Recently in Books Category

cs091707-sub-York-County-Jail .jpgThis week for my six hours I've been reading Fair Game, learning more and more about the administration's criminal activity surrounding the leak of former CIA operative Valerie Wilson's identity. Thoughts of Wilson's memoir provided the background for my encounter with Dan Abram's broadcast last night.

Abrams updated us on the former Alabama governor who is languishing in prison, possibly as another Karl Rove political payback. (It was Rove who told Chris Matthews that Wilson was "fair game" after her Ambassador husband Joe Wilson spoke out about the administration's fast and loose "interpretation" of intelligence in the lead up to the Iraq invasion.)

On the same broadcast, we learned about an episode on the game show "The Moment of Truth", where people compete to win money by answering intimate questions while hooked up to a polygraph machine. One woman revealed that she had cheated on her husband and wanted to be married to another man. The couple has since separated. The show is pulling high ratings.

So, why have the fates given us this public spectacle in which people are paid to commit painful honesty that ruins their lives right around the time that a newly created database allows us to search and examine the administration's Iraq-related lies? Lies that have destroyed millions of lives? High crimes that have had few real life repercussions for the perpetrators?

Neither Congress nor the American people insist on truth and justice from our highest officials. As the public assents to illegal spying and official lying, we want to watch everyday individuals squirm in the messy, explosive orgies of honesty-fueled cringe.

Sadness and disgust don't even begin to describe how it feels to lose faith in public desire to maintain legitimate accountability and, thus, genuine democracy. We seem to only want truth in its most sadistic forms.

women aviation.jpgNo major patriotic accomplishments this week -- unless you consider losing sleep productive. Finding out that there are Guantanamo-like no-man's lands on U.S. soil scared the shit out of me.

Australian-born U.S. citizen Anne Summers recently had trouble entering and leaving the U.S.:

Summers was detained by armed agents for FIVE HOURS each way in LAX on her way to and from the annual meeting of the board of Greenpeace International in Mexico, and her green card was taken away from her. `I want to call a lawyer', she told TSA agents. `Ma'am, you do not have a right to call an attorney,' they replied. `You have not entered the United States.'

Apparently a section of LAX just beyond the security line is asserted to be `not in the United States' -- though it is squarely inside the airport -- so the laws of the US do not apply.

What?? Who approved this? Is there a list of regions in the U.S. where the law doesn't apply so, you know, we can avoid them if we want to?

Counterintelligence: There's Something Happening Here

monument.jpgImagine if you were one of the hundreds of thousands of U.S. residents who has done little more than exercise constitutionally protected rights of free speech and assembly but have found yourself "on the list." Until I started reading David Cunningham's sociological analysis There's Something Happening Here: The New Left, The Klan, and FBI Counterintelligence, I didn't understand the logic behind endlessly investigating people who had broken no laws and only wanted to prevent senseless killing. But I think his detached study of the ways the FBI used counterintelligence against the New Left and the Klan can tell us a lot about what many Americans are enduring now at the hands of our politically saturated intelligence agencies:

"At times [The FBI's] intelligence activities have have been reactive, responding to illegal or politically extreme actions or rhetoric, but more often agents have monitored targets for their perceived potential to engage in such dissident activity. In this way, the Bureau has fashioned a mission that stresses agents' ability to anticipate future threats, often indiscriminately targeting suspects for their ostensible hidden activities. From the FBI's perspective, certain political groupings - including "anarchists," "communists," and "terrorists" - are subversive and are therefore legitimate intelligence targets, even in the absence of visible challenges to the state, precisely because they represent a broader, invisible conspiracy. The logic of conspiracy is insidious and self-reinforcing: the continued investigation of targets is justified whether or not agents uncover evidence of actual insurrectionary activities, as a lack of such evidence merely signals a deeper conspiracy that an be exposed only through still more intensive investigation" (pgs. 8-9).
What would it be like to be on the other side of such a wild goose chase? Are these the sort of intelligence expenditures that will shield us from people who actually want to harm us?

~~ There's Something Happening Here

Giving Away "The End of America"

End of America.jpgOf course we have goodies for trick-or-treaters this Halloween week, but I'm also giving away books.

So far, around five of fifteen copies of the The End of America have been handed off to friends and acquaintances. Fifteen was what I could afford now, but thanks to a donation from my lovely mom ten more are on the way! It's a quick and dirty read -- I ask recipients to either pass it on or return it to me so I can give it to someone else.

If you want to get vital information into your friends' hands, copies are on sale at Amazon for only $8.37 at this moment. If you link through this page to shop, a portion of your purchase goes to Amnesty International.

~~ The End of America 

Reading The End of America

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End of America.jpgNaomi Wolf's The End of America is an essential tool. Every U.S. resident should read it. Yes, it has flaws, but they hardly diminish the book's impact. Please read it. ASAP. I finished it over the weekend: 155 pages and not very dense.

One of the great things about Wolf's call-to-action pamphlet is that, without succumbing to conspiracy theory or hyperbole, it paints a dire picture of the ways our civil liberties have been trampled in the last six years. Rhetorical comparisons between Bush and Hitler have always irritated me -- there's no quicker way to lose credibility than to throw the world "fascist" around willy-nilly. Wolf is careful, however. She compares ours with societies that have experienced "fascist shifts," and the "echoes" she identifies are quite resonant. Whether or not the steps taken by the Bush administration have been deliberate, we should be in a state of alarm.

To get a quick look at ten steps that fascist regimes take, and how our administration's actions fit, take a gander at this April Guardian article.

I do think that The End of America would have a broader appeal if it acknowledged explicitly from the outset that Americans have not experienced "liberty" equally. Noting the inequalities that were built into the Constitution, the run of the mill rights violations that are connected to racial and economic disparity, and the way in which the FBI has historically violated individuals' rights as a matter of practice would not diminish her argument.

Really, Wolf's is the privileged perspective of someone who (like yours truly) has always taken her rights for granted. But the fact of her alarm is telling. If an elite, white, former Rhodes Scholar is gravely concerned about her own basic liberties, the possibility of an America truly committed to justice and equality may truly be on the wane.

Read it!

~~ The End of America

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.

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