Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Chill Settles Over America

The sources journalists rely on for information are becoming silent, Associated Press President Gary Pruitt told the National Press Club on Wednesday.

"Some of our longtime trusted sources have become nervous and anxious about talking to us, even on stories that aren't about national security," Pruitt said.

I thought about this as I read New Mexico political blogger Joe Monahan today speculate about what isn't known about bid rigging here, about the Martinez Administration only releasing information it feels like releasing, and about the local paper, the Albuquerque Journal, repeatedly censoring any news that might harm its political agenda or its friends in high places.

Pruitt surmises that the chilling affect he's talking about has to do with recent revelations that the Obama Administration listens in on a massive amount of AP reporters' phone calls, but others have been forecasting the arrival of the chilling affect for some time now.

The Obama Administration has gone after whistleblowers with a vengeance, prosecuting twice as many under the Espionage Act as all previous administrations combined. That's only six people, well, seven now, counting the charges filed this week against NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. That might not sound like many, but what they are charged with -- espionage -- is so harsh and so dramatic that reporters and their sources, seeing what happens when the weight of the US government comes down on these people, and careers and marriages and lives are ruined, are now clamming up.

The East German Stasi is sometimes called the worst of the secret police in the Soviet Union. They had implanted so much fear in the people that the people believed you could talk to no one. How far are we from that? In the last post I wrote about how, when the government can ignore our civil rights and basic liberties, anyone with the power to do it can do the same. And just as the Obama Administration, with the approval of a compliant congress, can go after anyone who tells the truth, Governor Martinez doesn't have to tell the truth and can ruin the reputation of anyone who does, and knows she will get away with it.

Everything about your life is being recorded by the government as you read this, and if you say something about it, you don't, really, know what will happen. Edward Snowden knows. Bradley Manning knows. Thomas Drake does. Shamai Leibowitz does. Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, Jeffrey Sterling and John Kiriakou all know.

We know we have a government that tortures people, and wants us to know it. We have a president who doesn't believe in due process, who can order the murder of anyone with a missile fired from an anonymous, silent drone, and wants us to know it. A president who moved swiftly to end the Occupy protests, who has his FBI engaged in a massive program of spying and infiltration of Occupy and any group that questions the government. Our congress has passed and the president has signed a defense authorization bill that lets the military imprison anyone, for as long as they want, and never let them see a judge or a lawyer or even say they are in prison. You, me, anyone.

The chill is upon us, and America's secret police are watching you.




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