Friday, March 30, 2007

"I Am Kerik!" What We Can Learn from Giuliani's Buddy Bernie

Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.

Rudy Giuliani, 1994

(Thanks to Anthony Gregory for the tip on that quote.)

Political criticism is our enemy's best friend.

Bernard Kerik, October 20, 2003

According to Fascism, a true, a great spiritual life cannot take place unless the State has risen to a position of pre-eminence in the world of man. The curtailment of liberty thus becomes justified at once, with this need of raising the State to its rightful position.

Fascist Party ideological spokesman Mario Palmieri, 1936 (The Philosophy of Fascism -- Chicago: The Dante Alighieri Society, 1936, pg 99.)

For the discerning talk radio consumer, Dennis Miller's Mensa-level snarkiness plays much better than Sean Hannity's pugnacious ignorance. But take away Miller's wit and literacy, his ability to speak in complete sentences, and his ability to refine GOP talking points into something that sounds like his personal opinions, and what remains is pretty much the same message Hannity feeds tirelessly to the mouth-breathing cultists who compose his core audience: The President's gotta keep that pimp hand strong, or the “Islamo-Fascists” will defeat us.

In Rudolph Giuliani, both Hannity and Miller see George W. Bush's ideal successor. Hannity, aware that his core audience cares about such things as abortion and traditional marriage, does cavil somewhat about Rudy's, shall we say, unconventional personal life (imagine the sitcom version of Jerry Seinfeld as a sociopathic politician with the world's least persuasive comb-over, and you've got Mayor Rudy) and his liberal views of social issues.

But the important thing, Hannity insists, is that the next president focus primarily on fighting the war on terror, both at home and abroad.

Miller is refreshingly candid about the same priorities – which define the president Republican agenda.

Dispensing with all pretense of concern about social issues, Miller believes that the public is ready for an unapologetically authoritarian president, and, in Giuliani, Il Duce and the moment have met.

Portrait of Il Duce as La Regina: Rudy in drag.

Giuliani, it must be said, is certainly not reluctant to hymn the praises of authority.

We look upon authority too often and focus over and over again, for 30 or 40 or 50 years, as if there is something wrong with authority,” he stated at a 1994 symposium on urban crime sponsored by the New York Post. “We see only the oppressive side of authority. Maybe it comes out of our history and our background. What we don't see is that freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be.”

We're going to come through this when we realize that it's all about, ultimately, individual responsibility,” continued Giuliani, who is nothing if not the poster child for individual responsibility. “That in fact the criminal act is about individual responsibility and the building of the respect for the law and ethics is also a matter of individual responsibility.”

There is an unspoken dichotomy in Giuliani's view of authority and responsibility, and it was made vivid in his relationship with former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik:

Authority is the exclusive possession of the political class.

Individual responsibility, respect for the law, and ethics are for the lesser beings who don't belong to that exalted caste.

Six years after offering his little tutorial about “individual responsibility... respect for the law and ethics,” Giuliani appointed to the post of NYC Police Commissioner a man he knew had ties to organized crime.

Bernard Kerik's chief qualifications for that post, according to his detractors, were his canine loyalty to Giuliani and his gift for self-promotion. He became Giuliani's driver and bodyguard during the 1993 mayoral campaign, after which he was appointed head of the Corrections Department, where he reportedly did a more than adequate job, although he turned the department (and a related foundation over which he presided in an apparent conflict of interest) into a patronage pinata.

Kerik “spent much of his own term [as Commissioner] writing an autobiography,” notes Fred Kaplan of Slate. This involved, among other things, sending police officers to Ohio to pin down details about his long-deceased mother, and using others (including a homicide investigator) to track down his publisher's missing cell phone.

One wonders how much “respect for law” Kerik displayed as Police Commissioner by using police officers as research assistants and errand boys. But under the Giuliani doctrine, such questions are moot, at least as they apply to those clothed in the State's authority.

For reasons rooted in cronyism, Kerik was sent to Iraq in May 2003 to supervise reconstruction of that country's civilian police force. His job, as he defined it in a conversation with the State Department reconstruction official in charge of Iraqi police, was “to bring more media attention to the good work on police because the situation is probably not as bad as people think it is.”

Apart from swaggering around the country in a Kevlar vest, with a handgun strapped to his side and surrounded by a posse of South African mercenaries, Kerik did little during his three-month tour (originally scheduled to be six months in duration, which was roughly one-third the time serious analysts thought would be necessary to get Iraq's civilian police system operating) as Iraq's interim Interior Minister.

This week's murderous police rampage in Tal Afar offers one measure of Kerik's success in reconstituting Iraq's police force.

Kerik wasn't working to restore Iraq; he (like the other Bushevik apparatchiks working in “reconstruction”) was building his resume. In late 2004, when Tom Ridge resigned as the first Commissar for Homeland Security, Giuliani reportedly lobbied Bush long, hard, and successfully for Kerik to be appointed successor. (“Rudy cashed in a chip on this one,” a “White House source” told the New York Daily News at the time.)

Like Zoe Baird, one of Bill Clinton's failed Attorney General nominees, Kerik was caught in a “nanny trap” and was forced to withdraw. It's likely that the Republican-dominated Senate would have confirmed Kerik despite questions about the immigration status of one of his part-time housekeepers. I suspect that Kerik withdrew because his confirmation hearings, however perfunctory, would likely have exposed a great deal more about the squalid underside of the emerging Crony Capitalism/Garrison State Regime – more than its rulers were comfortable disclosing at that time, in any case.

(It would have been interesting to learn about Kerik's ties to Taser International, the folks who manufacture the portable “Electric chair starter kit” devices now used so promiscuously by police; he joined TI's board in 2002, after leaving the Commissioner post, and made $6 million cashing in company stock options in November 2004, just before Amnesty International released a report documenting that scores in the US had been killed by use of the supposedly non-lethal Taser gun during the previous three years. NYPD invested heavily in Tasers, as did -- of course -- the Department of Homeland Security.)

What role would Kerik play in a Giuliani administration? This would largely depend on the make-up of the Senate, of course. It's unlikely that Giuliani would nominate him for a position that requires Senate confirmation, but the metastasizing Homeland Security bureaucracy would offer plenty of other patronage options.

If the GOP nominates Giuliani, it will ratify the Giuliani dichotomy as official party doctrine, which could be summarized thus: Those in power can do as they will; those against whom power is exercised must simply endure it.

Please visit The Right Source -- and check out the second issue of the Pro Libertate e-journal.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Military Commission and the "Monster" Washington Made

At left: Hicks as a volunteer for the "Kosovo Liberation Army" in 1999 -- when the terrorist group was an ally of Washington in its war on Yugoslavia.

David Hicks, the Australian national who inexplicably became a convert to Jihad-centered Islam, is the first person to be found guilty of terrorism-related charges under the terms of the Military Commissions Act (MCA).

Two aspects of Hicks's case are genuinely remarkable:

First, although he pleaded guilty – following five years of detention and the dismissal of most of his legal counsel by the presiding judge -- to the charge of “providing material support for terrorism,” Hicks wasn't accused of plotting to attack the United States or any American citizen.

Second, Hicks began his career as a Jihadi working with the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which may be the only Islamist terror group accurately described as “Islamo-Fascist.” The pedigree of that organization, as New York Times foreign correspondent Christopher Hedges pointed out in the late 1990s, is traced on one side to the worst elements of Stalinist Marxism, and on the other side to the Skanderbeg militias organized by the SS in the Balkans during World War II.

So it does no violence to the facts to call the KLA “Islamo-Fascist,” although “Islamo-Leninist” would still be a better description.

And it should not be forgotten that at the time Hicks was working with the KLA, the group was likewise receiving material assistance not only from Osama bin-What's-His-Name (you know, the Guy Bush Doesn't Worry About), but also from Washington and London.

It has been said that the crime of terrorism consists of privatizing the official violence routinely practiced by governments. And most terrorist groups of any consequence work as subcontractors for national governments, or international alliances of some kind. This was very much the case with the KLA, which was used by Washington and London as the spearhead in an attack on the former Yugoslavia.

After being thrust into power by the 1999 NATO terror-bombing of Serbia, the KLA proceeded to terrorize Kosovo's Christian Serbs, as well as the peaceful Albanian Muslims living in that Serbian province. The group is now entrenched as the UN-installed government of Kosovo.

David Hicks reportedly went to Kosovo to train with the KLA in 1999 – which means that he was giving material support to a terrorist group that was an ally of Washington (and that he may in fact have been working with CIA operatives who were providing training and assistance to the KLA at the time).

Hicks was working as a horse trainer in Japan when he learned about the KLA. In a letter to his parents he explained that he had joined the group (“I thought it was an airline,” his father later explained) to fight the Serbs. Since fighting the Serbs – who had been routinely demonized in the western media as the Nazis reborn -- had been official U.S. policy for several years, it's reasonable to say that it was Washington that recruited Hicks into the ranks of Jihad.

After converting to Islam, Hicks went to Pakistan where he joined a Kashmiri Islamic separatist group called Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET, or “Army of the Pure”).The LET aspires to convert India into a Sharia-ruled Islamic state, and it has provided support to Islamic rebels in Chechnya, but it displays no documented interest in attacking the US. While fighting with the LET, Hicks reportedly got off a few rounds in the direction of Indian forces in Kashmir, but did nothing to molest any American citizen in any way.

Hicks migrated to Afghanistan in 2000 and became a convert to Taliban-style Islamic fundamentalism. Following the 9-11 attacks, he telephoned his father to tell him that he was going to be fighting on behalf of the Taliban against the Northern Alliance. He was captured by the Northern Alliance outside Kandahar in December 2001, and turned over to US custody.

The dossier on Hicks claims that he was at some point trained by al-Qaeda, and that he helped conduct surveillance on US and British embassies in Kabul. If true, this suggests that Hicks was well on his way to becoming a full-fledged anti-Western Jihadist by the time he was captured by the Northern Alliance. But it shouldn't be forgotten that he was sucked into an Islamist pipeline that was created primarily by Washington – which sponsored the KLA, and also created the Mujahadeen network from which both the Taliban and al-Qaeda sprang.

Should David Hicks have been prosecuted? Definitely – by the Serbs, or by the Indian government, both of which have jurisdiction over any terrorist of insurrectionist acts in which Hicks was implicated. Perhaps he should have been turned over to Australia for trial.

But unless we are to assume that Washington has universal jurisdiction, it had no business detaining and trying Hicks – a foreign national – for alleged offenses committed in the Balkans and Central Asia.

And if Hicks is to be regarded as a terrorist for lending material aid to the KLA, then he should have enjoyed the august company of some celebrity co-defendants in the dock – Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, William Cohen, Tony Blair, George Robertson, Javier Solana.... The list would be quite impressive, and the resulting spectacle most satisfying.

Cardassian "Court TV": Residents of Cardassia Prime watch a show trial intended to make vivid the infallible wisdom of the State.

The military commission that “tried” Hicks is a “prerogative court” akin to the notorious Star Chamber – a burlesque of a judicial body, one that exists only to ratify the executive's will, rather than to determine facts and do justice. It is the lineal descendant of the Soviet “justice” system, a real-life analogue of fictional Cardassian tribunals, in which the objective is to demonstrate the State's infallibility – and the “defense” counsel's role is to help the defendant understand and accept the State's wisdom.

This was made clear by the treatment of Hicks's legal counsel, two of whom were dismissed by the presiding military judge for arcane and whimsical reasons. In fact, Hicks's chief counsel, Joshua Dretel, was dismissed because he refused to sign a document agreeing to abide by court regulations that have not yet been written.

I've pointed this out before, but it bears repeating:

About a decade ago, I co-produced a documentary entitled “Injustice For All: The International Criminal Court” that set out the reasons for opposing the UN's trial court. The UN's trial court claims universal jurisdiction and the right to prosecute citizens of countries that did not ratify the ICC Statute. The ICC does not recognize the due process rights and guarantees integral to Anglo-Saxon law; its standards of evidence and operating guidelines are being invented on the fly; hearsay, double-hearsay, and other grievously flawed testimony can be used as evidence at the ICC. The ad hoc UN tribunals that provided the model for the ICC often “extradited” defendants through kidnapping, or what we now call “extraordinary rendition.”

Every single element of the indictment against the ICC applies to the legal system being created by the Bush Regime in the name of fighting terrorism. Many of the same people who denounced the ICC are volubly applauding the version of the same pseudo-judicial abomination created through the Military Commissions Act.

The ICC could be considered a threat to Americans, albeit one that's a cloud on the horizon the size of a man's hand.

The MCA, however, is an immediate threat to Americans, or anyone else, who attracts the malign attention of Washington.

People who ignore or fail to understand this, I suspect, have been osculating the Dear Leader's posterior for so long they've simply become inured to the pungent odor of totalitarianism.

Be sure to check out The Right Source -- and look for a new issue of Pro Libertate (the e-zine) very soon.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Death Squad in Delaware: The Case of the Murdered Marine (UPDATED)


Scott Horton of kindly invited me to be a guest on Antiwar radio to discuss the outrageous killing of Derek Hale.

He survived Iraq, only to suffer Death By Government in the "Land of the Free": Sgt. Derek J. Hale, USMC, ret. -- RIP

Delaware was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. It may be the first state to be afflicted with a fully operational death squad – unless a civil lawsuit filed on Friday against the murders of Derek J. Hale results in criminal charges and a complete lustration (in the Eastern European sense of the term) of Delaware's law enforcement establishment.

Hale, a retired Marine Sergeant who served two tours in Iraq and was decorated before his combat-related medical discharge in January 2006, was murdered by a heavily armed 8-12-member undercover police team in Wilmington, Delaware last November 6. He had come to Wilmington from his home in Manassas, Virginia to participate in a Toys for Tots event.

Derek was house-sitting for a friend on the day he was murdered. Sandra Lopez, the ex-wife of Derek's friend, arrived with an 11-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter just shortly before the police showed up. After helping Sandra and her children remove some of their personal belongings, Derek was sitting placidly on the front step, clad in jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, when an unmarked police car and a blacked-out SUV arrived and disgorged their murderous cargo.

Unknown to Derek, he had been under police surveillance as part of a ginned-up investigation into the Pagan Motorcycle Club, which he had joined several months before; the Pagans sponsored the “Toys for Tots Run” that had brought Derek to Delaware. As with any biker club, the Pagans probably included some disreputable people in their ranks. Derek was emphatically not one of them.

In addition to his honorable military service (albeit in a consummately dishonorable war), Derek's personal background was antiseptically clean. He had a concealed carry permit in Virginia, which would not have been issued to him if he'd been convicted of a felony, a narcotics or domestic violence charge, or had any record of substance abuse or mental illness.

On the day he was killed, Derek had been under both physical and electronic (and, according to the civil complaint, illegal) surveillance. Police personnel who observed him knew that his behavior was completely innocuous. And despite the fact that he had done nothing to warrant such treatment, he was considered an “un-indicted co-conspirator” in a purported narcotics ring run by the Pagans.

The police vehicles screeched to a halt in front of the house shortly after 4:00 p.m. They ordered Lopez and her children away from Derek – who, predictably, had risen to his feet by this time -- and then ordered him to remove his hands from his the pockets of his sweatshirt.

(Click to enlarge)

Less than a second later – according to several eyewitnesses at the scene – Derek was hit with a taser blast that knocked him sideways and sent him into convulsions. His right hand involuntarily shot out of its pocket, clenching spasmodically.

Not in front of the kids,” Derek gasped, as he tried to force his body to cooperate. “Get the kids out of here.”

The officers continued to order Derek to put up his hands; he was physically unable to comply.

So they tased him again. This time he was driven to his side and vomited into a nearby flower bed.

Howard Mixon, a contractor who had been working nearby, couldn't abide the spectacle.

That's not necessary!” he bellowed at the assailants. “That's overkill! That's overkill!”

At this point, one of the heroes in blue (or, in this case, black) swaggered over to Mixon and snarled, “I'll f*****g show you overkill!” Having heroically shut up an unarmed civilian, the officer turned his attention back to Derek – who was being tased yet again.

I'm trying to get my hands out,” Derek exclaimed, desperately trying to make his tortured and traumatized body obey his will. Horrified, his friend Sandra screamed at the officers: “He is trying to get his hands out, he cannot get his hands out!”

Having established that Derek – an innocent man who had survived two tours of duty in Iraq – was defenseless, one of Wilmington's Finest closed in for the kill.

Lt. William Brown of the Wilmington Police Department, who was close enough to seize and handcuff the helpless victim, instead shot him in the chest at point-blank range, tearing apart his vitals with three .40-caliber rounds. He did this after Derek had said, repeatedly and explicitly, that he was trying to cooperate. He did this despite the fact that witnesses on the scene had confirmed that Derek was trying to cooperate. He did this in front of a traumatized mother and two horrified children.

Why was this done?

According to Sgt. Steven Elliot of the WPD, Brown slaughtered Derek Hale because he “feared for the safety of his fellow officers and believed that the suspect was in a position to pose an imminent threat.” That subjective belief was sufficient justification to use “deadly force,” according to Sgt. Elliot.

The “position” Derek was in, remember, was that of wallowing helplessly in his own vomit, trying to overcome the cumulative effects of three completely unjustified Taser attacks.

When asked by the Wilmington News Journal last week if Hale had ever threatened the officers – remember, there were at least 8 and as many as 12 of them – Elliot replied: “In a sense, [he threatened the officers] when he did not comply with their commands.”

He wasn't given a chance to comply: He was hit with the first Taser strike less than a second after he was commanded to remove his hands from his pockets, and then two more in rapid succession. The killing took roughly three minutes.

As is always the case when agents of the State murder an innocent person, the WPD immediately went into cover-up mode. The initial account of the police murder claimed that Derek had “struggled with undercover Wilmington vice officers”; that “struggle,” of course, referred to Derek's involuntary reaction to multiple, unjustified Taser strikes.

The account likewise mentioned that police recovered “two items that were considered weapons” from Derek's body. Neither was a firearm. One was a container of pepper spray. The other was a switchblade knife. Both were most likely planted on the murder victim: The police on the scene had pepper spray, and Derek's stepbrother, Missouri resident Jason Singleton, insists that Derek never carried a switchblade.

The last time I saw Derek,” Jason told the News Journal, “he had a small Swiss Army knife. I've never seen Derek with anything like a switchblade.”

Within hours, the WPD began to fabricate a back-story to justify Derek's murder. Several Delware State Police officers – identified in the suit (.pdf) as “Lt. [Patrick] Ogden, Sgt. Randall Hunt, and other individual DSP [personnel]” contacted the police in Masassas, Virginia and informed him that Derek had been charged with drug trafficking two days before he was murdered. This was untrue. But because it was said by someone invested with the majestic power of the State, it was accepted as true, and cited in a sworn affidavit to secure a warrant to search Derek's home.

Conducting this spurious search – which was, remember, play-acting in the service of a cover story -- meant shoving aside Derek's grieving widow, Elaine, and her two shattered children, who had just lost their stepfather. Nothing of material consequence was found, but a useful bit of embroidery was added to the cover story.

Less than two weeks earlier, Derek and Elaine had celebrated their first anniversary.

The Delaware State Police officers are guilty of misprison of perjury, as are the officials who collaborated in this deception. And it's entirely likely that the Virginia State Police had guilty knowledge as well.

Last November 21, in an attempt to pre-empt public outrage, the highest officials of the Delaware State Police issued a press release in conjunction with their counterparts from Virginia. The statement is a work of unalloyed mendacity.

Hale resisted arrest and was shot and killed by Wilmington Police on November 6, 2006,” lied the signatories with reference to the claim that he "resisted." “Hale was at the center of a long term narcotics trafficking investigation which is still ongoing.”

As we've seen, Hale did not resist arrest, as everyone on the scene knew. And he was not at the “center” of any investigation; before his posthumous promotion to “un-indicted co-conspirator,” he was merely a “person of interest” because of his affiliation with a motorcycle club.

Most critically, the statement – which bears the august imprimatur of both the Delaware and Virginia State Police departments, remember – asserts: “Both [State Police] Superintendents have confirmed that there was never any false information exchanged by either agency in the investigation of Derek J. Hale, or transmitted between the agencies in order to obtain the search warrant.”

This was another lie.

Delaware State Police spokesperson Sgt. Melissa Zebley conceded last week that no arrest warrant for Hale was ever issued,” reported the News Journal on March 22. Three days after Hale was murdered, police arrested 12 members of the Pagans Motorcycle Club on various drug and weapons charges, but identified Hale at that point only as a “person of interest.”

Last Friday (May 23), the Rutherford Institute – one of the precious few nominally conservative activist groups that give half a damn about individual liberty – and a private law firm in Virginia filed a civil rights lawsuit against several Delaware law enforcement and political officials on behalf of Derek's widow and parents. They really should consider including key officials from the Virginia State Police in the suit, as well.

Those who persist in fetishizing local police – who are, at this point, merely local franchises of a unitary, militarized, Homeland Security apparatus – should ponder this atrocity long and hard.

They should contemplate not only the inexplicable eagerness of Lt. William Brown to kill a helpless, paralyzed pseudo-suspect, but also the practiced ease with which the police establishments of two states collaborated in confecting a fiction to cover up that crime.

According to the lawsuit, Lt. Brown, Derek's murderer, “has violated the constitutional rights of others in the past through the improper use of deadly force and has coached other WPD officers on how to lie about and/or justify the improper use of deadly force.” Rather than being cashiered, Brown was promoted – just as one would expect of any other dishonest, cowardly thug in the service of any other Third World death squad.

Derek J. Hale survived two tours of duty in Iraq, a country teeming with Pentagon-trained death squads, only to be murdered by their home-grown equivalent.

Check out The Right Source for news, commentary, and talk radio -- and an action agenda listing some small but significant steps we can take to battle our descent into police-state hell.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Treason Called "Executive Privilege"

The execution of King Charles I:
How Parliament disposed of that tyrant's claims of "executive privilege"

Treason is a matter of dates,” insisted Talleyrand, who despite being a physical cripple was ideologically double-jointed and thus (unlike many of his revolutionary comrades) was able to keep his head attached to its neck.

White House spokesliar Tony Snow displays more than a touch of Talleyrand in his ardent defense of what he once reviled – the concept of executive privilege.

In a syndicated column published in March 1998 (exhumed by the redoubtable Glenn Greenwald, and given wider circulation by Editor & Publisher), Snow waxed indignant about the Clinton junta's invocation of executive privilege in an effort to deflect the Ken Starr inquiry:

"Evidently, Mr. Clinton wants to shield virtually any communications that take place within the White House compound on the theory that all such talk contributes in some way, shape or form to the continuing success and harmony of an administration. Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything. He would have a constitutional right to cover up.”

Nearly a decade later, as the spokesman for a regime whose criminal behavior eclipses that of the Clintonites, Snow has discovered that the concept of executive privilege is the highest and most sacred governing principle.

In fact, as he informed CBS's Harry Smith during their recent dust-up, from the perspective of the Bush regime, “Congress ... does not have constitutional oversight responsibility over the White House.”

Snow's comment was one of those instances in which the essential fascism of the Bush regime vents to the surface, in the fashion of a gust of superheated, toxic gases seeping to the surface as an overture to a volcanic eruption.

(Another memorable instance occurred last year when a loyal Bushevik in the "Justice" Department told Senator Patrick Leahy – in all apparent seriousness – that “the president is always right.”)

From the Bushevik perspective – which is the distillation of the power-obsessed cult that conservatism has become – the presidency is a self-existing entity superior to every institution under heaven (and, on a good day, superior in some respects to Providence Himself).

This doctrine is alien to our Constitution, and to the Anglo-Saxon tradition of liberty under law. It does have a precedent, however, in the royal privilege claims asserted by King James I, the sexually depraved early 17th Century English monarch, in his essay Basilikon Doron, a document intended to tutor his son in the ways of royal absolutism. The doctrine contained in that tract was nothing less than a prototype for the modern totalitarian concept of Fuhrerprinzip.

British legal expert Geoffrey Robertson summarizes James I's chief claims in his immensely important book The Tyrannicide Brief:

James preached the benefits of what would now be described as a benign political and spiritual dictatorship, in which the King governed through an elite, chosen and discarded at his own discretion, comprising his ministers, his bishops and judges, who must never question the royal prerogative, for `that is to take away the mystical reverence that belongs to those that sit in the throne of God.'”

In this Stuart utopia,” comments Robinson, “Parliament was irritating and irrelevant,” and the king was to be regarded as “`absolute master of the lives and possessions of his subjects; his acts are not open to inquiry or dispute, and no misdeeds can ever justify resistance.'”

James' successor was his small, stammering and petulant son Charles, who (in Robertson's words) “grew up in a narcissistic cocoon, unconcerned about the feelings and aspirations of other classes and citizens....”

Charles I was, in every significant way, a precursor to George W. Bush.

Charles built upon his father's legacy of regal lawlessness; his escalating conflict with Parliament included usurpation of the Parliament's power to enact taxes, and corruption of the judiciary into a servile tool of the throne through the notorious “Star Chamber” courts (which were inspired by similarly discreditable tribunals created by previous monarchs). He suspended habeas corpus and claimed the right to imprison people indefinitely at whim “by His Majesty's special command.”

Angered by these usurpations, and anxious to preserve the liberties won at Runnymede, Parliament enacted a document called the Petition of Right, intended to provide statutory protection for ancient rights; it reaffirmed the habeas corpus guarantee, extended protection against the quartering of troops in civilian homes, and prohibited the king from imposing martial law in peacetime.

Charles suffered the Petition's enactment, and promptly dismissed it. Eventually he dissolved the Commons, and during the entire decade of the 1630s refused to convene Parliament, ruling as a royal dictator. In 1642, the conflict between the Parliament and Throne blossomed into full-fledged civil war, which culminated with the trial, conviction, and execution of King Charles for treason.

It had been with the criminal object of securing unlimited and tyrannical power that Charles I had levied war against Parliament and had set out to destroy the very people whose life and liberty he was obliged to preserve,” writes Robertson.

There is no reason to believe that Bush is less than deadly serious about his intent to deflect congressional subpoenas to protect his courtiers. Previous presidents who have dealt with similar challenges – Nixon, during Watergate; Reagan, during Iran-Contra; and even Clinton during the Lewinsky disgrace – have eventually deferred to Congress, rather than defying it.

Bush will almost certainly defy Congress. And if the conflict escalates further, he may eventually have to exercise the usurped powers he claimed last October 17, when he signed into “law” two measures that would establish his own version of the Star Chamber courts and use the National Guard as his proprietary army.

Even if he should decline to employ such severe means, George W. Bush, like his predecessor Charles I, would have to make war on the legislative branch -- either literally or in everything but name -- in order to defend royal prerogatives alien to our Anglo-Saxon heritage of law.

That was treason in 1642, and it remains treason today – the sophisms of Talleyrand and Tony Snow notwithstanding.

Please visit The Right Source for freedom-centered news, commentary, talk radio -- and an action program to take back our liberty.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Terrorists Among Us

If it were up to me, I'd line 'em all up against a wall and shoot them.”

Such was the sentiment expressed by one of Richard Yancey's supervisors during his brief and robustly unpleasant stint as a collection officer for the Internal Revenue Service. Yancey has recounted his experiences in exquisitely revolting detail within the pages of his book, Confessions of a Tax Collector – which, given the rapid approach of Tax Day, is seasonally appropriate reading.

Why in the name of all that is rational are people afraid of al-Qaeda and remote Jihadists of a similar stripe when the IRS runs rampant within our borders, marinating its personnel in murderous hatred of the agency's victims?

This is war,” Yancey was told by a superior early in his 13-year career. “Surely this simple truth has occurred to you at some point in the last six months. You are at war.”

The language of war and the culture of conflict are the only means to prepare us for what is expected of us,” Yancey recalls in his memoir. “How else could they [those at the top of the agency's criminal hierarchy] demand what was expected of us? You can't take [taxpayers'] life savings, their car, their paycheck, the roof over their head and the heads of their children, without dehumanizing them, without casting yourself in a role that by necessity makes them the enemy.”

Those who are educated in the IRS's training madrassas are required to dehumanize the taxpayer. They are likewise taught to believe that the State – that holiest of institutions -- is never wrong.

On one occasion recorded by Yancey, he and other trainees were informed that the IRS had no use for agents “who anguished over each closure, as if their decision meant life or death for the taxpayer.” When one trainee objected that this often is literally the case, the trainer replied that the agency's role has nothing at all to do with “doing the right thing for the taxpayer”; it was simply that of “protecting the government's interest.”

But what if the government's interest is wrong?” objected the blessedly obtuse trainee.

Our interest is never wrong or right,” responded the trainee. “It just is.”

Some dare call this nihilism.

Former IRS District Chief David Patnoe has admitted that his agency specializes in terrorism: “More tax is collected by fear and intimidation that by the law. People are afraid of the IRS.”

To which Yancey adds that the agency uses terrorism to cultivate informants: “No one likes to hear this, but your neighbor is not your friend. All I had to do was flash my commission and I'd have your life story.... Your neighbor is going to tell the IRS where you work, what kind of car you drive, what kind of jewelry you wear....” And so on. Not content with compiling a financial profile, IRS investigators will squeeze from neighbors and associates whatever potentially compromising details they can find regarding the target of an investigation: “Drink a little too much? Seeing a psychologist? Had an abortion? Faking a disability? We'll know. And most of the time, we won't even have to ask.”

What can't be wrung from human sources, the IRS will obtain through data-mining by way of the Integrated Data Retrieval System, the agency's proprietary database. Through IDRS, Yancey notes, he could learn, almost instantly, more about taxpayers “than they know themselves.”

Yancey, incidentally, was referring to an information system he first used in the early 1990s, which is practically the Pleistocene Era where computer technology is concerned.

(For more about Yancey's book, please see my article “Repackaging the IRS,” originally published two years ago in The New American and now available at The Right Source.)

One of Yancey's most interesting observations is that IRS collection agents generally avoid going after organized crime figures – the case of Al Capone being relatively exceptional. This aversion is born out of understandable fear of violent retaliation, but also reflects the fact that the typical gangster, unlike the law-abiding taxpayer, enjoys political protection of some kind.

In every particular, the IRS is a criminal syndicate operating under color of positivist “law.” A federal lawsuit in Las Vegas – the city built by organized crime – is testing whether the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations act (RICO) can be used against IRS agents, federal prosecutors, and police officials who participated in an unnecessary armed assault against a businessman in 2003.

The plaintiff, Robert Kahre, runs a construction business in which all of his workers are independent contractors paid in real money – gold and silver, issued by the US Mint, rather than the State's fraudulent scrip. As ICs, the workers are responsible to pay their own taxes.

In May 2003, Kahre's business sites were hit with – what else? -- a paramilitary raid by SWAT teams working in tandem with federal personnel. About fifty agents armed with submachine guns invaded Kahre's offices, confiscating papers, computers, and – of course – cash.

More than 20 employees and members of Kahre's family were handcuffed and held at gunpoint; the detainees included an 85-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy. Some of the victims of this act of State terrorism were held outside, in direct sunlight and 106-degree heat, without water, for hours at a stretch. One site was reportedly searched without a warrant. Kahre himself was arrested on a state warrant by an IRS agent, who didn't have jurisdiction over the matter.

On May 22, Kahre goes to trial, facing 109 charges, including failure to withhold taxes from his employees (which he doesn't need to do for ICs), conspiracy (which requires a predicate criminal offense, and there may not be one here), and “attempting to interfere with the administration of Internal Revenue Service Laws.”

The prosecutor at that trial will be Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Gregory Damm, who is the lead defendant in Kahre's RICO suit, as well as a separate civil rights action.

Damm has attempted, without success, to have the civil rights lawsuit (which was filed immediately after the raid) dismissed. In October 2004, Federal Judge Philip Pro ruled that Damm is “not entitled to absolute immunity for claims that he planned every phase of an unlawful raid.” In March 2005, an appeal by Damm and IRS agents was rejected by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Three weeks after losing that appeal, Damm secured the first tax indictment against Kahre.

Wouldn't you like to indict the person who just sued you?” commented San Diego attorney William Cohan, who is representing Kahre, to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Now that Damm is the defendant in two federal lawsuits filed by Kahre, he is ethically required to recuse himself from the case against the businessman. Yet he is still, as of now, scheduled to be the lead prosecutor when the trial begins on May 22.

Clearly, there was no justification for the armed raid in May 2003. Damm could very well lose the civil rights case, or be forced to settle it; in fact, the Feds might well do this in an attempt to pre-empt the RICO action. And it's difficult to see how a reasonably competent defense attorney could fail to persuade at least some jurors that the indictment against Kahre was an act of cynical retaliation by a petty, corrupt, and incompetent prosecutor.

Did someone say “incompetent”?

Roughly a year ago, a $14 million securities fraud case Damm built against a clique of shady attorneys – people accused, plausibly, of defrauding investors out of their money, which (unlike violations of the IRS code) is an actual crime – was thrown out of court because he refused to turn over more than 600 pages of discovery materials to the defense.

When James Mahan, the Federal District Judge at the trial, confronted Damm about this omission, the prosecutor replied with such flippancy that the Judge reportedly threatened to have him “spend the evening with the marshals” unless the materials were provided immediately. Among the facts Damm and his associates attempted to conceal was the fact that several prosecution witnesses who had already testified had struck plea bargain agreements.

How far down in the Great Chain of Being does this Damm guy have to be in order to earn a slap-down from a trial judge, after enduring one from the appellate judge to refused to dismiss the civil rights suit?

It would be easy for a defense attorney to portray Kahre as the victim of an incompetent legal bureaucrat looking to take out his frustrations on a helpless citizen – and that approach would probably play in Vegas. So as I lift my aquiline nose to the wind, I catch the faint scent of settlement offers in the clouds gathering over this case.

In addition to the Damm problems with this case, it's interesting that his supervisor, until less than a month ago, was Daniel Bogden, one of the eight US attorneys removed in the White House-orchestrated political purge. Perhaps the Feds will conclude that they have trouble enough in that US Attorney's office without pursuing the case against Kahre.

Then again, the Leviathan might want to make an example out of Kahre, and spare no expense to do so. In either case, the chief objective will be to do whatever is in the best interest of the apparatus of fraud, plunder, and terror of which the detestable IRS is a representative component.

Arm yourself to do battle with the Leviathan: Visit The Right Source for news, commentary, Kevin Shannon's talk radio show, and Tom Eddlem's "The Right Action" -- a freedom-centered program for activism.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Right to Resist

John Coffin heard his wife Cynthia screaming. After racing to the garage, he saw her prone, agonized form pinned to the floor by two armed strangers who had violated the sanctity of his home.

Despite the fact that he was an unarmed, 55-year-old heart patient, Coffin did the right thing: He beat the intruders to within an inch of their lives.

As it happens, the thugs who assaulted Coffin's wife, Cynthia (a nurse with no criminal record) were deputy sheriffs who had visited the home to serve John with a restraining order filed in a landlord-tenant dispute last April. Coffin had been served the same papers a few days earlier.

When Cynthia answered the doorbell and was greeted by deputy James Lutz with the TRO papers, she told him that John was in the bathroom. She then shut the door – which is exactly the right thing to do, given that police are now trained to seize on any opportunity to conduct a “consent search” -- and went to find her husband. She also began to lock other doors and close blinds; this is also entirely appropriate.

In his report, Lutz claimed that Cynthia was “obstructing his lawful duties.” In fact, she was protecting her family's rights. Lutz didn't have a search warrant, and she was determined not to let him confect “probable cause.”

Why were the Coffins so leery of police? Like an increasing number of honest, unassuming Americans, the couple had noticed that the police have turned feral. Their knowledge of this unfortunate fact is not derived from headlines, but rather a product of an unjustified assault John experienced in October 2003 after an unnecessary traffic stop conducted by a 24-year-old deputy named Grant Steube, who claimed that there was a problem with the license tag on John's car.

At the time of the stop, John was in his sister's driveway. He got out and demanded to know what the problem was. Steube ordered John back into his car and then – without legal cause or provocation – pepper-sprayed the then-52-year-old man, and then beat him repeatedly with a metal club called an asp.

Steube later admitted – gee golly Ned, oopsie-daisy, my bad, and all that – to misreading the license tag. As is always the case in such incidents, it was the victim of state-authorized violence who was charged with “resisting arrest” and “obstruction” of a police officer, but those charges were dropped. Steube, the assailant, was never charged or sanctioned in any way, (reg. required) and a lawsuit filed by the Coffins was summarily dismissed.

Given this history, it's understandable that the Coffins would treat an encounter with the Sheriff's department the way they did during the incident last April.

When John didn't materialize at the front door as quickly as Deputy Lutz thought he should, he summoned Deputy Stacy Ferris (a she-police, and hence useless). The two of them decided to invade the Coffin property without a warrant, by walking into the couple's garage. When Cynthia confronted them about their crime, she was threatened with arrest if she displayed “further resistance” -- a characterization containing a lie, since she had not “resisted” anything.

As she turned to go back into the house, Cynthia was seized by the deputies and placed “under arrest,” which in this case means she was assaulted and kidnapped without legal cause. When she struggled to get away, the deputies threw her to the garage floor, dislocating her arm. Her screams summoned John, who dispatched Deputy Stacy with a blow to the face, then grabbed her Taser and used it as a club on Deputy Lutz. After a brief struggle, Lutz pulled his gun and arrested John.

Asked by columnist Tom Lyons of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune how the Sheriff's Department could justify the invasion of Coffin's home and the violent arrest of his wife in the absence of a warrant or predicate crime, department spokesman Chuck Lesaltato simply muttered that the deputies “felt they had cause” and “felt they had been obstructed.”

It is all about their feelings, it seems,” Lyons wrote in disgust. “But how much will deputies and prosecutors take into account the feelings of the husband who found two cops pinning his wife to the floor because she had the nerve to lock them out of her home?”

Last week, in a ruling as unexpected as it is uncommon and badly overdue, Circuit Judge Rick De Furia threw out all but one of the six charges against John Coffin (the surviving charge dealt with taking the Taser from one of the deputies) and reduced his sentence to the eight days he had served in jail and $358 in court costs.

Law enforcement was responsible for the chain of events here,” ruled De Furia. The critical fact is that the deputies “broke the law” by invading the garage without warrant or probable cause; they committed an armed home invasion, and criminally assaulted an innocent woman.

What took place in the house was unfortunate,” concluded De Furia, “but Mr. Coffin ... had a right to resist.”

Given the nature of the crime committed against his home, Coffin had a moral and legal right to gun down the invaders, irrespective of the costumes they were wearing. Given that I prefer not to see anybody violently killed for any reason, I admire and appreciate the restraint – and the courage -- he displayed in merely beating them severely.

The right to resist is what separates a citizen from a slave. God bless John Coffin for exercising that right, and Judge De Furia for recognizing and protecting it.

And let us pray that, somehow, the right to resist illicit state violence will likewise be recognized in the case of Cory Maye, before that young man is murdered by the State of Mississippi for the supposed crime of defending his home.

(Note: Part II of the Rio, Wisconsin story will be posted later.)

Be sure to visit The Right Source for news, commentary, and talk radio from a freedom-centered perspective.