Triumph of the Money Party!!! Warren’s role downgraded, reports to Geithner

Michael Collins

The White House snatched back one of the few bones it’s thrown to the people outraged at the looting of the United States Treasury by failed financial concerns – the big banks and Wall Street.   The promised appointment Elizabeth Warren as head of the new agency to protect consumers from the financial services industry has been seriously downgraded.   Instead of running the Consumer Finance Protection Agency, Warren’s role has been diminished to that of special assistant to the president and adviser to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

“President Obama, sidestepping a possibly heated confirmation battle, will appoint Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren as a special advisor to the Treasury Department to launch the government’s powerful new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to two Democratic officials familiar with the decision.”  LA Times, Sept 15

An interim appointment would have given the no-nonsense Warren the full authority to structure consumer bureau in the interests of the people. A special adviser role is defined in a New York Times article as follows:

“Ms. Warren will be named an assistant to the president, a designation that is held by senior White House staff members, including Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff.

“She will also be a special adviser to the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, and report jointly to both men.” September 15

The title of the Times article says it all: Warren to Unofficially Lead Consumer Agency.

Internet Thought Control Bill Under Fire

Internet Thought Control Bill Under Fire

House Committee Dismisses Criticisms of
Internet Thought Control Bill – H.R. 1995

By Michael Collins
Scoop Independent News
Washington, D.C.
Part 2 (Part 1)

On Monday, Dec. 17, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security posted this document in response to the many criticisms of House Resolution 1955, The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. Part 1 of this series examined the dangers that this bill posed to citizens and political groups using the Internet.

Based on the bill contents and the witnesses called to elaborate on the supposed problem of “homegrown terrorism,” it appears that House bill and the Senate look alike (S.1959) pose a significant threat to political expression and free speech, particularly on the Internet (see Thought Control on the Internet and this collection for more detail).

H.R. 1955 passed by a 404-6 margin on Oct 23, 2007. On Nov. 6, 2007, the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment held a one hour plus hearing. Witnesses from “think tanks” elaborated on the need for the legislation. (Full video) Mark Weitzman was highly specific in portraying the Internet as a major source of violent radicalization. He showed slides of Internet web sites; he included some domestic political groups with very high visibility, and defined the threats as net-based communication and proselytizing. (Video of Weitzman testimony)

Sen. Barak Obama (D-IL) wrote The Independent and said
he has no position on S. 1959 (the Senate equivalent of H.R.
1955). This followed The Independent’s story that
his emails to constituents indicated support for the bill.

There was a huge reaction to this hearing by U.S. political groups across the political spectrum. The reaction was so strong that presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) revised his apparent position of support as indicated in emails to constituents. In a recent email to The Independent the candidate’s staff said that “Senator Obama has not taken a position on S. 1959. Should the bill be considered by the Homeland Security Committee, he will carefully evaluate it, as he does with all pieces of legislation,”

Committee on Homeland Security Staff Issues Response

Rep. Harman’s subcommittee hearings sparked the controversy surrounding this legislation. Yet the main committee staff issued the three page response, not the subcommittee staff. The use of the committee staff may indicate some serious damage control. The Internet is not the third rail of U.S. politics but its heading in that direction.

On the first page of their response, the committee staff stated:

This legislation in no way restricts thought or speech. Both of these are legal activities that should be encouraged by all segments of our society and are welcomed in our system of open debate and dialogue. Radical thinking is not a crime and this legislation does not turn radical thinking into criminal behavior.

It’s good to know that free thought and speech are still legal. However, there have been several extended periods in U.S. history where free thought and speech were seriously threatened. The most recent is the period dominated by McCarthyism from the late 1940’s through the 1950’s. The Smith Act (Alien Registration Act) of 1940 has a 20 year jail term for anyone who “prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays” information that would lead to the overthrow of the government. The McCarran Internal Security Act also enabled this period calling for “alien exclusion and deportation laws and allowing for the detention of dangerous, disloyal, or subversive persons in times of war or internal security emergency… ”

During this time, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) terrorized citizens by calling them as before congressional committees where they were accused of being disloyal to the United States. Victims included people who merely attended a rally deemed subversive; those who formerly sympathized with the left but were disillusioned; active leftists; and completely uninvolved citizens smeared through guilt by association.

Few prosecutions came of these hearings. But for years, the message was clear – “watch what you say, don’t be too critical, and be careful who you associate with or we’ll defame you by simply calling you before either of these committees.”

Now we’re told, “Trust us.” We’re supposed to trust despite heavy self censorship by the corporate news media since 911. We’re supposed to trust despite the rapidly expanding “legal” options for spying and surveillance by federal law enforcement. We’re supposed to trust despite the smear tactics used against administration opponents.

“Myths and Facts” from the Committee Staff

The committee devoted a page to what they called “myths and facts” about H.R. 1955.

Here are their “myths” stated in the exact terms of the document. These are the errors by critics of the legislation and the committee. Through our flawed logic and the magic of the Internet, we’ve already created “myths” about major legislation passed at a time when the House was supposed to consider only routine bills.

“Myth: H.R. 1955 is a “thought crime” bill that attempts to legislate constitutionally-protected speech. Staff, Senate Committee on Homeland Security (Committee staff)

The criticism of the bill wasn’t that it “attempts to legislate constitutionally-protected speech.” Rather, the concerns expressed were that the legislation lays the foundation for subsequent laws to do just that. In the mean time, just the hearings put a chill on those who adamantly oppose the current administration. Another concern was that strong opposition to elected officials was not the same as opposition the “government” since many administration opponents believe strongly that those officials are subverting the government.

This myth is only in the minds of the committee staff since the bill consists of definitions, findings, and the creation of a commission and academic centers to define what constitutes violent radicalization.

“Myth: H.R. 1955 is a “thought crime” bill that attempts to legislate constitutionally-protected speech”. Committee staff

Who said that? As with the first myth, the committee staff has created what’s called a “straw man” – misstating an opponent’s argument. By refuting what wasn’t said, the committee staff raise suspicions that the fears expressed are valid; namely that this bill lays the foundation fur such legislation.

“Myth: H.R. 1955 discriminates against particular races, ethnicities and religions.” Committee staff

This bill is an equal opportunity enabler of thought control and limitations on free speech. The key witness supporting the entire concept chose to mention those who doubt the veracity of official explanations for 911 and those who adamantly oppose the government’s immigration and border policies. These two groups mentioned in slides presented by the witness, slides which just happened to be among others mentioning “pro Iraqi sympathizers. The guilt by association was no accident.

“Myth: H.R. 1955 will lead to Internet censorship.” Committee staff

Correctly stated and very accurate! Both House and Senate bills define “violent radicalization” as a problem leading to “homegrown terrorism.” The definitions section of H.R. 1955 is clear that simply “facilitating ideologically based violence” is a major threat to national security.

(2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION- The term `violent radicalization‘ means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change. H.R. 1955 SEC. 899A. DEFINITIONS

What does “facilitating” mean? Posting strongly worded charges against elected officials can inflame terrorists who read the posts. The Internet poster doesn’t need to know the individual or be affiliated in any way, by the bill’s definition. It’s the loosest possible standard allowing a purely arbitrary connection between those with strong views and those who commit violent acts. Who will make these judgments?

The Internet is a key part of the process.

(3) The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens. H.R. 1955 SEC. 899B. FINDINGS.

If you define “facilitating” terrorism over a key medium, the Internet, what else will the bill do but result in restrictions, i.e., censorship? Are they going to study this, then say, “OK, the Internet allows these evil deeds to take place. Interesting isn’t it.” No, they’re going to hold more hearings, have those doing the “facilitating” called to showcase their inflammatory political views, and then come up with legislation to stop the activity. They don’t even need a law for these hearings. Investigation is sufficient cause to ruin a career or movement, as they tried with the 911 Truth movement.

Myth: H.R. 1955 is unnecessary because the threat of violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism does not exist in the United States. Committee staff

This is a cheap rhetorical trick. By using the double negative, the committee staff tries to corner critics of the legislation and label them as fools who think that there’s no threat of homegrown terrorism in the United States. We’ve already seen defamation and guilt by association presented to an attentive Harman subcommittee for two domestic political groups mentioned at the hearing. The Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (Video at 5:10) seeks to clear up the causes of the WTC towers collapse in order to understand who the true terrorists are. The anti immigration advocates who so strongly oppose current border policies are clear that one of their concerns in that porous borders are an opportunity that can be turned to the advantage of terrorists.

These groups don’t have to be right to have the right to free speech. Their views don’t need to be comforting to have the protection necessary to exercise that free speech. What the committee staff talking about? Who thinks that there’s no threat from “homegrown” terrorist acts?

In Summary

The first, second, and last “myths” are examples of misstating an opponent’s case by creating “a straw man,” then responding to that misstatement. That leaves just two myths that might characterize the position of the critics.

The stated myth of discrimination against one group is one belied by the cross section of groups opposing the legislation. It’s the fear that this bill will be universally applied that drives the opposition.

The claim that this is not “internet censorship” is myth propagated by the Committee, subcommittee, and their supporters. Right now, the bill creates a standard for “facilitating violent radicalization” that could include many individuals and groups on the Internet who simply despise the Bush – Cheney administration and hold Congress in extreme contempt.

On the one “myth” that the committee got straight, that of “Internet censorship,” we’re left with “Trust me.” Isn’t that what Bush and Cheney said when they convinced Congress to pass the Iraq War Resolution? Aren’t we paying for that naïve trust right now? Won’t the unjust costs continue for decades to come?

Trust has to be earned. The characterization of critics and their arguments was misleading as presented by the committee statement. The response to the one accurately stated criticism, internet censorship, amounts to nothing more than “Trust me.” The nature of the dialog at this point is hardly encouraging given the response of the committee staff.

Efforts will continue to stop this legislation before it becomes yet another tool in the arsenal of those who wish to end dissent and reinstitute conformity and quiescence. This is not what’s called for given the state of the nation and the world today.

If Congress is looking for the cause of “violent radicalization,” it need look no further than 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and within its own chambers. Wasn’t it the White House that proposed the Iraq War Resolution and the Congress that passed it? Are they not responsible for the incredible brutality of the war on Iraq, the clear cause of the severe hostility toward the United States?


U.S. Senate Contact Information

Pending: S. 1959 Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007

Passed 404-6: H.R. 1955 Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007

Understanding H.R. 1955: The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 Majority Staff, Committee on Homeland Security, Dec. 17, 2007

Permission to reproduce in whole or part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article

Thought Control on the Internet

By an Overwhelming Majority

Congress Brings You…


Thought Control on the Internet

By Michael Collins
Washington, D.C. – Part 1

Cracking the Code – Who’s to Blame for “Violent Radicalization”?

The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a 404 to 6 vote on Oct. 23. Not since the Iraq War Resolution have Democrats and Republicans found such a unifying cause. We’re told that House Resolution 1955 (H.R. 1955) will be an essential tool enabling law enforcement to peg the sources of “homegrown terrorism” on the Internet.

The overwhelming bipartisan support makes it no surprise that the legislation presents a significant danger to citizens and the nation. This sentence is the new heart of darkness for free speech.

(2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION – The term `violent radicalization’ means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change. (Author’s emphasis) (House Resolution 1955)

That one word, “facilitating,” takes the bill beyond aiding the hunt for terrorists on the Internet. It creates an emerging standard for wrongdoing that can be applied to everyone who exercises net-based free speech. Senate 1959, the equivalent of H.R. 1955, is up for consideration now.

Here are some scenarios under the bill that could easily be called “thought crimes”, i.e., “facilitating violent radicalization.”

You post one of these statements on the Internet …

You are extremely upset about what you see as the nation’s most serious problem – illegal immigration. You go to your Internet forum of choice and write a barn burner stating clearly that this administration and Congress are attacking the nation, breaking laws, and a threat to the safety of the people.

You find the deaths of American soldiers and 1.1 million Iraqi civilians totally unacceptable. You go to your Internet forum of choice and write a very strong post accusing the president and his henchmen with war crimes.

You’re a former Reagan official, a “paleo-conservative.” You argue that this administration’s behavior represents tyrannical rule. You write a column published on the Internet where you ask questions about 911: “Who benefits? This question was conspicuously absent from the official investigation.” You answer by naming Bush, Cheney, the Federalist Society and others.

You question the collapse of the WTC towers and conclude by arguing that a major casualty of 911″is the civil liberties that protect Americans from tyranny. President Bush and his corrupt Department of Justice (sic) have declared our constitutional protections to be null and void at the whim of the executive.” Paul Craig Roberts, Sept. 10, 2007

… and a terrorist reads it. That terrorist subsequently commits a violent act. You don’t know the person. You’re not affiliated with him or her in any way. You don’t advocate violence in your post nor do you approve of violence to achieve political goals.

None of that matters. You can be accused of facilitating “violent radicalization,” which this bill specifically implies can be an outcome of flagrant opposition to the administration, even though you really just oppose the current or any future office holders. You’re busted!

The scenario just mentioned is an outcome of H.R. 1955 and the yet-to-be-passed equivalent Senate Resolution 1959.

Rep. Harman’s House committee just released a commentary on H.R. 1955, apparently to stem concerns about their intentions. On the opening page, the report states:

This legislation in no way restricts thought or speech. Both of these are legal activities that should be encouraged by all segments of our society and are welcomed in our system of open debate and dialogue. Radical thinking is not a crime and this legislation does not turn radical thinking into criminal behavior.

The next article on this topic will consider the full report. This language and today’s report are no more convincing than the section of the bill on preserving civil rights. The actual language and evidence used to justify it are the critical concerns. The report does nothing to change those concerns other than to heighten concerns recalling Queen Gertrude’s line in Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

Congressional hearing: “…these are conspiracy theories…” and apparently “extremist belief systems.”

Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) is the chair of the House subcommittee that held hearings on H. R. 1955 (Full video) on Nov. 6, 2007. The bill had already passed in the House by a lopsided vote of 404 to 6 on Oct. 23, 2007. The committee met for just over an hour to consider this complex subject. During the testimony, “think tank” activists portrayed the Internet as a vehicle capable of whipping domestic extremists into a violent frenzy.

Mark Weitzman (right), of the Simon Wiesenthal Center lumped those who question official doctrine on post-2000 foul-ups with “pro-Iraqi” insurgents, a remarkable claim not supported by any evidence. That’s right, by heavy-handed inference, those who seriously doubt the official explanation of 911 and speak up may be part of the domestic groups guilty of “adopting and promoting and extremist belief system.” The witness said

Some of these are conspiracy theories that present a closed view of the world, such as blaming 9/11 as an “outside job” or blaming outside groups such as the U.S. government, or er the Jews etc.; some of these are pro-Iraqi insurgency videos, some of them are media portals that people can enter into, ones that you saw earlier with the flags — the U.S. flags show that thy were based on U.S. servers…” (Video at 1:20)

Weitzman’s testimony was disorganized and not at all persuasive. However, by his words, he associated “pro-Iraqi insurgency” with those who question the official story of 911. Weitzman then showed slides referencing Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (Video at 5:10) among slides noting real terrorist groups.

The architects and engineers are professionals who list their names and locations on the Web site referenced above. The group seeks scientific inquiry and investigation. The only conflict that they advocate is an open debate on the science of the official 911 story.

Weitzman failed to mention growing public opinion indicating that 45% of citizens want 911 reinvestigated and that nearly as many, 42%, doubt the official version explaining the events of 911.

Political activists with strong stands against the administration and Congress understood what this attack on an activist group might mean to their efforts. This resulted in immediate outrage on both right and left.

The Senate version of this bill was the subject of a committee hearing chaired by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) in April. This barely caused a stir. But Harman’s maladroit witness created a major controversy in October of this year.

H.R. 1955 authorizes structure to study “homegrown terrorism” and report back to Congress. Aside from the brief “definitions” and “findings” sections, just a few lines, the bill focuses on creating a commission which will, in turn, establish centers of “excellence” to study the supposed phenomenon. Reading the title then the timelines for reporting raises a serious question. If this is such a serious problem, how can Congress wait the 18 months the commission has to make its report?

The architects and engineers group sent a lengthy demand for an apology to Weitzman, noting the stunning inappropriateness of associating their group with any who advocate violence. In his reply, Weitzman backed away from any direct accusation but offered no apology.

We know how the game is played, don’t we? It’s a very crude but effective form of guilt by association and it works. Bush did it before the Iraq invasion by mentioning 911 and Saddam Hussein’s name in the same speech over and over. This caused many to believe Hussein was responsible for 911 and justifying their support for the invasion. When you’re caught you just say, “I never said that!” By that time, the damage is done.

Who’s Really Behind “Violent Radicalization?”

The irony of all this is that those who would fit this definition most clearly, “facilitating violent radicalization,” are the architects of the Iraq war and those in Congress who provide ongoing support through funding.

Here are the inevitable, empirically verified steps to radicalize individuals and groups. Initiate trade sanctions against a nation resulting in the death of 300,000 or more children. Then attack that nation because it has weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which are never found, thus negating the rationale for war. Create and implement a policy that shows disregard to for the safety of its people and their national treasures. Torture and humiliate citizens. And all the while, prolong the conflict even though the war is responsible for the death of over 1.1 million civilians.

Aren’t these the type of actions that would surely “facilitate violent radicalization?” Even with all this, there has been no documented “homegrown terrorism” as a result of political posts on the Internet. However, there can be little doubt that this administration’s war on Iraq is the proximate cause explaining whatever potential exists.

What’s Congress Up To?

Clearly law enforcement needs to go where criminals congregate and needs to investigate, and make arrests. With or without this law, domestic and international criminals will continue to use the Internet for their goals and law enforcement will pursue them.

This bill seems more about those who harshly criticize those in power, elected officials.

Viewed from that perspective, there are at least two goals for this legislation:

1) Chill domestic free speech by loyal, law abiding individuals or as the authors might have thought: We’re sick and tired of all these letters and accusations. Let’s give them something to think about for a change. Whenever they make these accusations, they’ll have to think about being tagged as a terrorist supporter.”

2) Provide a tool to defame those who get too far out of line. They now have words to use against those Internet “trouble causers” who demand impeachment, say Congress is grossly negligent, call the war a travesty, etc., or as they might have thought: We’ll be able to use ‘facilitating homegrown terrorism’ to shut down these people whenever we want. Who wants to even log on to a site that’s associated with helping terrorists? All we have to do is make the charge.”

H.R.1955 is an affront to the intelligence of all citizens. It’s a disgrace to those who conceived it and serious mistake by those who voted for it. A majority of citizens now know the big lies about the Iraq War. They’re also smart enough to know nonsense legislation with stealth intentions of a controlling kind, if they ever get to hear the full story.

There is still a last minute chance to stop this in the Senate (S. 1959). The Senate “thought crimes” bill may be camouflaged in some other legislation, never debated, and passed before we know it. But feedback tells the Senate that the public is aware of this latest step to dismantle Constitutional rights in the name of antiterrorism.

The Loyal Opposition

There was opposition to this bill that also constituted a bipartisan coalition. The following six U.S. Representatives voted no in the face of assured criticism by their opponents in 2008 and no discernible political gain.

Voted “Nay” (no) on H. R. 1955
Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Jerry Costello (D-IL), John Duncan (R-TN),
Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)

What disturbs me most about this legislation is that it leaves the door wide open for the broadest definition of what constitutes “radicalization.” Could otherwise nonviolent anti-tax, anti-war, or anti-abortion groups fall under the watchful eye of this new government commission? Assurances otherwise in this legislation are unconvincing. Ron Paul (R-TX)





“If you understand what his bill does, it really sets the stage for further criminalization of protest. This is the way our democracy little, by little, by little, is being stripped away from us.”





“It probably should have been H.R. 1984. Because what they were doing… is they were trying to criminalize thoughtDennis Kucinich (D-OH)


Pending: S. 1959 Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007

U.S. Senate Contact Information

Passed 404-6: H.R. 1955 Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007

Understanding H.R. 1955: The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 Majority Staff, Committee on Homeland Security, Dec. 17, 2007

Permission to reproduce in whole or part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article