While last week's mainstream hysteria shifted from fiscal cliff-jumping to debt ceiling collapse, BORDC engaged media outlets to discuss disturbing developments endangering our constitutional rights.
On Monday, January 7, Flashpoints (on KPFA 94.1 PM in the San Francisco Bay Area) invited BORDC's Shahid Buttar and Nadia Kayyali to break down domestic surveillance under the recently re-authorized FISA Amendments Act (FAA). Describing the counterintuitive construction of the FAA, Kayyali notes:
[The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)] was amended in 2008...and this amendment changed even the minimal requirements of review of this surveillance by the FISA court, and now it allows for warrantless wiretapping that will sweep up Americans' communications.
Kayyali's observation suggests that the FAA, in amending a law created to establish judicial oversight, actually undermines its very purpose. Buttar, highlighting the secrecy with which the National Security Agency (NSA) violates our privacy rights, adds:
[I]n spite of knowing that the [NSA] has violated the law, no one knows the context in which that violation took place. No one knows how many people [were affected]. No one knows even whether or not it’s been stopped or whether that violation remains ongoing.
Also on Monday, BORDC's Michael Figura appeared on Progressive Radio Network's The Smart Show, as well as The Monitor (on KPFT 90.1 FM in Houston), to extend the discussion of unconstitutional federal programs. Highlighting the treatment of former CIA agent John Kiriakou, Figura states the chilling consequences for individuals who defy our government's illegal conduct:
the only person to ever go to prison so far in the history of the whole [CIA] torture program is someone who blew the whistle on it.
Though the prosecution of truth-tellers poses severe challenges to activists, Figura contends that " the people need to be the ones to demand accountability." Without public opposition to secret programs, further violations are inevitable.
On Wednesday, January 9, Buttar took to Talk Nation Radio lambasting indefinite detention and Hollywood's perspective on our government's violations. Buttar reminded listeners that the provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) supporting detention for all American persons "quite literally define authoritarianism." While the federal government covers its debacles in the shroud of national security, Buttar points out that:
The FBI and the [Director of National Intelligence] both testified before Congress that allowing the Pentagon to militarily detain US citizens and other American persons indefinitely…would undermine [our safety]."
Buttar also threw darts at the entertainment industry for its acquiescence to the government's self-serving narrative. Criticizing the film Zero Dark Thirty and television series 24 for depicting torture as an effective investigatory tactic, Buttar proclaims that:
The people responsible for torture have the blood of US servicemembers on their hands. ...Whatever [Hollywood] says…it presents an opportunity for discussion.
Open discourse around our government's serious violations remains one of the few tools to promote oversight and demand accountability. Though the media may inform public attitudes about issues such as torture and indefinite detention, we can go beyond film criticism to also embrace civic activism.
On Saturday, January 12, Shahid Buttar visited This is Hell! (on WNUR 89.3 FM in Chicago) to address additional points on the FAA. Amid the distortion generated by mainstream news media, Buttar presented the more obscure yet real threat to American principles of freedom:
[N]o one has ever actually offered an example of the NSA’s program actually proving necessary to resolve any nation security issue. We do have public reports of the FBI complaining that the NSA has been generating so many false leads, wasting the time of the FBI and money of the American taxpayer.
The unknown expense of expansive and invasive federal programs affects all Americans, beyond those who might "have something to hide." In a political moment rife with discussion of budget cuts, Congress continues to find money to fund its multi-faceted attack on constitutional rights.
To effectively preserve our civil liberties, BORDC reiterates the extreme importance of building local coalitions, engaging local police who participate in domestic surveillance, and outreach to public officials. Through solid local movements, We the people can create the momentum to catalyze shifts on even the federal level.
For a comprehensive view of BORDC’s latest news coverage, and to find out how to reach staff for comment, and more, view our online press resources.