Recently in Civil Liberties and Environment Category

lady-justice.jpgIf my Senator is co-sponsoring the Justice Bill, he should be into protecting citizens of his own state from ongoing and pervasive civil liberties violations.

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.

Respectfully,


Kyeann Sayer

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".

Confessions of a Former Eco-Flack: Part 2

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200px-Cache_Haneke.jpgThis continues a discussion about my adventures in Eco-Flackdom.

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.

Confessions of a Former Eco-Flack: Part 1

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Snake_oil_salesman_small.jpgTwo years ago, before the Orwellian nightmare kicked into full effect, I was becoming reasonably happy with the life that was taking shape. Somehow, both my mother and I were repeatedly bouncing back from all of the covert manipulation and interference that we did not realize was coordinated. I would find myself driving down Montana's Bitterrot Valley to pick up a side of beef one week, and riding a New York subway the next. I loved the "city mouse/country mouse" dichotomies and constant movement -- my plan was to set up a three-city Missoula/New York/Paris existence, writing about eco-fashion and leading eco-fashion and other tours.

Ironically, if the people who had been trying to destroy my life left me alone to take that path, I would likely have just created a lovely existence in the eco-PR bubble. My thesis might not have focused on faux post-environmentalism. I wouldn't have understood the limitations of my well-intentioned but misguided focus on image-making as the route to social change. I wouldn't have finally begun to break out of the inadvertent racism that kept me frozen, unable to understand what small part I could play in redressing injustices that I had not created.
rankin.jpgNow I have an inkling of how it feels to be Britney Spears. The girl is a walking economic stimulus agent. Her very existence supports thousands of individuals -- from paparazzi to copy editors to advertising executives. My case has been that of an unwitting commodity for intelligence contractors who have given nearly everyone in my life the opportunity to make some cash off of information, solicitation or entrapment.

These are people with bumper stickers like "Live Simply So Others May Simply Live." People who take their dogs on generous afternoon hikes on the sides of mountains before studying the I Ching. Individuals who ride their bikes, buy organic, and play benefit concerts in their quasi-hipster alt-country bands. Who among them would like to think of themselves as akin to Nazi collaborators? I can't even simply equate them with "Good Germans" who stood by and did nothing as the Jews were dehumanized and eventually carted off. They were/are modern day willing executioners.

Apparently a vast cross-section of Americans have become too enamored of the "good life" to bother with cultivating silly qualities like moral fortitude. Seeing me humiliated or jailed was worth money for a new guitar or in vitro fertilization. My ruin was only a pit stop on individual aspirational highways. Even in so-called "progressive" circles, claiming one's own piece of the American dream is more important than rights, the law, or decency. Maybe if I were an abstract, distant, deserving indigenous Ecuadoran Amazonian? Perhaps then I would have merited solidarity?

The people in Missoula who have collaborated with tax payer- and corporate-funded contractors didn't expect that I would return for good. I left suddenly after one of the only people I trusted got sloppy and outed himself as a mole last fall. In the mean time, it seems I was supposed to be entrapped in some sort of drug-related incident. Our tenant/property manager (who has turned out to be a fake, industry-funded "global warming activist") has certainly behaved as though my mother's house was meant to be confiscated. My former friends and new acquaintances must have been assured I would never discover their complicity, and if I did I would be completely discredited anyhow: as a nut case or a criminal.

I can count 15 over 100 people in Missoula who either work for government agencies, for corporations, or were just hired as agents for either, who entered my life under false pretenses or were paid to use their proximity to me over the last year and a half. (That number leaves out many people like hair dressers and estheticians.) Now I will see these people at the farmers' market with their children, friends, husbands and wives. There is no Truth and Reconciliation Commission for victims of illegal corporate and government spying.

I know I am not like those Chileans who have to sit at the opera near their former torturers. I was not in a concentration camp. I am not a former Guantanamo detainee. 

Rather, I have faced the banal evil of America's 21st century. Those who live in opposition to the Bush administration and its policies, who would decry Chevron's genocidal ruin of the rain forest, would also take money from either to help destroy an innocent person -- so that they can have the shiny things they've always wanted or grasp the "American dream" they believe they deserve.

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Government-Funded Porn!

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Carrie_Chapman_Catt.jpgSince puberty I've struggled with two major sexuality-related themes: how to be both smart and happily sexual, and how to get out from under the culturally-ingrained notion of my sexuality as some sort of commodity.

Ironically, my sexuality seems to have literally become a commodity in the form of tape(s) purchased by government contractors. The reason? My environmentally- and rights-preoccupied brain.

While all of this surveillance/harassment has been happening in the last year, I've constantly tried to piece together why. Now a number of events have made clear that at least part of it was an aspect of the $250 million anti-environmental PR industry that was trying to recruit me. This makes so much more sense than a variety of other explanations, and actually makes me feel a lot more hopeful about the dismal state of civil liberties in the U.S. I wasn't targeted just because of my political beliefs, but because of my very specific theory/activism/PR skill set, and the fact that my course of study had the potential to do great damage to anti-environmental PR efforts.

Now it has. After circumventing Herculean efforts to prevent me from filing my thesis for May graduation, I released a shortened version of it to a variety of journalists. The work exposes Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus as very likely funded by anti-environmental industries (there's a link to it at the bottom of this post). After their work is investigated, I have very little doubt that they and others will be discredited. Of course, this means that I must be discredited too.

Since efforts to frame me as a would-be assassin or entrap me using drugs have failed, I do expect that some day the compromising images I've been taunted with repeatedly over the last year will make their way onto the Internet.
edvarner.jpgI saw Obama slide this one by in the Vegas debate. Romney spouted it at the Reagan Library (I think -- they're all starting to run together), this notion that relying on nuclear power will somehow benefit national security through reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

This is very simple.

Most of the petroleum we import goes into our gas tanks. ONLY 1.6% OF OUR ELECTRICITY WAS GENERATED BY PETROLEUM IN 2006. That number is projected to stay the same through 2030. 

So: using nuclear energy has little to do with reducing dependence on foreign oil. It would increase our dependence on foreign uranium, which has its own host of national security implications.

Citizens have a right to basic information on questions of energy dependence and national security. In a democracy we rely on the media to do its job and challenge candidates when they make erroneous connections. Especially when such connections benefit the nuclear industry rather than the rest of us.

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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 “to 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:

Intolerance Is A Bigger Threat Than Terrorism

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policeman.jpgAccording to the MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base, between 1968 and today there were 554 incidents of terrorism perpetuated against the United States domestically and internationally.

Last week's FBI report tells us
, in the year 2006 alone, with only 12,600 of the nation’s more than 17,000 local, county, state and federal police agencies reporting, there were around 7,500 hate crime incidents.

I've never been a big fan of the "hate crime" designation because of worries about the potential for anti-Bushisms to become "hate speech" for example. But one thing seems clear: intolerance is a much greater threat to America than "terrorism."

Nazi Germany: Climate Change Lessons

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german forest.JPG Those of us who are stepping up to the climate change challenge must devote as much energy to civil liberties issues as we do to energy policy. If we don't, we may wake up one day soon in an America we don't recognize, and find ourselves unable to enforce even the most watered down carbon reduction schemes.

There are clearly many differences between our society today and Germany in the 1930s, but some similarities bear comparison. Unlike the Germans, we have the benefit of history.

In the 1930s, many middle-class Germans were dedicated conservationists with regional hiking clubs boasting thousands of local members. The National Socialists didn't just turn Germany into a fascist state over night: they gradually and legally seized power over a period of years. The outcome was not inevitable. As Thomas Lekan notes in his study of environmentalism in the Rhineland region, Imagining the Nation in Nature, it was important to win over the nature-loving demographic during the consolidation of power. In 1935 the Nazis made their dreams come true by passing the national Reich Nature Protection Law and making Germany the most progressive among industrialized nations in regard to landscape planning and conservation, according to Charles Closmann's essay in How Green Were the Nazis?


What does this have to do with us in the United States right now, you ask?

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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