Peter Van Buren, a 24-year veteran of the State Department, spent a year in Iraq. Following his book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, the Department of State began proceedings against him. Through the efforts of the Government Accountability Project and the ACLU, Van Buren instead retired from the State Department on his own terms.
Peter’s commentary has been featured in The New York Times, Reuters, Salon, NPR, Al Jazzeera, Huffington Post, The Nation, TomDispatch, Antiwar.com, American Conservative Magazine, Mother Jones, Michael Moore.com, Le Monde, Asia Times, The Guardian (UK), Daily Kos, Middle East Online, Guernica and others. He has appeared on the BBC World Service, NPR’s All Things Considered and Fresh Air, CurrentTV, HuffPo Live, RT, ITV, Britain’s Channel 4 Viewpoint, Dutch Television, CCTV, Voice of America, and more.
October 28, 2012
Surveillance and Accountability
Nearly seven years after the disclosure of President George W. Bush’s secret program of spying on Americans without a warrant, the Supreme Court is about to hear arguments on whether judges can even consider the constitutionality of doing this kind of dragnet surveillance without adequate rules to protect people’s rights.
President Obama’s solicitor general, Donald Verrilli Jr., will be calling on the court to toss out the case based on a particularly cynical Catch-22: Because the wiretaps are secret and no one can say for certain that their calls have been or will be monitored, no one has standing to bring suit over the surveillance. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected that avoidance of accountability, and so should the Supreme Court.
On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby talks about yet another "apparent suicide" in Guantanamo prison, dryboarding, and how the only way to ever leave is in a body-bag. Abby interviews former CIA Officer Ray McGovern about CIA intelligence failures leading up to 9/11, the presidential daily briefings, and the PNAC neocon strategy for war. Abby Martin then talks to Afghan journalist and author of "Opium Wars" Fariba Nawa about the opium trade, opium brides, and the heroin black market. 11 years after the 9/11. Finally, Abby breaks down the systematic erosion of our civil liberties through legislation passed in a post 9/11 America.
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MEDIA ROOTS– Federal agents are continuing to detain a Marine Corps veteran in Chesterfield, Virginia for posts made on his website that expressed discontent for the federal government and accuse elements of it for orchestrating the 9/11 attacks.
On the evening of August 16, FBI agents accompanied by US Secret Service and Chesterfield County police officers approached the home of Brandon J. Raub, 26, a decorated combat engineer who had served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2005 to 2011.
After talking with authorities for “20, 30 minutes” it is still unclear what justification was used for his detainment as his posts did not mention any specific threats of violence to any person or place, nor did they include any imagery of destruction.
MEDIA ROOTS – Robbie & Abby Martin of Media Roots have an impromptu late night conversation about existentialism: the progression of technology and its effect on human interaction; human nature and the inability to face personal truths; reinforced perceptions of reality and societal myths keeping people in line; 9/11 & false flag terrorism, corporate collusion, the police state ruling society by fear and the unsustainable nature of global capitalism.
March 16, 2012
Democratic Senators Issue Strong Warning About Use of the Patriot Act
By CHARLIE SAVAGE
WASHINGTON — For more than two years, a handful of Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee have warned that the government is secretly interpreting its surveillance powers under the Patriot Act in a way that would be alarming if the public — or even others in Congress — knew about it.
On Thursday, two of those senators — Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado — went further. They said a top-secret intelligence operation that is based on that secret legal theory is not as crucial to national security as executive branch officials have maintained.
The senators, who also said that Americans would be “stunned” to know what the government thought the Patriot Act allowed it to do, made their remarks in a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. after a Justice Department official last month told a judge that disclosing anything about the program “could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.”
Every year, the State Department issues reports on individual rights in other countries, monitoring the passage of restrictive laws and regulations around the world. Iran, for example, has been criticized for denying fair public trials and limiting privacy, while Russia has been taken to task for undermining due process. Other countries have been condemned for the use of secret evidence and torture.
Even as we pass judgment on countries we consider unfree, Americans remain confident that any definition of a free nation must include their own — the land of free. Yet, the laws and practices of the land should shake that confidence. In the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state. The most recent example of this was the National Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, which allows for the indefinite detention of citizens. At what point does the reduction of individual rights in our country change how we define ourselves?
By Ellen Nakashima, Published: January 13
Civil liberties advocates are raising concerns that the Department of Homeland Security’s three-year-old practice of monitoring social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter could extend to tracking public reaction to news events and reports that “reflect adversely” on the U.S. government.
The activists, who obtained DHS documents through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, say one document in particular, a February 2010 analyst handbook, touts as a good example of “capturing public reaction” the monitoring of Facebook and other sites for public sentiment about the possible transfer of Guantanamo detainees to a Michigan prison.
Times, 7 June 2011
Daily Telegraph, 6 May 2011
Yorkshire Post, 8 June 2011
Sunday Telegraph, 5 June 2011
MEDIA ROOTS- In George Orwell’s 1984, Britain is depicted as a totalitarian police state that is ruled by the Party, or Big Brother– an enigmatic, ubiquitous elite that controls society through heavy surveillance, nationalist propaganda and historical revisionism. The concept seems like a far-fetched portrayal of a Democratic nation’s demise into totalitarianism, but in America’s “post 9/11” climate of fear, the United States government has been building a comprehensive grid of surveillance and control that bears frightening similarities to Orwell’s fictional narrative.
My first article on Media Roots, an initiative by artist, activist and independent journalist Abby Martin, is now up. It's called "The War On Paranoid Rhetoric". I want to thank Abby for her help, and I want to encourage the 9/11 truth community to help Abby make Media Roots into an even bigger success than it is already. Here's an excerpt from the article, originally inspired by a Youtube video created by David Chandler:
Terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe have altered our societies. They have changed the way we travel, the way we conduct criminal trials, the way we think about our civil liberties. The Wolfowitz Doctrine's emphasis on unilateralism evolved into the Bush Doctrine: waging preemptive war against nations that might pose a threat to our security, timid protestations from the UN notwithstanding.
We are constantly encouraged to be on the lookout for danger, report suspicious activities and watch for left luggage in airport terminals or bus stations. And if we don't do it, creepy, fully automated camera surveillance systems will do it for us. In that sense, the Bush Doctrine has wormed its way into our everyday lives, and we frenetically look inward to foil plots before they happen, to detect radicalization in our friends and enemies, colleagues and neighbors. Radicalism, we are told, is a precursor of terrorist tendencies. Therefore, all radicals are potential terrorists.
Thought crime is no longer a taboo; Orwell rolls in his grave. It wasn't the action, but the reaction in the form of totalitarian legislation that brought us here. We are told terrorists attack us because they hate our freedoms. The past decade tells a different story: terrorists may terrorize, but no entity hates our freedoms more than our own government, which is always in an excellent position to act upon its hatred. We are nurturing a culture of vigilantes and snitches. Politicians campaign on fear, and have pissing matches with their challengers about who is most 'patriotic' and best prepared to 'protect' the country.