WCW 6/19/13 NYC Emergency Forum Re NSA-Part 1 of 3
Last Wednesday night, June 19, 2013, I attended an enlightening and motivating "emergency" forum for "citizens of conscience" at The Great Hall of Cooper Union in NYC entitled: NO Government Spying on Whole Populations/Hands off Snowden & Manning/Close Guantanamo NOW
It was sponsored by World Can’t Wait (866) 973-4463 email@example.com and co-sponsored by Continuing Education Department, Cooper Union/Free Bradley Manning NYC Pride Coalition/Granny Peace Brigade/Metro Raging Grannies/Revolution Books/I Stand With Edward Snowden /Stop Mass Incarceration Network/Malcolm X Center for Self Determination, Greenville, SC/Occupy Wall Street NYC/Bill of Rights Defense Committee.
You can watch the entire forum here. I intend to post a total of three blogs of highlights of this forum since it was so chockful of revelations from the exciting, learned and committed speakers. This blog focuses on the sharings of Debra Sweet, Director of World Can't Wait, Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director of The National Lawyers Guild, and author and Professor Dennis Loo.
From the WCW website:
240 people came together on short notice in The Great Hall of Cooper Union in NYC, and hundreds more watched online as we united to say “We will not be complicit... We DO NOT Consent.” The room reverberated with outrage, support for Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, and, in some cases, newly acquired knowledge of the crime against humanity unfolding at Guantanamo, where over 100 prisoners are on a hunger strike.
We clarified the danger of the government surveillance. Speakers challenged us to act at this potentially pivotal moment when the powers that be are engaging in high-stakes damage control to frighten people into submission so that we go along with “the new normal.” The performers brought us together with passion, humor, and drama.
The evening pointed the way forward — a beacon — toward taking responsibility to reach and activate thousands, and then millions, to stop the vast surveillance, and the deep crimes underlying the suppression of dissent. Initial plans, taking the Close Guantanamo NOW message as orientation, to pack the trial of Bradley Manning next week, support him at Pride Parades, and come out for the Guantanamo hunger strikers began to jell.
Message from Debra Sweet:
The People's Lawyer Lynne Stewart is still seeking a "compassionate release" from her unjust prison sentence. Lynne has cancer and yet is absurdly held in federal prison in Texas. The Bureau of Prisons has agreed to release her to a hospital near her home in New York City, but requires the president's approval.
Lynne is imprisoned on highly political charges of “material support to terrorism” based on her defense of a Muslim cleric in the 1990's. Her survival is important in its own right, and also because she is fighting to bring her case to the U.S. Supreme Court, as the first challenge to the material support for terrorism statute for its violation of freedom of speech. This is an important case and it affects the entire anti-war, anti-government repression movement.
What you can do
Attorney General Eric Holder: 202-514-2001
White House President Obama: 202-456-1414
Bureau of Prisons Director Charles Samuels: 202-307-3198 ext 3
SIGN THE PETITION
Message from Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director of The National Lawyers Guild: Government Spying Chills Free Speech
Organizations such as the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU and others challenged the Bush warrantless wire tapping program. In each case they were told they didn’t have standing and they couldn’t prove with certainty that they were being wire tapped. ...
We have a government that’s cloaked in secrecy. And as you can see by the whistle blowers and leakers that we so honor and owe a debt of gratitude to, information is carefully being guarded and let to sift out according to what message the Obama administration wants to send us....
I think it’s important when people say I’m not doing anything wrong, I have nothing to worry about, that you remind them that if we don’t exercise our hard fought first amendment rights and fourth amendment protections that were designed to shield us from an overreaching government, and not the other way around, that our democracy is indeed very imperiled.
Message from Dennis Loo: A Tutorial on Government Repression, Spying & Resistance
The 4th Amendment guarantees against “unreasonable search and seizure.” It requires the government to have “probable cause” for issuing warrants to search and seize persons and/or their possessions. As such it is the cornerstone of the 1st Amendment.
....If the people now in charge regard anyone coming forward to whistleblow by telling the American people and world the truth about what their government is doing as deserving of prison and execution, then what does that tell us about why we cannot tolerate letting these same people who regard merely telling the truth as a capital offense steal everything there is to steal about our lives and our thoughts and feelings?
... What Snowden has revealed, in short, is much worse than even that nightmare envisioned by Orwell in 1984.
Defending the 4th Amendment means defending against the abuse of power by government. That is the essence of the 4th Amendment.
... In 2009 I broke a story based on what ACLU found that the DOD was training all of its employees that “protest” = “low-level terrorism.” This isn’t just something that Obama was guilty of doing; this is matched by other governmental policies that have been implemented around the world.
It’s not just meta-data – as bad as that is!
It’s ALL the data.
In response to Snowden’s revelations that Obama and the NSA were lying to Congress and to all of us about the level of their spying on us, Obama has retreated to saying that it’s merely a “modest encroachment” to spy on all of our communications and that they’re only collecting meta-data and not listening to the content of our communications, domestically and internationally. Obama says that to listen in on our domestic conversations the government needs a warrant.
Two things I want to say here:
It’s not just meta-data, it’s all the data, who we’re calling, who’s calling us, what websites we’re going to, what books we’re reading, who we send email to and who send email to us, and so on, AND they are storing ALL OF THE CONTENT.
It would be horrendous if they were really only doing what they claim now to be doing, which is collecting all there is to collect about our networks and associations, but they’re not even only doing that! A few of us have been writing about this for years but now that Snowden is providing the documentation for it, the people are now learning what’s really going on and the government has to feint and weave and accuse the truth-tellers of being narcissists and traitors. Who is betraying the interests of the American people and the world? Those who reveal the truth or those who keep telling us “move along, nothing going on here, not to worry, we’re taking care of it?”
Obama’s claim that they need a warrant to listen to and read content of purely domestic communications is a flat out lie. See what Sen. Ron Wyden who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee said about this on 12/27/12: “under 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. The law simply requires the Court to review the government’s collection and handling procedures on an annual basis. There is no requirement in the law for the Court to approve the collection and review of individual communications, even if government officials set out to deliberately read the emails of an American citizen.” When he and Sen. Udall point blank asked the NSA director if they were collecting data on purely domestic calls of Americans the NSA repeatedly refused to answer.
The ubiquitous, warrantless, suspicionless surveillance over the whole world, the trillions of bytes of information that our government is gathering, did not begin after 9/11.
This NSA program was concocted by the Bush team before Bush II took office by Michael Hayden, incoming NSA director. They implemented this plan secretly SEVEN MONTHS BEFORE 9/11, in February 2001, within weeks of taking the White House.
The NSA gathered all of the major telecom companies together and demanded that the telecoms give the NSA access to their server networks to intercept all US electronic communications. AT&T, Verizon and Sprint all agreed, only Qwest refused on the grounds that this was unconstitutional. In honor of Qwest’s stand on behalf of the rule of law, their CEO was railroaded into prison by the government. And AT & T et al were rewarded with the Telecom Amnesty Act, which retroactively gave the Telecoms immunity from lawsuits for their felonious actions, a bill that Obama voted for.
... I get into this in my book Globalization and the Demolition of Society, but the most concise answer is that authorities and those they are part of and beholden to, the 1%, cannot continue to attack the people’s living standards and continue to vastly expand the gaps between themselves and the rest of us unless they have the ability to tightly control what people hear and see – this means whistleblowers and alternative voices and protest of any kind are to be suppressed. Only fake change, nothing more than surface appearances and pretty words from the president, are permitted under these policies to deceive people as long as possible so that they don’t see what’s really going on and are like the frog in the pot being warmed up slowly until it’s cooked.
If you treat everyone as a suspect and everyone as a target, which is what the US government and Obama are doing, and you are collecting more than 4x the amount of data daily that is contained in the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world, then you are drowning in data.
Obama’s spying on the entire world to combat terrorist plots is like treating a small tumor by using radiation on the ENTIRE BODY of someone repeatedly – second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, year by year.
To use a slightly different analogy: trying to find out if someone has a tumor by giving them an X-ray 24 hours around the clock is going to do what to the patient?
As the Nazi leader Herman Goering said while on trial at Nuremberg for his crimes against humanity and war crimes – “the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”
The government wants to frame this as a question of dire existential threats from terrorists and get people to accept atrocities and outrageous measures that actually attack our rights. In order to do this they resort to profoundly immoral logic that includes at its heart the idea that American lives are more important than any other people’s lives. They want us to believe that holding people who have committed no crimes, that torturing and killing people to supposedly save American lives, that robbing of us of our most precious rights, all of this is acceptable. They want us to accept destroying due process, and punishing those who those who are innocent, and suspending the rule of law forever.
Snowden said recently in response to a question about US government efforts to suppress and eliminate him: “All I can say right now is the US Government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped.”
We have our marching orders? Don’t you think?
TO BE CONTINUED in Parts 2 and 3:
Ray McGovern, with reflections on Nazi Germany
Andy Zee, spokesperson for Revolution Books: Time for Courage — Stop Massive U.S. Surveillance!
Excerpts from the play Bradass87
Mike Daisey's monologue