Friday, May 21, 2010

I Am Not a Terrorist. Don’t Take My Citizenship From Me.

Earlier this month, Senators Scott Brown (R, MA) and Joseph Lieberman (ID, CT) proposed a new bill, the Terrorist Expatriation Act (“TEA”), which expands a 1940 law that gives the State Department the right to revoke the citizenship of anyone who has pledged allegiance to foreign armies or states.  The bill is broad and provides for an administrative process at the State Department that is completely subjective; it does not require the conviction of a crime against the United States government.  There is no due process to indict a suspect, or statutes which provide for the infractions suspects may be considered to have committed, or a jury trial to decide the guilt or innocence of a suspect, though those who are the victims of the Act do have the right to appeal – if they have the money to wage a legal battle from another country.  Giving material support to an organization that is simply suspected of having ties to, for example, Hamas – as the Middle East Children’s Alliance (“MECA”) was once accused of having but was determined after investigation not to actually have – qualifies an individual for citizenship revocation under the TEA.  “The bill is so broad that it would allow the government to strip citizenship from someone who never committed a hostile act against the United States,” said Stephen I. Vladeck, a professor of law at American University (“Brown wants citizenship revoked for terror ties,” Boston Globe, 5/7/10).

Explaining his decision to propose the bill Lieberman said at a press conference May 7th , “Our enemies today are even more willing than the Nazis or fascists were to kill innocent civilian Americans here in our homeland,” in fits of not just hypocrisy, but also, semantic apoplexy; the Nazis and 'fascists' never killed innocent civilian Americans here in our homeland.  The Nazis were responsible for the deaths of 50 million of the world’s citizens by way of the Second World War, including upwards of 11 million Eastern and Western Europeans they exterminated because they felt those people were “undesirable:”  trade unionists, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, gypsies and six million Jews, among others.  Two representatives, Jason Altmire (D, PA) and Charles Dent (R, PA), plan to submit similar legislation to the House, clearing the way for the Ways and Means Committee to figure out how to fund this fascist endeavor.

Rick Sawyer wrote a timely, cogent and brilliantly elucidated essay on how the Nazis managed to create their fascist state by passing similar laws, in the second of the “solutions” they devised to get rid of people inconvenient to their fascist state (as we know, the first solution was incentivized expatriation, and the final solution was the Holocaust).  He makes the point, yet again and eloquently, that each and every one of us is capable of innocently acting in a way the secret citizenship tribunal at the State Department may regard as anti-American – such as by sending charitable contributions to MECA – and may become in its eyes, thereby, deserving of citizenship revocation.

It’s a point I take to heart, and not merely because I’ve supported MECA in the past, back when I was allowed to work.  Like the American Friends Service Committee, because of their work to help the refugees from the U.S.-backed civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s, I am viewed by our government, because of my political activism, as extremist, and I have been since long before the invasion/occupation/colonization of Iraq, or 9/11.   Here’s what New York University professor and attorney Brian Glick said in 1989 about the U.S.’s propensity to label dissidents of its policies as terrorists in his groundbreaking pamphlet, War at Home:  Covert Action Against U.S. Activists and What We Can Do About It:  “Much of what the U.S. government has cited as international terrorism, such as the ‘Libyan hit squads’ of the early 1980s, turns out to be pure hoax.  What remains are largely liberation movements like the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa and the FMLN in El Salvador.”  (p. 66)  Glick discovered this truth and many horrifying others about our government’s repression of legitimate U.S. dissidents in volumes of declassified material he acquired through the now moribund and virtually useless FOIA process he used in his work defending members of the American Friends Service Committee, who had been subjected to COINTELPRO (an acronym for “Counter-Intelligence Programs”) in the 1980s despite the fact Congress told the American people in 1974 COINTELPRO had been discontinued.  Back in the 1970s, all of it was illegal, but as Glick notes on page 31, Ronald Reagan took the first steps to make permanent warfare against U.S. activists a key feature of U.S. government policy.  He writes, “Much of what was done outside the law under COINTELPRO has since been legalized by Executive Order No. 12333 (December 4, 1981) and new Attorney’s General ‘Guidelines on General Crimes, Racketeering Enterprise and Domestic Security/Terrorism Investigations’ (March 7, 1983).  For the first time in U.S. history, government infiltration ‘for the purpose of influencing the activity of’ domestic political organizations has received official sanction (E.O. 12333, §2.9).  This prerogative is now extended to the FBI and anyone acting on its behalf.  It provided a legal pretext for the Bureau’s attacks on CISPES and other opponents of U.S. policy in Central America.”  (emph. added)  All that happened 29 years ago, but you didn’t hear about it from Geraldo, or 60 Minutes, or Phil Donahue.  You’re not hearing about it today on Frontline, or Bill Moyer’s Journal (because he was a White House Aide earlier in this career), or Oprah.  There's a reason for that.

Here’s a sampling of the groups Glick found our government actively undermined with its military tactics:  AIM and the Native American Movement; the Black Movement, including those people who were feeding starving black children, the Black Panthers; the Chicano and Puerto Rican movements; the Women’s Liberation, Gay and Lesbian movements; the anti-war and New Left movements; the Labor movement. (pp. 22-28)  Its main targets were the Communist Party-USA; groups seeking independence for Puerto Rico; groups seeking aid for Mexicans and Mexican-Americans; the Socialist Workers’ Party and Malcolm X; the Black Nationalist “Hate” Groups, and in particular, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; the “New Left,” and in particular, Students for a Democratic Society.  The final group of organizations that our government routinely infiltrated which Glick lists on pages 10 through 13 cannot help but incense.  He writes, “‘White Hate Groups’ (1964-71):  This unique ‘program’ functioned largely as a component of the FBI’s operations against the progressive activists who were COINTELPRO’s main targets.  Under the cover of being even-handed and going after violent right-wing groups, the FBI actually gave covert aid to the Ku Klux Klan, Minutemen, Nazis, and other racist vigilantes.  These groups received substantial funds, information, and protection – and suffered only token FBI harassment – so long as they directed their violence against COINTELPRO targets.  They were not subject to serious disruption unless they breached this tacit understanding and attacked established business and political leaders.”  (pp. 12-13, emph. added)  Again, all of this information comes from FBI files.  Now you know why it took decades for people such as the suspects in, for example, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombings, Bobby Frank Cherry and Thomas Blanton, Jr., to receive judicial sanction for the murders of America’s black citizens, in this case, children.  Thirty-eight years had passed from the time of the 1963 murders, which was not even a whole year before the FBI began officially using White Supremacists against black American citizens, before Cherry and Blanton ever stood trial.  Justice delayed is justice denied, and America’s government wants justice to be denied to its black citizens its quislings murder on its behalf.  It is very reluctant to give up its many types of slaves, despite the pretty talk.  Racial slavery lasted nearly 80 years after the 13th Amendment was passed, don't forget -- in the form of Jim Crow.  It’s just that simple.  As anyone can see from reading this blog, COINTELPRO and other covert tactics are routinely used today to suppress American citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.  The only thing that has changed since the 1960s is the extent to which we are now all subject to repression in our military dictatorship.

With reproductions of falsified handwritten letters and documentation on false phone calls the FBI made in the name of activists, Glick demonstrates how our government managed to sow doubt and dissension among activists working together in these movements from the 1960s onward.  One tactic they used was to plant a rumor among activists and when the target they wished to put a “snitch jacket” on took it up, they exposed it as such, thereby ‘proving’ previously sowed speculation about the target’s doubtful allegiance as true.  This happened to me.  Rarely do I discuss my personal repression because so many websites tell in exquisite detail of the type of persecution ordinary Americans experience today at the hands of our government.  For the purposes of illustrating tried and true COINTELPRO tactics our government is using today on law-abiding citizens like me, I will briefly outline the one attack that secured my social isolation from my community members.  Now, please remember that, owing to my health, I’ve never been an active member/leader of any peace/justice organization.  I have no information on the membership of any group, it’s mission statement, its planned activities and strategies and no means to acquire such information.  The idea that I’m a snitch is ludicrous, but I’ve been treated unconscionably by local activists nevertheless, who either truly believe I am an FBI informant, or are themselves covert agents engaged in counter-intelligence.  On one occasion -- January 27, 2007 -- I was assaulted on the bus ride from a PEACE rally in Washington by such activists. 

On the occasion that ended my attempts at alliance with my local peace activist groups, I had attended a vigil on the Cambridge common that was organized by two women (of the same name) who attended a local church.  When I arrived the following week, the women were gone, never to be seen at the vigil again, and in their place was a cadre of alleged peace activists of unimpeachable (which is to say, deep cover) credentials:  the 70 year-old vegan former seminary woman; her impoverished “daughter” and “granddaughters;” an Irish ex-pat high school teacher; an Indonesian woman (and, on occasion, her so belligerent husband I became afraid for her safety), and, of course, the same familiar faces of leaders of local peace groups.  On one occasion, the afore-mentioned 70 year-old vegan began telling me about the counter-intelligence group she had joined that worked at Boston English High School once a week.  Now normally, this woman had very little to say – always very carefully measured statements whenever she did say anything, which I often appreciated since the initial intent of the gathering was to be a vigil, which are traditionally held in silence, but since the originators abandoned it to the cadre, it had become an at times obnoxious protest.  On this occasion – and when no other “activists” were present – she repeatedly brought up the fact the counter-recruitment group was having trouble attracting members because it was held in the middle of the week at the beginning of the day (7:00 AM).  I could feel the pressure to join it mounting inside me.  After her THIRD time mentioning this, feeling like a heel, I acquiesced and said I would love to join the group; at no time did she ever invite me to join, which is important to remember.  This PSYOP (an acronym for Psychological Operation) tactic, by the way, is called “forcing” and is used by, for example, magicians to subconsciously goad potential volunteers to assist them in their acts.

I began attending the vigil.  A few weeks into my counter-recruitment activities, a leader of a Boston peace/justice group that had been a rival to Boston ANSWER (which was also undermined from within through the work of agent provocateurs, who made the chapter seem pro-violence) planted the rumor that a Latina woman had come to them and complained that her child was told his gym class was over-subscribed and he would have to “take” ROTC instead to fulfill his gym requirement.  ROTC has been a feature in poor public schools that receive federal funding since the “No Child Left Behind Act.”  Since the group had already decided to write our representative about the over-bearing presence of ROTC in these schools, naturally, I wrote a letter that contained this, what I later realized was manufactured, rumor. When I shared the copy of my letter with the group, I received the harshest condemnation from the man said to be coordinating counter-recruitment efforts, from an email address at the AFSC – in the public arena of the listserve group.  I had never met the man because he had never been to any of the counter-recruitment activities that I had been to, and if I tell you who he and all these other people are, it would look like I am, in fact, a snitch – because there’s no way to prove their true allegiance, and by making my accusations, I only look like the one sowing dissent.  Diabolical.  The last time I saw the 70 year-old vegan former seminary woman was as I was walking by her last “protest” on Cambridge Common, wrapped in the once ubiquitous peace flag favored by Boston area activists.  I greeted her civilly, said I couldn’t chat, to which she replied she couldn’t either – right before she invited me to attend an event with her that evening, an invitation I knew was sincere since she was making it as she walked away from me, over her shoulder, sneering wickedly, apparently expecting me not to reply.  What did I learn from this experience?  The snitch jacket was intended to separate me from other activists and potential allies, and it worked, and after several peculiar encounters with the AFSC, I am now convinced its leadership has been thoroughly infiltrated by our government, thanks to Reagan's E.O. 12333, despite the sincerity of some of its ordinary members.  But the 70 year-old vegan former seminary student wasn't the only provocateur that attended this "vigil" by no means; I would say that after the two women who started it dropped out, every one of the dozen or so other individuals were provocateurs and it became a military operation.

And there have been plenty of other attacks.  I’ve been race-baited, gay-baited and immigrant-baited in sometimes extremely clever coordinated attacks and sometimes with simple psychological terrorism in which an acquaintance traps me into a ‘so-when-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife’ slander situation.  All I can say is, PSYOP, especially COINTELPRO, works.

As I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve learned that former political prisoner, Black Panther, jailhouse lawyer and Angola prison inmate, Robert King, who spent 28 years in solitary confinement at the most notorious prison in America, has finished his promotional tour in the UK for the documentary, In the Land of the Free, which tells his story and the stories of two other Angola inmates who were subjected to the same inhumane torture.  Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace, the other two members of “the Angola Three,” each spent 36 years in solitary confinement and are still imprisoned.  King has been added to Amnesty International’s watch list of “political prisoners/prisoners of conscience,” a distinction that may be the only thing that saves him from prosecution under TEA if he tries to promote his documentary in other countries; American citizens who agitate against the United States in a foreign country will be subject to immediate prosecution under TEA.  The Supreme Court’s ruling that the three men’s case against the State of Louisiana has merit may be of absolutely no benefit to him if the machinery of the state grasps him in its clutches once again.  The Pentagon never concedes in its wars of attrition.  King’s documentary premieres in New York June 16th at The Film Society of Lincoln Center, 6:30 PM.

Is there any hope, now, for our freedoms – for our rights, our dignity, our sovereignty?  Mine is dwindling fast.  As I’ve said many times before, the people who created this once ingenuous constitutional republic under which we’ve been deluded into thinking we still live – where every citizen’s rights are enshrined into law and considered sacrosanct – told us to do two things to keep those rights that ensured our freedoms:  first, be ever vigilant of our leaders, and second, throw them – all of them – out of office whenever they proved themselves unworthy of our trust.  Congress and then Vice President Al Gore did just that when they allowed Bush’s theft of the presidency in 2000, and when Congress voted to invade Iraq without cause.  For decades we’ve done neither, and now, we’re not merely at war with one another but unable to help ourselves in meaningful ways, though I’ve done my best to brainstorm some.  What should you do today?  Plague Senators Brown and Lieberman with faxes, emails, letters, voicemail denouncing their new Nuremberg law; get your church, family, online forum, chat buddies, facebook and myspace friends to do the same.  Organize protests in Washington and these Senators' offices and, most importantly, create or join campaigns to recall them from office now, or in the next mid-term election (guess when that will be).

I’ve also said, after having been shot at on Mass. Ave. in broad daylight; nearly run over on several occasions with every mode of transport one can think of; almost run off Interstate 95 in Connecticut by a semi with no license plate (oh, yes; it’s true); bioassaulted a number of times including with a pathogen that behaved just like anthrax; poisoned with food poisoning repeatedly where I’ve never had food poisoning before that, that I won’t be around much longer.  That never seemed more true than it is today.

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Alden Loveshade said...

Thanks for posting this. I must admit I was skeptical of your post--it was hard for me to believe. Then I looked up the news source and the actual bill. This is very frightening.

There is one thing that can bring opponents and even enemies together: fear. In this case, an Independent, Democrat and a couple Republicans are trying to push this bill through the Senate and House.

Fear is what caused Japanese Americans to be forcibly removed from their homes, forced to sell their businesses at cut-rate prices, and forced to live in concentration camps. (And before anyone says they were "interment camps" not "concentration camps," both terms were used then and both mean the same thing).

Fear is what has put over one million Americans on the don't fly list. And it's affected many others. A boy named Jack Anderson was repeatedly blocked from flying because there was a Jack Anderson on the list. The one listed was an adult and the boy was barely old enough to go to school, but he still got blocked several times.

Fear is what destroyed the careers of many upstanding American citizens during the Communist hunts of the 1950s. (Ironically, even though Lucille Ball actually admitted she had been a member of the Communist Party, she wasn't blacklisted because everyone loved Lucy).

Fear is what led to the deaths of many people claimed to be witches on the basis of a handful of screaming girls.

By this bill, a person who rapes and murders a young child can keep his citizenship. But one who mails a check to a “bad” organization can have it stripped away. I’m glad I’m not the only one who seems something wrong with this “logic.”

Saoirse, said...

Dailycensored really is appropriately named.

My (as-yet unpublished) comment follows:

ONE MORE TIME, let's try this again. Wait. We have not one, but TWO, soldiers sharing their thoughts about poverty here, and NEITHER one mentions anything about the low-intensity conflict being used by our military (the Joint Forces, which are stationed right here) against Americans that ILLEGALLY dissented against the Bush regime's invasion, occupation and colonization of Iraq (because dissent is now illegal)? That LIC includes COINTELPRO that slanders Americans out of the workforce and MK-Ultra that cell controls us targets until it institutionalizes us. Evidence of all of this - and so much more - is everywhere, in the government's own words, but you make it sound as though the poverty is somehow organic because of the alleged (but in no way actual) left-right political dichotomy. Fascists of both the Democratic and Republican parties (as well as every other one that has undermined shared, public government by advocating "free-market solutions" to problems that didn't exist) have given us the mess we are in, and those quislings on the front lines ought to have been the ones testifying to the fascist takeover of our country and rallying people to fight THEM, not perpetuating the myths those Fascists have spun to keep us fighting one another instead. The New York Times was exposed a long time ago as the propaganda machine that it is - doing the same misdirection work you are doing. That your bully pulpit is backed by the same people that back them (hence, your willing validation of them) as well as your censorship of my comments proves my point.