Ordered Liberty Feed

War on Terror As Alibi for Curbing Civil Society

Aspen Institute Email Newsletter:

Most analysis of U.S. counterterrorism policies has failed to examine the effects on global civil society, according to Nancy Billica of the University of Colorado. In a paper from last year cited in the recent Collateral Damage: How The War on Terror Hurts Charities, Foundations and the People They Serve (pdf), Billica reports that the rhetoric and tools of post-9/11 U.S. policies are being adopted elsewhere, especially by governments as diverse as Egypt, Venezuela, Uganda, China and the Philippines. She summarizes anecdotes about international rights infringements, specifically efforts to put "civil society out of business" under the pretext of domestic security concerns. The word "terrorist" is being used broadly to describe anyone in opposition to a government, she writes in Philanthropy, Counterterrorism and Global Civil Society Activism (pdf). She writes that a more thorough and systematic review is needed on the effects of counterterrorism policies on global civil society and on its activists. One consequence of the post-9/11 policy record is that philanthropy has been pushed to match the objectives of government rather than those of civil society, which Billica classifies as a serious - though indirect - encroachment of government power.

See also Lester Salamon, Stephanie Geller, and Susan Lorentz's new essay, Nonprofit Advocacy: A Force for Democracy, on the under-funding in the US of advocacy.

Social Cohesion and Civil Liberties as Things Fall Apart

Posted on September 17, these words by Spartacus O'Neal seem as timely as ever:

With the present Wall Street fiasco, my concern is that too much attention will be paid to financial confusion, and too little to social disintegration. While public trust is perhaps at an all-time low, political panic and religious hysteria are on the rise. Last time these phenomena converged we had Aryan Nations, Waco and Oklahoma City.

With the Republicans running an openly apocalyptic ticket, and the Democrats running a black man, the violent right-wing underground must be frothing at the mouth. It wouldn't take much for Far Right social movement entrepreneurs to ignite this tinderbox.

Sad to say, reform groups and law enforcement are almost wholly unprepared for dealing with this type of social pathology, and due to their ignorance (and arrogance) almost always make things worse through inappropriate responses.

"Obama Bin Laden" and other taunts at Palin rally.

I must say that here in Dallas I worried more about this encouragement of jingoes and bigots when Bush's approval ratings were at 80% and his team was talking about neighborhood watches to turn people in who might be terrorists. (Terrorist is a term expansive enough in the minds of some to encompass Green Activists, Protesters, Yankee Pointy-Heads, and  Obama.) That was a fine moment for authoritarian leaders to make common cause with ignoramuses, under a weakened Constitution, to rule in the name of "American Values," by force and intimidation, and through (formerly unconstitutional) secret proceedings.       

National Security Administration Freedom Enhancement Officer

After the crash on Wall Street, with my finances in ruins, and my personal ethics a lower priority in the overall scheme of things, I have decided to take a job with the National Security Administration. Besides getting to listen in on the phone sex, and make proper transcripts of other people's most personal lives for future blackmail if needed, I also expect to collect considerable inside information about financial deals that I can act upon with impunity, thereby restoring my fortune, and enabling me to be ethical, as well as patriotic, and after I get enough money, philanthropic too, if only to "invest" for political return via graft.  I am voting for change, how about you? But wait! Neither candidate is bothered by the erosion of our civil liberties. So why fight it? Let us celebrate by blackmailing some poor sod, maybe a journalist, or a blogger, just for the fun of it. For us, who operate in secret, by law above the law, nothing is forbidden. Enjoy!

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act

David Hoch and Odette Wilkens:

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), whose recent passage received virtually no media coverage, will chill the first amendment rights of animal advocates and serve as a template for future limitations on the free speech of all activists. The Act subjects anyone who (1) uses interstate commerce, (2) with the intent to damage or interfere with an “animal enterprise” or with any person or entity associated with an animal enterprise, and (3) causes any economic damage or corporate profit loss or bodily injury or fear of bodily injury, or (4) conspires or attempts to do any of the foregoing, to prosecution for “animal enterprise terrorism.”

So, the test under 3) states that a terrorist is one who interferes with an animal enterprise and "causes any economic damage or corporate profit loss"? Well, I hope FDA inspectors don't end up in Guantanamo.

Army in the Streets of America

Dave Pollard writing from Canada:

I confess I don't really know what to make of the US government's decision to permanently station armed forces inside the US to serve "in times of emergency" and "to help with civil unrest and crowd control". A lot of Americans seem to think this is a significant change, but living in a country (Canada) whose citizens have been kidnapped by Homeland Security on US soil without charges or any recourse to the legal system, and secreted to foreign torture prisons, it's hard for me to see army brownshirts tasering protest groups as a significant further deterioration of civil liberties. I absolutely dread crossing the US border, knowing that Homeland Security can do anything they want to me, including now seizing my laptop and files and stealing everything in them without cause or notice (thanks to Our Descent for the link). The horses are all gone, folks, and now it doesn't much matter how much wider the barn doors are swung open. You ceded your civil liberties in 2004 when you re-elected Bush, and none of the candidates running to succeed him have voiced any indication they are planning to restore them.

Yet, we watch the mindless debates, put signs on our lawns for this candidate or that, and vote dutifully, lined up like sheep in long lines outside the school gym. The Army is wasting its time preparing to quell civil unrest. The only thing that would cause a rebellion is if tv went dead for a day. Then we would scream like babies banging our cups on the high chair.

House Declares "Martial Law" to Expedite Freedom?

Robert Greenstein,  Executive Director, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:


....Among the matters the House may be asked to vote on under martial law are a major conference report on pension legislation, a costly bill that would permanently reduce the estate tax and extend certain expiring tax provisions, and a bill that could combine a controversial health insurance proposal with an increase in the minimum wage (there also are reports that the estate tax, minimum wage, and expiring tax provisions may be combined into a single bill). The House Rules Committee on Thursday afternoon reported a resolution that would provide martial law authority in relation to all of these bills.

 Others sound the alarm.

Ordered Liberty in Capitalist China

China (says Naomi Klein via Wirearchy) is spending tens of billions on surveillance and security. So far the results have been promising:

In April 2007, officials from 13 provinces held a meeting to report back on how their new security measures were performing. In the province of Jiangsu, which, according to the South China Morning Post, was using "artificial intelligence to extend and improve the existing monitoring system" the number of protests and riots "dropped by 44 per cent last year." In the province of Zhejiang, where new electronic surveillance systems had been installed, they were down 30 per cent. In Shaanxi, "mass incidents" — code for protests — were down by 27 per cent in a year. Dong Lei, the province’s deputy party chief, gave part of the credit to a huge investment in security cameras across the province. "We aim to achieve all day and all-weather monitoring capability," he told the gathering.

You can buy stock in these Chinese double bottom line social ventures (making money and keeping the public peace) on the NASDAQ and NYSE. Returns last year were over 300%, showing you can do well and do good, if you know which bets to place on the world we want.

How to Raise Money for Bush Library

Times Online:

A lobbyist with close ties to the White House is offering access to key figures in George W Bush’s administration in return for six-figure donations to the private library being set up to commemorate Bush’s presidency.

There ought to be a wall of honor at the library to commemorate the lobbyists and funders who have made this 8 year masquerade possible.  Down one column would be names and amounts, and down the others the political favors traded for those gifts, with a tracking number coded to the materials in the library. Children could go the library to learn how democracy really works. As things are, the kids could learn as much by going to Staples to price a shredder.

NPR on FBI Surveillance

Gumshoe FBI Surveillance tips from NPR. Any tips from the National Security Adminstration? Blackwater? Dyncorp, Choicepoint? Interesting to see NPR normalizing the national security state. Friendly, chatty folks these agents who have their fellow citizens under secret surveillance. I guess you got to love what you can't change. Plus, there are no doubt good ways to play it for double-bottom line social investments making a ton of money while making us safe from Terror. Privatize the secret police. Now there is an idea to enhance our Freedom.