The sky was dense with old friends — bright Venus, twinkling red Mars, glowing Jupiter, Orion, Makalii — some of whom I hadn’t seen for quite a long time, when Koko and I went walking this morning.
The east brightened a dark blue that slowly drained first the stars, and then the planets, from the sky before a floating mass of gray blew in that promised to dampen the land and hide the sun upon its rising.
Meanwhile, a mostly hidden network of police, military and corporations is monitoring civilian groups. And as law professor and former Army intelligence officer Christopher Pyle revealed in a chilling report on Democracy Now yesterday,
The interview followed an earlier report that antiwar activists in Olympia, Wash., had exposed Army spying and infiltration of their groups, as well as intelligence gathering by the Air Force, the federal Capitol Police and the Coast Guard. When asked about the significance of that revelation, Pyle responded:
I think the significance is less that the Army is monitoring civilian political activity than that there is a network, a nationwide network, of fusion centers, these state police intelligence units, these municipal police intelligence units, that bring together the services of the military, of police, and even private corporations to share information about alleged terrorist groups in cities throughout the country. I was fascinated by the story of the Air Force officer from New Jersey making an inquiry to the police in the state of Washington about this group. This is an enormous network. It’s funded by the Homeland Security Department. Police departments get a great deal of money to set up these intelligence units. And they monitor, largely, lawful political activity, in violation of the First Amendment and, when the military is involved, in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act.
This is the kind of surveillance society this country does not need.
When host Amy Goodman asked Pyle what he thought needed to be done to curb this abuse of power, he replied:
I think that we need to prosecute the torturers. I think that’s the biggest single message that we could give to the intelligence community, that it is not above the law. That’s even more important than the domestic intelligence, and the domestic intelligence, to me, is extremely important. ….. And when you get into torture, kidnapping, secret illegal detention and assassination, it seems to me you’ve gone over the hill to the most serious abuses any intelligence community can possibly commit, and that’s the place to start. Don’t lose our focus on that.
And then, after that, we need to investigate ways of curbing domestic intelligence activity. And there’s an area of this which has not yet become publicly known, and that is the role of corporations working with the intelligence agencies, corporations which do data processing and data mining, which are totally exempt from any state or federal privacy laws. There’s no control on them at all.
So what is Obama and Congress waiting for? Why won't they delve into the nation's dirty secrets?
Closer to home, we’ve got our own dirty little secret: the contaminated water that laps on so many beaches.
I know what we're waiting for to resolve this problem: money for sewage systems, a clampdown on development that funnels runoff into streams and so into the ocean and most of all, the political will to clean it up.
Care to place any bets on whether the national or local dirty secret gets dealt with first — or at all?