Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rubicon in the Rear-View, Part III: En Route to Military Rule (Updated, 12/27)

The military occupation of New Orleans, post-Katrina.

Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.

Federalist Paper No. 8, in which Alexander Hamilton displayed an atypical ardor to defend liberty against state power.

“We no longer have a civilian-led government.”

This ominous conclusion comes to us from Thomas A. Schweich, who held the title of deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement affairs in the Bush Regime, by way of a
December 21 Washington Post op-ed column. Lamenting “the silent military coup d’etat that has been steadily gaining ground below the radar screen of most Americans and the media,” Schweich describes the infusion of the military “into a striking number of aspects of civilian government” as “the most unnerving legacy of the Bush administration.”

Schweich is not an advocate of limited-government who managed to burrow deeply into the Bu’ushist Welfare/Warfare State; he is an advocate of “soft power” imperialism, the supposedly benign variety that focuses more on hectoring foreigners about their shortcomings, rather than unceremoniously bombing them into blood pudding.
Oh, sure – even “soft power” imperialism involves the threat and occasional practice of bombing, but usually only amid cries of anguished reluctance following the performance of the proper multilateralist sacraments. (For useful examples, consult the Clinton-era bombing campaigns in the former Yugoslavia.)

Schweich seems particularly miffed that the military shouldered aside the State Department’s efforts to train civilian “law enforcement” personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the Pentagon’s habit of Bogarting all of the boodle set aside for “reconstruction” projects.

But even though his protests have the sectarian flavor of bureaucratic in-fighting, Scweich validates his shocking announcement of the demise of civilian government with some very solid examples.
For instance, the military’s domination of law enforcement training in Iraq and Afghanistan have created police forces that “have been unnecessarily militarized – producing police officers who look more like militia members than ordinary beat cops. These forces now risk becoming paramilitary groups, well armed with US equipment, that could run roughshod” over civilian governments.

While this and other “military takeovers of civilian functions” took place “a long distance from home,” Schweich elaborates, the same all-devouring militarism is at work here as well.

Witness the huge and expanding role played by the military in narcotics enforcement, including the hugely expensive “Merida Initiative” through which the Bush Regime has collaborated with Mexico’s narcotics syndicates (which are, to use a common term on this side of the border, public-private partnerships) to propagate unprecedented violence and misery in that country.

The most important example Schweich lists is the Pentagon’s plan “to deploy 20,000 U.S. soldiers inside our borders by 2011, ostensibly to help state and local officials respond to terrorist attacks or other catastrophes. But that mission could easily spill over from emergency counterterrorism work into border-patrol efforts, intelligence gathering and law enforcement efforts – which would run smack into the Posse Comitatus Act…. So the generals are not only dominating our government activities abroad, at our borders and in Washington, but they also seem to intend to spread out across the heartland of America.”

While Schweich’s concern and candor do him credit, his warnings are tantamount to urging that we secure the barn door long after the prize stallion has fled, been butchered, and graced a Frenchman’s dinner table.

The military “spill-over” into domestic law enforcement that he warns against began as a trickle in 1981 with passage of the Military Cooperation with Civilian Law Enforcement Act. That trickle is now a cascade as voluminous and consistent of any found in Niagara Falls. Once again, this is chiefly – but not entirely – due to the so-called War on Drugs.

The eyes of the military are upon you:
Active-duty military personnel collect photographs of anti-war activists during a 2002 Washington, D.C. protest against the then-impending Iraq war (above and below right).

For some time, military involvement in domestic intelligence gathering has included personal surveillance of political activists; more recently, this has expanded to the use of spy satellites to monitor political protests on behalf of militarized law enforcement bodies. While Schweich is properly alarmed by the way the Pentagon has created Iraqi and Afghan police forces that are little more than miniature armies of occupation, he apparently hasn’t noticed that the same process is well underway here in the United States as well.

In some ways, Schweich’s jeremiad is a good update and companion piece to
Brig. Gen. Charles J. Dunlap’s prescient essay “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012,” published in the Winter 1992-93 issue of the U.S. Army War College journal Parameters.

Written in the form of a smuggled prison letter composed by “Prisoner 222305759,” condemned to death for “treason” by the American military junta of Gen. E.T. Brutus, Dunlap’s essay described many trends that he feared would culminate in “a military that controls [the American] government and one that, ironically, can’t fight.”

As government corruption and ineptitude grew, “The one institution of government in which people retained faith was the military,” explained Dunlap’s literary stand-in. The military was thus burdened with countless tasks unrelated to warfare – from law enforcement, to supplementing the work of doctors and teachers, from environmental preservation efforts to bolstering the financially stricken airline industry. (Dunlap, incidentally, extensively documents how the military was either active, or planning to become involved, in all of those missions by the early 1990s.)

Likewise, the military’s missions abroad were increasingly Operations Other Than War (OOTW), a term that came into vogue subsequent to publication of Dunlap’s essay. At the same time, a cultural dissonance grew between the military and the public it was supposedly serving.

The structural defects in this new model military were displayed to painful effect in what the author describes (by way of prediction, remember) as “the wretched performance of our forces in the Second Gulf War,” particularly following Iran’s intervention in 2010: “Preoccupation with humanitarian duties, narcotics interdiction, and all the rest of the peripheral missions left the military unfit to engage an authentic military opponent.”

While the military was no longer well-suited to fight and win wars (including, of course, patently unjust wars of aggression), its subtle and thoroughgoing integration into every element of domestic life made it perfectly suited to carry out a coup: “Eventually, people became acclimated to seeing uniformed military personnel patrolling their neighborhood. Now troops are an adjunct to almost all police forces in the country. In many of the areas where much of our burgeoning population of elderly Americans live – [military dictator] Brutus calls them `National Security Zones’ – the military is often the only law enforcement agency. Consequently, the military was ideally positioned in thousands of communities to support the coup.”

Very little of consequence separates the speculative world described by Dunlap from the one in which we presently live. One institutional impediment is the Posse Comitatus Act (or whatever remains of it), which was intended to prevent direct involvement of the military in domestic law enforcement.

But this measure, which was always a tissue-paper barricade at best, is all but extinct as we near the end of the Bush era. And the ranks of military scholars are planted thickly with people devising arguments to destroy whatever may remain of the Posse Comitatus proscriptions.

In a paper published by the US Army War College in early 2006, Lt. Col. Mark C. Weston of the U.S. Air Force Reserve points out that the Posse Comitatus Act has been perforated with “exceptions” practically since it was passed in 1878. (Just weeks after signing the act – passage of which was part of a deal that ensured his presidency -- Rutherford B. Hayes deployed the Army to carry out police functions in New Mexico.)

One of the biggest exceptions deals with what could be called the use of “civilian” police as military proxies, since the Pentagon is permitted “to provide equipment, transportation, training, supplies, and services to law enforcement officials as long as it does not directly and actively participate in law enforcement tasks,” writes Weston.
Which is to say that it’s permissible to militarize the police, as long as troops aren’t actually the ones pulling triggers and conducting arrests. This is, once again, exactly the same procedure being used to create the Afghan and Iraqi “militias” described by Thomas Schweich.

There are six formal exceptions to the Posse Comitatus Act listed in Title 32, Sec. 215.4 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Weston writes. To that list, he rather audaciously adds “One final exception worthy of discussion [namely] the concept of martial law.” Referring to the Supreme Court’s 1866 Ex Parte Milligan decision, Weston insists that martial law can properly be said to exist only in “the absence of order, courts, and constitution…. Martial law is the use of force by the military to maintain order by acting as the police, the court, and the legislature…. If the courts are open then [use of the term] martial law is not appropriate.”

Most domestic deployments of the military don't cross the threshold of martial law, Weston maintains, and he eagerly recommends making it easier for the military to carry out such missions by repealing the Posse Comitatus Act (or PCA).
From Weston’s perspective, the PCA, which was never a good idea, has long since fallen into desuetude. He insists that the Act should either be repealed outright or modified in such a fashion as to make it entirely inconsequential.

Posse Comitatus, Weston writes, is “a significant obstacle to unified action on homeland security … an impediment to agility and adaptability of the military to national defense … [a hindrance to] national values and national purpose.” Yet he prefers to “modify” the Act rather than abolish it, apparently to maintain – for now – the useful fiction that military and police powers remain separate, with civilian officials firmly in control of the former.

In an October 2000 essay entitled “The Myth of Posse Comitatus,” Major Craig T. Trebilcock, a JAG officer in the U.S. Army Reserve offers an assessment quite similar to that of Lt. Col. Weston: The PCA is useless but not harmless, and best ignored if it can’t be dispensed with.

The only value of the PCA, according to Trebilcock, is the fact that “it remains a deterrent to prevent the unauthorized deployment of troops at the local level in response to what is purely a civilian law enforcement matter.” For example, it can result in administrative punishment or even criminal prosecution of “a lower-level commander who uses military forces to pursue a common felon or to conduct sobriety checkpoints off of a federal military post.”

As of December 12 – when active-duty U.S. Marines conducted a joint highway sobriety checkpoint with California Highway Patrol officers – that example can be crossed off Trebilcock’s list.

In his book
An Empire Wilderness, Robert D. Kaplan describes a strategic planning session held at Ft. Leavenworth’s Battle Command Training Program shortly after the April 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing (a tragedy directly facilitated by several of the Regime’s three-letter agencies). One of the participants, a Marine Major named Craig Tucker, predicted that the threat of terrorism and domestic turmoil suggested that the military would have to “go domestic.”

God forgive us, if He can: Iraqi mourners display the lifeless body of an infant killed during a chemical weapons attack by US occupation troops. The burn marks on the child's body are the result of an attack using white phosphorous munitions. In a 1932 essay on domestic military deployments, Gen. George S. Patton -- who ironically took care to avoid needless civilian casualties during World War II -- recommended the use of white phosphorous to suppress insurrection.

While that prediction has been fulfilled, the process has yet to be fully consummated. On
the continuum described by none other than Gen. George S. Patton – who considered domestic military deployment as the “most distasteful” form of service – we are presently somewhere between routine involvement of military personnel “in connection with Domestic Disturbances” and “Martial Law.” That continuum ends with “Military Government,” which differs from Martial Law in that it represents the complete abolition of civilian authority, as opposed to the enforcement of a civilian ruling elite’s will through direct military force.

In administering either Martial Law or Military Government, Patton – predictably enough – prescribed the pitiless application of lethal force. He digested his doctrine of domestic military missions into what he called “The Law and the Prophets of Riot Duty,” a canon that includes the following directives:

*“Take no orders from civil officials -- federal, state, or municipal.”

*“You may and should cooperate with police or state troops who may be present; but you and not they are the judge of the amount and character of this cooperation.”

*“Should some orator start haranguing the crowd and inciting them to violence, grab him even if it brings on a local, small fight. Small fights are better than big ones. Words cunningly chosen change crowds into mobs.”

*“Warn newspapers, theaters, and churches that if they encourage the mob, they are guilty of aiding them and that their leaders will be held personally accountable. Freedom of the press cannot be construed as `license to encourage’ the armed enemies of the United States of America. An armed mob resisting federal troops is an armed enemy. To aid an enemy is TREASON. This may not be the `law,’ but it is fact. When blood starts running, the law stops.”

*“If you have captured a dangerous agitator and some `misguided’ federal judge issues a writ of Habeas Corpus for him, try to see the judge to find out what he is liable to do…. There’s always the danger that the man might attempt to escape. If he does, see that he at least falls out of ranks before you shoot him. To be soft hearted might mean death to your men. After all, WAR IS WAR.”

*“As in all military operations, information is vital. By the use of detectives, soldiers in civilian clothes, and friendly citizens, get all possible information about the condition within the city.”

*“The use of gas is paramount…. While tear gas is effective, it should be backed up with vomiting gas.”

*"Although white phosphorous is incendiary, it is useful in forming a screen for the attack of barricades and defended houses.”

*“If you must fire, DO A GOOD JOB. A few casualties become martyrs; a large number becomes an object lesson.”

These admonitions, remember, were issued with respect to the use of military force against American citizens by a man revered as a patriotic hero by millions (including some lately given to second thoughts) – and who, ironically enough, was almost certainly assassinated by the same State he served with such ruthlessness.

Patton's model for a domestic counter-insurgency "war" during the last depression would probably resemble the approach used by the military in dealing with serious internal upheaval in the depression that has just begun.

Significantly, Patton’s tactics track very closely with those employed to enforce US occupation of Iraq –
including the use of hideous white phosphorous munitions. That occupation is supposedly slated to end in 2011 – the same year, incidentally, when the military’s 20,000-man Homeland Security force is supposed to be fully deployed.

If the conclusion voiced by Thomas Schweich and other very credible analysts is correct – if, indeed, we are living under a de facto military junta , the nature of which will become clear as the economic collapse strips away all politically comfortable pretenses – we may soon learn, in the most painful way possible, that our military missions abroad have been carefully training the occupation force that will extinguish whatever remains of our liberty.

Update: Are you prepared to be "quelled" by the military?

In the installment immediately preceding this one ("`Question 46,' Revisited"), I mentioned a DUI/license checkpoint carried out recently as a joint effort by the California Highway Patrol and personnel from the Marine combat station at Twentynine Palms, California. The Marines were supposedly on hand as mere "observers."

That explanation struck me as implausible, or at least insufficient. Of course, there is a sense in which Marines, or other military personnel, could be invited to participate in ordinary law enforcement operations both to "observe" and to intimidate. This is illustrated by a letter published last July in the Colorado Springs Independent, which is reproduced below in full:

I feel compelled to notify fellow citizens of what is now occurring during the early morning hours in our downtown streets. This past Friday, July 11, after an evening at Rum Bay, I was met with an unexpected and disturbing sight. It was not the ever-increasing number of police officers that I found so disturbing. It was the three Fort Carson Army soldiers in full camo, armed with 9mm handguns, standing in the middle of Tejon Street with Colorado Springs police as people exited the night clubs.

I knew instantly what was occurring, but delayed my departure to watch and confirm my suspicions. After 30 minutes I approached an officer and inquired, "With all due respect, sir, why do we have armed soldiers in our streets?" He smirked slightly and responded in a more serious tone, "There are people that do certain things that need to be stopped; we started a program with the local base to bring some soldiers out with us to quell those things that go on ... even just their presence has a quelling effect."

That confirmed my suspicion: It was solely to create a sense of fear and intimidate the people under direction of the CSPD.

The Posse Comitatus Act was passed in 1878 to prevent our military from being used for general civilian police activities. Since the U.S. Patriot Act, and the Defense Authorization Act, virtually all aspects of the Posse Act were overwritten but directed at events of large civil disobedience, natural disasters or terrorist threats.

On this evening there were no organized masses, just the normal instances of confrontation between random people. In short, what CSPD is doing is illegal, and the CSPD and our local government need to be `quelled' of thinking that such blatant violations of civil law can continue.

— Justin Blough
Colorado Springs

I suspect, but cannot prove -- yet -- that this kind of gradual but accelerating militarization of routine police functions is becoming quite commonplace, largely at the invitation of local law enforcement bodies.

(My emphatic thanks to Colorado Springs resident William Blair for bringing the letter to my attention.)

On sale now.

Dum spiro, pugno!

Friday, December 19, 2008

"Question 46," Revisited

Policing the world, from the outside in: A US soldier deployed under UN command in Bosnia frisks a civilian at a weapons confiscation checkpoint. Military personnel are now taking part as "observers" at sobriety/driver's license checkpoints here in the US; could firearms checkpoints be in our future as well?
(Photo courtesy of

“Hey, Will – we just got a letter from a Marine saying that he was part of a project dealing with civilian arms confiscation by the military. Are you interested?”

It had been a fairly slow morning up until the point Dave Bohon, at the time the managing editor at The New American, came down to the research department with the aforementioned letter clutched in his hands and a puzzled expression inscribed in his aquiline features.

Practically leaping out of my chair, I grabbed the proffered letter, a handwritten missive attached to a multi-page document called a "Combat Arms Survey" (scroll down). I read both the letter and the questionnaire with a sense of mingled dread and excitement.

As students of the federalization and militarization of law enforcement, my associates and I knew things of this sort had to be happening, but proving it was somewhat difficult. Here was a letter that seemed to provide the dreadful confirmation. While it would be useful to see our suspicions confirmed, we couldn't exactly take pleasure in the knowledge that one of our worst fears appeared to be taking tangible form.

The letter's return address was Twentynine Palms Marine Base in California, and the author – a Marine Lance Corporal – had provided contact information. After reading the letter three or four times, I called the phone number and contacted the Marine. We spoke for about a half hour, during which time he described the incident in greater detail. Of particular interest was the final question in the survey, which -- as we will see anon -- did indeed ask about the willingness of Marines to seize firearms from Americans, using lethal force to do so if necessary.

In that pre-Blogosphere era, we had to wait several weeks for the story to see print, but within hours of the first copies of the July 11 issue reaching subscribers our research department was dispatching fax copies of the letter and the survey - of which we had the sole original copies -- to curious and outraged people across the nation. Many of them had exactly the same reaction we did: A joyless sense of dreadful, unwelcome vindication.

The Marine was one of several hundred who had combat experience in recent deployments abroad. The conversation took place in late May 1994; accordingly, the pool of combat veterans included those who had served in Panama, the first Gulf War, and Somalia. They were assembled in a mess hall and given a 46-question survey composed by Navy Lt. Commander Ernest “Guy” Cunningham, who was working on a Master's Thesis dealing with the deployment of US military units under foreign command as part of UN-supervised missions abroad.

While there was much in the survey that a Constitutionalist would find objectionable – for instance, Marines were asked about their willingness to swear an oath of allegiance to the United Nations – the final question was positively thermonuclear:

“The US government declares a ban on the possession, sale, transportation, and transfer of all non-sporting firearms. A thirty (30) day amnesty period is permitted for these firearms to be turned over to the local authorities. At the end of this period, a number of citizen groups refuse to turn over their firearms. Consider the following statement: I would fire upon US citizens who refuse or resist confiscation of firearms banned by the US government.”

As it happens, Lt. Cmndr. Cunningham was not promoting civilian disarmament, or the cession of the US military to UN control. He was using his survey to determine the extent to which such policy choices would have the support of military personnel who had served in combat abroad.

When Cunningham released his findings it was revealed that more than 61 percent of the Marines who took the survey responded that they wouldn't carry out such an order under any circumstances. Many of them took the time to expand upon their answers through comments in the margin of the survey, often written in language that would bring a maidenly blush to the gnarled cheeks of Deadwood's Al Swearengen.

Paving the road to serfdom with the remains of destroyed civilian firearms: A US soldier presides over the destruction of confiscated guns in Bosnia. (

Of course, it was gratifying as it is to know that most of the combat veterans surveyed by Cunningham emphatically rejected the concept of domestic civilian disarmament by the military. However, the study did suggest the existence of a sizable pool of military personnel willing to carry out that mission.

In that particular group, 79 Marines – a little more than a quarter of those surveyed -- replied to Question 46 in the affirmative, a response Cunningham said “showed an alarming ignorance of the Posse Comitatus Act ... and of how to treat an unlawful order.”

Now, roughly fifteen years later, it's hardly clear that the order to gun down American civilians defending their innate right to armed self-defense would be considered unlawful, at least in a positivist sense, by a majority of service personnel.

In September 2006, on the same day the Bush Regime effectively dismantled the habeas corpus guarantee it inflicted what may be lethal injury to the Posse Comitatus Act as well by providing the president with the means to make the National Guard units of all 50 states into his personal army, to be deployed domestically in any way he sees fit. At least three combat brigades are now assigned to domestic duty as a homeland security force under Northern Command.

Those troops would supposedly be used for the sole purpose of dealing with catastrophic events, such as terrorism involving the use of non-conventional weapons; however, the initial report indicated that these combat veterans, during their domestic deployment, would be equipped and train to deal with crowd control and other population management tasks. This is why the unit would be outfitted with “non-lethal” weaponry, in addition to the conventional variety.

As I've noted in previous reports, active-duty military personnel were deeply involved in hands-on law enforcement (including the use of satellite and other surveillance technology) during the 2008 political conventions in Denver and St. Paul. Last Friday (December 12) brought another ominous expansion of the role of active-duty military personnel in routine law enforcement when elements of the California Highway Patrol conducted a joint “sobriety/driver's license checkpoint” alongside the San Bernadino County Sheriff's Office and a contingent of Military Police from the US Marine Corps.

Of particular interest to me is the fact that this troubling venture involves the Twentynine Palms Air Ground Combat Center. This may be completely insignificant. But it is an odd and unsettling coincidence, at the very least.

"We Are the World": John Richter, center right, is a participant in the UN's International Police Task Force in Bosnia. Originally from Illinois, he is seen here taking part in a multinational mission with several British officers and a Nepalese soldier. (

Sobriety checkpoints are a perfectly mundane (but by no means harmless) law enforcement function; they don't involve catastrophic circumstances, either natural or man-made.

Most importantly, highway checkpoints are a martial law exercise, since they involve temporary detention and scrutiny of an entire population by armed enforcement personnel. Last Summer, police in Washington, D.C. used checkpoints to restrict movement into and out of entire city blocks; this initiative was modeled on security practices used by occupation forces in Iraq. Integrating military personnel into a sobriety checkpoint is a different but even more troubling refinement of this martial law tactic.

Attorney Lawrence Taylor, whose specialized practice deals entirely with those caught in the Constitution-free zone of DUI enforcement (a form of plunder disguised as a public safety exercise that is itself sufficiently outrageous to justify widescale insurrection) reports that his inquiries with a local USMC public affairs sergeant “resulted in assurances that the Marines would be there `as observers.'”

“Hmmmm.... military observers,” mused Taylor. “Isn't that how it all starts?”

Indeed it is, and if the Regime ruling us wants to get serious about civilian disarmament, the process will at some point involve the deployment of military personnel at checkpoints and roadblocks.

Furthermore, as anybody who recently has endured the indignity of a traffic stop can attest, police in most jurisdictions routinely inquire as to whether there are weapons in the car. (In my most recent traffic stop, the officer asked, “Are there any weapons in your car I need to know about?” “No, none that you need to know about, was my immediate response.)

With the police increasingly taking on the aspect of a fully-realized military occupation force, it may seem redundant for the regular military to assume a more active role in “homeland security.” The fact that such efforts are not only underway, but accelerating, is highly suggestive of very bad intentions on the part of those who presume to rule us.

As the depression deepens into the economic equivalent of a quantum singularity, and fear is finally transmuted into public outrage over the redistribution of wealth to protect the Swindler Class, a spark will be struck somewhere, and a population center of some size is going to go up in flames. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if the Regime's huge population of informants and provocateurs include people eagerly spraying accelerant of some kind wherever promising examples of social friction can be found.

When the fire erupts – whether through spontaneous combustion or through the ministrations of the Regime's paid incendiaries – the script will call for the government to deploy occupation troops, on the assumption that the best way to battle a social conflagration would be to suffocate liberty, rather than extinguishing the source of the fire.

The possibility of full-scale domestic military mobilization to suppress insurrection is one of several scenarios limned in the recent, widely publicized US Army War College paper “Known Unknowns: Unconventional `Strategic Shocks' in Defense Strategy Development.”

The report examines several ongoing and potential sources of “strategic dislocation” for the empire (an entirely appropriate term not used in the report, even though it should have been) both abroad and at home. The Iraqi insurgency was cited as a key example of an unforeseen “shock” that set back the course of the empire; this despite the fact that any reasonably intelligent person with a particle of human understanding could have predicted that Iraqis would organize to resist foreign occupation.

There are at least two kinds of “strategic shocks” described in the report. One is the “Natural Endpoint” of a given trend-line; another is referred to as a “Dangerous Waypoint” or a “Discontinuous Break” that interrupts an otherwise positive trend-line.

Curiously – or perhaps not, given that this was a paper produced by an arm of the Regime – no thought is given to the possibility that ongoing difficulties both at home and abroad are auguries of the “Natural Endpoint” of the imperial trend-line that began – well, let's say with the closing of the Western Frontier (and the related massacre of Lakota at Wounded Knee) in 1890.

Acknowledging and welcoming the end of the American Empire would be a singularly healthy development; it would bring about a legitimate revolution in military affairs, and could foreclose the possibility of martial law in the immediate future. But once again, such possibilities simply don't exist, as far as the author of this War College study is concerned.

Accordingly, beginning on page 31 of that document we find a brief and remarkably candid (and, curiously, completely un-sourced) discussion of possible “Violent, Strategic Dislocation Inside the United States.”

In the event that “organized violence against local, state and national authorities” were to materialize – that is, if the long-suffering productive people finally have a surfeit of armed parasites and start fighting back – it might “exceed the capacity of the former two [that is, local and state governments] to restore public order and protect vulnerable populations.” (The “vulnerable” in this case being the soft-handed tax feeders who cower behind the armed people wearing State-issued costumes.)

In such circumstances, the military “might be forced ... to put its broad resources at the disposal of civil authorities to contain and reverse violent threats to domestic tranquility,” the report continues. “Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.” (Emphasis added.)

Now, I have no way of knowing if the author of this report is aware of the fact that the phrase “human security,” as used by the exalted beings employed by the United Nations, refers to a condition in which disarmed populations depend entirely on government for their protection.

It was the objective of “human security” that was being pursued in Rwanda in 1993 through a peace treaty that required the disarmament of everybody but the government's armed enforcement personnel. This made it quite simple for the Rwandan “Hutu Power” Junta to slaughter roughly 1.1 million Tutsis (and moderate Hutus) during the 103-day orgy of genocide that began in April 1994.*

Civilian disarmament is integral to any military occupation, whether it's carried out in the service of “peacekeeping,” colonialism, or genocide (and those categories do tend to blend at the margins). Since 1994, the US military has been involved in a series of occupation missions – in Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and elsewhere. Nearly all of them involve some large-scale disarmament initiative. Recently in Iraq, US military personnel have been confiscating toy guns from Iraqi children.

Many of those military personnel are Guardsmen and Reservists who will return to jobs in “civilian” law enforcement well-versed in the logic of civilian disarmament as a necessity for “force protection.” Others are military personnel who will be fast-tracked into law enforcement careers once they come home and look for work in an exceptionally bad labor market. Still others will serve “dwell-time” missions stateside as part of Northern Command's homeland security force.

It would be immensely useful – and probably quite horrifying – to have those personnel take Guy Cunningham's “Combat Arms Survey,” and examine their responses to the notorious Question 46. How many of them would be willing to shoot Americans in order to confiscate their guns if ordered to do so?

Obviously, I can't provide an answer to that question that is anything other than speculation. I do recall an incident in late 2001, during a speaking tour in support of a book dealing with the subject of civilian disarmament.

The tour took me to Memphis, Tennessee, where I addressed a large audience who had gathered in a very well-appointed hotel. Just down the hall from our meeting, a ballroom had been rented for a formal event involving recruiters for the various branches of the military.

The hallways were full of young officers and non-coms in formal military attire. At one point I spied two of them – one of them a Marine – examining a poster advertising the subject of my speech, “Civilian Disarmament.” The Marine turned to his buddy and, with what appeared to be an approving smirk, commented: “Sounds like a good idea.”


*For those interested in a more detailed account of how the UN's lethal doctrine of “human security”played out in the Rwandan Genocide, please see chapter five of my book Global Gun Grab, particularly pages 70-75. Anyone interested in getting a copy directly from me can send $6.00 (which includes postage and handling) to 1318 3rd Avenue South, Payette, ID 83661.

On sale now!

Dum spiro, pugno!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Flying Shoes, Bursting Bubbles

The most remarkable thing about the gesture was the fact that it was an act of defiant contempt, rather than one of criminal violence.

Bush's reaction was remarkable only in the sense that he displayed, for perhaps the last time before he becomes deservedly inconsequential, the depth of his ignorance and the utter impregnability of his unearned self-regard.

Immediately after a Iraqi reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi disrupted a Baghdad press conference by hurling both shoes at Bush, calling him a "dog" and denouncing him in the name of "the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq," Bush sat down with ABC reporter Martha Raddatz to decant some of his unique wisdom about matters of diplomacy and cultural understanding.

Raddatz pointed out that Zaidi's gesture -- attempting to strike Bush in the face with the sole of a shoe -- is "considered a huge insult in this [part of the] world."

Bush's reply defies parody: "Look, they were humiliated. The press corps, the rest of the Iraqi press corps was humiliated.... But I'm not insulted."

So -- this carefully calibrated gesture, this surgical strike of an insult, which was directed specifically at the individual most responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of Americans, managed somehow to humiliate everybody else in the room, while sparing the invincible ego of the one who was targeted.

This is not a sign of a character healthy and stable enough to slough off petty insults. It is a manifestation of a sociopath's indifference to the legitimate concerns of other people -- in this case, a young Iraqi journalist who has been subjected to violence by both American occupation forces (which had previously arrested him twice without cause) and the criminal mobs set free to prey upon the country by the U.S.-led invasion of his homeland.

"The guy wanted to get on TV and he did," opined Bush in his interview with Raddatz. "I don't know what his beef is. But whatever it is I'm sure somebody will hear it."

Mr. Zaidi's inexplicable "beef," of course, is his entirely understandable rage and resentment over the foreign occupation of his country, and the needless death of innocent people.

Unlike Bush, who has made four lightning-quick visits to Baghdad -- fleeting appearances under the cover of impenetrable security, during which he was spared any exposure to the gratitude of the pitiful people he "liberated" -- Zaidi lives in Iraq. He has to live with the consequences of Bush's whimsical little venture in mass murder and social destruction.

It was quite understandable that Zaidi found himself unable to abide the spectacle of Bush stewing in self-congratulation while Nouri al-Maliki and the assembled reporters dutifully played along with the charade, passively ratifying the lies that continue to sustain the world-historic crime that is the Iraq war.

Those who don't believe in a Creator find it difficult to explain how matter attained self-awareness. The existence of George W. Bush presents us with exactly the opposite conundrum: How can someone blessed with the capacity for thought be at once utterly self-preoccupied and entirely devoid of self-awareness?

Consider how Bush deflected the matter of Zaidi's insult -- which has understandably resonated throughout the Arab world -- by comparing it with what he considers to be a similar incident during the visit of another ruler to Washington:

"I've seen a lot of weird things during my presidency and this may rank up there as one of the weirdest. On the other hand, I do remember when the president of China came to the South Lawn, and a member of the press corps started yelling --I think it was Falun Gong slogans at the Chinese president. So this happens and it's a sign of a free society."

I'm not sure which part of this double-barrelled absurdity to deal with first.

Did Mr. Bush have a measurable understanding of the comparison he was drawing? The Falun Gong movement seems to share a phylum with Scientology and the Unification Church, but there are credible reports that its adherents are on the receiving end of severe official persecution, ranging from imprisonment to (allegedly) summary execution followed by harvesting of their organs for commercial use. Given that fact, is Mr. Bush really comfortable with his comparison?

Furthermore, after Dr. Wenyi Wang, a correspondent for the Falun Gong-founded newspaper Epoch Times, interrupted the press conference by shouting to Bush that he should "ask Hu Jintao to stop persecuting the Falun Gong," she was arrested and charged with "willfully intimidating, coercing, threatening and harassing a foreign official," a misdemeanor carrying penalties up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

This wasn't done in China by Hu's government; it was done here by the regime over which Bush presides.

Yes, those charges were dropped in April 2007 -- as part of an agreement in which she was required not to commit any other crime, including the supposed offense of "confronting" any foreign leader about his government's human rights record.

All of this, one assumes, constitutes what Bush is pleased to call the workings of "a free society."
Perhaps he means a society in which the ruling elite is generally kept free of vexing exposure to the unfiltered opinions of those they rule.

It was the sudden, unaccustomed exposure to a contrary opinion that may have precipitated
Attorney General Michael Mukasey's sudden fainting spell during a recent address to the Federalist Society in Washington.

Generally described as "conservative," the Federalist Society has been an incubator for many of the Bush Regime's signature policies in the war on terror -- institutionalizing the practice of torture, undermining habeas corpus, indefinite detention of terrorist suspects, the use of drumhead military tribunals with Soviet standards of evidence, exalting the president to the status of Grand and Glorious Decider, and so forth.

Mukasey used his address at the Federalist Society function for the same reason Bush made a final stop in Baghdad: Both of them were seeking to secure the Bush Junta's "legacy" by making grand summary statements of its supposed accomplishments before docile audiences.

In both cases, there was at least one ram among the sheep. For Bush, it was Muntazer al-Zaidi. For Mukasey it was Richard Sanders -- no, not the actor who played Les Nessman on WKRP in Cincinnati, but rather a State Supreme Court Justice from Washington.

Sanders is often described as a libertarian-leaning judge; he says that "protection of our constitutionally guaranteed liberties as the first duty of our highest court." He managed to sit in silence for 17 minutes as Mukasey, basking in the fawning glow of his sycophantic audience, extolled the virtues of the Bush Regime's assault on the rule of law. But Sanders, as sickened by the audience as he was by the speaker, could abide no more.

"Tyrant! You are a tyrant!" Sanders stood and exclaimed, causing Mukasey to pause momentarily. He left just moments later. A few minutes later, Mukasey suddenly started stumbling over his words as he read his prepared text; to the horror of his audience, the Attorney General suddenly slumped foward over the lectern, bringing FBI agents scrambling to the podium to catch him before he fell.

Sanders had left by the time Mukasey's collapse took place, and was understandably concerned for the official's health. But as someone who cherishes liberty and respects the Constitution, Sanders simply couldn't suppress his reaction.

"Frankly, everybody in the room was applauding or sometimes laughing, and I thought, 'I've got to stand up and say something.' And I did," Sanders told his hometown press. "I stood up and said, 'Tyrant,' then I sat down again, then I left."

In a statement issued to the press, Sanders described how his outburst was the product of insuperable revulsion over both the Regime's behavior and that of its willing accomplices in the audience at that Federalist Society event:

"In his speech, Attorney General Mukasey justified the Bush administration's policies in the War on Terror, which included deying meaningful hearings for prisoners in Guantanamo, and other questionable tactics.... [T]he government must never set aside the Constitution; domestic and international law forbids torture; and access to the writ of habeas corpus shoud not be denied.

The program provided no opportunity for questions or response, and I felt compelled to speak out. I stood up, and said, `tyrant,' and then left the meeting. No one else said anything. I believe we must speak our conscience in moments that demand it, even if we are but one voice."

Or, for that matter, if we have only one set of shoes to hurl at the Emperor.

Policymakers, from the Dear Leader on down, are hermetically sealed off from dissent of any kind. On those rare occasions when frustration and moral outrage find a fissure in that bubble and the serenity of a political celebrity is disturbed, the result is usually a prominent display of some kind of corrective violence directed at the dissident.

Because he's a sitting judge, Sanders won't be punished in any way for his eruption. A private citizen almost certainly would face some kind of reprisal: That, after all, is what Tasers are for.

On sale now!

Dum spiro, pugno!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Leviathan Devours a Family

“Now there came a day when [Job’s] sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house; and a messenger came to Job and said … `The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I alone have escaped to tell you!’… While he was yet speaking, another also came and said, `Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you….”

Job 1:13,16,18

It was neither a demonic wind nor “the fire of God” that destroyed the home of San Diego resident Dong Yun Yoon. The culprit was a crippled F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet that spiraled to the ground out of control after its pilot ejected two miles short of the runway at Miramar Air Station.

The pilot survived the experience. Yoon’s family did not. The crash destroyed his home and killed his wife, daughters, and mother-in-law, none of whom arose that morning expecting to become collateral damage in a military training exercise gone lethally wrong.

After receiving word of the tragedy, Yoon, a 37-year-old immigrant from South Korea, rushed to his home from his job at a retail store near the Mexican border – but by that time his family was gone and his home was in ashes. Like Job, Yoon was beaten to the ground by the weight of the sudden, inexplicable loss of everything he cared about.

From the depths of his misery, Job displayed astonishing stoicism. “Naked came I into the world, and naked shall I return,” he from the abyss of his misery. “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”

Yoon likewise exhibited astonishing composure in dealing with his life-shattering loss. Referring to the pilot whose actions precipitated the loss of his family, Yoon declared: “I pray for him not to suffer for this action. I know he’s one of the treasures for our country.”

Yoon’s grief is sacred, and his capacity for forgiveness is worthy of emulation. The pilot who ditched his plane over the University City neighborhood where Yoon’s family lived certainly did not intend to hurt anybody; as he was rescued the pilot described seeing his plane hit a house, and was visibly anxious over the possibility that someone had been killed.

That young man – a Marine lieutenant in his twenties – is indeed a treasure, but for a reason other than Yoon’s remarks suggest. He is an irreplaceable human being made in the image of his Creator; he is somebody’s son, perhaps somebody’s husband and father.

The pilot’s value is a product of his humanity, not a function of the job he has chosen or the clothing he wears to work. The same can be said of Yoon’s wife, Yong Mi; his daughters, 15-month-old Grace and 2-month-old Rachel; and his mother-in-law, Suk Im Kim. Each of them was a treasure of incalculable worth.

None of these individual human lives should have ended on that morning. But if one couldn’t be spared, it was the moral duty of the pilot to sacrifice his own – assuming, of course, that there is a coherent moral code underlying the institutions of American militarism.

We are incessantly ordered to support, sustain, applaud, and pray on behalf of our “troops” – a term that encompasses pretty much any armed individual in a government-issued costume – whose “service” and “sacrifices” supposedly keep us free. It is impossible for a mind unclouded by official propaganda or poisoned by puerile sentiment to see how our supposed freedom is enhanced by the discretionary killing of distant foreigners who pose no conceivable threat to us. But the threat to life and limb posed by warplane left pilotless over a residential neighborhood is very easy to understand.

From what is presently known, the Marine pilot had been conducting a training exercise involving an at-sea landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln, which was approximately fifty miles off-shore. On his way back to Miramar, he reported that one of his plane’s engines failed. Although the plane can operate on one engine, its condition posed a risk to anyone on the ground in the flight path back to the Air Station.

This lieutenant thus confronted that rarest of things, an opportunity for a member of the US Armed Forces actually to defend the lives of American civilians. In this case, he could have done so by turning around and attempting to make it back to the Abraham Lincoln, rather than flying over a heavily populated area aboard a stricken fighter jet.

Had he done so, he may have had to ditch his plane in the ocean and die at sea. But he would have protected the civilian population, which is supposedly the reason our government has a military in the first place.

I do not mean to suggest that I wish this young man had died. Four deaths as a result of this incident are too many. I am underscoring the fact that it would be ethically perverse to suggest that the proper course of action was to sacrifice the lives of four civilians in order to save the life of a Marine.

Furthermore, it’s important to recognize that civilian pilots faced with similar crises have taken care to minimize the risk to people on the ground.

Nearly nine years ago, Alaska Airlines Flight 261 was en route from Mexico to San Francisco when the MD-83 jetliner suffered a catastrophic failure in its tail stabilizer. Owing either to poor maintenance or some bizarre accident, the jackscrew controlling the stabilizer was damaged, and this had the effect of locking it in the “full up” position – which sent the plane into a nose-first dive.

For eleven minutes, Captain Ted Thompson and First Officer William Tansky struggled to save the airliner and its 83 passengers. Displaying preternatural calm as their wounded aircraft bucked and dove, the pilots consulted with airline maintenance officials and air traffic controllers in search of an answer. They requested clearance to land at Los Angeles International Airport, specifying that they wanted to remain over the ocean as long as possible during an attempted emergency landing.

That request reflected, among other considerations, the pilots’ determination to minimize the risk to people on the ground in the event that they were unable to regain control of the jetliner. And, tragically enough, the plane eventually went into an irreversible dive, corkscrewing its way into the Pacific.

All eighty-eight people aboard that plane perished despite the genuinely heroic efforts of Thompson and Tansky to save it. A year after the tragedy, the pilots were posthumously awarded the Gold Medal for heroism from the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA), the first time that commendation had been thus awarded.

In explaining the award, ALPA executive vice president Capt. Cress Bernard explained that Thompson and Tansky had displayed “amazing grace under unbelievable pressure.” This is not just because they did what they could to save their passengers and crew, but because they had also acted to protect innocent people on the ground.

Doubtless there are some, perhaps many, military pilots who have done likewise in similar circumstances; such men are eminently worthy of respect. Mr. Yoon’s ability to forgive the pilot whose actions led to the death of his family is likewise admirable. And it shouldn’t be forgotten that the pilot had no intention to hurt anyone, and was understandably frantic over the possibility that he had.

I am very concerned, however, that Yoon’s generous gesture will help fortify an already widespread, and thoroughly pernicious, assumption – namely, that those wearing government-issued uniforms are more valuable than the population at large, and should be protected at the cost of civilian lives.

About a quarter-century ago, while reading a movie novelization by the immensely talented award-winning science fiction author Vonda McIntyre, I stumbled across the concept of Rickover’s Paradox, which was used to test the moral attitudes of officer candidates at the U.S. Naval Academy. The most famous version of this conundrum, according to McIntrye (who, when I asked her, couldn’t remember where she had encountered it), is the following:

Two individuals, the only survivors of a tragic shipwreck, are adrift in a small, damaged lifeboat. The water is pitilessly cold and infested with ravenous sharks. The boat itself is irreparably damaged in such a way that it will only be able to carry one of its occupants. If nothing is done, both occupants will perish. But whichever is cast into the sea will die very quickly.

One of those aboard the stricken lifeboat is a highly trained military officer with valuable – perhaps irreplaceable – technical skills. A huge sum has been spent on his training, which is of critical importance since the country is at war.

The other is an innocent and law-abiding person of no particular achievements or aptitudes. Few if any would notice that person's absence, and the community at large would be impoverished in no discernible way if he were thrown overboard.

Since only one can be saved, which of the two should it be?

The only morally sound answer to this predicament is that the military officer must sacrifice himself on behalf of the civilian. That, after all, is what he was trained to do, what he had promised when he enlisted. To do otherwise would be to nullify the entire stated purpose of having a military establishment in the first place. Any other conclusion would be based on the assumption that the civilian population exists to defend the military, rather than the reverse.

Those serving the Regime under which we live regularly acts on the latter assumption in ways both great and small. Consider, for example, how frequently the behavior of police (who are now effectively part of a militarized internal security force) reflects a paramount concern for “officer safety,” even when that concern leads to the use of military tactics that leave innocent people dead.

Indeed, the fact that the Regime claims the supposed right (which remains dormant for now) to conscript people to kill and die on its behalf reflects how deeply entrenched that second assumption has become. Rather than forcing civilians to sacrifice their lives for the military, conscription forces civilians to surrender their lives to protect the State and those who control it.

In a July 13, 1863 editorial commending the Lincoln Regime for imposing the draft, the New York Times discarded the usual persiflage about conscription serving some noble purpose and described the matter with unstinting candor. Describing conscription as “a national blessing” even as a major armed insurrection against the draft raged outside, the Times demanded that Americans recognize “that our national authority has the right under the Constitution to every dollar and every right arm in the country for its protection….” (Emphasis added.)

Although we’re rarely told that our rulers assume we exist to protect them and serve their needs, that assumption is infused into the warp and weave of the Regime.

It is why the mechanism of military slavery (the so-called Selective Service System) still exists. A closely related attitude is made tangible in the ongoing peculation –through inflation, taxation, and other means – of the national wealth in order to bail out politically connected swindlers: The Regime has committed more than half of this year’s GDP toward that objective.

Dong Yoon’s gracious gesture, offered amid unfathomable grief, will almost certainly become a pseudo-patriotic proverb recited as part of the sacraments of the cult of imperial militarism: “See how nobly this young father, who came to our country in search of freedom, accepted the sacrifice required of his family in the service of that freedom!”

The unadorned truth, however, is that Yoon's family was taken from him needlessly, killed as collateral damage in the routine operations of the Leviathan State.

On sale now

Dum spiro, pugno!