The Art of Democracy Is a National Coalition of Art Exhibitions
on the Dire State of American Politics Scheduled for the Fall of 2008.

On July 22, 2008 Bob Herbert wrote in his column in the New York Times the following:

When the constraints of the law are unlocked by the men and women in suits at the pinnacle of power, terrible things happen in the real world. You end up with detainees being physically and psychologically tormented day after day, month after month, until they beg to be allowed to commit suicide. You have prisoners beaten until they are on the verge of death, or hooked to overhead manacles like something out of the Inquisition, or forced to defecate on themselves, or sexually humiliated, or driven crazy by days on end of sleep deprivation and blinding lights and blaring noises, or water-boarded.

The entire NY Times story can be read here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/22/opinion/22herbert.html

On June 17, 2008 the New York Times reported the following:

WASHINGTON — The Army official who managed the Pentagon’s largest contract in Iraq says he was ousted from his job when he refused to approve paying more than $1 billion in questionable charges to KBR, the Houston-based company that has provided food, housing and other services to American troops.

The official, Charles M. Smith, was the senior civilian overseeing the multibillion-dollar contract with KBR during the first two years of the war. Speaking out for the first time, Mr. Smith said that he was forced from his job in 2004 after informing KBR officials that the Army would impose escalating financial penalties if they failed to improve their chaotic Iraqi operations.

The entire NY Times story can be read here http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/washington/17contractor.html?fta=y

On March 6, 2008 it was reported in The New York Sun that:

FBI Director Robert Mueller told senators yesterday that agents improperly used a type of administrative subpoena to obtain personal data about Americans until internal reforms were enacted last year. Mr. Mueller said a forthcoming report from the Justice Department’s inspector general will find that abuses recurred in the agency’s use of national security letters in 2006, echoing similar problems to those identified in earlier audits. An internal FBI audit also found that the bureau potentially violated laws or agency rules more than 1,000 times in such cases.

On March 6, 2008 it was reported in The New York Sun that:

FBI Director Robert Mueller told senators yesterday that agents improperly used a type of administrative subpoena to obtain personal data about Americans until internal reforms were enacted last year. Mr. Mueller said a forthcoming report from the Justice Department’s inspector general will find that abuses recurred in the agency’s use of national security letters in 2006, echoing similar problems to those identified in earlier audits. An internal FBI audit also found that the bureau potentially violated laws or agency rules more than 1,000 times in such cases. Mr. Mueller testified that a follow-up report from Mr. Fine’s office, due to be released this month will “identify issues similar to those in the report issued last March.” (See below) At yesterday’s hearings, Senate Judiciary chairman, Patrick Leahy, a Democrat of Vermont, condemned the FBI’s “widespread illegal and improper use of national security letters,” and urged Mr. Mueller to be more attentive to the problem.

On March 21, 2007 it was reported in The New York Sun that:

The FBI engaged in widespread and serious misuse of its authority in illegally gathering telephone, email, and financial records of Americans, the Justice Department’s chief inspector said.  The FBI’s failure to establish sufficient controls or oversight for collecting the information through so-called national security letters constituted ‘serious and unacceptable failures’ said the internal watchdog who exposed the abuses.

The so-called Patriot Act gives the FBI the authority to issue national security letters to ordinary American citizens that can order them to unconditionally comply with demands for information while forbidding them to discuss the order with anyone - including family members or an attorney - without the prospect of facing jail time.

How will you feel if you get a national security letter from an abusive agent of the government – and you can’t even tell your best friend? Will you feel better knowing you said nothing while it was still legal to dissent?


Art of Democracy is a coalition of artists and organizations seeking to amplify artistic voices willing to speak out in this dangerous hour.

We are building a network of exhibitions and events that will all take place in the fall of 2008. New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, St. Louis, Muncie, and several more locations are planning exhbitions. Join us.

Art of Democracy logo, Frances Jetter
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