The Thought Police and TwitterCrimePosted: January 10, 2011
1984 2011. You thought Nixon and Reagan were bad? Let’s see what the Obama/Holder Department of Justice has been up to while you may have been watching football. Glenn Greenwald heard and ignored a cautionary tale. He tells it all with the knowledge of present sight.
One of the more eye-opening events for me of 2010 occurred in March, when I first wrote about WikiLeaks and the war the Pentagon was waging on it (as evidenced by its classified 2008 report branding the website an enemy and planning how to destroy it). At the time, few had heard of the group — it was before it had released the video of the Apache helicopter attack — but I nonetheless believed it could perform vitally important functions and thus encouraged readers to donate to it and otherwise support it. In response, there were numerous people — via email, comments, and other means — who expressed a serious fear of doing so: they were worried that donating money to a group so disliked by the government would cause them to be placed on various lists or, worse, incur criminal liability for materially supporting a Terrorist organization.
Will we join the ranks of those the Justice Department consider materially supporting a Terrorist group if Wikileaks is redefined by the Justice Department from whistle blower site to Terrorist group? Should we all be getting lawyers like those peace activists who were hauled in for sending off old clothes to naked Palenstinians I described in a post called Nostalgic for Nixon? Better yet should we all line up with confession letters before we get hauled off to Saudi Arabia for extraordinary interviews and held in solitary confinement for extraordinary thought crime?
Better question: Is this still the USA?
More from Glennzilla who is safely HQ’d in Brazil.
So much of what the U.S. Government has done over the last decade has been devoted to creating and strengthening this climate of fear. Attacking Iraq under the terrorizing banner of “shock and awe”; disappearing people to secret prisons; abducting them and shipping them to what Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter (when advocating this) euphemistically called “our less squeamish allies”; throwing them in cages for years without charges, dressed in orange jumpsuits and shackles; creating a worldwide torture regime; spying on Americans without warrants and asserting the power to arrest them on U.S. soil without charges: all of this had one overarching objective. It was designed to create a climate of repression and intimidation by signaling to the world — and its own citizens — that the U.S. was unconstrained by law, by conventions, by morality, or by anything else: the government would do whatever it wanted to anyone it wanted, and those thinking about opposing the U.S. in any way, through means legitimate or illegitimate, should (and would) thus think twice, at least.
That a large percentage of those brutalized by this system turned out to be innocent — knowingly innocent — is a feature, not a bug: that one can end up being subjected to these lawless horrors despite doing nothing wrong only intensifies the fear and makes it more effective. The power being asserted is not merely unlimited and tyrannical, but arbitrary. And now, the Obama administration’s citizen-aimed, due-process-free assassination program, its orgies of drone attacks, its defense of radically broad interpretations of “material support” criminal statutes, and its disturbing targeting of American anti-war activists with subpoenas and armed police raids are all part of the same tactic. Those contemplating meaningful opposition to American action are meant to be frightened.
I hereby confess that I am one of the 635,561 followers of WikiLeaks on Twitter. So is Sky Dancing. So is Woman Voter and probably, so are many of our readers, front pagers, casual readers, lurkers, etc. I’m also one of the 1,516,269 people who “likes” WikiLeaks on FaceBook. I’m assuming that subpoena comes next. Twitter already got theirs and I got the tweeted announcement from Twitter and Wikileaks. DOJ has said that they’re looking at similar information from Facebook and Skype.
I want to point out the main point in Greenwald’s post. Wikileaks’ volunteer, US citizen Jacob Appelbaum is coming home to the U.S. and will be met at the airport by the ACLU. Here’s hoping the ACLU in New Orleans has my backside and the ACLU in your town has your backside if you’re among those numbers listed above from Dutch journalist Okke Ornstein’s Confession letter. Here’s the distressing news from Greenwald.
Jacob Appelbaum was first identified as a WikiLeaks volunteer in the middle of 2010. Almost immediately thereafter, he was subjected to serious harassment and intimidation when, while re-entering the U.S. from a foreign trip, he was detained and interrogated for hours by Homeland Security agents, and had his laptop and cellphones seized — all without a warrant. He was told he’d be subjected to the same treatment every time he tried to re-enter the country (and his belongings, months later, have still not been returned). And he was one of the individuals singled out in the DOJ’s court-issued subpoena to Twitter. Since that airport incident, Appelbaum has been extremely (and understandably) cautious about speaking out publicly on anything having to do with WikiLeaks. In other words, he passionately believes in the cause of transparency promoted by WikiLeaks, but is afraid to exercise his free speech rights to advocate for that cause. Two weeks ago, he left the U.S. for the first time since that incident and has talked about the trepidation he feels when returning.
Joe Biden called Julian Assange a high tech terrorist. He was also labeled a high tech terrorist by Mitch McConnell who wants him prosecuted. Senator Joe Lieberman thinks Assange has violated the Espionage Act. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said “sounds good” when Assange was arrested. AG Eric Holder is obviously upping the ante with a criminal investigation.
No one has been charged with anything. Not Julian Assange. Not Bradley Manning. Not Jacob Appelbaum. Not Glenn Greenwald. Not me. Not yet.
Just remember who voted to extend and expand the Patriot Act and who said no. Also, remember who signed it on March 21st without reforms.
The provisions allow the government, with permission from a special court, to obtain roving wiretaps over multiple communication devices, seize suspects’ records without their knowledge, and conduct surveillance of a so-called “lone wolf,” or someone deemed suspicious but without any known ties to an organized terrorist group.
The Patriot Act drew heavy criticism from Democrats – Obama even once said it needed to be dialed back – during the Bush administration. But experts suggest that a string of foiled terrorist plots over the past year combined with the Democrats’ falling ratings amid the healthcare debate blunted any move to reform the act, which was passed in the wake of 9/11.
Remember that You tube 1984-2008 that drew the image of Hillary as Big Brother? There’s the link. I’m not going to post it because the Reality Chickens are coming home to roost. Aren’t they?