Jesuit Reduction

A Jesuit Reduction was a type of settlement for indigenous people in Latin America created by the Jesuit Order during the 17th and 18th centuries. The strategy of the Spanish Empire was to gather native populations into centers called Indian … Continue reading

A Jesuit Reduction was a type of settlement for indigenous people in Latin America created by the Jesuit Order during the 17th and 18th centuries. The strategy of the Spanish Empire was to gather native populations into centers called Indian Reductions (reducciones de indios), in order to Christianize, tax, and govern them more efficiently. The Jesuit interpretation of this strategy was implemented primarily in an area that corresponds to modern day Paraguay amongst the Tupi-Guarani peoples. Later reductions were extended into areas now part of Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia.

Jesuit reductions were different from the reductions in other regions because the indigenous people (Indians) were expected to convert to Christianity but not necessarily adopt European values and lifestyles [1] Under the leadership of both the Jesuits and native caciques, the reductions achieved a high degree of autonomy within the Spanish colonial empire. With the use of Indian labour, the reductions became economically successful. When their existence was threatened by the incursions of Bandeirante slave traders, Indian militia were created that fought effectively against the colonists.[1] The resistance by the Jesuit reductions to slave raids, as well as their high degree of autonomy and economic success, have been cited as contributing factors to the expulsion of the Jesuits from the Americas in 1767.[2] The Jesuit reductions present a controversial chapter of the evangelisational history of the Americas, and are variously described as jungle utopias or as theocratic regimes of terror.[1]


Actions that threaten Saudi Arabia’s unity

Published time: February 03, 2014 03:34

Actions that threaten Saudi Arabia’s unity, disturb public order, or defame the reputation of the state or the king – will be considered acts of terrorism under a new counterterrorism law which has come into force in the gulf kingdom.

The new legislature was ratified by King Abdullah on Sunday after being approved by the Cabinet in December, following the initial proposal by the Interior Ministry and advisory Shura Council.

It defines terrorism as “any act carried out by an offender … intended to disturb the public order…to shake the security of society… stability of the state… expose its national unity to danger… suspend the basic law of governance or some of its articles,” according to its text as cited by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Terrorists can also be considered those individuals who “insult the reputation of the state or its position… inflict damage upon one of its public utilities or its natural resources,” or those who attempt to force “governmental authority to carry out or prevent it from carrying out an action, or to threaten to carry out acts that lead to the named purposes or incite [these acts].”

The legislation, made up of 40 clauses, allows the security forces to arrest and detain suspects for up to six months with the possibility to extend the confinement for another six months. Suspects are allowed to be held incommunicado for 90 days without the presence of their lawyer during the initial questioning.

Internet surveillance and phone tracking are also allowed under the new legislature, as well as the right for the security services to raid the homes of suspected terrorists, without prior approval from a judge. People suspected of financing terrorist activities could also be prosecuted.

The interior minister, rather than any judge, is empowered to suspend sentences or drop charges and release a person on trial.

When the legislature was approved in December, HRW lashed out against the Kingdom’s strive to limit freedom of speech and criticized the monarchy over its very vague definition of terrorism.

“Vague and overbroad legal provisions cannot be the basis for overriding a broad array of fundamental rights,” HRW said in a statement in December. “Saudi Arabia’s denial of the rights to participate in public affairs, and freedom of religion, peaceful assembly, association, and expression, as well as its systematic discrimination against women greatly exceed any notion of justifiable restrictions.”

Activists are worried that the law will first of all be applied to silence the liberal opposition in the country. Saudi activist Abdulaziz Al Shubaily from the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (HASEM) described the law as a “catastrophe”.

“If I call for the release of someone from jail for being held longer than their sentence, I can be tried for “asking the state to take action,” Shubaily said. “When I call for a constitutional monarchy, I can now be charged with terrorism.”

“They characterize you as a terrorist because you ask the kingdom to do something it does not want to do,” he added.

HRW researcher Adam Coogle said, that the new law is “draconian in spirit and letter, and there is every reason to fear that the authorities will easily and eagerly use it against peaceful dissidents.”

Saudi women who are seen driving can now be accused of disturbing public order for defying a driving ban imposed on females and face punishment under a new law. In October last year, several images emerged online of women getting in cars and going around the city as part of a unified protest.


Edited time: November 05, 2013 08:14

A Kuwaiti woman was arrested in Saudi Arabia for driving a car while taking her diabetic father to the hospital. The arrest comes just one week after Saudi women protested the driving ban in the conservative Gulf monarchy.

The woman was driving a Chevrolet Epica with her father in the passenger seat when she was pulled over in an area located near the border with Kuwait, Saudi police told Kuwait Times newspaper.

She explained that she was taking her sick father to the hospital, but officers were unsympathetic. The woman was detained and is now being held in custody pending an investigation, police said.

The media report provided no information on whether her sick father made it to the hospital.

There are close ties between Kuwaitis and Saudis in the area, with people from both countries crossing the border on a regular basis.

However, Kuwait has surged ahead in terms of female rights. Women in the country are allowed to drive, vote, and run for political office.

In Saudi Arabia, attempted reforms from King Abdullah often face resistance from the country’s senior clergy.

Saudi woman are not allowed to drive cars, travel abroad, open a bank account, or work without permission from a male relative.

Last Saturday, a protest took place against the driving ban, which resulted in 16 female drivers being stopped by police. They were fined 300 riyals (US$80) each and forced along with their male guardians to pledge to obey the kingdom’s laws.

Activists said that more than 60 Saudi women got behind the wheel to protest the driving ban.


A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for breaking the country’s ban on female drivers.
The woman, identified only as Shema, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July.
Women2drive, which campaigns for women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, says she has already lodged an appeal.
In recent months, scores of women have driven vehicles in Saudi cities in an effort to put pressure on the monarchy to change the law.
The sentence comes two days after the Saudi leader King Abdullah announced women would be allowed to vote for the first time in 2015.
Two other women are due to appear in court later this year on similar charges, correspondents say.
Published time: February 03, 2014 03:34

Actions that threaten Saudi Arabia’s unity, disturb public order, or defame the reputation of the state or the king – will be considered acts of terrorism under a new counterterrorism law which has come into force in the gulf kingdom.

The new legislature was ratified by King Abdullah on Sunday after being approved by the Cabinet in December, following the initial proposal by the Interior Ministry and advisory Shura Council.

It defines terrorism as “any act carried out by an offender … intended to disturb the public order…to shake the security of society… stability of the state… expose its national unity to danger… suspend the basic law of governance or some of its articles,” according to its text as cited by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Terrorists can also be considered those individuals who “insult the reputation of the state or its position… inflict damage upon one of its public utilities or its natural resources,” or those who attempt to force “governmental authority to carry out or prevent it from carrying out an action, or to threaten to carry out acts that lead to the named purposes or incite [these acts].”

The legislation, made up of 40 clauses, allows the security forces to arrest and detain suspects for up to six months with the possibility to extend the confinement for another six months. Suspects are allowed to be held incommunicado for 90 days without the presence of their lawyer during the initial questioning.

Internet surveillance and phone tracking are also allowed under the new legislature, as well as the right for the security services to raid the homes of suspected terrorists, without prior approval from a judge. People suspected of financing terrorist activities could also be prosecuted.

The interior minister, rather than any judge, is empowered to suspend sentences or drop charges and release a person on trial.

When the legislature was approved in December, HRW lashed out against the Kingdom’s strive to limit freedom of speech and criticized the monarchy over its very vague definition of terrorism.

“Vague and overbroad legal provisions cannot be the basis for overriding a broad array of fundamental rights,” HRW said in a statement in December. “Saudi Arabia’s denial of the rights to participate in public affairs, and freedom of religion, peaceful assembly, association, and expression, as well as its systematic discrimination against women greatly exceed any notion of justifiable restrictions.”

Activists are worried that the law will first of all be applied to silence the liberal opposition in the country. Saudi activist Abdulaziz Al Shubaily from the Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights (HASEM) described the law as a “catastrophe”.

“If I call for the release of someone from jail for being held longer than their sentence, I can be tried for “asking the state to take action,” Shubaily said. “When I call for a constitutional monarchy, I can now be charged with terrorism.”

“They characterize you as a terrorist because you ask the kingdom to do something it does not want to do,” he added.

HRW researcher Adam Coogle said, that the new law is “draconian in spirit and letter, and there is every reason to fear that the authorities will easily and eagerly use it against peaceful dissidents.”

Saudi women who are seen driving can now be accused of disturbing public order for defying a driving ban imposed on females and face punishment under a new law. In October last year, several images emerged online of women getting in cars and going around the city as part of a unified protest.



Edited time: November 05, 2013 08:14

A Kuwaiti woman was arrested in Saudi Arabia for driving a car while taking her diabetic father to the hospital. The arrest comes just one week after Saudi women protested the driving ban in the conservative Gulf monarchy.



The woman was driving a Chevrolet Epica with her father in the passenger seat when she was pulled over in an area located near the border with Kuwait, Saudi police told Kuwait Times newspaper.

She explained that she was taking her sick father to the hospital, but officers were unsympathetic. The woman was detained and is now being held in custody pending an investigation, police said.

The media report provided no information on whether her sick father made it to the hospital.

There are close ties between Kuwaitis and Saudis in the area, with people from both countries crossing the border on a regular basis.

However, Kuwait has surged ahead in terms of female rights. Women in the country are allowed to drive, vote, and run for political office.

In Saudi Arabia, attempted reforms from King Abdullah often face resistance from the country’s senior clergy.

Saudi woman are not allowed to drive cars, travel abroad, open a bank account, or work without permission from a male relative.

Last Saturday, a protest took place against the driving ban, which resulted in 16 female drivers being stopped by police. They were fined 300 riyals (US$80) each and forced along with their male guardians to pledge to obey the kingdom’s laws.

Activists said that more than 60 Saudi women got behind the wheel to protest the driving ban.




A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for breaking the country's ban on female drivers.
The woman, identified only as Shema, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July.
Women2drive, which campaigns for women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, says she has already lodged an appeal.
In recent months, scores of women have driven vehicles in Saudi cities in an effort to put pressure on the monarchy to change the law.
The sentence comes two days after the Saudi leader King Abdullah announced women would be allowed to vote for the first time in 2015.
Two other women are due to appear in court later this year on similar charges, correspondents say.

U.S. Drone Program

Edited time: October 29, 2013 20:58

 
 

The victims of a drone strike alleged to be launched last year by the United States spoke to members of Congress on Tuesday and urged the US government to stop killing civilians with weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles.

Rafiq ur Rehman, a primary school teacher from North Waziristan, Pakistan, spoke through an interpreter on Capitol Hill on Tuesday along with his two children, ages nine and 13.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Florida) invited Rehman to speak in Washington about the strike last October that killed Momina Bibi, his 67-year-old mother who was recognized around the region as a midwife, not a militant. Regardless, a weaponized drone purported to be under the control of the US Central Intelligence Agency executed Bibi in front of her grandchildren on Oct. 24, 2012. The US has not formally acknowledged the attack, nor taken responsibility.

«Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day,” Rehman said during the Tuesday morning panel. «All media reported three, four, five militants were killed. But only one person was killed that day. A mom, grandma, a midwife.”

“The string that holds the pearls together. That is what my mother was,” Rahman said. “Since her death, the string has been broken and life has not been the same. We feel alone and we feel lost.”

Speaking before members of Congress, Rehman thanked Rep. Grayson for the invitation and said it was reassuring that some members of the US government are willing to try and shed light on a gruesome operation rarely acknowledged publicly in Washington.

«As a teacher my job is to educate,” said Rehman. “But how can I teach this? How can I teach what I don’t understand?”

Rehman’s 12-year-old son, Zubair, told Grayson and the few congressional colleagues that joined him on the Hill Tuesday that he was with his grandmother last year when she was killed shortly after the buzzing of a drone was heard hovering above them.

«As I helped my grandma in the field, I could see and hear drone overhead but wasn’t worried because we’re not militants,” Zubair said. «I no longer like blue skies. In fact, I prefer gray skies. When sky brightens, drones return and we live in fear.”

“We used to love to play outside. But now people are afraid to leave their houses so we don’t play very often,” the boy added.

Zubair’s sister, nine-year-old Nabila, was picking okra in a field with her grandmother at the time of the attack. She testified that she heard the noise from above. “Everything was dark and I couldn’t see anything, but I heard a scream…I was very scared and all I could think of doing was just run,” she said.

The Rehman’s were joined at the hearing by Robert Greenwald, a filmmaker who has been working in Pakistan over the past several months on a project related to the ongoing US drone strikes. Testifying on his own behalf, Greenwald suggested that the ongoing operations waged by the US as an alleged counter-terrorism operation are breeding anti-American sentiment at a rate that makes Al-Qaeda jealous.

“Yes, there are 100 or 200 fanatics, but now you have 800,000 people in this area who hate the United States because of this policy,” Greenwald said. Indeed, last week a former US State Department official claimed that drone strikes in Yemen are creating dozens of new militants with each attack.

Greenwald added that the research he’s seen indicated that 178 children have been killed in Pakistan by US drone strikes. Independent studies suggest that the total number of civilians killed by unmanned aerial vehicles may be in the thousands.

“We’ve gone from being the most popular country among Pakistani to, according to the polling I’ve seen, the least popular,” Grayson said. “And if you ask people why, the reason is this program.”

Despite these numbers, though, the White House maintains that the best intelligence agencies in the world work in tandem with the mightiest military in order to gather information about targets, then order hits intended to take out extremists and cause as little collateral damage as possible.

According to Greenwald, this system is not without its flaws.

“How could we make decisions, let’s be clear about this, making decisions to clear people based on guesses?” asked Greenwald. “Guesses. No jury, no judge, no trial, no defense but because they are sitting in a certain pattern, because they’re in a certain place, an entire community of leadership has been wiped out.”

“I hope that by telling you about my village and grandmother, you realize drones are not the answer,” pleaded 12-year-old Zubair.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) said at the hearing that she would bring up the witnesses’ plight with the White House. Grayson said that “friends of the military industrial complex” in Washington would likely keep a full discussion from occurring immediately in Washington, adding that “I don’t expect to see a formal hearing conducted on this subject anytime soon.”


Published on Oct 19, 2013

America’s deadly drone strikes are essentially above the law, and must become transparent and accountable. That’s according to the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism. Washington has so far refused to disclose details on where its unmanned aerial strikes occur, and how many civilians are killed. Let’s get some reaction and insight from journalist and former Pakistani Air Force officer, Sultan M. Hali.


Let’s also Remember the 176 children Killed by US Drones

Posted on 12/16/2012 by Juan Cole

The US government continues to rain drones down on the tribal belt of Pakistan. While the Washington narrative is that these drones are precision machines that only kill terrorists, this story is not true.

The drone program is classified, and so it cannot be publicly debated. It cannot even be acknowledged by President Obama and his cabinet members. Drones are operated by civilians and sometimes by contractors. That is, we are subcontracting assassination.
Americans who were upset that the president did not seek congressional authorization for the enforcement of the no-fly zone in Libya are apparently all right with his administration bombing Pakistan without explicit authorization (the 2001 one authorizes action against perpetrators of 9/11, not their children.). The Obama administration has declared that no judges or judicial process need be involved in just blowing away people, even American citizens.
Of the some 3000 persons killed by US drones, something like 600 have been innocent noncombatant bystanders, and of these 176 were children. In some instances the US drone operators have struck at a target, then waited for rescuers to come and struck again, which would be a war crime. Obviously, children may run in panic to the side of an injured parent, so they could get hit by the indiscriminate second strike.
We don’t know the exact circumstances of the children’s deaths because the US government won’t talk about them, indeed, denies it all.
Someone actually wrote me chiding me that the Newtown children were “not in a war zone!” Americans seem not to understand that neither is Waziristan a “war zone.” No war has been declared there, no fronts exist, no calls for evacuation of civilians from their villages have been made. They’re just living their lives, working farms and going to school. They are not Arabs, and most are not Taliban. True, some sketchy Egyptians or Libyans occasionally show up and rent out a spare room. So occasionally an American drone appears out of nowhere and blows them away.
Robert Greenwald of the Brave New Foundation explains further: (warning: graphic and not for the squeamish):


Broad Spectrum of Organizations Support ACLU Legal Fight for Transparency on U.S. Drone Program

nine organizations submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking records about the CIA’s use of drones to carry out targeted killings around the world.  The organizations work on a diverse array of issues that don’t always overlap, including international human rights and rule of law, government transparency, investigative journalism, civil liberties and national security policy.  Although some of these groups seldom have occasion to collaborate, they joined together to urge the court to reject the CIA’s position that it can’t confirm whether it has a drone strike program at all.

Edited time: October 29, 2013 20:58
 
 

The victims of a drone strike alleged to be launched last year by the United States spoke to members of Congress on Tuesday and urged the US government to stop killing civilians with weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles.

Rafiq ur Rehman, a primary school teacher from North Waziristan, Pakistan, spoke through an interpreter on Capitol Hill on Tuesday along with his two children, ages nine and 13.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Florida) invited Rehman to speak in Washington about the strike last October that killed Momina Bibi, his 67-year-old mother who was recognized around the region as a midwife, not a militant. Regardless, a weaponized drone purported to be under the control of the US Central Intelligence Agency executed Bibi in front of her grandchildren on Oct. 24, 2012. The US has not formally acknowledged the attack, nor taken responsibility.

"Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day,” Rehman said during the Tuesday morning panel. "All media reported three, four, five militants were killed. But only one person was killed that day. A mom, grandma, a midwife.”

“The string that holds the pearls together. That is what my mother was,” Rahman said. “Since her death, the string has been broken and life has not been the same. We feel alone and we feel lost.”



Speaking before members of Congress, Rehman thanked Rep. Grayson for the invitation and said it was reassuring that some members of the US government are willing to try and shed light on a gruesome operation rarely acknowledged publicly in Washington.

"As a teacher my job is to educate,” said Rehman. “But how can I teach this? How can I teach what I don’t understand?”

Rehman’s 12-year-old son, Zubair, told Grayson and the few congressional colleagues that joined him on the Hill Tuesday that he was with his grandmother last year when she was killed shortly after the buzzing of a drone was heard hovering above them.

"As I helped my grandma in the field, I could see and hear drone overhead but wasn’t worried because we’re not militants,” Zubair said. "I no longer like blue skies. In fact, I prefer gray skies. When sky brightens, drones return and we live in fear.”

“We used to love to play outside. But now people are afraid to leave their houses so we don’t play very often,” the boy added.

Zubair’s sister, nine-year-old Nabila, was picking okra in a field with her grandmother at the time of the attack. She testified that she heard the noise from above. “Everything was dark and I couldn’t see anything, but I heard a scream...I was very scared and all I could think of doing was just run,” she said.

The Rehman’s were joined at the hearing by Robert Greenwald, a filmmaker who has been working in Pakistan over the past several months on a project related to the ongoing US drone strikes. Testifying on his own behalf, Greenwald suggested that the ongoing operations waged by the US as an alleged counter-terrorism operation are breeding anti-American sentiment at a rate that makes Al-Qaeda jealous.

“Yes, there are 100 or 200 fanatics, but now you have 800,000 people in this area who hate the United States because of this policy,” Greenwald said. Indeed, last week a former US State Department official claimed that drone strikes in Yemen are creating dozens of new militants with each attack.

Greenwald added that the research he’s seen indicated that 178 children have been killed in Pakistan by US drone strikes. Independent studies suggest that the total number of civilians killed by unmanned aerial vehicles may be in the thousands.

“We’ve gone from being the most popular country among Pakistani to, according to the polling I’ve seen, the least popular,” Grayson said. “And if you ask people why, the reason is this program.”

Despite these numbers, though, the White House maintains that the best intelligence agencies in the world work in tandem with the mightiest military in order to gather information about targets, then order hits intended to take out extremists and cause as little collateral damage as possible.

According to Greenwald, this system is not without its flaws.

“How could we make decisions, let’s be clear about this, making decisions to clear people based on guesses?” asked Greenwald. “Guesses. No jury, no judge, no trial, no defense but because they are sitting in a certain pattern, because they’re in a certain place, an entire community of leadership has been wiped out.”

“I hope that by telling you about my village and grandmother, you realize drones are not the answer,” pleaded 12-year-old Zubair.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) said at the hearing that she would bring up the witnesses’ plight with the White House. Grayson said that “friends of the military industrial complex” in Washington would likely keep a full discussion from occurring immediately in Washington, adding that “I don’t expect to see a formal hearing conducted on this subject anytime soon.”





Published on Oct 19, 2013

America's deadly drone strikes are essentially above the law, and must become transparent and accountable. That's according to the UN's special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism. Washington has so far refused to disclose details on where its unmanned aerial strikes occur, and how many civilians are killed. Let's get some reaction and insight from journalist and former Pakistani Air Force officer, Sultan M. Hali.





Let’s also Remember the 176 children Killed by US Drones


Posted on 12/16/2012 by Juan Cole
The US government continues to rain drones down on the tribal belt of Pakistan. While the Washington narrative is that these drones are precision machines that only kill terrorists, this story is not true.

The drone program is classified, and so it cannot be publicly debated. It cannot even be acknowledged by President Obama and his cabinet members. Drones are operated by civilians and sometimes by contractors. That is, we are subcontracting assassination.
Americans who were upset that the president did not seek congressional authorization for the enforcement of the no-fly zone in Libya are apparently all right with his administration bombing Pakistan without explicit authorization (the 2001 one authorizes action against perpetrators of 9/11, not their children.). The Obama administration has declared that no judges or judicial process need be involved in just blowing away people, even American citizens.
Of the some 3000 persons killed by US drones, something like 600 have been innocent noncombatant bystanders, and of these 176 were children. In some instances the US drone operators have struck at a target, then waited for rescuers to come and struck again, which would be a war crime. Obviously, children may run in panic to the side of an injured parent, so they could get hit by the indiscriminate second strike.
We don’t know the exact circumstances of the children’s deaths because the US government won’t talk about them, indeed, denies it all.
Someone actually wrote me chiding me that the Newtown children were “not in a war zone!” Americans seem not to understand that neither is Waziristan a “war zone.” No war has been declared there, no fronts exist, no calls for evacuation of civilians from their villages have been made. They’re just living their lives, working farms and going to school. They are not Arabs, and most are not Taliban. True, some sketchy Egyptians or Libyans occasionally show up and rent out a spare room. So occasionally an American drone appears out of nowhere and blows them away.
Robert Greenwald of the Brave New Foundation explains further: (warning: graphic and not for the squeamish):





Broad Spectrum of Organizations Support ACLU Legal Fight for Transparency on U.S. Drone Program


nine organizations submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the ACLU's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking records about the CIA's use of drones to carry out targeted killings around the world.  The organizations work on a diverse array of issues that don't always overlap, including international human rights and rule of law, government transparency, investigative journalism, civil liberties and national security policy.  Although some of these groups seldom have occasion to collaborate, they joined together to urge the court to reject the CIA's position that it can't confirm whether it has a drone strike program at all.

The religious police in Saudi Arabia

Published on Jun 6, 2013

Saudi Arabia has released prominent novelist Turki al-Hamad, who was arrested in December after a series of tweets criticising Islamism and saying Islam needed renewal, an activist said.

«He is in his house now in Riyadh,» said Waleed Abu al-Khair, a lawyer and human rights activist in the conservative Islamic kingdom, where criticism of the Muslim faith, or senior members of the clergy and ruling family, is not tolerated.

Hamad, one of Saudi Arabia’s best known liberal thinkers, was not tried during his six months in jail, Abu al-Khair said on Wednesday.

Before his detention he wrote tweets that likened some ultra-conservatives to Nazis and called for a renewal of Islam.

The Justice Ministry was not immediately able to comment on Hamad’s release or the reasons for his detention. Hamad’s mobile telephone remained switched off on Wednesday.

Last year Saudi Arabia imprisoned a young blogger, Hamza Kashgari, on blasphemy charges after he published tweets that imagined a conversation with the Prophet Mohammad. Kashgari remains behind bars.

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and home to the faith’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, practises Islamic law, allowing judges to pass verdicts and sentences based on their interpretation of religious and legal texts.

Blasphemy is illegal, as is leaving the Islamic faith.

Morality police patrol public areas to ensure strict religious norms, including modest dress, are observed, while the public practise of other religions is forbidden.


Published on Nov 21, 2013

Two men have been arrested in Saudi Arabia for offering free hugs to passers-by in the capital, Riyadh.

The Saudi religious police detained the two young men for indulging in exotic practices and offending public order.

The free hugs movement aims to «brighten up» people’s lives by offering strangers hugs.

A young Saudi man, Bandr al-Swed, posted a video of himself offering hugs to male strangers on YouTube, where it has received nearly 1.5m views.

«After seeing the Free Hugs Campaign in many different countries, I decided to do it in my own country,» Mr Swed told al-Arabiya news.

«I liked the idea and thought it could bring happiness to Saudi Arabia.»

Britain’s Independent newspaper reports that his video inspired two more young Saudis, Abdulrahman al-Khayyal and a friend.

They offered hugs, advertised on a placard, in one of Riyadh’s main shopping streets.

They were subsequently arrested by the kingdom’s religious police, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which is charged with ensuring that sharia law is strictly adhered to.

The two were required to sign a pledge that they would not offer hugs again, reports say.

The duties of Saudi Arabia’s religious police, or mutawa, include preventing women driving, enforcing modest dress codes, policing bans on public entertainment and making sure all businesses close for prayers five times a day.

Some in the kingdom find the mutawa’s powers an interference in their lives.

The religious police attracted criticism for their role in a 2002 fire at a school in Mecca in which 15 girls died. The police were accused of trying to keep the girls inside the burning building because they were not wearing the proper black robes required of Saudi females.


January 5

Saudi pilot arrested in the US for raping a boy

A Saudi Arabian military officer has been charged with raping a boy in a hotel on New Year’s Eve. The 23-year-old sergeant in the Royal Saudi Air Force, Mazen Alotaibi was arrested on New Years eve in Nevada and accused of assaulting a 13-year-old boy in a Circus Circus hotel bathroom, while three other men were in the adjoining room smoking marijuana. According to the police report, Alotaibi said he offered to pay for sex but raped the boy when he refused. The accused was in the US for a training mission.


Published: 28 December, 2012, 12:05

The religious police in Saudi Arabia have raided a house in the Al Jawf Province and arrested 41 people, who were “plotting to celebrate Christmas,” a police statement said.

­The police said that the detainees were Christian guests of an Asian diplomat, reports the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.

There were also a Saudi Arabian and an Egyptian, both Muslims, present at the gathering. The police account says the host and the two Muslim guests were “severely intoxicated.”

It is unclear whether or not the people detained in the Wednesday night raid were released or face further prosecution.

Saudi Arabia outlaws any religious practice except those in line with a strict version of Sunni Islam, the state religion in the theocratic monarchy. The authorities usually turn a blind eye to private ceremonies, but this policy is neither set in law nor observed at all times.

The “virtue and vice” police, which enforce religious norms in the country, regularly launch crackdowns on Christians and Hindus living in Saudi Arabia.

The attitude is encouraged by religious leaders, who justify the persecutions. Saudi Arabia’s head mufti Sheikh Abdel Aziz bin Abdullah had previously condemned “invitations to Christmas or wedding celebrations,” the newspaper says.


Hamza Kashgari’s tweets on the prophet Muhammad’s birthday have resulted in charges of blasphemy, apostasy, and atheism – and Saudi Arabia appears to be making an example of his actions.

By Elizabeth Dickinson, Correspondent / February 14, 2012

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

As dawn rose over Saudi Arabia on Feb. 4, the Muslim holiday marking the prophet Muhammad’s birthday, a 23-year-old business administration graduate named Hamza Kashgari posted three tweets in which he imagined himself speaking directly with the founder of Islam.

«On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of
divinity around you,» read his first tweet, translated here from the original Arabic. «I shall not pray for you.»

One of Mr. Kashgari’s friends noticed the tweets when he woke up. As he rushed off to work, he said to himself, “I’m afraid for him,” he recalls.

By the time the friend ended his shift, he switched on his phone to find thousands of Twitter users calling for Kashgari’s execution. Furious at what they saw as insulting the prophet Mohammad, critics also created a Facebook page called: “The Saudi people want the execution of Hamza Kashgari.” The next day, a famous Islamic activist, Sheikh Nasir al-Omar, used his daily YouTube lesson – watched by thousands online – to call Kashgari a blasphemer.

Kashgari’s friends sent him a short message: Run.

He fled, but only got as far as Malaysia before being deported back home to face charges of blasphemy, apostasy, and atheism – charges that carry a death sentence in Saudi jurisprudence. But Kashgari’s trials are not just about three phrases of 140 characters or less. They stem from broader tensions in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the monarchy has in recent years pushed back on the more conservative religious establishment but is now – in the wake of Arab revolts around the region – anxious to shore up support.

«Certainly since the upheavals, there’s been even more concern on the part of the regime to appeal to religious constituencies,» says political scientist F. Gregory Gause, author of «Saudi Arabia in the New Middle East.»

Kashgari was an easy target, says Pascal Menoret, professor of Middle East Studies at New York University Abu Dhabi.

“This is a very characteristic story of repression in Saudi,” says Professor Menoret, author of The Saudi Enigma: A History. “Get rid of a young man – it’s costless, and everybody’s scared.”
A willingness to push against limits

Kashgari’s friend described him as someone who was always walking close to the edge. Several years ago, he started attending meetings of intellectuals in the city who gathered to read and discuss religion and philosophy. Not long after, he became a columnist for the local paper Al Bilad, where his writing was sometimes critical of the government. He criticized flood relief when his city of Jeddah was overrun with water last year; he raised questions about the religious police.

His prominent role as a commentator got him invitations to a number of social forums, including the Saudi Intellectuals Forum sponsored by the Ministry of Culture. “We were talking to him, and we told him, ‘Kashgari you are [a] known, famous person,’ the friend recalled. » ‘Be careful with what you are writing.’ I remember the look in his face when one of my friends told him that: He [was] staring at the wall, like he doesn’t want to accept this fact [that he could be in danger.]”

His tweets on the prophet’s birthday were not new ideas; he had shared them before on his blog. But when he sparked public uproar this time when he wrote, «On your birthday, I shall not bow to you,» according to a translation by Menoret. «I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more.»



Published on Jun 6, 2013

Saudi Arabia has released prominent novelist Turki al-Hamad, who was arrested in December after a series of tweets criticising Islamism and saying Islam needed renewal, an activist said.



"He is in his house now in Riyadh," said Waleed Abu al-Khair, a lawyer and human rights activist in the conservative Islamic kingdom, where criticism of the Muslim faith, or senior members of the clergy and ruling family, is not tolerated.

Hamad, one of Saudi Arabia's best known liberal thinkers, was not tried during his six months in jail, Abu al-Khair said on Wednesday.

Before his detention he wrote tweets that likened some ultra-conservatives to Nazis and called for a renewal of Islam.

The Justice Ministry was not immediately able to comment on Hamad's release or the reasons for his detention. Hamad's mobile telephone remained switched off on Wednesday.

Last year Saudi Arabia imprisoned a young blogger, Hamza Kashgari, on blasphemy charges after he published tweets that imagined a conversation with the Prophet Mohammad. Kashgari remains behind bars.

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and home to the faith's holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, practises Islamic law, allowing judges to pass verdicts and sentences based on their interpretation of religious and legal texts.

Blasphemy is illegal, as is leaving the Islamic faith.

Morality police patrol public areas to ensure strict religious norms, including modest dress, are observed, while the public practise of other religions is forbidden.






Published on Nov 21, 2013

Two men have been arrested in Saudi Arabia for offering free hugs to passers-by in the capital, Riyadh.

The Saudi religious police detained the two young men for indulging in exotic practices and offending public order.

The free hugs movement aims to "brighten up" people's lives by offering strangers hugs.

A young Saudi man, Bandr al-Swed, posted a video of himself offering hugs to male strangers on YouTube, where it has received nearly 1.5m views.

"After seeing the Free Hugs Campaign in many different countries, I decided to do it in my own country," Mr Swed told al-Arabiya news.

"I liked the idea and thought it could bring happiness to Saudi Arabia."

Britain's Independent newspaper reports that his video inspired two more young Saudis, Abdulrahman al-Khayyal and a friend.

They offered hugs, advertised on a placard, in one of Riyadh's main shopping streets.

They were subsequently arrested by the kingdom's religious police, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which is charged with ensuring that sharia law is strictly adhered to.

The two were required to sign a pledge that they would not offer hugs again, reports say.

The duties of Saudi Arabia's religious police, or mutawa, include preventing women driving, enforcing modest dress codes, policing bans on public entertainment and making sure all businesses close for prayers five times a day.

Some in the kingdom find the mutawa's powers an interference in their lives.

The religious police attracted criticism for their role in a 2002 fire at a school in Mecca in which 15 girls died. The police were accused of trying to keep the girls inside the burning building because they were not wearing the proper black robes required of Saudi females.



January 5

Saudi pilot arrested in the US for raping a boy

A Saudi Arabian military officer has been charged with raping a boy in a hotel on New Year's Eve. The 23-year-old sergeant in the Royal Saudi Air Force, Mazen Alotaibi was arrested on New Years eve in Nevada and accused of assaulting a 13-year-old boy in a Circus Circus hotel bathroom, while three other men were in the adjoining room smoking marijuana. According to the police report, Alotaibi said he offered to pay for sex but raped the boy when he refused. The accused was in the US for a training mission.



Published: 28 December, 2012, 12:05

The religious police in Saudi Arabia have raided a house in the Al Jawf Province and arrested 41 people, who were “plotting to celebrate Christmas,” a police statement said.

­The police said that the detainees were Christian guests of an Asian diplomat, reports the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.

There were also a Saudi Arabian and an Egyptian, both Muslims, present at the gathering. The police account says the host and the two Muslim guests were “severely intoxicated.”

It is unclear whether or not the people detained in the Wednesday night raid were released or face further prosecution.

Saudi Arabia outlaws any religious practice except those in line with a strict version of Sunni Islam, the state religion in the theocratic monarchy. The authorities usually turn a blind eye to private ceremonies, but this policy is neither set in law nor observed at all times.

The “virtue and vice” police, which enforce religious norms in the country, regularly launch crackdowns on Christians and Hindus living in Saudi Arabia.

The attitude is encouraged by religious leaders, who justify the persecutions. Saudi Arabia's head mufti Sheikh Abdel Aziz bin Abdullah had previously condemned “invitations to Christmas or wedding celebrations,” the newspaper says.



Hamza Kashgari's tweets on the prophet Muhammad's birthday have resulted in charges of blasphemy, apostasy, and atheism – and Saudi Arabia appears to be making an example of his actions.

By Elizabeth Dickinson, Correspondent / February 14, 2012




Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

As dawn rose over Saudi Arabia on Feb. 4, the Muslim holiday marking the prophet Muhammad’s birthday, a 23-year-old business administration graduate named Hamza Kashgari posted three tweets in which he imagined himself speaking directly with the founder of Islam.


"On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you've always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of
divinity around you," read his first tweet, translated here from the original Arabic. "I shall not pray for you."

One of Mr. Kashgari’s friends noticed the tweets when he woke up. As he rushed off to work, he said to himself, “I’m afraid for him,” he recalls.

By the time the friend ended his shift, he switched on his phone to find thousands of Twitter users calling for Kashgari's execution. Furious at what they saw as insulting the prophet Mohammad, critics also created a Facebook page called: “The Saudi people want the execution of Hamza Kashgari.” The next day, a famous Islamic activist, Sheikh Nasir al-Omar, used his daily YouTube lesson – watched by thousands online – to call Kashgari a blasphemer.

Kashgari’s friends sent him a short message: Run.

He fled, but only got as far as Malaysia before being deported back home to face charges of blasphemy, apostasy, and atheism – charges that carry a death sentence in Saudi jurisprudence. But Kashgari's trials are not just about three phrases of 140 characters or less. They stem from broader tensions in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the monarchy has in recent years pushed back on the more conservative religious establishment but is now – in the wake of Arab revolts around the region – anxious to shore up support.

"Certainly since the upheavals, there’s been even more concern on the part of the regime to appeal to religious constituencies," says political scientist F. Gregory Gause, author of "Saudi Arabia in the New Middle East."

Kashgari was an easy target, says Pascal Menoret, professor of Middle East Studies at New York University Abu Dhabi.

“This is a very characteristic story of repression in Saudi,” says Professor Menoret, author of The Saudi Enigma: A History. “Get rid of a young man – it’s costless, and everybody’s scared.”
A willingness to push against limits

Kashgari’s friend described him as someone who was always walking close to the edge. Several years ago, he started attending meetings of intellectuals in the city who gathered to read and discuss religion and philosophy. Not long after, he became a columnist for the local paper Al Bilad, where his writing was sometimes critical of the government. He criticized flood relief when his city of Jeddah was overrun with water last year; he raised questions about the religious police.

His prominent role as a commentator got him invitations to a number of social forums, including the Saudi Intellectuals Forum sponsored by the Ministry of Culture. “We were talking to him, and we told him, ‘Kashgari you are [a] known, famous person,’ the friend recalled. " 'Be careful with what you are writing.’ I remember the look in his face when one of my friends told him that: He [was] staring at the wall, like he doesn’t want to accept this fact [that he could be in danger.]”

His tweets on the prophet's birthday were not new ideas; he had shared them before on his blog. But when he sparked public uproar this time when he wrote, "On your birthday, I shall not bow to you," according to a translation by Menoret. "I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more."

Double standard

Published on Jun 9, 2013A Saudi prince who murdered his servant at the culmination of a campaign of «sadistic» abuse was today jailed for life and lambasted by a judge for telling a «pack of lies» in an attempt to conceal his crimes.Saud Abdulaziz bin…



Published on Jun 9, 2013

A Saudi prince who murdered his servant at the culmination of a campaign of "sadistic" abuse was today jailed for life and lambasted by a judge for telling a "pack of lies" in an attempt to conceal his crimes.

Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud, a grandson of the billionaire king of Saudi Arabia, was ordered to serve a minimum of 20 years for strangling and beating Bandar Abdulaziz to death at a five-star London hotel.

The prince bit the 32-year-old hard on both cheeks during the attack, which happened in their suite in February and was said to have had a sexual element.

He had been drinking champagne and cocktails when he began the ferocious beating after a Valentine's night out.

The Old Bailey had heard that the murder of Abdulaziz was the last act of a "deeply abusive" master-servant relationship in which the prince carried out frequent attacks on his aide "for his own personal gratification".

Saud initially believed he had diplomatic immunity, but his status as a Saudi royal could not save him from arrest and prosecution.

Sentencing him today, Mr Justice Bean said: "It is very unusual for a prince to be in the dock on a murder charge.

"No one in this country is above the law. It would be wrong for me to sentence you either more severely or more leniently because of your membership of the Saudi royal family."

During the trial, jurors were told that, by the early hours of 15 February, Abdulaziz was so worn down and injured he let Saud kill him without a fight.

The prince then spent hours on the phone to a contact in Saudi Arabia, trying to decide how to cover up his crime.

Bean said Saud had told a "pack of lies" to paramedics and police before finally admitting that he carried out the killing. He said he could not be sure whether Saud had intended to kill Abdulaziz, but added: "I think the most likely explanation is that you could not care less whether you killed him or not."

He told Saud he had treated his victim "as a human punchbag" and had never shown any regret. "If you had any remorse, you would have sought medical help immediately. But you were only concerned for yourself," he said.

The 34-year-old prince, who stood in the dock with his arms crossed, showed no emotion as the sentence was handed down.

He was found guilty of murder yesterday after the jury had deliberated for an hour and 35 minutes. He was also convicted of a second count of grievous bodily harm with intent, relating to a previous incident in a lift at the Landmark hotel, in Marylebone, London, where the men were staying.

Saud tried to conceal the true nature of his relationship with his servant, claiming they were "friends and equals", but a porter at the hotel said Abdulaziz was treated "like a slave".

The prince claimed he was heterosexual and had a girlfriend in Saudi Arabia, but he had booked appointments with at least two male escorts and one gay masseur and looked at hundreds of images of men on gay websites.

Photographs of Abdulaziz in "compromising" positions were found on his phone.

Saud denied killing his servant until shortly before the trial, when he admitted he had caused his death. Jurors rejected a claim by his barrister, John Kelsey-Fry QC, that Saud was guilty only of manslaughter.

His lawyers also failed in a last-ditch attempt to stop details of his encounters with male escorts being revealed during the trial. In a sign of the anxiety about his sexuality becoming public, the prince's legal team initially argued that the legal argument about the escorts should be held behind closed doors.


NSA Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Office

Published time: November 18, 2013 17:37

The number of Freedom of Information Act requests filed with the National Security Agency has increased by 888 percent this fiscal year, according to USA Today, indicating an even broader interest exists in the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs.

The newspaper reported on Monday that the amount of FOIA requests received by the NSA has surged exponentially in recent months, particularly after former contractor-turned-leaker Edward Snowden began releasing classified internal documents in June detailing the agency’s lesser-known intelligence gathering operations.

“Fueled by the Edward Snowden scandal, more Americans than ever are asking the National Security Agency if their personal life is being spied on,” Yamiche Alcindor wrote for USA Today.

Indeed, the thousands of FOIA requests filed by Americans since June far outnumber the mere hundreds that it received annually in previous years.

According to Alcindor, the NSA only received 257 FOIA requests during the last fiscal year. Shortly after the first Snowden leak appeared on June 6, however, the agency became flooded with 1,302 requests almost immediately. During the following three months, the paper reported, the NSA received 2,538 requests, the likes of which have inundated the government staffers tasked with responding for the open records requests.

Pamela Phillips, the chief of the NSA Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Office, told the paper that «This was the largest spike we’ve ever had.»

«We’ve had requests from individuals who want any records we have on their phone calls, their phone numbers, their e-mail addresses, their IP addresses, anything like that,” Phillips said.

Unfortunately for those thousands of Americans, however, the NSA isn’t being all that helpful. Even though the NSA is experiencing thousands of similar requests from Americans wanting to know if and how they’ve been targeted, the agency has been responding by refusing to admit what kind of intelligence, if any, it’s collected.

Thirty-five-year-old Joel Watts of West Virginia told the paper that he sent a request but was told in response that the NSA couldn’t say if they had any information on him.

«It’s a sign of disrespect to American citizens and the democratic process,” Watts, a health and safety administrator, told the paper. «I should have the right to know if I’m being surveyed if there’s no criminal procedures in process.»

That isn’t to say that the NSA is only now refusing to honor those requests, however. In August, Kevin Collier wrote for The Daily Dot that he filed a FOIA request with the agency for information on himself and was given a nearly identical response. Collier was quick to file a request shortly after Mr. Snowden first revealed proof of the NSA’s ever-expanding spy apparatus in June, only to be told by the NSA several weeks later that details about the agency’s programs cannot be discussed publically in order “to prevent harm to the national security of the United States.»

«[Y]our request is denied because the fact of the existence or non-existence of responsive records is a currently and properly classified matter,» the agency wrote him.

«Our adversaries are likely to evaluate all public responses related to these programs,» the NSA said at the time to Collier. «Were we to provide positive or negative responses to requests such as yours, our adversaries’ compilation of the information provided would reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.»

Months later, the NSA is apparently still giving concerned Americans the same runaround.

«We know we’re dealing with frustrated people and people who are upset by what they’re hearing,» Phillips explained to USA Today, «But that’s the only response that we’re able to provide them on that topic.»

«People are legitimately troubled by the idea that the government is monitoring and collecting information about their e-mail traffic, phone calls and who knows what else,» chimed in Anne Weismann, a chief counsel at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. «There is a growing sense of horror every time there is a new report about the data.»


It’s outrageous and profoundly chilling. British authorities detained the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the NSA spying scandal by publishing documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden in the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
David Miranda was flying to the home he shares in Brazil with journalist Glenn Greenwald after visiting Laura Poitras in Berlin. Poitras, an American filmmaker, has been working with Greenwald to produce reporting on the NSA’s secret domestic spying programs. He was carrying flash drives containing documents that were part of the investigative reporting by Greenwald and Poitras.1
Normally British authorities need probable cause to detain someone for hours at Heathrow airport in London, deny them access to an attorney and confiscate their belongings. But not if they say you are suspected of being involved in terrorism.
That’s just what happened to Miranda. He was detained under Schedule 7 of the British Terrorism Act and held for nearly nine hours — the maximum allowed without levying charges. When anti-terrorism powers are invoked, Schedule 7 allows British authorities to stop and search anyone without warrant or reasonable suspicion. Miranda was eventually released but his cellphone, flash drives and computers were confiscated.
Tell the UK: Journalists are not terrorists. Detaining their family members is unacceptable. Click here to automatically sign the petition.
Said Greenwald in reaction, «This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism. It’s bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It’s worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic.»2
The New York Times reports that Miranda was carrying as of yet unpublished documents from the Snowden trove of NSA evidence from Poitras back to Greenwald. He was clearly not targeted because he was a suspected terrorist — but rather because he was linked to investigative journalists working to expose the unconstitutional spying programs at NSA. But he was detained under a law intended to stop terrorism — a law that permits authorities to deny him access to a lawyer and take his possessions without a court order.
In the wake of the incident, Amnesty International charged, «It is utterly improbable that David Michael Miranda, a Brazilian national transiting through London, was detained at random, given the role his partner has played in revealing the truth about the unlawful nature of NSA surveillance… The only possible intent behind this detention was to harass him and his partner, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for his role in analyzing the data released by Edward Snowden.»3
Tell the UK: Journalists are not terrorists. Stop the war on journalists. Click here to automatically sign the petition.
This is not an isolated incident. There is an escalating war on journalists and whistleblowers in the U.S. who are increasingly threatened with prosecution by the current administration for investigating the executive branch. 4 And now the British authorities are taking a leading role by using anti-terror laws to suppress the exercise of a free press.
The uncovering of a far-reaching domestic spy operation only underscores the need for a strong and independent press to help expose abuses of power at the highest levels of our government and give the public the information we need to hold our government accountable to the Constitution.
It should never be allowed in a democracy to use the security apparatus to intimidate and harass a journalist investigating government abuse. And the UK’s targeting of a journalist’s spouse under the guise of an anti-terrorism investigation is clearly an escalation of the security state’s war on journalism.
Americans need to send a direct message to British officials who may be acting in coordination with U.S. military and intelligence agencies that this is unacceptable. We’ll deliver your signatures directly to Sir Peter Westmacott, the British Ambassador to the U.S., Philip Barton, Deputy Head of Mission to the U.S., and Major General Buster Howes, the Defence Attache to the U.S. at the British embassy in Washington, DC.
Thank you for standing up for a free and independent press.
Becky Bond, Politcal Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets


Edward Snowden, 29, is described by the paper as an ex-CIA technical assistant, currently employed by defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

The Guardian said his identity was being revealed at his own request.

The recent revelations are that US agencies gathered millions of phone records and monitored internet data.

A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the matter had now been referred to the Department of Justice as a criminal matter.

In a statement, Booz Allen Hamilton confirmed Mr Snowden had been an employee for less than three months.

«If accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm,» the statement said.


The US National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans, according to the Guardian newspaper.

The newspaper published what it said was a secret court order directing the Verizon company to hand over data on its customers on an «ongoing» basis.

Civil liberties groups said the details of the report were «stunning».

The White House broadly defended the practice as a «critical» security tool but did not confirm the report.

US authorities need the information to protect the nation from terrorist threats, a senior Obama administration official told the BBC.



Published time: November 18, 2013 17:37
The number of Freedom of Information Act requests filed with the National Security Agency has increased by 888 percent this fiscal year, according to USA Today, indicating an even broader interest exists in the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs.



The newspaper reported on Monday that the amount of FOIA requests received by the NSA has surged exponentially in recent months, particularly after former contractor-turned-leaker Edward Snowden began releasing classified internal documents in June detailing the agency’s lesser-known intelligence gathering operations.

“Fueled by the Edward Snowden scandal, more Americans than ever are asking the National Security Agency if their personal life is being spied on,” Yamiche Alcindor wrote for USA Today.

Indeed, the thousands of FOIA requests filed by Americans since June far outnumber the mere hundreds that it received annually in previous years.

According to Alcindor, the NSA only received 257 FOIA requests during the last fiscal year. Shortly after the first Snowden leak appeared on June 6, however, the agency became flooded with 1,302 requests almost immediately. During the following three months, the paper reported, the NSA received 2,538 requests, the likes of which have inundated the government staffers tasked with responding for the open records requests.

Pamela Phillips, the chief of the NSA Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Office, told the paper that "This was the largest spike we've ever had."

"We've had requests from individuals who want any records we have on their phone calls, their phone numbers, their e-mail addresses, their IP addresses, anything like that,” Phillips said.

Unfortunately for those thousands of Americans, however, the NSA isn’t being all that helpful. Even though the NSA is experiencing thousands of similar requests from Americans wanting to know if and how they’ve been targeted, the agency has been responding by refusing to admit what kind of intelligence, if any, it’s collected.

Thirty-five-year-old Joel Watts of West Virginia told the paper that he sent a request but was told in response that the NSA couldn’t say if they had any information on him.

"It's a sign of disrespect to American citizens and the democratic process,” Watts, a health and safety administrator, told the paper. "I should have the right to know if I'm being surveyed if there's no criminal procedures in process."

That isn’t to say that the NSA is only now refusing to honor those requests, however. In August, Kevin Collier wrote for The Daily Dot that he filed a FOIA request with the agency for information on himself and was given a nearly identical response. Collier was quick to file a request shortly after Mr. Snowden first revealed proof of the NSA’s ever-expanding spy apparatus in June, only to be told by the NSA several weeks later that details about the agency’s programs cannot be discussed publically in order “to prevent harm to the national security of the United States."

"[Y]our request is denied because the fact of the existence or non-existence of responsive records is a currently and properly classified matter," the agency wrote him.

"Our adversaries are likely to evaluate all public responses related to these programs," the NSA said at the time to Collier. "Were we to provide positive or negative responses to requests such as yours, our adversaries' compilation of the information provided would reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security."

Months later, the NSA is apparently still giving concerned Americans the same runaround.

"We know we're dealing with frustrated people and people who are upset by what they're hearing," Phillips explained to USA Today, "But that's the only response that we're able to provide them on that topic."

"People are legitimately troubled by the idea that the government is monitoring and collecting information about their e-mail traffic, phone calls and who knows what else," chimed in Anne Weismann, a chief counsel at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "There is a growing sense of horror every time there is a new report about the data."


It's outrageous and profoundly chilling. British authorities detained the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the NSA spying scandal by publishing documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden in the UK's Guardian newspaper.
David Miranda was flying to the home he shares in Brazil with journalist Glenn Greenwald after visiting Laura Poitras in Berlin. Poitras, an American filmmaker, has been working with Greenwald to produce reporting on the NSA's secret domestic spying programs. He was carrying flash drives containing documents that were part of the investigative reporting by Greenwald and Poitras.1
Normally British authorities need probable cause to detain someone for hours at Heathrow airport in London, deny them access to an attorney and confiscate their belongings. But not if they say you are suspected of being involved in terrorism.
That's just what happened to Miranda. He was detained under Schedule 7 of the British Terrorism Act and held for nearly nine hours -- the maximum allowed without levying charges. When anti-terrorism powers are invoked, Schedule 7 allows British authorities to stop and search anyone without warrant or reasonable suspicion. Miranda was eventually released but his cellphone, flash drives and computers were confiscated.
Tell the UK: Journalists are not terrorists. Detaining their family members is unacceptable. Click here to automatically sign the petition.
Said Greenwald in reaction, "This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism. It's bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It's worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic."2
The New York Times reports that Miranda was carrying as of yet unpublished documents from the Snowden trove of NSA evidence from Poitras back to Greenwald. He was clearly not targeted because he was a suspected terrorist -- but rather because he was linked to investigative journalists working to expose the unconstitutional spying programs at NSA. But he was detained under a law intended to stop terrorism -- a law that permits authorities to deny him access to a lawyer and take his possessions without a court order.
In the wake of the incident, Amnesty International charged, "It is utterly improbable that David Michael Miranda, a Brazilian national transiting through London, was detained at random, given the role his partner has played in revealing the truth about the unlawful nature of NSA surveillance… The only possible intent behind this detention was to harass him and his partner, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for his role in analyzing the data released by Edward Snowden."3
Tell the UK: Journalists are not terrorists. Stop the war on journalists. Click here to automatically sign the petition.
This is not an isolated incident. There is an escalating war on journalists and whistleblowers in the U.S. who are increasingly threatened with prosecution by the current administration for investigating the executive branch. 4 And now the British authorities are taking a leading role by using anti-terror laws to suppress the exercise of a free press.
The uncovering of a far-reaching domestic spy operation only underscores the need for a strong and independent press to help expose abuses of power at the highest levels of our government and give the public the information we need to hold our government accountable to the Constitution.
It should never be allowed in a democracy to use the security apparatus to intimidate and harass a journalist investigating government abuse. And the UK's targeting of a journalist's spouse under the guise of an anti-terrorism investigation is clearly an escalation of the security state's war on journalism.
Americans need to send a direct message to British officials who may be acting in coordination with U.S. military and intelligence agencies that this is unacceptable. We'll deliver your signatures directly to Sir Peter Westmacott, the British Ambassador to the U.S., Philip Barton, Deputy Head of Mission to the U.S., and Major General Buster Howes, the Defence Attache to the U.S. at the British embassy in Washington, DC.
Thank you for standing up for a free and independent press.
Becky Bond, Politcal Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets





Edward Snowden, 29, is described by the paper as an ex-CIA technical assistant, currently employed by defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

The Guardian said his identity was being revealed at his own request.

The recent revelations are that US agencies gathered millions of phone records and monitored internet data.

A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the matter had now been referred to the Department of Justice as a criminal matter.

In a statement, Booz Allen Hamilton confirmed Mr Snowden had been an employee for less than three months.
"If accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm," the statement said.




The US National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans, according to the Guardian newspaper.

The newspaper published what it said was a secret court order directing the Verizon company to hand over data on its customers on an "ongoing" basis.

Civil liberties groups said the details of the report were "stunning".

The White House broadly defended the practice as a "critical" security tool but did not confirm the report.

US authorities need the information to protect the nation from terrorist threats, a senior Obama administration official told the BBC.

Drones


By: Tuesday October 22, 2013 9:43 am

Family of Mamana Bibi, 68-year-old grandmother killed in US drone strike in Pakistan

Human rights organization, Amnesty International, has released a report that presents two case studies on victims of United States drone strikes in Pakistan and also details the practice of signature strikes, which has led to rescuers being killed in follow-up attacks while they are trying to help wounded individuals.
Both of the drone strikes detailed in the report, “Will I Be Next?”, occurred in 2012 and were reported. In the aftermath of one of the strikes, there was particular focus on the fact that the US was deliberately attacking civilian rescuers after the first strike was launched against whomever had been targeted.
On July 6, 2012, laborers from the Zowi Sidgi village were gathered in a tent after working a long day in the summer heat. Residents nearby could clearly see four drones were flying overhead. Then, as the Amnesty International report describes, “the sound of multiple missiles” suddenly was heard “piercing the sky, hitting the tent and killing at least eight people instantly.”
Ahsan, a chromite miner who lives in Zowi Sidgi, said, “When we went to where the missiles hit to help people; we saw a very horrible scene. Body parts were scattered everywhere. [I saw] bodies without heads and bodies without hands or legs. Everyone in the hut was cut to pieces.”
There was panic, with people running to their homes, to trees, anywhere to escape. Some villagers chose to go see if there were any survivors.
One of the laborers, Junaid, recounted how people attempted to collect bodies. They carried stretchers, blankets and water. But, minutes later, another series of missiles were launched. They targeted those who had come to clean up the devastation and six people were instantly killed. Two others died from wounds.
In total, “18 people were killed in the drone strikes that evening and at least 22 others were injured, including an eight-year-old girl named Shehrbano who sustained shrapne linjuries to her leg.”
“Some people lost their hands,” Nabeel said of the second strike. “Others had their heads cut off. Some lost their legs. Human body parts were scattered everywhere on the ground. The bodies were burnt and it was not possible to recognize them.”
No more villagers went near where victims had been killed until the next morning. Just about everyone feared if they came close to the site they would be killed in another attack.
In another attack on October 24, 2012, which Amnesty International detailed in the organization’s report, a sixty-eight year-old grandmother named Mamana Bibi was killed instantly by two Hellfire missiles while she was gathering okra in the family fields for cooking that evening. Two grandchildren, Zuhair and Nabeela, witnessed the drone strike.
“There was a very bad smell and the area was full of smoke and dust. I couldn’t breathe properly for several minutes,” said Zubair.
Nabeela recalled the explosion had been “very close to us” and had been “very strong.” It took her into the air and pushed her to the ground. When she ventured to where her grandmother had been killed, Nabeela said, “I saw her shoes. We found her mutilated body a short time afterwards,” recalled Nabeela. “It had been thrown quite a long distance away by the blast and it was in pieces. We collected as many different parts from the field and wrapped them in a cloth.”
Following this attack, a “second volley of drone missiles” were fired. They hit a “vacant area of the field” nine feet from where their grandmother had been standing.
The report describes:

A few minutes after the first strike a second volley of drone missiles was fired, hitting a vacant area of the field around 9ft from where Mamana Bibi was killed. Mamana Bibi’s grandsons Kaleemul and Samadur Rehman were there, having rushed to the scene when the first volley struck. Kaleemul Rehman recalled: “I was sitting at my home drinking tea [when] suddenly I heard a sound of explosions. I ran outside and saw the rocket had left a big crater in the field and dead animals, and the area was full of smoke and dust. I could not see my grandmother anywhere.” As the two boys surveyed the area, they discovered their grandmother had been blown to pieces. Fearing further attacks, the two tried to flee the area when the second volley of missiles was fired. Kaleemul was hit by shrapnel, breaking his left leg and suffering a large, deep gash to that thigh. “This time I felt something hit my leg and the wave of the blast knocked me unconscious,” Kaleemul said. “Later I regained consciousness and noticed that my leg was wounded and my cousin was carrying me on his back to the main road, about 1.5 miles away.” From there a car drove Kaleemul to the Agency Headquarters Hospital.

Mamana Bibi, an elderly woman, was not engaged in any fighting when she was hit. She may have been killed as a result of “faulty intelligence.” Or, perhaps, “drone operators deliberately targeted and killed” her. It is unknown what exactly happened because US officials refuse to provide additional information.
UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Christof Heyns has called this CIA tactic of targeting civilian rescuers a “war crime.”
“When one drone attack is followed up by another in order to target those who are wounded and hors de combat or medical personnel, it constitutes a war crime in armed conflict and a violation of the right to life, whether or not in armed conflict,” he wrote in a recent UN report on drones.
Zalan, a resident of Mir Ali, which is a village in North Waziristan, told Amnesty International, “The people think that if we gather at the incident site after the drone attack there is a possibility of further attacks on them because the drones might think Taliban have gathered and fire again.”
Amnesty International contends that evidence of “follow-up attacks, possibly on the presumption that they too were members of the group being targeted by the USA,” makes it “virtually impossible for drone strikes to be surgically precise as claimed by US Administration officials, even if certain attacks comply with the necessary standards under international law.”
The report highlights two other attacks, which involved similar signature strikes, in less detail. On July 23, 2012, after targeting fighters from a group that is part of the Haqqani network of the Afghan Taliban, six were killed in a follow-up strike while trying to rescue those wounded. These people were not participating in “hostilities.”
On June 4, 2012, early in the morning, five men were killed in drone strike that hit a building in the village of Esso Khel. Locals arrived to assist victims. Those hit were likely Arabs or Central Asians that were members of al Qaeda. After this attack:

As one resident explained to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which also did research on this case, “They started rescue work and were collecting body pieces of the slain people and pulling out the injured from debris of the building when the drones started firing again.”

The use of drones has brought fear or terror to the innocent lives of Pakistanis. One resident said, “When the drone plane comes and we hear the sound of ‘ghommm’ people feel very scared. The drone plane can launch missiles at any time.”
But Pakistanis do not just have US drone strikes to fear. They have to fear attacks from Pakistani forces and other armed groups, particularly if they live in North Waziristan. Such armed groups have engaged in “unlawful killings” and committed war crimes. Pakistan has done a poor job of bringing those responsible to justice in fair trials.
Each of the people who Amnesty International spoke to for the report “did so at great personal risk, knowing that they might face reprisals from US or Pakistani authorities, the Taliban, or other groups. They spoke out because they were anxious to make known the human cost of the drone program, and the impact on themselves and their communities of living in a state of fear.”
Chillingly, a person unnamed in the report who witnessed a drone strike, said, “It is difficult to trust anyone. I can’t even trust my own brother… After I spoke to you some men in plain clothes visited me [in North Waziristan]. I don’t know who they were, whether they were Taliban or someone else; they were not from our village.”
I was clearly warned not to give any more information about the victims of drone strikes. They told me it is fine if I continue to do my work but I should not share any information with the people who come here,” the person added.
To read the full report on drone strikes in Pakistan, go here.


Street Artist Behind Satirical NYPD “Drone” Posters Arrested

A street artist who hung satirical posters criticising police surveillance activities has been arrested after an NYPD investigation tracked him to his doorstep. With the help of a small crew, the artist now identified as Essam Attia had placed the fake Big Brother-style adverts in locations throughout Manhattan, using a fake Van Wagner maintenance van and uniforms to avoid detection.

In a video interview with Animal New York prior to his arrest, a voice-scrambled and silhouetted Attia explained that he placed the provocative ads to “create a conversation” about disturbing trends in police surveillance, alluding to recent efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to “facilitate and accelerate the adoption” of unmanned aerial drones by local police departments. The posters also followed recent expansions in NYPD surveillance powers which allow officers to monitor citizens by creating fake identities on social networking sites.

The NYPD’s response seems to have proven Attia’s point: months after forensics teams and a “counter-terrorism” unit was spotted on the scene, the NYPD last Wednesday successfully tracked down and arrested the 29-year-old art school vandal, who identified himself in the video as a former “geo-spatial analyst” serving US military operations in Iraq.
It’s not the first time the NYPD has overreacted to unsanctioned public art. Earlier this year, the department arrested 50-year-old Takeshi Miyakawa after he illuminated the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn with harmless LED lanterns made from plastic “I Heart NY” shopping bags. The crackdown in Attia’s case, however, seems to have more to do with the public embarrassment faced by the department as a result of the mock ads.

Attia now faces 56 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument and grand larceny possession of stolen property for his spree last September, with an additional charge of weapons possession after officers allegedly found an unloaded .22 caliber revolver under his bed during the raid. As for the drones themselves, the NYPD has still not revealed any plans to use aerial robotic enforcers. But if the expanding list of FAA authorizations and documented use of drones by local police in Texas and Miami, Florida are any indication, it may be only a matter of time.

(via thepeoplesrecord)


– Two top U.S. officials defended the Obama administration’s use of drone strikes in combating al Qaeda operatives. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon called it a “targeted effort.”


» Facing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials.

The matter may have lost some urgency after Nov. 6. But with more than 300 drone strikes and some 2,500 people killed by the Central Intelligence Agency and the military since Mr. Obama first took office, the administration is still pushing to make the rules formal and resolve internal uncertainty and disagreement about exactly when lethal action is justified.

Mr. Obama and his advisers are still debating whether remote-control killing should be a measure of last resort against imminent threats to the United States, or a more flexible tool, available to help allied governments attack their enemies or to prevent militants from controlling territory.»*

As it stands now, the Obama administration is without a solid codified system on using drone strikes, which are responsible for killing a disproportionately high number of «unknowns» and innocents. Cenk Uygur discusses the issue at length, explaining why solid, structured policy on drones is extremely necessary, but is only being reached as a «leisurely» pace.

*Read more from Scott Shane/ New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/25/world/white-house-presses-for-drone-rule-bo…

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Why the Obama administration thought that Romney could not just issue new guidelines and ignore their new rules? If it is just a matter of administrative precedent, that can easily be overruled.

The US government should not be permitted to exercise violence abroad without a declaration of war and congressional approval and oversight. If it has to happen, it should be done by the Department of Defense, not the CIA or sub-contractors to the CIA, a civilian agency.

Cenk points out that ‘signature strikes,’ where the victims are unknown and the drone operators are just going by weapons going off, should be forbidden. (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, etc. are places where celebratory fire is common).

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that US media consistently underestimate the number of non-combatant deaths that occur as a result of drone strikes.

With his usual erudition, Cenk cites the work of Gregory D. Johnsen on Yemen, who argues that al-Qaeda has tripled in size in the past few years there, in some large part because of US drone strikes.


Google Earth has published images of a secret US airfield in Nevada. The images indicate that the base is used to test and maintain unmanned drones. And now, the publication is fueling a debate about whether Google is compromising US security.

­Aviation website Flight Global found the Yucca Lake airfield image on Google Earth. The images allowed Flight Global to write a detailed description of site, claiming a 5,200 foot (1,580 meter) asphalt runway, with MQ-1 Predator or MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) – also known as drones – being towed on the parking ramp. The image also shows four hangars, a parking lot and a security perimeter. Tim Brown, an imagery analyst with Globalsecurity.org, said that the hangars could accommodate up to 10-15 MQ-9 Reaper aircraft. Flight Global estimates that the base can accommodate approximately 80 employees plus some specialized drone maintenance facilities.

One piece of evidence suggests that the airfield is used to test the new RQ-170 Sentinel, a drone nicknamed the «Beast of Kandahar»: a special clamshell hangar, used specifically to lodge the “Beasts,” can be seen at Yucca Lake.

The RQ-170 Sentinel is one of the most sophisticated drones in the American arsenal. It features high-definition cameras, sensors that can scan for nuclear armaments, and an advanced stealth shell to hide it from radar detection. The Iranian government claims it recently captured an RQ-170 Sentinel it alleges was being used by the United States to spy on Iranian nuclear activities.

Earlier images of the airfield showed other aircraft on the site – the Pilatus PC-12 and the Beechcraft King Air, both manufactured by Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin also manufactures some of the most advanced drones for the US military – the Polecat technology demonstrator and the RQ-170 Sentinel – which were tested at airfields on the same range.

It is not yet clear which US government agency uses the Yucca Lake airfield. The airfield is located on the heavily restricted Tonopah Test Range, which makes use of land formally belonging to the National Nuclear Security Administration, a division of the US Department of Energy. The airfield’s isolation from other sites on the range has prompted speculation that it may be a secret CIA testing spot for hardware and software for its own drone program. The Department of Energy also frequently leases its facilities to the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.

According to archive images, the Yucca airfield was constructed around 2002. Two reports by the Department of Energy indicate that the base operates 4-6 UAV flights and 2-3 manned flights, over the dry Yucca lakebed at altitudes under 12,000 feet (3,650 meters), every day.

Google has already been the subject of controversy for publishing air base images. In 2009, images of the Shamsi airbase in Pakistan (taken in 2006) showed the presence of Predator drones, although the Pakistani government had previously said that the US did not base its drone operations in the country.

Journalist Russ Baker believes a national and international conversation must be had about the importance of privacy and national security.

“Google’s function is to send satellites around the world – to map the world for us – and that’s what they’re doing,” he noted.

But with so many secret locations across the US and around the globe, Google simply has no way of knowing about all of them. “They have to tell Google all their secret facilities first, and then ask them to go to great measures to secure them,” Baker told RT.

“We see more and more conflict because governments … want to be able to essentially pry into everyone’s lives, and have no one prying into what they are doing.»


Chris Woods writes at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) usually gets all the credit for the first US drone targeted killing beyond the conventional battlefield.

But it was the military which gave the final go-ahead to kill on November 3 2002.

Lt General Michael DeLong was at Centcom headquarters in Tampa, Florida when news came in that the CIA had found its target. The deputy commander made his way down to the UAV Room, showing live video feeds from a CIA Predator high above Marib province in Yemen.

The armed drone was tracking an SUV on the move. The six terrorist suspects inside were unaware that a decision had already been made to kill them.

Interviewed by PBS, DeLong later recalled speaking by phone with CIA Director George Tenet as he watched the video wall:

‘Tenet goes “You going to make the call?” And I said, “I’ll make the call.” He says, “This SUV over here is the one that has Ali in it.” I said, “OK, fine.” You know, “Shoot him.” They lined it up and shot it.’

Eight thousand miles away and moments later, six alleged terrorists were dead. Among them was a US citizen.

‘Orchestrator’ killed
The media carried detailed accounts of the ‘secret’ attack within days. Yemen’s government, which had co-operated on the strike, also released the names of the six men killed, including that of US citizen Kemal Darwish.

Concerns he had been deliberately targeted were dismissed, as it was reported the intended CIA target was Qa’id Salim Sinan al-Harithi, al Qaeda’s ‘orchestrator’ of the lethal attack on the USS Cole.

As the New York Times noted at the time, ‘Mr. Harethi was not on the FBI’s list of the 22-most-wanted terrorist fugitives in the world,’ and added that ’although investigators wanted to question Mr. Harethi about the Cole bombing, the CIA did not consult law enforcement officials before the Yemeni operation.’

A secret US cable, dated a fortnight prior to the strike, also shows that Yemen’s government had already incarcerated more than a dozen men wanted in connection with the Cole bombing. At least one of them, Fahd al Quso, was killed in a subsequent US drone strike.

Although investigators wanted to question Mr. Harethi about the Cole bombing, the CIA did not consult law enforcement officials before the Yemeni operation’
New York Times, November 2002

US citizen Darwish was simply in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ that November, it was said. Yet just six weeks beforehand, the Lackawanna terrorist plot in upstate New York had been exposed. Kemal Darwish was named as a key suspect, and a ‘massive worldwide manhunt‘ for him was underway.

Questions remain about how much the CIA and Centcom actually knew about the presence of a US citizen that day.

When assistant US defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz openly discussed the strike with CNN on November 5, he noted only that a ‘successful tactical operation [has] gotten rid of somebody dangerous.’ It would be many years before senior officials would again openly acknowledge the covert drones project.

No inevitability
The way had been cleared for the November 2002 killings months earlier, when President Bush lifted a 25-year ban on US assassinations just after 9/11.

He later wrote that ‘George [Tenet] proposed that I grant broader authority for covert actions, including permission for the CIA to kill or capture al Qaeda operatives without asking for my sign-off each time. I decided to grant the request.’

Since then, under both Bush and Obama, the US has carried out targeted killings (or extrajudicial executions according to UN experts) using conventional aircraft and helicopter strikes; cruise missiles; and even naval bombardments.

Yet the drone remains the US’s preferred method of killing. The Bureau has identified a minimum of 2,800 (and as many as 4,100) killed in covert US drone strikes over the past ten years. What began as an occasional tactic has, over time, morphed into an industrialised killing process.

There was no inevitability to this when the strikes began. Time magazine opined in 2002 that covert drone attacks were ‘unlikely to become a norm.’ And in the early years of the programme this was true. The next covert drone strike took place in Pakistan in June 2004, followed by a further strike 11 months later.

Yet slowly, surely, the United States has come to depend on its drone killing programme. By Obama’s presidency drone use against alleged militants was sometimes daily. Six times more covert strikes have hit Pakistan under Barack Obama than under George W Bush. And as the Bureau’s work shows, when known strikes in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan are added together, they reveal a growing dependence upon covert drone killings.

Recent reports show that the US is now formalising the drone killing project. Some insiders talk of a decade or more of killing to come, with Mitt Romney noting that he would continue the policy if elected.

In Washington at least, a decade of targeted killings of alleged terror suspects appears to have normalised the process.

Follow chrisjwoods on Twitter.


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Speaking of killing children, the Afghanistan government said this morning that a NATO operation on Saturday killed three more Afghan children, ones who were tending to livestock.

UPDATE

There’s one other vital point to be made here. Klein says that «there is a really major possibility of abuse [of drone power] if you have the wrong people running the government» – in other words, we can trust Obama with it, but not the big bad Republicans. This was precisely what Bush followers used to say about his claimed powers of due-process-free eavesdropping and detention: maybe this would be scary if Hillary Clinton could do this, but I trust Bush to use it only against the Bad Guys.
Leaving aside the authoritarian willingness to trust certain leaders with unchecked power, this is not how the US government works. Once a power is legitimized and institutionalized, then it is vested in all presidents, current and future, Democratic and Republican. That is whyThomas Jefferson warned: «In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.» Those who cheer for the unchecked power to assassinate in secret because it’s Obama who currently wields that power will be the ones fully responsible when some leader they don’t trust exercises it – abuses it – in the future.

guardian.co.uk, Sunday 28 OctoberImran Khan is, according to numerous polls, the most popular politician in Pakistan and may very well be that country’s next Prime Minister. He is also a vehement critic of US drone attacks on his country, vowing to order them shot down if he is Prime Minister and leading an anti-drone protest march last month. On Saturday, Khan boarded a flight from Canada to New York in order to appear at a fundraising lunch and other events. But before the flight could take off, US immigration officials removed him from the plane and detained him for two hours, causing him to miss the flight. On Twitter, Khan reported that he was «interrogated on [his] views on drones» and then added: «My stance is known. Drone attacks must stop.» He then defiantly noted: «Missed flight and sad to miss the Fundraising lunch in NY but nothing will change my stance.» The State Department acknowledged Khan’s detention and said: «The issue was resolved. Mr Khan is welcome in the United States.» Customs and immigration officials refused to comment except to note that «our dual mission is to facilitate travel in the United States while we secure our borders, our people, and our visitors from those that would do us harm like terrorists and terrorist weapons, criminals, and contraband,» and added that the burden is on the visitor «to demonstrate that they are admissible» and «the applicant must overcome all grounds of inadmissibility.» There are several obvious points raised by this episode. Strictly on pragmatic grounds, it seems quite ill-advised to subject the most popular leader in Pakistan – the potential next Prime Minister – to trivial, vindictive humiliations of this sort. It is also a breach of the most basic diplomatic protocol: just imagine the outrage if a US politician were removed from a plane by Pakistani officials in order to be questioned about their publicly expressed political views. And harassing prominent critics of US policy is hardly likely to dilute anti-US animosity; the exact opposite is far more likely to occur. But the most important point here is that Khan’s detention is part of a clear trend by the Obama administration to harass and intimidate critics of its drone attacks. As Marcy Wheeler notes, «this is at least the third time this year that the US has delayed or denied entry to the US for Pakistani drone critics.» Last May, I wrote about the amazing case of Muhammad Danish Qasim, a Pakistani student who produced a short film entitled «The Other Side», which «revolves around the idea of assessing social, psychological and economical effects of drones on the people in tribal areas of Pakistan.» As he put it, «the film takes the audience very close to the damage caused by drone attacks» by humanizing the tragedy of civilian deaths and also documenting how those deaths are exploited by actual terrorists for recruitment purposes. Qasim and his co-producers were chosen as the winner of the Audience Award for Best International Film at the 2012 National Film Festival For Talented Youth, held annually in Seattle, Washington. He intended to travel to the US to accept his award and discuss his film, but was twice denied a visa to enter the US, and thus was barred from making any appearances in the US. The month prior, Shahzad Akbar – a Pakistani lawyer who represents drone victims in lawsuits against the US and the co-founder of the Pakistani human rights organization, Foundation for Fundamental Rights – was scheduled to speak at a conference on drones in Washington. He, too, was denied a visa, and the Obama administration relented only once an international outcry erupted. There are two clear dynamics driving this. First, the US is eager to impose a price for effectively challenging its policies and to prevent the public – the domestic public, that is – from hearing critics with first-hand knowledge of the impact of those policies. As Wheeler asks, «Why is the government so afraid of Pakistanis explaining to Americans what the drone attacks look like from a Pakistani perspective?» This form of intimidation is not confined to drone critics. Last April, I reported on the serial harassment of Laura Poitras, the Oscar-nominated documentarian who produced two films – one from Iraq and the other from Yemen – that showed the views and perspectives of America’s adversaries in those countries. For four years, she was detained every single time she reentered the US, often having her reporters’ notebook and laptop copied and even seized. Although this all stopped once that article was published – demonstrating that there was never any legitimate purpose to it – that intimidation campaign against her imposed real limits on her work. That is what this serial harassment of drone critics is intended to achieve. That is why a refusal to grant visas to prominent critics of US foreign policy was also a favorite tactic of the Bush administration. Second, and probably even more insidious, this reflects the Obama administration’s view that critics of its drone policies are either terrorists or, at best, sympathetic to terrorists. Recall how the New York Times earlier this year – in an article describing a new report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documenting the targeting of Pakistani rescuers and funerals with US drones – granted anonymity to a «senior American counterterrorism official» to smear the Bureau’s journalists and its sources as wanting to «help al-Qaida succeed». For years, Bush officials and their supporters equated opposition to their foreign policies with support for the terrorists and a general hatred of and desire to harm the US. During the Obama presidency, many Democratic partisans have adopted the same lowly tactic with vigor. That mindset is a major factor in this series of harassment of drone critics: namely, those who oppose the Obama administration’s use of drones are helping the terrorists and may even be terrorist sympathizers. It is that logic which would lead US officials to view Khan as some sort of national security threat by virtue of his political beliefs and perceive a need to drag him off a plane in order to detain and interrogate him about those views before allowing him entrance to the US. What makes this most ironic is that the US loves to sermonize to the world about the need for open ideas and political debate. In April, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lectured the planet on how «those societies that believe they can be closed to change, to ideas, cultures, and beliefs that are different from theirs, will find quickly that in our internet world they will be left behind,» That she is part of the same government that seeks to punish and exclude filmmakers, students, lawyers, activists and politicians for the crime of opposing US policy is noticed and remarked upon everywhere in the world other than in the US. That demonstrates the success of these efforts: they are designed, above all else, to ensure that the American citizenry does not become exposed to effective critics of what the US is doing in the world.


http://www.newamerica.net/publications/articles/2009/drone_war_13672 http://www.newamerica.net/publications/policy/revenge_of_the_drones

As a result of the unprecedented 41 drone strikes into Pakistan authorized by the Obama administration, aimed at Taliban and al Qaeda networks based there, about a half-dozen leaders of militant organizations have been killed–including two heads of Uzbek terrorist groups allied with al Qaeda, and Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban–in addition to hundreds of lower-level militants and civilians, according to our analysis.[1]
The number of civilian deaths caused by the drones is an important issue because in the charged political atmosphere of today’s Pakistan, where anti-Americanism is rampant, the drone program is a particular cause of anger among those who see it as an infringement on Pakistan’s sovereignty. A Gallup poll in August found that only 9 percent of Pakistanis favored the strikes, while two-thirds opposed them.
An important factor in the controversy over the drones is the widespread perception that they kill large numbers of Pakistani civilians. Some commentators have asserted that the overwhelming majority of casualties are civilians. Amir Mir, a leading Pakistani journalist, wrote in The News in April that since January 2006, American drone attacks had killed «687 innocent Pakistani civilians.» A month later, a similar claim was made in the New York Times by counterinsurgency experts David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum, who wrote that drone strikes had «killed some 700 civilians. This is 50 civilians for every militant killed, a hit rate of 2 percent.» In other words, in their analysis, 98 percent of those killed in drone attacks were civilians. Kilcullen and Exum advocated a moratorium on the strikes because of the «public outrage» they arouse.
A very different picture was presented earlier this month by the Long War Journal, an American blog that closely tracks terrorist groups, in particular al Qaeda and the Taliban. Bill Roggio, the editor of Long War Journal, concluded that according to his close analysis of the drone strikes, only 10 percent of those killed were civilians.
Our analysis suggests quite different conclusions than those of either Kilcullen and Exum or theLong War Journal.





By: Tuesday October 22, 2013 9:43 am


Family of Mamana Bibi, 68-year-old grandmother killed in US drone strike in Pakistan




Human rights organization, Amnesty International, has released a report that presents two case studies on victims of United States drone strikes in Pakistan and also details the practice of signature strikes, which has led to rescuers being killed in follow-up attacks while they are trying to help wounded individuals.
Both of the drone strikes detailed in the report, “Will I Be Next?”, occurred in 2012 and were reported. In the aftermath of one of the strikes, there was particular focus on the fact that the US was deliberately attacking civilian rescuers after the first strike was launched against whomever had been targeted.
On July 6, 2012, laborers from the Zowi Sidgi village were gathered in a tent after working a long day in the summer heat. Residents nearby could clearly see four drones were flying overhead. Then, as the Amnesty International report describes, “the sound of multiple missiles” suddenly was heard “piercing the sky, hitting the tent and killing at least eight people instantly.”
Ahsan, a chromite miner who lives in Zowi Sidgi, said, “When we went to where the missiles hit to help people; we saw a very horrible scene. Body parts were scattered everywhere. [I saw] bodies without heads and bodies without hands or legs. Everyone in the hut was cut to pieces.”
There was panic, with people running to their homes, to trees, anywhere to escape. Some villagers chose to go see if there were any survivors.
One of the laborers, Junaid, recounted how people attempted to collect bodies. They carried stretchers, blankets and water. But, minutes later, another series of missiles were launched. They targeted those who had come to clean up the devastation and six people were instantly killed. Two others died from wounds.
In total, “18 people were killed in the drone strikes that evening and at least 22 others were injured, including an eight-year-old girl named Shehrbano who sustained shrapne linjuries to her leg.”
“Some people lost their hands,” Nabeel said of the second strike. “Others had their heads cut off. Some lost their legs. Human body parts were scattered everywhere on the ground. The bodies were burnt and it was not possible to recognize them.”
No more villagers went near where victims had been killed until the next morning. Just about everyone feared if they came close to the site they would be killed in another attack.
In another attack on October 24, 2012, which Amnesty International detailed in the organization’s report, a sixty-eight year-old grandmother named Mamana Bibi was killed instantly by two Hellfire missiles while she was gathering okra in the family fields for cooking that evening. Two grandchildren, Zuhair and Nabeela, witnessed the drone strike.
“There was a very bad smell and the area was full of smoke and dust. I couldn’t breathe properly for several minutes,” said Zubair.
Nabeela recalled the explosion had been “very close to us” and had been “very strong.” It took her into the air and pushed her to the ground. When she ventured to where her grandmother had been killed, Nabeela said, “I saw her shoes. We found her mutilated body a short time afterwards,” recalled Nabeela. “It had been thrown quite a long distance away by the blast and it was in pieces. We collected as many different parts from the field and wrapped them in a cloth.”
Following this attack, a “second volley of drone missiles” were fired. They hit a “vacant area of the field” nine feet from where their grandmother had been standing.
The report describes:
A few minutes after the first strike a second volley of drone missiles was fired, hitting a vacant area of the field around 9ft from where Mamana Bibi was killed. Mamana Bibi’s grandsons Kaleemul and Samadur Rehman were there, having rushed to the scene when the first volley struck. Kaleemul Rehman recalled: “I was sitting at my home drinking tea [when] suddenly I heard a sound of explosions. I ran outside and saw the rocket had left a big crater in the field and dead animals, and the area was full of smoke and dust. I could not see my grandmother anywhere.” As the two boys surveyed the area, they discovered their grandmother had been blown to pieces. Fearing further attacks, the two tried to flee the area when the second volley of missiles was fired. Kaleemul was hit by shrapnel, breaking his left leg and suffering a large, deep gash to that thigh. “This time I felt something hit my leg and the wave of the blast knocked me unconscious,” Kaleemul said. “Later I regained consciousness and noticed that my leg was wounded and my cousin was carrying me on his back to the main road, about 1.5 miles away.” From there a car drove Kaleemul to the Agency Headquarters Hospital.
Mamana Bibi, an elderly woman, was not engaged in any fighting when she was hit. She may have been killed as a result of “faulty intelligence.” Or, perhaps, “drone operators deliberately targeted and killed” her. It is unknown what exactly happened because US officials refuse to provide additional information.
UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Christof Heyns has called this CIA tactic of targeting civilian rescuers a “war crime.”
“When one drone attack is followed up by another in order to target those who are wounded and hors de combat or medical personnel, it constitutes a war crime in armed conflict and a violation of the right to life, whether or not in armed conflict,” he wrote in a recent UN report on drones.
Zalan, a resident of Mir Ali, which is a village in North Waziristan, told Amnesty International, “The people think that if we gather at the incident site after the drone attack there is a possibility of further attacks on them because the drones might think Taliban have gathered and fire again.”
Amnesty International contends that evidence of “follow-up attacks, possibly on the presumption that they too were members of the group being targeted by the USA,” makes it “virtually impossible for drone strikes to be surgically precise as claimed by US Administration officials, even if certain attacks comply with the necessary standards under international law.”
The report highlights two other attacks, which involved similar signature strikes, in less detail. On July 23, 2012, after targeting fighters from a group that is part of the Haqqani network of the Afghan Taliban, six were killed in a follow-up strike while trying to rescue those wounded. These people were not participating in “hostilities.”
On June 4, 2012, early in the morning, five men were killed in drone strike that hit a building in the village of Esso Khel. Locals arrived to assist victims. Those hit were likely Arabs or Central Asians that were members of al Qaeda. After this attack:
As one resident explained to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which also did research on this case, “They started rescue work and were collecting body pieces of the slain people and pulling out the injured from debris of the building when the drones started firing again.”
The use of drones has brought fear or terror to the innocent lives of Pakistanis. One resident said, “When the drone plane comes and we hear the sound of ‘ghommm’ people feel very scared. The drone plane can launch missiles at any time.”
But Pakistanis do not just have US drone strikes to fear. They have to fear attacks from Pakistani forces and other armed groups, particularly if they live in North Waziristan. Such armed groups have engaged in “unlawful killings” and committed war crimes. Pakistan has done a poor job of bringing those responsible to justice in fair trials.
Each of the people who Amnesty International spoke to for the report “did so at great personal risk, knowing that they might face reprisals from US or Pakistani authorities, the Taliban, or other groups. They spoke out because they were anxious to make known the human cost of the drone program, and the impact on themselves and their communities of living in a state of fear.”
Chillingly, a person unnamed in the report who witnessed a drone strike, said, “It is difficult to trust anyone. I can’t even trust my own brother… After I spoke to you some men in plain clothes visited me [in North Waziristan]. I don’t know who they were, whether they were Taliban or someone else; they were not from our village.”
I was clearly warned not to give any more information about the victims of drone strikes. They told me it is fine if I continue to do my work but I should not share any information with the people who come here,” the person added.
To read the full report on drone strikes in Pakistan, go here.


Street Artist Behind Satirical NYPD “Drone” Posters Arrested

A street artist who hung satirical posters criticising police surveillance activities has been arrested after an NYPD investigation tracked him to his doorstep. With the help of a small crew, the artist now identified as Essam Attia had placed the fake Big Brother-style adverts in locations throughout Manhattan, using a fake Van Wagner maintenance van and uniforms to avoid detection.
In a video interview with Animal New York prior to his arrest, a voice-scrambled and silhouetted Attia explained that he placed the provocative ads to “create a conversation” about disturbing trends in police surveillance, alluding to recent efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to “facilitate and accelerate the adoption” of unmanned aerial drones by local police departments. The posters also followed recent expansions in NYPD surveillance powers which allow officers to monitor citizens by creating fake identities on social networking sites.
The NYPD’s response seems to have proven Attia’s point: months after forensics teams and a “counter-terrorism” unit was spotted on the scene, the NYPD last Wednesday successfully tracked down and arrested the 29-year-old art school vandal, who identified himself in the video as a former “geo-spatial analyst” serving US military operations in Iraq.
It’s not the first time the NYPD has overreacted to unsanctioned public art. Earlier this year, the department arrested 50-year-old Takeshi Miyakawa after he illuminated the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn with harmless LED lanterns made from plastic “I Heart NY” shopping bags. The crackdown in Attia’s case, however, seems to have more to do with the public embarrassment faced by the department as a result of the mock ads.
Attia now faces 56 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument and grand larceny possession of stolen property for his spree last September, with an additional charge of weapons possession after officers allegedly found an unloaded .22 caliber revolver under his bed during the raid. As for the drones themselves, the NYPD has still not revealed any plans to use aerial robotic enforcers. But if the expanding list of FAA authorizations and documented use of drones by local police in Texas and Miami, Florida are any indication, it may be only a matter of time.
(via thepeoplesrecord)






– Two top U.S. officials defended the Obama administration’s use of drone strikes in combating al Qaeda operatives. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon called it a “targeted effort.”


" Facing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials.

The matter may have lost some urgency after Nov. 6. But with more than 300 drone strikes and some 2,500 people killed by the Central Intelligence Agency and the military since Mr. Obama first took office, the administration is still pushing to make the rules formal and resolve internal uncertainty and disagreement about exactly when lethal action is justified.

Mr. Obama and his advisers are still debating whether remote-control killing should be a measure of last resort against imminent threats to the United States, or a more flexible tool, available to help allied governments attack their enemies or to prevent militants from controlling territory."*

As it stands now, the Obama administration is without a solid codified system on using drone strikes, which are responsible for killing a disproportionately high number of "unknowns" and innocents. Cenk Uygur discusses the issue at length, explaining why solid, structured policy on drones is extremely necessary, but is only being reached as a "leisurely" pace.







*Read more from Scott Shane/ New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/25/world/white-house-presses-for-drone-rule-bo...

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Why the Obama administration thought that Romney could not just issue new guidelines and ignore their new rules? If it is just a matter of administrative precedent, that can easily be overruled.

The US government should not be permitted to exercise violence abroad without a declaration of war and congressional approval and oversight. If it has to happen, it should be done by the Department of Defense, not the CIA or sub-contractors to the CIA, a civilian agency.

Cenk points out that ‘signature strikes,’ where the victims are unknown and the drone operators are just going by weapons going off, should be forbidden. (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, etc. are places where celebratory fire is common).

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that US media consistently underestimate the number of non-combatant deaths that occur as a result of drone strikes.

With his usual erudition, Cenk cites the work of Gregory D. Johnsen on Yemen, who argues that al-Qaeda has tripled in size in the past few years there, in some large part because of US drone strikes.





Google Earth has published images of a secret US airfield in Nevada. The images indicate that the base is used to test and maintain unmanned drones. And now, the publication is fueling a debate about whether Google is compromising US security.



­Aviation website Flight Global found the Yucca Lake airfield image on Google Earth. The images allowed Flight Global to write a detailed description of site, claiming a 5,200 foot (1,580 meter) asphalt runway, with MQ-1 Predator or MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) – also known as drones – being towed on the parking ramp. The image also shows four hangars, a parking lot and a security perimeter. Tim Brown, an imagery analyst with Globalsecurity.org, said that the hangars could accommodate up to 10-15 MQ-9 Reaper aircraft. Flight Global estimates that the base can accommodate approximately 80 employees plus some specialized drone maintenance facilities.

One piece of evidence suggests that the airfield is used to test the new RQ-170 Sentinel, a drone nicknamed the "Beast of Kandahar": a special clamshell hangar, used specifically to lodge the “Beasts,” can be seen at Yucca Lake.

The RQ-170 Sentinel is one of the most sophisticated drones in the American arsenal. It features high-definition cameras, sensors that can scan for nuclear armaments, and an advanced stealth shell to hide it from radar detection. The Iranian government claims it recently captured an RQ-170 Sentinel it alleges was being used by the United States to spy on Iranian nuclear activities.

Earlier images of the airfield showed other aircraft on the site – the Pilatus PC-12 and the Beechcraft King Air, both manufactured by Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin also manufactures some of the most advanced drones for the US military – the Polecat technology demonstrator and the RQ-170 Sentinel – which were tested at airfields on the same range.

It is not yet clear which US government agency uses the Yucca Lake airfield. The airfield is located on the heavily restricted Tonopah Test Range, which makes use of land formally belonging to the National Nuclear Security Administration, a division of the US Department of Energy. The airfield’s isolation from other sites on the range has prompted speculation that it may be a secret CIA testing spot for hardware and software for its own drone program. The Department of Energy also frequently leases its facilities to the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.

According to archive images, the Yucca airfield was constructed around 2002. Two reports by the Department of Energy indicate that the base operates 4-6 UAV flights and 2-3 manned flights, over the dry Yucca lakebed at altitudes under 12,000 feet (3,650 meters), every day.

Google has already been the subject of controversy for publishing air base images. In 2009, images of the Shamsi airbase in Pakistan (taken in 2006) showed the presence of Predator drones, although the Pakistani government had previously said that the US did not base its drone operations in the country.

Journalist Russ Baker believes a national and international conversation must be had about the importance of privacy and national security.

“Google’s function is to send satellites around the world – to map the world for us – and that’s what they're doing,” he noted.

But with so many secret locations across the US and around the globe, Google simply has no way of knowing about all of them. “They have to tell Google all their secret facilities first, and then ask them to go to great measures to secure them,” Baker told RT.

“We see more and more conflict because governments … want to be able to essentially pry into everyone’s lives, and have no one prying into what they are doing."




Chris Woods writes at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) usually gets all the credit for the first US drone targeted killing beyond the conventional battlefield.

But it was the military which gave the final go-ahead to kill on November 3 2002.

Lt General Michael DeLong was at Centcom headquarters in Tampa, Florida when news came in that the CIA had found its target. The deputy commander made his way down to the UAV Room, showing live video feeds from a CIA Predator high above Marib province in Yemen.

The armed drone was tracking an SUV on the move. The six terrorist suspects inside were unaware that a decision had already been made to kill them.

Interviewed by PBS, DeLong later recalled speaking by phone with CIA Director George Tenet as he watched the video wall:

‘Tenet goes “You going to make the call?” And I said, “I’ll make the call.” He says, “This SUV over here is the one that has Ali in it.” I said, “OK, fine.” You know, “Shoot him.” They lined it up and shot it.’

Eight thousand miles away and moments later, six alleged terrorists were dead. Among them was a US citizen.

‘Orchestrator’ killed
The media carried detailed accounts of the ‘secret’ attack within days. Yemen’s government, which had co-operated on the strike, also released the names of the six men killed, including that of US citizen Kemal Darwish.

Concerns he had been deliberately targeted were dismissed, as it was reported the intended CIA target was Qa’id Salim Sinan al-Harithi, al Qaeda’s ‘orchestrator’ of the lethal attack on the USS Cole.

As the New York Times noted at the time, ‘Mr. Harethi was not on the FBI’s list of the 22-most-wanted terrorist fugitives in the world,’ and added that ’although investigators wanted to question Mr. Harethi about the Cole bombing, the CIA did not consult law enforcement officials before the Yemeni operation.’

A secret US cable, dated a fortnight prior to the strike, also shows that Yemen’s government had already incarcerated more than a dozen men wanted in connection with the Cole bombing. At least one of them, Fahd al Quso, was killed in a subsequent US drone strike.

Although investigators wanted to question Mr. Harethi about the Cole bombing, the CIA did not consult law enforcement officials before the Yemeni operation’
New York Times, November 2002

US citizen Darwish was simply in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ that November, it was said. Yet just six weeks beforehand, the Lackawanna terrorist plot in upstate New York had been exposed. Kemal Darwish was named as a key suspect, and a ‘massive worldwide manhunt‘ for him was underway.

Questions remain about how much the CIA and Centcom actually knew about the presence of a US citizen that day.

When assistant US defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz openly discussed the strike with CNN on November 5, he noted only that a ‘successful tactical operation [has] gotten rid of somebody dangerous.’ It would be many years before senior officials would again openly acknowledge the covert drones project.

No inevitability
The way had been cleared for the November 2002 killings months earlier, when President Bush lifted a 25-year ban on US assassinations just after 9/11.

He later wrote that ‘George [Tenet] proposed that I grant broader authority for covert actions, including permission for the CIA to kill or capture al Qaeda operatives without asking for my sign-off each time. I decided to grant the request.’

Since then, under both Bush and Obama, the US has carried out targeted killings (or extrajudicial executions according to UN experts) using conventional aircraft and helicopter strikes; cruise missiles; and even naval bombardments.

Yet the drone remains the US’s preferred method of killing. The Bureau has identified a minimum of 2,800 (and as many as 4,100) killed in covert US drone strikes over the past ten years. What began as an occasional tactic has, over time, morphed into an industrialised killing process.


There was no inevitability to this when the strikes began. Time magazine opined in 2002 that covert drone attacks were ‘unlikely to become a norm.’ And in the early years of the programme this was true. The next covert drone strike took place in Pakistan in June 2004, followed by a further strike 11 months later.

Yet slowly, surely, the United States has come to depend on its drone killing programme. By Obama’s presidency drone use against alleged militants was sometimes daily. Six times more covert strikes have hit Pakistan under Barack Obama than under George W Bush. And as the Bureau’s work shows, when known strikes in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan are added together, they reveal a growing dependence upon covert drone killings.

Recent reports show that the US is now formalising the drone killing project. Some insiders talk of a decade or more of killing to come, with Mitt Romney noting that he would continue the policy if elected.

In Washington at least, a decade of targeted killings of alleged terror suspects appears to have normalised the process.

Follow chrisjwoods on Twitter.



Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Speaking of killing children, the Afghanistan government said this morning that a NATO operation on Saturday killed three more Afghan children, ones who were tending to livestock.

UPDATE

There's one other vital point to be made here. Klein says that "there is a really major possibility of abuse [of drone power] if you have the wrong people running the government" - in other words, we can trust Obama with it, but not the big bad Republicans. This was precisely what Bush followers used to say about his claimed powers of due-process-free eavesdropping and detention: maybe this would be scary if Hillary Clinton could do this, but I trust Bush to use it only against the Bad Guys.
Leaving aside the authoritarian willingness to trust certain leaders with unchecked power, this is not how the US government works. Once a power is legitimized and institutionalized, then it is vested in all presidents, current and future, Democratic and Republican. That is whyThomas Jefferson warned: "In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." Those who cheer for the unchecked power to assassinate in secret because it's Obama who currently wields that power will be the ones fully responsible when some leader they don't trust exercises it - abuses it - in the future.
guardian.co.uk, Imran Khan is, according to numerous polls, the most popular politician in Pakistan and may very well be that country's next Prime Minister. He is also a vehement critic of US drone attacks on his country, vowing to order them shot down if he is Prime Minister and leading an anti-drone protest march last month. On Saturday, Khan boarded a flight from Canada to New York in order to appear at a fundraising lunch and other events. But before the flight could take off, US immigration officials removed him from the plane and detained him for two hours, causing him to miss the flight. On Twitter, Khan reported that he was "interrogated on [his] views on drones" and then added: "My stance is known. Drone attacks must stop." He then defiantly noted: "Missed flight and sad to miss the Fundraising lunch in NY but nothing will change my stance." The State Department acknowledged Khan's detention and said: "The issue was resolved. Mr Khan is welcome in the United States." Customs and immigration officials refused to comment except to note that "our dual mission is to facilitate travel in the United States while we secure our borders, our people, and our visitors from those that would do us harm like terrorists and terrorist weapons, criminals, and contraband," and added that the burden is on the visitor "to demonstrate that they are admissible" and "the applicant must overcome all grounds of inadmissibility." There are several obvious points raised by this episode. Strictly on pragmatic grounds, it seems quite ill-advised to subject the most popular leader in Pakistan - the potential next Prime Minister - to trivial, vindictive humiliations of this sort. It is also a breach of the most basic diplomatic protocol: just imagine the outrage if a US politician were removed from a plane by Pakistani officials in order to be questioned about their publicly expressed political views. And harassing prominent critics of US policy is hardly likely to dilute anti-US animosity; the exact opposite is far more likely to occur. But the most important point here is that Khan's detention is part of a clear trend by the Obama administration to harass and intimidate critics of its drone attacks. As Marcy Wheeler notes, "this is at least the third time this year that the US has delayed or denied entry to the US for Pakistani drone critics." Last May, I wrote about the amazing case of Muhammad Danish Qasim, a Pakistani student who produced a short film entitled "The Other Side", which "revolves around the idea of assessing social, psychological and economical effects of drones on the people in tribal areas of Pakistan." As he put it, "the film takes the audience very close to the damage caused by drone attacks" by humanizing the tragedy of civilian deaths and also documenting how those deaths are exploited by actual terrorists for recruitment purposes. Qasim and his co-producers were chosen as the winner of the Audience Award for Best International Film at the 2012 National Film Festival For Talented Youth, held annually in Seattle, Washington. He intended to travel to the US to accept his award and discuss his film, but was twice denied a visa to enter the US, and thus was barred from making any appearances in the US. The month prior, Shahzad Akbar - a Pakistani lawyer who represents drone victims in lawsuits against the US and the co-founder of the Pakistani human rights organization, Foundation for Fundamental Rights - was scheduled to speak at a conference on drones in Washington. He, too, was denied a visa, and the Obama administration relented only once an international outcry erupted. There are two clear dynamics driving this. First, the US is eager to impose a price for effectively challenging its policies and to prevent the public - the domestic public, that is - from hearing critics with first-hand knowledge of the impact of those policies. As Wheeler asks, "Why is the government so afraid of Pakistanis explaining to Americans what the drone attacks look like from a Pakistani perspective?" This form of intimidation is not confined to drone critics. Last April, I reported on the serial harassment of Laura Poitras, the Oscar-nominated documentarian who produced two films - one from Iraq and the other from Yemen - that showed the views and perspectives of America's adversaries in those countries. For four years, she was detained every single time she reentered the US, often having her reporters' notebook and laptop copied and even seized. Although this all stopped once that article was published - demonstrating that there was never any legitimate purpose to it - that intimidation campaign against her imposed real limits on her work. That is what this serial harassment of drone critics is intended to achieve. That is why a refusal to grant visas to prominent critics of US foreign policy was also a favorite tactic of the Bush administration. Second, and probably even more insidious, this reflects the Obama administration's view that critics of its drone policies are either terrorists or, at best, sympathetic to terrorists. Recall how the New York Times earlier this year - in an article describing a new report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documenting the targeting of Pakistani rescuers and funerals with US drones - granted anonymity to a "senior American counterterrorism official" to smear the Bureau's journalists and its sources as wanting to "help al-Qaida succeed". For years, Bush officials and their supporters equated opposition to their foreign policies with support for the terrorists and a general hatred of and desire to harm the US. During the Obama presidency, many Democratic partisans have adopted the same lowly tactic with vigor. That mindset is a major factor in this series of harassment of drone critics: namely, those who oppose the Obama administration's use of drones are helping the terrorists and may even be terrorist sympathizers. It is that logic which would lead US officials to view Khan as some sort of national security threat by virtue of his political beliefs and perceive a need to drag him off a plane in order to detain and interrogate him about those views before allowing him entrance to the US. What makes this most ironic is that the US loves to sermonize to the world about the need for open ideas and political debate. In April, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lectured the planet on how "those societies that believe they can be closed to change, to ideas, cultures, and beliefs that are different from theirs, will find quickly that in our internet world they will be left behind," That she is part of the same government that seeks to punish and exclude filmmakers, students, lawyers, activists and politicians for the crime of opposing US policy is noticed and remarked upon everywhere in the world other than in the US. That demonstrates the success of these efforts: they are designed, above all else, to ensure that the American citizenry does not become exposed to effective critics of what the US is doing in the world.

http://www.newamerica.net/publications/articles/2009/drone_war_13672 http://www.newamerica.net/publications/policy/revenge_of_the_drones
As a result of the unprecedented 41 drone strikes into Pakistan authorized by the Obama administration, aimed at Taliban and al Qaeda networks based there, about a half-dozen leaders of militant organizations have been killed--including two heads of Uzbek terrorist groups allied with al Qaeda, and Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban--in addition to hundreds of lower-level militants and civilians, according to our analysis.[1]
The number of civilian deaths caused by the drones is an important issue because in the charged political atmosphere of today's Pakistan, where anti-Americanism is rampant, the drone program is a particular cause of anger among those who see it as an infringement on Pakistan's sovereignty. A Gallup poll in August found that only 9 percent of Pakistanis favored the strikes, while two-thirds opposed them.
An important factor in the controversy over the drones is the widespread perception that they kill large numbers of Pakistani civilians. Some commentators have asserted that the overwhelming majority of casualties are civilians. Amir Mir, a leading Pakistani journalist, wrote in The News in April that since January 2006, American drone attacks had killed "687 innocent Pakistani civilians." A month later, a similar claim was made in the New York Times by counterinsurgency experts David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum, who wrote that drone strikes had "killed some 700 civilians. This is 50 civilians for every militant killed, a hit rate of 2 percent." In other words, in their analysis, 98 percent of those killed in drone attacks were civilians. Kilcullen and Exum advocated a moratorium on the strikes because of the "public outrage" they arouse.
A very different picture was presented earlier this month by the Long War Journal, an American blog that closely tracks terrorist groups, in particular al Qaeda and the Taliban. Bill Roggio, the editor of Long War Journal, concluded that according to his close analysis of the drone strikes, only 10 percent of those killed were civilians.
Our analysis suggests quite different conclusions than those of either Kilcullen and Exum or theLong War Journal.

Resistance to Civil Government

Henry David Thoreau

On the Duty of Civil Disobedience

[1849, original title: Resistance to Civil Government]

I heartily accept the motto, «That government is best which governs least»; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe — «That government is best which governs not at all»; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which the will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure.

This American government — what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity? It has not the vitality and force of a single living man; for a single man can bend it to his will. It is a sort of wooden gun to the people themselves. But it is not the less necessary for this; for the people must have some complicated machinery or other, and hear its din, to satisfy that idea of government which they have. Governments show thus how successfully men can be imposed upon, even impose on themselves, for their own advantage. It is excellent, we must all allow. Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way. For government is an expedient, by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it. Trade and commerce, if they were not made of india-rubber, would never manage to bounce over obstacles which legislators are continually putting in their way; and if one were to judge these men wholly by the effects of their actions and not partly by their intentions, they would deserve to be classed and punished with those mischievious persons who put obstructions on the railroads.

But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at one no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.

After all, the practical reason why, when the power is once in the hands of the people, a majority are permitted, and for a long period continue, to rule is not because they are most likely to be in the right, nor because this seems fairest to the minority, but because they are physically the strongest. But a government in which the majority rule in all cases can not be based on justice, even as far as men understand it. Can there not be a government in which the majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience? — in which majorities decide only those questions to which the rule of expediency is applicable? Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation on conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience. Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents on injustice. A common and natural result of an undue respect for the law is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power? Visit the Navy Yard, and behold a marine, such a man as an American government can make, or such as it can make a man with its black arts — a mere shadow and reminiscence of humanity, a man laid out alive and standing, and already, as one may say, buried under arms with funeral accompaniment, though it may be,

«Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
As his corse to the rampart we hurried;

Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
O’er the grave where out hero was buried.»

The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgement or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens. Others — as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders — serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as the rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without intending it, as God. A very few — as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men — serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated as enemies by it. A wise man will only be useful as a man, and will not submit to be «clay,» and «stop a hole to keep the wind away,» but leave that office to his dust at least:

«I am too high born to be propertied,
To be a second at control,
Or useful serving-man and instrument
To any sovereign state throughout the world.»

He who gives himself entirely to his fellow men appears to them useless and selfish; but he who gives himself partially to them in pronounced a benefactor and philanthropist.

How does it become a man to behave toward the American government today? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it. I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which is the slave’s government also.

All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable. But almost all say that such is not the case now. But such was the case, they think, in the Revolution of ’75. If one were to tell me that this was a bad government because it taxed certain foreign commodities brought to its ports, it is most probable that I should not make an ado about it, for I can do without them. All machines have their friction; and possibly this does enough good to counter-balance the evil. At any rate, it is a great evil to make a stir about it. But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression and robbery are organized, I say, let us not have such a machine any longer. In other words, when a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize. What makes this duty the more urgent is that fact that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army.

Paley, a common authority with many on moral questions, in his chapter on the «Duty of Submission to Civil Government,» resolves all civil obligation into expediency; and he proceeds to say that «so long as the interest of the whole society requires it, that it, so long as the established government cannot be resisted or changed without public inconveniencey, it is the will of God… that the established government be obeyed — and no longer. This principle being admitted, the justice of every particular case of resistance is reduced to a computation of the quantity of the danger and grievance on the one side, and of the probability and expense of redressing it on the other.» Of this, he says, every man shall judge for himself. But Paley appears never to have contemplated those cases to which the rule of expediency does not apply, in which a people, as well and an individual, must do justice, cost what it may. If I have unjustly wrested a plank from a drowning man, I must restore it to him though I drown myself. This, according to Paley, would be inconvenient. But he that would save his life, in such a case, shall lose it. This people must cease to hold slaves, and to make war on Mexico, though it cost them their existence as a people.

In their practice, nations agree with Paley; but does anyone think that Massachusetts does exactly what is right at the present crisis?

«A drab of stat,
a cloth-o’-silver slut,

To have her train borne up,
and her soul trail in the dirt.»

Practically speaking, the opponents to a reform in Massachusetts are not a hundred thousand politicians at the South, but a hundred thousand merchants and farmers here, who are more interested in commerce and agriculture than they are in humanity, and are not prepared to do justice to the slave and to Mexico, cost what it may. I quarrel not with far-off foes, but with those who, neat at home, co-operate with, and do the bidding of, those far away, and without whom the latter would be harmless. We are accustomed to say, that the mass of men are unprepared; but improvement is slow, because the few are not as materially wiser or better than the many. It is not so important that many should be good as you, as that there be some absolute goodness somewhere; for that will leaven the whole lump. There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them; who, esteeming themselves children of Washington and Franklin, sit down with their hands in their pockets, and say that they know not what to do, and do nothing; who even postpone the question of freedom to the question of free trade, and quietly read the prices-current along with the latest advices from Mexico, after dinner, and, it may be, fall asleep over them both. What is the price-current of an honest man and patriot today? They hesitate, and they regret, and sometimes they petition; but they do nothing in earnest and with effect. They will wait, well disposed, for other to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret. At most, they give up only a cheap vote, and a feeble countenance and Godspeed, to the right, as it goes by them. There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man. But it is easier to deal with the real possessor of a thing than with the temporary guardian of it.

All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because they are indifferent to slavery, or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote. They will then be the only slaves. Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote.

I hear of a convention to be held at Baltimore, or elsewhere, for the selection of a candidate for the Presidency, made up chiefly of editors, and men who are politicians by profession; but I think, what is it to any independent, intelligent, and respectable man what decision they may come to? Shall we not have the advantage of this wisdom and honesty, nevertheless? Can we not count upon some independent votes? Are there not many individuals in the country who do not attend conventions? But no: I find that the respectable man, so called, has immediately drifted from his position, and despairs of his country, when his country has more reasons to despair of him. He forthwith adopts one of the candidates thus selected as the only available one, thus proving that he is himself available for any purposes of the demagogue. His vote is of no more worth than that of any unprincipled foreigner or hireling native, who may have been bought. O for a man who is a man, and, and my neighbor says, has a bone is his back which you cannot pass your hand through! Our statistics are at fault: the population has been returned too large. How many men are there to a square thousand miles in the country? Hardly one. Does not America offer any inducement for men to settle here? The American has dwindled into an Odd Fellow — one who may be known by the development of his organ of gregariousness, and a manifest lack of intellect and cheerful self-reliance; whose first and chief concern, on coming into the world, is to see that the almshouses are in good repair; and, before yet he has lawfully donned the virile garb, to collect a fund to the support of the widows and orphans that may be; who, in short, ventures to live only by the aid of the Mutual Insurance company, which has promised to bury him decently.

It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even to most enormous, wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man’s shoulders. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too. See what gross inconsistency is tolerated. I have heard some of my townsmen say, «I should like to have them order me out to help put down an insurrection of the slaves, or to march to Mexico — see if I would go»; and yet these very men have each, directly by their allegiance, and so indirectly, at least, by their money, furnished a substitute. The soldier is applauded who refuses to serve in an unjust war by those who do not refuse to sustain the unjust government which makes the war; is applauded by those whose own act and authority he disregards and sets at naught; as if the state were penitent to that degree that it hired one to scourge it while it sinned, but not to that degree that it left off sinning for a moment. Thus, under the name of Order and Civil Government, we are all made at last to pay homage to and support our own meanness. After the first blush of sin comes its indifference; and from immoral it becomes, as it were, unmoral, and not quite unnecessary to that life which we have made.

The broadest and most prevalent error requires the most disinterested virtue to sustain it. The slight reproach to which the virtue of patriotism is commonly liable, the noble are most likely to incur. Those who, while they disapprove of the character and measures of a government, yield to it their allegiance and support are undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the most serious obstacles to reform. Some are petitioning the State to dissolve the Union, to disregard the requisitions of the President. Why do they not dissolve it themselves — the union between themselves and the State — and refuse to pay their quota into its treasury? Do not they stand in same relation to the State that the State does to the Union? And have not the same reasons prevented the State from resisting the Union which have prevented them from resisting the State?

How can a man be satisfied to entertain and opinion merely, and enjoy it? Is there any enjoyment in it, if his opinion is that he is aggrieved? If you are cheated out of a single dollar by your neighbor, you do not rest satisfied with knowing you are cheated, or with saying that you are cheated, or even with petitioning him to pay you your due; but you take effectual steps at once to obtain the full amount, and see to it that you are never cheated again. Action from principle, the perception and the performance of right, changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary, and does not consist wholly with anything which was. It not only divided States and churches, it divides families; ay, it divides the individual, separating the diabolical in him from the divine.

Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men, generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to put out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?

One would think, that a deliberate and practical denial of its authority was the only offense never contemplated by its government; else, why has it not assigned its definite, its suitable and proportionate, penalty? If a man who has no property refuses but once to earn nine shillings for the State, he is put in prison for a period unlimited by any law that I know, and determined only by the discretion of those who put him there; but if he should steal ninety times nine shillings from the State, he is soon permitted to go at large again.

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth — certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.

As for adopting the ways of the State has provided for remedying the evil, I know not of such ways. They take too much time, and a man’s life will be gone. I have other affairs to attend to. I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad. A man has not everything to do, but something; and because he cannot do everything, it is not necessary that he should be petitioning the Governor or the Legislature any more than it is theirs to petition me; and if they should not hear my petition, what should I do then? But in this case the State has provided no way: its very Constitution is the evil. This may seem to be harsh and stubborn and unconcilliatory; but it is to treat with the utmost kindness and consideration the only spirit that can appreciate or deserves it. So is all change for the better, like birth and death, which convulse the body.

I do not hesitate to say, that those who call themselves Abolitionists should at once effectually withdraw their support, both in person and property, from the government of Massachusetts, and not wait till they constitute a majority of one, before they suffer the right to prevail through them. I think that it is enough if they have God on their side, without waiting for that other one. Moreover, any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already.

I meet this American government, or its representative, the State government, directly, and face to face, once a year — no more — in the person of its tax-gatherer; this is the only mode in which a man situated as I am necessarily meets it; and it then says distinctly, Recognize me; and the simplest, the most effectual, and, in the present posture of affairs, the indispensablest mode of treating with it on this head, of expressing your little satisfaction with and love for it, is to deny it then. My civil neighbor, the tax-gatherer, is the very man I have to deal with — for it is, after all, with men and not with parchment that I quarrel — and he has voluntarily chosen to be an agent of the government. How shall he ever know well that he is and does as an officer of the government, or as a man, until he is obliged to consider whether he will treat me, his neighbor, for whom he has respect, as a neighbor and well-disposed man, or as a maniac and disturber of the peace, and see if he can get over this obstruction to his neighborlines without a ruder and more impetuous thought or speech corresponding with his action. I know this well, that if one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men whom I could name — if ten honest men only — ay, if one honest man, in this State of Massachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to withdraw from this co-partnership, and be locked up in the county jail therefor, it would be the abolition of slavery in America. For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever. But we love better to talk about it: that we say is our mission. Reform keeps many scores of newspapers in its service, but not one man. If my esteemed neighbor, the State’s ambassador, who will devote his days to the settlement of the question of human rights in the Council Chamber, instead of being threatened with the prisons of Carolina, were to sit down the prisoner of Massachusetts, that State which is so anxious to foist the sin of slavery upon her sister — though at present she can discover only an act of inhospitality to be the ground of a quarrel with her — the Legislature would not wholly waive the subject of the following winter.

Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. The proper place today, the only place which Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less despondent spirits, is in her prisons, to be put out and locked out of the State by her own act, as they have already put themselves out by their principles. It is there that the fugitive slave, and the Mexican prisoner on parole, and the Indian come to plead the wrongs of his race should find them; on that separate but more free and honorable ground, where the State places those who are not with her, but against her — the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor. If any think that their influence would be lost there, and their voices no longer afflict the ear of the State, that they would not be as an enemy within its walls, they do not know by how much truth is stronger than error, nor how much more eloquently and effectively he can combat injustice who has experienced a little in his own person. Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight. If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose. If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible. If the tax-gatherer, or any other public officer, asks me, as one has done, «But what shall I do?» my answer is, «If you really wish to do anything, resign your office.» When the subject has refused allegiance, and the officer has resigned from office, then the revolution is accomplished. But even suppose blood shed when the conscience is wounded? Through this wound a man’s real manhood and immortality flow out, and he bleeds to an everlasting death. I see this blood flowing now.

I have contemplated the imprisonment of the offender, rather than the seizure of his goods — though both will serve the same purpose — because they who assert the purest right, and consequently are most dangerous to a corrupt State, commonly have not spent much time in accumulating property. To such the State renders comparatively small service, and a slight tax is wont to appear exorbitant, particularly if they are obliged to earn it by special labor with their hands. If there were one who lived wholly without the use of money, the State itself would hesitate to demand it of him. But the rich man — not to make any invidious comparison — is always sold to the institution which makes him rich. Absolutely speaking, the more money, the less virtue; for money comes between a man and his objects, and obtains them for him; it was certainly no great virtue to obtain it. It puts to rest many questions which he would otherwise be taxed to answer; while the only new question which it puts is the hard but superfluous one, how to spend it. Thus his moral ground is taken from under his feet. The opportunities of living are diminished in proportion as that are called the «means» are increased. The best thing a man can do for his culture when he is rich is to endeavor to carry out those schemes which he entertained when he was poor. Christ answered the Herodians according to their condition. «Show me the tribute-money,» said he — and one took a penny out of his pocket — if you use money which has the image of Caesar on it, and which he has made current and valuable, that is, if you are men of the State, and gladly enjoy the advantages of Caesar’s government, then pay him back some of his own when he demands it. «Render therefore to Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God those things which are God’s» — leaving them no wiser than before as to which was which; for they did not wish to know.

When I converse with the freest of my neighbors, I perceive that, whatever they may say about the magnitude and seriousness of the question, and their regard for the public tranquillity, the long and the short of the matter is, that they cannot spare the protection of the existing government, and they dread the consequences to their property and families of disobedience to it. For my own part, I should not like to think that I ever rely on the protection of the State. But, if I deny the authority of the State when it presents its tax bill, it will soon take and waste all my property, and so harass me and my children without end. This is hard. This makes it impossible for a man to live honestly, and at the same time comfortably, in outward respects. It will not be worth the while to accumulate property; that would be sure to go again. You must hire or squat somewhere, and raise but a small crop, and eat that soon. You must live within yourself, and depend upon yourself always tucked up and ready for a start, and not have many affairs. A man may grow rich in Turkey even, if he will be in all respects a good subject of the Turkish government. Confucius said: «If a state is governed by the principles of reason, poverty and misery are subjects of shame; if a state is not governed by the principles of reason, riches and honors are subjects of shame.» No: until I want the protection of Massachusetts to be extended to me in some distant Southern port, where my liberty is endangered, or until I am bent solely on building up an estate at home by peaceful enterprise, I can afford to refuse allegiance to Massachusetts, and her right to my property and life. It costs me less in every sense to incur the penalty of disobedience to the State than it would to obey. I should feel as if I were worth less in that case.

Some years ago, the State met me in behalf of the Church, and commanded me to pay a certain sum toward the support of a clergyman whose preaching my father attended, but never I myself. «Pay,» it said, «or be locked up in the jail.» I declined to pay. But, unfortunately, another man saw fit to pay it. I did not see why the schoolmaster should be taxed to support the priest, and not the priest the schoolmaster; for I was not the State’s schoolmaster, but I supported myself by voluntary subscription. I did not see why the lyceum should not present its tax bill, and have the State to back its demand, as well as the Church. However, as the request of the selectmen, I condescended to make some such statement as this in writing: «Know all men by these presents, that I, Henry Thoreau, do not wish to be regarded as a member of any society which I have not joined.» This I gave to the town clerk; and he has it. The State, having thus learned that I did not wish to be regarded as a member of that church, has never made a like demand on me since; though it said that it must adhere to its original presumption that time. If I had known how to name them, I should then have signed off in detail from all the societies which I never signed on to; but I did not know where to find such a complete list.

I have paid no poll tax for six years. I was put into a jail once on this account, for one night; and, as I stood considering the walls of solid stone, two or three feet thick, the door of wood and iron, a foot thick, and the iron grating which strained the light, I could not help being struck with the foolishness of that institution which treated my as if I were mere flesh and blood and bones, to be locked up. I wondered that it should have concluded at length that this was the best use it could put me to, and had never thought to avail itself of my services in some way. I saw that, if there was a wall of stone between me and my townsmen, there was a still more difficult one to climb or break through before they could get to be as free as I was. I did nor for a moment feel confined, and the walls seemed a great waste of stone and mortar. I felt as if I alone of all my townsmen had paid my tax. They plainly did not know how to treat me, but behaved like persons who are underbred. In every threat and in every compliment there was a blunder; for they thought that my chief desire was to stand the other side of that stone wall. I could not but smile to see how industriously they locked the door on my meditations, which followed them out again without let or hindrance, and they were really all that was dangerous. As they could not reach me, they had resolved to punish my body; just as boys, if they cannot come at some person against whom they have a spite, will abuse his dog. I saw that the State was half-witted, that it was timid as a lone woman with her silver spoons, and that it did not know its friends from its foes, and I lost all my remaining respect for it, and pitied it.

Thus the state never intentionally confronts a man’s sense, intellectual or moral, but only his body, his senses. It is not armed with superior with or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest. What force has a multitude? They only can force me who obey a higher law than I. They force me to become like themselves. I do not hear of men being forced to live this way or that by masses of men. What sort of life were that to live? When I meet a government which says to me, «Your money our your life,» why should I be in haste to give it my money? It may be in a great strait, and not know what to do: I cannot help that. It must help itself; do as I do. It is not worth the while to snivel about it. I am not responsible for the successful working of the machinery of society. I am not the son of the engineer. I perceive that, when an acorn and a chestnut fall side by side, the one does not remain inert to make way for the other, but both obey their own laws, and spring and grow and flourish as best they can, till one, perchance, overshadows and destroys the other. If a plant cannot live according to nature, it dies; and so a man.

The night in prison was novel and interesting enough. The prisoners in their shirtsleeves were enjoying a chat and the evening air in the doorway, when I entered. But the jailer said, «Come, boys, it is time to lock up»; and so they dispersed, and I heard the sound of their steps returning into the hollow apartments. My room-mate was introduced to me by the jailer as «a first-rate fellow and clever man.» When the door was locked, he showed me where to hang my hat, and how he managed matters there. The rooms were whitewashed once a month; and this one, at least, was the whitest, most simply furnished, and probably neatest apartment in town. He naturally wanted to know where I came from, and what brought me there; and, when I had told him, I asked him in my turn how he came there, presuming him to be an honest man, of course; and as the world goes, I believe he was. «Why,» said he, «they accuse me of burning a barn; but I never did it.» As near as I could discover, he had probably gone to bed in a barn when drunk, and smoked his pipe there; and so a barn was burnt. He had the reputation of being a clever man, had been there some three months waiting for his trial to come on, and would have to wait as much longer; but he was quite domesticated and contented, since he got his board for nothing, and thought that he was well treated.

He occupied one window, and I the other; and I saw that if one stayed there long, his principal business would be to look out the window. I had soon read all the tracts that were left there, and examined where former prisoners had broken out, and where a grate had been sawed off, and heard the history of the various occupants of that room; for I found that even there there was a history and a gossip which never circulated beyond the walls of the jail. Probably this is the only house in the town where verses are composed, which are afterward printed in a circular form, but not published. I was shown quite a long list of young men who had been detected in an attempt to escape, who avenged themselves by singing them.

I pumped my fellow-prisoner as dry as I could, for fear I should never see him again; but at length he showed me which was my bed, and left me to blow out the lamp.

It was like travelling into a far country, such as I had never expected to behold, to lie there for one night. It seemed to me that I never had heard the town clock strike before, not the evening sounds of the village; for we slept with the windows open, which were inside the grating. It was to see my native village in the light of the Middle Ages, and our Concord was turned into a Rhine stream, and visions of knights and castles passed before me. They were the voices of old burghers that I heard in the streets. I was an involuntary spectator and auditor of whatever was done and said in the kitchen of the adjacent village inn — a wholly new and rare experience to me. It was a closer view of my native town. I was fairly inside of it. I never had seen its institutions before. This is one of its peculiar institutions; for it is a shire town. I began to comprehend what its inhabitants were about.

In the morning, our breakfasts were put through the hole in the door, in small oblong-square tin pans, made to fit, and holding a pint of chocolate, with brown bread, and an iron spoon. When they called for the vessels again, I was green enough to return what bread I had left, but my comrade seized it, and said that I should lay that up for lunch or dinner. Soon after he was let out to work at haying in a neighboring field, whither he went every day, and would not be back till noon; so he bade me good day, saying that he doubted if he should see me again.

When I came out of prison — for some one interfered, and paid that tax — I did not perceive that great changes had taken place on the common, such as he observed who went in a youth and emerged a gray-headed man; and yet a change had come to my eyes come over the scene — the town, and State, and country, greater than any that mere time could effect. I saw yet more distinctly the State in which I lived. I saw to what extent the people among whom I lived could be trusted as good neighbors and friends; that their friendship was for summer weather only; that they did not greatly propose to do right; that they were a distinct race from me by their prejudices and superstitions, as the Chinamen and Malays are that in their sacrifices to humanity they ran no risks, not even to their property; that after all they were not so noble but they treated the thief as he had treated them, and hoped, by a certain outward observance and a few prayers, and by walking in a particular straight through useless path from time to time, to save their souls. This may be to judge my neighbors harshly; for I believe that many of them are not aware that they have such an institution as the jail in their village.

It was formerly the custom in our village, when a poor debtor came out of jail, for his acquaintances to salute him, looking through their fingers, which were crossed to represent the jail window, «How do ye do?» My neighbors did not this salute me, but first looked at me, and then at one another, as if I had returned from a long journey. I was put into jail as I was going to the shoemaker’s to get a shoe which was mender. When I was let out the next morning, I proceeded to finish my errand, and, having put on my mended show, joined a huckleberry party, who were impatient to put themselves under my conduct; and in half an hour — for the horse was soon tackled — was in the midst of a huckleberry field, on one of our highest hills, two miles off, and then the State was nowhere to be seen.

This is the whole history of «My Prisons.»

I have never declined paying the highway tax, because I am as desirous of being a good neighbor as I am of being a bad subject; and as for supporting schools, I am doing my part to educate my fellow countrymen now. It is for no particular item in the tax bill that I refuse to pay it. I simply wish to refuse allegiance to the State, to withdraw and stand aloof from it effectually. I do not care to trace the course of my dollar, if I could, till it buys a man a musket to shoot one with — the dollar is innocent — but I am concerned to trace the effects of my allegiance. In fact, I quietly declare war with the State, after my fashion, though I will still make use and get what advantages of her I can, as is usual in such cases.

If others pay the tax which is demanded of me, from a sympathy with the State, they do but what they have already done in their own case, or rather they abet injustice to a greater extent than the State requires. If they pay the tax from a mistaken interest in the individual taxed, to save his property, or prevent his going to jail, it is because they have not considered wisely how far they let their private feelings interfere with the public good.

This, then is my position at present. But one cannot be too much on his guard in such a case, lest his actions be biased by obstinacy or an undue regard for the opinions of men. Let him see that he does only what belongs to himself and to the hour.

I think sometimes, Why, this people mean well, they are only ignorant; they would do better if they knew how: why give your neighbors this pain to treat you as they are not inclined to? But I think again, This is no reason why I should do as they do, or permit others to suffer much greater pain of a different kind. Again, I sometimes say to myself, When many millions of men, without heat, without ill will, without personal feelings of any kind, demand of you a few shillings only, without the possibility, such is their constitution, of retracting or altering their present demand, and without the possibility, on your side, of appeal to any other millions, why expose yourself to this overwhelming brute force? You do not resist cold and hunger, the winds and the waves, thus obstinately; you quietly submit to a thousand similar necessities. You do not put your head into the fire. But just in proportion as I regard this as not wholly a brute force, but partly a human force, and consider that I have relations to those millions as to so many millions of men, and not of mere brute or inanimate things, I see that appeal is possible, first and instantaneously, from them to the Maker of them, and, secondly, from them to themselves. But if I put my head deliberately into the fire, there is no appeal to fire or to the Maker for fire, and I have only myself to blame. If I could convince myself that I have any right to be satisfied with men as they are, and to treat them accordingly, and not according, in some respects, to my requisitions and expectations of what they and I ought to be, then, like a good Mussulman and fatalist, I should endeavor to be satisfied with things as they are, and say it is the will of God. And, above all, there is this difference between resisting this and a purely brute or natural force, that I can resist this with some effect; but I cannot expect, like Orpheus, to change the nature of the rocks and trees and beasts.

I do not wish to quarrel with any man or nation. I do not wish to split hairs, to make fine distinctions, or set myself up as better than my neighbors. I seek rather, I may say, even an excuse for conforming to the laws of the land. I am but too ready to conform to them. Indeed, I have reason to suspect myself on this head; and each year, as the tax-gatherer comes round, I find myself disposed to review the acts and position of the general and State governments, and the spirit of the people to discover a pretext for conformity.

«We must affect our country as our parents,
And if at any time we alienate
Out love or industry from doing it honor,
We must respect effects and teach the soul
Matter of conscience and religion,
And not desire of rule or benefit.»

I believe that the State will soon be able to take all my work of this sort out of my hands, and then I shall be no better patriot than my fellow-countrymen. Seen from a lower point of view, the Constitution, with all its faults, is very good; the law and the courts are very respectable; even this State and this American government are, in many respects, very admirable, and rare things, to be thankful for, such as a great many have described them; seen from a higher still, and the highest, who shall say what they are, or that they are worth looking at or thinking of at all?

However, the government does not concern me much, and I shall bestow the fewest possible thoughts on it. It is not many moments that I live under a government, even in this world. If a man is thought-free, fancy-free, imagination-free, that which is not never for a long time appearing to be to him, unwise rulers or reformers cannot fatally interrupt him.

I know that most men think differently from myself; but those whose lives are by profession devoted to the study of these or kindred subjects content me as little as any. Statesmen and legislators, standing so completely within the institution, never distinctly and nakedly behold it. They speak of moving society, but have no resting-place without it. They may be men of a certain experience and discrimination, and have no doubt invented ingenious and even useful systems, for which we sincerely thank them; but all their wit and usefulness lie within certain not very wide limits. They are wont to forget that the world is not governed by policy and expediency. Webster never goes behind government, and so cannot speak with authority about it. His words are wisdom to those legislators who contemplate no essential reform in the existing government; but for thinkers, and those who legislate for all tim, he never once glances at the subject. I know of those whose serene and wise speculations on this theme would soon reveal the limits of his mind’s range and hospitality. Yet, compared with the cheap professions of most reformers, and the still cheaper wisdom an eloquence of politicians in general, his are almost the only sensible and valuable words, and we thank Heaven for him. Comparatively, he is always strong, original, and, above all, practical. Still, his quality is not wisdom, but prudence. The lawyer’s truth is not Truth, but consistency or a consistent expediency. Truth is always in harmony with herself, and is not concerned chiefly to reveal the justice that may consist with wrong-doing. He well deserves to be called, as he has been called, the Defender of the Constitution. There are really no blows to be given him but defensive ones. He is not a leader, but a follower. His leaders are the men of ’87. «I have never made an effort,» he says, «and never propose to make an effort; I have never countenanced an effort, and never mean to countenance an effort, to disturb the arrangement as originally made, by which various States came into the Union.» Still thinking of the sanction which the Constitution gives to slavery, he says, «Because it was part of the original compact — let it stand.» Notwithstanding his special acuteness and ability, he is unable to take a fact out of its merely political relations, and behold it as it lies absolutely to be disposed of by the intellect — what, for instance, it behooves a man to do here in American today with regard to slavery — but ventures, or is driven, to make some such desperate answer to the following, while professing to speak absolutely, and as a private man — from which what new and singular of social duties might be inferred? «The manner,» says he, «in which the governments of the States where slavery exists are to regulate it is for their own consideration, under the responsibility to their constituents, to the general laws of propriety, humanity, and justice, and to God. Associations formed elsewhere, springing from a feeling of humanity, or any other cause, have nothing whatever to do with it. They have never received any encouragement from me and they never will. [These extracts have been inserted since the lecture was read — HDT]

They who know of no purer sources of truth, who have traced up its stream no higher, stand, and wisely stand, by the Bible and the Constitution, and drink at it there with reverence and humanity; but they who behold where it comes trickling into this lake or that pool, gird up their loins once more, and continue their pilgrimage toward its fountainhead.

No man with a genius for legislation has appeared in America. They are rare in the history of the world. There are orators, politicians, and eloquent men, by the thousand; but the speaker has not yet opened his mouth to speak who is capable of settling the much-vexed questions of the day. We love eloquence for its own sake, and not for any truth which it may utter, or any heroism it may inspire. Our legislators have not yet learned the comparative value of free trade and of freed, of union, and of rectitude, to a nation. They have no genius or talent for comparatively humble questions of taxation and finance, commerce and manufactures and agriculture. If we were left solely to the wordy wit of legislators in Congress for our guidance, uncorrected by the seasonable experience and the effectual complaints of the people, America would not long retain her rank among the nations. For eighteen hundred years, though perchance I have no right to say it, the New Testament has been written; yet where is the legislator who has wisdom and practical talent enough to avail himself of the light which it sheds on the science of legislation.

The authority of government, even such as I am willing to submit to — for I will cheerfully obey those who know and can do better than I, and in many things even those who neither know nor can do so well — is still an impure one: to be strictly just, it must have the sanction and consent of the governed. It can have no pure right over my person and property but what I concede to it. The progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy, from a limited monarchy to a democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual. Even the Chinese philosopher was wise enough to regard the individual as the basis of the empire. Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly. I please myself with imagining a State at last which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellow men. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which I have also imagined, but not yet anywhere seen.

Henry David Thoreau

On the Duty of Civil Disobedience

[1849, original title: Resistance to Civil Government]


I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe — "That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which the will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure.

This American government — what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity? It has not the vitality and force of a single living man; for a single man can bend it to his will. It is a sort of wooden gun to the people themselves. But it is not the less necessary for this; for the people must have some complicated machinery or other, and hear its din, to satisfy that idea of government which they have. Governments show thus how successfully men can be imposed upon, even impose on themselves, for their own advantage. It is excellent, we must all allow. Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way. For government is an expedient, by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it. Trade and commerce, if they were not made of india-rubber, would never manage to bounce over obstacles which legislators are continually putting in their way; and if one were to judge these men wholly by the effects of their actions and not partly by their intentions, they would deserve to be classed and punished with those mischievious persons who put obstructions on the railroads.

But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at one no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.

After all, the practical reason why, when the power is once in the hands of the people, a majority are permitted, and for a long period continue, to rule is not because they are most likely to be in the right, nor because this seems fairest to the minority, but because they are physically the strongest. But a government in which the majority rule in all cases can not be based on justice, even as far as men understand it. Can there not be a government in which the majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience? — in which majorities decide only those questions to which the rule of expediency is applicable? Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation on conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience. Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents on injustice. A common and natural result of an undue respect for the law is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power? Visit the Navy Yard, and behold a marine, such a man as an American government can make, or such as it can make a man with its black arts — a mere shadow and reminiscence of humanity, a man laid out alive and standing, and already, as one may say, buried under arms with funeral accompaniment, though it may be,

"Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
As his corse to the rampart we hurried;

Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
O'er the grave where out hero was buried."

The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgement or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens. Others — as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders — serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as the rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without intending it, as God. A very few — as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men — serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated as enemies by it. A wise man will only be useful as a man, and will not submit to be "clay," and "stop a hole to keep the wind away," but leave that office to his dust at least:

"I am too high born to be propertied,
To be a second at control,
Or useful serving-man and instrument
To any sovereign state throughout the world."

He who gives himself entirely to his fellow men appears to them useless and selfish; but he who gives himself partially to them in pronounced a benefactor and philanthropist.

How does it become a man to behave toward the American government today? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it. I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which is the slave's government also.

All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable. But almost all say that such is not the case now. But such was the case, they think, in the Revolution of '75. If one were to tell me that this was a bad government because it taxed certain foreign commodities brought to its ports, it is most probable that I should not make an ado about it, for I can do without them. All machines have their friction; and possibly this does enough good to counter-balance the evil. At any rate, it is a great evil to make a stir about it. But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression and robbery are organized, I say, let us not have such a machine any longer. In other words, when a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize. What makes this duty the more urgent is that fact that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army.

Paley, a common authority with many on moral questions, in his chapter on the "Duty of Submission to Civil Government," resolves all civil obligation into expediency; and he proceeds to say that "so long as the interest of the whole society requires it, that it, so long as the established government cannot be resisted or changed without public inconveniencey, it is the will of God... that the established government be obeyed — and no longer. This principle being admitted, the justice of every particular case of resistance is reduced to a computation of the quantity of the danger and grievance on the one side, and of the probability and expense of redressing it on the other." Of this, he says, every man shall judge for himself. But Paley appears never to have contemplated those cases to which the rule of expediency does not apply, in which a people, as well and an individual, must do justice, cost what it may. If I have unjustly wrested a plank from a drowning man, I must restore it to him though I drown myself. This, according to Paley, would be inconvenient. But he that would save his life, in such a case, shall lose it. This people must cease to hold slaves, and to make war on Mexico, though it cost them their existence as a people.

In their practice, nations agree with Paley; but does anyone think that Massachusetts does exactly what is right at the present crisis?

"A drab of stat,
a cloth-o'-silver slut,

To have her train borne up,
and her soul trail in the dirt."

Practically speaking, the opponents to a reform in Massachusetts are not a hundred thousand politicians at the South, but a hundred thousand merchants and farmers here, who are more interested in commerce and agriculture than they are in humanity, and are not prepared to do justice to the slave and to Mexico, cost what it may. I quarrel not with far-off foes, but with those who, neat at home, co-operate with, and do the bidding of, those far away, and without whom the latter would be harmless. We are accustomed to say, that the mass of men are unprepared; but improvement is slow, because the few are not as materially wiser or better than the many. It is not so important that many should be good as you, as that there be some absolute goodness somewhere; for that will leaven the whole lump. There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them; who, esteeming themselves children of Washington and Franklin, sit down with their hands in their pockets, and say that they know not what to do, and do nothing; who even postpone the question of freedom to the question of free trade, and quietly read the prices-current along with the latest advices from Mexico, after dinner, and, it may be, fall asleep over them both. What is the price-current of an honest man and patriot today? They hesitate, and they regret, and sometimes they petition; but they do nothing in earnest and with effect. They will wait, well disposed, for other to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret. At most, they give up only a cheap vote, and a feeble countenance and Godspeed, to the right, as it goes by them. There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man. But it is easier to deal with the real possessor of a thing than with the temporary guardian of it.

All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because they are indifferent to slavery, or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote. They will then be the only slaves. Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote.

I hear of a convention to be held at Baltimore, or elsewhere, for the selection of a candidate for the Presidency, made up chiefly of editors, and men who are politicians by profession; but I think, what is it to any independent, intelligent, and respectable man what decision they may come to? Shall we not have the advantage of this wisdom and honesty, nevertheless? Can we not count upon some independent votes? Are there not many individuals in the country who do not attend conventions? But no: I find that the respectable man, so called, has immediately drifted from his position, and despairs of his country, when his country has more reasons to despair of him. He forthwith adopts one of the candidates thus selected as the only available one, thus proving that he is himself available for any purposes of the demagogue. His vote is of no more worth than that of any unprincipled foreigner or hireling native, who may have been bought. O for a man who is a man, and, and my neighbor says, has a bone is his back which you cannot pass your hand through! Our statistics are at fault: the population has been returned too large. How many men are there to a square thousand miles in the country? Hardly one. Does not America offer any inducement for men to settle here? The American has dwindled into an Odd Fellow — one who may be known by the development of his organ of gregariousness, and a manifest lack of intellect and cheerful self-reliance; whose first and chief concern, on coming into the world, is to see that the almshouses are in good repair; and, before yet he has lawfully donned the virile garb, to collect a fund to the support of the widows and orphans that may be; who, in short, ventures to live only by the aid of the Mutual Insurance company, which has promised to bury him decently.

It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even to most enormous, wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man's shoulders. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too. See what gross inconsistency is tolerated. I have heard some of my townsmen say, "I should like to have them order me out to help put down an insurrection of the slaves, or to march to Mexico — see if I would go"; and yet these very men have each, directly by their allegiance, and so indirectly, at least, by their money, furnished a substitute. The soldier is applauded who refuses to serve in an unjust war by those who do not refuse to sustain the unjust government which makes the war; is applauded by those whose own act and authority he disregards and sets at naught; as if the state were penitent to that degree that it hired one to scourge it while it sinned, but not to that degree that it left off sinning for a moment. Thus, under the name of Order and Civil Government, we are all made at last to pay homage to and support our own meanness. After the first blush of sin comes its indifference; and from immoral it becomes, as it were, unmoral, and not quite unnecessary to that life which we have made.

The broadest and most prevalent error requires the most disinterested virtue to sustain it. The slight reproach to which the virtue of patriotism is commonly liable, the noble are most likely to incur. Those who, while they disapprove of the character and measures of a government, yield to it their allegiance and support are undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the most serious obstacles to reform. Some are petitioning the State to dissolve the Union, to disregard the requisitions of the President. Why do they not dissolve it themselves — the union between themselves and the State — and refuse to pay their quota into its treasury? Do not they stand in same relation to the State that the State does to the Union? And have not the same reasons prevented the State from resisting the Union which have prevented them from resisting the State?

How can a man be satisfied to entertain and opinion merely, and enjoy it? Is there any enjoyment in it, if his opinion is that he is aggrieved? If you are cheated out of a single dollar by your neighbor, you do not rest satisfied with knowing you are cheated, or with saying that you are cheated, or even with petitioning him to pay you your due; but you take effectual steps at once to obtain the full amount, and see to it that you are never cheated again. Action from principle, the perception and the performance of right, changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary, and does not consist wholly with anything which was. It not only divided States and churches, it divides families; ay, it divides the individual, separating the diabolical in him from the divine.

Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men, generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to put out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?

One would think, that a deliberate and practical denial of its authority was the only offense never contemplated by its government; else, why has it not assigned its definite, its suitable and proportionate, penalty? If a man who has no property refuses but once to earn nine shillings for the State, he is put in prison for a period unlimited by any law that I know, and determined only by the discretion of those who put him there; but if he should steal ninety times nine shillings from the State, he is soon permitted to go at large again.

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth — certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.

As for adopting the ways of the State has provided for remedying the evil, I know not of such ways. They take too much time, and a man's life will be gone. I have other affairs to attend to. I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad. A man has not everything to do, but something; and because he cannot do everything, it is not necessary that he should be petitioning the Governor or the Legislature any more than it is theirs to petition me; and if they should not hear my petition, what should I do then? But in this case the State has provided no way: its very Constitution is the evil. This may seem to be harsh and stubborn and unconcilliatory; but it is to treat with the utmost kindness and consideration the only spirit that can appreciate or deserves it. So is all change for the better, like birth and death, which convulse the body.

I do not hesitate to say, that those who call themselves Abolitionists should at once effectually withdraw their support, both in person and property, from the government of Massachusetts, and not wait till they constitute a majority of one, before they suffer the right to prevail through them. I think that it is enough if they have God on their side, without waiting for that other one. Moreover, any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already.

I meet this American government, or its representative, the State government, directly, and face to face, once a year — no more — in the person of its tax-gatherer; this is the only mode in which a man situated as I am necessarily meets it; and it then says distinctly, Recognize me; and the simplest, the most effectual, and, in the present posture of affairs, the indispensablest mode of treating with it on this head, of expressing your little satisfaction with and love for it, is to deny it then. My civil neighbor, the tax-gatherer, is the very man I have to deal with — for it is, after all, with men and not with parchment that I quarrel — and he has voluntarily chosen to be an agent of the government. How shall he ever know well that he is and does as an officer of the government, or as a man, until he is obliged to consider whether he will treat me, his neighbor, for whom he has respect, as a neighbor and well-disposed man, or as a maniac and disturber of the peace, and see if he can get over this obstruction to his neighborlines without a ruder and more impetuous thought or speech corresponding with his action. I know this well, that if one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men whom I could name — if ten honest men only — ay, if one honest man, in this State of Massachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to withdraw from this co-partnership, and be locked up in the county jail therefor, it would be the abolition of slavery in America. For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever. But we love better to talk about it: that we say is our mission. Reform keeps many scores of newspapers in its service, but not one man. If my esteemed neighbor, the State's ambassador, who will devote his days to the settlement of the question of human rights in the Council Chamber, instead of being threatened with the prisons of Carolina, were to sit down the prisoner of Massachusetts, that State which is so anxious to foist the sin of slavery upon her sister — though at present she can discover only an act of inhospitality to be the ground of a quarrel with her — the Legislature would not wholly waive the subject of the following winter.

Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. The proper place today, the only place which Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less despondent spirits, is in her prisons, to be put out and locked out of the State by her own act, as they have already put themselves out by their principles. It is there that the fugitive slave, and the Mexican prisoner on parole, and the Indian come to plead the wrongs of his race should find them; on that separate but more free and honorable ground, where the State places those who are not with her, but against her — the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor. If any think that their influence would be lost there, and their voices no longer afflict the ear of the State, that they would not be as an enemy within its walls, they do not know by how much truth is stronger than error, nor how much more eloquently and effectively he can combat injustice who has experienced a little in his own person. Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight. If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose. If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible. If the tax-gatherer, or any other public officer, asks me, as one has done, "But what shall I do?" my answer is, "If you really wish to do anything, resign your office." When the subject has refused allegiance, and the officer has resigned from office, then the revolution is accomplished. But even suppose blood shed when the conscience is wounded? Through this wound a man's real manhood and immortality flow out, and he bleeds to an everlasting death. I see this blood flowing now.

I have contemplated the imprisonment of the offender, rather than the seizure of his goods — though both will serve the same purpose — because they who assert the purest right, and consequently are most dangerous to a corrupt State, commonly have not spent much time in accumulating property. To such the State renders comparatively small service, and a slight tax is wont to appear exorbitant, particularly if they are obliged to earn it by special labor with their hands. If there were one who lived wholly without the use of money, the State itself would hesitate to demand it of him. But the rich man — not to make any invidious comparison — is always sold to the institution which makes him rich. Absolutely speaking, the more money, the less virtue; for money comes between a man and his objects, and obtains them for him; it was certainly no great virtue to obtain it. It puts to rest many questions which he would otherwise be taxed to answer; while the only new question which it puts is the hard but superfluous one, how to spend it. Thus his moral ground is taken from under his feet. The opportunities of living are diminished in proportion as that are called the "means" are increased. The best thing a man can do for his culture when he is rich is to endeavor to carry out those schemes which he entertained when he was poor. Christ answered the Herodians according to their condition. "Show me the tribute-money," said he — and one took a penny out of his pocket — if you use money which has the image of Caesar on it, and which he has made current and valuable, that is, if you are men of the State, and gladly enjoy the advantages of Caesar's government, then pay him back some of his own when he demands it. "Render therefore to Caesar that which is Caesar's and to God those things which are God's" — leaving them no wiser than before as to which was which; for they did not wish to know.

When I converse with the freest of my neighbors, I perceive that, whatever they may say about the magnitude and seriousness of the question, and their regard for the public tranquillity, the long and the short of the matter is, that they cannot spare the protection of the existing government, and they dread the consequences to their property and families of disobedience to it. For my own part, I should not like to think that I ever rely on the protection of the State. But, if I deny the authority of the State when it presents its tax bill, it will soon take and waste all my property, and so harass me and my children without end. This is hard. This makes it impossible for a man to live honestly, and at the same time comfortably, in outward respects. It will not be worth the while to accumulate property; that would be sure to go again. You must hire or squat somewhere, and raise but a small crop, and eat that soon. You must live within yourself, and depend upon yourself always tucked up and ready for a start, and not have many affairs. A man may grow rich in Turkey even, if he will be in all respects a good subject of the Turkish government. Confucius said: "If a state is governed by the principles of reason, poverty and misery are subjects of shame; if a state is not governed by the principles of reason, riches and honors are subjects of shame." No: until I want the protection of Massachusetts to be extended to me in some distant Southern port, where my liberty is endangered, or until I am bent solely on building up an estate at home by peaceful enterprise, I can afford to refuse allegiance to Massachusetts, and her right to my property and life. It costs me less in every sense to incur the penalty of disobedience to the State than it would to obey. I should feel as if I were worth less in that case.

Some years ago, the State met me in behalf of the Church, and commanded me to pay a certain sum toward the support of a clergyman whose preaching my father attended, but never I myself. "Pay," it said, "or be locked up in the jail." I declined to pay. But, unfortunately, another man saw fit to pay it. I did not see why the schoolmaster should be taxed to support the priest, and not the priest the schoolmaster; for I was not the State's schoolmaster, but I supported myself by voluntary subscription. I did not see why the lyceum should not present its tax bill, and have the State to back its demand, as well as the Church. However, as the request of the selectmen, I condescended to make some such statement as this in writing: "Know all men by these presents, that I, Henry Thoreau, do not wish to be regarded as a member of any society which I have not joined." This I gave to the town clerk; and he has it. The State, having thus learned that I did not wish to be regarded as a member of that church, has never made a like demand on me since; though it said that it must adhere to its original presumption that time. If I had known how to name them, I should then have signed off in detail from all the societies which I never signed on to; but I did not know where to find such a complete list.

I have paid no poll tax for six years. I was put into a jail once on this account, for one night; and, as I stood considering the walls of solid stone, two or three feet thick, the door of wood and iron, a foot thick, and the iron grating which strained the light, I could not help being struck with the foolishness of that institution which treated my as if I were mere flesh and blood and bones, to be locked up. I wondered that it should have concluded at length that this was the best use it could put me to, and had never thought to avail itself of my services in some way. I saw that, if there was a wall of stone between me and my townsmen, there was a still more difficult one to climb or break through before they could get to be as free as I was. I did nor for a moment feel confined, and the walls seemed a great waste of stone and mortar. I felt as if I alone of all my townsmen had paid my tax. They plainly did not know how to treat me, but behaved like persons who are underbred. In every threat and in every compliment there was a blunder; for they thought that my chief desire was to stand the other side of that stone wall. I could not but smile to see how industriously they locked the door on my meditations, which followed them out again without let or hindrance, and they were really all that was dangerous. As they could not reach me, they had resolved to punish my body; just as boys, if they cannot come at some person against whom they have a spite, will abuse his dog. I saw that the State was half-witted, that it was timid as a lone woman with her silver spoons, and that it did not know its friends from its foes, and I lost all my remaining respect for it, and pitied it.

Thus the state never intentionally confronts a man's sense, intellectual or moral, but only his body, his senses. It is not armed with superior with or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest. What force has a multitude? They only can force me who obey a higher law than I. They force me to become like themselves. I do not hear of men being forced to live this way or that by masses of men. What sort of life were that to live? When I meet a government which says to me, "Your money our your life," why should I be in haste to give it my money? It may be in a great strait, and not know what to do: I cannot help that. It must help itself; do as I do. It is not worth the while to snivel about it. I am not responsible for the successful working of the machinery of society. I am not the son of the engineer. I perceive that, when an acorn and a chestnut fall side by side, the one does not remain inert to make way for the other, but both obey their own laws, and spring and grow and flourish as best they can, till one, perchance, overshadows and destroys the other. If a plant cannot live according to nature, it dies; and so a man.

The night in prison was novel and interesting enough. The prisoners in their shirtsleeves were enjoying a chat and the evening air in the doorway, when I entered. But the jailer said, "Come, boys, it is time to lock up"; and so they dispersed, and I heard the sound of their steps returning into the hollow apartments. My room-mate was introduced to me by the jailer as "a first-rate fellow and clever man." When the door was locked, he showed me where to hang my hat, and how he managed matters there. The rooms were whitewashed once a month; and this one, at least, was the whitest, most simply furnished, and probably neatest apartment in town. He naturally wanted to know where I came from, and what brought me there; and, when I had told him, I asked him in my turn how he came there, presuming him to be an honest man, of course; and as the world goes, I believe he was. "Why," said he, "they accuse me of burning a barn; but I never did it." As near as I could discover, he had probably gone to bed in a barn when drunk, and smoked his pipe there; and so a barn was burnt. He had the reputation of being a clever man, had been there some three months waiting for his trial to come on, and would have to wait as much longer; but he was quite domesticated and contented, since he got his board for nothing, and thought that he was well treated.

He occupied one window, and I the other; and I saw that if one stayed there long, his principal business would be to look out the window. I had soon read all the tracts that were left there, and examined where former prisoners had broken out, and where a grate had been sawed off, and heard the history of the various occupants of that room; for I found that even there there was a history and a gossip which never circulated beyond the walls of the jail. Probably this is the only house in the town where verses are composed, which are afterward printed in a circular form, but not published. I was shown quite a long list of young men who had been detected in an attempt to escape, who avenged themselves by singing them.

I pumped my fellow-prisoner as dry as I could, for fear I should never see him again; but at length he showed me which was my bed, and left me to blow out the lamp.

It was like travelling into a far country, such as I had never expected to behold, to lie there for one night. It seemed to me that I never had heard the town clock strike before, not the evening sounds of the village; for we slept with the windows open, which were inside the grating. It was to see my native village in the light of the Middle Ages, and our Concord was turned into a Rhine stream, and visions of knights and castles passed before me. They were the voices of old burghers that I heard in the streets. I was an involuntary spectator and auditor of whatever was done and said in the kitchen of the adjacent village inn — a wholly new and rare experience to me. It was a closer view of my native town. I was fairly inside of it. I never had seen its institutions before. This is one of its peculiar institutions; for it is a shire town. I began to comprehend what its inhabitants were about.

In the morning, our breakfasts were put through the hole in the door, in small oblong-square tin pans, made to fit, and holding a pint of chocolate, with brown bread, and an iron spoon. When they called for the vessels again, I was green enough to return what bread I had left, but my comrade seized it, and said that I should lay that up for lunch or dinner. Soon after he was let out to work at haying in a neighboring field, whither he went every day, and would not be back till noon; so he bade me good day, saying that he doubted if he should see me again.

When I came out of prison — for some one interfered, and paid that tax — I did not perceive that great changes had taken place on the common, such as he observed who went in a youth and emerged a gray-headed man; and yet a change had come to my eyes come over the scene — the town, and State, and country, greater than any that mere time could effect. I saw yet more distinctly the State in which I lived. I saw to what extent the people among whom I lived could be trusted as good neighbors and friends; that their friendship was for summer weather only; that they did not greatly propose to do right; that they were a distinct race from me by their prejudices and superstitions, as the Chinamen and Malays are that in their sacrifices to humanity they ran no risks, not even to their property; that after all they were not so noble but they treated the thief as he had treated them, and hoped, by a certain outward observance and a few prayers, and by walking in a particular straight through useless path from time to time, to save their souls. This may be to judge my neighbors harshly; for I believe that many of them are not aware that they have such an institution as the jail in their village.

It was formerly the custom in our village, when a poor debtor came out of jail, for his acquaintances to salute him, looking through their fingers, which were crossed to represent the jail window, "How do ye do?" My neighbors did not this salute me, but first looked at me, and then at one another, as if I had returned from a long journey. I was put into jail as I was going to the shoemaker's to get a shoe which was mender. When I was let out the next morning, I proceeded to finish my errand, and, having put on my mended show, joined a huckleberry party, who were impatient to put themselves under my conduct; and in half an hour — for the horse was soon tackled — was in the midst of a huckleberry field, on one of our highest hills, two miles off, and then the State was nowhere to be seen.

This is the whole history of "My Prisons."

I have never declined paying the highway tax, because I am as desirous of being a good neighbor as I am of being a bad subject; and as for supporting schools, I am doing my part to educate my fellow countrymen now. It is for no particular item in the tax bill that I refuse to pay it. I simply wish to refuse allegiance to the State, to withdraw and stand aloof from it effectually. I do not care to trace the course of my dollar, if I could, till it buys a man a musket to shoot one with — the dollar is innocent — but I am concerned to trace the effects of my allegiance. In fact, I quietly declare war with the State, after my fashion, though I will still make use and get what advantages of her I can, as is usual in such cases.

If others pay the tax which is demanded of me, from a sympathy with the State, they do but what they have already done in their own case, or rather they abet injustice to a greater extent than the State requires. If they pay the tax from a mistaken interest in the individual taxed, to save his property, or prevent his going to jail, it is because they have not considered wisely how far they let their private feelings interfere with the public good.

This, then is my position at present. But one cannot be too much on his guard in such a case, lest his actions be biased by obstinacy or an undue regard for the opinions of men. Let him see that he does only what belongs to himself and to the hour.

I think sometimes, Why, this people mean well, they are only ignorant; they would do better if they knew how: why give your neighbors this pain to treat you as they are not inclined to? But I think again, This is no reason why I should do as they do, or permit others to suffer much greater pain of a different kind. Again, I sometimes say to myself, When many millions of men, without heat, without ill will, without personal feelings of any kind, demand of you a few shillings only, without the possibility, such is their constitution, of retracting or altering their present demand, and without the possibility, on your side, of appeal to any other millions, why expose yourself to this overwhelming brute force? You do not resist cold and hunger, the winds and the waves, thus obstinately; you quietly submit to a thousand similar necessities. You do not put your head into the fire. But just in proportion as I regard this as not wholly a brute force, but partly a human force, and consider that I have relations to those millions as to so many millions of men, and not of mere brute or inanimate things, I see that appeal is possible, first and instantaneously, from them to the Maker of them, and, secondly, from them to themselves. But if I put my head deliberately into the fire, there is no appeal to fire or to the Maker for fire, and I have only myself to blame. If I could convince myself that I have any right to be satisfied with men as they are, and to treat them accordingly, and not according, in some respects, to my requisitions and expectations of what they and I ought to be, then, like a good Mussulman and fatalist, I should endeavor to be satisfied with things as they are, and say it is the will of God. And, above all, there is this difference between resisting this and a purely brute or natural force, that I can resist this with some effect; but I cannot expect, like Orpheus, to change the nature of the rocks and trees and beasts.

I do not wish to quarrel with any man or nation. I do not wish to split hairs, to make fine distinctions, or set myself up as better than my neighbors. I seek rather, I may say, even an excuse for conforming to the laws of the land. I am but too ready to conform to them. Indeed, I have reason to suspect myself on this head; and each year, as the tax-gatherer comes round, I find myself disposed to review the acts and position of the general and State governments, and the spirit of the people to discover a pretext for conformity.

"We must affect our country as our parents,
And if at any time we alienate
Out love or industry from doing it honor,
We must respect effects and teach the soul
Matter of conscience and religion,
And not desire of rule or benefit."

I believe that the State will soon be able to take all my work of this sort out of my hands, and then I shall be no better patriot than my fellow-countrymen. Seen from a lower point of view, the Constitution, with all its faults, is very good; the law and the courts are very respectable; even this State and this American government are, in many respects, very admirable, and rare things, to be thankful for, such as a great many have described them; seen from a higher still, and the highest, who shall say what they are, or that they are worth looking at or thinking of at all?

However, the government does not concern me much, and I shall bestow the fewest possible thoughts on it. It is not many moments that I live under a government, even in this world. If a man is thought-free, fancy-free, imagination-free, that which is not never for a long time appearing to be to him, unwise rulers or reformers cannot fatally interrupt him.

I know that most men think differently from myself; but those whose lives are by profession devoted to the study of these or kindred subjects content me as little as any. Statesmen and legislators, standing so completely within the institution, never distinctly and nakedly behold it. They speak of moving society, but have no resting-place without it. They may be men of a certain experience and discrimination, and have no doubt invented ingenious and even useful systems, for which we sincerely thank them; but all their wit and usefulness lie within certain not very wide limits. They are wont to forget that the world is not governed by policy and expediency. Webster never goes behind government, and so cannot speak with authority about it. His words are wisdom to those legislators who contemplate no essential reform in the existing government; but for thinkers, and those who legislate for all tim, he never once glances at the subject. I know of those whose serene and wise speculations on this theme would soon reveal the limits of his mind's range and hospitality. Yet, compared with the cheap professions of most reformers, and the still cheaper wisdom an eloquence of politicians in general, his are almost the only sensible and valuable words, and we thank Heaven for him. Comparatively, he is always strong, original, and, above all, practical. Still, his quality is not wisdom, but prudence. The lawyer's truth is not Truth, but consistency or a consistent expediency. Truth is always in harmony with herself, and is not concerned chiefly to reveal the justice that may consist with wrong-doing. He well deserves to be called, as he has been called, the Defender of the Constitution. There are really no blows to be given him but defensive ones. He is not a leader, but a follower. His leaders are the men of '87. "I have never made an effort," he says, "and never propose to make an effort; I have never countenanced an effort, and never mean to countenance an effort, to disturb the arrangement as originally made, by which various States came into the Union." Still thinking of the sanction which the Constitution gives to slavery, he says, "Because it was part of the original compact — let it stand." Notwithstanding his special acuteness and ability, he is unable to take a fact out of its merely political relations, and behold it as it lies absolutely to be disposed of by the intellect — what, for instance, it behooves a man to do here in American today with regard to slavery — but ventures, or is driven, to make some such desperate answer to the following, while professing to speak absolutely, and as a private man — from which what new and singular of social duties might be inferred? "The manner," says he, "in which the governments of the States where slavery exists are to regulate it is for their own consideration, under the responsibility to their constituents, to the general laws of propriety, humanity, and justice, and to God. Associations formed elsewhere, springing from a feeling of humanity, or any other cause, have nothing whatever to do with it. They have never received any encouragement from me and they never will. [These extracts have been inserted since the lecture was read — HDT]

They who know of no purer sources of truth, who have traced up its stream no higher, stand, and wisely stand, by the Bible and the Constitution, and drink at it there with reverence and humanity; but they who behold where it comes trickling into this lake or that pool, gird up their loins once more, and continue their pilgrimage toward its fountainhead.

No man with a genius for legislation has appeared in America. They are rare in the history of the world. There are orators, politicians, and eloquent men, by the thousand; but the speaker has not yet opened his mouth to speak who is capable of settling the much-vexed questions of the day. We love eloquence for its own sake, and not for any truth which it may utter, or any heroism it may inspire. Our legislators have not yet learned the comparative value of free trade and of freed, of union, and of rectitude, to a nation. They have no genius or talent for comparatively humble questions of taxation and finance, commerce and manufactures and agriculture. If we were left solely to the wordy wit of legislators in Congress for our guidance, uncorrected by the seasonable experience and the effectual complaints of the people, America would not long retain her rank among the nations. For eighteen hundred years, though perchance I have no right to say it, the New Testament has been written; yet where is the legislator who has wisdom and practical talent enough to avail himself of the light which it sheds on the science of legislation.

The authority of government, even such as I am willing to submit to — for I will cheerfully obey those who know and can do better than I, and in many things even those who neither know nor can do so well — is still an impure one: to be strictly just, it must have the sanction and consent of the governed. It can have no pure right over my person and property but what I concede to it. The progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy, from a limited monarchy to a democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual. Even the Chinese philosopher was wise enough to regard the individual as the basis of the empire. Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly. I please myself with imagining a State at last which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellow men. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which I have also imagined, but not yet anywhere seen.

Palestinian land

Reuters

By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM, Aug 31 (Reuters) – Israel announced on Sunday a land appropriation in the occupied West Bank that an anti-settlement group termed the biggest in 30 years, drawing Palestinian condemnation and a U.S. rebuke.

Some 400 hectares (988 acres) in the Etzion Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem were declared «state land, on the instructions of the political echelon» by the military-run Civil Administration.


Edited time: June 28, 2013 12:43

Israeli settlers are up in arms about McDonald’s refusal to build an outlet in the West Bank, calling to boycott the company’s entire operations in Israel. The chain cited a policy of “staying out of occupied territories” with other businesses joining in.

McDonald’s stated that its refusal to operate in the West Bank «had always been the restaurant chain’s policy» and that its decision was not coordinated with McDonald’s headquarters in the US.

The co-owner of the new mall in the town of Ariel located in central West Bank admitted that some other international companies which were asked to open up businesses in the mall have also declined. He refused to specify which ones.

«The mediators told us that branches operating abroad and other companies holding rights in Israel for international brand names are worried about the potential negative response toward their businesses [from consumers] abroad if they open shops in the mall,» Tzahi Nahmias told Calcalist newspaper.

In response Israeli settlers have called to boycott McDonald’s altogether. The right-wing ‘My Israel’ Facebook page posted a “McDonald’s: I’m not loving it” sign in protest.


Edited time: October 28, 2013 07:48

The Palestinian Authority is ramping up its diplomatic efforts against Israeli settlements in the territories it occupied in the 1967 war. It has called on 50 countries around the world to freeze business dealings and withdraw investments.

In letters to countries in Latin America and Europe, as well as to South Africa, Australia, Japan and South Korea, the Palestinian Authority asked governments to put pressure on local companies and discourage any relations with the Israeli settlements, Muhammad Shtayyeh, a senior Palestinian official, told the Financial Times.

The messages also requested that Israeli companies with connections to the settlements are barred from doing business in those countries. Citizens of those countries should be advised to abandon the settlements, because staying there is illegal, the Palestinian Authority said.

The campaign for an economic boycott was also given a boost by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during his trip to Europe.

«I call on European companies and foreign companies doing business in the settlements to put an end to their activities,» he said following his meeting with European Council President Herman van Rompuy this week.

The campaign follows the EU’s decision in June to ban financial assistance to any Israeli organizations operating in the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights from 2014. The decision infuriated Israel and prevented the country from participating in the Horizon 2020 European scientific exchange program.

Also, in recent months, several individual members of the European Union, including the UK and the Netherlands, began to warn their companies against dealing with Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. This month Dutch infrastructure giant Royal HaskoningDHV announced the withdrawal from a wastewater treatment plant project in East Jerusalem, because the location is outside of the pre-1967 border of Israel.

There are currently more than 500,000 Israelis living in the settlements, which continue to be a point of bitter dispute with Palestinians. Many countries consider their existence unlawful and say they are a major stumbling block on the path toward a peaceful Middle East.

The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been actively encouraging development of the controversial settlements in defiance of foreign criticism, which comes even from Israel’s long-time ally the US.


The end of any potential ‘two state solution’ to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel’s far right wing Likud government, headed by Binyamin Netanyahu, built or committed to build thousands of new family domiciles for Israeli squatters in Palestinian territory. In the absence of a Palestinian state, Palestinians are doomed to statelessness and a lack of basic human rights, living under Israeli military occupation. The only other possibility, given that they live on territory unilaterally annexed by Israel, is for them ultimately to gain Israeli citizenship. In the meantime, Israel’s treatment of the occupied Palestinians looks even worse than Apartheid or racial segregation and systematic discrimination in South Africa before 1990. Israeli Apartheid is likely to result in the country being sanctioned and boycotted by the international community.

Juan Cole


Jordan Valley settlers farm private Palestinian land while owners are barred from entering

by on January 4, 2013

Palestinian owners barred from Jordan Valley land while Israeli farmers profit
Haaretz 3 Jan — Thai workers from the Israeli settlements are allowed across the border fence into the area, while the Palestinians are not; IDF spokesman also refuses to let Haaretz reporters tour the area Settlers in the Jordan Valley are farming more than 5,000 dunams (1,250 acres) of private Palestinian land located between the border fence and the actual border with Jordan. They received the land from the World Zionist Organization in the 1980s. The original owners, some of whom fled in 1967 and returned to the West Bank after the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords and the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan, are still not allowed to access the land because of a military order preventing them from entering the border area.
link to www.haaretz.com


SodaStream wants to clean up its reputation by spending millions of dollars for a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl on February 3, 2013.

WHAT IS SODASTREAM?
SodaStream manufactures and distributes home carbonating devices and flavorings for soft drinks. Its products can be found in retail stores like Macy’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, Costco, and others — including those listed here. The company’s main production site is in the illegal West Bank settlement of the Mishor Edomin Industrial Zone, where the company conceals the fact that its products are manufactured in a settlement by using ‘Made in Israel’ labels. As an Israeli settlement manufacturer, it exploits Palestinian land, resources, and labor. 
Companies that produce in the settlements enjoy several structural advantages, such as tax incentives, lax enforcement of regulations, as well as additional governmental support. Despite SodaStream’s location in the West Bank, goods produced here do not serve the local population; instead, 65% of goods are shipped elsewhere and taxes and profits go to support the Israeli economy—not Palestinians. 
Click here to visit the excellent Global Exchange site about SodaStream.
Click here for a report on SodaStream.
Click here to see some of their arguments and counter-arguments.

Reuters

By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Israel announced on Sunday a land appropriation in the occupied West Bank that an anti-settlement group termed the biggest in 30 years, drawing Palestinian condemnation and a U.S. rebuke.

Some 400 hectares (988 acres) in the Etzion Jewish settlement bloc near Bethlehem were declared "state land, on the instructions of the political echelon" by the military-run Civil Administration.



Edited time: June 28, 2013 12:43

Israeli settlers are up in arms about McDonald’s refusal to build an outlet in the West Bank, calling to boycott the company’s entire operations in Israel. The chain cited a policy of “staying out of occupied territories” with other businesses joining in.

McDonald's stated that its refusal to operate in the West Bank "had always been the restaurant chain's policy" and that its decision was not coordinated with McDonald’s headquarters in the US.

The co-owner of the new mall in the town of Ariel located in central West Bank admitted that some other international companies which were asked to open up businesses in the mall have also declined. He refused to specify which ones.

"The mediators told us that branches operating abroad and other companies holding rights in Israel for international brand names are worried about the potential negative response toward their businesses [from consumers] abroad if they open shops in the mall," Tzahi Nahmias told Calcalist newspaper.

In response Israeli settlers have called to boycott McDonald’s altogether. The right-wing ‘My Israel’ Facebook page posted a “McDonald’s: I’m not loving it” sign in protest.



Edited time: October 28, 2013 07:48
The Palestinian Authority is ramping up its diplomatic efforts against Israeli settlements in the territories it occupied in the 1967 war. It has called on 50 countries around the world to freeze business dealings and withdraw investments.

In letters to countries in Latin America and Europe, as well as to South Africa, Australia, Japan and South Korea, the Palestinian Authority asked governments to put pressure on local companies and discourage any relations with the Israeli settlements, Muhammad Shtayyeh, a senior Palestinian official, told the Financial Times.

The messages also requested that Israeli companies with connections to the settlements are barred from doing business in those countries. Citizens of those countries should be advised to abandon the settlements, because staying there is illegal, the Palestinian Authority said.

The campaign for an economic boycott was also given a boost by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during his trip to Europe.

"I call on European companies and foreign companies doing business in the settlements to put an end to their activities," he said following his meeting with European Council President Herman van Rompuy this week.

The campaign follows the EU’s decision in June to ban financial assistance to any Israeli organizations operating in the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights from 2014. The decision infuriated Israel and prevented the country from participating in the Horizon 2020 European scientific exchange program.

Also, in recent months, several individual members of the European Union, including the UK and the Netherlands, began to warn their companies against dealing with Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. This month Dutch infrastructure giant Royal HaskoningDHV announced the withdrawal from a wastewater treatment plant project in East Jerusalem, because the location is outside of the pre-1967 border of Israel.

There are currently more than 500,000 Israelis living in the settlements, which continue to be a point of bitter dispute with Palestinians. Many countries consider their existence unlawful and say they are a major stumbling block on the path toward a peaceful Middle East.

The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been actively encouraging development of the controversial settlements in defiance of foreign criticism, which comes even from Israel’s long-time ally the US.



The end of any potential ‘two state solution’ to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel’s far right wing Likud government, headed by Binyamin Netanyahu, built or committed to build thousands of new family domiciles for Israeli squatters in Palestinian territory. In the absence of a Palestinian state, Palestinians are doomed to statelessness and a lack of basic human rights, living under Israeli military occupation. The only other possibility, given that they live on territory unilaterally annexed by Israel, is for them ultimately to gain Israeli citizenship. In the meantime, Israel’s treatment of the occupied Palestinians looks even worse than Apartheid or racial segregation and systematic discrimination in South Africa before 1990. Israeli Apartheid is likely to result in the country being sanctioned and boycotted by the international community.
Juan Cole




Jordan Valley settlers farm private Palestinian land while owners are barred from entering

Palestinian owners barred from Jordan Valley land while Israeli farmers profit
Haaretz 3 Jan -- Thai workers from the Israeli settlements are allowed across the border fence into the area, while the Palestinians are not; IDF spokesman also refuses to let Haaretz reporters tour the area -- Settlers in the Jordan Valley are farming more than 5,000 dunams (1,250 acres) of private Palestinian land located between the border fence and the actual border with Jordan. They received the land from the World Zionist Organization in the 1980s. The original owners, some of whom fled in 1967 and returned to the West Bank after the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords and the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan, are still not allowed to access the land because of a military order preventing them from entering the border area.
link to www.haaretz.com



SodaStream wants to clean up its reputation by spending millions of dollars for a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl on February 3, 2013.



WHAT IS SODASTREAM?
SodaStream manufactures and distributes home carbonating devices and flavorings for soft drinks. Its products can be found in retail stores like Macy’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, Costco, and others -- including those listed here. The company’s main production site is in the illegal West Bank settlement of the Mishor Edomin Industrial Zone, where the company conceals the fact that its products are manufactured in a settlement by using ‘Made in Israel’ labels. As an Israeli settlement manufacturer, it exploits Palestinian land, resources, and labor. 
Companies that produce in the settlements enjoy several structural advantages, such as tax incentives, lax enforcement of regulations, as well as additional governmental support. Despite SodaStream’s location in the West Bank, goods produced here do not serve the local population; instead, 65% of goods are shipped elsewhere and taxes and profits go to support the Israeli economy---not Palestinians. 
Click here to visit the excellent Global Exchange site about SodaStream.
Click here for a report on SodaStream.
Click here to see some of their arguments and counter-arguments.

Homeland Security

Oct 27 2013, 9:55 AM ET

(The Atlantic) -The Department of Homeland Security is using algorithms to “prescreen” travelers before they board domestic flights, reviewing government and private databases that include Americans’ tax identification numbers, car registrations and property records.

Documents leaked by whistleblower Edward J. Snowden emerged this week, revealing NSA phone monitoring of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, 35 unidentified heads of state, and 70 million calls in France.

The extent of the surveillance is sparking widespread indignation and endangering joint counter-terrorism operations among Germany, France and the United States.

Inside the United States, meanwhile, press reports emerged on Monday that the Transportation Security Administration is expanding its prescreening of airline passengers to include government and private databases that contain employment information, property records and physical characteristics.
Khaliah Barnes, a lawyer with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which opposes this prescreening, said many Americans do not grasp the current scale of domestic government data mining.
“The average person doesn’t understand how much intelligence-driven matching is going on and how this could be accessed for other purposes,” she said. “There’s no meaningful oversight, transparency or accountability.”
One critic called the new TSA program “a ‘pre-crime’ assessment every time you fly.”
A bipartisan proposal to rein in government surveillance unveiled last month by Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is a good start. The measure would end the bulk collection of American’s communications records; limit Washington’s ability to obtain information from Google and other online providers, and make the secret court that oversees U.S. surveillance operations far more transparent.


Published on Mar 13, 2013

The Economy isn’t going to recover. The government knows this and is getting ready, but in ways that are very disturbing.
Follow us on Facebook: http://facebook.com/StormCloudsGathering


Links to get you started on your research:

NDAA 2013 passes with indefinite detention still intact
http://rt.com/usa/news/ndaa-indefinit…

The Patriot Act
http://thepage.time.com/2011/02/15/ho…
http://edition.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/…

Obama extends Patriot Act: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05…

Widespread abuse of patriot act: http://www.aclu.org/national-security…

Obama tries to hide information regarding rape and sexual abuse in Abu Ghraib: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/world…

Obama’s kill list: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/wor…

FBI finalizing its NGI Biometrics Database:
http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/fing…

Biometrics at departures: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/po…

http://rt.com/usa/us-foreigners-leave…

People placed on no-fly list for political reasons:

http://www.sfgate.com/politics/articl…

http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-sec…

Drones used to hunt Dorner: http://now.msn.com/christopher-dorner…

Dorner fire set intentionally:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02…
The police finally admit it: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow…

Leaked Document: Government setting up military detention centers for Activists: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfkZ1y…

FBI Murdered Todashev execution style:
http://www.usnews.com/news/newsgram/a…

http://rt.com/news/todashev-head-shot…

Senator Coburn points out the DHS «zombie» training exercise as wasteful: http://www.coburn.senate.gov/public/i…

But if you actually watch it it’s much more disturbing: http://stormcloudsgathering.com/dhs-t…

Yes this really happened (details about the exercise):
http://washingtonexaminer.com/your-ta…

Police admit Dorner fire was set on purpose: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow…

DHS buying billions of bullets (links to some of the purchase orders):
450 million rounds purchased by DHS earlier this year:
http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Secu…

Purchase order for additional 750 million rounds of ammunition
https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportuni…

DHS buys even more bullets:
https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportuni…

http://news.investors.com/ibd-editori…

Iris scanning from a distance:
http://arstechnica.com/business/2012/…

Biometrics checks at border… Already in place for immigrants entering, now to be added for exits.


The No Fly List is a list, created and maintained by the United States government’s Terrorist Screening Center (TSC),[1] of people who are not permitted to board a commercial aircraft for travel in or out of the United States. The list has also been used to divert away from U.S. airspace aircraft not flying to or from the U.S.[2] The number of people on the list rises and falls according to threat and intelligence reporting. As of 2011, the list contained about 10,000 names.[3][4] In 2012, the list doubled in size to about 21,000 names. [5] The list – along with the Secondary Security Screening Selection, which tags would-be passengers for extra inspection – was created after the September 11 attacks in 2001.
The No Fly List is different from the Terrorist Watch List, a much longer list of people said to be suspected of some involvement with terrorism.[6] The Terrorist Watch List contained around 400,000 names as of summer 2011, according to the TSC.[7][8] In 2013, the Terrorist Watch List had increased to 875,000 names. [9]
The list has been criticized on civil liberties and due process grounds, due in part to the potential for ethnic, religious, economic, political, or racial profiling and discrimination. It has also raised concerns about privacy and government secrecy. Finally, it has been criticized as costly,[10] prone to false positives,[11] and easily defeated.[12]
The No Fly List, the Selectee List and the Terrorist Watchlist were created by the administration of George W. Bush and retained by the administration of Barack Obama. U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said in May 2010: “The no-fly list itself is one of our best lines of defense.”[13]

On September 11, 2001, the FBI had a list of 16 people deemed «no transport» because they «presented a specific known or suspected threat to aviation.»[6] The list had grown to more than 400 names by November 2001, when responsibility for keeping it was transferred to the Federal Aviation Administration.[6]
In mid-December 2001, two lists were created: the «No Fly List» of 594 people to be denied air transport, and the «Selectee» list of 365 people who were to be more carefully searched at airports.[6] By December 2002, the No Fly List held more than 1,000 names.[citation needed]60 Minutes reported on 8 October 2006 that the news program had obtained a March 2006 copy of the list that contained 44,000 names.[14]TSA officials said that, as of November 2005, 30,000 people in 2005 had complained that their names were matched to a name on the list via the name matching software used by airlines.[15] In April 2007, the United States government «terrorist watch list» administered by the Terrorist Screening Center, which is managed principally by the FBI, contained 700,000 records.[16] A year later, the ACLU estimated the list to have grown to over 1,000,000 names and to be continually expanding.[17]
However, according to Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff, in October 2008 the No Fly list contained only 2,500 names, with an additional 16,000 «selectees», who «represent a less specific security threat and receive extra scrutiny, but are allowed to fly.»

Among the complaints about the No Fly List is the use of credit reports in calculating the risk score. In response to the controversy, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials said in 2005 that they would not use credit scores to determine passengers’ risk score and that they would comply with all rights guaranteed by the First and Fourth Amendments.[28]
The European Union and other non-U.S. government entities have expressed concern about allowing the CAPPS II proposal to be implemented within their borders. During the early testing of the No Fly List and CAPPS II, the TSA privately asked airlines to disclose massive amounts of personal information about their passengers. This action has been said[who?] to be a violation of the Privacy Act of 1974, which forbids the government to compile secret databases on U.S. citizens.
In the midst of this controversy, the Government Accountability Office of the U.S. Congress produced a report critical of the CAPPS II system. It characterized the proposal as incomplete and seriously behind schedule, and noted that the TSA had failed to address «developmental, operational, and privacy issues identified by Congress». On July 14, 2004, TSA officials announced that CAPPS II was being pulled from consideration without proceeding to full testing. Critics have alleged that the TSA has merely chosen to start with a less controversial entry point that they are calling the «Registered Traveler» program.[29] TSA has also begun testing of another program called «Secure Flight«, which is supposed to solve some of the problems of CAPPS I while avoiding the privacy issues of CAPPS II.
In January 2009, Marcus Holmes[30] conservatively estimated the total cost of the program to be $536 million since 9/11, with a reasonable estimation range that approaches $1 billion, and he questioned whether the benefits of the list outweigh the costs.[10]

A «false positive» occurs when a passenger who is not on the No Fly List has a name that matches or is similar to a name on the list. False positive passengers will not be allowed to board a flight unless they can differentiate themselves from the actual person on the list, usually by presenting ID showing their middle name or date of birth. In some cases, false positive passengers have been denied boarding or have missed flights because they could not easily prove that they were not the person on the No Fly List.
When an airline ticket is purchased, the reservation system uses software to compare the passenger’s name against the No Fly List. If the name matches, or is similar to a name on the No Fly List, a restriction is placed in their reservation that prevents them from being issued a boarding pass until the airline has determined whether or not they are the actual person whose name is on the No Fly List. Passengers are not told when a restriction has been placed on their reservation, and they normally do not find out that anything is unusual until they attempt to check in. «False positive» passengers cannot use Internet check-in or the automatic check-in kiosks in airports. Any attempt to use them will normally result in a message that the check-in cannot be completed and that the passenger needs to see a live check-in agent.
In order to be issued a boarding pass, a «false positive» passenger must present identification that sufficiently differentiates them from the person on the No Fly List. This can include, but is not limited to, date and place of birth, middle name, citizenship, passport number, etc. Depending on the airline, this clearance can be done either electronically, with the check-in agent keying the information into the system, or a manual procedure where the agent telephones a centralized security office to obtain clearance. Once a «false positive» passenger has been cleared for a flight, the clearance will usually, but not always, apply to the remaining flights on that reservation, including the return. However, the next time this passenger purchases an airline ticket, they will have to be cleared all over again. If a passenger’s identification is insufficient to differentiate that passenger from a name on the No-Fly List, the airline will refuse to issue a boarding pass and tell the passenger to contact the TSA.
Policies vary from airline to airline as to whether a check-in agent will tell passengers why they must always have additional steps performed when they check in, or why they are unable to check in via Internet, kiosk, or at curbside. In some cases, check-in agents will incorrectly tell passengers that they must be cleared because they are «on the No Fly List», when in fact they are simply a «false positive» (having the same name as someone on the No-Fly List). False positive passengers who are ultimately issued boarding passes are not on the No Fly List. In the majority of instances, passengers are not told anything, and it is only through the repeated experience of needing to be cleared or being unable to use curbside, Internet or automatic check-in that they come to suspect that they are «false positives».
In an effort to reduce the number of false positives, DHS announced on April 28, 2008 that each airline will be permitted to create a system to verify and store a passenger’s date of birth, to clear up watch list misidentifications. Passengers can voluntarily provide this information to the airline, which would have to be verified by presenting acceptable ID at the ticket counter. Once this data has been stored, travelers that were previously inconvenienced on every trip would be able to check in online or at remote kiosks.[31] It will be up to each individual airline to choose whether they wish to implement such a system.

False positives and abuses that have been in the news include:

  • Numerous children (including many under the age of five, and some under the age of one) have generated false positives.[32][33][34]
  • Daniel Brown, a United States Marine returning from Iraq, was prevented from boarding a flight home in April 2006 because his name matched one on the No Fly List.[35]
  • David Fathi, an attorney for the ACLU of Iranian descent and a plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit.[36]
  • Asif Iqbal, a management consultant and legal resident of the United States born in Pakistan, plans to sue the U.S. government because he is regularly detained when he tries to fly, because he has the same name as a former Guantanamo detainee.[11][37] Iqbal’s work requires a lot of travel, and, even though the Guantanamo detainee has been released, his name remains on the No Fly List, and Iqbal the software consultant experiences frequent, unpredictable delays and missed flights.[38] He is pushing for a photo ID and birthdate matching system, in addition to the current system of checking names.[39]
  • Robert J. Johnson, a surgeon and a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, was told in 2006 that he was on the list, although he had had no problem in flying the month before. Johnson was running as a Democrat against U.S. Representative John McHugh, a Republican. Johnson wondered whether he was on the list because of his opposition to the Iraq War. He stated, «This could just be a government screw-up, but I don’t know, and they won’t tell me.»[40] Later, a 60 Minutes report brought together 12 men named Robert Johnson, all of whom had experienced problems in airports with being pulled aside and interrogated. The report suggested that the individual whose name was intended to be on the list was most likely the Robert Johnson who had been convicted of plotting to bomb a movie theater and a Hindu temple in Toronto.[14]
  • In August 2004, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) told a Senate Judiciary Committee discussing the No Fly List that he had appeared on the list and had been repeatedly delayed at airports. He said it had taken him three weeks of appeals directly to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to have him removed from the list. Kennedy said he was eventually told that the name «T Kennedy» was added to the list because it was once used as an alias of a suspected terrorist. There are an estimated 7,000 American men whose legal names correspond to «T Kennedy». (Senator Kennedy, whose first name was Edward and for whom «Ted» was only a nickname, would not have been one of them.) Recognizing that as a U.S. Senator he was in a privileged position of being able to contact Ridge, Kennedy said of «ordinary citizens»: «How are they going to be able to get to be treated fairly and not have their rights abused?»[41] Former mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani pointed to this incident as an example for the necessity to «rethink aviation security» in an essay on homeland security published while he was seeking the Republican nomination for the 2008 presidential election.[42]
  • U.S. Representative, former Freedom Rider, and Chairman of SNCC John Lewis (politician) (D-GA) has been stopped many times.[43]
  • Canadian journalist Patrick Martin has been frequently interrogated while traveling, because of a suspicious individual with the same name.[44]
  • Walter F. Murphy, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton, reported that the following exchange took place at Newark on 1 March 2007, where he was denied a boarding pass «because I [Professor Murphy] was on the Terrorist Watch list.» The airline employee asked, «Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that.» «I explained,» said professor Murphy, «that I had not so marched but had, in September 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the constitution.» To which the airline employee responded, «That’ll do it.»[45]
  • David Nelson, the actor best known for his role on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, is among various persons named David Nelson who have been stopped at airports because their name apparently appears on the list.[46][47]
  • Jesselyn Radack, a former United States Department of Justice ethics adviser who argued that John Walker Lindh was entitled to an attorney, was placed on the No Fly List as part of what she [48] believes to be a reprisal for her whistle-blowing.
  • In September 2004, former pop singer Cat Stevens (who converted to Islam and changed his name to «Yusuf Islam» in 1978) was denied entry into the U.S. after his name was found on the list.[49]
  • In February 2006, U.S. Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) stated in a committee hearing that his wife Catherine had been subjected to questioning at an airport as to whether she was Cat Stevens due to the similarity of their names.[46][50]
  • U.S. Representative Don Young (R-AK), the third-most senior Republican in the House, was flagged in 2004 after he was mistaken for a «Donald Lee Young».[51]
  • Some members of the Federal Air Marshal Service have been denied boarding on flights that they were assigned to protect because their names matched those of persons on the no-fly list.[52]
  • Until July 2008, Nelson Mandela and other members of the African National Congress were on the list, something that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called «rather embarrassing».[53] On July 5, 2008, the U.S. removed Mandela and the ANC from the list.[54]
  • In August 2008, CNN reported that an airline captain and retired brigadier general for the United States Air Force has had numerous encounters with security officials when attempting to pilot his own plane.[55]
  • After frequent harassment at airport terminals, a Canadian businessman changed his name to avoid being delayed every time he took a flight.[56]
  • In October 2008, the Washington Post reported that Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent political activists as terrorists, and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases, with labels indicating that they were terror suspects. The protest groups were also entered as terrorist organizations. During a hearing, it was revealed that these individuals and organizations had been placed in the databases because of a surveillance operation that targeted opponents of the death penalty and the Iraq war.[57]
  • In April 2009, TSA refused to allow an Air France flight from Paris to Mexico to cross U.S. airspace because it was carrying Colombian journalist Hernando Calvo Ospina. Air France did not send the passenger manifest to the US authorities, they did however send it to Mexico who forwarded it to the US.[2]
  • Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan was held for extensive questioning by US Immigration and Customs officials in August 2009, because as he reported, «his name came up on a computer alert list.» Customs officials claimed he «was questioned as part of a routine process that took 66 minutes.» Khan was visiting the United States to promote his film My Name Is Khan, which concerns racial profiling of Muslims in the United States.[58]
  • In June 2010, The New York Times reported Yahya Wehelie, a 26 year-old Muslim-American man was being prevented from returning to the United States, and trapped in Cairo. Despite Wehelie’s offer to FBI agents to allow them to accompany him in the plane, while shackled, he was not permitted to return. The ACLU has argued that this constitutes banishment.[59]
  • A U.S. citizen, stranded in Colombia after being placed on the no-fly list as a result of having studied in Yemen, sought to re-enter the U.S. through Mexico but was returned to Colombia by Mexican authorities.[59]
  • Michael Migliore, a 23-year-old Muslim convert and dual citizen of the United States and Italy, was detained in the United Kingdom after traveling there from the U.S. by train and then cruise ship because he was not permitted to fly. He said that he believes he was placed on the no-fly list because he refused to answer questions about a 2010 Portland car bomb plot without his lawyer present.[60] He was released eight or ten hours later, but authorities confiscated his electronic media items including a cell phone and media player.[61]
  • Abe Mashal, a 31-year-old Muslim and United States Marine Veteran, found himself on the No Fly List in April 2010 while attempting to board a plane out of Midway Airport. He was questioned by the TSA, FBI and Chicago Police at the airport and was told they had no clue why he was on the No Fly List. Once he arrived at home that day two other FBI agents came to his home and used a Do Not Fly question-and-answer sheet to question him. They informed him they had no idea why he was on the No Fly List. In June 2010 those same two FBI agents summoned Mashal to a local hotel and invited him to a private room. They told him that he was in no trouble and the reason he ended up on the No Fly List was because of possibly sending emails to an American imam they may have been monitoring. They then informed him that if he would go undercover at various local mosques, they could get him off the No Fly List immediately and he would be compensated for such actions. Mashal refused to answer any additional questions without a lawyer present and was told to leave the hotel. Mashal then contacted the ACLU and is now being represented in a class-action lawsuit filed against the TSA, FBI and DHS concerning the legality of the No Fly List and how people end up on it. Mashal feels as if he was blackmailed into becoming an informant by being placed on the No Fly List. Mashal has since appeared on ABC, NBC, PBS and Al Jazeera concerning his inclusion on the No Fly List. He has also written a book about his experience titled «No Spy No Fly.» [62]

The DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP) is a procedure for travelers who are delayed or denied boarding of an aircraft, consistently receive excess scrutiny at security checkpoints, or are denied entry to the U.S. because they are believed to be or are told that they are on a government watch list. The traveler must complete an online application at the Department of Homeland Security website, print and sign the application, and then submit it with copies of several identifying documents. After reviewing their records, DHS notifies the traveler that if any corrections of data about them were warranted, they will be made.
Travelers who apply for redress through TRIP are assigned a record identifier called a «Redress Control Number». Airline reservations systems allow passengers who have a Redress Control Number to enter it when making their reservation.
DHS TRIP may make it easier for an airline to confirm a traveler’s identity. False-positive travelers, whose names match or are similar to the names of persons on the No Fly List, will continue to match that name even after using DHS TRIP, so it will not restore a traveler’s ability to use Internet or curbside check-in or to use an automated kiosk. It does usually help the airline identify the traveler as not being the actual person on the No Fly List, after an airline agent has reviewed their identity documents at check-in.
DHS TRIP is often accused of being defunct and existing only to appease civil rights organizations without having any actual effect.[63]


(The Atlantic) -The Department of Homeland Security is using algorithms to “prescreen” travelers before they board domestic flights, reviewing government and private databases that include Americans’ tax identification numbers, car registrations and property records.

Documents leaked by whistleblower Edward J. Snowden emerged this week, revealing NSA phone monitoring of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, 35 unidentified heads of state, and 70 million calls in France.

The extent of the surveillance is sparking widespread indignation and endangering joint counter-terrorism operations among Germany, France and the United States.



Inside the United States, meanwhile, press reports emerged on Monday that the Transportation Security Administration is expanding its prescreening of airline passengers to include government and private databases that contain employment information, property records and physical characteristics.
Khaliah Barnes, a lawyer with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which opposes this prescreening, said many Americans do not grasp the current scale of domestic government data mining.
“The average person doesn’t understand how much intelligence-driven matching is going on and how this could be accessed for other purposes,” she said. “There’s no meaningful oversight, transparency or accountability.”
One critic called the new TSA program “a ‘pre-crime’ assessment every time you fly.”
A bipartisan proposal to rein in government surveillance unveiled last month by Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is a good start. The measure would end the bulk collection of American’s communications records; limit Washington’s ability to obtain information from Google and other online providers, and make the secret court that oversees U.S. surveillance operations far more transparent.





Published on Mar 13, 2013
The Economy isn't going to recover. The government knows this and is getting ready, but in ways that are very disturbing.
Follow us on Facebook: http://facebook.com/StormCloudsGathering




Links to get you started on your research:

NDAA 2013 passes with indefinite detention still intact
http://rt.com/usa/news/ndaa-indefinit...

The Patriot Act
http://thepage.time.com/2011/02/15/ho...
http://edition.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/...

Obama extends Patriot Act: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05...

Widespread abuse of patriot act: http://www.aclu.org/national-security...

Obama tries to hide information regarding rape and sexual abuse in Abu Ghraib: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/world...

Obama's kill list: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/wor...

FBI finalizing its NGI Biometrics Database:
http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/fing...

Biometrics at departures: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/po...

http://rt.com/usa/us-foreigners-leave...

People placed on no-fly list for political reasons:

http://www.sfgate.com/politics/articl...

http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-sec...

Drones used to hunt Dorner: http://now.msn.com/christopher-dorner...

Dorner fire set intentionally:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02...
The police finally admit it: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow...

Leaked Document: Government setting up military detention centers for Activists: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfkZ1y...

FBI Murdered Todashev execution style:
http://www.usnews.com/news/newsgram/a...

http://rt.com/news/todashev-head-shot...


Senator Coburn points out the DHS "zombie" training exercise as wasteful: http://www.coburn.senate.gov/public/i...

But if you actually watch it it's much more disturbing: http://stormcloudsgathering.com/dhs-t...

Yes this really happened (details about the exercise):
http://washingtonexaminer.com/your-ta...

Police admit Dorner fire was set on purpose: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow...


DHS buying billions of bullets (links to some of the purchase orders):
450 million rounds purchased by DHS earlier this year:
http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Secu...

Purchase order for additional 750 million rounds of ammunition
https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportuni...

DHS buys even more bullets:
https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportuni...

http://news.investors.com/ibd-editori...



Iris scanning from a distance:
http://arstechnica.com/business/2012/...

Biometrics checks at border... Already in place for immigrants entering, now to be added for exits.




The No Fly List is a list, created and maintained by the United States government's Terrorist Screening Center (TSC),[1] of people who are not permitted to board a commercial aircraft for travel in or out of the United States. The list has also been used to divert away from U.S. airspace aircraft not flying to or from the U.S.[2] The number of people on the list rises and falls according to threat and intelligence reporting. As of 2011, the list contained about 10,000 names.[3][4] In 2012, the list doubled in size to about 21,000 names. [5] The list – along with the Secondary Security Screening Selection, which tags would-be passengers for extra inspection – was created after the September 11 attacks in 2001.
The No Fly List is different from the Terrorist Watch List, a much longer list of people said to be suspected of some involvement with terrorism.[6] The Terrorist Watch List contained around 400,000 names as of summer 2011, according to the TSC.[7][8] In 2013, the Terrorist Watch List had increased to 875,000 names. [9]
The list has been criticized on civil liberties and due process grounds, due in part to the potential for ethnic, religious, economic, political, or racial profiling and discrimination. It has also raised concerns about privacy and government secrecy. Finally, it has been criticized as costly,[10] prone to false positives,[11] and easily defeated.[12]
The No Fly List, the Selectee List and the Terrorist Watchlist were created by the administration of George W. Bush and retained by the administration of Barack Obama. U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said in May 2010: “The no-fly list itself is one of our best lines of defense.”[13]

On September 11, 2001, the FBI had a list of 16 people deemed "no transport" because they "presented a specific known or suspected threat to aviation."[6] The list had grown to more than 400 names by November 2001, when responsibility for keeping it was transferred to the Federal Aviation Administration.[6]
In mid-December 2001, two lists were created: the "No Fly List" of 594 people to be denied air transport, and the "Selectee" list of 365 people who were to be more carefully searched at airports.[6] By December 2002, the No Fly List held more than 1,000 names.[citation needed] 60 Minutes reported on 8 October 2006 that the news program had obtained a March 2006 copy of the list that contained 44,000 names.[14] TSA officials said that, as of November 2005, 30,000 people in 2005 had complained that their names were matched to a name on the list via the name matching software used by airlines.[15] In April 2007, the United States government "terrorist watch list" administered by the Terrorist Screening Center, which is managed principally by the FBI, contained 700,000 records.[16] A year later, the ACLU estimated the list to have grown to over 1,000,000 names and to be continually expanding.[17]
However, according to Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff, in October 2008 the No Fly list contained only 2,500 names, with an additional 16,000 "selectees", who "represent a less specific security threat and receive extra scrutiny, but are allowed to fly."


Among the complaints about the No Fly List is the use of credit reports in calculating the risk score. In response to the controversy, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials said in 2005 that they would not use credit scores to determine passengers' risk score and that they would comply with all rights guaranteed by the First and Fourth Amendments.[28]
The European Union and other non-U.S. government entities have expressed concern about allowing the CAPPS II proposal to be implemented within their borders. During the early testing of the No Fly List and CAPPS II, the TSA privately asked airlines to disclose massive amounts of personal information about their passengers. This action has been said[who?] to be a violation of the Privacy Act of 1974, which forbids the government to compile secret databases on U.S. citizens.
In the midst of this controversy, the Government Accountability Office of the U.S. Congress produced a report critical of the CAPPS II system. It characterized the proposal as incomplete and seriously behind schedule, and noted that the TSA had failed to address "developmental, operational, and privacy issues identified by Congress". On July 14, 2004, TSA officials announced that CAPPS II was being pulled from consideration without proceeding to full testing. Critics have alleged that the TSA has merely chosen to start with a less controversial entry point that they are calling the "Registered Traveler" program.[29] TSA has also begun testing of another program called "Secure Flight", which is supposed to solve some of the problems of CAPPS I while avoiding the privacy issues of CAPPS II.
In January 2009, Marcus Holmes[30] conservatively estimated the total cost of the program to be $536 million since 9/11, with a reasonable estimation range that approaches $1 billion, and he questioned whether the benefits of the list outweigh the costs.[10]

A "false positive" occurs when a passenger who is not on the No Fly List has a name that matches or is similar to a name on the list. False positive passengers will not be allowed to board a flight unless they can differentiate themselves from the actual person on the list, usually by presenting ID showing their middle name or date of birth. In some cases, false positive passengers have been denied boarding or have missed flights because they could not easily prove that they were not the person on the No Fly List.
When an airline ticket is purchased, the reservation system uses software to compare the passenger's name against the No Fly List. If the name matches, or is similar to a name on the No Fly List, a restriction is placed in their reservation that prevents them from being issued a boarding pass until the airline has determined whether or not they are the actual person whose name is on the No Fly List. Passengers are not told when a restriction has been placed on their reservation, and they normally do not find out that anything is unusual until they attempt to check in. "False positive" passengers cannot use Internet check-in or the automatic check-in kiosks in airports. Any attempt to use them will normally result in a message that the check-in cannot be completed and that the passenger needs to see a live check-in agent.
In order to be issued a boarding pass, a "false positive" passenger must present identification that sufficiently differentiates them from the person on the No Fly List. This can include, but is not limited to, date and place of birth, middle name, citizenship, passport number, etc. Depending on the airline, this clearance can be done either electronically, with the check-in agent keying the information into the system, or a manual procedure where the agent telephones a centralized security office to obtain clearance. Once a "false positive" passenger has been cleared for a flight, the clearance will usually, but not always, apply to the remaining flights on that reservation, including the return. However, the next time this passenger purchases an airline ticket, they will have to be cleared all over again. If a passenger's identification is insufficient to differentiate that passenger from a name on the No-Fly List, the airline will refuse to issue a boarding pass and tell the passenger to contact the TSA.
Policies vary from airline to airline as to whether a check-in agent will tell passengers why they must always have additional steps performed when they check in, or why they are unable to check in via Internet, kiosk, or at curbside. In some cases, check-in agents will incorrectly tell passengers that they must be cleared because they are "on the No Fly List", when in fact they are simply a "false positive" (having the same name as someone on the No-Fly List). False positive passengers who are ultimately issued boarding passes are not on the No Fly List. In the majority of instances, passengers are not told anything, and it is only through the repeated experience of needing to be cleared or being unable to use curbside, Internet or automatic check-in that they come to suspect that they are "false positives".
In an effort to reduce the number of false positives, DHS announced on April 28, 2008 that each airline will be permitted to create a system to verify and store a passenger's date of birth, to clear up watch list misidentifications. Passengers can voluntarily provide this information to the airline, which would have to be verified by presenting acceptable ID at the ticket counter. Once this data has been stored, travelers that were previously inconvenienced on every trip would be able to check in online or at remote kiosks.[31] It will be up to each individual airline to choose whether they wish to implement such a system.

False positives and abuses that have been in the news include:
  • Numerous children (including many under the age of five, and some under the age of one) have generated false positives.[32][33][34]
  • Daniel Brown, a United States Marine returning from Iraq, was prevented from boarding a flight home in April 2006 because his name matched one on the No Fly List.[35]
  • David Fathi, an attorney for the ACLU of Iranian descent and a plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit.[36]
  • Asif Iqbal, a management consultant and legal resident of the United States born in Pakistan, plans to sue the U.S. government because he is regularly detained when he tries to fly, because he has the same name as a former Guantanamo detainee.[11][37] Iqbal's work requires a lot of travel, and, even though the Guantanamo detainee has been released, his name remains on the No Fly List, and Iqbal the software consultant experiences frequent, unpredictable delays and missed flights.[38] He is pushing for a photo ID and birthdate matching system, in addition to the current system of checking names.[39]
  • Robert J. Johnson, a surgeon and a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, was told in 2006 that he was on the list, although he had had no problem in flying the month before. Johnson was running as a Democrat against U.S. Representative John McHugh, a Republican. Johnson wondered whether he was on the list because of his opposition to the Iraq War. He stated, "This could just be a government screw-up, but I don't know, and they won't tell me."[40] Later, a 60 Minutes report brought together 12 men named Robert Johnson, all of whom had experienced problems in airports with being pulled aside and interrogated. The report suggested that the individual whose name was intended to be on the list was most likely the Robert Johnson who had been convicted of plotting to bomb a movie theater and a Hindu temple in Toronto.[14]
  • In August 2004, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) told a Senate Judiciary Committee discussing the No Fly List that he had appeared on the list and had been repeatedly delayed at airports. He said it had taken him three weeks of appeals directly to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to have him removed from the list. Kennedy said he was eventually told that the name "T Kennedy" was added to the list because it was once used as an alias of a suspected terrorist. There are an estimated 7,000 American men whose legal names correspond to "T Kennedy". (Senator Kennedy, whose first name was Edward and for whom "Ted" was only a nickname, would not have been one of them.) Recognizing that as a U.S. Senator he was in a privileged position of being able to contact Ridge, Kennedy said of "ordinary citizens": "How are they going to be able to get to be treated fairly and not have their rights abused?"[41] Former mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani pointed to this incident as an example for the necessity to "rethink aviation security" in an essay on homeland security published while he was seeking the Republican nomination for the 2008 presidential election.[42]
  • U.S. Representative, former Freedom Rider, and Chairman of SNCC John Lewis (politician) (D-GA) has been stopped many times.[43]
  • Canadian journalist Patrick Martin has been frequently interrogated while traveling, because of a suspicious individual with the same name.[44]
  • Walter F. Murphy, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton, reported that the following exchange took place at Newark on 1 March 2007, where he was denied a boarding pass "because I [Professor Murphy] was on the Terrorist Watch list." The airline employee asked, "Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that." "I explained," said professor Murphy, "that I had not so marched but had, in September 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the constitution." To which the airline employee responded, "That'll do it."[45]
  • David Nelson, the actor best known for his role on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, is among various persons named David Nelson who have been stopped at airports because their name apparently appears on the list.[46][47]
  • Jesselyn Radack, a former United States Department of Justice ethics adviser who argued that John Walker Lindh was entitled to an attorney, was placed on the No Fly List as part of what she [48] believes to be a reprisal for her whistle-blowing.
  • In September 2004, former pop singer Cat Stevens (who converted to Islam and changed his name to "Yusuf Islam" in 1978) was denied entry into the U.S. after his name was found on the list.[49]
  • In February 2006, U.S. Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) stated in a committee hearing that his wife Catherine had been subjected to questioning at an airport as to whether she was Cat Stevens due to the similarity of their names.[46][50]
  • U.S. Representative Don Young (R-AK), the third-most senior Republican in the House, was flagged in 2004 after he was mistaken for a "Donald Lee Young".[51]
  • Some members of the Federal Air Marshal Service have been denied boarding on flights that they were assigned to protect because their names matched those of persons on the no-fly list.[52]
  • Until July 2008, Nelson Mandela and other members of the African National Congress were on the list, something that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called "rather embarrassing".[53] On July 5, 2008, the U.S. removed Mandela and the ANC from the list.[54]
  • In August 2008, CNN reported that an airline captain and retired brigadier general for the United States Air Force has had numerous encounters with security officials when attempting to pilot his own plane.[55]
  • After frequent harassment at airport terminals, a Canadian businessman changed his name to avoid being delayed every time he took a flight.[56]
  • In October 2008, the Washington Post reported that Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent political activists as terrorists, and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases, with labels indicating that they were terror suspects. The protest groups were also entered as terrorist organizations. During a hearing, it was revealed that these individuals and organizations had been placed in the databases because of a surveillance operation that targeted opponents of the death penalty and the Iraq war.[57]
  • In April 2009, TSA refused to allow an Air France flight from Paris to Mexico to cross U.S. airspace because it was carrying Colombian journalist Hernando Calvo Ospina. Air France did not send the passenger manifest to the US authorities, they did however send it to Mexico who forwarded it to the US.[2]
  • Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan was held for extensive questioning by US Immigration and Customs officials in August 2009, because as he reported, "his name came up on a computer alert list." Customs officials claimed he "was questioned as part of a routine process that took 66 minutes." Khan was visiting the United States to promote his film My Name Is Khan, which concerns racial profiling of Muslims in the United States.[58]
  • In June 2010, The New York Times reported Yahya Wehelie, a 26 year-old Muslim-American man was being prevented from returning to the United States, and trapped in Cairo. Despite Wehelie's offer to FBI agents to allow them to accompany him in the plane, while shackled, he was not permitted to return. The ACLU has argued that this constitutes banishment.[59]
  • A U.S. citizen, stranded in Colombia after being placed on the no-fly list as a result of having studied in Yemen, sought to re-enter the U.S. through Mexico but was returned to Colombia by Mexican authorities.[59]
  • Michael Migliore, a 23-year-old Muslim convert and dual citizen of the United States and Italy, was detained in the United Kingdom after traveling there from the U.S. by train and then cruise ship because he was not permitted to fly. He said that he believes he was placed on the no-fly list because he refused to answer questions about a 2010 Portland car bomb plot without his lawyer present.[60] He was released eight or ten hours later, but authorities confiscated his electronic media items including a cell phone and media player.[61]
  • Abe Mashal, a 31-year-old Muslim and United States Marine Veteran, found himself on the No Fly List in April 2010 while attempting to board a plane out of Midway Airport. He was questioned by the TSA, FBI and Chicago Police at the airport and was told they had no clue why he was on the No Fly List. Once he arrived at home that day two other FBI agents came to his home and used a Do Not Fly question-and-answer sheet to question him. They informed him they had no idea why he was on the No Fly List. In June 2010 those same two FBI agents summoned Mashal to a local hotel and invited him to a private room. They told him that he was in no trouble and the reason he ended up on the No Fly List was because of possibly sending emails to an American imam they may have been monitoring. They then informed him that if he would go undercover at various local mosques, they could get him off the No Fly List immediately and he would be compensated for such actions. Mashal refused to answer any additional questions without a lawyer present and was told to leave the hotel. Mashal then contacted the ACLU and is now being represented in a class-action lawsuit filed against the TSA, FBI and DHS concerning the legality of the No Fly List and how people end up on it. Mashal feels as if he was blackmailed into becoming an informant by being placed on the No Fly List. Mashal has since appeared on ABC, NBC, PBS and Al Jazeera concerning his inclusion on the No Fly List. He has also written a book about his experience titled "No Spy No Fly." [62]


The DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP) is a procedure for travelers who are delayed or denied boarding of an aircraft, consistently receive excess scrutiny at security checkpoints, or are denied entry to the U.S. because they are believed to be or are told that they are on a government watch list. The traveler must complete an online application at the Department of Homeland Security website, print and sign the application, and then submit it with copies of several identifying documents. After reviewing their records, DHS notifies the traveler that if any corrections of data about them were warranted, they will be made.
Travelers who apply for redress through TRIP are assigned a record identifier called a "Redress Control Number". Airline reservations systems allow passengers who have a Redress Control Number to enter it when making their reservation.
DHS TRIP may make it easier for an airline to confirm a traveler's identity. False-positive travelers, whose names match or are similar to the names of persons on the No Fly List, will continue to match that name even after using DHS TRIP, so it will not restore a traveler's ability to use Internet or curbside check-in or to use an automated kiosk. It does usually help the airline identify the traveler as not being the actual person on the No Fly List, after an airline agent has reviewed their identity documents at check-in.
DHS TRIP is often accused of being defunct and existing only to appease civil rights organizations without having any actual effect.[63]