Category Archives: FBI

The Big Plantation

European Left-wing political scientists find difficult to understand that the colonial contradiction is at the heart of our present, they think it’s a conceptual error, something anachronistic, that the joyful postmodernity – the one that delivers their Macs to them at home – has gone beyond all that, and that Trump or Bolsonaro are racist accidents of History, or of the “free world”. It’s just the opposite. Under the advertising varnish of capitalist globalization, the deep History of our world has never disappeared, it has even come back to the surface, even stronger. The revolt that is happening in the United States is the same one that founds the resistance of the Venezuelan people.
— Thierry Deronne, Algeria Resistance Mohsen Abdelmoumen’s blog, 2020

Everyone is a philosopher, though in his own way and unconsciously, since even in the slightest manifestation of any intellectual activity whatever, in ‘language’, there is contained a specific conception of the world, one then moves on to the second level, which is that of awareness and criticism.
— Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks

Three of the four police officers involved in the murder of George Floyd were previously employed as stock boys by TARGET and Home Depot, and two had worked at McDonalds. One stocked for a grocery store. One didn’t graduate high school. In other words these were economically part of that large temp minimum wage work force that is now increasingly unemployed. The fourth, officer Kueng, whose file was redacted, was apparently more middle class, from a nice family and who graduated with some distinction from his high school. It’s interesting, first off, why his file was redacted.

But one of them had served in the military, Derek Chauvin, the man now charged with the murder. Chauvin also had 17 complaints filed against him for excessive force before he kneeled on George Floyd’s neck.

There are a couple things to consider here. One is why these men are not on the side of the people they abuse (and murder)? The answer is multi-fold. One is a culture of machismo and violence that saturates American society. Another is that the United States was a slave owning nation where twelve presidents owned slaves. Racism and Calvinist and Puritan values have never left this society. And it was founded (and it’s in the constitution) as an unequal and anti-democratic republic. Owners of property were established as privileged. And so it has continued. But it also has the allure of the uniform. Now it’s understandable that being a cop and being handed a gun and impunity to harass and abuse the public is preferable to flipping burgers. One job is utter humiliation while the other is validated as heroic by popular culture.

Domestic police departments tend to hire military veterans before those without military service.

The Obama administration helped expand the preference: in 2012, the Department of Justice provided tens of millions of dollars to fund scores of vets-only positions in police departments nationwide. Official data on the impact of veteran-cops is scarce. Nearly all of the 33 police departments contacted by The Marshall Project declined to provide a list of officers who had served in the military, citing laws protecting personnel records, or saying the information was not stored in any central place. The Justice Department office that dispenses grants to hire cops and study policing said it has no interest in funding research into how military experience might influence police behavior.
— Simone Weichselbaum and Beth Schwartzapfel, The Marshall Project, May 30, 2017

Those with special forces training tend to go into Private Security. One in four soldiers in theatre in Afghanistan are private contractors. The wars of empire are increasingly being outsourced.

During the Obama administration, the Pentagon has been equipping US police departments across the country with a staggering amount of military weapons, combat vehicles, and other equipment, according to Pentagon data.

According to a New York Times article published last week, at minimum, 93,763 machine guns, 180,718 magazine cartridges, hundreds of silencers and an unknown number of grenade launchers have been provided to state and local police departments since 2006. This is in addition to at least 533 planes and helicopters, and 432 MRAPs — 9-foot high, 30-ton Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicles with gun turrets, and more than 44,900 pieces of night vision equipment, regularly used in nighttime raids in Afghanistan and Iraq. Much of the lethal provisions have gone to small city and county police forces. The recent militarization is part of a broader trend. According to Eastern Kentucky University professor Peter B. Kraska — who has studied this subject for two decades — as of the late 1990s, about 89 percent of police departments in the United States serving populations of 50,000 people or more had a PPU (Police Paramilitary Unit), almost double of what existed in the mid-1980s. Their growth in smaller jurisdictions (agencies serving between 25 and 50,000 people) was even more pronounced. Currently, about 80 percent of small town agencies have a PPU; in the mid-1980s only 20 percent had them. The domestic military ramp-up is far from being in proportion to any perceived threat to public safety. The Times notes that, “today, crime has fallen to its lowest levels in a generation… the number of domestic terrorist attacks has declined sharply from the 1960s and 1970s.” And yet, “police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs.
— Zac Corrigan, WSWS, June 2014

Couple this to the growing social inequality in the country, where 15% live below the poverty line (in 2015, and which no doubt is closing in on double that post Covid), and where on the heels of the pandemic hysteria and government fearmongering, which resulted in a nation wide (and global) house arrest, the problems with a militarily trained and equipped domestic police force, one drawing its officers from the low end of the educational spectrum, and one that provides at best rudimentary training, is obvious.

A Buddhist friend of mine was mentioning that at her retreat one of the Tibetan teachers observed that Covid-19 and the authoritarian policies it has engendered will unleash cataclysmic dark forces. Spiritual forces, so I take it. Or anti-spiritual, actually. And this is how it feels. And this is beyond the clear fascist agenda in play, but extends into realms of psychic transformation for the bourgeoisie in particular. The anxiety and fear that has grown silently for this privileged class, grown steadily over the last twenty years, is now cracking open and the toxic emotional slag of the atrophied inner lives is spilling out on the rest of society at large. It feels or is felt most deeply, from my anecdotal experience, in the white bourgeoisie’s fear of the other.

And I have not felt this sort of collective confusion, anxiety, and fear since the days of Vietnam. Things surface for people. The psychological effects of this lockdown are being wildly underestimated (especially in the long term for children). The difference from the Vietnam war is five decades of screen damage and an accelerated transference of wealth to the top 1%. The reality of such profound economic inequality is impossible to deny now, and the staggering numbers of homeless across the country eventually can’t be NOT seen.  It finally starts to serve as a psychic wound, a constant silent witness to the crimes of the system.

The ruling class, or certainly at the least one corner of it, launched the ‘Covid-19 panic’ as a means to shut down western society. No matter if the virus is man made or accidental or just a naturally occurring zoonotic virus… it served as a prop for their agenda. The ultimate plan remains a bit opaque but it likely includes a wholesale eradication of what is left of civil liberties, intensification of an already draconian surveillance state, and a transformation and rebranding of the meager welfare state into something fit for 7th century serfs, only far worse actually. This is the world of Bill Gates’ moist nocturnal dreams, and those elite new green capitalists, royal families, and digital billionaires. It should be noted that global health bureaucracies like WHO and the CDC are political organizations first. Both have deep and long standing ties to big Pharma and various other corporate interests. The WHO is privately funded (Gates essentially owns it and directs policy) and the CDC is actually a part of the Health and Human Services department of government. And the current head of the CDC is a former pharmaceutical company executive and a guy who worked with John Bolton drawing up the National Biodefense Strategy for president Trump. Anthony Fauci is the creepy and slimy little front man for all the agencies involved in urging governments around the world to shut down (they like the term lockdown for its prison connotations). Without digressing too much here, what is relevant is that when one starts to wonder how it is allowed for known white nationalists and Klansmen to openly serve as police officers, the answer is not that the de-centralized nature of state and city police departments are hard to reform or clean up but rather that the very top office holders in criminal justice share sympathy with the racists.

We are watching in real time the normalizing of martial law and the suspension of democracy. And these measures have given a bit of a boost to the beleaguered and increasingly brutish police departments across the country. When not even a high school diploma is necessary to be given a badge and gun, when the police recruit from the ranks of malcontent and angry TARGET stock boys and blank McDonald counter people, there must be a logic at work, and I suspect there is. First, flipping burgers is the only thing many young men and women have open to them. I’ve done that kind of work. And I hated it, too. But the domestic police, those city departments fresh with new military hardware, don’t want empathic or imaginative young men, they want the emotionally dead. As a side point here, I know martial arts masters who can train you to subdue the wildest suspect without any harm. Adroitly and calmly — but it would require a few months training, not a few hours. But that is not what the departments want. They want crude clumsy tactics, ones that instill fear and which cause pain and suffering and sometimes death. Those few percent of military trained special force guys, they don’t go the Minneapolis police department, or San Diego, or Toledo or Indianapolis. They go into high end private security.

This is not even to touch on the wide spread use of steroids.

When it came to incarceration, the US prison population had reached a staggering 2.4 million people by 2014. Out of this number — which accounted for a full quarter of the entire world’s prison population — 38 percent of inmates were black, even though as mentioned black people made up just 13.3 percent of the entire population. Compare this to whites, who made up 35 percent of the US prison population while constituting just under 78 percent of the country’s population. Mass incarceration was brought into being by Bill Clinton with the passage of his omnibus crime bill in 1994. Obama, over his two terms, did nothing to address what prison reform activists had long described as the new plantation.
— John Wight, Medium, 2020

The police today are increasingly used for purposes of optics, as much as any real police work. Most crimes go unsolved and for uniformed cops in their black and white (usually) Cruisers the job description is essentially to function as an occupying force in poor neighborhoods. They carry out parole checks, harass and detain the poor, often on a whim. Most acutely in black inner cities. `They are a new gestapo. They are there to brutalize and frighten what is seen as a surplus population. The essence of America’s slave legacy is found right there, in the grim counter insurgency tactics of domestic police departments on the streets of black inner cities. For important work, for the protection of important persons and prestige property the ruling class have turned to private security. That leaves the uniformed cops, badly paid, with minimum job security actually, as tools for enforcing racial oppression. And if any more proof were needed, one need only check the hyper incarceration rate in America’s prisons, and further, the results of the Innocence Project. The numbers of falsely convicted men and women is staggering, it is mind numbing and a spiritual stain on this society that can never be washed away. It is the overriding and ineradicable symbol of a savage culture of strict class separation, a separation enforced with lethality and pointless cruelty. For the hyper incarceration starts right there, on the same streets where Eric Garner was choked, or Tamir Rice was shot, where George Floyd was murdered, and Trayvon Martin and Philando Castile and hundreds of others have suffered and died. One topic not discussed enough is post arrest custodial deaths.

In properly staffed households throughout the world, the bodyguard is the new nanny, fear of terrorism, a volatile political climate and a pervasive sense that the wealth creation of a few has come at the expense of the many have made paranoia the norm.
Town and Country, December 2016

We learned that the contractors in our sample are predominantly white man in their 40s who chose contracting as a second career. Most are veterans with significant military experience. Among those contractors who were previously deployed as service members, many are former officers and about half of them are Special Forces veterans. They are more likely to have a college degree than their active-duty counterparts, but less likely than their fellow veterans in the general population. They come from parts of the U.S. or United Kingdom with higher unemployment rates and fewer job opportunities—not the areas with the strongest traditions for military service.
— Ori Swed and Thomas Crosbie, Pacific Standard, “The Demographics of America’s Private Military Contractors”. March 2019

In 2009, after Obama was elected, the Department of Homeland Security and FBI jointly wrote an intelligence study on white extremism in domestic police departments.  Janet Napolitano, then DHS head, quickly and quietly swept the report under the proverbial rug. Back in 1991 Los Angeles U. S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr found that sheriffs at the Lynwood substation were engaged in what he called ‘racial hostility’ and ‘terrorist tactics’ against Latino and Black prisoners. And that the top brass for the Sheriffs’ department were well aware of this. In 2006 the FBI released a redacted memorandum warning of white nationalists in domestic police departments. Or look up the Joe Burge case in Chicago. In departments in Florida, Texas, and Ohio, there were active Klansmen in police departments. It is common knowledge that across the country police culture is profoundly racist and reactionary. The educated classes in the U.S. have internalized the Hollywood version of all this. Just think how many hours of cop shows (all them, literally) you have watched and how every single one signs off on a fantasy version of police heroism …the thin blue line metaphor, and how it is only these handsome and beautiful (if slightly flawed, you know, human) public servants are protecting you and your family from the vicious underclass, from drug dealing gangs, all minority, and where all them, literally, portray inner cities are lawless wastelands without culture, brutish and bestial. This has led to the new narrative archetype of ‘taking the wrong off-ramp’. These are openly racist stories but the public has come to digest such pseudo storytelling in a sort of pattern recognition manner. And nearly every single cop show features one or more military veterans. Usually special forces, but not always. Service in the military is a signifier for virtue and honour.

Forward to 2019, and Los Angeles again, this time in the incorporated mostly black city of Compton in south LA. The details of the Ryan Twyman killing, by sheriffs again, is perhaps the most perfect example of American white supremacism and, when empowered, the violent consequences.

Ryan Twyman was unarmed inside a parked car when two Los Angeles sheriff deputies approached and fired 34 rounds. Video of the entire incident, which happened in roughly 50 seconds, was as shocking as many police brutality cases that have gone viral in the US. But the killing of the 24-year-old father of three barely made the news. On that day, his death was far from unique: officers across LA shot five people in five separate incidents in just over 24 hours. Only one person survived. Families and activists said the bloodshed on 6 June provided a terrifying illustration of the culture of police violence and a system that trains officers to kill – while ensuring they won’t face consequences.
— Sam Levine, Guardian, August 2019.

This is not what you see on the new FOX cop show Deputy. Watch a few episodes and get back to me. But that is hardly a unique phenomenon. There is SWAT, Chicago PD, the various Law & Order franchises, or Criminal Minds. I could go on and on, obviously. The problem is not the violence depicted, for Shakespeare is violent. It is the naked propaganda and the racism. Anti-black racism at the very top but today Islamaphobic narratives abound as well, often with pro Israeli sub plots. Military shows follow the same blueprint.

The point is that you cannot separate the Imperialist wars of aggression across the planet, which serve as recruitment pools for domestic police and private security and you cannot separate the counter insurgency tactics in Iraq and Afghanistan, or Syria, not to mention the covert activities against Venezuela and Bolivia both of which involved at least some uniformed military personnel, from the sadistic actions of America’s police. Nor can you separate these aggressions from the jingoistic entertainments (recruitment shows for the military and police) from Hollywood. These foreign policy actions remain largely accepted and popular. The country may hate Trump, with good reason, but his foreign policy is so far actually less lethal than Obama’s or Bush’s or Clinton’s. In any event every President gets a bump in approval ratings when he kills a dark skinned foreigner either by drone or by military actions. The public didn’t much care at all about Fallujah, and the architect of that butchery, Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, former Secretary of State for Trump before being fired, is now a darling of the white educated liberals who are so incensed about the prez’ and his failure to lock down the country even more, harder, and certainly for longer. They are quite happy to cheer and identify with the FBI and war criminals like Mattis. That exaggerated hatred of Trump contains a number of contradictions. But for the purposes of this discussion the central one is that of soft or disguised racism vs. overt white sheets MAGA racism.

White paternalism knows no bounds. And the inherent tokenism of the educated white American has sort of reached its own, from their perspective, cultural horizon event. Another way of saying it is truly the death of irony epoch.

That Americans approve of military violence against the poor nations of the world suggests why the police in America are so steadfastly racist and white supremacist. They are hugely supported. Now, there is with the murder of Floyd a lot of discussion of defunding the police. The problem being, as many have pointed out, this would only increase privitization of security. The US spent 100 billion on domestic policing last year, give or take. And around 80 billion on prisons. The US defense budget is four or almost five times that amount. So it would seem critical to defund the military right along with the police. It is clearly a positive to reallocate cop money to mental health and community infrastructure and education. But this is the nefarious aspect of Covid-19 and the lockdown. In Philadelphia the proposed budget cuts, due to the massive effects of the lockdown, include cutting nearly all sanitation workers down to almost nothing, cutting stuff like soap in hospitals and upkeep of school and city buses. The Covid lockdown was a tool of the ruling class.

There is much press now given to polls showing American support for the Floyd protests. Except those polls are misleading.

Forty-five percent of respondents told Morning Consult that, on the whole, most of the protesters are peaceful and desire meaningful social reform, while 42 percent said most protesters are trying to incite violence or destroy property. In Monmouth’s poll, only 17 percent felt the actions of the protesters were fully justified, 37 percent said they were partially justified and 38 percent said they weren’t justified at all. And the Reuters/Ipsos survey found that most Americans (72 percent) didn’t think violent protests were an appropriate response to Floyd’s killing, and that property damage caused by protesters undermined their goals (79 percent). Morning Consult’s survey also found that Americans were less supportive of the protests when they were specifically asked about black people protesting.
— Five Thirty Eight

It’s that last sentence, you see. Whatever grass roots movements achieve is always going to run up against that last sentence. But I’m not cynical about defunding cops. It is a concrete material step in developing alliances in the working class. The movements for prison abolition and defunding are doing the ground work for alliance formation. It has to start somewhere. And they are the front edges of suggesting property and capitalism are the source of most all of their problems. Gramsci envisioned the ‘hegemonic’ struggle as two-pronged:  one to educate the working class from ideas that chain them to the existing order and their own exploitation, and two, to bring other ‘subaltern’ classes into what he called a ‘bloc’ with the working class.

I only see the average American remains bizarrely ignorant of US foreign policy. How many people know of Hillary Clinton’s coup in Honduras? I suspect not many. The violence against the global south has not abated for sixty years (okay, for three hundred). From AT&T to United Fruit to Dole Pineapple, the business interests of corporate America have stood on the backs of the developing world (sic). What would actually happen if police were defunded? What would massive upticks in privatized security look like? Possibly something out of Robocop. And that is the danger today, that is the situation in which we find ourselves.

Take a look at Alabama, which sits up top in the U.S. alphabetically and in the middle, population-wise: Since 1996, Alabama police departments have received $78,534,297.32 in planes, helicopters, rifles, and mine-resistant vehicles. How is there so much stuff to dole out? After 9/11, U.S. military funding increased 50 percent. In fact, the average American has paid $23,386 in taxes to support the military and its war efforts since 2001. All that spending has translated to a lot of extra mine-resistant vehicles, which local police now own.
— AC Shilton, Fatherly, 2020

Over the last thirty years funding for domestic police has grown over 400% according to the Justice Policy Institute. And there are millions of dollars shortfall for public education. The problem there is that public education sucks bad anyway. It is almost worse than no education, frankly (and, yes, I know there are exceptions). And this takes us back to the shelf stockers at Tesco and TARGET. The elite Universities and prep schools are available for the rich, and increasingly the very rich only. And which serves as yet another factor in the acute resentment that seems to fuel so much American discourse. And while private schools are better (how could they be worse?) the problem is the culture at large. It’s not only a reflexive and embedded and indelible racism, it is an anti intellectualism, and fast eroding literacy. And then there are the screens. The pernicious effects of social media (which really is a machine for creating resentment and/or guilt) and smart phones, aps, algorithms … the entire attention economy, has produced a populace of emotional deadness, of crippling anxiety and insecurity about self, and it has done nothing to even mitigate in the slightest of ways the Imperialist project and what is called American Exceptionalism. The cops that killed George Floyd, if prosecuted, will be exceptions that change nothing. Most cops serve with impunity. American soldiers shoot at Iraqi civilians as sport, amusement. The vicious IDF, fresh from killing teenagers, comes to the U.S. to teach domestic departments better how to instill terror and pain, nothing more. There is no secret magic Zionist martial art or mind control. It’s just brute terrorizing. As it has always been for fascists. And as it has always been for plantations and chain gangs.

Political ABCs: Maybe the Difference between a “Cop” and a “Crook” is Just a Badge

Not the only “finest” but the ones with the biggest TV and movie coverage

While it may be common knowledge that fire departments originated as private organisations to defend the interests of property insurers, it has probably been forgotten that in the US police were originally the hired gangs of landowners and merchant-industrialists. As urban conurbations like New York City grew, the police were the action arm of the political machines that served to dominate native and immigrant workers. A job in the police department was a patronage post; i.e., one either bought a job or by demonstrated willingness to act for the political boss(es) could be given a shield, a license to use violence and commit crimes on behalf of the machine or for personal gain as long as it did not conflict with the interests of the former.

In the expanding continental empire that became the USA, the rural police were either the auxiliaries of the slave patrols or the “deputised” vigilantes in the service of big landowners, railroads, mining companies or ranchers. Community policing, let alone “democratic” policing was never a meaningful part of the US political system. What has recently been condemned as corrupt and brutal policing is actually consistent with historical tradition of localised repression.

When in the so-called Progressive Era corporate cartels realised it was necessary to counter emergent mass democratic movements, the ruling elite began a process of “professionalisation”. This trend actually covered most of the West. Ideological catalyst for “progressivism” was the adoption of the ideas of Auguste Comte, best illustrated in the case of Brazil whose flag today is adorned with the motto of Positivism (and the Positivist Church) “Order and Progress”. The emphasis was on technocratic order, embodied in the military as an emerging scientific bureaucracy. Progress meant resisting democratic demands with gradual technocratic solutions.

In the US this meant professionalisation of local government and integration of the private/ partisan police forces into a permanent civil service. Thus the gangs of capitalists acquired protected status as part of the new, modern, professional government apparatus which rationally could counter the “irrationality” attributed to democracy, not least of which the horror of communists and anarchists among the immigrant population. In many US cities, this meant that the ethnic hierarchy became entrenched in the forces of “law and order”.  Irish came to dominate East Coast urban armies — later Italians were allowed to join. Blacks were excluded– also because one of the jobs of the police was control over Blacks and other racial inferiors in the labour force. Even today the major urban armies of the US Eastern seaboard; e.g., Boston, New York, Philadelphia, are dominated by Irish and Italian dynasties for whom the police force is also a cult.

Tourist trap, New York City

Not only was the struggle for democratic and socialist government subverted by imposing “progressive” public administration, these professional governments were equipped with private armies which were then given a badge and virtual immunity from any form of civil or criminal prosecution. Although some may know the history, it is important to recall that these policies were developed, supported and ultimately imposed by the plutocrats of the 19th century, Morgan, Rockefeller, Carnegie, later Ford and others both directly and through philanthropic foundations — established to evade taxes and distribute bribery — and make public policy at arm’s length.

Under Woodrow Wilson, that South Carolina racist and Princeton professor promoted to POTUS, the Pinkerton Detective Agency was essentially moved from its role as private and mercenary political hammer to a State apparatus.  Under A. Mitchell Palmer, who installed them under a fascist bureaucrat named John Edgar Hoover — who then turned it into the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US equivalent of what Hitler established as the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (the controlling office for all Nazi political and criminal police forces).

The US Constitution does not provide explicitly for police powers — except in the Second Amendment. That infamous addition is usually interpreted as the right for anyone in the US to own and bear firearms. However, that is incorrect. The Second Amendment was adopted to protect the slave states from federal interference in their “slave patrols”, the militias organised under state authority to hunt runaway slaves, discipline slaves and prevent resp. suppress slave rebellions. In other words, the implied police power of the Second Amendment was conceived as an instrument for controlling slaves and later Blacks after slavery was abolished. This is the license that the Constitution gives to the thugs clothed in municipal or state uniforms as professional armies for the oligarchy that owns the United States.

After World War I those owners sought means to establish federal jurisdiction over political dissent, especially given the enormous numbers of urban immigrants from inferior European stock. People like Henry Ford realised that suppressing the consumption of alcohol would create a nationwide pretext for social control without openly contravening the supposed constitutional liberties; e.g., the First Amendment or those forbidding unreasonable search and seizure or denial of due process. The Volstead Act was adopted and the Prohibition amendment entered into force. For the first time since the Civil War, the federal government had a mandate to coordinate policing throughout the US and to mobilise the corporate machine police forces for political control. This not only made families like the Kennedys and Bronfmans fabulously rich, it helped establish the corporate form of crime of which Meyer Lansky became the paragon (although popular culture focuses on Italians rather than Jews).

The federal prohibition of alcoholic beverages did not end drink but created the context for a massive expansion of corporate and state police power. Now the taxpayer — obviously not corporations or their plutocratic owners — could pay the bill for their own repression. This would not have been possible were the US not historically saturated with the hypocritical theocratic culture of Oliver Cromwell’s puritan republic. Since “white” American politics — even abolitionism — has always been dominated by the theocratic tradition of the colonial era, prohibition of alcohol could be promoted as a necessary imposition of moral conduct upon inferior European stock — where wine and beer were ordinary food — and as a purification of the body politic. In fact, it was an alibi for political policing of immigrants, socialists, and any other “un-American” activities.

When it became clear that Prohibition’s days were numbered and an enormous army of uniformed thugs would suddenly be unemployed, people like Harry Anslinger, wed to the Mellon dynasty and a former head of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s private army, lobbied for the prohibition of narcotic drugs. One of his barely valid reasons was that policing narcotics would also preserve an instrument for policing Blacks. So the Federal Bureau of Narcotics became the primary national race police while the its senior rival the Federal Bureau of Investigation was the US secret political police (what was called under Hitler the Gestapo — abbreviation for Geheime Staatspolizei, as opposed to the Schutzpolizei or protective police).

Together these two federal agencies began the process of shaping disparate and independent warlords with their municipal armies into forces that could be mobilised either for political or racialist purposes. The so-called New Deal not only introduced a vast array of federal interventions in the economy and social organisation, some of which were barely socialist but most of which were proto-fascist/corporatist, it nationalised the police powers (and overseas subversion). This meant the corporations were no longer directly liable for the actions of their gangs; e.g., the Pinkertons, Ford Service or the numerous railway and factory police forces deployed to control workers and their communities. The uniforms and badges were exchanged and now these private armies were agents of state repression. The fiction of civilian control was preserved in part due to corporate and jurisdictional jealousies. However, these armies became entrenched parts of the civilian bureaucracy, unionised, and established legacies that made many forces virtually hereditary castes.

It is against this background that one needs to understand the decades of opposition to police in the US, mainly from non-white and poor communities in the US. This opposition is not based on occasional abuse or failures in training. It is based on the intuitively recognised fact that the police in the US — as in the rest of the US Empire — are an army of occupation. They are, individual police officers of good faith notwithstanding, the daily terror and threat of terror which is the complement to Hollywood propaganda and the dictatorship of the workplace. It is no accident that someone like Dan Mitreone, an Indiana police chief, became a notorious trainer of torturers in Latin American police forces before he was kidnapped and executed. Michigan State University ran, or served as a conduit for, programs throughout the US war against Vietnam which brought members of these municipal terror organisations to Southeast Asia to torture Vietnamese.

Of course, policing in Britain and throughout Europe is also derived from state terror policies. Yet only in Britain and the US does one have such an enormous investment in the myth of good police officers. The late journalist Alexander Cockburn once wrote that Britain had the only police department that was treated as a global tourist attraction. Hollywood has done everything possible to give the NYPD that reputation too — although even less deserved. FBI and DEA have become “brands” for leisure attire. Have you seen anyone wearing a “GESTAPO” tee shirt?

Tourist trap, London (1981)

The current wave of demonstrations and demands for an end to police repression and even an end to the police force as such may shock some who think that it would be enough to end racialist abuse by the police, to finally convict police of the capital crimes they commit and punish them accordingly. In a country which is proud of its death penalty, the number of police condemned for murder and punished accordingly can certainly be counted on one hand — or less! The number of people wrongly convicted and/or executed for allegedly killing police gangsters is enormous. The City of Brotherly Love is infamous here.

The problem, of which the murder of George Floyd is only one example among thousands (or perhaps millions throughout US history), is complex. First of all, the warlords — the corporate owners of municipalities and their armies called police — have to be restrained. These armies, like the paramilitary units that same US corporate oligarchy maintains in its overseas protectorates, have independent means; e.g., through their control of drug, gambling and other cash flows. They can buy, blackmail or otherwise suborn politicians and judiciary. They are organised in powerful unions with cult-like loyalty through generations. They are supplied by the covert internal security apparatus established since Hoover’s ascent and enriched after the war on Vietnam and 9-11 — officially the Department of Homeland Security. They can rely on a perverse criminal code, both at local and federal level, which legitimates their functions. Last but not least they are integrated in the penal value chain since the privatisation of prisons and other disciplinary operations. There is so much money involved that it is mind boggling.

Although I remain sceptical as to the actual organisation(s) behind the wave of demonstrations and actions aimed at police forces and their crimes, the issues are real. An adequate and dialectically developing movement to address these long suppressed issues will need to deal with the complexity of police history and especially the powerful financial and political interests behind this municipal militarism that plagues the US and constitutes one of the main obstacles to democratic struggle there.

Who’s Trashing Downtown Every Night and Why?

The corporate media and corporate politicians are paralyzed with indecision.  Which fake myth do we adhere to?  “Black people burning down their own neighborhoods” or “outside agitators”?  What if it’s both, and more…?

Media coverage of the past few days and nights of the multiracial uprising that is currently taking place in various forms in cities small and large across the United States has been confused and misleading, as usual.  Media coverage of such events is usually either confusing, misleading, or both, because of the influence of the media owners, and because of the implicit biases, insufficient resources, and/or ignorance of the journalists who work for them.  So, it begs for a bit of helpful clarification.

But, first of all, they keep saying these are the biggest urban disturbances in the US since 1968.  This sounds huge, and while it’s certainly impressive, the basic phenomenon taking place, and the various dynamics within it, are not new, not unprecedented, and, in fact, are very commonplace.

Most people, from my experience, never go to protests.  Among those who do go to protests, many people only go to one big one in their lives, if any.  At pretty much every big protest I’ve ever been to, which is a lot, I’m surrounded by people of all ages who tell me and others around them that they are attending their first protest.  Whatever got them out — a racist police murder, a massacre, an imperialist war, a massive bank bailout — they say they just had to come out this time, even though they never went to a protest before.  The hardcore protest-hopping crowd like me is a very select group, for a lot of different reasons.  We are not representative.

As a consequence, at every protest I have been to, there are participants who are under the impression that the tactics the protesters are employing were just invented yesterday, and that the militarization of the police is a new phenomenon.  In Ferguson in 2014 I remember hearing many local people of all ages saying things that made it abundantly clear that they thought large groups of riot police rioting in their town and making use of tear gas, stun grenades, and tank-like vehicles was something that had not been seen since the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s.  They were under that impression simply because that was the last time anyone remembered tanks on the streets in Ferguson, and for many older people in town, that was also the last time they attended a large protest.

Before I start contextualizing the current situation, let me say that although me and many other radicals did certainly predict most everything that is currently taking place, I have no idea where this is going.  Predictions made by people like me are usually wrong.  If they’re right, it’s because they were obvious — everyone knows powder kegs eventually explode, but nobody really ever knows exactly when this might happen, or what will be the spark.  But the keg is now burning.  It may have started with one spark, but the lynching of George Floyd, although horrific, is only symbolic of what this is all about.  Justice in this situation most certainly does not begin or end with the sentencing of all four of those cops with murder.  They’re certainly guilty, but there’s a lot more of that to go around, at far higher levels of authority than the local cops, fascist as they may be.  (To anyone who was not literally born yesterday, living in the US today, who is aware of who the president is, this is a very obvious statement.)

The main question I want to focus on here is a burning question in the minds of the corporate media and for many regular people from all walks of life across the country — who is smashing, looting and burning buildings, torching police cars, and throwing projectiles at the riot cops all over this country?

The “Peaceful Protesters” Myth

It is probably the case that the vast majority of the people assembling during the day and during the evening to hold protest rallies against the tendency of the police in the US to lynch black people on a regular basis are not the same people who are engaging in some of the other aforementioned activities.  But it would be very wrong to put them all in this fake “peaceful protester” box.

What the media calls “peaceful protesters” are people who stand around in a public space with signs and make speeches.  They can be angry speeches, that’s OK.  This is what they call “peaceful protest.”  If they don’t have a permit, it might not be “peaceful” anymore, in the media’s eyes.  If the police attack peaceful protesters and a single person from within the ranks of the protesters responds in any way that can be construed as violent — such as if someone raises their hand to attempt to block a billy club that’s about to come down on their face — this will be labeled a “clash,” such as, “there are now clashes taking place between the police and the protesters.”

When people occupy an intersection and stop traffic, or block the entrance of a building, this is what people from within social movements generally refer to as civil disobedience, or direct action.  It is considered by anyone involved with a social movement anywhere to be solidly within the “nonviolent” category, and it is often referred to by its full name, “nonviolent civil disobedience.”  People like Gandhi and MLK popularized these sorts of tactics, which were pioneered long before, by other social movements that were also led by oppressed people, such as the labor movement, very much including the multiracial movements of tenant farmers and sharecroppers in the early part of the twentieth century.

The corporate media, however, will often start referring to protests as “violent” as soon as any law is being broken, such as traffic laws, when an intersection, highway, or building entrance is blocked.  This use of the term “violent” is very confusing for many, because it’s patently inaccurate, when people learn enough to understand what the reporters actually mean — if they are allowed to get to that point, which is generally not the case.  If people are looking to the media to understand what’s happening around them, this is very unhelpful.  One of many very unhelpful aspects of their coverage.

The “Black People Are Burning Down Their Own Neighborhood” Myth

As soon as a police murder or the acquittal of a killer cop lead to anyone setting fire to a building, the media will tend to shift into a different gear, where they start focusing on the popular response to the racist, elitist system, rather than on the problems that led to the response.  This happens, again, partly because this is what the corporate propagandists who own most of what remains of the press want to focus on, not just because it’s sensationalist and keeps eyes glued to the screen, but because it is consistent with their perspective, and that of most of their reporters, who were generally raised in totally different circumstances from most of the folks currently burning stuff down.

Thus, for different reasons, but amounting to the same effect, the media will talk about people burning down “their own” neighborhoods.  It’s unfashionable these days to refer to them as “animals,” which was a common refrain during the national uprising in 1991 that the media refers to as the “LA riots.”  Trump prefers the racially loaded term, “thugs,” which is just a slightly updated version of “animals.”

No rent-burdened renter who has been evicted multiple times, which is the case for millions and millions of people in the US, feels like the neighborhoods they live in are “their own” neighborhoods.  Most working class people in urban America are struggling to stay in “their own” neighborhoods.  They are constantly being evicted and driven out of “their own” neighborhoods.  Yuppies flip houses and sell them at impossible prices, and “their own” neighborhoods become quickly unrecognizable and unaffordable.  There is a massive rate of displacement and what can accurately be described as ethnic cleansing taking place in cities throughout this country, that has been going on for centuries now.  It has only been interrupted for periods of time through strong rent control legislation, which used to exist in states like New York and Massachusetts.  But multi-generational, real communities are fewer and farther between, because of the fact that housing is an investment for capitalists in this country, not a right, not at all.

So no one is burning down “their own” neighborhood.  To the extent that local people are involved with these activities — which lots of them are, let’s be very clear about that, and this is nothing new, not at all — the neighborhoods they are burning down are not their own.  They are owned by people that often feel like invaders.  However, these invaders may be “mom and pop” business owners, or “mom and pop” landlords.  The media will refer to any business as a “small business” if it’s not a big corporation.  But someone running a restaurant that serves food that many people in a given neighborhood can’t afford to eat, while easily fitting the media’s description as a “mom and pop” small business, is not often seen by local people as part of “their community” or as particularly distinguishable from a chain store like Target.  Either the “mom and pop” establishment in this instance, or the chain store, will have the same impact, of raising the cost of housing in the now more “desirable” neighborhood.

The “Outside Agitators” Myth

Traditionally, when there is a major protest that involves some forms of civil disobedience or other forms of direct action, so that business as usual is sufficiently interrupted to the point where the protests can’t be ignored, the media will adopt one of two tropes.  If it’s not people “burning down their own neighborhood,” then it’s some kind of “outside agitators” who did it.

The “outside agitator” is generally someone like me, who cares about society, and other people in it, so much that they want to leave their own homes and even their own home towns or states or countries, to go to another place to practice what is known as solidarity or mutual aid, depending on the situation.  It’s easier for the media to blame “outside agitators” when there’s a national or international meeting of the elite taking place, say a G8 or G20 meeting, and tens of thousands of people show up to protest against or try to shut down those meetings.  This scenario has been played out many times in the US, Canada, and many other countries, and I’ve personally been to many such events throughout the world since I’m more or less an outside agitator by profession.

From my experience, even at a big international event in Washington, DC or New York City, most of the people involved with the protests will be from the local area.  They may not be from the actual city the protest is taking place in, but most of them will be from a nearby state.  Locals, by a broader definition than the media likes to use.  So when they say that 20% of those arrested in Minneapolis were not from Minnesota, they don’t mention that of those 20%, the vast majority were from the state of Wisconsin, a short drive away.  (I don’t know this to be true, I’m just guessing based on past experience.)  Of course, if they came from further afield than Wisconsin to show solidarity with people in Minneapolis, this still does not make them bad people.

One of the wonderfully confusing things going on right now with media coverage and the reactions to events by politicians trying to spin the picture the way they want us to see it is they can’t decide on which false trope to fall back on here.  Is it people burning down their own neighborhoods, or are these outside agitators?  Obviously, it’s both — and so much more.

The outside agitator theory also becomes very hard to maintain in this situation, because they are everywhere at the same time.  Traditionally, outside agitators have to come from outside.  By outside, usually they’re talking about select groups of highly committed young anarchists going from supposed anarchist hubs like Seattle, San Francisco and New York City, to places where big, pre-planned events are taking place, such as the G20 meetings in Pittsburgh in 2009 or the Free Trade Area of the Americas talks in Miami in 2003, to name a couple random examples.  In the face of protests happening in every major city at the same time, the “outside agitators” now must have come from a nearby suburb, which doesn’t seem all that “outside” to me.

The fact is, the city of Minneapolis has thousands of people in it who probably identify explicitly as anarchists.  There are many other cities in the US that have a high concentration of radicals.  Minneapolis has been one of them for a very long time.  The radical tradition in Minneapolis is a multiracial one, like this uprising, and includes prominent people from every major ethnic background, very much including white, black, brown, Asian and indigenous resistance in many forms.

Within the ranks of all of these communities, and within the ranks of radicals within all of these communities, there are many different opinions on effective strategies.  While many people understand how folks might not differentiate between burning down a locally-owned upscale restaurant and a big chain corporate store, many would be critical of burning down anything, ever.  And those who think burning down buildings is a good tactic might distinguish between these two targets, intellectually.  Where radicals of all backgrounds tend to unite is around the understanding that oppressed people will tend to rise up, and those uprisings will tend to be messy, especially in the absence of a radical labor tradition, and in the absence of any kind of viable third party option to the two capitalist, imperialist ruling parties who are largely responsible for the terrible disparities in society in the first place.

The “You’re Just Being Paranoid” Myth

In their efforts to confuse people and manage the situation from their corporate elite vantage points, the stenographers of CNN and NPR will rarely mention that local, state and federal police forces have a long and terrible history of infiltrating, undercutting, planting evidence, sowing division and otherwise destroying social movements in any way possible, including killing activists and then blaming others for the killings.  Dozens of leaders of the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement were systematically killed by the authorities at various levels of power, and no one has ever been brought to justice for these many crimes against these immensely popular organizations.  If you familiarize yourself with the public record on the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program or Cointelpro — which has never ended, to be sure — you will find they have committed every crime imaginable, both very overt and extremely underhanded, to cause movements to implode or explode, depending on what works best.

So, are FBI agents and undercover cops among those who are attacking the police and burning down buildings across this country?  While we may not yet have any concrete proof of this, we can assume, based on massive amounts of concrete proof of past activities of these so-called law enforcement agencies, that their agents are involved with many of the most egregious cases of small or ethnically-owned businesses being burned down.  This has been their modus operandi for a very long time in order to sow division.  You would have to be completely ignorant of recent history to think it’s not happening now.  Yet on the off-chance anyone might suggest on a mainstream media outlet that this sort of thing is probably happening, they would likely be lampooned as a conspiracy theorist.

Currently, it appears right-wing actors who may or may not also be cops are trying to start a “race war” by targeting certain buildings for arson attacks and by firing into crowds of protesters.  This adds another level of complexity to the situation, obviously.

Collateral Damage

In a war, many innocent lives are lost.  If you have ever known a person who participated in a war that they even thought was completely just, you will find just one more person who is traumatized by the things they have seen, and the innocents who have died in the course of the conflict they participated in.  If you meet someone who participated in a war that they realized at the time, or later, was unjust, this trauma will tend to be even more intense.

In an uprising like what is currently taking place, this is no different.  When you set about to burn down a police station, this is a difficult task that involves many challenges.  Without going into all the details, suffice it to say that if you’re burning down a building, neighboring buildings might also catch fire, whether you wanted them to or not.  If the fire department were assisting the arsonists, as with a controlled burn of a forest or building, to make sure nearby trees or houses didn’t catch fire, it would be different, but that’s not the situation here.  If it were the military accidentally bombing the wrong house, or a hospital, or a wedding party, as the US military has so often done in recent years in so many parts of the world, they’d just say oops, it was collateral damage.  But if a small business gets torched by accident, or on purpose, by people in the course of an urban rebellion, then it’s a different story you’ll hear from the media and others that these wackos are burning down very nice nonprofit centers that no sensible person would want to harm.  The collateral damage angle, though obvious from a logistical standpoint, will rarely be mentioned — as rarely as the possibility that a particularly destructive action might have been carried out by an FBI agent posing as a protester, despite the abundant evidence of this kind of systematic behavior over the course of past decades.

In Conclusion

Rebellions, uprisings, and revolutions have some things in common, regardless of the outcome:  they are messy, they are dirty, they smell bad, people get hurt, people get killed, buildings get burned, and a lot of innocent people suffer.  They don’t happen unless conditions were completely untenable to begin with.  And as they grow, for some there are rays of hope amidst the flames.

The Boston Marathon Bombing As Trial Run For A Global Lockdown

You never want to let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that, it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.
Rahm Emanuel

Not long ago I was sent the link to Sheila Casey’s expose’ of the Boston Marathon Bombing as a staged event. I had been aware the U.S. Military used amputees as crisis actors for training combat soldiers, as CNN had done a report in 2012. In comparing CNN footage with photos in Casey’s report, the Boston production looked embarrassingly amateurish, with an “explosion” produced by what one ex-Marine artillery officer considered to be “a studio-grade smoke machine.”

In paragraph 4, Casey links to a “Boston Globe video on You Tube” to expose faked aspects of the bombing. But the link now leads to a black screen: “Video unavailable”. If you search “Boston Globe video marathon bombing”, you again get a black screen: “Video Cloud video not found”. Both the article and following comments are jam-packed with links leading to black screens or “does not exist”. It is censorship protecting an official account. Nevertheless, Casey details rigorously in text, and the photographs are incontrovertible. Red paint looks nothing like blood, and “Jeff Bauman”, legs supposedly blown off, looks bored as actors race him, upright and with fake tibia exposed, to God knows where. 

There is good coverage of the “bombing” at Searchforthetruth, and this short piece (still on YouTube as I write), reveals the ‘bombing’ to have been a training exercise for the bomb squad. Footage includes an announcement “This is a drill” shortly before an explosion. At minute 6;15 in this video from Bitchute, someone shouts several times to police during a press interview “Why did you warn people to stay calm before the explosion?” Getting no response, he finally shouts “This is a false flag, gentlemen!” But the tale of death, with bloody bodies and limbs strewn all about has stuck — and been continually reinforced —  in the public mind.

To recognize the incident as a fake terrorist attack would make a thinking person wonder about possible motives behind a scenario replete with obvious fakery. Casey surmises: “It’s almost as if they are asking themselves: Just how stupid IS the public? Just how much horse shit WILL they swallow, so long as they hear it on their TV? And then they create an event such as this, which gives them a good read on what portion of the population is awake and thinking, and what portion is still under the trance of the nonstop propaganda known as the media.” And that — a “good read” on the public — makes perfect sense.

Beyond the capture of two supposed criminals, itself a specious tale, one sees the lockdown of a major city. Panic is created, people are ordered to stay home, and there is immediate obedience. The predisposition of modern Americans, attention fastened on their TVs, is revealed so clearly that an organized power structure might safely apply the same strategy on a national scale. This we are seeing now.

Journalists publishing in Off-Guardian have reported on many esteemed epidemiologists at odds with the global lockdown in response to what is not an atypical flu season (See here,  here and here). Within the first four minutes of his interview, Knut Wittkowski explains “containment” of the lockdown inhibits “herd immunity” which, allowed to run its course naturally, would end the pandemic in a matter of weeks. Only the elderly and “fragile” would be sequestered during such a period, as would be proper in any flu season. 

Epidemiologists representing this area of professional opinion are scrubbed entirely from mainstream news, much of which is scandalous, fear-mongering and seemingly a call for violence; e.g., this “officially at war…. bodies have been buried or burnt to charred cinders….”  from Daily Kos. On April 21, Frontline, a star in the lineup of PBS, that prime gatekeeper, aired “Coronavirus Pandemic“, predictably faithful to governmental orthodoxy and the diktat that unauthorized epidemiological expertise be given no mention. Still, some commentators are finding the steel to call the Covid19 Shutdown the “hoax” that it evidently is.

In broadening one’s sources of information, “official narrative” regarding the Covid19 lockdown appears ever more to be an odd 21st Century version of “wag the dog”, in which a flu du jour has been used to terrify and focus a TV-addicted public that earlier had demonstrated its willingness to be herded on command. Whatever is being accomplished beneath the cover of the lockdown most certainly, in the end, will not be in the interests of the broader public. Never has it been more important to remove one’s attention from the TV and to explore a variety of input and opinion. Beyond the highly paid talking shills on TV, there really are bona fide journalists and researchers dedicated to unearthing the truth of things.

Human Lab Rats: The U.S. Government’s Secret History of Grisly Experiments

They were monsters with human faces, in crisp uniforms, marching in lockstep, so banal you don’t recognize them for what they are until it’s too late.
— Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

I have never known any government to put the best interests of its people first, and this COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.

Now this isn’t intended to be a debate over whether COVID-19 is a legitimate health crisis or a manufactured threat. Such crises can—and are—manipulated by governments in order to expand their powers. As such, it is possible for the virus to be both a genuine menace to public health and a menace to freedom.

Yet we can’t afford to overlook the fact that governments the world over, including the U.S. government, have unleashed untold horrors upon the world in the name of global conquest, the acquisition of greater wealth, scientific experimentation, and technological advances, all packaged in the guise of the greater good.

While the U.S. government is currently looking into the possibility that the novel coronavirus spread from a Chinese laboratory rather than a market, the virus could just as easily have been created by the U.S. government or one of its allies.

After all, grisly experiments, barbaric behavior and inhumane conditions have become synonymous with the U.S. government, which has meted out untold horrors against humans and animals alike.

For instance, did you know that the U.S. government has been buying hundreds of dogs and cats from “Asian meat markets” as part of a gruesome experiment into food-borne illnesses?

The cannibalistic experiments involve killing cats and dogs purchased from Colombia, Brazil, Vietnam, China and Ethiopia, and then feeding the dead remains to laboratory kittens, bred in government laboratories for the express purpose of being infected with a disease and then killed.

It gets more gruesome.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been removing parts of dogs’ brains to see how it affects their breathing; applying electrodes to dogs’ spinal cords (before and after severing them) to see how it impacts their cough reflexes; and implanting pacemakers in dogs’ hearts and then inducing them to have heart attacks (before draining their blood). All of the laboratory dogs are killed during the course of these experiments.

It’s not just animals that are being treated like lab rats by government agencies.

“We the people” have also become the police state’s guinea pigs: to be caged, branded, experimented upon without our knowledge or consent, and then conveniently discarded and left to suffer from the after-effects.

Back in 2017, FEMA “inadvertently” exposed nearly 10,000 firefighters, paramedics and other responders to a deadly form of ricin during simulated bioterrorism response sessions. In 2015, it was discovered that an Army lab had been “mistakenly” shipping deadly anthrax to labs and defense contractors for a decade.

While these particular incidents have been dismissed as “accidents,” you don’t have to dig very deep or go very back in the nation’s history to uncover numerous cases in which the government deliberately conducted secret experiments on an unsuspecting populace—citizens and noncitizens alike—making healthy people sick by spraying them with chemicals, injecting them with infectious diseases and exposing them to airborne toxins.

At the time, the government reasoned that it was legitimate to experiment on people who did not have full rights in society such as prisoners, mental patients, and poor blacks.

In Alabama, for example, 600 black men with syphilis were allowed to suffer without proper medical treatment in order to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis. In California, older prisoners had testicles from livestock and from recently executed convicts implanted in them to test their virility. In Connecticut, mental patients were injected with hepatitis.

In Maryland, sleeping prisoners had a pandemic flu virus sprayed up their noses. In Georgia, two dozen “volunteering” prison inmates had gonorrhea bacteria pumped directly into their urinary tracts through the penis. In Michigan, male patients at an insane asylum were exposed to the flu after first being injected with an experimental flu vaccine. In Minnesota, 11 public service employee “volunteers” were injected with malaria, then starved for five days.

In New York, dying patients had cancer cells introduced into their systems. In Ohio, over 100 inmates were injected with live cancer cells. Also in New York, prisoners at a reformatory prison were also split into two groups to determine how a deadly stomach virus was spread: the first group was made to swallow an unfiltered stool suspension, while the second group merely breathed in germs sprayed into the air. And in Staten Island, children with mental retardation were given hepatitis orally and by injection to see if they could then be cured.

As the Associated Press reports, “The late 1940s and 1950s saw huge growth in the U.S. pharmaceutical and health care industries, accompanied by a boom in prisoner experiments funded by both the government and corporations. By the 1960s, at least half the states allowed prisoners to be used as medical guinea pigs … because they were cheaper than chimpanzees.”

Moreover, “Some of these studies, mostly from the 1940s to the ’60s, apparently were never covered by news media. Others were reported at the time, but the focus was on the promise of enduring new cures, while glossing over how test subjects were treated.”

Media blackouts, propaganda, spin. Sound familiar?

How many government incursions into our freedoms have been blacked out, buried under “entertainment” news headlines, or spun in such a way as to suggest that anyone voicing a word of caution is paranoid or conspiratorial?

Unfortunately, these incidents are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the atrocities the government has inflicted on an unsuspecting populace in the name of secret experimentation.

For instance, there was the U.S. military’s secret race-based testing of mustard gas on more than 60,000 enlisted men. As NPR reports, “All of the World War II experiments with mustard gas were done in secret and weren’t recorded on the subjects’ official military records. Most do not have proof of what they went through. They received no follow-up health care or monitoring of any kind. And they were sworn to secrecy about the tests under threat of dishonorable discharge and military prison time, leaving some unable to receive adequate medical treatment for their injuries, because they couldn’t tell doctors what happened to them.”

And then there was the CIA’s MK-ULTRA program in which hundreds of unsuspecting American civilians and military personnel were dosed with LSD, some having the hallucinogenic drug slipped into their drinks at the beach, in city bars, at restaurants. As Time reports, “before the documentation and other facts of the program were made public, those who talked of it were frequently dismissed as being psychotic.”

Now one might argue that this is all ancient history and that the government today is different from the government of yesteryear, but has the U.S. government really changed?

Has the government become any more humane, any more respectful of the rights of the citizenry?

Has it become any more transparent or willing to abide by the rule of law? Has it become any more truthful about its activities? Has it become any more cognizant of its appointed role as a guardian of our rights?

Or has the government simply hunkered down and hidden its nefarious acts and dastardly experiments under layers of secrecy, legalism and obfuscations? Has it not become wilier, more slippery, more difficult to pin down?

Having mastered the Orwellian art of Doublespeak and followed the Huxleyan blueprint for distraction and diversion, are we not dealing with a government that is simply craftier and more conniving that it used to be?

Consider this: after revelations about the government’s experiments spanning the 20th century spawned outrage, the government began looking for human guinea pigs in other countries, where “clinical trials could be done more cheaply and with fewer rules.”

In Guatemala, prisoners and patients at a mental hospital were infected with syphilis, “apparently to test whether penicillin could prevent some sexually transmitted disease.” In Uganda, U.S.-funded doctors “failed to give the AIDS drug AZT to all the HIV-infected pregnant women in a study… even though it would have protected their newborns.” Meanwhile, in Nigeria, children with meningitis were used to test an antibiotic named Trovan. Eleven children died and many others were left disabled.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Case in point: back in 2016, it was announced that scientists working for the Department of Homeland Security would begin releasing various gases and particles on crowded subway platforms as part of an experiment aimed at testing bioterror airflow in New York subways.

The government insisted that the gases released into the subways by the DHS were nontoxic and did not pose a health risk. It’s in our best interests, they said, to understand how quickly a chemical or biological terrorist attack might spread. And look how cool the technology is—said the government cheerleaders—that scientists can use something called DNATrax to track the movement of microscopic substances in air and food. (Imagine the kinds of surveillance that could be carried out by the government using trackable airborne microscopic substances you breathe in or ingest.)

Mind you, this is the same government that in 1949 sprayed bacteria into the Pentagon’s air handling system, then the world’s largest office building. In 1950, special ops forces sprayed bacteria from Navy ships off the coast of Norfolk and San Francisco, in the latter case exposing all of the city’s 800,000 residents.

In 1953, government operatives staged “mock” anthrax attacks on St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Winnipeg using generators placed on top of cars. Local governments were reportedly told that “‘invisible smokescreen[s]’ were being deployed to mask the city on enemy radar.” Later experiments covered territory as wide-ranging as Ohio to Texas and Michigan to Kansas.

In 1965, the government’s experiments in bioterror took aim at Washington’s National Airport, followed by a 1966 experiment in which army scientists exposed a million subway NYC passengers to airborne bacteria that causes food poisoning.

And this is the same government that has taken every bit of technology sold to us as being in our best interests—GPS devices, surveillance, nonlethal weapons, etc.—and used it against us, to track, control and trap us.

So, no, I don’t think the government’s ethics have changed much over the years. It’s just taken its nefarious programs undercover.

The question remains: why is the government doing this? The answer is always the same: money, power and total domination.

It’s the same answer no matter which totalitarian regime is in power.

The mindset driving these programs has, appropriately, been likened to that of Nazi doctors experimenting on Jews. As the Holocaust Museum recounts, Nazi physicians “conducted painful and often deadly experiments on thousands of concentration camp prisoners without their consent.”

The Nazi’s unethical experiments ran the gamut from freezing experiments using prisoners to find an effective treatment for hypothermia, tests to determine the maximum altitude for parachuting out of a plane, injecting prisoners with malaria, typhus, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, yellow fever, and infectious hepatitis, exposing prisoners to phosgene and mustard gas, and mass sterilization experiments.

The horrors being meted out against the American people can be traced back, in a direct line, to the horrors meted out in Nazi laboratories. In fact, following the second World War, the U.S. government recruited many of Hitler’s employees, adopted his protocols, embraced his mindset about law and order and experimentation, and implemented his tactics in incremental steps.

Sounds far-fetched, you say? Read on. It’s all documented.

As historian Robert Gellately recounts, the Nazi police state was initially so admired for its efficiency and order by the world powers of the day that J. Edgar Hoover, then-head of the FBI, actually sent one of his right-hand men, Edmund Patrick Coffey, to Berlin in January 1938 at the invitation of Germany’s secret police, the Gestapo.

The FBI was so impressed with the Nazi regime that, according to the New York Times, in the decades after World War II, the FBI, along with other government agencies, aggressively recruited at least a thousand Nazis, including some of Hitler’s highest henchmen.

All told, thousands of Nazi collaborators—including the head of a Nazi concentration camp, among others—were given secret visas and brought to America by way of Project Paperclip. Subsequently, they were hired on as spies, informants and scientific advisers, and then camouflaged to ensure that their true identities and ties to Hitler’s holocaust machine would remain unknown. All the while, thousands of Jewish refugees were refused entry visas to the U.S. on the grounds that it could threaten national securi

Adding further insult to injury, American taxpayers have been paying to keep these ex-Nazis on the U.S. government’s payroll ever since. And in true Gestapo fashion, anyone who has dared to blow the whistle on the FBI’s illicit Nazi ties has found himself spied upon, intimidated, harassed and labeled a threat to national security.

As if the government’s covert, taxpayer-funded employment of Nazis after World War II wasn’t bad enough, U.S. government agencies—the FBI, CIA and the military—have since fully embraced many of the Nazi’s well-honed policing tactics, and have used them repeatedly against American citizens.

It’s certainly easy to denounce the full-frontal horrors carried out by the scientific and medical community within a despotic regime such as Nazi Germany, but what do you do when it’s your own government that claims to be a champion of human rights all the while allowing its agents to engage in the foulest, bases and most despicable acts of torture, abuse and experimentation?

When all is said and done, this is not a government that has our best interests at heart.

This is not a government that values us.

Perhaps the answer lies in The Third Man, Carol Reed’s influential 1949 film starring Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles. In the film, set in a post-WW II Vienna, rogue war profiteer Harry Lime has come to view human carnage with a callous indifference, unconcerned that the diluted penicillin he’s been trafficking underground has resulted in the tortured deaths of young children.

Challenged by his old friend Holly Martins to consider the consequences of his actions, Lime responds, “In these days, old man, nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don’t, so why should we?

“Have you ever seen any of your victims?” asks Martins.

“Victims?” responds Limes, as he looks down from the top of a Ferris wheel onto a populace reduced to mere dots on the ground. “Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax — the only way you can save money nowadays.”

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, this is how the U.S. government sees us, too, when it looks down upon us from its lofty perch.

To the powers-that-be, the rest of us are insignificant specks, faceless dots on the ground.

To the architects of the American police state, we are not worthy or vested with inherent rights. This is how the government can justify treating us like economic units to be bought and sold and traded, or caged rats to be experimented upon and discarded when we’ve outgrown our usefulness.

To those who call the shots in the halls of government, “we the people” are merely the means to an end.

“We the people”—who think, who reason, who take a stand, who resist, who demand to be treated with dignity and care, who believe in freedom and justice for all—have become obsolete, undervalued citizens of a totalitarian state that, in the words of Rod Serling, “has patterned itself after every dictator who has ever planted the ripping imprint of a boot on the pages of history since the beginning of time. It has refinements, technological advances, and a more sophisticated approach to the destruction of human freedom.”

In this sense, we are all Romney Wordsworth, the condemned man in Serling’s Twilight Zone episode “The Obsolete Man.”

The Obsolete Man” speaks to the dangers of a government that views people as expendable once they have outgrown their usefulness to the State. Yet—and here’s the kicker—this is where the government through its monstrous inhumanity also becomes obsolete. As Serling noted in his original script for “The Obsolete Man,” “Any state, any entity, any ideology which fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of Man…that state is obsolete.”

How do you defeat a monster? You start by recognizing the monster for what it is.

The United States of America’s Doll House: A Vast Tapestry of Lies and Illusions

This is an updated and revised version of the full cover-story that appeared in the important publication, garrison: The Journal of History and Deep Politics, Issue 003.  Issue 004 is due out this week and I urge readers to purchase it.  You will read articles there that you will find no place else, brilliant, eye-opening analyses of issues that the MSM will never touch.

*****

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

— Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, 2005

While truth-tellers Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning sit inside jail cells and Edward Snowden lives in exile in Russia, the American people hole up in an illusionary dwelling constructed to reduce them to children afraid of the truth.  Or is it the dark?  This is not new; it has been so for a very long time, but it has become a more sophisticated haunted doll’s house, an electronic one with many bells and whistles and images that move faster than the eye can see. We now inhabit a digital technological nightmare controlled by government and corporate forces intent on dominating every aspect of people’s lives. This is true despite the valiant efforts of dissidents to use the technology for human liberation. The old wooden doll houses, where you needed small fingers to rearrange the furniture, now only need thumbs that can click you into your cell’s fantasy world.  So many dwell there in the fabricated reality otherwise known as propaganda.  The result is mass hallucination.

In a 1969 interview, Jim Garrison, the District Attorney of New Orleans and the only person to ever bring to trial a case involving the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, said that as a result of the CIA’s murderous coup d’état on behalf of the military-industrial-financial-media-intelligence complex that rules the country to this day, the American people have been subjected to a fabricated reality that has rendered them a nation of passive Eichmanns, who sit in their living rooms, popping pills and watching television as their country’s military machine mows down people by the millions and the announcers tell them all the things they should be afraid of, such as bacteria on cutting boards and Russian spies infiltrating their hair salons.  Garrison said:

The creation of such inanities as acceptable reality and unacceptable reality is necessary for the self-preservation of the super-state against its greatest danger: understanding on the part of the people as to what is really happening.  All factors which contribute to its burgeoning power are exaggerated.  All factors which might reveal its corrosive effect on the nation are concealed.  The result is to place the populace in the position of persons living in a house whose windows no longer reveal the outside but on which murals have been painted.  Some of the murals are frightening and have the effect of reminding the occupants of the outside menaces against which the paternal war machine is protecting them.  Other murals are pleasant to remind them how nice things are inside the house.

But to live like this is to live in a doll’s house.  If life has one lesson to teach us, it is that to live in illusion is ultimately disastrous.

In the doll’s house into which America gradually has been converted, a great many of our basic assumptions are totally illusory.1

Fifty years have disappeared behind us since the eloquent and courageous Garrison (read On the Trail of the Assassins) metaphorically voiced the truth, despite the CIA’s persistent efforts to paint him as an unhinged lunatic through its media mouthpieces.  These days they would probably just lock him up or send him fleeing across borders, as with Assange, Manning, and Snowden.

It is stunning to take a cue from his comment regarding the JFK assassination, when he suggested that one reverse the lone assassin scenario and place it in the U.S.S.R.  No American could possibly believe a tale that a former Russian soldier, trained in English and having served at a top Soviet secret military base, who had defected to the U.S. and then returned home with the help of the K.G.B., could kill the Russian Premier with a defective and shoddy rifle and then be shot to death in police headquarters in Moscow by a K.G.B. connected hit man so there would be no trial and the K.G.B. would go scot free.  That would be a howler!  So too, of course, are the Warren Commission’s fictions about Oswald.

Snowden, Assange, and Manning

If we then update this mental exercise and imagine that Snowden, Assange, and Manning were all Russian, and that they released information about Russian war crimes, political corruption,  and a system of total electronic surveillance of the Russian population, and were then jailed or sent fleeing into exile as a result, who in the U.S., liberal, libertarian or conservative, would possibly believe the Russian government’s accusations that these three were criminals.

Nevertheless, Barack Obama, the transparency president, made sure to treat them as such, all the while parading as a “liberal” concerned for freedom of speech and the First Amendment.  He made sure that Snowden and Manning were charged under the Espionage Act of 1917, and that Assange was corralled via false Swedish sex charges so he had to seek asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London (a form of jail).  He brought Espionage Act prosecutions against eight people, more than all former presidents combined.   He hypocritically pardoned Manning on his way out the door as if this would polish his deluded liberal legacy after making her suffer terribly through seven years of imprisonment.  He set the stage for Trump to re-jail Manning to try to get this most courageous woman to testify against Assange, which she will not do, and for the collaborationist British government to jail Assange in preparation for his extradition to the United States and a show trial.  As for Snowden, he has been relegated to invisibility, good for news headlines once and for a movie, but now gone and forgotten.

Obama and Trump, arch political “enemies,” have made sure that those who reveal the sordid acts of the American murderous state are cruelly punished and silenced.  This is how the system works, and for most Americans, it is not happening.  It doesn’t matter.  They don’t care, just as they don’t care that Obama backed the 2009 coup d’état in Honduras that has resulted in so many deaths at the hands of U.S trained killers, and then Trump ranted about all these “non-white” people fleeing to the U.S. to escape a hell created by the U.S., as it has been doing throughout Latin America for so long.  Who does care about the truth?  Has anyone even noticed how the corporate media has disappeared the “news” of all those desperate people clamoring to enter the U.S.A. from Mexico?  One day they were there and in the headlines; the next day, gone.  It’s called news.

The Sleepwalkers

But even though a majority of Americans have never believed the government’s explanation for JFK’s murder, they nevertheless have insouciantly gone to sleep for half a century in the doll’s house of illusions as the killing and the lies of their own government have increased over the years and any semblance of a democratic and peaceful America has gone extinct. The fates of courageous whistle-blowers Assange, Manning, and Snowden don’t concern them. The fates of Hondurans don’t concern them.  The fates of Syrians don’t concern them. The fates of Iraqis, Afghans, Yemenis, Palestinians don’t concern them. The fates of America’s victims all around the world don’t concern them.  Indifference reigns.

Obviously, if you are reading this, you are not one of the sleepwalkers and are awake to the parade of endless lies and illusions and do care. But you are in a minority.

That is not the case for most Americans.  When approximately 129 million people cast their votes for Donald Trump and HilIary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, you know idiocy reigns and nothing has been learned. Ditto for the votes for Obama, Bush, Clinton, et al.  You can keep counting back.  It is an ugly fact and sad to say.  Such a repetition compulsion is a sign of a deep sickness, and it will no doubt be repeated in the 2020 election.  The systemic illusion must be preserved at all costs and the warfare state supported in its killing.  It is the American way.

It is true that average Americans have not built the doll’s house; that is the handiwork of the vast interconnected and far-reaching propaganda arms of the U.S. government and their media accomplices.  But that does not render them innocent for accepting decades of fabricated reality for so-called peace of mind by believing that a totally corrupt system works.  The will to believe is very powerful, as is the propaganda.   The lesson that Garrison spoke of has been lost on far too many people, even on those who occasionally leave the doll house for a walk, but who only go slightly down the path for fear of seeing too much reality and connecting too many dots.  There is plain ignorance, then there is culpable ignorance, to which I shall return.

Denying Existential Freedom

One of the first things an authoritarian governing elite must do is to convince people that they are not free.  This has been going on for at least forty years, ever since the Church Committee’s revelations about the CIA in the mid-seventies, including its mind-control program, MKULTRA.  Everyone was appalled at the epiphany, so a different tactic was added.  Say those programs have been ended when, in fact, they were continued under other even deeper secret programs, and just have “experts” – social, psychological, and biological “scientists” – repeat ad infinitum that there is no longer any mind control since we now know there is no mind; it is an illusion, and it all comes down to the brain.  Biology is destiny, except in culturally diversionary ways in which freedom to choose is extolled – e.g. the latest fashions, gender identity, the best hair style, etc.  Create and lavishly fund programs for the study of the brain, while supporting and promoting a vast expansion of pharmaceutical drugs to control people.  Do this in the name of helping people with their emotional and behavioral problems that are rooted in their biology and are beyond their control.  And create criteria to convince people that they are sick and that their distress has nothing to do with the coup d’état that has rendered them “citizens” of a police state.

We have been interminably told that our lives revolve around our brains (our bodies) and that the answers to our problems lie with more brain research, drugs, genetic testing, etc. It is not coincidental that the U. S. government declared the 1990s the decade of brain research, followed up with 2000-2010 as the decade of the behavior project, and our present decade being devoted to mapping the brain and artificial intelligence, organized by the Office of Science and Technology Project and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). How convenient! George H. W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, Trump — what a difference! But this is science and the welfare of the world.  Science for idiots.

Drip by drip, here and there, in the pattern of the best propaganda, as the French sociologist Jacques Ellul says – “for propaganda is not the touch of the magic wand. It is based on slow, constant impregnation. It creates conviction and compliance through imperceptible influences that are effective only by continuous repetition”2 – articles, books, media reports have reiterated that people are “determined” by biological, genetic, social, and psychological forces over which they have no control. To assert that people are free in the Sartrean sense (en soir, condemned to freedom, or free will) has come to be seen as the belief of a delusional fool living in the past, a bad philosopher, an anti-scientist, a poorly informed religionist, one nostalgic for existential cafes, Gauloises, and black berets.  One who doesn’t grasp the truth since he doesn’t read the New York Times or watch CBS television. One who believes in nutty conspiracy theories.

The conventional propaganda – I almost said wisdom – created through decades-long media and academic repetition, is that we are not free.

Let me repeat: we are not free.  We are not free.

Investigator reporter Jon Rappoport has consistently exposed the propaganda involved in the creation and expansion of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) with its pseudo-scientific falsehoods and collusion between psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry. 3 As he correctly notes, the CIA’s MKULTRA mind-control program has morphed into modern psychiatry, both with the same objectives of disabling and controlling people by convincing them that they are not free and are in need of a chemical brain bath.

Can anyone with an awareness of this history doubt there is a hidden hand behind this development?  Once you have convinced people that they are not free in the most profound sense, the rest is child’s play.  Convinced that they are puppets, they become puppets to be willingly jerked around.

“He played with me just as I used to play with dolls,” says Nora in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.

Now who would want to get people to believe they were not free?  The answer is obvious given a minute of thought.  It is not just Nora’s husband Torvald.

Perfect examples of the persistence of the long-term, repetitive, impregnating propaganda appear in news headlines constantly.  Here is an egregious example concerning the little understood case of the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy.  On Friday, August 30, 2019, Sirhan, who has been in prison for fifty-two years for the murder of RFK that he did not commit, was stabbed by another prisoner.  A quick click through the MSM headlines reporting this showed the same words repeated by all the corporate media as they fulfilled their function as CIA stenographers. One example, from CBS News, will suffice: “Robert Kennedy assassin hospitalized after prison stabbing.” RFK assassin, RFK assassin, RFK assassin … all the media said the same thing, which they have been doing for fifty-two years. Their persistency endures despite all the facts that refute their disinformation and show that Senator Kennedy, who was on his way to becoming president, was murdered, like his brother John, by forces of the national security state.

 Sartre and Bad Faith

Lying and dissembling are ubiquitous.  Being deceived by the media liars is mirrored in people’s personal lives.  People lie and want to be deceived.  They choose to play dumb, to avoid a confrontation with truth.  They want to be nice (Latin, nescire, not to know, to be ignorant) and to be liked.  They want to tuck themselves into a safe social and cultural framework where they imagine they will be safe. They like the doll’s house. They choose to live in what Jean Paul Sartre called bad faith (mauvaise foi):  In Existential Psychoanalysis he put it thus:

In bad faith it is from myself that I am hiding the truth. But with this ‘lie’ to myself, the one to whom the lie is told and the one who lies are one and the same person, which means that I must know in my capacity as deceiver the truth which is hidden from me in my capacity as the one deceived.

Such bad faith allows people to fabricate a second act of bad faith: that they are not responsible for their ignorance of the truths behind the government’s and corporate media’s lies and propaganda, even as the shades of the prison house ominously close around us and the world edges toward global death that could arrive in an instant with nuclear war or limp along for years of increasing suffering.

Those of us who write about the U.S. led demented wars and provocations around the world and the complementary death of democracy at home are constantly flabbergasted and discouraged by the willed ignorance of so many Americans.  For while the mainstream media does the bidding of the power elite, there is ample alternative news and analyses available on the internet from fine journalists and writers committed to truth, not propaganda. There is actually far too much truth available, which poses another problem. But it doesn’t take a genius to learn how to research important issues and to learn how to distinguish between bogus and genuine information.  It takes a bit of effort, and, more importantly, the desire to compare multiple, opposing viewpoints and untangle the webs the Web weaves.  We are awash in information (and disinformation) and both good and bad reporting, but it is still available to the caring inquirer.

The problem is the will to know.  But why?  Why the refusal to investigate and question; why the indifference?  Stupidity?  Okay, there is that.  Ignorance?  That too.  Willful ignorance, ditto.  Laziness, indeed. Careerism and ideology?  For certain.  Upton Sinclair put it mildly when he said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on not understanding it.”  Difficult?  No, it’s almost impossible.

But then there are many very intelligent people who have nothing to lose and yet adamantly refuse to entertain alternative possibilities to the reigning orthodoxies that have them in their grip.  As do many others, I know many such people who will yes me to death and then never fully research issues.  They will remain in limbo or else wink to themselves that what may be true couldn’t be true.  They close down.  This is a great dilemma and frustration faced by those who seek to convince people to take an active part in understanding what is really going on in the world today, especially as the United States wages war across the globe, threatens Russia, China, and Iran, among many others, and expands and modernizes its nuclear weapons capabilities.

As for Assange, Manning, and Snowden, their plight matters not a whit.  In fact, they have been rendered invisible inside the doll’s house, except as the murals on the windows flash back their images as threats to the occupants, Russian monsters out to eat them up.  As the great poet Constantine Cavafy wrote long ago in his poem “Waiting for the Barbarians” and they never come: “Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?  Those people were a kind of solution.”  Then again, for people like U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, who knows the Russian barbarians have and will come again, life must be terrifying as he tries so manfully to bar the gates.  The Russians have been the American solution in this fairy tale for so long that it’s hard for many Americans to believe another story.

The Two-Headed Monster

On the one hand, there is the massive propaganda apparatus operated by American intelligence agencies in conjunction with their media partners.

On the other, there is the human predilection for untruth and illusions, the sad need to be comforted and to submit to greater “authority,” gratefully to accept the myths proffered by one’s masters.  This tendency applies not just to the common people, but even more so to the intellectual classes, who act as though they are immune.  Erich Fromm, writing about Germans and Hitler, but by extension people everywhere, termed this the need to “escape from freedom,” since freedom conjures up fears of vertiginous aloneness and the need to decide, which in turn evokes the fear of death.4   There are also many kinds of little deaths that precede the final one: social, career, money, familiar, etc., that are used to keep people in the doll’s house.

Fifty years ago, the CIA coined the term “conspiracy theory” as a weapon to be used to dismiss the truths expressed by critics of its murder of President Kennedy, and those of Malcom X, MLK, and RFK.  All the media echoed the CIA line.  While they still use the term to dismiss and denounce, their control of the mainstream media is so complete today that every evil government action is immediately seconded, whether it be the lies about the attacks of September 11, 2001, the wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iran, etc., the coups disguised as color revolutions in Ukraine, Venezuela, Bolivia, Hong Kong, the downing of the Malaysian jetliner there, drone murders, the Iranian “threat,” the looting of the American people by the elites, alleged sarin gas attacks in Syria, the anti-Russia bashing and the Russia-gate farce, the “criminals” Assange, Manning, Snowden – everything.  The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Fox News, the Washington Post, CNN, NPR, etc. – all are stenographers for the deep state.

So much of the ongoing propaganda travels under the banner of “the war on terror,” which is, of course, an outgrowth of the attacks of September 11, 2001, appropriately named and constantly reinforced as 9/11 in a wonderful example of linguistic mind-control: a constant emergency reminder to engender anxiety, depression, panic, and confusion, four of the symptoms that lead the DSM “experts” and their followers to diagnose and drug individuals.  The term 9/11 was first used in the New York Times on September 12, 2001 by Bill Keller, the future Times’ editor and Iraq war cheerleader.  Just a fortuitous coincidence, of course.

Jacques Ellul on Propaganda

Jacques Ellul has argued convincingly that modern propaganda in a technological mass society is more complicated than the state and media lying and deceiving the population.  He argues that propaganda meets certain needs of modern people and therefore the process of deceit is reciprocal.  The modern person feels lost, powerless, and empty. Ellul says, “He realizes that he depends on decisions over which he has no control, and that realization drives him to despair.”  But he can’t live in despair; desires that life be meaningful; and wants to feel he lives in a world that makes sense.  He wants to participate and have opinions that suggest he grasps the flow of events.  He doesn’t so much want information, but value judgments and preconceived positions that provide him with a framework for living.  Ellul wrote the following in 1965 in his classic book Propaganda:

The majority prefers expressing stupidities to not expressing any opinion: this gives them the feeling of participation.  For they need simple thoughts, elementary explanations, a ‘key’ that will permit them to take a position, and even readymade opinions….The man who keeps himself informed needs a framework….the more complicated the problems are, the more simple the explanations must be; the more fragmented the canvas, the simpler the pattern; the more difficult the question, the more all-embracing the solution; the more menacing the reduction of his own worth, the greater the need for boosting his ego.  All this propaganda – and only propaganda – can give him.5

Another way of saying this is that people want to be provided with myths to direct them to the “truth.”  But such so-called truth has been preconceived within the overarching myth provided by propaganda, and while it satisfies people’s emotional need for coherence, it also allows them to think of themselves as free individuals arriving at their own conclusions, which is a basic function of good propaganda.  In today’s mass technological society, it is essential that people be convinced that they are free-thinking individuals acting in good faith.  Then they can feel good about themselves as they lie and act in bad faith.

Culpable Ignorance

It is widely accepted that political leaders and the mass media lie and dissemble regularly, which, of course, they do. That is their job in an oligarchy.  Today we are subjected to almost total, unrelenting media and government propaganda. Depending on their political leanings, people direct their anger toward politicians of parties they oppose and media they believe slant their coverage to favor the opposition.  Trump is a liar.  No, Obama is a liar.  And Hillary Clinton.  No, Fox News.  Ridiculous! – it’s CNN or NBC.  And so on and so forth in this theater of the absurd that plays out within a megaplex of mainstream media propaganda, where there are many shows but one producer, whose overall aim is to engineer the consent of all who enter, while setting the different audiences against each other.  It is a very successful charade that evokes name-calling from all quarters.

In other words, for many people their opponents lie, as do other people, but not them. This is as true in personal as well as public life.  Here the personal and the political converge, despite protestations to the contrary.  Dedication to truth is very rare.

But there is another issue with propaganda that complicates the picture further.  People of varying political persuasions can agree that propaganda is widespread.  Many people on the left, and some on the right, would agree with Lisa Pease’s statement in her book on the RFK assassination, A Lie Too Big to Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, that “the way the CIA took over America in the 1960s is the story of our time.”6  That is also what Garrison thought when he spoke of the doll’s house.

If that is so, then today’s propaganda is anchored in the events of the 1960s, specifically the infamous government assassinations of JFK, Malcolm X, MLK, and RFK, the truth of which the CIA has worked so hard to conceal. In the fifty or so years since, a vast amount of new information has made it explicitly clear that these murders were carried out by elements within the U.S. government, and were done so to silence the voices of four charismatic leaders who were opposed to the American war machine and the continuation of the Cold War. To turn away from this truth and to ignore its implications can only be described as an act of bad faith and culpable ignorance, or worse.  But that is exactly what many prominent leftists have done.  Then to compound the problem, they have done the same with the attacks of September 11, 2001.

One cannot help thinking of what the CIA official Cord Meyer called these people in the 1950s: “the compatible left.”  He felt that effective CIA propaganda, beside the need for fascist-minded types such as Allen Dulles and James Jesus Angleton, depended on “courting” leftists and liberals into its orbit. For so many of the compatible left, those making a lot of money posing as opponents of the ruling elites but often taking the money of the super-rich, the JFK assassination and the truth of September 11, 2001 are inconsequential, never to be broached, as if they never happened, except as the authorities say they did. By ignoring these most in-your-face events with their eyes wide shut, a coterie of influential leftists has done the work of Orwell’s crime-stop and has effectively succeeded in situating current events in an ahistorical and therefore misleading context that abets U.S. propaganda.  They truncate the full story to present a narrative that distorts the truth.

Without drawing a bold line connecting the dots from November 22, 1963 up to the present, a critique of the murderous forces ruling the United States is impossible.

Among the most notable of such failures are Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn, Howard Zinn, and Chris Hedges, men idolized by many liberals and leftists.  And there are many others who have been deeply influenced by Chomsky, Cockburn, and Zinn and follow in their footsteps.  Their motivations remain a mystery, but there is no doubt their refusals have contributed to the increased power of those who control the doll’s house.  To know better and do as they have is surely culpable ignorance.

From Bad to Worse

Ask yourself: Has the power of the oligarchic, permanent warfare state with its propaganda and spy networks, increased or decreased in the past half century?  Who is winning the battle, the people or the ruling elites?  The answer is obvious. It matters not at all whether the president has been Trump or Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, Barack Obama or George H. W. Bush, Richard Nixon or Jimmy Carter.  The power of the national security state has grown under them all and everyone is left to moan and groan and wonder why.  All the while the doll’s house has become more and more sophisticated and powerful with the growth of electronic media and cell phone usage.

The new Cold War now being waged against Russia and China is a bi-partisan affair, as is the confidence game played by the secret government intended to create a fractured consciousness in the population.  This fragmentation of consciousness prevents people from grasping the present from within because so many suffer from digital dementia as their attention hops from input to output in a never-ending flow of mediated, disembodied data. Trump and his followers on one side of the coin; liberal Democrats on the other. The latter, whose bibles are the New York Times, NPR, The Washington Post, Democracy Now, The Guardian, etc. – can only see propaganda when they can attribute it to Trump or the Russians. The former see everything as a liberal conspiracy to take down Trump.  The liberals have embraced a new McCarthyism and allied themselves with the deep-state forces that they were once allegedly appalled by, including Republicans.  Their embrace of the formerly despised war-monger John Bolton in the impeachment trial of Trump is a laughable case in point, if it weren’t so depraved and slimy.  It surely isn’t the bloodthirsty policies of the Trump administration or his bloviating personality, for these liberals allied themselves with Obama’s anti-Russian rhetoric, his support for the U.S. orchestrated neo-fascist Ukrainian coup, his destruction of Libya, his wars of aggression across the Middle East, his war on terror, his trillion dollar nuclear weapons modernization, his enjoyment of drone killing, his support for the coup in Honduras, his embrace of the CIA and his CIA Director John Brennan, his prosecution of whistle-blowers, etc.  The same media that served the CIA so admirably over the decades became the liberals’ paragons of truth.  It’s enough to make your head spin, which is the point.  Spin left, spin right, spin all around, because we have possessed your mind in this spectacular image game where seeming antinomies are the constancy of the same through difference, all the presidents coined by the same manufacturer who knows that coin flipping serves to entertain the audience eager for hope and change.

This is how the political system works to prevent change.  It is why little has changed for the better over half a century and the American empire has expanded.  While it may be true that there are signs that this American hegemony is coming to an end (I am not convinced), I would not underestimate the power of the U.S. propaganda apparatus to keep people docile and deluded in the doll’s house, despite the valiant efforts of independent truth-tellers.

How, for example, is it possible for so many people to see such a stark difference between the despicable Trump and the pleasant Obama?  They are both puppets dancing to their masters’ tunes – the same masters.  They both front for the empire.

In his excellent book, Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting the Foreign Policy of the Permanent Warfare State, Jeremy Kuzmarov assiduously documents Obama’s crimes, including his CIA background.7 As Glen Ford, of Black Agenda Report, says in the first sentence of his forward, “Barack Obama may go down in presidential history as the most effective-and deceptive-imperialist of them all.” Read the book if you want all the details.  They form an overwhelming indictment of the con artist and war criminal that is irrefutable.  But will those who worship at the altar of Barack Obama read it?  Of course not.  Just as those deluded ones who voted for the reality television flim-flam man Trump will ignore all the accumulating evidence that they’ve been had and are living under a president who is Obama’s disguised doppelganger, carrying out the orders of his national security state bosses. This, too, is well documented, and no doubt another writer will arise in the years to come to put it between a book’s covers.

Yet even Jeremy Kuzmarov fails to see the link between the JFK assassination and Obama’s shilling for the warfare state.  His few references to Kennedy are all negative, suggesting he either is unaware of what Kennedy was doing in the last year of his life and why he was murdered by the CIA, or something else.  He seems to follow Noam Chomsky, a Kennedy hater, in this regard.  I point out this slight flaw in an excellent book because it is symptomatic of certain people on the left who refuse to complete the circle.  If, as Kuzmarov, argues, Obama was CIA from the start and that explains his extraordinarily close relationship with the CIA’s John Brennan, an architect, among many things, of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, and that Obama told CIA Director Panetta that the CIA would “get everything it wanted,” and the CIA killed JFK, well, something’s amiss, an enormous gap in the analysis of our current condition.

The doll’s house is a mind game of extraordinary proportions, orchestrated by the perverted power elites that run the show and ably abetted by their partners in the corporate mass media, even some in the alternative press who mean well but are confused, or are disinformation agents in the business of sowing confusion together with their mainstream Operation Mockingbird partners.  It is a spectacle of open secrecy, in which the CIA has effectively suckered everyone into a game of to-and-fro in which only they win.

Our only hope for change is to try and educate as many people as possible about the linkages between  events that started with the CIA coup d’état in Dallas on November 22, 1963, continued through the killings of Malcolm X, MLK, RFK and on through so much else up to September 11, 2001, and have brought us to the deeply depressing situation we now find ourselves in where truthtellers like Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden are criminalized, while the real perpetrators of terrible evils roam free.

Yes, we must educate but also agitate for the release of this courageous trio.  Their freedom is ours; their imprisonment is ours, whether we know it or not.  The walls are closing in.

Lisa Pease is so right:

The way the CIA took over America in the 1960s is the story of our time, and too few recognize this.  We can’t fix a problem we can’t even acknowledge exists.

If we don’t follow her advice, we will be toyed with like dolls for a long time to come.  There will be no one else to blame.

  1. Interview with Jim Garrison, District Attorney of Parish of Orleans, Louisiana, May 27, 1969.
  2. Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, Jacques Ellul, Vintage Books, 1973, pp. 17-18.
  3. Jon Rappoport, CIA mind control morphed into psychiatry?  July 11, 2017.
  4. Escape from Freedom, Erich Fromm, Rinehart & Company, Inc., 1941.
  5. Ellul, op cit., p. 140.
  6. A Lie Too Big To Fail, Lisa Pease, Feral House, 2018, pp.500-501.
  7. Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting the Foreign Policy of the Permanent Warfare State, Jeremy Kuzmarov, Clarity Press, 2019.

Russiagate Investigation Now Endangers Obama

Former U.S. President Barack Obama is now in severe legal jeopardy, because the Russiagate investigation has turned 180 degrees; and he, instead of the current President, Donald Trump, is in its cross-hairs.

The biggest crime that a U.S. President can commit is to try to defeat American democracy (the Constitutional functioning of the U.S. Government) itself, either by working with foreign powers to take it over, or else by working internally within America to sabotage democracy for his or her own personal reasons. Either way, it’s treason (crime that is intended to, and does, endanger the continued functioning of the Constitution itself1 ), and Mr. Obama is now being actively investigated, as possibly having done this. The Russiagate investigation, which had formerly focused against the current U.S. President, has reversed direction and now targets the prior President. Although he, of course, cannot be removed from office (since he is no longer in office), he is liable under criminal laws, the same as any other American would be, if he committed any crime while he was in office.

A December 17 order by the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Court severely condemned the performance by the FBI under Obama, for having obtained, on 19 October 2016 (even prior to the U.S. Presidential election), from that Court, under false pretenses, an authorization for the FBI to commence investigating Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign, as being possibly in collusion with Russia’s Government. The Court’s ruling said:

In order to appreciate the seriousness of that misconduct and its implications, it is useful to understand certain procedural and substantive requirements that apply to the government’s conduct of electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes. Title I of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA ), codified as amended at 50 U.S.C. 1801-1813, governs such electronic surveillance. It requires the government to apply for and receive an order from the FISC approving a proposed electronic surveillance. When deciding whether to grant such an application, a FISC judge must determine among other things, whether it provides probable cause to believe that the proposed surveillance target is a “foreign power” or an agent a foreign power. …
The government has a heightened duty of candor to the FISC in ex parte proceedings, that is, ones in which the government does not face an adverse party, such as proceedings on electronic surveillance applications. The FISC expects the government to comply with its heightened duty of candor in ex parte proceedings at all times. Candor is fundamental to this Court’s effective operation. …
On December 9, 2019, the government filed, with the FISC, public and classified versions of the OIG Report. … It documents troubling instances in which FBI personnel provided information to NSD [National Security Division of the Department of Justice] which was unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession. It also describes several instances in which FBI personnel withheld from NSD information in their possession which was detrimental to their case for believing that Mr. [Carter] Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power. …

On December 18th, Martha MacCallum, of Fox News, interviewed U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, and asked him (at 7:00 in the video) how high up in the FBI the blame for this (possible treason) goes:

Martha MacCallum: Were you surprised that he [Obama’s FBI Director James Comey] seemed to give himself such a distance from the entire operation?

James Comey: As the director sitting on top of an organization of 38,000 people you can’t run an investigation that’s seven layers below you. You have to leave it to the career professionals to do.

Martha MacCallum: Do you believe that?

Bill Barr: No, I think that the — one of the problems with what happened was precisely that they pulled the investigation up to the executive floors, and it was run and bird dogged by a very small group of very high level officials. And the idea that this was seven layers below him is simply not true.

The current (Trump) A.G. there called the former (Obama) FBI Director a liar on that.

If Comey gets heat for this possibly lie-based FBI investigation of the U.S. Presidential nominee from the opposite Party of the sitting U.S. President (Comey’s own boss, Obama), then protecting himself could become Comey’s top motivation; and, in that condition, protecting his former boss might become only a secondary concern for him.

Moreover, as was first publicly reported by Nick Falco in a tweet on 5 June 2018 (which tweet was removed by Twitter but fortunately not before someone had copied it to a web archive), the FBI had been investigating the Trump campaign starting no later than 7 October 2015. An outside private contractor, Stefan Halper, was hired in Britain for this, perhaps in order to get around laws prohibiting the U.S. Government from doing it. (This was ‘foreign intelligence’ work, after all. But was it really? That’s now being investigated.) The Office of Net Assessment (ONA) “through the Pentagon’s Washington Headquarters Services, awarded him contracts from 2012 to 2016 to write four studies encompassing relations among the U.S., Russia, China and India.” Though Halper actually did no such studies for the Pentagon, he instead functioned as a paid FBI informant (and it’s not yet clear whether that money came from the Pentagon, which spends trillions of dollars that are off-the-books and untraceable), and at some point Trump’s campaign became a target of Halper’s investigation. This investigation was nominally to examine “The Russia-China Relationship: The impact on US Security interests.” Allegedly, George Papadopoulos said that “Halper insinuated to him that Russia was helping the Trump campaign,” and Papadopoulos was shocked at Halper’s saying this. Probably because so much money at the Pentagon is untraceable, some of the crucial documentation on this investigation might never be found. For example, the Defense Department’s Inspector General’s 2 July 2019 report to the U.S. Senate said: “ONA personnel could not provide us any evidence that Professor Halper visited any of these locations, established an advisory group, or met with any of the specific people listed in the statement of work.” It seems that the Pentagon-contracted work was a cover-story, like pizza parlors have been for some Mafia operations. But, anyway, this is how America’s ‘democracy‘ actually functions. And, of course, America’s Deep State works not only through governmental agencies but also through underworld organizations. That’s just reality, not at all speculative. It’s been this way for decades, at least since the time of Truman’s Presidency (as is documented at that link).

Furthermore, inasmuch as this operation certainly involved Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan and others, and not only top officials at the FBI, there is no chance that Comey would have been the only high official who was involved in it. And if Comey was involved, then he would have been acting in his own interest, and not only in his boss’s — and here’s why: Comey would be expected to have been highly motivated to oppose Mr. Trump, because Trump publicly questioned whether NATO (the main international selling-arm for America’s ‘defense’-contractors) should continue to exist, and also because Comey’s entire career had been in the service of America’s Military-Industrial Complex, which is the reason why Comey’s main lifetime income has been the tens of millions of dollars he has received via the revolving door between his serving the federal Government and his serving firms such as Lockheed Martin. For these people, restoring, and intensifying, and keeping up, the Cold War, is a very profitable business. It’s called by some “the Military-Industrial Complex,” and by others “the Deep State,” but by any name it is simply agents of the billionaires who own and control U.S.-based international corporations, such as General Dynamics and Chevron. As a governmental official, making decisions that are in the long-term interests of those investors is the likeliest way to become wealthy.

Consequently, Comey would have been benefitting himself, and other high officials of the Obama Administration, by sabotaging Trump’s campaign, and by weakening Trump’s Presidency in the event that he would become elected. Plus, of course, Comey would have been benefitting Obama himself. Not only was Trump constantly condemning Obama, but Obama had appointed to lead the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 Presidential primaries, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who as early as 20 February 2007 had endorsed Hillary Clinton for President in the Democratic Party primaries, so that Shultz was one of the earliest supporters of Clinton against even Obama himself. In other words, Obama had appointed Shultz in order to increase the odds that Clinton — not Sanders — would become the nominee in 2016 to continue on and protect his own Presidential legacy. Furthermore, on 28 July 2016, Schultz became forced to resign from her leadership of the DNC after WikiLeaks released emails indicating that Schultz and other members of the DNC staff had exercised bias against Bernie Sanders and in favor of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Democratic primaries — which favoritism had been the reason why Obama had appointed Shultz to that post to begin with. She was just doing her job for the person who had chosen her to lead the DNC. Likewise for Comey. In other words: Comey was Obama’s pick to protect Clinton, and to oppose Trump (who had attacked both Clinton and Obama).

Nowadays, Obama is telling the Party’s billionaires that Elizabeth Warren would be good for them, but not that Sanders would — he never liked Sanders. He wants Warren to get the voters who otherwise would go for Sanders, and he wants the Party’s billionaires to help her achieve this (be the Party’s allegedly ‘progressive’ option), so that Sanders won’t be able to become a ballot option in the general election to be held on 3 November 2020. He is telling them whom not to help win the Party’s nomination. In fact, on November 26, Huffington Post headlined “Obama Said He Would Speak Up To Stop Bernie Sanders Nomination: Report,” and indicated that though he won’t actually say this in public (but only to the Party’s billionaires), Obama is determined to do all he can to prevent Sanders from becoming the nominee. In 2016, his choice was Hillary Clinton; but, today, it’s anyone other than Sanders; and, so, in a sense, it remains what it was four years ago — anyone but Sanders.

Comey’s virtually exclusive concern, at the present stage, would be to protect himself, so that he won’t be imprisoned. This means that he might testify against Obama. At this stage, he’s free of any personal obligation to Obama — Comey is now on his own, up against Trump, who clearly is his enemy. Some type of back-room plea-bargain is therefore virtually inevitable — and not only with Comey, but with other top Obama-appointees, ultimately. Obama is thus clearly in the cross-hairs, from now on. Congressional Democrats have opted to gun against Trump (by impeaching him); and, so, Trump now will be gunning against Obama — and against the entire Democratic Party (unless Sanders becomes its nominee, in which case, Sanders will already have defeated that Democratic Party, and its adherents will then have to choose between him versus Trump; and, so, too, will independent voters).

But, regardless of what happens, Obama now is in the cross-hairs. That’s not just political cross-hairs (such as an impeachment process); it is, above all, legal cross-hairs (an actual criminal investigation). Whereas Trump is up against a doomed effort by the Democratic Party to replace him by Vice President Mike Pence, Obama will be up against virtually inevitable criminal charges, by the incumbent Trump Administration. Obama played hardball against Trump, with “Russiagate,” and then with “Ukrainegate”; Trump will now play hardball against Obama, with whatever his Administration and the Republican Party manage to muster against Obama; and the stakes this time will be considerably bigger than just whether to replace Trump by Pence.

Whatever the outcome will be, it will be historic, and unprecedented. (If Sanders becomes the nominee, it will be even more so; and, if he then wins on November 3, it will be a second American Revolution; but, this time, a peaceful one — if that’s even possible, in today’s hyper-partisan, deeply split, USA.)

There is no way that the outcome from this will be status-quo. Either it will be greatly increased further schism in the United States, or it will be a fundamental political realignment, more comparable to 1860 than to anything since. The U.S. already has a higher percentage of its people in prison than does any other nation on this planet. Americans who choose a ‘status-quo’ option will produce less stability, more violence, not more stability and a more peaceful nation in a less war-ravaged world. The 2020 election-outcome for the United States will be a turning-point; there is no way that it will produce reform. Americans who vote for reform will be only increasing the likelihood of hell-on-Earth. Reform is no longer an available option, given America’s realities. A far bigger leap than that will be required in order for this country to avoid falling into an utter abyss, which could be led by either Party, because both Parties have brought the nation to its present precipice, the dark and lightless chasm that it now faces, and which must now become leapt, in order to avoid a free-fall into oblivion.

The problem in America isn’t either Obama or Trump; it’s neither merely the Democratic Party, nor merely the Republican Party; it is instead both; it is the Deep State. That’s the reality; and the process that got us here started on 26 July 1945 and secretly continued on the American side even after the Soviet Union ended and Russia promptly ended its side of the Cold War. The U.S. regime’s ceaseless thrust, since 26 July 1945, to rule the entire world, will climax either in a Third World War, or in a U.S. revolution to overthrow and remove the Deep State and end its dictatorship-grip over America. Both Parties have been controlled by that Deep State, and the final stage or climax of this grip is now drawing near. America thus has been having a string of the worst Presidents — and worst Congresses — in U.S. history. This is today’s reality. Unfortunately, a lot of American voters think that this extremely destabilizing reality, this longstanding trend toward war, is okay, and ought to be continued, not ended now and replaced by a new direction for this country — the path toward world peace, which FDR had accurately envisioned but which was aborted on 26 July 1945. No matter how many Americans might vote for mere reform, they are wrong. Sometimes, only a minority are right. Being correct is not a majority or minority matter; it is a true or false matter. A misinformed public can willingly participate in its own — or even the world’s — destruction. That could happen. Democracy is a prerequisite to peace, but it can’t exist if the public are being systematically misinformed. Lies and democracy don’t mix together any more effectively than do oil and water.

  1. The given official U.S. definition of “treason” (see top of page 3 there) is “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason.” Any U.S. official has sworn to uphold and defend, never to subvert, the Constitution of the United States, and this is defining the U.S., itself, as being the continued functioning of the U.S. Constitution. Treason is thus the supremely illegal act under U.S. law, the act that violates any U.S. official’s oath of office. (When treason is perpetrated by someone who is not a U.S. official, it is still a severe crime, but less severe than it is for any U.S. official.) The phrase “levies war against them” means war against the functioning of the Constitution that is their supreme law. “Or” means alternatively, and “adheres to their enemies” means is a follower of any person or other entity that seeks to impose a different constitution. “Enemies” is not defined — it need not be a foreign opponent; it may be a domestic opponent of the U.S. Constitution. Thus, an American can be an enemy of the United States of America. In fact, the official definition explicitly refers ONLY to an entity “owing allegiance to the United States.” (Obviously, that especially refers to any U.S. official.) This is how a “traitor” is understood, in U.S. law. Obviously, the worst traitor would be one who committed the treasonous act(s) while a U.S. official.

The Coup in Bolivia: Lessons for our Movement

The US engineered another coup, this time Bolivia, and again our movement could not effectively counter pro-coup propaganda the US was selling to the public, let alone taking any action to stop it.

There is an imperative need for much greater long-term cooperative work to combat US interventions. Needed is a qualitatively higher level of unity of action among our networks to combat imperialism. Lenin, one of the most effective leaders of the struggles against the ruling classes, emphasized that “The proletariat has no other weapon in the fight for power except organization.

The divisiveness among ourselves and our alliances is a secondary issue. We often pursue political work while poorly trained in the lessons our predecessors learned from their experiences in combating the corporate elite’s repressive actions at home and abroad. The movement against ruling class brutality has accumulated over the centuries a valuable heritage of struggle and an invaluable body of experience about effective and ineffective strategies and tactics under the given conditions. No school or clearing house collects and teaches this heritage, so we have to relearn these lessons almost from scratch each generation. We also usually must recreate a national network to implement our collective anti-imperialist struggle each generation.

Here, the ruling class and their government have significant advantages over us. They have their own legacy of experience in maintaining their rule, and they maintain a series of institutions devoted to gathering and passing down their methods of regime change (coups, color revolutions, wars), political disruption, and media disinformation campaigns. These ruling class institutions include universities, think tanks, and government agencies like the CIA, DIA, and FBI. The ruling class has the capacity to manufacture and implement a coup or a domestic wave of political repression almost off-the-shelf. On this score, they are light years ahead of us, while we are often reduced to the level of having to learn how to control and use fire each generation.

Another reason for our lack of effective anti-imperialist organization is our lack of confidence that a serious challenge to US imperial power is even possible, which certainly seems understandable given the above. Nevertheless, we must also recognize that their system of corporate imperial rule is not stable, as the major economic crises and climate catastrophe in the coming years will show us. The rulers’ “solution” to these issues will only antagonize the majority of humanity and make them fight corporate domination of human life.

Role of US Government Disruption

Another cause of our weakness is the government disruption of our movements, something we gloss over. Defending Rights and Dissent just reported on FBI spying over the last ten years in >Still Spying on Dissent, showing how the FBI goes far beyond just spying to include break-ins, disruptions, political frame-ups, stings, murder, blackmail, and drug-dealing.

These operations have escalated with Obama signing NDAA 2017, which lifted restrictions on the CIA and other organs of the national security state feeding fake news to the US population. The NDAA established “an executive branch interagency committee to counter active measures by the Russian Federation to exert covert influence over peoples and governments… through front groups, covert broadcasting, media manipulation, disinformation or forgeries, funding agents of influence, incitement, offensive counterintelligence, assassinations, or terrorist acts.”

Senator Portman, one of the chief authors of the law, stated its intent is to “improve the ability of the United States to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation from our enemies by establishing an interagency center housed at the State Department to coordinate and synchronize counter-propaganda efforts throughout the U.S. government. To support these efforts, the bill also creates a grant program for NGOs, think tanks, civil society and other experts outside government.” NGOs and civil society can receive grants to paint voices of the anti-war movement as spreading Russian “disinformation.” This may shed light on the origin of the story that those opposed to the regime change operation on Syria are “Putinists” and “Assadists.”

Lack of Popular Participation in Social Movements

Our movement’s weakness must be seen as a result of the people’s insufficient participation in the fight against US wars and the military budget, even though both rob us of the wealth we need to counter our worsening quality of life. This lack of participation, lack of sustained mobilization, is hardly unique to the anti-war struggle. At present this characterizes the spectrum of social movements: the women’s movement, immigrant rights, Black Lives Matter, and so on. And even while the movement against climate change recently could rally four million, with 600,000 in the US, Greta Thornberg acknowledged the movement has not stopped carbon emissions from continuing to increase.

Almost everyone is aware of the looming climate catastrophe around the corner, but people are generally expecting someone else to do something about it. They do not understand that the ruling class plans to do nothing, that nothing will be accomplished until we mobilize in the many millions.

Partly a result of seeming a more viable alternative to movement building and partly a result of political naivete, people still look for solutions by investing their time and money in Democratic and Republican campaigns. For now, the movements that bring large numbers out into the streets are those contained by these two parties. This undermines our building forces independent of these two corporate parties, who serve to snuff out the movements that represent the interests of the 99%.

The present non-existence of massive anti-intervention protests is partly a response to the failure of our major mobilizations of hundreds of thousands in 2002-2003 demanding a halt to the planned war on Iraq.  In 2011 the Occupy movement spread like wildfire, only to be snuffed out by government repression, and  again, very little changed. People do not struggle and fight for a goal if we feel our time and effort won’t pay off and make it worthwhile.  This combined with the disillusion from the unfulfilled hopes of the Obama era has left many today feeling ripped off, powerless and demoralized.

When people feel this way, they shrink their lives into a small safe zone and pursue their private lives in a little bubble where they find some measure of comfort. The coming economic crisis and climate disaster will pop many a bubble and people will be pushed into active political opposition to the 1%. Once some important victories for us have been won, many thousands and then millions will be inspired to again awaken and fight for our demands.

Mistakes of our Bolivian allies and Lessons for us

  1. The State as Armed Bodies of Men

Lenin wrote in State and Revolution that the state consists of special bodies of armed men, and those who controlled these special bodies controlled the state. With the coup in Bolivia we were given a reminder. Luis Alfonso Mena S. wrote, entirely correctly, “The most important lesson from what happened on Sunday, November 10, 2019 in Bolivia is that a revolution is vulnerable when it relies on armed forces from bourgeois institutions. That is why Hugo Chavez transformed his country’s armed forces, gave them a popular and class character, turned them into defenders of the Venezuelan revolution and its people, and today they constitute one of the fundamental supports of the Bolivarian process, since they have never yielded to offers, blackmail or threats from U.S. imperialism and its lackeys on the continent.”

Moreover, as Nino Pagliccia pointed out, “Venezuela has developed a strong civic-military union supported my thousands of voluntary militias that has been the bastion against which the Hybrid War has failed despite the numerous attempts to break that union.”

A people’s militia in Bolivia could have maintained order in most of the country after the police forces declared they would not interfere against anti-Evo violence and before the military chiefs told Evo to resign. Fidel Castro said right after the coup against Allende in Chile, “If every worker, if every laborer, had had a rifle in his hands, the fascist coup in Chile would not have happened.” However, the MAS government never built a popular militia, and did not fill the military command structure with loyal defenders of the constitution.

Marxists often state that as long as a socialist government does not destroy the old capitalist state and create a new system of governing, including a new military and police force to replace that inherited from previous regimes, the price for this error will be a counter-revolutionary coup by the old military hierarchy. This is often true but oversimplified.

Nicaragua’s military high command is not loyal to the capitalist class because it was reconstituted after the 1979 Sandinista revolution. With the return to power of the capitalist class with Violetta Chamarro in 1990, the Nicaraguan military remained under the Sandinista high command of Humberto Ortega. Change in the military leadership continued to remain largely under its own control: to replace a current military chief, the military limits the president’s options to three names it submits to the president to choose among. The military today is committed to the constitution and to not repressing the people. In Nicaragua’s 2018 protests and violence, the military stayed in their barracks.

Venezuela is another case of a pro-socialist government presiding over a capitalist economic system, with the military loyal to the Chavez-era Bolivarian constitution. Venezuela’s military was somewhat restructured by nationalistic officers back in the early 1970s, and later received a much more progressive education. Venezuela had no military caste as in Argentina or Chile, with many senior officers coming from poor urban and peasant families.

One of Chavez’ first decisions after assuming the presidency was the creation of Plan Bolivar, sending the troops to the barrios to help clean up, paint buildings, distribute food, provide medical care, and attend to the people. The failed coup attempts since 2002 enabled the government to remove right-wingers from the military. Chavez opened the Military Academy to low income Venezuelans so they could rise up in the officer corps.  He also created an efficient intelligence service, which enabled the government to unmask coup-plotters. Today the Venezuelan military defends the revolutionary nationalist process.

  1. Importance of mobilizing and educating the people

Diosdado Cabello, president of Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly, hit upon another mistake of Evo when he spoke right after the right-wing coup in Bolivia. The main antidote against fascism is popular mobilization. Under Evo Morales long presidency this lesson was neglected. MAS also did not lead a nationwide effort to protest the coup as it was unfolding, rather it compromised and sought “peace.”  Cabello added, “we [in Venezuela] are going to the streets to reject the violence of imperialism…We are not surprised by the actions of the right, here in Venezuela they tried the same thing, we already know them.” Venezuela is well-prepared and experienced in mobilizing the people to combat attempted coups.

Over the years, MAS had become an electoral party, ill-equipped to respond to the right-wing’s abrupt switch from electoral politics to street violence.  Evo and his circle did not place sufficient emphasis on political education of the masses, nor on their self-organization, nor on building a national network of political activists committed to mobilizing people in defense of The Process of Change. In contrast, Fidel’s Cuba understood these measures were needed to survive under the relentless US imperial pressure, and Cuba made itself impenetrable to regime change.

The Bolivian military coup against an elected progressive head of state provides lessons for Bernie Sanders campaign supporters. In the US, the two-party system has developed many tools to make sure figures like Bernie never becomes the candidate, such as rigging the primaries and engaging in corporate media smear campaigns. Nor is electing such a seeming progressive leader, like we saw in 2008, close to the end of the battle. The leader’s initiatives could be blocked by Congress, by in the courts, by in the federal bureaucracy.  A genuinely progressive president could be removed from office on unwarranted charges, as with Dilma and Lula in Brazil, or here, as the Democrats seek to do with the isolationist Donald Trump.

The national security state has a vast array of tools developed from its extensive experience in wars, coups, and disruptions that it can employ at home to terminate a progressive president’s tenure or neutralize any progressive movement. Unfortunately, most people still suffer from the naive delusion that we live in a uniquely free and democratic country, that we are exempt from coups and similar methods the US routinely uses abroad.

Evo Morales made other errors during the coup process, such as calling for the OAS to verify the votes, even though he had repeatedly denounced the OAS as a tool of the US. For instance, in 2017 he said “I offer to free brother [OAS General Secretary] Luis Almagro from submission to the North American empire. All for the dignity and sovereignty of our peoples.”  Yet he invited in this US tool, which then found the election had “irregularities.”

Corporate Media Disinformation and Building a People’s Alternative

Another agent, the corporate media, as Alfredo Serrano Mancilla noted, “are never absent in each coup. They are keys to building the frame of reference before, during and after…This medium was always the maximum exponent of the fraud scenario, before and after, defending the lack of knowledge of the results from the beginning and quickly emerging to endorse the undemocratic transition.”

Corporate control of the media complements control of the armed forces in creating regime change. The media can monopolize access to information, are able to effectively present disinformation as news, seen so well in the 2002 coup against Chavez, in Nicaragua in 2018, Libya in 2011, and Syria for years. Creating a popular mass media widely read both locally and internationally that is a mouthpiece for the 99% is necessary yet difficult task, something even Chavista Venezuela still has not accomplished successfully.

Our Responsibility in the Imperial Core

A serious analysis of what is happening in a Third World country, progressive or not, must start with the role Western imperialism has played, including the role of Western NGOs. Otherwise, analysis does not put in perspective the problems the country faces, and indirectly gives cover to imperialism’s role. 

Alison Bodine and Ali Yerevani, writing on the US war against Venezuela, sum up well our responsibilities:

At the root of all conflicts and battles of imperialist countries against independent countries, including colonial and semi-colonial countries, is the drive to deny them their sovereignty and self-rule. Everything else is secondary…. The best way to contribute to the struggle of Venezuelan people against the reactionary pro-imperialist right-wing opposition inside Venezuela and against the constant attack, sanctions, and interventions of imperialism, is to build a strong antiwar, anti-imperialist movement that also focuses on building a Venezuela solidarity movement in defense of self-determination for the Venezuelan people.

This must include combating regime change disinformation, which aims to delegitimize governments not submitting to imperial dictates, justifying coups, murderous economic sanctions, proxy wars and “humanitarian” invasions. The corporate media can be a more sophisticated tool for regime change than the military, permitting Washington to take advantage of the story that anything short of outright US troop invasion is not intervention nor regime change.

Many liberal and  faux “left” websites and groups have become transmission belts for this regime change propaganda into the progressive movement, sometimes even taking NED funding. This has been countered from an anti-imperialist stance by our “tribunes of the people”. Examples include Alan Macleod on Venezuela, AFGJ on Nicaragua, The Grayzone on China, Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley on Syria, Dissident Voice and Popular Resistance on Hong Kong, Consortium News and Stephen Cohen on Russiagate, 21stcenturywire.com on Libya, Dan Kovalik, Phil Wilayto on Iran.

Besides working to build a more united mass anti-imperialist movement, necessary tasks for us today include continuing to educate the public about, one, widespread corporate media disinformation, two, the need to respect the sovereignty of other nations, and three, unmasking the faux left which behaves like amateur soft agents of the US intelligence services.

New Report On FBI Spying Shows Need For Congressional Investigation

Church Committee hearing. The Frank Church Papers, Special Collections and Archives, Boise State University.

Clearing the FOG (forces of greed) hosts Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers interviewed Chip Gibbons, an expert on Constitutional Law and the legal and policy counsel for Defending Rights and Dissent about a recent right to protest victory in Washington, DC plus his new report, “Still Spying on Dissent: The enduring problem of FBI First Amendment Abuse.” You can read and download the report here. This report, which finds that people are being investigated for their political opinions, is part of a new campaign to hold the FBI accountable and stop its widespread surveillance and infiltration of social movements. You can listen to the entire interview and the week’s news analysis on Clearing the FOG.

Interview

Clearing the FOG (CtF): Before we get into your new report, let’s talk about the recent victory over an effort by the Trump Administration to stifle protest in Washington DC. Can you tell us about that?

Chip Gibbons (CG):  Late last year, the National Park Services asked for comments on new proposed rules that would have severely curtailed the ability to protest on public lands, national parks. One of the elements of the proposed rules that got the most attention was the so-called protest tax that would have allowed the National Park Service to charge protesters for the cost of policing or cleaning up of demonstrations. There was also concern that they were going to eliminate the deemed granted rule, which is that if you don’t hear back from the National Park Service within a certain period of time when you apply for a permit, your permit request is deemed granted.

A hundred and forty thousand people submitted comments about this proposal opposing it. Eighty civil society groups, including Popular Resistance and Defending Rights and Dissent, labor unions, and civil rights groups submitted comments opposing it. It was just announced this week that the Park Service was withdrawing the proposed rule change. That’s a pretty big victory because, at the end of the day, democracy is about more than just voting. It’s also about freedom of expression and assembly and that includes the right of people to come together in a common cause.

The National Park System is not only a custodian of our parks, but they also play a crucial role in facilitating democracy. Under international law, the right of free expression is interpreted as recommending that governments only require notice, not permits, for political demonstrations because as the previous rapporteur for the United Nations on Free Speech and Assembly said, “A right is not a right if it has to be granted.”

CtF: We really want to ask you about this new report that you authored for Defending Rights and Dissent. It’s about the FBI’s monitoring of social movements. Can you tell us about it?

CG: The report is called “Still Spying on Dissent: The enduring problem of FBI First Amendment abuse,” and it focuses on FBI surveillance or monitoring of social movements, protests, and civil society activity since 2010. It’s based on information that was already in the public domain. A number of journalists have filed FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requests and a number of activists have reported being visited at their homes by the FBI.

A very interesting development was when Walmart was brought before the National Labor Relations Board for unfair labor practices, it was revealed in discovery that they contacted the FBI JTTF, Joint Terrorism Task Force, about Occupy protesters. This is information that’s been in the public domain, but the point of the report was to compile it all in one place. When you put all of the incidents we know about together in one place in detail, a picture starts to emerge of a systemic problem of surveillance in the United States. After covering that, the report steps back and puts it in the context of the FBI’s history since 1908 of spying on dissent.

The other thing is that in a number of cases what we know actually raises further questions, which is why it would be very helpful for somebody with subpoena power like Congress to actually step in and do their own investigation of this matter. A number of times when people received FOIA documents, they were redacted to the point of being unintelligible. We know that different people have filed FOIA requests about the same information and have gotten different responses. There’s some evidence to suggest the FBI is wrongfully withholding information when they’re subjected to FOIA requests. And when you hear stories about activists being visited at their homes, the question is what investigation is that part of?

What we know is very disturbing and it is cause for concern but just as important is what we don’t know. That’s why Congress needs to make sure we know more.

CtF: We don’t really know the extent of the FBI’s infiltration and monitoring of social movements. The Church Committee hearings exposed widespread government and FBI surveillance in the past. Do you think we’re really at that stage again where it’s so widespread that we need to have a series of Congressional hearings focusing on FBI surveillance of political activity in the United States?

CG: I absolutely do think so. I mean the Church Committee is the example that usually gets cited. The Church Committee was a select committee investigation into bad acts by the intelligence community in general. It talked about assassinations and about CIA tricks overseas, but the committee also talked about the use of intelligence to infringe on people’s rights domestically. A lot of people don’t know this, but the FBI is not only a law enforcement agency, but it’s also an intelligence agency. So, there is some information in it about the FBI’s use of its domestic intelligence powers to violate American’s constitutional rights.

In the late 80s, there was another investigation done by the Senate Intelligence Committee with some input from the Senate Judiciary Committee into what the FBI was doing when they were spying on opponents of Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy. It came out in the 1980s that the FBI had been spying on the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador. There are a number of ways this came to light, my favorite of which is that they didn’t pay their informant and he complained. The Senate had an investigation, not a hearing, but an actual investigation. They released a report. People at the time felt like it was a bit of a whitewash but compared to the types of oversight we have of the FBI today, it certainly was an improvement.

In 2006, it came out that the Bush Administration was spying on a bunch of groups and that led Congress to ask the DOJ Inspector General to study the matter. They released their report on the Bush-era FBI spying in September of 2010. That’s why we choose 2010 as our starting date because there’s been no real oversight since then. Just four days after the report was released, the FBI raided the homes of anti-war and solidarity activists in the Midwest. The report showed that the FBI has loose guidelines.

When the Bureau of Investigation was created in 1908, it was created while Congress was on recess and to this day it has no statutory charter. After the Church Committee, there were some efforts to impose a charter on it, but Congress instead allowed the Attorney General to write guidelines in lieu of a Charter. As you can imagine, conservative attorney generals like those in the Reagan Administration and the Bush Administration rewrote the guidelines to be less restrictive and less protective of civil liberties.

Since the time period covered in the OIG report, the FBI’s guidelines have actually gotten even looser. George Bush’s lame-duck attorney general Michael Mukasey promulgated the current guidelines, which created a new category of investigations called assessments that allow the FBI to investigate people using very intrusive techniques when there’s no suspicion of criminal wrongdoing or national security threat, just an “authorized law enforcement purpose.” That’s the first time since the Church Committee the FBI was allowed to investigate people absent facts that suggested they were engaged in either a national security threat or in criminal wrongdoing. The other type of investigations allowed in the guidelines are literally called predicated investigations and that means they have a factual predicate. So, an assessment is an investigation without a factual predicate to suggest any wrongdoing at all.

CtF: So in the “land of the free” people can be investigated simply because of their political opinions. You mentioned that they use intrusive techniques to surveil activists. Can you talk about what some of those are?

CG: The biggest problem is human intelligence or confidential informants. There’s a lot of focus contemporarily on sort of the high-tech surveillance that the NSA does or all these sorts of spy tools that local police departments are acquiring and that’s very scary. And I think just as analogous when people talk about the FBI of the pre-Church Committee era, there’s a lot of fixation on illegal wiretaps and stuff like that.

Most of the surveillance the FBI does is through human intelligence. That’s either an undercover officer or confidential informant. You can have the best encryption in the world, but if the person that you’re sending the message to is reporting everything back to the FBI, it’s not very helpful. This is not to say that we shouldn’t be concerned with bulk surveillance and all this technology that is sucking up all our information. We should be terrified of it.

We also should not lose sight that the FBI is still using the tried and true old methods as well. And increasingly what we see is that these confidential informants go well beyond gathering information and they actively engage as agents provocateurs meaning that they come up with terror plots and they entice people into participating in them. Then the FBI turns around and arrests them and that allows the FBI to sort of over-exaggerate the threat of terror as well. If they say they’re arresting all these terrorists, that implies there’s some sort of further need for security.

When Donald Trump issued the first executive order authorizing the Muslim ban, the courts asked about the purpose. The second executive order used two terror plots supposedly involving refugees as justification for it, but in both cases, those plots were the product of FBI agents provocateurs. In one of the cases cited by Trump’s executive order, a judge found it to be an example of “imperfect entrapment,” which is different than perfect entrapment. That is an affirmative defense and bars your conviction. Imperfect entrapment is just an argument for a lesser sentence. A judge said this was imperfect entrapment and Trump then turned around and cited that as justification for a repressive policy.

CtF: Right after the Occupy Movement was winding down in 2012, there were a few cases of relatively young men who were vulnerable and they were entrapped into making it look like they were going to commit violent acts. In the past, the FBI would go after leaders of movements, but in this case, they went after the low-hanging fruit and then made headline cases out of it. Can you talk about that?

CG: I believe the case you are referring to is Occupy Cleveland where there were a number of young men sort of on the margins. They had issues and an FBI informant enticed them into participating in this plot to blow up a bridge on May Day. Obviously, that’s horrible, you shouldn’t blow up civilian bridges. But there was no such plot and the FBI announced the arrests right on the eve of Occupy Cleveland’s major May Day demonstration, which was supposed to have revived the movement in Cleveland that had sort of gone into hibernation during the winter. So they had to cancel the march given the negative publicity. So, they completely decimated the resurrection of Occupy Cleveland by creating this fake terror plot and then being able to defame the movement.

CtF: Can you give us a sense of the kind of groups targeted by the FBI?

CG: It’s the same groups the FBI has always targeted. It’s peace and solidarity groups, environmental groups, racial justice groups and economic justice groups. We know the FBI has this ridiculous threat assessment called “Black Identity Extremism”, which argues that perceptions of racism, police violence and social injustice in the African-American community could lead to retaliatory lethal violence against police. The argument is that if you’re rightfully angry or rightfully concerned about the racism or police brutality you’ve been on the receiving end of in our society and you want to speak out against that, that’s a precursor to violence. That’s a really insidious logic because it treats not only First Amendment protected speech as a precursor to criminality but rightful and legitimate concern about injustice as a precursor to doing a criminal act.

CtF: That’s such circular reasoning. Police commit violations of people’s rights, especially racist violations. The community is aware of it. And because you are aware of it, you’re a suspect for potential violence yourself and therefore under surveillance by the FBI.

CG: They use that logic repeatedly. There was a recent document that Yahoo! News got a hold of from an FBI office in Arizona where they mentioned that because of people being angry at children being put in concentration camps and the abuse of migrants that there could be an increased likelihood of armed confrontation between anarchists and the federal government. It’s totally insidious. It just treats First Amendment protected speech as a reason to be suspicious of someone as willing to commit a crime. When they single out these groups, oftentimes the FBI and their own files admit there’s no indication that anyone is planning on engaging in violence, but an unknown person at an unknown point in the future could.  So, the FBI has very clearly embraced this logic that certain points of view are inherently suspicious and that they should be monitored and investigated.

MF: One of the major groups that have been targeted by the FBI is the Muslim Community. Can you talk about that?

CG: Another really insidious thing the FBI does when it uses these confidential informants is it oftentimes sends them to the Muslim Community without any specific targets.

There’s a very notorious case where the FBI engaged in something called Operation Flax where they sent an informant into a mosque in Orange County. The mosque actually reported the informant to the FBI because he was acting rather ridiculously and the informant came forward and said that he had asked the FBI, “Who is my target ?” and they said, “Oh the target will come to you.” So what you’re talking about is a sort of dragnet suspicion-less surveillance. They asked this informant to infiltrate a Southern California mosque to gather personal information such as email addresses, cell phone numbers, and political and religious views. He was even encouraged by the FBI to enter into sexual relations with Muslim women in order to gather intelligence.

There’s an ongoing lawsuit about this surveillance. The FBI has tried to have it dismissed under the State Secrets Doctrine. It doesn’t look like they’re going to get away with that, but it still highlights the problem of this suspicion-less surveillance. Another famous case is the Newburgh Four.

The informant goes into this mosque and he’s not targeting anyone in particular, as far as we know. We have no idea why the FBI picked Newburgh for this particular type of surveillance. He eventually encounters the person he entices into this fake plot in a parking lot. So, they’re just going into Muslim communities where no one is suspected of any crime and just surveilling them and then trying to invent crime.

The FBI clearly views the Muslim community as a fifth column, which is why they are subjecting them to this awful suspicion-less surveillance.

CtF: In Robert Mueller’s era as FBI director, he did a lot of that kind of activity in the Muslim community, yet people look at Mueller as a great hero because he investigated Trump for Russiagate.

CG: There’s an entire OIG report on Robert Mueller’s FBI counterterrorism investigation of domestic advocacy groups, like Greenpeace, PETA, and the Catholic Workers. The last major attempt at oversight, the report released in 2010, coincides with Robert Mueller’s time at the FBI. Robert Mueller is not a hero.

CtF: You are a constitutional law expert, Chip. Can you talk about the state of our constitutional freedoms in the United States right now? How would you assess our rights to protest and to free speech?

CG: In terms of the FBI’s political surveillance, the courts have made it very difficult to challenge it. There’s a very important case in the 1970s where people who were protesting the Vietnam War in DC were spied on by the US Military and they tried to sue, Laird v. Tatum. They tried to sue the military for spying on them and the Supreme Court in a 5 to 4 decision refused to hear the case on the merits; therefore, never ruling whether or not they had a First Amendment complaint.

In order to be able to have standing to sue, you have to show that you suffered a harm and that the court can remedy that harm. The Supreme Court reasoned that the idea that if the military creates a dossier on you with your picture and tracks you because of your First Amendment protected activity, that if you might not want to engage in that activity, then that’s a self-subjective chill. You’re doing the harm to yourself. There are instances where people have gotten over that hurdle, but it’s extraordinarily difficult to challenge political surveillance in the courts.

What’s really needed is for Congress to act. Over the years, there have been a number of fine pieces of legislation proposed to impose limits on the FBI. I think those limits should be part of an overarching charter. We’re talking stuff like forbidding the FBI from investigating First Amendment protected activity unless there are facts indicating a violation or likely violation of the federal criminal code and that they have to weigh the magnitude of the crime against the threat to free speech, which you know isn’t a terribly radical suggestion. It’s actually quite moderate. Also, any sort of FBI charter needs to be judicially enforceable, meaning that if the FBI does break the charter and spies on you, you have a remedy in terms of both declaratory and injunctive relief. So, the courts can say this spying broke the charter and the FBI has to stop it. Those would be positive steps forward.  Congress needs to have an investigation into why the FBI is doing what it’s doing.

CtF: If you add the attacks on journalism with Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Max Blumenthal, there are so many attacks on our freedoms. When they know a protest is being planned, like Occupy, how early do you think the FBI starts infiltrating and investigating protesters?

CG: Well, with Occupy, we don’t have to speculate because we know from the documents that were released the FBI began monitoring Occupy Wall Street in August of 2011. That’s a month before the protests began. Before the very first protester ever set foot in Zuccotti Park, the FBI was on the case. I don’t know in every instance how with-it the FBI is. The FBI is not always the most with-it people when you look at some of these documents they’ve released. It’s not unlikely before a protest or a movement happens for the FBI to start investigating or monitoring it. That’s clearly what happened in Occupy.

There are other cases where they’re sort of late to the picture. There’s a very disturbing example that we talk about in this report that involves By Any Means Necessary, which is a civil rights group, a racial justice group. They were doing a counter-protest of the Traditionalist Workers Party, which is right-wing, white supremacist, and fascist. The counter-protesters, the racial justice protesters, were stabbed. They were attacked. And the FBI instead of investigating the fascists who committed a crime, investigated By Any Means Necessary. What’s very fascinating is that the FBI gets the name of the racist group wrong. They think it’s the Ku Klux Klan. So, you have these FBI documents where the FBI says things like the Ku Klux Klan is a group that some people perceive as having a white supremacist agenda. They end up investigating the civil rights group as part of a counter-terrorism investigation and for possibly violating the civil rights of the Ku Klux Klan.

I’ve seen FBI documents where they’re describing the relationship between different activist groups, groups that I’m familiar with, and it’s like wow. On the one hand, the degree of surveillance is so terrifying but on the other hand, it’s like you guys are also kind of really out of it.

CtF: It’s not just the FBI. That’s just one agency. There are over 30 police agencies in Washington DC. The New York City Police Department is the size of an army. The US has been increasing the number of police officers since the Clinton era. He added more than a hundred thousand police to the streets in his era. How does the FBI work with local and state law enforcement?

CG: The FBI as a police force isn’t actually that large. The NYPD has more police than there are FBI agents, at least that used to be the case. What we increasingly see is that local police are working for the FBI in these so-called Joint Terrorism Task Forces. And in the Joint Terrorism Task Force, local law enforcement, and in some cases other federal agents are assigned to them, carry out their day to day missions as JTTF officers and they do this under the purview of the FBI. In most cases, they follow the FBI’s own guidelines.

There’s been a lot of pushback against this recently because, in a number of cases, states have laws on the books governing local police conduct and those laws are more stringent than the FBI’s own guidelines. So, in theory, the local police by following the FBI’s guidelines could be breaking state law. San Francisco rewrote their memorandum of understanding with the FBI mandating that local police have to follow local laws even when they’re acting as FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force agents. They then turned around and broke away from the Joint Terrorism Task Force completely. Portland also left that.

There’s been some controversy recently with some of these federal task forces, not just the Joint Terrorism Task Force, but some of the DEA ones, where they don’t allow their agents to wear body cameras. I believe this may have changed but they weren’t allowing the agents to wear body cameras. So, in cities or states where it was the law that police had to wear body cameras, they weren’t doing so when they were acting as Federal Task Force agents. Local officials rightfully got upset by that.

More and more, the FBI is turning local police into their foot soldiers.

CtF:  There are ways to deal with informants, infiltrators and agents provocateurs. On our Popular Resistance website, we have a class on how social transformation occurs and at least one class is on these issues. This report is very helpful for people to know what kind of tactics they use, how widespread it is and what to expect, but beyond that, there are other things people can do to build their movement in a way that handles this pretty well. How can people who care about this issue get more involved? Is there anything that they can do concretely?

CG: We have repeatedly called on Congress to investigate the FBI. We had a major campaign in 2016 where something like a hundred and thirty-seven groups, including Popular Resistance, and 88,000 people signed our petition to ask the Senate and House Judiciary committees to hold hearings about FBI surveillance of Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter and pipeline protesters. We are gearing up to relaunch that campaign in light of the report.

If people want to read the report, it’s on our website at rightsanddissent.org/FBI- spying/. On that page, there is an action you can take. In the coming weeks, we’re going to be using this report as an organizing tool and trying to build pressure around this issue of FBI political surveillance.

This is the time to put the pressure on Congress to use this moment to try to look into what’s going on and actually come up with some tangible solutions. The first attempt to check the FBI political surveillance was in 1924. Harlan Fiske Stone read a report by the ACLU about the FBI doing political spying. He was so concerned by it, he made J Edgar Hoover meet with Roger Baldwin, the head of the FBI. Stone did not know that Hoover was spying on Roger Baldwin and the ACLU. He put into place a regulation that the FBI had to stick to investigating violations of the criminal code and he asked Hoover, can you show us anywhere where it’s illegal to be a communist? Hoover found ways to get around that.

The FBI is very good at finding reasons to spy on people. But then in the 30s, there was a whole bunch of national executive orders from Roosevelt that gave the FBI very broad national security powers. So, this isn’t a new issue, but you know some of the ideas that have been proposed over the last almost 100 years are still very good ideas.

WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and Decoding the National Security Commentariat

The Fourth Estate, that historical unelected grouping of society’s scrutineers, has become something of a rabble, and, as a confederacy of strewn dunces and the ongoing compromised, is ripe for analysis.  An essential premise in the work of WikiLeaks was demonstrating, to a good, stone-throwing degree, how media figures and practitioners had been bought by the state or the corporate sector, unwittingly or otherwise.  At the very least, the traditionalists had swallowed their reservations and preferred to proclaim, rather unconvincingly, that they were operating with freedom to scrutinise and question, facing down the rebels from the WikiLeaks set.

The Fourth Estate has, however, been placed on poor gruel and life support.  Gone are the days when Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein ferreted their way through sources and obtaining the material – leaks from confidential sources, no less – that would make them famous and lay the way for the demise of a US President.  Such energy is frowned upon these days; the investigative journalist is being treated more as an irritating remnant, a costly undusted fossil.  The way for what Nozomi Hayase calls the “Global Fourth Estate” is being well and truly paved as a result.

The corporate factor in this process is undeniable.  The Australian media tycoon and ageing tyrant Rupert Murdoch has proven to be the kiss of death to much decent journalism, though he is by no means the only contributor.  As a man who takes pride in directly intervening in the policies and directions of his newspapers, identifying the credible view from the crafty slant is a hard thing.  Political and business interests tend to converge in such an empire.  Balanced reporting is for the bleeding hearts.

Meshed in this compromised journalism is a particular type of commentator, the holder of opinions with an open channel to the national security establishment.  They are the Deep Throats turned into media judges and avengers.  They might be flatteringly called the national security fraternity, a club of the military and espionage clubbables, the sort who find it inconceivable that someone from the public might throw open the larder of government secrets to expose a state’s misdeeds.  It went without saying that such individuals would see, in WikiLeaks, the incarnation of a pseudo-intelligence service, or at the very least, its tailor for one.

The national security fraternity is typified by the revolving door.  It whirs around, not merely in oil companies, the US State Department and merchant banks, but the issue of the media stable.  The state demands its permanent loyalties; those who have served in advisory roles in the state will keep paying once they leave.  Security-trained and watered thoroughbreds are bound to see outliers and vigilantes as challengers who need to be put down.

Samantha Vinograd supplies a nice example.  The crossover into journalism from the National Security State (NSS) is made from experience as advisor to the National Security Council as the Director for Iraq.  (That could hardly have gone that well.)  Her teeth well cut on security matters and advice, her journalism is bound to be tinged and flavoured by the apparatus of the state.  Julian Assange, she argues, is “the self-anointed director of his own intel service.”

The evidence she assesses on whether Assange requires punishment is deemed self-evident; the evidence comes from a source that need not be questioned.  Vinograd exudes the confidence of one clutching to the inside of the establishment, and one with lapels suggesting patriot and defender of state.  An Assange-like figure is bound to not merely be poison making its way to the vestal virgins; it is a figure to be extirpated.

In casting her own eye over the list of expanded charges against Assange, she has taken the allegations against him of espionage to be factual. But she does so by attempting to repudiate his credentials as a publisher and journalist.  “If anyone is making the [sic] Assange is a free speech champion, read paragraph 36,” she intones.  “He knowingly endangered the lives of journalists, religious leaders, human rights advocates, and political dissidents and did incredible harm to all our security.”  This devious interpretation on the part of the drafters has the purpose of demonising Assange – self-interested, maniacal, even sociopathic, they imply – while tagging, at the end, the only issue that concerns the US security apparatus: the fictional endangering of US national security. Absent here are observations and studies by the Pentagon which claimed on several occasions that there was little in way of evidence that lives had been compromised in the leak.

The same goes for former FBI types who see the accumulating dossier against Assange as an incriminating tissue of evidence.  The issue here was pre-determined; it is shut and done.  There is no broader philosophical point, because the only point that matters is realpolitik and the beating heart of the secretly minded patriot. Curiously enough, the distinction between liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, ceases to exist in such circles.  We are left with the operating rationale of the big bad NSS, decked out in all its nasty, modern tinsel.

Asha Rangappa, former FBI “special agent” and editor at Just Security, is one of the NSS’s glorified commentators, even if much of her strategy lies in cringeworthy self-advertising.  She was drooling with a certain social media imbecility at the news that an 18-count superseding indictment against Assange had been issued by the Department of Justice.  “Awwwww yeah,” came her remark on Twitter.  Don the gloves; go into action: Team America needs you.

Rangappa is a wonderful illustration of a corrupted type of journalist cum commentator, one conscious of a cop culture that is celebrated rather than questioned, paraded rather than critiqued. She is even featured in Elle Magazine, with a slush-filled gooey tribute from Sylvie McNamara.  “I’m at Asha Rangappa’s dinner table because, for the past few years, her commentary on CNN and Twitter has helped hundreds of thousands of people understand the news.”

If a certain type of blinkered understanding is what you are out for, then she is your glamorous source.  She was keen on putting away “bad guys”; she “rooted for the United States to beat the Soviet Union in the Olympics”; she acknowledges who “we had to fight for our values”.  McNamara is won over, and hardly one to question. “Rangappa knows from previous experience how the FBI handles Russian spies and disinformation; add to the mix her professional skill at explaining complex ideas, and she is ideally positioned to break down the bewildering political events in recent years.”  If you consciously avoid or fail to spot the inauthenticity in any of that, then you are well on the way to joining the National Security Club.