NSA and police state cheerleaders will often use the flimsy defense of mass surveillance, claiming that it’s “legal”, and therefore, it is somehow right, and that we must “trust” the state because the U.S. is an “advance” democracy, land of the free, home of the brave (you know the drill).
The truth of the matter is independent of the whims of the state (in this case, the Orwellian police state), which is this: when laws are manipulated and passed through our bicameral legislative machine and then used for oppressive and profitable ends – the very ends that so many great writers and philosophers warned us about for centuries – then those laws, along with the state’s omnipotent authority – must be challenged.
Presently, Washington’s current liberty death spiral is in direct conflict with the fundamental principles and morals of a free society. This has caused a near complete breakdown in trust between the corporate state and the “voters.”
This reality seems to be lost on so many media pundits and of course, completely lost on our bureaucratic class…
RT: It turns out that FBI director James Comey covers his laptop camera with tape, just like any NSA-fearing citizen should – an admission that has generated hilarity on social media…
Europe has been hit with its most spectacular ‘terror’ attack yet – hitting two types of public transportation targets which will trigger the most fear and trepidation in the minds of the public: an airport terminal and a subway station.
The U.S. embassy in Brussels has also declared a security emergency, and are now instructing all American citizens to “shelter in place.”
As the media coverage spins into overdrive this evening, politicians will feel the pressure to make some very big announcements thereafter.
In the immediate aftermath of the recent Paris Attacks in late 2015, French president Francois Hollande called for temporarily closing down France’s borders, emergency police powers and also for “suspending the constitution” (suspending citizens’ rights). Also, Hollande launched airstrikes against supposed “ISIS targets” in Syria. It was a full-spectrum reaction to Paris. Expect similar announcements from Belgium and EU authorities within the next 24 hours.
Once the dust begins to settle in Brussels, it’s almost 100% certain that a whole new raft of Europe-wide (and possible western-worldwide) security measures will now be rushed into place as a reaction to this latest incident. These will likely include, but are limited to, new police powers of search, seizure and detention, biometric ID systems and other ‘enhanced screening’ measures. Also expect some privacy debate to ensue regarding personal device encryption, or unfettered police access to personal information.
More interesting images, ones we’ve seen before…
SHADES OF BOSTON: Some familiar imagery, scenes of apparent carnage, torn cloths, victims on cell phones – this time in Brussels.
According to authorities, here is what they are saying so far…
At least 26 people are dead and more than 100 wounded, after explosions struck Brussels during the Tuesday morning rush hour, Belgian officials say. Two blasts hit the international airport; another struck a metro station. Belgium has issued a Level 4 alert, denoting “serious and imminent attack.”
“What we feared has happened, we were hit by blind attacks,” Prime Minister Charles Michel said at a midday news conference Tuesday. He added that there were many dead and many injured.
Citing Minister of Social Affairs and Health Maggie De Block, Belgian media say 11 people died at the airport attack. Transit and other officials say 15 people died at the metro station. Those same sources say there were 81 injured at the airport and 55 hurt in the Maelbeek train attack.
The number of dead and wounded could rise, as Belgian emergency agencies are focused on responding to those in need. Information is still emerging about this attack, and some reports may later prove inaccurate. Here’s what we know so far:
At Brussels’ Zaventem airport, a suicide attacker struck around 8 a.m. local time, according to a federal prosecutor. The explosions hit near the departure gates, collapsing ceiling panels and shattering glass windows. The blasts sent smoke billowing from the airport and set off a panic as people ran from the airport with whatever they could carry. The facility has now been evacuated and closed.
On a metro train in or near the Maelbeek station, an explosion caused chaos close to the the European Union headquarters. That station is about 7 miles from the airport, in the city’s center. Images of the aftermath of that attack show people running for safety along the tracks through a darkened and smoke-filled tunnel.
Brussels has ordered all its tunnels closed to traffic and the city is under a lockdown. The city’s airport is closed for the day and flights are being rerouted to nearby cities.
To clarify information that went out in an NPR news alert earlier this morning: There have been at least three explosions — two at the airport and one at a train station. An early report suggested there were three explosions on the subway.
Belgium’s Crisis Center is urging citizens not to use the phones, saying the system is saturated.
Brussels has shut down its public transit system. Eurostar train service between London and Brussels has also been suspended…
Proving that there is no discernible difference between Republican and Democratic administrations (as if the Bush-Obama years were not proof enough), Hillary Clinton’s dramatically pro-war, Zionist, and police state policies are earning her the support (or at least the lack of public opposition) from noted Neo-Con figures who typically play the role of the right-wing Republican side of the dialectic.
Consider Jacob Heilbrunn’s article in the New York Times entitled “The Next Act of the Neocons,” where he argued that many hawkish Neo-Cons are considering the possibility of crossing over from the GOP to the Hillary Clinton camp. While the ideology of the Neo-Cons is scarcely discernible from other factions in the US ruling class, there are minor differences in terms of the presentation of that ideology. This presentation has been carefully crafted by the ruling class for years for the purposes of dividing and ruling the American people. The fact that a seemingly “conservative” movement would thus be so open about supporting a seemingly “liberal” candidate is extremely telling.
Heilbrunn’s article tends to focus on the possibility that neo-cons like Robert Kagan are considering open support for Clinton. He writes,
Even as they castigate Mr. Obama, the neocons may be preparing a more brazen feat: aligning themselves with Hillary Rodham Clinton and her nascent presidential campaign, in a bid to return to the driver’s seat of American foreign policy.
. . . . .
It’s not as outlandish as it may sound. Consider the historian Robert Kagan, the author of a recent, roundly praised article in The New Republic that amounted to a neo-neocon manifesto. He has not only avoided the vitriolic tone that has afflicted some of his intellectual brethren but also co-founded an influential bipartisan advisory group during Mrs. Clinton’s time at the State Department.
Mr. Kagan has also been careful to avoid landing at standard-issue neocon think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute; instead, he’s a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, that citadel of liberalism headed by Strobe Talbott, who was deputy secretary of state under President Bill Clinton and is considered a strong candidate to become secretary of state in a new Democratic administration. (Mr. Talbott called the Kagan article “magisterial,” in what amounts to a public baptism into the liberal establishment.)
Jason Horowitz, also writing for the New York Times, quotes Kagan as being comfortable with Clinton in terms of her foreign policy. Horowitz writes,
“I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy,” Mr. Kagan said, adding that the next step after Mr. Obama’s more realist approach “could theoretically be whatever Hillary brings to the table” if elected president. “If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue,” he added, “it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.”
Heilbrunn also points out that Kagan is not the only well-known Neo-Con who is open to public support for the Clinton campaign. Max Boot has also expressedrespect for Clinton when he described her tenure as Secretary of State. He describes Clinton by saying, “it is clear that in administration councils she was a principled voice for a strong stand on controversial issues, whether supporting the Afghan surge or the intervention in Libya. Later she urged arming the moderate opposition during the early days of the Syrian civil war—advice that, if Obama had taken it, might well have short-circuited the violent disintegration of Syria, which is far advanced today.”
Heilbrunn also writes that former Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, a Neo-Con in everything but official title, echoes the sentiments of Boot and Kagan and that measure of support for Clinton might also be expected from his camp.
Based on her public record and Gates’s insider account, Clinton could be expected to favor a more neoconservative approach to the Mideast, one more in line with the traditional thinking of Official Washington and the belligerent dictates of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
As a U.S. senator and as Secretary of State, Clinton rarely challenged the conventional wisdom or resisted the use of military force to solve problems. She famously voted for the Iraq War in 2002 – falling for President George W. Bush’s bogus WMD case – and remained a war supporter until her position became politically untenable during Campaign 2008.
Representing New York, Clinton rarely if ever criticized Israeli actions. In summer 2006, as Israeli warplanes pounded southern Lebanon, killing more than 1,000 Lebanese, Sen. Clinton shared a stage with Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman who had said, “While it may be true – and probably is – that not all Muslims are terrorists, it also happens to be true that nearly all terrorists are Muslim.”
At a pro-Israel rally with Clinton in New York on July 17, 2006, Gillerman proudly defended Israel’s massive violence against targets in Lebanon. “Let us finish the job,” Gillerman told the crowd. “We will excise the cancer in Lebanon” and “cut off the fingers” of Hezbollah. Responding to international concerns that Israel was using “disproportionate” force in bombing Lebanon and killing hundreds of civilians, Gillerman said, “You’re damn right we are.” [NYT, July 18, 2006]
Sen. Clinton did not protest Gillerman’s remarks, since doing so would presumably have offended an important pro-Israel constituency.
Of course, in this sense the term “pro-Israel constituency” can easily be translated to mean “neo-con constituency” since, in reality, that is exactly what it is. Clearly, Clinton was not going to offend the Neo-Con leadership not because she is simply courting campaign funds but because Clinton herself is a Neo-Con.
Brandon Turbeville’s new book, The Difference It Makes: 36 Reasons Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President is available in three different formats: Hardcopy (available here), Amazon Kindle for only .99 (available here), and a Free PDF Format (accessible free from his website,BrandonTurbeville.com).
A federal appeals court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has ruled that filming the police without a specific challenge or criticism is not constitutionally protected.
The cases of Fields v. City of Philadelphia, and Geraci v. City of Philadelphia involve two different incidents where individuals were arrested for filming the police. Richard Fields, a Temple University student, was arrested after stopping to take a picture of a large group of police outside a house party. Amanda Geraci, a legal observer with CopWatch Berkeley, attended a large protest against fracking in September 2012 and was arrested while filming the arrest of another protester.
Both Fields and Geraci are seeking damages from the Philadelphia Police Department for violating their Constitutional right to videotape public officials. Previous rulings have found the public has a right to record police as form of “expressive conduct,” such as a protest or criticism, which is protected by the First Amendment.
The appeals court was specifically tasked with finding out whether or not the public has a First Amendment right to photograph and film police without a clear expression of criticism or challenge to police conduct.
Fields’ and Geraci’s alleged ‘constitutionally protected conduct’ consists of observing and photographing, or making a record of, police activity in a public forum. Neither uttered any words to the effect he or she sought to take pictures to oppose police activity. Their particular behavior is only afforded First Amendment protection if we construe it as expressive conduct.
The court ultimately stated, “We find no basis to craft a new First Amendment right based solely on ‘observing and recording’ without expressive conduct.”
“Absent any authority from the Supreme Court or our Court of Appeals, we decline to create a new First Amendment right for citizens to photograph officers when they have no expressive purpose such as challenging police actions,” the decision concluded.
Eugene Volokh, a professor of law at UCLA, disagrees with the decision and says he believes it will eventually be overturned by the Third Circuit Court upon appeal.
“Whether one is physically speaking (to challenge or criticize the police or to praise them or to say something else) is relevant to whether one is engaged in expression,” Volokh wrote in the Washington Post. “But it’s not relevant to whether one is gathering information, and the First Amendment protects silent gathering of information (at least by recording in public) for possible future publication as much as it protects loud gathering of information.”
Whether or not the ruling is overturned, it should serve as a reminder to all free hearts and minds that the cost of liberty is eternal vigilance. We cannot become passive and allow the ruling class and despots in government to subvert our path towards liberation. Now more than ever we need communities to actively organize cop-watching and politician-watching campaigns that encourage accountability and transparency. We must also remain strong in our sense of morality and principles, and not allow what is “legal” or “constitutional” to limit us in our fight for freedom.