Saturday, January 24, 2009

It can't happen here(?)

Prescient Young Blogger Did What S. Korea Couldn't -- Foresee Global Financial Crisis
He had been a so-so student who studied communications at a so-so junior college in a backwater town south of Seoul. Thirty-one years old and single, he spent much of his time alone in his room. As his father noted, "He can't even get a job."

But he knew a global economic smack-down when he saw one.

Minerva saw it coming last fall, far earlier and with far more acuity than the South Korean government, which his blog has humiliated and angered.

Besides getting mad, the government got even. In a move widely perceived by the public as a chilling echo of the 1970s, when a military dictatorship ruled South Korea, the government detained Park this month, invoking a seldom-used telecommunications law that charges him with harming the public by spreading "false rumors."
Well I doubt that any Angry Bears needs to fear being locked up. On the other hand the following from Sec 802 of the Patriot Act could be pretty broadly interpreted.
5) the term `domestic terrorism' means activities that--
`(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
`(B) appear to be intended--
`(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
`(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
`(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
`(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.'
.That is if Larry Summers thinks that your comments have the appearance of being intended to influence the policy of the government and decides he is in some way 'intimidated' you could be picked up and detained just like poor Mr. Park.

I'll admit the concept is kind of far-fetched. But then again just three days ago former NSA analyst Russell Tice dropped a bomb shell on CountdownNSA Whistleblower. What he alleges there couldn't happen either, not here. Except maybe it did.


Anonymous said...


i don't have the stamina to keep following links.

i am pretty sure it could happen here. did happen i think to eugene debs re wwi.

but what stops it, if anything, is not the letter of the law, but the willingness of the people to put up with it. that, sadly, is always doubtful.


Bruce Webb said...

Dale I had the whole post composed and ready to go over at AB. At the last minute decided 'it wouldn't be prudent' and transferred it over here.

We came very close to realizing the nightmare outlined in '1984'. If half of what Tice is saying is true the Bush Administration tapped all of the communications of the national press 24/7 and perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands of others. And when you combine this remnant of Total Information Awareness with the power under Patriot Act 802 to unilaterally declare any particular piece of speech 'intimidating' based on 'appearance' you end up with a clear method of criminalizing dissent on just about anything. Complete with secret courts.

And yet most people would still think you are crazy mainly on the basis of 'It can't happen here'. Even though to a great degree it already did.

I am still grappling how to handle the post-Bush world, with knowing that the odds for us launching WWIII (or in some neo-cons formulation IV) by bombing Iran are a fraction of what they were a few months ago, and knowing why there is danger Obama will dent Social Security we don't need to fear he will deliberately smash it to bits. It is oddly disorienting.

cactus said...

Anything can happen anywhere. Things change on a dime...

rdan said...

There are changes already made that would allow it.

Bruce Webb said...

Back during the runup to the war and in the chaotic times right after I made any number of statements at dKos and other blogs that could have come under the Patriot Act. Near as I can see there would have been nothing to stop the government from deciding that Markos and his community had embarked on a campaign with the 'appearance' of 'intending' to 'influence' 'government policy' by 'intimidation' (i.e. urging people to vote for anti-war Democrats and so threatening the Commander-in-Chief's ability to prosecute the war). Because I don't know how intimidating we were but otherwise all four elements were present. We could easily have been labeled a domestic terrorist group under Sec 802.

Because they actually did come after Kos after "screw 'em gate" (Kos was not very sympathetic to those armed contractors, i.e. mercenaries killed in Fallujah, and said 'screw 'em'. Whereupon the Bush campaign insisted the Kerry campaign distance itself from all of those traitorous bloggers.) The only thing that amazes me is that Markos didn't manage to get himself stuck on the No Fly list.