Here Come the Drones

April 19, 2013

by: Noah Mickens

Censorship is turning into something else. The whole complex system of governments, corporations, and scheming bastards who do their best to run the world is upping the stakes for saying things they don’t want you to say.

Jubair Ahmad, sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for producing and uploading a video to YouTube. The FBI affidavit describes a montage of exploding trucks, jets dropping bombs, quotes about “jihad” from a leader in the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba movement of Pakistan. No explicit advocacy of violence, but the FBI interprets the video as implicitly advocating violence against the US, and calls it a recruitment video for the LeT; so, he’s up the river for providing material support to a terrorist organization.

Javed Iqbal used to run a satellite television company in New York. One of the channels he offered was Al Manar, a Lebanese television network sympathetic to Hezbollah. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is a political party that holds seats in Parliament and other positions of authority; but they are not-undeservedly regarded as a terrorist organization by the United States. In fact, the television network Al Manar is itself regarded as a terrorist organization based on the rationale that they broadcast announcements and speeches from Hezbollah that help to raise funds and recruit members. Therefore, Javed Iqbal was arrested in 2006 and is now serving a six year sentence for Providing Material Support.

Even Yemeni boogeyman Anwar Al-Awlaki was basically assassinated by drone as a consequence of things he said. All sorts of nasty implications have been made, mostly by anonymous government sources, but what got them on his trail are videos of his sermons that were posted on the Internet. His sermons made him the target of FBI investigation and harassment at least as early as 1999, which is the reason he left the United States. It took them a while, but they tracked him down and killed him with no trial; and they killed his friend Samir Khan, and his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki in a separate drone attack. His “operational role in terrorist plots”, as claimed by government sources, are highly dubious and contested by many well-informed people. His father tried to get the USG to forestall killing him so that he could come out of hiding and present evidence in his defense, but the suit was dismissed. They blew him up in a jeep in Yemen, because he advocated armed rebellion against the United States.

Let’s hear from Constitutional law attorney and political commentator Glenn Greenwald on the subject of protected speech:

“Let’s be very clear about the key point: the Constitution — specifically the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment — prohibits the U.S. Government from punishing someone for the political views they express, even if those views include the advocacy of violence against the U.S. and its leaders.  One can dislike this legal fact.  One can wish it were different.  But it is the clear and unambiguous law, and has been since the Supreme Court’s unanimous 1969 decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio, which overturned the criminal conviction of a Ku Klux Klan leader who had publicly threatened violence against political officials in a speech.

“In doing so, the Brandenberg Court struck down as unconstitutional an Ohio statute (under which the KKK leader was prosecuted) that made it a crime to ‘advocate . . . the duty, necessity, or propriety of crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform.’  Such advocacy — please read the part in bold — cannot be a crime because it is protected by the First Amendment.  The crux of the Court’s holding: ‘the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force.’

So there you go.

In July, 2012, a wave of FBI/Police raids hit several houses in Oregon and Washington. People were held at gunpoint, their belongings taken, their homes destroyed. My friend Spooky lived in one of the houses. She said that first a big explosion woke her up, then an FBI agent sawed through the wall of her bedroom rather than opening the door. She and her housemates provided no resistance, and no arrests were made. It took a while for everyone to wrap their heads around what had happened, but it turned out that the Feds were there looking for Mr. Damos Abadon, iconic Portland activist and troublemaker. The fuss was over posts that Damos made online, in which he allegedly said that somebody ought to kill Sheriff Joe Arpaio; spawning an investigation that led them to the house in question. Another July 2012 raid in Seattle led to the Grand Jury arrests and detentions of Leah-Lynne Plant, Matthew Duran and Katherine Olejnik. Matt and Kteeo are still in because of their refusal to testify. It was some kind of coordinated operation against perceived anarchists in the Northwest. They’re after occupiers, tree sitters, all the freaks who are pushing back a little against their big plans for the world. It’s time to look at yourself and realize that you and your friends look like a part of that to these people. You’re the American Al Qaeda. In 2012 FBI presentations to the media, they made it clear that they were shifting their focus to “domestic terrorism” – groups like “anarchists, animal rights activists, and environmentalists… Their meeting locations include college campuses, underground clubs, coffee houses/ internet cafes.” Sound like anyone you know?

That’s the new censorship – you’re surrounded by undercover agents and informants, constant surveillance and analysis of all communication in the world, and what’s starting to look like a rather successful plan to shift the planet into a state of endless warfare and financial collapse that benefits the vanishing few at the expense of the burgeoning many. You may rationally expect that the wrong combination of words in your emails and text messages might land your name on a list of people to keep an eye on. That whatever bought-out ex-cons are undercover for the local FBI in your town, they’re looking for ways to get into the counter-culture to see if there might be anybody there that they can talk into a terrorist plot. This is how they got the so-called Occupy Cleveland Bombers—FBI informants embedded deep in the local counterculture, befriending influential and impression-able people and then ensnaring them in imaginary criminal plots. The gang at Seattle’s Cafe Unamerican went the same way: a freaky underground art space that wound up targeted by an FBI anti-terrorism sting. The spectre of terrorism has got them jumping at shadows. Expressing unpopular opinions is enough to make you target for the ever-expanding Military-Intelligence-Industrial-Banking-Government-Machine, whose sudden abuses of Constitutional and International law go nearly unchallenged in the mainstream.

Of course, lots of our people are just as interested in limiting speech that goes against their personal beliefs. It’s a crime in some European nations to say racist things, or to say things judged as “offensive” like the guy who went to prison in England for writing a tweet that said “all the soldiers should die.” So-called “anti-bullying” and “hate speech” laws are leading the United States in that same direction – criminalizing free expression. It’s an attempt to fight it out – to wage a battle of ideas through legislation, to outlaw ideas that you don’t support and mandate the ideas that you prefer. Speaking for myself, that’s not what I want. If the things that I believe are true and make sense, they’ll stand up to scrutiny. And if my ideas consistently fail to convince people, I should be taking a hard look at why that is. You ever talk to an ex-Nazi? It happens all the time – they hear enough opposing ideas and have enough personal experiences to mature into the realization that racism is bullshit. It’s happening with homophobia, too. Immense steps have been made toward convincing people that their unsound ideas about gays and other sexual minorities just don’t add up. When scrutinized, bad ideas can be found out. This is how previously unpopular ideas—such as an end to slavery, or women’s right to vote—can win out and become the norm. It’s how bad ideas can be ruled out.

And another thing: in a battle of legislation, who’s going to win? The general half of the people who want to outlaw saying bad things about gays, or the general half of the people who want to outlaw saying bad things about the government? In a strategic sense, the wise thing is to argue for all-inclusive freedom of speech, no matter how much you might want to pass a law to keep people from saying one thing or another. It’s in the Constitution, which goes a long way with some people. And it helps us more than it helps them. Free speech, cousins.

copyright 2013, Noah Mickens

Read Noah’s article in the 1st issue of The Burro (The Playaboy issue):  The Future Hustle
Noah also writes for Oregon Music News  Check it out!

 

Noah MickensNoah Mickens is a theatrical director, circus ringmaster, scrap metal percussionist, compere, butoh dancer, event producer, songwriter, hype machine, and bon vivant. Once labelled “the impressario of the underground”, he has founded and performed in such diverse performing troupes as Wanderlust Circus (with Nick the Creature), Bogville (with NagaSita), Societas Insomnia (with David Heifetz), The 999 Eyes of Endless Dream (with Dylan McPuke and Samantha X), and Nequaquam Vacuum (with Tyler Armstrong); as well as such one-shot productions as A Midsummer Night’s Dream (a butoh adaptation, with Mizu Desierto), Day of the Zombie (a rock opera, with Zombie Dan Abbott), and the forthcoming Queen of Knives (an opera, with Eric Stern). As a musician, Mickens has focused on singing and on the creation of improvised music using found objects, most particularly scrap metal. In addition to his own ensemble, Nequaquam Vacuum , some of the ensembles he’s played with include Soriah, Pretty Art Narcotic, The Steve MacKay Ensemble, Danse Perdue, Z’EV, Implied Violence, Sikhara, The Hop-Frog Kollectif, Moe! Staiano’s Moe!kestra!, and Damo Suzuki’s Network. Beginning with the independently-produced 36 Invitsibles series at The Jasmine Tree tiki lounge; his curatorial and organizational Work has included serving on the board of directors for 2Gyrlz Performative Arts and The EnterActive Language Festival; a U.S. node of the international Radon collective; creative director of Someday Lounge during its early period (and before); and in-house booker for Rotture, Branx, and The Hippodrome. He’ll take you off like a Saturday.

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