The War on the First Amendment Didn’t Start Last Week

For those who woke a week ago to discover the First Amendment is under attack, I lost my job at the Obama/Clinton State Department in 2012 for writing We Meant Well, a book the government did not like, and needed the help of lawyer Jesselyn Radack and the ACLU to push back the threat of jail.

My book was critical of actions in Iraq under both the Obama and Bush administrations. One helped protect the other.

Braver people than me, like Thomas Drake, Morris Davis, and Robert MacLean, risked imprisonment and lost their government jobs for talking to the press about government crimes and malfeasance. John Kiriakou, Chelsea Manning, and Jeff Sterling went to jail for speaking to/informing the press. The Obama administration tried to prosecute reporters from Fox and the New York Times for stories on government wrongdoing.

Ray Maxwell at the State Department went public with information about Clinton’s email malfeasance before you had even heard of her private server. The media called him a liar, an opportunist, and a political hack and he was pressed into retirement.

Indeed, Obama prosecuted more federal whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all previous United States presidents combined, including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush.

The Obama administration also set a record (77%) for redacting government files or denying access to them in fiscal year 2014 under the Freedom of Information Act.

More than any previous administration, Obama took longer to turn over files, said more often it could not locate documents, and refused a record number of times to turn over time-sensitive files quickly, requiring years-long legal actions to be brought to force the government’s hand. In the case of Hillary Clinton, files considered “unclassified” in one context were redacted in whole in another.

Though the backlog of unanswered requests grew by 55%, the administration cut the number of full-time Freedom of Information Act employees by 7.5%. Despite the critical nature of the documents to the election, the State Department was allowed to do its Freedom of Information Act screening of the Clinton emails largely with an ad hoc crew of retirees. The impact on journalists, and the right of the people to know, was immeasurable.

So spare me. The war on our freedoms was well under way before last week. Where the hell were you and your safety pins then?

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. His latest book is Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent. Reprinted from the his blog with permission.

5 thoughts on “The War on the First Amendment Didn’t Start Last Week”

  1. The unexpected defeat of Hillary caused the elites to panic, with the result that they prematurely uncloaked their secret program to create an Orwellian groupthink. To what degree this tactical error will translate into something more meaningful remains to be seen. The IT corporations have been collaborating with with the police state from the very beginning, and the impossibly steep entry barriers to new tech firms run by people who oppose the tyranny prevent the formation of a truly independent alternative media online. What the most recent events have shown is that dissent will be crushed by depriving alternative voices of platforms, which are controlled by the IT firms that have sworn fealty to tyranny. But what can be done to undermine that? For example, the Alt Right has chosen to fight back against the Twitter purge by forming a new version of the Twitter concept. However, it’s only a matter of time before the servers and ISPs that host the platform are threatened with sanctions and are thus forced to shut down the dissent. The regime can rinse and repeat for as long as necessary. Therefore, it’s time for a new strategy to be able to communicate.

    1. The elitists won no matter which way the vote leaned inclusive or not with the recount. Screwed both ways.

      The war on the Bill of Rights started at the ratification procedure of OUR constitution, there wasn’t a consensus for it, that’s why it’s the first Amendments of the Constitution. Pokes massive holes in the notion of a) any such group as the Founding Fathers b) because they were the Elitists of their day, elected by an extremely small segment of the population, 43,782 out of more than 4 million people counted in the first census. That’s about 1% of the people. and c)could not agree on any issue, even the Bill of Rights which wasn’t nearly as comprehensive an the existing English Bill of Rights, on which the revolution and “our” government were founded. So much for any establishment or legal precedent based on the “expressed will of the Founders”.

      The good news of such a tight election is the People, having been recorded as completely disgruntled with “our” Government, to the tune of more than 52% for either candidate, means We The Peasants have a hell of a bargaining chip, to the point we might be able to slap the government around, especially with regards to the Executive.

      We have, with the Corporate Elite, not so much an Orwellian dystopia looming over us, the even worse Brave New World dystopia. A worldwide corporate government elected by nobody, not even sham elections such as the one 5 weeks ago. No social “isms” to cloud the waters. One far-right commentator on Craigslist, here in Colorado Springs, uses the same argument and same syntax described in Brave New World to protest American Indian sovereignty with regards to the DAPL claiming corporate sovereignty over all the resources of all the nations in all the world. “Give us all your rights or we’ll mock you unmercifully, get your savage ass into the New Millennium and don’t try to block “progress”, and we’ll back that up with military/police brutality just to seal the deal”.

      On the scriptural side of things, we could be seeing The Beast.

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