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The Enemization of Everything or an American Story of Empathy & Healing?

The Enemization of Everything or an American Story of Empathy & Healing?

As president Barack Obama was sworn in for a second term and announces his cabinet selections The Indypendent has published a special issue titled “The Shadow Term” in which they have selected their own creative roster for cabinet appointments.

Sparrow’s cofounder Andy Stepanian joined the Indypendent’s all-star team of would-be cabinet appointees, Bill McKibben (Dept. of Energy), Michael Ratner (Attorney General), Laura Flanders (Secretary of State), Sarah Jaffe (Dept. of Labor), Remi Kanazi & Alex Kane (Special Envoy to Palestine & Israel), Deborah Small (Director, DEA), Nathan Schneider (Dept. of Defense) and accepted the appointment of “Secretary of Department of Homeland Security.”  The following is his contribution, written as an acceptance letter…

AN AMERICAN STORY OF EMPATHY & HEALING

In the weeks between my appointment and when I entered this office I had the privilege of spending several days alongside former Secretary Janet Napolitano. I found Secretary Napolitano’s leadership to be exemplary as applied to the terms defining her position as DHS secretary. These terms, framed 11 days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, provide a foundation for what it means to direct our Department of Homeland Security. However, I regretfully, and respectfully, submit to you today, that these terms upon which we apply the responsibility of securing of our homeland are flawed. I intend to spend my term as secretary redefining these terms, and eventually redefining the position of secretary to the Department of Homeland Security.

With no disrespect intended to Secretary Napolitano, I will share with you a conversation she and I had regarding these aforementioned terms.

When I asked Secretary Napolitano to recall her first days in office, she waxed nostalgic about a conversation she had in 2009 with her predecessor, Secretary Michael Chertoff, about “the cornerstone of our security apparatus.” This “cornerstone” was handed down from Tom Ridge to Chertoff to Napolitano. When I asked her what this “cornerstone” was she simply replied, “the enemization of everything.”

Over the past nine-and-a-half years, this department has grown exponentially to employ more than 240,000 Americans around a principle that in order to innoculate our population against an attack by an invisible enemy we must first “enemize” everything, treating each and every living thing (and at times even non-living electronic entities) as if she, he, they or it were plotting the next attack on our homeland. The private sector has also seen unfettered growth around its ability to monetize “the enemization of everything,” from developing security technologies in response to unforeseen “enemies” to using the specter of terrorism to draft and fast-track model legislation that serves business interests.

While taking a position that everything is an “enemy” can make it harder for an “enemy” to execute his or her plans, it also creates an ugly, fear-driven environment that sows seeds of distrust, from misplaced suspicions about your neighbor’s religious or political affiliations to fears of crowds or airplanes. Moreover, this “enemization of everything” has been observed to have a profound psychological impact on some individuals. For some, being told over and over by peers or media that they are “an enemy” makes them want to react by becoming that enemy. After surviving a decade rife with violent outbursts and mass shootings, we as a nation cannot afford to ignore the psychological impacts of our post-9/11 terror culture and security-industrial complex on the moral fabric of our communities.

I intend to use my directorship here at the Department of Homeland Security to transform this agency into a restorative agency. To do so we must first undo this prerequisite “enemization” model. We then need to reach an understanding that terrorism, whether political or apolitical like a shooting in a movie theater, almost always has an origin. These origins should be treated as wounds that we as an agency have a responsibility to heal. If we as an agency can isolate these origins on various cultural, systematic or personal levels, we can begin to heal the wounds that jeopardize our security.

From deeply personal individual battles with cancer to the global war on terror, human responses to these acute onslaughts are almost always reactionary and seldom preventative.

Amid the immediacy of our tragedies we rarely question what brought us to those malignant moments; instead we desperately reach for quick fixes — surgery, chemotherapy, torture, drones, carpet-bombing. In the global war on terror, preventative medicine is often practiced as pre-emptive military action, rendition, entrapment, torture and sanctions. These means never challenge the cultural roots of the problem and often serve as a tool for terrorist recruitment.

Like flourishing bacterial cultures in a petri dish, terrorism is a symptomatic cultural reflex that can be easily seen growing out of its own hospitable environments. Oppression, poverty, inadequate education, constant subjugation to the accepted institutionalized abuse of animals and a lack of individual autonomy are the stagnant waters in which this global disease of terrorism takes root and grows. As secretary, I intend to use this agency to analyze, isolate and ultimately treat the prerequisite events that give way to future acts of violence.

To make this agency a restorative agency, not only must we speak in a restorative manner, but our actions and our policies must also promote restoration.

Many of my detractors have speculated about my proposed policy changes, some have gone as far as to call them “treasonous.” I will reserve any comments regarding my policy plans for a later date, but can assure those detractors that I fully intend to re-write their script of “enemization” to an American story of empathy and healing.

Sincerely,

Andy Stepanian
Secretary, Department of Homeland Security

stepanianDHS

This beautifully illustrated special edition of The Indypendent is a powerful testimonial of the alternatives we can create. A list of distribution locations are available here, a .pdf download is available here.

In Protest of NDAA Indefinite Detention Activists “Twitterbomb” Presidential Debates with #stopNDAA Hashtag

In Protest of NDAA Indefinite Detention Activists “Twitterbomb” Presidential Debates with #stopNDAA Hashtag

[Boca Raton, FL] Tonight’s third and final presidential debate, moderated by Bob Schieffer of CBS News will be focusing specifically on foreign policy clashes.  While issues like the attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi, and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan are likely to be at the fore, online activists will be using twitter during the debates to virally disseminate information in protest of the indefinite detention provisions under section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act  (NDAA).  At 9pm EST activists will begin using the hashtags #NDAA and #stopNDAA in their own unique tweets directed at the #debates.

“This debate is about how America deals with the world — and how it should,” say’s David E. Sanger in his report for the New York Times.  Despite the glaring problems concerning judicial over-reach within section 1021 of the NDAA the military spending bill still received bipartisan support and only had handful of dissenters.  This leaves many to assume that despite the brevity of this issue, discussion of the NDAA will not be breached during the presidential debate, even if the focus is foreign policy.  The activists see the use of indefinite military detention as a disgrace to due process under the constitution and a black eye on America’s foreign relations.  Revolution Truth, the advocacy group responsible for coordinating supporting plaintiffs for the successful Hedges vs. Obama lawsuit challenging ss. 1021 of the NDAA has solicited the support of filmmaker Michael Moore, Demand Progress, Wikileaks and others in this social media protest.  The following is their call to action…

When: Monday, Oct 22, 2012, 9pm EDT
What: Tweeting #stopNDAA or #NDAA at the final presidential debates
Where: https://twitter.com/stopNDAAnow @stopNDAAnow

Please join us in trying to get the #NDAA trending on Twitter during the final presidential debate. BOTH parties are colluding in denying you your First and Fifth amendment rights under the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, and both candidates refuse to discuss this bipartisan assault on civil liberties.

Help us by tweeting the hash tags #NDAA, or #stopNDAA at #Debate on Monday night. Here are sample tweets:

Will either #Debate candidate discuss #NDAA assault on rights? Help us expose bipartisan assault on constitution. http://www.stopndaa.org

I support #stopNDAA and expect the candiates to talk about the #NDAA at the #debate http://www.stopNDAA.org

UPDATE: 12:10am EST

By 9:36pm EST the hashtag #stopNDAA was trending both in the USA and Worldwide.  At 9:54 it was the top trending topic on twitter in the USA.

As the hashtag #stopNDAA trended worldwide it made it’s way to the television screens of millions of American’s watching the debates.

This would have not been possible without the continuing and tireless efforts of Tangerine Bolen, David Segal, Demand Progress, Lucas Vazquez, Micaela Ward, Alexa Obrein, Chris Hedges, Abby Martin, Michael Moore, The Suicide Girls blogteam, and Florida Congressional Candidate David Seaman.  Many thanks are owed to them for their work to shed light on the NDAA’s draconian indefinite detention provisions under (ss 1021).

The Homeland Battlefield: ‘Hedges v. Obama’ Lawsuit Challenging NDAA Begins in NYC

The Homeland Battlefield: ‘Hedges v. Obama’ Lawsuit Challenging NDAA Begins in NYC

New York, NY —  The first rounds of statements from seven high-profile plaintiffs suing President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, House Speakers and DOD Representatives for injunctive relief barring the implementation of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)‘s “Homeland Battlefield” provisions of indefinite detention and suspension of Habeus Corpus will be heard in federal court today, March 29, 2012.

The hearings will begin at 9am at the US District Court Building at 500 Pearl Street in Manhattan (Room 15A) and will be immediately followed by a press conference outside the court at 2:30pm  beside the center statue at nearby Foley Square (Junction of Center Street & Federal Plaza map link).  Taking questions at the press conference will be Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and plaintiff Chris Hedges, film maker Michael Moore, author Naomi Wolf, lead counsel for the plaintiffs Carl Mayer, as well as other plaintiffs and their activist supporters.  At 3pm, following the press conference, activists with Occupy Wall Street are expected to stage at the square for an anti-NDAA protest action.

The plaintiffs in Hedges v. Obama include: New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges,  Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, celebrated writer and linguist Noam Chomsky, Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, Tangerine Bolen founder of the activist media group RevolutionTruth, Occupy London activist Kai Wargalla, and Alexa O’Brien founder  of the web campaign “US Day of Rage.”  Each of the plaintiffs share common narrative that their constitutionally protected work, either in activism or in journalism will be chilled by the over-broad provisions set forth under the NDAA.  Naomi Wolf and Dr. Cornel West are in the process of becoming plaintiffs in this lawsuit; Wolf will read her statement in court today.

“I have had dinner more times than I can count with people whom this country brands as terrorists. But that does not make me one,” said Hedges “if there is no rolling back of the NDAA law we cease to be a constitutional democracy. Totalitarian systems always begin by rewriting the law. They make legal what was once illegal.” He continued, “Crimes become patriotic acts. The defense of freedom and truth becomes a crime. Foreign and domestic subjugation merges into the same brutal mechanism. Citizens are colonized. And it is always done in the name of national security. We obey the new laws as we obeyed the old laws, as if there was no difference. And we spend our energy and our lives appealing to a dead system.”

“The Homeland Battlefield Law is as Orwellian as its name implies.  America is not a “battlefield”; it is a democratic republic.  This law is unconstitutional because it violates the free speech and due process rights of American citizens” says Carl Mayer, lead attorney on the case.

You can read or print a copy of the plaintiffs lawsuit at THIS LINK  the text of the NDAA in it’s entirety is available at THIS LINK.  For more information on the case and it’s plaintiffs visit www.stopNDAA.org