Criminalizing Dissent, Obama Pot Calls Iranian Kettle Black by Dave Lindorff via CounterPunch.org
President Barack Obama, referring to the violent attacks on protesters against the controversial election results in Iran’s just-completed presidential election, this week lectured Iran’s government, saying, “Peaceful dissent should never be subject to violence.”
Referring to the tens and hundreds of thousands of frustrated and angry Iranians who have taken to the streets accusing Iranian authorities of rigging the election in favor of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Obama said that “the Iranian people and their voices should be heard and respected."
But there is a certain hypocrisy going on here.
No, there could never be hypocrisy from Obama and the Democrats, could there be?
Just days ago, the ACLU of Northern California issued a press release announcing that it had filed a complaint over a Pentagon anti-terrorism training manual. That training manual, aimed at Pentagon personnel, describes domestic protests as “low-level terrorist activity.”
As Staff Attorney Ann Brick and ACLU Washington National Security Policy Council member Michael German write in their complaint letter to the Department of Defense, “For the DoD to instruct its employees that lawful protest activities should be treated as ‘low-level terrorism’ is deeply disturbing in and of itself. It is an even more egregious insult to constitutional values, however, when viewed in the context of a long-term pattern of domestic security initiatives that have attempted to equate lawful dissent with terrorism.”
Of course, I watched first hand as a Democrat mayor and a Democrat governor violently crushed any attempt at protest around Obama's nomination here in Denver last year. The images of storm troopers rampaging through the 'democracy village' that was setup here in the city park during the convention week won't soon fade from my mind. So, this isn't exactly a shock to me.
The ACLU has documented that the government has been and continues a policy of spying on legitimate peaceful protest organizations—particularly those that have been opposing America’s wars and its military policies, and the new president has said nothing and done nothing about terminating this egregious assault on First Amendment freedom of speech and assembly. Given that President Obama has also done nothing since taking office to undo the USA PATRIOT Act, which codifies much activity that traditionally would have been called dissent as a crime, or to publicly reverse the policy of the last eight years during which non-violent protest organizations have been spied on and infiltrated by agents of the military and by the FBI, and during which actual protesters have been harassed, penned into fenced-off “free speech zones,” assaulted by armed police and arrested, his pontificating to Iran about the sanctity of dissent rings particularly hollow.
Gee, what a surprise. Of course, I remember Bill Clinton's storm troopers attacking the WTO protesters in Seattle, as well as what happened here in Denver during the convention.
This writer spent three days in the Federal Detention Center at Occoquan, VA, back in 1967 for participating in a peaceful anti-war protest at the Pentagon that year. I was one of hundreds at that event who found himself, as a peaceful demonstrator, confronting armed federal troops with fixed bayonets at that event. Not much has changed since ‘67, as others have met the same fate over the years in Washington and around the country. Certainly there is every reason to assume that, if the public finally loses patience over the current administration’s continuation of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, its failure to really tackle the health care crisis, and its limp response to the economic crisis, and if people descend on Washington or perhaps New York City en masse to protest, those people will be met with the same kind of draconian, police-state style response that protesters have met in the past--or that protesters are being met with in Iran today.
If the Pentagon is teaching its people to equate protest with “low-level terrorism,” how different, really, is Washington from Tehran?
Protests in America are channeled off into empty city streets on a Saturday morning by the 'permit' process by which our government tells us what protests are permitted. Any who try to leave the permitted activity of protesting to empty buildings are quickly met by storm troopers in riot gear. And, the US military, for all its rhetoric about 'defending freedom' has always viewed any attempts to challenge its power or money as something to be met with by spies and detention and armed force.
And none of this was ever going to 'change' under Obama and the Democrats.
Meanwhile, Obama's NSA continues to illegaly read the emails of American citizens, and Obama continues the Bush-era secrecy as to who's visiting the White House.
Note: The attached image is from a quick google search that found this on Wonkette's blog. That's only because I was too lazy to go find my own pictures of the storm troopers that greeted a group of kids who dared to step off the approved route during the anti-war march on the Sunday before the convention.