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William Rivers Pitt | You, Terrorist

William Rivers Pitt: The Keystone XL pipeline is not a disaster waiting to happen. It is a whole pile of disasters waiting to happen.

(Photo: / Flickr)

The Keystone XL pipeline is not a disaster waiting to happen. It is a whole pile of disasters waiting to happen. Expected to run from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Alberta through more than half a dozen American states and down to the Gulf shore of Texas, the pipeline is already riddled with problems before it has even approached completion.

The extraction of tar sands oil, for openers, causes far more greenhouse emissions than conventional oil extraction. Then there is the problem of the corrosiveness of the extracted oil affecting the pipeline itself; corrosive tar sands oil ate through a pipeline in 2010, causing nearly a million gallons of oil to pour into the Kalamazoo River. Another corrosion-caused spill dumped 40,000 gallons in Illinois in 2012.

Tar sands oil is almost impossible to clean up; three years and $1 billion later, 38 miles of the Kalamazoo River remain utterly devastated by the 2010 spill. Should a spill enter one of the aquifers that dot the planned path of the pipeline, millions of people would lose their drinking water. The pipeline plan also crosses a seismic zone, as well as a large swath of Tornado Alley in America…but earthquakes and tornadoes never do any damage, right? Especially not to something almost 75% completed that has already fallen into deadly disrepute thanks to all the “construction anomalies” revealed recently by mandatory testing.

Given the serial perils posed by the Keystone XL pipeline, large numbers of American people have stepped forward in protest. They have demonstrated both in affected states and in Washington DC, they have spoken up at public meetings, and they have created online videos to spread their message. Some have taken to acts of civil disobedience, such as locking themselves to equipment and blocking the paths of construction. Every action taken has been peaceful and non-violent.

And for their efforts, they have been labeled as terrorists:

The environmental advocacy group Bold Nebraska last week denounced a presentation TransCanada delivered previously to state law enforcement officials. Bold Nebraska obtained documents from the presentation through a Freedom of Information Act request and posted them on its website.

“TransCanada is trying to paint concerned citizens as abusive, aggressive law breakers when in fact that describes themselves,” the group’s executive director, Jane Kleeb, told The World-Herald. “They are giving presentations to the FBI and our local law enforcement making us out to be criminals and telling our local law enforcement they should be looking at terrorism laws as possible ways to prosecute us. There is something fundamentally wrong about this.”

One page of the presentation was marked “Incident history – Nebraska” and cited protests by Bold Nebraska, as well as “opposition attendance” and “suspicious vehicles/photography” at the company’s Omaha office. It also referred to “Northern NE – aggressive abusive landowners” but also included the notation “level of capability and intent – low.”

One page bears the heading “Federal/State Anti-terrorism statutes – attacking a critical infrastructure.” The bullet points on the page indicate that law enforcement officials, including the FBI, could look at anti-terrorism laws as a way to stop certain acts by protesters, such as sabotaging equipment.

Labeling peaceful protesters as terrorists to placate powerful business interests is a gruesomely cynical perversion of the already grossly-perverted anti-terrorism laws passed in haste, fury and willful blindness since September 11, 2001…and, of course, is not new at all:

A new report from the Center for Media and Democracy, “Dissent or Terror: How the Nation’s Counter Terrorism Apparatus, in Partnership with Corporate America, Turned on Occupy Wall Street,” written by CMD contributor and DBA Press publisher Beau Hodai, details several ways in which US tax dollars are being squandered on law enforcement-or so-called “homeland security” forces-monitoring Americans who voice dissent against the extraordinary influence that some of the world’s most powerful corporations have on our elected officials. This investigation documented:

  • How personnel at U.S. Department of Homeland Security-funded “fusion centers” have spent endless hours monitoring their fellow Americans though Facebook and other social media, and how fusion centers nationwide have expended countless hours and tax dollars in the monitoring of Occupy Wall Street, bank activists and civil libertarians concerned about national security powers.
  • How corporations have joined in an “information sharing environment” with law enforcement and intelligence agencies-and how, through these partnerships, the homeland security apparatus has been focused on Americans protesting these corporations.
  • How private groups and individuals, such as Charles Koch, his son Chase Koch, Koch Industries and the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have hired off-duty cops-sometimes still armed and in uniform-to perform the private security functions of keeping undesirable people (e.g., reporters and activists) away. At one ALEC conference, off-duty officers, working on behalf of ALEC and the resort at which the conference was held, led on-duty, riot-gear-clad police in the pepper-spraying and arrests of several peaceful, law-abiding protestors.
  • How the FBI applied “Operation Tripwire,” an initiative originally intended to apprehend domestic terrorists through the use of private-sector informants, to its monitoring of Occupy Wall Street groups.

The recent revelations about the NSA’s far-reaching program of domestic surveillance have been met with an astonishing lack of outrage from the American people. A combination of “I’m not doing anything wrong, so why should I worry?” and “We’ve known this was going on for years” has led to a big national shrug over the matter.

If the rise in local, state and federal government’s willingness to act on behalf of major corporations by labeling lawful American citizens as terrorists does not shake people out of their lethargy, then we deserve everything we are certainly going to get.

Need a reason to worry about the NSA spying scandal? Try this: you legally protest an oil company in your town, are arrested, and wind up in court facing federal terrorism charges and a personal eternity behind bars. The evidence presented against you was gathered by NSA monitoring of your telephone usage and social media communications, all at the behest of said oil company, which owns every Senator who sits on the Intelligence Committee in Washington DC.

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