Saturday, October 06, 2007

What do we do?

By Carol Gee

Exercise Vigilant Shield 2008 -- Fellow activist/blogger "betmo" sent me these links with which she hoped I would "do something good." They are to NorthComMil News (pdf) and Dissident News. And they are real "doozies"! The two together are enough to make knots in your stomach, similar to mine.

Preparing the U.S. for martial law -- The first describes "Exercise Vigilant Shield 2008" from the point of view of NORTHCOM, short for United States Northern Command. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will also be participating. The second describes the potential for good things and bad things happening to us as a result of this and subsequent government actions. I quote (note that this link went dead, removed by the authors) Dissident News:

Although the description of the exercise is disturbing, USNORTHCOM also announced that they are more prepared for a natural disaster and a terrorist attack after they used their response to Hurricane Katrina as a test laboratory. During Hurricane Katrina, authorities violated the constitutional rights of citizens by stealing people’s firearms and even relocating people against their will. These announcements are incredibly disturbing on a number of levels as the nature of Vigilant Shield 08 and the admission that Hurricane Katrina was used as a test laboratory shows that the government is actively preparing the military and government institutions for martial law.

USNORTHCOM’s primary exercise venues for VS-08 include locations in Oregon, Arizona and a cooperative venue with USPACOM in the Territory of Guam. NORAD’s aerospace detection and defense events will take place across all the exercise venues, to exercise the ability to mobilize resources for aerospace defense, aerospace control, maritime warning, and coordination of air operations in a disaster area.

This exercise is clearly a way to prepare government to respond to a national crisis with martial law. This announcement also follows a number of other news stories that indicate the government is becoming more actively prepared for the implementation of martial law.

The United States Government was established to serve and protects its people. But this story makes me feel just the opposite, angry and anxious. Let us take a look at our government via the Internet. USA.gov -- the US government's official web portal -- displays the slogan "Government Made Easy." Ben's has a chart of government (pdf) -- all on one page, actually. That is a big accomplishment.

Defense Department -- One little box on that chart is the Department of Defense. The DoD lists 44 different web sites. I was drawn to one in particular, the DoD No FEAR Act, which has a list of 17 web sites. The explanation of the No FEAR Act states, "the responsibility to 'ensure fair, impartial, and timely investigation and resolution of complaints of discrimination in employment, including complaints of sexual harassment' by implementing the procedures outlined..." No luck there. I would have to go to work for the Department of Defense to take advantage of this benefit. I do not think they would want to hire a 70-year-old Democratic activist in rather poor health.

So what am I to do with any fears raised by "betmo's" thoughtful e-mail? My answer came in the morning newspaper. I will remember Shirley, one of my activist mentors, who died this weekend at the age of 83. I honor her for modeling what community activism at its best has always been - gathering people together to work to make things better for themselves, their families and their communities. Her vision of community, transmitted to me, came through membership in my county's League of Women Voters, 40 years before "9/11/01" happened.

Today my "community" has widened to include folks like "betmo"; she lives across the nation from me. Under other circumstances, years ago we would have met with a dozen other women every Wednesday at Shirley's house. We would have brought brown bag lunches and come away with renewed inspiration, ready for our next big and hard change-making efforts. October is going to be a very long month for activists.

What's in your sack? Does anyone want to trade a PB & J sandwich for tuna fish?

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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