Monday, January 11, 2016

A World of Stalking Fools: Strange Tales of Homeland Security and the Future of Mass Surveillance (Part One: Welcome to Gudavia)

According to Pew Research, the respectability of the brand name known as the United States appears to be locked in freefall.  Let’s begin with a brief excerpt from Andrea Peterson’s 7-14-14 Washington Post article entitled “America’s ‘Freedom’ Reputation Is on the Decline a Year after NSA Revelations”:

A main selling point of the U.S. brand on the international stage has long been summed up with the screech of eagles and one word:  “Freedom.”  But in the wake of the revelations about U.S. surveillance programs from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden last year, the world is less convinced of the U.S.’s respect for personal freedoms according to new survey results from Pew Research.

The Snowden revelations appear to have damaged one major element of America’s global image:  its reputation for protecting individual liberties.  In 22 of 36 countries surveyed in both 2013 and 2014, people are significantly less likely to believe the U.S. government respects the personal freedoms of its citizens.  In six nations, the decline was 20 percentage points or more.

Pew calls this decline “the Snowden Effect.”  And some of the drops are significant—especially in countries where NSA surveillance received major domestic news coverage like Germany and Brazil.

Those who have lost faith in the U.S. government would be even more devastated to learn that Snowden’s “revelations” regarding the NSA’s domestic surveillance program pales in comparison to what’s actually happening every day in this great land of ours.

Way back in December of 1956 a British science fiction film called The Gamma People was released on the lower half of a double bill (its companion feature was the first film adaptation of George Orwell’s anti-totalitarian novel, 1984.)  The Gamma People told the tale of a phantasmagoric dictatorship known as Gudavia whose fat and happy citizens are mind controlled by mad scientists run amok and constantly surveilled by drone-like halfwits—the unsightly results of behavioral experiments gone very wrong.  No doubt, this film and its more famous co-feature were intended to be interpreted by its 1950s whitebread audiences as satirical critiques of communist Russia.  Sixty years out, however, The Gamma People seems more like an eerily prescient look into the future (i.e., the present) of the United States of Amurrrica.  The reality of our situation is closer to the cinematic science fiction of 1956 than it is to the reportage of mainstream newspapers published today.

In the spring of 2015 OR Books released my book, Chameleo: A Strange but True Story of Invisible Spies, Heroin Addiction, and Homeland Security, which chronicles the bizarre experiences of my friend, Dion Fuller, and his ongoing battles with the police state into which the United States has devolved since the dawn of the twenty-first century.  To summarize the story briefly, in the summer of 2003 Dion allowed a stranger—a young man named Lee—to sleep on the floor of his apartment in San Diego.  It turned out that this stranger was a Marine who had gone AWOL from nearby Camp Pendleton.  Before leaving the military base, Lee decided to abscond with sensitive military equipment, including two dozen hi-tech night vision goggles and a DOD laptop computer that contained Above Top Secret field journals written on the battlefield in the Persian Gulf.  Some of this equipment Lee decided to bring with him into Dion’s apartment.  This equipment led the NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Services) right to Dion’s front door.  Both Dion and Lee were arrested and taken to the San Diego County Jail, where Dion was “interviewed” for a week.  The authorities decided that Dion and Lee were in league with international terrorists and had been planning to sell this equipment to al-Qaeda.  Dion tried to convince them that he barely knew Lee and was simply trying to help out a kid who seemed to be down on his luck.  The NCIS did not believe Dion, and told him so over and over again during their 24/7 Abu-Ghraib-style interrogation sessions.  Dion refused to cooperate with the NCIS’s investigation, since he knew nothing that could help them.  After about seven days had passed, the San Diego police told Dion he was free to go.  And indeed, Dion was able to leave the jail and return to his home—but that was only the beginning of the nightmare.  From that summer day in 2003 until now, Dion has been harassed by a seemingly endless series of psychological warfare tactics perpetuated by a group of government flunkies that have come to be known among targeted individuals as “gangstalkers,” i.e., people who stalk innocent civilians as an organized gang, often employing sophisticated technology to drive the target insane.  Dion is not the only such target in the United States, or even in the world.  The phenomenon known as “gangstalking” is a worldwide problem, and has grown more and more common since the events of 9/11. 

The particulars of Dion’s story can seem quite unreal, but the fact is that I’ve received countless messages from people who have read Chameleo and insist that they too have experienced similar harassment.  More often than not, a targeted individual is someone who is considered to be a threat to national security.  For example, during the past few months I learned that members of the Clamshell Alliance, an anti-nuclear-power organization, have been recently gangstalked due to their organized attempts to shut down an atomic power plant in New England.  Some targeted individuals might be officially labeled “terrorists” simply because they’re exercising their right to protest public policy.  Here are excerpts from a 6-12-14 UK Guardian article entitled “The Met Turned Me into a Domestic Extremist—with Tweets and Trivia” by Jenny Jones:

I would describe myself as many things, but domestic extremist is not one of them.  In the eyes of the Metropolitan police, however, that is what I am; and that’s why my name is on a file in their secret database of “domestic extremists” […].  The supposed point of this database, which is managed by the Met, is to gather intelligence from police forces, counter terrorism units, industry and open sources about domestic extremism threats, of which I am apparently one. 

Flicking through the file I was able to read copies of tweets I had made, a note that I was speaking at a demonstration in Trafalgar Square—even something saying I was the Green party mayoral candidate for London […].

As an elected politician who has never been arrested, I was naturally surprised to find I even had a file on this database.  But I am not alone.  There is a Green party councillor in Kent who was spied on for two years for peacefully and legally protesting about live animal exports.  His file even included details of organising a public meeting in support of equal marriage.

There is also John Catt, an 89-year-old from Brighton who campaigns for peace and human rights.  He found he had a file on this database which even included descriptions of his appearance (“clean shaven”) and his habit of sketching demo[nstration]s.  He has since launched legal action against the Met, winning a decision at the court of appeal to have information held on him deleted.  A police appeal is due before the supreme court soon.

A related article (entitled “Why I’m Fighting the Met in Court over Undercover Relationships”) appeared in the 6-3-14 edition of the Guardian, in which a woman known only as “Alison” wrote about the six-year-long relationship she was duped into having with an undercover police officer who, hiding behind a false identity, had infiltrated an organization to which Alison belonged.  This organization was “an independent political group that had exposed police corruption in the early 1990s and promoted trade union, anti-fascist politics.”  At the time this article was published, at least eight other women were taking legal action against the Metropolitan police for having been similarly victimized and manipulated by overzealous covert agents.

As you’re no doubt already aware, various police organizations and intelligence agencies have been infiltrating social justice groups for generations.  Perhaps the casual reader might think, “Well, what’s so new about that?  Who cares?  What’s the big deal?”

The “big deal” is this:  The examples provided above are relatively harmless compared to the gangstalking phenomenon running rampant in the United States and abroad.  At least the above examples are ones that can be dealt with in a court of law.  The official stamp of the Metropolitan police is indelibly marked on the cases cited above.  A specific government organization, therefore, can be sued and punished for these flagrant violations.

But the various police organizations and intelligence agencies mentioned above have learned a great deal since the 1960s and ‘70s.  Why bother with court orders and filing for warrants when the job can get done much easier and quicker outside the constricting influence of the law?

Plausible deniability, so in vogue during the Watergate era, has now been supplanted by total deniability.  

To Be Continued In “A World of Stalking Fools” Part Two (Coming Soon)….

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