Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Old "False-Flag Trick"?

"Ahem -- yeah, well, we'll take it from here": Government security personnel take suspected terrorist Umar Farouk Abdelmutallab into custody in Detroit after passengers did all the hard stuff -- subduing him when his "lap bomb" failed to detonate and extinguishing the incendiary device.

You know, Chief, this nude bomb might solve a lot of problems. For one thing, flashers.... And there'd be no more trouble with concealed weapons. I mean, if everyone were nude, there'd be no place to hide a gun or knife. Well, there
is a place, but it could be painful.

Maxwell Smart, the redoubtable Agent 86, finding the upside to KAOS's terrorist threat to destroy the world's clothing with its dreaded Nude Bomb.*

In an utterly predictable response to an unsuccessful attempt by a would-be Jihadist to emasculate himself in mid-air by detonating a small explosive charge (a very small one, of course), the Regime is moving, slowly but inexorably, in the direction of requiring airline passengers to strip nude.

There is plentiful evidence to suggest that the same Regime acted as an accomplice -- most likely a passive one -- in that same failed bombing attempt. Call it a delayed-action nude bomb: One Nigerian nutcase conceals a firecracker in his wedding tackle, and before long everybody will have to strip nude in order to fly.

Granted, the nudity would be "virtual," temporary, and limited in its exposure. Passengers would be violated one at a time by the same thoughtful people who have made a career out of rifling through other people's dirty underwear.

Airport security screeners have "got to have some way of detecting things in parts of the body that aren't easy to get at,"
insists former Homeland Security Commissar Michael Chertoff. "It's either pat-downs or imaging."

A third alternative is to avoid commercial aviation outright whenever possible. I suspect an ever-larger number of Americans are going to join me in choosing what's behind door number three.

Government is the only human enterprise that profits from failure. Once that principle is understood, many otherwise inexplicable choices made by ruling elites and their servants can be made intelligible.

For instance, we can begin to understand the perverse persistence governments display in courting preventable catastrophes, and then capitalizing on such incidents to enhance their powers to do exactly the same things that resulted in disaster. In this case, in addition to requiring the helotry to undergo unconscionable personal violations before flying, the Regime is exploiting the incident aboard Northwest Flight 253 to escalate the ongoing military assault on Yemen, thereby increasing the human misery that helps propel international terrorism.

And so it is that the
Regime -- which has squandered trillions of debased dollars in the name of "fighting terrorism" (hundreds of billions to build a domestic garrison state, and even greater sums to conduct wars of aggression overseas) -- will continue to do exactly the same thing following an episode that demonstrates, beyond serious dispute, that the "war on terror" has done exactly nothing to make Americans safer.

While it's not clear that the flight was in mortal danger, it is clear that the plot failed because a detonator failed to ignite, and a group of passengers shed the shackles of government-imposed docility to subdue the terrorist suspect.
The attempt to massacre the passengers of Flight 253 was stopped without the Regime's help -- and in spite of what has to be considered, at very best, the Regime's criminal negligence.

Umar Mutallab as a student in London (left); his father, Nigerian banking official Umar Mutallab the elder (below, right).

Owing to what must have been an anguished report from his father, Umar Abdulmutallab was known to the CIA and the State Department as a potential terrorist. Umar Mutallab the elder, a banking official from Nigeria, met personally with CIA officials to express concerns that his son -- who had gone to Yemen for the supposed purpose of studying Arabic -- was falling into the company of suspected terrorists.

U.S. officials took this valuable intelligence and promptly buried Abdulmutallab's name in an official database. Yet it was not placed on the official "no-fly list"; apparently, that status is reserved for
people who make themselves troublesome to the Executive Branch without actually posing a threat to innocent people.

Additional layers of official negligence were revealed by a passenger named Kurt Haskell, who was next to Abdumutallab as the would-be bomber checked in at the airport in Amsterdam:

"An Indian man in a nicely dressed suit around age 50 approached the check in counter with the terrorist and said `This man needs to get on this flight and he has no passport.' The two of them were an odd pair as the terrorist is a short, black man that looked like he was very poor and looks around age 17 (although I think he is 23 he doesn't look it). It did not cross my mind that they were terrorists, only that the two looked weird together. The ticket taker said `you can't board without a passport.' The Indian man then replied, `He is from Sudan, we do this all the time.' I can only take from this to mean that it is difficult to get passports from Sudan and this was some sort of sympathy ploy. The ticket taker then said `You will have to talk to my manager,' and sent the two down a hallway. I never saw the Indian man again as he wasn't on the flight. It was also weird that the terrorist never said a word in this exchange. Anyway, somehow, the terrorist still made it onto the plane. I am not sure if it was a bribe or just sympathy from the security manager."

Haskell also says that he stood a few yards away from another Indian man who was handcuffed and held in customs "after a bomb sniffing dog detected a bomb in his carry on bag and he was searched after we landed. This was later confirmed while we were in customs when an FBI agent said to us `You are being moved to another area because this area is not safe. Read between the lines. Some of you saw what just happened.'.... What also didn't make the news is that we were held on the plane for 20 minutes AFTER IT LANDED!. A bomb could have gone off then. This wasn't too smart of security to not let us off the plane immediately."

Assuming that Haskell's account is correct, Abdulmutallab received some variety of official help to board the plane, and may have been part of a team of bombers. The reported connection to India is of particular interest, given a growing dispute between Mumbai and Washington over a Pakistani-born U.S. citizen allegedly involved in the 2008 terrorist rampage at the Taj Mahal Hotel that left 166 people dead.

David Headley (nee Daood Syed Ginlani; he changed his name in 2006) moved from Pakistan to Philadelphia in 1977.

After being convicted of heroin smuggling in 1998, Ginlani served 15 months before agreeing to work as an informant for the DEA.
Indian officials believe that Headley/Ginlani was working for the federal government -- the CIA and FBI, in addition to the DEA -- up until last October, when he was arrested in Chicago.

Indian officials accuse Headley of working with Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency in coordinating the Taj Mahal Hotel assault. They also assert that in a return trip to India last March,
Headley cased potential targets for another terrorist attack by the Lashkar-e-Taiba ("Army of the Pure"), a Pakistani terrorist group. Indian officials are desperate to question Headley, but Washington refuses to grant access.

After wading in the tenebrous waters of the global "intelligence community," brief recap is appropriate here:

The CIA was informed that Abdumutallab was a potential terrorist. Yet he wasn't put on the "no-fly list," and was even permitted to board a U.S.-bound plane without a passport. The individual who reportedly shepherded the bomber aboard the plane was a well-dressed, official-looking fellow from India. After Flight 253 landed in Detroit, a second individual from India was arrested after a bomb was detected in his luggage.
All of this happens a little more than a year after India suffered an horrific terrorist attack in which (according to both U.S. and Indian intelligence officials) an American intelligence asset named David Headley was implicated. Headley is in the custody of the government that employed him as an informant, and which now refuses to permit investigators representing a supposed ally to interrogate him.

Those of a cynical cast of mind might wonder if RAW (the Research and Analysis Wing, India's CIA) had helped Abdumutallab hitch a ride on Flight 253 in order to send a message to Langley. Those whose cynicism is a bit riper might wonder if the boys at Langley had become aware of the plot involving Abdumutallab and permitted it to go forward in the service of Washington's agenda -- which includes escalating a previously covert military campaign in Yemen, the country where the jockstrap bomber reportedly was tutored in terrorism by al-Qaeda.

Whenever somebody ventures into conspiratorial speculation of this kind he can expect a reminder from the
bien-pensants that government is too inept to carry out secret schemes of such detail and complexity.

Dismissive arguments of that kind generally come from people who are quite convinced of the ability of that same incompetent government to carry out very challenging undertakings, such as running a nationalized health-care system, or creating western-style democracy in Iraq.

While it is true that government is incurably incompetent with respect to any genuinely worthwhile productive enterprise, it is an astonishingly efficient engine of plunder and destruction. However useless the CIA and its kindred agencies may be in collecting and analyzing reliable intelligence, they display considerable gifts when it comes to arranging politically useful mischief.

One useful case study that bears more than a passing resemblance to the abortive bombing of Flight 253 in the plot to carry out a bombing rampage in New York City following the first World Trade Center attack in 1993.

Omar Abdel-Rahman
, the radical Egyptian mullah who was convicted in 1996 of inspiring and giving direction to that plot, became a CIA asset in 1987, despite the fact that he was on a State Department terrorist "watch list."

Abdel-Rahman's role was to recruit mujahadeen to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, and to act as a cut-out to provide them with financial and material aid. He remained on the CIA's payroll after the Red Army left Afghanistan in January 1989.

In 1990, Abdel-Rahman obtained a visa to travel to the United States -- once again, despite the fact that his name was on a "watch list." It was his monumental good fortune to apply for that visa at the U.S. consulate in Khartoum while the official who usually handles such details was out to lunch; that official's replacement was a CIA operative.

Abdel-Rahman's relocation to Brooklyn was arranged by a small knot of radicals who included at least two people who were on Washington's payroll: Mahmoud Abouhalima, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood (the taproot of modern Islamic terrorism and -- not surprisingly -- a major beneficiary of CIA largesse) who had been part of a CIA-sponsored mujahadeen group in Afghanistan; and former Special Forces Captain Ali A. Mohammed, an Egyptian-born member of Islamic Jihad who had recruited and trained Muslim warriors to fight in Afghanistan.

Mohammed, it was later revealed, also worked as an informant for the FBI. It's not clear if he was on the Bureau's payroll at the time of the 1993 WTC bombing. If so, that means that there were two FBI assets within that cell -- Mohammed and an Egyptian intelligence agent named Emad Salem.

Although the January 1993 WTC bombing failed to achieve its objective -- which was to collapse one of the towers into the other, creating a domino effect that would have slaughtered thousands -- the assault did kill several people and injure hundreds more.

, who secretly recorded many of his conversations with his FBI handlers, later revealed that the FBI had detailed prior knowledge of that plot and had promised him that the WTC bomb would secretly be rendered inert before it was used.

"You saw this bomb went off ... and you know that we could avoid that," Salem rebuked FBI special agent John Anticev following the blast. "You get paid, guys, to prevent things like this from happening."

How many federal assets does it take to build a terrorist bomb? There are at least two in this picture. One of them, Egyptian intelligence agent/FBI informant Emad Salem, is the figure in green with his back to the camera.

After the bombing, the FBI inserted Salem into the cell once again. In that capacity he helped create a "battle plan" that targeted various official buildings in New York City, as well as the Holland and London tunnels.

On June 23, 1993, FBI agents arrested the plotters as they were mixing fertilizer and diesel fuel to build another bomb.

This story (which I have recounted in greater detail elsewhere) took a really interesting turn just shortly before Abdel-Rahman's trial. Ali Mohammed, who played a central role in the first WTC attack, was listed as an "un-indicted co-conspirator" with Abdel-Rahman. Roger Stavis, the attorney for indicted co-conspirator El Sayyd Nosair, attempted without success to deliver a subpoena to Mohammed as a defense witness. Mohammed -- who was in federal custody -- didn't answer the summons.

In March 2001, Mohammed pleaded guilty -- in exchange for "considerations" -- to charges arising from
the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 258 people. He then promptly disappeared without being sentenced.

Intelligence analyst J.M. Berger, publisher of the valuable Intelwire news service, points out that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who was considered the Justice Department's "top gun" on al-Qaeda, regarded Mohammed as the architect of "al Qaeda's terrorist infrastructure in the U.S."

On the basis of his extensive study of the available evidence, Berger concludes that Mohammed "called the shots" on the 1993 WTC bombing -- the man behind Ramzi Yousef, the individual convicted of building the bomb -- and was the most important organizer of the network behind the 9/11 assault.

And Mohammed -- a former U.S. Special Forces sergeant and FBI asset -- is being protected by the Regime to this day.

Many serious and sober people believe that the accepted narrative of the 9/11 atrocities is entirely fictitious. But in light of the role played by veteran U.S. asset Ali Mohammed, it's incontestable that the attack was, in some sense, an "inside job" even if one accepts the standard "nineteen Muslims armed with boxcutters" version of the event.

According to the Regime, Abdulmuttab is telling his interrogators that there are many more mad bombers in the pipeline. This is probably true, and it's likely that at least some, if not most, of them have cashed checks written by the same people who hired the likes of Adbel-Rahman and Ali Mohammed.

False-flag terrorism is among the oldest tricks in the intelligence playbook. It has been an official option of the military-industrial-homeland security complex since 1962, when General Lyman Louis Lemnitzer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, filed the "Operation Northwoods" memorandum outlining various elaborate schemes to stage terrorist attacks against Americans as pretexts for war.

It's doubtful that this side of eternity we'll ever learn the full truth about 9/11 or the first World Trade Center bombing. But we have learned enough from those atrocities, as well as subsequent episodes of what Lew Rockwell aptly calls "security theater," to justify suspicions that the Christmas drama aboard Flight 253 was another example of what Maxwell Smart, the patron saint of self-important spooks, would call the old "False-Flag Trick."

*Yes, I'm aware that this quote comes from the dismal, vulgar, and lifeless 1980 film The Nude Bomb, which discerning Smartians consider apocryphal at best.

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Dum spiro, pugno!

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Truce of God

(This essay was originally published in The New American magazine.)

In August 1914, Europe's major powers threw themselves into war with gleeful abandon. Germany, a rising power with vast aspirations, plowed across Belgium, seeking to checkmate France quickly before Russia could mobilize, thereby averting the prospect of a two-front war. Thousands of young Germans, anticipating a six-week conflict, boarded troop trains singing the optimistic refrain: "Ausflug nach Paris. Auf Widersehen auf dem Boulevard." ("Excursion to Paris. See you again on the Boulevard.")

The French were eager to avenge the loss of Alsace and Lorraine to Germany in 1870. The British government, leery of Germany's growing power, mobilized hundreds of thousands of young men to "teach the Hun a lesson." Across the continent, writes British historian Simon Rees, "millions of servicemen, reservists and volunteers ... rushed enthusiastically to the banners of war.... The atmosphere was one of holiday rather than conflict."

Each side expected to be victorious by Christmas. But as December dawned, the antagonists found themselves mired along the Western Front – a static line of trenches running for hundreds of miles through France and Belgium. At some points along the Front, combatants were separated by less than 100 feet. Their crude redoubts were little more than large ditches scooped out of miry, whitish-gray soil. Ill-equipped for winter, soldiers slogged through brackish water that was too cold for human comfort, but too warm to freeze.

The unclaimed territory designated No Man's Land was littered with the awful residue of war – expended ammunition and the lifeless bodies of those on whom the ammunition had been spent. The mortal remains of many slain soldiers could be found grotesquely woven into barbed wire fences. Villages and homes lay in ruins. Abandoned churches had been appropriated for use as military bases.

As losses mounted and the stalemate hardened, war fever began to dissipate on both sides. Many of those pressed into service on the Western Front had not succumbed to the initial frenzy of bloodlust. Fighting alongside French, Belgian, and English troops were Hindus and Sikhs from India, as well as Gurkhas from the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal.

These colonial conscripts had been transported from their native soil and deployed in trenches carved out of wintry Belgian cabbage patches. Highland Scots were also found at the Front, proudly wearing their kilts in defiance of the bitter December cold.

The German troops were led by elite Prussian officers, representatives of the bellicose Junker aristocracy. The German rank and file included Bavarian, Saxon, Westphalian, and Hessian reservists, more than a few of whom had lived – or even been born – in England and spoke perfect English. Bismarck's efforts to unite the scattered German principalities notwithstanding, many German troops remained more attached to their local communities than to what for them was an abstract German nation.

Comrades at Arms

Wallowing in what amounted to cold, fetid sewers, pelted by freezing rain, and surrounded by the decaying remains of their comrades, soldiers on both sides grimly maintained their military discipline. On December 7, Pope Benedict XV called for a Christmas cease-fire. This suggestion earned little enthusiasm from political and military leaders on both sides. But the story was different for the exhausted frontline troops.

A December 4 dispatch from the commander of the British II Corps took disapproving notice of a "live-and-let-live theory of life" that had descended on the Front. Although little overt fraternization was seen between hostile forces, just as little initiative was shown in pressing potential advantages. Neither side fired at the other during meal times, and friendly comments were frequently bandied about across No Man's Land. In a letter published by the Edinburgh Scotsman, Andrew Todd of the Royal Engineers reported that soldiers along his stretch of the Front, "only 60 yards apart at one place ... [had become] very 'pally' with each other."

Rather than flinging lead at their opponents, the troops would occasionally hurl newspapers (weighted with stones) and ration tins across the lines. Barrages of insults sometimes erupted as well, but they were delivered "generally with less venom than a couple of London cabbies after a mild collision," reported Leslie Walkinton of the Queen's Westminster Rifles.

As December waxed, the combat ardor of the frontline troops waned. With Christmas approaching, the scattered and infrequent gestures of goodwill across enemy lines increased. About a week before Christmas, German troops near Armentieres slipped a "splendid" chocolate cake across the lines to their British counterparts. Attached to that delectable peace offering was a remarkable invitation:

We propose having a concert tonight as it is our Captain's birthday, and we cordially invite you to attend – provided you will give us your word of honor as guests that you agree to cease hostilities between 7:30 and 8:30.... When you see us light the candles and footlights at the edge of our trench at 7:30 sharp you can safely put your heads above your trenches, and we shall do the same, and begin the concert.

The concert proceeded on time, with the bewhiskered German troops singing "like Christy Minstrels," according to one eyewitness account. Each song earned enthusiastic applause from the British troops, prompting a German to invite the Tommies to "come mit us into the chorus." One British soldier boldly shouted, "We'd rather die than sing German." This jibe was parried instantly with a good-natured reply from the German ranks: "It would kill us if you did." The concert ended with an earnest rendition of "Die Wacht am Rhein," and was closed with a few shots deliberately aimed at the darkening skies – a signal that the brief pre-Christmas respite was ended.

Elsewhere along the Front, arrangements were worked out to retrieve fallen soldiers and give them proper treatment or burial.

In a letter to his mother, Lt. Geoffrey Heinekey of the 2nd Queen's Westminster Rifles described one such event that took place on December 19. "Some Germans came out and held up their hands and began to take in some of their wounded and so we ourselves immediately got out of our trenches and began bringing in our wounded also," he recalled. "The Germans then beckoned to us and a lot of us went over and talked to them and they helped us to bury our dead. This lasted the whole morning and I talked to several of them and I must say they seemed extraordinarily fine men.... It seemed too ironical for words. There, the night before we had been having a terrific battle and the morning after, there we were smoking their cigarettes and they smoking ours."

Football in No Man's Land

Soon talk along the Front turned to the prospect of a formal cessation of hostilities in honor of Christmas. Again, this idea met resistance from above. Comments historian Stanley Weintraub, in his book, Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce:

Most higher-ups had looked the other way when scattered fraternization occurred earlier. A Christmas truce, however, was another matter. Any slackening in the action during Christmas week might undermine whatever sacrificial spirit there was among troops who lacked ideological fervor. Despite the efforts of propagandists, German reservists evidenced little hate. Urged to despise the Germans, [British] Tommies saw no compelling interest in retrieving French and Belgian crossroads and cabbage patches. Rather, both sides fought as soldiers fought in most wars – for survival, and to protect the men who had become extended family.

In a sense, the war itself was being waged within an extended family, since both Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II and England's King George V were grandsons of Queen Victoria. More importantly, the warring nations were all part of what had once been known as Christendom. The irony of this fact was not lost on those sentenced to spend Christmas at the Front.

By Christmas Eve, the German side of the Front was radiant with glowing Tannenbeume – small Christmas trees set up, sometimes under fire, by troops determined to commemorate the holy day. "For most British soldiers, the German insistence on celebrating Christmas was a shock after the propaganda about Teutonic bestiality, while the Germans had long dismissed the British as well as the French as soulless and materialistic and incapable of appreciating the festival in the proper spirit," writes Weintraub. "Regarded by the French and British as pagans – even savages – the pragmatic Germans were not expected to risk their lives on behalf of each beloved Tannenbaum. Yet when a few were felled by Scrooge-like gunfire, the Saxons opposite the [British line] stubbornly climbed the parapets to set the endangered trees up once more."

The radiant Christmas trees reminded some Indian conscripts of lanterns used to celebrate the Hindu "Festival of Lights." Some of them must have been puzzled over finding themselves freezing, undernourished, and confronting a lonely death thousands of miles from their homes as soldiers in a war which pitted Christian nations against each other. "Do not think that this is war," wrote one Punjabi soldier in a letter to a relative. "This is not war. It is the ending of the world."

But there were souls on each side of that fratricidal conflict determined to preserve the decencies of Christendom, even amid the conflict. As Christmas dawned, German Saxon troops shouted greetings to the British unit across from it: "A happy Christmas to you, Englishmen!" That welcome greeting prompted a mock-insulting reply from one of the Scottish troops, who was mildly irritated at being called an Englishman: "The same to you Fritz, but dinna o'er eat youself wi' they sausages!"

A sudden cold snap had left the battlefield frozen, which was actually a relief for troops wallowing in sodden mire. Along the Front, troops extracted themselves from their trenches and dugouts, approaching each other warily, and then eagerly, across No Man's Land. Greetings and handshakes were exchanged, as were gifts scavenged from care packages sent from home. German souvenirs that ordinarily would have been obtained only through bloodshed – such as spiked pickelhaube helmets, or Gott mit uns belt buckles – were bartered for similar British trinkets. Carols were sung in German, English, and French. A few photographs were taken of British and German officers standing alongside each other, unarmed, in No Man's Land.

Near the Ypres salient, Germans and Scotsmen chased after wild hares that, once caught, served as an unexpected Christmas feast. Perhaps the sudden exertion of chasing wild hares prompted some of the soldiers to think of having a football match. Then again, little prompting would have been necessary to inspire young, competitive men – many of whom were English youth recruited off soccer fields – to stage a match. In any case, numerous accounts in letters and journals attest to the fact that on Christmas 1914, German and English soldiers played soccer on the frozen turf of No Man's Land.

British Field Artillery Lieutenant John Wedderburn-Maxwell described the event as "probably the most extraordinary event of the whole war – a soldier's truce without any higher sanction by officers and generals...."

This isn't to say that the event met with unqualified approval. Random exchanges of gunfire along the Front offered lethal reminders that the war was still underway.

From his rearward position behind the lines, a "gaunt, sallow soldier with a thick, dark mustache and hooded eyes" witnessed the spontaneous eruption of Christian fellowship with hateful contempt. The German Field Messenger of Austrian birth heaped scorn on his comrades who were exchanging Christmas greetings with their British counterparts. "Such a thing should not happen in wartime," groused Corporal Adolf Hitler. "Have you no German sense of honor left at all?" "More than patriotic scruples were involved" in Hitler's reaction, notes Weintraub. "Although a baptized Catholic, he rejected every vestige of religious observance while his unit marked the day in the cellar of the Messines monastery."

What If ...?

In a January 2, 1915 account of the Christmas Truce, the London Daily Mirror reflected that "the gospel of hate" had lost its allure to soldiers who had come to know each other.

"The soldier's heart rarely has any hatred in it," commented the paper. "He goes out to fight because that is his job. What came before – the causes of the war and the why and wherefore – bother him little. He fights for his country and against his country's enemies. Collectively, they are to be condemned and blown to pieces. Individually, he knows they're not bad sorts."

"Many British and German soldiers, and line officers, viewed each other as gentlemen and men of honor," writes Weintraub. The rank and file came to understand that the man on the other end of the rifle, rather than the soulless monster depicted in ideological propaganda, was frightened and desperate to survive and return to his family. For many along the Front, these realities first became clear in the light cast by the German Tannenbaum.

In the shared symbol of the Christmas tree – an ornament of pagan origins appropriated by Christians centuries ago – British and German troops found "a sudden and extraordinary link," observed British author Arthur Conan Doyle after the war (a conflict that claimed his son's life). "It was an amazing spectacle," Doyle reflected, "and must arouse bitter thought concerning the high-born conspirators against the peace of the world, who in their mad ambition had hounded such men on to take each other by the throat rather than by the hand."

In a remarkable letter published by The Times of London on January 4, a German soldier stated that "as the wonderful scenes in the trenches [during Christmas] show, there is no malice on our side, and none in many of those who have been marshaled against us." But this was certainly not true of those who orchestrated the war, the "high-born conspirators against the peace of the world." As British historian Niall Ferguson points out, the war-makers' plans for the world required "Maximum slaughter at minimum expense."

The informal truce held through Christmas and, at some points along the Front, through the following day (known as "Boxing Day" to British troops). But before New Year's Day the war had resumed in all of its malignant fury, and the suicide of Christendom continued apace.

Most wars are senseless exercises in mass murder and needless destruction. World War I, however, is remarkable not only for being more avoidable and less justifiable than most wars, but also for its role in opening the gates of hell. Mass starvation and economic ruin inflicted on Germany during the war and its aftermath cultivated the National Socialist (Nazi) movement. Nearly identical ruin wrought in Russia thrust Lenin and the Bolsheviks to power. Benito Mussolini, a socialist agitator once regarded as Lenin's heir, rose to power in Italy. Radical variants of intolerant totalitarian nationalism ulcerated Europe. The seeds of future wars and terrorism were deeply sewn in the Middle East.

What if the Christmas Truce of 1914 had held? Might a negotiated peace have ensued, preserving Christendom for at least a while longer? We do not know. It is doubtful that the "high-born conspirators against the peace of the world" would have been long deterred in pursuing their demented plans. But the truce – a welcome fermata in the symphony of destruction – illustrated a timeless truth of the nature of the human soul as designed by its Creator.

Reflecting on the Christmas Truce, Scottish historian Roland Watson writes: "The State bellows the orders 'Kill! Maim! Conquer!' but a deeper instinct within the individual does not readily put a bullet through another who has done no great offense, but who rather says with them, 'What am I doing here?'"

For a tragically short time, the Spirit of the Prince of Peace drowned out the murderous demands of the State.



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Dona nobis pacem

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Thin Blue Whine, Pt. III: Who Mourns the Murdered Mundanes? (Update)

The Brotherhood in Blue (and Red) Gathers at the Tacoma Dome
during a memorial service for four police officers recently murdered in an ambush in Washington (above, and below, right). More than 20,000 police officers, including 1,000 members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, took part in the service.

In a State of Nature, it is true, that a Man of superior Force may beat or rob me; but then it is true, that I am at full Liberty to defend myself, or make Reprisal by Surprize or by Cunning, or by any other way in which I may be superior to him. But in Political Society ... if I attempt to avenge myself, the whole Force of that Society is ready to complete my Ruin.

-- Edmund Burke, A Vindication of Natural Society (1757), original spelling and punctuation.

The year soon to expire, according to the Washington Times, was a particularly "deadly" one for police. That claim was made in the story's headline and first two paragraphs, and then thoroughly rebutted in its coda.

2009 "was a particularly perilous year for officers involved in gun disputes," insists the Times, with a 24 percent increase in the number of officers killed in the line of duty by gunfire. As of December 12, 47 police officers died nationwide after being shot while on duty, as compared to a total of 38 who had died in similar circumstances in 2008.

As it happens, however, 2008 saw "the lowest number of gunfire deaths [of police officers] since 1956" -- which would mean that 2009 wasn't unusually dangerous for police, but rather that the previous year was an unusually safe one.

In fact, fewer police died in the line of duty this year (117) than last (125). Tucked away near the end of the article, the Times observes: "In 1973, during a heyday of corruption and crime, there were about 600,000 officers and about 156 gunfire deaths. Now there are about 900,000 law enforcement officers nationwide and only 47 gunfire deaths this year -- a per-capita decrease of nearly 21 percent."

"The chances of being killed in the line of duty are lower than they have been in modern times," noted Kevin Morrison of the Officers Memorial Fund.

This is the reality behind the all-pervasive rhetoric describing law enforcement as a uniquely hazardous occupation. Pundits of an authoritarian bent, playing to the punitive populist sub-population, refer to a non-existent "war on police"; police officials insist that exceptional episodes of genuinely tragic violence represent the "new normal" for police officers.

The impression that police are under siege is also cultivated through the pomp and paramilitary ritual that characterize police funerals, even when the circumstances of death weren't particularly heroic (such as a traffic accident or other lethal mishap). Such events aren't so much intended to lament the death of an individual as to celebrate the might and glory of the State.

The December 8 memorial service in Washington's Tacoma Dome for four police officers killed in an ambush sets a new standard for institutional self-dramatization by the "law enforcement community": The event, which drew an estimated 20,000 officers from 150 agencies, including a crimson-clad contingent from the RCMP, was the largest memorial service of its kind since -- no extra credit if you've guessed correctly -- those convened after 9-11.



As the police gathered for the memorial, they were enveloped in a security cocoon akin to that routinely created for presidential visits, with heavily armed SWAT operators in full military gear haunting the rooftops.

As Tacoma's ABC affiliate KXLY explained, the extraordinary security measures were in place because of concerns that police "might still be a target." Thus we can see that "officer safety" is the prime directive even where police funerals are concerned.



As is the case with every large-scale police funeral, coverage of the memorial service in Tacoma repeatedly emphasized that the murder of the four Washington police officers wasn't merely a crime against four irreplaceable individual human beings, but -- more importantly -- an assault on an "institution."

We are invited to believe that these killings were particularly outrageous because a criminal had lifted his unhallowed hand to strike down four sanctified personages who wore the insignia of state authority. The same assumption can be seen in the concentrated fury with which police and prosecutors focus their attention on "cop killers," as if people in that profession are innately more important or more valuable than murder victims from other walks of life.

Retired Pittsburgh police officer Todd Cenci captured that conceit in a December 20 letter to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

"I think it's about time to draft a bill that makes the death penalty mandatory for anyone who is convicted of killing a police officer who is in the line of duty," opined Cenci. "We need to show our police that we stand behind them 100 percent. So I ask my local politicians to introduce a bill that makes the death penalty mandatory for anyone convicted of killing a police officer on duty -- without any exceptions."

Why not make the death penalty mandatory for all murder convictions? Why should it be unavoidable only when the victim is a police officer? The tacit but obvious answer is that Cenci -- who reflects the culture of the profession from which he is now retired -- sees police officers as a caste apart from, and more valuable than, the "Mundanes," or general population.

What of cases in which people kill police in self-defense, perhaps as a result of mistaken identity during a no-knock raid at the wrong address? No extenuation would be provided for under the "no-exceptions" standard described by Cenci.

Once again, Cenci is not merely some Keystone State Floyd R. Turbo ventilating his frustration in the letters column; the approach he describes was followed in the case of Mississippi resident Cory Maye, who shot and killed a sheriff's deputy who was part of a paramilitary strike team that invaded Maye's home without a warrant because they didn't double-check the address.

Although Maye will soon receive a new trial, the prosecutor in the first trial sought and obtained a first-degree murder conviction and a death sentence -- apparently on the assumption that when a mere Mundane is on the receiving end of unwarranted police violence, he has no right to resist, because his life is not as important as that of his assailant.

A less pronounced form of the same reflexive elitism was displayed in the pages of Canada's Victoria Times-Colonist.

On December 8, that paper described the findings of Paul Smith, head of a the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP, regarding the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski when he was needlessly electrocuted by Taser-wielding Mounties at the Vancouver Airport.



Dziekanski, who spoke no English and had been traveling for 20 hours (10 of which he spent waiting in the airport for his mother, who had been told he hadn't arrived), threw a fit while being held in a secure area prior to passing through customs.

RCMP officers arrived and within seconds shot him five times with a Taser within a period of 31 seconds. Dziekanski, after being handcuffed died within minutes at the scene. Smith's report condemns the RCMP for making no meaningful attempt to de-escalate the situation, being torpid and indifferent in seeking medical help for the victim, and for staging a crude cover-up of the incident.

Two days after publishing its report on the RCMP Commission's findings, the Times-Colonist's editorial board --reacting to reader criticism -- decided it was necessary to defend itself for publishing a news story that reflected badly on the police on the day of the Tacoma memorial service.

"The entire law enforcement community just finished burying four officers just a few hours south of here," complained a reader. "We're waking up to read the morning paper, hoping that it was just a bad nightmare, and find this article [regarding the Taser-inflicted death of Robert Dziekanski at the hands of the RCMP]."

To the paper's credit, it reiterated the criticisms of the RCMP, even though it did so amid formulaic expressions of submissive respect for the Heroes In Blue ("The thousands of officers who attended [the Tacoma] memorial service celebrated everything that is heroic about police work, and they had to blink back tears as they did it").

What is genuinely noteworthy about that exchange, once again, is the unmistakable assumption that there was something sacrilegious about mentioning the needless death of an innocent man at the hands of police on the day that the "entire law enforcement community" was mourning four of its own.

Sure, it's a shame Robert Dziekanski died. But after all, he was just another Mundane.

While the names of every police officer who dies before retirement is known and carefully memorialized, there is no similar record kept of those who were unjustly killed by police.

We are told that 2009 was a year fraught with peril for the police because 47 officers were killed by gunfire. During the same time frame, however, at least 56 people suffered "Taser-related" deaths at the hands of police. It's difficult to find out how many others were killed by police -- in shootings, beatings, or mistreatment in jail or prison. The chances are pretty good, however, that the body count is much higher than the 117 police deaths that occurred during the past year.

Shouldn't we therefore conclude that 2009 was (to paraphrase the Washington Times) "a particularly perilous time for civilians involved in encounters with the police"?

It is a singular tragedy whenever any human being suffers an avoidable death. When that individual is a police officer, we are expected to prostrate ourselves in inconsolable grief. When the deceased is a victim of unwarranted lethal violence by the police, we are instructed to sympathize with the assailant, who has a difficult and dangerous job. Who will mourn the Mundanes?

A personal note

My brother Jeff, my adopted "Irish twin" (we were born in the same year to different mothers, then adopted by our parents) is in the hospital in grave condition.

As I write he is undergoing surgery to deal with advanced necrotizing fasciitis; after that procedure is finished, he will be flown from Ontario, Oregon to a university hospital in Portland for more surgery. His prognosis is not encouraging.

Over the past several years, as I have dealt with Korrin's repeated hospitalizations and my own very serious health scare, Jeff has been incredibly helpful and generous. My kids are besotted with him, and he's been a wonderful uncle. The two of us were alienated for a long time, but in recent years we've grown very close. It's one of life's larger ironies that I had to wait until my 40s to know him as a real brother.

Please pray for Jeff, or if you're not inclined to, please spare a kind thought on his behalf. I would really appreciate it.

Be sure to tune in for Pro Libertate Radio from 6:00-7:00 Mountain Time (7:00-8:00 Central) on the Liberty News Radio Network.

Dum spiro, pugno!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Thin Blue Whine, Pt. II: The Crybaby Thugs of Maricopa County (Second Update, December 18)

Uniformed thug as "political prisoner":
Maricopa County Deputy Sheriff Adam Stoddard strikes a martyr's pose for the camera after a few days in "jail." Stoddard was found in contempt after stealing a document from the table of a defense attorney during a court hearing.

To his comrades in the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO), Adam Stoddard is a martyr to principle and an innocent victim of injustice -- a heroic figure unjustly consigned to prison by petty, power-hungry figures. His boss, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, went so far as to describe Stoddard as a "political prisoner" during his brief and uncommonly comfortable incarceration.

All of this, predictably enough, is nothing but several acres of stockyard carpeting.

Stoddard, a member of the MCSO's correctional unit,
was videotaped stealing a document from the desk of a defense attorney. As a result he spent several days in the custody of his co-workers after being cited for contempt of court by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe for refusing to apologize for his offense.

It's important to recognize that Stoddard -- unlike many others who have been cited for contempt -- actually committed an offense against an individual's rights.


Stoddard claimed to have seen something on the handwritten documents that constituted a threat to “court security" -- some cryptic conjunction of the words "going to" "steal" and "money," which apparently weren't part of the same sentence.

In addition to his unusual ability to divine the concealed intentions of criminal defendants from words randomly scattered across a page of notes
hand-written by somebody else, Deputy Stoddard apparently possesses some form of X-ray vision, since the document he stole was concealed by several on top of it.

Obviously, Stoddard is no ordinary deputy; he must be the Last Son of Krypton, concealing his true identity in the guise of a mild-mannered bailiff.

Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe wasn’t buying Stoddard's explanations, and was offended Stoddard was trying to sell it.

In his ruling he correctly
observed that Stoddard's actions were "unreasonable and unlawful" and resulted in a breach of attorney-client privilege, and that Stoddard's facially ridiculous explanation -- which implicitly accused defense counsel Joanne Cuccia of collaboration in a crime -- injured the attorney's professional reputation.

Had a mere mundane committed an offense similar to Stoddard's, the penalty would have involved some combination of a fine and mandatory jail time. However, Judge Donahoe --
perhaps mindful of the need to maintain cordial relations with the brown-shirted paladins of public order who carry out his decrees -- didn’t send Stoddard immediately to jail, or slap him with a fine. Instead, he ordered Stoddard to apologize, in public, to defense attorney Cuccia.

While there were problems with this proposed compromise, it would have spared Stoddard from spending time behind bars by treating his offense as a mistake, rather than a crime. One could round down to "never" the frequency that common people are offered such consideration by the courts.

But Stoddard's actions weren't a mistake. They were the predictable product of the institutional culture of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. Under the reign of the oleaginous
proto-fascist Joe Arpaio, the MCSO has mutated into a lawless armed clique suitable to a third world dictatorship. Indeed, Arpaio and his minions -- including a contingent called the "Special Enforcement Unit" -- have conducted late-night or early-morning raids to intimidate and imprison people who have criticized the Dear Leader.

The controversy involving Adam Stoddard came amid
an escalating conflict between Arpaio and his critics in Maricopa County.


With the support of his Dear Leader -- who insisted that his deputies only follow his orders, not those of a mere judge --Stoddard defied the court order, telling a press conferece that he wouldn’t apologize “for doing my job,” and that saying he is sorry would be a “lie.”

“Judge Donahoe has ordered me to feel something I do not and say something I cannot,” simpered Deputy Stoddard in his pre-incarceration press conference. But the same can truthfully be said by countless innocent people who have been put through the indignity of the “justice” system — from those found guilty of traffic violations on the fraudulent, self-interested testimony of traffic cops, to people who have been blackmailed into accepting plea bargains by devious, unprincipled prosecutors.

In this case, of course, Stoddard had neither facts nor the law on his side -- just a sense of limitless privilege and a petulant frustration that Judge Donahoe refused to accept his puerile fictions.
Following his Drama Queen turn in front of the press, Stoddard checked in to the Maricopa County Jail system.

With a finely tuned sense of self-promotion and unhindered by even a rudimentary sense of decency, Arpaio has used his jail system to build a reputation as "America's Toughest Sheriff" by subjecting those incarcerated therein -- most of whom have never been convicted of an actual offense -- to a steady stream of petty indignities.

Male prisoners are required to wear pink underwear; until a lawsuit ended the practice, female detainees were under constant video surveillance, including hidden cameras in the toilet facilities. Inmates are fed green bologna and forced to work in chain gangs. Many are housed in surplus military tents that offer little effective shelter from the elements. After
several people charged with non-violent offenses died of culpable abuse or neglect while in Arpaio's custody, the county was forced to pay millions of dollars in legal settlements.

As one of Arpaio's brown-shirted cadres, Adam Stoddard endured none of those indignities. Citing supposed "security" concerns -- "security" being the familiar, all-purpose defense of dictators everywhere -- Arpaio refused to say exactly where Stoddard was being held. If he actually spent time behind bars it was most likely as a guest in a special, detainee-friendly facility referred to as the “Mesa Hilton." Another possibility is that Stoddard simply enjoyed a paid vacation under "house arrest" or in similarly comfortable circumstances.

To hear Stoddard's brown-shirted comrades tell the story, however, the deputy was the a modern Sir Walter Raleigh, unjustly immured in the Tower of London awaiting his grim appointment with the Headsman. Accordingly, on the morning after Stoddard was taken to "jail," twenty intrepid, public-spirited MCSO deputies suddenly called in “sick," thereby throwing the Superior Court into disarray.

Things got even nastier when an anonymous bomb threat was called in -- the first of two that would occur, along with an incident of vandalism involving pepper-spray, during Stoddard's detention. Significantly, no similar acts occurred after Stoddard's vacation-cum-jail sentence ended.

This illegal work stoppage (assuming we can torture the word "work" into describing what the MSCO does) amounted to a criminal conspiracy against the rights of those whose legal hearings were delayed. The bomb threats and pepper spray attack would be investigated as acts of terrorism had they been carried out by common citizens in support of a detainee. But the police union thugs who demanded that Stoddard be released from jail and have his record cleared acted in the serene confidence that they confronted neither personal nor professional consequences.

Tax-feeder tantrum: Maricopa County deputies stage a rally on behalf of their comrade Adam "Sticky-Fingers" Stoddard.

Maricopa County Deputy Sean Pearce, speaking on behalf of the Deputies Law Enforcement Association, didn’t flinch from describing the "sick-out" as a show of support for Stoddard: “I think it sends out a message that this officer has integrity,” Pearce insisted. “Why should he apologize for doing his job?”

The “job” in question, as defined by Pearce and his colleagues, includes stealing proprietary information, violating attorney-client confidentiality, lying about one’s actions, and defying an order to make restitution to the victim.

But Deputy Stoddard is one of the sacred personages who wear a government-issued costume and is invested with the supposed authority to kill other human beings. It’s just not right for members of that privileged elite to be treated like mere mundanes. Hence the collective tantrum thrown by Stoddard’s fellow tax-feeders -- and a serious escalation in Arpaio's unprecedented war on his critics.

As the Los Angeles Times summarizes:

"[Arpaio] recently filed a racketeering lawsuit against the entire Maricopa County power structure.... Last year, when Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon called for a federal investigation of Arpaio's immigration enforcement, the Sheriff's Office demanded to see Gordon's e-mails, phone logs and appointment calendars. When the police chief in one suburb complained about the [immigration] sweeps [carried out by Arpaio's office], Arpaio's deputies raided that town's City Hall. [There have been] two dozen instances of the sheriff launching investigations of critics, none of which led to convictions. The most notorious case involves county Supervisor Don Stapley, a Republican who has sometimes disagreed with Arpaio's immigration tactics. Last December, deputies arrested Stapley on charges of failing to disclose business interests properly on his statement of economic interest."

In filing that charge against Stapley, Arpaio -- motes-and-beams fashion -- was using the power of his office to misdirect attention from his own misrepresentations in financial disclosure reports, which -- if he and Stapley were treated alike -- would result in more than a dozen criminal counts against the sheriff.

Instead of facing an investigation for his own irregularities, Arpaio -- with the aid of the similarly megalomaniacal Maricopa County prosecutor, Andrew Thomas -- attempted to prosecute and imprison the people who had brought those irregularities to light: The reporters and editorial staff of the independent Phoenix New Times newspaper.

In August 2007, the Maricopa County Prosecutor's Office hit the Phoenix New Times with a grand jury subpoena demanding detailed information, including "Every note, tape, and record from every story written about Sheriff Arpaio by every reporter over a period of years" as well as "detailed information on anyone who has looked at the New Times Web site since 2004" as well as every individual "individual who looked at any story, review, listing, classified, or retail ad [in the publication] over a period of years."

The pretext for that act of official harassment was that the New Times, in investigating Arpaio's conflicts of interest regarding ownership of commercial properties, had violated state law by disclosing the valiant sheriff's home address.

To their credit, the editorial staff of the New Times went public with the details of that Grand Jury subpoena. That prompted Arpaio to send his Selective Enforcement Unit to arrest Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, the owners of the Phoenix New Times on a spurious charge of interfering with the deliberations of a grand jury.

The joint assault by Arpaio and Thomas on freedom of speech and the press provoked a nation-wide paroxysm of outrage that forced Thomas to free Lacey and Larkin and withdraw the charges against them. (It was later revealed that no grand jury had actually been empaneled.)

Chillin' with his homeboys: Sheriff Joe poses for a photo-op with neo-Nazi agitator Vito Lombardi.

Following Stoddard's "incarceration," Arpaio's Enemies List expanded to include Judge Gary Donahoe. County Prosecutor Thomas filed a criminal complaint against Donahoe accusing him of three felonies: Hindering prosecution, obstruction of a criminal investigation, and bribery. In a press conference called to elucidate the charges against Donahoe, Thomas found it impossible to describe a coherent theory of the case. But building a prosecutable case isn't the point in what is a transparent act of retaliation against the judge who sent one of Arpaio's Brownshirts to jail.

Arpaio and Thomas appear to believe -- or at least want the public to believe -- that they alone are untainted by the otherwise ubiquitous political corruption festering in Maricopa County. To that end they have filed a complaint against the entire County government under the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute, an action that effectively designates the board of county supervisors a criminal syndicate.

With Arpaio dispatching heavily armed jackboots to intimidate and arrest his critics, and Thomas at his back prepared to mount spurious prosecutions when necessary, Maricopa County has descended into w
hat the Goldwater Institute calls a state of "open warfare" among elected officials.

Arpaio is clearly willing to see the entire county government demolished, as long as he can erect a throne on the rubble.

"It's just extraordinary, the kind of thing that takes place in Third World dictatorships," observes former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton, who is representing Donald Stapley. "So many people are of one mind on a single issue -- illegal immigration -- that they are willing to ignore [Arpaio's] misdeeds."

The face of "immigration enforcement" in Maricopa County: How would you like to see this guy busting down your door at the break of dawn?

Arpaio was actually seen by some as a liberal regarding illegal immigration prior to 2005. That year saw two critical changes: First, Arpaio re-cast himself as a crusader for border security, and second, he received a federal 287(g) waiver empowering his deputies to enforce federal immigration laws.

Since then, Arpaio has turned Maricopa County into a literal police state in which anybody who "looks" or
"sounds" like an illegal immigrant -- including U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents of Mexican ancestry -- can be summarily arrested and detained. While Arpaio's deputies -- who often conduct their raids wearing ski masks -- are focusing their attention on people whose sole offense is to work in Arizona without official permission, more than 70,000 criminal warrants, many of which deal with actual offenses against persons and property, have been left unenforced.

Maricopa County under the reign of Arpaio has become a community in which a mother can be seized from her car at gunpoint by goons in ski masks while her children shriek in terror. In Arpaio's realm, a woman nine months pregnant can be hauled away to jail in handcuffs and leg irons on minor, non-violent charges, forced to deliver her child while chained to a hospital bed, and then kept separated from her newborn for more than two months -- because she is suspected of being an illegal immigrant.

Earlier this year the federal government formally revoked the "authority" provided by the 287(g) waiver and instructed Arpaio that he could no longer use his personnel to enforce federal immigration laws.

The following day, Arpaio conducted one of his notorious "immigration sweeps," an exercise in which deputies "descend on heavily Latino neighborhoods, arrest hundreds of people for violations as minor as a busted headlight and ask them whether they are in the country legally," reported the
Los Angeles Times.

"I wanted to show everybody it didn't make a difference," explained Arpaio -- quite redundantly, as it happened, for those who have come to understand that the superannuated dictator of Maricopa County answers only to himself.

A few years ago,
in an essay that eventually cost me my job, I warned that the issue of illegal immigration was being exploited by the Regime to consolidate police state powers at both the federal and local levels. My colleagues at the time were of the opinion (candidly expressed by one of them in an e-mail) that it would be acceptable for the U.S. to become a police state within "secure" borders. I wasn't willing to settle for that arrangement, a microcosm of which is being created in Maricopa County under Arpaio.

The slice of the public most obsessed over the issue of illegal immigration --
what I've referred to as the "punitive populist" element of the Republican coalition -- seemed to think it would be possible to expand federal police power selectively: The Regime would build a border fence, dispatch armed enforcement agents to roust people from workplaces, impose new bureaucratic impositions on struggling businesses and new restrictions on travel -- but all of this would target only the "illegals" without threatening the rights of the rest of us.

But to paraphrase Edmund Burke, police-state methods, once tolerated, are soon institutionalized. What do we gain if every illegal immigrant is sent home -- and we end up living under a near-replica of the third world dictatorships those people had fled?

Joe Arpaio is the law enforcement equivalent of
the geologic formation called a "terminal moraine" -- a huge mound of accreted debris piled up through the advance of a glacier. A core sample of Arpaio's decades-long long enforcement career would reveal layer upon layer of thuggish presumption, facile corruption, contempt for the Constitution, and indifference to any consideration other than his privileged status.

Arpaio is chiefly a problem for the county that has repeatedly voted him into office since 1992. But the tactics he is employing to retain his position might well engender mimicry in other counties as budgets tighten and political conflicts over dwindling tax revenues grow acute.

With the Feds pouring money and military equipment into "local" law enforcement departments nation-wide, Arpaio's literal war against Maricopa County's political leadership may eventually provide a template for similar putsches elsewhere.

UPDATE: JBS Joins Arpaio's Jackboot Parade

The New American magazine, which once published hard-hitting investigative journalism with an unabashed commitment to preserving individual liberty, has apparently decided to become a press organ for the Mussolini of Maricopa County.

This rip-and-read regurgitation of Arpaio's talking points comes amid news that 77-year-old Arpaio is the preferred choice of Arizona Republicans to run for governor. So it appears that TNA and the management of its sponsoring organization, the John Birch Society, are once again trying to ride a Red State Fascist "wave."

I use the term "fascist" here not as a lazy pejorative, but in a specific sense. Arpaio is literally waging war on the rule of law on the assumption that he and his armed minions are the law in Maricopa County. The sloppy French kiss of a "news" item run in TNA promotes the notion that Arpaio must be a good guy, because leftists hate him so passionately -- a trope very closely related to the Dear Leader/Great Man school of authoritarian collectivism.

If The New American were still in the business of investigative journalism -- or critical opinion journalism of any kind -- they would have examined Arpaio's record just a little more carefully, rather than retailing his self-serving bromides. If they were committed to individual liberty protected by law, they would be joining Arpaio's critics, rather than carrying a banner in his torchlight parade.

Second Update, December 18

In a post at the end of the thread dangling from The New American's borderline Brokeback Mountain embrace of Joe Arpaio, a fellow named J.E. Andreasen provides the following invaluable perspective:

"I have been a resident of Maricopa County since 1959, and a freedom activist since 1974. I have taken college instruction under MCSO [Maricopa County Sheriff's Office] senior management personnel. I have had superb personal assistance from MCSO officials [who] later were viciously destroyed for their decency and honor.

Simply put, Joe Arpaio is the worst nightmare for those ancestors who established the office of Sheriff as the top law enforcement official in a given county.

He has used his experience in federal law enforcement to create a private army, answerable to no one, egged on by every Nativist drone and `C-minus' LEO butt-licker in metropolitan Phoenix.

What these sub-genius folks don't yet realize is that he considers EVERY PERSON within his reach to be a "pre-arrested" criminal. His hubris is absolutely without limit, and is only matched by his contempt for human liberty and the constraints of a Constitutional Republic. None are safe from his gaze; not even his praetorian guard."

Be sure to tune in for Pro Libertate Radio each weeknight from 6:00-7:00 Mountain Time (7:00-8:00 central) on the Liberty News Radio Network.

Dum spiro, pugno!