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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Escapades From New York

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein)

"In a Democracy, nothing good has to happen in secret; and nothing good ever does. Secrecy is the enemy of Democracy. The more we allow our government to act outside of public accountability and the Rule of Law, the less it is our government, and the more it becomes instead an authoritarian occupying police state." - VoiceofV

"(I)t’s always a good day when you can bag a sand nigger." - NYPD cop after unlawfully arresting Prof. Ravi Shankar

When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. - Misattributed to Sinclair Lewis

In a somewhat gentler, more trusting age, John Keats in "Ode on a Grecian Urn" synonymized truth with beauty. "Beauty is truth, truth beauty. That is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know."

Unfortunately, with industrialization and the inevitable acceleration of destructive technologies, the resultant paranoia and geopolitical intrigue, the truth is often not as beautiful as Keats preferred to think in 1819. Often, it's downright fucking hideous with enough bad guys, good intentions and shortcuts to Hell to fill both Snake Plissken movies.

The front page, above-the-fold story on the Huffington Post was a disturbing one even to people who keep as suspicious an eye on the NYPD as it keeps on those in the New York/New Jersey area. The United States, at least technically and officially, does not have a national police force (not even the FBI qualifies but more on them later). Yet this "mission creep" on the part of the NYPD, often operating an hour or more beyond their jurisdiction (New Jersey) but given unprecedented latitude by the federal government, is but the first step in the establishment of that dreaded national police department. And the establishment of a national police state is surely one of the unmistakable hallmarks of the beginning of Fascism. But before we can begin to fully appreciate the emerging and self-denying fascist state of affairs in the Land of the Free, we must first begin to remember when America really was a democracy in which due process and the rule of law was actually respected and enforced.

To begin with, the National Security Act of 1947 forbade the CIA from domestic surveillance, a fact that the CIA, even on its website, seems loath to admit it, as does, strangely, the Wikipedia entry on the subject. It was possibly the most important or at least the most transformative legislation ever signed by President Truman. It established the creation of the US Air Force, and federalized both the military and intelligence communities into much the same organizational framework that was in place until George W. Bush came along 55 years later with his own transformative but far less efficacious agenda.

The CIA's handcuffing on domestic matters did nothing to temper their desire to tamper in them and the names of their operations and general attitude was one of contempt for both the legislative (which funds it) and executive branch. It's no longer the realm of conspiracy theory to say that the CIA had funded assassination programs abroad (Operation Phoenix, which, contrary to popular reports, was not shut down at the end of '72 but continued through to the 80's in Iran). More widely-known but less understood was the now-infamous MK ULTRA assassination program barely touched on in the opening chapter of Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine.

The Central Intelligence Agency had overthrown several left wing governments and helped install corporate-friendly right wing dictatorships, most notoriously Pinochet's Chile on September 11, 1973. Ergo, it only follows that the CIA would establish its tentacular reach within our borders and get around the National Security Act by working in collusion with city law enforcement agencies such as the NYPD.

However, the NYPD, rather than being a mere proxy for the CIA in its domestic surveillance and racial/religious profiling, is also overstepping its jurisdictional boundaries, often operating across the river in New Jersey, an hour beyond its jurisdiction. At some point, the NYPD will reach a point of entropy beyond which they will cease being as effective as they as an intelligence-gathering apparatus. But no one as yet knows where that point is, much less where their extrajudicial jurisdiction extends. Yet where ever that is, often it does so without the knowledge of state or city government and even the FBI is left in the dark.

The usually supine New York Times, of course, chose not to get in on this action although another article in the US section that also came out this morning reveals that the FBI, which has been locked out from this CIA/NYPD connection, was nevertheless engaged in the same activity and, for the most part, pulled up a wide but empty net, even resorting to instigating and entrapping terrorism suspects. But, at the very least, it shows that the nation's top law enforcement agency and top intelligence agency are on the same page whether or not they know it.

But the CIA's recent meddling in domestic affairs is certainly not a new one. Just 20 years after Truman's National Security Act, the CIA developed Operation Chaos, not to be confused with the equally farcical KAOS of Get Smart infamy. Operation Chaos was intended to investigate foreign influence upon student demonstrators and other antiwar activists.

In today's time, such blatantly illegal racial profiling has resulted in countless violations of civil liberties of countless citizens, such as the arrest, release and paying off of Ravi Shankar (no relation to the sitar master). We've known for years the TSA under the advisement of the intelligence community, has put well over 100,000 Americans on terrorist watch and No-Fly lists, including the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. When one adds up the tote board, the safest rule of thumb for one to adopt is, If it's a government agency, it's out to get you.

Escapades From LA

Now, let's consider Posse Comitatus, the 1878 law forbidding (Ha, ha) the Commander in Chief from putting federal troops on the streets of America. It was barely over three years ago that we were treated to this shockingly clueless (no one once ever mentioned Posse Comitatus) and brainlessly breezy news report about 2300 Marines landing in Indiana and all over the Midwest for what was obviously martial law exercises.

The militarization of our urban police since the creation of SWAT teams in the 1960's is due largely to the sale of items ranging from handguns to tanks between the DoD and law enforcement agencies such as the NYPD and LAPD. This is a legitimate concern that crosses ideological boundaries. 14 years ago, it was addressed by World Net Daily's Joseph Farah in "The militarization of the domestic police." Said the usually factually- and lucidity-challenged Farah:
What gives? Why is all this deadly hardware purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars to fight foreign enemies now being turned on unsuspecting American civilians at the very moment they are being disarmed by local, state and federal governments?

The militarization of local police departments is getting so brazen even many local governments are having second thoughts about the program. In Los Angeles, for instance, one of the nation's biggest police departments is saying it was a mistake to accept the bayonets and is shipping them back to the Army.

More than 6,400 surplus bayonets went to law enforcement agencies between Oct. 1, 1996 and Sept. 30, 1997, according to the federal Defense Logistics Agency in Washington. But what on earth would domestic police departments do with bayonets?

For once I agree with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Farah's outrage was obviously channeled through a purely libertarian/2nd Amendment prism ("at the very moment (we) are being disarmed by local, state and federal governments") but his concern is nonetheless a very valid one shared by both sides of the Great Ideological Divide. Why were 6400 bayonets sold to local law enforcement during that year?

And, it only follows whether or not one has corroborating evidence, that a Central Intelligence Agency that would act complicitly with the NYPD would also do the same thing with the other massive police presence on the other coast: The LAPD. We know the government has heavily militarized the LAPD. Why not use them to spy on Latino communities and even to exterminate them by arranging drug trafficking by coordinating with the LAPD (Anyone who's even heard the late Gary Webb's name knows what I'm talking about)? If you're going to violate the letter of a law as large and as important as the National Security Act, you might as well get your money's worth and go for broke. And why stop at the coasts? Why not also involve other large police departments in the flyover states? Frankly, I'm amazed the authors of the HuffPo article never even raised that all-but-certain possibility that the CIA is spying on the entire United States through local law enforcement proxies. We've known for 6 years that the NSA was doing so with the collusion of the telecom giants and at the behest of the Bush administration.

The CIA's incredibly cynical view of minorities in South Central and East LA in coordinating with the LAPD, since the Bobby Kennedy assassination widely seen as "a lapdog for the CIA", borders on genocide. In using the Los Angeles Police Department to ensure a steady flow of drugs coming into LA, the CIA thought it was establishing plausible deniability that it had been violating the National Security Act.

Meanwhile, Uncle Sam's jihad against Muslim communities continues regardless of a recent Gallup poll that stated 93% of American Muslims remained loyal to the US government that has merely ramped up surveillance and entrapping them. If you insist on drawing blood and you pick at the same patch of skin long enough, then eventually you'll get your wish and draw blood.

The FBI, aided with all sorts of dodgy, PATRIOT Act federal laws that criminalize noncrimes by prefacing them "conspiracies to commit...", has set up a Minority Report setup whereby previously innocent men are tempted to commit terrorist acts and charged with crimes they hadn't actually committed. Considering that bigotry and cynicism to which ordinarily law-abiding Muslims have been subjected have already embittered them, an asset or paid informant (of which the FBI has many, such as Agent Provocateur Hal Turner) wouldn't have to work very hard to radicalize them. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Yet once word gets out at how much Muslim Americans are maligned and religiously profiled by the very government to which they inexplicably swear unswerving allegiance, the FBI's post COINTELPRO actions could eat up that patriotic capital very quickly. And then we'll have a very real Muslim problem with which to contend.
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Anonymous Charlie O said...
Anyone who does not believe we already live in a police state in the US is either naive or stupid. Probably both. The Constitution does not exist in the eyes of so-called "law enforcement." They operate in any way they see fit. They do what they want, when they want and how they want to do it. US Constitution or the law be damned. Police officers in the US are NOT, repeat NOT, your friend. They are NOT there to protect and serve the public. They protect and serve themselves and their masters. They have in fact, evolved into an occupying army. They use military tactics, military equipment. They dress, more and more in the fashion of soldiers, not "peace keepers." Do not trust the police. Do not call the police if you can avoid it. Almost any bad situation will only get worse and most probably violent once the police arrive.