With images of dictatorial crackdown filling the internet media machine, it’s an opportune time for the American citizenry to re-examine our own nation’s vast security apparatus. While reflecting on our country’s many dark connections to Mubarak and numerous other dictators, let us also reflect on how our nation internally copes with legal democratic challenges other than voting.
To quote Michael Schwartz
Focusing on even one arm of our sprawling security structure, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, leaves one chilled at the direction personal rights are going in this country. Under the guise of protecting “national security,” the 21st Century FBI finds itself engaged in often unethical, undemocratic and even Stalinist methods for “monitoring potential threats.”
Much like in the 1950′s the FBI continues to maintain troubling relationships with the most vitriolic and violent members of the political right wing. Reinvigorating the Red Scare in the 50′s, “Communism” became the excuse to prosecute peace and international solidarity activists of the Cold War Speculation Era. Now, in this strange new era of political fear mongering, “terrorism” is the specter-word tagged on activists the FBI wants to intimidate, harass or just flat out oppress.
As early as 2003, when anti-war activists in America were already seeing beyond the fabricated evidence and fear-based propaganda of the Global War on Terror, the FBI began heavily monitoring their activities–once again using “national security” as the excuse.
This is no great breach of decorum for a Federal Bureau of Investigation that spent the last decade erroneously and illegally spying on folks like Greenpeace, PETA and anti-war activists in general. In fact, with terrorism allowing for Neo-McCarthyism of the global variety, this past decade of unending wars has proven to be the perfect excuse for the FBI to engage in some of its most abusive practices since the J. Edgar Hoover era of anti-communism.
In his own era, FBI Director Hoover would flex the FBI’s paranoia muscle to not only spy on Civil Rights Activists such as Martin Luther King Jr and the Black Panthers, but also to use the sociopath Christian Right Wing, including Jerry Falwell, to spread propaganda connecting domestic activists with foreign Stalinism.
While the Bush Administration essentially served as a free pass for the most heinous domestic spying violations, the changeover to the Obama Administration has done little to stymie the American security machine’s inexorable need to pry into its citizens’ private lives (witness the $166 million funding boost to the FBI in a time of economic crisis).
For example, since April 2008 FBI spy “Karen Sullivan” spent her time infiltrating the Minnesotta activist community.
[on Jan. 12, 2011] Jess Sundin of the Twin Cites based Anti-War Committee (AWC) blasted police infiltration of the anti-war and international solidarity movement, stating, “We are here today to express outrage that our democratic rights have been violated by a government operation of spying, infiltration and disruption of our anti-war movement, which was carried out over the course of at least two and half years”
Just this past October 2010, the US Congress pushed for increased compliance with wire-tapping from major telecomm companies. This was only a month after the FBI had raided the homes of a half dozen peace activists in Minnesota and Chicago.
This past January when the internet community first began anonymously defending wikileaks against corporate giants like Amazon, PayPal and Bank of America, the FBI saw fit to do the corporations’ dirty work by immediately issuing 40 arrest warrants for suspected “hactivists” (or hacktivists). Increasingly paranoid of the web-world, the FBI has even asked Google and FaceBook to help them “wiretap” the population. Un-bothered by their ignorant constituencies, our “political representatives” are going along with this unchecked aggression on personal rights.
In fact, when they’re not raiding the wrong house, the FBI is shamelessly collaborating with a web merc group that is currently waging a bankster-sponsored campaign against Wikileaks and Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald. In an era where corporate sabotage of democratic activism is common, the FBI’s collaboration with neo-Pinkertons is troubling to say the least. So is the FBI’s addiction to misinformation and propaganda. Much like the FBI tried to smear the social change MLK brought with false claims of communist ties, they’ve continued this Stalinist tradition in their recent campaign to spread fears of hackers turning terrorist and somehow collapsing the Hoover Dam (and thus requiring a Mubarak-type “internet kill switch”). This sort of fear is really important when the FBI executes raids on college dormrooms on behalf of huge corporations.
The tactics and victims of spying may have changed a little, but the fear-based strategy and public discourse haven’t evolved much since the days of J. Edgar Hoover. Alas, our ability as Americans to draw meaningful lessons from history has cheated us again.
So we don’t press our representatives into ensuring the FBI investigates Goldman Sachs’ suspicious sale of a quarter billion dollars of BP stock days before anyone else knew of the oil spill.
The FBI, un-checked by the populace it is supposed to serve, does not investigate the US Chamber of Commerce’s undue influence over our democratic institutions, a slap in the face of democracy and good governance. This corrupting force funnels money from around the world to stifle democracy in America, and yet the Chamber, with its thousands of connections to the security apparatus, remains un-harassed by such trivialities as the rule of law.
In fact, proving all its fearmongering about Anonymous to be nothing but a service for their corporate allies, the FBI has made absolutely no effort to investigate the Chamber of Commerce’s use of blackhat hacker teams and web mercenaries to attack activists of all stripes. Even when the Chamber was investigating the spouses and children of activists they were looking to blackmail, nary a peep was heard from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Proving their fears about domestic terrorism to also be a fraud the FBI does not investigate the corporate and organizational connections between billionaire bankers/industrialists and the violent terrorists lurking in the American Right Wing.
Because the FBI is not interested.
As Americans, the FBI and all its agents are our employees. The fact that our employees seem to be responsive to some other “shot-caller” should trouble us about who really sets the priorities for our common governance structure and common wealth pool (tax base).
“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us” – FDR
In a “free land” where bank account size determines the power of your free speech, the government is often most responsive to the political, administrative, infrastructural and “criminal justice” needs of those who can and will hold them accountable (i.e. provide them with clear consequences for their responsiveness or lack thereof).
When the banksters, the billionaires and the industrial princes buy their politicians into office, they expect their politicians to prioritize their (the banksters/industrialists’) property, legal and criminal justice privileges.
As Americans we are faced with the awesome task of getting “our employees” (including the FBI) in hand, and checking their destructive attack on our rights as a democratic citizenry. We either become democracy or watch it auctioned off to the highest bidder.