The Postal Service is running a ‘covert operations program’ that monitors Americans’ social media posts

This was reported by Jana Winter in Yahoo!News on April 21, 2021:

The law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service has been quietly running a program that tracks and collects Americans’ social media posts, including those about planned protests, according to a document obtained by Yahoo News.

The details of the surveillance effort, known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, have not previously been made public. The work involves having analysts trawl through social media sites to look for what the document describes as “inflammatory” postings and then sharing that information across government agencies.

“Analysts with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) monitored significant activity regarding planned protests occurring internationally and domestically on March 20, 2021,” says the March 16 government bulletin, marked as “law enforcement sensitive” and distributed through the Department of Homeland Security’s fusion centers. “Locations and times have been identified for these protests, which are being distributed online across multiple social media platforms, to include right-wing leaning Parler and Telegram accounts.”

A number of groups were expected to gather in cities around the globe on March 20 as part of a World Wide Rally for Freedom and Democracy, to protest everything from lockdown measures to 5G. “Parler users have commented about their intent to use the rallies to engage in violence. Image 3 on the right is a screenshot from Parler indicating two users discussing the event as an opportunity to engage in a ‘fight’ and to ‘do serious damage,’” says the bulletin.

“No intelligence is available to suggest the legitimacy of these threats,” it adds.

The bulletin includes screenshots of posts about the protests from Facebook, Parler, Telegram and other social media sites. Individuals mentioned by name include one alleged Proud Boy and several others whose identifying details were included but whose posts did not appear to contain anything threatening.

“iCOP analysts are currently monitoring these social media channels for any potential threats stemming from the scheduled protests and will disseminate intelligence updates as needed,” the bulletin says.

The government’s monitoring of Americans’ social media is the subject of ongoing debate inside and outside government, particularly in recent months, following a rise in domestic unrest. While posts on platforms such as Facebook and Parler have allowed law enforcement to track down and arrest rioters who assaulted the Capitol on Jan. 6, such data collection has also sparked concerns about the government surveilling peaceful protesters or those engaged in protected First Amendment activities.

When contacted by Yahoo News, civil liberties experts expressed alarm at the post office’s surveillance program. “It’s a mystery,” said University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone, whom President Barack Obama appointed to review the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks. “I don’t understand why the government would go to the Postal Service for examining the internet for security issues.”

Read more.

I worked for the USPS in the 1950s as a “temporary substitute clerk” during vacations, holidays, and weekends when I was in college and med school. I took and passed a Civil Service test for the privilege and enjoyed the change of pace and the work itself.

The post office where I worked served a mid-sized industrial city of around 90,000. Throughout the building were concealed passageways with peepholes every few feet; even the toilets had them. Access was through an inconspicuous dedicated door on the outside of the building. Holding the key to the door were Postal Inspectors, the same kind of law officers who are now running iCOP and peeping into the social media of suspected domestic terrorists and violent extremists.

Back then, the peepholes served the purpose of deterring unauthorized access or theft of the US Mail. They worked the same way as the panopticon design in prisons before electronic surveillance.

In this article, Professor Stone wonders why the government would go to the Postal Service for this kind of monitoring. I would suggest that the government did not go to the Postal Service, but that it was something the Postal Service initiated on its own, and that this kind of behavior is part of the culture of its Inspection Service. If systemic racism is part of being white, it is possible that systemic voyeurism is part of being a Postal Inspector.

From Lefticon:

Panopticon – a concept of prison design involving a circular structure.

A panopticon has an outer ring of cells containing inmates, with each cell facing a central hub containing at least one corrections officer, in such a way that the corrections officer can observe all the inmates, but they cannot see him observing them.

The idea of the panopticon was that the mere possibility of being observed would deter inmates from doing something naughty like sawing through the bars or digging tunnels. Circular prisons were built throughout the world in the nineteenth and twentieth century.

The brick-and-mortar panopticon became obsolete when video surveillance replaced direct visual observation. However, the metaphor remains useful for surveillance states such as the People’s Republic of China, with its innovative social credit scores.

Domestic terrorism – the deliberate use of violence against citizens or government officials of one’s own country to bring attention to a political cause.

In conventional terrorism, such as that perpetrated by jihadists, the actions involve physical violence, explosives, and property destruction. Domestic terrorism, as perpetrated by the New Left in the 1960s and Puerto Rican separatists in the 1970s, was similarly violent in the conventional sense.

Domestic violence by the political right, on the other hand, is more nuanced and nonphysical; it is more emotional or epistemic. It can include anything that triggers an unpleasant or uncomfortable response of anxiety, anger, fear, hate, or disgust in a progressive. Some examples include:

      • inflammatory speech;
      • divisive social media tweets or other posts;
      • failing to give trigger warnings;
      • inciting a protest, demonstration, or riot;
      • using the word fight in political rhetoric;
      • fomenting violence, hate, or racism;
      • failing to denounce violence, hate, or racism;
      • spreading misinformation or disinformation;
      • disputing or challenging election results;
      • promoting climate change denial; and
      • endangering our democracy.

This expanded definition was used to describe the actions of President Donald Trump during the final weeks of his presidency and to label him and his supporters as domestic terrorists. It does not apply to the physical violence, property destruction, occupation of government property, arson, and looting by Black Lives Matter and antifa.

Note:  Domestic terrorism is not to be confused with domestic violence.

DHS Announces Rescission of Civil Penalties for Failure-to-Depart

This announcement was posted by the Department of Homeland Security on their website on April 23, 2021:

WASHINGTON – Today, at the direction of Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rescinded two delegation orders related to the collection of civil financial penalties for noncitizens who fail to depart the U.S., stating they run counter to the agency’s best interest.

“There is no indication that these penalties promoted compliance with noncitizens’ departure obligations,” said Secretary Mayorkas.  “We can enforce our immigration laws without resorting to ineffective and unnecessary punitive measures.”

After reviewing detailed data regarding the issuance of such fines since 2018, it was clear to Secretary Mayorkas and Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson that the fines were not effective and had not meaningfully advanced the interests of the agency.  ICE intends to work with the Department of Treasury to cancel the existing debts of those who had been fined.

The two delegation orders—ICE Delegation No. 01-2018, Delegation of Authority to Administer and Enforce Provisions Relating to Civil Penalties for Failure to Depart, and ICE Delegation No. 006-2020, Delegation of Authority to Administer Certain Provisions Relating to Civil Penalties for Failure to Depart—delegated to certain ICE officials the authority to administer and enforce certain civil penalties for noncitizens who fail to depart.

Although ICE has had the authority to assess financial penalties to individuals for failing to depart for more than 20 years, the agency did not initiate enforcement of these penalties until 2018.  As of January 20, 2021, ICE ceased issuing these fines. This formalizes the Biden Administration’s change in direction.

The rescission marks ICE’s latest move toward focusing its limited resources on those posing the greatest risk to national security and public safety in accordance with the current guidance on civil immigration enforcement and removal priorities, which Acting Director Johnson issued on Feb. 18, 2021.

Last Published Date: April 23, 2021

These fines and other punitive measures had a purpose when it was the policy of our government to limit immigration at our Southern border. Under the leadership of Joe Biden and his administration, that policy is no longer in effect; indeed, it is quite the opposite. We now welcome everyone, only hoping that they appreciate our compassion and remember the political party which embraced them with no expectations other than their potential vote.

This new action raises other intriguing possibilities. If we are no longer restricting immigration or enforcing existing laws, do we really need two entire agencies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which exist solely for those purposes? In other words, can we defund or even abolish both ICE and CBP? The annual savings would be 8.3 and 17.7 billion dollars respectively, a total of $26 billion. That’s not chopped liver; it’s real money that can be spent more effectively, as in more diversity and equity initiatives. One possibility would be expansion of the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ, perhaps to a separate agency with enhanced interrogation and enforcement powers.

Ever since the untimely death of George Floyd, the precedent has been set for defunding the police. So why not defund those federal law enforcement agencies that have little or no purpose in a progressive agenda? Of course, we would never defund the FBI or the CIA. But ICE and CBP? It would make perfect sense.

Black Physicians to AMA: ‘Get to Work’

This was reported by Lindsay Kalter on April 8, 2021 in Medscape Medical News:

“I walked in very much not knowing what to expect. I wasn’t sure how much accountability we’d see from them because they’ve been distancing from JAMA,” says Brittani James, MD, an assistant professor of clinical family medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and cofounder of the Institute for Antiracism in Medicine. “What we want to see is action. The AMA has the size, resources, and power to really do something. They can move mountains.”

James helped start a petition, which has more than 8000 signatures, calling for a culture change at JAMA. She and seven other Black doctors, a group in its fledgling stages called the Black Healers Network, met with top officials at the AMA to demand action regarding decades of racism that have shortened the lives of Black and Brown people.

Among AMA leaders at the meeting were the CEO and its chief health equity officer.

In response to a request for comment about the meeting, an AMA spokesperson issued the following statement: “AMA leaders are grateful to the many physicians who have expressed concern about the deeply harmful podcast and tweet published by the JAMA Network. We have heard from longstanding AMA members, physician leaders within our organization, as well as other physicians, about the pain caused by this event but also their guidance and ideas for how the AMA might address these issues. AMA leaders are listening and learning and we are committed to dismantling structural racism across the AMA and in health care.”     […]

The AMA has openly criticized the 16-minute podcast from JAMA, aired February 23, that attempted to discuss structural racism in the US healthcare system.

The episode featured host Ed Livingston, MD, then–deputy editor for clinical reviews and education at JAMA, and guest Mitchell Katz, MD, the president and CEO for NYC Health + Hospitals and deputy editor of JAMA Internal Medicine. Livingston approached the episode as “structural racism for skeptics.”

Livingston, who is White, said during the podcast, “Structural racism is an unfortunate term. Personally, I think taking racism out of the conversation will help. Many of us are offended by the concept that we are racist.”

Since then, Livingston has resigned and AMA’s Journal Oversight Committee announced that JAMA’s editor-in-chief, Howard Bauchner, MD, was placed on leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the podcast.

The association immediately distanced itself from the journal. In a statement, CEO James L. Madara, MD, said: “JAMA has editorial independence from AMA, but this tweet and podcast are inconsistent with the policies and views of AMA and I’m concerned about and acknowledge the harms they have caused. Structural racism in health care and our society exists and it is incumbent on all of us to fix it.”

This was another triumph for our Black comrades in their struggle against structural (systemic) racism. Dr. Brittani James and her cadre of seven showed what a small, dedicated vanguard can accomplish against overwhelming opposition when equity and social justice are on their side. The Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would be very proud, as would Chairman Mao, whose Red Guards foreshadowed our cancel culture.

The white supremacist leadership at the AMA and the JAMA folded without defending themselves and accepted their otherization, also known as cancellation. As highly educated progressives, they had no other choice but to go through the ritual sacrifice of their careers.

Read more.

From Lefticon:

Vanguards – the Marxist term for elite, militant groups of industrial workers of the proletariat who are the most committed to the conflict of the classes and actively participate in the revolutionary struggle. Also called revolutionary cadres.

In the strategy conceptualized by Marx and Lenin, vanguards infiltrate and subvert existing political parties to create a popular front. These parties finally coalesce into a single vanguard party, which then becomes the only legitimate political party (Communist) in a one-party system. Vanguards were instrumental in the success of the October Revolution.

The Comintern (Third International) applied this strategy internationally. Communist parties were established in countries which were still in the stage of social and cultural change, but they remained under the control of the central party in Soviet Russia. Their members infiltrated other progressive or left-leaning political parties to form Popular Fronts of “fellow travelers.”

Mao adapted the same strategy in his revolutionary struggle against the Kuomintang (Nationalists). China was an agrarian country at that time, with relatively few proletarians but a lot of peasants. His cadres would travel to remote areas as community organizers among the peasants, promising them land reform. They would join local political parties to subvert and control them for their version of a popular front.

Trotsky’s Fourth International and his Socialist Worker’s Party (SWP) also used the same technique but with a new name, “entryism,” whereby its members would join (enter) other socialist parties, worker’s unions, and movements such as civil rights and anti-war, in order to take over their leadership.

Note:  Community organizers, social justice advocates, Black Lives Matter, and antifa are our vanguards in the ongoing ideologic struggle for racial, economic, and social justice. They have infiltrated and taken leadership positions in the Democratic Party in the United States.

Red Guards – a movement of militant, patriotic students during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) in the People’s Republic of China under Mao Zedong.

The Red Guards were noted for their devotion to Chairman Mao and the Marxist-Leninist theory of class struggle, which they demonstrated by the subjugation and humiliation of their teachers, subjecting them to public ridicule and “struggle sessions” to admit their transgressions and counter-revolutionary thoughts. They also assisted in the destruction of cultural relics and artifacts of the pre-Communist past. When their actions became overtly anarchic and themselves counter-revolutionary, the Red Guards were suppressed by the People’s Liberation Army and disbanded.

Their contemporary counterparts in the West are the heroic social justice warriors of Black Lives Matter and antifa who struggle to suppress white supremacy and systemic racism wherever it raises its ugly head and to destroy all monuments to our racist past.

NJ attorney general launches public website to track every case in which police use force

This was reported by Steve Janoski in NorthJersey.Com on April 6,2021:

In a move state officials say will boost transparency in law enforcement and push New Jersey to the forefront of the police reform movement, the state Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday launched a detailed website that will catalog every use of force by every police officer in the Garden State.

The data, which state officials started collecting in October 2020, will allow members of the public, researchers and the media to review the details of each incident. This includes the officer’s name; the age, race and gender of the person against whom force was used; whether that person sustained injuries and what type; what kind of force the officer used and what circumstances led to the confrontation, according to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

The website, njoag.gov/force, will continually update as police submit future reports. 

“We are committed to making New Jersey a national leader on policing reform, and our Use of Force Dashboard is a central piece of that effort,” Grewal said, adding that state officials are eager for feedback on the site and its contents. 

The online portal will make it far easier for the public to review police use-of-force records, which previously could be obtained only through a public records request. 

Experts and activists lauded the move and said it would have an immediate impact. 

“The creation of this is an incredibly good thing,” said Alexander Shalom, senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey. “It’s a real, important step forward for transparency.” 

Jason Williams, a professor of justice studies at Montclair State University and a Black Lives Matter activist, said it would also help hold police accountable for their actions. 

“This is tremendous,” Williams said. “We needed an official source to track police malpractice and use of force.”

Grewal said the dashboard is the latest in a series of reforms meant to strengthen the public’s trust in New Jersey’s 38,000 law enforcement officers. 

Among these changes was an overhaul of police use-of-force rules, the creation of a red-flag program meant to identify troubled officers and the revamping of state protocols for the internal disciplinary process within police departments, he said.

Read more.

Governor Phil Murphy and AG Gurbir Grewal are doing what must be done. This is a step in the right direction to curb the epidemic of police violence against BIPOCs in this country.

My only criticism of this laudable effort is that important items are missing from the data available for public viewing. Some  omissions:

    • Race of the victims (called subjects). If the name and race of the law enforcement officer (LEO) is included, so too should the name and race of the subject in each encounter. How else can we verify the preponderance of force by white cops against innocent Blacks?
    • There is no measure of intimidation. Just as force is physical violence, intimidation is emotional violence. Since the storming of the Capitol on 1/6 by domestic extremists, we have become painfully aware of the power of emotional violence and its lingering effects.
    • There is no record of the height and weight of the LEO and the subject in the individual encounters. A significant mismatch can affect the decision of the LEO to use force or intimidation.

From Lefticon:

Violence – the infliction of physical or emotional pain.

Violence was once limited to physical force resulting in pain, injury, or death, but physical violence against minorities declined as the result of the Civil Rights movement, legislation, and indoctrination of the masses. It then became expedient to supplement physical with emotional violence.

The newer, more inclusive conceptualization of violence includes the emotional pain of exclusion, subservience, and exploitation, with or without injury. Since the political base of the left is a coalition of victim groups, this expanded definition was necessary to expand the political base. Hate speech and verbal bullying became violence, as did many of the forms of sexual harassment and workplace aggression.

The most egregious violent infliction of emotional pain was that suffered by members of Congress who thought their lives were in danger during the siege of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 by 200,000 or more domestic terrorist/insurgent supporters of President Trump.

Emotional violence – non-physical violence perpetrated by a victimizer on an individual victim or group.

Emotional violence often results in emotional pain which can be more hurtful and lasting than physical pain. Severe emotional violence can leave the victim with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, suicidal ideation, sociopathy, or homicidal rage. In some cases, it can trigger suicide or mass murder.

When emotional and physical violence are combined, the effect is synergistic and the emotional sequelae can be transmitted from generation to generation. This phenomenon is called transgenerational or intergenerational trauma and is especially applicable to Black slavery and the Jewish Holocaust.

There are many kinds of emotional violence, some of which are useful tools when properly applied by agents of the state or the media:

    • bullying and shaming in the playground, schoolyard, classroom, social media, workplace, and boot camp (unacceptable except when directed at a white);
    • the cancel culture to punish and deter socially unacceptable behavior;
    • epistemic violence;
    • censorship and its equivalents (deplatforming, demonetization, shadow-banning);
    • triggers used deliberately and without a requisite trigger warning;
    • loud, exuberant, and boisterous behavior;
    • display of a noose or a swastika;
    • nonviolent domestic terrorism triggering fear of physical violence or dysphoric responses like chaos and uncertainty;
    • political rhetoric that triggers fear or dysphoric responses;
    • agitprop, the Soviet method of mass indoctrination, which combined agitation with propaganda;
    • propaganda;
    • psyops, which are psychological operations by governments or institutions, and the PSYOPS military version;
    • struggle sessions (in Maoist China);
    • heritable transgenerational/intergenerational trauma;
    • sensitivity training programs for behavior modification;
    • diversity training;
    • mind control programs like Monarch and MKUltra;
    • basic training of military recruits, for the development of unit discipline and cohesion;
    • religions that use threats of eternal divine retribution to control the thoughts and behavior of their believers;
    • social engineering; and
    • a miscellany of isms and phobias.

Note:  The old adage, “Sticks and stones can hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a quaint, easily debunked denial of the effects of emotional violence.

White supremacy is the root of all race-related violence in the US

This article by Jennifer Ho, Professor of Asian American Studies, University of Colorado Boulder, appeared in Yahoo News on April 8, 2021:

Amid the disturbing rise in attacks on Asian Americans since March 2020 is a troubling category of these assaults: Black people are also attacking Asian Americans.

White people are the main perpetrators of anti-Asian racism. But in February 2021, a Black person pushed an elderly Asian man to the ground in San Francisco; the man later died from his injuries. In another video, from New York City on March 29, 2021, a Black person pushes and beats an Asian American woman on the sidewalk in front of a doorway while onlookers observe the attack, then close their door on the woman without intervening or providing aid.

As the current president of the Association for Asian American Studies and as an ethnic studies and critical race studies professor who specializes in Asian American culture, I wanted to address the climate of anti-Asian racism I was seeing at the start of the pandemic. So in April 2020, I created a PowerPoint slide deck about anti-Asian racism that my employer, the University of Colorado Boulder, turned into a website. That led to approximately 50 interviews, workshops, talks and panel presentations that I’ve done on anti-Asian racism, specifically in the time of COVID-19.

The point I’ve made through all of those experiences is that anti-Asian racism has the same source as anti-Black racism: white supremacy. So when a Black person attacks an Asian person, the encounter is fueled perhaps by racism, but very specifically by white supremacy. White supremacy does not require a white person to perpetuate it.  […]

White supremacy is an ideology, a pattern of values and beliefs that are ingrained in nearly every system and institution in the U.S. It is a belief that to be white is to be human and invested with inalienable universal rights and that to be not-white means you are less than human – a disposable object for others to abuse and misuse.

The dehumanization of Asian people by U.S. society is driven by white supremacy and not by any Black person who may or may not hate Asians.

Read more.

Professor Ho’s scholarly reasoning and conclusions are irrefutable in the context of critical race theory.

Now we know who the true culprits are during the looting, arson, violence, and property destruction of a typical Black Lives Matter protest. They’re white supremacists! They may look Black, but they’re internalized white racists at heart.

Consistent with the concepts of intersectionality and race as a social construct, they have hybrid identities of oppressed (Black) and oppressor (white supremacist).

What else could it be?

From Lefticon:

Internalized oppression – hatred, dislike, or disapproval of one’s own group.

Also called self-hatred, internalized oppression refers to acceptance by a minority of the norms of the dominant majority, negatively stereotyping one’s own group, acculturation, and assimilation. It can lead to the use of the oppressive techniques of the dominant majority on others of one’s own minority.

Although usually a phenomenon affecting minorities, internalized oppression can also occur within an oppressor group. A case in point is white guilt, when a white male develops a hatred of whites and maleness. The social outcome can be quite favorable if he rejects his white male hegemony and supremacy, sincerely apologizes to people of color, and struggles to make amends for their oppression by his race.

Internalized racism – hatred, dislike, or disapproval of one’s own minority race

Internalized racism can result in a feeling of racial inferiority, racist attitudes, and a desire to be more like the majority race.

Intersectionality – the conceptualization of multiple social identities coexisting in an individual, along with multiple synergistic oppressions.

For example, a victim of oppression can identify as poor, Black, homosexual, and female. These come together within the individual to form that individual’s composite social identity, which can then make her vulnerable to multiple forms of oppression intersecting as a system, each component of which is acting synergistically with the others.

An individual can also have multiple social identities that, rather than being synergistic, are in internal conflict. Such disparate subjectivities can result in a hybrid identity that is both oppressor and oppressed, e.g., a white (oppressor), affluent (oppressor), cisgender (oppressor), fat (oppressed), disabled (oppressed) female (oppressed).

Hybrid identity – in the context of intersectionality, more than one gender, sexual, racial, class, social, or cultural identity in a single individual.

Multiple subjectivities can result in an identity that is both oppressor and oppressed. Such a hybrid identity can cause internal conflict and compel an individual to make difficult choices, but it can also enable the person to appreciate both viewpoints in an area of conflict.

The double consciousness described by W. E. B. Dubois was clearly the result of his hybrid identity.

Double consciousness – the conflicted self-awareness experienced by oppressed minorities when looking at themselves from the viewpoint, values, and norms of the majority oppressor.

This concept originated with W.E.B. DuBois, a Black leader with a hybrid social identity, who drew from his own experience as biracial and raised by a white family.