Uncle Sam and Corporate Tech: Domestic Partners Raising Digital Big Brother

Norman SolomanBy Norman Soloman

A terrible formula has taken hold:
warfare state + corporate digital power = surveillance state.

"National security" agencies and major tech sectors have teamed up to make Big Brother a reality. "Of the estimated $80 billion the government will spend on intelligence this year, most is spent on private contractors," the New York Times noted. The synergy is great for war-crazed snoops in Washington and profit-crazed moguls in Silicon Valley, but poisonous for civil liberties and democracy.

Feinstein Amendment Punts Issue of Indefinite Detention of Americans to Courts

By David Dayen

An amendment from Dianne Feinstein passed as part of the Senate’s defense authorization bill Thursday punts one small aspect of detention policy to the courts, namely whether the US military can indefinitely hold an American citizen. Adam Serwer, who has had excellent coverage of the detention pieces of the defense bill, had this report:

Can Americans be indefinitely detained by the military on suspicion of terrorism if arrested on American soil? Thursday evening the Senate added a compromise amendment to the defense spending bill that states: Maybe. Specifically, it says the bill does not alter current authorities relating to detention, leaving either side free to argue whether current law allows or prohibits indefinite military detention of Americans captured in the US [...]

The New Surveillance Society: How "Community" Policing Follows Your Every Move

By Nancy Murray and Kade Crockford
TruthOut and ACLU Massachusets

Surveillance now is everyone's business, as the line between intelligence-gathering and crimefighting rapidly fades and the public is conditioned to play its part. The work of Deputy Police Chief Michael Downing of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) exemplifies the new surveillance paradigm. The head of the 750-strong counterterrorism force within the LAPD, he is on the hunt for "people who follow al-Qaeda's goals and objectives and mission and ideology." He says his officers collect intelligence and practice the "essence of community policing" by reaching out to Muslims and asking them to "weed out" the "hard-core radicals."

The Patriot Act and the Quiet Death of the US Bill of Rights

By Zack Kaldveer
Consumer Federation of California

With the stroke of an autopen from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, the once articulate critic of the Patriot Act signed a four year extension of the most dangerous assault on American civil liberties in US history without a single additional privacy protection.

One would think that this reauthorization would have incited vigorous debate in the halls of Congress and at least a fraction of the breathless 24/7 media coverage allotted the Anthony Weiner “sexting” scandal. Instead, three weeks ago the House (250 to 153) and Senate (72 to 23) approved, and the President signed, an extension of this landmark attack on the Bill of Rights with little notice and even less debate.

Why Obama Is Right Not to Release bin Laden Photos

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

President Obama made a wise decision in choosing not to make public photos of bin Laden’s body. His reasons are pragmatic and compelling. DNA tests and other evidence showed conclusively that the dead man was Osama bin Laden. Releasing the gruesome photos wouldn’t satisfy the professional Obama bashers and conspiracy theorists, who would just claim that the pictures were doctored. Meanwhile, their release could further inflame Muslim hardliners, giving them another excuse for retaliatory action against U.S. personnel.

But there is another reason that Obama did not state, and that has to do with the reactions to bin Laden’s death among Americans themselves.

We Killed Osama bin Laden, Now Let’s Kill the Myth

By William O. Beeman
New America Media

The United States is jubilant over the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. However, it will be some time before history catches up with the mythology that arose around him and the al-Qaeda organization in the past 10 years. Osama bin Laden at the end was far from the looming powerful figure he was made out to be. He had outlived his usefulness both as a bogeyman for the West, and as an Islamic responder to the neo-colonialist forces his organization purported to confront.

The principal myth surrounding bin Laden was that his brand of religion represented a mainstream streak of something identified variously as “jihadism” or, in more genteel rhetoric, “political Islam.” This was far from the truth. No doubt, bin Laden justified his actions with questionable theology and bogus fatwas, but his organization’s actions represented an extremist view of religiously justified political action that was embraced by only a fraction of the Islamic world.

No Surprise So Many Think Obama’s Muslim

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
New America Media

No president has ever had more pejorative labels slapped on him than Barack Obama. He’s been branded a Bolshevik, socialist, Nazi (go figure), an anarchist, leftist, an alien, and of course, un-American.

So it’s no surprise that so many Americans think Obama is a Muslim. This week, a new Pew Research Center poll found a big increase in the number of Republicans who believe this lie. Even a growing number of Democrats and independents think that the president is a Muslim, or at least, not a Christian.

Terrorism’s Exploding Cost

By Clint Reilly

Last month we learned that lax security procedures allowed a terrorist to board a commercial flight bound for Detroit with a bomb sewn into his underwear. Luckily, the device’s detonator failed, sparing the lives of hundreds of passengers.

Nevertheless, the botched plot exacted a heavy economic and psychological toll.

The subsequent national uproar forced President Obama to call for full body scanners at airports and led to severely tightened security precautions at airports around the world. Air travelers reported tortuous delays and federal officials laid plans to spend $1 billion on full-body scanners.

As I watched the president and his White House aides call for even tighter airline security measures, I wondered why the gold plated equipment and elaborate precautions already in place had missed an underwear bomb.