Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Obama's Broken Promises Whistleblowers and The National Security State And Internet Freedom

Promises made by Obama while running for president were quickly abandoned by the Obama administration once in office. For instance president Obama rather than protecting whisleblowers as he promised instead he has declared war on Whistleblowers for instance tossing Bradley Manning into prison for allegedly giving data to Wikileaks. Bradley's rights as an American citizen were stomped upon while he was kept in indefinite detention in solitary confinement and tortured ie sleep-deprivation, pro-longed isolation, given limited access to legal counsel or to visits from friends or family let alone human rights organizations or the ICRC Red Cross. Obama like Bush may talk a good game about democracy, freedoms and human rights but his actions suggest these are merely talking points to assuage his supporters.
His promises can be fact checked at the  still available
(Ethics) Obama-Biden Transition Project website
which was set up by the Obama team in  2008-2009.

Even worse than SOPA: New CISPA cybersecurity bill will censor the Web at,April 9, 2012

Why you should care about SOPA at, April 12,2012

Goodbye, First Amendment: ‘Trespass Bill’ will make protest illegal by, Feb. 29,2012

Just when you thought the government couldn’t ruin the First Amendment any further: The House of Representatives approved a bill on Monday that outlaws protests in instances where some government officials are nearby, whether or not you even know it.
The US House of Representatives voted 388-to-3 in favor of H.R. 347 late Monday, a bill which is being dubbed the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. In the bill, Congress officially makes it illegal to trespass on the grounds of the White House, which, on the surface, seems not just harmless and necessary, but somewhat shocking that such a rule isn’t already on the books. The wording in the bill, however, extends to allow the government to go after much more than tourists that transverse the wrought iron White House fence.
Under the act, the government is also given the power to bring charges against Americans engaged in political protest anywhere in the country.
Under current law, White House trespassers are prosecuted under a local ordinance, a Washington, DC legislation that can bring misdemeanor charges for anyone trying to get close to the president without authorization. Under H.R. 347, a federal law will formally be applied to such instances, but will also allow the government to bring charges to protesters, demonstrators and activists at political events and other outings across America.
The new legislation allows prosecutors to charge anyone who enters a building without permission or with the intent to disrupt a government function with a federal offense if Secret Service is on the scene, but the law stretches to include not just the president’s palatial Pennsylvania Avenue home. Under the law, any building or grounds where the president is visiting — even temporarily — is covered, as is any building or grounds “restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance."

also see:

'Cyber Czar' wants Homeland Security to patrol America's Internet borders at, April 6,2012

Tweets on Trial: Law enforcement subpoenas Twitter account at, Feb. 21,2012

British tourists imprisoned and deported from US… for Twitter jokes at,January 31, 2012

EPA approves 'Agent Orange' pesticide at, April 11, 2012

Drones cleared for domestic use across the US at, November 28,2012

The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama has led efforts to reform government both in the Illinois State Senate and in the United States Senate. He will bring this commitment to making government work for the people, not the special interests, to the White House. Obama will ensure Washington works for the people, not the special interests.

Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.

Quote from website Change.Gov: The Office of the President Elect

Whistleblowers in fact are being attacked and prosecuted while those guilty of high Crimes and misdemeanors from abuse of detainees to targeted assassinations to misrepresenting the the successes of the US military and the notorious Drone Wars to disregarding government regulations of the various regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency to private contractors bilking billions out of the US government to shoddy  workmanship in repairs and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan to the financing of Mercenaries referred to as "private contractors " and on and on it goes...

 The article at TomDispatch below about Peter Van Buren a government whistleblower is a case in point illustrating how Obama's promise to protect Whistleblowers was just another Talking Point and empty rhetoric to gain more votes during the 2008 Presidential election campaign.

The article at TomDispatch begins with the editor recalling how the insider bureaucrat Van Buren became a whistleblower believing he was doing his civic duty by writing and publishing a book exposing the corruption and ineptness of America's privatized military and bungled reconstruction efforts in Iraq by private corporations such as KBR and Halliburton .

For publishing the book Van buren was marginalized, isolated and treated as a criminal by the Obama administration for doing his duty by exposing these crimes.

Tomgram: Peter Van Buren, Joining The Whistleblowers' Club Posted by Peter Van Buren,April 8,2012

(With the publication of his book)
...Van Buren  (was) dispatched ... willy-nilly into the strange, embattled world of Obama-era governmental whistleblowers. As a group, they are, after all, just about the only people inside the National Security Complex who ever get in trouble for their acts. In our era, the illegal surveillers, the torturers, the kidnappers, those who launch and pursue undeclared and aggressive wars, and those who squander taxpayer dollars all run free. Later, if they were important enough, they write their memoirs for millions of dollars, peddle their speeches for hundreds of thousands more, and live the good life.
The only figures in the Complex regularly pursued as troublemakers and possible criminals turn out to be guilty of a single all-American crime: telling the citizenry what they should know about the operations of, and often enough the crimes of, the government they elected. Peter Van Buren did so with his book ...We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. Now, he’s a slush-pile criminal and, thanks to the whims of serendipity, I was the one who aided and abetted his “crime.”

"Left Behind What We Lost in Iraq and Washington, 2009-2012 "
By Peter Van Buren

Sadly enough, in the almost two years since I left Iraq, little has happened that challenges my belief that we failed in the reconstruction and, through that failure, lost the war.

The Iraq of today is an extension of the Iraq I saw and described. The recent Arab League summit in Baghdad, hailed by some as a watershed event, was little more than a stage-managed wrinkle in that timeline, a lot like all those purple-fingered elections the U.S. sponsored in Iraq throughout the Occupation. If you deploy enough police and soldiers -- for the summit, Baghdad was shut down for a week, the cell phone network turned off, and a “public holiday” proclaimed to keep the streets free of humanity -- you can temporarily tame any place, at least within camera view. More than $500 million was spent, in part planting flowers along the route dignitaries took in and out of the heavily fortified International Zone at the heart of the capital (known in my day as the Green Zone). Somebody in Iraq must have googled “Potemkin Village.”

Beyond the temporary showmanship, the Iraq we created via our war is a mean place, unsafe and unstable. Of course, life goes on there (with the usual lack of electricity and potable water), but as the news shows, to an angry symphony of suicide bombers and targeted killings. While the American public may have changed the channel to more exciting shows in Libya, now Syria, or maybe just to American Idol, the Iraqi people are trapped in amber, replaying the scenes I saw in 2009-2010, living reminders of all the good we failed to do.

Ties between Iraq and Iran continue to strengthen, however, with Baghdad serving as a money-laundering stopover for a Tehran facing tightening U.S. and European sanctions, even as it sells electricity to Iraq. (That failed reconstruction program again!) Indeed, with Iran now able to meddle in Iraq in ways it couldn’t have when Saddam Hussein was in power, that country will be more capable of contesting U.S. hegemony in the region.

Given what we left behind in Iraq, it remains beyond anyone, even the nasty men who started the war in 2003, to claim victory or accomplishment or achievement there, and except for the odd pundit seeking to rile his audience, none do.

The liberal betrayal of Bradley Manning By Charles Davisat, April 10,2012

More than three years into the presidency of Barack Obama, it’s almost a cliché now to ask: What if George W. Bush did it? From dramatically escalating the war in Afghanistan to institutionalizing the practice of indefinite imprisonment, Obama has dashed hopes he would offer a change from the Bush’s national security policies – but he hasn’t faced a whole lot of resistance from liberals who once decried those policies as an affront to American values.

Like those on the right who now crow about fascism but spent the Bush years gleefully declaring left-wing celebrities “enemies of the state,” many of those on the liberal-left treat issues of war and civil liberties as useful merely for partisan purposes. When a Democrat’s in power those issues become inconvenient. And usually ignored.


Though Obama as candidate for the presidency was critical of security and surveillance policies of the Bush Regime Obama as president continues the Bush era's draconian war on American citizens who are seen as enemies of the state who are suspected of being critical of government policies related to The Global War on Terror and the massive surrveillance on American citizens.
If anything it can be argued Obama has in fact doubled down on these questionable and possibly unconstitutional security and surveillance policies.

So Obama it appears is like the Bush Regime fear mongering and exaggerating about actual threats to America and its foreign or international interests in order to crack down on those critical of the security and surveillance industry much of which has been contracted out to private corporate interests. And yet even with astronomical increase in costs for the intelligence and surveillance industry appears for the most part to be as dysfunctional as it was in the lead up to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The various contractors are not necessarily any more efficient or better at exchanging pertinent data than they were before 9/11.

U.S. filmmaker repeatedly detained at border BY GLENN GREENWALD at, April 8, 2012

One of the more extreme government abuses of the post-9/11 era targets U.S. citizens re-entering their own country, and it has received far too little attention. With no oversight or legal framework whatsoever, the Department of Homeland Security routinely singles out individuals who are suspected of no crimes, detains them and questions them at the airport, often for hours, when they return to the U.S. after an international trip, and then copies and even seizes their electronic devices (laptops, cameras, cellphones) and other papers (notebooks, journals, credit card receipts), forever storing their contents in government files. No search warrant is needed for any of this. No oversight exists. And there are no apparent constraints on what the U.S. Government can do with regard to whom it decides to target or why.

In an age of international travel — where large numbers of citizens, especially those involved in sensitive journalism and activism, frequently travel outside the country — this power renders the protections of the Fourth Amendment entirely illusory. By virtue of that amendment, if the government wants to search and seize the papers and effects of someone on U.S. soil, it must (with some exceptions) first convince a court that there is probable cause to believe that the objects to be searched relate to criminal activity and a search warrant must be obtained. But now, none of those obstacles — ones at the very heart of the design of the Constitution — hinders the U.S. government: now, they can just wait until you leave the country, and then, at will, search, seize and copy all of your electronic files on your return. That includes your emails, the websites you’ve visited, the online conversations you’ve had, the identities of those with whom you’ve communicated, your cell phone contacts, your credit card receipts, film you’ve taken, drafts of documents you’re writing, and anything else that you store electronically: which, these days, when it comes to privacy, means basically everything of worth.

This government abuse has received some recent attention in the context of WikiLeaks. Over the past couple of years, any American remotely associated with that group — or even those who have advocated on behalf of Bradley Manning — have been detained at the airport and had their laptops, cellphones and cameras seized: sometimes for months, sometimes forever. But this practice usually targets people having nothing to do with WikiLeaks.

A 2011 FOIA request from the ACLU revealed that just in the 18-month period beginning October 1, 2008, more than 6,600 people — roughly half of whom were American citizens — were subjected to electronic device searches at the border by DHS, all without a search warrant. Typifying the target of these invasive searches is Pascal Abidor, a 26-year-old dual French-American citizen and an Islamic Studies Ph.D. student who was traveling from Montreal to New York on an Amtrak train in 2011 when he was stopped at the border, questioned by DHS agents, handcuffed, taken off the train and kept in a holding cell for several hours before being released without charges; those DHS agents seized his laptop and returned it 11 days later when, the ACLU explains, “there was evidence that many of his personal files, including research, photos and chats with his girlfriend, had been searched.” That’s just one case of thousands, all without any oversight, transparency, legal checks, or any demonstration of wrongdoing.

(Remember this is not just something that happened during the Bush/Cheney years but has continued under Obama. And yet the Obama true believers refuse to accept that things are no better under the Obama Regime when it comes to the over-hyped fear-inducing phony Global War on Terror.

Greenwald then turns to the specific egregious case of an American film maker who gets harrassed everytime she reenters the usa and the most recent incident made her decide to go public with her story.)

...Poitras arrived at Newark International Airport from Britain. Prior to issuing her a boarding pass in London, the ticket agent called a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agent (Yost) who questioned her about whom she met and what she did. Upon arriving in Newark, DHS/CBP agents, as always, met her plane, detained her, and took her to an interrogation room. Each time this has happened in the past, Poitras has taken notes during the entire process: in order to chronicle what is being done to her, document the journalistic privileges she asserts and her express lack of consent, obtain the names of the agents involved, and just generally to cling to some level of agency.

This time, however, she was told by multiple CBP agents that she was prohibited from taking notes on the ground that her pen could be used as a weapon. After she advised them that she was a journalist and that her lawyer had advised her to keep notes of her interrogations, one of them, CBP agent Wassum, threatened to handcuff her if she did not immediately stop taking notes. A CBP Deputy Chief (Lopez) also told her she was barred from taking notes, and then accused her of “refusing to cooperate with an investigation” if she continued to refuse to answer their questions (he later clarified that there was no “investigation” per se, but only a “questioning”). Requests for comment from the CBP were not returned as of the time of publication.

Just consider the cumulative effect of this six years of harrassment and invasion. Poitras told me that it is “very traumatizing to come home to your own country and have to go through this every time,”and described the detentions, interrogations and threats as “infuriating,” “horrible” and “intimidating.” She told me that she now “hates to travel” and avoids international travel unless it is absolutely necessary for her work. And as she pointed out, she is generally more protected than most people subjected to similar treatment by virtue of the fact that she is a known journalist with both knowledge of her rights and the ability to publicize what is done to her. Most others are far less able to resist these sorts of abuses. But even for someone in Poitras’ position, this continuous unchecked government invasion is chilling in both senses of the word: it’s intimidating in its own right, and deters journalists and others from challenging government conduct.

(Glenn Greenwald laments the creation of the intelligence surveillance state which has continued under Obama)

...As is true for so many abuses of the Surveillance State and assaults on basic liberties in the post-9/11 era, federal courts have almost completely abdicated their responsibility to serve as a check on these transgressions. Instead, federal judges have repeatedly endorsed the notion that the U.S. Government can engage in the most invasive border searches of citizens, including seizures and copying of laptops, without any reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing whatsoever, let alone probable cause.

That has happened in part because federal courts have become extremely submissive to assertions of Executive authority in the post-9/11 era, particularly when justified in the name of security. It’s also in part because anyone with a record of anti-authoritarianism or a willingness to oppose unrestrained government power, with very rare exception, can no longer get appointed to the federal bench; instead, it’s an increasingly homogeneous lot with demonstrated fealty to institutional authority. And it’s also in part because many life-tenured federal judges have been cloistered on the bench for decades, are technologically illiterate, and thus cannot apprehend the basic difference between having your suitcase searched at the airport and having the contents of your laptop and cellphone copied and stored by the U.S. Government.

also see:

Obama targets journalists BY GLENN GREENWALD at,April 9,2012

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