WCW 6/19/13 NYC EMERGENCY Forum Re NSA-Part 2 of 3
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.
You can watch the entire forum here. This is Part 2 of 3 of my blogs on the forum, this time focusing on the remarks of political activist and former CIA agent Ray McGovern and monologuist Mike Daisey.
Message from Ray McGovern: “Yes, I Am Guilty, but it's Not What You're Thinking”
[sings] I like New York in June, how about you?”
Look at you all! It is impossible to be discouraged.
Take one second. Look around. See who these trusty companions are.
We shall overcome, folks! It is very clear.
I wish you could stand up here and look out and see what I can see.
... as an army officer I took a solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Guess what, folks? That oath has no expiration date. You don’t have to be on active duty.
Now, as we watch everyone from the President on down to all these generals with the fancy suits on ... we have to live up to that oath. We have to figure out what we are going to do about it.
Because the thing we can’t do is nothing. [applause]
McGovern then proceeds to share some vignettes to give historical context to the NSA illegality revelations.
Back in 1978 McGovern informs that the FISA Law was signed. At that time he was working as an agent for the CIA. He stresses that the CIA and NSA took the FISA Law very seriously. When names of American citizens appeared in intercepted messages they were not just whited out, they were “razored” out. The “first commandment of the NSA” was “thou shalt not eavesdrop on American citizens without a court warrant” declares McGovern.
McGovern focuses then on pre-election 2004. James Risen of the NYT discovered how far that first commandment had been breached. There had been wide scale illegal warrantless wiretapping.
Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., publisher of the NYT, thereupon rushed to the White House to see Bush and Cheney and disclose that the paper was aware of the illegal snooping. Bush and Cheney convinced Sulzberger not to publish the information for the sake of SECURITY. Sulzberger agreed, allowing the 2004 election to happen without such a potentially politically volatile public disclosure.
All through 2005 Sulzberger continued to oblige the Bush administration by not disclosing the illegitimate wire tapping.
Then Sulzberger realized he had a major problem. In January of 2006, James Risen’s new book publication would reveal the truth of the illegal surveillance. Risen scooping his employer, the NYT, would be more than embarrassing reasoned Sulzberger. So in December of 2005 Sulzberger returned to the White House to give Bush and Cheney a head’s up that the story would be coming out in the NYT. Bush and Cheney again attempted to convince Sulzberger not to disclose the secret but Sulzberger refused.
I’m thinking this is a really lousy sequel to “All the President’s Men” with a wimpy wimpy wimpy NYT this time.
McGovern discloses another anecdote about then US Senate Intelligence CHAIRMAN (one of the supposedly “good progressives), Senator Jay Rockefeller who should have been exercising serious oversight on the NSA surveillance operation. Instead, Rockefeller was so excessively uptight about Cheney’s secrecy mandates that at one point he dated and hand-wrote a note to Cheney about his misgivings about the practices and requested more information about the scope of NSA surveillance. Rockefeller himself then made a xerox of the clandestine note for his own personal file.
Rockefeller eventually lost that note in his file and contacted Cheney’s office requesting a replacement copy. Cheney ignored him. However, when Cheney was out of office he ended up mocking cowardly Rockefeller about said secret note on a talk show. Yes, this was and is the kind of oversight extended by those in Congress apparently. Say it with me once again, "wimpy, wimpy, wimpy."
McGovern at one point appeals to the audience with the wording of NSA Director Clapper’s recent defense of his senate testimony: “I gave the least untruthful response that I could.”
This is the best we can get? The least untruthful response he could?
McGovern's response to that statement? "MAN, THAT IS PERJURY!!!! Okay? OUT AND OUT PERJURY!!!”
McGovern refers to how evasive Obama was recently on Charlie Rose. When asked about the actual number of FISA requests that have ever been turned down Obama slickly changed the subject. McGovern asserts that since 1979 34,000 requests have been made and only 11 were turned down. McGovern asks the audience to do the math!
McGovern describes intense collusion and cronyism among the powers that be, military and political, and how they automatically and amorally circle their wagons and not call out each other on flagrantly illegal and amoral policies. The “big boys” acting with secrecy supposedly for our own good but really for their own career protection and aggrandizement!
McGovern also notes that General Alexander, despite also publicly perjuring himself by denying the illegal surveillance, soon after was rewarded with a fourth gold star, promotion to the NSA cyber command with 14,000 employees, and with enough handy information to intimidate all of the DC elite (along with the rest of the world).
McGovern: "What is the lesson? They are all in this together. We are not entitled to know what is going on."
The “good boys” do what they are told and are promoted. "The rule by the elite," McGovern declares, "we have to put a stop to!"
McGovern then reveals some wisdom given to him long ago by his Irish grandmother on the nature of the "upper crust":
“THE UPPER CRUST IS A BUNCH OF CRUMBS CONNECTED BY DOUGH!”
McGovern ends his speech with the following sobering remarks:
I lived in Germany for 5 years and I had all manner of talks with Germans, young and old, asking them: How could it possibly be? How could it possibly happen, in one of the most cultured, educated peoples in the Western World, how could you let happen what happened? Guess what they said? “We couldn’t say anything.” We face a situation like that now. Some of you know about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran minister who did try to do something about it.
There was another fellow whom you may not have heard of. His name was Haushofer, and he was a Geologe, a geologist at the University of Berlin. He had tenure, and some of you know what tenure means. It meant the same in Germany. He had tenure because he kept his mouth shut. But he had a conscience, and so when he saw his friends being wrapped up and put in concentration camps, he decided he had to do something and he spoke up and got quite a following around him. And he was wrapped up himself like Bonhoeffer and put into jail in Berlin.
Now in Berlin, they would either hang you or shoot you if you were condemned to death for espionage or whatever it was. They hung Bonhoeffer and they were going to shoot Haushofer but before they did this, the Germans were very orderly and they said you have to sign a confession and Haushofer wouldn’t do it. They shot him anyway and as they picked him up off the floor a little zettel, a little piece of paper [fell out], and it was his confession, and it was composed in the form of a sonnet. I’m going to share it with you, it’s very brief.
Doch bin ich schuldig, aber anders al Ihr denkt.
Yes, I am guilty but it’s not what you’re thinking.
Ich musste früher meine Pflicht erkennen; Ich musste schärfer Unheil Unheil nennen.
I should have recognized my duty earlier; I should have more sharply called out evil.
Mein Urteil habe ich zu lang gelenkt. I put off my judgment far too long.
Ich habe gewarnt, aber nicht genug, und klar. I did warn but not enough, and clear.
Und heute weiß ich, was ich schuldig war. Today, I recognize what I was guilty of.
Dr. King said famously, there is such a thing as too late, folks. As I look out at you tonight, I see a recognition that it is getting to be near that time. We’re not going to be obedient, servile Germans, and we’re not going to be conned by the upper crust. We’re going to seek the truth, we’re going to find it, and then we’re going to act on it. Thank you very much.
Message from Mike Daisey: Obama -- The Architect of Making it So Much Worse
Mike Daisey is a compelling monologuist who in 2008 appeared in his one man show, “If you see something, say something” which took on, according to Mr. Daisey, the growth of the military industrial complex, America as empire, and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.
Daisey discloses that the run of the above-mentioned production included the 2008 election. Daisey explains that his show at the Public Theater in NYC attracted "really good liberals who would pay too much money to hear a large man tell them things they already f*cking know!”
In the weeks prior to the 2008 presidential election Mr. Daisey liked to challenge the audience by declaring, in reference to our surveillance state and other Patriot Act horrors:
“If you sitting out there think that this is going to change in the next few weeks you are f*cking IDIOTS!”
Daisey then milked the pause for as long as he could. He described the seeming sensibility of the audience as “disquieted” -- “a roiling discontent, like bad Mexican food.” Mr. Daisey confessed to finding it very important to challenge the assumptions of his audiences.
Here are some further provocative remarks made by Mike Daisey to the forum audience:
I’m here to say that, you know, I too was a fool, which is not a new thing for me. I’ve been a fool for a very long time. I imagined that Obama would not give back that power.
But I’ll tell you honestly, standing here, that I would not have imagined in 2008 that he would be the architect of making it so much worse. Like I did not really understand or imagine that not only would he passively let those policies continue but that he would deepen them and extend them.
And I think this is the most important betrayal, that he would entrench them because there was sort of this idea I think in a lot of people in this country that we exist in this sort of dichotomy, flipping back and forth between one side and the other, that we have two sides, that really, that when the sides switch, that anything that’s gone too far will be pulled back. I don’t think that’s true. I think there are two sides, there are two sides of one coin and the metal that makes up that coin is the corporatism, that is woven around the structure that embeds us in where we live.
And I didn’t understand that. I didn’t understand that that he would actually do the things that he’s done. I didn’t understand that he would go after whistleblowers the way that he has. I didn’t understand that he would clamp down. I didn’t understand how false his promises about Guantanamo were. I didn’t understand that he would do so little and as we’re now discovering empower so much because now there’s no even illusion, you can see that in the coverage this week after Snowden, you can see that the dominant tone, the dominant messaging that is coming up from the Mandarins, from the people who are carrying the dominant messaging is that this is the new normal. That was really the dangerous problem and it has never actually had this messaging before – the message is you gave up these rights a long time ago, you just didn’t understand that you did, now you understand it and it’s fucking over, the conversation was actually over in 2001, you just weren’t awake for that and now it’s over and that’s appalling...
I have begun thinking of Obama as Black Reagan. And given that we’ve moved so far over I don’t think that’s so crazy. If you lie them on top of each other and you look at a lot of the rhetoric, it’s not so different. They’re both unifiers. They both strive to bring everyone together to the wonderful middle and though their sides might be different, the landscape has shifted so far to right that things that I never thought were possible are possible now...
It really does my heart good to hear people who understand that this is serious, that something is happening, that things need to be done. And I hope that you are people to do that, with me.
TO BE CONTINUED in Part 3 and 3:
Andy Zee, spokesperson for Revolution Books: Time for Courage — Stop Massive U.S. Surveillance!
Excerpts from the play Bradass87¨
Wrap up comments