Monday, January 31, 2011

Saviors in Uniform? (Updated, 2/2)

"The Army and the People Are One!" Don't count on it.

"The army is all good men but the police, every policeman is bad," explained Egyptian demonstrator Mustafa Abdel Wahab to Time magazine. Mr. Wahab is as tragically mistaken in the first assessment as he is correct in the second. 

In Egypt -- as is the case nearly everywhere else -- the police and army are what Alexander Hamilton called "correspondent appendages of military establishments." Not every individual soldier or policeman is exceptionally depraved, of course. But the institutional purpose of such establishments is to serve the depraved interests of those who control the State. This is why, as Hamilton pointed out, military bodies (which include police agencies) "have a tendency to destroy ... civil and political rights." Decades of "emergency" rule in Egypt have destroyed whatever trivial substantive differences may once have separated the police from the military. 

In the late summer of 1994 I spent a couple of weeks in Cairo covering a United Nations conference on population control. That event attracted thousands of people -- politicians, delegates, lobbyists, activists, and journalists -- from around the world. In anticipation of media scrutiny the Mubarak regime made a considerable effort to prettify itself. The cosmetic changes included issuing brand new white uniforms to the heavily-armed police officers who were deployed in small groups everywhere in downtown Cairo.

I remained in Cairo for a few days after the conference ended. It was my expectation that the departure of the Important People would bring about a change in the security situation. In a sense, I was correct: The white uniforms were put away, and the heavily-armed police who prowled the streets reverted to their standard military attire. Like other visitors, I had assumed that the high-profile police presence was the exception, rather than the rule. We were wrong.

The ongoing upheaval in Egypt offers a potent illustration of the fact that government police agencies are instruments of plunder, rather than protection -- and that protection of person and property is best handled privately.

When they weren't beating people in the streets or hauling them off to be murdered, plainclothes thugs from Egypt's Central Security Service (or Mukhabarat) brazenly looted private businesses or provided protection to those who did -- deputized criminals referred to by one protester on the scene as "prisoners who have been released by that bastard Mubarak in return for their services to beat up civilians." Egyptians not employed in the coercive sector responded by creating private anti-looting patrols. 

Private defense: Egyptians link arms to protect property.

Public loathing of the government's police force is widespread in Egypt, which is a healthy development in any society. However, as Mr. Wahab's comments illustrate, the growing disrepute of Egypt's police organs organs has actually enhanced the stature of the military.

Writes Steve Coll of The New Yorker: "There have been reports that protesters are relieved to see the Army in the streets; no doubt, as in many other like countries, the Army has more credibility than the corrupt and often torture-prone police." 

For 31 years, Hosni Mubarak has been a CIA sock puppet ruling through decree while maintaining a pretense of "legitimacy." Mubarak avoided naming a successor, most likely because Washington didn't give him permission to do so. In the terminal crisis of his reign, he has tapped Omar Suleiman, the head of the Mukhabarat secret police, to serve as vice president. Since Suleiman has been running Egypt's apparatus of imprisonment, torture, and murder for decades, this appointment wasn't really a promotion. And in his current position Suleiman would be in charge, even if somebody else is cast in the role of figurehead.

Dictator-in-waiting: Suleiman, left, with Israel's PM Netanyahu.
 Ian Black, Middle East editor for the London Guardian, points out that Suleiman "is the keeper of Egypt's and the president's secrets, a behind-the-scenes operator who has been intimately involved in the most sensitive issues of national security and foreign policy for nearly 20 years." 

Not only was he was the dungeon master and chief persecutor of Egypt's political dissidents, but he also coordinated rendition and torture operations with the CIA. He's also been a dutiful asset of the Pentagon, according to WikiLeaks. 

A Foreign Policy profile of Suleiman published two years ago points out that Suleiman was a rent boy for both sides during the Cold War circle-jerk: He attended "the Soviet Union's Frunze Military Academy" while Cairo was a Soviet client, and then "received training at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School and Center" at Ft. Bragg in the 1980s. As head of the Mukhabarat, Suleiman was"one of a rare group of Egyptian officials who hold both a military rank ... and a civilian office...." His most important assignment was to monitor "Egypt's security apparatus for signs of internal coups." 

Unlike those who had previously held his position, Suleiman became a public figure several years ago as Mubarak -- who reportedly suffers from cancer-- became enfeebled. He and his handlers spent several years building internal coalitions and developing diplomatic contacts abroad. As Cairo-based journalist Issandr Amrani points out, "most Suleiman supporters recognize that to gain the presidency he would most likely have to carry out a coup -- perhaps a soft, constitutional one -- but a coup nonetheless."

Thumbs up for tyranny!
Well, how about a "People Power" coup, orchestrated with the help of the kind folks in Washington? That appears to be what we're seeing in Egypt now, and we could conceivably see something similar here in the United States before the decade is over.

The convulsion in Cairo brings to mind Brig. Gen. Charles J. Dunlap's essay "The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012," which was published in the Winter 1992—93 issue of the U.S. Army War College journal Parameters -- a subject I have discussed before.

Dunlap used the literary device of a smuggled prison letter composed by "Prisoner 222305759," condemned to death for "treason" by the American military junta of Gen. E.T. Brutus. Following a series of military disasters overseas and domestic crises at home, Brutus staged a coup in the name of protecting "public order" from the corruption of the political class. 

In the decades leading up to the putsch, the "Prisoner" recalled, "The one institution of government in which people retained faith was the military." Even as the public lamented the corruption and profligacy of Big Government, they had nothing but bottomless respect for the Regime's chief instrument of death and property destruction. The military retained its prestige in spite of the fact that its structural defects -- made painfully visible by a long, bloody, and futile war in the Gulf --  left it "unfit to engage an authentic military opponent."

While the military was no longer well-suited to fight and win wars, its subtle 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."

During Egypt's long "state of emergency," its army managed to lose two wars abroad, while fine-tuning its skills as an instrument of domestic suppression. Granted, it has announced that it will not fire on Egyptian citizens, which is always a welcome development. But why should the Egyptian Army fire on protesters, given that the citizen uprising is helping to entrench military rule, rather than end it?

With our own economy unraveling and our political class becoming shamelessly predatory and unbearably impudent, it's not difficult to imagine a similar scenario playing out in America, with Tea Party Republicans -- for whom the military (which in our system includes our own "torture-prone" police) is sacrosanct --  eagerly welcoming a military coup as "liberation" from Big Government. Perhaps Field Marshal Stanley McChrystal -- formerly military proconsul in Afghanistan, most recently seen flogging Soviet-style "national service" in the pages of Newsweek -- could be tapped to play the role of America's Omar Suleiman. 


"`Why don't you protect us?' some protesters shouted at the soldiers, who replied they did not have orders to do so and told people to go home." 

This on-scene account from Tahrir Square described a coordinated attack by a mob of "pro-government protesters," some of whom were mounted on horses or camels. The assailants -- criminal subcontractors in the employ of the regime -- used clubs, whips, straight razors, and machetes. They acted with complete impunity, beating and killing at whim. Among their targets were journalists attempting to document the pogrom: Anderson Cooper discovered that international celebrity conferred no protection.

Among those chronicling the scene are Graeme Wood of The Atlantic, who was present in Tahrir Square during the last mass protest -- the 2003 demonstrations against Washington's assault on Iraq. 

"During those protests, the police encircled the protesters and let them scream for a couple days, Wood recalls. "Late at night, I stood among the police, asking them about their hometowns in Upper Egypt. Then, around midnight, they were called to attention, told to harden their lines, and finally to march toward the remaining protesters, letting none escape. Truncheons came down, and within a few minutes they had rounded everyone up into paddy wagons, and the square resumed its light evening traffic."

While blood is being shed in Tahrir Square, government-organized bands of criminals are looting everything in sight. The police are actively protecting the thugs and looters. Meanwhile, the "good men" in the Army do nothing to protect those who had trusted them.

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Dum spiro, pugno!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

About that "War on Cops"....

The War on the Streets: This is Miami, not Mogadishu.

What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive?.... The [Security] Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers ... and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!"--

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's famous jeremiad about the passivity of Soviet subjects in the face of the Regime's armed enforcement agencies. 

Every week — actually, every day — innocent people across the country are harassed, abused, brutalized, tortured, and murdered by armed strangers in government-issued costumes. Most of the assailants are never held accountable. Often, they are placed on paid vacation (commonly called “administrative leave”) while their colleagues devise an official rationalization for their crimes.

According to one very conservative estimate, at least thirty citizens are killed in police shootings every month, many of which occur during paramilitary raids conducted, Soviet-style, at daybreak or nighttime. Innocent people are frequently found among those killed, wounded, or brutalized in those raids; one recent example is 76-year-old New York resident Jose Colon, who was shot in the stomach by a SWAT operator who pulled the trigger trying to operate a flashlight on his tricked-out pistol.

The grim but statistically inescapable fact is that the average American is much more likely to be killed by a cop than by a terrorist. 

Those who publicize police abuses are routinely accused by apologists for government enforcement agencies of exaggerating the problem by focusing on a vanishingly small number of “exceptional” cases. When police are on the receiving end of criminal violence, however, those same apologists demand that we allow such exceptions to define the rule.

On the basis of recent trends, we can assume that two dozen or more Americans have been shot by police since January 1, 2011. In the same period, roughly half that many police have been shot, 11 of them either injured or killed during one unusually bloody twenty-four-hour period. This unconnected series of shootings has led many police officers to believe that they are targets in a “war on cops,” and that alarmist impression has been diligently propagated by police union officials who are always eager to exaggerate the very modest dangers of their profession.

“It’s not a fluke,” insists Richard Roberts, spokesman for the International Union of Police Associations. “There’s a perception among officers in the field that there’s a war on cops going on.” Craig W. Floyd of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund described a "very troubling trend" of "officers ... being put at greater risk than ever before."

"I think it's a hundred times more likely today that an officer will be assaulted compared to twenty, thirty years ago," agreed J.B. Smith, Sheriff of Smith, County, Texas, in an interview with Tyler's NBC affiliate KETK. "It has become one of the most hazardous jobs in the United States, undoubtedly -- in the top five."

Actually, where the risk of death on the job is concerned, law enforcement doesn't crack the top ten list of most dangerous occupations, as designated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, none of the jobs on that list involves people employed in the coercive sector.  Commercial fishermen, loggers, commercial pilots, farmers, and roofers all face a higher risk of work-related death than that confronted by the State's armed enforcers, for whom "officer safety" is job one.

Sheriff Smith, like others retailing the "war on cops" meme, recited the durable canard that police "work" is more dangerous today because they confront a more violent breed of street criminal. Five years ago, Joseph McNamara of Stanford's Hoover Institution, a former NYPD Deputy Inspector (and, unfortunately, an advocate of civilian disarmament), pointed out that police "work" may be safer now than ever before.

In 2005, McNamara noted, fifty-one officers died in the line of duty "out of some 700,000 to 800,000 American cops. That is far fewer than the police fatalities occurring when I patrolled New York’s highest crime precincts, when the total number of cops in the country was half that of today."

Yes, there is a war on the streets of America, McNamara allowed, but it is one waged by the cops, not on them:

"Simply put, the police culture in our country has changed. An emphasis on `officer safety' and paramilitary training pervades today’s policing, in contrast to the older culture, which held that cops didn’t shoot until they were about to be shot or stabbed. Police in large cities formerly carried revolvers holding six .38-caliber rounds. Nowadays, police carry semi-automatic pistols with 16 high-caliber rounds, shotguns and military assault rifles, weapons once relegated to SWAT teams facing extraordinary circumstances. Concern about such firepower in densely populated areas hitting innocent citizens has given way to an attitude that the police are fighting a war against drugs and crime and must be heavily armed."
 Government police agencies were always designed to control the public, rather than to "protect and serve" it. As sociologist David Bayley memorably put it, "The police are to the government as the edge is to the knife." Thanks in no small measure to the proliferation of independent media, the public is coming to understand that fact.

A large and growing segment of the public likewise has become palpably disgusted with the casual elitism of the armed tax-feeders among us, who see themselves as a caste apart from, and superior to, those from whom they extract their livelihood. The police unions and media organs that take dictation from them insist that the purported "war on cops" is being fueled by a growing public "disrespect" for the "authority" of police.

"The palm-sized shield worn on a police officer’s chest should be viewed as a badge of honor, not a bull’s-eye," sobbed the editorial collective of the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader in a lachrymose house editorial that typifies media treatment of the supposed "war" on police. "Sadly, recent deadly shootings around the nation and alleged threats directed at Luzerne County law enforcers reveal a troubling lack of respect for officers’ authority and responsibilities, as well as their lives." 
The "threats" in question were allegedly made by 45-year-old Scanton resident Ray Mazzarella, who was arrested and charged with several counts of making "terroristic threats" for inflammatory comments he had posted about the local police chief on his Facebook page. Were the rational for Mazzarella's pre-emptive arrest applied consistently, scores or hundreds of police officers would have to be locked up and put on trial for equally inflammatory statements posted on chat boards frequented by LEOs. Of course, by even making that point I'm undermining public "respect" for police "authority" -- thereby, one supposes, abetting violence against our sanctified protectors.

Although Steve Groeninger, spokesman for the D.C.-based National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, admits that “we don’t have any data,” he told MSNBC that “there seems to be a type of criminal out there looking to thwart authority” (by which he means any directive issued by an armed government functionary) and warns that “cuts in police budgets could exacerbate the danger,” according to MSNBC.

This is an interesting variation on a familiar police union theme. As previously noted in this space, as municipal budgets shrink amid the ever-deepening depression, some police unions are literally trying to terrorize the public into supporting their budget demands. Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts announced several months ago that because of budget cuts citizens shouldn’t expect police to respond to calls involving 44 kinds of crime, including burglary, grand theft, and other serious offenses. The hideously corrupt Camden, New Jersey Police Department adopted a similar policy after half the force was laid off. In Sacramento County, the Sheriff’s Office published an ad depicting what appeared to be a sexual assault on a child. “Don’t let them cut deputies and put your family at risk!” screamed the ad copy.

Reduced to its essence, the message here is this: Give us what we want, or people will get hurt. Those of us who oppose the demands of police unions can now expect to be told that we’re morally indistinguishable from cop-killers.

Every traffic stop, we are told, is pregnant with potentially lethal danger -- for the one party in that confrontation we know to be armed and invested with the supposed authority to kill another human being. In fact, encounters of this kind are freighted with peril for the member of the productive population who has come under the unwanted scrutiny of an armed emissary of the State. This is true of any interaction between the police and the private citizens on whom they subsist.

One likely product of the ongoing panic over a "war on cops" is the increased likelihood that police will resort to potentially lethal force in such routine encounters. After all, isn't it better to have the taxpayers absorb the cost of settling with the family of a murdered Mundane than to suffer the uniquely poignant anguish of burying one of the State's Anointed Ones?

Most of the potentially dangerous encounters between police and the public grow out of their roles as enforcers of drug prohibition and armed revenue collectors (those roles overlap, of course). Those dangers will grow more acute as the economy continues to sicken and people who have done no harm to others start to lose patience with the demands of the wealth-devouring class.

Rather than abating their demands and ratcheting down the conflict, however, those in charge of the State clearly intend to escalate it, making whatever use they deem necessary of all of the charming instruments of regimentation and mass violence originally developed for use overseas. One particularly unsettling illustration of this principle is the expanding domestic use of unmanned surveillance drones, which were originally developed for battlefield applications but will probably become as commonplace as SWAT teams within the next several years.

If they have it, they will use it; if it's been deployed by the military abroad, it will be employed by the paramilitary police at home; once it's been tested against criminal suspects, it will become part of the standard arsenal of social regimentation. At this point it appears that the only thing that will cause the machinery of repression to grind to a stop would be a fully realized economic collapse. Another grim possibility is that the State's relentless persecution of harmless people will grow so vicious that the "war on cops" being spoken of now becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy -- thereby creating a personnel shortage of the kind Solzhenitsyn described.

Anybody who takes the life of any human being through aggressive violence is a murderer and should be treated as such. That being said, this should be also: If the wildly exaggerated fear of being killed on the job results in increased attrition from the ranks of the State’s armed enforcers, one happy result will be a net decrease in the amount of criminal violence afflicting our society.

Your donations help keep Pro Liberate on-line. Thanks so much, and God bless!

Dum spiro, pugno!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fewer Snouts in the Trough, Less Crime in the Streets

Officer Roid Rage: New Jersey tax victims footed the bill for this poser's hormonal enhancements.

 "What happens when you lay off nearly half of the police in one of the most dangerous cities in America?" begins a recent account of personnel cutbacks by the municipal government of Camden, New Jersey.

My guess would be this: The crime rate -- as experienced by the affected public, rather than measured by the local government -- will go down, and the public appetite will be whetted for further personnel cuts. This is because the Camden Police Department -- which has laid off 167 of its 360 officers -- has long been a major source of crime, rather than a deterrent to the same.

New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in the soyuz, but it is also afflicted with a large and immensely powerful population of unionized tax feeders. 

On January 19, a New Jersey Superior Court Judge refused to grant an injunction sought by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) to reinstate the 167 officers who were laid off by Camden. On the same day, the union rejected a proposed compromise that would have reinstated 100 officers to the force. The deal would involve three days a month of unpaid furloughs for patrol officers for six months, followed by one unpaid monthly furlough day for the following year. 

This arrangement would amount to a modest pay cut, but it shattered against the FOP's impregnable sense of privilege. As commentator George Berkin pointed out, the union had erroneously assumed that it could "get a court to trump economics" -- or, at least, that it could browbeat Camden City Hall into devising some way to extract wealth from the productive on its behalf. The police unions have become accustomed to getting whatever they want. For example: In New Jersey, it's become standard practice for police to use their tax-funded health plans to pay for illegal steroid treatments

Camden County is among the state's poorest subdivisions, with an official (which is to say, understated) unemployment rate of 16.3 percent, a per capita income of about $23,300, and a median annual household income of roughly $48,000. Its municipal government confronts a $26.5 million budget shortfall. 

The average Camden police officer receives $144,000 in salary and benefits, most of it paid for by taxpayers elsewhere in the state.  Since 2003, Camden has been under the fiscal supervision of Trenton, which provides more than 80 percent of the city's operating budget. Over the past seven years the state government has lavished nearly a quarter of a billion dollars on Camden in the name of "economic revitalization" and "transitional" funding

Five year before Trenton assumed responsibility for Camden's finances, the state took control of the Camden Police Department following the resignation of Police Chief William Hill. This left the department "without a person clearly in charge" in the midst of a wide-ranging corruption probe.

At the time of Chief Hill's resignation, a federal grand jury was investigating allegations that a clique of corrupt Camden police officers had operated a shakedown racket targeting local cocaine dealers, thereby helping the market prosper in exchange for a cut of the proceeds. One of the first results of that inquiry was an increased attrition rate for the Camden PD as about one-ninth of its force of about 460 officers suddenly retired, claimed their pensions, and -- perhaps most importantly -- sealed their personnel files. 

Camden County Prosecutor Lee Solomon negotiated an agreement with the president of the local police union, Detective Dan Morris, permitting the investigation to have access to personnel records of officers -- both active and retired -- who served on the force from 1997 on. "The prosecutor has assured the FOP [Fraternal Order of Police] the confidentiality of these files will not be compromised," Morris announced in 2000.  

Camden Mayor Dana Redd (c.) and Police Chief Scott Thompson (r.).

Morris had access to those files as well, and there's reason to believe that he gleaned critical intelligence from them -- which he used to create his own little protection racket, which he operated for several years before retiring on disability last January at the age of 46.

Last September, Morris pleaded guilty to multiple charges outlined in a multi-count federal indictment. As commander of a five-officer Special Operations unit, Morris committed numerous criminal offenses, including illegal searches and seizures of property, theft, extortion, perjury, and various kinds of assault. 

The federal indictment against Morris's subordinates describes their Special Operations unit as a criminal conspiracy that planted evidence to justify false arrests, routinely lied about the quantity of narcotics seized in raids in order to "expose the arrestees to greater penalties," regularly bartered drugs for sundry favors, and made a habit of stealing money and drugs. Public exposure of the crimes committed by Morris and his little street gang led to the dismissal of 185 drug cases, and the release of dozens of people who had been wrongfully imprisoned. 

In April 2007, Benjamin Daye -- who was 20 at the time --was stopped and assaulted by Morris and his goon squad. An illegal search of Daye's car failed to turn up any contraband and the terrified young man couldn't provide any information on local dealers -- so the police planted drugs in the car and arrested Daye, who served nearly three years in prison before the case was dropped. 

Joel Barnes, who spent nearly a year and a half behind bars, had a very similar experience. Two officers with the Special Operations unit, Robert Bayard and Antonio Figueroa, invaded Barnes's home, demanding to know "where the s**t is at." When Barnes truthfully replied that there were no illegal drugs on the premises, one of them pulled a small bag of cocaine from his own pockets and told Barnes, "Tell us where the s**t [is] at and we'll make this disappear." When Barnes repeated that he didn't have any drugs, the officers charged him with unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute in a "school zone" -- a charge that could have led to a 20-year prison sentence.

"I felt helpless and didn't know what to do," Barnes recalls. "I knew I hadn't done anything wrong, but I also knew that the officers had all of the power and I had none."

Morris and his Special Operations squad are generally referred to as a "rogue" unit, implying that their criminal conduct was anomalous. Given the pervasive corruption of the Camden PD, the term "rogue" would more properly be applied to Rolan Carter. In 2008, Carter was fired from the force for "insubordination" as a result of an incident in which he attempted to arrest a man wanted on four outstanding warrants. 

Carter pulled the man over for using a cell phone while driving. As he ran a background check two plainclothes officers materialized and insisted that the driver was a police informant and should be released immediately. While Carter discussed the matter with the plainclothes cops, a police sergeant arrived and ordered him to let the driver go. Still unconvinced that this was the "proper procedure," Carter called his own command sergeant, who instructed him to do as the other officers demanded. 

Not a "team player": Fired cop Rolan Carter.

Six weeks later, Carter -- who had received multiple commendations for valor -- was charged with insubordination and cashiered from the force. But his problems had actually begun more than a year earlier. 

 As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, in January 2007, Carter was transferred from a patrol squad "when he raised concerns about one supervisor, Sgt. Dan Morris." After Carter was removed from the squad, he was replaced by Officer Jason Stetser, who is now facing multiple criminal charges for his actions as part of Morris's "rogue" Special Operations squad

Carter didn't lose his job because of personnel cut-backs; he was fired because he displayed symptoms of personal integrity. And his lawsuit against the Camden PD is one of at least ten filed by former officers describing "a department rife with cronyism" in which "commanders create a hostile and discriminatory atmosphere and seek retaliation against those perceived as defiant," observes the Inquirer

In addition to the lawsuits filed by former Camden police officers, the city is dealing with up to thirty active or potential lawsuits by victims of the Morris-led criminal syndicate -- with dozens more likely to come. It is possible that Camden's municipal government will soon suffer the same fate that befell the one in charge of Maywood, California

Buried beneath a deluge of civil rights lawsuits and settlement costs incurred by police misconduct, Maywood lost its liability insurance coverage and had to contract with a neighboring town for basic municipal services. As it happens, that neighboring town was Bell, California -- which, it was discovered, had an even more extravagantly corrupt municipal government. I suspect that entertaining little revelations of this kind -- in California, New Jersey, and all points in between -- will abound as the economic collapse accelerates.  

The Camden PD, following the example of law enforcement agencies in cash-strapped California cities such as Oakland and Sacramento, has announced that it will be rationing its services by refusing to deal with "minor" matters, such as non-injury vehicle accidents and petty theft. This announcement is intended to inspire public fear. It may have exactly the opposite effect.

Helene Pierson, executive director of Heart of Camden, a neighborhood development corporation, recalls that when her group was created several years ago it intended to be a "partner" with the police force. She and others "bought into the [idea] that police are stretched really thin, that they try really hard, that they need extra help." Much of what she has seen -- including dozens of cases in which people were falsely imprisoned in the service of a criminal racket run by the cops -- has disabused Pierson of such notions. 

In Camden -- and, for that matter, everywhere else -- the government police force has been a catalyst for crime, rather than a deterrent to it. There's every reason to believe that fewer snouts in the trough would mean less crime on the streets. 

Your donations help keep Pro Libertate on-line. Thanks so much -- and God bless!

Dum spiro, pugno!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Who Gave You Permission to Notice?

Bizarre totem: Jared Loughner's notorious skull altar.

 Among the "warning signs" of  Jared Loughner's derangement, Time magazine instructs us, was his criticism of Federal Reserve Notes as "worthless." According to the custodians of acceptable opinion, this isn't a rational assessment of the intrinsic value of the Regime's ever-depreciating fiat scrip; it's a symptom of "paranoia," just like Loughner's reported preoccupation with government mind control.

Only those who are clinically deranged could harbor such anti-social views about the government ruling us --an institution representing the refined essence of benevolence, administered by beings of infinite competence whose digestive by-products emit the pleasant odor of freshly cut daisies. This is why the State's media auxiliaries (including the right-collectivists over at National Review) are largely ignoring Loughner's sociopathic indifference to the rights of other individuals while focusing tirelessly on his alienation from the government

Perhaps Judy Clarke, Loughner's federally appointed defense counsel, can help cure him of his paranoid political delusions. Clarke is the go-to public defender for people accused of politically sensitive high-profile crimes.

A Time magazine profile of Clarke describes her as "particularly skilled at working with unstable clients who, without careful guidance, run a high risk of self-sabotage in what is a life-and-death situation." 

Clarke's clients have included Timothy McVeigh, so-called "20th Hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui, and Eric Rudolph. Although McVeigh was executed, Moussaoui and Rudolph are serving life sentences at the ADX Florence supermax prison in Colorado. The same facility houses another of Clarke's notable clients:  "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski, who killed three people and wounded more than a dozen others during a seventeen-year parcel bomb rampage.

Clarke persuaded Kaczynski to accept a plea bargain based on "mental defect." Although Kaczynski is said to suffer from paranoid schizophrenia, there's compelling evidence that any "mental defect" that afflicts him is the result of his involvement as a test subject in a federally sponsored mind control experiment as a Harvard student in the late 1950s.

Ted Kaczynski as a young professor.

By any measure, Ted Kaczynski -- a math prodigy who skipped two grades -- was a brilliant and promising young man. After enrolling in Harvard as a 16-year-old, Kaczynski was lured into acting as a guinea pig in a series of abusive and damaging psychological tests supervised by behavioral psychologist Dr. Henry Murray. 

During World War II, Murray worked with the OSS (which would later become the CIA), developing psychological tests to evaluate potential spies. He also devised methodologies for interrogating POWs. His experiments at Harvard continued seamlessly from his work with the OSS.

Murray's study, which was funded by the Pentagon, the CIA, and the Rockefeller Foundation, was entitled "Multiform Assessments of Personality Development Among Gifted College Men." According to Ted's brother David, this program was not a sterile academic exercise; he describes it as "a conspiracy of psychological researchers who used deceptive tactics to study the effects of emotional and psychological trauma on unwitting human subjects."

Dr. Murray, who died in 1988, "was known for his brilliance and grandiosity" in his professional life, continues David Kaczynski. "In his personal life, according to his biographer, he displayed sadistic tendencies. His research on college men bears a certain resemblance to his research on prisoners of war." 

Most of the pertinent details of Murray's experiments are inaccessible: Harvard sealed the files in 2000, insisting that this was necessary in order to protect the "integrity" of the project. There is cause for suspicion test subjects may have been given LSD or other mind-altering substances, given that the CIA had conducted experiments of that kind with other Harvard students. Whatever happened to Kaczynski and Murray's other subjects was sufficiently degrading and harmful to wring a guilty expression of regret from one of the doctor's assistants.

At age 17, the future Unabomber was one of 22  students who were required to submit to Dr. Murray a detailed description of their upbringing, their everyday routine -- including intimate details involving sexual fantasies and toilet functions -- and a description of their "philosophy of life." They were informed that another student would be invited to discuss and debate their moral values and opinions with them. 

Each of the subjects was taken individually into a white, over-lit room, placed in a chair in front of a one-way mirror, and tethered to EEG machines and other monitoring devices. The atmosphere, according to one subject, was akin to what one would expect in an execution chamber. Rather than having an amicable debate with a fellow undergraduate student, each of the test subjects -- perhaps "victims" is a more suitable description -- was subjected to lengthy, abusive harangues by a law school student who had been given a detailed psychological battle plan by Murray. The spectacle was captured on camera, and each victim was required to relive his humiliation on film.

This was sadism in the service of ideological ambition. The specific focus of Murray's academic research, points out environmental journalist (and fellow Harvard alum) Alston Chase, was to develop a science of personality "transformation." Murray "advocated implementing the agenda of the World Federalist Association, which called for a single world government," Chase noted in a detailed survey article published ten years ago in The Atlantic. 

In a letter to his friend and counselor Lewis Mumford, Murray wrote: "The kind of behavior that is required by the present threat [of nuclear war] involves transformations of personality such as never occurred quickly in human history." Through the marriage of psychiatry and sociology, Murray hoped to beget a hybrid discipline that would eventually create a New World Man suitable for citizenship in the World State he envisioned.

It is indisputable that Murray's Harvard experiments were a continuation of his work with the OSS.  Substantial evidence suggests that Murray's program was part of the CIA's MK Ultra program, in which test subjects -- often college-age men -- were used in experiments involving "sensory deprivation, sleep learning, subliminal projection, electronic brain stimulation, and hallucinogenic drugs to study various applications for behavior modification," recalls David Kaczynski. "One project was designed to see if subjects could be programmed to kill on demand. Experiments were conducted in penal institutions, mental institutions, and on university campuses." 

A 1967 internal CIA assessment documented that hundreds of professors on more than 100 college campuses were involved in clandestine experiments connected to MK Ultra. 

For drawing a link connecting Ted Kaczynski's crimes with what he suffered under the ministrations of Dr. Murray, David Kaczynski might be accused of engaging in special pleading on behalf of his brother, who admitted to murdering three people. 
The same cannot be said of Sally Johnson, the forensic psychologist hired by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to evaluate Ted Kaczynski during his 1998 trial. 

While Johnson doesn't directly implicate Murray's experiments, she did conclude that Kaczynski's self-appointed mission as an apostle of "revolutionary violence" was triggered by something he experienced at Harvard. 

A psychological evaluation of Ted Kaczynski conducted prior to his experiences under Dr. Murray found no signs that he suffered from schizophrenia. It's reasonable to surmise that the "mental defect" invoked by his defense counsel was induced, rather than innate. 

Furthermore, there was nothing defective in Kaczynski's perception of the malign nature of the system as he had experienced it. His frequently expressed concerns "about the possibility of mind control," as Chase points out, were not "paranoid delusions. In view of Murray's experiment, he was not only rational but right. The university and the psychiatric establishment had been willing accomplices in an experiment that had treated human beings as unwitting guinea pigs, and had treated them brutally."

Murray's program was discontinued in 1962, the same year that Kaczynski graduated from Harvard. That year was a busy one for those employed by the academic wing of the Military-Industrial Complex, as they continued to toil away at various esoteric projects exploring the use of applied psychology to build the Total State.

At Yale,  Stanley Milgram was conducting his notorious  pseudo-electroshock experiments on obedience to authority.* At MIT, Lincoln P. Bloomfield finished a report -- funded by the US State Department on behalf of the Institute for Defense Analyses -- entitled A World Effectively Controlled by the United Nations: A Preliminary Study of One Form of a Stable Military Environment. (Bloomfield's report didn't envision a foreign takeover of the United States through the UN, but rather the creation of "supra-national institutions, characterized by mandatory universal membership and some ability to employ physical force" -- something akin to the vaguely UN-centered "coalition of the willing" approach used by Washington it is war against Serbia in 1999 and in its continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.) 

Bloomfield's report contained the provocative and telling observation that building the world order he described would require "a grave crisis or war to bring about a sudden transformation in national attitudes sufficient for the purpose.... [T]he order we examine may be brought into existence as a result of a series of sudden, nasty, and traumatic shocks." This would have meant subjecting the population at large to the same  kind of "transformative" psychological trauma that Dr. Murray had prescribed to create the New World Man on an individual basis. 

Three days after Bloomfield submitted his report, General Lyman Louis Lemnitzer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, filed a memorandum for Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara outlining "Operation Northwoods." That document outlined the use of various potential false-flag terrorist incidents that could be used to provide a pretext for war with Cuba. In his book Body of Secrets, intelligence analyst James Bamford observes that the bogus Gulf of Tonkin incident used to justify the Vietnam War was a variation on the Northwoods strategy.

The Northwoods memo offers a variety of potential provocations involving staged terrorist attacks.

"We could sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida (real or simulated)," wrote Lemnitzer, casually spit-balling proposals that would result in the death of  innocent people. "We could foster attempts on lives of Cuban refugees in the United States even to the extent of wounding in instances to be widely publicized. Exploding a few plastic bombs in carefully chosen spots ... would be helpful." Lemnitzer's most audacious proposal -- which is especially noteworthy in the post-9/11 era -- involved the staged shoot-down of a civilian jetliner.

 The Northwoods memo was a battle plan for psychological warfare against the American population -- a menu of options for inducing the "sudden, nasty and traumatic shocks" necessary to bring about a desired political transformation. This was just one of several projects of its kind underway at the time. And Ted Kaczynski was just one of hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of people whose minds were being weaponized by the CIA's academic assets.

"The CIA's mind experiment program was vast," notes investigative reporter Alexander Cockburn. "How many other human time bombs were thus primed? How many of them have exploded, with the precipating agent never identified?"

Interestingly, Gen. Lemnitzer helped ensure that those questions wouldn't be answered. In 1975, six years after he retired from the military, Lemnitzer was appointed by Gerald Ford to participate in the President's Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States, commonly known as the Rockefeller Commission. That body -- like its ancestor, the Warren Commission, and its descendant, the 9/11 Commission -- was intended to filter out any consideration of the most important questions, thereby banishing them from polite conversation. 

Whatever its clinical definition might be, the term "paranoid" as employed by the custodians of polite opinion refers to someone who notices things without official permission. People meeting that description might take impermissible notice of the curious fact that the same defense attorney who quietly ushered Ted Kaczynski off the stage is now being called on to perform the same service with respect to Jared Loughner -- and be prompted by that fact to ask some similarly unacceptable questions.

*Dr. Sharon Presley, an authority on the Milgram experiment, states emphatically -- and, as far as I can tell, definitively -- that "Milgram had nothing to do with any MIC [Military-Industrial-Complex] project." She also points out, correctly, that Milgram's experiments did not involve the kinds of abuse that Murray's project entailed. I regret my inaccurate description of Milgram's study as a project of the MIC's academic auxiliary, and the implication that his methods were comparable to the unconscionable abuses committed by Murray.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

The Cult of Sanctified Violence

A Mundane kneels  before a royal carriage bearing the Sanctified Personage of the Killer-in-Chief.

Force -- Force to the utmost; Force without stint or limit, the righteous and triumphant Force which shall make Right the law of the world and cast every selfish dominion down in the dust. --

Deranged mass murderer Woodrow Wilson explains his philosophy of government, April 6, 1917.  

The scientific concept of dictatorship means nothing else but this: Power without limit, resting directly on force, restrained by no laws, absolutely unrestricted by rules. --

Deranged mass murderer Vladimir Lenin, agreeing in principle with Wilson. 

"What is government if words have no meaning?"

Jared Loughner reportedly posed that question to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at a forum two years ago. Perhaps unwittingly, Loughner answered that question himself by murdering six people and attempting to murder fourteen others, including Giffords. In doing so, the young nihilist effectively privatized government's central function.

Shorn of the sophistries that provide it with a moral disguise, pared down to its essentials, political government is the systematic use of exactly the same kind of criminal violence employed by Loughner, only on a much grander scale. This was illustrated the day before  Loughner's murderous rampage, when agents of the government ruling us used a remote-controlled drone operated from the safety of an office building in Nevada to murder six people in Pakistan's North Waziristan region.

Americans were not admonished to observe a moment of chastened silence in memory of the victims of that exercise in criminal violence. This is, in part, because observances of that kind would quickly become tedious: Since 2008, Pakistan -- a country with which the government ruling us is not formally at war -- has endured at least 250 drone attacks, in which roughly 1,400 people have been killed.

According to the most conservative estimate of "collateral damage," only a tithe of those slaughtered through drone strikes are "militants."

Hundreds of civilians have likewise been massacred in the ongoing "surge" in Afghanistan, many of them in nighttime raids by "Special Operations Forces" -- that is, death squads -- whose behavior is not easily distinguishable from that of Jared Loughner. At least a hundred thousand civilians have been annihilated in the continuing war in Iraq, which was inaugurated for reasons just as delusional as anything that percolated in Loughner's distressed mind.

For those who worship at the altar of the omnipotent State, mass murder of this kind is an exercise in sanctified violence. In a 2009 interview with Foreign Policy magazine, Bill Clinton -- who has repeatedly denounced  "anti-government" speech as a form of criminal sedition -- defined terrorism as “killing and robbery and coercion by people who do not have state authority." (Emphasis added.) What this means, of course, is that "killing and robbery and coercion" by duly authorized agents of the State isn't terrorism, it's policy

You see, bombs and drones may demolish homes, but only "anti-government" words can harm us. This is why one of the political elite's most urgent priorities is the control and criminalization of anti-government speech.

Thus Rep. Robert Brady, a Pennsylvania Democrat, announced that he would propose legislation criminalizing verbal or symbolic expression that could be perceived as conveying a threat against a federal official, or an incitement to violence against such exalted personages.

"The president is a federal official," observed Brady. "You can't do it to him; you should not be able to do it to a congressman, senator, or federal judge.... The rhetoric is just ramped up so negatively, so high, that we have got to shut this down."

That last statement, of course, is an oblique but unmistakable threat: How else would federal officials "shut this down" without the involvement of armed functionaries authorized to kill those who would resist? 

"All we're doing is trying to protect ourselves," simpered Brady, announcing that this new assault on what remains of the First Amendment would begin as soon as Congress re-convenes. He also reported that his proposal found support on both sides of the aisle. This isn't surprising. For House Speaker John Boehner, the most important thing in the aftermath of the Safeway Massacre was to assert the primacy of the coercive class: "An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Such acts of violence have no place in our society."

If Boehner's intent was to denounce criminal violence against the innocent, why did Boehner italicize the sanctified status of Judge Roll and Congresswoman Giffords?

The same priorities were on display in the charges filed against Loughner in his arraignment: One count of attempting to assassinate a member of Congress, two counts of unlawfully killing a federal employee, and two counts of attempting to kill a federal employee. The crime committed in Tucson is covered by Arizona's state laws, of course, and the victims -- including all four who were murdered, not merely the federal judge and congressional aide -- were all residents of the state.

But in death, as in life, those on the federal payroll are to be regarded as consecrated beings. This is why an attack them is not merely a crime of violence, but -- in the words of FBI Director Robert Mueller -- an "attack on our institutions and our way of life," or, as totalitarian theologian Jim Wallis put it, an attack on the "soul of the nation."

Wallis could be considered the Obama administration's court prophet. Economist and investigative journalist Bill Anderson points out that neither Wallis nor his publication, Sojourners ever so much as mentioned -- let alone condemned -- the 1993 federal massacre at Mt. Carmel, in which scores of innocent people (including seventeen young children) were either immolated or slaughtered by automatic gunfire when they tried to escape their burning sanctuary.

"The people who were shot and immolated at the Branch Davidian location were not real people to Wallis, who sees literally everything in political symbolism," observes Anderson. "So, the rule of thumb is that if he cannot find a way to put an incident into his worship of the State, it simply doesn’t happen."

Idolater: Rev. Bellows.
Wallis has anointed himself an apostle of what he calls "God's politics," a perspective in which Mao's totalitarian regime is considered the ideal "Christian state." He is hardly a modern aberration; the concept of the state as "God walking on the earth" has been around since Hegel. Its first significant American expression may have come in the form of a February 1, 1863 sermon entitled "Unconditional Loyalty," which was preached -- and later published as a pamphlet -- by Rev. Henry W. Bellows, the immensely influential Unitarian minister of New York City's All Souls Church.

Bellows insisted that Abraham the Destroyer, as "head of the nation," was literally "a sacred person.... You cannot rudely assail the personal character or judgment of a Chief Magistrate, without weakening public respect for the office he holds.... To rally round the President -- without question or dispute -- is the first and most sacred duty of loyal citizens...."

Rev. Bellows extolled the U.S. President as a literally messianic figure; his text was the messianic prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, which contains the phrase "and the government shall be upon his shoulder." Those who condemned Lincoln's crimes against the Constitution, he insisted, were made of the same wretched stuff from which were formed "the enemies of our Saviour, who were always flinging in his blessed face the authority of the Mosaic law."

Bellows granted that Lincoln violated the Constitution in countless ways, but maintained that just as Jesus was the incarnate Lawgiver, Lincoln should be regarded as the living Constitution. Were the actual written document to prove an insuperable impediment to Lincoln's divine mission, "the sooner it were abandoned, the better."

But Rev. Bellows wasn't content to hymn the praises of the Divine Lincoln and heap anathemas on the heads of those who failed to recognize his transcendent magnificence. Indeed, his purpose was to plead "the sacred cause of Government itself." He shuddered with pious disapproval at the spectacle of "Government despised, sneered at and distrusted by its own children."

Those in the employ of the Federal Government, Bellows insisted, are men "whose characters and reputation ought at this time to be under the shield of every patriotic citizen's allegiance and gratitude." Yes, at one point they were mere Mundanes, commonplace human beings burdened with the same weaknesses that afflict all of us. Now, however, "the lightning of God has touched them, and rendered them sacred," Bellows pontificated. They are entitled not only to dispose of the lives and property of the lesser beings they rule, but to their praise and worship as well.

"Thus, brethren, do I commend to you the cause of unconditional loyalty," Bellows summarized, issuing an idolatrous grand commission to his congregation to become "missionaries" of the divine State "wherever you go, and with whomsoever you are conversant. Let our women and children become the propagandists of unconditional loyalty. The country needs not only the fealty of her sons, but of her daughters who sing the songs of patriotic devotion at your hearth-stones.... Frown on every syllable of distrust, of wavering, of disrespect, that pollutes the air you breathe. Require of all your friends to be first the friends of the nation! Have nobody's love that does not love the country more! Make a religion of patriotism."

Bellows' oration was one of many he made in the service of what he called the "holy war" to vindicate the power of the central government over those who had withdrawn their consent to be ruled by it. In coming decades, the themes and tropes he expressed would be embroidered and delivered by other acolytes of the Total State -- in Russian, German, Italian, Korean, and other languages. And the Bellows Estate should collect a royalty payment every time critics of government are accused of fomenting "violence" by speaking irreverently of the Holy State.

Occasions like the Safeway Massacre should prompt condemnation of all criminal violence against the innocent. Instead, they prompt public liturgies that celebrate the Divine State and its monopoly on the "legitimate" use of lethal violence -- and offer the President an opportunity to carry out his ceremonial function as Pontifex Maximus of the civil religion. Some people describe this kind of thing as an "Oklahoma City moment," in which an episode of mass bloodshed inspires an altar call for Americans who have lost their faith in the divine State: The prodigals are given an opportunity to "Come to Molech," as it were.

Shortly after winning re-election in November 1996, Bill Clinton confided to reporters on Air Force One that his political recovery began with the Oklahoma City bombing: “It broke a spell in the country as people began searching for our common ground again.” That "common ground," as Rev. Bellows put it, is found in unqualified submission to the central government. 
Just weeks ago, interestingly enough, former Hillary Clinton campaign strategist Mark Penn described Clinton's "OKC moment" during a panel discussion on MSNBC’s Hardball program. Barack Obama "right now seems removed" from the public, Penn pointed out. "It wasn’t until that speech [after the bombing] that [Clinton] really clicked with the American public.” According to Penn,  Obama needed “a similar kind” of opportunity for greatness.

Obama now has that opportunity.

By way of a postscript....

Rep. Peter King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and former bagman for the IRA, plans to introduce legislation that would make it a federal crime for Mundanes to carry firearms within 1000 feet of a federal official. This proscription wouldn't apply to those employed to protect those sanctified personages, of course.

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