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On Monday November 14, 2016 Naomi Wolf received a summons from President-elect Summers’ staff to meet him at the Royal Plaza Presidential Suite in New York on the coming Friday at 2 pm to discuss civil liberties. This was a traumatic experience to Naomi who had worked to the best of her abilities to defeat him though he was a Democrat as she had been some years ago.
Nine years ago in a lecture at the University of Washington she had said there are tipping points which mark the transition from democracy to fascism. She had been alarmed at what George Bush had been doing but was disheartened by the Obama administration. Ever since the passage of the NDAA in 2011 which repealed Habeas Corpus, the Magna Carta, right to a trial and indefinite detention without trial, she had become an outlaw in the eyes of Homeland Security. She opposed to no avail the subsequent legalization of torture and the revocation of citizenship by administrative fiat.
Her first thought upon receiving her summons was to gather her friends who had worked with her in the civil liberties movement for their advice and moral support. America was rapidly becoming a dictatorship. Some half jokingly said she might be arrested at the Plaza. But that was entirely possible in the New America.
President Summers had promised a New Day for a New America in his recent campaign.
Her website and her old video lectures had been scrubbed from the Internet. Free speech had been easily curbed by a 30% unemployment rate. The Department of Homeland Security had created a system of security checks which were required for even the lowest paying jobs. You had to have positive id to get on the Internet and a license to be a webmaster or even write a blog. That made organizing resistance in the New America very difficult. It took her a couple of days to gather her friends together. One suggested a tactic from an old War II movie used by a captured American officer. He went in to the German general to determine how the men under his command would be treated. Naomi’s friends wanted advanced warning of anything bad coming their way. News of her Wednesday night meeting traveled far and wide. On Thursday a friend took her to dinner. Complete strangers came and wished her luck. An editor wanted her to write a cryptic piece saying something about the end of old ways (meaning the end of the Bill of Rights.) Hopefully, this did not necessarily mean the beginning of rampant torture and disappearances. The most troubling aspect of the Summers campaign was his statement that to move America forward would require that a hundred or so obstructionists who were hampering economic recovery would have to be taken out of the picture.
On Friday the first few minutes of her meeting were uneventful until Naomi and the President-elect met privately.
Thanks to Ann. I don’t agree with Naomi’s conclusions about the President but much of what else she says strikes me as probably true. Naomi has examined the steps by which fascist states undermine democracy and has identified all of them having taken place in the U.S.
Nonetheless none of this will result in the loss freedom. The cabal is rapidly disintegrating, our sources say. For instance:
“For a bit longer the Illuminati will continue countering all progress toward dramatic changes with such distractions and disruptions as their black ops terrorism, stock market shenanigans, bribing or threatening politicians, limited resumption of chemtrails in some areas, weather control, and of course fear-filled disinformation.” (Matthew’s Message, Nov. 5, 2011.)
“All is proceeding well and the dark Ones have got the message, that we are no longer prepared to wait for them to move aside. We will remove any person obstructing our efforts, to move the people of Earth into positions where they can start the whole process of Ascension.” (SaLuSa, Oct. 12, 2011.)
The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy:
The violent police assaults across the US are no coincidence. Occupy has touched the third rail of our political class’s venality
Occupy Wall Street protester Brandon Watts lies injured on the ground after clashes with police over the eviction of OWS from Zuccotti Park.
Naomi Wolf, Guardian.co.uk, 25 November 2011
US citizens of all political persuasions are still reeling from images of unparallelled police brutality in a coordinated crackdown against peaceful OWS protesters in cities across the nation this past week. An elderly woman was pepper-sprayed in the face; the scene of unresisting, supine students at UC Davis being pepper-sprayed by phalanxes of riot police went viral online; images proliferated of young women – targeted seemingly for their gender – screaming, dragged by the hair by police in riot gear; and the pictures of a young man, stunned and bleeding profusely from the head, emerged in the record of the middle-of-the-night clearing of Zuccotti Park.
But just when Americans thought we had the picture – was this crazy police and mayoral overkill, on a municipal level, in many different cities? – the picture darkened. The National Union of Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a Freedom of Information Act request to investigate possible federal involvement with law enforcement practices that appeared to target journalists. The New York Times reported that “New York cops have arrested, punched, whacked, shoved to the ground and tossed a barrier at reporters and photographers” covering protests. Reporters were asked by NYPD to raise their hands to prove they had credentials: when many dutifully did so, they were taken, upon threat of arrest, away from the story they were covering, and penned far from the site in which the news was unfolding. Other reporters wearing press passes were arrested and roughed up by cops, after being – falsely – informed by police that “It is illegal to take pictures on the sidewalk.”
In New York, a state supreme court justice and a New York City council member were beaten up; in Berkeley, California, one of our greatest national poets, Robert Hass, was beaten with batons. The picture darkened still further when Wonkette and Washingtonsblog.com reported that the Mayor of Oakland acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had participated in an 18-city mayor conference call advising mayors on “how to suppress” Occupy protests.
To Europeans, the enormity of this breach may not be obvious at first. Our system of government prohibits the creation of a federalised police force, and forbids federal or militarised involvement in municipal peacekeeping.
I noticed that rightwing pundits and politicians on the TV shows on which I was appearing were all on-message against OWS. Journalist Chris Hayes reported on a leaked memo that revealed lobbyists vying for an $850,000 contract to smear Occupy. Message coordination of this kind is impossible without a full-court press at the top. This was clearly not simply a case of a freaked-out mayors’, city-by-city municipal overreaction against mess in the parks and cranky campers. As the puzzle pieces fit together, they began to show coordination against OWS at the highest national levels.
Why this massive mobilisation against these not-yet-fully-articulated, unarmed, inchoate people? After all, protesters against the war in Iraq, Tea Party rallies and others have all proceeded without this coordinated crackdown. Is it really the camping? As I write, two hundred young people, with sleeping bags, suitcases and even folding chairs, are still camping out all night and day outside of NBC on public sidewalks – under the benevolent eye of an NYPD cop – awaiting Saturday Night Live tickets, so surely the camping is not the issue. I was still deeply puzzled as to why OWS, this hapless, hopeful band, would call out a violent federal response.
That is, until I found out what it was that OWS actually wanted.
The mainstream media was declaring continually “OWS has no message”. Frustrated, I simply asked them. I began soliciting online “What is it you want?” answers from Occupy. In the first 15 minutes, I received 100 answers. These were truly eye-opening.
The No 1 agenda item: get the money out of politics. Most often cited was legislation to blunt the effect of the Citizens United ruling, which lets boundless sums enter the campaign process. No 2: reform the banking system to prevent fraud and manipulation, with the most frequent item being to restore the Glass-Steagall Act – the Depression-era law, done away with by President Clinton, that separates investment banks from commercial banks. This law would correct the conditions for the recent crisis, as investment banks could not take risks for profit that create kale derivatives out of thin air, and wipe out the commercial and savings banks.
No 3 was the most clarifying: draft laws against the little-known loophole that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors.
When I saw this list – and especially the last agenda item – the scales fell from my eyes. Of course, these unarmed people would be having the shit kicked out of them.
For the terrible insight to take away from news that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated a violent crackdown is that the DHS does not freelance. The DHS cannot say, on its own initiative, “we are going after these scruffy hippies”. Rather, DHS is answerable up a chain of command: first, to New York Representative Peter King, head of the House homeland security subcommittee, who naturally is influenced by his fellow congressmen and women’s wishes and interests. And the DHS answers directly, above King, to the president (who was conveniently in Australia at the time).
In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.
But wait: why on earth would Congress advise violent militarised reactions against its own peaceful constituents? The answer is straightforward: in recent years, members of Congress have started entering the system as members of the middle class (or upper middle class) – but they are leaving DC privy to vast personal wealth, as we see from the “scandal” of presidential contender Newt Gingrich’s having been paid $1.8m for a few hours’ “consulting” to special interests.
The inflated fees to lawmakers who turn lobbyists are common knowledge, but the notion that congressmen and women are legislating their own companies’ profitsis less widely known – and if the books were to be opened, they would surely reveal corruption on a Wall Street spectrum. Indeed, we do already know that congresspeople are massively profiting from trading on non-public information they have on companies about which they are legislating – a form of insider trading that sent Martha Stewart to jail.
Since Occupy is heavily surveilled and infiltrated, it is likely that the DHS and police informers are aware, before Occupy itself is, what its emerging agenda is going to look like. If legislating away lobbyists’ privileges to earn boundless fees once they are close to the legislative process, reforming the banks so they can’t suck money out of fake derivatives products, and, most critically, opening the books on a system that allowed members of Congress to profit personally – and immensely – from their own legislation, are two beats away from the grasp of an electorally organised Occupy movement … well, you will call out the troops on stopping that advance.
So, when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week is the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one side is choosing violence. It is a battle in which members of Congress, with the collusion of the American president, sent violent, organised suppression against the people they are supposed to represent. Occupy has touched the third rail: personal congressional profits streams. Even though they are, as yet, unaware of what the implications of their movement are, those threatened by the stirrings of their dreams of reform are not.
Sadly, Americans this week have come one step closer to being true brothers and sisters of the protesters in Tahrir Square. Like them, our own national leaders, who likely see their own personal wealth under threat from transparency and reform, are now making war upon us.
Guardian reporter Naomi Wolf is arrested during the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York. She explains how the process of permiticization has been used to erode First Amendment rights. Thanks to Sorcha.
Arresting a middle-aged writer in an evening gown for peaceable conduct is a far cry from when America was a free republic
Naomi Wolf: How I Was Arrested at Occupy Wall Street
Naomi Wolf, guardian.co.uk, 19 October 2011
Last night I was arrested in my home town, outside an event to which I had been invited, for standing lawfully on the sidewalk in an evening gown.
Let me explain; my partner and I were attending an event for the Huffington Post, for which I often write: Game Changers 2011, in a venue space on Hudson Street. As we entered the space, we saw that about 200 Occupy Wall Street protesters were peacefully assembled and were chanting. They wanted to address Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was going to be arriving at the event. They were using a technique that has become known as “the human mic” – by which the crowd laboriously repeats every word the speaker says – since they had been told that using real megaphones was illegal.
In my book Give Me Liberty, a blueprint for how to open up a closing civil society, I have a chapter on permits – which is a crucial subject to understand for anyone involved in protest in the US. In 70s America, protest used to be very effective, but in subsequent decades municipalities have sneakily created a web of “overpermiticisation” – requirements that were designed to stifle freedom of assembly and the right to petition government for redress of grievances, both of which are part of our first amendment. One of these made-up permit requirements, which are not transparent or accountable, is the megaphone restriction.
So I informed the group on Hudson Street that they had a first amendmentright to use a megaphone and that the National Lawyers’ Guild should appeal theissue if they got arrested. And I repeated the words of the first amendment,which the crowd repeated.
Then my partner suggested that I ask the group for their list of demands.Since we would be inside, we thought it would be helpful to take their list intothe event and if I had a chance to talk with the governor I could pass the liston. That is how a democracy works, right? The people have the right to addresstheir representatives.
We went inside, chatted with our friends, but needed to leave before thegovernor had arrived. I decided I would present their list to his office in themorning and write about the response. On our exit, I saw that the protesters hadbeen cordoned off by a now-massive phalanx of NYPD cops and pinned against thefar side of the street – far away from the event they sought to address.
I went up and asked them why. They replied that they had been informed thatthe Huffington Post event had a permit that forbade them to use the sidewalk. Iknew from my investigative reporting on NYC permits that this was impossible: aprivate entity cannot lease the public sidewalks; even film crews must allowpedestrian traffic. I asked the police for clarification – no response.
I went over to the sidewalk at issue and identified myself as a NYC citizenand a reporter, and asked to see the permit in question or to locate the sourceon the police or event side that claimed it forbade citizen access to a publicsidewalk. Finally a tall man, who seemed to be with the event, confessed thatwhile it did have a permit, the permit did allow for protest so long as we didnot block pedestrian passage.
I thanked him, returned to the protesters, and said: “The permit allows us towalk on the other side of the street if we don’t block access. I am nowgoing to walk on the public sidewalk and not block it. It is legal todo so. Please join me if you wish.” My partner and I then returned to theevent-side sidewalk and began to walk peacefully arm in arm, while about 30 or40 people walked with us in single file, not blocking access.
Then a phalanx of perhaps 40 white-shirted senior offices descended out ofseemingly nowhere and, with a megaphone (which was supposedly illegal forcitizens to use), one said: “You are unlawfully creating a disruption. You areordered to disperse.” I approached him peacefully, slowly, gently andrespectfully and said: “I am confused. I was told that the permit in questionallows us to walk if we don’t block pedestrian access and as you see we arecomplying with the permit.”
YouTube footage of Naomi Klein being arrestedHe gave me a look of pure hate.“Are you going to back down?” he shouted. I stood, immobilised, for a moment.“Are you getting out of my way?” I did not even make a conscious decision not to“fall back” – I simply couldn’t even will myself to do so, because I knew thathe was not giving a lawful order and that if I stepped aside it would be notbecause of the law, which I was following, but as a capitulation to sheer force.In that moment’s hesitation, he said, “OK,” gestured, and my partner and I weresurrounded by about 20 officers who pulled our hands behind our backs and cuffedus with plastic handcuffs.
We were taken in a van to the seventh precinct – the scary part about that isthat the protesters and lawyers marched to the first precinct, which handlesHudson Street, but in the van the police got the message to avoid them byrerouting me. I understood later that the protesters were lied to about ourwhereabouts, which seemed to me to be a trickle-down of the Bush-era detentionpractice of unaccountable detentions.
The officers who had us in custody were very courteous, and several expressedsympathy for the movements’ aims. Nonetheless, my partner and I had ourpossessions taken from us, our ID copied, and we were placed in separate cellsfor about half an hour. It was clear that by then the police knew there wasscrutiny of this arrest so they handled us with great courtesy, but my phone wastaken and for half an hour I was in a faeces- or blood-smeared cell, thinking atthat moment the only thing that separates civil societies from barbaric statesis the rule of law – that finds the prisoner, and holds the arresting officersand courts accountable.
Another scary outcome I discovered is that, when the protesters marched to the first precinct, the whole of Erickson Street was cordoned off – “frozen” they were told, “by Homeland Security”. Obviously if DHS now has powers to simply take over a New York City street because of an arrest for peaceable conduct by a middle-aged writer in an evening gown, we have entered a stage of the closing of America, which is a serious departure from our days as a free republic in which municipalities are governed by police forces.
The police are now telling my supporters that the permit in question gave the event managers “control of the sidewalks”. I have asked to see the permit but still haven’t been provided with it – if such a category now exists, I have never heard of it; that, too, is a serious blow to an open civil society. What did I take away? Just that, unfortunately, my partner and I became exhibit A in a process that I have been warning Americans about since 2007: first they come for the “other” – the “terrorist”, the brown person, the Muslim, the outsider; then they come for you – while you are standing on a sidewalk in evening dress, obeying the law.
2011 October 20
Posted by Steve Beckow