Today, Citizen Radio has three interviews with three equally amazing muckraking journalists. First up, Jesse Freeston, who was attacked by police at the G20 summit, then Mother Jones’s environmental journalist and one of the only reporters on-the-scene in the Gulf, Mac McClelland, and finally photojournalist C.S. Muncy breaks an important story from Louisiana. Listen here.
I find it disturbing that a major city being put on lockdown in order to accommodate the international elite and suppress the underclass has become standard — and acceptable — procedure.
Right now, the leaders of rich and developing nations are in Toronto, and the authorities anticipated that there will be a series of protests during the conferences because there are always protests during the G8/G20 meet-ups.
Capitalism is particularly unpopular right now because the US has unleashed a steroid-filled version of it unto the world, and this economic system has failed to provide for the majority of people. It has, however, created a dwindling elitist echelon who control a vast majority of riches. In the year of Hayward and his yachting adventures, there’s no reason to doubt there will be any fewer protests against the douchiest rich people among us.
Toronto was ready to suppress such dissent, and shape a nice, pleasant narrative for the city’s visitors, by implementing a complete and total lockdown.
The “lockdown” of central Toronto includes a 3m-high (10ft), 3.5km (2.2-mile) concrete and metal fence enclosing the G20 meeting area and a huge security presence. Banks and theatres will be closed, as will one of Canada’s most famous tourist attractions – the CN Tower.
It’s important to remember that the supposed goal of the G20 summit is “to continue the work of building a healthier, stronger and more sustainable global economy.” And what better way to express that kind of egalitarian unity than to build a 10-ft-high, 2-mile-long fence to keep out the serfs?
These kinds of global gatherings have also become a playground for authorities to experiment with their newest, shiniest crowd control devices. Last year, I reported that Pittsburgh police demonstrated the latest suppression technology on protesters near that year’s G20 summit. The weapon du jour were sound cannons.
City Limits, Robert Neuwirth
I spent 24 hours in the slammer the other day. My crime? Well, the police couldn’t tell me when they locked me up. The prosecutor and judge couldn’t either, when I was arraigned the following day. I found out for myself when I researched the matter a few days after being released: I had been cited for walking my dog off the leash – once, six years ago.
Welcome to the ugly underside of the zero-tolerance era, where insignificant rule violations get inflated into criminal infractions. Here’s how it worked with me: a gaggle of transit cops stopped me after they saw me walk between two subway cars on my way to work. This, they told me, was against the rules. They asked for ID and typed my name into a hand-held computer. Up came that old citation that I didn’t know about and they couldn’t tell me about. I was immediately handcuffed and brought to the precinct. There, I waited in a holding cell, then was fingerprinted (post-CSI memo: they now take the fingers, the thumbs, the palms, and the sides of both hands) and had the contents of my shoulder bag inventoried. I could hardly believe it: I was being arrested without ever having committed a crime.
The secret legal opinions issued by Bush administration lawyers after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks included assertions that the president could use the nation’s military within the United States to combat people deemed as terrorists and to conduct raids without obtaining a search warrant.
That opinion was among nine that were disclosed publicly for the first time Monday by the Justice Department, in what the Obama administration portrayed as a step toward greater transparency. The opinions showed a broad interpretation of presidential authority, asserting as well that the president could unilaterally abrogate foreign treaties, deal with detainees suspected of terrorism while rejecting input from Congress and conduct a warrantless eavesdropping program.
Some of the legal positions had previously become known from statements made by Bush administration officials in response to court challenges and congressional inquiries. But the opinions provided the clearest illustration to date of the broad definition of presidential power that was approved by government lawyers, including John Yoo and Jay Bybee, in the months following the Sept. 11 attacks.
In a memorandum dated Jan. 15, 2009, just before President George W. Bush left office, a top Justice Department official wrote that the earlier memorandums had not been relied on since 2003. But the official, Stephen Bradbury, who headed the Office of Legal Counsel, said it was important to acknowledge in writing “the doubtful nature of these propositions,” and he used the memo to formally repudiate the opinions.
Bradbury said that the earlier memorandums were the product of lawyers confronting “novel and complex questions in a time of great danger and under extraordinary time pressure.”
The opinion authorizing the military to operate on domestic territory was dated Oct. 23, 2001, and written by Yoo, at the time a deputy assistant attorney general, and Robert Delahunty, a special counsel. It was directed to Alberto Gonzales, then the White House counsel, who had asked whether Bush could use the military to combat terrorist activities inside the United States.
“The law has recognized that force (including deadly force) may be legitimately used in self-defense,” Yoo and Delahunty wrote to Gonzales. Any objections based on the prohibition against unreasonable searches in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution would vanish, he said, because any privacy offense that comes with such a search would be less than any injury from deadly force.
Yoo and Delahunty also said in the Oct. 23 memorandum that “First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully.” They added that the “current campaign against terrorism may require even broader exercises of federal power domestically.”
Yoo said the Posse Comitatus Act, a statute first enacted in 1878 and since renewed, would also not present an obstacle to the use of the armed forces. The Posse Comitatus Act generally forbids the use of military forces in domestic law enforcement.
Yoo and Delahunty asserted that the act’s prohibition against use of the military was only for law enforcement functions and that using soldiers against terrorist suspects would be a national security function.
Yoo, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is widely known as the principal author of a 2002 memorandum that critics said authorized torture. The memorandum, signed by Bybee, was repudiated in 2004.
The memorandum issued by Bradbury in January appears to have been the Bush lawyers’ last effort to reconcile their views with the wide-scale rejection by legal scholars and some Supreme Court opinions of the sweeping assertions of presidential authority made earlier by the Justice Department.
Walter Dellinger, a former head of the Office of Legal Counsel during the Clinton administration who was also a law professor at Duke University, said that Bradbury’s memo “disclaiming the opinions of earlier Bush lawyers sets out in blunt detail how irresponsible those earlier opinions were.” He said it was important that it was now widely recognized that the earlier assertions “that Congress had absolutely no role in these national security issues was contrary to constitutional text, historical practice and judicial precedent.”
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said Monday morning before the release of the documents: “Too often over the past decade, the fight against terrorism has been viewed as a zero-sum battle with our civil liberties. Not only is that thought misguided, I fear that in actuality it does more harm than good.”
Holder said that the memorandums were being released in light of the legitimate and substantial public interest.
One of the opinions, issued in March 2002, suggests that Congress lacks any power to limit a president’s authority to transfer detainees to other countries. Other memorandums say that Congress has no authority to intervene in the president’s determination of the treatment of detainees, a proposition that has since been invalidated by the Supreme Court.
Bradbury’s memo repudiating these views said that it was “not sustainable” to argue that the president’s power as commander in chief “precludes Congress from enacting any legislation concerning the detention, interrogation, prosecution and transfer of enemy combatants.”
The court unanimously overruled an Arizona appeals court that threw out evidence found during such an encounter.
The case involved a 2002 pat-down search of an Eloy, Ariz., man by an Oro Valley police officer, who found a gun and marijuana.
The justices accepted Arizona’s argument that traffic stops are inherently dangerous for police and that pat-downs are permissible when an officer has a reasonable suspicion that the passenger may be armed and dangerous.
The pat-down is allowed if the police “harbor reasonable suspicion that a person subjected to the frisk is armed, and therefore dangerous to the safety of the police and public,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said.
Nick Juliano (Raw Story)
A copy of the 44-page report, “Known Unknowns: Unconventional ‘Strategic Shocks’ in Defense Strategy Development,” can be downloaded here. Freier notes that his report expresses only his own views and does not represent US policy, but it’s certain that his recommendations have come before at least some Defense Department officials.
The author warns potential causes for such civil unrest could include another terrorist attack, “unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters.” The situation could deteriorate to the point where military intervention was required, he argues.
“Under these conditions and at their most violent extreme,” he concludes, “civilian authorities, on advice of the defense establishment, would need to rapidly determine the parameters defining the legitimate use of military force inside the United States.”
While the scenario presented is “likely not an immediate prospect,” Freier concedes, it deserves consideration. Prior to 9/11, no one in the defense establishment would have envisioned a plot to topple skyscrapers with airliners, and the military should not be caught so off-guard again, he says.
To the extent events like this involve organized violence against local, state, and national authorities and exceed the capacity of the former two to restore public order and protect vulnerable populations, DoD would be required to fill the gap,” he writes. “This is largely uncharted strategic territory.”
Freier’s report has merited some concern as it comes alongside revelations that the Defense Department has assigned a full-time Army unit to be on-call for domestic deployment.
An article in Monday’s El Paso Times notes that military and police officials in Texas are unaware of team-up efforts such as those suggested in the report.
Arizona authorities told the Phoenix Business Journal they are similarly unaware of any new plans, although the Phoenix Police Department made clear its officers “always train to prepare for any civil unrest issue.”
The Posse Comitatus Act restricts the military’s role in domestic law enforcement, but it does not completely preclude involvement in cases of emergency or when emergency law is declared. As of now, though, such scenarios seem unlikely.
The bulk of Freier’s report recommends refocusing Defense Department strategy toward thinking outside the box, in general, and the unlikely possibility of domestic deployments is just one longshot example he uses to illustrate a worst case scenario.
DENVER — An independent Denver police monitor said officers did nothing wrong during mass arrests on the first day of the Democratic National Convention.
Monitor Richard Rosenthal said Monday there’s no evidence to support a complaint alleging officers lied about whether they gave an order to disperse before arresting more than 100 people.
The American Civil Liberties Union complaint also contended a police officer pretending to be a protester created a tense atmosphere when he confronted another officer. Rosenthal said the undercover officer acted appropriately.
The ACLU did not immediately return a call.
The US military plans to mobilize thousands of troops to protect Washington against potential terrorist attack during the inauguration of president-elect Barack Obama, a senior US military commander said Wednesday.
They will fly combat air patrols and man air defenses, organize large scale medical support, and help local law enforcement provide security in the capital, said General Gene Renuart, head of the US Northern Command. “[It’s] not because we see a specific threat, but because for an event this visible, this important and this historic, we ought to be prepared to respond if something does happen,” he told reporters.
Renuart said some 7,500 active duty troops and 4,000 national guard troops will take part in the operations in support of the inauguration of the 44th US president on January 20.
* * * * *
Gen. Genuart has pledged “to address congressional concerns” about NorthCom’s
“new homeland emergency response task force,” which, he says, “is not meant to authorize the federal government to enforce martial law”:
Northcom Chief Vows to Address Worries About New Homeland Unit 17 Dec 2008 A senior military official pledged Wednesday to address congressional concerns about a new homeland emergency response task force that is designed to respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear attack. Air Force Gen. Victor E Renuart Jr., commander of U.S. Northern Command (Northcom), also told reporters that the new force, which will eventually total 20,000 personnel, will not require new funding right now and is not meant to authorize the federal government to enforce martial law. The new task force has come under fire from groups… Critics also say the move could violate the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which aims to prohibit the federal government from using the armed forces in a domestic law enforcement capacity without congressional approval.
* * * * *
Meanwhile, there have been reports for months, in local media outlets coast to coast, of
heavy preparations by police departments and local sheriffs, all newly fitted out with
riot gear provided by the Bush regime. Also nationwide, police have been abusing citizens
–white as well as black and brown–with what is certainly a new ferociy,
the incidents either reported casually or not at all. It’s as if they’ve been encouraged to
do anything they want to nearly anyone.
What’s clearly going on here is a grand revival of the bad old days of the Sixties/Seventies,
when local cops and federal agencies teamed up to surveil and harass politically suspicious
groups (almost all of them left-wing). Now, however, that authoritarian partnership
appears to have a more ambitious purpose, since the economy is melting down, and
those (still) at the helm in Washington are explicit fascists.
In that context, check out this new piece from the Phoenix Business Journal, reporting
on the US Army War College’s new report on dealing militarily with “civil unrest”–
and the response thereto by the Phoenix Police Department.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008, 11:36am MST | Modified: Wednesday, December 17, 2008, 12:05pm
Ariz. police say they are prepared as War College warns military must prep for unrest; IMF warns of economic riots
Phoenix Business Journal – by Mike Sunnucks
A new report by the U.S. Army War College talks about the possibility of Pentagon resources and troops being used should the economic crisis lead to civil unrest, such as protests against businesses and government or runs on beleaguered banks.
“Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security,” said the War College report.
The study says economic collapse, terrorism and loss of legal order are among possible domestic shocks that might require military action within the U.S.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn warned Wednesday of economy-related riots and unrest in various global markets if the financial crisis is not addressed and lower-income households are hurt by credit constraints and rising unemployment.
U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., both said U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson brought up a worst-case scenario as he pushed for the Wall Street bailout in September. Paulson, former Goldman Sachs CEO, said that might even require a declaration of martial law, the two noted.
State and local police in Arizona say they have broad plans to deal with social unrest, including trouble resulting from economic distress. The security and police agencies declined to give specifics, but said they would employ existing and generalized emergency responses to civil unrest that arises for any reason.
“The Phoenix Police Department is not expecting any civil unrest at this time, but we always train to prepare for any civil unrest issue. We have a Tactical Response Unit that trains continually and has deployed on many occasions for any potential civil unrest issue,” said Phoenix Police spokesman Andy Hill.
“We have well established plans in place for such civil unrest,” said Scottsdale Police spokesman Mark Clark.
Clark, Hill and other local police officials said the region did plenty of planning and emergency management training for the Super Bowl in February in Glendale.
“We’re prepared,” said Maricopa County Sheriff Deputy Chief Dave Trombi citing his office’s past dealings with immigration marches and major events.
Super Bowl security efforts included personnel and resources from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. military’s Northern Command, which coordinated with Arizona officials. The Northern Command was created after 9/11 to have troops and Defense Department resources ready to respond to security problems, terrorism and natural disasters.
Northern Command spokesman Michael Kucharek and Arizona Army National Guard Major. Paul Aguirre said they are not aware of any new planning for domestic situations related to the economy.
Nick Dranias, director of constitutional government at the libertarian Goldwater Institute, said a declaration of marital law would be an extraordinary event and give military control over civilian authorities and institutions. Dranias said the Posse Comitatus Act restricts the U.S. military’s role in domestic law enforcement. But he points to a 1994 U.S. Defense Department Directive (DODD 3025) he says allows military commanders to take emergency actions in domestic situations to save lives, prevent suffering or mitigate great property damage.
Dranias said such an emergency declaration could worsen the economic situation and doubts extreme measures will been taken. “I don’t think it’s likely. But it’s not impossible,” he said.
The economy is in recession. Consumer spending is down, foreclosures are up and a host of businesses are laying off workers and struggling with tight credit and the troubled housing and financial markets. The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank and U.S. Treasury Department have pumped more than $8.5 trillion into the economy via equity purchases of bank stocks, liquidity infusions, Wall Street and bank bailouts and taxpayer rebates. U.S. automakers are seeking more than $14 billion in federal loans with fears they could fall into bankruptcy without a bailout. The U.S. housing and subprime lending-induced recession also has hit economies in Europe, Japan and China.
Gov. Janet Napolitano’s office declined comment on emergency planning and possible civil unrest. Napolitano is president-elect Barack Obama’s pick for secretary of Homeland Security, an agency that oversees airport security, disaster response, border security, customs and anti-terrorism efforts.
As governor, Napolitano sent National Guard troops to Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in 2003 in response to terrorism threats.
Glendale Police spokesman Jim Toomey said the West Valley suburb developed new emergency plans with the approach of Y2K computer changeovers leading up to the year 2000 and police have updated those plans several times including after 9/11. Toomey said strategies to deal with public unrest usually involve deploying personnel and equipment to deal with specific incidents while still providing usual services.
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“The End of America,” an unsettling documentary polemic about the erosion of civil liberties in the wake of 9/11, brings up matters many of us would rather not contemplate in the middle of a financial crisis and on the eve of a new administration. Federal laws enacted during the last seven years that threaten our constitutional rights, it reminds us, remain in effect.
The pointedly inflammatory film, adapted from Naomi Wolf’s book “The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot,” compares the Bush administration’s attempts to discourage dissent and to wield increasingly unchecked power to the events preceding the establishment of 20th-century dictatorships in Germany, Italy, Chile and elsewhere. Without explicitly invoking the word, it implies that since 2001 the United States has drifted toward fascism in the name of fighting terror.
Tightly constructed and fiercely one-sided, “The End of America,” directed by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern (“The Devil Came on Horseback”), interweaves excerpts from a lecture in New York given by Ms. Wolf with film clips and interviews illustrating her contention that the rise of those dictatorships created a “blueprint” that the Bush administration, consciously or not, has followed.
According to Ms. Wolf, the first and fundamental tool for acquiring power is the manipulation of fear. In the shell-shocked post-
9/11 climate, the overwhelming public reaction to the Patriot Act of 2001, which gave law enforcement agencies expanded powers of surveillance, was mute acceptance of whatever was deemed necessary to keep us safe. Since then, she says, a color-coded system of terror alerts has been effectively wielded to keep us on edge.
From here, Ms. Wolf describes a 10-step program toward authoritarian rule that includes the creation of secret prisons where torture takes place; the deployment of a paramilitary force (Blackwater, which the film calls a contemporary American variation on Mussolini’s private army of “black shirts”); the development of an internal surveillance system; the harassment of citizens’ groups; and the arbitrary detention and release of ordinary civilians.
The film’s most disturbing moments are its accounts of James Yee, a United States Army chaplain at Guantánamo, who was accused of espionage and held in solitary confinement for 76 days before being released, and Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian telecommunications engineer, who was detained at Kennedy International Airport, then later deported to Syria, where he was imprisoned for a year and tortured. He was eventually cleared of charges of terrorism.
The seventh step, selecting key individuals for harassment, cites the Dixie Chicks and Dan Rather as prominent cases. The eighth step, the restriction of the press, focuses on the case of Josh Wolf, a journalist jailed for 226 days for refusing to turn over videotapes he made of police brutality at a July 2005 demonstration in San Francisco.
The ninth step, the equating of political dissidents with traitors, fleetingly examines the Bush administration’s floating of the word “treason” to describe The New York Times’s publication of classified information about the government’s monitoring of overseas telephone calls. All these middle steps might be described as examples of selective intimidation intended to inhibit dissent. The case histories are glossed over.
The final step in Ms. Wolf’s Top 10 is the suspension of the rule of law. She cites the refusal of Bush administration insiders subpoenaed to appear before Congress to testify in the United States attorneys scandal. The film ends on a note of stern warning: the 11th step might be the imposing of martial law.
If the film’s vision of the steps leading toward a homegrown fascist state qualifies as paranoid, there is still enough here to make you shiver. Could it happen here? Maybe. A little fear — not the collective panic that followed 9/11 — can be a useful thing.
JHU professor, 15 others arrested then released after celebrating on city street
By Gus G. Sentementes
“It was nonsense,” said Aaron Goodfellow, 41, a professor in Hopkins’ anthropology department. Goodfellow said he and a graduate student left an election-night party after news broke that Sen. Barack Obama was elected president. They saw the gathering and stopped to participate, and both were later arrested, he said.
Clifford said Union Memorial reported that one of its entrances and a nearby intersection were blocked by members of the crowd. He said the crowd was chanting: “These are our streets. We won’t go.”
“We made a reasonable effort to accommodate those people,” Clifford said. “You can’t just let it go on indefinitely, partly out of concerns for their safety, and partly out of concerns for the neighborhood.”
Some of the participants interviewed yesterday morning said the crowd was loud but that they weren’t in the streets when they were arrested. Some were Hopkins students, while others were area residents or students from other schools, including Goucher College and Towson University.
A person posted a 14-second video clip on You Tube.com that purportedly was shot during the police crackdown. The video shows three officers wrestling with someone who is lying on the ground in front of a Subway restaurant on the southeast corner of St. Paul and 33rd.
A woman can be heard on the video yelling: “Somebody take pictures … take pictures.”
Jeff Levine, 19, a Hopkins sophomore, said he was trying to push his way through a “huge mob” of people in front of his apartment building at St. Paul and 33rd streets about 2 a.m. He was returning home after spending the evening at an election-night party with friends and said that he was not an Obama supporter.
He said an officer shoved him from behind, toward his building, and when he turned around, the officer applied a stun device to his upper abdomen area. “It hurt. I couldn’t move my body,” Levine said. He said he asked officials at Central Booking if he could talk to a lawyer.
“They told me I didn’t even need one” because he would be released without charges, Levine said.
Zach Warner, 19, a Hopkins sophomore, said officers cursed at him and threatened him with arrest when he tried to get their names and badge numbers. Warner, who avoided arrest, said he and others took photos of the officers with their cell phones. He said he watched one woman tell an officer that she had the right to assemble peacefully, and moments later, the officer threw her to the ground.
“All of these students, this was their first time voting, their first time to express their civil liberties,” Warner said. “And to see civil liberties taken away from us is just disgusting.”
Clifford said there were spontaneous celebrations across the city overnight but that, so far as he knew, no other arrests had been made at public gatherings.
David Rocah, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in Baltimore, said the group fielded calls yesterday from people who were arrested or who had witnessed the events and that the civil rights group was gathering information about an incident he regarded as “troubling.”
“Even if it wasn’t illegal, I think it raises real questions about the Baltimore City Police Department’s crowd-control policies and what is the right way for people to handle a situation like this,” Rocah said.
I have to be brief because I’ve been awake now for almost 35 hours. I was rounded up along with a dozen or so other people last night at an impromptu Obama celebration in Baltimore and jailed. My crime?
Photographing the Baltimore cops as they loaded people into a paddy wagon. The crowd was very well-behaved — mostly Hopkins students overjoyed with the Obama victory. A phalanx of cops moved in and
started arbitrarily arresting people. They tased an undergraduate for trying to get back into his building — after asking him to go inside. It was insane. I started taking photos with my cell phone as they lined up cuffed college kids, professors, etc. and a cop approached me. “I’m a journalist,” I said (I freelance for Baltimore City Paper) and he knocked the phone out of my hand onto the street. “Write a nice long story about this,” he said, spun me around, and he and another cop cuffed me with flexi-cuffs and loaded me into the police van.
This was 2am last night (Tuesday). I served as an election judge all day, and the last thing I expected was to spend the night in Baltimore City lockup. Unreal.
The dangerous thugs the police decided to jail included me (an election judge, writer, and employee of the Bloomberg School of Public Health), TWO professors of anthropology at Hopkins, a Baltimore City school teacher, and a variety of students. It was one student’s birthday. The student who was tasered had bruises on his wrists from the cuffs and a bruised eye. Truly a dangerous group of criminals.
We were released this morning — no charges were brought against us. We’re getting together as a group to see what recourse we have. One of the anthropology profs, Aaron Goodfellow, has contacted the ACLU
and I’m going to follow-up. There were lots of students with cell phones, videocams, and cameras, so I’m hoping some of this was caught on tape.
City Paper has a very brief clip on its site: http://www.citypaper.com/digest.asp?id=16987