Stop the US Government's Attempt to Criminalize Dissent!
By Dennis Loo (6/18/13)
Update 2 (6/20/13):
A recording of the livestream of last night's program - June 19, 2013 - at The Great Hall at the Cooper Union. Click on the segments in the right hand column in ascending order. The first segment begins before the formal program which starts at around 80% into the first segment's recording.
The night before, on June 18, 2013, I was interviewed along with Yoni Miller of OWS, by Paul DeRienzo, for his show "Let Them Talk" on Manhattan Neighborhood Network. Paul asked good questions and we had a really good conversation with him.
See this very useful and short piece at The Atlantic about three former NSA employees - Thomas Drake, William Binney, and J. Kirke Weibe - who praise and corroborate Edward Snowden's revelations. It summarizes an interview of the three at USA Today. Here is a snippet from the USA Today interview:
Thomas Drake, William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe belong to a select fraternity: the NSA officials who paved the way.
For years, the three whistle-blowers had told anyone who would listen that the NSA collects huge swaths of communications data from U.S. citizens. They had spent decades in the top ranks of the agency, designing and managing the very data-collection systems they say have been turned against Americans. When they became convinced that fundamental constitutional rights were being violated, they complained first to their superiors, then to federal investigators, congressional oversight committees and, finally, to the news media.
To the intelligence community, the trio are villains who compromised what the government classifies as some of its most secret, crucial and successful initiatives. They have been investigated as criminals and forced to give up careers, reputations and friendships built over a lifetime.
Today, they feel vindicated.
They say the documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old former NSA contractor who worked as a systems administrator, proves their claims of sweeping government surveillance of millions of Americans not suspected of any wrongdoing. They say those revelations only hint at the programs' reach.
Regarding this last point about the NSA programs' reach, as I said last night at the program, a comment that I'm told was retweeted ninety times, what Snowden has revealed is far worse than Orwell's nightmarish vision in 1984. People in general have not yet learned, and they are now at the outer reachs of appreciating, how unbelievably comprehensive this dragnet is: the government is literally recording and storing all electronic communications.
One of the things that my students and I discuss in my classes, especially in my theory and senior seminar classes, is the implacable, banal, and prevaricating nature of bureaucracies. This stands out in stark reality in the comments of former NSA insiders who have stepped forward, consciences in hand, to tell the story of their work. In The Atlantic's summary, for example, you can see this:
In short, it is Kabuki Theatre when senators, congressmen, congresswomen, Obama and his operatives claim that there is "Congressional oversight" and "checks and balances" and that it's all being done with adequate safeguards and supervision by the people's representatives. It is no such thing. A very few members of Congress are brave and truthful enough to admit this, such as Sen. Ron Wyden, who I quoted from last night, contrasting his candid comments to the outrageous lies of Obama that the NSA needs specific warrants if they are going to listen into the content of Americans' calls or emails. As Wyden stated in the US Senate on 12/27/12:
[U]nder the FISA Amendments Act the government does not have to get the permission of the FISA Court to read particular emails or listen to particular phone calls.
Here is a pertinent portion from the Charlie Rose interview of Obama on June 17, 2013:
Obama: ... Now, with respect to the NSA, a government agency that has been in the intelligence-gathering business for a very long time -- CHARLIE ROSE: Bigger and better than everybody else. BARACK OBAMA: -- bigger and better than everybody else and we should take pride in that because they’re extraordinary professionals. They’re dedicated to keeping the American people safe. What I can say unequivocally is that if you are a U.S. person the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls and the NSA cannot target your e-mails. CHARLIE ROSE: And have not? BARACK OBAMA: And have not. They can not and have not -- by law and by rule. And unless they -- and usually it wouldn’t be they, it would be the FBI -- go to a court and obtain a warrant and seek probable cause. The same way it’s always been. The same way when we were growing up and we were watching movies, you know, you wanted to go set up a wiretap, you’ve got to go to a judge, show probable cause and then the judge --
"The same way when we were growing up and we were watching movies... you wanted to go set up a wiretap, you've got to go to a judge, show probable cause..." Fascinating, isn't it? Obama does not actually say that this was how it was under, let's pick someone, how about J. Edgar Hoover's FBI?, and how they and Hoover and Nixon behaved. If he had, it would have been clear to anyone who knows anything about that period and what Watergate and other scandals of the 1960's revealed about how the FBI would NOT go to get a court's approval to wiretap and how the anti-war and civil rights/black liberation movements were harassed, murdered, and disrupted by COINTELPRO. No, what Obama invokes as the past is what you saw in the movies about how it was supposed to be.
So Obama is lying about what FISA says, which Sen. Wyden makes clear above, and he is also lying about the fact that the NSA is not and has not listened into the content of Americans' conversations. See this story from ABC as an example of how the NSA is in fact listening in on content, discussed here. What Obama does not say and won't reveal is that the NSA is recording and storing everything, available to be listened to at any time they please.
I am so happy that the NSA folks are such "extraordinary professionals. They're dedicated to keeping the American people safe." As former CIA analyst Ray McGovern said in our program last night, even those in the NSA who he knew such as past director Bobby Ran Inman who understood how people like Michael Hayden were breaking the laws in fundamental ways - and who told McGovern this - but when Inman was called upon during Hayden's confirmation hearing to bring this little tiny fact into the picture, could not bring himself to do so and instead praised Hayden as perfect for the job of NSA Director.
See this story about the latest polls on Americans' majority opposition to the NSA-Obama spying and support for Snowden.
See this excellent analysis of the Eternal Surveillance State.
What the US government is attempting to do with its ubiquitous warrantless surveillance over all of us and the world is criminalize dissent. This cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. The importance of this fight can hardly be overstated.
In response to the NSA spying scandal that righteous hero Edward Snowden has dramatically revealed, a program that was called in quick order after this scandal broke will be happening Wed., June 19, 2013 beginning at 7:30 pm EST. It will be livestreamed from the Great Hall at the Cooper Union in NYC. For those who can come in person to The Great Hall, come! For those who can't come in person, you can watch it and participate live at ustream.tv/stopmotionsolo.
I will be a co-host of this along with Debra Sweet.
For more information, go to worldcantwait.net.