Recently in Action Category
I don't have any sort of rescue fantasies, but wonder, who will have the courage and fortitude to help us out of this mess and ensure that no one has to endure anything like it again? If not my Senators (will Baucus demonstrate that he's not completely owned?), then who? Is there a Serpico in our midst? The UN? I mean, it's ridiculous. I've written so many letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience, and now I'm going on 2.5 years of virtual imprisonment in the U.S. I have to believe that someone out there cares more about justice and integrity than membership in an unprincipled patronage system. The reason the U.S. is assumed to be so great is because we supposedly don't need international observers or rescuers to swoop in and save its citizens from one another. Right?
Dear Senators Tester and Baucus,
I write because I need your assistance to combat pervasive and intractable corruption in our state. My mother and I have encountered judicial malfeasance, unfathomable corruption of the legal profession, and discriminatory, untruthful local law enforcement. We believe these overall gross violations of our rights have been made possible by lax regulation of intelligence contractors and agencies working in tandem with local agencies. In response to FOIA requests, I got the runaround from the FBI and a “Glomar” response from the NSA. The civil rights attorney I hired to help me ended up lying about which agencies he contacted and withholding documents. My mother and I cannot fight such insidious and pervasive interference in our lives alone.
We need the help of senators who are not afraid to upset the current balance of cronyism in Montana. We are targets of entrenched Republican and Democrat interests seemingly because of our sex, religious affiliation (or lack thereof) and political affiliations and activities. It is very possible that local polluting industries have funded interference in my life at one time or another for at least ten years simply because I was part of a campaign to work with the union and management at Stone Container to stop poisonous dioxin emissions in our valley.
If you are courageous men who are not hemmed by the coal or any other lobby, if you are men who believe that human and civil rights extend to all people in your state and not just the back scratching elite, then please step up and help us. The current strategy seems to be to make the administrative and legal processes of seeking assistance so drawn out and impossible as to drain all of our energy and financial resources. We need men of conscience who truly believe in the best of democratic and republican ideals to keep their compact with the electorate and not the entrenched interests of a corrupt few.
About a year ago, I contacted Senator Tester and described some of the gross violations of my and my mother’s civil rights and liberties. He suggested that I contact local law enforcement. After many more months of harassment, and actual and attempted harm to our persons and property, we did finally contact the Missoula Police Department. We have come up against lies, evasion, and overall discriminatory treatment. Again, we need the help of individuals in a position of power who will use the position that the people of Montana have entrusted them with to take a stand against corruption and cronyism. Every effort is being made to ensure that we cannot do it on our own.
I request that representatives from each of your offices contact me so that we can find a way to work together to ensure that my mother and I emerge from this morass in one piece, and that no citizen of this state will ever have to endure such politically- and socially-motivated hijacking of supposedly neutral local and federal agencies again.
Senator Tester, as a co-sponsor of the Justice Act, I believe it would be unconscionable to leave two citizens of your state who have seemingly been victims of Patriot Act Excesses out in the cold. We could easily serve as “poster children” for the necessity of reform. Please show us that your commitment to constitutional safeguards is more than mere talk.
Under a bad (but not worst) case scenario, Obama and his cabinet could become paranoid about, oh, say, potential homegrown terrorism based on recent Homeland Security reporting about right wing extremist threats. Or there could be a right wing extremist attack much more spectacular than the church shootings, clinic bombings and community massacres that we’ve become accustomed to. Just as the last administration ignored the 4th amendment rights of every single US resident by monitoring all of our electronic communications, 2nd amendment rights could conceivably go out the window with as much ease if we are terrified into a state of hysteria because of the actions of a few NRA members. (Montanans are actually stocking up on guns as if they were swine flu vaccine.)
The specter of unchecked executive power should unite all of us in a nonpartisan desire to investigate (and if necessary prosecute) the abuses of the last administration. Though I don’t believe the above Obama scenario is anything to fear, that belief is based on faith. It shouldn’t be. All of us should go to sleep at night secure in the knowledge that constitutional guarantees will be enforced -- no matter which party helms the White House. That’s why we must demand truth, transparency, and justice.
I don’t know yet what type of commission or investigation would be best. I’m still trying to work out how to deal with my own lack of 4th amendment rights and ongoing conspiracy against my rights and illegal detention. I do know that it’s hard for anyone (intelligence analyst, senator, flooring contractor, insurance agent) to admit to being wrong. People who were convinced to take action based on manufactured intelligence, or reluctantly submitted to cronyism, now have the chance to decide whether cowardly self-preservation is more important than truth and justice. It’s never too late to get on the right side of history.
The green/ethical consumer movement is very promising. It shows just how many people want to make a difference with their purchasing power. However, as long as making a difference stays in the domains of consumer trends and personal ambition, well-meaning impulses can easily be co-opted by polluting industries or those with an anti-science agenda.
It's not that the green businesses or consumers shouldn't be doing their thing, it's that they need to constantly think critically about the information they get, and make sure that they remain citizens first and consumers second. The last 30+ years of environmental history have shown us that it's easy for those who make a career or hobby out of environmental advocacy to lose site of people with less access to educational opportunity or resources to make their communities clean and safe.
For me, the shift from Environmental Consumer to Citizen resulted from a combination of the TreeHugger breaching, crazy domestic spying/terrorism, and watching a Movie called Cache. I saw that if we failed to take care of each other by protecting one another's rights, our environmental concerns might prove meaningless.
My mother and I have endured another wave of harassment and tampering with supplements and other pantry items. We thought we had survived the last of it, but there is still clearly quite a bit of funding (at least, we would hope you would have to pay someone a lot to break into someone's house and aid in their demise). That's why I'm finally just outing a selection of the corporate and right wing operatives I've dealt with over the last ten years or so. I'll stop doing it when the harassment (stalking, poisoning, spying, witness tampering, slander, attorney purchasing) stops.
As I wrote over at StumbleUpon, here are some folks' doors to knock on to end the funding, or to question should we not make it out of this situation. We are not surrendering by settling a bogus law suit that was originally filed (among other conspiratorial reasons) in an attempt to seize my mother's home -- that's what has given many of the locals the incentive to drag this out. Even after all that has happened, the outing route was not one I wanted to use, but I don't feel like I have much choice. This is my health, my life, my mother's health, my mother's life. Here's what I've posted. (You can also read about operatives and collaborators there -- I'm considering whether to give each of them an individual post here.)
This Wired article inspired me, though. Netroots activists are pissed at Obama's FISA flip-flop. So was I. I'm glad that MoveOn and the independent activists who have generated support and money for Obama are trying to use their leverage to influence him now. But why did they hop on the "Change" bandwagon so nimbly and readily in the first place?
Though Hillary lost my primary vote once and for all when she didn't bother to show up for the February FISA vote, I wasn't ready to throw myself into the Obama camp. In fact, I'll be so self-congratulatory as to quote my February self:
If you're feeling the warm and fuzzy Obama-as-second-coming vibe, I hope you'll cool down and make sure he knows that you're in his corner because he believes that a renewed America means an unwavering devotion to our founding documents. "Change" must mean the restoration of our democracy.Later, I hoped that action on the Homegrown Terrorism Bill might prove a decent litmus test. Nope.
I remember feeling bummed when I received the MoveOn endorsement ballot. Shouldn't there have been a set of criteria? Why just give away the endorsement without it meaning anything? And then, why continue to flood our inboxes with the cheer leading Obama "Change" rhetoric?
When we suddenly say we're all about Obama and "Change" don't we put ourselves in a sort of ridiculous predicament? For one, we assume that people can't be motivated to vote with the truth: the man is a politician. No matter how noble his intentions, we can bet that many of his life decisions (like turning down lucrative positions to move to an electorally significant state to create a grassroots support base) have been calculated. He will disappoint us because he can't possibly be all things to all Americans. Just because he may be the best option right now doesn't mean we have to leap into absurd fairy tale rhetoric about his somehow having magical powers to enact sweeping change. Once we give over to the rhetoric, anything he does to deviate from our fantasies of what he stands for invariably disappoints.
We've already been to a place called Hope. Young voters don't know what it's like to have a preternatural politician grab their hearts with rhetoric and then become a whopping, co-opted, double talking disappointment. Are our memories so short? Do we really want to do that again and lead another generation to the kind of apathy that allowed the current administration to enter the White House?
Let's be honest. An Obama administration will mean a world of difference no matter what. But he's a politician. We are the change agents. We can't just walk to a voting booth, dimple a chad, and expect America to be a safer, fairer, more just place. We have to change. We have to get out of our comfort zones, and remain active, engaged citizens.
The moment our 4th Amendment protections truly become more important to Americans than our sofa patterns or TV schedules, we will see what change means.
People in states that have yet to hold primaries should insist that Clinton and Obama take a stand on the frightening Homegrown Terrorism Bill before they give either candidate a vote.
All the Michigan/Florida controversy and Superdelegate issues aside, it seems like forcing the Democratic contenders to fight for their right to represent is better for all of us than the early anointing that generally happens. If they address actual issues, rather than engaging in irritating "red phone" banter, that is. They don't have so many differences (on Iraq, health care, the economy) that will affect our everyday lives, but their willingness to address our civil liberties emergency - or not - will reverberate for generations.
Right now, the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee is mulling over the Homegrown Terrorism Act. Obama is on the Committee and as of late last year had not taken a position on this bill that will create vast new arenas for the monitoring of U.S. citizens.
After nearly eight years of unchecked lawlessness and abuse of executive privilege, it's time make sure the next president knows that we will watch him or her like hawks, not grant extended powers in our already endemic surveillance society for monitoring everyday people who oppose a given administration's policies. Essentially, these candidates, who have pledged their lives to public service, are agreeing to be monitored by us and it's our job to do so.
Right now, the most important questions to many are, "Will you take the lead in repairing our looted and vandalized systems of government?" "Will you restore the rule of law?" "Will you resurrect our image in the eyes of the world?"
I am looking at both Obama and Clinton right now, and though Obama seems more promising, and had the mettle to take a stand on telecom immunity, I'm still not convinced that he is prepared to lead us out of our civil liberties emergency.
Rather than simply giving candidates our support or not, we could hold to the notion that it is our job not just to get excited by a speech, go to a voting booth, and cling to a fantasy that vacant campaign promises will become policy. Rather, with our vote we are giving them permission to be accountable to us.
We can promise the candidates that we will remain active stewards of democracy. We will insist that basic Constitutional safeguards remain in place. We are not afraid to press for impeachment, to protest, to create new parties whose representatives - unlike Congressional Democrats - will do what they were voted in to do.
If your state hasn't voted, contact Clinton and Obama's campaign offices and ask whether or not they will at the very least ensure that the vague language that could threaten first amendment rights is removed from the Homegrown Terrorism Bill and that independent civil liberties oversight of the commission is provided.
The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) tells us that although Telecom immunity has gotten all the press (certainly I've been fixated on it), judicial supervision is most important:
Yikes! The CDT provides an excellent overview, clearly breaking down what the issues are with the different bills, and what's at stake.
The House bill, as noted, puts judicial approval where it belongs - at the beginning of the process. In a huge concession to the government's arguments, the House bill does not require judicial approval of individual targets, even if they might communicate with someone in the U.S. Instead, the House bill creates a system of "program warrants" or "basket orders," under which the government can designate the individual targets on its own discretion.The House bill also takes significant steps to cut off an argument used by the Administration to justify post 9-11 warrantless surveillance outside the requirements of FISA. The House bill's "exclusivity" provision indicates that a Congressional authorization of the use of military force should not be construed to authorize surveillance unless it does so explicitly. The Senate bill, in contrast, merely repeats current law. It therefore invites the argument that Congress might implicitly authorize warrantless surveillance in the future when it authorizes the use of military force.
Send support to House leaders! Let them know you want legislation that maintains the rule of law.
~~ Center for Democracy and Technology
But we must not forget about S1959, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. (Too much of a mouthful? Follow ReasonableCitizen's lead and call it the AQ (or Anti-Quaker) Bill.) Below you'll find all the latest news as well as highlights of oppositional outcry from Sacramento to Atlanta.
Remarkably, in an apparent reaction to vast and sustained criticism, the Committee on Homeland Security released this Fact Sheet in December. (The Center for Constitutional Rights has a Fact sheet of its own here. After reading it you can sign the anti- petition if it will make you feel better.)
Some folks seemed to think the bill was dead, but it clearly is not. I do think we have some time before it hits the Senate floor, however. My Senator, who is on the Homeland Security Committee, wasn't familiar with it when we spoke last week. If your Senator is also on that Committee, The Bill of Rights Defense Committee is asking you to meet with his or her aides.
And now, many smart reasons to fight this bill as though our Constitutional rights depended on it (Oh wait... They do...):
This according to Chris Bliss, founder of MyBillofRights.org. Chris not only has an enviable name, but is a world famous juggler who happens to spend many more than six hours per week advocating shared American ideals.
More than anything, good and decent people of all stripes are dismayed over the deep divisions and polarization within the country, and looking for some positive first step they can take to build a bridge back to common ground.
It seems odd, doesn't it, that there are no monuments to the Bill of Rights in the U.S.? Anywhere? MyBillofRights.org seeks to place 3D odes to to the document on public lands in all 50 states.
Symbolic representations of what we share as U.S. citizens don't solve all of our problems, but really do have the potential to inspire. We must continue to strive to uphold the dreams and principles that our most essential documents represent. Shouldn't we be reminded of them at every opportunity? Progress has been made on erecting monuments in Arizona and Texas. Will your state be next?
MyBillofRights.org has provided a copy of the Bill of Rights here, with translations into 14 languages.
To say I don't see the necessity of this bill at all is an understatement. But he clearly isn't dismissing it entirely. His reply primarily focused on my surveillance concerns. Since it sounds like he will fight for a less frightening version I will write again with an emphasis on the vague definition of "force," and the dangers of defining ideologically based violence, integrating comments from Bill and the anonymous commenter here.
What do you think? What are your Senators saying? What next?
Thank you for taking the time to contact me about S. 1959, the Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. I have serious privacy concerns about this bill and appreciate your input, as it is a critical part of making sure the laws we pass in the Senate reflect the priorities we share as Montanans.
The stated goal of the Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act is to prevent terrorism by individuals born, raised, or based and operating primarily in the United States. Ideally, this bill would protect our civil rights and liberties while helping the Department of Homeland Security work to protect us against ideologically-based violence by these homegrown terrorists.