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Oct 17, 2006



"Again, the evil practices of the last and worst forms of democracy are all found in tyrannies."

"There are also the ancient prescriptions for the preservation of a tyranny, in so far as this is possible; viz. that the tyrant should lop off those who are too high; he must put to death men of spirit:  he must not allow common meals, clubs, education, and the like; he must be upon his guard against anything which is likely to inspire either courage or confidence among his subjects; he must prohibit literary assemblies or other meetings for discussion, and he must take every means to prevent people from knowing one another (for acquaintance begets mutual confidence).  Further, he must compel the inhabitants to appear in public and live at his gates; then he will know what they are doing; if they are always kept under, they will learn to be humble.  In short, he should practise these and the like Persian and barbaric arts which all have the same object.  A tyrant should also endeavour to know what each of his subjects says or does, and should employ spies, like the 'female detectives' at Syracuse, and the eavesdroppers whom Hiero was in the habit of sending to any place of resort or meeting; for the fear of informers prevents people from speaking their minds, and if they do, they are more easily found out.  Another art of the tyrant is to sow quarrels among the citizens; friends should be embroiled with friends, the people with the notables, and the rich with one another.  Also he should impoverish his subjects; he thus provides money for the support of his guards, and the people, having to keep hard at work, are prevented from conspiring.  The Pyramids of Egypt afford an example of this policy; also the offerings of the family of Cypselus, and the building of the temple of Olympian Zeus by the Peisistratidae, and the great Polycratean monuments at Samos; all these works were alike intended to occupy the people and keep them poor."

"The tyrant is also fond of making war in order that his subjects may have something to do and be always in want of a leader."

"All that we have said may be summed up under three heads, which answer to
the three aims of the tyrant.  These are, (1) the humiliation of his subjects; he knows that a mean-spirited man will not conspire against anybody: (2) the creation of mistrust among them; for a tyrant is not overthrown until men begin to have confidence in one another; and this is the reason why tyrants are at war with the good; they are under the idea that their power is endangered by them, not only because they will not be ruled despotically, but also because they are loyal to one another, and to other men, and do not inform against one another or against other men: (3) the tyrant desires that his subjects shall be incapable of action, for no one attempts what is impossible, and they will not attempt to overthrow a tyranny, if they are powerless.  Under these three heads the whole policy of a tyrant may be summed up, and to one or other of them all his ideas may be referred:  (1) he sows distrust among his subjects; (2) he takes away their power; (3) he humbles them."

"This then is one of the two methods by which tyrannies are preserved."


Sentimental Education: Academia Signs Up to Track Down Dissent
    By Chris Floyd, TO UK Correspondent
    t r u t h o u t | Report

    Tuesday 17 October 2006


    Why is the United States government spending millions of dollars to track down critics of George W. Bush in the press? And why have major American universities agreed to put this technology of tyranny into the state's hands?

    At the most basic level, of course, both questions are easily answered: 1) Power. 2) Money. The Bush administration wants to be able to root out - and counteract - any dissenting noises that might put a crimp in its ongoing crusade for "full spectrum dominance" of global affairs, while the august institutions of higher learning involved - the universities of Cornell, Pittsburgh and Utah - crave the federal green that keeps them in clover.

    But beyond these grubby realities, there are many other disturbing aspects of this new program - which is itself only part of a much broader penetration of American academia by the Department of Homeland Security.

    As with so many of the Bush measures that have quietly stripped away America's liberties, this one too is beginning with a whimper, not a bang: a modest $2.4 Department of Homeland Security million grant to develop "sentiment analysis" software that will allow the government's "security organs" to sift millions of articles for "negative opinions of the United States or its leaders in newspapers and other publications overseas," as the New York Times reported earlier this month. Such negative opinions must be caught and catalogued because they could pose "potential threats to the nation," security apparatchiks told the Times.

    This hydra-headed snooping program is based on "information extraction," which, as a chipper PR piece from Cornell tells us, is a process by which "computers scan text to find meaning in natural language," rather than the rigid literalism ordinarily demanded by silicon cogitators. Under the gentle tutelage of Homeland Security, the universities "will use machine-learning algorithms to give computers examples of text expressing both fact and opinion and teach them to tell the difference," says the Cornell blurb.

    At this point, the ancient and ever-pertinent question of Pontius Pilate comes to mind: "What is truth?" Of course, Pilate, being a devotee of what George W. Bush likes to call "the path of action," gave the answer to his philosophical inquiry in brute physical form: truth is whatever the empire says it is - so take this Galilean rabble-rouser out and crucify him already. In like manner, it will certainly be the government "security organs" who ultimately determine the criteria for what is fact and what is opinion - and whether the latter is positive or negative, perhaps even a candidate for the Bush-Pilate "path."

    The academics will be trying out the Sentiment Analysis program (let's call it SAP, for short) on four main clusters of articles from 2001-2002, the Times reports. These include: Bush's famous declaration of an "axis of evil" threatening the world; the treatment of his Terror War captives in Guantanamo Bay; global warming; and the failed Bush-backed bid to topple Venezuela's Hugo Chavez in a coup - all of them issues on which the Bush administration was at odds with much of the world, and large swathes of American opinion as well. Obviously, such issues are fertile fields for terrorist thought-crimes to be snagged and tagged by SAP.

    For those with concerns about civil liberties, Cornell assures us that SAP will be limited strictly to foreign publications. Oh, really? Hands up out there, everyone who believes that this technology will not be used to ferret out "potential threats to the nation" arising in the Homeland press as well. After all, the Unitary Executive Decider-in-Chief has already decided that the nation's iron-clad laws against warrantless surveillance of American citizens can be swept aside by his "inherent powers" if he decides it's necessary. Why should he bother with any petty restrictions on a press-monitoring program? And wouldn't dissension within the ranks of the volk itself actually be more threatening to government policy than the grumbling of malcontents overseas?


    Then again, what is so sinister about the plan, exactly? Surely every government is eager to read its notices in the press, foreign and domestic. Surely the Bush administration already has a myriad of minions in the White House, the CIA, the NSA, the DIA and embassies around the world doing just that. True enough - and there's the rub. For if they are already tracking and sifting media sentiment to a fare-thee-well, why do they need SAP's $2.4 million software?

    Here we see the same principle that lies behind Bush's illegal warrantless surveillance program. Long-established law - the FISA court - already provides Bush with the power to spy on anyone even remotely suspected of a connection to terrorism - and to do so immediately, without waiting a single instant or jumping through a single bureaucratic hoop to get the operation going. So who is he actually using his warrantless surveillance program against? It can't be suspected terrorists; they are already covered by existing law. There are only two conclusions to be drawn from this strange state of affairs: 1) The Bush regime is using the program to spy on people other than suspected terrorists. 2) It is using the program to establish the principle that presidential power cannot be restrained by law in any area that the president arbitrarily designates a "matter of national security." These conclusions are not mutually exclusive, of course.

    Likewise, we must ask: who is the "Sentiment Analysis" program aimed at? It can't be the major news and opinion drivers in the international and national media; these are already being monitored. And it hardly requires a deus ex machina to determine the political sentiment behind news stories and opinion pieces. Why then would you need multimillion-dollar computer whizbangery to tell you whether a story casts a favorable or critical light on Bush and his policies? And how could critical "sentiment" in the kinds of stories that Cornell, Pitt and Utah are examining in their tests pose any kind of "potential threat" to the nation? Again, there must be something else behind the program because, as with warrantless surveillance, it is clearly redundant on its face.

    The key to this conundrum mostly likely lies in the envisioned scope of the program: "millions of articles" to be processed for "sentiment analysis." This denotes a fishing expedition that goes far beyond the "publicly available material, primarily news reports and editorials from English-language newspapers worldwide" that Claire Cardie, Cornell's lead researcher on SAP, says that her team will be using in developing the software. The target of such a scope cannot be simply the English-language foreign press, or the foreign press as a whole, or indeed, every newspaper in the world, from Pyongyang to Peoria. It must also be aimed at other modes of textual communication, in print and online.

    In fact, later in the PR blurb, Cardie rather gives the game away when, seeking to allay "fears about invasions of privacy" raised by the research, she notes that "the techniques would have to be changed considerably to work on documents like e-mails." Yes; and an intercontinental ballistic missile is just a big, shiny, harmless rocket - until you load it with a nuclear weapon and fire it at somebody. No doubt Cardie is simply a dedicated scientist, focused on the technical problem at hand, and her naivetè on this point is genuine; but once you have built a platform that can churn through millions of pieces of text to uncover criticism and dissent - however the organs deign to define these concepts - then this technology can certainly be adapted to launch all-encompassing "sentiment analysis" against any form of written communication you please.

    Nor is this program being developed in isolation. It is part of a larger Homeland Security push "to conduct research on advanced methods for information analysis and to develop computational technologies that contribute to securing the homeland," as a DHS press release puts it, in announcing the formation of yet another university consortium. This group - led by Rutgers, and including the University of Southern California, the University of Illinois and, once again, Pitt - has pulled down a whopping $10.2 million to "identify common patterns from numerous sources of information" that "may be indicative of" - what else? - "potential threats to the nation."

    This research program will draw on such areas as "knowledge representation, uncertainty quantification, high-performance computing architectures" - and our old friends, information extraction and natural language processing. It is in fact closely associated with the "sentiment analysis" work being done by the Cornell group - and note that the Rutgers consortium is designing its info-gobbling software to deal with "numerous sources" of information. Do we sense some synergy going on here?


    The Cornell and Rutgers groups are two of four "University Affiliate Centers" thus far established by Homeland Security. All of the consortiums are geared toward the amassing, storing and analysis of unimaginably vast amounts of information, gathered relentlessly from a multitude of sources and formats. They are in turn just part of a still-larger panorama of "data mining" programs being developed - or already in use - by the security organs.

    These include the "Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight and Semantic Enhancement" (ADVISE) program, which can rip and read mountains of open source data - such as web sites and databases, as analyst Michael Hampton reports. Two Democratic Congressmen, David Obey of Wisconsin and Martin Slabo of Minnesota, have asked the General Accounting Office to investigate the program for possible intrusions on privacy rights, Hampton notes.

    While Congressional concern for privacy is all well and good, we know that it means nothing to the Unitary Executive. Earlier this month, Bush used his "signing statement" magic wand to wave away a direct Congressional mandate for reports on whether Homeland Security is obeying privacy laws in compiling its secret "watch lists," which increasingly control more and more aspects of American life, including "who gets on planes, who gets government jobs, who gets employed," as Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told AP. Using the by-now ritualistic language of presidential dictatorship, Bush's statement said he would ignore Congress's direct order and delay, alter or simply quash the privacy reports as he saw fit.

    You don't need a machine-learning algorithm or $2.4 million worth of Ivy League software to connect the dots here. The Bush administration already has spyware devouring reams of private information in every direction. It is now paying top universities millions of dollars to refine this data into actionable intelligence - including the automated discernment and tracking of dissent against administration policies and criticism of the president. Bush has openly declared that he has no intention of obeying privacy laws - or any other laws safeguarding the Constitutional rights of American citizens - if he doesn't want to.

    And if that's not sinister enough for you, consider this: on Tuesday George W. Bush signed the "Military Commissions Act," which states that he can arbitrarily declare anyone - yes, American citizens included - an "unlawful enemy combatant" for any action that he arbitrarily decides constitutes "material support" to terrorists. He can imprison these "UECs" without charge or trial, for the duration of the "War on Terror," which he and Dick Cheney have already assured us will not end "in our lifetime." He can subject these captives to "strenuous interrogation techniques" that by any sane reckoning constitute torture - but this same Act allows Bush himself to determine what is legally torture and what is not, except in the most extreme cases, such as rape and deliberate murder.

    A regime openly committed to wielding arbitrary power over the life and liberty of every person on earth is now equipping itself with intrusive technology beyond the wildest dreams of the most totalitarian states in history. And some of the nation's most respected educational institutions - proud bastions of civilization and enlightenment - are helping them do it. It is simply impossible that such a system will not be mightily abused.

    And for all you SAP machines out there: that conclusion is a fact, not an opinion.


    Chris Floyd is an American journalist. His work has appeared in print and online in venues all over the world, including The Nation, Counterpunch, Columbia Journalism Review, the Christian Science Monitor, Il Manifesto, the Moscow Times and many others. He is the author of Empire Burlesque: High Crimes and Low Comedy in the Bush Imperium, and is co-founder and editor of the "Empire Burlesque" political blog. He can be reached at


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Posted: Oct 17, 2006 7:21pm
Aug 3, 2006

About a year and a half ago, I posted an article from a so-called "left-wing" publication, The Revolutionary Worker, and the gist of the article went like this:

Before the insanity of an illegal war on Iraq and the whole Middle East could take place, we had to be assured by those who would dare deceive us into war, violence, torture, and madness, that we were fighting our enemies with good cause and that George W. Bush, himself, was "annointed" and appointed by God to be the president of our country.

Well, folks, in that article, the religious fanaticism of George W. Bush's long line of henchmen/psychotic fascists, who play "jesters and court jokers" for the annointed "king" himself, took the traveling tent show ON THE ROAD, so to speak, and personally visited over 27 churches and "preached the litany of destruction of our perceived enemies" from the rooftops of the churches comprised of the SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION.  Being unduly "affected by a deep paranoid neuroses," and in "full uniform," of course, the "flocks" were subjected to the biggest set of "propaganda," religious "enlightenment" style, that the world has ever seen.  Not only does King George W have God on his side, since he personally, according to General Jerry Boykin, did not win the election, but God saw fit for him to be appointed by the Supreme Court of the United States, through force and fraud, but the ENTIRE WORLD now has to bow down to these psychotic madmen/madwomen and take more than just a few licks on the chin on Sunday mornings.  We must, in the name of NATIONALISM/PATRIOTISM, submit to their PROPAGANDA concerning our perceived enemies, who, without our violent, invasive and provocative behavior, would never have illegally invaded our own land.  Now, ABC, a mainstream news source, has got this wonderful video for us to view those "violent and paranoid" men and women of God who relish in the dreams and thoughts of ARMAGEDDON, via destruction of the entire Muslim World, and through the use of the "Jews," to present us with the SECOND COMING OF CHRIST!!!  Yes, we can now hear from Pastor Hagey and Pat Roberson, not to mention from other men and women of GOD HIMSELF, how lucky we are to have such a king as George W. Bush plundering, murdering, executing, bombing, and torturing our "perceived" enemies in our OWN NAME and for the PURPOSE of "their delusional self-righteousness."

HOW SAD TO SEE A COUNTRY GONE MAD and such "deceptive leaders," who would be so self-interested in POWER, that they would sacrifice the whole world and its people to EXPERIENCE being GODS THEMSELVES.

It is unthinkable that such trash could enter the "mind" of one of God's children, but we have it here right now for the world to view.  THEY RELISH IN VIOLENCE, WAR, BARBARISM, AND TORTURE to save their own souls, and to "hell" with everybody else.  This nightmare is their only "salvation," and they truly are so FAR GONE that the lives of those around them mean nothing to them, as long as they can inhabit this earth and be "godlike," having "power" and demanding submission to their whims from those whom they deem to be their "inferiors."  They will "stop" at nothing to achieve their dream of ARMAGEDDON.  AND THEY WILL "USE" THE JEWS TO SATISFY THEIR OWN "THIRST" FOR BLOOD.


Meanwhile, Rumey and his Joint Chiefs of Staff (handpicked yes-men) lie to Senators McCain and Clinton with tongues as sharp as the "devil's tongue himself."  Even their bi-partisan supporters of the Iraq war are beginning to "question their judgment" in all this madness and CALL FOR RUMEY'S RESIGNATION because of INCOMPETENCE!!!!

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Posted: Aug 3, 2006 9:09pm
Jun 1, 2006

NOTE:  First sign is control of the Internet:

Top 10 Signs of the Impending U.S. Police State

From secret detention centers to warrantless wiretapping, Bush and Co. give free rein to their totalitarian impulses. Tools
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More stories by Allan Uthman

Is the U.S. becoming a police state? Here are the top 10 signs that it may well be the case.

1. The Internet Clampdown

One saving grace of alternative media in this age of unfettered corporate conglomeration has been the internet. While the masses are spoon-fed predigested news on TV and in mainstream print publications, the truth-seeking individual still has access to a broad array of investigative reporting and political opinion via the world-wide web. Of course, it was only a matter of time before the government moved to patch up this crack in the sky.

Attempts to regulate and filter internet content are intensifying lately, coming both from telecommunications corporations (who are gearing up to pass legislation transferring ownership and regulation of the internet to themselves), and the Pentagon (which issued an "Information Operations Roadmap" in 2003, signed by Donald Rumsfeld, which outlines tactics such as network attacks and acknowledges, without suggesting a remedy, that US propaganda planted in other countries has easily found its way to Americans via the internet). One obvious tactic clearing the way for stifling regulation of internet content is the growing media frenzy over child pornography and "internet predators," which will surely lead to legislation that by far exceeds in its purview what is needed to fight such threats.

2. "The Long War"

This little piece of clumsy marketing died off quickly, but it gave away what many already suspected: the War on Terror will never end, nor is it meant to end. It is designed to be perpetual. As with the War on Drugs, it outlines a goal that can never be fully attained -- as long as there are pissed off people and explosives. The Long War will eternally justify what are ostensibly temporary measures: suspension of civil liberties, military expansion, domestic spying, massive deficit spending and the like. This short-lived moniker told us all, "get used to it. Things aren't going to change any time soon."


Did anyone really think this was going to be temporary? Yes, this disgusting power grab gives the government the right to sneak into your house, look through all your stuff and not tell you about it for weeks on a rubber stamp warrant. Yes, they can look at your medical records and library selections. Yes, they can pass along any information they find without probable cause for purposes of prosecution. No, they're not going to take it back, ever.

4. Prison Camps

This last January the Army Corps of Engineers gave Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root nearly $400 million to build detention centers in the United States, for the purpose of unspecified "new programs." Of course, the obvious first guess would be that these new programs might involve rounding up Muslims or political dissenters -- I mean, obviously detention facilities are there to hold somebody. I wish I had more to tell you about this, but it's, you know... secret.

5. Touchscreen Voting Machines

Despite clear, copious evidence that these nefarious contraptions are built to be tampered with, they continue to spread and dominate the voting landscape, thanks to Bush's "Help America Vote Act," the exploitation of corrupt elections officials, and the general public's enduring cluelessness.

In Utah, Emery County Elections Director Bruce Funk witnessed security testing by an outside firm on Diebold voting machines which showed them to be a security risk. But his warnings fell on deaf ears. Instead Diebold attorneys were flown to Emery County on the governor's airplane to squelch the story. Funk was fired. In Florida, Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho discovered an alarming security flaw in their Diebold system at the end of last year. Rather than fix the flaw, Diebold refused to fulfill its contract. Both of the other two touchscreen voting machine vendors, Sequoia and ES&S, now refuse to do business with Sancho, who is required by HAVA to implement a touchscreen system and will be sued by his own state if he doesn't. Diebold is said to be pressuring for Sancho's ouster before it will resume servicing the county.

Stories like these and much worse abound, and yet TV news outlets have done less coverage of the new era of elections fraud than even 9/11 conspiracy theories. This is possibly the most important story of this century, but nobody seems to give a damn. As long as this issue is ignored, real American democracy will remain an illusion. The midterm elections will be an interesting test of the public's continuing gullibility about voting integrity, especially if the Democrats don't win substantial gains, as they almost surely will if everything is kosher.

Bush just suggested that his brother Jeb would make a good president. We really need to fix this problem soon.

6. Signing Statements

Bush has famously never vetoed a bill. This is because he prefers to simply nullify laws he doesn't like with "signing statements." Bush has issued over 700 such statements, twice as many as all previous presidents combined. A few examples of recently passed laws and their corresponding dismissals, courtesy of the Boston Globe:

--Dec. 30, 2005: US interrogators cannot torture prisoners or otherwise subject them to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

Bush's signing statement: The president, as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing terrorist attacks.

--Dec. 30, 2005: When requested, scientific information ''prepared by government researchers and scientists shall be transmitted [to Congress] uncensored and without delay."

Bush's signing statement: The president can tell researchers to withhold any information from Congress if he decides its disclosure could impair foreign relations, national security, or the workings of the executive branch.

--Dec. 23, 2004: Forbids US troops in Colombia from participating in any combat against rebels, except in cases of self-defense. Caps the number of US troops allowed in Colombia at 800.

Bush's signing statement: Only the president, as commander in chief, can place restrictions on the use of US armed forces, so the executive branch will construe the law ''as advisory in nature."

Essentially, this administration is bypassing the judiciary and deciding for itself whether laws are constitutional or not. Somehow, I don't see the new Supreme Court lineup having much of a problem with that, though. So no matter what laws congress passes, Bush will simply choose to ignore the ones he doesn't care for. It's much quieter than a veto, and can't be overridden by a two-thirds majority. It's also totally absurd.

7. Warrantless Wiretapping

Amazingly, the GOP sees this issue as a plus for them. How can this be? What are you, stupid? You find out the government is listening to the phone calls of US citizens, without even the weakest of judicial oversight and you think that's okay? Come on -- if you know anything about history, you know that no government can be trusted to handle something like this responsibly. One day they're listening for Osama, and the next they're listening in on Howard Dean.

Think about it: this administration hates unauthorized leaks. With no judicial oversight, why on earth wouldn't they eavesdrop on, say, Seymour Hersh, to figure out who's spilling the beans? It's a no-brainer. Speaking of which, it bears repeating: terrorists already knew we would try to spy on them. They don't care if we have a warrant or not. But you should.

8. Free Speech Zones

I know it's old news, but... come on, are they fucking serious?

9. High-ranking Whistleblowers

Army Generals. Top-level CIA officials. NSA operatives. White House cabinet members. These are the kind of people that Republicans fantasize about being, and whose judgment they usually respect. But for some reason, when these people resign in protest and criticize the Bush administration en masse, they are cast as traitorous, anti-American publicity hounds. Ridiculous. The fact is, when people who kill, spy and deceive for a living tell you that the White House has gone too far, you had damn well better pay attention. We all know most of these people are staunch Republicans. If the entire military except for the two guys the Pentagon put in front of the press wants Rumsfeld out, why on earth wouldn't you listen?

10. The CIA Shakeup

Was Porter Goss fired because he was resisting the efforts of Rumsfeld or Negroponte? No. These appointments all come from the same guys, and they wouldn't be nominated if they weren't on board all the way. Goss was probably canned so abruptly due to a scandal involving a crooked defense contractor, his hand-picked third-in-command, the Watergate hotel and some hookers.

If Bush's nominee for CIA chief, Air Force General Michael Hayden, is confirmed, that will put every spy program in Washington under military control. Hayden, who oversaw the NSA warrantless wiretapping program and is clearly down with the program. That program? To weaken and dismantle or at least neuter the CIA. Despite its best efforts to blame the CIA for "intelligence errors" leading to the Iraq war, the picture has clearly emerged -- through extensive CIA leaks -- that the White House's analysis of Saddam's destructive capacity was not shared by the Agency. This has proved to be a real pain in the ass for Bush and the gang.

Who'd have thought that career spooks would have moral qualms about deceiving the American people? And what is a president to do about it? Simple: make the critical agents leave, and fill their slots with Bush/Cheney loyalists. Then again, why not simply replace the entire organization? That is essentially what both Rumsfeld at the DoD and newly minted Director of National Intelligence John are doing -- they want to move intelligence analysis into the hands of people that they can control, so the next time they lie about an "imminent threat" nobody's going to tell. And the press is applauding the move as a "necessary reform."

Remember the good old days, when the CIA were the bad guys?




Not that George W. Bush needs much encouragement, but Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a new target for the administration’s domestic operations -- Fifth Columnists, supposedly disloyal Americans who sympathize and collaborate with the enemy.

“The administration has not only the right, but the duty, in my opinion, to pursue Fifth Column movements,” Graham, R-S.C., told Gonzales during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Feb. 6.

“I stand by this President’s ability, inherent to being Commander in Chief, to find out about Fifth Column movements, and I don’t think you need a warrant to do that,” Graham added, volunteering to work with the administration to draft guidelines for how best to neutralize this alleged threat.

“Senator,” a smiling Gonzales responded, “the President already said we’d be happy to listen to your ideas.”

In less paranoid times, Graham’s comments might be viewed by many Americans as a Republican trying to have it both ways – ingratiating himself to an administration of his own party while seeking some credit from Washington centrists for suggesting Congress should have at least a tiny say in how Bush runs the War on Terror.

But recent developments suggest that the Bush administration may already be contemplating what to do with Americans who are deemed insufficiently loyal or who disseminate information that may be considered helpful to the enemy.

Top U.S. officials have cited the need to challenge news that undercuts Bush’s actions as a key front in defeating the terrorists, who are aided by “news informers” in the words of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. [For details, see “Upside-Down Media” or below.]

Detention Centers

Plus, there was that curious development in January when the Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root a $385 million contract to construct detention centers somewhere in the United States, to deal with “an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs,” KBR said. [Market Watch, Jan. 26, 2006]

Later, the New York Times reported that “KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space.” [Feb. 4, 2006]

Like most news stories on the KBR contract, the Times focused on concerns about Halliburton’s reputation for bilking U.S. taxpayers by overcharging for sub-par services.

“It’s hard to believe that the administration has decided to entrust Halliburton with even more taxpayer dollars,” remarked Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California.

Less attention centered on the phrase “rapid development of new programs” and what kind of programs would require a major expansion of detention centers, each capable of holding 5,000 people. Jamie Zuieback, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, declined to elaborate on what these “new programs” might be.

Only a few independent journalists, such as Peter Dale Scott and Maureen Farrell, have pursued what the Bush administration might actually be thinking.

Scott speculated that the “detention centers could be used to detain American citizens if the Bush administration were to declare martial law.” He recalled that during the Reagan administration, National Security Council aide Oliver North organized Rex-84 “readiness exercise,” which contemplated the Federal Emergency Management Agency rounding up and detaining 400,000 “refugees,” in the event of “uncontrolled population movements” over the Mexican border into the United States.

Farrell pointed out that because “another terror attack is all but certain, it seems far more likely that the centers would be used for post-911-type detentions of immigrants rather than a sudden deluge” of immigrants flooding across the border.

Vietnam-era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said, “Almost certainly this is preparation for a roundup after the next 9/11 for Mid-Easterners, Muslims and possibly dissenters. They’ve already done this on a smaller scale, with the ‘special registration’ detentions of immigrant men from Muslim countries, and with Guantanamo.”

Labor Camps

There also was another little-noticed item posted at the U.S. Army Web site, about the Pentagon’s Civilian Inmate Labor Program. This program &ldquorovides Army policy and guidance for establishing civilian inmate labor programs and civilian prison camps on Army installations.”

The Army document, first drafted in 1997, underwent a “rapid action revision” on Jan. 14, 2005. The revision provides a “template for developing agreements” between the Army and corrections facilities for the use of civilian inmate labor on Army installations.

On its face, the Army’s labor program refers to inmates housed in federal, state and local jails. The Army also cites various federal laws that govern the use of civilian labor and provide for the establishment of prison camps in the United States, including a federal statute that authorizes the Attorney General to “establish, equip, and maintain camps upon sites selected by him” and “make available … the services of United States prisoners” to various government departments, including the Department of Defense.

Though the timing of the document’s posting – within the past few weeks –may just be a coincidence, the reference to a “rapid action revision” and the KBR contract’s contemplation of “rapid development of new programs” have raised eyebrows about why this sudden need for urgency.

These developments also are drawing more attention now because of earlier Bush administration policies to involve the Pentagon in “counter-terrorism” operations inside the United States.

Pentagon Surveillance

Despite the Posse Comitatus Act’s prohibitions against U.S. military personnel engaging in domestic law enforcement, the Pentagon has expanded its operations beyond previous boundaries, such as its role in domestic surveillance activities.

The Washington Post has reported that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the Defense Department has been creating new agencies that gather and analyze intelligence within the United States. [Washington Post, Nov. 27, 2005]

The White House also is moving to expand the power of the Pentagon’s Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), created three years ago to consolidate counterintelligence operations. The White House proposal would transform CIFA into an office that has authority to investigate crimes such as treason, terrorist sabotage or economic espionage.

The Pentagon also has pushed legislation in Congress that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information about U.S. citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies. But some in the Pentagon don’t seem to think that new laws are even necessary.

In a 2001 Defense Department memo that surfaced in January 2006, the U.S. Army’s top intelligence officer wrote, “Contrary to popular belief, there is no absolute ban on [military] intelligence components collecting U.S. person information.”

Drawing a distinction between “collecting” information and “receiving” information on U.S. citizens, the memo argued that “MI [military intelligence] may receive information from anyone, anytime.” [See, Jan. 31, 2006]

This receipt of information presumably would include data from the National Security Agency, which has been engaging in surveillance of U.S. citizens without court-approved warrants in apparent violation of the Foreign Intelligence Security Act. Bush approved the program of warrantless wiretaps shortly after 9/11.

There also may be an even more extensive surveillance program. Former NSA employee Russell D. Tice told a congressional committee on Feb. 14 that such a top-secret surveillance program existed, but he said he couldn’t discuss the details without breaking classification laws.

Tice added that the “special access” surveillance program may be violating the constitutional rights of millions of Americans. [UPI, Feb. 14, 2006]

With this expanded surveillance, the government’s list of terrorist suspects is rapidly swelling.

The Washington Post reported on Feb. 15 that the National Counterterrorism Center’s central repository now holds the names of 325,000 terrorist suspects, a four-fold increase since the fall of 2003.

Asked whether the names in the repository were collected through the NSA’s domestic surveillance program, an NCTC official told the Post, “Our database includes names of known and suspected international terrorists provided by all intelligence community organizations, including NSA.”

Homeland Defense

As the administration scoops up more and more names, members of Congress also have questioned the elasticity of Bush’s definitions for words like terrorist “affiliates,” used to justify wiretapping Americans allegedly in contact with such people or entities.

During the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the wiretap program, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, complained that the House and Senate Intelligence Committees “have not been briefed on the scope and nature of the program.”

Feinstein added that, therefore, the committees “have not been able to explore what is a link or an affiliate to al-Qaeda or what minimization procedures (for purging the names of innocent people) are in place.”

The combination of the Bush administration’s expansive reading of its own power and its insistence on extraordinary secrecy has raised the alarm of civil libertarians when contemplating how far the Pentagon might go in involving itself in domestic matters.

A Defense Department document, entitled the “Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support,” has set out a military strategy against terrorism that envisions an “active, layered defense” both inside and outside U.S. territory. In the document, the Pentagon pledges to “transform U.S. military forces to execute homeland defense missions in the … U.S. homeland.”

The Pentagon strategy paper calls for increased military reconnaissance and surveillance to “defeat potential challengers before they threaten the United States.” The plan “maximizes threat awareness and seizes the initiative from those who would harm us.”

But there are concerns over how the Pentagon judges “threats” and who falls under the category “those who would harm us.” A Pentagon official said the Counterintelligence Field Activity’s TALON program has amassed files on antiwar protesters.

In December 2005, NBC News revealed the existence of a secret 400-page Pentagon document listing 1,500 “suspicious incidents” over a 10-month period, including dozens of small antiwar demonstrations that were classified as a “threat.”

The Defense Department also might be moving toward legitimizing the use of propaganda domestically, as part of its overall war strategy.

A secret Pentagon “Information Operations Roadmap,” approved by Rumsfeld in October 2003, calls for “full spectrum” information operations and notes that “information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP, increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience and vice-versa.”

“PSYOPS messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public,” the document states. The Pentagon argues, however, that “the distinction between foreign and domestic audiences becomes more a question of USG [U.S. government] intent rather than information dissemination practices.”

It calls for “boundaries” between information operations abroad and the news media at home, but does not outline any corresponding limits on PSYOP campaigns.

Similar to the distinction the Pentagon draws between “collecting” and “receiving” intelligence on U.S. citizens, the Information Operations Roadmap argues that as long as the American public is not intentionally “targeted,” any PSYOP propaganda consumed by the American public is acceptable.

The Pentagon plan also includes a strategy for taking over the Internet and controlling the flow of information, viewing the Web as a potential military adversary. The “roadmap” speaks of “fighting the net,” and implies that the Internet is the equivalent of “an enemy weapons system.”

In a speech on Feb. 17 to the Council on Foreign Relations, Rumsfeld elaborated on the administration’s perception that the battle over information would be a crucial front in the War on Terror, or as Rumsfeld calls it, the Long War.

“Let there be no doubt, the longer it takes to put a strategic communication framework into place, the more we can be certain that the vacuum will be filled by the enemy and by news informers that most assuredly will not paint an accurate picture of what is actually taking place,” Rumsfeld said.

The Department of Homeland Security also has demonstrated a tendency to deploy military operatives to deal with domestic crises.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the department dispatched “heavily armed paramilitary mercenaries from the Blackwater private security firm, infamous for their work in Iraq, (and had them) openly patrolling the streets of New Orleans,” reported journalists Jeremy Scahill and Daniela Crespo on Sept. 10, 2005.

Noting the reputation of the Blackwater mercenaries as “some of the most feared professional killers in the world,” Scahill and Crespo said Blackwater’s presence in New Orleans “raises alarming questions about why the government would allow men trained to kill with impunity in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to operate here.”

U.S. Battlefield

In the view of some civil libertarians, a form of martial law already exists in the United States and has been in place since shortly after the 9/11 attacks when Bush issued Military Order No. 1 which empowered him to detain any non-citizen as an international terrorist or enemy combatant.

“The President decided that he was no longer running the country as a civilian President,” wrote civil rights attorney Michael Ratner in the book Guantanamo: What the World Should Know. “He issued a military order giving himself the power to run the country as a general.”

For any American citizen suspected of collaborating with terrorists, Bush also revealed what’s in store. In May 2002, the FBI arrested U.S. citizen Jose Padilla in Chicago on suspicion that he might be an al-Qaeda operative planning an attack.

Rather than bring criminal charges, Bush designated Padilla an “enemy combatant” and had him imprisoned indefinitely without benefit of due process. After three years, the administration finally brought charges against Padilla, in order to avoid a Supreme Court showdown the White House might have lost.

But since the Court was not able to rule on the Padilla case, the administration’s arguments have not been formally repudiated. Indeed, despite filing charges against Padilla, the White House still asserts the right to detain U.S. citizens without charges as enemy combatants.

This claimed authority is based on the assertion that the United States is at war and the American homeland is part of the battlefield.

“In the war against terrorists of global reach, as the Nation learned all too well on Sept. 11, 2001, the territory of the United States is part of the battlefield,” Bush's lawyers argued in briefs to the federal courts. [Washington Post, July 19, 2005]

Given Bush’s now open assertions that he is using his &ldquolenary” – or unlimited – powers as Commander in Chief for the duration of the indefinite War on Terror, Americans can no longer trust that their constitutional rights protect them from government actions.

As former Vice President Al Gore asked after recounting a litany of sweeping powers that Bush has asserted to fight the War on Terror, “Can it be true that any President really has such powers under our Constitution? If the answer is ‘yes,’ then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited?”

In such extraordinary circumstances, the American people might legitimately ask exactly what the Bush administration means by the “rapid development of new programs,” which might require the construction of a new network of detention camps.

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Posted: Jun 1, 2006 1:39am
Mar 16, 2006

Here's Norman Soloman's Version of the Scenario.  After all, what's a war, if you can't go back over the HISTORY of how it got started, who supported it, and who endorsed it wholeheartedly:

War-Loving Pundits
by Norman Solomon
The third anniversary of the Iraq invasion is bound to attract a lot of media coverage, but scant recognition will go to the pundits who helped to make it all possible.

Continuing with long service to the Bush administration's agenda-setting for war, prominent media commentators were very busy in the weeks before the invasion. At the Washington Post, the op-ed page's fervor hit a new peak on Feb. 6, 2003, the day after Colin Powell's mendacious speech to the U.N. Security Council.

columnist Richard Cohen explained that Powell was utterly convincing. "The evidence he presented to the United Nations – some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail – had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn't accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them," Cohen wrote. "Only a fool – or possibly a Frenchman – could conclude otherwise."

Meanwhile, another one of the Post's syndicated savants, Jim Hoagland, led with this declaration: "Colin Powell did more than present the world with a convincing and detailed X-ray of Iraq's secret weapons and terrorism programs yesterday. He also exposed the enduring bad faith of several key members of the U.N. Security Council when it comes to Iraq and its 'web of lies,' in Powell's phrase." Hoagland's closing words banished doubt: "To continue to say that the Bush administration has not made its case, you must now believe that Colin Powell lied in the most serious statement he will ever make, or was taken in by manufactured evidence. I don't believe that. Today, neither should you."

Impatience grew among pundits who depicted the U.N.'s inspection process as a charade because Saddam Hussein's regime obviously possessed weapons of mass destruction. In an essay appearing on Feb. 13, 2003, Christopher Hitchens wrote: "Those who are calling for more time in this process should be aware that they are calling for more time for Saddam's people to complete their humiliation and subversion of the inspectors."

A few weeks later, on March 17, President Bush prefaced the imminent invasion by claiming in a televised speech: "Should Saddam Hussein choose confrontation, the American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war, and every measure will be taken to win it."

In the same speech, noting that "many Iraqis can hear me tonight in a translated radio broadcast," Bush offered reassurance. "I have a message for them: If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you."

The next day, Hitchens came out with an essay featuring similar assurances, telling readers that "the Defense Department has evolved highly selective and accurate munitions that can sharply reduce the need to take or receive casualties. The predictions of widespread mayhem turned out to be false last time – when the weapons [in the Gulf War] were nothing like so accurate." And, he added, "it can now be proposed as a practical matter that one is able to fight against a regime and not a people or a nation."

With the full-scale attack underway, the practicalities were evident from network TV studios. "The American public knows the importance of this war," Fox News pundit and Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes proclaimed a few days after the invasion began. "They are not as casualty sensitive as the weenies in the American press are."

And what about the punditry after the ballyhooed "victory" in Iraq? Researchers at the media watch group FAIR (where I'm an associate) have exhumed statements made by prominent media cheerleaders who were flush with triumph. Often showing elation as Baghdad fell, U.S. journalists lavished praise on the invasion and sometimes aimed derisive salvos at American opponents of the military action.

One of the most gleeful commentators on network television was MSNBC's "Hardball" host Chris Matthews. "We're all neocons now," he crowed on April 9, 2003, hours after a Saddam Hussein statue tumbled in Baghdad.

Weeks later, Matthews was still at it, making categorical declarations: "We're proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical, who's not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who's president. Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It's simple."

Simplistic was more like it. And, in the rush of stateside enthusiasm for war on Iraq, centrist pundits like Matthews – apt to sway with the prevailing wind – were hardly inclined to buck the jingoistic storm.

Pseudo-patriotic hot air remained at gale force on Fox News Channel, still blowing strong. "Tommy Franks and the coalition forces have demonstrated the old axiom that boldness on the battlefield produces swift and relatively bloodless victory," Tony Snow told viewers in late April. "The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics' complaints."

What passes for liberalism on Fox also cheered and gloated. Sean Hannity's weak debating partner, Alan Colmes, threw down a baiting challenge on April 25. "Now that the war in Iraq is all but over," Colmes demanded, "should the people in Hollywood who opposed the president admit they were wrong?"

Part of this article has been adapted from Norman Solomon's latest book,
War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. For information, go to:



CLICK HERE - Free video online – a speech by Norman Solomon about war and media


Let's all stand up now and salute the pundits who haunt the hallways of the tomb of Josef Goebels


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Posted: Mar 16, 2006 11:29pm
Dec 3, 2005

News :: Civil & Human Rights : Crime : Peace : Undercover Cop Database
APD Infiltrates Local Anti-War Groups Current rating: 0
19 Feb 2004
Modified: 10:38:32 PM
APD infiltrator Robbie Volk A year ago, as the Bush Administration prepared to launch a pre-emptive war on Iraq, activists all over the nation mobilized in protest. In Texas, Austin was a focal point for demonstrations and civil disobedience. Now, official documents obtained by the Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union reveal that the Austin Police Department launched its own pre-emptive action against peaceful protesters: infiltrating local anti-war groups and allegedly using the information to target suspected leaders for arrest for minor

Incidents of police infilration of non-violent protests groups have been exposed in several cities across the country. The Austin City Council, in its Anti-Patriot Act resolution, clearly states:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Austin Police Department shall continue their policy of not conducting surveillance of individuals or groups of individuals based on their participation in activities protected by the First Amendment… without reasonable and particularized suspicion of criminal conduct unrelated to activity protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
A year ago, as the Bush Administration prepared to launch a pre-emptive war on Iraq, activists all over the nation mobilized in protest. In Texas, Austin was a focal point for demonstrations and civil disobedience. Now, official documents obtained by the Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union reveal that the Austin Police Department launched its own pre-emptive action against peaceful protesters: infiltrating local anti-war groups and allegedly using the information to target suspected leaders for arrest for minor

On March 15, 2003, at a rally at the Texas Capitol, American Friends Service Committee organizer Missy Bolbecker announced a week of non-violent direct actions to start March 17. The anti-war activities would culminate in mass
civil disobedience on March 24. Her call echoed a national appeal issued by a newly formed anti-war coalition; and Bolbecker herself served as Austin’s designated coordinator for Iraq Pledge of Resistance, one of the participating groups. She also helped to organize direct action trainings and meetings with local activists to plan actions in response to the national call. (In the interest of disclosure, I was outraged by the war and participated in the civil
disobedience as well.)

The “Unholy Trinity Tour” emerged from these meetings. The tour consisted of a march around Austin on March 24, targeting the Federal Building and two businesses accused by protesters of facilitating the United States’ assault on Iraq. The businesses were Fox 7 News, selected for biased pro-war reporting, and Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), picked for its recent merger with military contractor DynCorp. During the tour, seven demonstrators were arrested in front of Fox affiliate KTBC-TV, some for chaining themselves to street signs
and effectively blocking the exit to the building’s parking garage. Another 33 people were later arrested for impeding traffic in front of CSC. Earlier in the week, police equipped in riot gear arrested 50 people on the Congress Avenue bridge. One officer employed pepper spray to forcibly disband the crowd.
Many protesters suspected at the time that they were the focus of an intense surveillance campaign by the Austin PD. The extent of that campaign is detailed in two memos written by police officials in the Organized Crime Division of the APD. According to a memo from Sgt. Troy Long to APD Chief Stanley Knee, four detectives were “requested to participate in training sessions and actual protests in an undercover capacity.” In the memo, dated June 3, 2003, Sgt. Long trumpeted their successes, declaring, “Detectives were able to befriend the
organizers and leaders of the anti-war protests. The Detectives became privy to information regarding future protests and planned mass civil disobedience.”

The memo seems to contradict an Austin City Council resolution passed three months later on September 25, 2003. The resolution pertained to police infiltration and the USA PATRIOT Act, and stated:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Austin Police Department shall continue their policy of not conducting surveillance of individuals or groups of individuals based on their participation in activities protected by the First Amendment… without reasonable and particularized suspicion of criminal conduct unrelated to activity protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

As allegations of police surveillance escalated after the resolution’s passage, City Council Member Daryl Slusher met to discuss the issue with APD Assistant Chief Rick Coy on January 26, 2004. Coy wrote Slusher a memo two weeks after their meeting to explain why the chief may have mistakenly given the council a misleading sense of the scope of police surveillance of activist groups. “He [Knee] feels badly that his communication was not clear enough to explain all of our undercover activities, leaving you with the impression that no officers had been involved in other areas away from the actual protest site.”

The memo also maintained that while “undercover officers do, in fact, mix with protesters in the public domain,” APD does not keep files on protesters. It additionally mentioned that a city attorney was consulted prior to the officers’ infiltration.

However, the memo from Coy (Knee’s Chief of Staff) and the memo from Sgt. Long (addressed to Knee) seem to contradict each other regarding the number of times undercover officers attended activist training sessions. Coy implies that APD only infiltrated a single “protestor training meeting” in his memo. But Long reported to the chief, “Detectives attended protest training sessions, planning sessions and protests.”

Police activity was not limited to just infiltration and intelligence gathering.
Long also wrote, “Detectives further assisted in the assignment and deployment of Crowd Management Team (CMT) personnel by providing video footage of the organizers/leaders of the protests.” The Observer contacted CMT Commander Robert Dahlstrom for comment. Dahlstrom admitted that police frequently film protests. “We always do that, it’s not a secret,” he said.

The second memo acquired by the ACLU was dated March 25, 2003 and entitled “War Protest Intelligence.” In it Detective Derry Minor detailed four-pages-worth of intelligence gathered while undercover at a direct action training session at the downtown Austin AFL-CIO building two days earlier. In the memo, Minor wrote he “positively identified two local leaders/organizers from Austin,” and one of them was “Melissa” Bolbecker.

On March 24, 2003 (the day after Minor’s infiltration) at the Unholy Trinity Tour’s stop in front of CSC, activists claim that Bolbecker was targeted from a crowd of hundreds and arrested. Police had ordered protesters off the street in front of CSC’s offices and onto a sidewalk on either side of the street. Most protesters complied, Bolbecker included, several witnesses say.

The sidewalk across the street from CSC’s offices backs onto a slope, which drops off sharply to the hike-and-bike trail beside Town Lake. In order to traverse the congested sidewalk, some people briefly stepped off the curb to pass others, said Doug Foxvog, a member of the activist group Austin Against War. “Missy stepped off the curb to do this very thing and was grabbed. It was definitely a case of selective arrest,” he said.

According to Missy Bolbecker, who reports that only the police call her Melissa, “I’m not even sure both feet were on the ground before I was snatched by a riot cop, who twisted my arm behind my back and began forcing me toward the paddy wagon.”

Bolbecker initially received the same charge as other activists—“Obstruction of a Highway Passageway” (a Class B misdemeanor)—who had engaged in civil disobedience in the center of Cesar Chavez Street, some by staging a symbolic die-in while others sat with interlocked arms, refusing to move. (In the end, Bolbecker was charged with failure to obey a lawful order.)

Joshua Elliott, a recent UT physics graduate, was arrested later that day, ironically, on a march to APD’s central booking station. In a sworn affidavit taken by defense counsel for one of the criminal cases against the activists, Elliott testified that while being transported to booking he asked an officer with whom he had a friendly relationship from previous encounters why Bolbecker had been arrested. “He had not been involved in her arrest but immediately knew who I was talking about and he then told me that she had been labeled a facilitator of the event and he told me that you don’t want to be labeled as a facilitator because that will get you arrested,” Elliott testified. Eric Laulus, who attended the protests that day, reported seeing a man wearing a suit jacket carrying a clipboard containing sheets with photos of individuals.

“I saw them because the wind picked up and a few fell to the ground,” Laulus said. “I saw pictures of people with text to the right of the pictures. A few minutes later, I saw the man speaking with police officers, pointing at his

Dahlstrom declined to comment directly when asked whether Missy Bolbecker was selectively arrested by CMT, but did recall that one individual was arrested after being warned multiple times to stop stepping off of the sidewalk. He could not remember if that person was Bolbecker. “I wouldn’t even know who she was had I not seen her picture in the paper,” Dahlstrom said.

Four days before the Unholy Trinity Tour, on March 20, 2003, anti-war protesters
Brandon Darby and Ron Deutsch attended an impromptu rally on Guadalupe and 24th
Streets. There 15 activists (including this author) had secured their arms together in giant “lock boxes” in order to occupy the intersection in protest.

Darby says he entered Einstein Bros. Bagels to buy coffee for the locked-down protesters when he noticed an awkward looking group of men. “They were all reading the front page of different newspapers, not talking to each other, some with ear pieces,” recounted Darby.

In attempting to confirm his suspicions that they were undercover police, Darby said he talked with them briefly and then jogged down the street to catch up with the protesters, who were then marching toward Congress Avenue. Darby said that after noticing that the men from the bagel shop were following him he ran inside a gas station to purchase a disposable camera for evidence in the complaint he planned to file with APD.

Deutsch, a journalist who has written for the Austin Chronicle and Austin American-Statesman, told the Chronicle that he was tackled and arrested upon trying to photograph the suspected undercover officers. After pleading for the men to show their badges, Darby said he, Deutsch, and another man were thrown into the back of an unmarked van where one of the suspected undercover officers yelled at them, “You want to see my badge? Austin po-po, motherfucker!”

At central booking, Darby said he was accused of being under the influence of cocaine because his heart rate was measured at 122 beats per minute. Darby, an asthmatic, said he tried to explain to them that he was only scared. Later, Darby was asked by a police officer whether he was “part of a national underground organization of people that take photographs of undercover police so that people can assassinate them,” he said. Darby was given a citation for “pedestrian in a roadway” while Deutsch was charged with jaywalking.

In the second memo, Minor—who, according to a Google search, served as Dripping Springs’ Pinto League Baseball Commissioner for the 2002-2003 season—expressed concern over activists acquiring and publishing the names and pictures of undercover police officers. He wrote:
“Websites were mentioned for antiwar protesters. I have looked at these websites and observed that they are posting pictures of the officers at the protests on these websites. The tactics of antiwar protesters obtaining photographs and names of officers making arrests and posting them on the internet jeopardizes the safety and integrity of the organized crime Detectives who work in undercover capacities on a daily basis.”

The Austin Independent Media Center, was one of the few, if not only, websites that contained photos of undercover APD officers.

According to Tanya Ladha, a member of Austin Indy Media, the online database of undercover police was recently hacked into and erased. It was replaced by the message “Try, try again.” She says that the password necessary to hack into the site was only revealed once in an e-mail between two of the group’s members.

In Sgt. Long’s memo, he wrote of how difficult it was to “infiltrate a culture of society that is highly suspicious of new members.” Minor reported that “leaders closely scrutinized [his] presence.” Dahlstrom admitted that some officers blended in better than others. “One got along with everybody real well and another one had people yelling, ‘Cop! Cop!’” he said. Minor wrote in his memo, “I was questioned about my name and why I was there. After passing this test, I was allowed to stay for the training.”

But according to Scottie Buehler, a UT student and the other “leader/organizer” identified by name in Minor’s memo, the “test” Minor was forced to undergo may have been nothing more than the standard icebreaker for many local activist groups. At the beginning of the training session, all attendees were asked to state their name and whether they had an arrest record. Buehler acknowledges that it is possible that someone else grilled the detective privately but said she is unaware of that happening.

Although open record requests have already revealed APDs assignment of at least four detectives for infiltration purposes—Derry Minor #2010, James Green #2361, Robbie Volk #3278, and Tamara Joseph #2268—more information on the police’s clandestine activities may be on the way. The Austin People’s Law Collective, an activist group specializing in legal defense and education, claims that despite APD having more intelligence on Austin protesters and organizers, they refuse to release the information. According to a public statement by APLC, the collective’s objective is to help “people understand that their rights are being violated and that they have a medium for finding out what the state is up to (via open records requests) and holding them accountable for their actions.”

In December of 2003, APLC filed open records requests asking for any memos, correspondence, databases, videos, photographs, informant reports, or files related to APD’s documentation of Austin activists and activist groups. APD refused to fully comply. Consequently, APLC is currently awaiting judgment from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott as to whether APD is legally compelled to release the requested information. (The Department of Public Safety was more responsive to APLCs open record requests; DPS turned over a CD containing candid photographs of individual protesters at demonstrations and the times and locations of local protests.)

For the ACLU, the actions of the Austin police are another indication of how a post 9-11 backlash has imperiled the First Amendment. “The police secretly infiltrating meetings chill the First Amendment rights of protesters to freely associate,” believes Will Harrell, executive director of the Texas ACLU. “But when they use those meetings to identify leaders and actually target them, it becomes a McCarthyite nightmare. This is a textbook example of why the framers of our constitution provided for the freedom of association in a free society.”

Copyright by the author. All rights reserved.


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Posted: Dec 3, 2005 9:50am


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Eva Cox
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