“If you let them do this to me and get away with it, then you’re giving them the eternal right to do the same damn thing to any one of you!” -Buford Pusser
9 July 2013: To a lie, truth is toxic. To the purveyors of lies, truth-tellers are a poisonous threat. To the corrupt men and women of government, exposure of corruption is a serious threat that cannot be permitted to see the light of day. Those seeking to expose the lies, deceit and corruption by our elected officials or those holding the reins of power are the targets of marginalization, vilification, or worse. I write these words not only under my own name, but with contempt and disgust as an American citizen known to the National Security Agency as FOIA file number 70900. More precisely, it is the number assigned to my case by the NSA, stemming from my efforts to expose criminal government overreach against every American citizen. I will wear that number as I “walk tall” in my continuous quest for the truth.
Allow me to briefly take you back 40 years, as I believe you will see certain parallels that are perhaps more relevant today than they were then. And those parallels are applicable not just to my situation, but to everyone reading this.
The original film “Walking Tall” was a 1973 movie based on the real life of Buford Pusser, former sheriff of McNairy County, Tennessee from 1964-1970. Anyone old enough to remember seeing the movie in theaters will likely recall the plot as well. At 6’6″ tall, Pusser was a one-time professional wrestler, although was convinced by his wife Pauline to leave the theater of professional wrestling to return home to McNairy County, Tennessee, a backwoods area located along the northern border of Mississippi to start a business with his father in the lumber industry.
Following his return home, Pusser and a friend visited a well known gambling house known as the Lucky Spot. It was unlucky for Pusser, however, when he became a front line loser after he discovered that the craps game was rigged. His protests resulted in a near fatal stab wound that required 200 stitches. Like any other victim of attempted murder, Pusser complained to the county sheriff, who promptly did nothing and allowed his attackers to remain free and unmolested of any criminal charges.
Undeterred by this lack of official justice, Pusser does his own investigation. He soon learns that not only were the games at the Lucky Spot rigged, the whole system in McNairy County was rigged, and the men in power were corrupt. But who do you complain to when the very men who are supposed to represent law and order are themselves corrupt? Is any of this sounding remotely familiar to today’s federal government?
And so his quest for justice began. Fashioning a club from a tree branch at his family’s lumber mill, Pusser pays a visit to the men who stabbed him and left him for dead. His actions promptly caused the sheriff to arrest Pusser, and a jury trial ensued. It is here that I hope readers will see the relevance to the larger issues of today.
During a jury trial, Pusser represented himself. At one point during the trial, he ripped open his shirt and showed the jury the hideous scar left by the stabbing and the 200 stitches needed to close the near fatal wound. At the same time, he stared at those in the jury box and emphatically stated: “If you let them do this to me and get away with it, then you’re giving them the eternal right to do the same damn thing to any one of you!” Buford Pusser was acquitted of all charges.
Disgusted at the rampant corruption he saw, Pusser ran for the office of sheriff of McNair County Tennessee and became Tennessee’s youngest sheriff ever elected. He vowed to clean up the county, and hit the ground running to do just that.
The cost of justice
Buford Pusser soon learned that justice comes at a price that few are willing to pay. In his quest for “justice for all,” several attempts were made on his life by those in power. Some attempts nearly succeeded. Others had sad consequences. His wife of just 7 years at the time, Pauline, was murdered on August 12, 1967 in an assassination attempt meant for him. The killer, although identified by Pusser, was never brought to justice.
Men of nearly unfathomable hubris and defiance not only to a system of laws, but to the people they enslaved by their illegal actions, ran roughshod over Pusser and continue unabated today. Has the template of injustice and oppression changed over the years? It indeed has… it has been consolidated and refined. Some things, however, don’t change. Some techniques continue to work because we allow them to work, either because of fear, general malaise by a self-absorbed populace, or the feeling that we cannot make a difference. Again, it seems that some things don’t change.
On the hot August night of August 21, 1974, Buford Pusser’s life came to a tragic end in a manner that just might ring a familiar bell – a ringing that continues today. Following an appearance at the county fair that evening, Pusser was returning home as the driver and sole occupant of his car when inexplicably, he slammed into an embankment at a high rate of speed. The force was so great that Pusser was ejected from his vehicle and, of course, the car burst into flames, leaving nothing but a pile of twisted metal and shouldering embers that prevented any forensic analysis of the vehicle for signs of tampering. Is any of this sounding familiar?
You can find for yourself the tales associated with the final hours of Buford Pusser’s life, including allegations that he was drunk at the time of the crash, although there was no autopsy ordered or performed. Interestingly enough, the Tennessee State Trooper who led the investigation of the crash and Pusser’s death, Paul Ervin, later became the sheriff of McNairy County, Tennessee.
I believe that the print space devoted to Buford Pusser is necessary against the backdrop of the injustice we are seeing today. Like Buford Pusser, the very people who are attempting to expose the rampant corruption within our own government are themselves being targeted by the people in power. We are being systematically victimized by an all-powerful, out-of-control tyrannical system where, like the former Lucky Spot in McNairy County, Tennessee, all of the games are rigged and the house always wins, and wins big. Like Jon Corzine big, as it was just announced that the former New Jersey governor and former CEO of Goldman Sachs and MF Global will not face any criminal charges for his role in $1.6 billion of missing, segregated customer money that led to the demise of MF Global and ruined the lives of countless families – members of the unwashed masses. Can’t people see that “every game in the house” is rigged, and the people in power are laughing at you?
The story of Buford Pusser, however, has never been as personal to me as it is today. Having seen the film in the theater shortly after its release, I can recall my disgust as a young man at the injustice portrayed in the film, and the resistance to the efforts of Buford Pusser. While I certainly make no claims being akin to his real-life persona, I understand his passionate outrage at the injustice he saw and personally experienced and wanted so badly to correct. I too am outraged, and you should be as well.
Considering that the whole system is rigged, are we not all victims, or prospective victims like Pusser as he attempted to expose and root out corruption in the county where he lived? Like Pusser, what do we do when there is no one or no agency to right the wrongs, or even consider our grievances?
The surveillance state
In the grand scheme of things, I am no one special. In the files of the NSA, however, I am File number 70900. And as an American citizen, I apparently pose a national security threat due to questions no one wants to answer, and to corruption few wish to expose.
It was made clear to a FOIA request that the National Security Agency can do whatever they damn well please to me and by extension, to you and anyone else with impunity and under the cover of darkness by executive order 13526 signed by Barack Hussein Obama on December 29, 2009. How’s that for the promise of transparency?
Regardless of what you think of Edward Snowden, he exposed an unchecked surveillance apparatus that violates our Constitutional rights and civil liberties. It is that very apparatus that has created a web designed to ensnare anyone seeking the truth about the surveillance process and those behind it. It has been deliberately turned upon those who dare to expose the truth about what is really taking place in America today, and what is being planned for tomorrow.
It was just two days ago that a fellow journalist told me that he would no longer talk to me, as I have now become “toxic” by my presence on the radar of the federal government. The very fact that the NSA is not only collecting information, but content, is having a chilling effect on those of us seeking to expose corruption and provide the truth to the American public. You see, it’s not about metadata and other innocuous sounding information. That’s the cover for what’s truly taking place, which is identifying anyone who does not wish to go along with the agenda of those in power. You are being lied to, and no one in the press is questioning the lies, save for a few.
We must not allow this process that is contrary to our Constitution to continue. With no one in congress challenging the legalities of the Executive Orders, the trampling of our rights as American citizens, and a Justice Department that is clearly in the back pocket of the Executive Branch, to whom do we turn? Shall we write our congressmen, or patiently wait for a “regime” change? How’s that been working for us?
Perhaps justice will not be of this world, as suggested in the words of Thomas Jefferson. “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”
For me, file number 70900, I will continue my quest for the truth and to expose the corruption and depraved indifference of those in power. I merely ask that you do the same. And pray.