Two studies have found that at least 40% of police officer families experience domestic violence, (1, 2) in contrast to 10% of families in the general population.(3) A third study of older and more experienced officers found a rate of 24% (4), indicating that domestic violence is 2-4 times more common among police families than American families in general. A police department that has domestic violence offenders among its ranks will not effectively serve and protect victims in the community.5, 6, 7, 8 Moreover, when officers know of domestic violence committed by their colleagues and seek to protect them by covering it up, they expose the department to civil liability.7
Unique Vulnerability | Failure of Departmental Policies | "Exceedingly Light Discipline" | Performance Evaluations Not Affected | The LAPD Investigation | Legislative Response | Lack of Enforcement Undermines Law's Effectiveness | Resources | Footnotes
Domestic violence is always a terrible crime, but victims of a police officer are particularly vulnerable because the officer who is abusing them:
Victims often fear calling the police, because they know the case will be handled by officers who are colleagues and/or friends of their abuser. Victims of police family violence typically fear that the responding officers will side with their abuser and fail to properly investigate or document the crime.5, 7
These suspicions are well founded, as most departments across the country typically handle cases of police family violence informally, often without an official report, investigation, or even check of the victim's safety.5, 8, 9 This "informal" method is often in direct contradiction to legislative mandates and departmental policies regarding the appropriate response to domestic violence crimes. Moreover, a 1994 nationwide survey of 123 police departments documented that almost half (45%) had no specific policy for dealing with officer-involved domestic violence. In that same study:
Although the International Association of Chiefs of Police have prepared a model policy on police officer-involved domestic violence, there is no evidence that police departments across the country are doing anything other than simply including the policy in their manuals.
The reality is that even officers who are found guilty of domestic violence are unlikely to be fired, arrested, or referred for prosecution, raising concern that those who are tasked with enforcing the law cannot effectively police themselves.5, 6, 7 For example:
In fact, an in-depth investigation of the Los Angeles Police Department conducted by the Office of the Inspector General concluded that the discipline imposed on officers found guilty of domestic violence "was exceedingly light when the facts of each incident were examined" (p. i).12
The study of the Los Angeles Police Department further examined the 91 cases in which an allegation of domestic violence was sustained against an officer.
The report concluded that "employees with sustained allegations were neither barred from moving to desired positions nor transferred out of assignments that were inconsistent with the sustained allegation" (p. iii).12
In 1997, the Los Angeles Office of the Inspector General conducted an investigation of the LAPD after a legal consultant named Bob Mullally leaked shocking LAPD personnel files to the press. These files documented scores of violent domestic crimes committed by LAPD officers. Mullally was so shocked by the LAPD's mishandling of this police family violence that he decided to violate the civil protective order in the case he was working on and turn the files over to the media, in the hopes of creating change in the LAPD.
The National Center for Women & Policing and the Feminist Majority Foundation have been actively involved in this case, which was featured in 2000 in a 60 Minutes segment with Mike Wallace. For more information on the case or to obtain documents including the amicus brief submitted by the National Center for Women & Policing and the Feminist Majority Foundation, please contact our office at (310)556-2526.
In 1996, an important federal law was passed, which prohibits individuals -- including police officers -- from owning or using a firearm if they have been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense (18 U.S.C. § 925).13
Unfortunately, an early analysis of the Domestic Violence Gun Ban on police officers shows that law enforcement officers have been able to circumvent the ban and retain their weapons. A 1999 survey of the nation's largest 100 police departments revealed that only six cities acted against officers because of the Domestic Violence Gun Ban and only eleven officers were affected. Part of the reason for the lack of enforcement is that police officers plead to a charge other than domestic violence.16 However, there are also other problems.
Finally, there is evidence that some officers convicted of domestic violence have their records expunged and remain on the department.12, 16, 18, 19, 20
see link for full story
Published on January 14, 2013. Tags: Al Qaeda, CBS This Morning, Charlie Rose, FBI, Gayle King, John Miller, Terrorism, The Terror Factory, Trevor Aaronson
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting Associate Director Trevor Aaronson was a guest Jan. 11 on CBS This Morning. In a conversation with Charlie Rose, Gayle King and John Miller, Aaronson discussed the findings of his new book, The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism, which questions the efficacy of FBI terrorism sting operations. Miller, a CBS News senior correspondent who was formerly assistant director of the FBI, called Aaronson’s book “an amazing piece of reporting.”
In The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism (Ig Publishing, January 2013), which grew out of an award-winning Mother Jones cover story, Aaronson analyzed more than 500 federal terrorism prosecutions from 2001 to 2012 and questioned whether U.S. law enforcement is creating the very enemy the nation fears.
Aaronson found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has, “under the guise of engaging in counterterrorism since 9/11, built a network of more than 15,000 informants to infiltrate Muslim communities and ferret out would-be terrorists. The Bureau then provides the means necessary for these would-be terrorists to move forward with a terrorist plot — in some cases even planting specific ideas for attacks.”
Few Americans, Aaronson says, realize that since 9/11 the FBI has been responsible for hatching and financing more terrorist plots in the United States than any other group.
“In the ten years following 9/11, the FBI and the Justice Department indicted and convicted more than 150 people following sting operations involving alleged connections to international terrorism,” Aaronson writes. “Few of these defendants had any connection to terrorists, evidence showed, and those who did have connections, however tangential, never had the capacity to launch attacks on their own. In fact, of the more than 150 terrorism sting operation defendants, an FBI informant not only led one of every three terrorist plots, but also provided all the necessary weapons, money, and transportation.”
Aaronson reports that through these elaborate and expensive sting operations involving informants and undercover agents posing as terrorists, the FBI has arrested — and the U.S. Justice Department has prosecuted — dozens of men who government officials say posed terrorist threats. He says evidence suggests, however, that some of those under FBI scrutiny did not have the capacity for terrorism and that FBI undercover agents provided the means, including weapons and logistical support.
Aaronson’s other findings in The Terror Factory include:
Aaronson’s book has received praise from reviewers, journalists and former government officials. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly described The Terror Factory as “compelling, shocking, and gritty with intrigue.” Lowell Bergman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who founded the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkeley, called The Terror Factory “investigative reporting at its best,” and James J. Wedick, a former FBI agent who supervised undercover work, said the author “explains just how misguided and often deceptive FBI terrorism sting operations have become.”
The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting will excerpt The Terror Factory in the coming weeks and highlight some of Aaronson’s reporting about Florida terrorism sting cases.
Aaronson will talk about the book at events nationwide in January and February. Upcoming events include:
January 21, 2013, 7:30 p.m. Powell’s City of Books 1005 West Burnside Street Portland, OR
January 23, 2013, 7 p.m. City Lights Books 261 Columbus Avenue San Francisco, CA 94133 A conversation with Monika Bauerlein, co-editor of Mother Jones magazine. C-SPAN’s Book TV will film this event.
January 30, 2013, 7 p.m. Politics and Prose 5015 Connecticut Avenue Northwest Washington, DC 20008
January 31, 2013, 6:15 p.m. Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute 435 West 116th Street New York, NY 10025 Book launch event hosted by Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute, Council on American-Islamic Relations-New York, and National Lawyers Guild-New York.
February 4, 2013, 7 p.m. The Half King 505 West 23rd Street New York, NY 10011
February 6, 2013, 6:30 p.m. St. Joseph’s College 245 Clinton Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11205 A conversation with Betsy Reed, executive editor of The Nation magazine.
Chicago, IL - Anti-war and international solidarity activists, who have been the target of a massive and continuing two year Department of Justice investigation into their First Amendment protected activities, are calling on John Marshall Law School not to honor former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald will be the commencement speaker at the law school's graduation Sunday, Jan. 20, and will receive an honorary degree.
The activists are organizing a national call-in day Jan.18, to John Marshall’s Dean, John Corkery, asking him to rescind the honorary degree.
The groups are also planning to protest outside the law school commencement on Sunday, Jan. 20, at 3:00 pm at the Hyatt Regency, 151 East Wacker Drive, Chicago.
The call-in day and protest is sponsored by the Chicago Committee Against Political Repression, Coalition to Protect People’s Rights, Palestine Solidarity Group - Chicago and the U.S. Palestinian Community Network. The effort is backed by the Committee to Stop FBI Repression
U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald had a record of bullying anti-war and Palestine activists, including:
Prosecuting Palestinians Abdelhaleem Ashqar and Muhammad Salah, using a confession forced under torture in an Israeli prison. After Ashqar and Salah were acquitted of the major "terrorism"-related charges, Ashqar was indicted and convicted for invoking his constitutional right not to testify to a grand jury--clearly a punitive response by Fitzgerald after his very public loss in the case; and
Prosecuting whistle blower CIA employee, John Kiriakou, the only person going to prison for the CIA’s torture scandals of the past decade. Kiriakou didn’t torture anyone – he’s going to prison for blowing the whistle on torture.
Holy Land Five: also in Fitzgerald’s office, Special Prosecutor Barry Jonas played the major role in the case of the Holy Land Five, in which leaders of a Palestinian Muslim charity were convicted of providing material aid to terrorism. They were sentenced to many decades in prison, based on alleged donations to the same Gaza-based charities that the U.S. government donated to, and based on the secret testimony of an agent of the Israeli state. Jonas has taken over the current investigation into the 23 anti-war activists.
Hatem Abudayyeh, a Palestinian community activist in Chicago whose home was raided by the FBI in 2010, is still waiting for his belongings to be returned by the U.S. Attorney’s office. Abudayyeh said, “The U.S. Attorney’s office has continued this witch hunt for over two years. It’s time to publicly exonerate us and admit that they found absolutely no ‘material support for terrorists,’ as they allege, but only constitutionally-protected opposition to U.S. foreign policy and support for oppressed people in Palestine, Colombia and beyond.”
Joe Iosbaker, another one of the Chicago activists whose home was subjected to a dawn raid by 25 FBI agents in 2010, said, “With the case of Aaron Swartz, the net activist who committed suicide last week under intimidation by Boston’s U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, there is growing awareness of this bullying by prosecutors.”
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression is urges people to call John Marshall Law School Dean John Corkery at 312-987-2352 and tell him that Patrick Fitzgerald should not be honored in any way.
Call me Mr. Gatto, please. Twenty-six years ago, having nothing better to do, I tried my hand at schoolteaching. My license certifies me as an instructor of English language and literature, but that isn't what I do at all. What I teach is school, and I win awards doing it.
Teaching means many different things, but six lessons are common to schoolteaching from Harlem to Hollywood. You pay for these lessons in more ways than you can imagine, so you might as well know what they are:
The first lesson I teach is: "Stay in the class where you belong." I don't know who decides that my kids belong there but that's not my business. The children are numbered so that if any get away they can be returned to the right class. Over the years the variety of ways children are numbered has increased dramatically, until it is hard to see the human being under the burden of the numbers each carries. Numbering children is a big and very profitable business, though what the business is designed to accomplish is elusive.
In any case, again, that's not my business. My job is to make the kids like it -- being locked in together, I mean -- or at the minimum, endure it. If things go well, the kids can't imagine themselves anywhere else; they envy and fear the better classes and have contempt for the dumber classes. So the class mostly keeps itself in good marching order. That's the real lesson of any rigged competition like school. You come to know your place.
Nevertheless, in spite of the overall blueprint, I make an effort to urge children to higher levels of test success, promising eventual transfer from the lower-level class as a reward. I insinuate that the day will come when an employer will hire them on the basis of test scores, even though my own experience is that employers are (rightly) indifferent to such things. I never lie outright, but I've come to see that truth and [school]teaching are incompatible.
The lesson of numbered classes is that there is no way out of your class except by magic. Until that happens you must stay where you are put.
The second lesson I teach kids is to turn on and off like a light switch. I demand that they become totally involved in my lessons, jumping up and down in their seats with anticipation, competing vigorously with each other for my favor. But when the bell rings I insist that they drop the work at once and proceed quickly to the next work station. Nothing important is ever finished in my class, nor in any other class I know of.
The lesson of bells is that no work is worth finishing, so why care too deeply about anything? Bells are the secret logic of schooltime; their argument is inexorable; bells destroy past and future, converting every interval into a sameness, as an abstract map makes every living mountain and river the same even though they are not. Bells inoculate each undertaking with indifference.
The third lesson I teach you is to surrender your will to a predestined chain of command. Rights may be granted or withheld, by authority, without appeal. As a schoolteacher I intervene in many personal decisions, issuing a Pass for those I deem legitimate, or initiating a disciplinary confrontation for behavior that threatens my control. My judgments come thick and fast, because individuality is trying constantly to assert itself in my classroom. Individuality is a curse to all systems of classification, a contradiction of class theory.
Here are some common ways it shows up: children sneak away for a private moment in the toilet on the pretext of moving their bowels; they trick me out of a private instant in the hallway on the grounds that they need water. Sometimes free will appears right in front of me in children angry, depressed or exhilarated by things outside my ken. Rights in such things cannot exist for schoolteachers; only privileges, which can be withdrawn, exist.
The fourth lesson I teach is that only I determine what curriculum you will study. (Rather, I enforce decisions transmitted by the people who pay me). This power lets me separate good kids from bad kids instantly. Good kids do the tasks I appoint with a minimum of conflict and a decent show of enthusiasm. Of the millions of things of value to learn, I decide what few we have time for. The choices are mine. Curiosity has no important place in my work, only conformity.
Bad kids fight against this, of course, trying openly or covertly to make decisions for themselves about what they will learn. How can we allow that and survive as schoolteachers? Fortunately there are procedures to break the will of those who resist.
This is another way I teach the lesson of dependency. Good people wait for a teacher to tell them what to do. This is the most important lesson of all, that we must wait for other people, better trained than ourselves, to make the meanings of our lives. It is no exaggeration to say that our entire economy depends upon this lesson being learned. Think of what would fall apart if kids weren't trained in the dependency lesson: The social-service businesses could hardly survive, including the fast-growing counseling industry; commercial entertainment of all sorts, along with television, would wither if people remembered how to make their own fun; the food services, restaurants and prepared-food warehouses would shrink if people returned to making their own meals rather than depending on strangers to cook for them. Much of modern law, medicine, and engineering would go too -- the clothing business as well -- unless a guaranteed supply of helpless people poured out of our schools each year. We've built a way of life that depends on people doing what they are told because they don't know any other way. For God's sake, let's not rock that boat!
In lesson five I teach that your self-respect should depend on an observer's measure of your worth. My kids are constantly evaluated and judged. A monthly report, impressive in its precision, is sent into students' homes to spread approval or to mark exactly -- down to a single percentage point -- how dissatisfied with their children parents should be. Although some people might be surprised how little time or reflection goes into making up these records, the cumulative weight of the objective- seeming documents establishes a profile of defect which compels a child to arrive at a certain decisions about himself and his future based on the casual judgment of strangers.
Self-evaluation -- the staple of every major philosophical system that ever appeared on the planet -- is never a factor in these things. The lesson of report cards, grades, and tests is that children should not trust themselves or their parents, but must rely on the evaluation of certified officials. People need to be told what they are worth.
In lesson six I teach children that they are being watched. I keep each student under constant surveillance and so do my colleagues. There are no private spaces for children; there is no private time. Class change lasts 300 seconds to keep promiscuous fraternization at low levels. Students are encouraged to tattle on each other, even to tattle on their parents. Of course I encourage parents to file their own child's waywardness, too.
I assign "homework" so that this surveillance extends into the household, where students might otherwise use the time to learn something unauthorized, perhaps from a father or mother, or by apprenticing to some wiser person in the neighborhood.
The lesson of constant surveillance is that no one can be trusted, that privacy is not legitimate. Surveillance is an ancient urgency among certain influential thinkers; it was a central prescription set down by Calvin in the Institutes, by Plato in the Republic, by Hobbes, by Comte, by Francis Bacon. All these childless men discovered the same thing: Children must be closely watched if you want to keep a society under central control.
It is the great triumph of schooling that among even the best of my fellow teachers, and among even the best parents, there is only a small number who can imagine a different way to do things. Yet only a very few lifetimes ago things were different in the United States: originality and variety were common currency; our freedom from regimentation made us the miracle of the world; social class boundaries were relatively easy to cross; our citizenry was marvelously confident, inventive, and able to do many things independently, to think for themselves. We were something, all by ourselves, as individuals.
It only takes about 50 contact hours to transmit basic literacy and math skills well enough that kids can be self-teachers from then on. The cry for "basic skills" practice is a smokescreen behind which schools pre-empt the time of children for twelve years and teach them the six lessons I've just taught you.
We've had a society increasingly under central control in the United States since just before the Civil War: the lives we lead, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the green highway signs we drive by from coast to coast are the products of this central control. So, too, I think, are the epidemics of drugs, suicide, divorce, violence, cruelty, and the hardening of class into caste in the U.S., products of the dehumanization of our lives, the lessening of individual and family importance that central control imposes.
Without a fully active role in community life you cannot develop into a complete human being. Aristotle taught that. Surely he was right; look around you or look in the mirror: that is the demonstration.
"School" is an essential support system for a vision of social engineering that condemns most people to be subordinate stones in a pyramid that narrows to a control point as it ascends. "School" is an artifice which makes such a pyramidal social order seem inevitable (although such a premise is a fundamental betrayal of the American Revolution). In colonial days and through the period of the early Republic we had no schools to speak of. And yet the promise of democracy was beginning to be realized. We turned our backs on this promise by bringing to life the ancient dream of Egypt: compulsory training in subordination for everybody. Compulsory schooling was the secret Plato reluctantly transmitted in the Republic when he laid down the plans for total state control of human life.
The current debate about whether we should have a national curriculum is phony; we already have one, locked up in the six lessons I've told you about and a few more I've spared you. This curriculum produces moral and intellectual paralysis, and no curriculum of content will be sufficient to reverse its bad effects. What is under discussion is a great irrelevancy.
None of this is inevitable, you know. None of it is impregnable to change. We do have a choice in how we bring up young people; there is no right way. There is no "international competition" that compels our existence, difficult as it is to even think about in the face of a constant media barrage of myth to the contrary. In every important material respect our nation is self-sufficient. If we gained a non-material philosophy that found meaning where it is genuinely located -- in families, friends, the passage of seasons, in nature, in simple ceremonies and rituals, in curiosity, generosity, compassion, and service to others, in a decent independence and privacy -- then we would be truly self-sufficient.
How did these awful places, these "schools", come about? As we know them, they are a product of the two "Red Scares" of 1848 and 1919, when powerful interests feared a revolution among our industrial poor, and partly they are the result of the revulsion with which old-line families regarded the waves of Celtic, Slavic, and Latin immigration -- and the Catholic religion -- after 1845. And certainly a third contributing cause can be found in the revulsion with which these same families regarded the free movement of Africans through the society after the Civil War.
Look again at the six lessons of school. This is training for permanent underclasses, people who are to be deprived forever of finding the center of their own special genius. And it is training shaken loose from its original logic: to regulate the poor. Since the 1920s the growth of the well-articulated school bureaucracy, and the less visible growth of a horde of industries that profit from schooling exactly as it is, have enlarged schooling's original grasp to seize the sons and daughters of the middle class.
Is it any wonder Socrates was outraged at the accusation that he took money to teach? Even then, philosophers saw clearly the inevitable direction the professionalization of teaching would take, pre-empting the teaching function that belongs to all in a healthy community; belongs, indeed, most clearly to yourself, since nobody else cares as much about your destiny. Professional teaching tends to another serious error. It makes things that are inherently easy to learn, like reading, writing, and arithmetic, difficult -- by insisting they be taught by pedagogical procedures.
With lessons like the ones I teach day after day, is it any wonder we have the national crisis we face today? Young people indifferent to the adult world and to the future; indifferent to almost everything except the diversion of toys and violence? Rich or poor, schoolchildren cannot concentrate on anything for very long. They have a poor sense of time past and to come; they are mistrustful of intimacy (like the children of divorce they really are); they hate solitude, are cruel, materialistic, dependent, passive, violent, timid in the face of the unexpected, addicted to distraction.
All the peripheral tendencies of childhood are magnified to a grotesque extent by schooling, whose hidden curriculum prevents effective personality development. Indeed, without exploiting the fearfulness, selfishness, and inexperience of children our schools could not survive at all, nor could I as a certified schoolteacher.
"Critical thinking" is a term we hear frequently these days as a form of training which will herald a new day in mass schooling. It certainly will, if it ever happens. No common school that actually dared teach the use of dialectic, heuristic, and other tools of free minds could last a year without being torn to pieces.
Institutional schoolteachers are destructive to children's development. Nobody survives the Six-Lesson Curriculum unscathed, not even the instructors. The method is deeply and profoundly anti-educational. No tinkering will fix it. In one of the great ironies of human affairs, the massive rethinking that schools require would cost so much less than we are spending now that it is not likely to happen. First and foremost, the business I am in is a jobs project and a contract-letting agency. We cannot afford to save money, not even to help children.
At the pass we've come to historically, and after 26 years of teaching, I must conclude that one of the only alternatives on the horizon for most families is to teach their own children at home. Small, de- institutionalized schools are another. Some form of free-market system for public schooling is the likeliest place to look for answers. But the near impossibility of these things for the shattered families of the poor, and for too many on the fringes of the economic middle class, foretell that the disaster of Six-Lesson Schools is likely to continue.
After an adult lifetime spent in teaching school I believe the method of schooling is the only real content it has. Don't be fooled into thinking that good curricula or good equipment or good teachers are the critical determinants of your son and daughter's schooltime. All the pathologies we've considered come about in large measure because the lessons of school prevent children from keeping important appointments with themselves and their families, to learn lessons in self-motivation, perseverance, self-reliance, courage, dignity and love -- and, of course, lessons in service to others, which are among the key lessons of home life.
Thirty years ago these things could still be learned in the time left after school. But television has eaten most of that time, and a combination of television and the stresses peculiar to two-income or single-parent families have swallowed up most of what used to be family time. Our kids have no time left to grow up fully human, and only thin-soil wastelands to do it in.
A future is rushing down upon our culture which will insist that all of us learn the wisdom of non-material experience; this future will demand, as the price of survival, that we follow a pace of natural life economical in material cost. These lessons cannot be learned in schools as they are. School is like starting life with a 12-year jail sentence in which bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know.
A 1997 interview on We The People radio has been transcribed here.
[The following is from a letter by Grace Llewellyn (author of the Teenage Liberation Handbook), printed in the Spring 1992 issue of the Whole Earth Review:]
.. Gatto has a new job. Having resigned, he continues to implement his unique "guerilla curriculum" at the Albany Free School, and also lectures nationwide. In his lectures and his writing Gatto not only adeptly denounces the public schools, but also makes radical suggestions for improving them. These suggestions are grounded not in hypothetical clouds but rather on his own innovative methods of teaching which involve community service projects, independent study, apprenticeships, and solitude. ... More of Gatto's writing can be found in a new collection of his essays entitled "Dumbing Us Down" (New Society Publishers, 1992) [excerpted in WER issue #81].
"Dumbing Us Down" is available from New Society Publishers (POB 189, Gabriola Island, BC, V0R 1X0 CANADA), or via Gatto's own online bookstore, or from your friendly neighborhood bookstore (ISBN 0-86571-448-7).
A more comprehensive book, newly available on-line as well as in print is "The Underground History of American Education", and may be found at John Taylor Gatto's own web site, johntaylorgatto.com. You can buy a copy via his online bookstore, or from your friendly neighborhood bookstore (ISBN 0-945-70004-0). (Note: I have no financial relationship with him or the publisher.)
Harper's September 2003 issue had an essay, "Against School".
If you maintain a web page, you are encouraged to add a link to this one, as a short introduction to the problem of school. This page will be stable forever.
Transcending Tribal Mentality By Caroline Myss
All of us are born into a "tribal mentality" of various forms. These include our family unit, religious background, country of origin, ethnicity, etc. The tribal mentality effectively indoctrinates an individual into the tribe's beliefs, ensuring that all believe the same. The structure of reality – what is and is not possible for the members of the group – is thus agreed upon and maintained by the tribe.
While the tribal mentality has definite benefits in terms of establishing common ground and ensuring group survival, it is not a conscious agreement. We are born into it. Yet at a certain stage, both personally and collectively, the tribal mentality must be challenged. People can then begin to recognize the need for a personal honor code independent of the tribe. If humanity is to progress, we need to learn how to treat everyone – regardless of tribal affiliation – with honor and respect.
Every one of us is plugged into the tribal mind. We support tribal belief patterns by directing a percentage of our life force into maintaining our affiliation with the tribe. This involves an implicit agreement to think like the tribe thinks, to evaluate situations and people the way the tribe does, and to believe in right and wrong according to tribal values and ambitions. As long as the tribal mentality within us remains unexamined, we unwittingly subject others to our tribal laws.
When we are plugged into tribal thought forms, we can easily believe in nonsensical prejudices held by the tribe. Tribal mentality allows us to hold harsh, judgmental positions or attitudes about an entire group of people: "All fat people are lazy," or "all Irish are drunks," or "all Muslims are terrorists" for example.
A rigid tribal thought form may have little truth to it, but individuals hold to such beliefs because that perspective is what the tribe has agreed to believe. Innocent children, born into the hatred and prejudice of their parents and ancestors, grow up inside a tribal mentality that sponsors an endless march toward war against the tribe's perceived enemies. People grow up hating other people – people they have never seen – based on group affiliation. This is the shadow side of the tribe.
Inevitably, some among us come to a point where we want to break out of the inflexible tribal mentality. At some point, these individuals want to explore, develop, and manage their own consciousness without the judgments and limitations of the tribal mind.
It is easy to spot these mavericks when they start to question and unplug from tribal mentality – they hang out on the periphery looking bored and restless, or whimsical and dreamy. Others may act out the agitated hot-head as they challenge tribal ways.
The unspoken assumption of the tribal mind is that everybody loves being part of the tribe. And in many ways, we do. Knowing where and to whom we "belong" is crucial to our self-concept and sense of safety in the world. Yet when we begin the real deep journey of questioning, "What do I believe?" and start to individuate from the tribe, we often enter a dark night of the soul. It is, by necessity, a passage we take alone.
It's one thing to reject what we don't want to believe anymore. It's quite another to begin to explore what we do believe. All we know as we enter the dark night is that we can't go back – even when the tribe is the only world we've ever known.
At this critical point in our development, the tribe doesn't feel right anymore. It no longer offers us comfort. Previous feelings of security and familiarity begin to feel like a trap constraining our individuality and hampering our efforts to discover deeper levels of who we really are.
This dark night passage pushes us to look at our false gods – the tribal belief patterns in which we've become invested and to which we've given our allegiance.
The Language of Wounds
For a large segment of the population, the language of wounds has become the new tribal language of intimacy. Prior to the current age of personal therapy – which only really took off in the 1960s and 70s – the tribal language of intimacy largely involved the sharing of only superficial personal and family data. Deeper matters such as family secrets like sexual abuse or a mad aunt or uncle were shared with exceedingly few, if any.
Divorce and financial information were also considered very intimate. People would almost never talk about such matters, or about their inner life and emotions. They talked only about the details of what was going on in their external lives. The tribal mentality at the time kept people from revealing intimate matters or deep wounds or traumas even with their family and close friends.
The current age of personal therapy has brought about a very different situation. Now, the tribal mentality has shifted such that we not only share our intimate feelings more openly and willingly, many have even begun to define themselves by their wounds. Let me give an example of how this phenomenon plays itself out.
I was in an Indian restaurant in Scotland talking with two men friends when the woman friend I was to meet for dinner walked up and greeted the three of us. After I had introduced her, another man walked over and asked if she was free on June 8th, as he thought she might like to attend a lecture on that date. The question required little more than a ‘yes' or a ‘no' answer.
Instead of a simple answer, she began an elaborate discussion about June 8th. "Did you say June 8th? No, no. Any other day would be fine, but not June 8th. That's the day my incest survivor group meets and I have to be there because we never let each other down." She went on and on for at least a full minute with this.
Later, I asked her, "Do you realize that in that brief introduction, you told two men whom you have never met before that 1) you had experienced incest, 2) you were still in therapy about it, 3) you were angry about it, 4) you were angry at men, and 5) you needed to determine the course of the conversation – all in one minute?"
She replied, "Well, I am a victim of incest."
To which I replied, "I know that. Why did you have to let them know that?"
She was operating from a tribal mentality. The group mind within the incest survivor community has a belief about how this particular wound should be healed. The tribe says, "You need a group." The tribe says, "You have a right to be angry."
People now get together in support group tribes that function within many of the same rigid frameworks of ethnic, national, or family tribes. Some feel that the comfort and security of belonging to a group or tribe is more important than venturing alone in the direction of real healing.
Tribalism in Relationships
The tendency toward tribalism can keep us stuck in repeating negative cycles in our intimate relationships, and can wreak havoc when a relationship is ripe for transition. Tribal mentality often teaches a righteous stance in relationships: an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. When we feel violated, the first thought is vengeance, rather than forgiveness.
Tribal mentality even has gender-specific undercurrents – women do vengeance differently than men. Yet for both genders, what rules the day is the tribal mentality that holds "breaking up is painful" or "betrayal warrants retaliation."
Healing revolves around this crucial question: "Do you want to make different choices?" Are we willing to let go of old, constricting tribal patterns? Sadly, the answer quite often is "No." Being healthy isn't always the most appealing option. Quite frankly, in many cases, it's not appealing at all. What is most appealing is being out of pain. Old patterns are difficult to relinquish because they do serve to relieve pain, even if it is only in the short run.
Change is terrifying for many precisely because short-term pain relief must be given up. Deep healing requires learning to tolerate the pain that comes with change. Fortunately, the growing pains that come with new behavior – with making the choices that will change your life – are often short-lived.
Thought alone doesn't heal. Nor does action without thought. For deep healing to occur, we need the chemistry of conscious thought and direct action combined. Every thought or attitude we have – whether consciously chosen or unconsciously adopted through the tribal mind – invests a part of our life-force into that thought or attitude. This is true whether the thought is one of betrayal and vengeance, or of understanding and forgiveness.
What matters is that a whole system of consciousness – the old tribal mentality – no longer holds us enthralled. We no longer have faith in those limiting patterns of thought. Through this transformation we learn a whole new level of trust. We break the habit of telling tribal lies which bring short-term comfort but long-term pain. We develop a new sense of self-worth and of trust and honor.
In spite of all the heavy tribal conditioning, we now have hope because tribal mentality the world over is going through a vast transformation. And each one of us can play a vital role in this transformation.
With increasing numbers of individuals changing and transcending limiting tribal beliefs, the codes of the tribe are being affected. As we collectively change and evolve, the tribes around us gradually change and evolve with us. Yet ultimately, the journey upon which we are embarking is an incredible solo flight of transcending the tribe to find our own trust, honor, and new sense of self-worth and meaning in life.
It's official: CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, has been reintroduced in the House of Representatives. It's the contentious bill that would provide a poorly-defined "cybersecurity" exception to existing privacy law. CISPA offers broad immunities to companies who choose to share data with government agencies -- including the private communications of users -- in the name of cybersecurity. It also creates avenues for companies to share data with any federal agencies, including military intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency. EFF is adamantly opposed to CISPA. Join us in calling on Congress to stop this and any other privacy-invasive cybersecurity legislation.
Internet users around the world got a Valentine's Day present last week in the form of new legislation that requires U.S. government agencies to improve public access to federally funded research. Under the bill's proposal, agencies like the National Science Foundation, which invests millions of taxpayer dollars in scientific research every year, must design and implement a plan to facilitate public access to -- and robust reuse of -- the results of that investment.
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act's broad language and draconian penalty scheme allows overreaching prosecutors to abuse their discretion. This can turn minor incidents with no real harm into serious criminal prosecutions, with the threat of long prison sentences and the consequences that go along with a felony conviction -- like not being able to vote. Computer crime can be serious and law enforcement should properly investigate and prosecute those who use computers to cause financial harm and violate the privacy of others. But at the same time, punishments should fit crimes.
The Truth of "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"
July 04, 2011
Despite what the media have led us to believe, the hallowed phrase "beyond a reasonable doubt" is not self-explanatory. Jurors, charged with the responsibility of making life-and-death decisions, are told to apply this legalese-larded "standard." But not only is this "standard" purely adjectival, movies and television have morphed it into a Rashomon-style point-of-view. The interpretation of "reasonable doubt" is as unstable (and as potentially explosive) as nitroglycerin in a cocktail shaker. History has taught that if we allow interpretations to control reality, truth is the first victim of the chaos to follow. A simple illustration will suffice: we all agree that "evil" is a bad thing. Therefore, whoever has the power to define which acts (or individuals) are "evil" also has the power to control our conduct. When we anoint such an interpreter, we walk a smoother path. But we walk it blindfolded. If we refuse to grant such god-like power to others, we have to do the work ourselves. To ensure a uniform standard for "reasonable doubt," we must subject the term itself to dispassionate dissection. Unless we separately analyze "reasonable" and "doubt" in the context of a criminal trial, the term will degenerate to cliché status: endlessly repeated, but devoid of any actual meaning. That is, "reasonable doubt" will mean whatever an individual chooses it to mean, as open to interpretation as the Bible or the Koran. The horrific consequences of allowing those with an agenda to exercise the power of "interpretation" are beyond dispute. See, e.g., Nuremberg.
At some point in their life, everyone thinks they should go to law school. You may in fact think you want to go to law school now.
I don't know you, I have no idea what the facts of your life are, but that doesn't matter, you aren't the exception. For the overwhelming majority of people (>99.9 percent), law school is the wrong choice.
How can I know this? Because I've been you -- I went to law school for the same reasons you think you should go -- and I was wrong. I should never have gone to law school, and you shouldn't either.
If you're not thinking about going to law school, you can skip this whole post, or just send it to your friends who are thinking about going and thank your god that you're not them. But if you are one of the many thinking about law school, start by asking yourself one simple question:
"Why do I want to go to law school?" Yes, it's an obvious question, but almost everyone in your position either overlooks it or avoids it with rationalizations. So answer it, right now, to yourself. You want an easy way to stay in school, you want to be guaranteed a good high-paying job -- whatever reason(s) you think you want to go to law school, spell them out and make them explicit to yourself.
I have heard every single answer to this question there is. These are the 6 wrong reasons I hear most often (see if your answer is in this list):
The 6 Wrong Reasons to Go to Law School
1. "I like arguing and everyone says I'm good at it."
Of all reasons to go to law school, this is the worst by a large margin. Know who else likes arguing? Sports talk radio hosts, cable news talking heads and teenagers -- i.e., idiots. If you like to argue just for the sake of being contentious, you shouldn't pick a job based on this unresolved emotional issue of yours, you should get counseling for it.
If you like arguing for the intellectual challenges it can present, that's an understandable and reasonable position. Everyone likes a healthy, intelligent debate right? Well, understand that being a lawyer has almost nothing to do with arguing in the conventional sense, and very few lawyers ever engage in anything resembling "arguments" in their commonly understood form. You aren't going to be sitting around a fine mahogany desk sipping scotch with your colleagues discussing the finer points of the First Amendment; you're going to be crammed in a lifeless cubicle forced to crank out last-minute memos about the tax implications for a non-profit organization trying to lease office space to a for-profit organization (if this gets your juices flowing, maybe the law is for you after all).
You won't even be having fun discussions in law school. In law school, the people who want to "argue" a lot are called "gunners" and are reviled by everyone, even the professors. Make no mistake about it: Law school is not a bastion of intellectual discourse. It is a fucking TRADE SCHOOL. You are all there to be trained to think and act exactly the same way as everyone else in the profession, so you can then be a drone in the legal system. No one is interested in your opinion. The only one of those that matters is the one expressed, with a capital "O", by the judge(s) in whatever case you are currently reading.
Beyond that, to be genuinely good at legal "arguing," you must be dispassionate, reasonable and smart. I have never met a person who was any of those things who also said they were going to law school because other people told them they were good at arguing. It indicates only the shallowest understanding of the law and pathetically sloppy critical-thinking skills. If arguing is really why you want to go to law school, save your money and start a blog about American politics where you can shout into the echo chamber of imbeciles all you want without bothering anyone smart who has things to do.
2. "I want to be like Jack McCoy from Law & Order [or insert your favorite legal TV show character]."
I have little sympathy for this perspective. It is 2012, if you still allow yourself to be misled by the bullshit on TV, it means you are either very naive or an unrecoverable moron, and you should immediately drown yourself in the nearest toilet to save the world the frustration of having to deal with you and your stupidity. Let me be VERY clear about this for you:
The actual job of being a lawyer is NOTHING AT ALL like what you see on TV.
It is possibly less like the real thing than any other profession depicted on television. Every doctor I've ever talked to scoffs at shows like ER and House, but they all say that at least the diagnoses are connected to the physical symptoms we see and are treated with the proper kinds of drugs. In legal dramas, the exact opposite is the case. Don't think so? The next time you get a DUI (if you're going to law school to be like Jack McCoy this WILL happen), represent yourself and try to give a speech while questioning the arresting officer. You won't make it longer than 30 seconds before you're held in contempt and locked up for wasting everyone's time. Is that a little harsh? Maybe. Welcome to the grown-up world.
There is NO lawyer/law procedural that even remotely shows what it's like to be a lawyer. You know why? Because being a lawyer is not only soul-crushing, it's REALLY BORING, and that doesn't make for good TV. If you want to know what it's like to be a lawyer, go work in a law office for a summer. Or shadow a lawyer for a day or two. There's nothing like a day with a lawyer to disabuse you of the notion that anything in the legal profession is like TV.
3. "It's the only way I can use my humanities degree."
Having a soft major is nowhere near the career death sentence that so many make it out to be. The world is changing, and the U.S. economy with it. Our economy is shifting to a service and information based economy, and soft majors are already becoming more and more valuable.
Why? Because a services and information-based economy needs what the Humanities creates: literate, intelligent, well-read people who can write and communicate ideas effectively. The demand for these people is not going to flutter out. In fact, it will only grow stronger as the economy continues to shift and the supply of qualified candidates remains insufficient. Do not make the mistake of thinking law school is your only option. That is simply not true. In plain English: A humanities major now has many, many options they didn't have in the pre-Internet era.
Beyond that, this reason belies an assumption: That you have to get a job. When you finish school, everyone knows about the two most obvious options: 1. Get a job working for someone else or 2. Get more schooling. But there is a third option: Carve your own path in the world. This can take many different forms, like starting a company [for example see Paul Graham's piece]. Or it could take the form of many other sorts of lifehacking activities [for example, see Tim Ferriss' muse concept, or Chris Guilliebeau's $100 start-up concept].
If you limit yourself to the choices presented to you by people who one did one of those two things -- get a job or go back to school -- then you obviously aren't going to understand that. There are other ways to make a living, and lots of people following those paths, you just have to go look for them.
4. "I want to change the world/help homeless people/rescue stray kittens/do something noble."
Wanting to help others is great, but if you are one of those rosy-eyed dipshits who sign anti-sweatshop petitions while wearing Nikes (made in Vietnam by children) and listening to your iPod (made in China by Foxconn virtual slaves) you know what's going to happen when you finally go out into the world trying to change it equipped with just a law degree and a healthy dose of optimism? Life is going to kick you in the teeth. Repeatedly.
If you go to law school with just some vague notion of public service and no sense of real, directed purpose, you WILL regret your decision. My first day in law school, the entire class was gathered in a lecture hall and they asked everyone who wanted to be in public service to raise their hand. At least 100 people did. Do you know how many ended up in a public service job three years later? Three of them. The other 97+ didn't stop wanting to make the world a better place, they just didn't know what it actually MEANS to help poor people for $30,000 a year when they raised their hands three years earlier. They hadn't tested their moral resolve in the crucible of suffocating debt. A $140,000/year job at Skadden Arps is a hard thing to ignore when you're staring down the barrel of a $150,000+ debt burden and $1,700+ monthly loan payments that start real quick after graduation.
If you want to cultivate a life full of bitterness and resentment a good way to do it is go to law school thinking you're going to be a crusader for change, then end up having to become the very opposite -- a corporate lawyer drone -- to pay off your law school debt. This happens to pretty much everyone in law school. If you want to change the world, that's awesome -- go do it. Don't go to law school, having a law degree doesn't help you.
5. "I don't know what else to do." If you are coming to the end of your schooling and don't know what to do, or just otherwise feel lost in life, you shouldn't feel bad. It's OK. You're not alone. At least you have an excuse: You're barely old enough to drink, you don't need to know what you're going to do with the rest of your life at this point.
If your parents and guidance counselors say that you should have already "picked a direction" or "figured out a plan for your future" by now, ignore them. The pressure and admonitions they are foisting upon you aren't about your happiness or your success; it's about theirs. It's about validating themselves as good parents and qualified counselors. If they see you go to law school, to them it means you a) got good grades, b) went to college, c) didn't drop out, d) didn't commit (m)any felonies, e) have ambition and f) will make six-figures. By every traditional measure, they have succeeded in their prescribed roles.
None of this, of course, has anything to do with whether you are happy or fulfilled or even like the law; which are the most important considerations when making a decision like this. So relax. If you need more time to find your calling, that's fine, take it. Try lots of things, see what you like. Try working in a law firm, you'll see REAL fast that you hate it (or you'll love it, and thus validate your law school choice).
6. "I want to make a lot of money."
If there's one thing you can't argue with, it's that lawyers make a lot of money, right? I mean, a corporate lawyer starts at something like $140k a year, that's huge, right?
$140k+ to start sounds like a lot of money, until you break it down. Currently, most large corporate firms -- where you will find these six-figure starting salaries -- require somewhere between 1,900-2,000 billable hours from their associates. This is not the total number of hours you have to be in the office, this is the total number of hours of actual work you can bill directly to a client. For a smart attorney with a solid work ethic, it typically takes about 10 hours in the office to accrue 7 billable hours; tracked most often in 6 minute or 1/10th of an hour segments. If we take the lower end of the billable requirement threshold (1,900 hours), that means a typical attorney has to work about ~2,700 real hours in a year to meet their minimum billables. To put that in perspective, 2,700 hours is equal to working 7.5 hours a day EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE YEAR.
Using a $140,000 base salary, that's equivalent to making ~$50/hour [FYI -- here's a short list of other careers that pay $50/hour or more and do not require a) 3 years of post-graduate schooling and $150k in debt or b) you to work 365 days a year to get it].
This is what people mean when they talk about something that looks too good to be true. There is a reason so many lawyers leave the legal field: Being a lawyer -- especially a lawyer at the type of big corporate firm that seemingly pays so well -- SUCKS.
The American Bar Association has published several studies about the incredibly low job satisfaction of lawyers and in every survey they publish, most lawyers say they would NOT be a lawyer if they had it all to do over again.
Perhaps the most important thing for you to understand, there are NOT an unlimited number of jobs out there that start at $140,000/year. In fact, there aren't many at all, and pretty much ALL of them go to kids who come from the Top 15 law schools. Beyond that, the overall legal job market has dried up, even the low paying jobs. They aren't going to tell you any of this at law school recruitment receptions; in fact schools continue to tell prospective students the opposite, which is why more and more of them are being sued for fraud.
I cannot be any clearer about this: You are not guaranteed a job out of any law school, much less a job that pays six figures.
Now, ask yourself the question again:
"Why do I want to go Law School?"
If ANY of the 6 above reasons describe why you want to go to law school, stop now. Seriously. No qualifiers on this statement, just stop. DO NOT GO. You will regret it.
If you think you have one of the good reasons to go to law school you're still not out of the woods:
The Problem of Debt
There are many perfectly valid reasons to go to law school. You may very well have one of them. But even if your reason for going to law school is rock solid, you still need to consider one major thing: Debt.
I've mentioned this multiple times above, because it is so crucially important to making the right decision about law school. Debt is the elephant in the room that law schools never tell you about, but ends up dominating your life.
Law school is three years long. If you go to an average law school and don't get any tuition help or scholarships, you are going to spend ~$150,000 all-in, at least. That's three years of tuition, assorted fees, books and living expenses. Unless you are one of the few whose parents set up a tuition fund for BOTH your undergrad AND your grad school, that means you are going to be taking loans. This means you are going to start your law job already 150k in the hole -- and that's not counting any undergrad debt you may be carrying. This means you are going be making a $1,700/month payment for about a decade. On just your grad school debt.
And make no mistake about it: Once you are in debt, they own you. In a straight-forward approximation, a starting salary of $140,000/year would put our intrepid new lawyer in the 28 percent tax bracket. Loan payments will take another 14.57 percent of his per-unit-time income. To a first-degree approximation then, it is accurate to say 42.5 percent of our INL's income dissipates before being touched by him/her. It'd be funny if it wasn't so sad.
Even if you started off law school with the best of non-profit save-the-world intentions, when you are staring a $1,700 per MONTH payment in the face, you WILL end up scurrying to work for a white collar sweatshop. And you will hate it, like everyone does, and you WILL want to leave, like everyone does, but you won't be able to -- like everyone else can't -- because you will have too much debt to pay off.
So you're going to spend a decade toiling 12 hours a day for what? To pay off the debt you incurred to get that job!? HOW CRAZY IS THAT!?!
Well guess what -- THAT IS THE LAW SCHOOL RACKET.
But Don't Just Believe Me
I asked some friends who are lawyers to read a preliminary version of this post and give me their feedback. I'll leave you with their quotes:
I would HIGHLY recommend that anyone who is thinking of law school spend a year as a paralegal or as some sort of staff at a law firm before going to law school. Enough so that you can see 1) what young attorneys have to do 2) hear how much they bitch about hating it and 3) dispel any notions about ANY law firm caring about their associates or being "family friendly". Because that is a damn expensive mistake to make if you find out you don't like the practice of law. I went to a very good, very expensive law school and started out at a big firm. I hated it. I have since moved on to a smaller firm, which I do like more. But in all honesty, if I could do it all over, I would not go at all. And if I wasn't staring 100k in student loans in the face, I would probably quit firm practice altogether.
I have worked as a paralegal in some form of legal (family, bond, litigation) for 14 years now. I have yet to meet an attorney who is satisfied with his lot in life. I am not saying everyone non-esquire is thrilled with theirs, just that on a whole, these are some of the saddest, most down-trodden people I have known in my life. Most of my best friends are attorneys so I hear first hand about the student loans they are STILL paying off at 38; the huge houses and Mercedes' they purchased well beyond their means to "keep up with the Joneses" (a.k.a. every other attorney in the firm); the misery that is their ongoing marriages; the ridiculous hours; ice cold dinners; the utter lack of originality in their conversations; etc., etc., etc. Listening to these woes sucks the energy out of me everytime they come up. The most common nugget I hear: "Why, God WHY did I choose this profession?"
Nobody ever told me that I would be keeping time sheets that require me to divide my days into six-minute increments. Nobody told me I would have to choose between doing it right and doing it on a budget. The words "the client is cost-sensitive" burn my ears. But the marketing shit is the worst. The push to bring in business and schmooze potential clients and "cross-sell" within the firm. It's worse at some firms than others, but it is absolute misery to me no matter how much or how little marketing I may be doing. I've been practicing for 10 years, most of that time in big firms, and I have yet to get used to the business side of things. So I suppose that would be my take on things: even if you are going to law school for all of the "right reasons," odds are you will spend a significant portion of your day as the used-car salesman from Hell whose boss is nickle and diming you to an early grave.
As I write this, it is 85 degrees, sunny, with a slight, cooling breeze coming from the West. The only reason I know this is that I took twenty minutes to run to get a sandwich to eat at my desk. I am sitting in a basement office which houses three of us, putting off research on state law fair debt collection vs. the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the definition of a creditor to write this post. If that paragraph alone doesn't deter someone from law school, then I don't know what will.
And my personal favorite, from a friend of mine who is a partner at a huge multi-national firm:
I am a partner in one of the largest law firms in the world (measured by either revenue or # of lawyers). I had two associates pull all-nighters last night. I doubt either of them has slept more than 3 or 4 hours any night this week. I wonder if they are regretting their decision to go to law school? I'd ask, but I don't really care. Tucker, I'd really prefer if you did not do anything to cut off the supply of drones. Fortunately, the ones who will actually be persuaded by your speech are not the ones we want working here. I actually agree with everything you said in your speech. However, whoever posted the job satisfaction stat about 76 percent being unsatisfied, that means 24 percent are satisfied. You may be in the 24 percent.
Here is the funny thing about this piece: Every bit of knowledge in this piece was conferred to me before I got to law school. Much of it was told to me BY LAWYERS who repeatedly stressed how much they HATED their jobs. At this point, even the ABA is telling college kids not to go to law school.
You know what I did? I ignored it. I mean, sure all of those other assholes may be miserable and may hate the legal profession, but what do they know, they're only lawyers? If you're laughing at my ignorance, you're right to laugh. I was stupid.
Don't be me. Don't go to law school. Go do something with your life that you'll enjoy, is rewarding and productive and makes the world a better place.
http://scholarworks.umass.edu/theses/542/SCAR'd Times: Maine's Prisoners' Rights Movement, 1971-1976
Daniel S. Chard, University of Massachusetts - AmherstFollow
Master of Arts (M.A.)
Prison History, Prisoners' Rights Movement, Maine Social Movements, Maine Prisons, SCAR, Ray Levasseur
In late 1972, prisoners and ex-convicts in Maine formed Statewide Correctional Alliance for Reform (SCAR), a radical prisoners' rights organization that provoked a thoroughgoing public discussion on the function of prisons in Maine and in American society that lasted for about two years. Working for prison reform through legislation, litigation, and community organizing, SCAR influenced a Maine public unusually receptive to new approaches to criminal justice due to the impact of nationwide prison rebellions and the widely publicized massacre of forty-three prisoners and guards in New York’s Attica State Prison on September 13, 1971. As SCAR members, frustrated by the slow pace of change, came to increasingly view crime and prisons as products of an unjust socio-economic system that could be changed only through revolutionary means, a conservative backlash against prison reform also developed in the state, led by police officers, prison guards, and others who felt that Maine’s criminal justice system did not effectively safeguard its citizens from violent crime. When SCAR disbanded in 1976 as a result of internal political divisions and intense police repression, Maine no longer had an organized constituency to push for prison reform, leaving conservatives and the forces of political inertia and public indifference to guide state correctional policy in the years since.
A $1 million gift will help a national group with an active base in Knoxville further its mission to protect children.
On Monday morning, Debbie Weiss of California announced the donation to the National Association to Protect Children (NAPC).
The money will help establish a high-tech center at NAPC headquarters in Downtown Knoxville.
The Weiss Center for Child Rescue and Protection Technology will focus on advancing technology to protect children.
For several years, NAPC has partnered with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
Together, they have been able to improve technology that catches predators.
"They've produced incredible tools for law enforcement. They've got a thumb drive that recognizes child pornography. You stick it in the computer and it downloads the child porn in 15 minutes. It used to take weeks to do manually," said David Keith with NAPC.
But law enforcement needs help, which is how the Weiss Center decided its first mission.
The HERO (Human Exploitation Rescue Operatives) Child-Rescue Corps program will create 200 new jobs for wounded warriors.
Veterans will be trained and placed across the country, using technology created by ORNL.
Consultant National Center on Institutions and Alternative Ph.D. Psychiatric Social Work
Dr. Jerome G. Miller is co-founder of the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, based in Baltimore, Maryland, and Clinical Director of the Augustus Institute in Alexandria, Virginia. Dr. Miller has a doctorate in psychiatric social work and is recognized as one of the nation's leading authorities on corrections, and clinical work with violent juvenile and adult sex offenders. He is prominently known for closing all the state reform schools in Massachusetts and replacing them with community-based programs while serving as Commissioner of Children and Youth for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
While serving as Special Assistant to the Governor in Pennsylvania, Dr. Miller devised strategies and programs that successfully removed 1,000 youthful offenders from the state's adult prisons. From 1989 to 1994, Dr. Miller was the jail and prison monitor for the United States Court in the Middle District of Florida. Additionally, Dr. Miller has served as a Psychiatric Social Work Officer in the United States Air Force in this country and abroad, and was an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Ohio State University. From 1995 to 1997, Dr. Miller was the federal court "receiver" of D.C.'s child welfare system.
Dr. Miller has lectured extensively in the United States, Canada, and Europe. He has been widely published since 1965 and has written extensively for professional journals, magazines and trade publications. His 1990 book, Last One Over the Wall, was winner of the Edward Sagarin Prize of the American Society of Criminology and was positively reviewed in the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, and The Boston Globe. (A second edition was released by Ohio State University Press in 1998.) His most recent book, Search & Destroy: African Americans in the Criminal Justice System, was published in 1997 by the Cambridge University Press.
The seventh Hudson Police Department Citizen Police Academy will begin on Tuesday, March 26 at the department.
The nine-week course will be held Tuesday nights from 6-9 p.m. and is open to the public, age 18 and over. Participants will learn about crime scene investigation and evidence gathering, the use of deadly force, drunk driving enforcement, self-defense and have the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a squad car. The course also includes a presentation about interrogation techniques by former FBI agent Dan Kraft of North Hudson.
The cost of the course is $25 and a background check of all participants will be conducted. Enrollment is limited to 15 students. For more information go to the HPD link at the City of Hudson website at http://www.ci.hudson.wi.us/police.htm or call Chief Marty Jensen at (715)386-4771, ext. 210.
After 25 years on the air, COPS could finally be pushed out of primetime. FOX executives will be meeting shortly to decide whether to renew the controversial show. With its history of dehumanizing and racially inflammatory portrayals of people of color, COPS paints a damaging and distorted portrait of crime and the criminal justice system. Research shows that these images linger in the subconscious of viewers, creating “unconscious attitudes” and “implicit biases” about both race and class, influencing public support for more punitive approaches to problems. More »
REPORT FROM DICK GREGORY AND LOUIS WOLF ON THE ONGOING VIGIL AT THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS HEADQUARTERS, WASHINGTON, DC, SEEKING COMPASSIONATE RELEASE FOR LYNNE STEWART
On Monday, June 17, as activists stood before the BOP headquarters on Monday, a guard emerged to ask why they were there. Upon hearing that Dick Gregory would be present at the vigil the following day, he responded enthusiastically: "My man, Dick Gregory!"
On Tuesday, June 18, shortly after noon, fifteen people with banners and signs assembled outside the doors of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington, DC. for the historic vigil, the first in support of a federal prisoner at the Bureau headquarters.
Dick Gregory spoke about the urgent need for FBOP Director Charles E. Samuels, Jr. to sign Lynne Stewart's fully vetted Compassionate Release application and to authorize the federal attorney to file the motion for Compassionate Release with Judge John Koetl. Lynne cannot be freed without the completion of these steps. At this moment, the unconscionable holdup rests with the absence of Director Samuels signature as the completed file remains "on his desk."
As Dick Gregory spoke, workers at the Federal Bureau of Prisons gathered at FBOP windows. The ground floor lobby was filled with FBOP employees, listening and watching.
At 1:15 p.m. two Homeland Security cars pulled up. One of the men who exited one of the cars was in full combat dress. They stopped, watched as Dick Gregory spoke, noted the rapt attention Dick Gregory was receiving from both inside the FBOP and outside it, looked at each other and entered the building without speaking.
Askia Muhammad, News Director of WPFW, was there throughout the two hour vigil and recorded all that was said. Free Speech Radio News filmed and recorded. Code Pink and We Will Not Be Silent were present along with David Schwartzman, a noted DC activist.
Fernando Velasquez of Pacifica's KPFA interviewed Dick Gregory and Lou Wolf on the international campaign to free Lynne Stewart and the vigils at the FBOP and the White House. Fernando broadcasts across Latin America.
The vigil at the Bureau of Prisons headquarters continues all week. If you are in Washington, DC, please come at noon tomorrow and Friday to Federal Bureau of Prisons Headquarters, 320 1st St NW, Washington, DC (corner 1st Street and Indiana Avenue, NW) to demand compassionate release for Lynne.
Simultaneously, Lynne Stewart's husband Ralph Poynter and activists continue a vigil at the White House, mobilizing support for Lynne's release.
If you cannot be in DC, telephone BOP Director Samuels at 202-307-3250. Urge him to act now to move forward compassionate release for Lynne Stewart. There is no time to lose.
“...the national security state and the rule of law are mortal enemies... the national security state’s apparatus needs arbitrary power. Such power has its own code, which is meant to govern or justify the behavior of the initiated -- after the fact. It operates to protect the state apparatus from the citizenry.”
...and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
Book of Job, 1:15.
The day after I read & watched the video of Glenn Greenwald's interview with Edward Snowden in a hotel room in Hong Kong, I began to paint Snowden's portrait for the Americans Who Tell the Truth project.
There were few images of Snowden available -- some stills from the video in which the subdued indoor lighting gives his face a bluish cast. And a few snapshots with flash that turn him yellow & obscure detail. His hair seemed different in the two versions, and the video never showed the top of his head. I had to make some assumptions. I began drawing until I thought I had a decent likeness, laid in some medium toned color all over his face, then began painting his eyes. If I can get the eyes right, the painting transforms. It becomes a real presence, looks at me, begins to talk to me about doubt, about vulnerability, about courage, about loneliness, about conscience, about anger. Begins to talk to me about defining moments & no going back. About justice being more important than himself.
* * * * * *
Snowden seemed to me a tiny chunk of the vast, submerged NSA iceberg, a chunk that had chipped itself free & willed itself to drift in the opposite direction. The one lemming that ran the other way.
The debates about whether Snowden is a traitor or a hero seem wrong to me. He is both. He is traitor to the National Security State, but a hero to the idea of democracy.
He is a hero to the rule of law, but traitor to the rule of legal hypocrisy. Or, put another way, he's a traitor to the selective law of power & privilege. He's a hero to the rule of justice.
I find it curious to hear our media and officials clamor on about the rule of law: Whatever else you may say, he did break the law! Well, of course he did. Haven’t many of our heroes broken the law? What did the law say to Rosa Parks about where she could sit on a bus in Montgomery? What did the law say to Susan B. Anthony about her right as a woman to vote? What did the law say to Harriet Tubman about the legality of slavery? It was not for nothing that Thoreau said, "The law will never make men free. Men have got to make the law free." Isn't that what Edward Snowden is doing -- saving us from unjust law? What is the law but a lump of self-serving clay in the hands of power? How easily the law can be shaped to make preemptive war legal, or torture, or rendition, or murder without due process, or total surveillance. I think the political philosopher Marcus Raskin says it best:
"Democracy and its operative principle, the rule of law, require a ground on which to stand. That ground is the truth. When the government lies, or is structured like our national security state to promote lies and self-deception, then our official structures have broken faith with the essential precondition for constitutional government in democracy. "
Edward Snowden is a traitor to those who say the law is about looking forward not back.
He's a hero to those who say that the law has to look back, requires a ground to stand on, in order to look forward. A law of convenience is no law at all.
Should Snowden have turned himself in? Confronted his accusers in court? I suspect his reason for not doing that was based in strategy rather than personal safety. He saw whistleblowers like Bradley Manning and John Kiriakou and Sibel Edmonds be denied the right to explain in court why they had to act. They are silenced in court. As a free but stateless man, he can continue to expose the duplicity of our surveillance state.
In the 1950s & 1960s when I was young, a common Cold War refrain was Better Dead than Red! The slogan's aggressive political and moral content was that it was preferable to blow up the entire world with nuclear weapons than succumb to a totalitarian surveillance state.
And here we are today being asked by our president to weigh our freedom against our security, to decide in favor of security and accept the surveillance of all of us.
This surveillance comes not by a hammer or a sickle, but from the paranoia of our own power. Communist moles have not infiltrated the State Department and the Pentagon -- we can do that very well for ourselves, thank you, with the help of corporate true believers. Joe McCarthy was right about the infiltration, but wrong about the perpetrators. So, are we red but not dead? Or, fascist and dead? Should we not resist?
Secrecy. I’d prefer to be responsible for my own secrets. As well as my endearments, my stupid jokes, my political rants, my plans to meet friends, my birthday greetings, my thank you calls, my favorite lines of poetry, my expletives, my sorrows, my indiscretions, my struggles to understand spirituality, my attempts at solace. They’re mine. They are me. I don’t want some NSA voyeur collecting what’s me and making it his. I empathize with some indigenous people who believe that taking their photo is stealing their soul. A man with a little black box walks away with you inside it. My secrets become his secrets. Who am I then?
When I paint, I paint mostly with my fingers -- more like sculpting, thinning and shaping color, mixing it, making the paint translucent to allow the color to come from underneath. The process is intimate. My fingers blot a highlight on the iris, smooth the pinkness at the inner edge of a nostril, rub a bluish shadow into the cheek, smudge the eyebrows into the occipital ridge, round a shadow to shape the lower lip. It's all about the intensity of seeing but accomplished as though I am blind and learning the contours of the face with my fingers.
While I was working on the portrait, the US revoked Snowden's passport. He was in Russia, apparently sequestered in the airport, having one possible refuge after another cave to US pressure. He was now stateless. How strange! The man who believes so deeply in the purported values of his state that he risks everything for those values is then disowned by that state. In effect, by being disowned, he becomes the state. By disowning him, the state disowns its own values. He becomes the remnant of those values in exile. One person becomes bigger -- morally, legally, courageously, spiritually -- than the hypocritical state that denounced him. He's like Jonathan Swift's Gulliver being staked out & tied to the ground by the swarm of ant-like Lilliputians.
While Snowden was tied down in Russia, I had to leave the portrait to attend a conference in Jordan about civic engagement and democracy in the Middle-East & North Africa. I bought a book there of the great Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, Absent Presence. In a section describing how it feels to live under Israeli occupation and surveillance, Darwish says, They interpreted your dreams before you had them. Oh, I thought, exactly the goal of the NSA as they decipher metadata and comb emails to predict my actions before I have formulated them myself. An invasion of the privacy of the future as well as the present.
An Aside: We hear apologists for the NSA say, well, hell, we've got the technology; it's going to be used! As if there is no escaping the destiny of the invention. We also hear: We have the technology for hydraulic fracturing, so it will be used. And: Because the tar sands are there, we will use the oil. So, should I get used to the fact that because I have a big knife in my kitchen, I will have to stab myself in the back? Are we a species with conscious choice, or is our only option an inventive determinism leading to suicide?
In his essay in the New Yorker about the NSA, Hendrik Hertzberg makes the good point that even if millions of people the world over are not being bugged except in terms of "metadata," maybe the intrusion is not so great for any one person, “But that does not mean no harm has been done. The harm is civic. The harm is collective. The harm is to the architecture of trust and accountability that supports an open society and democratic polity. The harm is to the reputation and, perhaps, the reality of the United States as such a society, such a polity."
Hertzberg's sentiments are fine & correct. But I am deeply bothered when anyone presents an argument based on the assumption that a viable "architecture of trust and accountability" is still standing in this country. As surely as the World Trade Towers, that building of civic faith was knocked down a long time ago & it serves none of us any good to act as though its mirage is still standing. To comfort ourselves with the belief that it does exist only plays into the hands of the powerful dissemblers who have taken it down. If you think you can see it, they can still pretend it's there for the good of us all. Of course, we can’t survive as a polity without that architecture of trust and accountability. Which is why, first, we must drain the swamp of special interest money from our politics.
An aside on "service": While tediously scratching in Snowden's hair and stippling his short mustache and goatee, my mind wanders. I think about the service he has tried to perform for the people of this country through his sacrifice. It's an unpaid and un-honored service. His service has some similarities to the service of our military. Their charge is to protect the Constitution. He took that oath and ordered himself to do that, too. But there are some vast differences. Our servicemen & women were betrayed by their government when they were sent to Iraq and required to risk their lives while killing people who were not a danger -- nor intended to be -- to this country or our Constitution. They are praised highly for their service -- for the obvious reason that the praise obscures the crimes. Snowden is condemned for his service because it exposes crime & hypocrisy.
A further aside: I travel a lot. Those of you who do, too, know that our domestic airlines offer a thank you to our military service personnel by letting them board planes first, sometimes upgrading them to first class, sometimes asking fellow passengers to applaud their service. This irritates me -- not because these soldiers are not courageous & patriotic, but because it enforces the idea that the cause is just. I would love to hear -- just once! -- a flight attendant ask the passengers to acknowledge the peacemakers on board, to see a social justice activist be offered an upgrade to first class (and refuse it, of course).
I decided to paint the background of Snowden's portrait a deep brown/black. No other color seemed right.
Somebody asked me if I was going to paint Snowden’s moles on his left cheek & neck. Of course, I said, my obligation is not to be a cosmetic surgeon. Quite the opposite. Part of my obligation as an artist is to paint whatever I see in people however it varies from the aesthetic ideal -- the lopsided nose, the differently sized eyes, their blue-gray circles, a protruding ear, the thinning hair, crooked teeth. Nor is my task to judge what might be seen as character flaws in my subjects. We all have flaws. We all don’t have courage. Part of my obligation is to make visible the courageous integrity that informs the face, how it radiates as beauty.
One metric by which to measure Snowden's action: did it take courage or cowardice? The answer to this reminds me of Camilo Mejia, the first US soldier who, for refusing to go back to Iraq spent 9 months in prison. From prison Mejia wrote: "I was a coward, not for leaving the war, but for having been a part of it in the first place. I failed to fulfill my moral duty as a human being, and instead I chose to fulfill my duty as a soldier. What good is freedom if we are not able to live with our own actions? I am confined to a prison, but I feel, today more than ever, connected to all humanity. Behind these bars I sit a free man because I listened to a higher power, the voice of my conscience.” He went on to say that he was also a hero -- not because he led men into battle, but because he refused to do it anymore in that immoral war.
Edward Snowden was a traitor to the kind of duty that can make one feel part of something, but simultaneously rob one of humanity. He was a hero for following his conscience which required of him a profound and deeper duty.
In a recent essay in the The New York Times, Roger Berkowitz, writing about Hannah Arendt, wrote,
“Arendt concluded that evil in the modern world is done neither by monsters nor by bureaucrats, but by joiners... Such joiners are not stupid; they are not robots. But they are thoughtless in the sense that they abandon their independence, their capacity to think for themselves, and instead commit themselves absolutely to the fictional truth of the movement. It is futile to reason with them. They inhabit an echo chamber, having no interest in learning what others believe. It is this thoughtless commitment that… makes them willing to employ technological implements of violence in the name of saving the world.”
This quote may explain the deafening silence from others in the NSA to Snowden's action. Two of the only NSA employees to support Snowden have been Tom Drake and William Binney, fellow NSA apostates and courageous whistleblowers who tried years ago to make the same warning.
My last task was to scratch a quote from Snowden into the surface of the portrait. As anyone who has listened to him knows, Snowden is articulate, measured, thoughtful and philosophically accurate about the ideas that support democracy and that impelled him to act. After considering many possible quotes, I chose one of the simplest and most obvious, one which the NSA with all of its super computers, eavesdropping equipment, and secrecy could not begin to understand:
"...the public needs to know the kinds of things a government does in its name, or the "consent of the governed" is meaningless…. The consent of the governed is not consent if it is not informed." --- Edward Snowden
Former U.S. Marine and FBI agent LtCol. John C Parkinson is bringing a whistleblower case to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
Parkinson claims he was fired from his position as an FBI special agent in 2010 because he was attempting to expose the illegal sexual escapades of fellow agents Steven Broce and Andrew Marshall. He filed a 2008 motion against the men through the Office of the Inspector general. His motion led to a brief investigation which was stopped when Parkinson’s FBI superiors retaliated against Parkinson with a motion of their own.
According to Parkinson’s claim, he said that a thorough investigative probe of Broce and Marshall “will reveal a clear pattern of fraud, waste and abuse over a period of years that has cost the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars and damaged the public reputation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Department of Justice.
“Mr. Broce has utilized his position as an FBI agent to engage in a career-long pattern of soliciting sex from prostitutes,” Parkinson wrote. “The symbols of his position as an FBI agent, specifically, his gun, badge and official identification, are utilized as part of the act of soliciting sex from prostitutes and have on at least two occasions been left behind in brothels by Mr. Broce.”
Parkinson also claims that Broce on multiple occasions brought prostitutes back to undercover FBI facilities for sex. Parkinson claims Broce would bring prostitutes to the facility “often during evening shifts that he is known for being especially eager to work.”
Parkinson claims the men also flew plains from Sacramento, California to Nevada for the sole purpose of picking up prostitutes in the state.
“As a pilot assigned to the Sacramento office of the FBI, Mr. Broce has unrestricted access to the FBI hangar, plane and aviation pool,” Parkinson’s claim reads. “Mr. Broce utilized the FBI’s plane to fly at night to Reno, Nevada for the sole purpose of engaging prostitutes in acts of illicit sex. In addition to spending thousands of tax dollars to fund his prurient interests in prostitution, Mr. Broce, who has failed multiple check rides and has vision and hearing impairments, violated FAA and FBI regulations by flying alone from California to Nevada.”
Soon after Parkinson filed his motion, several of his FBI superiors accused him of misusing $77,000 of FBI money. At the same time, Parkinson’s claim against Broce and Marshall was dropped. FBI officials pegged Parkinson with the misuse costs because he removed couches and other furniture from the FBI’s Sacramento airport hangar. Parkinson claims the furniture was becoming stained from Broce’s and Marshall’s sexual activities. Parkinson was ultimately fired over the charges.
Parkinson is being represented by attorney Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project in his case before the MSPB. Radack spoke recently on her client’s case.
“This is what happens to intelligence professionals who go through the proper channels,” she said. “Parkinson did everything by the book. He went to the Inspector General and yet he still ended up fired.”
For now, Broce and Marshall remain employed by the FBI. Neither men have received punishment or restrictions of access for the activities reported in Parkinson’s original claim.
Jeremy Hammond in a March 2012 booking photo from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in Chicago.
By Chris Hedges
NEW YORK—Jeremy Hammond sat in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center last week in a small room reserved for visits from attorneys. He was wearing an oversized prison jumpsuit. The brown hair of the lanky 6-footer fell over his ears, and he had a wispy beard. He spoke with the intensity and clarity one would expect from one of the nation’s most important political prisoners.
On Friday the 28-year-old activist will appear for sentencing in the Southern District Court of New York in Manhattan. After having made a plea agreement, he faces the possibility of a 10-year sentence for hacking into the Texas-based private security firm Strategic Forecasting Inc., or Stratfor, which does work for the Homeland Security Department, the Marine Corps, the Defense Intelligence Agency and numerous corporations including Dow Chemical and Raytheon.
Four others involved in the hacking have been convicted in Britain, and they were sentenced to less time combined—the longest sentence was 32 months—than the potential 120-month sentence that lies before Hammond.
Hammond turned the pilfered information over to the website WikiLeaks and Rolling Stone and other publications. The 3 million email exchanges, once made public, exposed the private security firm’s infiltration, monitoring and surveillance of protesters and dissidents, especially in the Occupy movement, on behalf of corporations and the national security state. And, perhaps most important, the information provided chilling evidence that anti-terrorism laws are being routinely used by the federal government to criminalize nonviolent, democratic dissent and falsely link dissidents to international terrorist organizations. Hammond sought no financial gain. He got none.
The email exchanges Hammond made public were entered as evidence in my lawsuit against President Barack Obama over Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Section 1021 permits the military to seize citizens who are deemed by the state to be terrorists, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military facilities. Alexa O’Brien, a content strategist and journalist who co-founded US Day of Rage, an organization created to reform the election process, was one of my co-plaintiffs. Stratfor officials attempted, we know because of the Hammond leaks, to falsely link her and her organization to Islamic radicals and websites as well as to jihadist ideology, putting her at risk of detention under the new law. Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruled, in part because of the leak, that we plaintiffs had a credible fear, and she nullified the law, a decision that an appellate court overturned when the Obama administration appealed it.
“In these times of secrecy and abuse of power there is only one solution—transparency,” wrote Sarah Harrison, the British journalist who accompanied Snowden to Russia and who also has gone into exile, in Berlin. “If our governments are so compromised that they will not tell us the truth, then we must step forward to grasp it. Provided with the unequivocal proof of primary source documents people can fight back. If our governments will not give this information to us, then we must take it for ourselves.”
“When whistleblowers come forward we need to fight for them, so others will be encouraged,” she went on. “When they are gagged, we must be their voice. When they are hunted, we must be their shield. When they are locked away, we must free them. Giving us the truth is not a crime. This is our data, our information, our history. We must fight to own it. Courage is contagious.”
Editor's note: The artist's essay that follows accompanies the 'online unveiling'—exclusive to Common Dreams—of Shetterly's latest painting in his "Americans Who Tell the Truth" portrait series which present citizens throughout U.S. history who have courageously engaged in the social, environmental, or economic issues of their time. This portrait of FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds* follows one of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden unveiled on these pages in July.Portrait of FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds. (Painted by Robert Shetterly / 'Americans Who Tell The Truth' project)
“Senator Humphrey, I been praying about you, and I been thinking about you, and you’re a good man. The only trouble is, you’re afraid to do what you know is right.”
Those words were spoken by Fannie Lou Hamer in Atlantic City in 1964. Hubert Humphrey, the soon-to-be running mate of Lyndon Johnson, had informed Ms. Hamer that her integrated Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party delegation would not be seated at the Democratic Convention, nor would they replace the all-white delegation sent to the convention by the Mississippi Democratic Party.
The reason I quote them here is that the problem she identifies—a good man afraid to do what he knows is right— haunts our history. It haunts it because moral cowardice, euphemistically called political expediency, leads to injustice, denial and corruption.
When I was painting the portrait of the FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, those words came back to me. Just three days after the 9/11 attacks, Edmonds received a call from the FBI. She had applied to the agency for an internship in 1997 and been given a battery of tests that probed her language abilities in Turkish, Farsi and Azerbaijani. The FBI, however, had never followed up with her. Now, scrambling to bolster their translation capabilities in the wake of the terrorist attack, the agency reached out to Edmonds. After a moment’s consideration, Edmonds, who was then a full-time student working on degrees in criminal justice and psychology, agreed to come on part-time as a translator for the FBI, feeling compelled to answer this “call to duty.”
What the FBI didn’t realize was that Sibel was not simply a translator. They had hired a fierce convert to US ideals. In her 2012 book, Classified Woman, Edmonds describes inheriting her “love for freedom of speech and of the press, my dedication to the protection of due process, and my endless quest for government held accountable” from her Iranian Azerbaijani father. Her father, a surgeon and hospital administrator, had been subjected to interrogation and torture in Iran when he advocated for worker’s rights in the hospital where he was employed.
As a teenager in Turkey, Edmonds wrote an essay for school in which she criticized Turkey’s censorship laws. Her scared and angry teacher asked her to withdraw the essay, fearing that his student would be jailed and tortured. Edmonds’ father backed his daughter’s decision not to submit a different essay. Within months in 1988, Edmonds left for the United States and experienced “love at first sight.” It was a place, she writes, where she could live “with the kind of freedom and rights that existed only in books and in my fantasies.”
Edmonds began work at the FBI on September 20, 2001. She was fired without cause in March of 2002. In her six month stint at the agency, Edmonds witnessed blatant incompetence, personal agendas that compromised national security, and corruption at top levels of the American government. Despite mounting threats from superiors, Edmonds refused to turn a blind eye or walk quietly away from the agency, believing it was her responsibility to expose the wrongdoing she saw. Like most whistleblowers, she assumed that when FBI really understood what she was discovering, they would stop it. She reported to what she thought were a few good men, each of them afraid to do what was right. Their choice was to silence her.
As a translator, she was discovering intricate webs of corruption involving money laundering, illegal weapon and drug sales, and illicit trading in military and nuclear technology. The spinners of the webs were (are) fronted as Turkish construction companies operating in the US. In the web, and making huge profits from the deals, were very high ranking US officials in the Congress, State Department and Pentagon. Every time Edmonds was rebuffed she tried harder to get the FBI to pay attention. Once she was fired, she went to court to sue to make her knowledge public and the US courts responded by classifying all of her information as Top Secret. She had been muzzled.
We applaud whistleblowers for their courage to tell truth to power. However, that statement is at the best misleading, at the worst, false. Power is not listening, and it is making sure that others can’t hear. Whistleblowers tell truth about power. And when that truth is about a corruption as deep and far-reaching as what Sibel Edmonds had uncovered, many people don’t even want to know.
When she was given the 2006 PEN Newman First Amendment Award. Edmonds said in her acceptance speech, “… our freedom is under assault—not from terrorists—for they only attack us, not our freedom, and they can never prevail. No, the attacks on our freedom are from within, from our very own government: and unless we recognize these attacks … and stand up, and speak out—no, shout out—against those in government who are attempting to silence the brave few who are warning us, then we are doomed to wake up one sad morning and wonder when and where our freedom died.”
It seems that the information that Sibel Edmonds is sounding the alarm about, systemic corruption in all our branches of government, is information that many people, even good people, don’t want to hear. Her message is similar to what William Pepper argued in a Memphis court in 1999, that the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. was carried out by a conspiracy of government and mafia forces; similar to what James Douglass asserts about CIA involvement in the assassination of JFK in his book JFK and the Unspeakable.
Many of us would prefer to ignore this kind of deep criminality on the part of our own government. Why? Is it too dangerous to confront? Irrelevant to the struggles of our everyday lives? Is what this acknowledgement would require of us as citizens too frightening?
We celebrate the lives of people like Dr. King, mourn and grieve in official ceremonies promoted by the government, but refuse to acknowledge that the government itself was involved in the crime of his death even when the evidence is readily available. In a sense then, all of us become accessories after the fact to the crime.
Unfortunately, we all inherit our legacy of denial. Our economic, political, historical and moral lives are too often shaped by failures of accountability. When Obama refused to prosecute the Bush administration for any of its crimes in order to look forward instead of looking back, he enabled this deep criminal denial. He also ensured that we would never be able to look forward because the past would be blocking our view. And in doing so, he also ensures that a republic based on the rule of law becomes little more than propaganda.
We are taught that our separation of powers makes justice inevitable. We are not taught that corrupt collaboration of those powers makes injustice unchallengeable, that “law” is being used to commit crime.
For Sibel Edmonds that situation is untenable. Her courage and tenacity in trying to expose these crimes is, even by whistleblower standards, remarkable. I urge everyone to read her book Classified Woman to find out what we don’t want to know. She’s not afraid to do what she knows is right.
Chicago, IL - Since 1992, activists with Fight Back! news, some of whom are members of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, have held a People’s Thanksgiving dinner. According to Joe Iosbaker, “It was started as part of a movement to protest 500 years of colonialism and to celebrate the resistance of the indigenous people.”
Each year the dinner has recognized activists and organizations that have contributed to struggles in Chicago and around the country.
This year, there is urgency to the gathering. Rasmea Odeh, a beloved activist in the Palestinian community in Chicago, is under attack by the U.S. government. The Sunday, Dec. 8 dinner will raise funds for her defense, in addition to helping to keep publishing Fight Back!.
Hatem Abudayyeh, a friend of Fight Back!, and himself a victim of repression, said, “The FBI and the U.S. attorney in Chicago have used political repression against 23 anti-war and international solidarity activists for the past three years. Now the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. attorney in Detroit are victimizing Rasmea.”
Odeh faces 10 years in prison and deportation if she is convicted of falsifying her application for citizenship.
Along with Rasmea Odeh, the dinner will honor two activists with the Anti-War Committee-Chicago: Newland Smith, a longtime fixture in the Palestine solidarity movement, and Sarah Simmons for her role resisting Mayor Emanuel’s attack on the Chicago Teachers Union and public education. Pete Camarata, a founder of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, will be recognized for his lifelong efforts for the cause of working people. And the continued struggle for justice for Trayvon Martin will be highlighted by a Skype message from Michael Sampson, a Dream Defender who occupied the State Capitol in Florida after the acquittal of George Zimmerman.
For more information on the dinner, go to http://www.StopFBI.net
http://www.curenational.org/index.php CURE is a membership organization. We work hard to provide our members with the information and tools necessary to help them understand the criminal justice system and to advocate for changes.
Founded in 1987 and located near Boston, Massachusettss, Granite Island Group, is THE internationally recognized leader in the field of Technical Surveillance Counter Measures (TSCM), Bug Sweeps, Wiretap Detection, Surveillance Technology, Communications Security (COMSEC), Counter-Intelligence, Technical Security, and Spy Hunting.
Granite Island Group provides expert technical, analytical and research capability for the detection, nullification, and isolation of eavesdropping devices, technical surveillance penetrations, technical surveillance hazards, and physical security weaknesses... Simply put, we hunt spies, stop espionage, and plug leaks.
Granite Island Group was initially formed to provide TSCM and SIGINT training services to the Army Intelligence School located at Fort Devens, MA. Engineering, design, and related services were also provided to various research facilities and defense contractors throughout New England. These services also included product design, fully instrumented TSCM surveys, bug sweeps, wiretap detection, SCIF compliance inspections, shielding evaluations, and other engineering services related to the technical security and protection of classified information.
Design projects included the development of several briefcase and man-pack systems used for signals exploitation and surveillance, along with suites of software products used to control test instruments for automated ECM, SIGINT, Signals Analysis, TEMPEST, TSCM and related measurements.
In 1989 the services offered were expanded to include the design, installation, and maintenance of high performance computer networks used in secure facilities. This included performing TSCM, wiretap detection, and bug sweep services on desktop computers, data networks, and PBX/ESS systems to identify weaknesses which could allow technical penetrations or the compromise of classified or sensitive information. At the time there was only one company in the entire country who could do this... and we were it.
Granite Island Group currently provides TSCM, bug sweeps, wiretap detection, and communications engineering services to a wide range of clients and has become one of the most respected names in the industry.
Granite Island Group has had an Internet presence since 1987, and James Atkinson has been active on the Internet since the mid 1970's. With the growth on the Internet in the early 1990's came an FTP/UUCP library, then an IRC reflector, and a dedicated E-Mail based list for discussion and to publish and exchange files related to TSCM and ongoing projects. With the advent of "Mosaic browsers" several years later the informational files and documents were converted to HTTP (or Hypertext Documents) and placed on a dedicated domain in 1994 (http://www.tscm.com)
The web site developed to over 1,950 publicly assessable documents related to TSCM, technical counter-intelligence and technical security which involves well over 78,200 printed pages. The site currently handles an average of over 4,500 visitors a day from all over the world. It is the first, the largest, and most complete site anywhere on the Internet dedicated to TSCM, Technical Counter-Intelligence, and Technical Security.
What Is Bug Sweeps and Bug Detection All About?
Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ
What To Do If You Think You Have Been Bugged
How To Commission Someone To Check For Bugs
Types of Bugs and Wiretaps
Wiretapping 101 ("Outside Plant" Devices)
Phone Set Bugging and Modification Techniques
Surveillance Threat Levels
What Does a Bug Sweep Involve?
What Does a Bug Sweep Cost?
Fine Arts Photography
Professional Executive Portraits
Location Photography of Work Sites or Construction Sites
Photography or Video of Scientific Experiments or Expiditions
Microscope Based Photography
Legal Exhibit Photography
Production of Court-Room Photographic Exhibits in Large Scale Formats
Photography of Injuries and Wounds of Injured Persons
Technical Examination of Photographs to Detect Manipulation or Forgery
Intelligence Analysis and Interpretation of Aerial Photography
Forensics, Criminalistics, Crime Scene Logs or Reports
Court Records and Case Transcripts
Physical Evidence (where are the holes in the case)
Medical Evidence and Records
Electronic Records or Computer Related Evidence
Jury Selection, and Jury or Witness Behavioral Analysis Consultant
Contemporaneous Intelligence Analysis (provided at hearings and during trial)
Technical Advisor, Tutoring, and Technology Coaching for Attorneys
Computer Forensics and Expert Testimony
Recovery of Erased or Damaged Computer Files
Recovery of Erased or Damaged Digital Photography and Video
iPhone, iPod, and iPad Non-Tainting Duplications (Perfect Bit-by-Bit Direct from Memory Copies)
iPhone, iPod, and iPad Forensic Analysis
Assistance in Crafting and Properly Issuing "Preservation Letters for Telephone, Data, ISPs Records"
Assistance in Crafting and Properly Issuing "Subpoenas for Telephone, Data, ISPs Records"
Converting Raw Data Obtained from Telephone, Data, and ISPs into Readable Reports
Computer Source Code Analysis and Deconstruction
Methods Used To Manipulate or Fabricate Electronic Evidence
Methods Used To Manipulate or Fabricate "Forensics and Criminalistics"
Methods Used To Manipulate or Fabricate "Fake Crime Scenes"
Methods Used To Manipulate or Fabricate "Fake Evidence"
Methods Used To Manipulate or Fabricate Photographs
Methods Used To Illicit False Confessions and False Testimony
Bug Sweeps of Judges Chambers and/or Homes
Bug Sweeps of Jury Rooms, Juror Hotel Rooms, and other placed used by Jurors
Bug Sweeps of Attorney-Client Booths and Meeting Rooms
Bug Sweeps of Attorney Offices and Conference Rooms
Bug Sweeps of Attorneys Client Homes and/or Offices
Granite Island Group Mission Statement
Granite Island Group Profile and Backgrounder
Background and Qualifications - James M. Atkinson
Questions To Ask TSCM Specialists The GOLD LIST
Helpful Books to Read, and Training to Attend
TSCM-L Archives, over 10,000 messages
TSCM 101 - The Technical "Meat and Potatoes" The following are a series of brief entry level tutorials regarding specific areas and topics relative to TSCM and methods used to find bugs and other eavesdropping devices.
Noise and Sensitivity
Modeling Eavesdropping Devices
TSCM Antenna Methods and Protocols
Wireless Microphones Revisited
The Wavecom Eavesdropping Threat
Video Signal Eavesdropping Threat
Detection, Isolation, and Evaluation of Spread Spectrum Signals
Frequency Allocation Basics
Basic Bug Frequencies
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In the early 1980s, when he was the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Puerto Rico office, Bernardo “Mat” Pérez was the highest-ranking official of Hispanic origin in the agency. But the Mexican American didn’t last long in his position in turmoil-plagued Puerto Rico, where groups labeled as terrorists were fighting for independence.
Eventually, Pérez said, he was demoted and sent to the FBI’s Los Angeles bureau, where he worked as second in command.
Pérez said his boss in Puerto Rico didn’t seem to understand the volatile situation there and didn’t seem to respect him because of his Mexican heritage. And when he got to L.A., it wasn’t any better.
The retired agent, who now works as a private investigator in Santa Fe, said he had been naive about racism because he had grown up in a small but diverse community where everyone got along. But his experience in the FBI opened his eyes to the rampant discrimination that minority people faced in the federal workforce. In 1987, when he finally had become fed up with the way he had been treated by those at the highest levels of the FBI because of his Mexican heritage, Pérez sued the agency, along with 310 other Hispanic agents.
At the time, Pérez said, only about 450 of the agency’s 9,000 agents were Hispanic.
The historic discrimination case was heard in 1988 in El Paso, and the Hispanic agents prevailed. A New York Times headline declared, “Judge Finds F.B.I is Discriminatory.” National media sought out Pérez for scores of interviews, and he won awards and acclaim from civil-rights organizations.
But he said he brought the lawsuit only because he wanted Hispanics in the field to be rewarded for their hard work and to make the FBI a good career choice for younger generations of Latinos.
Growing up proud
Pérez, 74, was born and raised in a diverse mining town — Lone Pine, Calif. — with Italian and Irish families. His parents told him that he should be always proud of the family’s Mexican heritage. Growing up in that small-town community, he said, he didn’t think racism existed in the U.S.
“There was no barrio,” he said. “We were all mixed into the town.”
Pérez got into law enforcement after following advice from his uncle, a former officer with the Los Angeles Police Department in the 1960s, when the department had few Hispanic officers.
“I had told him I wanted to be an officer, too,” Pérez said of his uncle. “But instead, he told me, ‘Go apply at the FBI. They’re more respected and better paid.’ ”
He applied for a position with the FBI’s Los Angeles office, but he was told he needed a college education to be an agent.
Pérez wanted to get his feet wet in the field, so he applied at the FBI’s Washington, D.C., office, where he got a job in 1960 as a messenger and file clerk. His duties included handling top-secret files and delivering them to agency officials such J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI’s controversial director.
While he was living in D.C., Pérez got accepted to Georgetown University, where he majored in Spanish literature and became fluent in the Spanish language. And in 1963, when he achieved his college degree, he finally became an agent. He was assigned to offices in Florida, Texas and Washington, D.C.
Advancement and retaliation
Pérez met Hoover in 1969, when he was sent on an assignment to Mexico. It was nerve-wracking, he said, because he knew the meeting could determine his rest of his FBI career.
“At the end of the meeting, he says, ‘You have anything to ask of me?’ ” Pérez said of Hoover. “And I told him, ‘Yes sir, I have one request: I would like more responsibility.’ ”
Hoover was delighted to hear that, Pérez said, and he responded, “As long as I’m the director of this organization, young man, you are going places.”
Pérez worked in several FBI divisions before he was designated as special agent in charge of the Puerto Rico office in 1979.
Pérez quickly launched his first major investigation in his new position — one of the Puerto Rican nationalist groups fighting for independence from the U.S. had gunned down a bus full of sailors. Two were killed and nine others wounded.
Pérez had hoped that with such terrorist attacks occurring on U.S. soil, his bosses would give him the resources he needed to apprehend the nationalist fighters. He asked for computers and more Spanish-speaking agents. But his bosses didn’t take him seriously, he said.
After the bus attack, Pérez did get more Spanish-speaking agents, but he was told he would have to wait years for the computers. He had no intention of waiting. He said he went around his bosses at the FBI and secured computers from another government agency. And then he got his manpower focused on Puerto Rico’s terrorists.
When it was time for an evaluation, however, Pérez was told by his bosses that they weren’t going to consider his investigative work on the island’s nationalist organizations. Instead, they said, he would be evaluated on his administrative abilities. And he didn’t fare well.
Pérez maintains the evaluation was used as an opportunity for his bosses to retaliate against him for going above his director’s head to get computers for his office. A judge later agreed that the evaluation was a pretext for Pérez’s demotion.
“I had been demoted and bounced out of San Juan because I lacked administrative abilities — that was the reason [they told me],” Pérez said. “But the real reason was because I was acting like a Latino. I was talking back, and I wasn’t going along with the company line.”
Pérez was made an assistant special agent in charge in the Los Angeles bureau, working under Special Agent in Charge Richard Bretzing.
“When I got there, [Bretzing] told me, ‘I’m going to try to overlook the fact that you’re a Mexican,’ ” Pérez said.
A painful, costly lawsuit
Although he had experienced discrimination firsthand, accepting that it was widespread in the agency was difficult for Pérez. At an October 2008 meeting of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about issues facing Hispanic federal workers, he described his dilemma at the FBI:
“I had investigated Klan cross-burnings in Florida, police brutality cases in Texas and other civil rights violations,” he said. ” … But I refused to accept and admit that discrimination existed at my beloved FBI. I even argued with my own father and insisted that the FBI was incapable of discrimination. But I finally came to understand a painful truth — He was right, I was wrong.”
Initiating the historic lawsuit was costly for Pérez. He had to borrow thousands of dollars from friends and family members, and he maxed out his credit cards, he said. And even though the court ruled in his favor, there was no monetary compensation. During his talk at the EEOC meeting, he said his successful attorneys had gone bankrupt after the trial.
Still, he said, the case opened the doors for major changes at the FBI — and more lawsuits against federal agencies that were discriminating against minorities.
Fight for equality continues
After the trial, Pérez continued to work for the FBI, but many agents were outraged, accusing him of embarrassing the agency, and he even threatened to bring another lawsuit just to get respect from his bosses, he said.
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