Monday, February 9, 2015

A National Security Gag Order

Alfredo Lopez
Alfredo Lopez, a 67-year-old activist in New York who sometimes writes for the This Can't Be Happening collective, has a chilling story about the entire board of his organization, May First/People Link, being put under a federal gag order of the type government is increasingly use to oppress dissent -- a gag order meant to silence dissent by prohibiting you from even telling anyone you are under a gag order.

Lopez' group is involved in activism but also has a secure server on which it hosts web sites, and one of the many groups renting out space from them is an Indymedia outlet in Athens, Greece. There are Indymedia web sites all over the world. The people who write for them tend to be Anarchist in political leaning and are the type of activists who were behind Occupy. Anarchism as a political philospphy is probably more poplar in europe than in the US, where it is increasing in popularity among youth. Anarchism is basically a belief in decentralized government -- i.e., local control.

The police in Greece had noticed that two young men they wanted had posted comments on the Athens Indymedia site and requested that the FBI get all the information on Lopez' group's server for them, which the FBI tried to do. A server is a computer set up to host web sites (like this one, Blogger, which is on a massive Google server) or a server is a big block of space someone rents out on a big computer and sets up to rent out space to host web sites on.

The gag order not only prevented Lopez and other board members from talking about the fact that they were being pressured by the US government to hand over the personal information of everyone who had a web site with them, but it prevented them from even saying they were under a gag order.

These type of gag orders have become popular tools for law enforcement since 9-11 and are part of the Patriot Act, which is full of provisions that are unconstitutional and haven't yet been challenged, or have been chalenged but judges have let them stand, erroneously, many on the Left think. An FBI agent can issue a gag order under the Patriot Act without even having to go through a judge. He or she simply writes a "national security letter" and sends it to the person or group being gagged. There is mandatory jail time and a $5,000 per day fine for violating the gag order. Lopez' gag order was similar to these but was issued by a judge and has been lifted, which is why he can talk about it now, but it is unknown how many people are under FBI "national security" gag orders because people who are under them can't say they are under them.

In the latest This Can't Be Happening podcast, Lopez and veteran Philadelphia journalist Dave Lindorff talk about the gag order in the context of an increasing police state mentality by governments and law enforcement in the US. Part of it is the increase in police violence, which in many places already has made people afraid to participate in marches and protests. Police violence is increasing as police see that virtually every cop who kills or beats the crap out of someone is let off without even being disciplined by government officials, who themselves see the potential for civil unrest in the country what with stagnate wages, decreasing hope for a better future among youth, vastly increasing inequality, and the economic and social problems that will come with climate change.

They are clamping down, folks. The indictment of two cops by Bernalillo County, New Mexico's District Attorney Kerri Brandenburg  is a rare exception to the rule of police not facing consequences and should be applauded and supported.

This Can't Be happening, by the way, is the news source that got documentation with Freedom of Information requests that showed that the Obama Administration coordinated the attacks on Occupy encampments around the country that brought that movement to an end. Mainstream media have ignored this story. For writing about it, This Can't Be Happening got themselves put on a "Threat List" that was sent out to Department of Homeland Security Fusion Centers around the country. I've written about these centers, where federal, state and local law enforcement officers are in one location in order to coordinate and share information. Fushion Centers, set up under legislation that created the Department of Homeland Security after 9-11, were briefly in the news when the Boston Fushion center failed to prevent the Boston Marathon Bombings despite the fact that they were tracking the suspects, but they largely operate in the dark and aren't reported on.

New Mexico has one Fushion Center, called the New Mexico All Source Intelligence Center, at 13 Bataan Boulevard in Santa Fe, according to Public Intelligence.Net.

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