June 29, 2013

Portside: For Marriage Equality It Took A Movement


For Marriage Equality, It Took a Movement
Portside Date: 
June 29, 2013
Rany Shaw
Date of Source: 
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Beyond Chron

The Supreme Court's striking down DOMA and Prop 8 sent a powerful message about the ongoing power of grassroots movements to bring social change. These rulings could not have come a decade ago. Then, even campaigns for domestic partnerships and civil unions were politically controversial. But the broader activist struggle for marriage equality brought the courts along, just as the African-American civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s brought legal rulings to support that struggle.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Gavin Newsom, and other speakers at yesterday's City Hall press conference framed the marriage equality campaign as having “kicked down doors” blocking justice, and praised those who did what was morally right rather than politically expedient. Of course, some marriage equality activists knocking down doors, like John Aravosis of Americablog were often criticized for such tactics. But they did not relent, and the movement included a broad range of strategies and tactics. By not letting tactical differences get in the way, the movement expanded exponentially and became a powerful model for all those engaged in the drive for justice.
I feel very fortunate to have witnessed the extraordinary sense of joy and fulfillment yesterday morning at San Francisco City Hall. I was not in Chicago for Barack Obama’s 2008 election night speech but watching on television it showed a similar sense of exultation among travelers on a long and torturous journey toward justice.
The Broadening of a Movement
The marriage equality movement has come a very long way.
When the long burgeoning gay rights movement burst on the national scene with Dade County, Florida’s repeal of an anti-discrimination measure in 1977 and California’s Briggs Initiative in 1978 (which made Harvey Milk a national figure), it was widely seen as dominated by middle-class white people. The next decade saw frequent stories about middle-class gay men evicting renters of color from their homes, and the continued (and wildly overstated) depiction of upscale gays as prime forces of urban gentrification.
ACT UP’s emergence in the 1980’s changed this inaccurate but stereotypical perception. The public now saw a racially diverse movement filled with people of all income levels. ACT UP also showed that the movement was not a monolith, as its confrontational tactics drew opposition from the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and other mainstream groups.
Urvashi Vaid’s Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation (1995) highlighted the movement’s internal conflicts. Vaid’s perspective as Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force reflected the ongoing frustration of more activist-oriented gay and lesbian activists with the non-confrontational approach of many movement funders who were not only wealthy, but also disproportionately white men.
This internal movement conflict included debates about alliances with key Democratic Party leaders, and occurred as President Bill Clinton signed both DOMA and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Many activists wondered what the movement was gaining from funding Democrats who backed such measures, other than White House access for top donors.
The movement was also divided over goals. Grassroots activists felt that mainstream groups were limiting the movement’s agenda to policies that Democratic politicians would accept; this put civil unions on the forefront and branded marriage equality as politically “impractical.”
Newsom Reframes the Debate
These internal conflicts over pursuing marriage equality were dramatically reshaped in 2004 when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom had his city grant marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Newsom may have gotten the loudest applause at the City Hall press event for his leadership on this issue, as he clearly moved marriage equality to the center of the movement’s agenda.
Despite ongoing disputes over tactics and strategies, particularly over the best way to defeat Prop 8, the drive for marriage equality became a full-fledged movement following Newsom’s action. Mainstream gay leaders either embraced the cause or lost credibility. While groups remained split over how hard to press President Obama to keep his commitments on DOMA and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (I have a new book coming out this fall that analyzes this issue), activists like John Aravosis and Cleve Jones made sure that pressure on Obama continued on these issues and on his lack of support for marriage equality.
By the time Obama began his 2012 re-election campaign, the drive for marriage equality was in high gear. Knowing that young people strongly supported the campaign, Obama had to support this critical issue to ensure these voters went to the polls for him in November.
The movement’s breadth was expanding exponentially. When every state ballot measure supporting marriage equality prevailed in November 2012, gay marriage had gone from being falsely blamed for John Kerry’s defeat in 2004 to be seen as a boost for Democrats.
The Movement Still Grows
To show just how big the movement has grown, on the night before the Supreme Court ruling my older daughter, who teaches at a public high school in New York City, told me her students were really excited about the gay marriage case. These low-income, overwhelmingly Latino, African-American and otherwise non-white students are not the demographic normally associated with the marriage equality movement, but the upcoming Supreme Court ruling was “all they were talking about.”
That’s a remarkable development. It’s a tribute to a movement whose message of inclusiveness and diversity was mirrored in its strategic approach, and which will grow until marriage equality is the rule in all states.
Millions made this historic victory possible. I give special tribute to the ACT UP activists who brought an activist, confrontational, breaking down the door spirit to the broader movement. While many did not live to this day, their commitment and passion still infuses the marriage equality struggle.
Randy Shaw is Editor of BeyondChron. He is the author of The Activist’s Handbook and Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century

- See more at: http://portside.org/print/2013-06-29/marriage-equality-it-took-movement#sthash.uAuBZ433.dpuf

Good and bad of US Senate Immigration Bill, S. 744

June 28, 2013

Immigration Bill A Step Back For Border Communities

Written by Derechos Humanos on 26 June 2013
Arizona Groups Call on National Immigrant Rights Advocates to Not Sell Out the Border
For the past 20 years border communities have disproportionately suffered from an “enforcement first” approach to immigration policy. The size of the Border Patrol has grown more than five-fold. Residents within 100 miles of the border now live within a “constitution-free zone,” where their civil rights and liberties are consistently ignored. In their zeal for “border security,” the Department of Homeland Security has recklessly implemented the largest waiver of law in American history, disregarding laws that protect the environment, cultural and historic sites, Indigenous sacred sites and America’s public lands. What is worse, the enforcement build-up is directly responsible for the more than 2,500 men, women and children who have died in the Arizona desert.
On June 21 the Senate “Gang of 8” introduced the Corker-Hoeven amendment, a massive overhaul of S. 744, the immigration reform bill that congress had been debating for months. This replacement bill is being railroaded through the congressional process, with Senate leaders declaring they hope to have a full vote on the legislation by the end of this week (June 28th). Among other things, the bill will now include the following provisions:
• 18,000 new Border Patrol agents, almost doubling the size of the agency (and more than triple the number that would have been added under the widely condemned Cornyn amendment)
• Hundreds of new miles of single or double-layered border fencing
• $3.6 billion to expand the use of drones and other surveillance technology along the border
• Full implementation of an entry-exit visa verification system at all U.S. ports of entry as a trigger to allowing registered provisional immigrant status (even Senator Cornyn questions whether this is realistic in the reasonably foreseeable future)
• 100% implementation of E-verify for all U.S. employers and employees
• Expansion of the waiver of all laws for construction of physical infrastructure, including a series of forward operating bases at the border
• Postponed implementation of a pathway to citizenship until all of the above are completed
• Increased fees that immigrants would have to pay to normalize their status
• Tripling of criminal prosecutions for border crossers (to 210 people daily at the Tucson Federal Courthouse) through “Operation Streamline” mass hearings
• Expansion of the prison population and private prison profits. Through Operation Streamline and related efforts, 82,250 individuals were criminally prosecuted for immigration violations in 2011 alone, constituting over 50% of all federal prosecutions, costing $1,023,615,633.60 and resulting in Latinos now representing more than half of the federal prison population (while only 16% of the national population).
In public statements celebrating the Corker-Hoeven replacement bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham has exuberantly proclaimed: “we have practically militarized the border.” Graham’s boasting indicates the Senator’s lack of concern regarding the already severe impacts of border militarization on the over 6 million U.S. citizens, immigrants, and indigenous peoples who live in the southwest borderlands, and the environment that sustains us.
The Senate’s replacement bill exacerbates all of these trends, to unthinkable proportions. If this proposal moves forward, we feel that the damage to our communities will be so great that we will no longer be able to support this bill. National advocates need to be honest about the state of negotiations. Republicans have made the pathway to citizenship so onerous and restricted that millions will never qualify. Prior to the Corker-Hoeven amendment the bill’s enforcement provisions and “triggers” were already unreasonable and burdensome. At what cost will we continue to make concessions? Thousands more border deaths? Our communities turned into a war zone or a police state? Massive destruction of our borderland environment? This price is too high to pay, and we ask our allies and supporters to join us in denouncing this “compromise” and demanding that the Senate begin again on a genuine reform effort, one that doesn’t play politics with our lives.
Make no mistake: this bill will lead to more deaths on the border. It is bad public policy, and it is a giant step backward for our communities and for many immigrant families. Our communities and families deserve better, and if this is the best that the Senate can offer we feel that our only option is to withdraw our support and demand that Congress begin again on crafting a genuine reform bill.
Coalición de Derecho Humanos
Alliance for Global Justice
No More Deaths / No Más Muertes
Tucson Samaritans
The Repeal Coalition
Humanitarian Border Solutions
Phoenix Allies for Community Health
Keep Tucson Together Clinica Legal Comunitaria
Corazón de Tucson
Occupy Tucson
Community of Christ of the Desert
American Friends Service Committee – Arizona
Southside Workers’ Center
Tucson Solidarity Organizing Network
Casa Mariposa

June 27, 2013

Bill Fletcher, Jr. On The Voting Rights Act

Supreme Court guts Voting Rights: not surprised, but sickened

I cannot say that i was surprised. I think that all of the signs were there that the majority of the Supreme Court would move against the 1965 Voting Rights Act. That said, i kept hoping that the Court would leave the Voting Rights Act alone. It did not work out that way.

It is critical that we understand that the attack on the Voting Rights Act is a conservative assault on the ‘future.’ This larger attack is not so much an undertaking by those who have always hated the Voting Rights Act, though that is, of course, one component. Rather it is an offensive against the changing demographics of the USA and the implications that this raises regarding the potential for a progressive political realignment. The political Right is very aware that the demographics are against them, therefore, gerrymandering plus gutting the Voting Rights Act is an effective approach if one wants to undermine the emergence of a new electoral majority.

Various liberal and progressive commentators have been suggesting that we must demand that Congress takes action. While that sounds reasonable, in some respects, given the balance in Congress it is unlikely that anything will change. What is, perhaps, more interesting is to consider a different side to strategy, that which was raised years ago by the former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., and has subsequently been raised by the on-line group “Color of Change”: a Constitutional amendment on voting rights. In other words, there must be a political movement built around expanding democracy–including but not limited to voting rights–rather than simply patching up the current system. This is not to say that liberals and progressives in Congress should not act to reform the Voting Rights Act and deep-six the Supreme Court’s ruling. I am hoping that something will be moved immediately. But what we really need to look at is the larger question of democracy and, specifically, the manner in which it continues to be threatened by NSA surveillance, drones, and, yes, the attacks on voting rights. These various issues need to be linked rather than treated separately.

We must keep in mind that since the 1970s there has been a concerted effort in the USA and most other advanced capitalist states, to turn back the clock on civil liberties and democratic rights. The Supreme Court’s decision against the Voting Rights Act is only one act in a much longer and mean-spirited drama. The moves towards authoritarianism must be resisted now, not some time in the future.

Black Agenda Report: An Analysis Of The Supreme Court Evisceration Of The Voting Rights Act

How Complacency, Complicity of Black Misleadership Class Led to Supreme Court Evisceration of the Voting Rights Act
Wed, 06/26/2013 - 15:44 — Bruce A. Dixon
                Black Misleadership Class [1] | voting rights [2] | Obamarama [3] | Supreme Court [4]
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
Did the Supreme Court kneecapping of the Voting Rights Act have to happen? Could black leadership have seen it coming and prevented it? Why didn't they, and what can we do now?
How Complacency, Complicity of Black Misleadership Class Led to Supreme Court Evisceration of the Voting Rights Act
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
Yesterday's June 25 Supreme Court ruling tearing the guts out of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 should be a surprise to nobody. As [6]recently as [6]2009 [6], Chief Justice John Roberts telegraphed his specific intent to kneecap the Voting Rights Act by invalidating its enforcement formula.
Things have changed in the South. Voter turnout and registration rates now approach parity. Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels...”
Enforcement of the Voting Rights Act rested on the history of open and legal Jim Crow in the south persisting right up until the 1960s, along with the enormous disparities between black and white voter registration and turnout. In 1965 for example, only 7% of African Americans in Mississippi were registered to vote, compared to 70% of whites.
By the early 1980s, when black registration and turnout in Chicago for the first time surpassed that of whites, enabling the election of that city's first black mayor, it might have dawned on some that the rationale for the Voting Rights Act stood on increasingly shaky ground. If and when black voter participation reached similar levels nationwide, the victory of voting rights would have to be consolidated, put beyond the reach of succeeding Congresses, judges and executives. The only way to do that is by amending the US Constitution to make the vote a constitutional right.
The argument for putting the right to vote in a constitutional amendment was best made by Frank Watson and Jesse Jackson Jr. in their 2001 book Toward a More Perfect Union. A constitutional voting rights amendment, specifying a citizen's right to vote, they explained, would have far reaching consequences. It would require the establishment of a uniform standard of who could register and how registration takes place, along with standards for how voting machines are procured, allocated and operated, and how votes are counted. A constitutional right to vote would provide easy grounds for removing corporate money and the contributions of wealthy individuals from political campaigns, ending felony disenfranchisement, banning gerrymandering, voter caging, discriminatory voter ID laws, and a thousand other ruses and schemes employed to keep minorities and the poor away from the polls and to minimize the effect of their votes when these are cast.
The Black Political Class Looks the Other Way
Amending the US Constitution however, is hard work, not for the lazy or faint of heart. It requires a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress and ratification by 38 state legislatures, a herculean task unthinkable without the creation of a powerful grassroots movement, the like of which black leaders no longer knew how to build. On the positive side, opponents of such an amendment would be stuck having to explain why the right to vote should NOT be a constitutional right. But the negatives won.
The black political class instead crossed its fingers, complacently pretended the partial victory of the Voting Rights Act was “settled law,” and concentrated on boosting their own and each others' illustrious careers, and ceaselessly commemorating the victories of the sixties, since beyond those careers there was little indeed to show.
I worked with Barack Obama in a 1992 Project Vote Illinois registration drive that signed up 130,000 new voters and flogged them out to the polls. President Clinton signed a Motor Voter registration law to make voter registration easier in the brief period he had a congressional majority, but dozens of state governments dominated by Republicans including northern states like Illinois refused to implement it. By the late 1990s states like Florida were deploying legal barriers to the conduct of similar registration drives, such as levying huge fines on volunteer registrars for clerical errors and making mistakes on registration forms felonies. A decade later, the kinds of successful voter registration drives we conducted in Illinois in the 80s and 90s were legally impossible in much of the United States, thanks to nearly identical legislation introduced in state after state. A coordinated assault on voting rights was clearly underway. Alarm bells should have been ringing from one end of the black political class to the other, but the black political class was too lazy to hear them.
Senator Barack Obama on the Judiciary Committee
Barack Obama, whose first political act was the successful 1992 voter registration drive in Illinois, reached the US Senate in the 2004 election. It was the same year Florida officials repeated everything they'd done four years earlier to reduce the black vote, and the same year county officials in Ohio sent new and functional voting machines to their white suburban constituents, and old and defective ones to minority areas. Black voters had to stand in line 10 hours for a chance to vote.
A freshman senator, Barack Obama was assigned right away to the Foreign Affairs and Judiciary Committees, prestigious assignments coveted by senators of many years' seniority. The Judiciary Committee interviews, questions, and passes or rejects all presidential nominations to the US Supreme Court. While Obama sat on that committee, the nominations of Samuel Alito for associate justice and John Roberts for chief justice were considered.
It was no secret that both Alito and Roberts were committed right wing extremists, and associated with the Federalist Society, a fraternity of lawyers founded in 1982 dedicated to repealing social security, the New Deal, antitrust law, the FDA, consumer protections and civil rights legislation of all sorts, basically civilized and civilizing reform passed in the 20th century. Though the Federalist Society does not disclose its membership, Roberts appeared in their 1997-98 leadership directory [7], and after his ascent to the high court, Alito has been an honored guest at more than one Federalist Society event.
As a former president of the Harvard Law Review, Senator Obama was intimately familiar with the goals and objectives of the Federalist Society. Grassroots Democratic activists besieged Senators Obama and Kerry, both on the Judiciary Committee, to vote against Alito and Roberts, if need be to lead a filibuster against them.
Obama and Kerry said just enough encouraging words to get the pressure off themselves, then repudiated the idea of a filibuster altogether. When the nominees came before the committee, they passed up the opportunity to grill them on their Federalist Society associations and what this might tell about their expected rulings from the bench on civil rights and other questions, opting to ask softball questions instead. Obama's decision on the Senate Judiciary Committee not to fight, filibuster or meaningfully oppose the advancement of neo-segregationist Federalist Society thugs Alito and Roberts to the Supreme Court guaranteed the virtual nullification of the Voting Rights Act which has now occurred.
By the time Barack Obama got to the White House the coordinated assault on voting rights took the form of ALEC-introduced voter ID laws. The Justice Department was slow, at best, at contesting voter ID laws, and paid no attention at all to state laws that criminalized voter registration drives such as the one the president once headed in Illinois. The rest of the black political class, following their president's lead, did the same, and the rest is tragic history.
The black political class, which was brought into existence by the voting rights act, has failed to protect its constituency, failed to protect even themselves. They possessed the moral high ground and the political initiative for a generation and squandered it through inattention and inaction.  They spent more time celebrating the victories of the sixties than consolidating them, and we will all pay the price.
We can and must blame neo-segregationist Republican thugs in black robes for doing what they do.. That's clear, cut and dry. But a large share of the blame in this week's kneecapping of the Voting Rights Act also belongs to our lazy and complacent black political establishment, our black misleadership class, who lacked the vision to see this coming, or the courageous leadership to avoid it, or in most cases both.
It's not too late to begin organizing for and demanding a constitutional right to vote, along with perhaps an amendment to take the rights of citizenship away from corporations [8]. But we can't expect any help from traditional black leadership on that one.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party.

Another view of marriage equality

Why I Oppose Marriage Equality

From http://azanichkowsky.wordpress.com/

Today is a hard day to rain on people’s marriage parades. I’m doing it anyway because my stomach is turning to lead and my heart wants to throw up and silence will make it worse. This issue is far from over and my silence, I feel, is the problem to begin with.

I’ll start with an introduction: I am — first and foremost — a queer activist for economic justice. I support a radical redistribution of wealth, and I stand against capitalism and what it does to people’s bodies. As for marriage equality, I am not just unenthusiastic or reserved about this as a goal for the LGBT rights movement — I actively boycott it, and would like to see it abolished as soon as possible.

In my work, I have three priorities for queer economic justice: Prison and the criminal justice system, physical safety (health care, freedom from violence), and poverty 
(housing/homelessness, income/wages, etc.). Perhaps it doesn’t go without saying that queer and trans people are disproportionately impacted by these issues, particularly trans people and/or people of color, and also that my work in these areas is not limited to the impact on queer and trans people. And it definitely doesn’t go without saying that I think marriage is a totally inappropriate way to deal with any of these issues.

With that, I have two main problems with the marriage equality movement: 1. That its operation takes a tremendous amount of money, energy, and attention away from far more pressing issues. (Sometimes this is clear and direct, such as California spending $43 million on Prop 8 while $85 million was being cut from HIV/AIDS services. Sometimes this is more subtle, the successes of which can be measured when every single straight person I know uses their approval for same-sex marriage to demonstrate their allyship to me.) 2. That its strategies actively work against movements for queer economic justice, by removing capitalism, meaningful immigration reform, and gender/sexual deviance from the discussion entirely.

Let’s strip away the sentimentality for a moment and consider that legal marriage is intended as a site for hoarding your wealth. In fact this is one of its primary historical purposes. This is why in modern times you get rewarded with tax breaks and shared benefits (or stand to lose them if you’re very poor) and, regardless of income, you are encouraged by our government (and society in general) to lock down into a nuclear family unit and not share any of your shit with people you don’t like. (No really, I mean it — stop thinking about love for a second and think about that.)

It’s true that the promises of marriage are very, very real — especially for people who are just barely hanging onto the next highest class rung. Of course it can help some of them keep their hold on it — it is designed to do that. I will never deny that marriage can provide concrete, material benefits to some poor, working class, and lower-middle class people, and I’m not passing judgment on individual choices about whether to take advantage of those benefits when your life would kind of suck otherwise. I am generally in favor of people having shit they need, and of short-term solutions for short-term problems.

The problem is that the marriage equality movement, which is the real subject here, is not about individuals and it is not interested in other solutions. The marriage equality movement, like the institution of marriage itself, is a major distraction from the fact that our government refuses to sustain social services and public benefits in the first place — a process the marriage equality movement is now mimicking by stealing all the money. This is where I find myself so frustrated with the majority of Democrats/liberals/progressives on this issue, who claim we are walking in the same direction with different steps. Just because some people will get more money from something does not mean that a national fight for that thing is an economic justice project. It’s a trap of linear logic that so many have fallen into, and following it is like building condos in the middle of a housing crisis — as it turns out, most things have more than one opposite, and the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend.

It is not a coincidence that the rhetoric, imagery, and marketing of the marriage equality movement is so utterly assimilationist, and this is where my problems extend to issues of personal safety. This movement intentionally and maliciously erases and excludes so many queer people and cultures, particularly trans and gender non-conforming people, poor queer people, and queer people in non-traditional families. This movement whitewashes, breeder-izes, and cis-sexxifies the criteria for acceptance and civil rights, ignoring the most extreme threat to queer and trans people’s civil liberties: That if we cannot pass for straight and cissexual, we are deemed worthy of violence, detention, and death. In recent (and predictable) developments, conservatives who have joined the same-sex marriage bandwagon are using it as a wedge against single parents, immigrant families, and others. (Sometimes, the enemy of your new friend… is the person you should actually be friends with.)

So, to recap why I’m against it: Marriage promotes hoarding in a time of class war; marriage thinks non-married people are deviant and not truly deserving of civil rights; marriage doesn’t even know that 2.3 million Americans are incarcerated.

Last, I’d like to respond to the common statement that marriage is an important vehicle for raising awareness of all kinds of other LGBT issues, promoting acceptance of LGBT people, getting all LGBT people a pony and an espresso machine, etc.

For one thing, it’s really not. This movement targets a ton of queer and trans people for exclusion when it markets such narrow inclusion, and there is no inherent connection between “I think those two dudes who look like Anders should be able to get gay married” and “I think that chronically homeless trans woman should be given $2000 so she can come live next door to me.” In fact, I would argue that acceptance of the former strengthens rejection of the latter.

For another, the promise to “come back for” queer economic justice issues after marriage is squared away is pretty insulting to those of us already working in those movements, or to people in dire straits whom marriage cannot help. It’s also a pretty little lie, because it will absolutely never be convenient for people with class privilege to prioritize poverty issues. And, as it turns out, the powers of gentrification only grow stronger when your white picket fence is legally installed. If your excuse is that you’ve just got a few other things on your list right now, at the very least I would like you to acknowledge that we are not on the same page at all. Honestly. The most disappointing aspect of this divide for me, on days like today, is that marriage equality people don’t seem to see that there is one. This is far more troubling to me, and much harder to interrupt. It is more than a question of political projects, it is also a question of philosophy and analysis, without which political projects are irrelevant at best.

I’d say that I’m open to talking about this with people who support marriage equality, and of course in the end I will. But “open” is the wrong word today. I feel resigned to this conversation, and rather cheerless about its prospects. But I suppose, being the truth, it’s as good a beginning as any.

Why we are opposing the “immigration reform” bill‏

From No More Deaths:

On Monday, June 24, the Senate voted to move forward with an immigration-reform package that includes extreme border militarization tied to an already onerous pathway to citizenship.

Due to the devastating impacts that these provisions will have on border communities, future migrants, and the 4–5 million existing undocumented residents in the U.S. who will likely never qualify for this pathway, No More Deaths can no longer support this reform effort.

It is with a heavy heart that we urge our supporters and national groups to not turn their backs on border communities and to demand that Congress start over to implement real solutions to our misguided border and immigration policies.

We invite you to learn more about why No More Deaths has had to take this position, and to read the joint statement from numerous Arizona groups that No More Deaths released on Monday.

We ask you to join us in opposing this reform package so long as the extreme border-militarization agenda is included.

June 26, 2013

A Victory For Same Sex Marriage Rights

Socialist Action

On June 26 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional. This legislation was promoted and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 and denies any of the over 1100 federal benefits to same-sex couples.
The Court’s 5-4 majority decision was clear and simple. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy described DOMA as imposing “a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the States.” This, he said, violates the right to liberty and equal protection under the law.
The decision means that in the 12 states and the District of Columbia where same-sex marriage is legal, those couples will qualify for all federal benefits currently available to heterosexual couples. Other states, however, may still define “marriage” as they choose.
The Supreme Court also tossed out California’s Proposition 8 on technical grounds, which let stand the opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals in regard to a legal suit against the referendum measure. If Prop. 8 had been allowed to become state law, it would have revoked the right of same-sex couples to have their marriages recognized in California. The governor immediately said that his administration would begin processing marriage applications as soon as the Ninth Circuit confirms that the stay has been lifted.
Nadine Smith of Equality Florida spoke for many when she posted a video saying, “We are left out and left behind.” But these two decisions are still victories that should be celebrated.
For those of us who never would have chosen gay marriage as a defining issue of our movement, the fact is that huge members of our brothers and sisters did choose it. There was a mass movement in our community and they were energized around an act of civil disobedience.
I was living in a small coastal town in Oregon when the mayor of San Francisco in 2004 directed city offices to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in violation of state law. My first thought was, “That’s nice.” But I soon saw that something else was happening as I watched the huge numbers of people line up and wait for hours to fill out their paperwork. And then couples in my small town and elsewhere in Oregon would call me and say, “We are going to San Francisco and wait in line as long as it takes.”
It had become a mass movement of people standing up for equality and against discrimination. Surely, ending employment discrimination was more important. But Marriage Equality was moving people, a lot of people. In the beginning there were no major LGBT organizations, NGOs, or self-serving politicians creating this movement.
After the decisions were announced, it was encouraging to watch the interviews with the plaintiffs, lawyers, and demonstrators who all spoke about the people in the 38 states that are left out of these decisions. There was also talk about the “momentum” that these decisions have created for other issues—first and foremost, the pressure to pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA).
For at least two people, the Supreme Court decisions had an immediate effect. Within 30 minutes of the DOMA ruling, a New York City immigration judge stopped deportation proceedings for a Columbian man married to a gay U.S. citizen.

June 25, 2013

Open letter to President Dilma Rousseff from Brazil’s social movements; A succinct report from the MST

The following comes from Links:

In the midst of the largest street demonstrations Brazil has seen in decades, some of the country’s most important social movements –including the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST), the Unified Workers’Central (CUT) and the National Union of Students (UNE) – sent the following open letter to Brazi’s president Dilma Rousseff on June 20, 2013. Translated by Federico Fuentes.
* * *
This week, Brazil has witnessed mobilisations across 15 capital cities and hundreds of other cities. We are in agreement with the statements coming out of these protests, which affirm the importance of these mobilisations for Brazilian democracy, because we are conscious of the fact that the changes we need in this country will come through popular mobilisation.

More than a conjectural phenomenon, the recent mobilisations are a sign of the gradual renewal of the capacity for popular struggle. It was this popular resistance that paved the way for the electoral results [of Brazil’s trade union–based Workers Party (PT)] of 2002, 2006 and 2010. Our people, not satisfied by neoliberal measures, voted for a different project. In order to implement this project, it was necessary to confront great resistance, primarily from rentist capital and neoliberal sectors that continue to have a lot of weight in society.

But it was also necessary to confront the limits imposed by last-minute allies, an internal bourgeoisie who in challenging government policies impeded the realisation of structural reforms, as is the case in the areas of urban reform and public transport

The international crisis has blocked growth, and with it the continuity of the project pushed by this broad front that, until now, has sustained the [PT] government.

The recent mobilisations are being carried out by a diverse cross section of youth who, for the first time, are participating in mobilisations. This process educates its participants, allowing them to understand the necessity of confronting those who are holding back Brazil from moving forward in this process of democratisation of wealth, of access to health, education, land, culture, political participation,and the media.

Conservative sectors within society are trying to dispute the significance of these mobilisations. The media is trying to portray the movement as anti-Dilma, as against corrupt politicians, against the wasting of public money and other demands that would impose the return of neoliberalism. We believe that there are many demands, just as there are many opinions and visions of the world present in society. We are dealing with a cry of indignation from a people historically excluded from national political life and accustomed to seeing politics as something that is damaging to society.
Given all this, President, we write to you to express our position in support of policies that guarantee the reduction of public transport fares by reducing the profits of the big companies. We are against the policies of tax exemptions for these companies.

Now is the time for the government to implement these democratic and popular demands and stimulate the participation and politicisation of society. We commit to promoting all types of debates around these issues and we place ourselves at your disposition to also debate them with the government and its institutions.

We propose the urgent convening of a national meeting, involving the participation of state governments, mayoral offices of the main capital cities and representatives of all the social movements. For our part, we are open to dialogue, and believe that this meeting is the only manner of finding a way to confront the grave urban crisis that is affecting our big cities.

The time is right. These are the largest mobilisations that the current generation has seen and other major ones will follow. We hope that the current government decides to govern with the people and not against the people.
Movimentos da Via Campesina Brasil, ADERE-MG, AP, Barão de Itararé, CIMI, CMP-MMC/SP, CMS, Coletivo Intervozes, CONEN, Consulta Popular, CTB, CUT, Fetraf, FNDC, FUP, Juventude Koinonia, Levante Popular da Juventude, MAB, MAM, MCP, MMM, MPA, MST, SENGE/PR, Sindipetro – SP, SINPAF, UBES, UBM, UJS, UNE, UNEGRO

A susccint report from the MST

By National Secretariat of the MST, translation by Ana Amorim

Dear comrade friends of the MST and ALBA social movements.

Yesterday, June 20, over 1 million people took to the streets in 15 capitals of the country.

There is a bit of everything. In each city there is a dispute for hearts and minds. In Sao Paulo and Rio, right-wing sectors have taken the lead, attacking left militants and provoking violence to generate chaos. But in other cities the left is giving the tone.

1. The mobilisation is social, from a sector born after neoliberalism. They are young people from middle and lower classes. Workers, however, remain silent. [Young people] are a sector that communicates solely through social media and is not influenced by mass media.
2. It is the result of 12 years of class conciliation (as in Chile) which excluded the youth from political participation. And they want to participate somehow, even if it is just to walk on the streets, without repression.
3. It is a consequence of the grave structural urban crises, established by speculative Financial capital which resulted in rising rents, massive car sales financed by the banks and chaotic traffic, without public transport, where people spend two, three hours to go to work, school ...
4. Nobody can control them. They have no political leadership.
5. For the moment traditional politicians are the most affected, bourgeois politics and of course the method developed by the Workers Party (PT) in the years it has been in government, all of them from right, centre and left....
6. The right infiltrates and tries to generate a climate of violence, blaming PT and [President Dilma Rouseff].
7. Dilma's government is paralysed in its politics. It only wanted to manage and now it does not know what to manage.
8. Social movements are trying to generate a political platform, to move on(see the letter to the president above) and to expand the demands in order to advance towards a political reform, a reform of the media, a tax reform and the agrarian reform.
9. Nobody knows now what is going to happen: we are going in the same direction as Spain (where the right capitalised at the ballot box -- what will happen in 2014) or we are going in the direction of Argentina (2001), with advances ... or we will remain in Greece in a situation of deadlock? Probably none of them, we will find a Brazilian formula, that nobody knows at the moment...
10. But, it is certain that we need changes of all sorts!

Warm regards, National Secretariat of the MST.

Some Headlines From Turkey Today

News continues to come to us about the situation in Turkey despite the media blackout and the intimidation of journalists by Turkish authorities. Here are some items of interest from today's news.

1. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, a leader of the main parliamentary opposition to Erdoğan's government and the ruling party, has referred to Erdoğan as “the new dictator of Turkey” while speaking to a party meeting in Parliament. Kılıçdaroğlu also praised the Gezi Park protesters and counted what they have accomplished so far as a victory. His faction chanted “Resign Erdoğan!” as he spoke. Most meaningful to me are these remarks he made as published in some Turkish media:

“Our 52 citizens lost their lives in the Reyhanlı bombings. And he (Erdoğan) said ‘our 52 Sunni citizens lost their lives.’ For the first time in Turkey’s history even the sects of deaths were discriminated.” 

2. We have previously mentioned in passing on this blog the rape of a 16-year old woman in Bingöl and the suspicion that five police were involved in numerous assaults of the victim and a cover-up. The movement in Turkey has taken up this case and protests are being held as four suspects were picked up and later released from police custody. One suspect has now been formally arrested and it is possible that the number of suspects will rise.

3. Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chairperson Gültan Kışanak has said that the peace process underway between the Kurdish people and the Turkish government will fail without democracy. She made the point that the Kurdish people and the BDP have sacrificed much in the process and that now the government must step forward and fulfil its promises. She is also quoted as saying, "The national will cannot be measured with numbers.” Kışanak's point was that democracy is about much more than elections, as the ruling party would have it. Kışanak also charged that a cover-up of the shooting of Ethem Sarısülük by police during the protests is being attempted. We have previously mentioned Ethem Sarısülük on this blog.

4. Firatnews.com reports that police raids in Ankara aimed at protesters have led to the arrests today of at least 20 people. These police operations are on-going and more arrests are expected.

5. Firatnews.com also reports that police have arrested 20 workers at a dam construction site near Amed (Diyarbakir). It is assumed that those arrested are either strikers or union members and activists. There was a strike at the site recently. The  Democratic Society Congress (DTK) is supporting those arrested and has called on the Kurdish people and seasonal agricultural workers to build their organizations and to struggle for freedom and equality.

6. Murat Karayılan, a leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), has told the German magazine Die Welt that he expects that PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan will be freed from prison if the third phase of the peace process between the government and the Kurdish people is carried out. The process is now in its second phase. Karayılan also voiced suspicion over the intentions of the main nationalist party and the main parliamentary opposition Republican People’s Party. He added that there remains in Turkey "...secret powers...there is a deep state." He called on the government to take the demands of the people seriously.

June 24, 2013

Turkey: The Struggle Continues!

There is a media blackout on what is happening in Turkey but the struggle begun there in May continues. We offer a few points to consider when assessing the situation there.

1. Bianet English reports that at least 114 workers were killed on the job in May in Turkey. Many of these deaths have occurred in the seasonal agricultural industry. The Bianet English report quotes from a report released by Worker Health and Work Security Assembly as follows:

“Seasonal agriculture workers provide the need for cheap agriculture labor. The distribution of Kurdish people among these workers reached to a considerable level. The distribution of seasonal working (between May and October mostly) according to region, city and products listed as follows: Urfa and Adana provinces (cotton), Mediterranean and Aegean Regions (fresh vegetables, grapes, olives, tobacco), Marmara Region (fresh vegetables and fruits, hazelnut), Black Sea Region (hazelnut, tea leaves, tobacco), Central Anatolia Region (Fruit picking).

“Those are the same workers who are transported in minivans or tractors, get poisoned from pasticines or bad food, suffer from health problems due to bad accommodation issues and get deprived from access to education.”

2. Bianet English also reports that a group of artists has issued a call for an LGBT Pride March on June 30. This year’s theme for LGBT Pride Week became “Resistance!” Workshops are being planned dealing with  law, education, union rights, feminism, LGBT refugees, resistance, veganism, clashing feminisms and transphobia, work life, union movements, student reunions and queer pedagogy. A trans agenda meeting is also being planned.

3. A police officer charged with shooting a protester in the early days of the demonstrations has been released by the courts and the prosecutor in charge of the investigation has said that the killing was “within the limits of self-defense.” The dead protester, Ethem Sarısülük, was a 26-year old blue collar worker. His family has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights for justice. The release of the police officer triggered a mass demonstration.

4. On July 1-2, 1993 a mob attacked a meeting of Alevi intellectuals in Sivas and 35 Alevis died. The case was later dropped by the courts. Thousands of people have gathered in Istanbul to commemorate the massacre and this year's commemoration was joined by unions and Taksim Solidarity Platform. A Platform representative spoke at the rally and said that their demands have still not been met.

The Alevis are an oppressed minority in Turkey. Ethem Sarısülük, referred to above, was Alevi. The government and the ruling party are both intent upon papering over the discrimination faced by Alevis and the controversies surrounding the 1993 pogrom. Still, the government hopes to build a new bridge in Istanbul and name it after Yavuz Sultan Selim, who is remembered for slaughtering Alevis. In the early days of the protests some Alevi leaders sought to distance themselves and their community from the protest movement. Masses of people are in sympathy with the Alevis, however, and commemorations of the events in 1993 will continue.

The Communist Party of Turkey has published the following:

Tens of thousands gathered in Istanbul to commemorate the killing of 35 people o...n July 2, 1993 in an arson attack against Alevis and progressive intellectuals in Sivas, known as “Sivas massacre”. In the demonstration marking the 20th annivarsary of the massacre there was outrage against the AKP government’s discriminatory policies as well as the crackdown of the Gezi Park demonstrations.

The Communist Party of Turkey joined the demonstration in Kadıköy. The TKP carried banners saying “Who set the fire in Sivas has drown us into tear gas” referring to the Islamist reactionarism shared by the AKP government and the mob that carried out the massacre. Besides, the government has not only refrained from condemning the massacre but also protected those taking part in the massacre. Thus, the political authority is seen responsible for the ruling of the Ankara court, which dropped the case in March 2012 saying that the charges against the suspects exceeded the statute of limitations.

The demonstrators also criticized the decision of the government to name the future third bridge over the Bosphorus after “Yavuz Sultan Selim”, the Ottoman Sultan who is known for slaughtering ten of thousands Alevis.

5 soL Daily News also reports the following incident:

Six Arabic speaking-men dressed in the uniforms of Turkish police got caught on cameras at the Rixos Hotel in Ankara. soL Daily Newspaper reported that the group was speaking Arabic in the Syrian accent. Responding to the soL’s report, the hotel declared that the six men were not Syrians but Libyans and were hosted by the Turkish President.

The owner of the Rixos Hotel chain, Fettah Tamimce, is known for his close ties with Fethullah Gülen, the Islamic leader that lives in the United States. The followers of Fethullah Gülen hold key positions in the government and the bureaucracy.

Members of the Free Syrian Army were previously reported staying at this hotel. 

So it would seem that the Turkish regime, with nowhere to turn, is perhaps turning in some small way to what are essentially mercenary forces.

June 22, 2013

President Of Brazil: From Marxist Rebel To Protector Of The Bourgeoisie

Military Judges Hid Their Faces As They Sentence Dilma To Prison And Torture  1964
Brazil June 2013

President Dilma Rousseff was a self proclaimed Marxist rebel who participated in the1960’s struggle against Brazil’s dictatorship.  She was sentenced to two years in jail where she was tortured.  But now she is President of Brazil and protects and defends the capitalist class.  As a member of the bourgeoisie she belongs to the elite global grouping known as the G-20.

While the people of Brazil are rising up and the police are violently attacking them she had remained silent.  But just as in Turkey when the police attacked peaceful protests the numbers who participate only multiplies. The press speculated that she was perplexed as thousands turned into hundreds of thousands demonstrating in the streets.  They were outraged at  the increase of bus and train fares, lack of public services like education and health care, and the amount of public money going to build facilities for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Before their swing to the right her party, the PT (Worker’s Party) had a demand for free transportation. Now the people also demanded money for schools and hospitals and challenged the money spent on the World Cup.

On June 17th, 300,000 people throughout Brazil took to the streets.  In Sao Paulo and Rio the main highways were paralyzed and they marched to Ponte Estaiada, a monument to rich property speculators. In Belo Horizante where there was a football match for Copa das Confederacoes in a new modern stadium, more people protested ouside than watched the game inside.

There is anger by some that the ruling party PT (Worker’s Party) has moved to the center, some say it has become a capitalist party.  Also they are furious that those convicted of bribery are not in jail.  This anti-party mood has made room for some right wing provocateurs who have attacked left wing party banners and flags. Because of this move by some, the more moderate left wing parties and social movements and trade union groups started joining the protests to prevent the right wing from gaining influence.  Also the continuing heavy handed excesses of the police brought more people out.

The two main social struggles in recent years are  the indigenous fight with agribusiness and the urban poor who have resisted the rampant property speculation. In addition there are strong social movements around issues like public transport, reproductive rights, the environment and LGBT rights.
These movements combined with the high hopes that change would come from the PT which actually was brought to power by the social movements and CUT (Confederation Of Trade Unions).  But now the party has turned to the developers, agribusiness and construction.  Andre Ferrar of the LSR (Liberty, Socialism, Revolution) puts it this way, “This movement wants to redefine “development” and “inclusion” to redistribution of wealth and power.  One slogan says it, ‘This is not about cents - It is about rights’.”

Miguel Borba de Se in an interview with Jacobin put it this way:  “People are sick of elites.  That is why the escalation has been so rapid.”

President Rousseff was much criticized for her silence the past week as the people demonstrated and protested her policies and as her police force used tear gas and pepper spray and rubber bullets.  This brutality only made the uprising bigger.

When she finally spoke last night (6/21/13) she was vague.  She spoke generally about a plan the government will have to address transportation.  She said they will develop a plan to invest oil revenue “royalties” in education.  She did not talk about nationalization. And made no promises about jail time for those convicted of bribery of public officials.

Maybe the major omission was the brutality of the police.  As a Marxist rebel who opposed the brutal military dictatorship she was imprisoned and tortured by the police.  But she said absolutely nothing about the police behavior in the past week.

The protests continued today despite her attempts to appease. 
Maya Fernandes (medical student):  “Dilma is underestimating the resolve of the people on the corruption issue.  She talked and said nothing.”
Dadiana Gamaleliel (32 year old physiotherapist) held a banner, “Not against the games, in favor of the nation”.  About Rousseff, “She spoke in a general way and didn’t say what she would do.”

The police estimated 250,000 marched today.  A group of 30,000 gathered in southern Brazil where a nightclub fire killed 240 students.  The protesters said it could have been avoided if there had been more government fire inspectors.

The protests will continue.  One of the main questions now is if CUT will call a General Strike.  There have been rumors and every time the Union Confederation denies it.

One of those nights when Dilma was holed up in her office, protesters broke into the Municipal Theatre where opera goers were watching Stravinsky’s “Rake’s Progress”.  The doors remained shut but the protesters spray painted the outside - “Set Fire To The Bourgeoisie”.

June 20, 2013

24 Hours In Rebellious Turkey

We continue to cover some significant events in Turkey.

1. In the early morning hours police in Izmir raided the protester's encampment on Gündoğdu Square and arrested about 30 people. Protesters formed a human chain against the brutal police intervention and attempted to negotiate with the police without success.

2. Late yesterday we received word that three members of  Çarşı, a prominent club of supporters of the  Beşiktaş futbol club, were released on bail. They had been held after being arrested for taking part in Istanbul's  Gezi Park resistance. Two other members of the club were meanwhile arrested for carrying guns. Twenty-eight other demonstrators in Istanbul have also been released. Some 94 protesters in Istanbul are now facing charges of provoking violence.

The significance of the Çarşı releases and arrests is, to my thinking, that futbol support clubs often have a working-class base. Twenty-some members of  Çarşı are facing charges of organizing acts of violence and inciting illegal protests. The prosecutor handling their cases is trying to prove that they were paid to join the protests and this charge is based on an alleged phone conversation between two Çarşı members that was supposedly intercepted by police. The prosecutor is also charging that Çarşı members planned to raid the Prime Minister's office in Istanbul. Those arrested deny these charges.

3. Graduating students at the Ankara University Political Science department wore masks with the image of Ethem Sarısülük on the podium yesterday. Sarısülük was killed by police fire during the Gezi Park protests. The graduating students also carried banners protesting the recent acquittal of soldiers who were accused of rape and police violence in general. The banners read “Do you hear our voice? This is the reaction of ‘90s generation. They will never be others’ slaves”, “We die once and resurrect thousands” and “Rape. Soldier. Bingöl. Mouths shut!” The student protest was powerful.

4. Thousands of protesters gathered in Mersin today to protest against Prime Minister Erdoğan. Erdoğan is visiting Mersin to open the 2013 Mediterranean Games, which many see as a step towards the Olympic Games which will be held in Turkey in 2020. Police attacked the protesters and raided their encampment. Tickets for the opening ceremonies of the 2013 Mediterranean Games sold out within 15 minutes of going on sale, all supposedly purchased by one unnamed buyer or syndicate. This meant that local people could not attend the opening events. Erdoğan used his appearance at the Mersin Games to rally support for the governing party.

5.  Thirty-two members of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) were referred to the courts today. About sixty-seven members and leaders of the ESP are now in custody. Thirty-five other ESP members will face charges tomorrow.

The People's Democratic Congress (HDK) and the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) have both condemned the repression directed at the ESP. The leadership of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) have issued a statement saying that the attacks on the ESP and the Socialist Democracy Party (SDP) are aimed particularly at the Kurdish movement. This repression deadlocks the peace process underway between the government and the Kurdish people.

Michael Hasting's Last Article Before Being Killed By An Explosion In His Car

Why Democrats Love To Spy On Americans
Besides Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, most Democrats abandoned their civil liberty positions during the age of Obama. With a new leak investigation looming, the Democrat leadership are now being forced to confront all the secrets they’ve tried to hide. posted on June 7, 2013 at 12:10pm EDT

For most bigwig Democrats in Washington, D.C., the last 48 hours has delivered news of the worst kind — a flood of new information that has washed away any lingering doubts about where President Obama and his party stand on civil liberties, full stop.
Glenn Greenwald’s exposure of the NSA’s massive domestic spy program has revealed the entire caste of current Democratic leaders as a gang of civil liberty opportunists, whose true passion, it seems, was in trolling George W. Bush for eight years on matters of national security.
“Everyone should just calm down,” Senator Harry Reid said yesterday, inhaling slowly.
That’s right: don’t panic.
The very topic of Democratic two-facedness on civil liberties is one of the most important issues that Greenwald has covered. Many of those Dems — including the sitting President Barack Obama, Senator Carl Levin, and Sec. State John Kerry — have now become the stewards and enhancers of programs that appear to dwarf any of the spying scandals that broke during the Bush years, the very same scandals they used as wedge issues to win elections in the Congressional elections 2006 and the presidential primary of 2007-2008.
Recall what Senator Levin told CNN in 2005, demanding to “urgently hold an inquiry” into what was supposedly President Bush’s domestic wiretap program.
Levin continued, at length: “It means that there’s some growing concern on Capitol Hill about a program which seems to be so totally unauthorized and unexplained…The president wraps himself in the law, saying that it is totally legal, but he doesn’t give what the legal basis is for this. He avoided using the law, which we provided to the president, where even when there is an emergency and there’s a need for urgent action can first tap the wire and then go to a court.”
There are two notable exception to this rule are Senator Ron Wyden, from Oregon, and Sen. Mark Udall from Colorado, who had seemed to be fighting a largely lonely, frustrating battle against Obama’s national security state.
As Mark Udall told the Denver Post yesterday: “[I] did everything short of leaking classified information” to stop it.
His ally in Oregon, Ron Wyden, was one of the first to seize on the Guardian’s news break: “I will tell you from a policy standpoint, when a law-abiding citizen makes a call, they expect that who they call, when they call and where they call from will be kept private,” Wyden said to Politico, noting “there’s going to be a big debate about this.” The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, admitted he’d mislead Senator Wyden at a hearing earlier this year, revising his statement yesterday to state that the NSA didn’t do “voyerustic” surveillance.
The state of affairs, in other words, is so grave that two sitting Senators went as close as they could to violating their unconstitutional security oaths in order to warn the country of information that otherwise would not have been declassified until April of 2038, according to the Verizon court order obtained by Greenwald.
Now, we’re about to see if the Obama administration’s version of the national security state will begin to eat itself.
Unsurprisingly, the White House has dug in, calling their North Korea-esque tools “essential” to stop terrorism, and loathe to give up the political edge they’ve seized for Democrats on national security issues under Obama’s leadership. The AP spying scandal — which the administration attempted to downplay at the time, even appointing Eric Holder to lead his own investigation into himself —was one of the unexpected consequences of one of two leak investigations that Obama ordered during the 2012 campaign.
It’s unclear where a possible third leak investigation would lead. However, judging by the DOJ’s and FBI’s recent history, it would seem that any new leak case would involve obtaining the phone records of reporters at the Guardian, the Washington Post, employees at various agencies who would have had access to the leaked material, as well as politicians and staffers in Congress—records, we now can safely posit, they already have unchecked and full access to.
In short: any so-called credible DOJ/FBI leak investigation, by its very nature, would have to involve the Obama administration invasively using the very surveillance and data techniques it is attempting to hide in order to snoop on a few Democratic Senators and more media outlets, including one based overseas.

Outside of Washington, D.C., the frustration that Wyden and Udall have felt has been exponentially magnified. Transparency supporters, whistleblowers, and investigative reporters, especially those writers who have aggressively pursued the connections between the corporate defense industry and federal and local authorities involved in domestic surveillance, have been viciously attacked by the Obama administration and its allies in the FBI and DOJ.
Jacob Appplebaum, a transparency activist and computer savant, has been repeatedly harassed at American borders, having his laptop seized. Barrett Brown, another investigative journalist who has written for Vanity Fair, among others publications, exposed the connections between the private contracting firm HB Gary (a government contracting firm that, incidentally, proposed a plan to spy on and ruin the reputation of the Guardian’s Greenwald) and who is currently sitting in a Texas prison on trumped up FBI charges regarding his legitimate reportorial inquiry into the political collective known sometimes as Anonymous.
That’s not to mention former NSA official Thomas Drake (the Feds tried to destroys his life because he blew the whistle ); Fox News reporter James Rosen (named a “co-conspirator” by Holder’s DOJ); John Kirakou, formerly in the CIA, who raised concerns about the agency’s torture program, is also in prison for leaking “harmful” (read: embarrassing) classified info; and of course Wikileaks (under U.S. financial embargo); WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (locked up in Ecuador’s London embassy) and, of course, Bradley Manning, the young, idealistic, soldier who provided the public with perhaps the most critical trove of government documents ever released.
The attitude the Obama administration has toward Manning is revealing. What do they think of him? “Fuck Bradely Manning,” as one White House official put it to me last year during the campaign.
Screw Manning? Lol, screw us.
Perhaps more information will soon be forthcoming.