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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘National Security Agency’

The Rutherford Institute :: John Lennon vs. the Deep State: One Man Against the ‘Monster’ | By John W. Whitehead |

Posted by M. C. on October 9, 2019

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/john_lennon_vs._the_deep_state_one_man_against_the_monster

By John W. Whitehead

“You gotta remember, establishment, it’s just a name for evil. The monster doesn’t care whether it kills all the students or whether there’s a revolution. It’s not thinking logically, it’s out of control.”—John Lennon (1969)

John Lennon, born 79 years ago on October 9, 1940, was a musical genius and pop cultural icon.

He was also a vocal peace protester and anti-war activist and a high-profile example of the lengths to which the Deep State will go to persecute those who dare to challenge its authority.

Long before Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning were being castigated for blowing the whistle on the government’s war crimes and the National Security Agency’s abuse of its surveillance powers, it was Lennon who was being singled out for daring to speak truth to power about the government’s warmongering, his phone calls monitored and data files illegally collected on his activities and associations.

For a while, at least, Lennon became enemy number one in the eyes of the U.S. government.

Years after Lennon’s assassination it would be revealed that the FBI had collected 281 pages of files on him, including song lyrics. J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI at the time, directed the agency to spy on the musician. There were also various written orders calling on government agents to frame Lennon for a drug bust. “The FBI’s files on Lennon … read like the writings of a paranoid goody-two-shoes,” observed reporter Jonathan Curiel.

As the New York Times notes, “Critics of today’s domestic surveillance object largely on privacy grounds. They have focused far less on how easily government surveillance can become an instrument for the people in power to try to hold on to power. ‘The U.S. vs. John Lennon’ … is the story not only of one man being harassed, but of a democracy being undermined.”

Indeed, all of the many complaints we have about government today—surveillance, militarism, corruption, harassment, SWAT team raids, political persecution, spying, overcriminalization, etc.—were present in Lennon’s day and formed the basis of his call for social justice, peace and a populist revolution.

For all of these reasons, the U.S. government was obsessed with Lennon, who had learned early on that rock music could serve a political end by proclaiming a radical message. More importantly, Lennon saw that his music could mobilize the public and help to bring about change. Lennon believed in the power of the people. Unfortunately, as Lennon recognized: “The trouble with government as it is, is that it doesn’t represent the people. It controls them.”

However, as Martin Lewis writing for Time notes: “John Lennon was not God. But he earned the love and admiration of his generation by creating a huge body of work that inspired and led. The appreciation for him deepened because he then instinctively decided to use his celebrity as a bully pulpit for causes greater than his own enrichment or self-aggrandizement.”

For instance, in December 1971 at a concert in Ann Arbor, Mich., Lennon took to the stage and in his usual confrontational style belted out “John Sinclair,” a song he had written about a man sentenced to 10 years in prison for possessing two marijuana cigarettes. Within days of Lennon’s call for action, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered Sinclair released.

What Lennon did not know at the time was that government officials had been keeping strict tabs on the ex-Beatle they referred to as “Mr. Lennon.” Incredibly, FBI agents were in the audience at the Ann Arbor concert, “taking notes on everything from the attendance (15,000) to the artistic merits of his new song.”

The U.S. government, steeped in paranoia, was spying on Lennon…

Among those most closely watched by the FBI was Martin Luther King Jr., a man labeled by the FBI as “the most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country.” With wiretaps and electronic bugs planted in his home and office, King was kept under constant surveillance by the FBI with the aim of “neutralizing” him. He even received letters written by FBI agents suggesting that he either commit suicide or the details of his private life would be revealed to the public. The FBI kept up its pursuit of King until he was felled by a hollow-point bullet to the head in 1968…

So what’s the answer?

Lennon had a multitude of suggestions.

“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.”

“War is over if you want it.”

“Produce your own dream…. It’s quite possible to do anything, but not to put it on the leaders…. You have to do it yourself. That’s what the great masters and mistresses have been saying ever since time began. They can point the way, leave signposts and little instructions in various books that are now called holy and worshipped for the cover of the book and not for what it says, but the instructions are all there for all to see, have always been and always will be. There’s nothing new under the sun. All the roads lead to Rome. And people cannot provide it for you. I can’t wake you up. You can wake you up. I can’t cure you. You can cure you.”

“Peace is not something you wish for; It’s something you make, Something you do, Something you are, And something you give away.”

“If you want peace, you won’t get it with violence.”

And my favorite advice of all: “Say you want a revolution / We better get on right away / Well you get on your feet / And out on the street / Singing power to the people.”

Be seeing you

hoover

Yes son, you too can grow up to be lying scum and hate black people.

 

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A New Film Blows the Whistle on War – Progressive.org

Posted by M. C. on September 3, 2019

https://progressive.org/dispatches/new-film-official-secrets-blows-the-whistle-on-war-rampell-190830/

by

Official Secrets, co-written and directed by Gavin Hood,  is one of the best movies ever made about investigative reporting and whistle-blowing—a film in a league with All the President’s Men and Snowden.

Like the 1976 Watergate classic starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and Oliver Stone’s 2016 drama about exposure of the National Security Agency’s clandestine mass warrantless surveillance program, the U.K.-set Secrets is based on a true story.

The film is about Martin Bright, a reporter with The Observer (played by Matt Smith), and Katharine Gun, a translator for the British government (played by Keira Knightley). Gun is responsible for what Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg called “the most important and courageous leak I have ever seen. No one else – including myself – has ever done what Gun did: tell secret truths at personal risk, before an imminent war, in time, possibly, to avert it.”

In early 2003, during the lead-up to the U.S. attack on Iraq, Gun came across an email from a shadowy National Security Agency official named Frank Koza. It revealed U.S. plans to spy on U.N. Security Council members in order to blackmail them into voting for a resolution approving a military offensive against Baghdad. The resolution was seen as key to providing the strike with a fig leaf of legitimacy from the international community for a war based largely on the dubious proposition that Saddam Hussein possessed “Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

In the movie, Gun had already begun doubting President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s pretext for assaulting Iraq. She is shown yelling at the television, such as when David Frost interviews Blair and she shouts “bloody liar!” at the screen. (Secrets enhances its verisimilitude by intercutting news clips with the actors’ dramatizations.)

To further complicate matters, Gun’s presumably Muslim husband Yasar (Palestinian actor Adam Bakri) is a Turk with a sketchy immigration status. The troubled translator surreptitiously prints out Koza’s message, and wrestles with her conscience as she tries, Hamlet-like, to decide what to do.

When the hard copy of Koza’s email is leaked to the The Observer, it ignites an internal fight. The British Sunday newspaper has been co-opted by the Blair government: In exchange for preferential treatment, including high level access, the liberal-leaning Observer has favored war, giving Blair “left cover” for attacking Iraq.

But journalists Bright and Ed Vulliamy (Rhys Ifans) of The Observer’s sister newspaper, The Guardian, a daily, argue for publishing the nefarious scheme. “You’re the press, not a PR agency for Blair,” Vulliamy insists to cautious editors.

After Vulliamy tracks Koza down, The Observer’s management relents and publishes Bright’s report in a March 2, 2003, front-page article headlined, “Revealed: U.S. Dirty Tricks to Win Vote on Iraq War.” All hell breaks loose: Gun is charged with violating the Official Secrets Act, which prohibits disclosure of confidential state information. She becomes a cause célèbre and is defended by Ben Emmerson (Ralph Fiennes), a human rights attorney in the William Kunstler/Michael Ratner tradition.


At nearly two hours long, Official Secrets raises a number of philosophical and political issues.  Following a private screening, Hood agreed with my observation that the film is of a piece with his 2007 Rendition and 2015 Eye in the Sky. The South African filmmaker referred to these features as his “trilogy,” as all three focus on different disturbing aspects of the post-9/11 “war on terror.”

Rendition dramatized the U.S. intelligence community’s pernicious policy of shipping terrorism suspects off to overseas black op sites to be tortured and imprisoned, absent being found guilty of any crimes. Eye challenged the ethics, accuracy, and efficiency of drone warfare…

If the press is the “fourth estate,” the cinema is arguably the “fifth estate.” By combining mass entertainment, drama, and first-rate acting with a true tale of an ordinary woman who stood up to the powers-that-be, Official Secrets indicts Blair, Bush, and other mass murderers in the court of public opinion—at a theater near you.

Official Secrets opens nationwide August 30.

Be seeing you

 

 

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US ‘Regime Change’ in Venezuela: Fake, Fake, Fake! – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on February 8, 2019

https://original.antiwar.com/justin/2019/02/07/us-regime-change-in-venezuela-fake-fake-fake/

It’s the smartest political maneuver I’ve seen in quite a while, a set up job to beat all set up jobs – a dirty trick by a master trickster and it’s being played out right out there in public, not in the shadows as is usually the case.

I’m talking about the fake invasion of Venezuela, a project assigned by the President to the neocon faction in the administration.

Hey wait a minute – the neocon faction? There isn’t supposed to be any such thing! If you recall Trump explicitly attacked the neocons in his first foreign policy speech. Why is he appointing his mortal enemies?

And they are indeed his enemies: Elliott Abrams denounced him as unfit to be President and compared him to George McGovern – a dangerous isolationist whose followers must be driven out of the Republican Party.

Trump has a Neocon Problem. How to solve it?

If the neocons have a failing, a vice, it is their love of power. Their method is to whisper in the ear of the king. That means getting close to the throne. It was almost funny to read their articles agonizing over whether it’s moral to accept a job in this administration.

Ensconced in the National Security Agency, they’ve been given a special project all their own in a venue that has always been one of their favorites: South America. The target this time: the socialist regime of Nicolás Maduro, which has been besieged by his rightist enemies for years – while inflation is over 1000 percent, starvation looms, and a civil war is in progress.

The stage is set – but for what? Will they greet us as liberators just like they didn’t in Iraq?

It might make a real joke if human lives and the destiny of a nation weren’t involved. Because there will be no invasion of Venezuela by the US: the Pentagon would never allow it. Furthermore, the one institution that is still working is the Venezuelan Army, which is fiercely loyal to Maduro. If, after all this time, the generals have stood behind the regime, they are not about to defect now.

Another problem: the opposition. Split ten ways Tuesday, beset by feuds, jealousy, and a record of failure, they are an insult to the healthy nationalist instincts of ordinary Venezuelans. The pretentious tactic of proclaiming the appointment of “President” Guaido is so stupid that it seems designed to fail.

An outcome which the President is undoubtedly hoping for.

Oh, don’t get me wrong: Trump would surely like to see Maduro overthrown and the country opened up to American development (“Have you seen their beaches? And the condos you could build!”)

But that’s a side issue. All told, success is highly unlikely – and the neocons will be the ones to take the “credit.” John Bolton will own this 21st century version of the Bay of Pigs. And the America First nationalists in the administration can turn to their adversaries and say “See guys, we tried it your way and look what happened – the same thing that happened in Syria.”

Instead of taking on the neocons directly, Trump embraces them – and we can see the knife go in as this whole scenario plays out.

How did someone with no political experience, no party, and no real chance to win – under normal circumstances – become President of the United States? Watching Trump defy, outwit, and ultimately destroy his enemies is quite a sight to see, and surely the most entertainment we’ve had in a long time.

Be seeing you

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Mendacity

 

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It Can Happen Here – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on February 8, 2018

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2018/02/andrew-p-napolitano/it-can-happen-here/

We remain embroiled in a debate over the nature and extent of our own government’s spying on us. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was enacted in 1978 as a response to the unlawful government spying of the Watergate era, was a lawful means for the government to engage in foreign surveillance on U.S. soil, but it has morphed into unchecked government spying on ordinary Americans.

The surveillance state is now here…

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Lying, Spying, and Hiding – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on February 1, 2018

personal courage (in congress?), patriotism (in -Israel first- Washington?), fidelity to the Constitution (considered a hindrance in Washington).  How many take it meaningfully and seriously? (seriously?)

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2018/02/andrew-p-napolitano/lying-spying-and-hiding/

…Where is the personal courage on the House Intelligence Committee? Where is the patriotism? Where is the fidelity to the Constitution? The government exists by our consent. It derives its powers from us. We have a right to know what it has done in our names, who broke our trust, who knew about it, who looked the other way and why and by whom all this was intentionally hidden until after Congress voted to expand FISA.

Everyone in government takes an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. How many take it meaningfully and seriously?

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