I’ll be quite frank. I’m never completely comfortable in discussing certain persons, such as Fidel Castro, on the phone, nor forwarding e-mail content concerning them, such as his Visiones Alternativas – Reflections of Fidel:The moment of truth about the recent Copenhagen events. Certainly, it would be so much easier to simply avoid certain topics altogether in communications because there so often are direct or indirect repercussions for involvements in particular matters, as is inferred at Ex-Snoop Confirms Echelon Network — 60 Minutes — CBS News:
“Everywhere in the world, every day, people’s phone calls, emails and faxes are monitored by Echelon, a secret government surveillance network. No, it’s not fiction straight out of George Orwell’s 1984. It’s reality…”
We learn more fully about this spy activity from a transcript of 60 Minutes on Echelon:
KROFT: … Is it possible for people like you and I, innocent civilians, to be targeted by Echelon?
Mr. FROST: Not only possible, not only probable, but factual. While I was at CSE, a classic example: A lady had been to a school play the night before, and her son was in the school play and she thought he did a–a lousy job. Next morning, she was talking on the telephone to her friend, and she said to her friend something like this, ‘Oh, Danny really bombed last night,’ just like that. The computer spit that conversation out. The analyst that was looking at it was not too sure about what the conversation w–was referring to, so erring on the side of caution, he listed that lady and her phone number in the database as a possible terrorist.
KROFT: This is not urban legend you’re talking about. This actually happened?
Mr. FROST: Factual. Absolutely fact. No legend here.
(Vintage footage of Fonda; Spock; King; congressional hearing; the Capitol building)
KROFT: (Voiceover) Back in the 1970s, the NSA was caught red-handed spying on anti-war protesters like Jane Fonda and Dr. Benjamin Spock, and it turns out they had been recording the conversations of civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King in the 1960s. When Congress found out, it drafted strict, new laws prohibiting the NSA from spying on Americans, but today, there’s enough renewed concern about potential abuses that Congress is revisiting the issue.
Representative BOB BARR (Republican, Georgia): (From C-SPAN) One such project known as Project Echelon engages in the interception of literally millions of communications involving United States citizens.
(Footage of Barr; NSA sign; Goss and Kroft)
KROFT: (Voiceover) But even members of Congress have trouble getting information about Echelon. Last year, the NSA refused to provide internal memoranda on the program to Porter Goss, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee…
Meanwhile, my mother, who died last month, knew of the prospective backlash for stating certain taboo words of the sort that Danny’s relative, who was discussed above, had used. She, also, knew of outcomes for being outspoken or involved in social activism. So she repeatedly asked me, during her last several years, about whether I was making sure that I was being sufficiently self-protective when passing along information on the internet or phone.
As a former friend of left-leaning individuals like Howard Fast, Andy Goodman and other remarkable martyrs, she knew well about the tragic consequences stemming from one’s bucking the status quo. In addition, she, over the years, became increasingly worried for others’ well-being when they did so because it was her opinion that the U.S.A. was likely turning into a fascist police state.
She had further reasons to be apprehensive since she well remembered the U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy and had refused to sign loyalty papers while serving as a junior high school teacher during the Second Red Scare. Similarly, she realized that huge amounts of funds were currently being transferred by the federal government to internet service providers and telecommunications companies in exchange for records of their customers. Further, she was aware that such collected information is stored in perpetuity to build profiles, as can be deduced from the report at FISA – Salon.com:
This summer, on a remote stretch of desert in central Utah, the National Security Agency will begin work on a massive, 1 million-square-foot data warehouse. Costing more than $1.5 billion, the highly secret facility is designed to house upward of trillions of intercepted phone calls, e-mail messages, Internet searches and other communications intercepted by the agency as part of its expansive eavesdropping operations. The NSA is also completing work on another data warehouse, this one in San Antonio, Texas, which will be nearly the size of the Alamodome.
At the same time, she knew about many of the actions undertaken against peaceful individuals and groups, and remembered the march in NY discussed in my essay “Who’s A Low Level Terrorist? Are You?”:
… Indeed the participants of the first antiwar protest against the Vietnam incursion, put together in the mid-1960’s by peaceable Quakers and FOR members after having discussed Gandhi’s Salt March as a model for a nonviolent demonstration, faced government operatives filming them face by face from rooftops as they moved en masse down Broadway to the UN Plaza. (My mother, a pacifist married to a World War II Conscientious Objector, and I, a child at the time of the march, both were in attendance. When the film crew focused on us, she stood tall, faced the agents with their telephoto lens, glared in disdainful defiance and, simultaneously, throw the corner of her coat over my face. Afterwards, she muttered, ‘How dare they try to intimidate us!’)
All things considered, she understood perfectly well the reason that members of Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) would attack an oil pipeline operated by international oil giants Shell and Chevron. Yet she, also, recognized that, incredibly, someone in the USA does NOT have to carry out any attacks whatsoever to be a target of one.
As such, she wasn’t surprised one bit that Bette Hoover, the sixty-one year old Clerk (religious leader) of a Quaker Meeting that one of our relatives attends, was in trouble with law enforcement agencies, as THE ENEMY WITHIN – Victims of Md. State Police spying still uneasy explains. It’s simply par for the course and, on account, it was equally hard for her to be astonished that members of American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), recipient of the 1947 Nobel Peace award, were harassed, as well as investigated by eleven federal agencies, including the FBI and the CIA.
In fact, any individuals or groups at all could have a serious problem if they somehow managed to upset members of particular federal or State agencies tasked with maintaining the social structure going forward exactly as planned. No one is to disrupt that process and certainly not peace advocates or picayune troublemakers pointing out an inflammatory report discussing the United States’s agenda by a despised rebel named Fidel Castro.
So it is with reluctance that I passed along the text of his evaluation to friends even though my mother asked me, on her deathbed, to promise that I would continue to work very, very hard to ensure that the Earth in the future would be a fit place for habitation by humans and other forms of life. While envisioning the world carrying onward without her, she was less concerned about her personal existence ending than furtherance of the underlying purposes to which she had dedicated her time while alive.
In other words, she wanted to be sure that I would carry on to try to improve the quality of life on this planet and was more focused on this matter than her rapidly approaching demise. In such a spirit, one become obliged, as a matter of conscience, to inform others about critical subjects, like Castro’s critical and insightful assessment, despite any ugly ramifications connected to the action.
As my mother deeply understood, it is one’s undeniable duty to carry on that sort of undertaking. Educating others to weigh important issues from many diverse vantage points and towards the aim of correcting wrongs cannot be set aside for the next generation to take up when they reach maturity.
Without a doubt, it would, tragically, be too late by then to begin addressing climate change, the growth of police state tactics and so many other urgently pressing issues impacting us all. Clearly, the world just can’t wait and, as my mother’s activities indicated, neither can we.