The Senate has overwhelmingly voted down an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have provided oversight to check the military’s power to arrest U.S. citizens as suspected terrorists on American soil and detain them indefinitely without trial.
“The Senate soundly defeated a move to strip out controversial language requiring mandatory detention of some terror suspects, voting it down 61 to 37 and escalating a fight with the Obama administration over the future course of the war on terror,” reports the National Journal.
The amendment, introduced by Colorado Senator Mark Udall, was an attempt to weaken Section 1031 of the NDAA bill, which would basically turn the entire “homeland” into a battlefield and allow the military to arrest individuals accused of being terrorists and detain them indefinitely without trial. Americans would be stripped of all constitutional rights and posse comitatus would cease to exist.
Nonetheless, let's move on! Following this item about the "up-armoring" of even small rural police forces, and the decking out of ordinary police patrol forces in heavy-weather militarized riot gear, Mike Lofgren, a former Republican Senate staffer whose name may ring a bell, writes to say:
Interesting series of posts. One further similarity to the military that the police have achieved is something not often remarked on and that goes beyond the physical substance of the militarization: a psychological distancing and de-humanization vis-à-vis the population. I noticed this beginning about 2004 as the insurgency began to heat up in the Iraqi towns. US troops, with full body armor, Buck Rogers-like M-4 carbines, grenade launchers and fancy commo gear, all topped off with helmet and tinted visors or wrap-around mirrored sunglasses, looked vaguely like space aliens, or even slightly insectoid. With the Blackwater and Dyncorp mercs, many of whom were 'roided up and scary-looking to begin with, the effect was even weirder.
Now domestic police are copying this look. It is intimidating, alienating, and de-humanizes the cops in the eyes of the citizenry. That's the polar opposite of what a "peace officer" in a community is supposed to represent to citizens. By the same token, the cops being suited up like that probably strips away some of their inhibition about using disproportionate force by the very same psychological distancing process.
This is not to criticize troops or cops as individuals, or to deny that they are, in the vast majority of cases, simply trying to do their jobs in difficult and dangerous situations. But leaders who make the policies the soldiers and police have to carry out should think harder about what they are trying to accomplish, and avoid employing equipment, tactics, and visuals that make violence more, not less likely, and alienate the population as well.
A reader with a military background says that he cannot personally vouch for the authenticity of photos like the ones below, of Tampa "police" vehicles (which have appeared online here and here), but at face value they are consistent with equipment showing up elsewhere [Update: here is a link from the Tampa police themselves showing the militarized equipment]:
Controversy over whether or not Americans are exempt from a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act bill, set to be voted on this week by the Senate, which defines the the entirety of the United States as a battleground in the war on terror, has been addressed by Republican Congressman Justin Amash, who warns that the bill does apply to U.S. citizens.
As we previously reported, under the ‘worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial’ provision of S.1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which is set to be up for a vote on the Senate floor this week, the legislation will “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who supports the bill.
That provoked concerns that American citizens could be targeted as terrorists and indefinitely detained without trial or charge.
“One section of these provisions, section 1031, would be interpreted as allowing the military to capture and indefinitely detain American citizens on U.S. soil. Section 1031 essentially repeals the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 by authorizing the U.S. military to perform law enforcement functions on American soil. That alone should alarm my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but there are other problems with these provisions that must be resolved,” Colorado Senator Mark Udall said in a speech earlier this month.
How in the world can the United States condemn other nations for how they are handling their protest movements when we treat our own protesters so brutally? No matter what you may think of Occupy Wall Street and the other protest movements that have sprung up across the United States, the truth is that you should be incredibly alarmed about the tactics that law enforcement authorities are choosing to use against them. If we decide to accept these tactics now, then the exact same “police state” tactics will be used against you when the time comes that you want to protest against the government. In recent weeks, we have seen law enforcement authorities brutally dragging female protesters to the ground by their hair. We have also seen them use pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-bang stun grenades against protesters. If this is how protesters are going to be dealt with from now in America, then we have completely lost the moral high ground. How will we ever get other nations to take us seriously when we criticize their brutality against protesters when we are so brutal ourselves?
Yes, the Occupy Wall Street protesters have attempted to occupy some places that they are legally not allowed to occupy. Yes, some Occupy Wall Street protesters have done some things that warrant arrest. But that does not mean that the police have to act like they are working for Hitler, Mao or Stalin.
Yes, police have a very hard job. But there is no excuse for the police brutality that we have seen happen all over the nation recently. The police can enforce the laws and treat us all with gentleness and respect at the same time. If there are any police out there that do not believe that they can do this, then they should quit their jobs. There are lots of other people willing to fill them.
If you do not understand what I am talking about yet, just watch the videos posted below.
In this first video, a police officer walks up to a row of seated, unarmed protesters at UC Davis and sprays them repeatedly in the face with pepper spray. This video is almost too crazy for words….
Plans to fit all taxis operating in the city of Oxford with audio recording devices have been branded a “staggering invasion of privacy” prompting calls for the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to investigate how widespread the use of microphones on public transport has become.
Taxi drivers in the university town have been told that they need to install the £460 devices by 2015 or face having their licenses revoked. The microphones, accompanied by CCTV cameras, will activate once the ignition in the car is turned on and will remain recording for 30 minutes after the engine is turned off.
The council says the recording equipment is necessary to protect drivers and passengers as well as deal with any disputes over fares. Recorded information would only be accessible to the police or council officials.
But privacy campaigners say the plans represent a significant “ramping up” of surveillance culture in Britain and may well be in breach of Government guidelines.
“This is a staggering invasion of privacy being done with no evidence, no consultation and a total disregard for civil liberties,” said Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch. “To my knowledge this is the first time a council has brought in audio recording equipment like this in taxis.”
James Welch, legal director for Liberty added: "Local Authorities have fallen foul of public anger and the law in relation to CCTV before - we urge anybody concerned about the legal position to get in touch with Liberty"
Big Brother Watch has since complained to the ICO which confirmed last night that it was investigating the proposals.
Two Oxford bus companies, however, already use audio recording on some of their routes. The Oxford Bus Company confirmed that some of its newer CCTV cameras have their microphones turned one in the driver’s compartment whilst Stagecoach said it was trialling microphones on its “Oxford Tube” service to London.
Councils across the country have recruited thousands of ‘citizen snoopers’ to report ‘environmental crime’.
They target dog foulers, litter louts and neighbours who fail to sort their rubbish properly.
The volunteers act as the ‘eyes and ears’ of their neighbourhoods and are encouraged to take photos of ‘environmental crime’ and send them in with location details for a rapid response.
They are given hand-held GPS computers for the task or phone cards to cover the cost of using their own devices. Evidence gathered this way is sometimes used in criminal prosecutions.
There are already 9,831 snoopers signed up – a 17 per cent increase on the number two years ago – and a further 1,310 are set to be recruited and trained as part of schemes run by 18 councils.
Volunteers often apply to become ‘street champions’ through council websites, but many have also been lured by recruitment drives in local newspapers.
Critics said yesterday the trend to create an army of neighbourhood detectives was leading to a Big Brother society and a culture where prying on neighbours was considered the norm.
Nick Pickles, director of the civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘It should be deeply troubling for us all that councils seem not content with their own snooping and are now recruiting members of the public to assist them.
Has the government known since 1998 that the TSA body scanners could be giving you cancer?
An explosive report has exposed the carcinogenic effects of X-ray body scanners, finding that up to 100 United States airline passengers each year could get cancer from the machines. Despite the report coming out years ago, millions of Americans still walk through the carcinogenic TSA X-ray body scanners, also known as naked body scanners.
While many passengers may not develop full-blown cancer as a result, radiation is truly unsafe at any dose. Furthermore, the long-term usage of the X-ray body scanners have not been fully studied — the number of cancers caused by the machines may actually increase over time.
In 1998, a panel of radiation safety experts got together to analyze a new security device called the Secure 1000, which was designed specifically to beam X-rays at people to see underneath their clothing. The experts pointed out in their evaluation that the machine violated a basic principle of radiation safety — they stated that humans simply should not be X-rayed unless there is a specific medical benefit.
Since its inception in response to the September 11thattacks, the behemoth bureaucracy known as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has grown into an organization that is nothing short of nightmarish.
The DHS boasts 216,000 employees (as of 2010), a $98.8 billion budget in the 2011 fiscal year, and child agencies that include: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), United States Coast Guard (USCG), United States Secret Service (USSS), and the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD).
The DHS has been behind countless highly controversial policies and incidents including (but definitely not limited to):
The infamous “MIAC report”, actually entitled “The Modern Militia Movement”, released by the Missouri Information Analysis Center which labeled supporters of candidates like Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr as possibly dangerous militia members.
Others who were targeted in the report included individuals associated with the Constitution Party, Campaign for Liberty or Libertarianism; people in possession of the film America: Freedom to Fascism (which you can watch for free here on End the Lie); people in possession of the Gadsden Flag, also known as the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag; anti-abortion activists; and so-called conspiracy theorists.
The 2009 Virginia terrorism threat assessment published by the Virginia Fusion Center which focused on historically black colleges as potential hubs for terror-related activity and also labeled hacktivism a form of terrorism.
“Customs and Border Protection does undertake [opening mail] when it is determined to be necessary”, including personal correspondence, without probable cause or any reason at all. In other words, you are a prisoner of America. And just like in a prison, your mail coming from outside the prison is subject to search whenever it is deemed necessary.
And so many more that I would be forced to devote the entire article to it if I hoped to get even remotely close to covering them all.
It’s official. The American dystopia is here. Obama administration officials admit that the CIA assassination program that snuffed out Anwar al-Awlaki last Friday is guided by a secret panel that decides who lives and dies. According to Reuters:
American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions, according to officials.
There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.
Let that sink in. The U.S. presidency, supposed leader of the free world, has a clandestine committee that chooses American citizens to assassinate. This from the administration that promised unprecedented transparency and a ratcheting back of Bush-era civil liberties abuses. This from the president who vowed to restore habeas corpus and subject executive war powers to judicial scrutiny. This from the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
What’s more striking, however, is the deafening silence. Sure, the ACLU opposes all this, as do a smattering of public voices. Yet it seems for everyone expressing proportional concern about this, there are a thousand leftist protesters whining about the top one percent, and a thousand conservatives whining about the leftist protesters.
The best way for America to become more secure may well be to dismantle its vast security apparatus.
This means eliminating the Department of Homeland Security, closing down our 800 military bases on foreign soil, and slashing armaments spending by the War Department, the one euphemistically called the Department of Defense but which is, in fact, the spearhead of today’s naked American aggression in six countries.
Real security begins with creating a policy of peace, meaning non-intervention, in the affairs of other states. It means when the U.S. sends its sons and daughters abroad on official business, it sends the Peace Corps to help and not the Pentagon to obliterate. It means returning to the lost arts of diplomacy, restoring the State Department to its original relevance; it means scrapping the posture of arrogance that is known as American exceptionalism and not acting as the self-appointed policeman of the world; and it means settling disputes with other nations in the World Court, not on the battlefield; and lastly, and not the least, it means having the courage to put some trust in the organization to keep the peace in whose creation America played so large a role in founding, the United Nations.
“We are not the policeman of mankind,” syndicated columnist Walter Lippmann once remarked. “We are not able to run the world and we shouldn’t pretend that we can. Let us tend to our own business, which is great enough as it is.” This complemented the words of founder Thomas Paine, who wrote in “The American Crisis”,“Not a place on earth might be so happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling world, and she has nothing to do but to trade with them.”
Most people don't know the Federal Reserve is controlled by the largest private banks. They are using their control of the Fed to destroy the dollar, our economy and wipe out the middle class so they can replace it with a system and currency they have even MORE control of. If we don't shut down the bankers, the Federal Reserve, this nation is history! The Congress can REPEAL THE FEDERAL RESERVE ACT and return control over our currency to "We The People." We have to take back control of Congress and DEMAND THIS HAPPEN in the upcoming election!