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"Then there are the conspiracy buffs. They distance the problem from the main stream audience even further ... And then there is Noam Chomsky. He looks at the situation from the orbit, comfortably snug in his multidisciplinary mental space station, focusing on the connections between events - rather than the events themselves."

Author, historian and political commentator Noam Chomsky. (photo: Ben Rusk/flickr)
Author, historian and political commentator Noam Chomsky. (photo: Ben Rusk/flickr)

Noam Chomsky: The Amazing Rise and Fall of Presumption of Innocence

By Jan Wellmann,

19 March 13


he most bizarre part of Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is that almost no one has heard about it.

And whoever has heard about it, doesn't want to talk about it.

It's almost as if someone took Dr. Goebbels' "The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed" - dictum and mutated it into a 21st century super weapon:

"Tell the truth, but make it so shocking that no one wants to hear about it."

No one wants to hear about the military having the power to detain you on American soil, without due process, indefinitely, at the discretion of the President. It sounds too Stalin. It reeks of conspiracy theory. Besides, it's clearly unconstitutional. So let's go get some lunch.

That's why on December 4, 2012, the new NDAA passed the Senate with a 98-0 vote. Almost everyone was out to lunch.

Except seven individuals who decided to sue Obama instead. But other than that, the resulting rumpus was minor.

Since February 13th, "The Seven" are on their way to the Supreme Court. But no one wants to hear about it. A few individuals against the United States government sounds too Matthew McConaughey, unless you're a natural-born activist.

Chris Hedges, the leading plaintiff in the case against Obama and former New York Times war correspondent, writes about "NDAA and the Death of the Democratic State." But no one wants to really read about it.

Most aspiring journalists and independent minds who become curious about NDAA find that there is a deafening silence around the topic. When they try to raise questions, the silence deafens them further.

Then there are the conspiracy buffs. They distance the problem from the main stream audience even further. No one wants to be associated with folks who think that the President could be a reptile.

And then there is Noam Chomsky. He looks at the situation from the orbit, comfortably snug in his multidisciplinary mental space station, focusing on the connections between events – rather than the events themselves.

It's a long journey from the concept of "freeman" to "NDAA." And there is probably only one man who can explain it. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+36 # Uranus 2013-03-19 21:34
The military commission or tribunal is now History's Most Sacred Cow. It's the most touchy issue about which I've ever written. After denouncing this faux-pseudo legal system in writing, I've had my phone and internet service turned off mysteriously, three times. Care to make it four?

Isn't it curious NDAA passed unanimously? It leaves you with the same question we asked after the overwhelming passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006: who would vote for this piece of plop, and why did everyone vote for it yet offer no explanation?

The other day I heard a guy say that after 99% of us are exterminated, a military tribunal form of world government will be implemented. You must admit, it all makes perfect nonsense.

I have a new theory of what's to come, pieced together from things people have told me, that is so far out it's a revelation. The good news is it doesn't include a justice system, especially a really ridiculous one like suggested by NDAA.
+11 # tpmco 2013-03-20 00:06
Only the present has sacred cows. The 1% will allow the continued survival of the willing slaves--laundry still needs done.
+24 # Rita Walpole Ague 2013-03-20 05:35
In my humble opinion, Uranus, it's frightening more than curious that NDAA passed unanimously. So thankful I am for the great (and then some) plaintiffs in Hedges, et. al. v. Obama et. al.. The legal team representing said plaintiffs, again, great and then some. And then, last but absolutely not least, the great jurist who not merely heard the case, but gave a brilliant analysis when ruling in plaintiff's favor of why this Fascist style, POLICE STATE AIN'T GREAT power grab violates Constitutional law/rights.

I, like you, seek truth, listen, question, then form theories of what's very likely to come. But, I confess, hope I still do that we the sheeple can and will evolve somehow into a Star Trek world, where greed and need for power and control over all has gone bye bye, and is replaced instead with virtue (i.e. humility) and assistance giving to any and all in need of assistance. More love, more caring, more giving, more sharing. And, to hell with evil greed and power addiction.

I do so hope, work and pray that NDAA will go away.
+3 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-03-24 09:58
And so much of this "stuff" started by invading Iraq. An invasion based on horse pucky.
+12 # DaveM 2013-03-19 22:23
In 1971, filmmaker Peter Watkins created "Punishment Park", a pseudo-document ary portraying a sort of "alternative present" (it is very clearly set in the time it was made). Draft dodgers, anti-war protesters, and similar are dragged in front of military tribunals and given a choice between long prison sentences or "Punishment Park". The latter is a desert-based version of "capture the flag" in which the defendants, as "players", are to reach a particular location without being captured by police and National Guard personnel who are pursuing them.

Made on a shoestring budget which makes its supposed filming by a British news crew almost believable, the movie follows a group through the "park" while another is filmed facing the tribunals that will determine their fate. Innocence is not an issue. Defendants are told that their guilt has been predetermined and that the only thing they are allowed to do is attempt to prove their innocence (without attorneys, preparation time, or evidence) or choose their punishment.

While dated in many respects, 42 years later the film looks suspiciously like prophecy. It has never been easy to find, but I highly recommend it. Should it vanish from store shelves or rental outlets....perh aps its grim predictions about the future of American authoritarianis m will indeed have come true.
+5 # Johnny 2013-03-20 08:49
The Hunger Games, too.
+1 # rpauli 2013-03-23 20:55
It took me half a day to find this, watching it now. Terrific. And it really captures the sense of that time. I remember those days, more so now by this movie.

Plus it is done in an interesting style...Watkins did similar in "The War Game" it may have been way ahead of audiences in 1971 - but it works nicely now. Now I have to look for his other stuff.
+27 # Anarchist 23 2013-03-20 00:34
9/11; 9/11; 9/11-All of this would have been unthinkable except for 9/11. That false flag operation put the final nail in the coffin that has been being nailed shut ever since ( in my lifetime at least) the Kennedy assassination. As the gov. has taken more and more egregious actions-the lie that was the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that green-lighted the widest war in Viet Nam was the first of many to follow, changing us from a democracy into a nation that considers it has a god given right to make preemptive strike against countries that 'might' become our enemy, we have finally morphed into the super-state that Nazi Germany could only dream of being. Now comes the repression of our own populace on a much larger scale
while the 'Good Germans' ignore what is being done to minorities and dissenters. Don't believe me? All just conspiracy theory? Wait!
+15 # Jerome 2013-03-20 01:08
Just reading or listening to the good professor about this loss of freedom messes up my mind for days. It is like a mantra or a childhood tune that keeps repeating over and over. There must be something we can do to stop this headlong plunge into police/military state. How do we get the public's attention and keep their attention long enough to get them to awaken? Awake and spurred to action. But action that does not trigger those in control to use their control methods and tools to discredit, disrupt, or destroy those taking the action. A demonstration, a peaceful demonstration of 100 is met by a tenfold force, congregate 1000 and the controllers send 10,000 armed, ready and willing to fracture sculls, pepper spray the already immobilized, arrest for no reason. What are we to do?
+6 # Walter J Smith 2013-03-21 15:35
We do it by remembering and practising the art of listening to others right where we live. My neighbors hardly knew one another when I moved into this home 7 years ago. Now we mostly share and talk and listen and cover for one another and can even sometimes talk a little about politics. Though the latter discussions tend to be mixed. Our political thoughts are still poisoned by the overwhelming presence of Democrats and Republicans - not just here, but across the nation. They prefer dictating to listening.
+9 # 2013-03-20 02:21
Thus I can find no Basis in law or civil rights & Liberties law of Australia, why as PM Gillard says she would extradite Julian Assange an Australia to a 3rd country USA for indicted USA crime not committed by that Australian citizen. Then in the light of this "Material assistance to terrorists" USA can avoid trial just murder Assange as he gets into their police or Interpol custody in Sweden or UK or Australia as they did to Binh Laden.
I can agree international EU sex law agreement may allow extradition from UK to face trial on that and due process, but to answer mere suspicion investigators in Sweden is a no-no. They can go to UK to d that questioning on safer Ecuador amnesty land, as Assange has 0offered. Clearly Sweden is playing the USA summary murder game also. Just using rape fabricated charges to get custody falsely.
Ander that system No citizen of any country in any country is safe from USA breach of Magna Carta civi;l rights,
+16 # RLF 2013-03-20 04:58
I've been reading Chris Hedges and about him. NDAA is why I voted green. I think the intelligence community forced this because of the country being on the edge of economic collapse and they were afraid of the civil unrest that would ensue. This will be one of the infamous laws ever passed. It is right up there with incarcerating the Japanese americans in WWII. And to URANUS...what good is a justice system if it is filled with geniuses like Obama and Holder! Way to go Harvard!
+4 # Walter J Smith 2013-03-21 15:32
This Administration is somewhat worse than the most recent prior one. But only somewhat.

The two major parties have historically outdone one another with atrocities they've imposed upon the public.

Notice that Obama gets lots of former Clinton Administration revolving door specialists to help him follow & outdo Bush. And they seem to relish the work.
+12 # tuandon 2013-03-20 05:12
I am probably setting myself up for a stint in a concentration camp by sayin this, but...Sieg Heil. We are goose-steppin towards a Nazi state at high speed. The Obama I voted for has betrayed us all...I will not support him again even if he runs for dog catcher.
+10 # wantrealdemocracy 2013-03-20 09:39
We have not been betrayed by Obama. If you had studied his voting record you would not have been so full of hope for change. Obama is a puppet of the top 1% same as all the elected officials of the two major political parties. Don't vote for either a D or an R for that position as dog catcher or any other position in any level of the government of the United States---especi ally if you don't wqnt "Sieg Heil" to be our national mantra.
+8 # kyzipster 2013-03-20 06:51
All true. Is it also possible we're experiencing apathy and helplessness, a sort of shell shock? Eight years of Bush and his wars gave me mental exhaustion. Seemed like there was at least one shocking revelation every single day, year in and year out. It's not like people didn't protest, the media ignored it for the most part but it did help to turn the tide. It's difficult to get a movement going against a more liberal president when the alternative is still so extreme and frightening but that is no excuse. We can support some of his efforts while protesting this inexcusable and unconstitutiona l law.
+17 # fredboy 2013-03-20 07:04
Looking at this from the orbit of the last 20 years clearly validates his premise: Americans have been intentionally dumbed down by such influences at hate radio and TV, evangelical and political absolutism, and related factors that they can no longer even consider objective analysis. And that's what the presumption of innocence requires.

Teach logic, critical thinking and reasoning, objective analysis and related thinking approaches in our schools--every year, if possible. Otherwise, we'll all be led by drooling fanatics in the future. Let's face it, we've already had a taste of that, and the taste was wretched.
+12 # mrbadexample 2013-03-20 08:22
The people in charge have made it pretty clear that there will be no discussion of certain topics. None of the presidential debates touched on the drone strike program or the NDAA or FISA because the two candidates were in lockstep support of them, and no other candidates were invited. It's even clear what is off-limits for discussion on the ten-year anniversary of invasion of Iraq--I've seen a few street protests, but if I hadn't been subscribed to lefty news services, I would have never known about them.

The problem with progressives and leftists is that they have to spend an inordinate amount of their time explaining that these things are happening. We are in a period of a-history, where the Civil War is whatever the guy on talk radio said it was. If we can't agree on what is fact and fiction, how can we agree on what is needed to revitalize the country?
+5 # Poet1964 2013-03-20 08:30
Scary times we live in and how I wish that things were far healthier and with more transparency and with the true best wishes of our whole population. God help us all.
+6 # da gaf 2013-03-20 10:34
Quoting Poet1964:
Scary times we live in and how I wish that things were far healthier and with more transparency and with the true best wishes of our whole population. God help us all.

+4 # Johnny 2013-03-20 08:46
"Conspiracy buffs?" You will have to do better than name calling if you want your argument to carry any intellectual credibility, Ms. Wellman.

Are you claiming that the ugly things the government does happen merely by accident, rather than by plan? Fredboy says "intentionally dumbed down." Tell us, please, how he is mistaken.
+7 # kitster 2013-03-20 09:50
(to paraphrase) "they came for x because he/she was an x...and because i was not an x i did nothing. (so on and so forth). and then they came for me."

has it become "darkness at noon" in amerika?

the rich get richer, the people suffer, and big brother gets bigger.

"war is peace. ignorance is strength. slavery is freedom."

did george orwell really mean 2013?
+4 # da gaf 2013-03-20 10:26
+9 # Edwina 2013-03-20 11:22
Orwell's "1984" has been happening since 1984 when Reagan began to take back the gains of the civil rights movement, the women's movement, and the environmental movement. And the dirty wars in Central America and the Carribean should have been a wake-up call. Not that many people didn't sound the alarm. But it seems it happened slowly enough that most people were like the proverbial frog in hot water: they didn't get it until it was too late. People and communities are again organizing: against police brutality, for civil liberties, against environmental destruction like mountaintop removal and the Keystone XL pipeline.
+5 # noitall 2013-03-20 13:59
Right you are Edwina. We're weak, wilted, and medium rare. The task is not an easy one; to drag us frog soup ingredients out of their Walmart and into the streets is not an easy task. If it can't be done, we're toast. The longer the People wait to get their country back, the bloodier it will be. Those entrenched in power do not give it up whether it is theirs legitimately or not. If it is the People's, they'll have to know it in their heart or they won't have the heart to win it back. Halliburton made almost 40 billion off the Iraq war. That is THEIR motivation, what is ours? Peace? Freedom? Right to determination? Right to privacy? Somehow rings shallow compared to $40 Billion following three decades of brain washing and hoping for the winning lottery ticket so that the taxes on the rich seems "fair" to us. Keep the slaves happy enough so that you don't have to chain them to keep them on the farm. How about those Sea Hawks? Did you see that dress at the Academy Awards?! Case in point, most Americans thought that Obama was speaking about them when he talked about helping the middle class...You ain't middle class unless you made $100 grand last year. Do the math.
+4 # BradFromSalem 2013-03-20 13:01
I am a bit disappointed in this article. As important and relevant Chomsky's point is, the scope of the problem is much bigger than he is acknowledging.

The presumption of innocence has all but disappeared not only in the high profile terrorist realm that only affects relatively a handful of people each year. It occurs to each and every one of us in our daily lives. Let me start with something that is also high profile but it potentially affects millions every year. It is now presumed that you are guilty of being an illegal alien and must prove your legitimate right to vote. Insurance companies every day ask you to prove that a claim for repayment is not in violation of law. And here is the presumption part, without providing any justification of their suspicions. NY City can stop anyone and frisk them without cause, Arizona passed a law that presumes you are an illegal alien. By the way these last police rights are almost always exercised against people of color. What a surprise! In business, the Sarabanes-Oxley act presumes every business is guilty and so must provide extra legal cover to demonstrate that something they do is legal.

Presumption of innocence is all but forgotten by the Right Wing, the Left Wing and a majority of Americans.
+3 # noitall 2013-03-20 13:47
We were once able to be sloths when it came to our role in this "democracy", when we had faith that one's oath of office, expectations of truth telling, rules of conduct, respect for the office, Bill of Rights, objectivity of the Supreme Court, etc. were in place and vigilant in protection of our representative government and our Constitution. Many Americans are still sloths and because of the 4th estate, uninformed about the "change". While we slothed, all our trusted 'servants' walked off with the silverware (the car, the manor, and the estate). We're now wondering why no one is freaking out and calling the cops (only to learn that the cops will bust you for squealing). THIS is the New World Order folks, that daddy bush talked about. Sleep again, people, and Guantanamo will have ovens and smoke stacks and it will all be unmentionable. Don't listen to Chomsky. We'll pendulum-swing back to the good old days when unions and corporations thought of the health of the nation, when politicians were servants and not careerists, when campaign promises reflected honestly the direction you could expect the term to take. No Way could we lose what our fathers and grandfathers fought for. It is this 'dream' that lolls us into slothdom that allows the over-takers to take over. If the flag wasn't so pretty (and the action SO obvious) our flag would be one where each 'star' is a major corporate logo (those that could pay for the ad space) and the stripes would be their corporate bylines.
+3 # Rolf.Auer 2013-03-20 18:04
Censorship is censorship: restriction of information. Imposing "guidelines" has no possible purpose except to protect the young. Moderated comments is another variation of censorship.

Corporations = death. Wake up, humans. The most flagrant example is Alberta's Oilsands. Likewise pipelines, such as Keystong XL--evaluate any relevant environmental impact study.
+2 # corals33 2013-03-20 23:29
Freedom and democracy like civilization are mere intellectual abstractions to be mulled over in exclusive ivory towers.They are not real in the world-out-here. Mechanization, consumerism,exp loitation are the requirements of this present phase of existence and as long as we continue to accept them as the normal mode of behavior on the planet all other thinking can be placed in the folder marked FICTION.
-1 # corals33 2013-03-20 23:47
so many took umbrage at my comments on Mr Chumsky a while back disregarding the fact that I meant no disrespect to the man only to his intellectual starting-points and his ensuing journey which to my way of thinking was altogether a much too friendly approach to his subject matter.As far as I am concerned, Mr.Chomsky is a radical thinker "inside the box" doing his thing within its limitations and should be dealt with in that light.I still listen to him even though he pisses me off sometimes.
+1 # Starheart 2013-03-23 15:10
The NDAA vote shows absolute control of the corporate government through political prostitutes embedded in "elected" positions,.... no wonder TINA TURNER expatriated.... ...
+1 # trishken 2013-03-26 19:18
Noam how I have loved thee. . . I am one who truly believes that by one vote , one signature X thousands and millions of us is just one small way to change the world and we do.
I am a proud member of Care2 site with 20million users daily who come to write their own headlines , leave petitions to be signed, and donate clean water thru acts of kindness. Our stories of success are published weekly.
Join us ... don't thumb your intellectual nose at us. We get things done and if you show up on this site you will have the world at your feet. I have always loved thee.
Say Ashley Judd should be Senator from Kentucky to watch Mitch McConnell pee his pants and write another anti Ashley Judd campaign. She never said she was running she just threw it in the wind and caught a landslide. Let us all chill and lighten up with doing what we can in our own way. With Love

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