Sunday, July 08, 2012

PNN - 7/8 Show Stories

1.  Nelson's Non-Response
2.  Dennis K on MSM and the Drone Program
3.  WHO's being spied on????    ah, they just can't say
4.  Whistleblowers Strikeback
5.  Hands Across the Sand Aug. 4th
6. Glen Greenwald - channels Sen. Frank Church
7. Nuns on the Bus - tour comments
8. NYC Police Reformers, harassed
9. Duke CEO Strikes GOLD - on his first day on the JOB
10. Ted Nugent - wishes he was in Dixie, and it'd WON
11. Bradley Manning Supporters, Investigated
12. Going into Libor
13. WAR INC. Comes Home

1. Bill Nelson responds (not)

Dear Mr. Spisak:

     Thank you for contacting me regarding the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012 (S. 3240), better known as the Farm Bill.  I grew up on a family ranch, and I understand the importance of the Federal agriculture programs that Floridians rely upon.

     On June 21, I joined with my colleagues in the Senate to pass the Farm Bill by a 64-35 bipartisan vote.  The legislation makes a number of important changes to existing policies and programs, including ending direct farm payments, expanding crop insurance to cover "shallow losses" that are not currently eligible for claims, consolidating funding streams for simplicity and efficiency, and establishing mandatory funding for a number of USDA energy, conservation, and organic farming programs. The legislation is also projected to reduce the Federal deficit by $24 billion over 10 years, promoting fiscal responsibility in addition to ensuring economic opportunity for our farmers and middle class.

     I have always worked to maintain Florida’s place as one of the country’s top producers of agricultural goods. During this session of Congress, I introduced legislation to provide research funding to combat the spread of plant diseases that threaten our State’s citrus crop, which generates an estimated $9.3 billion in economic activity every year.  I also consistently support programs that promote energy and environmental conservation efforts on farms, programs that provide nutrition assistance to those in need, and programs that invest money for rural development.

     I appreciate your taking the time to share your views with me on these important issues.  If you have further concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me again.

                                   Bill Nelson

2. Dennis Kucinich on DEATH SUPPORT by MSM embedded in the DRONE (programs)

Kucinich chides the media for not engaging in a better effort to uncover who is really dying in drone attacks. He states:
It’s not bad form to kill civilians, it’s only bad form to talk about it. That’s the problem. Let me say that there has been a tradition of American journalists in modern times to serve as the spear carriers for the government. They may look like pens but these are the spears of supernumeraries who have reporters’ cards. It’s what happens when you have fewer and fewer newspapers, and newspapers that are tied to large corporate interests. And a lack of enough institutions in the major media who are willing to serve as an effective counter-balance.

3. WHO IS BEING SPIED ON???  just can't say

Udall and Wyden sent a letter asking how many Americans have had their email communications read or their phone calls listened to by the NSA. They replied that they could not tell the senators because it would violate the privacy of Americans. Now, this is plainly laughable and, in fact, the entire room at Greenwald’s talk laughed hysterically when they heard this; Greenwald read the exact text of this response so he could clearly establish he was not making this newspeak up.

Udall and Wyden sent a letter asking how many Americans have had their email communications read or their phone calls listened to by the NSA. They replied that they could not tell the senators because it would violate the privacy of Americans. Now, this is plainly laughable and, in fact, the entire room at Greenwald’s talk laughed hysterically when they heard this; Greenwald read the exact text of this response so he could clearly establish he was not making this newspeak up.

4. Whistleblowers join suit
Three NSA whistleblowers back lawsuit over government's massive surveillance program

Electronic Frontier Foundation asks court to reject 'state secret' arguments so case can proceed
July 6, 2012 @ 12:05am | The KPBJ

SAN FRANCISCO — Three whistleblowers — all former employees of the National Security Agency (NSA) - have come forward to give evidence in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) lawsuit against the government’s illegal mass surveillance program, Jewel v. NSA.
In a motion filed July 2, the three former intelligence analysts confirm that the NSA has, or is in the process of obtaining, the capability to seize and store most electronic communications passing through its U.S. intercept centers, such as the “secret room” at the AT&T facility in San Francisco first disclosed by retired AT&T technician Mark Klein in early 2006.
“For years, government lawyers have been arguing that our case is too secret for the courts to consider, despite the mounting confirmation of widespread mass illegal surveillance of ordinary people,” said EFF legal director Cindy Cohn. “Now we have three former NSA officials confirming the basic facts. Neither the Constitution nor federal law allow the government to collect massive amounts of communications and data of innocent Americans and fish around in it in case it might find something interesting. This kind of power is too easily abused. We’re extremely pleased that more whistleblowers have come forward to help end this massive spying program.”
The three former NSA employees with declarations in EFF’s brief are William E. Binney, Thomas A. Drake and J. Kirk Wiebe. All were targets of a federal investigation into leaks to the New York Times that sparked the initial news coverage about the warrantless wiretapping program. Binney and Wiebe were formally cleared of charges and Drake had those charges against him dropped.

Jewel v. NSA is back in district court after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated it in late 2011. In the motion for partial summary judgment filed July 2, EFF asked the court to reject the state secrets arguments that the government has been using in its attempts to sidetrack this important litigation and instead apply the processes in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that require the court to determine whether electronic surveillance was conducted legally.

“The NSA warrantless surveillance programs have been the subject of widespread reporting and debate for more than six years now. They are just not a secret,” said EFF senior staff attorney Lee Tien. “Yet the government keeps making the same ‘state secrets’ claims again and again. It’s time for Americans to have their day in court and for a judge to rule on the legality of this massive surveillance.”

For the full motion for partial summary judgment:
For more on this case:

5. “Hands Across the Sand” is coming soon to a beach near you,
and we need your help to make sure it is a success! Saturday, August 4, 2012

As described by its founder, Hands Across the Sand is a movement made of people of all walks of life and crosses political affiliations and the borders of the world. This movement is not about politics — it is about the protection of our coastal economies, oceans, marine wildlife and fisheries.  The accidents that continue to happen in offshore oil drilling are a threat to all of the above.  Expanding offshore oil drilling is not the answer; embracing clean energy is.
Oceana is supporting all the Hands events in Florida, but would like to make sure that South Florida is very well represented.  Please join with friends, family, and colleagues at one of the events.  You can find an event near you at

Oceana is collaborating with the Broward County Chapter of Surfrider Foundation to bring people together to join hands on the beach at the corner of Sunrise Boulevard and A1A.  The event will feature the traditional joining of hands at noon, to be followed by music, raffles and fun until 6:00 pm.  We also will be collecting photo petitions at events all around South Florida to support our effort to “stop the drill.”  Can you help?

6. Greenwald channels Senator Frank Church on the NATIONAL SECURITY STATE

The National Security Agency’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. [If a dictator ever took over, the NSA could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.

Greenwald makes clear this scenario Church warned about has come to be.

The condition he has warned about, of the NSA apparatus being directed inward, has “come to pass.” Beginning in 2001, the NSA was secretly ordered to spy on American citizens. (Additionally, as Greenwald points out, no US senators these days would talk about the national security state in this manner and suggests it could get out of control and lead to “total tyranny.”)

The surveillance state has only grown under President Barack Obama.

Greenwald outlined some statistics on surveillance in the US. He mentioned William Binney, a former employee of the NSA and whistleblower who was targeted by the federal government for trying to call attention to abuse of spying abuses. He said on “Democracy Now!” the government under Obama has “assembled on the order of 20 trillion transactions about US citizens with other US citizens.” They’ve assembled data “about everybody,” and from that data, they have targeted anybody they want. And what he said about these statistics is that what is remarkable is that despite how “incredibly ubiquitous”  and “menacing” it happens to be, the American people really know very little about it.

7. Nuns on the Bus
The Catholic nuns who began the “Nuns on the Bus” tour across the United States to protest cuts contained in the House Republican budget ended that tour today, blasting the GOP budget as “immoral” across from the U.S. Capitol. With more than a hundred supporters waiting outside the United Methodist center near the Capitol, the nuns criticized Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the author of the budget, for using Catholic social teaching to justify its cuts.

The nuns received widespread support; 75 members of Congress recently thanked them for embarking on the tour. As ThinkProgress has noted, the Republican budget finds 62 percent of its spending cuts from programs that benefit the poor and would kick millions of Americans off of food stamps and other programs.

“The Ryan budget would slash food stamps, it would slash Medicaid, it would slash a lot of domestic programs that benefit low-income people, affordable housing programs that [the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development] does,” Sister Richelle Friedman said. “So this is just really critical.”
Though Ryan attempted to justify the budget with Catholic social teaching, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops circulated letters urging members of Congress to vote against it, calling its cuts to safety net programs “unjustified and wrong.” Otherreligious leaders also condemned it.

8. Police Reform Activists Targeted by NYPD Won't Give In to Threats

from Alternet News
Two activists found a surprise in their local police precinct--a poster with their mug shots, calling them "professional agitators" and providing police with their address.

Two West Harlem residents, Christina Gonzalez, 25, and Matthew Swaye, 35, ran into a surprise when they showed up for a community meeting at their local NYPD precinct last week. There, on the wall of the 30th Precinct, were their mug shots—only they weren’t wanted for any crime.
Christina Gonzalez and Matthew Swaye are police reform activists who regularly film police interactions in their neighborhood, especially to record the NYPD’s controversial Stop and Frisk policy. Although filming police is completely legal, the poster (which was full of misspellings, I might add), advised officers to "be aware" that these "professional agitators" not only film police "performing routine stops," but also" post the videos on YouTube.
"Subjects purpose is to portray officers in a negative way and to [sic] deter officers from conducting their [sic] responsibilities." the warning from Sergeant Nicholson reads. "Do not feed into above subjects’ propaganda."
Gonzalez says it is the NYPD spreading propaganda and that the poster is an obvious tactic to criminalize, intimidate and target her. Since Gonzalez became involved with Occupy and the Stop-and-Frisk movement this fall, police have given her plenty of reasons to look over her shoulder, including calling her out by name and address, erecting a watchtower on her corner and aggressively arresting her sister in front of Gonzalez.
Of course, this is not the first time the NYPD or other police departments have targeted activists. The New York police have a history of infiltrating and intimidating activists, particularly during the Black Panther movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
For activists like Gonzalez, Stop-and-Frisk, a racial profiling tactic, is not only a violation of one’s constitutional rights, it is also part of the NYPD’s larger apparatus of racial oppression. Police stop more than 700,00 people per year, almost 90 percent of whom are young Black and Latino men. The best defense against the illegal searches, which occur during about 50% of stops, has proven to be video, and the ACLU recently launched an app to combat and document unconstitutional stops. But while the movement relies on cameras to expose Stop-and-Frisk, the NYPD targets filmers like Gonzalez with the same type of surveillance and repression police have used against activists in the past.
Gonzalez, who grew up in Far Rockaway, Queens, and graduated magnum cum laude from John Jay College of Criminal Justice last year, has long been familiar with the NYPD—though rarely appreciative of their services. A few years ago, she was a victim of intimate partner violence, and the NYPD routinely refused to help her.
“They blamed me for my own abuse,” Gonzalez said. “The police were supposed to protect me.” Her former partner is currently incarcerated for assaulting his latest girlfriend.
Gonzalez says police are familiar with her and her activism, and that as the movement to reform Stop-and-Frisk grows, so, too, does the police reaction.  Gonzalez said that, the more she filmed, demonstrated, and was arrested, the more police noticed her, often calling her by name and making comments like, “we remember you,” or, “be careful walking home; it’s a long walk to 153rd Street."
“That’s when I said, ‘Okay, they know where we live.’ That was kind of scary, especially to say in front of my little sister.”
In February, Gonzalez learned the NYPD were watching her YouTube page, where she posted videos of police harassment, such as the time officers taunted Gonzalez by telling her that her dreadlocked hair smells. Shortly after she posted the video, two officers called her by name over to their police car.

9. Duke Energy CEO To Receive $44 Million Payout Despite Resigning On His First Day

(from Think Progress)

Hours after new Duke Energy CEO Bill Johnson assumed his new position following the Duke/Progress Energy merger this week, he resigned his post. But Johnson can still qualify for up to $44.4 million for his time and effort:
Despite his short-lived tenure, Mr. Johnson will receive exit payments worth as much as $44.4 million, according to Duke. That includes $7.4 million in severance, a nearly $1.4 million cash bonus, a special lump-sum payment worth up to $1.5 million and accelerated vesting of his stock awards, according to a Duke regulatory filing Tuesday night. Mr. Johnson gets the lump-sum payment as long as he cooperates with Duke and doesn’t disparage his former employer, the filing said.
Under his exit package, Mr. Johnson also will receive approximately $30,000 to reimburse him for relocation expenses.
The Duke board voted for Johnson’s resignation, and since Johnson was eligible for severance if he quit for “good reason,” he is able to collect his $44 million. Grist calculates that Johnson’s pay package comes out to $5.5 million per hour, if he actually put in a full 8-hour day.
Johnson’s golden parachute after his one day of work is emblematic of the disconnect between worker pay and CEO pay that has occurred over the last few decades. Average CEO pay is now 380 times the pay of the average worker, and CEO pay has grown 127 times faster than worker pay over the last 30 years.

from a Comment -
[According to their quarterly report, Duke Energy has 29,250 employees who actually show up day after day putting in full 8 hour days. If you took that $44,400,000 and spread it over all of those people, you could give each of them a $1500 bonus and have money left over.]

10. TED NUGENT former Rock and Roll guitarist opines -
He wishes he was in the land of Cotton

ROMNEY ENDORSER TED NUGENT: ‘I’M BEGINNING TO WONDER IF IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BEST HAD THE SOUTH WON THE CIVIL WAR’ | Ted Nugent, the American rock singer known for his conservative politics and love of guns, also believes that the country would have been a better place had slavery won out. In a column for the Washington Times today, Nugent complains about a lack of regard for states’ rights, then says, “I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.” The statement isn’t a total surprise from a man who often dons confederate flag shirts and recently made a veiled threat to kill the President. But it does underline potential political repercussions for Mitt Romney, who actively sought Nugent’s endorsement.

11. Bradley Manning Supporters, Investigated by the US Army
from RT News
The US Army has confirmed that they are investigating the Bradley Manning Support Network, an international activism group that advocates on behalf of the imprisoned accused whistleblower.

A letter from the US Army Criminal Investigation Command (USACIDC) dated May 18, 2012 has been published to the Web in which Susan Cugler, the director of the Army’s Crime Records Center, responds to a Freedom of Information Act request for information pertaining to any internal files which may involve the Bradley Manning Support Network.
“A search of the USACIDC file indexes revealed that an active investigating is in process with an underdetermined completion date,” acknowledges Cugler. The memorandum just about ends there, however, with the Army refraining from revealing any more details into the advocacy group that backs the accused whistleblower who is alleged to have distributed classified materials to Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks site.

The Army invokes specific subsections of the Freedom of Information Act to brush off the FOIA request, essentially freeing itself from releasing any details of their investigation on the grounds that the release"could reasonably be expected to endanger [the] life or physical safety” of those discussed in the military’s files.
Manning, a 24-year-old private first class with the US Army, has been behind bars for nearly 800 days without trial. Military prosecutors have charged PFC Manning with aiding the enemy due to the alleged leaking of classified materials, a charge that could send him to prison for life if he is convicted. His attorneys are in the midst of a heated legal debate to hear the government’s accusations, fighting on behalf of the soldier that the materials he is accused of releasing did not have any detrimental implications for national security. Last week, attorneys for Manning were awarded permission to view some of the military’s documents that they intend to use against the soldier.

12. Going into Libor - a Cesarian CUT… maybe the Unkindest Cut of All
What's the most basic service banks provide? Borrow money and lend it out. You put your savings in a bank to hold in trust, and the bank agrees to pay you interest on it. Or you borrow money from the bank and you agree to pay the bank interest.
How is this interest rate determined? We trust that the banking system is setting today's rate based on its best guess about the future worth of the money. And we assume that guess is based, in turn, on the cumulative market predictions of countless lenders and borrowers all over the world about the future supply and demand for the dough.
But suppose our assumption is wrong. Suppose the bankers are manipulating the interest rate so they can place bets with the money you lend or repay them - bets that will pay off big for them because they have inside information on what the market is really predicting, which they're not sharing with you.
That would be a mammoth violation of public trust. And it would amount to a rip-off of almost cosmic proportion - trillions of dollars that you and I and other average people would otherwise have received or saved on our lending and borrowing that have been going instead to the bankers. It would make the other abuses of trust we've witnessed look like child's play by comparison.
Sad to say, there's reason to believe this has been going on, or something very much like it. This is what the emerging scandal over "Libor" (short for "London interbank offered rate") is all about.
Libor is the benchmark for trillions of dollars of loans worldwide - mortgage loans, small-business loans, personal loans. It's compiled by averaging the rates at which the major banks say they borrow.
So far, the scandal has been limited to Barclay's, a big London-based bank that just paid $453 million to U.S. and British bank regulators, whose top executives have been forced to resign, and whose traders' emails give a chilling picture of how easily they got their colleagues to rig interest rates in order to make big bucks. (Robert Diamond, Jr., the former Barclay CEO who was forced to resign, said the emails made him "physically ill" - perhaps because they so patently reveal the corruption.)
But Wall Street has almost surely been involved in the same practice, including the usual suspects — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America - because every major bank participates in setting the Libor rate, and Barclay's couldn't have rigged it without their witting involvement.
In fact, Barclay's defense has been that every major bank was fixing Libor in the same way, and for the same reason. And Barclays is "cooperating" (i.e., giving damning evidence about other big banks) with the Justice Department and other regulators in order to avoid steeper penalties or criminal prosecutions, so the fireworks have just begun.
There are really two different Libor scandals. One has to do with a period just before the financial crisis, around 2007, when Barclays and other banks submitted fake Libor rates lower than the banks' actual borrowing costs in order to disguise how much trouble they were in. This was bad enough. Had the world known then, action might have been taken earlier to diminish the impact of the near financial meltdown of 2008.
But the other scandal is even worse. It involves a more general practice, starting around 2005 and continuing until - who knows? it might still be going on — to rig the Libor in whatever way necessary to assure the banks' bets on derivatives would be profitable.
This is insider trading on a gigantic scale. It makes the bankers winners and the rest of us - whose money they've used for to make their bets - losers and chumps.
What to do about it, other than hope the Justice Department and other regulators impose stiff fines and even criminal penalties, and hold executives responsible?

13. War Inc. Shifts Homeward

[Watching the BLOB - when the kids were warning about a monster threatening civilization
one COP wants to throw em all in jail, the other is inclined to listen - The reasonable chief says
"we have to keep reminding him, leave the WAR back overseas !"]

by Kelley B. Vlahos, May 22, 2012
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It’s been said many times that the war is a self-sustaining industry that requires a constant threat overseas to keep the machine thriving at home. Looking at the millions if not billions of dollars spent on securing “national special security events” against its own citizens, it’s clear that protesters have become the threat that has allowed, in part, the warfare state to flourish on American soil.
Sound dramatic? One need only to look at the lockdown of our cities during these “events” — whether it be the NATO Summit in Chicago today, or preparations to militarize the cities of Tampa and Charlotte for the Democratic and Republican conventions this summer — to see that the constitutionally protected, American tradition of protest has become a reason for law enforcement to spend their quickly evaporating budgets each year on new toys and overtime — including the latest in surveillance, crowd control gear and communications equipment, not to mention the helicopters overhead and armed vehicles on the ground.

Just as important, this threat allows the federal government to extend its own powers under the Patriot Act onto Main Street, all in the order of counterterrorism and national security.
No one would dispute that the gathering of representatives from 50 member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), including 28 members of the military alliance in Afghanistan, warrants extra security. Indeed, we live in a world today where gunmen walk right up to U.S. members of Congress and shoot them in the head, or pack cars full of explosives on the city street. But it becomes increasingly clear, after 10 years of conventions and “special events” with little or no incident, that the specter of terrorism is being used to generate intimidating and repressive conditions, particularly against peaceful protesters, and proliferating an industry that thrives on domestic conflict and chaos.
What is this industry? Look no further than the advertisements for this year’s GovSec 2012, the annual security exposition held in Washington, D.C. In April, it promised to help “arm homeland security professionals and law enforcement professionals alike with the training and tools they need to detect, prevent and respond to terrorist attacks — from large-scale international threats to the dangers posed by homegrown extremists and lone wolves.”

According to this report, funding for the U.S. homeland security and homeland defense sector (including federal, state and local governments, and the private sector) will grow from $184 billion in 2011 to $205 billion by 2014. The market will grow from $73 billion in 2011 to $86 billion by 2014.
“The face of terrorism is constantly changing,” insisted GovSec Director Don Berey in a GovSec press release. “As a result, it is critical that those on the front lines of homeland security understand where new threats may arise and how their strategies must be adjusted to remain ever vigilant.” Adjusted, and paid for.
Thus, the endless war over there, becomes the endless war at home. Chicago is just the latest example of putting these new “strategies” to use. Talking about Chicago last week on Democracy Now!, Bill Ayers, University of Illinois professor and right-wing nemesis, explained:
There’s a mass campaign. They’re shutting Lakeshore Drive. They’re shutting the trains. They’re closing exits off the freeways. And they’re creating a kind of culture of fear. We have police officers we—who are friends of ours, we run into in coffee shops. They’ve told us that the training is focused a lot on the danger of the protesters and how you should be careful when you grab one of them, because they might have some kind of poison spike in their sleeve or something. I mean, it really is quite nuts.
At the same time, they’ve denied permits, taken permits away, given them back, been very vague about making any agreement with the protesters…we insist that this is a family-friendly, nonviolent, permitted march. And all the kind of hysteria about what’s about to happen is really brought on by the police. I don’t think anything is going to happen, except that they are creating the conditions for a police riot, once again.
Reports on Monday morning indicated that 45 people were arrested and four officers injured, including a police officer who was reportedly stabbed during a dramatic clash with protesters on Sunday night. In his remarks to reporters Sunday, Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy blamed the “black bloc” for rushing the police and precipitating the violence.
Meanwhile, according to writer Kevin Gosztola, a number of independent journalists who were videotaping and/or livestreaming the event were pulled over and interrogated at gunpoint and “under the cover of night.”
There appears to have been a conscious targeting of bloggers and livestreamers. The Chicago police, possibly with help from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI or other federal agencies, appear to be working off a list of “suspected” people or spaces where they must go “check in” on what is happening simply to ensure all is safe…
In each of these instances, the police did not inform those detained why they were being detained.
Peace activist David Swanson, who was on hand for Sunday’s events and publishes the weblog, admitted that a “segment of the activist world plays into these police tactics, wearing bandanas, shouting curses, antagonizing police, and eroding credibility for claims that violence is all police-initiated,” but that the buildup of tension and intimidation — including Friday’s pre-dawn raid and arrest of the so-called NATO 3 on terror charges (two additional arrests make it the NATO 5) — contributed to lower than expected turnout. All five of those arrested have been tied to the “Black Bloc.”
And who knows how much these dynamics fueled the anxiety and hostility in the air between police and protesters before exploding late Sunday afternoon? They don’t call it a tinderbox for nothing.
No one can have been disappointed with the turnout, but it might have been bigger if not for the fear that was spread prior to Sunday …
The fear was the result of a massive militarized police build up, rumors of evacuations, the boarding up of windows, brutal police assaults on activists, preemptive arrests, disappearances, and charges of terrorism.
A massive crowd of activists was significantly outnumbered on Sunday by armed police, many in riot gear. They lined the march route. They swarmed off buses. They looked a little ridiculous as we marched nonviolently, just as we’d intended to do. The marching didn’t harm anyone or destroy any accumulated riches or smash any of the windows that were not boarded up.
Police did not allow the day to end without any use of their training and weapons. Not long after I left, according to numerous reports, all hell broke loose. If it hadn’t, think of how many of those people fearfully watching Sunday’s march from their high balconies would have joined in the next one and invited their friends!
The militarization aspect is uncanny and has been captured in numerous photos now circulating in places like Twitter. All we need to know is on Thursday, Chief McCarthy took to the airways to talk about his 12,000 officers doing “12-hour tours” instead of 12-hour shifts, as though policing parades and protests and keeping vigilant outside of this international gathering was indeed, going to war.

This is not surprising, given how much law enforcement now emulates the military and the military feeds on this, handing down a record $500 million in surplus equipment to local departments in 2011 alone.
This is a decade-old phenomenon, in which “the military surplus program and (police) paramilitary units feed off one another in a cyclical loop that has caused an explosive growth in militarized crime control techniques.” Federal grants help the process along, leading “to a booming law enforcement industry that specifically markets military-style weaponry to local police departments,” wrote Rania Khalek in an explosive 2011 report for Alternet, which begins with the story of a 7-year-old girl who was shot in the neck by police during a SWAT raid in Detroit.
Today, Mayberrys all across the country have tanks and M-16s, and according to one estimate, SWAT teams outfitted for convoy on Route Michigan to Ramadi are conducting some 40,000 raids a year across America. Sadly, though SWAT teams were once only used in emergency situations like a hostage crises, these paramilitary units are more inclined to use their fancy new gear to perform normal police work, like executing warrants, often resulting in botched raids and the death of innocent citizens.
An interesting map of botched SWAT raids by Cato’s Radley Balko is here.
This year’s Occupy protests have been instructive in many ways, not the least of which they have shown how police are employing their military stockpiles and all the latest crowd control devices and strategy, the result of this massive niche market that has exploded after 9/11. This industry not only hawks the latest in hardware (pepper spray, Tasers, flash grenades, smoke bombs, rubber bullets, cameras, GPS), but traffics in training and consultants that cost municipalities big bucks for the privilege.
“Why is it that the state is spending so much money on arming the police here supposedly in response to what is being planned as a peaceful protest?” said John Beecham, an anti-war protest organizer, in an interview about Chicago with The Guardian.
Turns out Chicago raised upwards of $55 million, including $19 million in federal security grants, for security, traffic control and sanitation for the summit. We know that at least $1 million was used to buy new riot gear, and $40,000 for two new Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD). Officials say they are using this “modern megaphone” as a “messaging device,” and not to produce “high pitched alarm tones,” that have been blamed for damaging the protesters’ hearing when the LRAD was used at the Pittsburgh G8 summit in 2011.
We also note that some of the biggest corporate donors to Chicago’s summit fund are Honeywell, Boeing Corp & Raytheon, all huge players in the nation’s defense contracting industry.
Meanwhile, Tampa and Charlotte will each receive $50 million in federal taxpayer funding to secure their cities in anticipation of the zombie apocalypse RNC and DNC confabs respectively. That is in addition to whatever else the state and city fathers plan to contribute for the occasion.
According to Khalek at Alternet:
The (Tampa) city council agreed to spend nearly $237,000 on a Lenco BearCat armored vehicle, which will be used in conjunction with two aging armored vehicles the city acquired through the military surplus program. Tampa Assistant Police Chief Marc Hamlin told the Tampa Bay Times that the trucks are strictly for the purpose of protecting officers from potential gunfire, not for day-to-day patrolling and crowd control.
Whatever would be they doing in an armored vehicle during the convention if not engaging in some variation of “crowd control”? Are they truly expecting an insurgent attack in sunny downtown Tampa? It may feel as hot in August, but it is most certainly not Baghdad.
Another $1.18 million is going toward new digital video communication technology that will allow police helicopters to transmit video to cops on the ground equipped with handheld receivers. Various news outlets report that an additional $2 million was requested to ramp up surveillance with the installation of 60 surveillance cameras in downtown Tampa, far more than the five traffic cameras the city currently has.
Meanwhile, according to Ray Reyes of The Tampa Tribune, the city has purchased $815,000 in riot gear, and $6 million for new two-way walkie-talkies. The $13.5 million already spent also includes four-wheel drive utility vehicles, and 200 bikes for patrol officers. The city is also expected to pay $25 million to train, house and feed 3,000 visiting police officers for the event.
Despite the hype, there has been no major terror threat associated with the national conventions since 9/11. Given this, it is safe to assume that not only is the massive security presence an extravagant vanity exercise for the quadrennial gathering of politicians, lobbyists and party delegates, but yet another way to justify the enormous annual budgets of the burgeoning homeland enterprise. And as someone who has been to the last two rounds of conventions, I can say the display has gotten more intense each time.
Meanwhile, instead of shrinking from it, the protest movement seems to be growing in proportion to the hyper-militarization nationwide. The gulf between “civilian” and “soldier” on the street widens, too. Bursts of violent skirmishes appear inevitable now, a self-fulfilling prophecy unfolding before our eyes. While this may be quite profitable for War Inc., the impact on the health of our society, much less the republic, may be incalculable.
Follow Vlahos on Twitter @KelleyBVlahos
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