Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for April 9th, 2012

The land of the free… [the detention and interrogation of Laura Poitras]

Posted by Charles II on April 9, 2012

Via Avedon, we learn from Glenn Greenwald the astonishing depths to which our government will go to suppress any consideration of the damage the so-called War on Terror is inflicting to our own freedoms.

Laura Poitras is an award winning film maker. At present, she is making a film about

…the way in which The War on Terror has been imported onto U.S. soil, with a focus on the U.S. Government’s increasing powers of domestic surveillance, its expanding covert domestic NSA activities (including construction of a massive new NSA facility in Bluffdale, Utah), its attacks on whistleblowers, and the movement to foster government transparency and to safeguard Internet anonymity.

She has been the target of an organized campaign of harassment:

Since the 2006 release of “My Country, My Country,” Poitras has left and re-entered the U.S. roughly 40 times. Virtually every time during that six-year-period that she has returned to the U.S., her plane has been met by DHS agents who stand at the airplane door or tarmac and inspect the passports of every de-planing passenger until they find her (on the handful of occasions where they did not meet her at the plane, agents were called when she arrived at immigration). Each time, they detain her, and then interrogate her at length

She has had her laptop, camera and cellphone seized, and not returned for weeks, with the contents presumably copied. On several occasions, her reporter’s notebooks were seized and their contents copied, even as she objected that doing so would invade her journalist-source relationship. Her credit cards and receipts have been copied on numerous occasions. In many instances, DHS agents also detain and interrogate her in the foreign airport before her return, on one trip telling her that she would be barred from boarding her flight back home, only to let her board at the last minute.

Recently, the attack has been escalated:

This time, however, she was told by multiple CBP agents that she was prohibited from taking notes on the ground that her pen could be used as a weapon. After she advised them that she was a journalist and that her lawyer had advised her to keep notes of her interrogations, one of them, CBP agent Wassum, threatened to handcuff her if she did not immediately stop taking notes. A CBP Deputy Chief (Lopez) also told her she was barred from taking notes, and then accused her of “refusing to cooperate with an investigation” if she continued to refuse to answer their questions (he later clarified that there was no “investigation” per se, but only a “questioning”).

Think about it. Agents seriously imply they will arrest a journalist for assault for writing and that they will arrest her for obstruction of justice for declining to answer questions. They spit on the Fourth Amendment by searching laptops, cell phones, and so on. They potentially expose a journalist to identity theft by photocopying credit cards.

It seems to me that Poitras almost doesn’t need to make a film about how the so-called War on Terror is destroying liberty. Just telling us what she has gone through is lesson enough…if Americans will listen.


Posted in abuse of power, civil rights, Homeland Security, impunity | 2 Comments »

We officially recognize as torture treatment that is accepted as normal in our jails

Posted by Charles II on April 9, 2012

Scott Horton:

Just as the Florence decision [saying it was ok for a man who was unjustly arrested to be stripsearched] was being prepared, the Department of Defense released a previously classified training manual used to prepare American pilots for resistance to foreign governments that might use illegal and immoral techniques to render them cooperative. Key in this manual are the precise practices highlighted in Florence. Body-cavity searches are performed, it explains, to make the prisoner “feel uncomfortable and degraded.” Forced nudity and invasion of the body make the prisoner feel helpless, by removing all items that provide the prisoner with psychological support. In other words, the strip search is an essential step in efforts to destroy an individual’s sense of self-confidence, well-being, and even his or her identity. The value of this tool has been recognized by authoritarian governments around the world, and now, thanks to the Roberts Court, it will belong to the standard jailhouse repertoire in the United States.

The definition of torture includes

“…any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as … intimidating or coercing him or a third person…”

Posted in Supreme Court, torture | Comments Off on We officially recognize as torture treatment that is accepted as normal in our jails

Look out below

Posted by Charles II on April 9, 2012

Outsourced to Ritholtz.

Basic story: futures predict -1.5%. We are close to “Sell in May and go away.” seasonal selling (though April is usually a good month). The weak payroll data make people jittery. Mayan calendars says… well, you get the idea. No real reason to expect a market correction, so everyone is expecting one.

Me, I don’t see any news that would cause a correction. The market is overvalued, but it’s not like that’s anything new. The real news that makes me jittery is that JP Morgan has apparently found a new loophole by which to lever up, even as it develops that corporate debt actually is quite high. Yes, corporations have lots of cash. They also have lots of liabilities. Those are things to worry about: arsonists have just bought gasoline. There is plenty of tinder.

Lord, we live in stupid times.

Posted in economy, eedjits, stock market, stupid | Comments Off on Look out below

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