II. On Civil and Political Rights
In the United States, the violation of citizens' civil and political rights is severe. It is lying to itself when the United States calls itself the land of the free (The Washington Post, January 14, 2012).
Claiming to defend 99 percent of the U.S. population against the wealthiest, the Occupy Wall Street protest movement tested the U.S. political, economic and social systems. Ignited by severe social and economic inequality, uneven distribution of wealth and high unemployment, the movement expanded to sweep the United States after its inception in September 2011. Whatever the deep reasons for the movement are, the single fact that thousands of protesters were treated in a rude and violent way, with many of them being arrested -- the act of willfully trampling on people' s freedom of assembly, demonstration and speech -- could provide a glimpse to the truth of the so-called U.S. freedom and democracy.
Almost 1,000 people were reportedly arrested in first two weeks of the movement, according to British and Australian media (The Guardian, October 2, 2011). The New York police arrested more than 700 protesters for alleged blocking traffic over Brooklyn Bridge on October 1, and some of them were handcuffed to the bridge before being shipped by police vehicles (uschinapress.com, October 3, 2011). On October 9, 92 people were arrested in New York (The New York Times, October 15, 2011). The Occupy Wall Street movement was forced out of its encampment at Zuccotti Park and more than 200 people were arrested on November 15 (The Guardian, November 25, 2011). Chicago police arrested around 300 members of the Occupy Chicago protest in two weeks (The Herald Sun, October 24, 2011). At least 85 people were arrested when police used teargas and baton rounds to break up an Occupy Wall Street camp in Oakland, California on October 25. An Iraq war veteran had a fractured skull and brain swelling after being allegedly hit in the head by a police projectile (The Guardian, October 26, 2011). A couple of hundred people were arrested when demonstrations were staged in different U.S. cities to mark the Occupy Wall Street movement' s two-month anniversary on November 17 (USA Today, November 18, 2011). Among them, at least 276 were arrested in New York only. Some protesters were bloodied as they were hauled away. Many protesters accused the police of treating them in a brutal way (The Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2011). As a U.S. opinion article put it, the United States could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian. (The Washington Post, January 14, 2012).
While advocating press freedom, the United States in fact imposes fairly strict censoring and control over the press and "press freedom" is just a political tool used to beautify itself and attack other nations. The U.S. Congress failed to pass laws on protecting rights of reporters' news sources, according to media reports. An increasing number of American reporters lost jobs for "improper remarks on politics." U.S. reporter Helen Thomas resigned for critical remarks about Israel in June 2010 ( "Report: On the situation with human rights in a host of world states," the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russia, December 28, 2011). While forcibly evacuating the Zuccotti Park, the original Occupy Wall Street encampment, the New York police blocked journalists from covering the police actions. They set cordon lines to prevent reporters from getting close to the park and closed airspace to make aerial photography impossible. In addition to using pepper spray against reporters, the police also arrested around 200 journalists, including reporters from NPR and the New York Times (uschinapress.com, November 15, 2011). By trampling on press freedom and public interests, these actions by the U.S. authorities caused a global uproar. U.S. mainstream media' s response to the Occupy Wall Street movement revealed the hypocrisy in handling issues of freedom and democracy. Poll by Pew Research Center indicated that in the second week of the movement, reports on the movement only accounted for 1.68 percent of the total media reports by nationwide media organizations. On October 15, 2011, when the Occupy Wall Street movement evolved to be a global action, CNN and Fox News gave no live reports on it, in a sharp contrast to the square protest in Cairo, for which both CNN and Fox News broadcast live 24 hours.
The U.S. imposes fairly strict restriction on the Internet, and its approach "remains full of problems and contradictions." (The website of the Foreign Policy magazine, February 17, 2011) "Internet freedom" is just an excuse for the United States to impose diplomatic pressure and seek hegemony.
The U.S. Patriot Act and Homeland Security Act both have clauses about monitoring the Internet, giving the government or law enforcement organizations power to monitor and block any Internet content "harmful to national security." Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010 stipulates that the federal government has "absolute power" to shut down the Internet under a declared national emergency. According to a report by British newspaper the Guardian dated March 17, 2011, the U.S. military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas, and will allow the U.S. military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives. The project aims to control and restrict free speech on the Internet (The Guardian, March 17, 2011). According to a commentary by the Voice of Russia on February 2, 2012, a subsidiary under the U.S. government' s security agency employed several hundred analysts, who were tasked with monitoring private archives of foreign Internet users in a secret way, and were able to censor as many as five million microblogging posts. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security routinely searched key words like "illegal immigrants," "virus," "death," and "burst out" on Twitter with fake accounts and then secretly traced the Internet users who forwarded related content. According to a report by the Globe and Mail on January 30, 2012, Leigh Van Bryan, a British, prior to his flight to the U.S., wrote in a Twitter post, "Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?" As a result, Bryan along with a friend were handcuffed and put in lockdown with suspected drug smugglers for 12 hours by armed guards after landing in Los Angeles International Airport, just like "terrorists" . Among many angered by the incident in Britain, an Internet user posted a comment, "What' s worse, being arrested for an innocent tweet, or the fact that the American Secret Service monitors every electronic message in the world?" (The Daily Mail, January 31, 2012)