Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Totalitarianism In One City: Shreveport's Gun-Grabbing Mayor

Shreveport's Big Boss Man, Cedric Glover, and unidentified flunky: According to Glover, an advocate of civilian disarmament, his police have the power to "suspend" the rights of any motorist they stop, and can seize a civilian's firearms at will. Not that long ago, bigoted white southern mayors could be heard making the same assertions about black people.

Any time a motorist is stopped by a police officer, insists Shreveport, Louisiana Mayor Cedric Glover, "Your rights ... have been suspended." This includes not only the freedom of movement, but also, in the event the officer inquires as to whether the driver is carrying a weapon, "Your right to be able to hold on to your weapon and say whether [you] have a weapon or not" -- as well as the right to retain possession of that weapon, should the officer decide to confiscate it from you.

Should you choose not to answer the question, or answer it in the negative, the officer could still choose, "in the interest of officer safety, to secure you in a safe position" -- this most likely means outside the car with your hands cuffed behind your back -- "and then do an appropriate inspection of your vehicle."

The phrase "appropriate inspection" is more honestly rendered "Unconstitutional warrantless search."

Should the police officer then turn up a firearm or other weapon in the car, the driver "would be guilty or potentially guilty of even a more severe offense" than whatever he had allegedly done to precipitate the traffic stop, according to Mayor Glover. Police officers, according to Glover, are invested with "a power that the President of the United States does not have ... and that is the ability to be able to suspend your rights."

This is "one of the things that I say to each and every one of the police officers who graduates from the Shreveport Police Academy since I've been mayor."
Fortunately for the public, one supposes, Mr. Glover remembers the lesson that Peter Parker learned from his kindly and sagacious uncle Ben -- that is, with great power comes great responsibility. "You have to understand there is a great deal of power that is vested within ... the law enforcement personnel of this country," Glover insists. "It's why there is a great deal of responsibility that has to go along with it."

Glover offered those remarkable observations, and many others like them, in
a recorded phone call with Shreveport resident Robert Baillio.

Mr. Baillio had called to complain about
a recent traffic stop in which an SPD officer, who-- before dealing with any other matter of business -- asked if Baillio had a firearm, then temporarily seized it from him.

Louisiana law recognizes the right of the state's residents to carry loaded weapons in their vehicles, and Baillio has a state-issued concealed carry permit -- that is, a piece of paper in which the state generously recognizes one facet of Baillio's innate right to bear arms.

According to Baillio's account, he was cordial and polite when he was stopped after supposedly neglecting to use a turn signal.
That this was almost certainly a pretext stop is illustrated by the fact that Baillio never received a ticket. Supplemental evidence is offered by the fact that the conversation between the officer and Baillio focused entirely on the issue of gun ownership, including a question about Baillio's membership in the National Rifle Association.

This would be a heart-warming picture if it didn't feature a gun-grabber: Cedric Glover is consoled by one of his sweeter constituents after failing to win a role in "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps."

Baillio doesn't conceal his NRA membership; it's advertised by a sticker on the rear windshield of his truck, as are his very passionate views of the right to armed self-defense. "Armed We Are Citizens! Un-Armed We Are Subjects!" exclaims another bumper sticker, expressing a core truth of our republican heritage. Yet another sticker displays various kinds and grades of ammunition captioned by the directive, "Celebrate Diversity."

It's the safest of bets that what triggered the stop, as it were, was not a traffic infraction by Baillio, but rather the police officer's conditioned reflex to treat the public expression of pro-gun ownership sentiments as innately suspicious.

In brief, Baillio was a victim of political profiling of the sort being encouraged by the Department of Homeland Security and the totalitarian "watchdog" groups who have spent decades indoctrinating the police.

In his telephone chat with Glover, Baillio -- who was persistent but unfailingly polite -- pointed out that he "answered the [officer's] question honestly and he disarmed me."

"Which would be appropriate and proper action, sir," replied Glover. "The fact that you gave the correct answer -- it simply means that you did what you were supposed to do and that is to give that weapon to the police officer so he could appropriately place it in a place where it would be no threat to you, to him, or to anyone in the general public."

"Well, you know, he still had a gun," observed Baillio, hoping to underscore the fact that guns -- as objects, rather than actors -- do not pose a "threat" in and of themselves. "How is he --"

"Because he's a police officer," interjected Glover before he could finish the question. "As I've just related to you, that police officer has powers, sir, that you do not have."

Let's unpack that reply, shall we?

From Glover's perspective, it is only when firearms are in the hands of people other than the state's uniformed enforcers/oppressors that they constitute a threat, not only to the public and those in charge of exercising official violence but also to the private gun owner himself.

a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, clearly believes that any firearms in civilian hands should be considered illicit. This is, in both a cultural and constitutional sense, entirely un-American.

Interestingly, it is in harmony with the UN's position, however, as summarized in the world body's 2000 agitprop film
Armed to the Teeth: The World-Wide Plague of Small Arms. That film insists that the only "legal" weapons are those "used by armies and police forces to protect us" -- as if the word "protection" describes the uses to which weapons are put by the enforcement organs of the criminal states that compose the UN.

It is his attitudes toward civilian firearms ownership and the plenary power of police,
not his ethnicity or any similar accident of birth, that would make Glover a very suitable ruler of any of the scores of squalid Third World thugocracies represented in the UN.

According to Glover, a police officer may properly disarm any civilian at any time, and the civilian's duty is to surrender his gun -- willingly, readily, cheerfully, without cavil or question. This is because police officers, as numinous beings anointed by the Holy State, exude the essence of pure goodness and would never commit acts of criminal violence against disarmed civilians.

Tell that to Angela Garbarino, a woman who was arrested by the SPD last year for DWI and wound up lying in a pool of her own blood after being "subdued" in a police holding cell.



Gaps in the security camera record of the incident occur at convenient intervals, so it's not clear exactly how Garbarino wound up bloodied on the floor. In a photograph taken later Angela displays the marks of a severe beating, including two black eyes, a broken nose, and a cut on the forehead that required stitches.

Wylie Willis, the hired thug who administered the beating, can be observed in the video checking his hands to see if there is blood on them. He was dismissed after the incident for "violating departmental policy," but faced no other sanctions.

Like any other pseudo-male who beats a defenseless woman, Willis lied that his victim "slipped and fell."

Like any other police officer who loses his job after a criminal assault on a "civilian," Willis insists that his firing was unjustified.

And like any other police union anywhere in our once-free country, the Shreveport Police Union(led by Michael Carter -- see the photo above and to the right) insists that the abusive cop should get his job back.

She was protected and served: Angela Garbarino displays the results of a beating she received while handcuffed in the custody of Shreveport police.

Obviously, Willis should at the very least be prosecuted for felonious battery. Or, better yet, he should be put into a room, unarmed, with several of Angela's male relatives and given an opportunity to demonstrate the unalloyed martial prowess that enabled him to beat an intoxicated woman half his size whose hands were cuffed behind her back. Willis appears to have been a serial abuser of women, as do several others among Shreveport's ahem, finest. \

In April,
Jasmine M. Winston filed a civil rights suit against the City of Shreveport. A couple of years ago she was beaten by a baton-wielding Officer Willis outside a nightclub and then slammed face-first into the concrete by fellow SPD thug Daniel Sawyer. Oh, the undaunted courage these two armed "men" displayed in double-teaming a solitary woman.

A lawsuit filed by Darlene Atkins in 2006 claims that Willis put a gun to the head of her son Dillion Freeman following a brief pursuit and threatened to shoot Dillion if any of his family approached him. Another suit filed that year by resident Tomeka Bush claimed that after she filed a complaint in the Atkins incident, Willis retaliated by seizing her car. As in the subsequent beating of Angela Garbarino, there were anomalies in the official video record of the Atkins incident; in this case, the entire video was missing. The SPD "investigated" the matter just long enough to satisfy itself that Willis (let's say it all together, shall we?) acted in accordance with department policy. He always did -- until his officially sanctioned criminal violence was documented beyond dispute.

Loathsome as he is, Willis is not exceptional.

In 2007, eight SPD officers were arrested for various offenses, including perjury, falsification of official reports, falsifying tickets, DWI, drug charges, and maintaining an "inappropriate" on-line relationship with an underage girl.

Of those offenses, the most striking are those committed in an official capacity. Given the latitude offered to Willis, it's difficult to imagine how blatantly an SPD officer would have to perjure himself before facing punishment.

Oddly enough, Cedric Glover didn't mention the corruption roiling in the SPD when, roughly a year ago, he vetoed a police retention plan that included a pay raise. And now that the "stimulus" spigots have been thrown open, Glover is eager to build his police department into a fighting force of extraordinary magnitude.

"We're asking for 90 additional police officers ... with this stimulus package [because] there is a portion that is available for cop spending and we want to go out there and capture as much of it as we can,"
oinked Cerdo, er, Cedric last February as the Holy One, His Munificence Barrack the Blessed (peace be upon him) hoisted the slop bucket over the national trough.

Along with expanding the local "infrastructure," Big Cerdo's chief priority for the stimulus is to use federal funds to expand his own herd of gun-grabbing
Cerditos.* The same is probably true of dozens of other mayors across the country, some of which may boast police departments even more corrupt than the one afflicting Shreveport.

Shreveport resident Ken Krefft, president of a neighborhood association, is understandably worried that
the SPD's corruption could damage the city's tourism industry: "This is not a good thing for the city [to tell tourists] -- `Come to Shreveport, we've got crooked cops.'" It used to be that Americans would have visit such destinations as Cuba to experience what it's like to deal with corrupt police who can disarm, beat, and presumably kill innocent people with impunity. Cedric Glover has thoughtfully turned his city into a totalitarian theme park we can visit without leaving the United States -- in a geographic sense, in any case.

(My emphatic thanks to "Liberranter" for tipping me to this story.)

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*"Cerdo" is Spanish for "pig."

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An American "Yezhovschina"?

Maxwell Smart: Are you a psychologist, Dr. Stueben?

Dr. Stueben
: I'm the president of the psychologist society for mental health and adjustment through fulfillment.

: W
hat kind of an organization is that?

: We're a hate group.

Smart (following a double-take): A hate group?

Stueben: Oh, in the sense that we cure hate and fear. We hate hate. Hate it.

From "All in the Mind," a 1965 episode offering redundant proof that Get Smart was the work of perceptive and prescient satirists.

A September 1996 American Bar Association conference on terrorism and the law in Washington, D.C. presented me with an opportunity I had long coveted.

Among the presenters at that event was former New York Times legal and political affairs columnist Anthony Lewis, long one of the most predictable journalistic voices on the left. One of his favorite tropes was the description of the American Right as "merchants of hate," an expression that seemed to serve as the title for every second or third column Lewis wrote.

If you think this is Wallace Shawn, you've fallen victim to one of the classic blunders:
This is actually former New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis. The estimable Mr. Shawn -- character actor, vocal artist, and accomplished playwright, is seen below and to the right.

During a break in the proceedings I cornered Lewis, who looked a little less like Wallace Shawn than I had anticipated. By way of introduction, told him (in all sincerity) that I had enjoyed reading his book Gideon's Trumpet as a High School student.

"I've long wanted to ask you something about a subject you frequently address in your column," I continued. "You often make reference to `right-wing hate groups.' Do you acknowledge the existence of left-wing hate groups, as well -- and do you consider them to be a potential threat to society?"

Lewis stood in genuinely stunned silence for a good half a minute or so before tentatively saying, "Well, I suppose there could be such a thing as a left-wing hate group" -- a made with the same grudging, reluctant tone one might use when conceding the possible existence of unicorns, extra-terrestrial intelligence, or cerebral matter inside of Sean Hannity's skull.

Like many others of his political persuasion, Lewis was hard-wired in such a way that he could clearly discern "hate" only when it manifest itself among his political opponents.

He had internalized the conceit that the left, as the embodiment of progress and tolerance, was utterly devoid of hatred and similar base motivations; those impulses are monopolized by the forces of "reaction." Since, according to this ideological model, conservatives are hostage to false consciousness, they really aren't honest about their own motives and indeed cannot be.

Even if they don't consciously hate anybody, the politics of conservatives and other "right-wingers" are objectively hateful, you see, because they oppose inevitable social progress. What other motive could exist for such behavior, apart from simple, irrational belligerence or even outright hatred?

The only politically acceptable hatred, therefore, is to hate the haters -- those whose attitudes and opinions are irreconcilable with progressive prejudices. Where possible, efforts should be made to rehabilitate haters into useful members of the collective -- useful, that is, if only as informants and teaching examples. But when dealing with authentically incorrigible haters -- particularly those unwilling to confess that hatred is their genuine motivation -- sterner measures may be necessary.

This was the logic -- if that word applies -- behind the political use of psychiatry in the Soviet Union: Only someone clinically deranged could hate socialism, and since such people were a danger to themselves and society, they had to be incarcerated in the psiushka (psychiatric gulag) and forcibly cured of their anti-social(ist) tendencies. The heroic former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky recounts his own experience in the Soviet psycho-gulag in his memoir, To Build a Castle.

The "Poisoned Dwarf": Nikolai Yezhov, diminutive in stature, crippled in body and morals, was the intellectual architect and, as head of the NKVD, chief enforcer of Stalin's Great Purge.

The Soviet use of psychiatry was an outgrowth of the Regime's longstanding policy of pre-emption: Threats to "stability" and "social order" had to be recognized and aborted before they reached maturity.

This concept was embedded in the Soviet Union's Fundamental Principles of Penal Legislation, which identified the central mission of the state's law enforcement apparatus (chiefly the Ckeha or secret police, by whatever acronym it was later known) as that of identifying, and removing the threat of, "socially dangerous persons."

This notion was encapsulated in Article 58 of the penal code, which served as the legal foundation for the Soviet regime's perpetual war of terror against dissent.

The law dealing with "socially dangerous persons," observes the authoritative Black Book of Communism, dealt with "any activity that, without directly aiming to overthrow or weaken the Soviet regime, was in itself `an attack on the political or economic achievements of the revolutionary proletariat.' The law thus not only punished intentional transgressions but also proscribed possible or unintentional acts."

And the term "socially dangerous persons" itself was based on "extremely elastic categories" that permitted the imprisonment of people in the gulag "even in the absence of guilt." This is because that the Soviet rulers were pleased to call "the law" specified that incarceration, exile, or execution could be employed as means of "social protection" against "anyone classified as a danger to society, either for a specific crime that has been committed or when, even if exonerated of a particular crime, the person is still reckoned to pose a threat to society."

Note carefully here how Soviet "law" discarded entirely with the idea of punishing overt acts, focusing instead on the supposed motivations of those deemed innately threatening to the regime. Note as well how the system was rigged to nullify exculpatory verdicts.

Of course, the Soviet government punished common criminals, at least those it didn't recruit into the ranks of its enforcement agencies. But as Paul Gregory points out in his book Lenin's Brain, most of those imprisoned in the gulag were there not because of what they had done, but because of what the state suspected they could do; they were being isolated from the rest of society "because of actual or suspected opposition to the Soviet state."

In 1935, an individual best described as five feet of feculent malice added another key element to the Soviet formula for institutionalized terror. A foul, vulgar little creature named Nikolai Yezhov, an intimate associate of Stalin, wrote a pseudo-academic paper contending that any form of political opposition should be treated as incipient terrorism.

Yezhov, who came to be known as "Stalin's Poison Dwarf," lusted to be head of the secret police. He secured that post following the assassination of Stalin's rival Sergei Kirov, an act of terrorism orchestrated by Stalin that inaugurated the campaign of official terrorism known as the Great Purge. Yezhov toppled his predecessor as head of the NKVD, Genrikh Yagoda, by accusing the old Bolshevik of being inadequately zealous in finding and eliminating Stalin's enemies. Yezhov distinguished himself by his murderous zeal until he, too, was denounced, tortured into multiple confessions, and executed.

Would-be commissarina for political correctness Bonnie Erbe, wearing red, of course.
For roughly three years, Yezhov conducted a reign of terror and persecution that came to be known as the Yezhovschina -- the "Era of Yezhov."

Viewed in the context of the Soviet regime's decades-long campaign of repression and terror, Yezhov's role in building the body count was relatively modest. The same really can't be said of his distinctive contribution to the art and practice of totalitarianism, namely the reductionist claim that all anti-statist activism will eventually beget terrorism.

Trace elements of the Poisoned Dwarf's influence -- or, at least, a toxin very similar in composition -- can be found in the Pentagon's claim that political protests are a form of "low-level terrorism."

Echoes of Yezhov's claim, and the Soviet doctrine of dealing pre-emptively with "socially dangerous persons," can also be heard in demands for federal action to imprison "haters" even in the absence of overt criminal acts.

Bonnie Erbe, who has afflicted public television for decades and now scribbes the occasional cyber-screed for CBS News, recently gave full-throated expression to the Soviet perspective on "pre-emption."

“If yesterday’s Holocaust Museum slaying … is not a clarion call for banning hate speech, I don’t know what is," shrilled Erbe, insisting that something must be done about ridding the Internet and the public dialogue of hate speech." But she wouldn't stop there; the purge would mean doing away with the "haters," as well.

Referring to the accused murderers of security guard Stephen Johns, abortionist George Tiller, and military recruiter William Long (whose alleged murderer was an American convert to Islam), Erbe insists: “It’s not enough to prosecute these murders as murders. They are hate-motivated crimes and each of these men had been under some sort of police surveillance prior to their actions. Isn’t it time we started rounding up promoters of hate before they kill?”

String up the barbed wire, sharpen the guillotine, fire up the crematoria: There are haters in our midst to be dealt with!

Please tune in...

... to my new show Pro Libertate Radio on the Liberty News Radio Network. And give me a call at 1- 866-989-6397 (NEWS).

One more thing...

Some of you might be interested in the developments I touch upon here.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

The Tragedy and Farce of Collective Guilt (UPDATED, June 13)

Dark Helmet, evil ruler of the Spaceballs: Before you die, Lone Star, there is something you should know about us.

Lone Star, intrepid if thick-headed space hero: What?

Dark Helmet (with triumphant menace): I ... am your father's, brother's, nephew's, cousin's former roommate.

Lone Star (puzzled): What's that make us?

Dark Helmet (after a beat): Absolutely nothing.

From the climactic battle sequence in Mel Brooks' 1987 satirical space epic, Spaceballs.

The tenuous, gossamer link of distant association described by Dark Helmet works as a piece of throw-away satirical comedy. Under the doctrine of collective guilt being promoted by our would-be cultural commissars, that relationship would also be sufficient to serve as a "link" connecting Lone Star to the crimes committed by Dark Helmet.

Partisan hack and hypocritical ideologue:
During the reign of Bush the Lesser, Keith Olbermann routinely -- and properly -- condemned the Regime for inflating the threat of Islamic terrorism. Now he's leading the chorus of alarm regarding the supposed threat of domestic "right-wing" terrorism.

Lest it be thought that I'm exaggerating, consider Keith Olbermann's effort to connect Ron Paul -- a man devoted to peace and protecting the individual rights of everybody, a man who seems biologically incapable of malice -- to James von Brunn, the troubled 88-year-old man accused of carrying out the murderous shooting rampage at the Holocaust Museum.

Olbermann, who looks like one of Eugene Levy's SCTV caricatures and (to my disappointment) appears to have the soul of an East German prosecutor, grimly informed his viewing audience that "von Brunn switched his website domain on May 1 to a man who shares a phone number with a woman who was listed as the Michigan coordinator for former presidential candidate Ron Paul."

What does that make the actual relationship between von Brunn and Dr. Paul?

As Dark Helmet would say: Absolutely nothing.

But this is a "link," or at least can be forged into one by people whose reserves of silliness and dishonesty are adequate to that task, and Olbermann -- who, like most pathologically self-important asses, has an apparently bottomless supply of silliness -- easily qualifies.

A theory of collective guilt easily as silly as Olbermann's dribbled down the chin -- or at least oozed from the fingertips -- of David Neiwert, a former professional associate of the degenerate fraud and racial ambulance chaser Morris Dees.

Niewert is author of the recent book The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right. For the most part a porridge of self-contradictory partisan talking points, Neiwert's book does offer the occasional useful disclosure.

For example, Neiwert points out (pg. 126) that during its revival in the early decades of the 20th century, the Ku Klux Klan acted as "an auxiliary police outfit" to enforce laws against bootlegging -- which is to say that the Klan acted as government sub-contractors in carrying out the deranged policy of Prohibition. There's a potent seed of an important realization here regarding the role of the state in cultivating hate groups. Regrettably, that seed requires fertile soil in which to flourish, and where such uncomfortable thoughts are concerned, Neiwert's mind is barren and rocky ground.

Similarly, Neiwert provides a well-researched and detailed chapter on "Eliminationism in America" (no, it's not devoted to matters of digestive tract health) which deals with the long and tragic history of the State's war against the Indians, as well as other forms of State-enforced racial discrimination.

In that survey the author takes due notice of the depredations carried out against the Plains Indians by Union "war heroes" like Phil Sheridan and William Sherman. He then he spends the rest of the book excoriating "neo-Confederates." That category presumably includes anyone who recalls with horror the eliminationist campaigns against the Shenandoah Valley and civilian populations in Georgia as a prelude to the crimes committed against the Indians.

One of the most useful passages in Neiwert's book (see pages 97-98) is a critical treatment of the embittered, authoritarian nationalism that passes for contemporary conservatism.

What is "conservative," asks Neiwert, about permitting "torture, rape, and the killing of civilians under the guise of interrogating prisoners in the nation we now occupy as a result of the Bush Doctrine?... Is it conservative to issue hundreds of `signing statements' that place the president outside congressional purview and above the law? To blatantly flout federal surveillance laws nad proceed with the wiretapping of thousands of American citizens?" Is "conservatism" defined entirely by support for aggressive war abroad and presidential dictatorship abroad?

Movement conservatism, Neiwert concludes, "has come to resemble nothing genuinely conservative at all but rather something starkly radical: profligate spending and economic recklessness; incautious and expansionary wars, pursued unilaterally; exaltation of religious fervor and assaults on science; and the undermining of the civil rights of minorities."

Although this is an incomplete and flawed summation, it's a good place to begin in discussing the dangers of contemporary conservatism, as opposed to the genuine article.

That being the case, why does Neiwert go out of his way to implicate Ron Paul, who -- by Neiwert's analysis -- would appear to be the only genuine conservative of any stature within the GOP?

In his book Neiwert accused Dr. Paul of helping to "mainstream" the ideas of the "Radical Right" -- the same ideas, he insists on the same page (136, for those who are interested), that propelled "the rampages of Eric Rudolph, Buford Furrow, and ... Jim David Adkisson." This is because Ron Paul's presidential campaign promoted what Neiwert dismisses as "classical Patriot monetary and taxation theories" -- that is, an understanding of the need for hard money (gold and silver) and of the destructive influence of the Federal Reserve on our economic and social health as a country.

(Neiwert carefully avoided mentioning Dr. Paul's emphatic and courageous stand against the Iraq War and the demented policy of "pre-emption," including nuclear aggression against "rogue" countries. He likewise omitted mention of Dr. Paul's eagerness to work with congressional Democrats -- such as Dennis Kucinich and Barney Frank -- on issues of common interest where this was compatible with his principles. Oversights of this sort attest to an abundance of bad faith on Neiwert's part.)

Like a dog returning to its vomit, Neiwert returned to this smear against Dr. Paul in the wake of the Holocaust Museum shooting. Noting that von Brunn was arrested for attempting either a "citizen's arrest" or kidnapping (depending on your perspective) ofPaul Volcker at the Federal Reserve Building in Washington, Neiwert wove a tangled skein of guilt-by-astronomically distant association:

"Von Brunn ... was an adherent of the white-supremacist/far-right movement called Posse Comitatus, and was acting on those beliefs. More to the point, this is precisely the same belief system that today fuels the cottage industry in conspiracy theories -- promulgated by the likes of Ron Paul and Alex Jones -- that the Fed is part of a massive conspiracy of `international [read: Jewish] bankers' to enslave Americans and destroy the country. It's been around quite awhile, but lately it's been gaining the patina of being regurgitated for mainstream consumption on right-wing media. "

Leaving aside the unappetizing mental image of a "patina" that is acquired through regurgitation, Neiwert's argument -- if that word can be tortured into applying here -- is a crude and dishonest syllogism: The anti-Semite James von Brunn opposed the Federal Reserve; Ron Paul and many others oppose the Federal Reserve; therefore, opponents of the Federal Reserve are anti-Semites.

Thus, any time you hear someone unbosom himself of sentiments like the following, you can know that you're in the presence of a certifiable Right-Wing nutbar, a "Lone Wolf" terrorist just waiting the trigger word to go on an anti-Semitic murder jag:

"From time immemorial, inflation is how governments have wiggled out of repaying what they owe. Back in the days when all money was copper, silver, or gold, its purchasing power was lessened by minting coins with less precious metal in them. Next came printing more dollar bills. Nowadays debasing the currency is accomplished by a few computer keystrokes.... From 2005 to 2006 the dollar in your purse lost 4 percent of its purchasing power. So unless you got a 4 percent raise to compensate, you are working for less than you were a year ago. A four percent rate may not sound like much, but thanks to the `miracle of compound interest,' it can postpone your retirement or keep you on the job till you drop dead.... When you see your money evaporating in front of your eyes, don't call the weather bureau. Call the politicians."

The same demagogue -- a mock-populist most likely animated by para-fascist sentiments, one supposes -- offered a denunciation of the Federal Reserve that James von Brunn would have endorsed:

"The last time a professor of economics was installed as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, in 1970, the country went to hell. The nation drowned in an inflationary decade that washed away jobs, businesses, life savings and the futures of millions. Arthur Burns, the Columbia University professor President Richard Nixon appointed, entered office with credentials more impressive than [Benjamin] Bernanke's and left having swamped the country with cheap money, rising prices and turmoil."

You just know the guy who wrote those words is smart enough to know that his dog-whistle rhetoric will be understood and acted on by extremists across the country. Surely, Mr. Neiwert will indict this fellow for his role in cultivating the "climate" from which hate crimes and acts of "Right-Wing" terrorism precipitate like a rainshower from a low-pressure system?

Well, maybe not: The author of those perceptive critiques of the Federal Reserve's malign influence is the wonderfully acerbic Nicholas von Hoffman of The Nation magazine, who in his relative youth was a "social organizer" in the employ of Saul Alinsky.

Try as I might, I can't find a single instance in which Neiwert or others of his ilk have used their Dark Helmet-like gift for charting distant associations to implicate Nicholas von Hoffman or other left-leaning critics of the Federal Reserve as ideological accomplices to "Right-Wing" terrorists and "hate criminals."

I suspect that this is because people of Neiwert's persuasion, like (as I've pointed out) an increasing number of people on the nominal Right, define their politics entirely by Lenin's kto/kogo formula: What matters isn't who's right or wrong, or what's true or false, but who does what to whom.

For all their supposed enlightenment, the left's "anti-hate" crusaders are just as tribal and intolerant as the racial collectivists upon whom they rely for their regular fix of high-yield indignation. There's a kind of co-dependence at work here between these contending versions of collectvism, as well as a potentially murderous competition for the power to isolate, disenfranchise, and -- if deemed necessary -- annihilate the other faction.

Does that gesture seem familiar? French revolutionary artist Jacques-Louis David's famous Oath of the Horatii, depicting three sons of Horace who pledged to kill and die for their government. The stiff-armed salute was later immortalized in David's depiction of the Tennis Court Oath. Its more recent uses need no elaboration here.

Let there be no misunderstanding here. There's no secret about the purposes to which neo-Nazis and their associates would put the power of the State were they to seize control.

But the outcome wouldn't be that much different if the Left were put in the same position of unchallenged dominance. The capacity for mass extermination of political enemies is inscribed in the ideological DNA of the activist Left.

In 1791, years before the regime he served took his head, French revolutionary leader Georges Danton described the Revolution's agents as "exterminating angels."

Even though the revolutionary assembly in 1791 grandly declared the whole of humanity to be one political family (surely, the apex of Kumbahyah, "We Are The World"-style liberalism), four years later it was involved in a campaign of wholesale slaughter against the refractory peasants and priests of the Vendee" for the supposed crime of seeking to worship God rather than the regime, and refusing to permit the State to conscript their young to kill fellow Catholics abroad.

This resistance prompted the monstrous Bertrand Barrere in August 1793 to call for "measures to exterminate this rebel race."

That word, once again, was "race." Yes, the Jacobin-led Revolution, which gave us the Fascist/Nazi salute, also pioneered race-based mass murder.

By 1795 the slaughter carried out by the broad-minded progressives in Paris had become so intense that Gracchus Babeuf (who, ironically enough, was a proto-Communist in his outlook and tactics) accused the government of "turning the scythe of death" against the Vendeans, in the pursuit of "populicidal" objectives.

(For a sober and detailed treatment of this history, see David A. Bell's recent book, The First Total War: Napoleon's Europe and the Birth of Warfare as We Know It, particularly chapter 5, "The Exterminating Angels.")

A proverbial monster:
So expansive was the appetite of French revolutionary Bertrand Barrere for the blood of his enemies that for generations his name was used to frighten French children into eating their brussels sprouts. I'm not kidding. Well, maybe about the brussels sprouts.

We know enough from post-1789 history to assume that egalitarian objectives wedded to total power lead ineluctably to mass murder.

By making that observation, am I seeking to implicate the likes of Keith Olberman and David Neiwert in the crimes of totalitarian-minded leftists? Of course not. I am, however, trying to disabuse them of the notion that the potential for political violence is somehow exclusive to the "Right," as they perceive and define it.

I'm also urging them to understand the lethal potential of the politics of collective guilt before the learn -- as people like Danton and Robespierre did long ago -- that nobody can really control that monster once it's been unleashed.

UPDATE: What time is it, kids? That's right -- it's time to start filling the gulag!

"Let Terror be the order of the day!" exclaimed Robespierre as the Revolutionary regime began its blood-purge in earnest. In 1918, at a similar juncture in the Soviet revolution, Lenin
called for the slaughter of the state's enemies by the hundreds and thousands (and eventually, of course, by the millions). "Let them drown themselves in their own blood," exclaimed the founding Soviet dictator; "let there be floods of the blood of the bourgeois -- more blood, as much as possible."

Commentator Bonnie Erbe, a shrill collectivist shrike, has yet to endorse the slaughter of counter-revolutionaries by the millions. She'll get there eventually, however, if she follows the lethal logic of her call for preventive imprisonment of "hate criminals."

Referring to the murders of abortionist (not "doctor") George Tiller, security guard Stephen Johns, and military recruiter William Long, Erbe decrees: "It's not enough to prosecute these murders as murders. They are hate-motivated crimes and each of these men [meaning the alleged perpetrators] had been under some sort of police surveillance prior to their actions. Isn't it time we started rounding up promoters of hate before they kill?"

(Thanks to commenter 5-Pillar Scribe for tipping me to Erbe's screed.)

A reminder:

Please tune in to my new radio program, Pro Libertate Radio, on the Liberty News Radio Network. Our call-in number is 1-866-989-6397 (NEWS).

(In the original version I mistakenly identified Alan Greenspan, rather than Paul Volcker, as the target of James von Brunn's 1981 kidnap attempt. My thanks to the anonymous reader who spotted the error.)

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"It's The Money"

Rancher Seaborn Tay (after several of his employees became rustlers): "What do you reckon it is that makes a man go to hell like that?"

Faithful Ranch Hand: "It's the money, Mr. Tay."

Conn Conhager (disgustedly): "The money.... God help us if that's all it is."

What is it that turns a man into a specimen like Acting United States Attorney Edward R. Ryan, whose name is inscribed on the tissue of lies and totalitarian assertions called a "Bill of Indictment" against four key figures in NORFED, aka the Liberty Dollar organization?

To at least some extent, it must be the money (or at least the officially sanctioned similacrum of the same) that provides for Ryan's material comforts and subsidizes whatever squalid vices he enjoys. Since Ryan is a servant of the kleptocracy we can assume that vice, of some kind, plays a significant role in his discretionary time: Someone who steals for a living isn't likely to be a moral paragon when he's off the clock.

As a tax-feeder, Ryan, like the rest of us, is paid in the innately worthless scrip and slugs that the Regime insists on calling "money."

The chief difference is that he, like others in the Regime's employ, gets first, best use of the currency at the beginning of the debasement cycle; he enjoys a slew of benefits that are funded by the labors of the honest and productive; and he -- unlike those in the productive sector -- can reasonably expect that his salary will more than keep pace with inflation. For the Regime and its clients, and those who serve that system, inflation is as beneficial as it is baneful for those of us trying to make an honest living.

Ryan really should be shunned by those who know him as if he were the carrier of a lethal disease, and the epicenter of an unbearable stench, two traits immediately recognizable to people with a rudimentary sense of right and wrong. Long ago, acting on motives known only to himself and his Creator, Ryan sold his soul at a steep discount by taking a job in the employ of the world's deadliest, most powerful criminal syndicate.

Now, bearing the august title of U.S. attorney, Ryan is protecting criminals whose deeds impoverish and threaten all of us, by prosecuting innocent people whose acts of legitimate commerce threaten nobody but those very same apex-level criminals.

Pish, who'd want one of these? A gorgeous, lustrous Liberty Dollar -- one solid ounce of .999 fine silver.

Until late 2007, when the Feds invaded its offices and stole the company's assets, the Liberty Dollar organization marketed platinum, gold, silver, and copper coins, and issued colorful, finely wrought warehouse receipts that were redeemable in specific amounts of precious metals.

The Liberty Dollar was a private currency of the type that was very common in the United States prior to the bankster coup de main that left us with a centralized, politically controlled fiat pseudo-currency. It was offered and accepted on a purely volunteer basis, with fully informed people on both sides of the transaction.

One could take issue with the premium charged by the company for its coins, or dispute the strategic wisdom of its campaign, but it is impossible for honest, rational people to perceive a criminal conspiracy in which people were bartering for goods and services using the only substances recognized by the Constitution (Article I, section 10) as a legal currency -- gold and silver.

Bernard von Nothaus, the founder of Liberty Dollar and one of four people mentioned in the federal indictment, routinely made clear his belief that the re-introduction of competing hard-money currencies would eventually bring down the Federal Reserve's bogus-money monopoly. (One is tempted to call it a "Monopoly Money monopoly," but this would be unfair: Monopoly "money," which provides amusement and education to those who use it, has more innate value than the Regime's ugly, worthless scrip.)

According to Edward Ryan and the people who fill his trough and determine the length of his leash, it is a crime to seek the overthrow of the Federal Reserve System by the peaceful, cooperative methods employed by Nothaus and his associates.

Query: Is it likewise a crime to seek the overthrow of that system through legislative means -- say, through an audit of the sort pursued by Rep. Ron Paul and a growing number of his congressional colleagues, or through a measure summarily dismantling the institution?

If the means employed by Nothaus and the Liberty Dollar movement were not criminal -- and there is nothing in the indictment demonstrating that they were -- then the objective must be the real focus of the prosecution. That's why I suspect there are contingency plans to devise additional spurious prosecutions of anybody who embodies any potential danger to the Federal Reserve System's continued existence.

(Color me cynical, but I also suspect that scripts are being finalized for a few more melodramas like the one that took place today at the Holocaust Museum, all the better to invest the opposition to official counterfeiting with an image of irrational and potentially violent prejudice.)

The thirteen-page federal grand jury indictment of Nothaus and his associates is densely cluttered with legal sophisms. Its treatment of the alleged acts of those involved in the NORFED/Liberty Dollar organization fall hopelessly short of describing the elements of a crime.

There is no mention of a victim, or an injury to anyone.

Paragraph 24 of the document states, in part:

"Some purchasers [of Liberty Dollar coins] knowingly and willingly accept the Liberty Dollar currency as change. Other purchasers however [sic] do not know that have have been provided Liberty Dollar currency as change for a purchase because the Liberty Dollar currency appears to be official U.S. currency. Thus, in this instance, the unknowing customer has been provided coinage which cannot legally be used as U.S. currency, nor can it be deposited into the U.S. banking system because it is not U.S. currency."

If there are "some" people anguished over receiving constitutionally legal currency -- such as silver coins -- as change for a purchase made in constitutionally spurious currency -- Federal Reserve Notes or officially minted pig-metal slugs, or legally negotiable instruments denominated in the same -- why isn't at least one of them mentioned here as a plaintiff in a criminal fraud prosecution?

One suspects that the Feds either were unable to find someone suitably distressed to find real money in his change, or that they didn't even bother to look for someone of that description.

Paragraph 28 of the indictment mentions a statement issued by the United States Mint, one of the Federal Reserve System's key partners in crime, "warning ... American citizens that the Liberty Dollar was `not legal tender.'"

This is true. It is also irrelevant. The Liberty Dollar was never advertised as legal tender -- meaning a form of state-issued currency that people are required by "law" to accept. It was circulated on the principles of barter, used only where both parties to a transaction would be satisfied. Generally, people were delighted to receive real money in payment for a sale rather than the Regime's dull and useless counterfeit, and where merchants weren't interested in the Liberty Dollar, none was forced upon them.

"Legal tender" laws testify to the fraudulent nature of an official currency, since the state forces people to accept it. The Liberty Dollar -- which, unlike the Regime's ersatz issuance, had innate value -- required no such compulsion in order to win acceptance.

Ryan's indictment (paragraph 33) takes a limp-wristed stab at establishing a legal basis for protecting the monopoly enjoyed by the fraudulent FRN (Federal Reserve Note):

"Article I, section 8, clause 5 of the United States Constitution delegates to Congress the power to coin Money and to regulate the value thereof. This power was delegated to Congress in order to establish and preserve a uniform standard of value. Along with the power to coin money, Congress has the concurrent power to restrain the circulation of money which is not issued under its own authority in order to protect and preserve the constitutional currency for the benefit of the nation. Thus, it is a violation of the law for private coin systems to compete with the official coinage of the United States."

Even though he's too dishonest to acknowledge it (and, most likely, too dim-witted to understand), Ryan has done something ironically worthwhile:
Apart from his unwarranted assertion that Congress has the authority to "restrain" the circulation of money (since it's not mentioned by the Constitution, that power doesn't exist), Ryan has drawn up an article of indictment that applies perfectly to the Federal Reserve System, a private entity issuing a spurious, unconstitutional currency that has all but destroyed the value of the dollar.

Those truths are neatly inverted by being filtered through the prism of the indictment's next lie:

"In accordance with the U.S. Constitution, Federal Reserve Notes (FRNs), obligations, and securities of the United States which are issued by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and coins which are issued by the U.S. Mint, are the current money of the United States."

Had Ryan amputated the first six words from that statement, it would have been true, in a positivist sense. By invoking the authority of the Constitution, however, those words become patently false. Nothing in the Constitution authorizes Congress to alienate its power to coin money from gold and silver into the hands of a private cartel that issues its own spurious "money."

Additionally, note how the indictment descibes FRNs together with federally issued "obligations" and "securities" as "money." Apart from the fact that all of these instruments are issued by the government's Bureau of Engraving and Printing, what do they have in common?

(Insert theme from "Jeopardy" here.)

The answer, which I will not phrase in the form of a question, is this: All of these forms of money are instruments of debt, rather than instruments of value. They are, in a word, I.O.U.s -- pieces of paper promising that money will someday be paid. This means that they cannot be considered money themselves, no matter how loudly our rulers insist that they must.

A curious artifact of a different time:
A Treasury Bill redeemable in real money -- precious metal (click to enlarge).

But there is no money behind any of those I.O.U.s, and there hasn't been since August 15, 1971. The document we're told to call a "dollar" is backed only by the Regime's force and fraud; the same is true of the dollar-denominated Treasury Bills it issues in order to fund its rapacity. (There was a time, incidentally, when Treasury Notes, like dollar bills in various denominations, were redeemable in gold or silver; see the examples on this page.)

Yet the indictment describes the production and circulation of gold and silver coins as "counterfeiting." This makes as much sense as treating any form of mutually beneficial barter as criminal "fraud."

I'm also left to wonder just how far the Feds are willing to go in pursuing the premises of this prosecution: If it's a "crime" to offer and accept privately minted silver coins in private transactions, would it be a "crime" for a merchant to accept only pre-1965 U.S. coins, which were ninety percent silver in composition? I don't see how the former could be considered criminal, without the latter also being treated as such.

But then, of course, I strive to be honest and logical. Which means that I'm not good enough for government "work." Unlike, for example, Edward R. Ryan.

The foundation of the indictment is composed of sedimentary layers of inconsequential detail supporting not a single overt criminal act. It is a comprehensive description of a premeditated plot to provide something of value -- gold and silver -- to people who wanted it.

In defense of a criminal clique engaged in stealing what remains of our property and earnings, Ryan and his minions are trying to imprison at least four Liberty Dollar associates. They also seek to seize through "civil forfeiture" -- that is, to steal -- all of the company's assets, wherever they are found -- including, one presumes, from customers who bought gold, silver, platinum, and copper coins from the company.

Which means, I suppose, that in the most vulgar sense, It's (All About) The Money, after all.

A reminder --

My new radio program, Pro Libertate Radio, can be heard from 6:00-7:00 PM Central Time on the Liberty Radio News Network. Our toll-free number to take part in the program is 1-866-986-6397 (NEWS). If you're not blessed to live within the broadcast area of a network affiliate -- a small, but stalwart and growing list -- the program is available on-line.

(Quick disclosure: Owing to the crush of my schedule today, this essay was published without my customary copy-editing, however cursory. Since then I've edited and revised it for spelling and clarity, but there have been no substantive changes in the content.)

(Second quick disclosure: The original version of this essay mistakenly referred to "pre-1964 U.S. coins" when the proper expression is "pre-1965." Thanks to reader David Whitinger for the sharp-eyed correction.)

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Cheney's Revenge: Coming to a Police Station Near You (UPDATED, 6/10)

Ryan S. Smith of Niagara Falls, New York, is a 21-year-old ex-con suspected of taking part in a vicious kidnapping and robbery.
He is, quite likely, a fairly nasty specimen of humanity. Whether or not that's the case, he will likely become a pivotal figure in the legal struggle over institutionalizing torture as method of enforcing court orders and conducting police interrogations.

In July 2006, four suspects invaded a home, bound and gagged two small children, and took the mother hostage. While one remained behind, three of the suspects took the mother to another home, where they shot a man while carrying out a robbery. (The victim, fortunately, survived.)

While watching the children, the fourth conspirator -- Smith, according to prosecutors -- helped himself to a soda, apparently unaware that by doing so he would leave behind a potentially critical quantum of DNA evidence.

Smith is also suspected of staging an armed hold-up of a convenience store on the following Christmas Eve. A glove found at the scene of that robbery also contained a DNA sample.
The DNA samples collected from the glove and the soda can were matched by the
FBI's Combined DNA System (CODIS) with a sample previously taken from Smith.

In August of last year, Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza issued an order requiring Smith to provide
a DNA sample via a painless swab of his inner cheek. Smith didn't object, and the sample was taken without difficulty.

At this point, the story becomes complicated by professional incompetence. The Niagara Falls Police sent the sample to the wrong lab, where it was opened and contaminated.

The investigators went back to Judge Sperrazza for a second order, which -- unlike the first one -- she granted
ex parte; this means that Smith's defense counsel was not informed or consulted. That last point is critically important, as we will see anon.

Smith bridled over the second order, refusing to provide a second DNA sample. This prompted the police to consult with the County District Attorney's office to learn how much force they could employ to compel Smith to provide potentially self-incriminating evidence.

Let's stop here to ask what should be an obvious question: In a system that is supposed to favor the rights of the accused over the convenience of the accuser, what sense does it make to have the prosecution decide the extent to which physical duress can be applied to force a defendant to incriminate himself?

The answer, it seems to me, is "none at all" -- unless, of course, the system as it actually exists is rigged to favor the needs of the prosecution, at whatever expense to the rights of the accused. Once this is understood, the next development in the Smith case is hardly surprising, however troubling it should be to people who care at all about due process.

As Detective Lt. William Thomson would later testify, Assistant Niagara County D.A. Doreen M. Hoffmann, who is presiding over the prosecution of Ryan Smith, instructed the police that "we could use the minimum force that was necessary" to force the suspect to submit to a DNA test.

Now, think carefully about that formulation: In principle, it authorizes the use of any amount of force needed to extract the sample, since the critical term is "necessary." As long as the police were reasonably careful in calibrating the duress the applied, they could continue escalating the level of force until it broke the suspect; wherever they end up would obviously be the "minimum" necessary to accomplish their objectives.

Smith was brought in handcuffs to the police station and informed that the investigators had been authorized to use physical force. Although nobody intended to harm him, Smith was told, the sample was going to be surrendered; it was just a question of how much he wanted to endure before it was. Smith still refused to comply.

Confronted with an intransigent suspect who refused to provide critical evidence, the investigators reluctantly strapped the handcuffed Smith to a downward sloping table, covered his face with a towel, and waterboarded him. He broke within seconds, and meekly permitted the DNA sample to be taken.

On the basis of the DNA evidence, Smith was hit with a 24-count criminal indictment. He was also charged with "criminal contempt of court"
for forcing his interrogators to torture him.

When Smith's defense counsel filed a motion to suppress the evidence based on Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections, the same Judge who issued the ex parte orders produced a ruling validating the use of waterboarding as means of forcing compliance, as long as it's not done "maliciously" or to "excess."

This account is true and accurate in every detail, save one - the specific torture protocol that was used to compel Smith to surrender a sample of his DNA.

He wasn't subjected to water torture; instead, he was given a brief taste of electroshock torture by way of a Taser that was used to inflict a "drive stun." This involves placing the prongs of the device directly on the body of the victim for a brief, painful, paralyzing charge.



While Smith was spared the much-discussed horrors of controlled drowning, there was no practical reason waterboarding
could not have been used, if his interrogators had chosen that method of "pain compliance," either at the beginning of their interrogation or after trying other modes that had failed. Remember, "minimum" force is left entirely to the discretion of the interrogators, and it's defined as whatever succeeds in extracting what is wanted from the suspect.

I don't presume to be a prophet, but I feel serenely confident in predicting this: If the tactics used in this case survive judicial scrutiny, the use of electro-shock and other torture protocols -- including waterboarding -- in suspect interrogation and enforcement of court orders will become not only acceptable, but routine.

In fact, electro-shock torture is already commonplace, albeit as a means of forcing unruly people -- not dangerous, not threatening, but merely uncooperative -- to submit to police orders.

The original rationale for the use of the Taser is that it provides a safe, non-lethal alternative to firearms for use in dealing with violent criminal suspects.

However, the much more common
use of the Taser is as an instrument of "pain compliance" when police confront peaceful but uncooperative citizens. "Pain compliance" is a legitimate means of subduing a violent suspect without placing the lives of others in jeopardy.

As a means of forcing non-violent citizens ("subjects" is actually the proper word) to submit to police in which there is no legitimate suspicion of a criminal act, "pain compliance" is nothing other than a species of torture: Submit, helot -- instantaneously and without back-talk -- or Officer Pavlov with get out the sizzle-stick and make you do the electron dance.

With police regularly using Tasers to administer summary punishment to non-compliant civilians, it's not surprising that their use has now been authorized as a means of extracting self-incriminating evidence from criminal suspects.

We shouldn't delude ourselves into thinking that the domestic use of "enhanced interrogation" will be confined to enforcing court orders, as mortifying as that application is in and of itself; the welcome mat is now out for a return of the Third Degree, albeit in subtle, incremental steps.

What is striking about the case of Ryan Smith is the utter lack of exigent circumstances behind this ratification of official torture.

There was no "ticking bomb," no concealed nuclear weapon, no secret plan to spike municipal water supplies with chemical weapons.
Just a recalcitrant criminal suspect who was making things a little difficult for the police.

The crime itself took place three years ago. DNA evidence collected from the crime scene is as secure as can be expected, given the proven incompetence of the investigators. Smith's DNA is not mutable.

As New York criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield points out, "Normally, the refusal to comply with a court order would compel the police to let the prosecutor know, who would then move to have the defendant held in contempt for failure to obey the court order."

Judge Sperrazza is "the first judge in western civilization to say you can use a Taser to enforce a court order," complained Patrick Balkin, Smith's defense counsel. He also pointed out that the precedent could inspire other practical applications of electro-shock "pain compliance": “They have now given the Niagara Falls police discretion to Taser anybody anytime they think it’s reasonable. [Sperrazza's] decision says you can enforce a court order by force. If you extrapolate that, we no longer have to have child support hearings; you can just Taser the parent.”

In a lawsuit filed against the City of Niagara Falls, Smith alleges that he was "tortured into unconsciousness" by repeated Taser charges. The police investigators insist that they were much gentler in the application of electro-shock trauma, but their testimony regarding the number and duration of shocks is mutually self-contradictory (as well as inconsistent with the record kept by the Taser unit itself).

There are a number of other troubling aspects to the case. Smith's defense attorney contends Smith was never shown a copy of the court order demanding the first DNA sample; the police insist that the paperwork was shown to Smith, but the affidavit attesting to service "cannot be located," as Judge Sperrazza acknowledged in her ruling (.pdf). No matter: She was willing to take the police at their word. Of course.

In justifying the use of a court order for a DNA test -- a painless but invasive procedure -- Sperrazza relied on a New York State precedent dealing with a court-ordered blood sample. "As the application seeks an intrusion in the suspect's body," Sperrazza wrote, "it may not be ex parte but must beupon notice and give the suspect an opportunity to oppose the request."

Once again: The second court order demanding a DNA sample, the one Smith refused, was issued ex parte. Sperrazza glides over that complication by insisting that Smith had consented to the first order without raising objections, an argument that is a pretty decent specimen of the ignoratio elenchi fallacy.

Sperrazza takes note of Smith's argument that the use of the Taser was "in the nature of torture and cannot be condoned." This prompts the following judicial shoulder-shrug: "[T]he Court does not find that the infliction of pain in a reasonable manner, to induce compliance, is necessarily unconstitutional. "

This is to say that torture (Sperrazza did not reject the description) via Taser can be entirely "constitutional" and "reasonable" as a means of breaking the resistance of a suspect.

Judge Sperazza's ruling -- which is almost certain to be appealed -- is the domestic offspring of the sophistries begotten by Jay Bybee and John Yoo during their time as apparatchiks in the Bush Regime's Office of Legal Counsel.

When the Dear Leader (and his dead-eyed GrandVizier, Cheney the Malignant) demanded a legal rationale for torture, Bybee -- a pious Mormon Sunday School teacher with the mien of Ned Flanders -- provided the general outline and let Yoo run wild as a detail worker.

That's how we ended up with a standard of CIA interrogation in which duress could be applied in any way that didn't involve "organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or death." That's how Yoo could go on to suggest that the President could order the sexual torture of children as a means of forcing the parents to cooperate. It would be interesting to see how Bybee, who now sits on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, would react to a case involving the "enhanced interrogation" of a criminal suspect.

"Criminal means, once tolerated, are soon preferred," warned Edmund Burke. Don't be surprised if, ere long, the interrogation rooms in American police departments mutate into CIA-style "black sites" of the sort now familiar to more than a few traumatized innocent foreigners.

UPDATE, June 10: The Met and Water Torture

A major "anti-corruption" probe of London's Metropolitan Police includes allegations that police officers used water torture -- colloquially known as "waterboarding" -- against suspects in narcotics investigations, according to Sean O'Neill of the Times of London. The probe is also investigating claims that police fabricated evidence and stole property from suspects -- forms of official corruption quite common in the American version of the murderous fraud called the "war on drugs."

Although the allegations of corruption and torture are being probed by Scotland Yard with the "utmost seriousness," one official close to the inquiry insists that the method of water torture used was less sophisticated than the CIA's preferred approach: It was less a matter of strapping someone to a table and using calibrated amounts of controlled drowning than "shoving their heads in a bowl of water."

I've said it before: Sometimes it's a pity that only one ocean separates the UK from the U.S. The relative ease of correspondence between the United State and its Mother Regime allows for pernicious cross-pollination of all kinds of dangerous and stupid ideas. We tend to be perhaps six to eight months behind Great Britain in our descent into the Total State. And here we see how bad ideas tend to travel east from Washington to London, as well as the reverse.

(My thanks to the anonymous commenter who brought the London water torture scandal to my attention.)

Something to watch for ...

I don't know when, or if, anything will materialize in print, but on Monday I spent more than an hour on the phone with Dan Barry, a columnist for the New York Times. He was interested in getting my views about some matters involving the organization that once employed me. In the event something comes of this, I'll be sure to let you know.

A reminder ...

Monday at 6:00 PM Central time will see the debut of Pro Libertate Radio on the Liberty News Radio Network. LNRN is a small, young start-up with only a handful of stations so far, but the programs are accessible via the Net, both as simulcasts and in the on-line archive. The toll-free call-in number is 1-866-986-6397 (866-986-NEWS). I hope to hear from you!

An utterly gratuitous video extra ...

... it's just that every time I hear "Niagara Falls," it tears me apart:



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Dum spiro, pugno!