Freedom in America is endangered.
Bipartisan complicity plans destroying it altogether.
America is on a fast track toward tyranny and ruin. Police state laws
Increasingly dissent is marginalized. It's not tolerated. Resistance
is called dangerous to national security.
Federal authorities target activists. So do militarized local police.
No holds barred tactics are employed.
In October 2010, the Center for Constitutional Rights said:
"The growing threat to the right to dissent has been demonstrated in
the U.S. government's efforts to silence speech, and criminalize and
target peaceful movements."
"These efforts are becoming more aggressive, emboldened further by the
Supreme Court's increasingly conservative decisions, for instance regarding
material support in the form of humanitarian aid to so-called terrorist
Howard Zinn called dissent "the highest form of patriotism." Michael
Ratner and Margaret Ratner Kunstler's book "Hell No: Your Right to Dissent
in Twenty First Century America" discusses what everyone needs to know.
It explores how activism and dissent are targeted. Demonstrations are
attacked and disrupted. Protesters are called terrorists. They're arrested
and jailed for expressing constitutionally guaranteed First Amendment
and other rights.
Authorities claim they give "material support" to perceived enemies.
"Hell No" provides advice on dealing with a menu of police state practices.
American's First Amendment guarantees free expression, a free press,
the right to peacefully assemble, free exercise of religion, and right
to petition government for redress of grievances.
Without these rights, all others are at risk. They've been fast eroding
in America for years en route to eliminating them altogether. Forgotten
are numerous Supreme Court decisions upholding free expression and assembly
In Edwards v. South Carolina (1963), the Court ruled against state authorities
for prohibiting protesters from marching for civil rights.
In Cox v. Louisiana (1965), the Court held that state government cannot
employ "breach of the peace" statutes against protesters engaging in
peaceful demonstrations by claiming they may incite violence.
In Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), the Court ruled government can't punish
inflammatory speech unless it's "directed" to incite lawless action.
In Texas v. Johnson (1989), Justice William Brennan wrote the majority
<blockquote>"(I)f there is a bedrock principle underlying the
First Amendment, it is that government may not prohibit the expression
of an idea simply because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable."</blockquote>
In Wooley v. Maynard (1977), the Court upheld "the right of individuals
to hold a point of view different from the majority" with respect to
"idea(s) they find morally objectionable."
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
<blockquote>"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and
expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference
and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media
and regardless of frontiers."
Article 20(1) states:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association."
Article 29(2) states:
"In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject
only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose
of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms
of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order
and the general welfare in a democratic society."</blockquote>
Post-9/11, dissent has been increasingly marginalized.
In October 2008, so-called (Attorney General Michael) Mukasey/(FBI Director
Robert) Mueller Guidelines gave federal authorities "flexibility (to)
protect the Nation from terrorist threats."
Consolidated new rules include criminal and national security issues.
Surveillance restrictions were eased. Domestic spying became institutionalized.
Constitutional rights are ignored.
"War on terror" authority escalated FBI abuses. Intrusive surveillance
tools used against alleged spies now target ordinary Americans. Mukasey/Mueller
Guidelines underwent four separate changes. Each one increased FBI surveillance
Tactics include intrusive spying, commercial database data retrieval,
paid informants infiltrating groups or targeting individuals on false
pretenses, and letting covert unidentified agents conduct "pretext"
interviews for information.
Mukasey/Mueller Guidelines left ordinary Americans increasingly vulnerable
to abuse. Anyone may be investigated for any reason or none at all.
Authorization permits surveillance and infiltration of anti-war and
other social justice groups. Occupy Wall Street (OWS) activists are
targeted. Any organization or individual is vulnerable. Anything goes
is now policy. Obama is more repressive than Bush.
Data mining collects vast amounts of information on ordinary Americans.
How it's used, who knows. Against targeted individuals and groups, it's
Everything is fair game. Personal records of all kinds are obtained.
Activities are closely monitored. So-called "suspicious activity reports"
allege possible criminal activity.
The USA Patriot Act authorized so-called National Security Letters (NSLs).
They expanded the FBI's authority to obtain personal customer records
from ISPs, financial institutions, credit companies, and other sources
without prior court approval.
Innocent people are targeted. Virtually anything in public or private
records can be gotten. "Gag" orders prevent targeted individuals or
groups from revealing the information demanded. NSL use continues increasing
Lawful rights are violated in numerous ways. Classic police state tactics
are used. No one's safe when authorities act this way. Freedom is perilously
close to vanishing. Mueller has virtual carte blanche authority.
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protesters have been targeted and criminalized.
Constitutional rights are violated. Beatings and other forms of excessive
force are used. Nonviolent protests are called terrorism.
Patriot Act provisions criminalized dissent. Innocent people are arrested,
indicted and imprisoned. "Terrorist profiles" let FBI and local police
investigate anyone for any reason. Obama and congressional allies sold
out constituents for Wall Street and other monied interests.
Obama escalated repressive Bush practices. The Oregorian newspaper reported
that heavily armed FBI units raided homes of OWS protesters in Seattle
and Olympia, WA and Portland, OR over the last month.
Actions have been ongoing since early July. Authorities claim violent
crimes are being investigated. Eyewitnesses report dozens of FBI agents
in body armor and military fatigues armed with assault rifles involved.
One witness said:
"I just heard lots of pounding at 6 o'clock, and I got up and I saw
the whole thing. I saw them screaming to get in. They were using the
battering ram, and then finally the door just opened."
FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele told the Oregonian"
"The warrants are sealed, and I anticipate they will remain sealed."
Authorities alleged searches were for "anti-government or anarchist
literature or materials," as well as "documentation and communications
related to the offenses, including but not limited to notes, diagrams,
letters, diary and journal entries, address books, and other documentation
in written or electronic form."</blockquote>
In fact, nonviolent activists were targeted, terrorized, and criminalized.
At issue is engaging in constitutionally protected protests. Militarized
FBI agents used stun grenades and battering rams. Victims were pulled
out of bed at gunpoint.
Personal possessions were seized. They included computers, suspect literature
and other materials in written or electronic form, cell phones, thumb
drives, and clothing with political slogans.
False charges remain sealed. Fundamental rights are criminalized. Post-9/11,
similar raids were conducted. At issue is political dissent as well
as America's ongoing war on Islam.
Disproportionate force is used. Victims were handcuffed while homes
were searched. Arrests weren't made, but about six protesters were subpoenaed
to appear before grand juries.
On August 1, Dennison Williams and Leah Plante read a statement outside
a Portland, OR courthouse, saying:
<blockquote>"This grand jury is a tool of political repression.
It is attempting to turn individuals against each other by coercing
those subpoenaed to testify against their communities."
"The secret nature of grand jury proceedings creates mistrust and can
undermine solidarity. And imprisoning us takes us from our loved ones
and our responsibilities."</blockquote>
Williams and Plante said they'll invoke the Fifth Amendment rights and
refuse to answer grand jury questions.
America's Grand Jury System
They're convened to determine possible probable cause to return
indictments. Critics say they rubber stamp aggressive prosecutions.
Federally, they have extraordinary investigative powers. Prosecutors
abuse them to manipulate proceedings for outcomes they wish. Victims
are vulnerable to bogus indictments. The Fifth Amendment requires grand
jury indictments for federal criminal charges.
Prosecutors have extraordinary discretion. They choose witnesses, grant
selective immunity, and do nearly all questioning.
Proceedings are conducted in secret. No one may disclose what goes on
unless ordered to do so judicially. Anyone may be subpoenaed. Answering
questions is mandated unless special privilege is granted. For example:
lawyer/client confidentiality or self-incrimination.
Lawyers can't intervene to help clients while testifying. Double jeopardy
doesn't apply to grand juries, but without indictments, prosecutors
need Criminal Division Attorney General permission to try again. Victims
have no protections against false witness testimonies perhaps gotten
for leniency on existing or threatened charges.
Prosecutors routinely want grand jury indictments. The system is rigged
to get them. Targeted victims are defenseless. Many innocent people
languish wrongfully in prison. Justice is routinely denied.
Numerous past incidents occurred. In September 2010, administration
ordered raids targeted Chicago and Minneapolis anti-war/pro-Palestinian
activists. Arrests weren't made, but homes were ransacked. Computers,
cell phones, books, photos, correspondence, papers, and other possessions
Twenty-three victims were subpoenaed to testify before grand juries.
Activists were again targeted during NATO's May invasion. False terror
plots were claimed. Activist homes were raided. Five victims faced terrorism-related
Numerous other arrests were made. Everyone charged is innocent. Police
brutality was reported. Most injuries were from baton head and body
blows. Over two dozen were hospitalized for broken bones, concussions,
knocked out teeth, and open wounds requiring stitches.
NATO arrives nowhere peacefully. Obama officials and local police wage
war on dissent. Legal restraints don't apply for anyone charged with
alleged terrorism or conspiracy to commit it. Abolition of constitutional
rights shows what everyone faces.
It's the wrong time to be activist in America. Doing so means possible
indictment, prosecution, and imprisonment for doing the right thing.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized
Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
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