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State of Fear

By       Message Chris Hedges     Permalink
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"No one spoke aggressively to an officer at any time. No one drank or used drugs. We had clearly posted rules to that effect at the camp. There was no violence whatsoever, verbal or physical--as was the case with any event we organized, and we had quite a lot of them. Further, we clearly expressed that while we would act in accordance with our rights, we would not violate any laws.

"Given the lengths we went to, you can imagine my dismay as I saw Daytona repeatedly mentioned in national news as one of the main areas under surveillance by the FBI, Homeland Security, as well as some unknown 'private partner' agency. We were being investigated, according to the released FBI documents, as if we were a 'terrorist' group engaged in 'criminal activity.' I checked the released pages to see what could only be references to me -- my name, age, and phone number. Though redacted, they indicate that any search of people connected with domestic terrorist groups is likely to turn up my name."

Since the spring of 2012 McLeish has co-hosted a morning radio show called "Air Occupy" (also streamed online) with Liz Myers and Jerry Bolkcom. They have interviewed, among others, Alexa O'Brien, the organizer of US Day of Rage, and Carl Mayer, the lead attorney in the case Hedges v. Obama, a challenge to the indefinite detention clause of the National Defense Authorization Act. Immediately after "Air Occupy" posted on YouTube the interview about the lawsuit against the NDAA, YouTube permanently banned the radio show on the ground of "violating community standards" -- a ban that usually is imposed for graphic, violent or gory images, or pornography. According to YouTube's guidelines, a poster is allowed three "strikes" before an account is terminated. "Air Occupy" had received no notice of "strikes" or warnings of any kind from YouTube.

McLeish worries about how being a target of FBI attention will affect her life. "Can the inclusion of my name and information on a federal law enforcement domestic terrorist watch list impact my ability to make a living and provide for my children?" she asked. "Can I be subject to retribution of some kind through the NDAA's new provisions or to federal surveillance due to interviewing other activists or in addition to my involvement in Occupy protests? I can't afford an attorney to protect myself."

"What does such surveillance and militarized response mean for our democratic system of governance as more and more people in our country and abroad struggle to survive and are moved to protest stark economic inequalities, mass unemployment and unfair working conditions, and impoverished living conditions?" she asked.

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Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

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