Tag Archives: Occupy Wall Street

Domestic Surveillance in the USA

023-0216144320-info_fusionWaveland        The holidays are slow news days, but not no news days.   One item that caught my attention in the list of big stories of the year was the ongoing tale of domestic surveillance in the USA, which I reread again.

Much of this was the post-9/11 reality that we forget is as much about us, as about the unknown “them” that threaten national security according to the experts.  There are a number of “fusion” centers now around the country that collect random information from different intelligence agencies, local police departments, and others.  Fusion because they are supposed to connect the dots, pull the strands together, bring order to the random pieces of “intel.”

Occupy Wall Street was a big moment for the fusion centers from these reports for reasons that escape explanation.  Of all of the things that the Occupy movement might have been, it takes a bizarre kind of imagination to believe that it might have been a national security threat.

Bizarre though seems to have been the order of the day.  The reports monitored Noam Chomsky, the linguist and political activist, when he spoke in Boston to an Occupy group.  Other reports tracked random car loads of activists as they left their town to head for an Occupy site, even noting that there seemed to be nothing to worry about.   If there’s nothing to worry about, why were they monitoring such movement and sending the “intel” to the fusion centers though?

Part of the reason I find this troubling is that I also bet the current wave of protests about the excesses of police powers have probably blown the roof off of the surveillance system in the USA.  Think about it.  If we now allow domestic surveillance of US citizens on the flimsiest of excuses, and most of the Occupy activity around the country has to fully qualify in that regard with all due respect, it’s not hard to imagine that direct protests, lie-ins, die-ins, and what not directed at the police forces themselves are probably seen as wild security threats.

On many levels we’ll never know or at least we won’t know for several years until some redacted freedom-of-information request is processed that has as many words blackened as we are able to decipher, but my bet is that restraint has flown out the window, and organizers and activists that are moving these ongoing protests can bank on the fact that their names are front and center in communiques being sent between local and state police and federal authorities these days.  I would bet the fusion centers are blowing a fuse keeping up with all of these so-called “security” threats.

All of which in my book calls for a clampdown on domestic surveillance, but if the CIA can spy on a Senate committee, and it’s “no harm, no foul” as far as the CIA is concerned, then it’s clearly open season on the rest of us.

Keep your eyes open and watch your backs, brothers and sisters, we’re being watched!

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The Money Contradictions of Roemer and Americans Elect

Buddy Roemer

New Orleans   Buddy Roemer was a confusing and contradictory Louisiana politician as a one-term governor of the state several decades ago as he jumped from party to party and issue to issue.  He just didn’t seem comfortable or made for the job, but in the strange way of public life, he has spent the last year trying to jump around and run for President in the Republican primaries or at least collect some press clippings along the way.   Importantly he carved out a niche for himself by refusing to take any PAC contributions or much of any contributions above $100 or so.  He showed up at the Occupy Wall Street locations.  His defined the unique quixotic American race for the White House.  Living in Louisiana we probably read more about it than others as the hometown papers reported on his pursuit, usually with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Now Roemer has announced that he is abandoning his act within the Republican primaries and is now going to try to contend for nominations of some sort or another as an independent.  He has set his sights on the nomination from Americans Elect and the Reform Party.

Americans Elect is a confusing, hybrid affair that has eschewed parties, it claims, in order to focus on a state by state process of gaining ballot access for an independent candidacy for the White House.  In some ways the party-hopping Roemer should fit nicely in the anti-party Americans Elect.  Roemer had served several terms as a U.S. Congressman from Louisiana as a Democrat and was elected as Louisiana governor as a Democrat but then changed parties in the last year of his only term to become a Republican.  Now, it’s Republican to Independent.  For Roemer certainly, it’s not the party, it’s all about him!  Perhaps that’s the case for Americans Elect as well; it’s not about the party, it’s all about them.

The lack of transparency around their own financing gave rise to a fair amount of head scratching when trying to get a handle on Americans Elect, and now the irony of the Roemer jump to try and run on their line seems a piece with this.  The Times reported Roemer’s leap with a straight face unlike the way the Times-Picayune would have run the story, but it was clear that the real issue was all about money for a candidate that has claimed that it can’t be about the money.  Seems Roemer had qualified for public financing worth a couple of $100,000, but was on the verge of losing that if he didn’t hit a benchmark in upcoming Republican primaries.  By jumping to this amalgam of Americans Elect, which doesn’t qualify for matching on their line, and the Reform Party, which does, then Roemer is still in the money and can keep on with his quixotic quest.

Not sure what principles or politics is really involved here for any of these folks at this point, but it is clear that it’s all about the money!

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