Did RAND Brand Me a "Terrorist"?

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21278.jpgCommuting in Los Angeles is an experiment. Just when you think you have a routine down that gets you home in under an hour, there's a surprise. You could find yourself cruising down the 10 and then suddenly at a standstill: that's right, Lakers at the Staples Center. As you're unexpectedly moving at a snail's pace one August morning you remember that it's time for the UCLA kids to clog the freeways and your commute time will double for the next four months. Many days accidents were the culprit. Often I would rely on a web site dedicated to traffic reporting to know when I should go home -- that such web sites exist illustrate how much traffic jams affect all of our lives every day.

Unpredictable, snarling traffic could be fodder for many an ethical discussion. If an ambulance can't reach me because of Lakers traffic, are the Lakers responsible? The Staples Center? The city planners?

The death and destruction related to automobiles is normal to us. There were 41,059 traffic-related fatalities in the US in 2007 alone. We've clearly collectively decided that this astounding loss of life is acceptable in our auto-centric culture.

Sometime while working with RAND I was at dinner discussing this with an acquaintance who worked in the office next to me. I'm not sure he was actually a friend. I believe he worked for Bruce Hoffman on some terrorism-related research but it could have been Brian Michael Jenkins -- I don't remember. He might have just been eliciting comments, as I now realize so many did in those years. We discussed Critical Mass, the bicycle protests where bicyclists flood the streets apparently to create an experience for drivers similar to the one they face every day. I had never taken part in one and am very unlikely to because I can barely ride a bike.  He said that people shouldn't take part because if they did, they might be responsible for emergency services not being able to get through to someone in need.

I agree that would be terrible, and if I were a part of any large event that was the obvious culprit in preventing someone from getting essential medical care I'd feel awful. But traffic is so random. We don't consider a Lakers game a terrorist event when the traffic jams caused by it result in delays in all our lives -- in emergency situations or not. So, people involved in Critical Mass, who are on their bicycles, on the street to point out how violent and destructive our car culture is (not only in terms of direct destruction of human life, but astronomical CO2 levels that affect not just local communities but the whole planet) should be held to some higher standard of responsibility because their purpose for being on the street en mass biking is political in nature? What about jams caused by political conventions? It's complicated territory.

At that restaurant in that moment in time I thought that taking the risk to take part in such a demonstration despite the fact that a concurrent fateful act might make it difficult to get an ambulance through would be worth it because overall it might draw attention to the manner in which our reliance on cars kills so many. But it was all hypothetical, because, as I alluded, I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 21 and barely can. I had not intention of ever taking part in Critical Mass.

You would have thought I had approved of the most heinous atrocities known to man. By the end of that conversation my companion could barely look at me, and didn't speak to me much again. At first I thought it might have been simply that he was not used to being disagreed with, but came to believe that my comments about Critical Mass seemed to completely change his view of me -- like, change my category from nice friendly person to "bad person".
Before that I had watched a few basketball games at his brother's place. His brother's friend had invited me to Brazil (I found it odd since the guy had a girlfriend but now I see that spooks seem always to want to connect me to Brazil -- I think because of a short story I wrote in college that they and their psychological experts seem to have attached an inordinate amount of significance to...) and I declined. We had lunch together a lot. But after the dinner I was suddenly persona non grata.

It turns out that RAND research was intimately interwoven with submission of The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, and I think I may have been used as an unwitting guinea pig.

Two weeks prior to the bill’s introduction, Brian Michael Jenkins, a senior advisor at Rand, delivered testimony on “Jihadist Radicalization and Recruitment” to Harman’s congressional subcommittee. In 2005, Rand published a book by Jenkins that included a chapter called “Homegrown Terrorism Threats.” In that chapter, Jenkins posits that “[i]n their international campaign, the jihadists will seek common grounds with leftist, anti-American, and anti-globalization forces, who will in turn see, in radical Islam, comrades against a mutual foe.” He also mentions that the government should pay special attention to environmentalists, anti-globalization activists, and anarchists. Additionally, in his congressional testimony, Jenkins recognized that domestic anti-terror cases have succeeded thanks, in part, to laws being “interpreted broadly” by the courts.

Since I have come to assume that acquaintances at RAND were actually funded to conduct surveillance on and elicitation of me, I remember moments like the Critical Mass discussion with incredulity. Are discussions like that what have led to the surreal and pretty much unimaginable ongoing violation of my rights? I'm living in a city in which the political interference is so intense that it's nearly impossible to get a lawyer who isn't bought and paid for, where the police department has sanctioned unbelievable obstruction and violation of my rights. This can't happen without important people at the federal level at some time having been convinced that I was some sort of threat. Are hypothetical conversations about pointing out the value of human life through traffic protest enough to brand you the type of environmentalist who would join with a "jihadist"?

I am a person who had the opportunity to do tree sits and could have been a Seattle street protester if I had wanted to, but I found the Left completely disillusioning and disappointing. I guess that makes me a good candidate to be a "lone wolf"? But I had friends working with me on my failed protest... Since their lives have not been picked at mercilessly, I can only assume that they were also informants... Because costumes and shopping bags are so terrifying as to require close observation.

If my comments did make my "friend" suddenly view me as a "terrorist" based on some sort of formula/criteria established by the esteemed RAND researchers, then I humbly submit that they need new frameworks for spending taxpayer money on counterterrorism efforts. Maybe the reason I am still imprisoned by the well-funded harassment campaign is that such smart and important people aren't allowed to be wrong? A lot of resources seem to be invested in my being the wrong one, whether anything that makes me so is true or not. I guess once it is clear that the accused wasn't actually in the wrong we get into a cover up is worst than the crime situation. We seem to have been there a long time and I would greatly appreciate its ending. (How long is everyone going to bank on the idea that the next and the next and the next entrapment scheme will work?)

When I was taught in school about human rights and the environment, no one ever taught me that staying involved in those issues after graduation could have such a devastating impact on my life. Why allow schools to have human rights groups if individuals will only be punished later for believing in equality and international human rights? Why teach them to restore wetlands or care in general about the fate of the biosphere if we've made a collective decision that any action that in any way puts the health of humanity and the fate of the earth above anyone's right to make a buck will be branded a terrorist?

It's just mean. Wouldn't it be more honest to tell kids from the beginning that if they stick their necks out in even the most rudimentary way for issues that they care about, their lives could be ruined by private contractors and intelligence agencies? Or -- if they have the potential to want to do so, they may find themselves surrounded by people who aim to entrap them or elicit comments that could result in private or government funding? Why instill in generations a myth about an America where we stand up for the little guy and for our principles in law-abiding ways, and work with the rest of the world to assure democratic protections and ideals? Why make it an aspiration and then punish those who want to work to make the country and world more livable?

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Six Hours A Week Is:

A coping strategy, advocacy outlet, and form of protection. My life has been nearly destroyed by the unconstitutional practices of politically/socially-motivated private intelligence contractors and the corruption and cronyism that allow them. Apparently because I speak out in ways that prioritize the little guy and human and environmental health above gargantuan profit margins, and believe that facts are as important as PR spin, I was someone who had to be completely discredited. In 2007, after a few months of a surreal and relentless invasion of privacy and dignity, I started to spend six hours each week researching, communicating about, and advocating legal and ethical responses to assaults on our shared democratic and republican ideals. For most of that time I was writing from the perspective of someone whose life was manipulated into a constant state of terror and emergency. In 2010, many of the array of entrapment attempts seem to have failed and it seems no longer possible to get away with such excessive, obvious harassment and overt interference. As we take more practical steps to address what has been allowed to happen to my family, we do expect to see some more harassment and intimidation. But I should be able to chronicle it from a more measured perspective, rather than that of someone in constant fear. Part of me would like to go back and delete earlier posts, because even I find them hard to relate to in some ways. But this blog has been one of our only forms of protection as everyone in any official capacity ignored the truth and tried to spin and frame us into the troublemakers and perpetrators of one form or another. So I leave it up as a form of protection, a record of what has occurred, and (with luck) the account of our way back to credibility and some form of legitimate justice. All content on this site is property of Kyeann Sayer. All rights reserved.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Kyeann published on October 4, 2009 10:03 PM.

Loken Builders' (and Friends') Neverending Abuse of the Legal System was the previous entry in this blog.

Will Tester and Baucus Demonstrate a Commitment to Justice? is the next entry in this blog.

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