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"Criminalizing transparency to protect illegitimate uses of power’"

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting interviewed me for the Septembr 9 episode of their syndicated radio program, Counterspin, heard on 130 noncommercial stations across the U.S. and Canada. 

Host Janine Jackson & I discussed the problem of police retaliating against grasroots journalists for recording their activities, a petition campaign by documentary filmakers in solidarity with vulnerable communities, and how they relate to a broader crisis of transparency and executive secrecy. FAIR posted both audio & a transcript, which included my favorite passage below: 

Across all of these contexts, what we are talking about is criminalizing transparency to protect illegitimate uses of power. And that, of course, is what the Constitution is supposed to stop....We’re supposed to be committed as a country to transparency and to reining in arbitrary power, but...[we accept it] whether it’s criminalizing and persecuting whistleblowers for revealing fraud, waste and abuse, or lies by executive officials, or whether it’s jailing grassroots journalists who are recording the police departments in their communities using arbitrary violence to, in some cases, kill people extrajudicially without ever proving guilt of any offense at all, let alone a serious one...at the same time, mind you, that senior executive officials do lie about grave issues of global importance and get away with it.

A local victory offering a model to emulate

On June 15, I published a post on the EFF Deeplinks blog reporting on a local victory for transparency and accountability in Santa Clara County, CA, where policymakers took the seemingly obvious steps of requiring local authorities to seek their consent before buying sophisticated surveillance equipment, and reporting annually on how they deploy that equipment in their communities. It explains:

Santa Clara County—which encompasses much of Silicon Valley—set a new standard in local surveillance transparency after months of activism by residents and allies from across the Bay Area. Their efforts, and the policy it enabled, suggest an overlooked strategy in the national battle to curtail unaccountable secret mass surveillance.

Remembering a dear friend

A few weeks ago, I mentioned the loss of my friend, Jay Marx. Today, the Burning Man blog published a memorial I wrote to celebrate his life and activism. 

It's worth a read when you have some time, and includes videos of Jay to preserve his legacy in his own voice. Here's a teaser:

I’m hardly the only person to whom Jay Marx offered a memorable introduction to Washington, DC. Jay passed through this world entirely too briefly, but he touched a great many of us and presented a powerful example of how to apply the principles of conscious counterculture beyond building community to help refashion a new default world.

If this is what a midlife crisis looks like, I hope it never ends

I've known that the summer of 2015 would be epic, but little did I know what shape its memories would take. Having left my job two months ago, and with the benefit of one month remaining on my sabbatical-of-sorts, a few reflections worth sharing leap to my mind.

Fighting corruption in the surveillance state

I've had a chance to publicly critique the intelligence establishment several times this month. After being quoted by the Guardian as describing the proposed USA Freedom Act as "yesterday's news," I had a chance to visit Thom Hartmann several times on The Big Picture. Here's our on April 28 interview:

That visit was followed by a series of return appearances on The Big Picture.

Questioning police body cameras across the Midwest

This month, I had a chance to invite audiences in two midwestern cities at the center of the Black Lives Matter uprising to reconsider the conventional wisdom on police body cameras.

Challenging Mass Surveillance on Capitol Hill

Today, after publishing Back to Square One on Spying in the Hill, I spoke at a congressional briefing about a proposed bipartisan measure to repeal the twin statutory pillars of the surveillance state. Here's video of my remarks at the briefing:

Defending the First Amendment on Capitol Hill

I know how to intentionally risk political arrest. I've done it many times before, though not in the past ten years.

(My most recent political arrest was in June 2003, when -- while studying for the bar exam after graduating from Stanford Law School -- I helped blockade the Bechtel headquarters in San Francisco to protest the company's seizure and privatization of water in Iraq in the initial months following the invasion that spring. Here's a photo that USA Today ran on June 19 of me kicking rhymes while getting handcuffed).

That was in 2003. When I went to Capitol Hill for a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this February 26, I had no intention of seeking arrest.

I specifically chose not to interrupt or disrupt the hearing -- yet found myself detained afterwards, anyway. All I did was ask a crucial question of vital public interst that no Senators have demonstrated the independence to raise themselves.

I could go on about shooting the messenger (i.e., the irony of leaving in handcuffs after asking a question about corruption, while the officials whose criminal actions have gone unpunished continue to walk free with taxpayer funded paychecks), but I particularly want to focus here on the circumstances surrounding my unlawful arrest.

Arrested for asking questions about corruption

I'd been back in DC for less than 14 hours before I found myself standing up in a Senate hearing chamber to ask Director of National Intelligence James Clapper a question that somehow never came up during his appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee. 

NSA vs USA

Check out a series of 9 sick remixes of NSA vs USA, or download the open source stems from which to construct your own. You can also download the extended dance floor mix from Soundcloud.

NSA vs. USA was written to be a teaching tool as much as a dance track. Below are annotated lyrics, with links to articles and reports you can read to learn more. The first step in helping "build a movement, raising your voice" is to learn history and get informed.

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