Le Patriot Act français: Un avertissement à un bon ami

En tant que jeune américain, j’ai grandi avec un vue très ignorante des Français. Les dessins animés m’ont appris qu’ils sont des «grands amants». J’ai appris que des mots français vendent beaucoup de produits de beauté pour femmes.

Je entendu dire que la France avait «autorisée» les Allemands à reprendre facilement leur pays. Je entendu la stupide blague de leur armée de chars possédant une marche avant et cinq marches arrières.

Je voyais que les Français sont périodiquement entrains de faire la grève et de mettre le pays à l’arrêt à cause de politiques gouvernementales impopulaires et j’ai pris note que leur gouvernement est forcé de les réexaminer.

On m’a dit que les protestations étaient uniquement une démonstration de l’intérêt socialiste et que le désordre qu’ils ont causé n’est qu’embarrassant et indigne.

Dans les années qui ont suivi, j’ai appris à avoir de l’admiration pour la façon du peuple français de faire face à son gouvernement. Mon respect était pour son esprit. Qu’un camionneur peut décharger un tas de fumier devant l’Assemblée nationale française semble indiquer clairement qui est en charge du pays: le peuple français.

La déférence du gouvernement pour les citoyens d’une nation est un idéal américain, mais malheureusement, il n’est pas notre réalité. Nous ne voyons pas cette déférence. Il n’y a certainement aucune peur de nous. Il n’y a même plus une prétention de peur. Il y a, cependant, une large et croissante méfiance autoritaire envers nous de la part de notre gouvernement et il y a des actions ouvertes qui semblaient viser à encourager notre acquiescement.

Dans l’environnement d’aujourd’hui, des manifestations comme celles en France seraient probablement considérées comme une «menace terroriste» et nos “médias d’informations” superficiels et calomnieux auraient de la nourriture pour une autre heure.

Aux Français je dis que je vous respecte. Je ne prétends pas en savoir beaucoup sur votre culture ou votre histoire, mais je sais qu’il y a de nombreuses années, vous humiliez une élite qui avait travaillé à vous priver de votre dignité. Vous n’avez jamais oublié cela et ni à votre gouvernement. Voilà pourquoi je suis profondément troublé par ce qui vient de se passer.

Lorsque l’événement Charlie Hebdo c’est déroulé, j’ai regardé, stupéfait. Je suis un chercheur, et dans les semaines précédentes à cette tragédie, j’avais réfléchi à ce que je pourrais apprendre des Français sur la façon dont les citoyens américains peuvent maîtriser leur propre gouvernement. Au lieu de cela, je me suis retrouvé à regarder avec douleur que le peuple français a connu un “9/11”. Je m’en doutais que cet événement vous mette sur le chemin sur lequel nous sommes.

Cause et effet

Le 9/11 américain a entraîné un changement fondamental dans les relations entre nous et notre gouvernement. Ces changements ont été rendus possibles par le Patriot Act et les lois de sécurité associées adoptées en réponse au 9/11. Pourrait cela arriver au peuple français?

Dans la suite de l’événement Charlie Hebdo, je luttais avec Google Translate pour trouver des nouvelles sur une naissance d’un “Patriot Act” en France. J’étais sûr qu’un fonctionnaire du gouvernement français saisirait le moment et lancerait un appel pour plus de sécurité.

Ma recherche a seulement trouvé quelques avertissements contre de lois “Patriot Act” par des commentateurs français sages et perspicaces. Ma préoccupation a été calmée et j’avais laissé quelques semaines passer. Je me suis dit, peut-être les Français sont trop alertes pour permettre qu’une telle loi soit considérée.

Puis j’ai regardé comme un Patriot Act pour la France a été mis en place et adopté. Ça c’est produit aussi rapidement que dans notre pays. En sachant ce que j’ai vu aux États-Unis, je me sentais comme si un coup d’engourdissement avait été donné contre l’esprit de l’autogouvernance du peuple français.

Le pays qui montre le plus ouvertement l’action citoyenne et la réactivité du gouvernement a adopté notre dangereuse maladie politique: une soif insatiable de la sécurité. C’est comme un vicieux trouble “auto-immunitaire” qui coopte les défenses d’un organisme et augmente la sensibilisation jusqu’à ce qu’il attaque tout ce qui pourrait être considéré comme un défi à la «la nouvelle voie». Il s’agit d’une loi de transformation. Les vieilles méthodes doivent mourir.

Aux Français je dis que nous aux Etats-Unis avons de graves problèmes à cause de nos nouvelles lois. Beaucoup de nos parlementaires sont ouvertement préoccupés par la façon dont ils ont été utilisés. Même le membre du Congrès qui a écrit notre Patriot Act, Jim Sensenbrenner, est en colère. Ces lois ont ouvert tout grand des portes qui sont extrêmement difficile à refermer. Vous devez vous protéger! Vous ne devez pas vous acclimater à ceci! C’est une descente de mille marches.

Le cœur de la France continuera à battre aussi longtemps que les grèves nationales, la mise à l’arrêt du gouvernement et les appels téléphoniques privés sont encore possibles. Le jour où vous n’êtes plus autorisés à protester – comme vous le faites – peut être le jour que vous avez perdu le contrôle historique de votre gouvernement, vos libertés civiles et à la fin, votre dignité.

Si le peuple français et le peuple américain perdent le contrôle de leur pays, le contrôle aura été transféré à ceux qui ont le pouvoir de la force, et ceux qui ne peuvent pas vivre sans la liberté mourront des tristes morts.

L’âge du gouvernement pour le peuple sera mort.

 

France’s Patriot Act: A Warning To A Good Friend

As an American youth, I grew up with an uneducated view of the French people. Cartoons taught me that they were “great lovers”. I learned that French words sell a lot of women’s cosmetics.

I heard that France had “allowed” the Germans to easily take over their country. I heard the foolish joke about their army tanks having one gear forward and five for reverse.

I saw that the French would periodically hold strikes and shut down their country over unpopular government policies and took note that their government would be forced to reconsider them. I was told that the protests were merely a demonstration of socialist self-interest and that the disorder they caused was embarrassing and undignified.

In the years since, I’ve grown to have an admiration for the French people’s way with their government. My respect was for their spirit. That a truck driver could dump a load of manure in front of the French National Assembly seems to make it clear who is in charge of the country: the French people.

Deference by the government to a nation’s citizens is an American ideal, but sadly, it is not our reality. We don’t see this deference. There certainly isn’t any fear of us. There is no longer even a pretense of it. There is, however, a broad and growing authoritarian wariness of us by our government and there are overt actions that seem aimed at encouraging our acquiescence.

In today’s environment, demonstrations like those in France would likely be investigated as a “terroristic threat” and our shallow, scurrilous “news media” would have food for another hour.

To the French people I say that I respect you. I won’t pretend to know much of your culture or history, but I know that many years ago you humbled an elite that had worked at depriving you of your dignity. You have never forgotten this and neither has your government. This is why I am deeply disturbed by what has just happened.

When the Charlie Hebdo event played out, I watched, stunned. I am a researcher, and in the weeks prior to this tragedy, I had reflected on what I could learn from the French about how ordinary American citizens can rein in their own government. Instead, I found myself watching in sorrow as the French people experienced a “9/11”. I suspected that this event would put you on the path that we are on.

Cause and Effect.

The American 9/11 resulted in a fundamental change in the relationship between us and our government. These changes were made possible by the Patriot Act and related security laws passed in response to 9/11. Would this happen to the French people?

In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo event, I struggled with Google Translate to find news of a nascent “Patriot Act” in France. I was sure a French government official would sieze the moment and call out for additional security.

My search found only a few warnings against “Patriot Act” laws by wise and perspicacious French commentators. My concern was quieted and I had let some weeks pass. Maybe the French are too alert to allow such a law to be considered, I thought to myself.

Then I watched as a Patriot Act for France was put together and passed. It happened as quickly as it did in our country. Knowing what I have seen in the U.S., I felt as though a numbing blow had been made against the French people’s spirit of self-governance.

The country that most openly displayed citizen action and government responsiveness had caught our dangerous political disease: an unquenchable thirst for security. It is like a vicious “autoimmune” disorder that co-opts a body’s defenses and increasingly sensitizes until it attacks anything that could be seen as a challenge to “the new way”. It is a transformative law. The old ways must die out.

To the French people I say that we in the United States are in serious trouble because of our new laws. Many of our congressman are openly concerned about how they have been used. Even the congressman who wrote our Patriot Act, Jim Sensenbrenner, is angry. These laws have thrown open doors that have been extremely difficult to close. You must protect yourselves! You must not acclimate to this! It is a descent of a thousand steps.

The heart of France will continue to beat so long as national strikes, government shutdown and private telephone calls are still possible. The day that you are no longer permitted to protest – as you have – may be the day that you have lost the historic control of your government, your civil liberties and in the end, your dignity.

If the French and American people lose control of their country, control will have been transferred to those with the power of force, and those who cannot live without liberty will die sorrowful deaths.

The age of government for the people will have died.

 

A Warning from the Past on NSA.

Senator Frank Church is an American hero we don’t hear much about. Decades before Edward Snowden, he warned us about the danger we would be in if our military surveillance apparatus were ever to be turned inward on us.

His greatest concern was our vulnerability.  We would not be able to fight back if who we were and what we discuss is known.

In American history, unquestioning trust has never been given.  It cannot be given today.

We must look for and support elected representatives who will support reversing this risk to the American people.

 

Subjecting Children To Terror – for Their Safety

Like most people, I believe that good parents protect their children from things that they are not ready to handle, from things that may affect their child’s ability to develop into an emotionally healthy adult. I also think parents count on school teachers and public officials to be in alignment with this effort and their general desire for a nurturing and peaceful environment for their children.

My question, then, is why are school administrators and law enforcement officials placing children in situations where the children are, quite literally, being forced to face the possibility of their own deaths?

“What?” you may ask. Certainly this never happens. Not in the United States.

Incredibly, it has happened — several times — here in the United States.

In the lunacy that is our “war against terror”, school children and their teachers are being used in terror training drills without their foreknowledge and without parental consent.

To be clear, I am not referring to a single instance of poor judgment by a backwoods administrator. This was not a single drill gone awry that was then followed by profuse apologies and calls for an investigation. I am referring to secretive, officially-planned and carefully-executed operations that have taken place in our country.

Just as concerning are the responses that the stunned parents had received after the fact. Their protestations were met with weak, initial concern followed by lofty words affirming the supposed necessity and appropriateness of these secret drills.

How does this make sense? Who benefits from this?

The view of the authorities involved seems to be that police officers and school administrators need to receive this training. Their stated goal was to make the drill as realistic as possible. This would logically infer that the childrens’ reaction to the brandishing of firearms and masked men taking over school buses – a natural reaction of panic and terror – helps the officers and school officials better understand the dynamics of terror threats.  The child’s terror helps them with their training.

In my opinion, this is terribly wrong.

I think there is a sort of sociopathy in play when people in positions of authority subject innocents to terror “for a greater good”. That said, it would be hard for me to believe that the educators could be so insensitive and uncaring of the children that they would initiate these plans on their own.

I would like to know how the individual police officers and school administrators were guided into believing that this was acceptable. Seriously, I would take them aside as I would a trusted friend and ask them confidentially “Did you think this was okay, or did you have to tell yourself it had to be okay?” Maybe they felt as though they did not have a choice. A paycheck and official-sounding rationalizations from higher-ups can be powerfully “convincing” – especially in a difficult job market.

In these actions, we are seeing presumably good people doing evil things. The psychology behind this sort of behavior is well understood. The Milgram experiment showed how ordinary Americans can be manipulated into harming others if they were provided assurances by persons in authority that the what they were doing was okay. Could this have played a role in these operations?

Even if good people were manipulated or fooled into performing these drills, their actions should still be considered inexcusable. People in positions of care over our children must never forget their jobs.

Those who had provided the rationale for treating our children this way must be scrutinized.  At the very least, they are grossly insensitive or deluded. At worst, they may have lost their sense of humanity.

Video on unquestioning compliance with 'authority'
“What would you do? Comply or Question Authority.”  [link]

For these drills to have been conducted without parental knowledge is the height of impertinence and arrogance, and it is a betrayal of the trust that they had placed with the school. The parent is left with the work of trying to understand and cope with how the drills may have affected their children. It is not surprising that some children reported having nightmares after their “contribution”.

Having the “proper authority” and “proper accreditation” to stage these actions does not prevent a child from experiencing trauma. And one does not need an academic degree to know that children could be traumatized by these operations, especially children whose life experiences have been lovingly protected and limited to age-appropriate situations.

A most telling aspect of this drill was that law enforcement officials and school administrators sat watching closed-circuit television of the children as it happened.  When the children exited the bus, their hands were bound though they were smiling in relief.  There was applause heard in the video, apparently as the children were about to disembark.  Applause.  This seems surreal in it perversity.

I am not a psychologist, but I wonder what sort of boundaries are shattered when a child leaves a life-and-death situation only to see that they were a performer on a stage, and that the play was directed by those whom they have trusted as their protectors.  Children see things more literally.  Must this be explained?

It is child abuse to subject the innocent to terror so that the voyeurs watching closed-circuit televisions can study the child’s experience to its full effect. This is fucking human experimentation. (Pardon the vernacular.)

This is not a prick of a vaccination needle where the momentary discomfort can be said to have its rewards. This is an act that has the distinct, real possibility of causing life-altering harm to a child’s psyche.

Twenty years ago, this sort of behaviour on the part of law enforcement and school administrators would have sparked national outrage. The perpetrators would have been dismissed, discredited and possibly brought up on charges.

The personal developmental needs of children have not changed in the past twenty years.  So what could explain this apparent change in sensitivity toward the psychological well-being of our children?

Why are school counselors silent on this? Do they not know this is happening, or do they think it’s acceptable? Why haven’t we heard about the effects of terror on children’s development?

Children are being protected from dodge ball and monkey bars, but not terror?

Are the instincts of mothers and fathers now considered primitive and backwards? Have elitists determined that contemporary scientific understanding trumps our natural human instinct to protect our young? If so, where can we read this science?

These public social services are in place to assist parents – not to usurp the parent’s roles. While there certainly are cases of unworthy fathers and mothers, these social systems should stay far and away from interfering with good parents.

Proposed Solution

Launch a formal investigation

  • Document the personnel hierarchy of individuals involved with this drill
  • Determine which individuals conceived or planned the drill at the highest levels
  • Determine whether the above individuals have been or are current involved in other such operations
  • Identify individuals who had objected or voiced concerns over the operations for recognition and praise
  • Caution those in lower level coordination positions to report inappropriate drills
  • Place the progress of the investigation on a public forum

Preventative measures

  • Create a support mechanism for those voicing concerns about official behavior
  • Remove institutional protection for liability for those involved

 

 

They Are “Our” Policemen

There is a growing recognition, worldwide, that policemen are being pitted against their own communities.  They are being called on to quash the anger of people who believe that they are not being listened to.

Child_giving

Romanian child offering a balloon heart to a police officer

Good police officers recognize this, but they are in a very difficult position.  They are husbands and fathers with obligations to their wives and children.  Their choices have been made for them.

Officer_receiving_1

Romanian officer in riot gear holding child’s balloon

Those who command our police officers have the power.  They have very important obligations.  They must not allow their forces to used to ensure acceptance of the unacceptable.  They must look among themselves, and higher up, to understand why the people are hurting.

Officer_receiving_2

Romanian officer holding balloon – second angle

As maudlin as it sounds, I’ve come to believe that the answer really comes down to love and understanding.  We must not protest our officers.  We must have serious discussions with those who have sent them.

The “buck” must be passed back up.

 

Could Ferguson Become A Behavioral Analysis Operation?

From a military and scientific standpoint, the events that have been, and will be, unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri will be rich with empirical data on how people behave under perceived injustice. Thanks to Snowden’s documents, we know that military minds like to “understand things”. Could this be an important opportunity for them?

First, a brief bit of background on the Ferguson issue (for those who live in a cave)…

The drama playing out today involves a pending grand jury announcement on whether or not police officer Darren Wilson should be indicted for the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. This case seems to have resonated with the black community, probably because of the community’s general dissatisfaction with the outcome of the George Zimmerman case. (In the interest of clarity, Zimmerman was not a police officer and that case ended in an acquittal.)

It has been months since the convening of the grand jury in the Ferguson matter and this has given the black community more than ample time to reflect on the possibility that the police officer may not be indicted. During this time, we have seen angry exchanges between the Ferguson police department and the family, we’ve seen the deployment of military vehicles in Ferguson and also a rather strange announcement by the hacker group “Anonymous” claiming foreknowledge that the Ferguson grand jury would not indict.

It seems that a “pressure cooker” situation has been set up.

So, will this be the most monitored and studied civil unrest in world history? Maybe so.

Certainly our rapacious defense industry will not waste this opportunity to monitor, document and study live events so close to home. The data gathered could flesh out or confirm their understandings of human nature and the social dynamics of crowds and urban dwellers in particular. This data might very well help with analytics, the development of new defense products and on the bidding on defense contracts.

(The unrest may also be a great training opportunity for our various homeland security agencies, but that’s a post for another day.)

If there is unrest, what could be learned from it?

I would think the information gathered could include:

– new understandings of how ordinary people can get “caught up” in events

– the testing of covert surveillance equipment, with “auto-following” technologies

– the capturing and storing of faces and body postures for storage and indexing

– the tracing back of identified individuals, through databases and social networks

– the creation of personal relationship databases

– the cross-indexing of discovered data with existing databases

– the studying how provocateurs, moles and saboteurs can direct the course of protests

– the identification of people who could be “convinced” to assist with law enforcement work

– the study of how media can be used to help direct the course of protests

– the study of social media communications and the profiling of opinions

– the profiling of behavioral tendencies by race, economic and education class

Is this just be crazy talk?  What do you think?