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United States of Secrets

Secret courts, sealed indictments, private rulings, redacted records, no oversight. I know it sounds like I’m describing a country in the middle east, but sadly I’m not. I’m talking about the land of the free and the home of the brave… good old USA. How did our beloved country come to spy on millions of it’s own citizens? PBS’s Frontline gives us the inside story of our government’s massive and controversial secret surveillance program and the lengths they went to try to keep it hidden from the public. This 2 part story is very compelling and should be viewed by ALL Americans because we can’t let politicians and billionaire insiders decide what our rights are, who they apply to, and when it’s ok to violate them. That is not the same America who’s constitution and bill of rights are envied and admired the world over. My eyes were opened after watching this so I feel it’s my duty as an American to shine a light on it for those who aren’t aware of this issue and for those who aren’t sure what the facts are because most media outlets are doing such a crappy job covering it.



Amazing reporting by Frontline and PBS. Whenever someone in congress gets up to make a speech about cutting PBS’s budget or completely doing away with PBS altogether, we should send them a copy of this program. The New York Times holding back that story when they had a chance to lift the veil on major ongoing crimes committed by President Bush and his administration. That decision represents the failure of corporate media. How many other stories have major news entities held back over the years? Snowden was right to choose Greenwald (even though I disagree with some of Greenwald’s methods). Who knows what would have happened if he would have chosen Fox or NBC or The Wall Street Journal.

I voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012. I think he’s done a good job as president overall but his promises of transparency, his decision to continue the illegal NSA surveillance, lack of oversight on the US drone program, and his administration’s treatment of whistleblowers are areas that I feel very troubled by. It’s extremely disappointing to say the least. If republicans would go after him for those things, I really couldn’t blame them. Those are very legitimate areas to criticize… but for some reason they go after him for fake scandals like Benghazi, and the IRS, and Fast and Furious. How about 40 more votes for the repeal of Obamacare, or one more investigation on Benghazi after 7 have already been done, or let’s call Lois Learner to appear before Issa’s committee to invoke the 5th again just in time to make the 6:00 news. All of that seems much more important than this little NSA illegally tapping American phone calls and monitoring our email and web traffic. Maybe they live in glass houses when it comes to allowing the NSA to run these types of programs. Who the heck knows why politicians do what they do?

Republicans chasing phony scandals and the president not following through on his campaign promise of transparency injects mistrust and breeds even more cynicism when it comes to our expectations of what politicians can get done. We as citizens can break that cycle if we stop treating political parties like sports teams to root for rain or shine. Politicians know this and that’s how they get away with making horrible decisions and it’s how congress gets away with 6 years of complete inaction. If I’m a republican who supports sensible gun control and I see the president giving some push-back on republicans who are against gun control, I feel like I need to defend and root for my home team even though I agree with the president. So all of a sudden I’m no longer for sensible gun control. I’ve seen democrats do the exact same thing. To make our government work for us and not against us, we need to stop treating politics like a sport. It’s the only way we can start holding our elected officials accountable again. Let the tv pundits and political analyst do the home team rooting shtick. Someone has to be the adult and change our “them vs us” mentality. Now I’ll step down from my soapbox. If you know people who need to see this news report please pass along this blog address.  All of us at Socially Urban would greatly appreciate your help in reaching those who are thought to be unreachable.

United States of Secrets the official FRONTLINE PBS site to watch the report. If the youtube videos above aren’t working use this link to watch the program..



Neo-Con Hubris About Iraq

My response to an op-ed in The Washington Post about Iraq.

This op-ed demonstrates the hubris in neo-con thinking. The first mistake was Bush invading Iraq. There’s a very apparent pattern we’ve repeated over and over again in that country. We helped Saddam gain power because the president that preceded him was a bit too friendly with Russia. We gave Saddam weapons to get rid of the Russians and ignored the brutality in his regime when he used the very same weapons to kill thousands of Kurds. Decades later Bush #2 decided that Saddam had to go, and we picked a new leader to rule. Maliki. Now that Iraq is falling apart again via the hands of the person we picked to rule, we are once again looking for a new replacement for him. We’ve played this game time and time again and every time it does not work, but for some reason the neo-cons think all they have to do is find a new ruler and put him in power, while crossing their fingers hoping it will work this time. And on top of that they think permanent US military occupation will make everything better. That’s not a solution and It’s time we break that cycle and let the Iraqi people decide who’s going to be president. They are the only ones who can end the sectarian war. When it’s all said and done Iraq will probably dissolve into 2 or 3 separate countries. Our meddling will continue to make things worse if we listen to the neo-cons. If Iraq can’t exist as a country without armed US troops keeping it together at gun point, then Iraq should dissolve. President Obama did the right thing by ending the war and bringing our troops home. I just hope he does not fall victim to mission creep and gradually restart the war. I’m pretty secure in my belief that he will not do that. When he sent advisers to Libya a lot people (including myself) were skeptical about his intentions to just advise and not send more than what was needed. He kept that promise, so I’m trusting him to do the same this time with Iraq.

*this was written on July 4, 2014. I had to change the “post on” date for cosmetic reasons.*

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