"Criminalizing transparency to protect illegitimate uses of power’"

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting interviewed me for the Septembr 9 episode of their syndicated radio program, Counterspin, heard on 130 noncommercial stations across the U.S. and Canada. 

Host Janine Jackson & I discussed the problem of police retaliating against grasroots journalists for recording their activities, a petition campaign by documentary filmakers in solidarity with vulnerable communities, and how they relate to a broader crisis of transparency and executive secrecy. FAIR posted both audio & a transcript, which included my favorite passage below: 

Across all of these contexts, what we are talking about is criminalizing transparency to protect illegitimate uses of power. And that, of course, is what the Constitution is supposed to stop....We’re supposed to be committed as a country to transparency and to reining in arbitrary power, but...[we accept it] whether it’s criminalizing and persecuting whistleblowers for revealing fraud, waste and abuse, or lies by executive officials, or whether it’s jailing grassroots journalists who are recording the police departments in their communities using arbitrary violence to, in some cases, kill people extrajudicially without ever proving guilt of any offense at all, let alone a serious one...at the same time, mind you, that senior executive officials do lie about grave issues of global importance and get away with it.

A breakthrough in Washington

For years, I've championed the power of transpartisan resistance to the co-optation of our Republic by the Deep State, whose role in secretly undermining democracy in America is explained (in writing, or video) more elegantly by professor Michael Glennon than by me. My latest writing for EFF celebrates a milestone in the struggle to overcome secret government: the creation of a bipartisan Fourth Amendment Caucus in the House of Representatives. 

On matters implicating privacy, such as mass surveillance or the powers of investigatory agencies, Congress has too often failed to fulfill its responsibilities. By neglecting to examine basic facts, and deferring to executive agencies whose secrets preclude meaningful debate, the body has allowed proposals that undermine constitutional rights to repeatedly become enshrined in law. In last week’s launch of a new bipartisan Fourth Amendment Caucus in the House, however, the Constitution has gained a formidable ally.

Every Member of Congress swears an oath to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Yet the most significant threats to our Constitution include the powers of U.S. intelligence agencies, enabled by Congress’ faith in the agencies’ willingness to respect legal limits on their powers.

Spitting truth to power on Independence Day weekend

The weekend of July 4th brought me back to the east coast to rejoin Meso Creso, a crew started by some DC homies with which I've rolled since 2009, at the PEX Summer Festival. My DJ set that Friday night was among my highlights of the summer, and included this rhyme connecting the dots between our various struggles "from Ferguson to Jerusalem."

Pouring one out for our fallen homies

Our last party in the RECON series was dedicated to the victim of the Pulse shooting in Orlando. We collected donations to the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, as well as the Pulse Victims Fund, and also displayed a memorial with photos of those killed in the attack and a card collecting condolences to their loved ones. My mix recorded that night spans melodic, tribal, funky, Latin, and old-school house.

A local victory offering a model to emulate

On June 15, I published a post on the EFF Deeplinks blog reporting on a local victory for transparency and accountability in Santa Clara County, CA, where policymakers took the seemingly obvious steps of requiring local authorities to seek their consent before buying sophisticated surveillance equipment, and reporting annually on how they deploy that equipment in their communities. It explains:

Santa Clara County—which encompasses much of Silicon Valley—set a new standard in local surveillance transparency after months of activism by residents and allies from across the Bay Area. Their efforts, and the policy it enabled, suggest an overlooked strategy in the national battle to curtail unaccountable secret mass surveillance.

Rocking dance floors for Bernie

Inspired by Bernie Sanders' historic race for the presidency, we dedicated three of our monthly parties to Bernie and donated our proceeds—totaling nearly $1,000—to his campaign. My May 18 set at RECON 009: Bernie's Magic Hat moves through dreamy melodic house, tribal, minimal, dark, and jazzy phases.

A month building the movement back east

I spent most of April on the road, speaking in nearly a dozen cities alongside local organizers to bring together supporters of police accountability, civil rights, and surveillance-restricting reforms.

While the stories were too-many-to-count, a few highlights included:

  • Speaking at the U.S. Air Force Academy for an annual cybersecurity conference at the invitation and expense of the Department of Defense, where I had a chance to remind around 75 cadets, faculty, active duty military intelligence personnel, and intelligence contractors that they work for We the People of the United States—not any particular service branch, nor any federal Department, nor even the Commander-in-Chief—and what that means in terms of their ethical duties to refuse unlawful orders and expose classified secrets revealing operations unconstitutionally targeting Americans.

Rhyming and bumpin' beats for Bernie

I spun my first old-school funk set at the Elbo Room in San Francisco's Mission District on Thursday, March 31, 2016 for a "Bern, Baby, Bern" party. This was probably my biggest gig since Catharsis in DC last fall...

...and gave me a chance to MC live over my DJ set, dropping a reminder that "we'll start by putting Bernie in office in November…."

The Hubris of Investigators

We published another article about the Apple vs. FBI encryption controversy on TechCrunch and cross-posted it on EFF's Deeplinks blog. Beyond reprising some of the arguments I made in earlier posts about the issue, this piece emphasized the lack of transparency surrounding the FBI's activities generally, and the Bureau's long history of violating legal limits and abusing constitutional rights:

[W]hat investigators sought would not make anyone safe. As a matter of (perhaps unfortunate, but inescapable) fact, the FBI’s withdrawn demands would have created new threats with dangerous implications for millions of people.

Finally, this latest controversy highlights once again the need for meaningful congressional oversight.....Congress must finally investigate the federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies, reform the bloated and dysfunctional classification system, and enforce at least a modicum of meaningful transparency so the public can know what our government is doing to us.

A 6 month anniversary mix

I recorded this tech, latin, and deep jazzy house mix live at the 6 month anniversary of RECON, the monthly party I throw with my housemate every third Wednesday. It starts out with tech house, grows a bit groovier, and slides through some afrobeat, latin and jazzy house, before settling back into tech house for a solid half hour and then mellowing out at the end.


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