people surprised at this lack of professionalism from an established writer, won’t do it again.

After all, one doesn’t normally read columns by established historians devoting entire pieces to complaints about tweets they received or people on twitter. Especially, one tweet that was merely a question about a widely cited article at CNET. I certainly don’t know why Rick Perlstein was so offended by that to devote an entire piece in the Nation to mine and one other tweet he received. I have to wonder if he realizes how unprofessional he looks by doing so. The excellent responses to Perlstein’s shoddy piece in the comments section certainly speak to that.

On Glenn Greenwald and His Fans

Read another tweet:

“NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants cnet.co/1agOFCy via @CNET What say you, @RickPerlstein ?”

I think we can detect here an accusatory tone, especially given the way the tweeter, “therealpriceman,” fawns over Glenn Greenwald generally. (Though you can never be sure on the Internet, and besides, why do people pursue political arguments on Twitter anyway? I’ll never understand how, for instance, “When u talk gun violence lk in mirror PA here we cling to guns-apologz to PRES O”-another tweet directed my way, apparently somehow meant to respond to this-could possibly contribute anything useful to our common political life.) I detect in this message: even the NSA says you’re wrong about Glenn Greenwald, so when are you going to apologize? And if I’m reading right, that’s some really smelly stupidity. Because the whole point of my original post was that there was plenty Greenwald had “nailed dead to rights” in his reporting. What I had in mind when I wrote that (I should have specified this, I think) was the stuff on Verizon turning over metadata to the NSA. And yet what therealpriceman links to is an article suggesting something that Greenwald has not (yet?) claimed, and which still remains controversial and undetermined: that the NSA has acknowledged that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls, a claim sourced to Representative Jerrold Nadler, which Nadler based on a classified briefing he and other Congressmen received, but which it has since been established Nadler probably just misunderstood.

{…..}

And given that perspective, I would love to know why Glenn Greenwald thinks the establishment cannot do to him, a relative flyspeck in the grand scheme of things, what they did to Dan Rather, a towering giant of Washington reporting going back to Watergate. Which is: consign him to the outer darkness, where the only people who care about what he has to say are the likes of my good friends @therealpriceman and @runtodaylight.

He starts out by assuring the audience that he has thick skin, but then goes on to prove just how thin it really is.  By whining for 13 paragraphs or so about criticism, criticism from a couple of tweets he received days ago, it really doesn’t show the maturity he was initially hoping to espouse. So since I apparently hurt his fee fees so bad, in 140 characters or less, I’ll go ahead and put his suppositions to the test.

Jun 12 2013

When You Support George W. Bush’s Policies, like Obama, I Get to Call You a Republican

Worse than a Republican; I get to call you a fawning sellout with even less principles than the Republican security soccer moms of 2004 that we all remember before. They really believed back then, and still do, that giving up their rights was worth a sense of (fake) security. And you know what? They were more principled than anyone who writes diaries excusing neoconservative policies from the Obama administration that were unacceptable to them when they came from the George W. Bush administration.

Period. End of story. Why? The RW soccer moms didn’t pretend to be outraged about this stuff during the Bush years. They have consistently supported it. So since that is an undeniable fact, I have to ask some of you how it feels to have even less principles than Republican voters who excused and supported some of the worst war crimes in history? How does it feel to enable a Justice Department that has now de facto codified some of the worst war crimes and financial crimes in history? How does it feel now that it is now exposed that, like Republican voters, you need a BS war on terror to feel safe?

How does it feel to repeat the same BS that cretins from the right did in the 2004 election to support their chosen leader? You know that fear mongering bit about “having nothing to hide so then having nothing to worry about?” That came from the RNC, and now that garbage is being recycled by people “who consider themselves Democrats or progressives based mostly on their feelings and nothing more. This similar zeitgeist all started during the run up to the Iraq war after 9/11 when the Patriot Act was passed when almost no one read the Bill in Congress.

Unlike apparently many people who didn’t really mean it, I was actually horrified by what went on during those years, and yet those same policies continue under President Obama. I’m also horrified that some of the same people who call themselves Democrats are not horrified anymore.

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.”

Jun 07 2013

I Don’t Care What the Excuse Is!

Originally posted at Voices on the Square

I’m so pissed i could spit, so consider this rant my virtual spitting.

I don’t care if the president is a registered Democrat – I’m not gonna play cutesy semantic games because of it. And I don’t care who started it – I’ve been pissed for a looong time about this. Now there is undeniable proof that all of our fears – fears that many of us were vocal about for more than a decade now – over what the Patriot Act could be used for are, in fact, well grounded and not some tin foil conspiracy theory. And don’t get me wrong – this is SPYING on the entire populace. Period. They may not have listened to your phone calls – YET – but they have no legitimate reason to have scooped them all up in the first place. None. This kind of overreach is EXACTLY the kind of thing (at least in spirit) the founders had in mind when they put that Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

I don’t care that technology makes it easy to do. We have a need for privacy and there is a pretty clear penumbra of privacy in the Bill of Rights. No need for privacy you say? How far do you think the Founders would have gotten if the British government did this kind of spying? How many slaves would have been able to be moved through the Underground Railroad if government had had this level of legal access to all communications?

Yeah – I don’t care if it was legal. 15 years ago it was not legal and would have been considered an affront to our Constitutionally guaranteed (a guarantee that seems quaint and antiquated now) civil liberties. That the Big Brother government has managed to tailor a law to allow them to legally get away with suspect behavior does not make it a good thing or an ethical thing. Tailoring a law to make behavior legal is what the Bush Admin did with torture. And lest we all forget – slavery was legal once too…

I don’t care if some companies have access to that information. My phone company has an interest in having my phone records – they bill me for them. The government on the other hand has no legitimate vested interest in my phone records. Marketing firms track my web surfing, fine. It bothers me, but they don’t have much power over me at all. Government on the other hand has an exponentially large amount of power over me and history is littered with examples of governments exercising that power in myriad negative ways. So yeah, companies have various facets of this info on me, but now government has the legality and apparently the want to have ALL of these various facets of information on me. Like a dossier, we all have our own private FBI file now – and not for bad or suspect behavior – just for simply existing in this country.

So our Big Brother government HAS to SPY on all of our phone calls in order to make us “safe”. God Orwell would be rolling over in his grave if he saw how much life was imitating art.