I have been a politically conscious individual since about the age of 13. I was staunchly Republican and very conservative in my views during the 90's and early 2000's, but began to see a deterioration of values as the Bush presidency dragged on during my mid to late 20s.
It wasn't really until a couple years into the Obama administration that my positions and views began to shift dramatically to a more libertarian and Constitutional stance. In 2011 I followed closely the debate over the controversial indefinite detention clauses in National Defense Authorization Act and on New Year's eve of that year, like many of you, I watched Obama sign into law the new version of NDAA including the unconstitutional indefinite detention clauses. His signing statement was a slap in the face of those of us concerned about the provisions of the new law that was supposedly intended to better protect the American people. It offended me, frightened me, and motivated me.
Since the beginning of my career over decade ago, I have tried to pick up one or two pro-bono clients a year as a way to contribute my talents and expertise to growing organizations that I believe in. On New Years Eve of 2011 I knew that my next pro-bono project would be helping an organization devoted to the nullification of NDAA.
Over the next few months I searched for and followed several individuals and organizations that were involved in different approaches to dealing with potential dangers of NDAA, that might benefit from professional branding and design services to help lend credibility and appeal to their message through professional visual design. Some time in the early spring of 2012, I came across PANDA's website and began to research the organization. It was one of the least funded and smallest groups I had found and, at the time, there was little evidence to suggest that this small group could get any attention for the cause with their simple website and small number of followers on Facebook and Twitter. But there was something so strange and unique about this group that it gripped my attention. It was the ambition and dedication of its founder, Daniel Johnson… a 20 year old kid who had taught himself some basic HTML just to create a public forum for his ideas, and started an effort to establish membership and chapter heads in all 50 states. His ambition and dedication was inspiring and I knew that this was an individual who would make the absolute most and best use of the services that I could provide.
I reached out to Dan by email and explained what it was I did and offered to help in any way I could. We spoke on the phone shortly after that and discussed our thoughts and positions regarding the controversial bill, now made law, and he shared with me some of his ideas and efforts to nullify it. Over the next few months I provided recommendations regarding PANDA's brand identity and website. My company was able to build a more professional looking site that also gave PANDA the ability to manage the content of their site much more efficiently, freeing them up to focus on more important things than trying to learn the code needed to get the site to work properly every time they had a news update.
Since then PANDA has grown from just under 200 Facebook follower to over 7000. Dan has been able to present his organization on the web with a new level of professionalism that has helped him gain the attention of The Huffington Post, Worldnet Daily, AM Coast to Coast, and many other news outlets that have had him speak on the radio and publish on their news websites. There is no doubt that Dan's commitment and knowledge base regarding NDAA and related issues has been the driving force behind the growth of PANDA from a small, unorganized group to a national organization of thousands of members with teams in over 30 states.
That said, I am also very proud of the work PostMortal Design has created for PANDA and like to think that our efforts were able to help give Dan and the members of PANDA the platform they needed to launch to national attention gaining support for a most deserving cause. I feel that professionally and as an American citizen this has been some of my most important and most successful work as a visual designer and communication strategist. I feel privileged to work with such and impressive and dedicated young man as Daniel Johnson (boy, did that statement make me feel old to write… but it is true and needed to be said).
It has been brought to Dan's and my attention, that it may be a point of concern to some supporters of PANDA that I have, in the past, worked for The Department of Homeland Security; a Federal police agency, regarded by many in the Liberty movement as unConstitutional and a grave threat to our civil liberties. I needed to take this opportunity to clarify any misconceptions about my loyalties and agenda regarding PANDA and the services that I and my company provide to the organization in light of clients I have worked with in the past, specifically the DHS.
First, let me provide a little history regarding the relationship. In summer of 2008, I was contracted to be the lead graphic designer for an internal, web based system for the Cyber Ops division of the Department of Homeland Security. I'm not able to go into the details of what the system did but examples of the design are viewable on my portfolio site for anyone who wishes to see the work. At the time I was still very conservative in my political positions but the shift to a more libertarian mindset had already begun. The ethical challenges were outweighed by the magnitude of the opportunity and I readily admit, probably didn't get the consideration that they deserved before accepting the contract.
That summer I was flown to Washington D.C. several times to meet with various officials at DHS and with other contractors involved with the project. I was treated respectfully by everyone involved and compensated fairly for the services I provided. I met a lot of people deeply dedicated to the protection and service of the American people and I need to be clear that even though I may now hold different opinions regarding political issues relevant to the work that I did for the DHS, my opinion of the men and women that I worked with during that time has not changed. These were and are good people working in a dangerous field because they value the safety of our country and I respect them as individuals, for their character and for their dedication. The project went very smoothly because of the professionalism of everyone involved and I remain very proud of the quality of the work that we were able to produce.
Since then there had been some minor follow up design items I was hired for in the year following the completion of the project but I have not been approached by the agency since for further work with them. I do keep in contact with the woman who was in charge of the division at the time and she has graciously been a great reference for me on a number of occasions. I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for her and for many of the people that I met and worked with at DHS on this project. The project was challenging and my clients appreciative of the hard work and creativity that was put into it. As a designer, I couldn't ask for a better professional relationship where my expertise was appreciated and utilized for the best possible outcome.
There are many well intentioned people on many sides of the many complex and unprecedented issues that face our country today. This is not the place for me to state my positions, but I understand that this particular past business relationship of mine could be a concern for some PANDA members and supporters. Both Dan and myself felt that it needed to be addressed. I want it to be clear that while I have grown wary of the rapid growth of government and have concerns regarding organizations like and including the DHS I absolutely recognize that these organizations have many good people working for them for all the right reasons.
This is not the place for me to discuss where or why I disagree with any particular method but for me to iterate that I have great respect for the law enforcement personnel who risk their safety for the safety of the American people…whether I agree with their positions entirely or not. Secondly, I need PANDA members to know that I am in complete agreement with PANDA's foundational issue and agenda and that I am 100% in opposition to the indefinite detention of US citizens made possible by The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. I am dedicated to helping PANDA in any and every way I can to repeal this gross violation of our God-given liberties as outlined in the U.S. Bill of Rights. I want to take this opportunity to thank Dan for his incredible hard work and dedication to this cause and to thank everyone involved. It's hard to devote time to keeping up with important issues like these with our busy lives and even harder to take action and I recognize that. I appreciate and respect everyone involved with PANDA and I am humbled to have the opportunity to contribute to such worthwhile cause in such a meaningful way and I am very grateful that PANDA would let me do what I do best to help them achieve their objectives. Thank you to everyone involved for your efforts and I am encouraged to see that our efforts are starting to show signs of achieving the goal of nullifying this terrible law.
-Joseph A. Fioramonti.