As 2011 draws to a close, the year has seen clear progress for gay rights, with the repeal of the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and New York State’s acceptance of same-sex marriages, changes that Rev. Howard Bess regrets some organized religions have opposed.
U.S. intelligence says the terror threat from al-Qaeda is receding, but Congress keeps on expanding the scope of this “war” so as not to look “weak on terror,” now adding new military powers that could be used against American citizens, writes ex-FBI agent Coleen Rowley.
The war on WikiLeaks continues with the U.S. government clamping down on the Web site’s funding sources and with its founder, Julian Assange, still in England battling extradition to Sweden. Sadly, the larger problem of a credulous news media parroting government propaganda also remains unchanged, as Lawrence Davidson notes.
Exclusive: Though the 9/11 attacks occurred more than a decade ago, Congress continues to exploit them to pass evermore draconian laws on “terrorism,” with the Senate now empowering the military to arrest people on U.S. soil and hold them without trial, a serious threat to American liberties, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
Exclusive: In the movie J. Edgar, director Clint Eastwood glosses over the long train of abuses committed by the late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover so there’s more time for a psychological profile. But James DiEugenio says that leaves a dishonest impression of this violator of American rights.
As a Justice Department ethics adviser, Jesselyn Radack objected when U.S. citizen John Walker Lindh (dubbed the “American Taliban” after his capture in Afghanistan) was denied constitutional rights. For her integrity, Radack lost her job, but her courage earned her an award from former intelligence professionals.
On Nov. 21, former National Security Agency official Thomas Drake was honored for his courage in blowing the whistle on the U.S. government’s abuse of its secrecy powers. In his acceptance speech, Drake explained the larger and more frightening context – the loss of American liberty.
In the holiday season, many Christians take pride in helping the poor – by donating food and toys – but U.S. religious leaders have stayed in the background of challenges to an inequitable economic system, leaving that Jesus work to mostly secular young people of the Occupy movement, the Rev. Howard Bess observes.
From the Archive: On Thanksgiving Day, the United States celebrates the tradition of Pilgrims and Native Americans sitting down together in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621 to celebrate each other as friendly neighbors. But the reality was not so pleasant, as historian William Loren Katz recalled.
The post 9/11 spending splurge by the U.S. national security state has given rise to a new industry devoted to developing technology for spying on almost everyone. These gizmos now represent a threat to what’s left of personal privacy, writes Lawrence Davidson.