Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a nationwide "counter terrorism" apparatus emerged. Components of this apparatus include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (U.S. DHS), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), ODNI's "National Counterterrorism Center" (NCTC), and state/regional "fusion centers." "Fusion centers," by and large, are staffed with personnel working in "counter terrorism"/ "homeland security" units of municipal, county, state, tribal and federal law enforcement/"public safety"/"counter terrorism" agencies. To a large degree, the "counter terrorism" operations of municipal, county, state and tribal agencies engaged in "fusion centers" are financed through a number of U.S. DHS grant programs.
Initially, "fusion centers" were intended to be intelligence sharing partnerships between municipal, county, state, tribal and federal law enforcement/"counter terrorism" agencies, dedicated solely to the dissemination/sharing of "terrorism"-related intelligence. However, shortly following the creation of "fusion centers," their focus shifted from this exclusive interest in "terrorism," to one of "all hazards" -- an umbrella term used to describe virtually anything (including "terrorism") that may be deemed a "hazard" to the public, or to certain private sector interests. And, as has been mandated through a series of federal legislative actions and presidential executive orders, "fusion centers" (and the "counter terrorism" entities that they are comprised of) work -- in ever closer proximity -- with private corporations, with the stated aim of protecting items deemed to be "critical infrastructure/key resources" (CI/KR, typically thought of as items such as power plants, dams or weapons manufacturing plants).
As detailed in a report from DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy (DBA/CMD), "Dissent or Terror: How the Nation's Counter Terrorism Apparatus, in Partnership with Corporate America, Turned on Occupy Wall Street," through 2011 and 2012, "fusion centers" and other "counter terrorism" agencies engaged in widespread monitoring of Occupy Wall Street activists. Read the rest of this item here.
The controversy surrounding the IRS singling-out Tea Party-inspired groups seeking tax exempt status -- while inexcusable -- might be attributable, in part, to the agency's failure to create clearer rules for political activity in the post-Citizens United electoral landscape, and it being inappropriately tasked with enforcing campaign finance law, tax law experts say.
In an advance that makes history, Vermont's House of Representatives passed a bill on May 10 requiring foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be labeled. This is the furthest any such legislation has made it through the legislative process in the United States.
Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has vetoed a controversial "ag gag" bill that would hamstring citizen investigations documenting patterns of abuse of animals and regulatory violations. These investigations have led in the past to regulatory action and demanded industry changes.
Pete Peterson at National Press Club July 17, 2012 (Source: Lingjing Bao, Talk Radio News)An odd couple made an appearance on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus recently: Tea Party Senator Ron Johnson and Madison's progressive Congressman Mark Pocan. The two were invited to participate in a conversation about the national debt hosted by a local student organization and a bevy of national groups, including the Comeback America Initiative, the Concord Coalition, the Can Kicks Back, and the Campaign to Fix the Debt. On the agenda: debt, deficits, and the economy.
In anticipation of protests at ALEC's recent meeting in Oklahoma City, state legislators were handed a set of talking points that read "The American Legislative Exchange Council recognizes the first amendment rights of free speech and assembly, and asks that _____ do the same," apparently to prepare legislators for press questions about citizen activism. But ALEC didn't live up to those spoon-fed talking points: ALEC assembled a dossier of disfavored reporters and activists, kicked reporters out of its conference who might write unfavorable stories, and managed to boot a community forum critical of ALEC from its reserved room.
Beautiful spring weather has gardeners outside seeding lettuce and transplanting tomatoes. Community gardens are ramping up for a growing season full of hot peppers and trailing squash vines. The sewage sludge "composting" industry wants in on the action. May 6 to May 12 has been declared "International Compost Awareness Week" by the sewage sludge industry trade group the U.S. Composting Council (USCC).
It all sounds great -- community gardens, tomatoes, chefs, food banks, kids, even great graphics. What's not to love? Perhaps it's the sewage sludge.
Shortly after the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) told the press "we really believe in transparency," new documents show the organization directing legislators to hide ALEC meeting agendas and model legislation from the public. This effort to circumvent state freedom of information laws is being called "shocking" and "disturbing" by transparency advocates.
This spring, three senior Obama Administration officials informed Daniel Klaidman of The Daily Beast that the CIA would no longer operate targeted killings with unmanned drones. All targeted killings using the controversial technology would from now on be conducted by the Department of Defense, which has its own drones program in place.
The proposed change has been met with a wide range of reactions. Critics of the drones program have expressed cautious optimism. Human rights groups have repeatedly complained about the secrecy surrounding the CIA drones program, which they argue permits any executive branch abuses to go unchecked and decreases protection for civilians. These advocates expect that greater transparency will follow the Pentagon's taking the reins from the CIA.
Dark money nonprofits spent hundreds of millions in the 2012 elections, but reported only a fraction of that thanks to an "issue advocacy" loophole that requires only limited disclosure for ads that don't explicitly urge viewers to vote for or against a candidate. Federal and state elections officials have rarely probed whether a group's so-called "issue ads" are really intended to influence elections -- but in Wisconsin, a politically-active nonprofit exposed its issue ad charade on its own.
Wisconsin ranks 44th in the nation for new job creation. Rather than rolling up their sleeves and finding new and innovative ways to help create jobs, the Wisconsin legislature is spending its time telling people needing food assistance what they should be eating. AB 110, which was up for a vote in the Assembly on Tuesday, May 7, is geared toward limiting "the amount of food stamp benefits that could be spent on junk food." But some of the fine print of the bill, bizarrely, would ban people from choosing more healthy and less expensive options for their families. The bill is one of many being considered that are unduly punitive of the poor. Read the rest of this item here.
Getting Started on SourceWatch
Looking for somewhere to start?
You can read any SourceWatch article without registering, but if you would like to improve our articles or add new ones, you need to register here. You will be asked to provide an email address to verify that you are a real person and not a computer spamming links to other sites, but your email address will not be shown publicly on your user page. You will also be asked to create a user name, which can be your own name or a pen name. And, if you'd like, you can edit your user page to let readers know more about yourself, your work on SourceWatch, and your research interests -- but that is not required. Once you are registered, you will also be able to contact other editors through their user pages. If you do not wish to register but do want to contact us, you can use the addresses at the bottom of this page.
You can search for existing articles to improve using the search box, but please note that the search feature differentiates words and phrases with capital letters from those that are lower case. Please also visit the pages on our purpose, our tips on editing and citing authoritative sources, and our FAQs for help.
Thank you, in advance, for helping to make SourceWatch even stronger!
DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy today released the results of a year-long investigation: "Dissent or Terror: How the Nation's Counter Terrorism Apparatus, In Partnership With Corporate America, Turned on Occupy Wall Street.” The report, a distillation of thousands of pages of records obtained from counter terrorism/law enforcement agencies, details how state/regional "fusion center" personnel monitored the Occupy Wall Street movement over the course of 2011 and 2012.
The report also examines how fusion centers and other counter terrorism entities that have emerged since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have worked to benefit numerous corporations engaged in public-private intelligence sharing partnerships. While the report examines many instances of fusion center monitoring of Occupy Wall Street activists nationwide, the bulk of the report details how counter terrorism personnel engaged in the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center (ACTIC, commonly known as the "Arizona fusion center") monitored and otherwise surveilled citizens active in Occupy Phoenix, and how this surveillance benefited a number of corporations and banks that were subjects of Occupy Phoenix protest activity.
While small glimpses into the governmental monitoring of the Occupy Wall Street movement have emerged in the past, there has not been any reporting-- until now-- that details the breadth and depth with which the nation's post-September 11, 2001 counter terrorism apparatus has been applied to politically engaged citizens exercising their Constitutionally-protected First Amendment rights.
Sourcewatch.org is an interactive wiki website that is constantly in motion with new articles being created and old ones being updated. If you want to help us grow Sourcewatch and become a volunteer editor click here for more information and check out two new articles below. Key to Sourcewatch’s success is clear concise material, fully documented and footnoted.
Julian Assange: Excerpt from a longer Sourewatch article on the founder of Wikileaks: “Since June 19, 2012, Assange has been confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He came seeking “protective asylum” from Swedish and American officials. On August 15, 2012, Britain threatened to invade the Ecuadorian Embassy to capture Assange. A letter from British officials to the Ecuadorian embassy read “ "We need to reiterate that we consider the continued use of the diplomatic premises in this way incompatible with the Vienna Convention and unsustainable and we have made clear the serious implications that this has for our diplomatic relations." Assange was formally granted asylum by Ecuador on August 16, 2012. The decision of the Ecuadorian government cited the fear that Assange would be executed if he were extradited to Sweden and eventually the United States. The decision was in defiance of British authorities who continue to position policemen outside the embassy. The British Foreign Office released a statement after Ecuador formally granted asylum, which read “we are determined to carry out our legal obligation to see Julian Assange extradited to Sweden. We will not allow Mr. Assange safe passage out of the UK, nor is there any legal basis for us to do so. The UK does not accept the principle of diplomatic asylum. It is far from a universally accepted concept: the United Kingdom is not a party to any legal instruments, which require us to recognize the grant of diplomatic asylum by a foreign embassy in this country.” Ecuador responded by citing many international conventions and treaties, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention, which they believe requires the United Kingdom to respect their extension of asylum.
Wikileaks: Excerpt from a longer Sourcewatch article on Wikileaks controversy and achievements. “Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, said Wikileaks “is serving our democracy and serving our rule of law precisely by challenging the secrecy regulations." Many media outlets and commentators praised the work of Wikileaks in holding the government accountable and standing up for free speech. Glenn Greenwald of Salon commended the work of Wikileaks and attacked its critics by stating “When WikiLeaks critics devote a fraction of their rage to this form of mainstream American thinking — which, unlike anything WikiLeaks has done, has actually resulted in piles upon piles of corpses — then their anti-WikiLeaks protestations should be taken more seriously, but not until then.” An Economist blog post entitled “In Defense of Wikileaks” read “organisations such as WikiLeaks, which are philosophically opposed to state secrecy and which operate as much as is possible outside the global nation-state system, may be the best we can hope for in the way of promoting the climate of transparency and accountability necessary for authentically liberal democracy.” The ACLU expressed gratitude for the work of Wikileaks but expressed regret at the fact that such an organization needs to exist to hold governments accountable in today’s political system, stating “The Wikileaks phenomenon — the existence of an organization devoted to obtaining and publicly releasing large troves of information the U.S. government would prefer to keep secret — illustrates just how broken our secrecy classification system is. While the Obama administration has made some modest improvements to the rules governing classification of government information, both it and the Bush administration have overclassified and kept secret information that should be subject to public scrutiny and debate. As a result, the American public has had to depend on leaks to the news media and whistleblowers to know what the government is up to.”
"A truly impressive project based on cutting edge web technology."
—David Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World and The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community.
"The troublemakers at the Center for Media and Democracy, for example, point to dozens of examples of "greenwashing," which they defined as the "unjustified appropriation of environmental virtue by a company, an industry, a government or even a non-government organization to sell a product, a policy" or rehabilitate an image. In the center's view, many enterprises labeled green don't deserve the name.
—Jack Shafer, "Green Is the New Yellow: On the excesses of 'green' journalism," Slate.
"As a journalist frequently on the receiving end of various PR campaigns, some of them based on disinformation, others front groups for undisclosed interests, [CMD's SourceWatch] is an invaluable resource."
—Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire
"Thanks for all your help. There's no way I could have done my piece on big PR and global warming without CMD [the Center for Media and Democracy] and your fabulous websites."
—Zoe Cormier, journalist, Canada
"The dearth of information on the [U.S.] government [lobbying] disclosure forms about the other business-backed coalitions comes in stark contrast to the data about them culled from media reports, websites, press releases and Internal Revenue Service documents and posted by SourceWatch, a website that tracks advocacy groups."
Sign up for news and updates from the Center for Media and Democracy
Sign up for news and updates from the Center for Media and Democracy!
Disclaimer: SourceWatch is part of the Center for Media and Democracy—email the publisher of SourceWatch, CMD's Executive Director, Lisa Graves, via lisa AT prwatch.org. You can also contact our Editor, Friday Thorn, via friday_thorn AT prwatch.org.
Antispam note: To avoid attracting spam email robots, email addresses on SourceWatch are written with AT in place of the usual symbol, and we have removed "mail to" links. Replace AT with the correct symbol to get a valid address. Read the full disclaimer.