TagCivil Liberties

Must read Glenn Greenwald on CIA propaganda efforts overseas and Wikileaks

Apathy Might Not Be Enough

The Report also cites the “fall of the Dutch Government over its troop commitment to Afghanistan” and worries that — particularly if the “bloody summer in Afghanistan” that many predict takes place — what happened to the Dutch will spread as a result of the “fragility of European support” for the war. As the truly creepy Report title puts it, the CIA’s concern is: “Why Counting on Apathy May Not Be Enough” […]

The Report seeks to provide a back-up plan for “counting on apathy,” and provides ways that the U.S. Government can manipulate public opinion in these foreign countries. It explains that French sympathy for Afghan refugees means that exploiting Afghan women as pro-war messengers would be effective, while Germans would be more vulnerable to a fear-mongering campaign (failure in Afghanistan means the Terrorists will get you). The Report highlights the unique ability of Barack Obama to sell war to European populations. […]

It’s both interesting and revealing that the CIA sees Obama as a valuable asset in putting a pretty face on our wars in the eyes of foreign populations. It is odious — though, of course, completely unsurprising — that the CIA plots ways to manipulate public opinion in foreign countries in order to sustain support for our wars. […]

All of this has made WikiLeaks an increasingly hated target of numerous government and economic elites around the world, including the U.S. Government. As The New York Times put it last week: “To the list of the enemies threatening the security of the United States, the Pentagon has added WikiLeaks.org, a tiny online source of information and documents that governments and corporations around the world would prefer to keep secret.” In 2008, the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Center prepared a secret report — obtained and posted by WikiLeaks — devoted to this website and detailing, in a section entitled “Is it Free Speech or Illegal Speech?”, ways it would seek to destroy the organization. It discusses the possibility that, for some governments, not merely contributing to WikiLeaks, but “even accessing the website itself is a crime,” and outlines its proposal for WikiLeaks’ destruction as follows:

Pentagon

Glenn Greenwald: The war on WikiLeaks and why it matters

One idea someone on Slashdot came up with is using Freenet to submit stories to Wikileaks, which could be then be mirrored on the regular web, helping insure the security and anonymity of contributors and assuring the availability of the information.

See also:

Freenet, darknets, and the “deep web”

Little Brother

White House Cyber Czar: ‘There Is No Cyberwar’

White House Cyber Czar Howard Schmidt

Howard Schmidt, the new cybersecurity czar for the Obama administration, has a short answer for the drumbeat of rhetoric claiming the United States is caught up in a cyberwar that it is losing.

“There is no cyberwar,” Schmidt told Wired.com in a sit-down interview Wednesday at the RSA Security Conference in San Francisco.

“I think that is a terrible metaphor and I think that is a terrible concept,” Schmidt said. “There are no winners in that environment.”

Instead, Schmidt said the government needs to focus its cybersecurity efforts to fight online crime and espionage.

His stance contradicts Michael McConnell, the former director of national intelligence who made headlines last week when he testified to Congress that the country was already in the midst of a cyberwar — and was losing it.

Threat Level: White House Cyber Czar: ‘There Is No Cyberwar’

See also:

Cyberwar Hype Intended to Destroy the Open Internet

Cyber warfare: don’t inflate it, don’t underestimate it

Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative

“Militant Atheist” found guilty of religious harassment

Prayer room

“The airport is named after one of my heroes and his view on religion was pretty much the same as mine. I thought it was an insult to his memory to have a prayer room in his airport.” That was part of the evidence given in court by the self-styled “militant atheist” campaigner Harry Taylor, 59, to explain why he left anti-religious materials in the multi-faith Prayer Room of Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport (pictured).

The jury of ten women and two men, at Liverpool Crown Court wasn’t having it. It took them just 15 minutes to find Mr Taylor guilt of “religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress” after viewing the “grossly abusive and insulting” images in court. The cartoons — which had been cut from newspapers, magazines and other mainstream publications — included one showing a smiling Christ on the cross next to an advert for a brand of “no nails” glue. In another, the Pope is shown wearing a condom on his finger. Others featured Islamic suicide bombers at the gates of paradise who are told, “Stop, stop, we’ve run out of virgins.”

BBC: “Militant Atheist” found guilty of religious harassment

(Via Religion News)

The other side of Norman Rockwell

Southern Justice (Murder in Mississippi) by Norman Rockwell

The Problem We All Live With

Today marks the 116th anniversary of Norman Rockwell’s birth. Born in New York, Rockwell became best known for his idealized images of small-town life. He was shunned by the art world in his time and that impression has largely continued today. A commercial illustrator for the vast majority of his life, for many Rockwell is associated only with saccharine sweetness and stagnant tradition.

This is wrong.

The other side of Norman Rockwell

US Supreme Court: No More Due Process, Torture is OK

While we were all out doing our Christmas shopping, the highest court in the land quietly put the kibosh on a few more of the remaining shards of human liberty.

It happened earlier this week, in a discreet ruling that attracted almost no notice and took little time. In fact, our most august defenders of the Constitution did not have to exert themselves in the slightest to eviscerate not merely 220 years of Constitutional jurisprudence but also centuries of agonizing effort to lift civilization a few inches out of the blood-soaked mire that is our common human legacy. They just had to write a single sentence.

Here’s how the bad deal went down. After hearing passionate arguments from the Obama Administration, the Supreme Court acquiesced to the president’s fervent request and, in a one-line ruling, let stand a lower court decision that declared torture an ordinary, expected consequence of military detention, while introducing a shocking new precedent for all future courts to follow: anyone who is arbitrarily declared a “suspected enemy combatant” by the president or his designated minions is no longer a “person.” They will simply cease to exist as a legal entity. They will have no inherent rights, no human rights, no legal standing whatsoever — save whatever modicum of process the government arbitrarily deigns to grant them from time to time, with its ever-shifting tribunals and show trials.

This extraordinary ruling occasioned none of those deep-delving “process stories” that glut the pages of the New York Times, where the minutiae of policy-making or political gaming is examined in highly-spun, microscopic detail doled out by self-interested insiders. Obviously, giving government the power to render whole classes of people “unpersons” was not an interesting subject for our media arbiters. It was news that wasn’t fit to print. Likewise, the ruling provoked no thundering editorials in the Washington Post, no savvy analysis from the high commentariat — and needless to say, no outrage whatsoever from all our fierce defenders of individual liberty on the Right.

Dred Scot Redux: Dred Scott Redux: Obama and the Supremes Stand Up for Slavery

The legal high industry goes pro

Now this is where it gets interesting because the researchers note that a new product appeared on the market, containing JWH-073 – another synthetic cannabinoid, within four weeks of the ban. JWH-073 has similar similar effects, but isn’t covered by the law and so remains legal.

The speed at which it appeared suggests that it had been selected and synthesised in advance, in anticipation of the ban […]

In other words, the legal high industry is packing neuroscientists and heavyweight lab pharmacologists. It is no longer just head-shop hippies repackaging obscure psychoactive and barely recreational plants as a poor substitute for street drugs. The legal high industry has become professionalised.

Seemingly based on the model of the pharmaceutical industry, it is becoming science-led, regulation savvy and is out-manoeuvring the authorities well before they catch up.

Mind Hacks: Spice flow: the new street drug pharmacology

Why is this anti-gay Leviticus tattoo extra absurd?

Leviticus

Jesse Galef writes:

Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan put up a post about an extremely brutal hate-crime attack on an openly gay man. The 2-minute news report he embeds is depressing, but there was something to laugh about at the end. The studio interviewed one of the attackers’ friends, who proudly displayed this tattoo.

It’s a tattoo reading “[Thou] shall not lie with a male as one does with a woman. It is an abomination. Leviticus 18:22?. Who else sees the problem here?

Leviticus also forbids tattooing. In the very next chapter.

“Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:28?

Full Story: The Friendly Atheist: Why is this anti-gay Leviticus tattoo extra absurd?

(via Paul Bingman)

See Also:

The Duggars and Quiverfull – The Cult Behind The Family

The Westboro Baptist Church is (Probably Not) a Scam

Who really said “When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and waving a cross”?

Obama administration issues new policy on medical marijuana

Holder has formalized the policy previously mentioned of ending federal drug raids against sick people:

The Obama administration delivered new guidance on medical marijuana to federal prosecutors Monday, signaling a broad policy shift that will mean fewer crackdowns against dispensaries and the people who use them.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. instructed government lawyers that in 14 states where medical marijuana use is legal, federal prosecutors should focus only on cases involving higher level drug traffickers or people who use the state laws as a cover story.

“It will not be a priority to use federal resources to prosecute patients with serious illnesses or their caregivers who are complying with state laws on medical marijuana, but we will not tolerate drug traffickers who hide behind claims of compliance with state law to mask activities that are clearly illegal,” Holder said. “This balanced policy formalizes a sensible approach that the Department has been following since January: effectively focus our resources on serious drug traffickers while taking into account state and local laws.”

Washington Post: Obama administration issues new policy on medical marijuana

Underground railroad for homosexual Iraqis

Human Rights Watch is trying to help Iraqi homosexuals flee the country:

Long and Moumneh formulated a plan. They would build an underground railroad of sorts, reaching out to gay men in Iraq through the Internet and their existing contacts in Iraq, then advising and supporting gay Iraqis until they could ferry them to a safe city somewhere in Iraq, then to a haven elsewhere in the region, and eventually perhaps to the West.

Why?

It has never been easy being gay in Iraq. During the Saddam Hussein era, open homosexuality wasn’t technically outlawed, but it was effectively forbidden, and harassment and torture of gay people, if sporadic, were not unknown. After the American-led invasion of the country in 2003, a similar atmosphere persisted. Fadi was 12 years old during the American invasion, so he had little knowledge of what it was like to be gay under Saddam, but as far back as a year and a half ago, he was walking past his local hussainiyah (a Shia gathering place similar to a mosque) when a man at the entrance of the building called out to him. “Come in for a minute,” the man said. Fadi knew there was no point in running because they knew where he lived. He assumed the man calling him over was from the Mahdi Army. He walked to the door of the hussainiyah thinking, This is the end for me. After some ten hours of being whipped, kicked, and spit on, Fadi was told to pick himself up off the floor and get dressed. “This is a warning for you,” one of his tormentors told him. “Tell people like you what happened to you.”

As virulent as the violence against gay people (men mostly) was, it operated at a kind of low hum for many years, overshadowed by the country’s myriad other problems. But in February of this year, something changed. There was no announcement, no fatwa, no openly declared policy by a cleric or militia leader or politician, but a wave of anti-gay hysteria hit the country. An Iraqi TV station, with disapproving commentary, showed a video of a group of perhaps two dozen young men at a private dance party, wiggling their hips like female belly dancers. Terms like the third sex and puppies, a newly coined slur, began to appear in hostile news reports. Shia and Sunni clerics started to preach in their Friday sermons about the evils of homosexuality and “the people of Lot.” Police officers stepped up their harassment of openly gay men. Families and tribes cast out their gay relatives. The bodies of gay men like Mazen and Namir, often mutilated, began turning up on the street. There is no way to verify the number of tortured or harassed, but the best available estimates place that figure in the thousands. Hundreds of men are believed to have been killed.

NY Magazine: The Hunted

(via OVO)

Case against SubGenius mom dismissed

Good news!

GOOD NEWS, EVERYONE!! I don’t have the official documents yet, but my lawyer informs me that the Appellate Division has dismissed the case against me! This means the jurisdiction of my case will move from Orleans County, NY to here in Georgia …where I live, so I can never again be forced to leave my home & rent an apartment in New York to fight the case!

It also upholds the current joint custody agreement that lets my son reside with me [as long as no SubGenius materials are in my house]! I’ll be sure to post scans of the papers when I get them, and of course there’s probably some kind of legal loopholes that might come up, but this is GREAT news! Thank you so much everyone, I could never have gotten here without you!!

I do still owe about $50,000+ in legal bills, and the payments are getting really tough to make with my husband laid off, so if anyone has a bit to spare, I promise to send massive Slack waves of thanks for your donation!

The High Weirdness Project

Trevor Blake writes:

It might seem a waste of Rev. Magdalen’s money and the tax-funded court system to spend so much only to have things return to the way they were in the first place, with Rev. Magdalen having custody of her son. But one concrete change did occur in all this. Rev. Magdalen is forbidden from having SubGenius material in her home. SubGenius material such as books I helped write. If you have my writing in your home, if you have SubGenius material in your home, if you have children, this case should matter to you. You may be next to spend $140,000 for the privilege of being left alone, minus some of your stuff.

To donate directly to Rev. Magdelen, use paypal to send any amount to magdalen@subgenius.com. To send funds to her lawyer write or call Christopher S. Mattingly 42 Delaware Ave Ste 120, Buffalo, NY 4202-3924 USA (telephone: +1-716-849-1333 ext 351).

It’s amazing and disgusting that she is still being denied the right have SubGenius materials in her home. How can this possibly be legal?

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