Thursday, September 26, 2013

NSA and the Silent Janes

The United States' National Security Agency has a long history of abuse.  Ed Pilkington (Guardian) reports, "The National Security Agency secretly tapped into the overseas phone calls of prominent critics of the Vietnam War, including Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali and two actively serving US senators, newly declassified material has revealed."  Others spied on were US Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker, humorist Art Buchwald, journalist Tom Wicker, civil rights activist Whitney Young, Jane Fonda and Stokely Carmichael among others.   Poor Jane, she's the only one in good health (physical and mental) who could call it out but, of course, won't.  As Ava and I noted in "Media: The silence, the fawning, the unanswered:"

Jane's pursuit of eternal youth grows sadder by the day.  At her age, you'd hope for some comfort-in-her-own-skin to have been arrived at.  Instead, you're more likely to catch Jane embarrassing herself on some talk show -- calling an Academy Award winning actress a bitch, for example. Or, worse, you might have caught her a few weeks ago on Jimmy Fallon's show.  We tried to focus on her quips but it was so hard since we were stuck with her nips.

At 75, that's what a two-time Academy Award winning actress, activist and author does?  Go on national TV in a sheer blouse without a bra to show her nipples?  While trying to flirt with the host?  Maybe those weren't Jane's nipples?  Maybe she's at that Marlene Dietrich stage and positioned pearls as points on her breasts to give the illusion of 'nipple'?

She was totally clueless as she tried to act and look sexual.  She has no idea of the negative response her embarrassing performance prompted from Jimmy's viewers who weren't willing to play she-looks-good-for-her-age and were more interested in expressing their dismay and disgust that an elderly woman was aping Dina Lohan.  She was called a "snow leopard" in some of the complaints.

Apparently, it was too much for her to go on TV in a normal manner and to talk about anything that actually matters.  Instead, she wanted the world to see her as the elderly drunk at last call who can't stand to be alone and so madly tosses themselves at everyone.

In 1986, she co-wrote Women Coming Of Age and insisted she wasn't going to become a slave to plastic surgery but was instead going to embrace the aging process.  She even fought with the publisher when the proposed cover photo was so airbrushed her character lines had disappeared.  Since then, she's had one procedure after another.  What
Cher didn't do but gets slammed for, Jane actually did.

And she's 76 this December.

When does she stop kidding herself that any of this looks good or even attractive?

Probably never.  Because she also kids herself that she's a political activist and that the left in the entertainment industry cares about her.  Unthinking Democrats in the industry like her -- the Tom Hanks and George Clooneys, the politically ignorant, honestly.  But the left?

She's more and more on her own now.  And with this piece, we stop defending her.

We once thought, it would take a year for her to come to her senses.  It's been over five.  We're tired of defending her.  We have our politics straight, we're tired of waiting for her to get her act together.

The Iraq War has not ended but she can't acknowledge that or even re-Tweet
Tim Arango's New York Times article from almost a year ago where he reported, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

She can't acknowledge that but damned if she couldn't
grandstand in DC in January of 2007.

Remember that?  Remember her assertion that "silence is no longer an option."

It's really not.  But damned if  she isn't silent about the assault on Syria.  Even worse, she's silent on the spying.

Even worse?

For Jane Fonda, yes.  She's the one who sued the federal government for spying on her during Vietnam.

Yet she's been silent as one revelation of Barack's illegal spying after another has emerged.  As an Academy Award wining actress asked us last week, "Was that spying wrong because it was during Vietnam or was it wrong because it happened to her?  Obviously, the spying itself wasn't wrong since she can't say one damn word today."  She was mocking Jane and added, "That ---- just lost any shot of a Best Supporting Actress win for that day player role in The Butler." (If you're curious about the word used, it's the one Jane  dropped on Today back in 2008.)

And, you know what?  We have to agree.  Her silence about the illegal spying Barack Obama is overseeing today?  Shameful and disgusting.  From her autobiography:

In 1973 I had filed a lawsuit against the Nixon administration to compel the various government agencies to admit they had been carrying on a campaign of harassment and intimidation in an attempt to silence and impugn me.  I wanted them to acknowledge that this was improper and cease and desist.  One afternoon that spring of 1974, I went with my friend and attorney, Leonard Weinglass, to take the deposition of former White House special counsel Charles Colson.  Before we met off the record with David Shapiro, Colson's law partner and chief legal adviser for Watergate matters.  Tom was with us.
[. . .]
My lawsuit against the Nixon administration was settled in 1979.  The FBI admitted that I had been under sueveillance from 1970 to 1973; that they had used counterintelligence techniques, in violation of my constitutional rights, to "neutralize" me and "impair my personal and professional standing"; that they had seized without subpoena my bank records during that time and had made pretext calls and visits to my home and office to determine where I was.  

How dare she write about, in 2006's My Life So Far, how awful the spying was but have not one damn comment when Barack's the one caught spying today.

When Oliver Stone and Matt Damon can praise Ed Snowden, how dare Jane stay silent when she claims to be an activist and regularly solicits applause for her 'brave' activism.

As our friend pointed out regarding Jane, life's events matter only when they happen to her personally.

There are many performers who are privately political and that's fine.  There are also many who are apolitical which is also fine.  But if you run around proclaiming you're an activist, people have a right to expect activism from you.

In the sixties film Cat Ballou, Fonda (title role) takes her gang into hiding, The Hole in the Wall, only to discover other outlaws don't want them, outlaws they've grown up admiring.  Flabbergasted, Fonda asks what happened to the outlaws and then sadly observes, "You got old."

Apparently, the same thing happened to her. 

How sad that the animated Cartman can say more about the illegal spying in this week's SouthPark than 'activist' Jane can with her blog, her endless interviews, her Twitter feed, her Women's Media Center and on, and on it goes.

Cartman: I'm telling you guys, the government thinks they can do whatever they want and we don't have any privacy anymore. Just between you and me, I think people are too stupid to see what this is all leading to.  Did you guys read 1984?  I didn't read it either but I saw the  puppet show version at Casa Bonita.

Fortunately, not everyone's a silent Jane.  Nozomi Hayase (Dissident Voice) profiles Sarah Harrison:

After Edward Snowden came forward as the source behind the release of the NSA classified documents and the Obama Administration’s aggressive international manhunt began, Harrison, a 31 year old British native emerged on the world stage as the mysterious woman who accompanied this high profile whistleblower in his quest for asylum. On June 23, WikiLeaks published her profile on its website. It described Harrison as a journalist and legal researcher who worked as section editor for WikiLeaks and as an investigative researcher for The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Centre for Investigative Journalism. In July 2012, while Assange was unavailable, Harrison stepped forward to announce the release of the Syria Files at the Frontline Club in London.

She played a crucial role in enabling Snowden to leave Hong Kong and accompanied him on the fateful journey to Russia. As the United States revoked the passport of the former NSA contractor and attempted to extradite him, WikiLeaks, through Harrison provided means for his safe passage to Moscow and she stayed with him, assisting with his asylum applications to various countries.

Washington Post ran a story on Harrison on July 5, recounting her path into the world of journalism; from an unpaid internship to becoming one of Assange’s close advisers. In the Post story, those who knew Harrison were cited including Gavin MacFadyen, director of the Center for Investigative Journalism and Vaughan Smith, founder of the Frontline Club, who offered Assange residence at his English estate while he was under house arrest. MacFadyen, who welcomed Harrison with no prior experience to his crew of investigative journalists described how “she’s smart, determined and fully believes in the moral principle of shedding light.” Vaughan Smith said, “It’s not as if she’s getting anything out of this other than doing something that she believes is right; helping a whistleblower.” He also noted how Harrison is driven by her own conviction. It is clear that her commitment to justice led her to step forward and help Snowden.

The Electronic Freedom Foundation is calling a protest in October.  Before we get to that, Senator Ron Wyden's office issued the following yesterday:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Washington, D.C. – In order to restore the constitutional liberties that have been eroded by invasive surveillance and end secret interpretations of the law that vastly exceed the intent of Congress, a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have introduced legislation to reform domestic surveillance laws and the secret surveillance court.

The Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act will prohibit bulk collection of Americans’ records, shield Americans from warrantless searches of their communications and install a constitutional advocate to argue significant cases before the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court.

“The overbroad surveillance activities that have come to light over the last few months have shown how wide the gap between upholding the constitutional liberties of American citizens and protecting national security has become,” Wyden said. “The effect can be felt not only by the significant erosion of civil liberties domestically, but in the reduced credibility of the American government abroad and the significant impact on American economic interests.  These reforms seek to close that gap and avoid the false choice of protecting security over the preservation of personal liberty.”

“There is growing, bipartisan sentiment in Colorado and across the country that the way the NSA and our intelligence agencies are balancing Americans’ privacy rights and our security is fundamentally out of whack. We need to end the NSA's collection of millions of innocent Americans' private phone records and focus on the real problem: terrorists and spies," Udall said. "These aren't vague or abstract threats to our liberty. These dragnet searches are happening right now. I am proud to lead this bipartisan push to protect Americans' privacy rights and ensure that our pursuit of security does not trample our constitutional liberties."

“Recent revelations about NSA overreach show the need for strong and effective oversight of government surveillance – oversight by a Constitutional Advocate to fight for Americans’ civil liberties before the FISA Courts,” Senator Blumenthal said. “This reform, as well as the others in this legislative package, will ensure that the NSA and the FISA Courts respect constitutional rights. We can protect both national security and constitutional liberties by making sure the Courts hear both sides, as they do in every other judicial proceeding.”

“Reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act must restrict the Executive’s expansive powers to seize private records in secret and without probable cause,” said Paul. “I support reforms on the way to a full restoration of our Founders’ idea embodied in the Fourth Amendment.”

Recent revelations and declassified documents have shown the extent of the intelligence community’s bulk phone and email records collection programs and their effect on the constitutional liberties of law-abiding Americans. The bill prohibits the bulk collection of Americans’ records in any form, while still authorizing the government to obtain records of individuals suspected of involvement in terrorism or espionage.  

The legislation makes major reforms to the operation of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court (FISC), chief among them the creation of an independent advocate to argue against the government in significant FISC cases.  The FISC currently operates in secrecy and frequently makes judgments on important constitutional protections based solely on arguments made by the government. The Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act will create a Constitutional Advocate to present an opposing view in cases where the FISC is called upon to interpret US surveillance laws or the Constitution.  It will also set up a process for making significant FISC decisions public, and thereby reduce the government’s reliance on a secret body of surveillance law.  

The legislation also amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to prohibit intelligence agencies from using collection authorities aimed at foreigners to conduct warrantless searches for the phone calls and emails of individual Americans.  Currently, a gap in the law known as the “backdoor searches” loophole permits the government to make an end run around traditional constitutional warrant protections.  The bill will also prohibit the collecting of communications that are “about” a target rather than those to or from that target outside of terrorism contexts and will strengthen protections against targeting a foreigner in order to collect communications of Americans without a warrant – a process known as “reverse targeting.”

Noting the negative effect these secret surveillance programs and legal interpretations have had on American companies required to provide records to the intelligence community under these statutes, the bill gives those companies the ability to disclose more information about their cooperation with government surveillance activities.

Click here to learn more about the bill.

Gregory Ferenstein (TechCrunch) breaks down the bill:

–End bulk collection–all of it. Specifically, it would forbid the NSA from indiscriminately sweeping up phone and Internet data under section 215 of the Patriot Act. Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has long argued that the dragnet does not actually prevent any attacks. Instead, the NSA would need a warrant to target suspects.

–Create a public advocate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the secret military court that approves NSA spying requests. Currently, the FISC has only rejected 0.03 percent of all requests, so it seems like privacy should have representation in the courtroom.

–Make Suing the NSA Possible. Last February, the Supreme Court declared that the ACLU couldn’t sue the NSA since they couldn’t prove damages. Unfortunately, since the NSA is so secretive, it’s kinda hard to prove who gets harmed. The new law would allow Senator Rand Paul to live out his libertarian dream of suing the federal government. Details are still scant; I’ve reached out to Wyden’s office for specifics on this provision.

Bloomberg covers it hereThe Electronic Freedom Foundation is calling a protest on October 26th:

Join EFF & The Coalition in DC on October 26th

This summer, some of our worst fears and suspicions about the NSA have been confirmed. We now have evidence that the NSA is actively undermining the basic security of the Internet. It is collecting millions and millions of phone records of individuals not suspected of any crime. It is surveilling journalists.

The NSA’s overreaching surveillance is creating a climate of fear and chilling free speech. Its addiction to secrecy makes real accountability impossible

But there’s a movement forming to change all of this. And we're about to take the next step.

On the weekend of October 26 — the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA PATRIOT Act — thousands of people from across the political spectrum will unite in Washington, D.C. to take a stand against unconstitutional surveillance. Please join EFF in D.C. for a day of grassroots training and citizen lobbying on October 25th and a historic rally and petition delivery on October 26th.

Stopwatching.Us is a politically diverse coalition including more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies, including EFF, ACLU, FreedomWorks, Free Press, Mozilla, National Libertarian Party, reddit, Restore the Fourth and Thoughtworks.

We want you to join us in D.C. for this event. There will be speakers, privacy experts, live music, and an opportunity to be part of the official delivery of the Stop Watching Us petition to Congress – a petition in which over a half million people have called for an end to mass, suspicionless surveillance.

Join us in Washington.  

-- RSVP on the event page (privacy policy here): RSVP for the lobby day here:

Note: you do not need to RSVP to attend the rally, but it helps us gauge numbers. RSVPing to the event means that you may be contacted about other Stopwatching events and updates. If you would prefer not to have that type of contact, please RSVP to EFF here.

We’re planning a two-day event. Here are the details:

 Friday, October 25th: Training and lobby day

If you are coming from out of town, you should plan to arrive in D.C. on Thursday night so you can join us for trainings on Friday morning. EFF is working with our friends Public Knowledge and other members of the coalition to host a lobby day in D.C. on NSA surveillance. On Friday morning, we’ll give you an overview of NSA surveillance, including talking points and handouts, and prepare you to meet with staffers. Then you will meet with key Hill staffers and elected officials to explain your concerns about NSA surveillance. Don't worry - we schedule the meetings for you. We’ll be done by midafternoon.

In person meetings are the most effective way for an individual to influence Congress on an issue (except maybe giving them a lot of money).  Even if you've never considered lobbying on an issue, this is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to change America’s stance on surveillance. 

Saturday, October 26th: Rally against mass surveillance

The coalition is hosting a historic rally in Washington D.C on Saturday October 26th – the 12th anniversary of the signing of the Patriot Act.  We’ll be joined by YACHT, the indie pop duo that’s sweeping the nation with its new song, “Party at the NSA.”  With your help, we’re going to create an amazing rally for privacy. Will you be there?

Hundreds of thousands of people have spoken out since the major NSA leaks began this June. Dozens of members of Congress have introduced bills aimed at reining in the NSA, and hundreds of organizations and companies are uniting to end the NSA's unconstitutional surveillance.

But we will only succeed if we take the next step and raise our voices. RSVP now.

The e-mail address for this site is