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Black-clad group protesting police brutality stage brutal attack outside Portland city hall (VIDEO) —...
Video: Watch: Genre-Defying Band, Mourning A BLKstar, Performs Songs Dedicated to Police Brutality Victims
Video: FavelaLive: Rio’s children caught between football, drugs & police brutality (RT Documentary PROMO)
Video: JusticePourTheo: Teargas & firecrackers in Paris streets as students rally against police brutality
A large number of protesters, mainly mothers who have lost their children due to police brutality, have taken to the streets of the US capital to call for an end to police brutality and racial injustice.
The “Million Moms March” began on Saturday from the US Capitol and ended at the US Department of Justice in Washington, DC.
The demonstration came on Mother’s Day to show the anger the mothers still carry for their children’s deaths, organizers said.
The demonstrators demanded changes in police practices, an issue in the US that has been gaining momentum after massive demonstrations and riots were witnessed in the latest cases of police brutality against minorities, specifically African-Americans.
The march was organized by Mothers for Justice United, an organization of mothers whose children have been killed by law enforcement authorities, and the Coalition for Justice.
Mothers for Justice United, said that it aims to stop the “epidemic of the killing of unarmed people of color by police,” while citing the deaths of unarmed black men such as Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner of Staten Island, New York, and most recently Freddie Gray of Baltimore, Maryland.
The founder of Mothers for Justice United, Maria Hamilton lost her son, a 31-year-old black man who was shot over a dozen times and killed by a policeman in the state of Wisconsin last year.
The police officer who killed her son just a little over a year ago was fired but never charged with a crime.
As one of the organizers of the event, she told local media that, "This is a call for everybody to wake up. We are here on behalf of our babies to tell the United States government that we aren't going anywhere. We aren't going to continue to keep burying our babies. Do something and do it now."
“We want the federal government to change the laws across the board,” she also said.
The demonstrations were, according to organizers, scheduled to be nationwide on Saturday and Sunday. Many were expected to join the rallies across several cities in the US including Chicago and other cities.
"Black Lives Matter", an umbrella group of black civil rights activists notorious for leading anti-police demonstrations across the US including in Baltimore recently was also one of the organizers of the ongoing nationwide event.
According to statistics, white police officers kill black suspects twice a week in the US, an average of 96 times a year.
A report released by USA Today in November stated that “of 3,538 police departments investigated, black people are more likely to be arrested than non-black racial groups for every type of criminal charge.”
Police have rounded up more than 250 protesters participating in the annual march against police brutality in the francophone Canadian city of Montreal, Quebec. Friday’s march was declared illegal, as participants failed to disclose its itinerary.
“We sent a message right at the beginning,” said Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere of the Montreal police, citing municipal bylaw P-6 during a press conference after the march.“They didn't share a route, they didn't share their itinerary, they refused to give us a location where they were heading. That's the reason we put a stop to that.”
Twelve others were arrested for criminal activity, including possession of incendiary materials, assault on a police officer, mischief and making threats. Another 150 were fined over US$600 for participating in an illegal assembly, CBC reported.
Police began making their first arrests before the march had even begun. After the march started, police stopped demonstrators and randomly searched their bags. Officers also used wedge formations to split the crowd into smaller groups.
“There's as many police officers as there are protesters,” university student Dominique Cyr told CTV News. “In the beginning the police were very aggressive… It's a criminal act that the police are doing on the people and they must pay for their crimes."
At least six people were injured during the rally, two police officers and four demonstrators. None of the injuries were life-threatening. Police officers were transported to a hospital, one of whom had two broken teeth.
The march against police brutality is an annual event that had been taking place for the past 17 years to mark the International Day against Police Brutality. Historically, the demonstrations have ended in violence and mass arrests.
The 2012 rally coincided with student protests and turned violent, with 226 arrests taking place. Montreal saw a surge in protests, violence and mass arrests last year as students demonstrated against the province's tuition hikes. The demonstrations resulted in tougher regulations for assembly.
Video: Baltimore Prosecutor Receives Praise and Scorn For Saying Police Undermined the Freddie Gray...
Hundreds of Americans in the state of Wisconsin have taken to the streets to protest the acquittal of a white police officer who shot dead an unarmed black teenager.
Officer Matt Kenny won't be charged for killing 19-year-old Tony Robinson in March, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said on Tuesday.
The decision angered people in the city of Madison.
The protesters held signs that read "Black Lives Matter," and “Justice for Tony.”
“I conclude that this tragic and unfortunate death was the result of the lawful use of deadly force, and that no charges will be brought against Officer Kenny in the death of Tony Robinson Jr.,” Ozanne said.
“My decision will not bring Tony Robinson Junior back. My decision will not end the racial disparities that exist in the justice system, in our justice system,” he added.
The black teenager was shot seven times after the police officer responded to a call claiming Robinson was acting disorderly and violent.
Andrea Irwin, the victim’s mother, announced that her family would file a civil lawsuit against the Police Department.
"The things that have taken place since my son passed and the things that have been done to my family, to me, they've gone above and beyond to try to make sure they kick me when I'm down," she told CNN on Tuesday.
"They have done a smear campaign against my child and against me since this all began."
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin slammed the attorney’s decision.
"If Officer Kenny did not violate the law, then is anyone legally responsible for Mr. Robinson's death?" Chris Ahmuty, executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, said in a statement.
"Does the criminal law protect individuals like Mr. Robinson from deadly force exercised by police officers? Are police officers above the law?" he asked.
Wisconsin Professional Police Association Executive Director Jim Palmer said the decision to exonerate Kenny was "appropriate."
The investigation into this incident “has confirmed that Officer Kenny's actions on the night of March 6 were lawful and in response to a deadly threat,” he said.
The shooting death of Robinson has drawn comparisons to the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, another unarmed black, in Ferguson, Missouri, last year.
Police brutality as well as the racial profiling of minorities by US law enforcement agencies has become a major concern in the United States.
The killing of several unarmed black men by white police officers in recent months and decisions by grand juries not to indict the officers triggered large-scale protests across the country.
If the government does not like the way that you are raising your kids, they will come in and grab them at any time without giving any warning whatsoever. Of course this is completely and totally unlawful, but it has been happening all over America. The most recent example of this that has made national headlines is particularly egregious. Joe and Nicole Naugler of Breckinridge County, Kentucky just had their 10 children brutally ripped away from them just because the government does not approve of how they are living their lives and how they are educating their young ones. Let’s be very clear about this – Joe and Nicole had done nothing to violate the law whatsoever. All of their kids were happy, healthy and very intelligent. But because the control freaks running things in Kentucky got wind of their “off the grid lifestyle”, they have now had all of their children unlawfully abducted from them.
A lot of my readers also lead “off the grid” lifestyles similar to what the Nauglers had been enjoying. The Nauglers own 26 acres in a remote area of Breckinridge County, and their family has been described as “extremely happy”. But despite never giving them a single warning or a single indication that anything was ever wrong, Kentucky police raided their home on May 6th. The following is how the raid was described on a website dedicated to this case…
On May 6th, 2015, Breckinridge Co. Sheriff’s officers came to their home, acting on an anonymous tip, and entered their property and home without a warrant and without probable cause. Nicole was at home with the two oldest children, while Joe was away with the others. When the officers left the home, they attempted to block the access road to the family property. Nicole and the two boys got in their car to leave the family property. The got only a short way down the road before the officers pulled Nicole over.
During this stop, sheriffs deputies took their two oldest boys from Nicole’s custody, providing her no justification or documentation to support their action. Nicole was able to contact Joe briefly by telephone, but only for a short period of time, because she needed to use her phone to record the events.
At that point, Nicole had been taken into custody for disorderly conduct (for not passively allowing the Sheriff to take her boys) and resisting arrest. Even though she is 5 months pregnant, she was slammed belly first into the cop car and bruised and scraped on both arms.
And people wonder why there is such an uproar about police brutality in this country…
How in the world can a police officer ever justify treating a pregnant woman like that? The police officer that treated Nicole like that should immediately resign. Talk about an utter disgrace. You do not ever treat a pregnant woman like that.
But this is America, where we are turning a little bit more into Nazi Germany every single day.
You can listen to audio of Nicole’s shocking arrest right here.
When Joe arrived on the scene, the police continued to act like Gestapo thugs…
Joe was able to arrange transportation to meet his wife where the stop had taken place. Joe attempted to get out of the car to speak with the officers and his wife, and to recover the vehicle Nicole had been driving. The Sheriff, with his hand on his sidearm, ordered Joe back into the car. Joe complied with that request. The sheriff informed Joe that he had every intention of making this as difficult as possible for them and that their car would be impounded, despite the fact that Joe was there onsite to recover it.
A friend, who had driven Joe to the location, got out of the car to speak with the Sheriff. She was able to convince the Sheriff to let Joe recover the vehicle. Joe also recovered Nicole’s cell phone, which had been recording audio the entire time.
The Sheriff ordered Joe to turn the remaining eight children over to Breckinridge County Sheriff’s deputies by 10:00 a.m., and threatened him with felony charges if he does not comply.
Joe did comply with the Sheriff’s order, and now their kids have been scattered by CPS among families in four separate counties…
As of now, officials have placed the children with four families in four different counties, and as of Friday morning, the parents had not spoken with them. The four families are families that CPS chose – families the Nauglers don’t know.
Shame on you Kentucky. You are supposed to be better than this.
One of the most disturbing elements of this entire incident is that Child Protective Services never visited the Nauglers a single time and never gave them any indication that anything was wrong. The following comes from Off The Grid News…
Child Protective Services never visited the home, said Ellsworth, who believes the arrests took place because of the parents’ choice of “unschooling” for their children, and because of their simple way of life that some would call backwards. The family’s Facebook page calls it a “back to basics life.” They have a garden and raise animals. Deputies apparently were concerned about whether the children’s needs were being met, but friends say they personally have no concerns — and that the children are blessed to have Joe and Nicole as their parents.
How would you like it if government thugs raided your home and took your children away because they considered your lifestyle to be “backwards”?
What in the world is happening to this country?
Like I said earlier, what happened to the Nauglers is not an isolated incident. These kinds of things are happening all over the nation. For example, just consider the abuse that one homeschooling family received in New Jersey…
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, a WND report highlights how parents were interrogated by a CPS caseworker who questioned Christopher Zimmer and his wife Nicole, “on everything from their son’s homeschool education to questions about vaccines and guns in the house.”
Michelle Marchese aggressively demanded to enter the property after asserting Christopher Zimmer Jr. was not getting a “proper education.” Police subsequently arrived and allowed Marchese to enter the home before conducting a warrantless search.
The Zimmers are now suing the CPS for $60 million in a case before the U.S. District Court in Trenton.
I very much hope that the Zimmers win that case and collect a huge monetary award.
All over the nation, CPS officials are running around acting like little dictators and trampling the law. They need the courts to send them a clear message that this is a nation where the rule of law still applies.
If we do not stand with families like the Nauglers, control freak bureaucrats will continue to harass families that have chosen to live a “basic” lifestyle all over the nation. So let’s stand with them and make this case viral all over the Internet.
And Kentucky, get your act together and send those kids back home. You are supposed to be so much better than this.
By Susan Duclos - Cross posted from Before It's News
I ran across a piece at This Can't Be Happening, that is disturbing to say the least, where not only are police shootings of unarmed civilians discussed, so is the militarization of our local police forces in the US, with statistics that should drop the jaw of anyone reading it. While those statistics tell a story, perhaps the most damning statements about the US becoming a police state comes from the Chief of Police in Upper Dublin, PA., Terrence Thompson, who states that he understands the need for more powerful weapons to counter the weapons now used by criminals, but points out how SWAT, for example, is being used in a manner that it was not created for and how high powered weapons are being utilized in situations where there is no need. Chief Thompson also lets the public know exactly where he sees the US heading:
Thompson decries what he calls “camo creep” in policing, a trend he says is at least partly driven by “politicians who don’t see where this is going.”
And where is that?
“I don’t like the idea of a police state, but that’s where we seem to be heading,” he says.
My only disagreement with Chief Thompson would be that we are not heading towards being a police state, as the videos below clearly show, we are already there.
YouTube is full of videos showing this police state mentality, I wrote about this just the other day where a Nazi-like cop was busted lying on her "officer narrative," after multiple footage captured by the family she abused became public.
Another example can be seen with the recent total FAIL of the NYP in their Twitter campaign #myNYPD which was meant to show how much NY citizens loved their police force, but which backfired spectacularly when user after user started posting images, videos and statements about NYPD's police brutality, as discussed in the first video below at the 1:20 minute mark.
For the record, I believe wholeheartedly there are many, many more good cops vs bad cops, to put it simply, but these examples shown below make it harder for those "good guys," because the brutality and abuse by the bad cops endanger the lives of those that truly did join to serve and protect.
October 18, 2013 |
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Two cops took ‘team spirit’ to a whole new level in Macon, Georgia, when they jumped into a post-game brawl and pepper-sprayed the visiting football team, Courthouse News reported.
Warren County High School football coach David Daniel sued three police officers, Richard Mayweather, Tampa Lewis and Patrick Williams as well as Hancock Country School District and a former Hancock football player in federal court for the eye injuries he sustained whilst attempting to stop a post-game brawl between Hancock County School and Warren.
The incident arose after Warren beat Hancock in a football match, upon which a fight broke out in the locker room. Daniel claims the deputy officers, who were “moonlighting” for Hancock, began spraying only Warren County players with the pepper stray, allowing for Hancock players to advance and hit the Warren players.
He argued in his claim that this pepper spray made the Warren players more vulnerable to injury allowing a Hancock player to bash one of his players over the head with a football helmet, after being sprayed with pepper.
All the while the officers displayed a “deliberate indifference” and failed to aid the visiting team at all during the fight.
This is not the first time the two teams have had such an altercation. Daniel acknowledged that he knew the game would be an “emotionally charged affair” in that the week prior to the incident, another brawl had broken out between the players.
Jodie Gummow is a senior fellow and staff writer at AlterNet.
The goon thug psychopaths no longer only brutalize minorities–it is open season on all of us –the latest victim is a petite young white mother of two small children http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36211.htm Police Are More Dangerous To The Public Than Are Criminals Paul Craig Roberts The worse threat every American faces comes from his/her own government. At…
The post Police Are More Dangerous To The Public Than Are Criminals — Paul Craig Roberts appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.
(Image: Handgun isolated via Shutterstock)Detroit - After three long years, the case of Aiyana Stanley-Jones will finally be argued before a jury.
During a March 8 pre-trial hearing, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray-Hathaway denied a motion to dismiss all charges against Detroit Police Officer Joseph Weekley in the shooting-death of the 7-year-old.
In a military-style raid on the Jones’ near east side home May 16, 2010, Weekley shot into the house, killing Aiyana as she slept on the family’s living room sofa.
He faces multiple charges, including involuntary manslaughter and reckless possession of a firearm.
Those charges were brought against Weekley after a year-long investigation by the Michigan State Police and a Wayne County Court.
During the hearing, Judge Hathaway said discrepancies in witness accounts of the police raid led to the decision to deny the defense motion to dismiss the case.
“Since I can’t make that determination, the case has to go to a jury to decide what the truth is,” Hathaway said during her ruling. “We’re going to go to trial.”
Hathaway set the trial start date for May 28.
Judge Hathaway also announced there would be a demonstration of the flash grenade that was used by Detroit Police during the raid, which was reportedly being filmed by A&E for their cable television program “The First 48 Hours.”
While the Jones family has waited for the court to move on the case, Aiyana’s father, Charles Jones, has been in custody on separate charges in connection with the murder of Je’Rean Blake.
Weekley has remained free on bond, while Aiyana’s father has been held on pending charges related to another case.
“He has a police badge so he can walk free and go home to his children,” said Mertilla Jones on the steps of the Murphy Hall of Justice following the judges ruling. “But Charles is locked up for two years and can’t see his six little sons.”
According to reports, jailhouse informant and six-time felon Jay Schlenkerman led police to the doorstep of the Jones’ home in May 2010, where the prime suspect in that case, Chauncey Owens, lived upstairs.
The police raid was mistakenly conducted on the lower flat where the Jones’ family lived.
Attorney Robert Moran is the Wayne County prosecutor representing both Officer Joseph Weekley and Charles Jones. This has led to accusations of a looming conflict of interest within the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office and other questions surrounding the timing of the cases.
Assistant prosecuting attorney Maria Miller says there is no conflict.
“Jones case involves the fatal shooting death of Je’rean Blake. The Weekley case involves the fatal shooting death of Aiyana Jones. The complainants on the two cases are different, and the facts are completely distinct,” Miller told the Michigan Citizen. “For these reasons, it is not a conflict of interest for Mr. Moran to try these cases.”
Ron Scott, director of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, however, says the prosecution may be counting on a ruling in the Charles Jones case before Weekley goes to trial.
“The question is, why has this case taken so long?” says Scott. “The raid was obviously not conducted according to police regulations. There are many other cases where the Michigan State Police have brought in and adjudicated within 18 months.”
In addition to the DCAPB, the Jones family has received full support from the International Socialists Organization, who both sponsored a rally after the March 8 hearing.
A high-level inquiry into the deaths of nearly 900 demonstrators during Egypt’s 2011 uprising concluded that the police were responsible for most of the killings and used rooftop snipers to shoot into crowds in Cairo’s Tahir Square.
A fact-finding commission into the 2011 popular uprising against Hosni Mubarak's government initially concluded that 846 people were killed during the revolution.
Current Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi ordered a report on the fact-finding commission's findings after he was elected. The report was then submitted to Morsi and to Egypt’s top prosecutor late last year.
The 16-member panel behind the report included human rights activists, lawyers, judges and a representative from the military prosecutor’s office.
It includes authoritative and in-depth accounts of the killings, and concludes that lethal force could only have been authorized by Mubarak's security chief and with the former president’s full knowledge.
Extensive details are cited, including police logs documenting the issuance of weapons and ammunition along with the officers who received them.
“The use of firearms can only be authorized by the interior minister, who must in turn inform the political leadership (Mubarak). And if the police continue to use firearms for more than one day, then the political leadership must be informed,” an author of the report who wished to remain anonymous told the National Post, a Canadian newspaper.
One of the report’s authors, lawyer and human rights activist Mohsen Bahnasy, said he was planning to submit parts of it to the prosecution in Mubarak’s trial, as well as to other courts trying policemen accused of killing protesters.
The report is sure to strike a nerve in Egypt, where only last week three demonstrators were killed and 65 more injured in a protest over the verdict in a case regarding a riot at the Port Said Stadium that saw more than 70 killed.
That verdict came after a week of anti-police brutality demonstrations in Port Said and across Egypt that led police themselves to take to the streets in a rare protest.
Published time: March 08, 2013 19:43
Egypt’s interior minister has sacked the country’s riot police chief following five days of nationwide police strikes, state media reported. Officers are accusing the government of politicization amidst a backdrop of recent violence in Port Said.
Egyptian Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim has appointed a new commander for the Central Security Forces, according to MENA news agency.
The sacking took place after “widespread protests in several CSF departments over the past 48 hours demanding that policemen be removed from political conflicts," MENA reported.
More than 30 police stations across the country reportedly shut their doors on Friday in the fifth day of strikes against the interior ministry, Ahram Online reported. A mid-ranking Cairo police officer said that he expected all police stations to join Saturday’s strike if their demands were not met by the end of the day, Friday.
On Thursday, dozens of Cairo policemen blocked the entrance to one of the city’s main police stations and spoke out against President Morsi’s policies. Others arranged a sit-in outside Morsi’s house in his hometown of Zagazig.
Meanwhile, a police strike in Egypt’s Assuit province has prompted former Islamic militant group Gamaa Islamiya to send its members out to patrol the streets. It said it was assembling volunteer members to act as police.
Assiut security chief Gen. Aboul-Kassem Deif has acknowledged the group’s move is illegal, but feels the province has no other option. “I don’t know what to do,” he told AP.
Those demands include ending what they call the politicization of the police force in favor of President Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party and dismissal of Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, who was appointed by Morsi in January. Officers are also demanding they be armed to protect themselves against protesters who they describe as “armed thugs.”
Policemen are angry that they can be tried in military courts and complain that current laws do not protect them when they carry out their duties. They’re speaking out against being forced to confront anti-Brotherhood protesters.
However, the police force has been accused by rights activists of employing brutal tactics during the uprising. More than 100 policemen have been put on trial for the killings of protesters, and all but two were acquitted.
There has been widespread tension between police and demonstrators since the mass protests which brought down former President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
Accusations of torture from police officers continue to emerge, and more than 70 people have been killed in nationwide protests since January. Rights groups allege that police are still operating with impunity.
The latest violence in the city of Port Said has led to the removal of officers from its streets. It comes after thousands of demonstrators called for the departure of police forces on Friday. The Egyptian military has taken over security duties in the city.
According to the interior ministry, police were withdrawn from the streets to “calm the tension.” The news was met with celebrations from demonstrators – many of whom stood on tanks and chanted in support of the military.
Clashes between police and protesters in Port Said have entered their sixth continuous day. At least eight people have been killed in the violence, including three policemen.
The sacking of the police chief comes just one day before a court is due to announce the verdicts of 52 defendants - including nine police officers – who were involved in deadly football riots in Port Said last year.
Twenty-one football fans were sentenced to death in January over the riots, which left 74 people dead. The verdict led to further riots, resulting in the loss of an additional 40 civilians. Most were killed during an alleged attempt to storm a prison. The riots prompted a crackdown by security forces, leading many to accuse officers of police brutality.
Bad police behavior runs roughshod over civil liberties, and costs cities millions of dollars in payouts to those who successfully sue.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
March 4, 2013 |
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When it comes to interactions between regular citizens and police on the street, the police hold all the cards. They can, and often do, act however they want. One of the few meaningful mechanisms for restitution if you are a victim of police misconduct is to sue for damages. The costs of these lawsuits and payouts add up, and bad police behavior takes a toll not only on our civil liberties, but also on a city's budget.
It's worth mentioning that lawsuits against the police rarely result in million-dollar payouts for victims, are difficult to win, and represent only a fairly small slice of total reports of police misconduct. Also, the reported costs of settlements and judgments to victims often exclude fees paid to attorneys representing the city, so in many cases the real numbers are higher.
This list doesn't include every example of police misconduct or every study about how much it costs, but below are some recent instances of reports that detail just how much money police misconduct costs taxpayers. The point here isn't to argue that people shouldn't sue cops. They should, if they have a good case. The cops should simply give people fewer reasons to sue them.
Lieutenant Jon Burge is in many ways the posterchild for police brutality. He oversaw a torture regime at the Chicago Police Department from 1973-1991 that included 64 other cops directly and an untold number of police who were aware of what was going on. According to a recent report, over 100 African Americans were allegedly tortured under his watch.
As the Chicago Reader reported in 2003, charges against Burge and his crew included “electric shock, suffocation, burnings, attacks on the genitals, severe beating, and mock executions.”
Burge was eventually prosecuted by the US attorney and sentenced to four and a half years for perjury, though according to the report the Cook County State Attorney never prosecuted any officers for torture or for covering it up. The “blue code of silence” plays a large role in perpetuating corruption.
The report, by the University of Illinois at Chicago, claims that corruption and abuse of power are rampant problems in the Chicago Police Department. The authors looked at CPD corruption dating back to 1960, and conclude that “[t]oleration of corruption, or at least resigned acceptance, appears to be the order of the day for at least the past 50 years.”
Top Chicago officials have allowed (or created) a culture of impunity for officers. A separate study the authors cite claims only “19 of 10,149 (or less than 2%) civilian complaints of excessive force, illegal searches, racial abuse, sexual abuse and false arrests between 2002 and 2004 led to police suspensions of a week or more.”
Over the last decade, police misconduct lawsuits against the city and out-of-court settlements “have cost taxpayers several hundreds of millions of dollars at a time when all levels of government have to cut services and raise taxes,” according to the University of Illinois report. Defending cops against litigation has cost Chicago more than $82.5 million since 2003, and “Jon Burge cases have cost local taxpayers more than $53 million since 1998.”
2. New York
According to a 2012 report from NYC's Comptroller's office, the city paid out $185.6 million in claims for fiscal year 2011. That's a 35% increase over the previous year, which came in at $137.3 million in settled claims. Fiscal year 2011 saw “an historical high of 8,882 claims filed” against the NYPD, with a 55% rise in claims against the NYPD over the past five years.
Greek police may vainly try to Photoshop away the torture of four alleged bank robbers, but they cannot gloss over the radicalization of Greek youth.
The story is as follows.
On February 1st 2013, an attempted robbery of two banks takes place in a small village of the Western Macedonia region, called Velvento. The bounty was around 180.000 euros and the police managed to arrest the robbers after a short chase. The news would have passed unnoticed, if the heavily armed robbers were not very young middle and upper-middle class boys, whom the police associates with the armed urban-guerilla group ‘Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire’.
Twenty four hours later, the police make public the photos of the bank-robbers, and the whole country is appalled by what it sees: the faces of four badly beaten20-25 year olds, which have also been — badly — photoshopped in a vain attempt to hide the cuts and bruises, and the hands (?) that are holding the youngsters’ heads in order for them to be photographed.
The police rush through an announcement to justify themselves, claiming that only the minimum amount of violence necessary was used due to resistance during the arrest, while the Minister of Public Order Mr Dendias (the man whothreatened to sue The Guardian for having published a report on the torture of 15 anti-fascist activists by the Greek police, the same man who launched a waragainst Greece’s squats) said that the pictures were photoshopped in order for the faces of the arrested to be more recognisable (!), claiming that no torture had taken place.
The youngsters themselves — through their families and lawyers — claim that they did not resist their arrest and that they were badly beaten up/tortured while in detention; while there is evidence (videos and pictures from the moment of the arrest) that proves that they were not beaten during the arrest, but whatever happened, it did so afterwards. Some alternative Greek media, together with some international ones, as well as Amnesty International, strongly questioned the official explanations, while the latter also commented that “the Greek authorities cannot just photoshop their problems away”.
Under heavy public criticism, the Minister had to promise that a torture investigation would take place and the results are still expected. The bank robbers are now in detention, yet they describe their actions as political, and consider themselves anarchist ‘prisoners of war’, shouting during their transfer to the Prosecutor’s office “zito i anarhia koufales!” — “long live anarchy assholes!”. What is also worth noticing is that one of the four arrested anarchists is the friend ofAlexandros Grigoropoulos — the 15-year-old boy who was assassinated by police in Exarchia in 2008 — and happened to be by his side on that very moment, which surely played a big role in shaping his view of state power and police brutality.
The story is indicative of the radicalization of a young generation of Greeks, and of Greek society as a whole, under the structural conditions imposed by austerity. But it is also indicative of the way the state has chosen to deal with the voices of opposition in the country, be they legal or illegal: with repression, human rights abuses, and public humiliation.
Let’s not forget that a few months ago, the same government, the same Minister of Public Order, and the same police force, tortured — as it was proven — 15 antifascist activists for having organized an AntiFa moto-parade. And it is the same state officials who launched an attack against the country’s squats, for no obvious reason other than silencing any oppositional voices around.
It is by now obvious that the Greek state, in order to defend the extremely unpopular and unsuccessful austerity measures it has been imposing for a couple of years now, has chosen the road of repression. It is not something new: we have seen such practices in the past too — in Chile, in Argentina, and elsewhere. The difference is that in those cases we were talking about military dictatorships, while in the Greek case we are talking about a democratically-elected government, which is even more scary and unacceptable. At the same time, it is also obvious that this strategy of the state is resulting in the further radicalization of the Greek youth.
Protesters have taken to the streets in the US city of Anaheim to demand an investigation into the police department’s alleged use of excessive brutality, Press TV reports.
A group of community members in the California city staged the rally outside the Anaheim police department to protest at police brutality and excessive force, calling on federal investigators to examine the recurring fatal police shootings.
“A lot of these people don’t have family members or friends that were killed but it’s just an outraged community,” said Louise Sanchez, with the Anaheim Crusaders, adding that the “police department will see more [protests] if something doesn’t get done.”
Activists criticized the district attorney’s office for failing to cite a single officer with wrongful homicide in connection with shootings that occurred while on duty.
“They call it ‘justified homicide’. There was no investigation. They kicked around the crime scene. They let him go,” said Corie Cline whose brother was killed by Anaheim police five years ago.
“It’s gotten worse. It wasn’t like this, years ago. There is a lot of racial profiling going on. You look a certain way and you get treated different. You get pulled over, you get harassed,” said Sanchez.
Protesters went on to demand an investigation into the police department’s long history of violence, with five fatal shootings occurring just in the past 12 months.
“They will reopen [all cases] and they will see that all the evidence has been mixed around. I want justice. We want transparency and most of all we need to keep it peaceful,” said Cline, adding that the yearlong protests will continue until “our voices get heard.”
“The American Military Coup of 2012â€³: Encroachment upon Basic Freedoms, Militarized Police State in...
Back in 1992 the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff held a “Strategy Essay Competition.”
The winner was a National War College student paper entitled, “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012.” Authored by Colonel Charles J. Dunlap, Jr. the paper is a well documented, “darkly imagined excursion into the future.”
The ostensibly fictional work is written from the perspective of an imprisoned senior military officer about to be executed for opposing the military takeover of America, a coup accomplished through “legal” means. The essay makes the point that the coup was “the outgrowth of trends visible as far back as 1992,” including “the massive diversion of military forces to civilian uses,” particularly law enforcement.
Dunlap cites what he considered a dangerous precedent, the 1981 Military Cooperation with Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies Act, an act that sanctioned US military engagement with law enforcement in domestic “support operations,” including “civil disturbance” operations. The act codified the lawful status and use of military “assets” in domestic police work.
Encroachment upon Basic Freedoms
Since that time the American people have been subject to a series of deeper and deeper encroachments upon our basic freedoms, increasingly extensive deployment of military operations on the home front, perpetrated by a corporate driven military mission creep that now claims the right and duty to arrest and detain us on the word of a Pentagon or White House operative. President Obama’s signing of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) whose Section 1021 sanctions the military detention of American citizens without charge, essentially aims to put the last nail in the coffin of our Constitution, our teetering Republic and our most basic democratic traditions.
The statute contains a sweeping worldwide indefinite detention provision. While President Obama issued a signing statement saying he had “serious reservations” about the provisions, the statement only applies to how his administration (“you can trust me”) would use the authorities granted by the NDAA, and would not affect how the law is interpreted by subsequent administrations. The White House had threatened to veto an earlier version of the NDAA, but reversed course (of course) shortly before Congress voted on the final bill, which the President signed on the 31st of December 2011, a day that will go down in infamy.
“President Obama’s action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director. “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.” According to Senator Dianne Feinstein. “Congress is essentially authorizing the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens, without charge,” she said. “We are not a nation that locks up its citizens without charge.” Think again. (Guardian, 12/14/11)
Under the legislation, suspects can be held without trial ”until the end of hostilities.” They will have the right to appear once a year before a committee that will decide if the detention will continue. A spokesperson for Human Rights Watch implied that the signing of such a bill by a President would have once been unthinkable, noting that “the paradigm of the war on terror has advanced so far in people’s minds that this has to appear more normal than it actually is.” Further, “it wasn’t asked for by any of the agencies on the frontlines in the fight against terrorism in the United States. It breaks with over 200 years of tradition in America against using the military in domestic affairs.”
In fact, the heads of several “security agencies,” including the FBI, CIA, the director of national intelligence and the attorney general objected to the legislation. Even some within the Pentagon itself said they were against the bill. No matter, and no matter the intention inherent in lip service opposition, the corporate elite who drive the disastrous and inhumane polices of this country see it otherwise, and they, not the generals or anyone else, call the shots!
And they’ve been at this for some time. A persistent and on-gong counter-insurgency directed against the American people, the detention provisions embedded in the NDAA are about more than “social control.” It amounts to a direct attack on the person, an “unreasonable search and seizure” in the cause of maintaining the shaky capitalist ship of state; suppressing popular resistance, dissent and protest, movements of peace and justice, recast as “civil disorder,” “civil disturbance” and “domestic terror.”
Current U.S. military preparations for suppressing “civil disturbance” and “domestic terrorism” including the training of National Guard troops, local police and the authorization of massive surveillance, are part of a long history of American “internal security” measures dating back to the first American Revolution. Generally, these measures have sought to thwart the aims of social justice movements, embodying the concept, promulgated by elite sectors intent on maintaining their grip on the levers of state; that within the civilian body politic lurks an enemy that one day the military might have to fight; or at least be ordered to fight. (See: Army Surveillance in America, 1775-1980, Joan M. Jensen, Yale University Press, 1991)
Thus, in reaction to a period of social upsurge flush with movements of liberation, justice and peace, and the mounting of powerful campaigns which threatened the status quo and elite control, the US military’s stand alone apparatus for conducting “civil disturbance suppression” operations, including detention, was born, immediately on the heels of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968.
The Garden Plot Operation
US Military Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, code-named Operation Garden Plot, follows, as was mentioned, in the footsteps of a long tradition of US military involvement in the suppression of dissent. Intriguingly, the Garden Plot operation is cited in documents related to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. (See: Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King, William Pepper, Carroll and Graf, 1995)
Currently, the Garden Plot operation is centered at the Pentagon’s Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). “Stood up” in 2002, (though In the works prior to 9/11), NORTHCOM, America’s “domestic military command,” is tasked with various “counter-terror,” “homeland defense” and “homeland security” activities, including “civil disturbance suppression” operations, and “assisting law enforcement” within Canada, the United States and Mexico. http://www.northcom.mil/
Under NORTHCOM, Operation Garden Plot functions, with the US Army as “executive agent,” as “ConPlan 2502.” In two parts, the “con plan” is officially listed as: United States Northern Command, Concept Plan (CONPLAN) 3501 (formerly 2501), Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA), dated 11 April 2006; and the United States Northern Command, Concept Plan 3502 (formerly 2502), Defense Support of Civil Authorities for Civil Disturbance Operations (CDO), 23 January 2007.
As noted above, the latest development in the Pentagon’s evolving mission of suppressing, at the behest of it’s corporate “civilian” overseers, a detention provision, is buried within the massive National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 signed by President Obama in the fog (grog) of this past New Years Eve.
Section 1021 of the NDAA 2012 seemingly allows (the language is evasive) for the detention (without trial or charges) of American citizens redefined by the “executive” elite as “enemy combatants” in the so-called “war on terror, ” a “war” which has become in the eyes of many, a war against the Constitution and civil liberties, a war against the disenchanted, fed-up and dissenting American public, spearheaded by a militarized police state allied to imperial military courts and “tribunals,” buttressed and rationalized with mind-bending mil-speak of “enemy combatants,” “unlawful combatants,” “enemy belligerents,” “homeland battlefield” “domestic extremists” “domestic terrorists” and the like.
And yet, behind all the sophistry, lies and manipulation, the brutal truth is obvious: The corporate elite that directs things has seen fit to unleash it’s military on it’s own people in a desperate attempt to suppress the democratic (read: protest) rights of it’s citizenry, us! Why? Simple: the paranoia of the thief, the well founded fear that knows that forced deprivation and scarcities, violence at home and abroad, rooted in greed, has run it’s course in America. And they are right! And so, it makes ominous sense that we are confronted with the horrific machinations of forced detention for those who resist a “new world order” come home in a “homeland” which opportunistically collapses all distinction between dissent and terrorism, police and military, right and wrong, obfuscating the truth of who the real terrorists are!
When Congress passed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), it included provisions that authorized U.S. armed forces to detain persons who are captured in the conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or “associated forces.”
Section 1021 entitled “AFFIRMATION OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE” allows for the President (whoever that may be) “to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force … to detain covered persons …pending disposition under the law of war.”
“A covered person,” according to the edict’s malleable lingo, is “any person … who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks …” or, who “was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban,” or “associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”
Accordingly, “the disposition of a person under the law of war” will include “detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities …” Now, by stating that “nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force,” and that “nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States,” it would appear that the law exempts American citizens from the threat of detention. Correct?
Detention is a Booming Industry
Don’t be too confident. Detention is a booming industry. In 2006 the Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International reported that Halliburton off-spring, “global engineering and technical services powerhouse KBR [Kellogg, Brown & Root] announced in January 2006 that its Government and Infrastructure division was awarded an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract to support U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities in the event of an emergency.” The $385 million dollars over 5 year contract “is to be executed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers” building “temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs.” Could the 2012 NDAA / Section 1021 be such a “new program?”
There has been some confusion over what Section 1021 actually means, and that in and of itself is cause for concern. Congressional spokespeople have stated that the provisions of NDAA 2012 / Sec 1021 do not provide any “new authority” to detain U.S. citizens or others who may be captured in the United States. Obama waffled likewise in the lead up to his signing the provision. Sen. Carl Levin, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, ho-hummed and said that, “we are simply codifying existing law.” But that was an evasion, since existing law, like it or not, regarding the detention of U.S. persons in the “war on terror” is indeterminate in important respects. And “indeterminate” is not good enough!
A recent report from the Congressional Research Service fleshes out the law of detention as set forth in Section 1021, identifying what is known to be true as well as what is unsettled and unresolved. It is perfectly clear, for example, that a U.S. citizen who fights alongside “enemy forces” against the United States on a foreign battlefield could be lawfully detained. This was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Hamdi v. Rumsfeld.
On the other hand, the CRS report explains, “the President’s legal authority to militarily detain terrorist suspects apprehended in the United States has not been definitively settled.” Nor has Congress helped to settle it. “This bill does not endorse either side’s interpretation,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, “but leaves it to the courts to decide.”
So, if a detention of a U.S. person does occur, the CRS said, “it will be up to a court to determine Congress’s intent when it enacted the AUMF [the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force], or alternatively, to decide whether the law as it was subsequently developed by the courts and executive branch sufficiently established that authority for such detention already exists.”
Up to now, “lower courts that have addressed questions the Supreme Court left unanswered have not achieved a consensus on the extent to which Congress has authorized the detention without trial of U.S. persons as ‘enemy combatants,’ and Congress has not so far clarified its intent.”
Well, it is certainly reassuring that a New York court has sought to clarify it’s intent on the matter. On May 16, 2012 a newly appointed federal district judge, Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York, issued a ruling, hailed by many, which preliminarily enjoins (prohibits) enforcement of the indefinite detention provisions (Sec 1021) of the NDAA 2012.
The “temporary restraining order” came as a result of a lawsuit brought by seven dissident plaintiffs — including Chris Hedges, Dan Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, and Birgitta Jonsdottir — alleging that the NDAA violated both their free speech and associational rights guaranteed by the First Amendment as well as due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. “The government was unwilling or unable to state that these plaintiffs would not be subject to indefinite detention under [Section] 1021,” Judge Forrest said in her ruling. “Plaintiffs are therefore at risk of detention, of losing their liberty, potentially for many years.”
Where it will go from here is anybodies guess. Judge Forrest’s ruling was not permanent. A day after the ruling, the Wall Street Journal, for it’s part, offered it’s sour grapes, pontificating that the ruling “will be overturned on appeal,” while “its reasoning needs to be deconstructed so it doesn’t do more harm in the meantime.” A week later, on the 25th, federal prosecutors from Obama’s Department of Justice, calling Judge Forrest’s ruling “extraordinary,” suggested that she lift the injunction, claiming further that her ruling only effects those plaintiffs named and not other potential or future targets of the draconian legislation.
Well, a few days ago on June 6th the upright Judge Forrest responded with an 8 page, “memorandum and opinion” in which she sought to “eliminate any doubt as to the May 16 order’s scope.” (New York Times, “Detention Provision is Blocked” 6/7/12). And as to whom and for whom her original order was intended: “The May 16th order enjoined enforcement of Section 1021(b)(2) against anyone until further action by this, or a higher, court – or by Congress.” That’s clear enough!
So, as it stands now now, although Judge Forrest’s decision may temporarily protect Americans from provision 1021, it remains to be seen what the higher courts do should Obama’s people appeal. And unfortunately, Judge Forrest’s ruling, as praiseworthy as it is, does nothing to spare both foreign reporters and civilians from a life of imprisonment, let alone the more than 6 billion citizens of foreign nations who can still be handcuffed and hauled away to a US military prison without ever being brought to trial.
So, bottom line, given the indeterminate nature of a law that would snatch us up off the streets, throw away the key, and grant us little or no access to a trial let alone legal counsel of choice not vetted by the Pentagon, we should have no illusions that we are well along the slippery indeterminate slope to a full blown militarized police state; the complete identification, coordination and consolidation of the police and military function in America in the interests of an elite who regard us as the enemy, maybe even their property! Maybe even as targets for assassination!
Naked violation of the 4th and 5th Amendments to the US Constitution
We should recall, that the current attempt by the executive to designate American citizens for detention without trial; a naked violation of the 4th and 5th Amendments to the US Constitution against unreasonable search and seizure and the guarantee of a trial, was preceded by the administration’s “resolve” to assassinate at will Americans abroad, place them on a “kill list,” and eliminate them. According to the New York Times “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” (5/29/12) the President and his advisors have made it clear that they have the authority “to order the targeted killing of an American citizen, in a country with which the United States was not at war, in secret and without the benefit of a trial.”
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel rationalized such a move in “a lengthy memo justifying that extraordinary step, asserting that while the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process applied, it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch.” (New York Times, “Secret U.S. Memo Made Legal Case to Kill a Citizen,” 10/8/11) Accordingly, after a dubious period of “internal deliberations,” Mr. Obama gave his approval, and the cleric Anwar al-Awlak was assassinated in September 2011, along with an associate Samir Khan, an American citizen who was not on the target list but happened to be traveling with Mr. al-Awlak. Apparently, campaign rhetoric and public demeanor to the contrary, when asked what surprised him most about Mr. Obama, Mr. Donilon, the national security adviser, answered immediately: “He’s a president who is quite comfortable with the use of force on behalf of the United States.”
The Posse Comitatus Act
How did we get here? We need to recognize that the “massive diversion of military resources” into domestic law enforcement for the purposes of suppressing dissent and worse has a long history, a history that has witnessed the steady evisceration of the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, the sole federal statute that criminalizes military incursions into the domain of domestic law enforcement. The Act is the backbone of our democratic republican tradition of separating the military and police function in this country and represents the ultimate bulwark against military dictatorship in the interests of the rich. That is the reason it is and continues to be attacked, ridiculed and ignored by elements in both the corporate and military spheres. For example, “Current Obstacles to Fully Preparing Title 10 Forces for Homeland Defense and Civil Support” by Commander James S. Campbell, United States Navy, May 2008 and, “The Role of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Law Enforcement Title” by COL (Ret) John R. Brinkerhoff, December 2004, both seek to delegitimize and undercut the status and importance of the Act, a law so critical to the maintenance of our freedoms, and yet, a law about which most Americans remain unaware.
The 1878 Act, 18 USC § 1385 – USE OF ARMY AND AIR FORCE AS POSSE COMITATUS, more popularly known as The Posse Comitatus Act, reads as follows:
“Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, wilfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a Posse Comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”
As noted, the 1981 Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement law would seemingly violate the spirit if not the letter of this Act. Nonetheless, like a slowly boiling pot relentlessly eating away at our freedom of movement, assembly, association and expression, the utilization of military assets, under cover of law enforcement to suppress our democratic rights has proceeded steadily by design, virtually un-noticed.
Historical milestones: eating away at our freedom of movement, assembly, association and expression
A very limited listing of some historical milestones:
* In 1968, as mentioned above, concurrent with the creation of the Federal Commission on Civil Disorder, better known as the Kerner Commission, the Pentagon hatched it’s very own “civil disorder” operation. “US Military Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2,” code named “Garden Plot,” coordinates, until this day, all aspects of “civil disturbance suppression” in America, including the use of so-called “non-lethal weapons” during conveniently designated domestic “operations other than war” (OOTW), and “military operations in urban terrain” (MOUT), a “war” which pits “non-combatant” citizens and protesters (overwhelmingly non-violent) against militarized police on the streets of America.
* Only a few months after the round up and detention of 7,000 anti-war protesters in Washington DC, imprisoned in RFK stadium, an early Garden Plot operation, the 1971 Non-Detention Act was passed, specifically to repeal portions of the 1950 “anti-communist” “Emergency Detention Act” which had allowed for detention of suspected subversives without the normal Constitutional checks required for imprisonment. The Non-Detention Act required specific Congressional authorization for such detention. It reads that, “no citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress.” In recent years, the statute has been used to challenge military detainment of U.S. citizens accused of terrorist activity, as in the case of Jose Padilla.
A Congressional Research Service report on the history of the Non-Detention Act noted that, “legislative debate, committee reports, and the political context of 1971 indicate that when Congress enacted Section 4001(a) it intended the statutory language to restrict all detentions by the executive branch, not merely those by the Attorney General.” Further, “lawmakers, both supporters and opponents of Section 4001(a), recognized that it would restrict the President and military authorities.”
As for the Padilla case, the Supreme Court of the United States originally took the 2004 case of Rumsfeld v. Padilla to decide the question of whether Congress’s Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) authorized the President to detain a U.S. citizen, which would run afoul of the Non Detention Act. But it did not give an answer, instead ruling that the case had been “improperly filed.” And so the issue, as to whether and under what circumstances the military can pick you up, detain and imprison you, without charging you, from the point of view the Supreme Court, remains “unsettled.”
* Also in 1971, the California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI) was created. Headed up by Louis Giuffrida, formerly of Army Combat Command, the first director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), CSTI introduced the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) concept, offering courses on “civil disorder management” for select “militarized” police and National Guard units armed and trained for domestic operations in the urban centers of America. During this period the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) facilitated federal funding and other military largess to the burgeoning militarized sectors of the domestic police forces along with training of selected National Guard units. Still in operation, CSTI is currently headed up by William J. Hatch Colonel, USA (RET), while funding for militarizing local police departments these days is facilitated by the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA, funding which has increased drastically since 9/11.
* In 1975 the Trilateral Commission, a Western European, Japanese, US corporate think-tank convened by David Rockefeller, issued a report entitled, “The Crisis of Democracy.” (NYU Press, 1975) Authored by none other than Samuel Huntington. (“Clash of Civilizations”). Huntington’s book is a blueprint for the on-going counter-revolution in America, emphasizing the elite requirement of suppressing democratic “insurgency,” the “distemper” of the 60s, a “distemper” that according to Huntington, stemmed from an “excess of democracy.” The only and final solution therefore is to “moderate” and “shrink democracy,” concluding that, “there are potentially desirable limits to the indefinite extension of political democracy.”
* In 1983, the US Army published Field Manual 3-19-15, Civil Disturbance Operations (since updated in 2005). The manual addresses civil disturbance operations in both continental United States (CONUS) and outside continental United States (OCONUS). It states that, “today, United States (US) forces are deployed on peacekeeping, peace enforcement, and humanitarian assistance operations worldwide. During these operations, US forces are often faced with unruly and violent crowds intent on disrupting peace and the ability of US forces to maintain peace. Worldwide instability coupled with increasing US military participation in peacekeeping and related operations requires that US forces have access to the most current doctrine and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) necessary to quell riots and restore public order.”
“In addition to covering civil unrest doctrine for CONUS operations, FM 3-19.15 addresses domestic unrest and the military role in providing assistance to civil authorities requesting it for civil disturbance operations …The principles of civil disturbance operations, planning and training for such operations, and the TTP [“tactics, techniques and procedures”] employed to control civil disturbances and neutralize special threats are discussed in this manual. It also addresses special planning and preparation that are needed to quell riots in confinement facilities are also discussed. In the past, commanders were limited to the type of force they could apply to quell a riot. Riot batons, riot control agents, or lethal force were often used. Today, there is a wide array of nonlethal weapons (NLW) available to the commander that extends his use of force along the force continuum. This manual addresses the use of nonlethal (NL) and lethal forces when quelling a riot.” And as noted, the training is meant to be operative in both foreign and domestic contexts, the war abroad, the war at home.
* In 1986, the Pentagon issues Department of Defense Directive 5525.5, or DoD Cooperation with Civilian Law Enforcement Officials. US military involvement in domestic law enforcement is subsumed and rationalized under “doctrines” entitled Operations Other Than War (OOTW) and Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT), along with divisions known as Military Support to Law Enforcement Agencies (MSLEA) and Military Support to Civil Authorities (MSCA)
* In 1992 President Clinton’s Justice Department consolidated a partnership with the Pentagon in the area of “technology transfer.” The so-called “technology transfer agreements” allowed for the military to weaponize domestic police forces, further enhancing the growth of para-military “special forces” like “special units” in local police departments across the country, including “civil disturbance” units and training. The Clinton administration extended the police/military connection by mandating that the Department of Defense and its associated private industries form a partnership with the Department of Justice to “engage the crime war with the same resolve they fought the Cold War.” The program, entitled, “Technology Transfer From Defense: Concealed Weapons Detection,” (“Technology Transfer from Defense: Concealed Weapons Detection,” National Institute of Justice Journal, No 229, August, 1995), calls for the transfer of military technology to domestic police organizations to better fight “crime.” Previously, direct “transfers” of this sort were made only to friendly foreign governments. The Clinton directive enhanced and formalized direct militarization of domestic police forces.
Currently, Title XIV of an earlier NDAA in 2007 entitled, “Homeland Defense Technology Transfer Legislative Provisions,” authorizes “the Secretary of Defense to create a Homeland Defense Technology Transfer Consortium to improve the effectiveness of the Department of Defense (DOD) processes for identifying and deploying relevant DOD technology to federal, State, and local first responders.” In other words, the law facilitates the “transfer” of the newest in so-called “crowd control” and surveillance technology to local militarized (politicized) police units.
* In 1993, the US Army and Marine Corps publish Domestic Support Operations Field Manual 100-19.
* In 1994, the Department of Defense issued Directive 3025.12, Military Assistance for Civil Disturbances (MACDIS) that details the rationale and means (“tactics, techniques and procedures”) for suppressing dissent. It states that, “the President is authorized by the Constitution and laws of the United States to suppress insurrections, rebellions, and domestic violence under various conditions and circumstances. Planning and preparedness by the Federal Government and the Department of Defense for civil disturbances are important, do to the potential severity of the consequences of such events for the Nation and the population.”
* In 1995, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), an key elite “policymaker” headquartered in New York City, set up an “Independent Task Force on Nonlethal Weapons (NLW)” in order “to assess the current status of non-lethal weapons development and availability within the Department of Defense, in light of their potential to support U.S. military operations and foreign policy,” not to mention the suppression of dissent at home. The 16 member Task Force, which published its’ findings in 1999, was chaired by IBM executive Richard L. Garwin, CFR “Senior Fellow for Science and Technology.” Other members of the Task Force included CFR “military fellow” David Jones, United States Navy, Commander, Edward N. Luttwak, member, “National Security Study Group administered by the Department of Defense,” Edward C. Meyer, USA (Ret.), Chair of Mitretek Systems, formerly Chief of Staff, US Army, and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Janet and Christopher Morris, President/Vice President, M2 Technologies, Inc, members US Global Strategy Council.
The Director of the CFR task force on non-lethal “technologies” was W. Montaque Winfield, former Executive Officer to the Commander of the “Stabilization Force” stationed in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. Also a 1998-9 CFR “military fellow,” Brigadier General Winfield, some of you might recall, was the deputy director for operations (DDO) in the National Military Command Center (NMCC) at the Pentagon on the morning of 9/11, who according to the 9/11 Commission, left his post that very morning to attend a “pre-scheduled meeting” and allowed a colleague who had only recently qualified to take over his position, to stand in for him. He didn’t return to his post until after the terrorist attacks had ended. http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=montague_winfield
The CFR had issued an earlier report on the subject of “non-lethal” weapons in 1995, and stated in the 1999 report that they had regrettably “found that the DoD has made only limited progress developing and deploying nonlethal weapons since 1995.” The CFR, offering a bit of a tongue lashing to it’s hired generals, considered the “shortfall” the result of a “continued lack of appreciation for NLW among civilian and military policymakers.” Taking a firm line, the CFR report recommends that, “senior civilian and military leaders should make NLW development a priority.” After all, “nonlethal weapons could give policymakers a more potent weapon than economic sanctions.” In fact, “used alone”, the report notes, “NLW could penalize civilian economies without high civilian casualties.” Looking for something between “diplomatic table thumping and outright annihilation,” the armchair corporate warriors at the CRR continued to pound away at the need for accelerated “non-lethal” R and D.
* Subsequently, on July 9, 1996, the Department of Defense complied, issuing Directive 3000.3, Policy for Non-Lethal Weapons. The Directive established Department of Defense policies and responsibilities for the development and employment of so-called “non-lethal weapons,” designating the Commandant of the Marine Corps as Executive Agent for the Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Program. On July 1, 1997, the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate was established to support the Executive Agent for Non-Lethal Weapons in the day-to-day management of the Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Program putting the “best and the brightest” at work in designing soft-kill means (including neuro-weapons) of “crowd dispersal” and “social control” set within a strategy of so-called “low-intensity warfare” and “counter-insurgency.”
Recently, this past May 17, 2012 the DoD issued Instruction 3200.19. Entitled “Non-Lethal Weapons (NLW) Human Effects Characterization,” the “instruction” “establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides procedures for a human effects characterization process in support of the development of NLW, non lethal technology and NLW systems.” It also establishes a “Human Effects Review Board,” which “scientifically” evaluates and quantifies levels of pain, calculating the most desirable “effects” in regard to the use of non-lethal force against non-combatants and protesters. In this regard, they receive a lot of assistance from their friends and associates in academia.
In 1997 Penn State University established the Institute for Non-Lethal Defense Technologies. The Institute is “dedicated to providing a base of multidisciplinary knowledge and technology that supports development and responsible application of non-lethal options for both military and civilian law enforcement. “ The Institute is administered by Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory (ARL), under the direction and support of the University’s Office of the Vice President for Research. http://nldt2.arl.psu.edu/
Its Human Effects Advisory Panel sponsored a conference in September 2000, whose purpose was “to assess crowd behavior and the potential for crowd control … a leading core capability sought by the Joint Non-lethal Weapons Program.” Their 2001 report was entitled, “Crowd Behavior, Crowd Control, and the Use of Non-Lethal Weapons.”
Meanwhile, the University of New Hampshire’s Non-Lethal Technology Innovation Center (NTIC) was created by a grant from the DoD’s Joint Non-lethal Weapons Directorate about the same time “to effect the next generation of NL capabilities by identifying and promoting the development of innovative concepts, materials and technologies within the academic community.” Its “Society of Force Effectiveness, Analysis and Techniques” (FEAT) was “established to engage primary source scientists to share results and analyses from studies of applied force, whether physical, psychological, or emotional. The Society’s scope of interests includes the impact of non-lethal or less lethal force intervention on sustained attention; performance degradation due to fatigue or intentional distraction; compliance; vigilance; and stress resilience.” The Society, given its specific intent on affecting “motivational behavior,” is keen on identifying “disciplines that support the development of tools of behavioral modification through force (e.g., kinetic and electromagnetic energies, psychological operations).”
* In August of 2001, the Pentagon issued Field Manual 3-19.40, Internment and Resettlement Operations. Explicating the role of military police engaged in law enforcement, including at the point of domestic detention activities set within the context of “emergency” support, the extensive manual covers detention policies and methodologies and the use of non-lethal weapons. Chapter 10, Sections 49-66 detail the nature of “emergency services” within the “continental United States,” explaining that “MP (military police) units assisting ES (emergency service) operations in CONUS involve DoD-sponsored military programs that support the people and the government at all levels within the US and its territories.” Classified as “domestic support,” the manual states that, “federal armed forces can be employed when …” in the face of a declared “emergency,” “state and local authorities do not take appropriate action.”
In that instance, FEMA would serve as “the single POC within the government.” With a nod to the Posse Comitatus Act the document goes on to state that, “the MP support to ES in CONUS varies significantly from other I/R (internment/resettlement) operations. The basic difference is that local and state governments and the federal government and its agencies have a greater impact and role in supporting and meeting the needs in an affected community.” “If tasked to set up and operate an I/R facility, the MP commander retains control of military forces under his command,” and can operate “in conjunction with local, state and federal law enforcement officials.”
* September 11 provided the elite Project for a New American Century and their associates with the “new Pearl Harbor” they sought, as set forth in Rebuilding America’s Defenses (pg.51), a major consequence of which was the September 18, 2001 passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force or AUMF.
The Pentagon can invade, occupy and destroy at will, pre-emptively (with little or no reason), anyone, anywhere in the world
This singular, presumably legal rationale for much of what we now endure, the AUMF substantiates the notion that the Pentagon can invade, occupy and destroy at will, pre-emptively (with little or no reason), anyone, anywhere in the world, any time it chooses. In addition, apparently as we now see, the AUMF gives the Pentagon and it’s covetous corporate directors justification for the military takeover of America itself and the detention of its people. Thus, the AUMF is cited by the peddlers of Section 1021 of the NDAA 2012.
The modern “military tribunal” structure, which is a major piece of the detention/repression apparatus, came into formal existence as a consequence of the 2002 Department of Defense Military Commission Order No.1, issued on March 21, 2002 by former president (war criminal) George W. Bush.
The entire military commission/tribunal structure is a work in progress, or more precisely, a dynamic and strategic power play on the part of the rulers set in motion following 9/11; a “might makes right” gambit undertaken by the militarist directors in the smoke of 9/11. Like the so-called Patriot Act, it was forced down the throats of a submissive, clueless public, sufficiently softened by means of prime time terror, fear and panic. Taking two steps forward and one step back, the militarists act first and then rationalize (or more precisely have their employees in the Congress) baptize the move after the fact. Where do presidents like Dubya, and now Obama get the authority to issue such blanket, unilateral decrees, totalitarian “executive orders,” such as Obama’s “National Defense Preparedness Order” of this year, which would force us to work for the Pentagon? The answer: No where! They have no authority! Particularly to set up parallel systems of jurisprudence as a means of by-passing Constitutional protections. In historical fact, this approach has a parallel in earlier maneuvers of another former “executive,” Adolph Hitler. (see Hitler’s Justice: The Courts of the Third Reich, Ingo Muller, Harvard, 1991)
Concurrent with the round-up of over a thousand people following the September 11 attack, many of whom are still being held, many in solitary confinement, with no charges being filed, President Bush signed in November 2001 an order, establishing military “tribunals” for those non-citizens, accused, anywhere, of “terrorist related crimes.” And now, with the NDAA, citizens might soon face the same fate. Just imagine some smug and starchy government lawyer arguing that “the right to equal protection,” a fundamental principle of both U.S. and international law, demands that Americans be detained too!
At the time (2001), the National Legal Aid & Defender Association stated that the Bush promulgated “military order” violated the constitutional separation of powers:
“It has not been authorized by the Congress and is outside the President’s constitutional powers … the order strips away a variety of checks and balances on governmental power and the reliability and integrity of criminal judgments… undermines the rule of law worldwide, and invites reciprocal treatment of US nationals by hostile nations utilizing secret trials, a single entity as prosecutor, judge and jury, no judicial review and summary executions.”
More recently, in October 2009, the U.S. Congress passed and Obama dutifully signed the Military Commissions Act of 2009 (2009 MCA), which remains in effect today, legalizing further, if you will, the naked power grab by the executive in behalf of the elite. Since then the “Office of Military Commissions” has been set up as a public relations/propaganda front for the dictatorship. It promises to “provide fair and transparent trials of those persons subject to trial by Military Commissions while protecting national security interests.” Kind of like Fox’s “fair and balanced” news reporting. http://www.mc.mil/
Finally, we should recall that the NDAA of past years, aside from providing the funding of vast sums for illegal and immoral wars, torture and assassination, has been the site of various embedded measures designed to further limit our democratic rights of free expression and assembly, which is the foundation of effective and meaningful dissent. One such measure dates back to 2007, to the then so-called John Warner NDAA, named after militarism’s best friend and sponsor of the iconic AUMF.
Public Law 109-364, or the “John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007″ (H.R.5122), was signed by George Bush on October 17th, 2006, in a private Oval Office ceremony. It allowed the President to declare a “public emergency” and subsequently station troops anywhere in America, seizing control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to “suppress public disorder.” Well, fortunately, a massive protest ensued and the sections of the law that allowed for such were eventually repealed in the midst of which Senator Pat Leahy commented that, “we certainly do not need to make it easier for Presidents to declare martial law.” Preparing to order the military onto the streets of America, the presumption is that some form of martial law would be in evidence. Note that the term for putting an area under military law enforcement control is precise; the term is “martial law.”
The concept of martial rule, as distinct from martial law, is not written, and therefore is an eminently more workable arrangement for “law enforcement forces.” That’s because, as US Army Field Manual 19-15 points out, “martial rule is based on public necessity. Public necessity in this sense means public safety.” According to the manual (cited above), updated in 2005, U.S. state authorities “may take such action within their own jurisdictions.” And yet, “whether or not martial rule has been proclaimed, commanders must weigh each proposed action against the threat to public order and safety. If the need for martial rule arises, the military commander at the scene must so inform the Army Chief of Staff and await instructions. If martial rule is imposed, the civilian population must be informed of the restrictions and rules of conduct that the military can enforce.”
Now, respecting the power of free speech, the manual suggests that, “during a civil disturbance, it may be advisable to prevent people from assembling. Civil law can make it unlawful for people to meet to plan an act of violence, rioting, or civil disturbance. Prohibitions on assembly may forbid gatherings at any place and time.” And don’t forget, “making hostile or inflammatory speeches advocating the overthrow of the lawful government and threats against public officials, if it endangered public safety, could violate such law.”
Further, during civil disturbance operations, “authorities must be prepared to detain large numbers of people,” forcing them into existing, though expanded “detention facilities.” Cautioning that, “if there are more detainees than civil detention facilities can handle, civil authorities may ask the control forces to set up and operate temporary facilities.” Pending the approval of the Army Chief of Staff, the military can detain and jail citizens en masse. “The temporary facilities are set up on the nearest military installation or on suitable property under federal control.” These “temporary facilities” are “supervised and controlled by MP officers and NCOs trained and experienced in Army correctional operations. Guards and support personnel under direct supervision and control of MP officers and NCOs need not be trained or experienced in Army correctional operations. But they must be specifically instructed and closely supervised in the proper use of force.”
According to the Army, the detention facilities are situated near to the “disturbance area,” but far enough away “not to be endangered by riotous acts.” Given the large numbers of potential detainees, the logistics (holding, searching, processing areas) of such an undertaking, new construction of such facilities “may be needed to provide the segregation for ensuring effective control and administration.” It must be designed and “organized for a smooth flow of traffic,” while a medical “treatment area” would be utilized as a “separate holding area for injured detainees.” After a “detainee is logged in and searched,” “a file is initiated,” and a “case number” identifies the prisoner. In addition, “facility personnel also may use hospital ID tags. Using indelible ink, they write the case number and attach the tag to the detainees wrist. Different colors may be used to identify different offender classifications ”
Finally, if and when it should occur, “release procedures must be coordinated with civil authorities and appropriate legal counsel.” If the “detainee” should produce a writ of habeas corpus issued by a state court, thereby demanding ones day in court, the Army will “respectfully reply that the prisoner is being held by authority of the United States.”
There is no question that the militarized police state, in all its myriad permutations has arrived. In fact, the militarizing of American cities and society as a whole proceeds apace in lock step (Cities Under Seige: The New Military Urbanism, Stephen Graham, 2010) with the racist, anti-immigrant “defense” of the borders, a veritable cash cow for military contractors, booming. The cities, the borders, so how bout the skies? Well, as this is being written, the latest 2013 NDAA discussions include a Senate Armed Services Committee call to allow drones to operate “freely and routinely” in America!
Meanwhile, the GAO has just issued a report to Congress entitled “DOD Should Reevaluate Requirements for the Selective Service System” which calls for an evaluation of Pentagon “manpower needs for the Selective Service System in light of current national security plans.” Such an evaluation would, the report notes, “better position Congress to make an informed decision about the necessity of the Selective Service System or any other alternatives that might substitute for it.”
Yes indeed, the water is boiling. Not to mix metaphors, but it’s time to jump out of the frying pan and hopefully not into the fire, which I take to mean that we must confront and deconstruct, in a non-violent way, the increasing potential for far more violence and suppression of our basic freedoms. The handing over of our resources, lives, fortune and reputation to a clique of thieves and murderers dressed up as presidents, congress people and corporate military executives and underlings is to foster our continued enslavement to the perpetrators of injustice and genocide, here and broad, inequality and greed, here and abroad, and signals the political suicide for our republic. We have got to act to stop the police state and reassert the values of community, justice and equality in the councils of governance. And to do so we must dis-empower the militarists.
One thing we can do right now is to initiate organizing campaigns in neighborhoods and communities across the country aimed at the passing of Posse Comitatus-like legislation on the local and state level, encouraging dialogue on the de-militarization of our communities, and raising the human right to be free of the violation inherent in all forms of militarism. By removing all aspects of militarism from domestic policing, lock, stock and barrel, we can expand the terrain of dissent and begin to reclaim our country back from the economic vultures and parasites and their violent mercenaries who are killing this country and the world. But first we must criminalize, like the Posse Comitatus Act does, all military involvement in law enforcement.
Communities must organize to de-militarize their police
Communities must organize to de-militarize their police. By analyzing police budgets, cutting the “special ops” training and funding and weapons transfers that fuel the militarization of law enforcement, we will most certainly decrease the level of police violence directed against the citizenry, and bridge issues and communities concerned with the epidemic of racist “police brutality” and the burgeoning of militarized police forces, veritable occupation armies in communities of color across America.
Along with criminalizing the militarization of local police we must work to criminalize racial profiling on the part of the police, a practice (indoctrinated in soldiers) that provides naked justification for “stop and frisk” harassment and the murde
The history books tell us about how evil and wicked the Nazis were, so why aren’t we more alarmed that the United States is becoming more like Nazi Germany with each passing day? More than three years ago, I wrote an article entitled “25 Signs That America Is Rapidly Becoming More Like Nazi Germany” which got a ton of attention. Unfortunately, nothing has gotten better since I first published that piece. Government control freaks are still watching us, tracking us, recording our phone calls and monitoring our emails. TSA thugs at our airports are still fondling the private parts of our women and children and laughing while they do it. Our police and our military are still training for civil unrest and martial law in America. And even though our politicians are socializing our economy and destroying our constitutional freedoms, the American people keep sending most of them back to Washington time after time. It is an incredibly sad thing to watch the country that you love slowly die right in front of your eyes.
At the heart of Nazism was a desire to control everyone and everything, and that is exactly what we are seeing in America today. Most of our “leaders” are psychotic control freaks that want to micromanage every aspect of our lives. For example, a bill that was just introduced in Congress would force all children in public schools nationwide to be vaccinated with no exceptions whatsoever. Other new legislation that was just introduced would ban all sales of ammunition over the Internet and require ammo dealers to report all bulk sales to individuals to the government. Our founders intended for this nation to be a place where individual freedom and liberty were maximized, but today we literally have millions of laws, rules and regulations that wrap us so tightly in red tape that we can hardly breathe.
To say that we are becoming just like the Nazis is a very strong statement, but I think that after reviewing the evidence you will agree with me. The following are 10 pictures that show how America is becoming just like Nazi Germany…
#1 It surprises most people to learn that the Nazis were actually radical leftists that had great animosity for free market capitalism. For example, National Socialist theologian Gregor Strasser once made the following statement…
We National Socialists are enemies, deadly enemies, of the present capitalist system with its exploitation of the economically weak … and we are resolved under all circumstances to destroy this system.
With that in mind, I want you to check out the following political cartoon from 1934. The same kinds of things that helped the communists rise to power in Russia and the Nazis rise to power in Germany are happening in the United States today…
#2 Just like in Nazi Germany, political leaders in America tend to foster cult followings. At this point, there are millions of Americans that would support Barack Obama and believe whatever he had to say even if he was sacrificing children on the White House lawn. These kinds of followers are called “sheeple” for a reason…
#3 The Nazis were well known for their brutal police tactics, and that is definitely true of us today. The following photo is a powerful commentary on the transformation of police in America over the past several decades…
Just recently, representatives from 117 countries confronted the U.S. about all of this police brutality at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Unfortunately, I don’t think that this is actually going to change anything…
The United States was slammed over its rights record Monday at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, with member nations criticizing the country for police violence and racial discrimination, the Guantánamo Bay Detention Facility and the continued use of the death penalty.
The issue of racism and police brutality dominated the discussion on Monday during the country’s second universal periodic review (UPR). Country after country recommended that the U.S. strengthen legislation and expand training to eliminate racism and excessive use of force by law enforcement.
#4 Why do so many of our police insist on dressing up like Darth Vader these days? Yes, I know that body armor is called for in certain situations, but many believe that the primary goal of these outfits is to intimidate. The following photo was submitted to Flickr by Elvert Barnes…
#5 In recent years, the American people have become conditioned to seeing troops in our streets. This next picture is from the Ferguson protests. The fact that sharpshooters were deployed on rooftops during the unrest there is more than a little disconcerting…
#6 Just like in Ferguson, when rioting started in Baltimore the police were initially ordered to stand down and allow it to spiral out of control. Then after a few hours, National Guard troops were finally deployed to help restore order. We are slowly getting used to the idea that martial law in our cities is a good thing…
#7 Meanwhile, “progressives” continue to use our system of public education to launch a relentless attack on the values that this country was founded upon. The Nazis were also big believers in “public education”, and they used it with shocking efficiency. Today, our children are being brainwashed to accept “progressive values”, and most Americans don’t seem to be too concerned about what is happening…
#8 Yes, the Nazis loved gun control. In fact, they eventually had everyone in the general population turn in their guns, and that is precisely what the “progressives” would love to see take place in the U.S. today. But what would this country look like if that actually happened? I think that this next photo which has been circulating on Facebook gives us a clue…
#9 Under the Nazis, the Germans were taught to salute a new flag and to adopt an entirely new set of values. In America today, it is not “politically correct” to display the American flag publicly or to show honor for it. Instead, we are being trained to think of ourselves as “global citizens” and to never question the growing power of international institutions such as the United Nations. Fortunately, there are many Americans that never plan to accept the “global governance” that the elitists have planned…
#10 In the end, the reason why the Nazis were so successful in Germany was because the vast majority of the German population simply complied with their demands. As Americans, we are going to be faced with our own choices in the years ahead…
So what do you think?
Is America becoming more like Nazi Germany?
Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
Press TV has conducted an interview with Yejide Orunmila, a member of the African People’s Socialist Party in Washington, to discuss the acquittal of a white police officer in who shot dead an unarmed black teenager in the state of Wisconsin.
The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Many accuse the American judiciary system of being full of flaws. Until when do you think white officers are going to walk freely like this?
Orunmila: The American judicial system is based on a worldwide system of white supremacy, and that is capitalism and imperialism. It is all tied into the foundation of having control over African people and control over other oppressed people of the world. That is the only it is able to function. And what we are seeing right now is the police acting in the United States in the manner in which they were established to control populations of blacks and other peoples who were not meant to be in this country, who they want to control in order to continue to exploit and oppress as a way to exploit and gain resources from my community.
And so therefore there is not going to be a change underneath this system. The change will only come only as Africans and other oppressed people can rise up and overturn this system that continues to oppress us and exploit us and kill us and murder us in the streets.
Press TV: Besides the judicial system, we are speaking at a time when police brutality is at its highest. What can be done to usher in a whole new police culture do you think?
Orunmila: I do not think that the police brutality or violence is at its highest. I think what we are seeing now is we are seeing more visual and more stories come to light. This has been happening since this country was established. It is a purveyor of violence. It continues to kill and maim people especially African people, it hung people from trees, it murdered people in mass, it burnt down entire villages and communities of black people, it murdered the Indians. This is the continuation of a culture that is part of the fabric of the United States.
So in terms of white officers, I think that we have to understand that whether they are white or black or any other color, ... it is their responsibility to act in the interest of the people that control them, which are white people. And so we need to understand that when we band together as people who are just tired of seeing this violence, we have a chance now to have power in our hands by really taking it to the streets and really pushing the agenda being bold and being action-based.
Press TV: Speaking about those demonstrations you are talking about, they say if it weren’t for the demonstrations, the six officers involved in the Baltimore case would have not been arrested. How far do you think the people are going to take their demonstrations?
Orunmila: I think the demonstrations are going to be taken as far as they could possibly go. What we are calling is for people to get organized. So it is great to go out into the streets and really bring the type of power and bring the type of response but the reality is that whether or not these cops have been indicted, let’s see if they are going to go ahead and be put to jail. Let’s see if all six of them go to jail for the murder of our people and we have to get organized. That is the fundamental question. How are we going to change this system and we cannot do that by just being angry and going to the streets for ten days. We need to change our relationship to the police, we need to change that relationship to the state and the government.
US support for the demonstrations in Hong Kong should be seen as part and parcel of a wider strategy by Washington to encourage agitation in China’s periphery regions and territorial disputes. It is only a matter of time before the protest movement loses steam, but the complex attitudes driving the discontent will not be easy to placate. Dialogue between the government and opposing forces will need to take place eventually, but the movement needs to know when to compromise.
Middle East Eye – 7 July 2014
Black, pungent smoke from burning tyres mixed with white, even more acrid plumes of tear gas to create an ugly grey smog eclipsing Nazareth’s most famous landmark, the imposing spire of the Basilica of the Annunciation.
Clashes over the weekend between youths and police in Israel’s largest Palestinian city have not been seen on this scale since the outbreak of the Second Intifada in late 2000.
Then, thirteen of Israel’s Palestinian citizens, including three residents of Nazareth, were shot dead in the Galilee in a few days of clashes with police, who fired live ammunition and rubber bullets on mostly unarmed demonstrators.
Fourteen years later, long-simmering tensions have erupted once more into angry protests in an increasing number of Palestinian towns and villages across Israel.
Initially, they mostly followed the pattern of stone-throwing skirmishes with Israeli security forces that began last week in Jerusalem.
But, as anger mounted at the weekend, confrontations included the hurling of firebombs at police and the closure of several major roads that run past Palestinian communities in the country’s north and south. Dozens of protesters have been arrested since Sunday.
Waiting to explode
Ali Said, 25, a worker in a bakery next to the main entrance of Nazareth, where several hundred youths faced off with Israeli police on Saturday, said the clashes were triggered, as in Jerusalem, by the news of the grisly murder of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists.
Sixteen-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir was kidnapped from near his home in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Shuafat and burnt alive, apparently in revenge for the abductions and murders last month of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.
Three of six Israelis arrested for the murder were reported on Monday to have confessed.
“People here are really shocked by this, and they need to let off steam,” said Said. “Relations between Jews and Arabs have got much worse in recent years because of this right-wing government. All it needed was a trigger like this for everything to explode.”
Said noted that a general mood of anger had been stoked in recent months by a rash of hate crimes committed by Israeli Jews against Palestinian communities, including attacks on mosques and churches.
That view received support at the weekend from Yuval Diskin, a former head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s intelligence agency. He accused the government of being blinded by political illusions, including a refusal to recognise attacks by settlers in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories as “blatant racism”.
Luna Zraik, who runs a restaurant in the Big Fashion shopping mall close to where the protesters and police fought, said she and many of the customers had a bird’s eye view of unfolding events from the mall’s parking lot on the roof.
“The police were shooting large quantities of tear gas. The youths hid their faces with the keffiyeh [a Palestinian scarf], waved Palestinian flags, and burnt tyres to close the road. They threw so many stones that by the end you could barely see the tarmac. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Since the opening of Big Fashion four years ago, Nazareth has become a magnet for shopping for Israeli Jews from the surrounding area. The mall includes major international clothing outlets rarely found elsewhere in the country’s north.
“When tear gas started wafting into the mall, the Jewish shoppers, in particular, looked terrified,” said Zraik. “One woman said she was worried she would be killed if we didn’t help her to escape.”
Israel’s large Palestinian minority, comprising a fifth of the total population, has long complained of systematic and institutional discrimination. But five years of Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government, with its inflexible approach to peace-making and hostile policies towards the Palestinian minority, have soured communal relations even further.
Commentators have noted that these latest clashes followed the collapse in April of US-sponsored peace negotiations, just as the Second Intifada broke out in the wake of the failed Camp David talks of 2000.
Among Palestinian communities in Israel, Nazareth has been one of the beneficiaries of Israel’s recent strong economic performance. But a sense of political hopelessness pervades Nazareth and the Galilee just as much as it does the occupied territories of Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank.
A four-lane highway, Road 75, is all that separates Nazareth, the minority’s unofficial capital, from Upper Nazareth, a city founded on Nazareth’s land reserves by Israeli officials decades ago in a failed attempt to create a commanding Jewish majority in the heart of the Galilee.
In recent years, despite a national policy of keeping Jewish and Palestinian citizens largely apart, at least residentially, the lives of the two communities have increasingly merged into an uneasy and unexpected union.
Jews now regularly shop and eat in Nazareth, while Nazareth’s residents, facing a mounting housing crisis caused by government planning policies, have started moving in ever larger numbers into Upper Nazareth.
So far, the violence sweeping Palestinian communities inside Israel – and to a lesser extent, Jewish areas – has not led to a fatality. In most cases, the Palestinian protesters’ anger has been directed at Israeli security forces or visible symbols of the state.
The fear, however, is that, should fighting erupt between Jewish and Palestinian citizens in places where they live or work together – such as in Nazareth and Upper Nazareth – things could rapidly deteriorate further.
On Sunday night, trouble flared again when a group of Jewish residents from Upper Nazareth stood next to Road 75 chanting “Death to the Arabs!”.
Nazareth’s youths faced off with them, hurling stones and firecrackers, including reportedly some that were thrown at a nearby fire station, one of the few official Israeli institutions in Nazareth.
On Monday morning, as Nazareth sunk back into a sleepy Ramadan fast through the difficult summer heat, there were few signs of the previous night’s troubles. The only clues were the steady stream of police vehicles patrolling Road 75, including an armour-plated water canon.
Israeli Jews in Upper Nazareth have been shocked deepest by reports of what occurred in Qalansuwa, a Palestinian town in central Israel – and close to the West Bank – that rarely makes the news.
There, youths created a roadblock on a nearby highway on Saturday and checked motorists to see if they were Jewish. In two cases, drivers were attacked, and had to flee. One had his car torched.
In Jerusalem, where the two communities also live and work in close proximity, especially given Israel’s policy of creating illegal settlements in the eastern, Palestinian half of the city, the roles were reversed. Mobs of Israeli Jews rampaged through the city seeking out Palestinian workers and taxi drivers to beat in revenge for the killing of the three teens.
Israeli security forces in Jerusalem have sought to contain the clashes with Palestinian youths mostly to the eastern half of the city. In Shuafat, where Abu Khdeir was kidnapped, as in Nazareth, youths have chiefly turned on symbols of Israeli rule and repression. They have thrown stones at police and damaged the light rail system that passes through their neighbourhood.
At the weekend, Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s hawkish foreign minister, called for an “iron fist” to be used against the Palestinian protesters, whom he referred to as “terrorists”.
‘Not our country’
It was an approach that found favour with Nahum Pittarov, a 35-year-old warehouse worker from Upper Nazareth who, like Lieberman, traces his roots to Moldova.
“We are heading towards a third intifada,” he said decisively in the Kanyon mall, on the other side of the highway from Nazareth. Pittarov denied official statistics to argue that claims by Palestinian citizens of discrimination were unfounded. “They have better houses than us, and they get more money from the government.”
He added: “It’s like this is not our country. It is scary – I wouldn’t go into Nazareth at the moment. When the Arabs start their riots, who pays the price? Us. The police shut the streets so we can’t leave our homes, telling us it’s for our own safety.”
Although a commonly expressed fear, a third intifada may be further off than it appears to many Israeli Jews.
Samer Shtayyeh, a masters student from Jerusalem studying the role of Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, thought a new intifada was unlikely.
“We are seeing the Palestinians of ’48 [the areas conquered by Israel in 1948] and those in Jerusalem taking the lead because the PA has no involvement there. In the West Bank, on the other hand, the PA are repressing all signs of protest. They don’t want another intifada any more than Israel does.”
Shtayyeh said the lack so far of a coherent political leadership meant that the protests would most likely remain weak and disorganised. “You need someone directing the anger to make it effective. If it stays this way, it will eventually peter out.”
Most observers agreed that the police’s behaviour in the coming days would be decisive. A video of paramilitary police in Jerusalem beating a cuffed and helpless 15-year-old Palestinian American, a relative of murdered Muhammad Abu Khdeir, severely exacerbated tensions at the weekend.
But Said, in the Nazareth bakery, noted that generally the police had not been following Lieberman’s iron-first policy. They had so far handled the clashes more cautiously than in October 2000, when 13 Palestinian citizens were killed and hundreds wounded in a few days.
“This time they have mostly kept their distance to the edges of the city, letting the anger subside rather than storming in all guns blazing. They seem to be worried about inflaming the situation here further.”
In the Kanyon, a woman wearing Islamic headdress was getting her phone fixed at a stall run by a recently demobilised soldier. Ilan, who would not give his last name, served her without any visible animosity.
Only after she left did he quietly confide: “They are the ones who start the violence. The world doesn’t understand that. It’s only when we are under attack that we retaliate.”
There was the odd dissenting view. Marlene Mamistvalov, 28, a shop assistant in a kitchen equipment store, admitted she held opinions shared by few of her friends. “When people are afraid, on both sides, they do stupid things. All of us need to listen to each other more.”
Born in Brooklyn, New York, the borough that served as the homeland for millions of Jews for decades, Hilton Obenzinger carries Jewish history and lore around with him both mournfully and gleefully.
His many books draw attention to his own Jewish roots, including an oral history he conducted with his Aunt Zosia Goldberg entitled Running Through Fire: How I Survived the Holocaust. There’s also a collection of his poetry entitled This Passover Or The Next I Will Never Be in Jerusalem, which received the American Book Award of the Before Columbus Foundation.
More than 60 years after he celebrated his first Passover with his own family of origin, he’s getting ready to celebrate Passover again with the family he’s created with Estella Habal, an Associate Professor of Asian American Studies at San Jose State University.
With Passover 2013 on the horizon -- it starts March 25 -- I sent Obenzinger an email and took up a long-standing conversation that we’ve kept going through wars, occupations, Seders, and reunions of Sixties radicals.
Jonah Raskin: How will you celebrate Passover this year?
Hilton Obenzinger: We’ll have an extended family feast: my wife and I, our kids and grandkids. As usual, we’ll combine Passover, Easter, and the arrival of spring. It’s a raucous crowd: Jews, Filipinos, Chinese, and more. We use an illustrated Children’s Bible to tell the story of slavery and the escape of the Jews from Egypt, then move on to Jesus and the last Seder, and finish the Biblical story with the crucifixion and the resurrection. Eventually, we reach the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and sing “Let My People Go.”
We pour plenty of wine, shout good wishes for the Palestinians, Native Americans, and everyone else running for freedom. We end the evening with lines from a version of the Haggadah I wrote: “Next year in Jerusalem delivered from bondage.”
What makes you proud to be a Jew?
Jewish culture is rich and varied with a transnational sense of peoplehood. In Europe, my ancestors were everything from ultra-orthodox to Polish nationalists, to escape-to-America émigrés, to Zionist and Communist. The Nazis murdered almost all of them. In the face of that horror and other horrors of history, Jewish survival is astonishing.
I’m especially proud of the American Jewish experience that pushed me, and others, to join the civil rights and social justice movements. I’ve heard it said that support for equality and justice flows from Jewish ethics and from the history of Jewish persecution. I’d like to believe it.
What are you most ashamed about Jews as an ethnic group?
From my point of view, Zionism turned out to be a moral disaster for the Jews. American Jews have been suckered into supporting Israel in unthinking ways. This has been changing, but not enough American Jews are yelling and screaming to stop Israel’s expansion.
Have you been attacked at Stanford because of your beliefs?
After I began to teach at Stanford in the 1990s, a professor wrote a letter denouncing me as a “terrorist.” He was a very nice guy, very progressive -- except when it came to Israel. A switch would go off and he’d go bananas.
You have used the expression “Zionist crackpot.” What does it mean to you?
I don’t mean the typical supporter of Israel. I mean those people who fall into the extremist syndrome and who are motivated by a deep-rooted sense that Jews are always the victims and that Israel is always under attack even when it’s the aggressor.
Forty years ago, did you believe there would be a resolution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians?
Yes. And I still do.
Do you see a resolution to the conflict in your own lifetime?
Assuming I live another decade or two, probably not. But you never know. Who would have thought the Soviet Union would collapse? Or a black man would be president? I may not live to see it but it’s likely to happen.
Do you think that there can be a one-state solution to the conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis?
Of course, there can be -- which doesn’t mean it will happen, at least in the near future. The conflict is not at root religious and it hasn’t been going on for thousands of years, as many claim. It started about 130 years ago when Zionism, a Western political movement, called for the settlement of Palestine and the exclusion of the native people. It’s a conflict started by people, not by God; humans created it; humans can fix it.
What do you see happening now?
Israeli Jews are a nationality with their own language and culture, as are the Palestinians, so it would take a lot of good faith to fit all of them together, including the refugees. Good faith is not an abundant commodity nowadays. Meanwhile, the Israeli government has been doing all it can to prevent a two-state solution by expanding settlements and uprooting Palestinian communities.
One state may be inevitable, since the foundations for a viable Palestinian state have been greatly undermined. Israel might move further in its current colonialist direction, creating reservations for the natives and a large open-air prison in Gaza. I don’t care if there are one or four states, actually, just so long as equality and democratic rights are at the core of all of them.
What have you learned from studying the Holocaust?
When we protested the war in Vietnam many of us didn’t want to be “good Germans” -- people passively accepting evil and genocide. My family’s murder always weighs on my mind, so for me it’s imperative to speak out about injustice.
I produced my aunt’s oral testimony called Running through Fire about her escape from the Warsaw Ghetto. I learned from her that everything is muddy -- with some Germans acting morally and courageously and some Jews acting in a craven fashion. I also leaned that in a situation of utter horror, no matter how smart and skilled and, in her case, how beautiful you were, pure luck is a determining factor. I’ve also learned to keep my passport up-to-date.
What does it mean to you to be a Jew?
After my son’s birth I felt compelled to pass on to him a positive Jewish experience without the corruptions of anti-Arab racism, and the “Jewish Disneyland” kitsch that American Jews love. I wanted my son to laugh, to enjoy the bar mitzvah experience, to feel comfortable being Jewish and Filipino -- which is his mother’s ethnic identity.
What do you think Jews and Arabs have in common?
I told my aunt who survived the Nazis that if she could meet Palestinians in refugee camps she would like them, and that they were a lot like her. Palestinians, like Jews, value education and culture, and they insist on persisting. They, too, have historical memories that they won’t allow to be erased and that they act upon. Both Israeli Jews and Palestinians have also managed to drive each other insane. It’s painful watching two peoples destroy each other.
You’ve written about “the Holy Land.” Is it holy to you?
There’s so much blood and hatred there, that it’s hard to conceive of the place as holy.
At Stanford, where you teach, is there a visible Jewish population and a visible Arab population? What observations have you made about them?
Stanford gentility is strong and has its virtues. A lot of the Jewish students sympathize with the Palestinian cause nowadays and a Jewish critic of Israel is hardly an oddity.
You’re involved with Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project? What is it?
2015 will be the 150th anniversary of the introduction of thousands of Chinese workers to build the first transcontinental railway across North America. The work culminated with Leland Stanford driving the famous “golden spike” to complete the line that connected East and West. Despite the photographs, drawings, and observers’ testimonies about the Chinese workers who labored from sunrise to sunset, not a single primary document -- not a letter or a notebook -- has been identified.
So there’s a real Stanford connection, isn’t there?
Construction of the railroad was central to creating the wealth that Leland Stanford used to found the university. Eventually, we’d like to build a monument to the Chinese railroad workers on campus.
What is it about your own experience as a Jew that might help you understand the experience of the Chinese railroad workers?
I remember my father’s experience as an immigrant having to work in dangerous factories. The Chinese in America suffered a lot of abuse -- racial violence, mass deportations, expulsions, and discrimination. Early Chinese immigrants were tenacious and ingenuous and determined to possess the country and be possessed by it -- just like anyone else.
The Columbia protest of 1968 took place 45 years ago. How do you remember it now? In fact, you wrote a book, Busy Dying, that’s in part about that experience. How did writing the book alter your sense of the past?
I have totally blanked out my graduation, but I remember sitting in Low Library in the president’s office in around-the-clock meetings to talk about negotiations and how to nonviolently defend ourselves.
Why did you write your book?
I read accounts of the Sixties and was disturbed by the distortions, stereotypes, and outright lies.
The title Busy Dying borrows from Dylan’s “Busy Being Born.” Did Dylan help shape your Sixties experience?
The line is from “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)." It goes, “he not busy being born is busy dying.” Dylan’s music provides much of the soundtrack of my memories. The lines “busy being born” and “busy dying” express the sense of urgency we faced in the Sixties.
When you look back at the Sixties does it seem like an era mostly of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, or would you propose another trinity?
I got plenty of drugs but not enough of sex. I loved a lot of the rock ‘n’ roll, but I was also into country music, bluegrass, and Vivaldi. In 1968 we were “freaks” because we rebelled. The hippie part of the Sixties is too narrowly focused on middle class white kids, not the GIs fragging their officers, Freedom Riders, or Black Panthers.
At Stanford are you among the sons and daughters of the elite, who will go on to rule the Empire?
Half the undergraduates aren’t white and most aren’t rich. Of course, when Chelsea Clinton attended Stanford that pretty much defined the school’s reality. But I’ve also known students who joined the Zapatistas, organized unions, helped manage their pueblo’s casino to invest tribal funds wisely, restored native farming to the Big Island in Hawaii, develop educational programs in poor communities.
What about recent protest on campus?
In the fall of 2011, the Big Game between Berkeley and Stanford took place at Stanford right after the police attacks on Berkeley students occupying tents on campus. There was a joint rally of students from both schools -- something that I think has never happened before in their fierce rivalry -- to show solidarity against police brutality. It was one of the most astonishing moments in Stanford history. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
On January 14, 2011, Tunisia’s 23-year long dictator Ben Ali fled the country he ruled over in the face of a popular uprising which began the previous month. Tunisia represented the spark of what became known as the ‘Arab Spring.’ Over two years later, Tunisians are back in the streets protesting against the new government, elected in October of 2011, now on the verge of collapse as ministers resign, protests increase, clashes erupt, violence flares, and the future remains unknown.
So the question lingers: what went wrong? What happened? Why are Tunisians back in the streets? Is this Tunisia’s “unfinished revolution”?
Tunisia had been ruled by President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from 1987 until the revolution in 2011, a regime marred by corruption, despotism, and repression. While the revolution itself is generally traced to the self immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year old street vendor in the city of Sidi Bouzid, on December 17, 2010, leading to protests and clashes which spread across the country, there was a longer timeline – and other profound changes – which led to the actual revolutionary potential.
Tunisia’s revolution was largely driven by economic reasons, though political and social issues should not be underestimated. Tunisia has a recent history of labour unrest in the country, with the General Union of Tunisian Workers – UGTT – having led protests which were violently repressed in 1978, bread riots in 1984, and more labour unrest in the mining region of Gafsa in 2008. There were also a number of political clashes from the 1990s onward, between the state and the Islamic movement an-Nahda (Ennahda). After the UGTT was repressed in 1978, it was permitted to exist in co-operation with the state, following along the lines of labour and union history within the West itself. While the state felt it had a firm control of Tunisian society, there were growing divides with the youth, who for years would lead their own protests against the state through human rights organizations, the General Union of Tunisian Students (UGET), or other associations.
Within Tunisia, a crisis had emerged among young graduates in higher education from the mid-1990s onward, with a serious lack of employment opportunities for an increasingly educated youth. From this period up until the revolution, most protests in Tunisia were organized by youth in university organizations and student unions, using tactics such as sit-ins, chaining themselves to buildings, or hunger strikes, which were often met with state violence. Suicide had become another tactic of protest, “a political manifesto to highlight a political demand and to underline the social fragility it implies,” in the words of Mehdi Mabrouk from the University of Tunis. This was understood as the “emergence of a culture of suicide,” identified in a study by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as “a culture which disdained the value of life, finding death an easier alternative because of a lack of values and a sense of anomie,” which was “particularly true of unemployed and marginal youth, so that death was more attractive than life under such conditions.” It was within this context that Mohamed Bouazizi’s suicide became the spark for the wider protests, first in Sidi Bouzid, and quickly spreading across the country, with youth leading the way.
With the help of social media, like Facebook and Twitter, the youth activists in Sidi Bouzid were able to share their revolt with the rest of the country and the world, encouraging the spread of the uprising across Tunisia and the Arab world at large. A relative of Bouazizi described the protesters as having “a rock in one hand, a cell phone in the other.” Thus, while Tunisian media ignored the protests in Sidi Bouzid, international media and social media became increasingly involved. Tunisia had 3.6 million internet users, roughly a third of the population, who had access to live news about what was taking place within their country, even though the official national news media did not mention the events until 29 December 2010, twelve days after the protests had begun. The government began to arrest bloggers and web activists in the hopes that the protests would fade or diminish in fear, yet it only motivated the protests further. From the first day, the Sidi Bouzid branch of the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) was engaged in the protests, while the national leadership of the UGTT was considered to be too close to the regime and national ruling class to act independently. However, the regional branches of the UGTT had “a reputation for gutsy engagement,” wrote Yasmine Ryan in Al-Jazeera. The Sidi Bouzid branch of UGTT was one of the main organizing forces behind the protests, and when protesters were killed in neighbouring regions, it erupted nation-wide. Thus, students, teachers, lawyers, and the unemployed joined together in protest first in Sidi Bouzid, and then across the country.
Dictatorship or Democracy?
Tunisia happened to be a “model US client” in the words of Richard Falk: “a blend of neoliberalism that is open to foreign investment, cooperation with American anti-terrorism by way of extreme rendition of suspects, and strict secularism that translates into the repression of political expression.”
Just in line with the closest of American and Western allies – and ‘clients’ – in the region, the strategy for the West is one of unyielding support for the dictatorship, so long as “stability” and “prosperity” and ensured. The term “security” is a euphemism for control of the population, while “prosperity” is a euphemism for economic exploitation and profit for the rich few, domestically and globally.
American attitudes toward Tunisia were often reflected in diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, in which as early as 2006 the U.S. Embassy in Tunis reported that the issue of succession from Ben Ali was important, but concluded that, “none of the options suggest Tunisia will become more democratic,” however, despite US rhetoric for support of democracy, the cable noted, “the US-Tunisian bilateral relationship is likely to remain unaffected by the departure of Ben Ali,” that is, assuming the departure does not include a transition to democratic government. If problems arose for Ben Ali, and he became “temporarily incapacitated,” reported the U.S. Embassy, “he could turn over a measure of presidential authority to Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi,” who had close ties to the West and Americans, in particular. Ghannounchi, incidentally, was implanted as the interim president following Ben Ali’s escape to Saudi Arabia in January 2011, though shortly thereafter had to resign due to popular opposition, since he was a high official in Ben Ali’s government.
In July of 2009, a diplomatic cable from the American Embassy in Tunis noted that Tunisia is “troubled,” and that, “many Tunisians are frustrated by the lack of political freedom and angered by First Family corruption, high unemployment and regional inequities.” The Ambassador noted that while America seeks to enhance ties with Tunisia commercially and militarily, there are also major setbacks, as “we have been blocked, in part, by a Foreign Ministry that seeks to control all our contacts in the government and many other organizations.” America had successfully accomplished a number of goals, such as “increasing substantially US assistance to the military,” and “strengthening commercial ties,” yet, “we have also had too many failures.” The same cable noted: “Tunisia is a police state, with little freedom of expression or association, and serious human rights problems.” Ben Ali’s regime relies “on the police for control and focus[es] on preserving power,” while “corruption in the inner circle is growing.” The Embassy noted, however, that with “high unemployment and regional inequalities” in the country, “the risks to the regime’s long-term stability are increasing.”
So how did the United States seek to preserve “stability”? Imperial powers do what they do best: provide the means to continue repression and control. Between 1987, when Ben Ali came to power and 2009, the United States provided the government of Tunisia with a total of $349 million in military aid. In 2010, the United States provided Tunisia with $13.7 million in military aid alone.
Tunisia, which was a former French colony, also had strong relations with France. During the outbreak of the crisis in December of 2010, the French suggested they would help Ben Ali by sending security forces to Tunisia to “resolve the situation” in a show of “friendship” to the regime. The French foreign minister suggested that France could provide better training to Tunisian police to restore order since the French were adept in “security situations of this type.” Jacques Lanxade, a retired French admiral, former military chief of staff and former French ambassador to Tunis noted that the French had “continued public support of this regime because of economic interests,” and added: “We didn’t take account of Tunisian public opinion and thought Ben Ali would re-establish his position.”
This imperial logic has been given terms and justifications from establishment intellectuals and academics in the United States and other Western powers. Academics with the Brookings Institution, an influential U.S. think tank, suggested in 2009 that this was the logic of “authoritarian bargains,” in which dictatorships in the region were able to maintain power through a type of “bargain,” where “citizens relinquish political influence in exchange for public spending,” suggesting that: “non-democratic rulers secure regime support through the allocation of two substitutable ‘goods’ to the public: economic transfers and the ability to influence policy making.”
In 2011, those same academics wrote an article for the Brookings Institution in which they asked if the “Arab authoritarian bargain” was collapsing, noting that as economic conditions deteriorated and unemployment rose, with neoliberal reforms failing to provide economic opportunities for the majority of the populations, the bargain – or “contract” – between dictators and the populations was “now collapsing,” adding that, “the strategies used by Arab leaders to maintain power may have run their course,” noting: “Partial political liberalization may not be enough at this point to make up for the current inability to deliver economic security and prosperity, spelling the final demise of Arab authoritarian bargain.”
F. Gregory Gause III, writing in Foreign Affairs, the establishment journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, the most prominent foreign policy think tank in the United States, referred to this as “authoritarian stability” theory. Following the initial Arab Spring uprisings, he wrote about the “myth” of authoritarian stability, noting that many academics had focused on trying to understand “the persistence of undemocratic rulers” in the region, though implicitly without questioning the imperial relations between the local governments and the dominant Western powers. Gause himself acknowledged that he had written an article for Foreign Affairs in 2005 in which he argued that, “the United States should not encourage democracy in the Arab world because Washington’s authoritarian Arab allies represented stable bets for the future,” and that, “democratic Arab governments would prove much less likely to cooperate with U.S. foreign policy goals in the region.” Gause then reflected in 2011 that, “I was spectacularly wrong.”
Marwan Muasher is vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment, a prominent American think tank, and was previously foreign minister and deputy prime minister in the Jordanian dictatorship. Following events in Tunisia, Muasher wrote an article for the Carnegie Endowment in which he explained why the events were not foreseen, noting that: “The traditional argument put forward in and out of the Arab world is that there is nothing wrong, everything is under control.” Thus, wrote Muasher, “entrenched forces argue that opponents and outsiders calling for reform are exaggerating the conditions on the ground,” an argument which he noted, “has been fundamentally undermined by the unfolding events in Tunisia.” Because Tunisia had comparably low economic problems, a small opposition, and a “strong security establishment,” it was thought that “the risk of revolt was considered low.” Muasher wrote: “It wasn’t supposed to happen in Tunisia and the fact that it did proves that fundamental political reforms – widening the decision-making process and combating corruption – are needed around the entire Arab world.”
This concept of “there is nothing wrong, everything is under control,” has been referred to by Noam Chomsky as the “Muasher doctrine,” noting that this has been consistent U.S. policy in the region since at least 1958, when Eisenhower’s National Security Council acknowledged that the US supported dictators and opposed democracy, and that this was a rational policy to serve American interests in the region.
The National Security Council document stated that the Middle East was “of great strategic, political, and economic importance to the Free World,” meaning the West, and United States in particular, and this was largely due to the fact that the region “contains the greatest petroleum resources in the world.” Thus, the National Security Council stated, “it is in the security interest of the United States to make every effort to insure that these resources will be available and will be used for strengthening the Free World.” The document further wrote that: “In the eyes of the majority of Arabs the United States appears to be opposed to the realization of the goals of Arab nationalism,” and that the people in that part of the world “believe the United States is seeking to protect its interest in Near East oil by supporting the status quo and opposing political or economic progress,” which included US support for “reactionary” regimes and America’s “colonial” allies in Europe, notably France and Great Britain. These beliefs, the report noted, were indeed accurate, that “our economic and cultural interests in the area have led… to close U.S. relations with elements in the Arab world whose primary interest lies in the maintenance of relations with the West and the status quo in their countries.”
Acknowledging this, the NSC document stated that instead of “attempting merely to preserve the status quo,” the United States should “seek to guide the revolutionary and nationalistic pressures throughout the area into orderly channels which will not be antagonistic to the West and which will contribute to solving the internal social, political and economic problems of the area.” Though this would of course include providing “military aid to friendly countries to enhance their internal security and governmental stability,” which essentially amounted to maintaining the status quo. The same document also added that, “we cannot exclude the possibility of having to use force in an attempt to maintain our position in the area.”
And so then we come up to present day, where the United States maintains the same policy, as Chomsky suggested, “the Muasher doctrine” of “there is nothing wrong, everything is under control.” But everything is clearly no longer under control, and there are many things that clearly are wrong. Just as the 1958 National Security Council document suggested guiding “revolutionary and nationalistic pressures” into “orderly channels which will not be antagonistic to the West,” so too were US planners in recent years seeking to do the same.
Top US policy planners at the Council on Foreign Relations produced a report – and strategic blueprint – for the United States to follow in 2005, entitled, In Support of Arab Democracy: Why and How, co-chaired by former Clinton-era Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who sits on the board of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Aspen Institute, and chair of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. The other co-chair of the Task Force report was Vin Weber, former Congressman and member of the board of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a US-government-supported organization promoting state-capitalist “liberal” democracy around the world, so long as it aligns with U.S. strategic interests. Other members of the Task Force which produced the report held previous or present affiliations with First National Bank of Chicago, Occidental Petroleum, the Carnegie Endowment, the World Bank, Brookings Institution, Hoover Institution, the U.S. State Department, National Security Council, National Intelligence Council, the American Enterprise Institute, the IMF, AOL-Time Warner, and Goldman Sachs. In short, the report was produced by no less than a select group of America’s strategic and intellectual elite.
Published in 2005, the report suggested that “democracy and freedom have become a priority” for the United States in the Middle East, though there are conditions to Washington’s ability and interest in promoting these concepts: “First, does a policy of promoting democracy serve U.S. interests and foreign policy goals? Second, if so, how should the United States implement such a policy, taking into account the full range of its interests?” To the first question, the report suggested that it was in the U.S. interest to promote democracy in the Arab world, noting: “Although democracy entails certain inherent risks, the denial of freedom carries much more significant long-term dangers. If Arab citizens are able to express grievances freely and peacefully, they will be less likely to turn to more extreme measures.” However, as the report noted: “the United States should promote the development of democratic institutions and practices over the long term, mindful that democracy cannot be imposed from the outside and that sudden, traumatic change is neither necessary nor desirable.” Most importantly, the report suggested: “America’s goal in the Middle East should be to encourage democratic evolution, not revolution.”
The United States was not interested in rapid change, since, the report argued, “if Washington pushes Arab leaders too hard on reform, contributing to the collapse of friendly Arab governments, this would likely have a deleterious effect on regional stability, peace, and counterterrorism operations.” The report itself concluded: “While transitions to democracy can lead to instability in the short term, the Task Force finds that a policy geared toward maintaining the authoritarian status quo in the Middle East poses greater risks to U.S. interests and foreign policy goals.”
Thus, when it comes to the issue of choosing between supporting a “dictatorship” or “democracy,” the issue is one of interest: which regime supports U.S. and Western interests better? In the short-term, dictatorships provide “authoritarian stability” and maintain control, however, in the long-term, a transition to a Western-style democratic system allows for less pressure built up against the system, and against the West itself. Dictatorships provide short-term “stability” (i.e., control), while top-down democracies provide long-term “stability.” The question, then, is merely of managing a transition from one to the other, no small task for an imperial power: how to maintain support for a dictator while encouraging the slow evolution of democratic governance.
The issue of “democracy” is further complicated by how it is defined or pursued. For the United States and its Western allies, “democracy” is not the goal, but rather a means to a goal. The goal is, always has been, and always will be, “stability and prosperity,” control and profit. When the dictatorships fail to bring about stability and prosperity, “democracy” – so long as it is constructed along Western liberal state-capitalist lines – will be the preferred option. The European Union, when reporting on its own efforts to promote democracy in the Mediterranean region, noted that, “we believe that democracy, good governance, rule of law, and gender equality are essential for stability and prosperity.” In other words, democracy is not the goal: control and profit is the goal. The means are merely incidental, whether they be through dictatorships, or top-down democratic structures.
The problem in the Arab world is deepened for the United States when one looks at public opinion polls from the region. Just prior to the outbreak of protests in Tunisia, a major Western poll on Arab public opinion was conducted by the University of Maryland and Zogby International, published in the summer of 2010. The results were very interesting, noting that only 5% and 6% of respondents in 2010 believed that “promoting democracy” and “spreading human rights” were the two factors (respectively) which were most important in America’s foreign policy in the region. At the top of the list of priorities, with 49% and 45% respectively, were “protecting Israel” and “controlling oil,” followed by 33% each for “weakening the Muslim world” and “preserving regional and global dominance.” Further, 92% of respondents felt that Iran has a right to its nuclear program if it is peaceful, and 70% feel that right remains even if Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. Roughly 57% of respondents felt that if Iran acquired nuclear weapons, things would be “more positive” for the region, compared to 21% who thought it would be “more negative.” The poll asked which two countries posed the largest threat to the region, with Israel at 88% and the United States at 77%, while Iran was viewed as one of the two major threats to the region by only 10% of respondents, just above China and equal to Algeria.
In other words, if truly representative – or genuine – democracies emerged in the region, they would be completely counter to U.S. strategic interests in the region, and thus, real democracy in the Arab world is not in the American interest. This makes the American strategic interests in the transitions of the ‘Arab Spring’ all the more important to attempt to manage and control. Genuine democracy would bring an end to American and Western hegemony, yet, the “Muasher doctrine” of “everything is under control” has failed in the case of both Tunisia and Egypt. What then, is left for Western interests?
Tunisia’s Transition to “Democracy”
Immediately following Ben Ali’s departure from Tunisia to Saudi Arabia, the land of exiled dictators, a “caretaker” government was quickly established in order to “lead the transition to democracy.” Mohamed Ghannouchi, Ben Ali’s prime minister (and the American favourite to replace him), helped to form a “unity” government, but after one day of existence, four opposition members quit the government, including three ministers from the UGTT trade union, saying they had “no confidence” in a government full of members from Ben Ali’s regime. Hundreds of people, led by trade unionists, took to the streets in protest against the transitional government.
Six members from Ben Ali’s regime appeared in the “unity” government, presided over by the former Parliamentary Speaker Fouad Mebazaa. Ghannouchi stepped down in late February following popular opposition to his participation in the “unity” government, though he was replaced by Ben Ali’s former foreign minister. In February of 2011, the United States offered “military training” to Tunisia in the follow-up to the planned elections for later in the year, to make Tunisia a “model” revolution for the Arab world.
A public opinion poll conducted in Tunisia in May of 2011 revealed that there had been “a steep decline in confidence for the transition period,” noting that in March, a poll revealed that 79% of Tunisians believed the country was headed in the right direction, compared to only 46% who thought so in May. Roughly 73% of Tunisian’s felt that the economic situation was “somewhat bad or very bad,” and 93% of respondents said they were “very likely” to vote in coming elections.
In October of 2011, Tunisians went to the polls for their first democratic election, “the first vote of the Arab spring.” The election was designed to elect an assembly which would be tasked with one mission: to draft a constitution before parliamentary elections. The An-Nadha (Ennahda) party, an Islamist party which was banned under Ben Ali, was expected to receive most of the votes, though most Tunisians felt guarded in terms of seeking to protect their “unfinished revolution.” Lawyers lodged complaints that in the nine months since Ben Ali fled Tunisia, torture and police brutality continued, while human rights activists noted that cronies from Ben Ali’s regime continued to dominate the corrupt judicial system. One human rights activist noted, “We are overwhelmed with cases of human rights abuses. You wouldn’t believe there had been a revolution… Torture is the way things are done, it’s systematic. They have not changed their practices at all,” referring to the police.
On October 23, 2011, the Tunisian elections took place, with the Islamist party Ennahda winning 89 out of 217 seats, after which it joined with two secular parties to form a ruling coalition known as the ‘Troika.’ A year after the Troika had been in power, by October of 2012, Tunisians felt disheartened by the pace of the revolution. One young activist stated that, “They are failing on security, they are failing on the economy, and they are failing when it comes to liberties and rights… They have nothing to do with the revolution. They are completely disconnected.” Amnesty International even noted in October of 2012 that: “The authorities need to seize this historic opportunity and confront the painful legacy of abuse and violations of the pasty and enshrine in law and in practice universal human rights with the aim of making the rule of law a reality in the new Tunisia.”
Rachid Ghannouchi, the party’s chairman (no relation to Mohammed Ghannouchi), said that Ennahda “pledges to continue working with our national partners towards building a national consensus that takes Tunisians forward towards the protection of their revolution and achievement of its aims.” Over the previous year, the opposition within Tunisia had time to develop better than it did prior to the October 2011 elections, with new parties and organizations emerging. One, a decidedly non-mainstream party, the Tunisian Pirate Party, advocates direct democracy and freedom of expression, with its leader stating, “The classic political parties are trying to buy and sell people. The youth of Tunisia, we refuse this masquerade, this system… All they want is power, they don’t listen to us. They have betrayed the people.” On the other hand, the government was facing increasing pressure not only from the left opposition, but from the more conservative Salafists, ultra-conservative Islamists, who reject democracy and want Ennahda to take a firm grip on power.
At the time of Ben Ali’s overthrow, Tunisia had an unemployment rate of 13%, but by the end of 2011 it had risen to 18%, where it remains to this day, and was as high as 44% among young university graduates. Strikes, sit-ins, and protests had continued throughout 2012, and with 800,000 unemployed Tunisians, some were looking to new avenues for answers. The Salafists were providing poor young people with a different path. A former director at Tunisia’s UGTT trade union noted, “Salafism taps its social base into a pool of often deprived people inhabiting the so-called poverty belts surrounding inner cities… The rise of salafism is a socio-economic phenomenon before being a religious one.” Salafists call for a strict enforcement of religious law, and have taken part in protests which shout anti-Semitic and homophobic chants at times, leading many to fear the potential for women’s rights as well as those of various minority groups.
Salafists have also been linked to attacks on individuals and groups, opposition meetings and organizations. When complaints are made to the Ennahda government’s police forces, little is done to address the issues to persecute crimes. Human Rights Watch noted: “There is an unwillingness or an inability to arrest individuals… People have been attacked by people they identify as Salafis; they file a complaint to the judicial police, and in many cases the guy is never arrested.”
The Obama administration sought to contribute to the “stability” of the new regime in Tunisia by providing $32 million in military aid from January of 2011 to spring of 2012. An American General and head of the U.S. Africom (Africa Command) noted that on top of the military aid, the United States was continuing to train Tunisian soldiers, having already trained 4,000 in the previous decade. It would appear to be no less than the Muasher Doctrine with a difference face.
Clashes have increased between opposition parties and trade unionists with pro-government supporters as well as Salafists. In October of 2012, an opposition figure died after clashes between his supporters and pro-government forces calling themselves the League for the Protection of the Revolution. On December 17, 2012, at an event commemorating the two-year anniversary of the protests that began the revolution, angry protesters hurled rocks at the Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki and the parliamentary speaker in Sidi Bouzid. As the president and speaker were hustled away by security forces, protesters chanted, “the people want the fall of the government.”