Posts Tagged USAID

Another Terrible 10 Year “war on terror” product: The USA PATRIOT Act

In this season of 10-year anniversaries, one almost got by me, just as it almost got by many of us on October 26, 2001.  The Ashcroft Justice Department, which could hardly find a case of discrimination against a Black person or a woman to prosecute, and was busy dismantling its Civil Rights division, had apparently been busy elsewhere.  Even before 9/11, they had written the USA PATRIOT Act (that’s “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” for those of you not patriotic enough to think that up yourselves).

They had cobbled bits of nefarious repression not included in the Clinton administration’s also egregiously-named 1996 “Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.” This law has its own deep problems, as a vehicle for stepping up federal executions, and criminalizing protest.  The Bush regime built on it, and not because of the 9/11 attacks; a bill that long could not have been written in 15 days.

But let’s just be clear.  The Patriot Act is domestic political repression, widening the government’s power to spy on people electronically, break into our homes and offices physically in “sneak and peak” operations, view our email, reading habits, photos, and much more.

I thought this might be a big day: 10 years of a huge escalation of repression, but found a total of 38 articles in a Google search on “USA Patriot Act” published on the anniversary.

Carol Rose, in Boston.com points out how the act is actually used

The Patriot Act hasn’t been about getting the bad guys – namely, terrorists or even criminals. The government had the power to do that without the Patriot Act. Instead, the Patriot Act gives the government the power secretly to collect and forever keep information on ordinary people who are not suspected of doing anything wrong…It gives the Feds virtually unchecked power to spy on ordinary Americans without a warrant.

Carrie Johnson, for NPR quotes the ACLU’s report on the Patriot Act:

“We’re now finding from public reports that less than 1 percent of these sneak-and-peek searches are happening for terrorism investigations,” says Michelle Richardson, who works for the ACLU in Washington. “They’re instead being used primarily in drug cases, in immigration cases, and some fraud.”

The ACLU filed suit today to learn more about the secret use of the Patriot Act, citing an example of how there is no check on its use

One section in particular, Section 215, gave the FBI unprecedented authority to obtain “any tangible thing” for an investigation related to international terrorism or espionage. The FBI has the power to use Section 215 to collect records held by businesses such as hotels, banks, stores, and internet service providers. They need to show only that the information is “relevant” to an investigation and, in 2010, every single 215 request was granted.

Michelle Richardson of the ACLU warns us of more to come, says NPR.

“The White House’s cybersecurity proposal right now makes the Patriot Act look quaint,” Richardson says. “And really, the collection that it would allow would really outpace anything that’s probably being done under the Patriot Act.”

The ACLU calls for the act to be reformed.

I say the whole thing is unjust, fascistic, and should be repealed.  It’s the government that should be transparent, providing privacy for its citizens, and not vice versa.

 

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What the Haitian People Need & What They Don’t Need Now

A few thoughts on the terrible suffering of the Haitian people who need help, not chiding by Christian fundamentalists or repression from the U.S. Marines:

Bush declaring Iraq war "over" in 2003

“You’re doing a heckuva job, Bushie!”

Why would Barack Obama appoint George W. Bush to be the public face of aid for Haiti? How about asking the people of New Orleans…who still don’t have housing after Katrina… how Bush made that disaster worse?

A friend of mine whose son is in the Marines said, “great, just what Haiti needs, the U.S. Marines are coming.”  How about asking the people of Afghanistan how they feel about being “saved” by the Marines? The US military refuses to let the United Nations be in charge, as they don’t take orders.

The editors of Revolution newspaper said last night, “The Haitian People Need Emergency Assistance – NOT Suppression and Further Domination!”

The means exist to rescue and aid the Haitian people!  These must be made immediately available by the governments of the world and, first and foremost, the United States. While some governments have sent doctors and other forms of aid, as of Thursday morning the United States has focused on sending paratroopers and militarily securing the area. While Obama has now promised 100 million dollars, the U.S. government is above all concerned with ensuring the continuation of the repressive government order and controlling and/or suppressing the initiative and efforts of masses to deal with this horrible situation. (100 million dollars is less than one-tenth of one percent of U.S. yearly military expenses in Iraq and Afghanistan.) The U.S. government must immediately focus its resources on getting aid directly to the Haitian people, putting supplies on the ground and marshaling the many doctors, engineers, construction workers, etc. who work for the government, as well as the many many people who would volunteer to help any way that they could.  THIS IS A HUMANITARIAN EMERGENCY, AND MUST BE DEALT WITH AS SUCH.

Respect to Rachel Maddow for her program Wednesday night which looked behind the U.S. A.I.D. effort to sweet into Haiti, using the disaster to further transform the country into dependency on the U.S.

Kevin Gosztola, a supporter of World Can’t Wait and film maker, comments further in OpEd News today, Will USAID, Right Wing Think Tanks & Private Interests Create Aftershocks in Haiti?  Kevin asks important questions, “What will happen to the people of Haiti after the earthquake? What private interests or U.S. interests will seek to control the direction of Haiti? Will interests seek to capitalize off the crisis?”

Pat RobertsonMost of the world has nothing but contempt for Pat Robertson! There are plenty of religious people rushing to aid Haiti. But Robertson’s statement that Haitian independence came because the people made a “pact with the devil” which has left the country “cursed by one thing after the other” is not only racist and xenophobic, but hardens the Christian “fascists” who follow him against the Haitian people. Robertson called the earthquake a “blessing in disguise” because they may have a “great turning to God.” F- – - Pat Robertson!

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