What a long strange year it’s been!
Was it only a year ago the liberal New York Times hired Bill (the-always-wrong-Neocon) Kristol? They always did like doing their share of shilling for Bush/Cheney. Ask Judith Miller about WMD’s. Or ask them about how wonderful the Israeli government treats Palestinians, or about how evil Iran is. And while you're at it, ask why it took them a year to report Bush’s illegal NSA surveillance program.
Remember last January when the Mukasey Justice Department decided to investigate the destruction of the CIA’s interrogation tapes, otherwise known as the famous “torture tapes”? Americans can rest assured that the evidence of crimes was successfully swept away as if the torture never happened. And besides, it was so important to protect the identities of the interrogators. After all, they were “just following orders”; proving the Nuremburg defense is valid as long as it’s in the interests of the US government and the Bush Administration. Like their “investigation” into the legality of waterboarding, justice was successfully obstructed.
There was a little known victory for freedom early this year. Simple civil disobedience and merely reading the wrong words could have been labeled as radicalization and terrorism under Democratic Representative Jane Harmon’s Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act.
Along with its failure to impeach Bush Administration criminals, the House of Representatives will never atone for this shame and dishonor to our Bill of Rights. The “Thought Police Bill” overwhelmingly passed through the House by a 404 to 6 vote, and was sent to the Senate. Thanks to a flood of complaints from everyone from the ACLU to the John Birch Society this fascist amendment to the Patriot Act was allowed to wither and die.
Then Big Brother comes up with these demonstrations of one step forward, two, or three, or more steps back: First of all, with the National Applications Office, Big Brother wants to watch us from the sky.
From The Raw Story:
DHS satellite spy program going forward despite objections
'Ridiculous' to think program doesn't violate Posse Comitatus, ACLU lobbyist tells Raw
The Department of Homeland Security has been given the money it needs to begin turning international spy satellites within the country's borders, despite lingering fears about the program's lack of focus and the potential for it to infringe upon Americans' civil liberties. After more than a year of delay, Congress quietly authorized DHS to begin sharing data gathered by military satellites with civilian and law enforcement agencies. A $634 billion spending bill signed into law earlier this week provides funds for DHS to establish the satellite surveillance program, known as the National Applications Office, without addressing the myriad concerns about NAO privacy and civil liberties protections that had been delaying its implementation.
And then there’s the unsettling issue of biometric surveillance.
CLARKSBURG, West Virginia (CNN) -- The FBI is gearing up to create a massive computer database of people's physical characteristics, all part of an effort the bureau says to better identify criminals and terrorists.
But it's an issue that raises major privacy concerns -- what one civil liberties expert says should concern all Americans.
The bureau is expected to announce in coming days the awarding of a $1 billion, 10-year contract to help create the database that will compile an array of biometric information -- from palm prints to eye scans.
Kimberly Del Greco, the FBI's Biometric Services section chief, said adding to the database is "important to protect the borders to keep the terrorists out, protect our citizens, our neighbors, our children so they can have good jobs, and have a safe country to live in."
But it's unnerving to privacy experts.
"It's the beginning of the surveillance society where you can be tracked anywhere, any time and all your movements, and eventually all your activities will be tracked and noted and correlated," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Technology and Liberty Project. ...
Remember what we learned from a patriotic retired technician at AT&T?
"Wiretap Whistle-Blower's Account
Former AT&T technician Mark Klein has come forward to support the EFF's lawsuit against AT&T for its alleged complicity in the NSA's electronic surveillance. Wired News publishes Klein's public statement.
Statement From Mark Klein
For 22 and 1/2 years I worked as an AT&T technician, first in New York and then in California.
What I observed first-hand:
In 2002, when I was working in an AT&T office in San Francisco, the site manager told me to expect a visit from a National Security Agency agent, who was to interview a management-level technician for a special job. The agent came, and by chance I met him and directed him to the appropriate people.
In January 2003, I, along with others, toured the AT&T central office on Folsom Street in San Francisco -- actually three floors of an SBC building. There I saw a new room being built adjacent to the 4ESS switch room where the public's phone calls are routed. I learned that the person whom the NSA interviewed for the secret job was the person working to install equipment in this room. The regular technician work force was not allowed in the room.
In October 2003, the company transferred me to the San Francisco building to oversee the Worldnet Internet room, which included large routers, racks of modems for customers' dial-in services, and other equipment. I was responsible for troubleshooting problems on the fiber optic circuits and installing new circuits.
While doing my job, I learned that fiber optic cables from the secret room were tapping into the Worldnet circuits by splitting off a portion of the light signal. I saw this in a design document available to me, entitled "Study Group 3, LGX/Splitter Wiring, San Francisco" dated Dec. 10, 2002. I also saw design documents dated Jan. 13, 2004 and Jan. 24, 2003, which instructed technicians on connecting some of the already in-service circuits to the "splitter" cabinet, which diverts some of the light signal to the secret room. The circuits listed were the Peering Links, which connect Worldnet with other networks and hence the whole country, as well as the rest of the world...
And not last and not the least, we have to thank Bush and his Democratic Party friends for the new FISA Amendment. In June Obama proved he could be a good corporate guy and allow retroactive immunity for the telecoms who helped the Bush Administration spy on us. Feingold and Dobbs wanted to filibuster the amendment, showing us how only a few of our politicians really care about our Bill of Rights.
And this is only a segment of the US Government’s war on civil liberties. We will stay tuned.
Then there are the other noble wars. In March the number of US troops killed in Iraq reached 4,000 with the deaths of four soldiers in southern Baghdad. That glorious surge was bloody, but we aren’t supposed to think about that part.
And our “victory” in Afghanistan got uglier as well. More soldiers were dying ,and even a greater number of civilians were being killed. I dread to think how Obama will step up this cataclysm.
We also saw further confirmation of the machinations of the Military/Industrial/Media Complex. In April the New York Times reported on the cozy relationship between the media and its military "analysts".
"To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.
Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.
The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air."
There's more proof that certain connected folks can gain huge profits from the "good wars" they get from their war mongering.
And remember in August how exciting it was when Johnny McBomb Bomb said we are "all Georgians"? That was before Americans learned that the war was started by his Georgian buddy, and foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann’s lobby business client, President Saakashvili. That would make Georgians all Americans, right?
And who can forget the lessons of September 2008? Americans finally see the rewards of the Republican dogma of deregulation. The economic story is only beginning to unfold. Next year will offer a better perspective on the fall of the Great House of Cards.
Yes, it’s been a fascinating year. What else happened?
Oh, yeah, there was an election.