Tag Archives: civil liberties

National Security over all other securities: Get ready Utah.

Utah legislators have made it clear that they will do whatever it takes to keep the Federal Government from dictating the affairs of the state.

That is, except for spying on people.

Utah is about to be descended upon by the National Security Administration (NSA).

The Army has awarded a $1.2 billion contract to a construction consortium to build a spacious new data center in Utah for the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) cybersecurity effort.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it awarded the contract to Balfour Beatty/DPR/Big-D to erect a facility in Williams, Utah, that will be used for the NSA’s Comprehensive National Security Initiative, the NSA said in an emailed statement.

You would think that with all the controversy over federal government interference in state affairs by Utah’s legislators, that this would generate a lot of opposition from our state officials.  Not so.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said during his inauguration on Tuesday the state would be vigilant in keeping the federal government from pushing too far into the state. But the lieutenant governor said there is "absolutely no disagreement" that national security is an essential role of the federal government, and that the data center is welcome in Utah.

Back in November Utah Legislators made a big stink about accepting federal monies for education.
Just like a little kid stomping its feet, the Utah Legislature approved $101 million in federal money for Utah teachers. In a special session called by Governor Gary Herbert, lawmakers called the bill that created the funding “sinister” and the money itself “crack cocaine.” They also pledged an end to taking federal dollars. Governor Herbert was pleased they approved accepting the money.
(Standard Examiner)

I repeat:

They also pledged an end to taking federal dollars.

Senator Chris Buttars-R, West Jordan said accepting the money “consummates a takeover by the federal government of the legislative process.” Buttars also ripped up a copy of the Utah Constitution during an attempt to introduce a resolution to refuse the funding.

Yet now our state government is happily accepting an invasion of  a federal government agency which is using the "it will create jobs" bait to lure the legislators into believing that this project will be good for our state’s economy.  Never mind that this "job security" will be temporary.  Never mind the fact that NSA is at the forefront of eroding our civil liberties by collecting data without court orders on individuals.  Financial liberties over civil liberties – that’s what this amounts to.
Those who claim to oppose big government often love to quote Benjamin Franklin, who once said that “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” And yet in a quest for safety from potential unemployment and economic hardship, principles (and liberty) are thrown to the wind for what the Governor also claimed to be a “win, win, win” situation.
(Connor Boyack of Connor’sConundrums)
What would our founding fathers say?
Our founding fathers didn’t feel the lack of intestinal fortitude that required a vast security apparatus to see to their safety.
(Tom King, Utah activist)
My how times have changed.

As Connor Boyack states:

The NSA’s data center will largely be forgotten once it becomes operational. By then, the “godsend” of the 10,000 temporary construction jobs will be history. But the 1-200 individuals employed at the facility will continue their Orwellian mission of monitoring anybody they desire. Get ready, Utah: Big Brother will be camped out in your backyard.

(Photo taken by Dee in Maryland)



"We have been humbled by such an immense initial show of solidarity and are inspired to turn our attention back to the very issues that motivated us to organize against the RNC in the first place. What’s happening to us is part of a much broader and very serious problem. The fact is that we live in a police state- some people first realized this in the streets of St. Paul during the convention, but many others live with that reality their whole lives. People of color, poor and working class people, immigrants, are targeted and criminalized on a daily basis, and we understand what that context suggests about the repression the 8 of us face now. Because we are political organizers who have built solid relationships through our work, because we have various forms of privilege- some of us through our skin, some through our class, some through our education- and because we have the resources to invoke a national network of support, we are lucky, even as we are being targeted."


Join the Freee the RNC8 Facebook Group


In what appears to be the first use of criminal charges under the 2002 Minnesota version of the Federal Patriot Act, Ramsey County Prosecutors have formally charged 8 alleged leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee with Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism. Monica Bicking, Eryn Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, Robert Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald, and Max Spector, face up to 7 1/2 years in prison under the terrorism enhancement charge which allows for a 50% increase in the maximum penalty.

Affidavits released by law enforcement which were filed in support of the search warrants used in raids over the weekend, and used to support probable cause for the arrest warrants, are based on paid, confidential informants who infiltrated the RNCWC on behalf of law enforcement. They allege that members of the group sought to kidnap delegates to the RNC, assault police officers with firebombs and explosives, and sabotage airports in St. Paul. Evidence released to date does not corroborate these allegations with physical evidence or provide any other evidence for these allegations than the claims of the informants. Based on past abuses of such informants by law enforcement, the National Lawyers Guild is concerned that such police informants have incentives to lie and exaggerate threats of violence and to also act as provacateurs in raising and urging support for acts of violence.

"These charges are an effort to equate publicly stated plans to blockade traffic and disrupt the RNC as being the same as acts of terrorism. This both trivializes real violence and attempts to place the stated political views of the Defendants on trial," said Bruce Nestor, President of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. "The charges represent an abuse of the criminal justice system and seek to intimidate any person organizing large scale public demonstrations potentially involving civil disobedience, he said."

The criminal complaints filed by the Ramsey County Attorney do not allege that any of the defendants personally have engaged in any act of violence or damage to property. The complaints list all of alleged violations of law during the last few days of the RNC — other than violations of human rights carried out by law enforcement — and seeks to hold the 8 defendants responsible for acts committed by other individuals. None of the defendants have any prior criminal history involving acts of violence. Searches conducted in connection with the raids failed to turn up any physical evidence to support the allegations of organized attacks on law enforcement. Although claiming probable cause to believe that gunpowder, acids, and assembled incendiary devices would be found, no such items were seized by police. As a result, police sought to claim that the seizure of common household items such as glass bottles, charcoal lighter, nails, a rusty machete, and two hatchets, supported the allegations of the confidential informants. "Police found what they claim was a single plastic shield, a rusty machete, and two hatchets used in Minnesota to split wood. This doesn’t amount to evidence of an organized insurrection, particularly when over 3,500 police are present in the Twin Cities, armed with assault rifles, concussion grenades, chemical weapons and full riot gear," said Nestor. In addition, the National Lawyers Guild has previously pointed out how law enforcement has fabricated evidence such as the claims that urine was seized which demonstrators intended to throw at police.

The last time such charges were brought under Minnesota law was in 1918, when Matt Moilen and others organizing labor unions for the Industrial Workers of the World [ed. correction-TCIMC] on the Iron Range were charged with "criminal syndicalism." The convictions, based on allegations that workers had advocated or taught acts of violence, including acts only damaging to property, were upheld by the Minnesota Supreme Court. In the light of history, these convictions are widely seen as unjust and a product of political trials. The National Lawyers Guild condemns the charges filed in this case against the above 8 defendants and urges the Ramsey County Attorney to drop all charges of conspiracy in this matter.

Bruce Nestor, President
Minnesota Chapter of National Lawyers Guild

-(It also should be mentioned that there were many more people that were arrested besides these 8, and without the publicity. Please keep them in mind and donate what you can to the Coldsnap Legal Collective to help them out!)


Interview – Naomi Wolf – Give Me Liberty – We Have a Coup

Top Ten Signs Your Country May Be Going Fascist

Home of the Brave?

I was thinking the other day of America and its current state of status in the world. The national anthem tune popped into my head and when the part of the lyrics that say “home of the brave” came about, I heard that screeching halt of a record being stopped.

America is no longer the “home of the brave”. We are now the “home of the terrified”. The current administration has done its very best to take away our civil liberties in the interest of homeland security. And people have bought it. It’s sad when I hear of people state that they are satisfied to give up their rights so they don’t have to worry about terrorism. They are willing to have their phones tapped, emails monitored and right to voice taken away in the name of “freedom”.

Yet these are the same folks who have security (or insecurity) systems on their cars and homes.

The American Government of succeeding in its mission to control the mindset of the average American. America is the “home of the controlled,” the “home of the manipulated.” There is nothing brave about that.

The Agitator

I’ve started a website called “The Agitator”. Check it out. (Note: It’s still being developed.)

Agitate: to arouse interest in (a cause, for example) by use of the written
or spoken word; debate.

Habeas Corpus, 1789-2006

Watch this and pass it on:

Daryl at The Candidate says:
The recent bill passed by Congress gives the President unlimited authority to declare anyone as an enemy combatant, without any oversight. Once declared an enemy combatant, you can be legally imprisoned without a trial. Forever.

Here it comes…….More Media Monitoring

The Pentagon is accepting bids for a $20 million contract to “monitor” the media for tonality in its coverage of Iraq. The Pentagon’s position is that this is “necessary” in the war on terrorism.

Pentagon Moves Toward Monitoring Media

Friday September 1, 2006 1:16 AM
AP Photo USGF101
AP Business Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. command in Baghdad is seeking bidders for a two-year, $20 million public relations contract that calls for monitoring the tone of Iraq news stories filed by U.S. and foreign media.

Proposals, due Sept. 6, ask companies to show how they’ll “provide continuous monitoring and near-real time reporting of Iraqi, pan-Arabic, international, and U.S. media,” according to the solicitation issued last week.
Continue reading

Warrantless Wiretapping

Earlier this week, Green Jenni posted an article on the Bush Administrations tactic of pushing fear on American Citizens.

Today a newsletter from the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) came to me, called “Dissent is Patriotic”. In it was this piece:

Warrantless Wiretapping and the Alleged London Plot

“If you like the Patriot Act, you’ll love the Specter bill,” says Joe Onek, Senior Policy Analyst at the Open Society Institute and Open Society Policy Center. “The USA PATRIOT Act amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to make it easy for the government to get a court order to read your library and medical records. The Specter bill amends FISA to permit the government to listen to your phone calls and read your e-mail without any court order.”

The parallels between the Specter bill (S. 2453) and the PATRIOT Act grew stronger last week, as news of an alleged plot to place bombs on airplanes in London rekindled fears of terrorist attacks in the U.S. Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff lost no time in suggesting that the U.S. might benefit from the British authorities’ apparently lower standards for surveillance and for holding suspects without charges. Be prepared for the Bush Administration to exploit the alleged plot, and any other plots or arrests between now and election day, to expand its power and influence. The Specter bill, which would solve President Bush’s warrantless surveillance problem by making the prevailing law (FISA)
optional, is only one example. Senator Specter says he has enough votes on the Senate
Judiciary Committee to pass the bill there, opening the door to a full Senate vote in September, unless enough people say No.

Fear has been used to justify many changes that have diminished civil liberties and to prevent meaningful changes to restore them.
Continue reading

Your Papers, Please – Experimenting in Utah

Yesterday in local radio news it was announced repeatedly throughout the day that police in Salt Lake would be stopping every motorist between certain streets from 10pm to 3am last night. This was a court-approved stop and search and it was publicized that each driver would be asked for their ID and that police would also be searching for DUI’s.

My suspicion is that the DUI excuse is just that – an excuse. I see this as an experiment towards future stop and searches, using Utah as the baseline. “Your papers, please” will become the standard request from officials at mandatory checkpoints.

I hope I am wrong, but somehow I don’t think so. Look at who is controlling our country, the Patriot Act, the military recruiting clause in the No Child Left Behind Act, and other measures that have been instituted since the reign of King George.