MRE.PIMPINTURTLE.COM: US DoD now claims public protest is "low-level terrorism"

US DoD now claims public protest is "low-level terrorism"

Defense Department sees protests as terrorism

Oakland Tribune staff
Updated: 06/15/2009 06:09:22 AM PDT

This is a sampling of political writers Josh Richman and Lisa Vorderbrueggen's blog, The Political Blotter. Read more at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.

June 10

Antiterrorism training materials used by the Department of Defense teach that public protests should be regarded as "low-level terrorism," according to a letter of complaint sent to the department by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.

"Teaching employees that dissent on issues of public concern is something to be feared, rather than encouraged, is a dangerously counterproductive use of scarce security resources, making us less safe as a democracy," Northern California ACLU staff attorney Ann Brick and ACLU Washington national security policy counsel Michael German wrote in the letter to Gail McGinn, acting undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness.

"DOD employees cannot accomplish their mission of protecting our nation and its values unless they understand that those values encompass the right to criticize our government through protest activities," they wrote. "It is imperative that they are taught the difference between political, religious or social activism and terrorism."

Among the multiple-choice questions included in its Level 1 Antiterrorism Awareness training course — an annual training requirement for all DOD personnel that is fulfilled through Web-based instruction — the department asks the following: "Which of the following is an example of low-level terrorist activity?" To answer correctly, the examinee must select "protests." The ACLU wants that changed immediately, and it wants corrective information sent to all Department of Defense employees who received the training.

The ACLU letter notes that this is particularly disturbing in light of the long-term pattern of government treating lawful dissent as terrorism. In the Bay Area, my colleagues and I reported exactly this in 2003, as the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center fed local police agencies information on protests, with catastrophic results. Two years after that, it was the California National Guard.

I guess I'm surprised not only that the government hasn't yet learned its lesson about equating the exercise of our cherished constitutional rights with terrorism, but also that it's so incredibly obvious in doing so.

— Josh Richman

June 11

My esteemed colleague and fellow political writer Carla Marinucci at the San Francisco Chronicle blogged that former Contra Costa County Supervisor Sunne Wright McPeak is rumored to be a potential 2010 Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

Though McPeak's credentials for such an undertaking are numerous, the Pleasanton resident told me last night that "if I ever decided to take leave of my mind and do something like that, I'll come see you for counseling." (To all the professional counselors out there, no need to worry. I never charge for my services.)

As you may recall, McPeak left her post as chief of the Bay Area Council to serve as state Secretary for Business, Transportation and Housing under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. She left to take a job as CEO and president of the California Emerging Technology Fund, an organization charged with spending $60 million in seed cash to close the digital divide in California. The fund has launched its public education campaign.

McPeak has remained largely quiet about her experience as one of Schwarzenegger's Cabinet members, but sources close to her say the goal-oriented leader was beyond frustrated with how Sacramento's hyper-politicized environment impeded progress on multiple levels.

The suggestion that McPeak, who has not held public office in decades, would undertake a campaign for arguably the most politically charged job in California sounds nuts.

On the other hand, she has been heavily involved in a group called California Forward. It's a bipartisan organization calling for the reform of California's constitution as a way to solve the state's massive structural fiscal problems.

In conjunction with legislative reforms, some folks are talking about forming a third political party that would emphasize results over ideology.

With McPeak's business background, socially liberal politics and her well-known interest in results over dogma, it's not hard to see why her name has surfaced as a gubernatorial candidate. The bigger question is whether McPeak is interested in re-entering politics.

Contra Costa Times


 

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