Archive for the ‘Opinion & Commentary’ Category

Just salute and follow orders’: When secrecy and surveillance trump the rule of law

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at 8:58 am by

Original commentary by John Whitehead, published March 31, 2014 on the Rutherford Institute blog.

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“The Secret Government is an interlocking network of official functionaries, spies, mercenaries, ex-generals, profiteers and superpatriots, who, for a variety of motives, operate outside the legitimate institutions of government. Presidents have turned to them when they can’t win the support of the Congress or the people, creating that unsupervised power so feared by the framers of our Constitution…”—Journalist Bill Moyers and White House press secretary under President Johnson (1988)

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Will Obama protect the CIA, as he has the NSA? (Part I)

Friday, April 4, 2014 at 3:26 pm by
(Credit: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(Credit: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Yesterday, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to seek the declassification of less than 10% of its 6,000 page report documenting CIA torture crimes vastly beyond those previously acknowledged. The vote could be the most significant accountability moment for our nation’s intelligence agencies in the last 40 years.

But don’t hold your breath. The decision over declassification now goes to the White House, where despite his rhetorical support for transparency, the President has repeatedly aligned himself with the intelligence agencies despite documented crimes and bipartisan congressional opposition.
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Glaring omissions and unasked questions in “The Unknown Known”

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 1:05 pm by

Original commentary by Sharon Adams

rumsmileErrol Morris’ documentary on former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, based on 33 hours of interviews with Donald Rumsfeld, is set to open in theaters on April 2. Morris has been on the interview circuit talking up the new flick, writing op-eds in the New York Times, and perpetuating the invisible wall of immunity around Rumsfeld and the others who violated human rights as part of the “war on terror” started by the Bush Administration.

Morris states that he wanted to know why the U.S. went to war in Iraq. He describes his motivation:

 “I had a desire to make a very specific kind of film. I call it history from the inside out. This was also true of McNamara, Fog of War. How do they see the world? The memos, the oral history is a way in. I didn’t interview 15, 20 people. I interviewed one person.”
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BORDC addresses CIA torture, FBI abuses, and congressional failure in the Guardian, Boston Globe, Huffington Post and Salon

Monday, March 24, 2014 at 9:11 am by

Boston-Glob-LogoOver the past several weeks, numerous major news media outlets have relied on BORDC for expertise and commentary on issues including NSA spying, CIA torture, and institutional corruption across the national security establishment.

In an article published on March 19 in the Huffington Post, BORDC executive director Shahid Buttar responded to recent revelations that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee in an effort suppress public knowledge of CIA human-rights violations documented in the Committee’s classified 6,000 page report detailing CIA torture crimes.

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Beyond CIA & NSA spying: Corruption

Monday, March 17, 2014 at 1:05 pm by

PRISM-Microsoft-supported-NSAEven before open war erupted last week between the CIA and Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), embattled NSA officials had woven tangled skeins to downplay public crimes including lying to Congress.

Many observers have noted the double-standard apparent in Feinstein challenging the CIA while deferring to the NSA. Few have recognized that both the NSA’s pattern of spying and then lying about it, and the CIA’s trajectory of first committing torture crimes, then spying on Congress to cover it up and then lying about the spying when caught, can be described in a single word: corruption.

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Dueling judicial rulings on NSA Spying, and why they don’t matter

Monday, December 30, 2013 at 11:01 am by

Two federal judges reached opposite conclusions in separate cases challenging NSA spying. One was thoughtful; the other reflected much of what is wrong with our courts. Ultimately, however, neither will matter. The NSA’s dragnet continues unabated, and only Congress is poised to stop it.

Dueling judicial rulings on NSA Spying

Two weeks ago, US District Judge Richard Leon rightly described the NSA’s domestic spying operations as an “indiscriminate and arbitrary invasion.” He ruled in favor of a preliminary injunction against the programs, and stayed his ruling pending appeals that could go on for years.

Last Friday, Judge William Pauley opined that the NSA’s program does not violate the Fourth Amendment, prompting outrage among observers who understand either the NSA’s programs, or the role of courts, better than Judge Pauley. His decision reflects a disturbing judicial deference to executive spin, and undermines not only constitutional rights, but also judicial independence.

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Beyond the NSA: other agencies spy on you, too

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 at 10:57 am by

This article was originally published by TruthOut.org on December 16, 2013. It is the first installment in a series, concluding with this post from December 26.

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The latest discoveries about NSA spying revealed that the agency has collected 27 terrabytes of information about cellphone locations to track its targets not only in cyberspace, but also real space. The Panopticon is real. It siphons billions of dollars each year from a federal budget in crisis. And it is watching you and your children.

Lost in the debate about – and even most public resistance to — NSA spying, however, have been the dozens of other federal agencies also complicit in Fourth Amendment abuses.

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Who’s to blame for battlefield America? Is it militarized police or the militarized culture?

Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 12:48 am by

Commentary provided by John Whitehead and originally published on the Rutherford Institute on November 11, 2013.

police-stateIt’s hard to pinpoint what exactly is responsible for the growing spate of police shootings, brutality and overreach that have come to dominate the news lately, whether it’s due to militarized police, the growing presence of military veterans in law enforcement, the fact that we are a society predisposed to warfare, indoctrinated through video games, reality TV shows, violent action movies and a series of endless wars that have, for younger generations, become life as they know it—or all of the above.

Whatever the reason, not a week goes by without more reports of hair-raising incidents by militarized police imbued with a take-no-prisoners attitude and a battlefield approach to the communities in which they serve.

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Drone gaze, drone injury: the war on communities of color

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:00 pm by

Commentary provided by Joe Scarry and originally published on Scarry Thoughts blog on November 21, 2013.

drone-pilotHere’s what I was thinking about as the 2013 CODEPINK Drones Summit concluded:

“There is a wing of this movement that is concerned about surveillance; there is a wing of this movement that’s concerned about physical injury to people. If there is one area where there is not always full communication, coordination or agreement, that’s it. . . . If the people who feel most concerned about surveillance are actually successful at sitting together with the people concerned about physical injury, this is going to be an incredibly powerful movement.”

(See Drone Free Zone: At the second annual Drone Summit, Code Pink and Cornel West argue that all lives are equal. in In These Times quoted me the day after)

“This movement,” of course, is the movement to stop drone surveillance and warfare. During the summit we need an enormous amount of progress in building the national (and soon-to-be global) network to stop drone surveillance and warfare. Are there really two different wings — two different struggles — or is it, in fact, a single struggle?

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Cops in fatigues, the war on terror and Federalism on the ropes

Monday, December 9, 2013 at 9:00 am by

copsfatiguesThe militarization of the police has its roots in the war on drugs, and has been accelerated rapidly by the present war on terror. The effects have not only been detrimental to the entire Bill of Rights but have also dealt yet another blow to states’ rights.

Federalism means balancing the powers of a central government with those of semi-autonomous states. Aside from slavery and fear of the ignoble masses, federalism was the topic that most visibly revealed irreconcilable differences between founding constitutional factions.

There has always been a dispute between those that prefer a strong central government and those who insist on equally strong states. The evolution of this debate has clearly favored notions of strong federal power in statute, in practice, in decree and via gavel. Has this centralizing trend provided more justice, greater liberty or more security?

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