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Posts Tagged ‘Homeland Security

It’s October, and I’m surprised. Should I also be scared?

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Let’s see….  

1. Our economy — that venerable house of cards — is collapsing, and the architects show no signs that they intend to do anything but stack more cards into the rafters (to hell with the foundation, to hell with the people below).

2. The news media essentially serve as a 24-7 infomercial for McCain-Palin, and yet Obama is still ahead — by double digits, according to some polls —  which means that people aren’t lining up anymore to buy the Bush-Cheney line of bullshit.

3. And, lastly, according to a Sept. 30 article in Army Times, George Bush has officially done the utterly unprecedented: He ordered a brigade of troops to to begin patrolling U.S soil, beginning on Oct. 1st, as part of the new NorthCom force. Bush dispatched the brigade in case our country needs help with “civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE attack.”

Should I be scared? I am.

But it’s a safe bet that — since this post isn’t about Sarah Palin — no one will read it, which means that, on the topic of fearful things, I can plant my tin foil hat firmly on my head and talk without fear of reprimand.

According to the Army Times article, the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team goes by the incredibly adorable name, “Sea Smurf” — which is the phonetically-correct moniker for it’s official name: CCMRF (the CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force). Their mission is slated to last for a year, during which time we can all take comfort in the words of Sea Smurf commander, Col Roger Clouter: “We’re going in to help American citizens on American soil, to save lives, provide critical life support, help clear debris, restore normalcy and support whatever local agencies need us to do, so it’s kind of a different role.”

Different, indeed. The brigade is equipped to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” which includes, “equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.”

If the idea of soldiers patrolling your neighborhood with shields, batons and rubber bullets makes you nervous, take comfort in this: The Army Times article did issue a correction in early October, regarding the use of their non-lethal package. Accordingly, “A non-lethal crowd control package fielded to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, described in the original version of this story, is intended for use on deployments to the war zone, not in the U.S., as previously stated.”

Rubber bullets aside, one strategic problem with the Sea Smurf’s NorthCom mission is that, according to an April 2008 GAO report, Northcom has not bothered to involve local and state officials and governments — much less the National Guard — in their emergency preparedness planning and coordination efforts. In other words, NorthCom appears set to go it alone, leaving legislators, governors, mayors, the National Guard and the media,  to — I don’t know — step in line? 

The unprecedented pre-emptive deployment of NorthCom military troops onto U.S. soil was paved in October 2006 when Bush signed the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007.  A few lawmakers, such as Sen. Patrick Leahy, protested — as did governors across the country, who saw blazing red flags in the bills provisions. The governors banded together and repeatedly petitioned leaders on Capitol Hill with letters of protest, which were met, one by one, with silence. One such letter, signed by every member of the National Governors Association, read, in part:

This provision was drafted without consultation or input from governors, and represents an unprecedented shift in authority from governors . . .to the federal government….. We urge you to drop provisions that would usurp governors’ authority over the National Guard during emergencies from the conference agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act

So much for democracy. The bill passed like a hot knife through butter.

The roles of traditional emergency preparedness team workers seem to have been usurped by Air Force engineer and medical units, the Marine Corps Chemical, Biological Initial Reaction Force, a Navy weather team and members of the Defense Logistics Agency and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Whatever that means.

On this topic, the bi-partisan group of legislators that released the aforementioned April 2008 GAO report had a few things to say:   

I remain convinced that almost seven years after 9/11, the U.S. Northern Command, as presently structured, serves no real purpose and is a waste of taxpayers’ money. The only hope to transform this sham command into a viable asset for the American people would require major changes.  — Gene Taylor, D-Mississippi 

The United States Northern Command is supposed to be out in front in the Pentagon’s efforts to support civil authorities in emergencies. It should be planning and identifying possible equipment shortfalls. Above all, it should be working closely with state and local communities. Instead, the command is doing very little of this core activity. — Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont

Clearly, a bias against playing a supporting role to civilian authorities has resulted in large gaps in NORTHCOM’s ability to fulfill its stated mission. The fact is, governors and their National Guard are and will continue to be our nation’s first domestic military responders. And until they and NORTHCOM can work together more seamlessly, NORTHCOM’s ability to be of assistance in homeland response will continue to face significant challenges. — Chris Shays, R-Connecticut

NORTHCOM’s duty is to provide military support to States and the Department of Homeland Security, but it hasn’t fully figured out this emergency support mission. Any crack in our emergency preparedness capability today will become a gaping hole in our catastrophic response tomorrow. — Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi

Instead of working with the governors, the National Guard Bureau and the State Adjutants General, Northern Command has held the country’s historic first military responders at arm’s length. Northern Command needs to accept its supporting role or get out of the way. — Tom Davis, R-Virginia
 

It is a curiosity. I mean, For more than 100 years – since the end of the Civil War – deployment of the U.S. military inside the U.S. has been prohibited under The Posse Comitatus Act (the only exceptions being that the National Guard and Coast Guard are exempted, and use of the military on an emergency ad hoc basis is permitted, such as what happened after Hurricane Katrina). Unless I missed something, a major hurricane has not hit the mainland in recent days, nor has a spate of riots broken out  in our major cities. And there’s no imminent threat of an impending chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high explosive. Is there?  

Not that there’s a damned thing we can do about it. But I’m just saying….

Of course, it’s my prerogative to speculate on such things. After all, I am part of the tin-foil hat brigade, and have been since falling prey to tertiary Lyme Disease in 2002. Ever since, I’ve been on the vanguard with those who have long-believed in such unspeakable things as a Wall Street catastrophe, not to mention bizarre theories about bio-warfare pandemics, a second (and maybe a third) stolen election, 9-11 as a false flag operation, the Patriot Act, Dick Cheney’s oil imperialism agenda, the ascent of mercenary armies, martial law, internment camps, government-controlled media, geophysical warfare and so on — complete with all the legislative frills and scary, terrorist-bullying jargon necessary to making these newworldorder-ish things alternately possible, invisible, overt, covert and, ultimately, unstoppable.

 

Granted, a single brigade of Sea Smurfs dispatched to the blood red soils of Georgia, USA hardly seems like an overwhelming threat. But it is unprecedented, and it is also, um, un-American. So it’s only natural that I’d jump on board, in full-tin regalia, fully unsurprised — yet as surprised as the next person — by the house of cards, the McCain-Palin infomercials and the Sea Smurf Brigade. Only, unlike the steadfast tin soldier, I don’t feel so brave. And my heart’s not doing so well, either.    

 

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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Army Times: (Sept. 30, 2008)  Brigade Homeland Tour Starts October 1st

Salon.com: (Sept. 24, 2008) Why is a U.S. Army Brigade Being Assigned to the “Homeland”?

Patrick Leahy: (April 16, 2008) GAO: NORTHCOM Failing in Civil Support Mission

CQ.com: (Dec. 1, 2006)  Fine Print in Defense Bill Opens Door to Martial Law

Global Research: (October 9, 2008) FEMA Sources Confirm Coming Martial Law

The Progressive: (October 7, 2008)  Leahy Concerned About NorthCom’s New Army Unit

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Having created the conditions that produced history’s biggest bubble, America’s political leaders appear unable to grasp the magnitude of the dangers the country now faces. Mired in their rancorous culture wars and squabbling among themselves, they seem oblivious to the fact that American global leadership is fast ebbing away. A new world is coming into being almost unnoticed, where America is only one of several great powers, facing an uncertain future it can no longer shape. — From Asia Times  (October 10, 2008)  Wall Street: A New Iraq War

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Why Are the FBI and Attorney General Mukasey in Cahoots with Barney Fife?

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Earlier this week, while America’s attention was fixated on the Olympics, John Edwards’ love child, and the Georgia-Russia war (necessarily in that order) this tidbit quietly slipped into the headlines: FBI to get freer rein to look for terrorism suspects. Herein, Attorney General Michael Mukasey announced that the FBI and the Department of Justice have formed a brand new front in the war on homegrown terror. Working with the existing Joint Terrorism Task Force, this new effort will borrow what little is left of our constitutional rights, and hand them to the care of, say, your local Barney Fife.

Reading the above-mentioned article, it takes a little doing to get to the facts, because — if there’s one thing this administration does well, it’s cloaking outrageous truths in the most innocuous language possible. It takes either a skilled translator or a patient researcher to glean facts from the language of this administration — seeded as it is with vague euphemisms and benign jargon.

Here is one example, pertinent to the article. The word ‘agent’ was repeatedly used, in reference to those specific individuals, who will be empowered with violating our constitutional rights, while tracking terrorists. While the term ‘agent’ is nothing new, the word drew our attention after its ninth mention in the article. Just to be sure, we decided to check on the official meaning of the word, ‘agent’ with specific regard to our government’s work in tracking terrorists.

The answers can be found in White House press releases from 2001-2008, along with various documents from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the Department of Justice. As it turns out, until 2005, the word ‘agent’ referred to only federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement officials. Beginning in 2005, however, the language morphed to federal, state, local, tribal and private sector officials. Just to be sure, we decided to check on the official meaning of the term, ‘private sector.’

Are You a Terrorist? Only Your Hairdresser Knows for Sure

Turns out, a ‘private sector’ agent can be most anyone. All that’s needed is a keen eye for spotting terrorists and the opportunity to spot them. Is your neighbor a computer specialist? A department store security guard? A meter maid? A city sanitation worker? A private eye? A sheriff’s deputy? A dog catcher? A beautician? An unemployed mama’s boy? An ex-con? A murderer? He or she may have a keen eye for spotting terrorists.

Or maybe you, yourself, have a keen eye for spotting terrorists. If so, the FBI will pay you royally to work as an informant. How about your co-worker? Your ex-spouse? Your ex-spouse’s lover? Any of these people have a grudge against you? They could become a paid informant. What about your meter reader, the cable guy, the garbage man, the clerk at city hall? Have any neo-Nazi friends? Know anyone who needs a few extra bucks? If so, they can become a paid informant and finger you to a keen-eyed official, who has the authority to deem you a terrorist suspect, then launch an investigation — tapping your phone, monitoring your computer and cable TV habits, and physically spying on you. You may even get to be the focus of a real live sting operation! Naturally, there are many in this country who wouldn’t feel the least bit threatened to investigated as a terrorist suspect, because they know they’re not terrorists and, besides, as President Bush often reminds us, eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.

Are You Sure You’re Not a Terrorist?

So you think the FBI could never accuse you of being a terrorist? Before taking that leap of faith, it’d be good — just to be sure — to make sure you know the offical definition of a ‘terrorist suspect.’ (<—- our apologies for the source, but this was the clearest copy we could find on the fly).

You May Be A Terrorist, and Not Even Know It

The reality is, just because *you* know that you’re not a terrorist suspect, doesn’t mean that *they* will also know. For instance, if you write a letter-to-the-editor speaking out against cruelty to animals, or in defense of free speech or environmental issues, or if you are a vegan, or a peace activist, or a protester, or have a bumper sticker related to any of these issues, the FBI (via local law enforcement or a tip from a keen informant) may deem you a domestic or homegrown terrorist. Alternately, your name (and the names of your friends & associates) may be entered into the FBI’s terrorist database. Do you wear certain ethnic clothing, or associate with certain ethnicities, or are you a black activist, or do you resemble one, or are you a Muslim, or do you resemble a Muslim? You may be a terrorist suspect.

 

 

Do you have fingerprints? You may be a terrorist suspect.

And what if you’re some (or none) of the above, yet get stopped for a speeding ticket by the local Barney Fife….? Are you wearing bulky clothing? Did you forget your driver’s license? Are you alone and nervous? You may be a terrorist suspect.


Of course, the Bush Administration has been using these tactics for years now. But as the FBI, the CIA and Department of Justice reach further into our lives, who’s to say any one of us couldn’t be shoe-horned into their profile? We, here at the canarypapers, are free-thinkers. We disagree with nearly everything. We especially disagree with everything the Bush Administration has ever done. So I guess you could say we’re defenders of the Constitution. We certainly make enough references to it in our rantings on the Bush-Cheney regime. We’re vegans too, which is another strike against us but, fortunately, we’re too anti-social (woops) to attend vegan potluck dinners. Of course Zeus — darn him to heck — insists on using his nickname, which is another strike against him and, by association, me.

We’d like to think that justice would prevail if our viewpoints were ever used as evidence to accuse us of heinous crimes we didn’t commit. Better still, we’d like to think we live in a country where something like this could never happen. But the truth is, justice doesn’t always prevail.

“If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They’ll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his neck to any dictatorial government.”

–Dwight D. Eisenhower
 
 
 
 

 

The power to arbitrarily brand people as terrorist suspects is serious business. It becomes dangerous business when placed in the hands of the wrong person, even if that person happens to be the Attorney General of the United States. This sort of power belongs in corrupt dictatorships, not democratic societies.

This would be a good time to call and/or write your state representatives and any other member of Congress inclined to respond to such issues. Protest this dangerous intrusion into our constitutional rights. Tell your representative you are AGAINST implementing Attorney General Mukasey’s 5 new guidlines to transform the FBI/Department of Justice anti-terrorism unit into an elite national security organization, as announced on August 13th.

Tell ’em Checkpoint Chickie sent you.

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