Results tagged “S 1959” from Six Hours A Week: Adventures in American Exile

Getting "On the List"

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Jackie Kennedy.jpg
The most "radical" act I have ever taken part in is one I organized. It was a miserable failure, and I was embarrassed by it. I write about it now not out of pride, but as a way of letting readers know what it takes to get "on the list."

You may remember the lead-up to the Iraq war as a frustrating, heartbreaking time. Many of us believed that preemptive aggression was a way to further agitate people who hated the U.S. and would only make future terrorist attacks more likely. We could see right through all of the pretextual explanations for war. At the same time, as I wrote last fall, the anti-war movement seemed frustratingly ineffectual.

So -- what was my brilliant response to the impending bloodshed and the lackluster antiwar movement? To dress up like Jackie Kennedy and carry around shopping bags with Jesus on them. Though this may seem a bit off, I think history will prove this brand of "radicalism" much more sane than Dick Cheney's. Why the Jackie Kennedy imagery?
Abigail_adams.jpg
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.

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tjalien.jpgTonight the pundits talk about Hillary's support among white women, and other demographic fluff, as we wait for the results of the "Chesapeake Primaries" on the day the Senate handed telecom immunity to a pleased White House.

I'm a white woman. Clinton was generally my last choice until the field was narrowed to two. Because the Montana primary isn't until June 3, I had the luxury of waiting to see how she and Obama would respond to the FISA and Homegrown Terrorism debates before deciding.

Today Clinton neglected to vote on the FISA bill and she lost my vote.  She offers a Comprehensive Government Reform page on her web site, but won't stand up NOW against vast, illegal spying in our out of control surveillance society. Obama, on the other hand, voted against telecom immunity. I called Clinton's campaign office to let them know this decided it, and then donated to Obama's campaign.

I wish I could telekinetically impress upon MSNBC, CNN and all the rest: I don't care if Hillary cries, or wears a low-cut blouse, or would have stayed home making cookies, or screwed up on health care, gets pummeled by Chris Matthews, or has more experience than Obama. I don't consult my fallopian tubes before I check a ballot. Equality and justice are what matter to me. None of us (black, white, woman, Muslim, Jewish, LGBT) has rights if we don't have Civil Liberties.

(Also? Note to pundits: Ron Paul is not only the "anti-war" candidate. He is the Civil Liberties candidate. The other night a CNN talking head named "The Internet" as his demographic friend, rather than hundreds of thousands of Americans from a variety of backgrounds who are outraged by this criminal administration's war and its assault on domestic freedom.)

So, for now, Obama's got me even though I'm not riding his rhetorical "change" wave. We'll see how the Homegrown Terrorism Bill debate shakes down. Will he continue to show leadership rather than playing the safe Clinton game?

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.

Update: In later updates on the FISA coverage it came to light that though Obama voted against telecom immunity, neither Clinton nor Obama voted on final passage of the bill. I don't yet understand why Obama would take a stand on telecom immunity and then NOT vote against the bill... More soon...

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vc77.jpgYes, the FISA debate is still upon us and I hope you've written like mad to your Senators.

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...):
Suffrage.jpgLast week, we saw Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's strategic flip flopping on whether "homegrown terror" constitutes the U.S's greatest terror threat.

Now we see language from the Homegrown Terrorism Act popping up in last Friday's seemingly strategically timed plea agreements from two men who were caught in a Los Angeles-area terror plot. This is not incredibly surprising, given that this case supposedly inspired the Act. But we have to wonder if it's a coincidence that the pleas are being entered now, while we await Senate debate on the Act. From a Justice Department press release:

In plea agreements filed this morning and court proceedings conducted this morning in United States District Court in Santa Ana, James and Washington admitted that they conspired β€œto levy war against the government of the United States through terrorism, and to oppose by force the authority of the United States government.”
Isn't enough that these men were caught in a heinous terrorist plot? That should put them safely away. Why the need to get them to use language about opposing the government's authority? What was their incentive to do so?

Further, what is "force?" Aren't we obligated as patriotic citizens to constantly question our government's authority? Like the suffragists on hunger strikes who were force-fed in prison? Like Civil Rights marchers?  From the bill:
664px-Centennial_Bell_in_the_Independence_Hall_Belfry,_Philadelphia_-_Engraving_from_1876.jpgWhat is the greatest terrorist threat to the United States? It depends on the audience -- and what aspects of privacy you want it to give up.

If you're trying to convince Europeans to create an international fingerprint and personal-data screening database, it's international. If you want to persuade a domestic audience to nationally standardize drivers licenses, it's domestic.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said this two weeks ago when addressing a European audience about the ways they would need to give up their anonymity when traveling to the United States:

The United States faces a lower risk of homegrown terrorism than Europe and should concentrate efforts on developing a global system of anti-terrorist screening at airports and borders, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday.

When asked whether the United States considered a homegrown attack likely β€” the prevailing pattern in Britain, where legally-residing extremists have plotted or committed a string of attacks since 2005 β€” Chertoff said America needed to make screening of international travelers its most logical priority.

"We have less of a problem with homegrown terrorism than in Europe. That's not to say we don't have a problem," he said, noting arrests in May of six foreign-born U.S. residents on suspicion of plotting to attack the Fort Dix army base.

"So I don't mean to suggest that the exclusive remedy is preventing bad people from getting into the United States ... but that is the point of their greatest vulnerability," he said.

Now Reuters reports in a story entitled U.S. Says Homegrown Attack Poses Biggest Risk:

The United States faces a heightened threat of terrorist attack "for the foreseeable future" but any attack will likely be homegrown, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said on Wednesday...

"There's probably a greater risk in terms of likelihood from a homegrown attack than from a massive international attack," he added.

Chertoff described that sort of "homegrown" attack as a single person or small group of people living in the United States who were "recruited" on the Internet and had pledged allegiance to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.


So, what's going on? Why the different assessments? Could Chertoff's domestic rhetoric have anything to do with the likely soon-to-be-debated Homegrown Terrorism Bill?

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Allentown.gifEarly this morning I received what seems like a thoughtful form letter response from Senator Tester to my email about the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act.

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?

Dear Kyeann:

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.


montecello.jpgNow is an essential time to let your Senators know (here are their contact forms) that they don't have to pass another frightening bill to seem tough on terror. If you haven't heard about the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, please see the links at the bottom of this post to understand how it could further curtail our freedoms and criminalize dissent. It's already passed in the House!

None of us wants to see more horrific acts of violence. On the other hand, we don't want to waste our time with redundant measures that likely won't prevent them, but will threaten the First Amendment.

I sent this to Sens. Tester and Baucus today. Adapt it as you wish!

Dear Senator Baucus,

I am gravely concerned about S 1959, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. I am troubled by the overly vague language and worried that in practice it will criminalize non-violent forms of dissent and stifle freedom of speech.

S 1959 has the potential to be used to target citizens who disagree with whichever administration is currently in power or who oppose powerful corporate interests. Most of the "home grown" terror we have seen has originated from white, Christian anti-abortionists. However, we know from the FOIA documents released so far that most of those targeted for surveillance by the current administration have been anti-war activists. Additionally, we have seen concerted efforts to label property destroying/anti-development extremists "terrorists" and tie mainstream environmental groups to them.

Surveillance is endemic in our society -- we have been labeled one of the world's top surveillance societies by Privacy International. Do we need to set up another commission to decide who to watch?

I look forward to hearing your position on this bill.

Thank you,


CNET
Huffington Post
NYC Indypendent 

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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.

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