We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist

Click here to access article by Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux from The Intercept.
The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings. The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place entire “categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to “nominate” people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as “fragmentary information.”
I can't help but wonder if this report wasn't deliberately leaked to frighten dissidents into more passive and ineffective means of resistance to the actions of the ruling class's government. Usually when they are genuinely concerned about a leak, there is an uproar, an investigation, and harassment of all those connected with the leaked report.

Still, it is useful for many people to know the details of what they might expect if they have reasonable suspicion that they are on the government's "watchlist" for terrorism. Also, it's useful for many liberals to know that the ruling class and their government, one which is supposedly "of, by, and for the people", must be afraid of the people--maybe even terrified of the people--to go to such an extent rather than relying on normal police procedures. Referring to the report, the authors write:
It reveals a confounding and convoluted system filled with exceptions to its own rules, and it relies on the elastic concept of “reasonable suspicion” as a standard for determining whether someone is a possible threat. Because the government tracks “suspected terrorists” as well as “known terrorists,” individuals can be watchlisted if they are suspected of being a suspected terrorist, or if they are suspected of associating with people who are suspected of terrorism activity.
Obviously, what they are really afraid of is an organized opposition of the 99 Percent who might use violence against them. Violence is one thing they really understand because they are world's premier practitioners of violence. To take this document at face value, one would have to conclude that the government, especially those who control the government, are the real terrorists because they have a long record of using terrorism against many people in foreign lands in the forms of torture, drone warfare, direct invasions and bombings, etc. 
In general, TERRORISM and/or TERRORIST ACTIVITIES are acts that: (a) involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure.... (b) appear intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, or hostage-taking. This includes activities that facilitate or support....