OK, not really. However, I did think it would be useful to post some links related to Jeremy Hammond and his recent sentencing to 10 years federal prison because people are curious–as they should be. His crime? He exposed collusion between the government and the private sector to frame political dissenters as terrorists. They don’t like it when you point that out. Not your grandmother’s America.
The first is by is by a wonderful and passionate woman who I recently spoke with for a HuffPo article about Jeremy’s twin brother Jason. Her recent article was actually held for release by the request of Jeremy’s legal team, and happened a few months ago. The second is about last year’s attempt by his support community to have Judge Preska recuse herself. The 3rd is his “official” statement at his sentencing last Friday, with the names of FBI-selected targets redacted. The fourth is what is currently thought to be his full statement, without omissions.
CHICAGO – W.C. Turck, a Chicago-based activist and playwright, has announced the premiere of The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden, a comedic poke at the security state and spy culture through the (fictional) words of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, appearing consecutively at Prop Thtr and Berger House this November.
The man responsible for one of the biggest intelligence leaks in US history is talking again, but this time he’s telling his own story. In this satirical triumph by local activist W.C. Turck, Edward Snowden emerges from his undisclosed location to hold a very personal press conference on what brought him to expose the dirtiest secrets of our National Security Agency. With a razor wit, Snowden reflects on his journey, his new home in lovely Russia, and the comfort he takes in our government’s promise not to torture or execute him.
With a directing team plucked from political sketch comedy company Democracy Burlesque, The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden takes an irreverent, poignant look at freedom and privacy in our time. Is Snowden a traitor? A hero? Could this be “the Most Dangerous Play in America?” You decide.
“We think this is an important play. We think this is a play that needed to be done now,” said Turck. “One of the things we want to do here is talk about privacy and freedom, and how the two are inextricably connected. We’re going to do that in a fun, entertaining and comedic way with a great cast and a great directing team.”
This is the second play by W.C. Turck, following his 2011 Occupy Chicago collaboration, Occupy My Heart, A Revolutionary Christmas Carol. Based upon the Dickens classic, Occupy My Heart was written as a celebration of the movement, intended to bring the spirit and message of the Occupation to a broader audience. It gained national attention with a series of free performances at Grant Park, Prop Thtr, and Studio BE. Now Turck has once again taken up his pen to illuminate another issue with comedy, heartbreak, and hope.
“The goal is to encourage as much conversation as possible,” said Turck. “And hopefully some change from the current security system that we feel threatens our democracy, civil rights, and the rights of those around the world.”
The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden
Thursday, November 14th at 8:00pm.
PROP THTR, 3502-04 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
W.C. Turck is a Chicago-based author, activist, broadcaster and playwright who in 2011 wrote and produced the Occupy movement-inspired play Occupy My Heart, A Revolutionary Christmas Carol, which drew standing room audiences and received national attention. Turck grew up amid the civil rights movement, visited the Pine Ridge reservation during the “uprising” in the mid 1970s, witnessed the war in Bosnia, and organized relief for Rwanda during the genocide. Those momentous events have informed his work ever since. The first of his three novels, Broken, One Soldier’s Unexpected Journey Home, was recommended by the National Organization of Mental Health Institutes for its treatment of PTSD. His second book, Everything for Love, a memoir of his experiences in the Bosnian conflict brings a wholly unique human explanation for the conflict. An expert in Balkan history and culture, Turck studied nationalism and genocide, looking for a simple, single framework common to all nationalist movements; an idealized culture, victimized demographic, an external enemy and an internal betrayer. His third e-novel Burn down the Sky, is based on his very real experiences on the front lines of the so-called war on terror. In March of 2012, he published the novel The Last Man, about a world run by a single corporation. Turck is currently the co-host of the popular Chicago public access TV show Revolution and Beer in which a panel discusses political issues over great craft beer. For more visit, RevolutionandBeer.com.
ABOUT THE DIRECTORS:
Celia Forrest last collaborated with Commedia Beauregard as the assistant director for Corleone, and has previously stage managed the Chicago debut of A Klingon Christmas Carol. Celia studied theater at Macalester College in Minnesota and spent five years working for Stages Theatre Company as a resident artist, actress, stage manager and teacher. She is a producer for Democracy Burlesque, Chicago’s longest running political sketch comedy troupe.
Erik Parsons is currently the artistic director for Democracy Burlesque, Chicago’s only political sketch comedy company (only the politics are naked!). He also helped found the New Suit Theatre Company (entertaining educational theatre for adult audiences) where he served as the associate artistic director from 2009-2011. Growing up in a family of artists and educators, Erik developed a deep affinity for live performance at a young age. Prior to setting down roots in Chicago in 2006, Erik was life-long nomad, having lived in 15 cities and 10 states at last count. Through his travels and experiences, Erik has developed what he calls an ‘equal opportunity sense of snark’, which infuses his artistic work with a distinct sense of humor and unyielding honesty. When he is not producing, directing and/or performing, Erik works with wonderful children on the autism spectrum with HFAS to help them reach their immeasurable potential.
ABOUT THE CAST:
Nick Haugland (Edward Snowden) is from Buffalo, New York, and after finishing college at the University of Tampa, moved to Chicago to join Second City. Currently he is a write of wrong and actor of evil with Democracy Burlesque, Chicago’s only political sketch comedy comedy. Past credits include The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Tampa bay Performing Arts Center, Die Mommy Die! at the Orlando International Fringe Festival and, most recently, at the Abby Hoffman Festival in Chicago.
Arne Saupe (NSA Agent Flenkins) came to Chicago from Kent, Ohio with a degree in Applied Mathematics and has since become a graduate of the acting program at the Second City Training Center. He has appeared in such plays as Johnny Theatre and Leaving Iowa; InnateVolution Theatre’s The Infernal Machine, Right as Rain,and the 5-3-1 New One-Act Play Festival; the Cornservatory’s Dr. Astronaut; and Commedia Beauregard’s Master Works: The Van Gogh plays.
Catherine Povinelli (Russian Agent) was a Finalist in The Most Dangerous Stand Up Comedy Competition. She is an Ensemble Member in The Hard Comedy Offline @ The Camden Fringe Festival London, Belle in The Hard Comedy YouTube Channel’s Real World Disney Princesses, Semi Finalist in London’s Funny Women Stand Up Competition 2012, and has performed numerous stand-up gigs in London, Edinburgh and Chicago.
ABOUT THE VENUES:
PROP THTR is a Chicago storefront theater focused on original or newly adapted theatrical works based in literary traditions. Prop was established in 1981, making it one of the oldest surviving non-equity theaters in Chicago. Prop Thtr has produced over 80 productions in its history, over 40 of them being world premieres, and is home to a number of Resident Companies and guest performances. For more, visit PropThtr.org.
The Berger House Mansion is a breath-taking Historical Landmark located on Sheriden Rd in the Edgewater community, the park overlooks beautiful Lake Michigan. As an early proponent of developing street-end beaches on Chicago’s north side, Berger Park Cultural Center has now become a neighborhood icon.
The mansion also boasts a magnificent outdoor space along Lake Michigan with breathtaking views. Located just minutes from downtown, this unique space offers many opportunities for special event and meeting rentals including three rooms that can be used individually for intimate gatherings or together for functions that can accommodate up to 100 guests.
…or the slippery slope to becoming an ideological whore.
I gave a speech some years ago at Western Illinois University on genocide. At the end of the speech a teacher from Iowa, sitting with several of her students, stood up and asked, “but what can one person do?”
I’ll give you my answer in a few moments, but first a more nuanced perspective on the “revelations” about the systemic data gathering by the United States of all forms of electronic communication.
I won’t condescend by proclaiming this issue complex, and I will simplify it for you. Everything is complex. Water is complex. So, that argument doesn’t serve anyone well. Scaring you with the time-consuming threat of “complexity” is a popular tactic of ideologues attempting to steer you in one direction or another.
What I was bothered by were the Lefties who were so adamantly against the Patriot Act under Bush, but were defending Obama over this moral abuse of power. Sit down Righties, I’ll get to you in a moment. But pro- democrat party pundits like Stephanie Miller kept making the case for the legality of NSA data mining on all of us, which is factually correct. She referred to meta data in an effort to make it seem more benign, when Snowden had already told us that the NSA can access and can archive everything from phone calls to emails to your Facebook chat buddies, even the contents on your hard drive. What Obama did is absolutely sanctioned by law under provisions of the Patriot Act. That is not in question. He is not sanctioned under morality and conscience. Obama himself all but acknowledged that fact, but then hid behind the legality defense.
Personally, I vote for principles and character in a president. I voted Green Party last election because I felt strongly that Obama was struggling to find a proper moral accounting, and I was impressed with the principled positions of Jill Scott. Obama’s capitulation and conciliation to Republican ideologues was so flimsy that I am sure it was part of a ruse to placate or distract the American people, a bit of Vaudeville theatrics while the real backdoor schemes and deals irrespective of party continued unchecked in the shadows and backrooms of politics.
A man of character, integrity and principle will not overstep morality as a means to an end, but will stand on principle. What Obama has shown us is that he is a pragmatist and an opportunist. Neither is healthy in a national leader. Defending that behavior in a fellow partisan when you lauded it in an opponent makes you, well you know what it makes you.
Obama did not have to strengthen the Patriot Act, but he did. He did have to pursue spying and monitoring to this level, but he did. Nor did he have to accelerate the program while intimidating critics and bullying whistleblowers. He was supposed to be better than that, and so far he is not.
“You can’t have 100% security and also then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience,” said President Obama about the snooping revelations(?).
In the now famous interview in a Hong Kong hotel with Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian, the whistleblower, Ed Snowden was asked, “Why should people care about surveillance?”
“Because,” Snowden told Greenwald, “even if you’re not doing anything wrong you’re being watched and recorded. And the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude to where it’s getting to the point where you don’t have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody even by a wrong call. And then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with. And attack you on that basis to sort to derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.”
And that is the key paragraph. This is less about uncovering terrorists as it is about the greatest political enemies list ever created. What Snowden described above was not about dealing with a violent terrorist plot, it is about going after critics and dissent. This isn’t new, of course. Nixon had his well known enemies list. I am certain Clinton had one, and we saw the beginning of the current war on whistleblowers get its kick-off during the Bush administration. Hell, abuse of the Patriot Act to go after critics and political adversaries seems to have become the favorite pastime of over zealous and intimidated high-level public figures since it was passed. Of course, all politicians already openly assail adversaries. That’s called an election. What is different here is that this carries the crushing power of the state by illustrating how far this can go when done in secret.
More and more will come the din of discrediting and impugning Snowden. That has already begun. First came the claims from US director of national intelligence James Clapper called the leak “extremely damaging.” The establishment Left is abandoning him as a traitor, or as Jeffrey Toobin, CNN legal analyst and pasta warehouse, remarked to CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Snowden is a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison. Toobin told Cooper that “Our system does not allow a 29 year old person who is an expert in precisely nothing to decide on his own that a project, its not illegal, but he doesn’t like it, and so he’s is going to undermine the work of thousands of people and billions of dollars in taxpayer money and give away these secrets…”
Wow, Jeffrey, does that apply to atrocities committed during war? He is absent on calling just as adamantly for anti-Bush whistleblowers, such as those who helped expose Abu Ghraib to be drawn and quartered. Recall that white’s only bathrooms, the Japanese internment during the Second World War, child labor, slavery and the genocide against Native Americans were all also legal. On the Right the same dolts who sold us on the hysterical urgency of the first Patriot Act under Bush, are now outraged under Obama: Beck, Limbaugh, FOX, MSNBC, GE, CNN…
Worse even still, are those who simply don’t hold any position, such as the post-pubescent man-child Dennis Miller, whose entire contribution to the world derives from riding the legacy of his 7 minute Weekend Update on ancient Saturday Night Live reruns straight into the creative hell of banality.
“I don’t want to know,” he said on his June 10th radio show, with a smug chuckle. “I bet it’s crazy what they know about you. Why know?”
Without a doubt, this kind of whistle-blowing and release of secret information is extremely costly. We all know of Bradley Manning’s harsh treatment. Our friend Jeremy Hammond was sitting in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center for over 400 days without a trial: spending many stints in solitary confinement for no apparent conduct-based reason.
Unless he’s able to pull some sort of Julian Assange asylum coup, Snowden will face prosecution and retribution for what many believe is a very gutsy, historic, and important thing to do. We’ll add his name to long list of brave individuals who expect this nation to live up to its promise. He is realistic about that future, but is clear about the stakes. He has opened up a window into the intentions and momentum of the government. Time will tell if his sacrifice meant something, or if it will be lost to the din of an America’s Got Talent (no offense sid) or the next big sale at Shoe Barn. To clarify, we say “long list” because we have a positive view of
“The greatest fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change…And the months ahead, the years ahead it’s only going to get worse until eventually there will be a time where policies will change because the only thing that restricts the activities of the surveillance state are policy…a new leader will be elected, they’ll find the switch, say that ‘Because of the crisis, because of the dangers we face in the world, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, we need more power.’ And there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it…”
And as promised, by reaction to the teacher from Iowa who wanted to know what can one person do? Gandhi, Jesus, Mandela, Mother Theresa, Rosa Parks were all one person. Edward Snowden is one person. The man who stood before a line of Chinese tanks in 1989 was one person. If you want a better world, be one person. It will inspire others in ways often not predicted.
ACTIVISTS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS: If you have a cause to champion, please let us know. We proudly stand with you in the important work of strengthening the grassroots support network for the city of Chicago.
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