Larry Flynt

Posts Tagged ‘government’

Just Blow the Right Whistle

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

by Robert Scheer

Americans love to be lied to; otherwise Edward Snowden would be a wildly popular national hero. Same for Bradley Manning, Glenn Greenwald, Julian Assange and others who risk their freedom to inform us about the myriad ways we are continually deceived by our government. These whistleblowers are performing a public service. They’re democracy’s lifeblood, nourishing the essential ingredient that our proclaimed form of governance re – quires: an informed public. If we are ignorant, our votes mean nothing.

In exposing lies and government misdeeds, the whistleblowers revealed that our leaders are not always virtuous. Snowden has been accused of espionage because he exposed the vast spying network that our own government conducts against us. How can it be that a truth teller who seeks to protect our rights is judged the criminal, not the government officials who brazenly subvert the Constitution?

Our government lies to us frequently and conceals that fact by classifying as “top secret” any and all embarrassing information. However, those so-called secrets are routinely leaked to the news media whenever it serves the purpose of the White House, an agency or one of its officials. Anonymous sourcing of stories attrib – uting information to those not cleared to reveal what they are telling is the norm. During my years working as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, anonymous sources babbled about the most sensitive subjects of national security or anything else they wanted publicized.

An example I cite often was a personal experience in 1985. After exiting a plane in San Jose, California, I ran into Edward Teller, the famed physicist and “father of the H-bomb,” whom I had interviewed several times. Teller was then adviser to President Reagan on his pet Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), dubbed “Star Wars,” and I was on my way to Stanford Univer – sity to participate in an arms-control seminar.

Teller was very eager to tell me about the great results of a top-secret test—code-named Cottage—involving the nuclear-driven X-ray laser that was at the heart of SDI. If Teller’s claim were true, this would be the most important development in the U.S.-Soviet arms race and a boon to Reagan’s preposterous idea of implementing a defense system that would zap any incoming nuclear warhead as it traveled through space.

I am sure that Teller intended for me to share this information with others at the Stanford seminar, some of whom, like myself, did not have security clearance. And he probably expected that as a journalist covering armscontrol issues, I would break this major story in the Los Angeles Times, and from there it would be reported nationwide and around the world.

If Teller had been correct—a nuclearweapons lab had indeed masterminded an X-ray laser—it was our country’s most vital military secret and therefore the one piece of information that the Soviets would most want to secure. It turned out that Teller’s report of Cot tage’s success was erroneous, the machines monitoring the multimillion-dollar test had proved faulty, and the hunt for the X-ray laser was going nowhere.

My point is that it was information Teller and others bandied about to back up the argu – ment for a weapons system that the militaryindustrial complex wanted. Because the leak supported rather than undermined the Reagan Adminis tration’s hawkish position, Teller wasn’t punished for his indiscretion. Whistleblowers like Snowden are only branded as criminals when the information they disclose sabotages rather than supports the Pentagon’s warmongers.

Edward Snowden could have sat in a Honolulu bar with any reporter who cared to hear him chat endlessly about how he just loved his job nailing the bad guys. He could have revealed information about the success of our antiterrorism surveillance program and never been the subject of an investigation. He is instead a hunted enemy because he told us that the United States government was screwing rather than protecting us. In other words, just leak the good news, and you’ll be an honored public servant.

Privacy R.I.P.

Monday, October 14th, 2013


by Nat Hentoff

While the media and even Congress were outraged about the Obama Administration’s eavesdropping on the personal phone calls of Associated Press reporters and editors, I’m also outraged about We the People’s apathy. Most of us have become so conditioned to the government and corporations databasing our personal communications, I expect there will be little commotion about what could be in store for our privacy as revealed by

In “Biometric Database of All Adult Americans Hidden in Immigration Reform,” senior staff writer David Kravets foretells the ultimate demise of the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee of “unreasonable” government searches: “The immigration reform measure [being debated in the Senate] would create a national biometric database of virtually every adult in the U.S. in what privacy groups fear could be the first step to a ubiqui tous national identification system.”

Kravets adds: “Buried in the more than 800 pages of the bipartisan legislation is language mandating the creation of the innocuously named ‘photo tool,’ a massive federal data base administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.”

Keep in mind all the “proofs of self” that are continually being added to the USA PATRIOT Act. Nearly every new doctor I go to now requires I bring a photo ID. Never had to when I was a kid.

Says ACLU Congressional lobbyist Chris Calabrese: “It could be the start of keeping a record of all things.”

Why not? Our Founders had no premonition of biometric and other forms of increasingly sophisticated technology. Once in power, all governments are insatiable in demanding more and more information about their subjects— from the New Deal to the FBI and CIA.

Kravets, who’s hip enough to use the chilling term “inevitable mission creep” in his article, notes: “For now, the legislation allows the database to be used solely for employment purposes. But historically such limitations don’t last. The Social Security card, for example, was created to track your government retirement benefits. Now you need it to purchase health insurance.”

And a lot of other things. To be paid for writing this column, I have to provide HUSTLER my Social Security number.

David Bier, an analyst for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, says the “photo tool” is “like a national ID system without the card.” And any of us anytime can be “a person of interest” without our knowing we’ve been targeted until we feel the hit.

How much do you want to bet that this “photo tool” will be ignored in the 2014 and 2016 elections? And who knows what will be in our grandchildren’s databases? Or that of anyone who has publicly commented on reading this column. So how many Americans—now and in coming generations—will identify themselves as members of a self-governing republic?

This is why I keep commenting on the growing number of public-school classrooms in which students are learning how to be the kind of Americans for whom the Bill of Rights was intended.

In her book No Citizen Left Behind, Meira Levinson of the Harvard Graduate School of Education writes: “We were able, in our classes, to use something students actually cared about to explore federalism, the rule of law, separation of powers, individual versus collective responsibility…and critical analysis of public rhetoric.”

Meanwhile, in my book Living the Bill of Rights, I quoted scholar John A. Howard’s essay “On Freedom”: “We have in the U.S. produced several generations of cultural orphans who have little knowledge and even less appreciation of their heritage of freedom, or the struggles and sacrifices which produced it. … We have inadvertently engaged in a kind of unilateral intellectual disarmament which could well prove more devastating to the cause of liberty than would be the destruction of our defense arsenals.”

That’s how Barack Obama was reelected and why his opponent Mitt Romney said that if he’d been in Congress, he would have voted for the USA PATRIOT Act. Jefferson and Madison warned that only an informed citizenry would make the revolution work. What’s going on in the schools where you are? Education is the key.

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