On writing for indymedia
A long essay about writing for indymedia and the political retribution that has been, at least in part, a consequence of that.
On writing for indymedia
I read somewhere, I think it was on an indymedia editorial page, that the philosophy behind indymedia is that it isn't so much an entity, such as a website, but an evolving concept or idea, like the Internet itself perhaps. With the ability to "post" information to indymedia, it then becomes a virtual bulletin board—a means by which today's Martin Luthers can post their theses to the church door, without need of hammer and nail, or a door. And of course, indymedia is only one small part of the world "blogosphere," a new word which can be heard thrown about by senators at the Senate confirmation hearing of John Roberts for Supreme Court Justice.
When I was first introduced to Portland indymedia, I didn't think much of it. I thought it was a crowded bunch of local gossip, at first glance. But I was intrigued by the idea of a long newswire where just about any information could be posted and commented on. At that time my Internet usage and experience was mostly limited to checking my e-mail, job searching or buying and selling on Amazon, from public computers. I mostly viewed the Internet in its entirety as a functional tool, like the telephone, and not so much a means of entertainment or discourse.
The very first comment I posted to Portland indymedia prompted an e-mail response from the Vancouver Police spokeswoman. It was after the August 23rd, 2003 Bush protest at the University of Portland, and after going to the protest, I came home and posted a comment, along with my e-mail address, to an article about the VPD personnel carrier used at the protest for crowd control. I criticized the use of it, and the police spokeswoman e-mailed me about a month after that comment to explain more about the personnel carrier. It was kind of like public relations, though the long delay was curious, as if indicating a long memory of any criticism. Several months later, when I regularly began posting articles to Portland indymedia, I would use aliases, in part due to that police e-mail response.
Throughout 2004 I posted articles, eventually switching from using an alias to my initials. I figured that most of what I posted could be accounted for, and also took into consideration that I used to have a small blog on the Oregonlive website, in which I posted brief articles just as critical of Bush & Co. as anything I was posting to indymedia, and on the Oregonlive blog I added my name, address and phone number. Still, by using just my initials to identify myself, I preserved some anonymity, while giving my articles a human touch at the same time. Along with my first articles, or at least one of them, I listed a hotmail e-mail address which could be traced back to me, so I knew that complete anonymity was not possible.
Early in my indymedia career I suspected that one or more of my articles may have drawn the attention of federal or other authorities. One of them was about U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba, and that article was featured. I happened to post it on the anniversary of the Cuban revolution. I'm pretty sure that a link to the article was put on indymedia's main page, and that the link was blacked out, though the link to Portland indymedia below that was still active. There was just a blank spot where the article title would have been. If that was the Cuba article I wrote, then it suggests that it caught the attention of censors. Much of my writing has been critical of U.S. foreign policy, as is common on indymedia, and for good reason. Some of it has been more focused on local issues, and some has been entirely in jest. In early September 2004 I posted three articles about a connection between Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan and Iraq. That was the climax of my work for indymedia, and marked the beginning of a period in my life when things got weird.
I'm not so sure if it was the A.Q Khan story which precipitated the weirdness, or all of my articles taken collectively. When I posted the series of A.Q. Khan articles, I had a strong feeling that it was a big story, and thought about it day and night. It may be that I was already under surveillance, or that I had been for some time, and that my anxiety over this story was exploited through various means.
I sat at home during this period and surfed through the cable t.v. news channels, which is never advisable, and absorbed the images from the school siege in Beslan, Russia, the scenes of devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan, and the image of Cheney telling America that if they made the wrong choice on election day, they'd get hit hard. These were only some of the memorable images of the time. I recall on the night of September 10th, watching Bill O'Reilley as he wondered aloud what can be done about the Islamic fascists, as he read a commentary on the Beslan school siege, and then switching to CNN where Lou Dobbs was asking if Islamic Fascism was the correct term for Islamic terrorists, or if another term should be used. It was a disheartening experience to be watching cable news at that time, (as surely it always is).
The cable news content wasn't so unusual, though it did seem that on the eve of the 3rd anniversary of 9/11, and in an election year on top of that, the rhetoric had been brought up a notch. With the horrifying images from within the besieged Beslan school, cable news had some timely content to add to the commentary and coverage of the 9/11 anniversary, and politicos like Cheney had some extra fuel for fear mongering, (he mentioned the Beslan siege in his infamous Cincinatti speech). This was in spite of the fact that Americans have never really been at risk of attack from Chechen rebels.
I stayed glued to cable news and C-Span during this period, and wondered if my A.Q. Khan articles would make any kind of splash. I had done a lot of research for that series of articles, and felt certain that this was an important story. Still, there were flaws in the reporting, which I later discovered. I wrote that A.Q. Khan may have provided Iraq with uranium melting expertise in 1984. Later, I read that it was German engineers who were the culprits. Also, I relied too much on one source for the main thesis of my articles. That source was B. Raman, a writer for the South Asia Analysis Group, who was previously affiliated with Indian intelligence. It would have been better to find more corroboration for the thesis.
The weirdness I came to experience at this time began subtly, and was not so evident. To put it another way, it was below the radar. With the posting of the last article in the A.Q. Khan series, I began noticing irregularities—mostly timing and behavioral irregularities. As time has gone on, the little proddings and provocations, so subtle and apparently natural, from passersby, passing cars, neighbors and people out in public, make me feel like Hugo Chavez might feel if he were caught in some ritzy Caracas suburb, (with no security detail). This, unfortunately, is one symptom of this kind of retribution scheme—making one feel as if everybody is watching, everybody is aware of every possible aspect of one's life, and, it goes without saying, negatively inclined to the views one might carry with him/her, (though strangely, this doesn't seem to be a major function of the harassment—nobody has tried to change my mind about political views). In general, the feeling one gets is that the world revolves around oneself, and it's a negative, dark and anxiety-ridden world. It's hard to get over just the sheer volume of apparent attention, not to mention the implications of it. On the other hand, for someone who's often dreamed of being famous, it may be manageable. Myself, I grew up wanting to be Bob Dylan, fame and all.
There's a good essay on the Portland Writers website about corporate espionage, and the tactics used, written from the viewpoint of an actual corporate spy. It gives a good insight into the workings of an espionage expert, and how such a person works to have an effect on the "target," employing layers of subterfuge and deception. In my own case, I'm sure the negative attention I've received is more government-inspired, though very much "layered" so as to eliminate all evidence of official harassment. It would be futile and possibly impolite to name agencies here, but surely the usual suspects can be considered. One curious consequence of the now nearly forgotten Rove/Plame scandal is that it drilled into the American public the idea that the sanctity and best intentions of our intelligence agencies must never be compromised or questioned.
It seems I've also been hearing from the "street" as well—that is, the apparently normal, unaffiliated citizens of the semi-affluent outer-edge suburb where I live. There seems to be a capacity for conservative activism among these wide boulevards and packed-to-capacity shopping plaza parking lots. Then again, this feeling of community involvement in a harassment campaign may only be a deceptive tactic, part of a "layered" approach to harassment.
It's not as if people drive by me and shout "support our troops, jerk," or throw their fast-food detritus out the window at me. After all, I don't wear a "He lied, they died" t-shirt around town, or anything like that, though that probably wouldn't precipitate a direct response anyway. In fact, aside from riding a bike, there's nothing much that sets me apart out here in the 'burbs. Rather, what's been going on for the past year is much more subtle and unassuming, with a definite psychological angle. This keeps the harassment low-key generally, except in the eyes of the target (me). Keeping the commotion at a low level probably keeps property values from decreasing, and otherwise keeps this area from getting a bad reputation. But keeping harassment narrowly targeted and personalized also serves the purpose of having a disconcerting effect on me, while leaving me with little in the way of recourse, because the instances are so fleeting and designed to look like a natural progression of things. Keeping the harassment unexplainable or unmentionable, using various tactics, is even more effective. Often this is the case, and there's actually some cleverness and evidence of strategic thinking in the tactics I've seen, indicating practice and experience.
Indymedia as yellow pages?
For the politically active, there's the potential for increased communication and organization through use of the Internet. Yet there's also the risk that a site like indymedia can become a yellow pages for right-leaning activists and political operatives searching (trolling?) for people to make an example of.
In early September 2004, I came to the conclusion that I was being actively surveilled. As noted, this conclusion came after I posted the series of A.Q. Khan articles, and naturally I assumed that the articles generated interest, and that they provided an explanation for irregularities I then began to notice, or for undue attention being paid to me, either in public or sitting in my apartment. In actuality, I thought that the information, or at least the implications of the information, was such that it brought covert attention out into the open, in the form of harassment. I thought that there might be an attempt to discredit the source, punish the source, or both.
In the year since then, I've mostly come to the conclusion that it wasn't just the A.Q. Khan series that brought attention to me, but more likely the collection of postings I'd made throughout 2004, criticizing the government, corporations, and even the part of Vancouver I live in. It's not that my postings were overly controversial, but criticizing important client states like Pakistan, and citing specific information which seems credible in that criticism, might be over the line as far as authorities are concerned, only because of current U.S. alliances or policies. Pakistan is seen as a very important ally (client state) for the U.S., and the partnership allows the Bush regime to at least keep up the facade of a concerted effort to "root out terrorism." Never mind that Pakistan's madrassas created the Taliban, and that Pakistan nurtured that regime from it's beginning until 9/11, thereby helping to nurture bin-Laden. Of course, the other embarrassing aspect of the U.S. partnership is that the world's top proliferator in nuclear technology for decades was A.Q. Khan, and that his black market dealings are largely seen as having been either tolerated, assisted, or overseen by various Pakistani dictatorships. In other words, there was nuclear proliferation coming out of Pakistan that Saddam Hussein could only have dreamed of.
It's possible that simply by posting my opinions, and taking few precautions as to concealing my actual, not virtual, identity, I left myself vulnerable to harassment from people who aren't fans of Portland indymedia. Certain information or topics of my postings may only have been the icing on the cake. This is the yellow pages aspect of indymedia, which certainly applies to any part of the Internet that people use. Rather than having my financial information stolen or compromised, the identity behind my initials was discovered, (I'll admit, not a very clever alias) which left me vulnerable to all manner of harassment, including loss of money. It may be revenge for what indymedia has done collectively, and what it stands for. I'm sure there have been many volunteer writers or technical helpers who've been subject to irregularities or harassment. This may even have a stifling effect on political discourse and organization, but perhaps not so much on our political views—as I've noted, nobody has tried to change my mind about any particular views I have, only tried to keep my from thinking clearly at all.
In a sense, indymedia gets punished routinely just through postings of false or misleading information, something akin to information warfare. But this also makes the site more interesting, allowing a glimpse into the thinking or tactics of the opposition. Some of the false or darkly subversive information is disturbing however, such as an article I read months ago written by a woman who belongs to a group called Marwen Media. The author claims the group is left-progressive leaning and dedicated to ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Yet the carefully constructed article explains how Jews have historically controlled Hollywood, which has allowed them to brainwash the masses. Besides being anti-Semitic, what does that have to do with ending the Israeli occupation?
There have also been many not-to-credible looking articles in which a woman writes about ray-guns and electronic murder, and lists the license plate numbers of mysterious cars. I think this is meant to discredit anyone who tries to post real, critical information on threats to themselves, or close-calls with danger. In this article, in fact, I write about threats to myself, but I try to provide a context for these threats, precluding discussion of how similar threats can be diminished or revealed as non-threats.
We live in very politically edgy times, and the influence of the Internet has risen worldwide in accordance with the diminishing legitimacy of our elected officials and their policies, most notably the Bush regime and their "war on terror." It's amazing that there could be huge advances in access to information and the ability to communicate and engage socially, (or virtually) and at the same time a corresponding stifling of public discourse, especially of political discourse, in the U.S. The Internet is becoming a major counterweight to the ignorance and silence of our government and their media wing. As such surely it is increasingly seen as a threat. Remember, when Tom DeLay found out that Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens had used the Internet to do research, he found it "incredibly outrageous." There's someone who fears or at least has some reservations about the Internet.
So at one level, what I've experienced may be caused by a deep fear of how the Internet can be used, for instance to transmit information globally, and inform and influence people globally. Even worse if it's done in the global business language. More specifically, what I've experienced may be a way of getting back at what indymedia stands for. There may even be a feeling among law enforcement that because they can't stop the free flow of information, they must go to the sources of it. Maybe it's a feeling of being overwhelmed at the advances in technology, which I feel myself at times. Over time, I've concluded that it couldn't have been just the posting of a few articles about A.Q. Khan that brought me so much covert attention.
Murder by manners
Much of what I've experienced in the past year can be described thusly. I would define murder by manners as the clever and annoying use of various forms of etiquette and social mores, combined with timing irregularities and personalized commentaries and references, to achieve the effect of keeping a target continually off-balance, suspicious, self-aware or hyper self-aware, angry, depressed or fearful. It can be described as a bubble around a target, in which the target can't trust or believe in the authenticity of the behavior, intentions or chatter of those that he or she comes into contact with. Often, in public, I'll be subjected to running commentaries on etiquette and behavioral issues, or on any topic, which appear to parallel something I'm currently experiencing or have recently experienced, or have recently written about, etc...It's usually a case where I can't help but overhear a conversation, whether it's between people or someone on a cell phone. The commentaries or conversations often appear normal and natural, that is, genuine, and may in fact be mostly genuine, save for some reference, or what I call associative stimuli, that is just too timely and specific to myself to be a coincidence. This often leads to a chilling feeling, and to distraction.
The double annoyance of this is that after awhile, one gets into the habit of searching for bits of associative stimuli, either in conversations, or body language, hand gestures, prop placement or people placement. As an example of associative stimuli, one day I wrote in my journal about a dream from the previous night. The dream was about men masturbating, a group of men. Shortly after writing about my dream, I rode my bike to a bus stop, and there was a group of young men standing next to a minit mart apparently simulating masturbation. This suggests a high degree of surveillance, (if the men were referencing what I wrote) since I'd written it only an hour or so previously, in my room. I may have left my journal in my room when I set out, so it wasn't in my possession at all times, but the point remains. Sure, this may be a big coincidence, but receiving associative stimuli day after day is no coincidence. And this example is a rare one, in which the associative stimuli is clear cut and easy to recognize, although the gestures of the young men at the minit mart might not have been instantly recognizable, especially to a detached observer. In the vast majority of these instances, writing a thorough report of the associative stimuli, what it references, and so on would be like pulling teeth. They're very "case-specific" and would be hard to convincingly explain.
Etiquette comes into play here in the sense that the target of such harassment, while being harassed and distracted in subtle and unassuming ways, has no direct recourse which wouldn't be a display of bad etiquette, or worse. If a couple on the bus sit next to a target and begin a conversation which contains associative stimuli, the target can get up and move to another seat, or put his or her headphones on, but otherwise is helpless. Even in the simple response of moving to another seat, or putting on headphones, there is the question of etiquette. What if the unassuming couple was completely innocent? But assuming they're not innocent, by moving to another seat or quickly putting on his headphones, the target has played a hand and revealed himself. He's revealed that some specific associative stimuli disturbed him enough so that he made the effort to move away from it or stop listening to it. He's obviously revealed a maneuver, which could then possibly be responded to, say by the person behind lightly thumping on the seat, or an annoying adjustment in the bus's AC, or a slight increase in overall chatter on the bus at the exact moment when the target's blood pressure rises a bit. These are all slight things, and the key to "effectiveness" is that the target begins to think that he or she is at the center of it all.
The target may respond by using negative etiquette to counter the subtle harassment, in which case you have the classic scenario of the victim being made out as the bad guy, or possibly the crazy guy.
A lot of the mild forms of harassment I've encountered involve auto etiquette—bad etiquette, as one might expect. Living in a semi-affluent suburb, amid these wide boulevards, and being a pedestrian, this is to be expected. For me, the logistics of transport present a wide vulnerability, as I'm required to use the auto dominated structure of the city, in my case, an outer-edge city. On a bike, I don't have that womb-like protection of a car, which is both a physical and psychological protection. It leaves me open for an extended period to associative stimuli and suggestiveness, such as the suggestion that I'll be hit and knocked off my bike, and very much injured. There's been a marked increase in volume of traffic on my street in the past year as well, which is annoying, if not significant.
These annoyances have been commonplace for me for just over a year now. It may seem unlikely that just by posting to indymedia I could have brought such negative attention to myself. I'm even downplaying the seriousness and persistence of the thing, mainly because I'm safe and all in one piece, and because most of the damage is psychological, and I think I can handle it. As well, along with negative attention there's been more positive attention which I've noticed, or positive stimuli. There have also been many instances of much more objectionable harassment, which I'll give examples of in a future article, as some of them require pages of explanation. So far, I've given a broad outline of harassment with few clear examples of what I mean, so hopefully a future article will help to illustrate this broad outline, with specific examples of harassment, the methods used, their meanings, and so on.
In September 2004, shortly after the 3rd anniversary of 9/11, I was worried enough to tell my roommate about my emerging concerns. I told her that some weird stuff was going on, and she shouldn't worry about it. In my explanation, I drew a comparison between myself and the Will Smith character in Enemy of the State, who spends most of the movie running from secret agents. At that time, I did think the situation was more dire than it apparently was. So my roommate thought about that, then asked me if I thought the phone was tapped. I told her yes. Her question put things into perspective; here I was, worried that I might be extraordinarily renditioned at any moment, and my roommate wondered if the phone was tapped. Her question also made me feel somewhat guilty that her association with me might negatively affect her. From that point on our roommate relationship, such as it was, went beyond the point of being salvageable. My roommate's behavior became more inscrutable. Because she didn't understand my explanation of weird things going on, she was excused from anything approaching support. She was barely even curious as to what I was talking about. After a couple months she would announce she was moving out, just in time for Christmas.
The fact that irregularities began just a few days before the 9/11 anniversary is significant. From about the 6th-11th (of September 2004), there had been a lot of helicopter traffic in and around my neighborhood, which was something that caught my attention. At first this barely even registered with me, but by the 9th or 10th I was a little anxious about it. The fly-overs were close, as one might expect from a police helicopter looking for a suspect on the ground. Other times, a helicopter could be seen or heard higher up in the sky, and lingering, as if engaged in aerial photography or sightseeing. The traffic seemed to end on the 11th , when there were at least two close fly-overs of the immediate neighborhood. This may have been what put me in mind of the movie Enemy of the State, in which helicopters are used to chase the Will Smith character around. I had watched that movie for the first time earlier that year.
My description of this might seem similar to tales of black UN helicopters from the 90's. Those tales were offered by white supremacist or separatist type groups, among others, though the details are a bit sketchy for me. There was some paranoia among those groups about a UN and Zionist plot to take over the world, if I remember correctly.
But there really was a lot of helicopter traffic around here at that time. There are still helicopters that fly by occasionally, but certainly not every day. In July of this year I was writing a long letter in which I reported the high volume of helicopter traffic from the previous September, and by coincidence I saw helicopters on consecutive days. But the question is, why were the September sightings significant? For me, I just let my imagination get the better of me, and suspected some kind of covert spying operation. It was just after I'd posted the first couple of the A.Q. Khan articles, and on the 9/11/04 weekend I began to suspect that I was under a high volume of surveillance. I'm still not sure if things were being arranged and tweaked a little bit just to exploit my anxiety, or whether it was more serious than that. I remember a guy in front of me in the checkout line at Safeway around this time, a slightly worried looking professional-type, telling the checker that he was going out of town, and I got the impression that he was leaving involuntarily, as if in response to a coming storm. It's little things like that which seem to be significant signs, and which reverberate, much like the drone of a helicopter in the distance.
Both the Portland Tribune and Oregonian published curious front-page articles on September 10th, 2004, which also raised my concerns, giving Portland a Gotham-like quality in my view. The Tribune article was especially curious. Titled "Trial by Fire," the article featured a dramatic image of a Boeing 747 with an apparent plume of smoke behind it and fire below it. This was on the upper part of the front page. The image, while dramatic and even suggestive of a plane in trouble, upon close inspection shows a plane dropping fire retardant on a forest fire below. The accompanying article is an undramatic story about Boeing 747's that were being retrofitted by Evergreen Aviation in McMinnville for use as fire-fighting planes.
I first saw the image on the morning of 9/11/04 as I headed over to Portland. I rode my bike around Portland, saw the image in Tribune paper boxes, and thought, "Is this Gotham City I'm in?" On the day before the 3rd anniversary of 9/11, this was a very curious picture to put on the front page. Another article on the front page of the Tribune that day, titled "Crisis comes at flip of a switch" was more directly themed to coincide with the 9/11 anniversary. It begins, "The KATU (2) breaking news alert is chilling—a train has blown up on the Steel Bridge, triggering a chlorine leak from a nearby storage tank that sickens people attending a conference at the Rose Garden Arena." A few paragraphs later it is explained that this was part of a training exercise given by the Critical Decision Institute.
The Oregonian ran a front page article on 9/10/04 about the closing of Al Haramain Islamic Foundation of Ashland. The Treasury Department had announced the closing, claiming Al Haramain had links to Osama bin-Laden and had funded Chechen fighters in Russia. The founder of the charity had left the country the previous year, and exactly one year after this first article, on 9/10/05, the Oregonian reported in a very brief article that federal prosecutors in Eugene viewed the charity as a "functionless shell" and had dropped tax charges against it. Both the Tribune and Oregonian articles of 2004 were curious, if only for the timing, and they contributed to a sense of unease on my part.
After the 11th I stayed around my apartment for a couple days. On the morning of Tuesday the 14th, around 9:00 am, there was what I describe as a swarm of vehicles that drove parallel to me, and at about the speed limit, on McGillivray Blvd. (Generally drivers go 10 mph above the speed limit of 25 on that road). These were large, new sedans, with no official markings of any kind. The only details of that occurrence that I clearly recall are the number of cars, and the feeling I had that it was suggestive of a rendition scenario. There were perhaps five or six cars parallel to me on this sleepy boulevard at 9:00 am, and cars seemed to drop out of the pack as new cars appeared. Because it was such an odd thing, I didn't feel panicked or as if this was an actual operation to "get" me. It seemed more like somekind of display. I didn't get a good look at any drivers or even license plates. The windows may have been tinted.
There didn't seem to be any passersby or other witnesses, but if there had been, to them the scene may have been reminiscent of a dignitary or head of state being escorted down the street. There was a city work crew at a point when the pool of cars seemed to break up, approaching a street called Chkalov Dr. I remember one of the workers gazing at the cars, wide-eyed.
The experiences I've had in the past year may not be attributable only to writing for indymedia, for I've been politically active for years, at least to the point where I showed up for anti-war protests starting in November 2002. And I "outed" myself with the small blog on Oregonlive.com which a few people might have read, long before I even knew about indymedia. Given the persistance of the annoyances, it seems that there's more to it than just my postings to indymedia, but then again, maybe I've come to symbolize something greater that what I really am, in the eyes of certain shadowy people.
When I first came to feel that I was being closely monitored, it led to sleeplessness and profound grief on my part. I expected a lightning bolt to hit me, in essence. Over time, a lot of suspicions have passed through my mind as to the degree of surveillance I have been and continue to be under. I'd like to believe that it was only a case of tapped phone conversations and a bug or two in my apartment, or neighbors who turn on some high-powered listening devices every once in a while. If this were the case then I probably wouldn't know about it. I suspect it's more than that though. Before September 2004, by contrast, I only had occasional worries about surveillance.
Since September 2004, I've come to suspect that I'm under heavy surveillance, perhaps intermittently, that goes well beyond phone taps or bugging. For instance, I've suspected video surveillance or infrared surveillance that could monitor movements inside my apartment. If there was or is any type of video surveillance, it could be inside or outside, and I wouldn't have any idea. It's true though that just through audio surveillance, spies could gain a lot of info, and deduce other bits of info that one would suspect could only come from video surveillance. If you just imagine the sounds you make in your house or apartment during the course of a day, you realize that it tells a lot about the movements and activities you're up to. If someone is scripted to annoy you with associative stimuli that seems to have been sourced from video surveillance, it's definitely more disconcerting than fear over just listening devices, yet it may only be bugs.
If one is writing in a room with no noises, it's possible that the sounds of pen on paper could be translated into words. There might even be instant translators for that type of thing. There's a method whereby authorities can install a spying device on a computer that records every keystroke, but what about a computer with a keyboard that sends out a unique sound for every key? I'm sure it's possible.
If you Google "mind control" or "government mind control" you come up with some really informative sites concerning both traditional forms of government harassment and spying, and much more intrusive technologically sophisticated and experimental forms. Somehow I became transfixed with the notion of electroencephalography (EEG) being used to covertly monitor human brainwaves. On these websites, there is generally only the suggestion that EEG could be covertly used on people to deduce thoughts. On the site datafilter.com for instance, there is information about the work Lockheed-Martin has done with brain scans, as well as a BBC report from 2002 about the emerging ability to remotely monitor brain activity, for medical purposes. (Googling "John Norseen" will bring up the Lockheed-Martin information).
After studying some of this information, I promptly began to wonder if it's possible—if remote monitoring of brain activity, done covertly, could be a reality. After all, I'd had some suspicions that EEG technology of some sort had been used on me, even before I read anything about it, or had the right words to attach those suspicions to. There's a risk in reading or studying about these things, because, having considered it, a person is likely to begin believing it or fearing the possibility of it. It's like when a med student studies certain mental disorders, and having studied them, begins to wonder if he or she is afflicted with the disorder, maybe even psychosomatically adopts some of the symptoms. There's also a risk in announcing, "People are reading my mind." That can be a real conversation killer. Yet staying completely ignorant of scientific advances, and the consequences they might have, is not a good idea either.
After reading about such things as remote brain monitoring, I then received associative stimuli, which serves as a kind of unspoken commentary, aside from being annoying. I've half-seriously worried about such things as dental fillings that serve a dual purpose as a brain monitoring device, or marijuana smoke which contains chemicals or substances that essentially coat the brain with the equivalent of electrodes which would make remote brain monitoring possible. Having written once or twice about the latter fear, (in my private journal) I then began seeing a guy on the bus with a marijuana-leaf bandanna on his head, which I viewed as commentary on my notion.
The next step of course would be to begin worrying that everybody, including oneself, is a robot directed by satellites or aliens, which is certainly not the case. But the concerns and suggestions of these "mind control" and government watchdog sites are not merely hypothetical, or fringe thinking. There are now computer chips the size of a grain of rice that can be implanted into people for medical reasons, such as if a person's medical condition is such that they might get lost, then they can be tracked. The devices are promoted as a great way to store one's information or "data" in the case of an incapacitating injury, and an official in the Mexican government had one implanted so that he can be tracked down if he's kidnapped, and he urged those working for him to do the same. Last year the FDA approved such devices for medical-related purposes.
Brain scanning technology may be used at airports someday, as a means to identify hostile intentions in the brains of travelers—in other words, to identify terrorists. Already this type of technology can be used as a sort of refined polygraph test for criminal suspects, whereby brain recognition of a suspect can be determined, for example when he or she is shown images of a particular crime scene. A brain scan device can deduce whether or not a suspect is familiar with the scene, and that can be allowed as evidence in a criminal case, (though I'm not sure if that goes for the entire U.S. A case in Iowa allowed use of brain scans as evidence, which reversed a murder conviction for Terry Harrington in 2003. The process in that case was referred to as Brain Fingerprinting).
With advances in remote brain monitoring, it's possible that authorities would not need to wait for a suspected terrorist to go to the airport to be brain scanned. His brain could be monitored while he's eating breakfast and reading the newspaper in the morning, unbeknownst to him. Or his dreams might be monitored, and the corresponding brain waves analyzed, which might give authorities a better understanding of the unconscious mind of a terror suspect, for what it's worth. If nothing else, authorities could gain valuable information on the use of remote brain monitoring. It would be law enforcement and experiment in one. The legal aspect of this would be a little sticky though—this scenario would bring new meaning to "roving wire tap."
This is definitely not fringe thinking. At the senate confirmation hearings of John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Senator Joseph Biden, in his opening statement, recounted previous landmark issues that the Supreme Court has dealt with, such as sex discrimination, child labor and segregated education. He then added: "Our constitutional journey did not stop then, and it must not stop now. For we will be faced with equally consequential decisions in the 21st Century: can microscopic tags be implanted in a person's body to track his every movement; can patents be issued for the creation of human life; can brain scans be used to determine whether a person is inclined toward criminal or violent behavior?
"Judge, I need to know whether you will be a Justice who believes that the constitutional journey must continue to speak to these consequential decisions—or that we've gone far enough in protecting against government intrusion into the most personal decisions we make."
What Biden seems to be asking is whether the constitution will permit involuntary implants and brain scans in the future. Involuntary doesn't necessarily mean covert; it may mean the court mandated electronic tracking of a criminal, through use of an implanted chip, or the use of brain scan technology in airports. But it's only a short leap from these scenarios to the specter of an entirely covert use of these new technologies. There would never be a legal mandate in that case, because of the obvious inhumanity that would be implied. Yet as we go boldly into this brave new world, finding new ways to secure our Fatherland, concepts such as inhumanity will prove to be bendable, as surely they already have in only four short years of the post-9/11 Bush regime.
For me, the last year has been marked by so many questions, along with a persistent, gnawing anxiety. It's been like a fever—at times a mind-expanding fever, at other times a more debilitating fever, but always a persistent fever. I see through the various forms of harassment and retribution I've come up against, and I see how subtle, clever, and organized it often is, taken as a whole. And while I've often been left speechless or filled with a dread and helplessness, I've also had the chance to study this thing, and put it into a broader perspective.
When the millions took to the streets IN ADVANCE of the unprovoked attack on Iraq, what did it mean to them? Did they look at the millions and say, "No matter. We'll get a mandate for this thing. We'll get support." They didn't get anything approaching support, but the question is, how did they equate lack of support, and growing anger back then, with justification and righteousness? How did they turn rage against them into encouragement and motivation? It's these big questions which "bring the war home" 2 ½ years later, as the war itself has become much like a persistent national fever.
Ask me today, in late September 2005, exactly what's going on in Iraq, and I won't have much of an answer. I've been wrapped up in myself the past year, delving into news from Iraq only occasionally, not as much as I'd like certainly. The covert harassment I've come up against has stinted both the ability to educate myself on Iraq, and my willingness to go to any more political protests. It's even hampered my ability to try and understand those who continue to support the war. Instead, for a year I've mostly gone inside, to examine myself and console myself amid a sea of fleeting hostility.
I've gotten a stiff shot of what the protesters of the 60's and 70's got, and the victims of McCarthyism before them. Maybe this kind of political retribution is becoming or has become a nation-wide phenomenon.
This is a cautionary tale. I've recounted it here for the benefit of indymedia readers and volunteers who have or are at risk of being singled out and figuratively taken to the principal's office. Also, this is a statement for the record. Maybe it's not very uplifting, but I've striven to be concise and truthful.
A lot of the writing I've done for indymedia has been for lack of actually getting out more and showing solidarity with the millions who oppose the war and the Bush regime's policies. Yet as this essay illustrates, I'm personally very much invested not just in the cause of ending the war, but in my own cause of explaining and dealing with harassment. In fact, my personal cause now involves a range of legal and emotional questions, not to mention any physical matters, such as the effects of increased anxiety. This personalization tends to diminish efforts that can be made for the common good.
This account may be frightening or unbelievable, but it shouldn't diminish the energy that's gone into resistance to the Bush regime. Hopefully it will encourage it.
Corporate Spooks—Never Heard of 'Em
Mind Control (also can be found by Googling "mind control")
http://angelfire.com/or/metrl/ (or "government mind control")
Can dreams (and thoughts) foretell the future? (This article contains some examples of subtle harassment through innuendo or suggestiveness, also some stuff that seems to come from use of some form of EEG technology)
My month in the high-tech industry (Lots of irregularities in this article)
Feds drop charges against Al Haramain Foundation of Ashland
On the Need for New Criteria of Diagnosis of Psychosis in the Light of Mind Invasive Technology (not a flashy title, but a very good, informative essay)
"Dr. Igor Smirnov, of the institute of Psycho-Correction in Moscow, says: 'It is easily conceivable that some Russian 'Satan,' or let's say Iranian-or any other 'Satan,' as long as he owns the appropriate means and finances, can inject himself into every conceivable computer network, into every conceivable radio or television broadcast, with relative technological ease, even without disconnecting cables, and intercept the radio waves in the ether and modulate every conceivable suggestion into it. This is why such technology is rightly feared.'"
Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press, edited by Cristina Borjesson
This is a great collection of essays about the pressure brought to bear on modern journalism, and publishing in general, by those connected to the intelligence establishment. This has led to a crippling of relevant, truthful reporting, and to much self-censorship among editors and publishers. Included are two essays about the investigation of the crash of TWA-800 in 1996. One is by Cristina Borjesson, the other by David Hendrix. They ran into all kinds of problems in their attempts to get a clearer picture of the circumstances involving the crash, and of reporting on it. It was mostly the FBI that stifled their attempts. There's an essay by Gary Webb about his series of articles for the San Jose Mercury News, in which he reported on the connections between Contra rebels and the beginning of the crack epidemic in the U.S. The story involved the CIA, which was overseeing the Contra's activities. Webb's series of articles came to life largely due to the Internet, way back in 1996. In his case, it seems that pressure came mostly from rival newspapers, which went to great lengths to discredit Webb's stories. Eventually, Webb resigned from the paper, though his investigative work was redeemed later on.
There are also essays on related topics, such as the follies of the war on drugs, and the disintegration of a responsible watchdog media in general in the 20th Century. The book was released shortly after 9/11, so it probably wasn't a big hit in that atmosphere.
The Portland indymedia articles "The AQ Khan/Iraq connection... revealed!" and "Cuba Update!" can be found by Googling them or searching Portland indymedia for them.
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