An unintended irony popped up recently when I mailed a check. My latest book of so-called "forever" stamps contain the image of the U.S. flag and a one-word patriotic slogan --"Freedom." "Equality," etc. The stamp on this envelope bore the word "Justice." The check inside was a donation to the ACLU to suport its legal efforts on behalf of Edward Snowden, who gave The Guardian and others secret documents that revealed the enormous extent of U.S. government spying on its citizens. It was mailed the day Chelsea (nee Bradley) Manning, a U.S. soldier, was sentenced to 35 years in military prison for revealing the truth about U.S. war crimes.
Here is but a sampling of "Justice" in these United States.
MANNING: Her sentence is by far the longest ever imposed by a democratic government for leaks to the press. Manning's pretrial detention amounted to torture and her post-trial treatment has been far worse than that of soldiers who murdered civilians and tortured captives and their superiors who authorized their war crimes. When she requested appropriate medical treatment for a legitimate medical disorder involving gender, she was refused. Untreated transgender people in prison experience "a heightened level of gender policing. The clothing they wear, their hairstyles and grooming practices, their bodies, mannerisms and identities are scrutinized and controlled by the state." Any alleged deviance can lead to violence at the hands of corrections officers or other people who are incarcerated, studies have found.
SNOWDEN: David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, was detained by British authorities under an unprecedented interpretation of a terrorism statute while passing through Heathrow Airport, almost certainly at the behest of the American government. Miranda has threatened legal action over his nine-hour detention and the confiscation of his electronic equipment. Subsequent actions by British authorities suggest that they might be in league with the CIA to manufacture a "conspiracy" among Snowden, Greenwald, Miranda and others to commit "crimes" against the U.S.
POLICE STATE SURVEILLANCE: The U.S. Government seizes and searches all internet and text communications which enter or leave the country. It created and maintains secret backdoor access into all electronic databases, searching for information on US citizens. It operates its own vast database which allows it to sift through millions of records on the internet, learning nearly everything a citizen does. It has set up a special court which meets in secret to authorize access for the FBI and other investigators to millions and millions of US phone, text, email and business records. The actiions of this (FISA) court are Top Secret. An important (to civil liberties) 2011 decision of the FISA court remains Top Secret although the court itself said it can be made public.
BIG BROTHER: The FISA court routinely issues so-called NSL letters, which enable the FBI to demand financial records from any institution -- banks, insurance companies, casinos, stock brokers -- plus telephone records, subscriber information, credit reports, employment information, and all email records of the target as well as the email addresses and screen names for anyone who has contacted that account. Tens of thousands of these letters have been used. James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, told the U.S. Senate on March 12, 2013 that the NSA did not wittingly collect information on millions of Americans. The Snowden documents prove this to be a blatant lie. No action has been taken against Clapper.
CANCELLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION: Amendments and sections of the Constituion violated by Obama's extension and broadening of Bush's usurpation of Executive authority beyond the Constitution: First amendment (prosecution and jailing of whistle-blowers; silencing, beatings by police, and imprisonment of lawfully-assembled dissenters; many other examples); Fourth (probable cause, prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure); Fifth (ignoring due process, allowing for indefinite incarceration without a trial); Sixth (the right to prompt and public trial); Eighth (protection against against cruel and unusual punishment); cancellation of Habeus Corpus which (Article 1, Section 9) is allowed only in times of "Rebellion and Invasion); war powers (Article 1, Section 11); Article II (defines Executive powers and limitations).
ECONOMIC INJUSTICE: Tax money in the trillions used to bail out big banks whose unregulated craziness caused the worst recession in 80 years, while those criminally responsible for those policies not only escaped accountability but had their incomes increased. Four years after the official end of the Great Recession, the United States had recovered only 6.6 million jobs, less than three-quarters of the 9 million jobs lost. While: 21% of the jobs lost were low wage (paid $13.83 an hour or less) almost 60% the jobs regained fell into that category. The lower 70% of the American people on the wealth/income scale have no influence on government policy whatsoever. As they move up the wealth/income scale, they gain minuscule influence on policy. The richest one-tenth of one per cent virtually dictates all policy. Since the recession "ended," the richest Americans have been getting a lot richer. The top one percent of of richest Americans have taken 121 percent of all income gains between 2009 and 2011. Their average income ranges between $5.2 million and $7.5 million annually. Inside the top 1 percent, those with the highest incomes pay the lowest tax rates. The number of households living in poverty is rising. Millions of full-time workers have had their hours cut, reducing them to part-time status, which costs them all of their employee befits including pensions and company-paid health insurance.
Chelsea (nee Bradley) Manning writes: "When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others. I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal."
It takes more than the word "Justice" on a postage stamp to achieve that goal.