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There's been much talk about the drip-drip-drip revelations regarding the for profit corporate-run NSA.  As the revelations continue to surface, more and more people are beginning to pay attention.  Even so, it looks like we may have been exposed to just a fraction of the relevant information we need (as citizens) to fully understand the implications as it relates to freedom, democracy, and the rule of (constitutional) law.

One prominent individual who has been sounding the alarm about this for years is Senator Ron Wyden, who is a member of the Intelligence Committee.

"The executive branch has now confirmed that the rules, regulations and court-imposed standards for protecting the privacy of Americans' have been violated thousands of times each year," said senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, two leading critics of bulk surveillance, who responded Friday to a Washington Post story based on documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

"We have previously said that the violations of these laws and rules were more serious than had been acknowledged, and we believe Americans should know that this confirmation is just the tip of a larger iceberg."

The emphasis is mine

As these issues are hotly debated, there seem to be some people who for whatever reason insist on downplaying the implications of what is clearly a run-away NSA and the for-profit corporate infrastructure behind it.

In that group, there may be some who have a (conflict of interest) reason to insist on downplaying the revelations, but there are also many who seem to lack a historical understanding about what our government has done in the past in the name of national security.

With that in mind, I'm going to provide some reference information below and suggest that people take some time to read it.  This is an attempt to emphasize the importance of the adage that "those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it."

REAGAN WAS AN FBI INFORMANT

As the Koch brothers and corporatist cartels take over PBS/NPR, we are rapidly seeing a descend into the coverage of fluff and pablum, just like the rest of the U.S. media landscape, but they're not there yet.  It will take a little more time before they turn into just another parrot for the ruling class, and thus, they're still some gems in there...

Case in point is a Fresh Air report where Terry Gross interviewed Seth Rosenfeld, author of Student 'Subversives' And The FBI's 'Dirty Tricks'.

Rosenfeld's book, Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals and Reagan's Rise to Power, is now out in paperback. It details how the FBI employed fake reporters to plant ideas and shape public opinion about the student movement; how they planted stories with real reporters; and how they even managed — with the help of then-Gov. Ronald Reagan — to get the UC Berkeley's President Clark Kerr fired.

To research the book, Rosenfeld pored over 300,000 pages of records obtained over 30 years from five lengthy Freedom of Information Act lawsuits against the FBI.

The records "show that during the Cold War, the FBI sought to change the course of history by secretly interceding in events, by manipulating public opinion and taking sides in partisan politics," Rosenfeld says.

For me, one of the gems of that report was learning that Reagan was an FBI informer:
Starting in Hollywood in the 1940s, Ronald Reagan developed a special relationship with the FBI. He became an FBI informer, reporting other actors whom he suspected of subversive activities, and later when he became president of the Screen Actors Guild, the FBI had wide access to the Guild's information. At one point, the Guild turned over information on 54 actors it was investigating as possible subversives.
Again, for those who want to understand the depths of illegality and deception these corrupt institutions are capable of, I suggest you listen to the NPR program, or read the transcript.

COINTELPRO

And of course, one cannot talk about the illegal and corrupt Surveillance State without talking about COINTELPRO:

COINTELPRO (an acronym for COunter INTELligence PROgram) was a series of covert, and at times illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveying, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.

The FBI has used covert operations against domestic political groups since its inception; however, covert operations under the official COINTELPRO label took place between 1956 and 1971. COINTELPRO tactics have been alleged to include discrediting targets through psychological warfare; smearing individuals and groups using forged documents and by planting false reports in the media; harassment; wrongful imprisonment; and illegal violence, including assassination. The FBI's stated motivation was "protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order."

The emphasis is mine

Your government at work!

To truly understand the scope of depraved oppression and repression these institutions are capable of, I recommend people read this report: COINTELPRO: The Untold American Story

From its inception, the FBI has operated on the doctrine that the "preliminary stages of organization and preparation" must be frustrated, well before there is any clear and present danger of "revolutionary radicalism."

At its most extreme dimension, political dissidents have been eliminated outright or sent to prison for the rest of their lives. There are quite a number of individuals who have been handled in that fashion.

Many more, however, were "neutralized" by intimidation, harassment, discrediting, snitch jacketing, a whole assortment of authoritarian and illegal tactics.

Here are some gems:
  • Between 1968-1971, FBI-initiated terror and disruption resulted in the murder of Black Panthers Arthur Morris, Bobby Hutton, Steven Bartholomew, Robert Lawrence, Tommy Lewis, Welton Armstead, Frank Diggs, Alprentice Carter, John Huggins, Alex Rackley, John Savage, Sylvester Bell, Larry Roberson, Nathaniel Clark, Walter Touré Pope, Spurgeon Winters, Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, Sterling Jones, Eugene Anderson, Babatunde X Omarwali, Carl Hampton, Jonathan Jackson, Fred Bennett, Sandra Lane Pratt, Robert Webb, Samuel Napier, Harold Russell, and George Jackson.
  • If the subject continues their activities, and particularly if they respond by escalating them, the FBI will escalate its tactics as well. Maybe they'll be arrested and prosecuted for spurious reasons. Maybe there will be more vicious rumors circulated about them. False information may be planted in the press. The targets' efforts to speak in public are frustrated, employers may be contacted to try to get them fired. Anonymous letters have been sent by the FBI to targets' spouses, accusing them of infidelity. Others have contained death threats.
  • According to the FBI's own records, agents have been directed to use "established local news media contacts" and other "sources available to the Seat of Government" to "disrupt or neutralize" organizations and to "ridicule and discredit" them.
  • Many counterintelligence techniques involve the use of paid informants. Informants become agents provocateurs by raising controversial issues at meetings to take advantage of ideological divisions, by promoting emnity with other groups, or by inciting the group to violent acts, even to the point of providing them with weapons.
There are books, volumes of them, and reports, documenting this stuff throughout the years, and yet when people warn about the dangers of a for-profit corporate-run national security apparatus running amok, some remain incredulous; they say "that was then, this is now; that's stuff is in the past."

Given all the revelations that keep surfacing (thanks to the bravery of Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, and a few brave news media outlets), and given the history of illegality and abuse by the national security apparatus, it would be extremely naive (at a minimum) to think that these types of abuses could not happen again.

The data collection and dossier-building on hundreds of millions of Americans needs to stop. The militarization of police forces needs to end.  All collected data needs to be destroyed.  The revolving-door corruption that has created a veritable Corporate/Security State Frankenstein needs to be smashed, and replaced with a firm wall of separation between profit-seeking corporatist hucksters and those who are entrusted to protect and serve and to defend the Constitution.

Anything else is Kabuki Theater, IMHO.

P.S. I welcome spirited debate about this topic, and I'm especially interested in hearing from people who do not agree with my position.  However, I will not engage in discussion with people who write first-person personal insults, or engage in disruptive behavior.  I ask other serious people to do the same.  To learn more about this subject, please visit the following links: The 15 Rules of Web Disruption / Thirteen Rules for Truth Suppression / Disinformation: How It Works.

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