By Wendy McElroy
Two events recalled a passage from the Irish poet William Butler Yeats’ “The Second Coming”:
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world….
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Yeats (1865-1939) wrote “The Second Coming” in 1919 to describe the moral devastation of post-WWI Europe. The “mere anarchy” is not the laissez-faire version of contract and consent between free individuals which produces good will and prosperity. The “mere anarchy” is chaos, a Hobbesian society of all-against-all that comes in the wake of sustained violence. It is a society that guts decency, loots productivity, and rewards the worst within men.
Yeats could be describing America today. Or, at least, the America that might well be tomorrow. The center cannot hold.
The first event was a quiet one; as of yet, it is an event on paper only. On May 13th, 2013, a new rule went into effect. The US Code “Defense Support of Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies” was altered by the Department of Defense to read:
“Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances because:
(1) Such activities are necessary to prevent significant loss of life or wanton destruction of property and are necessary to restore governmental function and… Continue reading
“During calendar year 2012, the Government made 1,856 applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for authority to conduct electronic surveillance and/or physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes.”
That somewhat opaque statistic was disclosed in the Justice Department’s latest annual report to Congress on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, filed on Tuesday. As is usually the case, none of the requests for electronic surveillance were denied by the Court.
No matter how it is sliced and diced, the newly disclosed number of applications does not yield much substance. It means that the government submitted an average of 5 requests per day last year for intelligence surveillance or physical search. It is about 5% higher than the number of applications the year before (1,745), but quite a bit lower than the figure from 2007 (2,371).
The number of applications does not correspond directly to the number of targets, since multiple applications may be submitted in the course of an individual investigation. Nor is the outcome of the surveillance or search activity indicated in a way that would tend to validate or invalidate the authorization after the fact.
In any case, the FISA Court did not deny any of the government’s requests for authority to conduct electronic surveillance in whole or in part, the report said, although unspecified modifications were made to 40 proposed orders. The report does not say whether or not any requests for physical search were disapproved or modified.
The government also made 212 applications for access to business… Continue reading
by Wendy McElroy
The Dollar Vigilante
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is tightening its grip on domestic travel. I don’t mean the random, unpredictable security checks at bus, subway and train stations which already exist. I mean a coordinated and systematic police control of internal travel within America. Groundwork is being laid.
APPLICATION TO MAKE U.S. INTO AN AIRPORT SCREENING ZONE
The application was tucked away on page 71431 of Volume 77, Number 231 of the Federal Register (November 30). It was surrounded by soporific references to forwarding “the new Information Collection Request (ICR) abstracted below to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA).”
The application for funding from the TSA constitutes a preliminary step toward systematically expanding TSA‘s authority from airports to highways and almost every other means of public travel. The expansion would erase one of the last remaining differences between the US and a total police state; namely, the ability to travel internally without being under police surveillance. The total police state you experience at airports wants to spill into roads and bus stops, to subways and trains. Or, rather, the TSA wants to solidify and spread the fledgling and erratic presence it already has.
The official request reads, “TSA‘s Highway BASE program [Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement] seeks to establish the current state of security gaps and implemented countermeasures throughout the highway mode of transportation by posing questions to… Continue reading
by Ryan Gallagher
When a former senior White House official describes a nationwide surveillance effort as “breathtaking,” you know civil liberties activists are preparing for a fight.
The Wall Street Journal reported today that the little-known National Counterterrorism Center, based in an unmarked building in McLean, Va., has been granted sweeping new authority to store and monitor massive datasets about innocent Americans.
After internal wrangling over privacy and civil liberties issues, the Justice Department reportedly signed off on controversial new guidelines earlier this year. The guidelines allow the NCTC, for the first time, to keep data about innocent U.S. citizens for up to five years, using “predictive pattern-matching,” to analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior. The data the counterterrorism center has access to, according to the Journal, includes “entire government databases—flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and many others.”
Notably, the Journal reports that these changes also allow databases about U.S. civilians to be handed over to foreign governments for analysis, presumably so that they too can attempt to determine future criminal actions. The Department of Homeland Security’s former chief privacy officer said that it represents a “sea change in the way that the government interacts with the general public.”
The snooping effort, which officials say is subject to “rigorous oversight,” is reminiscent of the so-called Total Information Awareness initiative, dreamt up in the aftermath of 9/11 by the Pentagon’s research unit DARPA. The aim of the TIA initiative was essentially to create… Continue reading
U.S. Courts Have Denied Recourse
December 11, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union and Yale Law School’s Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic today filed a petition against the United States with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) for the unlawful detention and torture of José Padilla, a U.S. citizen, whom the United States detained and interrogated for four years.
The petition was filed by Padilla’s mother, Estella Lebron, on her own and on her son’s behalf. Padilla and Lebron had previously filed federal lawsuits – since dismissed – against current and former government officials for their roles in Padilla’s torture and other abuse.
The petition is an international complaint asking the IACHR, which is an independent human rights body of the Organization of American States, to conduct a full investigation into the human rights violations suffered by Padilla; to find that his mistreatment violated the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man; and to recommend that the United States publicly acknowledge the violations and apologize for its unlawful conduct.
“The U.S. justice system denied a day in court to a U.S. citizen who was arrested and then tortured on U.S. soil by his own government,” said Steven Watt, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program. “The U.S. has historically been a leader in ensuring access to justice for human rights violations around the world, but it has effectively closed the courtroom door to all victims and survivors… Continue reading
September 8, 2012
By Victoria N. Alexander
“9/11: Explosive Evidence – Experts Speak Out” is getting public attention and casting doubt on the scientific validity of the U.S. government’s investigation into the WTC tragedy. PBS is the first major network to air the program.
Just days away from the 11th anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy and months away from the U.S. presidential election, a game-changing 9/11 documentary is ranking number three among “most watched” documentaries on PBS and number one among “most shared.” Available for free online August 18th – September 4th, the documentary could have a significant effect on public opinion. [Update: PBS has extended viewing indefinitely.] Both the Republicans and Democrats, as equally staunch defenders of the official story, stand to be affected if the public’s suspicion of government corruption grows deeper.
An earlier report on Digital Journal found that the claims made in the documentary can be verified by reading the government reports themselves. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the government agency charged with the investigation, did not provide any data — no measurements or estimates — of the mass or energy that would be required to bring down the buildings in about ten seconds. Normally a scientific report would present all the data that is used to construct a theory. The omission of data is a red flag to anyone familiar with scientific procedure. It appears that the investigators may have intentionally produced reports that the scientific community would reject.… Continue reading
August 9, 2012
New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Hijacking Exercises, Air Force One’s Movements, Laura Bush on Sept. 11, and More
History Commons is only halfway towards its summer fundraising goal. Please contribute generously to help the History Commons stay alive and functioning.
A large number of entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, most of which provide new details about the events of the day of September 11, 2001.
Other entries are being posted in the US Civil Liberties project on campaign finance, voting laws, and indefinite detentions.
New 9/11 Entries
One new timeline entry describes a training exercise based on the scenario of a possible terrorist attack that was run on the morning of September 11 by the US Coast Guard in Tampa Bay, Florida, quite close to Sarasota, where the president was at the time. Another entry deals with a meeting scheduled to take place at the Pentagon that morning, regarding a planned “disaster exercise” at the nearby Navy Annex building.
An entry reveals that a number of FBI agents had, for reasons that are unknown, already arrived at the Navy Annex when the Pentagon was hit. Later on, the Navy set up a new command center at the Navy Annex, after its original command center was destroyed in the Pentagon attack.
July 17, 2012
By Matt Zimmerman
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Since the first national security letter statute was passed in 1986, the FBI has issued hundreds of thousands of such letters seeking private telecommunications and financial records of Americans without any prior approval from courts. Indeed, for the period between 2003 and 2006 alone, almost 200,000 requests for private customer information were sought pursuant to various NSL statutes. Prior to 2011, the constitutionality of this legal authority to investigate the records of Americans without court oversight had been challenged in court — as far as we know — exactly one time. EFF is today releasing FBI-redacted briefing from a major new ongoing case in which it is challenging one of the NSL statutes on behalf of a telecommunications company that received an NSL in 2011. Not only does this briefing show that the Department of Justice continues to strongly protect the FBI’s NSL authority, it highlights a startlingly aggressive new tactic used by the Department of Justice: suing NSL recipients who challenge the FBI’s authority, arguing that court challenges to such authority themselves amount to breaking the law.
National security letter statutes — five in all — are controversial laws that allow the FBI to easily bypass courts and issue administrative letters on their own authority to telecommunications companies and financial institutions demanding information about their customers. The NSL statutes permit the FBI to permanently gag service providers from revealing the fact that the demand was made, preventing them from… Continue reading
by Susanne Posel
President Obama has usurped all available forms of communication for use and discretion of the US government. Under an Executive Order (June 6, 2012) entitled Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions, Obama has enabled the executive branch to control communications “under all circumstances to ensure national security, effectively manage emergencies, and improve national resilience.” (For full text of the Executive Order, seen Annex below).
Radio and wired communications systems “of all levels of government, the private and nonprofit sectors, and the public must inform the development of national security and emergency preparedness (NS/EP) communications policies, programs, and capabilities.”
Cellular phone corporations like Sprint owned Boost Mobile have released messages to their customers concerning the US government’s allocation of their phone communications at the whim of the President. In a text message to customers, Boost Mobile said that: “. . . you can receive national and local emergency alerts directly on your phone.”
Back in 2011, Hillary Clinton admitted that the US government, via the mainstream media, is losing their “information war” with the American public. As alternative media becomes more prevalent, the propaganda must be taken up a notch in order to keep the masses onboard with the agendas of the US government.
Danny Schechter, filmmaker and investigative journalist, explains that MSM cannot compete with the alternative media. Schechter says that “America feels on the defensive because it can no longer” monopolize the thoughts of citizens domestically and abroad. Since the US government thinks “its point of view is the only point of view” these new news outlets are “extremely damaging” to the US continual purveyance of propaganda.
The Presidential Alert was announced in August of 2011, wherein the Commissioners for the FCC required that television, radio stations and cable systems (including satellites) will redirect broadcasting if the President wants to “alert Americans of impending danger”. Continue reading
A newly uncovered Army document details U.S. internment camps on American soil .
Ryan Cummings, Contributor Activist Post
The topic of civilian internment camps in the United States has been largely dismissed as a paranoid “conspiracy theory” by the mainstream media. Recent legislation and newly uncovered government documents, however, reveal the sad truth: The United States is quickly descending into a full-blown authoritarian police state.
NDAA 2012: Patriot Act Part Two
On December 31, 2011, while the majority of Americans were busy watching balls drop and drinking themselves into oblivion, President Obama quietly signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. This unprecedented legislation effectively codified the executive branch’s authority to indefinitely detain American citizens without trial, stripping them of their Constitutional right to due process and habeas corpus.
Under this legislation, if you are simply “suspected” of providing support to a group the government classifies as a terrorist organization–or an affiliate or associated force of said organization–you can be rounded up and detained until the end of the “War on Terror”–a war, according to policy makers, that has no end.
Over the course of this endless and prefabricated war, the government’s definition of “terrorist” has slowly shifted post 9/11 from Al Qaeda, a group of dubious power initially funded and supported by the CIA and the Pakistani ISI , to such “domestic terrorists” as Occupy Wall Street protestors , pro-life advocates and Ron Paul supporters . When the FBI set-up a band of dimwitted… Continue reading
Agency Used Contracts to Censor Whistleblowers
April 10, 2012
Washington, D.C. April 10, 2012 — Today, the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) revealed that the FBI required employees to sign employment contracts that are illegal under Federal law. The NWC launched the investigation in response to a nearly year long campaign by the FBI to prevent the publication of whistleblower Sibel Edmonds’ new book, “Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story”.
On April 26, 2011, Ms. Edmonds followed official procedure and submitted her manuscript to the FBI for pre-publication clearance. Under the terms of her employment agreement and controlling regulations, the FBI was required to review and approve the submission within thirty (30) days. Instead of complying with the law, the FBI intentionally stalled the approval process for over 341 days and has still refused to “clear” the book for publication.
Ms. Edmonds will speak today for the first time about the FBI’s attempts to suppress her book. The interview will be aired live at 1:30pm ET on Honesty Without Fear, and the podcast will also be available for download.
The NWC is also releasing documentation confirming that the FBI required employees, including Ms. Edmonds, to sign the illegal contracts that allowed the FBI to censor issues of “public policy” it found embarrassing. According to Ms. Edmonds attorney, Stephen M. Kohn, “the controlling law strictly limits government’s ability to censor its employees. Agencies like the FBI may require pre-publication review of its employees’ writings, but may only… Continue reading
By Glenn Greenwald
The ACLU is suing the Obama administration under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), seeking to force disclosure of the guidelines used by Obama officials to select which human beings (both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals) will have their lives ended by the CIA’s drone attacks (“In particular,” the group explains, the FOIA request “seeks to find out when, where and against whom drone strikes can be authorized, and how the United States ensures compliance with international laws relating to extrajudicial killing”). The Obama administration has not only refused to provide any of that information, but worse, the CIA is insisting to federal courts that it cannot even confirm or deny the existence of a drone program at all without seriously damaging national security; from the CIA’s brief in response to the ACLU lawsuit:
. . .
What makes this so appalling is not merely that the Obama administration demands the right to kill whomever it wants without having to account to anyone for its actions, choices or even claimed legal authorities, though that’s obviously bad enough (as I wrote when the ACLU lawsuit was commenced: “from a certain perspective, there’s really only one point worth making about all of this: if you think about it, it is warped beyond belief that the ACLU has to sue the U.S. Government in order to force it to disclose its claimed legal and factual bases for assassinating U.S. citizens without charges, trial or due process of… Continue reading
By Trevor Timm
Electronic Frontier Foundation
On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder signed expansive new guidelines for terrorism analysts, allowing the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) to mirror entire federal databases containing personal information and hold onto the information for an extended period of time–even if the person is not suspected of any involvement in terrorism. (Read the guidelines here).
Despite the “terrorism” justification, the new rules affect every single American. The agency now has free rein to, as the New York Times’ Charlie Savage put it, “retrieve, store and search information about Americans gathered by government agencies for purposes other than national security threats ” and expands the amount of time the government can keep private information on innocent individuals by a factor of ten.
From the New York Times:
The guidelines will lengthen to five years — from 180 days — the amount of time the center can retain private information about Americans when there is no suspicion that they are tied to terrorism, intelligence officials said. The guidelines are also expected to result in the center making more copies of entire databases and “data mining them” using complex algorithms to search for patterns that could indicate a threat. (emphasis ours)
Journalist Marcy Wheeler summed the new guidelines up nicely saying, “So…the data the government keeps to track our travel, our taxes, our benefits, our identity? It just got transformed from bureaucratic data into national security intelligence.”
See also these related stories:… Continue reading
By James Bamford
March 15, 2012
The spring air in the small, sand-dusted town has a soft haze to it, and clumps of green-gray sagebrush rustle in the breeze. Bluffdale sits in a bowl-shaped valley in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Range to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west. It’s the heart of Mormon country, where religious pioneers first arrived more than 160 years ago. They came to escape the rest of the world, to understand the mysterious words sent down from their god as revealed on buried golden plates, and to practice what has become known as “the principle,” marriage to multiple wives.
Today Bluffdale is home to one of the nation’s largest sects of polygamists, the Apostolic United Brethren, with upwards of 9,000 members. The brethren’s complex includes a chapel, a school, a sports field, and an archive. Membership has doubled since 1978–and the number of plural marriages has tripled–so the sect has recently been looking for ways to purchase more land and expand throughout the town.
But new pioneers have quietly begun moving into the area, secretive outsiders who say little and keep to themselves. Like the pious polygamists, they are focused on deciphering cryptic messages that only they have the power to understand. Just off Beef Hollow Road, less than a mile from brethren headquarters, thousands of hard-hatted construction workers in sweat-soaked T-shirts are laying the groundwork for the newcomers’ own temple and archive,… Continue reading
By Brandon Turbeville
In a stunning move, on March 16, 2012, Barack Obama signed an Executive Order (EO) stating that the President and his specifically designated Secretaries now have the authority to commandeer all domestic U.S. resources including food and water. The EO also states that the President and his Secretaries have the authority to seize all transportation, energy, and infrastructure inside the United States as well as forcibly induct/draft American citizens into the military. The EO also contains a vague reference in regards to harnessing American citizens to fulfill “labor requirements” for the purposes of national defense.
Not only that, but the authority claimed inside the EO does not only apply to National Emergencies and times of war. It also applies in peacetime.
The Act to which this Executive Order refers is the national Defense Resources Act, first passed September 8, 1950, at the beginning of the Korean conflict, as the Cold War began. Wikipedia states (please read original for full links):
The Defense Production Act (Pub.L. 81-774) is a United States law enacted on September 8, 1950, in response to the start of the Korean War. It was part of a broad civil defense and war mobilization effort in the context of the Cold War. Its implementing regulations, the Defense Priorities and Allocation System (DPAS), are located at 15 CFR §§700 to 700.93. The Act has been periodically reauthorized and amended, and remains in force as of 2012.
The Act contains… Continue reading
Trust us, Attorney General Eric Holder says — we’ll only assassinate Americans after administrative “due process.” That’s not how the Constitution works, buddy.
By Jonathan Turley
On Monday, March 5, Northwestern University School of Law was the location of an extraordinary scene for a free nation. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder presented President Barack Obama’s claim that he has the authority to kill any U.S. citizen he considers a threat. It served as a retroactive justification for the slaying of American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki last September by a drone strike in northeastern Yemen, as well as the targeted killings of at least two other Americans during Obama’s term.
What’s even more extraordinary is that this claim, which would be viewed by the Framers of the U.S. Constitution as the very definition of authoritarian power, was met not with outcry but muted applause. Where due process once resided, Holder offered only an assurance that the president would kill citizens with care. While that certainly relieved any concern that Obama, or his successor, would hunt citizens for sport, Holder offered no assurances on how this power would be used in the future beyond the now all-too-familiar “trust us” approach to civil liberties of this administration.
In his speech, Holder was clear and unambiguous on only one point: “The president may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign… Continue reading
February 29, 2012
Just when you thought the government couldn’t ruin the First Amendment any further: The House of Representatives approved a bill on Monday that outlaws protests in instances where some government officials are nearby, whether or not you even know it.
The US House of Representatives voted 388-to-3 in favor of H.R. 347 late Monday, a bill which is being dubbed the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. In the bill, Congress officially makes it illegal to trespass on the grounds of the White House, which, on the surface, seems not just harmless and necessary, but somewhat shocking that such a rule isn’t already on the books. The wording in the bill, however, extends to allow the government to go after much more than tourists that transverse the wrought iron White House fence.
Under the act, the government is also given the power to bring charges against Americans engaged in political protest anywhere in the country.
Under current law, White House trespassers are prosecuted under a local ordinance, a Washington, DC legislation that can bring misdemeanor charges for anyone trying to get close to the president without authorization. Under H.R. 347, a federal law will formally be applied to such instances, but will also allow the government to bring charges to protesters, demonstrators and activists at political events and other outings across America.
The new legislation allows prosecutors to charge anyone who enters a building without permission or with the intent to disrupt a… Continue reading
February 20, 2012
by Eva Galperin
[UPDATE 2/22/2012] It is important to note that disabling Web History in your Google account will not prevent Google from gathering and storing this information and using it for internal purposes. More information at the end of this post.]
Here’s how you can do that:
Note that removing your Web History also pauses it. Web History will remain off until you enable it again.
[UPDATE 2/22/2012]: Note that disabling Web History in your Google account will not prevent Google from gathering and storing this information and using… Continue reading