Thousands of protesters marched in Washington, DC Oct. 26 to oppose the pervasive United States surveillance of its citizens and others. Spy targets include leaders of major United States allies, with France, Germany and Brazil now rallying global opposition to United States spy policies because of recent revelations.
Protesters organized in DC by the “Stop Watching Us Now” coalition released a short, powerful video of the speeches demanding greater oversight of such spy networks as that run by the super-secret National Security Agency (NSA), which is part of the Department of Defense.
Beyond the speeches of Oct. 25, this column will explore the hidden power-relationships that marchers are challenging. Also, we’ll propose next steps for those concerned with privacy rights, surveillance, unjust imprisonment of whistleblowers, other retaliation, due process, and free speech.
Police state tactics against the press were underscored in recent days by a federal-state armed raid Oct. 25 seizing records of Washington Times reporter Audrey Hudson.
Separately, Alabama deputy sheriffs arrested, beat, and jailed for an unlimited term Roger Shuler, a prominent investigative blogger. As I reported previously, Shuler is being held without bond after a kangaroo court proceeding. He faces a judge who received a special appointment for a libel suit brought by one of Alabama’s leading political families. Without an appearance by Shuler, the judge forbade Shuler to write about an alleged sex scandal, to remove previous articles, and to remain in jail without bond for an undetermined period. Because it is a contempt of court process, the judge does not permit bond and has not set a hearing date as of this writing. The judge also sealed the case from public view. Mainstream media have provided virtually no coverage as of the morning of Oct. 28, five days following the arrest.
For Washington and other protesters concerned by government surveillance, retaliation and the impact, next steps should include due process and other protections for reporters and pro-transparency whistleblowers facing long prison terms.
Those who most need protection — or at least treatment proportionate to their actions — include former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, former CIA analysts John Kyriakou and Jeffrey Sterling, and former Army Private Chelsea (Bradley) Manning.
More generally, the widespread but hidden clout in Washington of intelligence agencies and their private sector enablers is a hidden factor that blocks reform and civil rights, as I document in my new book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters.
I use the term “masters.” But such credentialed experts as Republican President Eisenhower, left, called it “The military Industrial Complex.” The late Col. Fletcher Prouty, who was the Pentagon’s top liaison to the CIA under Eisenhower and President Kennedy, called the government’s hidden masters “The Secret Team.”
As shown below, these powers protect spy agencies and those who profit from their operations on Wall Street and the rest of the intelligence, military, and mining complex.
Furthermore, current practices intimidate Congress and other watchdog groups — sometimes with the help of information obtained via secret surveillance. Former NSA analyst Russell Tice has said that NSA undertook secret surveillance of members of Congress, including then-Sen. Barack Obama. He is far from alone in arguing that government officials are not simply reluctant to crack down on intelligence agencies — but scared to do so.
Indeed, a mantra among experts speaking at a major conference in Pittsburgh this month on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was that JFK was the last U.S. president who dared challenge the CIA, and therefore paid with his life. That’s just one view, with the Warren Commission holding another. But they are each worth studying.
With that background, let’s examine the weekend protest, fears — and suggested solutions.