It’s a damn shame that with all that’s going on, the biggest news in Hip Hop this week is that rapper 2 Chainz did not get robbed while visiting San Francisco..Hell I was just in SF the other day and I didn’t get robbed either.. Why is this news? One would hope that the big news for 2 Chainz is while he was in the Bay he donated one of two chains to charity, he went to a group home to work with youth or that he’s doing a new song about Trayvon Martin or one that he addresses the NSA spying drama…
Which brings me to my next point, as we look at all this massive spying and surveillance of innocent people, we should keep a couple of things in mind.. First watch the media distraction where they are now getting. All these corporate backed news outlets have tuned into a PR firm for the government where they are doing massive spin control by getting everyone to debate whether or not Edward Snowden the man who blew the whistle on all this is a traitor or patriot. One would think and hope the main thrust would be centered around the actual situation of us being spied upon by private corporation using govt money and resources.. Snowden is the guy who gave of us the info.. He’s not the one in power and should not be the main focus. The questions should be what are private companies doing with all that data? What’s the guarantee it wont be abused or compromised?
The other thing to keep in mind, is since we’re talking Hip Hop news, perhaps folks should make the connection as to whats going on now with what was going down in Hip Hop a few years back New York City had a Hip Hop cop division that spent countless hours collecting dossiers on rappers and their entourages. 2Pac was being tailed, Biggie was being tailed and to this day all this intel gathering has not led to an arrest and conviction of their killers… At the time many rappers played up being surveilled as part of their whole mob/gangsta image and proof that there was bit of an edge to them…Considering the long legacy of CointelPro and how the FBI, CIA and other government agencies spying on artists and using culture as a weapon against us, more should have been concerned and outrage then, as they should be now.
Under Cointel-Pro irreparable damage was done, not just in the Black community via the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, but also the Chicano Movement, American Indian Movement, Puerto Rican Independence Movement and the Anti-War Movements. Prior to Cointel-pro we had the McCarthy Era where major damage was done to journalists, entertainers, academics and any other thought leaders who were thought to be connected to Communism.
Like Cointel-pro many during the McCarthy Era who were 100% innocent were caught up in the wide net used by the government to battle what was actually described by some even back in those days, as a Fight Against Terror..There’s no excuse for folks who understand this history not to speak out now.. As we see a lot of this unfolding..one has got to wonder whats really going on? Maybe Hip Hop was surveilled in such a way as to get folks used to this practice so they wouldn’t sound the alarm once this spread and became a bit more Draconian.
Below is an interview we did with Civil Rights lawyer King Downing who is the founder of the Human Rights Racial Justice Center and has long dealt with the issues of privacy, unwarranted surveillance, racial profiling and over reach by the government. King is also formerly of the ACLU which is now suing Obama and the NSA for their egregious actions. In 2006 when I first met King, the ACLU was suing George Bush and his administration for spying on the American people http://www.aclu.org/national-security/aclu-sues-stop-illegal-spying-americans-saying-president-not-above-law. Sadly not much has changed, if anything the government has doubled down.
A few years ago, King and myself along with a number of scholars, law enforcement, civil rights people, artists and activists sat on two round tables put on by the ACLU that dealt with the use and abuse of government informants. Lastly King was featured in the documentary Black and Blue: Legend of a Hip Hop Cop which focused on NYPD and their Hip Hop division which collected large numbers of dossiers on artists, most of them innocent of any wrong doing.
He breaks a lot of things down in this Hard Knock Radio interview including the fact that the surveillance of rappers went far beyond NYPD but was actually coming from Washington DC itself..He connects a lot of dots and firmly makes the case of how the invasive profiling tactics used in the failed War on Drugs that crippled many who lived in the hood and inner cities has expanded under the Patriot Act and the War on Terror. He notes that all of this is connected and in totality make up what he describes as the surveillance state….
During our interview with King Downing I mentioned I would play/post up the excerpt of former FBI informant Darthard Perry speaking about how he and others in the bureau did massive surveillance on Black culture so as to weaken the people…This interview took place in the 1970s..
Building off what we covered with King Downing, we sat down with professor of communication Christopher Simpson of American University..
Simpson is author of several books, including; Blowback, Science of Coercion and National Security Directives of the Reagan and Bush Administrations.
With respect to this spying saga Simpson noted:
“The newly public National Security Agency records about PRISM and similar operations demonstrate that metadata about electronic communication is actually more dangerous to democracy than intercepting conversations. That is because the NSA’s analysis of this information is based on mathematical formulas that use guilt by association to construct imaginary networks of people who might, or might not, have some link to political violence, espionage, or to almost any controversy involving international relations.
“Much of what was revealed last week about the National Security Agency has been publicly available for almost a decade, but denied by officials and forgotten or ignored by most big media. The information now on the public record enables any informed person to understand the basics of how these intelligence operations work and why they are dangerous.
During our Hard Knock Radio interview, Professor Simpson expounded upon these remarks.. He laid out the case how this NSA spying situation is the War on Drugs on steroids..If anyone who has dealt with the wide nets used in the War on drugs, then you can probably relate, except, this is bigger and goes a lot deeper..The way the data is being mined, folks are getting tagged and dinged falsely with very little recourse..Y’all better not get caught up in conversations about whether or not Snowden is a Patriot or Hero.. Y’all best be asking what recourse you have from this drama..
Professor Simpson also painstakingly explains how the PRISM program works. He alerts us to how the data is collected and cross referenced with criteria that is secret which in turn determines if you are a potential target for further and more penetrating surveillance..This is no joke.. Peep the interview below..