Pulling The Rug Out From Under Big Brother– The Burglary, The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI by Betty Medsger

The New York Times

*

 

“There are certain points in history where a society goes so wrong, and there are certain people who will say, ‘I won’t stand for that . . . I will risk career, life, limb, family  freedom . . . And I will take this risk, and I will go and do it.”

                                                                                                                                                                                          David Kairys

Betty Medsger’s book about the 1971 burglary of the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania isn’t about a cheap thrill ride of robbery for adrenaline kicks and profit, though it was a crime with a huge payout–the truth.  The burglary committed by a crew of non-violent peace activists assembled by a physics professor, William Davidon, confirmed the suspicions of anti-war activists that they were being unlawfully spied upon by their own government because they were exercising their right to dissent — and that thousands of other people were being illegally spied upon because they were considered subversives according to one man, J. Edgar Hoover.  People didn’t have to commit any crime or even speak about committing treason to get their names put on a list of folks to be rounded up and jailed in the event of some national emergency. If they were liberal, if they were black, if they espoused anti-war sentiments, if they were writers, artists, then they were candidates for warrantless, indefinite detention without due process under the law–as far as Hoover was concerned. The Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI’s theft of FBI records brought into the light of day the term COINTELPRO–and a lot of very very illegal activity by the FBI as it committed crimes against the American people with impunity. Such crimes included destroying the lives of innocent people by deliberately framing them for crimes they didn’t commit, celebrating such wrongdoing and refusing to turn over evidence that proved their innocence in any wrongdoing. Hoover’s secret FBI didn’t give a damn about truth, integrity, civil liberties, or the law. It existed to create paranoia and fear in the population at large in order  to control everyone. It refused to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States and the law. It was a criminal entity from the top on down with a few exceptions.

If this is striking a contemporary current events cord with you, that’s not an accident.

If you’re expecting an anti-war tale rife with hippies, drugs, sex and rock and roll music, look elsewhere. The people who broke into the FBI office in Media were not a bunch of hooligans. They weren’t looking for money. They were searching for evidence.  These were people who raided draft offices in order to destroy the effort to conscript young men for the war machine then stayed to be arrested by the police in order to take responsibility for their actions. These were people deeply invested in ethical behavior and education who wanted the death and destruction in Vietnam to stop. They were people committed to the civil rights movement.  Betty Medsger’s book provides varied personal portraits of the burglars, each dependent upon how much personal information they were willing to share, of the Media burglars.  There’s a range of backgrounds and experience among them which provides some sense of the breadth of the range of people involved in the anti-war movement and what inspired them to become activists.

If you have no clue about the short and long-term importance of this burglary and the context in which it occurred, don’t fret, Medsger will fill you in. She provides notes and a very useful bibliography for further reading. While this is a very serious book about very serious issues which are very relevant to the here and now, it’s also very very accessible and readable. It gives life and breath to events by creating connections with real humans thinking hard about the world we live in–and how we live in it. What are the responsibilities of those who are free? What does it mean to have the right to dissent without fear of retaliation in a society that claims to be free? What are you willing to do to protect your civil liberties? Who wants to live their lives in fear of being arrested because of their ideas?

Betty Medsger’s book raises all sorts of interesting issues for serious conversation while stressing the important role ‘ordinary’ people play in creating the world in which we live our daily lives. If you think one person doesn’t have a lot of influence in the power plays then consider J. Edgar Hoover the Head of the FBI versus William Davidon, a physics professor with an idea.

Who is reading everyone’s mail? Who is collecting phone conversations? Who is creating files on everyone? Why?

Who has the Hoover virus? What is to be done about it?

~~~

The Burglary site –>> http://www.theburglary.com/

~~~~

Betty Medsger ~ The Burglary (note, her part does not run the full hour of the video)

Published on Mar 21, 2014

http://www.politics-prose.com/book/97… Betty Medsger talks about her book about the previously unsolved burglary of an FBI building in Media, Pennsylvania. Recorded on March 16, 2014.
Founded by Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade in 1984, Politics & Prose Bookstore is Washington, D.C.’s premier independent bookstore and cultural hub, a gathering place for people interested in reading and discussing books. Politics & Prose offers superior service, unusual book choices, and a haven for book lovers in the store and online. Visit them on the web at http://www.politics-prose.com/

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Poetry and Power in Qatar ~ and beyond.

So, you thought poetry was just for fun rhymes and wooing women? Without music poetry is often backhanded as a literary form ignored and disdained as too esoteric or too convoluted for straightforward no nonsense reading.  By the way, if you think Mother Goose nursey rhemes are just silly ditties, you’ll think again after going a few rounds with an annotated copy with the darker references to realities. Oh, speaking of reality.

MIC CHECK

A while back I had an actual face to face conversation with a young woman who insisted no one had never been imprisoned for writing literature. I found her literal ignorance astounding  not only for her lack of awareness of the historical contexts in which writers in all genres have run into very serious trouble for expressing their views, but also for what it revealed about her lack of comprehension of some of the works she’d claimed to have read. Hence, this post. I believe it makes my point in a very very contemporary fashion.

From Democracy Now!’s headline news

15-Year Sentence for Qatari Poet Upheld

Democracy Now! Headline News for 22 October 2013

In Qatar, the top court has upheld a 15-year jail sentence for a poet convicted of incitement against the regime. Mohammed al-Ajami was arrested in November 2011 for allegedly disparaging members of Qatar’s ruling family in a poem. But activists say the real motivation was his poem “Tunisian Jasmine,” in which he expressed support for the Arab Spring uprisings, writing, “We are all Tunisia in the face of repressive elites.” Al-Ajami was initially dealt a life term but that was reduced to 15 years in February. His lawyer said he has been held in solitary confinement for two years. Al-Ajami’s only recourse now is to appeal to the emir. Click here to see our interview from Qatar with Mohammed Al-Ajami’s lawyer.

http://www.democracynow.org/2013/10/22/headlines#102211

Qatari poet Mohamed Ibn Ajami Imprisioned for Life for Reading a Poem 

[“Tunisian Jasmine” audio text]

Published on Feb  9, 2013

February 6, 2013 7:23pm PST
From Democracy Now: “Three days after the United Nations Climate Change Conference began here in Doha, a Qatari court sentenced a local poet to life in prison, a move that shocked many activists in the Gulf region and human rights observers. The sentencing of Mohammad ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami came nearly two years after he wrote a poem titled “Tunisian Jasmine,” supporting the uprisings in the Arab world. “We are all Tunisia in the face of repressive elites!” al-Ajami wrote. “The Arab governments and who rules them are, without exception, thieves. Thieves!” We speak to his attorney and a member of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee.”
http://www.democracynow.org/2012/12/7…
From the Guardian “A Qatari poet has been sentenced to life in prison for an Arab-spring-inspired verse that officials claim insults Qatar’s emir and encourages the overthrow of the nation’s ruling system, his defense attorney says.
It was the latest blow in a widening clampdown on perceived dissent across the Gulf Arab states.
The verdict in a state security court is certain to bring a fresh outpouring of denunciations by rights groups, which have repeatedly called for the release of the poet, Muhammad ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami. It also marks another example of tough measures by judicial and security officials in the Gulf against possible challenges to their rule since the Arab spring revolts began last year.
The poet’s lawyer, Najib al-Nuaimi, said he planned to appeal.
“This judge made the whole trial secret,” said Nuaimi. “Muhammad was not allowed to defend himself, and I was not allowed to plead or defend in court. I told the judge that I need to defend my client in front of an open court, and he stopped me.”
Ajami was jailed in November 2011, months after an internet video was posted of him reciting Tunisian Jasmine, a poem lauding that country’s popular uprising, which touched off the Arab spring rebellions across the Middle East. In the poem, he said: “We are all Tunisia in the face of repressive” authorities, and criticized Arab governments that restrict freedoms.
Qatari officials charged Ajami with “insulting” the Gulf nation’s ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and “inciting to overthrow the ruling system”. The latter charge could have brought a death sentence.
Nuaimi said Ajami, a third-year student of literature at Cairo University, had been held in solitary confinement since his arrest.
Gulf regimes have stepped up crackdowns on a range of perceived threats to their rule, including Islamist groups and social media activists. Earlier this month, Kuwaiti authorities arrested four people on charges of insulting the emir with Twitter posts, and the United Arab Emirates imposed sweeping new internet regulations that allow arrests for a wide list of offensives, including insulting leaders or calling for demonstrations.
Last year, Bahrain issued a royal pardon for some protest-linked suspects, including a 20-year-old woman sentenced to a year in prison for reciting poetry critical of the government’s effort to crush a Shia-led uprising against the Sunni monarchy.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/…

 

I don’t know about you, but this packs a resounding wallop in my book of verses.

Gazprom! Russia! Free the Arctic 30!

BREAKING: This morning Greenpeace France activists protested peacefully at Gazprom’s offices in the center of Paris, while their friends on the Arctic Sunrise are detained in Russia for peacefully protesting Gazprom’s reckless plans to drill in the fragile Arctic.

Voice your support to peaceful activism to protect the Arctic. SIGN and SHARE: www.greenpeace.org/freeouractivists/?fbgpi9oct1

Direct from:

Russia is pressing charges against the peaceful activists that could land them in prison for 15 years. Is this political insanity at work? Power running amok for sure.

Any dolphin lovers out there? Special OPs Time!

 

Did you grow up watching Flipper’s antics on television? (After hearing Rick O’Barry talk about the first dolphin, Cathy, who played Flipper, I can’t stop wondering if she was giving everyone a huge piece of her mind every chance she got to ‘talk’ to the unsuspecting cameraman. ) Planning to take the kiddies to a dolphin show at Sea World this summer? Got a water dancing dolphin poster or three on your bedroom wall? If so, then this film news  is for you.  I first heard about the film The Cove from another blogger.  Caught some of its splash at the Oscars–then didn’t hear or see much more about it until was searching for the foreign film section in the last Blockbuster in my area. (BAH on those evil red boxes). Lo and behold there was The Cove in the special interest category.  Next thing I know I’ve tuned into Democracy Now! this morning intending to listen only to the headlines of the “War and Peace Report” and learned that The Cove was to be one of the features. So, yep, you guessed it, I wound up paying close attention for the entire hour of Democracy Now!’s program.  This was too much for me to ignore.  Hence this post  which offers links to Amy  Goodman’s way cool interview with the  filmmakers, Louie Psihoyos and Rick O’ Barry, on Democracy Now! and to the film’s website.  The interview is very interesting because it reveals how the filmmakers went about making a film no one wanted made.  Their efforts give “special ops” a whole new meaning. I am not kidding, talk about going above and beyond the call of duty–this filmmaking team went all out for dolphins.  Take note:  Dead-line is September 1st to save some Flippers.  

http://www.thecovemovie.com/home.htm

      the Cove  http://www.democracynow.org/2010/8/16/filmmakers_activists_try_to_save_dolphins

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