Category Archives: FBI

The Wisdom Of Serpents

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
— Mathew 10:16

While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
— Eugene Debs, Statement to the Court upon being convicted of violating the Sedition Act, September 18, 1918

Last month I called Bernie Sanders’ Democratic party primary run “sheepdogging” my term for a move the national Democratic party seems to execute every presidential primary season when there’s no incumbent White House Democrat. The job of the sheepdog candidate is to herd leftish voters and activists back into the Democratic party one more time by giving perhaps sincere but limited and ineffectual voice to some of their issues.
— Bruce A. Dixon.  “This is what happens when we follow the Democrat sheepdog.  And what can happen if we don’t”, Black Agenda Report, June 3, 2015

I keep watching the ways in which people, left leaning liberals anyway, and even some I thought were leftists, fall over themselves to believe in the Alexandria Ocasio Cortez victory. Now, I don’t believe, I should make clear. But I find what is interesting is the ways in which this story became a kind of fairy tale and found traction. First, it’s New York. If this occurs in Port Huron or Tampa or Bakersfield — there is no story. Secondly, this woman came out of the Democratic Party machine, out of Ted Kennedy’s office and Bernie Sanders campaign. Does that not tell you something? But third, there is something curious about her whole story. And her web page says her father was a small business owner and other places it says he is an architect. None of this matters, mind you, except that she is certainly not well known in the Bronx by activists or anyone else. She strikes me, personally, as culturally a Westchester County product, not the Bronx. And I guess I find her a bit too telegenic, too perfect an image. Not to mention she is already parroting DNC rhetoric about Russiagate and already making friendly with the fascist opposition against Venezuela. One would think a Latina would know better, no? The U.S. is, after all, on the verge of possible military intervention in Venezuela — and house and senate Democrats are perfectly aligned with this thinking. When did anyone last hear a Democrat voice support for the Bolivarian revolution? Then there is the fact that her most intense support came from white affluent gentrifiers in her district. So a radical she is not.

Now this is not about Ocasio-Cortez. I think soon enough the reality will set in. Or maybe it is. I will return to that. But my question has to do with why anyone wants to believe in a Democrat in the first place? Now, the very first presidential election I ever voted in, yay those many year ago, was 1972. I voted for Democrat George McGovern of South Dakota. That was the last time I voted Democrat as well. And it is an interesting side bar note here that current Democratic Party shills like Maddow and Jonathan Chait love to compare all left leaning democrats to McGovern. And the truth is, Goldwater lost just as badly but the Republicans responded by doubling down on the extreme paleo conservatism of Barry and got themselves 8 years of The Gipper. But I digress.

Let’s take a look at what the Democratic Party has been up to lately…

Here, from Forbes magazine…:

…the Senate on Monday voted in favor of a $716 billion military spending bill for the 2019 federal fiscal year. The House had already passed it last month. This is $82 billion higher than the current budget, which itself was more than the Trump administration requested. Who says those in the Beltway can’t pull together for a common cause?  This year, 67.5% of House Democrats and 85% of Senate Democrats voted in favor.

Ponder that a moment. Over 700 billion. I mean that is getting close to double what it was under Bush or Obama. And yet people are living under freeway overpasses, in packing crates, and in make shift encampments on the edge of every city in America, literally. Over 42 million Americans, as of 2016, were listed as food insecure. 13 million children. Now the Democrats also defeated a proposal put forth by Sanders’ surrogates that looked for very tepid limited restrictions on fracking and an also mild statement on Palestinian rights. Both were shot down by the Dems.. (per Lauren McCauley):

Former U.S. Representative Howard Berman, American Federation of State, County, and Muncipal Employees executive assistant to the president, Paul Booth, former White House Energy and Climate Change Policy director Carol Browner, Ohio State Representative Alicia Reece, former State Department official Wendy Sherman, and Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden…

In other words the Democrats want no change.

Meanwhile the drinking water in Flint Michigan is no better than it ever was. Then we have the Democrats whole-hearted support of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, who, with U.S. approval and help and support have destroyed Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world. Dan Glazebrook wrote last year (it’s worse now):

And on 23rd January, the UN reported that there are now 22.2 million Yemenis in need of humanitarian assistance – 3.4 million more than the previous year – with eight million on the brink of famine, an increase of one million since 2017.

The United States is directly helping a mass genocide of the Yemeni people. And very few Americans care. No Democrats care. Well, let me clarify, for this is a perfect example of the Democratic Party and its record. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Bernie Sanders introduced a bill to limit (sort of) U.S. involvement in the aforementioned genocide. It was soft stuff. But 15 Democrats helped Republicans table the bill. Little discussion came out of that. And it was bullshit legislation anyway.

Now, this is all sort of tweezing apart stuff that is so horrific and nightmarish that it’s hard to know how to describe it. The war against defenseless Yemen began under Obama. You remember him? That Democratic President. Trump, of course, intensified support for the genocide. And Democrats are not complaining. Children are starving and dying from famine and cholera…but there is no coverage of this, really. Why is there no outrage about Israel shooting down unarmed protestors? Well, Chuck Schumer signed a bill with other Democrats to make criticism of Israel a crime. Killing OK, criticizing NOT OK.

Now, ahead of Mike Pence’s (the Dominionist bat shit nuts VP) visit to Ecuador, a number of Democrats signed a bill to bring Julian Assange back to stand trial. James Cogan writes…

The signatories are a roll-call of leading congressional Democrats: Robert Menendez, Dick Durbin, Richard Blumenthal, Edward J. Markey, Michael Bennet, Christopher Coons, Joe Manchin, Jeanne Shaheen, Diane Feinstein and Mark Warner.

They went out of their way to get behind shutting up Assange and throwing him in a dark cell in Leavenworth and then just forgetting about him.

Cogan adds…:

…in a sweeping conspiracy theory, the CIA, FBI and NSA portrayed the 2016 publication by WikiLeaks of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and then emails sent by top Democratic Party figure John Podesta, as the product of a nefarious Russian plot to undermine Hillary Clinton and assist the victory of Donald Trump.

Many liberals, if not most, and certainly the majority of Democrats are all on board to prosecute Assange. Trump very usefully serves that purpose, you see. The hatred of Trump (who seems to work very hard to be hated) allows for the Democrats (and their liberal enablers) to escalate the new Russophobic propaganda and divert attention from things like the increased defense budget, the private prison complex that profits hugely from the ICE raids and illegal deportations, and the continuing (even growing) crimes of mass incarceration. No, people are given to partisan fighting over issues like gay marriage, or flag desecration, or gender neutral pronouns or whatever. They do not have public fights about foreign policy because both major parties are in total agreement. Trump is only carrying out policy that Obama started, largely, and that Hillary would have continued as well (only likely worse). For foreign policy is the black hole in American consciousness.

The US has been in Afghanistan for sixteen years. Why do people not talk about this? Sixteen years. That’s a permanent occupation. The U.S. under Democratic leadership and under the direction of Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, destroyed Libya and assassinated its leader Muammar Gaddafi. Clinton then famously laughed about it on TV. Libya is now holding outdoor slave sales. It is a failed state where once it was one of the most advanced and stable countries in the region. Or Syria. The targeting of the Assad government was a unanimous decision of both parties. Or sanctions against Iran…again both parties. Or militarizing Africa (or support for war criminal Paul Kagame), both parties. In fact, Democratic presidents Obama and Clinton were far worse than Republicans in terms of protecting western Capital in Africa and building up AFRICOM.

Or take the recent Democratic Party attack on the Trump/Kim Jong-Un summit. Ajamu Baraka wrote:

If more proof was needed to persuade anyone that the Democrats are indeed a war party, it was provided when Senator Chuck Schumer and other Democrat leaders in the Senate engaged in a cynical stunt to stake out a position to the right of John Bolton on the summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un.

Schumer demanded terms that no nation anywhere on earth at any time in history, could accept. Ergo, he wanted this summit to fail. And that failure then would make it easier to justify an invasion of the DPRK.

You see, the Democratic Party is the party of finance capital, of Wall Street, and the only difference from Republicans is that Democrats tend to express themselves in the terms of identity politics. Trump’s presidency expresses itself in the terms of nativist xenophobic racists. But honestly, they all vote mostly the same.

Obama’s electoral coalition was driven by the professional class that had arisen to manage the various segments of the financialized economy. Since they derive significant benefits from late capitalism, the professionals eschew class-struggle based politics.
— Peter Lavenia. “The Revenge of Class and the Death of the Democratic Party“, Counterpunch, November 16, 2016

Never mention class. Things that have some importance, such as marijuana legalization were decidedly better under Democrats. And that certainly matters. But remember, all those small incremental gains by Democrats did little or nothing to change the staggering inequality of the system itself. But people are terrorized. That is why Ocasio-Cortez is embraced so uncritically. People are genuinely terrified. They are without protection at work, and they are unprotected by any sort of comprehensive medical program. They are unprotected from the militarized racist police forces of every American city and town. A militarization, it should be noted, that began in ernest under Obama.

But perhaps most important in any discussion of the Democratic Party are their ties to the CIA.

Patrick Martin writes:

An extraordinary number of former intelligence and military operatives from the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Council and State Department are seeking nomination as Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections. The potential influx of military-intelligence personnel into the legislature has no precedent in US political history.

If the Democrats capture a majority in the House of Representatives on November 6, as widely predicted, candidates drawn from the military-intelligence apparatus will comprise as many as half of the new Democratic members of Congress.”

This is interesting for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that the DNC does nothing to hide this but rather sees it a sure fire vote getter.

Martin again:

The total of such candidates for the Democratic nomination in the 102 districts is 221. Each has a website that gives biographical details, which we have collected and reviewed for this report. It is notable that those candidates with a record in the military-intelligence apparatus, as well as civilian work for the State Department, Pentagon or National Security Council, do not hide their involvement, particularly in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They clearly regard working as a CIA agent in Baghdad, an Army special ops assassin in Afghanistan, or a planner for drone missile warfare in the White House or Pentagon as a star on their résumé, rather than something to conceal.

Among these new candidates running as Democrats are former CIA operatives (Abigail Spanberger), a military intelligence officer with two tours in Iraq (Patrick Ryan), a naval intelligence officer, who also served in the US European Command in Stuttgart, Germany (Jonathan Ebel), a deep cover op for the CIA in Latin America ( helly Chauncey), a twenty three year Navy Seal veteran with several tours in Iraq (Joel Butner), a Pentagon advisor to David Petraeus (Andy Kim), a former member of the 82nd Airborne and part of a Joint Special Operations Task Force on counter-terrorism in Afghanistan (Jason Crow). This is just a sampling. There are also a host of former State Department candidates, too.

One example (quoting Martin again…) is:

Sara Jacobs is another State Department official turned Clinton campaign aide, working on “conflict zones in East and West Africa,” particularly the campaign against Boko Haram in Nigeria, and helping to “spearhead President Obama’s efforts to improve governance in the security sector of our counterterrorism partners,” according to her campaign website. She was a foreign policy adviser to the Clinton campaign and is now seeking the Democratic nomination in California’s 49th District …

But, in fact, there are forty some others. The Democratic Party is now the party of the CIA and Pentagon, and in both cases with a heavy emphasis on intelligence. Career military and CIA veterans make up the best financed of Democratic Party candidates. Again, these bios are seen as a plus for the DNC — and this in no small measure is the result of Hollywood film and TV. The infiltration of Hollywood by the Pentagon, CIA, and FBI is now hardly even a secret. Almost every show with anything to do with the military has CIA advisors right there in the writers’ room. And if the story has to do with cops, you can count on veteran law enforcement advisors, too.

The anti-Trump fervor is understandable, and justified, but the Democrats are not the opposition. They are better spoken version of the same Imperialist state. And domestically, these veteran CIA operatives and military intel veterans are hardly going to embrace progressive causes. They are hardly going to look to dismantle the racist militarized police apparatus or challenge the racist judicial system. They are not going to seek reforms for mass incarceration. Most of them have experience with black sites and torture, with the pacification of entire populations, and with all manner of counter insurgency tactics.

The Democratic Party is the party of affluence. And these candidates reflect a growing hostility to the working class and a growing embrace of conservative law and order values. And in that sense Ocasio-Cortez fits right in.

Nick Pemberton wrote:

The Democrats have engaged in the deregulation of the economy. They have attacked unions. They have cut funding for public schools and replaced them with prisons. They have promoted pipelines and wars for oil. They have supported vicious trade deals that hurt workers and destroy the environment. If the world was to run as is with Democrats in place of Republicans we would still become extinct in the near future. If not by nuclear annihilation, then by climate change.

So, back to Ocasio-Cortez for a moment. Teodrose Fikre wrote:

Year after year, election after election, we keep falling for the latest fresh faces who promise to go to DC and drain the swamp of corruption and nepotism. The results always end up the same way, hope being paid back with hopelessness as the politicians we put our faith in sell their souls in order to retain power and celebrity. This is how the establishment remains fixed no matter who gets elected; the people in charge are not the politicians we elect but the donors who fund their campaigns and the insiders who determine rank and privileges within the party infrastructure. ( ) No more voting for the lesser of two evils and no more listening to people who try to convince you that supporting ideas outside of the Democrat/Republican divide is wasted energy. Don’t fall for the merry-go-round of personalities who keep being unleashed to sheepdog voters back to this two-party racket.

PS. More than 90% of mainstream media is owned by six corporations (read six people), they don’t allow true change agents to have access to the airwaves. Be cautious and twice skeptical when unknown candidates are given millions in free advertisement by the same interests they’re supposedly fighting.

Ocasio-Cortez was on Colbert, she was given a feature in Vogue. (Cynthia McKinney, who has a good deal more integrity than almost anyone else in her rotten party, was never invited on Cobert when she stood alone to call out President Bush on his Carlyle Group links, Saudi connections, and illegal invasion of Iraq. Why? Not telegenic or perky enough?).

So let me summarize…..The Democratic Party is now drawing heavily from military intelligence, the CIA, Pentagon and State Department (with specific emphasis on those with intelligence experience). These sorts of backgrounds suggest most of these candidates have knowledge of propaganda and psy-ops, as well as a basic value system that is consonant with American exceptionalism. They know a lot, we presume, about marketing strategies and about disinformation. So, is it not peculiar to anyone that this new face of pseudo socialism pops up right now — literally out of nowhere? See, to me it feels very Obama like. It’s perception management meets electoral long game strategic thinking. Honestly, all the talk of keeping an eye on her (Ocasio-Cortez) and making sure she honors her principles, etc…all of this feels wildly naive and almost delusional, frankly. One has to learn to read the codes. And since it is a proven fact that the Democrat Party is utterly corrupt, in bed with Wall Street and big corporate entities in agriculture, telecoms, and pharmaceuticals, as well as the military itself — why would one want to give a candidate FOR this utterly corrupt party the benefit of the doubt?

Now on my bullshit meter (a term I don’t really like but whatever) the needle went directly to red. In fact it broke and stuck in the red zone. So, the subjective side is I just found everything about her fake. I recoiled with that awful feeling of being faced with a fraud. Apparently many did not have that response. But I did. Bernie was called a *sheepdog*. The political slang for a left leaning candidate who cant and doesn’t want to win but who will draw disaffected voters back into the party. Bernie eventually endorsing Hillary Clinton, of course. I’m wondering why Ocasio-Cortez is not so perceived? Except I suspect she does want to win and to keep on winning. OC in 2024!!! That is what I think might well happen. She ticks off all the boxes. She has to wait until she turns 35 if I’m not mistaken, but this feels every bit a trial balloon. We shall see.

Meanwhile….here is something to support and make known: Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee

The Two Conflicting Histories of the King Assassination

There are now in the public sphere two totally contradictory narratives of the assassination in 1968 of Martin Luther King, Jr. with each being advanced again and again over the years by respective advocates as if the other did not exist.

Attorney William Pepper, confidant of Martin Luther King, Jr., became convinced in 1978 that James Earl Ray, the officially declared lone gunman, was innocent. Years of investigation led to his 1995 book, Orders to Kill, in which Pepper presented evidence of governmental involvement in the assassination. Three years later, Gerald Posner, already famous for his support for the Warren Commission’s report concerning President Kennedy’s assassination, published Killing the Dream, a defense of the official governmental contention that Ray was the assassin. The King Family also believed Ray innocent, but due to governmental refusal to pursue a criminal trial, there was instead a 1999 civil trial, The King Family vs. Loyd Jowers et al. Jowers, who had admitted having received the rifle actually used in the shooting, was granted immunity to reveal all he knew. All facets of news media boycotted the trial, arguably the de facto “Trial of the Century”.

History A

The trial brought together three decades of accumulated information, much for the first time. James Earl Ray was shown as set up to take blame for the killing. Some Memphis policemen had met in Jim’s Grill, where Jowers worked, while planning the assassination. The fatal shot, rather than fired by Ray from a rooming house, as officially reported, was seen by eyewitnesses to have come from a brushy area across the street from the Lorraine Motel. Police units near the Lorraine were called away prior to the shooting, as were the “Invaders”, a gang being lodged at the Lorraine while coordinating with King on the planned sanitation worker’s strike. Inexplicably, within hours following the assassination the brushy area was cut to the ground by the city. Many witnesses were not interviewed, and those with accounts at odds with the governmental explanation were ignored.

The 30-06 rifle presented as the murder weapon had actually been discovered next to a shop door wrapped in a bedspread ten minutes before the shooting. Moreover, it had not been sighted in so could not have hit at point of aim, and bullets found with it did not match the bullet taken from King’s body. The bathroom from which Ray is supposed to have fired was seen by a witness to be empty at the time of the shooting, and observers saw Ray drive away from the area a quarter hour before the shooting. Jowers, who worked at Jim’s Grill, adjacent to the brushy area, was handed a still smoking rifle after the shot was fired, which rifle he hid until giving it the following day to a collaborator to throw into the Mississippi river.

US Army Intelligence maintained surveillance on King, who had become a problem for the Federal Government through his opposition to the Vietnam War and for his plans for a Poor People’s Campaign aimed at obstructing governmental function. Army photographers, positioned on a roof near the Lorraine, photographed the shooter lowering his rifle and departing the brushy area. There were multiple military snipers as backup shooters if needed. Elements of the military, CIA, FBI, Alabama National Guard, Memphis Police, and the Mafia were identified as components of a carefully organized conspiracy.

The trial ended with the jury unanimous in finding that King had been assassinated not by James Earl Ray but by means of a conspiracy involving Jowers (30%) and “others including governmental agencies” (70%). Although the trial did not make the news, a Washington Post editorial (December 12, 1999, pg B08) stated “The more quickly and completely this jury’s discredited verdict is forgotten, the better”. (Note: That editorial is apparently no longer available in the Post’s online archive). In 2003, Pepper published An Act Of State, a book detailing the court’s findings.

History B

In 2010, writer Hampton Sides published Hellhound On His Trail, like Gerald Posner’s 1998 book an elaboration of the official governmental report portraying James Earl Ray as lone assassin. Sides described movements of King and Ray during days leading up to King’s killing on April 4, 1968 and of the ensuing hunt by the authorities for Ray. In minute-by-minute detail, Sides has Ray, a racist interested in a reported bounty, following King to Memphis and renting a room in a boarding house with a clear view of the balcony outside King’s Lorraine Motel room. With King in view, Ray rests a recently purchased, scoped 30-06 on the bathroom windowsill and fires, mortally wounding King. Ray then wraps rifle and other items in a bedspread, runs from the building and, seeing police within view of his car, ditches the suspicious looking bundle next to a shop door. He then departs and is on the run until his arrest.

Meanwhile, King was hurried to ER at Catholic-run St. Joseph’s hospital, where Drs. Ted Galyon and Rufus Brown attended him. Shortly, others, including various specialists, entered. Ralph Abernathy remained in the room along with Reverend Bernard Lee. At 7:05 PM King was pronounced dead by Dr. Jerome Basso, who closed King’s eyes. The bullet found in King is reported by Sides to be consistent with ammunition purchased by Ray and found with his rifle.

Although Sides claims to have explored all available sources of data, including “court proceedings”, declares that he “drew from a wealth of memoirs written by the King Family”, and lists the King Center in his bibliography, there is mention neither of the 1999 trial nor of William Pepper’s two books, published years earlier than his 2010 book. However, and despite years of media censorship, awareness of both the trial and of Pepper’s books had spread by 2010, so one must conclude that Sides’ omissions were deliberate. The evasion of such a quantity of opposing information is fatal to Hellhound On His Trail as an objective history.

Nevertheless, in 2010, the same year as the release of Hellhound On His Trail, the PBS television program “American Experience” aired Roads to Memphis, a documentary film described as “the entwined stories of assassin James Earl Ray and his target, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” The film, for which Sides was historical consultant, was based on his book and featured commentary by Sides himself, as well as by author Gerald Posner, an established supporter of the official governmental account. As the book, so the film, in that there was no mention of either the trial or of Pepper’s books. Like Hellhound On His Trail, Roads to Memphis serves as forceful support for the Government’s narrative.

2016: Pepper’s Magnum Opus

William Pepper published The Plot To Kill King, a 770-page detailed summation of the Government’s role in the killing with new material gathered since his 2003 book. Here, Pepper traced the long-term strategy to bring both King and Ray to Memphis. Half of the book consists of appendices revealing military, CIA, FBI, Memphis police and Mafia involvement in the assassination and supportive of Ray’s innocence. The claim by attorney Percy Foreman that he had never pressured his client into a rash, untimely guilty plea is shown to be a lie by a letter from Foreman in which he offers Ray money “…contingent upon the plea of guilty and … without any unseemly conduct on your part in court.” There is a photocopy of the letter in the book’s appendix.

Pepper writes, “At Hoover’s request, James [Earl Ray] had been profiled as a potential scapegoat.” Clyde Tolson, Hoover’s deputy at the FBI, and shown by Pepper to be a central figure in the conspiracy, paid a prison official to engineer Ray’s escape from a prison, so that this designated patsy could thereafter be managed by another conspirator, Raul Coelho, who would then guide Ray to Memphis. Tolson distributed cash, some of which apparently made its way to Jesse Jackson. Jackson, along with others within King’s group, is depicted as an informant paid by the FBI to relay information on King. There is also a report that it was Jackson who had King’s room changed from the ground floor of the Lorraine to the more exposed second floor with its open balcony, and who ordered the Invaders away from the Lorraine shortly before the shooting. Pepper claims that evidence indicates the actual shooter to have been Memphis Police sharpshooter Frank Strausser.

Mortally wounded, King was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital where, surprisingly, “a large presence” of military intelligence officers had taken positions well before the shot was fired. More surprisingly, the hospital’s head surgeon, Breen Bland, accompanied by two men in suits, entered the hospital room in which King was being attended by medical staff. Bland is quoted as shouting, “Stop working on the nigger and let him die” and then ordering everyone out of the room. Personnel hearing the sound of men clearing their throats lingered behind and reported seeing Bland and his two accomplices spit on King, after which Bland smothered King to death with a pillow (Note: Pepper describes this in a 2017 lecture, here on Vimeo).

2118: PBS Takes a Stand 

In the spring of 2018 there were multiple airings on the PBS program “American Experience” of Hampton Sides’ 2010 film Roads to Memphis. This is renewed reinforcement by PBS of the Government’s depiction of James Earl Ray as lone assassin and an excellent illustration of how televised media can function as servant of the State.

Sides’ contention that he drew from memoirs of the King Family as part of his thorough research is at odds with a filmed interview by ABC of the entire King Family. From dialogue, as well as from the youth of the family members, it is clear the interview was pre-1999 Trial (Note: The link indicated is to a 2-hour piece available, at the time of this writing, on YouTube. Start at 1:03 for the 5-minute segment of the King Family interview). In it, Dexter King states, “Evidence I’ve seen or heard will vindicate or exonerate James Earl Ray”. When asked who was behind the assassination, Dexter continues, “I am told that it was part-and-parcel Army Intelligence, CIA, FBI”. When the interviewer says, “This is a staggering idea to carry around”, Dexter answers, with a short derisive laugh, “I think we knew it all along. It’s why we’re not, like, jumping out of our seats, because we’ve known for years.” How on earth could Sides (or Posner) have overlooked such as that?

Although the keepers of the nation’s information gates have striven to bury the results of William Pepper’s four decade quest for the truth of King’s death, millions by now have been exposed to the fact that two opposing explanations of King’s murder continue to exist. Theologian James Douglass, who attended the 1999 trial, later wrote an article in which he stated:

The Memphis trial has opened wide the door to our assassination politics. Anyone who walks through it is faced by an either/or: to declare naked either the empire or oneself.

FBI Goes Trumpian: Hypes Imaginary Terrorism Threat as Fake News

Protecting our citizens and our nation remains the Justice Department’s top priority,” U.S. Attorney [Justin] Herdman said. “This defendant plotted and scouted locations in downtown Cleveland for an attack on July 4th, when he knew it would be packed with people celebrating our nation’s birthday. We will continue to do all we can to identify, arrest and prosecute those threats while working to keep our communities safe and secure.

FBI press release, July 2, 2018

Well, that sounds like pretty good news, doesn’t it? The supposed July 4th attack sounds like it could have been horrendous, right? And your Justice Department saved us all yet again, right? That must be why the Justice Department headlined its press release:

Ohio Man Arrested for Attempting to Assist a Foreign Terrorist Organization With Homeland Attack Plot

Actually, no, that’s not quite what happened. This is fundamentally a big government lie. Actually, it’s a tissue of lies.

Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts

The government press release begins with some facts:

Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts, aka Abdur Raheem Rafeeq, aka Salah ad-Deen Osama Waleed, 48, of Maple Heights, Ohio, was charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda, a designated foreign terrorist organization. Pitts was arrested Sunday [July 1] by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

This press feed is well-framed to make readers think the worst – “al Qaeda” and “terrorist” and “Terrorism Task Force.” And all those aliases – that’s scary stuff. But what did Pitts actually do? And why only one count? And who else was involved? The details fail to live up to the hype.

Instead of clarifying the arrest, the press release then continues for its next four fat paragraphs with chest-thumping government officials offering bloated, irrelevant, and largely false rhetoric – “the dangerous threat posed by radical Islamic terrorism” and “plans to attack innocent civilians” and “working to keep our communities safe and secure.” This is all good, solid Orwellian language as it avoids lying without actually telling the truth. And it makes one wonder: Good lord, what on earth was Demetrius Pitts up to all by himself? According to the press release:

Pitts, a U.S. citizen living in Ohio, pledged his allegiance to al-Qaeda, a foreign terrorist organization, and was planning to conduct an attack in Cleveland on Independence Day, the very day we celebrate the freedoms we have in this country,” said Special Agent in Charge [Stephen] Anthony. “The FBI commends the public for reporting individuals that espouse their radical beliefs and/or engage in behavior that threaten the lives of our military personnel and community.

This is the only – mysterious – reference in the press release to thank “the public for reporting individuals.” And does the FBI now consider it a crime for people to “espouse their radical beliefs”? Isn’t that a radical belief? And does the thanks to informers mean that there was NO independent investigative work? The balance of the press release comprises a summary of a court-filed affidavit that completely supports such a conclusion. Apparently this heroic defense of public safety consisted of someone giving Pitts’s name to the FBI some time ago and the FBI then executing a sting operation bordering on entrapment (or more likely actual entrapment) of a man of less than full competence or significant ability. Not only that, it’s taken the FBI almost two and a half years to instigate Pitts to allegedly criminal action, as the FBI admits (indirectly) in its 31-page affidavit filed by Special Agent Andrew Wilson, a 22-year veteran assigned to the Cleveland Joint Terrorism Task Force:

On December 31, 2015, a Facebook profile for ABDUR RAHEEM RAFEEQ (which was ultimately determined to be PITTS) came to the FBI’s attention after RAFEEQ sent a private Facebook message to “The Craig Sewing Show,” a California-based political commentary program, stating: “Fuck America and there arm[sic] forces. The USA will be destroy. Allahu Akbar.”

First of all, this is all Constitutionally-protected free speech. Secondly, no serious terrorist is going to out himself to the Craig Sewing Show. What Pitts probably unwittingly did was to set himself up as a clay pigeon for the FBI to take potshots at. There is a long, shameful pattern of FBI agents manipulating marginal people into imaginary threats to build a bogus arrest record that actually undermines freedom by “defending” it. Who knows how many people rot in jail as “terrorists” only because they were entrapped by the FBI in “plots” that never actually existed as real-world threats? The FBI apparently ignored Pitts for a year until he made another post, on Facebook, according to the FBI affidavit:

On January 25, 2017, PITTS used his Facebook account Abdur Raheem Rafeeq (UID 100010669985661) to comment on pictures believed to be from a jihad training camp. PITTS posted, “We as Muslim need to start. Training like this everyday. We need to known how to shoot guns. Throw hand grenades hand to hand combat. How survey out in the woods. Look at the bed blue eyed devils. They teach their little dogs on how to shoot and Hunt. If you fear death. Then don’t say you love Islam. The Rasool saw said. We should always be prepared to fight in the name of Allah Akbar. All cowards stay home. Walsalaam. Abdur Raheem sahl Rafeeq. Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar.”

The FBI slouched into action, reviewing Pitts’s Facebook account in February 2017 and observing it into June 2018. According to the affidavit, during those 16 months, the FBI believed Pitts was “threatening violence against the United States,” “expressed a desire to recruit people to kill Americans,” and was “willing to conduct a U.S. based attack.” The FBI took no action. Neither did Pitts.

As of early 2018, Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts, 48, an African-American US citizen, had apparently been living a quiet life in Willoughby, Ohio, about 19 miles east of Cleveland on Lake Erie. In May he apparently moved to Maple Heights, about 13 miles south of Cleveland. It’s not clear what he did for work, or whether he was employed. He apparently lived alone. After the FBI arrested Pitts, Diane Stoudemire, his aunt near Cincinnati, expressed bewilderment, even though she hadn’t heard from him in two years:

He’s never been a violent person, so that’s what I don’t understand…. He had had some problems with drugs and everything. He came up without his father, which is my brother, that was killed before Demetrius was born. His mother passed away while Demetrius was in penitentiary, so he’s been having such a hard time….

Diane Stoudemire said Pitts lived “on the fringe” of society, but had no idea he’d been living near Cleveland:

We’ve been worried about him, because I was his favorite aunt. And he used to would come to me, and I haven’t heard from Demetrius in a few years…. He was a good person. I never knew him to get in no trouble, like hurting somebody or fighting or anything. Anything he ever done was to himself.

According to the FBI at a July 2 press conference, Pitts has a criminal history that includes felonious assault and aggravated robbery in 1989, when he was 19. He served less than a year before being released on probation. He was arrested in 2006 but charges were dismissed. He was arrested again in 2007, convicted on a theft charge, and placed on probation. He was arrested in 2016 for absconding from probation in 2009.

On June 18, everything started to change from bad to worse for Pitts. That was the day the FBI sent an undercover agent to meet with Pitts in Willoughby and surreptitiously recorded their conversation (excerpted in the FBI affidavit). The conversation is full of violent fantasy to which the FBI agent contributes, but nothing like a plan or even a credible threat emerges. Pitts makes it clear that he has not joined al Qaeda but would take a test to join. The FBI agent suggests a test: “take out a soldier? A US Army soldier?” Pitts responds: “He dead. He dead. He dead. It’s like I said.” Then Pitts seems to back off the idea. They go through a similar loop talking about killing a Marine. Nothing is decided, or even promised. Pitts does not ask the FBI agent to prove he’s from al Qaeda.

On June 22, the FBI agent met with Pitts in Walton Hills and surreptitiously recorded the conversation (excerpted in the affidavit). The FBI agent starts with a pitch that fits an effort at entrapment:

And so that’s part of, part of the question. Part of the in and out is understanding what al Qaeda is about and then wanting to know are you willing to, I mean any brother that’s gonna be in al Qaeda has to be willing to do all the things that we’ve already talked about…. That’s why I mean, I mean, I mean I’m excited I went back but of course the brothers, they wanna build trust by steps. And they’re willing to send a brother out to meet you but we gotta make, we gotta get to that level too. The other thing too is I mean there is, there is risk with all this and that’s why we gotta, we gotta start somewhere. I mean I think we are there but I gotta go back and convince…. I mean I think that can happen pretty soon. But-but this is, but I think this is what this is a big thing that was asked of me cause I told him I told him about hey the value in the knife fighting. The possibility of like what we talked about last time. Finding places where we could get in and set up a bomb. I mean if they provide the bomb maker and we find the path in. Then man, dude we can do, I mean you wanna talk about if doing something like that, that from, from, from within, that will shake them more than 9/11 . 9/11 mashallah was amazing.

Pitts doesn’t buy into any this. He volunteers that he been thinking about the 4th of July, but nothing specific. Pitts says: “I’m trying to figure out something that would shake them up on the 4th of July…. See I-I that’s why I like chess.” Pitts mentions “a bomb to blow up at the 4th of July parade,” then rejects it because of too many surveillance cameras in the city. The FBI agent abets the “planning” by googling a map of downtown Cleveland. Later the same day, the FBI agent promises to provide Pitts with a bus pass and a cell phone.

On June 25, a second FBI agent posing as “a trusted ‘brother’” met with Pitts in Maple Heights, delivering the bus pass and cell phone.

On June 26, Pitts texted the first FBI agent that he had scouted out downtown Cleveland, as discussed. Pitts said he planned to go to Philadelphia (his hometown) for further surveillance. The FBI agent talked to Pitts on the phone and asked if Pitts was going through with the July 4th plan that other “brothers” were building devices for. The conversation was inconclusive.

On June 27, Pitts met with the second agent posing as a “brother” and turned in his cell phone. The second agent gave Pitts a black flag as a terrorist symbol. Later the same day, Pitts met with the first FBI agent for two and a half hours to discuss “the impending July 4th bombing” (according to the FBI affidavit). Pitts says he’s going to spend the day July 3 casing the surroundings, “We’re just takin’ pictures, takin’ video.” Pitts says he wants to see the explosion on the 4th and the FBI agent says:

You wanna see it – you wanna see that fireball go flying – you wanna see the body parts flying into the sky?… Alright. Well you know what? Like where we were standing when you can overlook the whole lake, off by that – on top of that parking garage, you can get a pretty good view from way up there.

At this point in the affidavit, neither party has specified just what kind of bomb might be used and they’ve discussed a number of possibilities. They have no specific target. The FBI agent seems confused: “Oh, so you’re talking like uh – like uh full car bomb in the whole van.” Pitts, who has no way of knowing about and no connection with any bomb, agrees. The FBI agent says: “Alright. I mean this is a – we’re going from a remote control car bomb to a full size van.” Pitts seems to agree but talks about the remote control toy cars with bombs. This seems to fluster the FBI agent, the conversation wanders, “this is gonna take an adjustment and my plan was for the – well what we kinda – they gonna bring in the bomb guy for us….” They seem to reassure each other that they’re going through with the plan even though they haven’t settled on the plan. Pitts isn’t planning to be involved with the bombing directly:

My part is just to go scope, get the information we need, and bring it back…. See you gotta have Brothers who don’t nobody never see. Like I don’t wanna meet all the Brothers. No.

The FBI agent agrees to this. Later in the day, Pitts texted the FBI agent that the plan was impossible, too much security. Pitts talks about pushing on, maybe in Philadelphia:

Ahki (brother) I want to do this by myself. I have no reason to live. Since I know Philly very well. All I need from the brother. Is some chicken eggs that go [emojis inserted that appear to be explosions]. I will put my life on the line. This will be done in September labor day. Just help me get there. So ahki you must show me. How to drive  again. Now can you do that. You don’t need to be in this. Ahki you have a family. So keep your hands clean ahki.

On June 28, on the direction of the first FBI agent, Pitts carried out instructions relating to the imaginary bombing, including searching for a vehicle. Pitts said a purchase would be difficult because he’d have to provide a driver’s license. The FBI agent suggested a strawman purchase. Pitts found several possible vehicles, but bought none.

June 30, the FBI agent “told Pitts that the attack Pitts planned in Cleveland for July 4th was a “go” and that the al Qaeda brothers were happy with Pitts’ plan for Cleveland” (according to the FBI affidavit), even though there was still no clear record of any specific plan. The FBI agent egged Pitts on with false promises of a “large explosion … on behalf of al Qaeda.”

On July 1, the FBI agent met with Pitts in Garfield Heights to learn what plan Pitts had for Philadelphia. Pitts explained he was still planning an attack that he wanted to be bloody. The FBI showed Pitts a “remote control car … [that] contained C-4 explosives and BB’s” rigged by the FBI, a toy that could roll under a police vehicle. Pitts freely speculated on uses for remote control cars as well as a larger bomb that he assumed existed. The meeting ended with his arrest.

On July 2, the Justice Department issued its deceitful press release, claiming to have protected the country from a fearsome terrorist attack, even though the FBI knew that attack was never even close to taking place, and even though the FBI knew Pitts had zero capability of carrying it out on his own. The FBI makes no claim to the contrary, but merely asserts the sort-of-true claim that Pitts “did knowingly attempt to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.” The FBI does not acknowledge that the “foreign terrorist organization” was an FBI fiction and that Pitts’s attempt was based on a delusion.

The FBI filings make very clear that no terrorism and no threat of terrorism existed before the FBI decided to pump one up, using a troubled, angry, isolated black man as its pawn to inflate its own institutional ego with fake news. And the news media bought the fake news as presented, uncritically parroting the FBI spin that they stopped an attempted terror attack.

CNNMan accused of plotting terror attack on July 4th parade in Cleveland 

New York TimesMan Arrested in Cleveland Terror Plot After F.B.I. Sting 

ABC NewsMan accused of planning terrorist attack in Cleveland had San Francisco travel plans

USA TodayFBI: Man who planned attack on Cleveland wanted to give explosive-filled cars to military children

And so it went across the news media, with a presumption of guilt fostered by FBI lies taken at face value. FBI agent Stephen Anthony set the tone for media coverage:

Law enforcement cannot sit back and wait for Mr. Pitts to commit a violent attack…. We don’t have the luxury of hoping an individual decides not do harm someone or get others to act.

This is disingenuous to the point of deceit. This is a totalitarian mindset. Anthony knows full well that Pitts has never committed a terrorist act, that Pitts has never attempted a terrorist act, that Pitts is known to have “planned” a terrorist act only with FBI incitement. The FBI knows it has no evidence that Pitts is even capable of committing a terrorist act. Based on the available evidence, Pitts has done nothing worse than exercise his First Amendment rights in politically incorrect ways, expressing deep anger and hostility toward the US for its endless slaughter or Muslims. What Pitts was incoherently expressing was rage at his own country’s terrorism. For that, his country makes him the terrorist.

That’s not a reality that many Americans can perceive from their 9/11-induced fear bubble (that the FBI cleverly invoked). The hysteria of 9/11 has not abated much. We continue to spend endless millions on terrorism task forces, so, of course, they’re going to find terrorists even where there are none – that’s their job. And if they can’t find terrorists, they’ll invent them as they did with Demetrius Pitts, who was essentially helpless once the FBI targeted him. His case should bring shame to anyone serious about law enforcement and justice. Instead it has brought on nothing better than official empty strutting and craven media credulity.

As for Demetrius Pitts, he has been serially lynched – first by life, which could happen to anyone. But then he was lynched by an FBI in search of easy prey, next he was lynched by the Justice Department in search of easy praise, and now he is being lynched by news media in search of easy answers. In due course, he will likely be lynched by the court system and then by the prison system.

This case is what societal failure looks like. Police-state tactics can railroad an innocent man and no one questions the police state’s flimsy official story.

Big Brother Facebook: Drawing Down The Iron Curtain on Yankeedom

Leading a double life

When my partner, Barbara, first opened an account on Facebook, she used it in a way that most people in Yankeedom use it. Her network was an eclectic assortment of family, current and former workmates, new and old friends, neighbors and relatives living in other parts of the country. Most of what was posted on this account were pictures of kids, dogs and kitty cats, vacations, dinner outings, jokes – nothing too controversial. Like most members of Yankeedom, religion and politics were off limits. However, there was a kind of politically unconscious assumption operating that liberal values prevailed and that somehow the Democratic Party embodied those values. I nicknamed her Facebook account the “Suzy Cream Cheese” account after the Mothers of Invention’s album because it only dealt with surface preoccupations.

As the most recent US presidential primaries heated up and people took sides about Hillary, Bernie and Jill Stein, the Suzy Cream Cheese page started to be “not nice”. The political unconscious became conscious. The assumption was that all women – in the name of feminism – should vote for Hillary. My partner thought this was a very shallow understanding of feminism and posted an article she wrote that was published in a number of online radical newsletters titled, “Feminism is Bigger Than Gender: Why I’ll Be Happy in Hell Without Hillary.” Oh dear. After she posted that article on Facebook, she got the cold shoulder and lost a couple of friends. Around that time she opened up a second “political” Facebook account and started adding to it a whole new group of far-left friends and acquaintances. She continued posting “suitable for family viewing” comments with her Suzy Cream Cheese account while posting and responding to socialist and communist posts on her political account.

The Two Faces of Facebook

Neither Barbara nor I are sociologists of social media or specifically of Facebook, so what follows is experiential. However, we do know a thing or two about how capitalist institutions operate in general and Facebook is no exception.

The primary purpose of Facebook is to sell ad space to marketers. But how do you reach the Yankee public? You make it easy for Yankees to set up individual accounts so that Yankees can do what we do best—talk about the micro world of family, dogs and friends. In the process, hopefully people will purchase some of the products or services touted in the ads. Facebook has also made it possible for individuals to join groups and set up pages that then allow them to place ads to publicize their group or organization. For Facebook, reading groups, hobbies and support groups are fine.

But Facebook has encountered a problem that many other capitalist institutions have. The problem is that you can set up the conditions for selling your products, but you can’t control people’s motivation for buying the product, (joining a group or setting up a political page) or what they will do with the product (what kind of group they will form). Facebook could even tolerate political groups. But the political imagination of Facebook consists of Republicans and Democrats. What Facebook had not counted on is the proliferation of political groups that exist outside both parties. As most of you know, there are many anarchist groups, Leninist groups, social democrats and even council communist groups. On the right there are all sorts of nationalist and fascists groups. It is safe to say that Facebook, as a capitalist institution, does not want to host these groups but until recently has not been able to do anything about it.

Planning Beyond Capitalism Meets Suzy Cream Cheese Facebook

Six years ago Barbara and I co-founded an organization called Planning Beyond Capitalism. The name pretty much says what we are up to. As an anti-establishment organization our main problem was, and still is, outreach. We stumbled and bumbled our way with the help of some anti-establishment social media whizzes who convinced us we could reach a lot more people through placing ads on Facebook. Facebook calls it “boosting”. At first, we were skeptical because the language used in placing an ad on Facebook seemed to have nothing to do with politics. They were ads for businesses. They encouraged us to “pick the right brand” and “target our audience” for best “market return”. We weren’t a business and we weren’t a non-profit. The best category we could find was “community organization”.

One of the things we do on Planning Beyond Capitalism is to select one article from a left-wing news source and write one post and commentary each day. We call this “Capitalist News Interpreted”. We publish these posts daily on Facebook, but don’t “boost” them. But every couple of months or so we write a longer article, in which we make an analysis of world events, mostly in the United States, from the perspective of our organization. We put these in the category of Perspectives. Over the course of two or three years we found four or five political newsletters in which to publish our perspectives. In addition, we decided to “boost” those perspectives on Facebook.

Our pattern was to boost our perspective for one week for the cost of $30.00 to run for one week. This money came out of our own pockets. We were able to select our demographics – age, gender, interests – and we could post it to almost any country in the world. In selecting our audiences when we first started boosting our posts, the choices of “anarchism” and “socialism” were available for us to select. Typically, in a single week we reached about ten thousand people – with a ratio of people in that audience of people who “liked” our perspective from about 20% to 33%. The number of “shares” in a week ranged from 75 to about 250 depending on the article. In the process of doing this, we began hearing from people in other parts of the world. Some of those people then began to write for us.

We were pretty amazed that Facebook approved of virtually all our perspectives in 2016 and 2017 despite our anti Democratic Party, anti-capitalist slant. Here are some of our titles:

No Pink Wooly Caps for Me

Open Letter to the Sandernistas: The Political Revolution Continues – Hearts, Bodies and Souls

Planning Beyond Capitalism meets Big Brother Facebook

Things began to change for us on Facebook when I published an article on April 1st of this year claiming the Democratic Party was worse than the Republican Party for 90% of the population. After we posted a link to it on our Facebook page we tried to boost it.

Greater of Two Evils: Why the Democratic Party is Worse than the Republican Party for 85% of the U.S. Population

Facebook rejected our ad and we contested that rejection. They said it was sensationalistic, involved hate speech and promoted violence. We contested this rejection and after two arguments from us, won our appeal. We ran the ad for two weeks because of its popularity. It reached 38,000 people, had many hundreds of shares and we gained about 100 new followers.

The next article we published was written by an Iraqi comrade of ours living as a citizen in Russia. The article was about why Russians are upset with Americans.

Why Russians are Upset With Americans – Seen Through the Eyes of an Iraqi

This ad was again disapproved by Facebook but for different reasons: it was “political”. We contested this as well. Below is our argument:

We have been boosting posts on FB for 2 years. Every single one of them has political content. Why is this particular one being singled out? However, this is the first article that we’ve published about Russia, written by someone living in Russia. We believe that you are not authorizing this ad because it is a favorable account of the Russian people, which does not conform to the Democratic Party’s anti-Russian ideology. This article was written by a Russian citizen and is written from his own observations and viewpoint. Furthermore, his sources are documented and it is neither sensationalistic nor violent. We are not advocating for Russian foreign policy. We are talking about average Russian citizens. If you read the article, you would see that your response is exactly the reasons Russians are upset with Americans. Their experiences are suppressed, while we maintain the stereotypes of them as in the cartoon image that leads the article. This, to us, constitutes blatant discrimination. 

Facebook’s response was a boilerplate line about what constitutes a political post. Their policy about political ads had changed as of May 7th, 2018. It implied that their disapproval had nothing to do with its content. It was because the category was “political”. We were told that in order to consider having our ad approved, we had to register as a political organization. In order to do this we needed to:

  1. Be citizens of the United States
  2. Provide proof of citizenship
  3. Provide a residential address
  4. Provide a drivers license number
  5. Provide a Social Security number

All this – simply to place a political ad. Doesn’t this sound like we are registering to be investigated by the FBI or CIA? Oh, no that’s just left wing paranoia.

Further, they said it would take up to six weeks to verify this and to approve our ad. But not to worry, they would delete all our information once it checked out.

As the author of the article on Russia, Jamal pointed out his other two articles that had been accepted by Facebook were far more political than the one they just rejected. But that was before their change of policy. Jamal rightfully pointed out that the rejected article was more historical, sociological and cultural than political. However, the upper middle class honchos of Facebook, having taken one class in political science in the United States, cannot tell the difference between sociology, political economy, and culture. Their formula is:

Russia = political = bad

America = Democratic Party = good

To paraphrase an old country tune, “Take this job and shove it”, we told Facebook to “take your political registration and shove it”.

No, there is no “Iron Curtain” in the US. That is for Russians.

Our Analysis of Facebook

We think it is reasonable to suspect that Facebook wants to get rid of its “political underground”, the groups that exist beyond the two party system. Why? For one thing people at both extremes of the political spectrum are likely to buy the products that are advertised on their pages. The second reason is that our ads are chump change for them. Getting rid of us will cost them close to nothing in revenue. The third reason is political. Facebook, like most media institutions, is committed to the Democratic Party. Cleaning its house of “Fake News” (the news and opinions of the socialist or fascist sides of the spectrum) will steer people back to reasonable choices like the Democratic Party. It is our belief that this change in policy requiring organizations like ours to register as political groups has occurred in 2018, in part, because this is an election year.

There are other indicators Facebook is closing ranks. In selecting an audience for our article, we noticed the choices given under political interests on the left, the furthest left available to choose was “very liberal”. There was no socialist choice even though a self-proclaimed socialist ran as a Democratic in the 2016 primaries.

If anyone reading this has recommendations for alternatives to Facebook that would allow us to place political ads to broaden our reach, please contact us. It’s time for those of us on the far left to find an alternative to Big Brother Facebook.

• First published at Planning Beyond Capitalism

The The Boston Globe’s Hit Piece on the Assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy

The counterattack on those, including Senator Robert Kennedy’s children, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, claiming that Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy involving at least a second gunman, has commenced.  The Boston Globe, the traditional hometown newspaper of the Kennedy family, published a clearly misleading piece on May 31, 2018 by Nik DeCosta-Klipa, with the curiously long and loaded title “Bobby Kennedy’s son thinks he was killed by a second shooter. Is there anything to it? Or has RFK, Jr. “launched a whole new generation of conspiracy nuts 50 years later.”

Whether DeCosta-Klipa was acting on orders from above to produce such a specious piece or is ignorant of the fundamental research in a case that shouts out conspiracy is a question I cannot answer, although based on his go-to “expert” in his article – Daniel Moldea, whose contradictory disinformation on the case is well known to serious researchers – I would guess the former to be correct.

Let me begin with the title, which is marvelously propagandistic and sets the naïve reader’s mind on the intended trajectory.  RFK Jr.’s recent claim in The Washington Post of a second shooter and his call therefore for a re-investigation (a redundancy since no genuine official investigation was done; it was a cover-up from the start) is followed by a question: Is there anything to it?  This is followed by a headlined quote from Moldea, repeating the CIA created meme about conspiracy nuts: Or has RFK Jr “launched a whole new generation of conspiracy nuts 50 years later.” A question mark for RFK, Jr., while Moldea is allowed an assertion in the title that is not followed by a question mark.  Language is the key to effective propaganda, including punctuation.  It is a very subtle art, at which our mainstream corporate media are adept.

But if you think I am being picky, let me explain further

DeCosta-Klipa begins by asserting that “conspiracy theories concerning President John F. Kennedy’s death may be most widely circulated.”  Thus the reader is led into this article with the insinuation that, of course, Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK and anyone who questions that is a conspiracy nut.  So what about RFK’s murder?

As the night follows day, we meet conspiracy nuts here too, courtesy of DeCosta-Klipa who allows Moldea a free hand to spout nonsense.  A person not familiar with the research done on this case by the great researcher Lisa Pease and others would assume that Moldea was the expert par excellence on RFK’s assassination, when nothing could be further from the truth.  James DiEugenio, Pease’s colleague and an equally brilliant researcher, has surgically dismembered Moldea’s work on the case.

So why has DeCosta-Klipa shined the spotlight on Moldea and given him so much space?

It is unlikely that he has read Moldea’s 1995 book, The Killing of Robert F. Kennedy, a book about which DiEugenio rightly says: its “every major tenet is highly suspect, whose sourcing is not explicit, whose fairness is, to say the least, one-sided, whose completeness is just not there, whose use of witnesses-like Kaiser and McCowan-is rather lenient….it is a ‘bookshelf’ book that has no intellectual content or substance.”  He suggests it was commissioned by the government forces responsible for RFK’s death and the ongoing cover-up.

Moldea is allowed full leeway to rant:

To claim absurdly that the LAPD messed up and was not involved in the sinister plot and cover-up.

To rip Robert Kennedy Jr. with the words “What Bobby Kennedy Jr. has done, he’s launched a whole new generation of conspiracy nuts who are going to believe that Sirhan didn’t do it and somebody else did.”

To utter the word conspiracy and conspiracy nuts constantly and to have that word repeated throughout by DeCosta-Klipa, as if he were Moldea’s echo.  The word conspiracy is used nine times in a highly pejorative sense.

(The conspiracy label was created by the CIA in 1967 to besmirch the name and reputation of anyone questioning the assassination of President Kennedy.  CIA agents and assets throughout the mass media were encouraged to use it constantly.  Of course, they have.)

To preposterously claim that all the eyewitnesses were wrong and that since the autopsy definitively showed Kennedy was shot from the rear at point blank range that he must have turned around so Sirhan, who was standing feet away to the front could shoot him in his back and head.  To which, of course, DeCosta-Klipa has no reply, as if it weren’t ridiculous.

To falsely claim – lie – that Paul Schrade, an aide to the senator, who was walking behind him and was the first person shot, fell into RFK, pushing him toward Sirhan, when, in fact, Schrade fell backwards feet behind RFK.

To absurdly claim that the many bullet holes found in the door frames and wall weren’t bullet holes at all, but in DeCosta-Kipa’s words, paraphrasing Moldea, “were most likely the result of any number of kitchen carts banging into the wall.”

Don’t laugh; there’s more.

To claim that the man highly suspected of having shot Kennedy from the rear, the security guard Thane Eugene Cesar, is innocent since he told him so.  But he doesn’t say that Cesar fled the country and is living somewhere in Asia under Moldea’s protection.

To claim the highly suspect police investigator of the shooting, Sirhan, who also falsely asserts that no extra bullets were ever found, is a reliable source, despite extensive evidence to the contrary.

And to top it off, DeCosta-Klipa grants Moldea the final words:  “I think [RFK Jr.] has been misled, conned, and corrupted by the conspiracy crowd to believe this garbage that the man that murdered his father is innocent.”

The truth is the readers of The Boston Globe have been misled, conned, and corrupted by a classic piece of propaganda.

It is a disgrace.

Fifty Years Ago the United States Government Killed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Very few Americans are aware of the truth behind the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Few books have been written about it, unlike other significant assassinations, especially JFK’s. For fifty years there has been a media blackout supported by government deception to hide the truth. And few people, in a massive act of self-deception, have chosen to question the absurd official explanation, choosing, rather, to embrace a mythic fabrication intended to sugarcoat the bitter fruit that has resulted from the murder of the one man capable of leading a mass movement for revolutionary change in the United States. Today we are eating the fruit of our denial.

In order to comprehend the significance of this extraordinary book, it is first necessary to dispel a widely accepted falsehood about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. William Pepper does that on the first page.

To understand his death, it is essential to realize that although he is popularly depicted and perceived as a civil rights leader, he was much more than that. A non-violent revolutionary, he personified the most powerful force for the long-overdue social, political, and economic reconstruction of the nation.

In other words, Martin Luther King was a transmitter of a non-violent spiritual and political energy so plenipotent that his very existence was a threat to an established order based on violence, racism, and economic exploitation.  He was a very dangerous man.

Revolutionaries are, of course, anathema to the power elites who, with all their might, resist such rebels’ efforts to transform society. If they can’t buy them off, they knock them off. Fifty years after King’s assassination, the causes he fought for – civil rights, the end to U.S. wars of aggression, and economic justice for all – remain not only unfulfilled, but have worsened in so many respects. And King’s message has been enervated by the sly trick of giving him a national holiday and urging Americans to make it “a day of service.” Needless to say, such service does not include non-violent war resistance or protesting a decadent system of economic injustice.

Because MLK repeatedly called the United States the “greatest purveyor of violence on earth,” he was universally condemned by the mass media and government that later – once he was long and safely dead – praised him to the heavens.  This has continued to the present day of historical amnesia.

But William Pepper resurrects the revolutionary MLK, and in doing so shows in striking detail why elements within the U.S. government executed him.  After reading this book, no fair-minded reader can reach any other conclusion.  The Plot to Kill King, the culminating volume of a trilogy that Pepper has written on the assassination, consists of slightly less text than supporting documentation in its appendices, which include numerous depositions and interviews that buttress Pepper’s thesis on the why and how of this horrible murder.  It demands a close reading that should put to rest any pseudo-debates about the essentials of the case.

Pepper, an attorney who represented the King family in the 1999 trial that found U.S. officials of the federal (in particular, the FBI and Army Intelligence), state, and local governments responsible for King’s assassination, has worked on the King case since 1977.  He met MLK in 1967, after King had read his Ramparts’ magazine article, “The Children of Vietnam,” that exposed the hideous effects of U.S. napalm and white phosphorous bombing on young and old Vietnamese innocents.  The text and photos of that article reduced King to tears and were instrumental in his increased opposition to the war against Vietnam as articulated in his dramatic Riverside Church speech (“Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence”) on April 4, 1967, one year to the day before his execution in Memphis.  That speech, in which King so powerfully and publicly linked the war with racism and economic exploitation, foretold his death at the hands of the perpetrators of those abominations.

Devastated by King’s death, and assuming the alleged assassin James Earl Ray was responsible, Pepper retreated from the fray until a 1977 conversation with the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, King’s associate, who raised the specter of Ray’s innocence.  After a five hour interrogation of the imprisoned Ray in 1978, Pepper was convinced that Ray did not shoot King and set out on a forty year quest to uncover the truth.

Before examining the essentials of Pepper’s discovery, it is important to point out that MLK, Jr., his father, Rev. M. L. King, Sr., and his maternal grandfather, Rev. A.D. Williams, all pastors of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, were spied on by Army Intelligence and the FBI since 1917.  All were considered communist sympathizers and dangerous to the reigning hegemony because of their espousal of racial and economic equality.  When MLK, Jr. forcefully denounced unjust and immoral war-making as well, and announced his Poor People’s Campaign and intent to lead a massive peaceful encampment of hundreds of thousands in Washington, D.C., he set off panic in the bowels of government spies and their masters.  Seventy-five years of spying on black religious leaders here found its ultimate “justification.”  As Stokely Carmichael, co-chairman of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, said to King in a conversation secretly recorded by Army Intelligence, “The man don’t care you call ghettos concentration camps, but when you tell him his war machine is nothing but hired killers, you got trouble.”

It is against this “trouble” that Pepper’s investigation must be set, as that “trouble” is also the background for the linked assassinations of JFK, Malcolm X, and RFK.  Understanding the forces behind the military, the spies, and the gunmen who, while operating in the shadows, are actually the second layer of the onion skin, is essential.  The government and mainstream corporate media form the outer layer with their collusion in disinformation, lying, and truth suppression, but Pepper correctly identifies the core as follows.

Bombastic, chauvinistic, corporate propaganda aside, where the slaughter of innocents is, and always was, justified in the name of patriotism and national security, it has always and ever been about money.  Corporate and financial leaders trusted with the keys to the Republic’s treasure moved from boardrooms to senior government positions and back again.  Construction, oil and gas, defense industry, and pharmaceutical corporations, their bankers, brokers, and executives thrive in a war economy.  Fortunes are made and dynasties created and perpetuated and a cooperating elite permeates an entire society and ultimately contaminates the world in its drive for national resources wherever they are ….Vietnam was his [King’s] Rubicon …. Here, as never before, would he seriously challenge the interests of the power elite.

MLK was assassinated on April 4, 1968 at 6:01 PM as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.  He was shot in the lower right side of his face by one rifle bullet that shattered his jaw, damaged his upper spine, and came to rest below his left shoulder blade.  The U.S. government claimed the assassin was a racist loner named James Earl Ray, who had escaped from the Missouri State Penitentiary on April 23, 1967.  Ray was alleged to have fired the fatal shot from a second-floor bathroom window of a rooming house above the rear of Jim’s Grill across the street.  Running to his rented room, Ray allegedly gathered his belongings, including the rifle, in a bedspread-wrapped bundle, rushed out the front door onto the adjoining street, and in a panic dropped the bundle in the doorway of the Canipe Amusement Company a few doors down.  He was then said to have jumped into his white Mustang and driven to Atlanta where he abandoned the car.  From there he fled to Canada and then to England where he was eventually arrested at Heathrow Airport on June 8, 1968 and extradited to the U.S.  The state claims that the money Ray needed to purchase the car and for all his travel was secured through various robberies and a bank heist. Ray’s alleged motive was racism and that he was a bitter and dangerous loner.

When Ray, under extraordinary pressure, coercion, and a payoff from his lawyer to take a plea, pleaded guilty (only a few days later to request a trial that was denied) and was sentenced to 99 years in prison, the case seemed to be closed, and was dismissed from public consciousness.  Another hate-filled lone assassin, shades of Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan, had committed a despicable deed.

In the years leading up to Pepper’s 1978 involvement, only a few lonely voices expressed doubts about the government’s case – Harold Weisberg in 1971 and Mark Lane and Dick Gregory in 1977.  The rest of the country put themselves and the case to sleep.  They are still sleeping, but Pepper is trying with this last book to wake them up.  Meanwhile, the disinformation specialists continue with their lies.

While a review is not the place to go into every detail of Pepper’s rebuttal of the government’s shabby claims, let me say at the outset that he emphatically does so, and adds in the process some tentative claims of which he is not certain but which, if true, are stunning.

As with the assassinations of President Kennedy and his brother, Robert (two months after MLK), all evidence points to the construction of patsies to take the blame for government executions.  Ray, Oswald, and Sirhan all bear striking resemblances in the ways they were chosen and moved as pawns over long periods of time into positions where their only reactions could be stunned surprise when they were accused of the murders.

It took Pepper many years to piece together the essential truths, once he and Abernathy interviewed Ray in prison in 1978.  The first giveaway that something was seriously amiss came with the 1979 House Select Committee on Assassinations’ report on the King assassination.  Led by Robert Blakey, suspect in his conduct of the other assassination inquiries, who had replaced Richard Sprague, who was deemed to be too independent, “this multi-million dollar investigation ignored or denied all evidence that raised the possibility that James Earl Ray was innocent,” and that government forces might be involved.  Pepper lists over twenty such omissions that rival the absurdities of the magical thinking of the Warren Commission. The HSCA report became the template “for all subsequent disinformation in print and visual examinations of this case” for the past thirty-seven years.

Pepper’s decades-long investigation, not only refutes the government’s case against James Earl Ray, but definitively proves that King was killed by a government conspiracy led by the FBI, Army Intelligence, and Memphis Police, assisted by southern Mafia figures. He is right to assert that “we have probably acquired more detailed knowledge about this political assassination than we have ever had about any previous historical event.”  This makes the silence around this case even more shocking.  This shock is accentuated when one is reminded (or told for the first time) that in 1999 a Memphis jury, after a thirty day trial and over seventy witnesses, found the U.S. government guilty in the killing of MLK.  The King family had brought the suit and William Pepper represented them.  They were grateful that the truth was confirmed, but saddened by the way the findings were buried once again by a media in cahoots with the government.

The civil trial was the King family’s last resort to get a public hearing to disclose the truth of the assassination.  They and Pepper knew that Ray was an innocent pawn, but Ray had died in prison in 1998 after trying for thirty years to get a trial and prove his innocence (shades of Sirhan Sirhan who still languishes in prison).  During all those years, Ray had maintained that he had been manipulated by a shadowy figure named Raul, who supplied him with money and his white Mustang and coordinated all his complicated travels, including having him buy a rifle and come to Jim’s Grill and the boarding house on the day of the assassination.  The government has always denied that Raul existed.

Blocked at every turn by the authorities and unable to get Ray a trial, Pepper arranged an unscripted, mock TV trial that aired on April 4, 1993, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the assassination.  Jurors were selected from a pool of U.S. citizens, a former U.S. Attorney and a federal judge served as prosecutor and judge, with Pepper serving as defense attorney.  He presented extensive evidence clearly showing that authorities had withdrawn all security for King; that the state’s chief witness was falling down drunk; that the alleged bathroom sniper’s nest was empty right before the shot was fired; that three eyewitnesses, including the NY Times Earl Caldwell, said that the shot came from the bushes behind the rooming house; and that two eyewitnesses saw Ray drive away in his white Mustang before the shooting, etc.  The prosecution’s feeble case was rejected by the jury that found Ray not guilty.

As with all Pepper’s work on the case (including book reviews), the mainstream media responded with silence.  And though this was only a TV trial, increasing evidence emerged that the owner of Jim’s Grill, Loyd Jowers, was deeply involved in the assassination.  Pepper dug deeper, and on December 16, 1993, Loyd Jowers appeared on ABC’s Primetime Live that aired nationwide.  Pepper writes, “Loyd Jowers cleared James Earl Ray, saying that he did not shoot MLK but that he, Jowers, had hired a shooter after he was approached by Memphis produce man Frank Liberto and paid $1,000,000 to facilitate the assassination.  He also said that he had been visited by a man names Raul who delivered a rifle and asked him to hold it until arrangements were finalized …. The morning after the Primetime Live broadcast there was no coverage of the previous night’s program, not even on ABC …. Here was a confession, on prime time television, to involvement in one of the most heinous crimes in the history of the Republic, and virtually no American mass-media coverage.”

In the twenty-five years since that confession, Pepper has worked tirelessly on the case and has uncovered a plethora of additional evidence that refutes the government’s claims and indicts it and the media for a continuing cover-up.  The evidence he has gathered, detailed and documented in The Plot to Kill King, proves that Martin Luther King was killed by a conspiracy masterminded by the U.S. government.  Much of his evidence was presented at the 1999 trial, while other was subsequently discovered.  Since the names and details involved make clear that, as with the murders of JFK and RFK, the conspiracy was very sophisticated with many moving parts organized at the highest level, I will just highlight a few of his findings in what follows.  A reader should read the book to understand the full scope of the plot, its execution, and the cover-up.

  • Pepper refutes the government account and proves, through multiple witnesses, telephonic, and photographic evidence, that Raul existed; that his full name is Raul Coelho; and that he was James Earl Ray’s intelligence handler, who provided him with money and instructions from their first meeting in the Neptune Bar in Montreal, where Ray had fled in 1967 after his prison escape, until the day of the assassination. It was Raul who instructed Ray to return to the U.S. (an act that makes no sense for an escaped prisoner who had fled the country), gave him money for the white Mustang, helped him attain travel documents, and moved him around the country like a pawn on a chess board. The parallels to Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan are startling.
  • He presents the case of Donald Wilson, a former FBI agent working out of the Atlanta office in 1968, who went with a senior colleague to check out an abandoned white Mustang with Alabama plates (Ray’s car, to which Raul had a set of keys) and opened the passenger door to find that an envelope and some papers fell out onto the ground. Thinking he may have disturbed a crime scene, the nervous Wilson pocketed them.  Later, when he read them, their explosive content intuitively told him that if he gave them to his superiors they would be destroyed.  One piece was a torn out page from a 1963 Dallas telephone directory with the name Raul written at the top, and the letter “J” with a Dallas telephone number for a club run by Jack Ruby, Oswald’s killer. The page was for the letter H and had numerous phone numbers for H. L. Hunt, Dallas oil billionaire and a friend of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.  Both men hated MLK. The second sheet contained Raul’s name and a list of names and sums and dates for payment.  On the third sheet was written the telephone number and extension for the Atlanta FBI office. (Read Jim Douglass’s important interview with Donald Wilson in The Assassinations, p.479-491.)
  • Pepper interviewed four other witnesses who confirmed that they had seen Raul with Jack Ruby in Dallas in 1963 and that they were associated.
  • Pepper shows that the alias Ray was given and used from July 1967 until April 4, 1968 – Eric Galt – was the name of a Toronto operative of U.S. Army Intelligence, Eric St. Vincent Galt, who worked for Union Carbide with Top Secret clearance. The warehouse at the Canadian Union Carbide Plant in Toronto that Galt supervised “housed a top secret munitions project funded jointly by the CIA, the U.S. Naval Surface Weapons Center, and the Army Electronics Research and Development Command …. In August 1967, Galt met with Major Robert M. Collins, a top aide to the head of the 902nd Military Intelligence Group (MIG) Colonel John Downie.”  Downie selected four members for an Alpha 184 Sniper Unit that was sent to Memphis to back up the primary assassin of MLK.  Meanwhile, Ray, set up as the patsy, was able to move about freely since he was protected by the pseudonymous NSA clearance for Eric Galt.
  • To refute the government’s claim that Ray and his brother robbed the Alton, Illinois Bank to finance his travels and car purchase (therefore no Raul existed), Pepper “called the sheriff in Alton and the president of the bank; they gave the same statement. The Ray brothers had nothing to do with the robbery.  No one from the HSCA, the FBI, or The New York Times had sought their opinion.”  CNN later reiterated the media falsehood that became part of the official false story.
  • Pepper proves that the fatal shot came from the bushes behind Jim’s Grill and the rooming house, not from the bathroom window. He presents overwhelming evidence for this, showing that the government’s claim, based on the testimony on a severely drunk Charlie Stephens, was absurd.  His evidence includes the testimony of numerous eyewitnesses and that of Loyd Jowers, the owner of Jim’s Grill, who said he took the rifle from the shooter in the bushes and brought it into the bar where he hid it.  Thus, Ray was not the assassin.
  • He presents conclusive evidence that the bushes were cut down the morning after the assassination in an attempt to corrupt the crime scene. The order to do so came from Memphis Police Department Inspector Sam Evans to Maynard Stiles, a senior administrator of the Memphis Department of Public Works.
  • He shows how King’s room was moved from a safe interior room, 201, to balcony room, 306, on the upper floor; how King was conveniently positioned alone on the balcony by members of his own entourage for the easy mortal head shot from the bushes across the street. (Many people only remember the iconic photograph taken after-the-fact with Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, et al., standing over the fallen King and pointing across the street.)  Pepper implicates that Reverends Billy Kyles, Jesse Jackson, and, to a lesser extent, Ralph Abernathy were involved in these machinations.  He uncovers of the role of black military intelligence agent Marrell McCollough, attached to the 111th MIG, within the entourage.  McCollough can be seen kneeling over the fallen King, checking to see if he’s dead.
  • Pepper confirms that all of this, including the assassin in the bushes, was dutifully photographed by Army Intelligence agents situated on the nearby Fire House roof.
  • He presents evidence that all security for Dr. King was withdrawn from the area by the Memphis Police Department, including a special security unit of black officers, and four tactical police units. A black detective at the nearby fire station, Ed Redditt, was withdrawn from his post on the afternoon of April 4th, allegedly because of a death threat against him.  And the only two black firemen at Fire Station No.2 were transferred to another station.
  • He names and confirms the presence of Alpha 184 snipers at locations high above the Lorraine Motel balcony.
  • He explains the use of two white mustangs in the operation to frame Ray.
  • He proves that Ray had driven off before the shooting; that Loyd Jowers took the rifle from the shooter who was in the bushes; that the Memphis police were working in close collaboration with the FBI, Army Intelligence, and the “Dixie Mafia,” particularly local produce dealer Frank Liberto and his New Orleans associate Carlos Marcello; and that every aspect of the government’s case was filled with holes that any person familiar with the details and possessing elementary logical abilities could refute.
  • So importantly, Pepper shows how the mainstream media and government flacks have spent years covering up the truth of MLK’s murder through lies and disinformation, just as they have done with the Kennedy and Malcom X assassinations that are of a piece with this one.

But since this is a book review and not a book, I will stop listing Pepper’s very detailed and convincing findings.  While he may not have answered every aspect of the case, and may be mistaken in some small details, he has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt the basic fact that James Earl Ray did not kill Martin Luther King, but that this great and dangerous leader was killed by a conspiracy organized at the highest levels of government.

The Plot to Kill King will mesmerize any reader seeking the truth about MLK’s assassination. Even when Pepper, towards the end of the book, offers circumstantial and non-corroborated testimony from witnesses Ronnie Lee Adkins and Johnton Shelby, the reader can’t help but be intrigued and to consider their stories highly plausible given all that Pepper has proven. Adkins claims that his father, a friend of Clyde Tolson, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s deputy, and then he himself, were part of the plot to kill King.  This involved politicians, the FBI, MPD, and mafia, including the aforementioned produce dealer Frank Liberto and others, making payoffs with FBI money to various people, including Jesse Jackson (whom Adkins, Jr. claims was a paid FBI informer) and working closely on the details of the assassination.  Johton Shelby’s story as recounted in his deposition (2014) to Pepper (reproduced, together with Adkins’ (2009), as appendices in the book), is that his mother, who was working as an emergency room aide at St. Joseph’s Hospital when King was brought there, inadvertently witnessed men spitting on Dr. King as he lay in the emergency room and a doctor putting a pillow over his head and suffocating him to death. Pepper tends to accept these accounts, but says he isn’t completely convinced of all aspects of them. The reader is offered plenty of food for thought concerning these claims.

Besides clearly proving the government’s part in killing Martin Luther King, this book is very important for the way Pepper links the case to those of JFK and RFK, who was murdered two months after King. At the center of all these murders is a trinity of men who were devoted to ending the Vietnam War and all wars, restoring economic justice for all Americans, and eliminating racial inequality.  That their goals were the same provides a motive for their murders by forces opposed to these lofty objectives. That their murders clearly involved highly sophisticated operations and cover-ups that could never have been pulled off by “crazed lone assassins” points to powerful forces with those means at their disposal. And when it comes to opportunity, when did the shadowy forces of the deep state ever lack for that?

The ramifications of the MLK assassination profoundly inform our current condition. For anyone who truly cares about peace, love, and justice, The Plot to Kill King is essential reading. William Pepper should be saluted.  He has carried on Martin King’s noble legacy.

  • This is an updated review first published on 28 November 2016 at Global Research.

Nikolas Cruz: So Many Red Lights Ignored

Those who were permitted to act appropriately throughout their childhood – ie with anger – to the pains, wrongs, and denial inflicted upon them . . . will retain this ability to react appropriately in late life too. When someone wounds them as adults, they will be able to recognize and express this verbally. But they will not feel the need to lash out in response. this need arises only for people who must always be on their guard to keep the dam that restrains their feelings from breaking. For if this dam breaks, everything becomes unpredictable . . . [they] will experience occasional outbursts of inexplicable rage . . . or will resort repeatedly to violent behavior such as murder.
— Alice Miller, For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence, November 14, 2002.

There is seldom ever any one single cause for such an outrageous act of violence as a mass murder, especially when aimed at school children. In the case of Nikolas Cruz, as in others, there are multiple complex causations – including both environmental (nurture) and genetic (nature) – that come together, and then often one event that lights the fuse.

Cruz’s public defender described the perpetrator of The Valentine’s Day Massacre as a “deeply disturbed, emotionally broken” young man who is coming to grips with the pain he has caused.

What made Nikolas Cruz go on the murderous rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida killing 17 and injuring 15?  What can we learn to prevent future tragedies?

Timeline of Warning Signs

Cruz has been described by those who know him as “weird,” “troubled,” and a “volatile” teen who threatened and harassed his schoolmates, talked about killing animals, posed with guns in disturbing photos on social media, and bragged about target practice in his backyard with a pellet gun.  An aunt of Cruz reported that as he grew up Nikolas developed emotional issues. He had been doing community service after getting into some sort of trouble.

Cruz had two Instagram accounts featuring weapons and photos. In one picture he is wearing a kerchief over his face and a Make America Great Again hat, and he dons the same cap and gun in a video. According classmates and individuals who knew him, he was actively hostile towards Jews, black people, and Muslims in particular throughout high school.

He was allegedly part of a white supremacist organization called Republic of Florida Militia that self-identifies as a “white civil rights organization” that fights for the “ultimate creation of a white ethnostate.” Nikolas was a member of the ROF and participated in one or more of their “training drills” to prepare for the possibility of an attack by people of color and Jews against white people.

He had been expelled from the same school he launched his attack on for threatening students and, in particular, had threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend in a series of foreboding texts.

It’s been reported that law enforcement was called to Nikolas’ home more than 30 times over the years, that he showed signs of emotional disturbance, and a neighbor claimed he was diagnosed ‘autistic.’ Nikolas allegedly testified he ‘heard voices’ telling him to execute his horrific plan. It has also been reported that Cruz was prescribed Ritalin for ADHD.

In August 2016, Florida’s child welfare agency investigated Cruz after he cut himself in a video.  “Mr. Cruz was on Snapchat cutting both of his arms,” the Florida DCF abuse hotline was told in. “Mr. Cruz has fresh cuts on both his arms. Mr. Cruz stated he plans to go out and buy a gun.” Yet, they found him stable, according to state records.

The following year, September 2017, still prior to the November 1st death of Cruz’ adoptive mother, the FBI received a tip about Cruz from Ben Bennight, a 36-year-old YouTube video blogger from Mississippi, who noticed an alarming comment on a video he’d posted. “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” read the comment, left by a user with the name Nikolas Cruz. Bennight told CNN he immediately contacted the FBI at the time, in September of 2017, five months before the mass shooting.

Bennight emailed a screenshot of the comment to what he thought was an FBI tip line, but the email address was invalid, he said. Bennight said he followed up with a phone call to the FBI. The comment on YouTube has since been removed.

According to Bennight, agents from the FBI’s field office in Mississippi contacted him and came to his office to conduct an in-person interview the next morning. CNN reported that Bennight told the agents he didn’t know anything about the user.

Nikolas and his brother were left in the care of a family friend after their mother died. His brother, Zachery, stayed but around Thanksgiving Nikolas Cruz asked to move in with a friend’s family in northwest Broward County.

Then on January 5th, just five weeks before the fatal shooting, a second tip was received by the FBI. A caller provided information about “Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.” The information should have been assessed as a “potential threat to life,” the bureau said.

But the bureau did not appropriately follow established protocols. The tip should have been forwarded to the Miami field office and investigated. But that didn’t happen, the FBI said in a statement: “Protocols were not followed.” The Miami field office did not receive the tip, and “no further investigation was conducted at this time.”

Winnie Dabroski Cabelus raises some issues for discussion:

One of the questions we should all be asking is how was he not captured by his school district’s obligation to ‘child find’ ‘at-risk’ kids?  He should have been evaluated and recognized as having needs due to his acting out behaviors, and in an emotional support program and supported instead of eventually expelled for his many increasingly strange and concerning behaviors. Does your school district have an emotional support program in place for students? We need to demand they exist to support and protect ALL of our students.

We stink at addressing mental health in this country. Many mental health issues can be averted with early intervention before monsters are created. I strongly feel our society did this to Nikolas by ignoring the signs, by failing to provide adequate supports to his family and him. The system also failed the 17 children who perished on Valentine’s Day. More will perish if we don’t do more to ‘child find’ and do something about guns.

Guns, Gun Safety, and Assault Weapons

The outcry is growing. In Florida and in Washington DC,  students are protesting.

Mental illness exists worldwide. So why is it these mass murders and school shootings are only being seen – in these enormous numbers – in the USA?  One need only to look as far as Australia to know why. In 1996, Australia enacted strict gun laws and hasn’t had a mass shooting since.

Is it our constitution with its “right to bear arms” provision or are the reported kickbacks to legislators from the National Rifle Association (NRA) the real root of the problem?  What about our constitutional right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in movie theaters and in schools?

Do we lock down schools like prison fortresses and arm teachers? Is that really the answer?

The argument that guns protect us from violence falls flat in the face of statistical comparisons to other nations. According to CBS News:

Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than people in other developed countries, a new study finds.

Compared to 22 other high-income nations, the United States’ gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher. And, even though the United States’ suicide rate is similar to other countries, the nation’s gun-related suicide rate is eight times higher than other high-income countries, researchers said.

The study was published online February 1 in The American Journal of Medicine.

Overall, our results show that the U.S., which has the most firearms per capita in the world, suffers disproportionately from firearms compared with other high-income countries,” said study author Erin Grinshteyn, an assistant professor at the School of Community Health Science at the University of Nevada-Reno. ‘These results are consistent with the hypothesis that our firearms are killing us rather than protecting us,’ she said in a journal news release.

These are questions that are being debated and solutions demanded.

Among the many facets of this gun violence issue in America, the current case raises yet another.

Adopted and then Orphaned

There has been speculation that 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz might have been born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FASD). But, as with most adoptions, we really don’t know what genetic medical history may have been a contributing aspect. Nor do we know if the two brothers were voluntarily placed by their original family or removed by the state for allegations of abuse or neglect.

All that is known thus far is that both Nikolas and his brother Zachery, 2 years younger, were adopted together by an elderly couple, Lynda and Roger Cruz.

Was it a “wonderful, idea” as neighbors told the Sun-Sentinel for “two older people to have two little boys to look after”?

Is the purpose of adoption to bring joy to adopters – as one might take up golfing upon retirement or purchase an aquarium – or is the purpose of adoption to help children in need be placed with families who can be there for them?

Roger Cruz, died of a heart attack when Nikolas was only six, leaving Lynda to raise the two boys alone. Lynda died of pneumonia at 68.

Zachary, who is turning 18, was removed from the home he had gone to in the days after the shootings and taken to a mental health facility for treatment under the Baker Act, which allows minors to be held for up to 12 hours.  It’s unclear if he has been released.

Is Adoption an Issue or Not?

The adoption community is of mixed feelings about the extent to which adoption should be mentioned as a contributing factor. Adoptive parents object to Cruz’s mother being labeled anything but his mother, while adoptees such as one who identifies as “One Black Girl,” express concern that reporting a shooter’s adoptive status casts a negative light on all adoptees.

Katherine S. Newman writes:

When a premeditated massacre occurs – such as the terrifying carnage in Las Vegas or the heartbreaking murders in the Sandy Hook elementary school – journalists, politicians and millions of ordinary people turn their attention to the families that raised the killers, the siblings that shared their childhoods, and the wives or girlfriends who lived with them.

Adoptive mom, Sarah Mouracade, was so incensed she claimed in vast exaggeration that adoptees are “only” seen as superheroes or mass murders, negating all the other stereotypes that go along with being adopted from being “lucky” and “grateful” to be alive and not aborted to being “chosen” and a “gift” to name a few.

Recognizing and reporting adoption as one aspect of a perpetrator’s life casts no dispersions on anyone else who also happens to be adopted. It is a fact just as that all school shooters (except for one) were boys between the ages of 17 and 48 and white males far outweigh females or those of other race or ethnicity.

Referencing the gender and race of mass murders such as Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, who bombed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, in 1995, killing 168 people and injuring more than 680 – and seeing the trends –  does not casting any dark shadows on all white males or imply that all white men have murderous tendencies, but it does perhaps help us understand what drives some people to deal with their anger or frustrations.

In fact, adoption is not the only cause of feelings of abandonment. Many of the school shooters and mass murderers were fatherless by various causes. For instance:

  • Evan Ramsey, 1997, who shot and killed two people and wounded two others at Bethel Regional High School Alaska was a foster child.
  • Adam Lanza, 2012. Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut, killing 28, was a child of divorce.
  • Stephen Paddock, 2017. Shooting into a crowd of approximately 22,000 concertgoers attending a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip, killing 58 people and injuring 851 more. Paddock’s father, a Las Vegas gunman, was a grifter, a con artist, a bank robber and a jail-breaker who spent years on the F.B.I.’s most-wanted list and absent for much of Stephen’s life

Adoptee “One Black Girl” is quite angry:

…as an adoptee myself—a transracial adoptee, at that, what you will not do is exploit our experiences to get white terrorists off the hook. Cruz’s adoption literally has nothing to do with what he did. I don’t give one, two, three or four f*cks, when he was adopted, who adopted him or where he was adopted, because it doesn’t matter. Yes, adoption has many complications, and many of us adoptees experience mental health issues and trauma, but it does not turn you into a racist mass murderer.  Being Adopted Does Not Turn You Into A Mass Murderer: This isn’t an adoption issue, don’t make it one, “One Black Girl”.

While we cannot and should not place blame for Cruz’s actions on adoption, it is an equally extreme position to declare that it is has “nothing to do” with it.  Why would a thorough evaluation of the mitigating circumstances – with an effort to find solutions –  ignore such a dramatic life-altering legal, social, and psychological event as relinquishment and adoption as an underlying part of this young man’s, or any adoptee’s, life and psyche?

More accurately, it is not the adoption placement, per se, but the initial mother/child separation which is documented to cause trauma – as even recognized by “One Black Girl.”  This trauma is known as a primal wound. Every adoption is the result of a loss and separation that causes feelings of abandonment, identity confusion, and rejection which can weigh heavily on some.  Loss, which too often goes unrecognized and undealt with in adoption, can have a detrimental effect on the lives of adoptees, as Alice Miller describes.

Some of us are better able to withstand life’s difficulties with more resilience than others. The hurts, the feelings of rejection and abandonment that underscore being adopted are well managed by the vast majority of adoptees. For some, however, the trauma combines with other factors (in Cruz’s case other losses such as the breakup with his girlfriend and the death of his adoptive mother which were no doubt triggers of those feelings once again) and light an existing fuse.  We cannot totally negate the harm such early trauma causes, whether one acts out and makes headlines or suffers in silence having difficulty in relationships or other aspects of life or is aware of no ill-effects whatsoever.

David Kirschner, psychologist and author specializing in adoption, is working on an article detailing how almost every school and mass shooter was in treatment prior to and during killing events. Kirschner notes that Cruz was in treatment and prescribed medication for ADHD which in his opinion was a misdiagnosis and that a proper diagnosis of Adopted Child Syndrome (ACS) and meaningful therapy might have helped prevent the tragedy that occurred.

Cabelus, describes her adopted brother as:

…very wounded by adoption, felt he was worthless. Was obsessed with Hitler, swastikas, and firearms. Was also self-destructive. In the end, slept with two illegal firearms under his pillows. Illegal because he had a felony charge for threatening someone with a firearm, the two under his pillow were straw purchases made by my bullied, elderly adoptive mother.

I think in a minority of cases, adoption abandonment, and being asked to accept a new, false identity without knowing the old one, can be the cause of mental illness. My adoptive brother was dead by 47, self-destructive causes.

Based on her experience and that of other adoptees, she disagrees with “One Black Girl,” noting recently on Facebook:

While adoption itself does not turn someone psychopathic, many adoptees struggle with what adoption means and asks them to do: namely become someone else, forget their first families, their origins, and whatever traumas may have put them there to begin with.

I was a teacher in an in-patient mental hospital. At one time, fully 100% of my 10+ students in the high functioning autism wing were adopted. No one seemed to make the correlation, except me: an adoptee, with a self-destructive, abusive, adoptive brother . . . My adoptive brother threatened to shoot me more than once. He threatened to shoot someone else, too, (had a felony charge) and routinely abused my elderly parents. He felt worthless; after all, he was a throw-a-way kid. He took the anger and hurt he felt over his early abandonment out on everyone around him in his family. Perhaps Nikolas felt this way too.

We also need to learn and accept that adoption is not a magic wand that erases or loves away the tragedy upon which it is built.  We owe it to adoptees who are charged with crimes to be honest about the role their relinquishment or termination loss creates. We must face the painful side of adoption as well as the advantages and strive to decrease the vast number of unnecessary mother/child separations to meet a demand instead of promoting it as a win-win.

In the meantime, since we cannot go back and change a shooter’s past, let’s try to remove the one element we can: guns, especially assault rifles.

It has been reported that Cruz stands to inherit as much as $800,000 from his deceased adoptive parents when he turns 22. This could be money the families of the deceased students can seek through civil suit, since it likely will not help his defense.

Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…

Since the FBI never inspected the DNC’s computers first-hand, the only evidence comes from an Irvine, California, cyber-security firm known as CrowdStrike whose chief technical officer, Dmitri Alperovitch, a well-known Putin-phobe, is a fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank that is also vehemently anti-Russian as well as a close Hillary Clinton ally.
— Daniel Lazare, Consortium News

The masses did not mistakenly choose fascism. Rather, there is a more fundamental nonidentity between class consciousness and mass movements. Fascism was not a Falschkauf (mistaken purchase) followed by buyer’s remorse. The people fought for it, fiercely and stubbornly—though this desire for fascism is also a desire for suppression, a “fight for servitude,” if you will, or an “escape from freedom,” as Erich Fromm put it in the title of his 1941 book.
— Ana Teixeira Pinto, E-Flux

This week an angry dead end kid named Nikolas Cruz took his legally purchased AR 15 and walked into a school and opened fire. The FBI knew about Cruz because he had been reported to them. Cruz had been reported to the school, too. But nobody followed up. Cruz himself is one of those unpleasant looking young men that are visibly angry, and who exhibit, even in photographs, a quality of emotional disturbance. But nobody followed up. The FBI is too busy writing narrative fiction about Russia. The FBI is more concerned with constructing terrorist threats and then busting various patsies and making a big show of their success. This same week the US has continued to bomb Yemen alongside Saudi Arabia. This same week Mike Pence stomped around the site of the Winter Olympics and managed to insult most every foreign leader in attendance, but most acutely the hosts of this event. But then Pence is a vulgar rube from the hinterlands of Indiana. A fundamentalist Christian whose knowledge of the world is even smaller than his boss, the President.

The Hill reported….“Approval of the FBI has increased among Democrats and decreased among Republicans since President Trump took office, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.” So, uh, Dems and liberals are fawning over the FBI because, presumably, Mueller is after Satan-in-Chief The Donald, while Republicans are pouting because, presumably, the FBI isn’t dropping the fictitious investigation of Russian collusion. Meanwhile, the FBI, famed for various cluster fucks like Waco and Ruby Ridge, not to mention COINTELPRO and countless undercover surveillances on journalists and dissidents of all kinds, is being embraced by liberal America. (COINTELPRO, as a reminder, attacked the Black Panther party, and among its victims were Fred Hampton, Geronimo Pratt, and Mumia Abu Jamal. And it was J.Edgar Hoover who wrote letters that described Hampton as the ‘new black messiah’ — one that needed to be dealt with). That is your virtuous FBI.

Now part of this is just the desire among liberals for the status quo. At all costs. It is liberals far more than Republicans who want a Norman Rockwell America. The arch conservative wants something closer to gated communities of whiteness and armed privatized security roaming the streets keeping their property safe. It is the liberal Democratic voter who WANTS TO BELIEVE in the goodness of America. Who wants to believe in all that progress in civil rights and gender equality. But both will in the end default to authoritarian political control. They always have.

Joseph Kishore over at WSWS wrote back in 2016 already:

… the Times’ article set the tone for a wave of war-mongering commentary in the American media. Lipton was interviewed on the cable news channels and the Public Broadcasting System’s evening news program. Democratic Senator Ben Cardin declared on MSNBC that the US had been “attacked by Russia.” He called for an independent commission, citing the bipartisan panel set up after 9/11. CNN commentator Jake Tapper referred to Russia as the “enemy” and openly wondered, in the course of interviewing former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden, whether President-elect Trump was “siding with the enemy.

But most Democrats believe in Russian evil doing. They believe Putin is a tyrant. They WANT TO BELIEVE. Now, the logic of Crowdstrike and all those US security experts on cyber warfare is that only the most sophisticated hackers could have penetrated the protections of the U.S. government, while at the same time only the most unsophisticated cyber hackers, revealing their amateurish clumsiness by leaving a variety of Russian language clues in the meta data, could have done such a thing. It is the same logic that posits Taliban or ISIS commanders, cunning…evil geniuses..who plot the overthrow of western civilization..but who are also simultaneously primitives living in caves. The Russians are also evil geniuses but also primitives.

On one level the U.S. loves the uneducated. America has never trusted intelligence or education. But they have to at the same time be the best. The best at everything. The best killers. The most violent soldiers. Etc. But not the most educated. Trump’s approval ratings climb as he cuts funding to libraries and the arts. Such actions have always been an electoral winner in the USA.

Edward Luce had a cogent piece at Financial Times of all places. He wrote

America’s elites have stored more wealth than they can consume. This creates three problems for everyone else. First, elites invest their surpluses in replicating their advantages. Kids raised in poorer neighbourhoods with mediocre schools stand little chance. Their parents cannot match the social capital of their wealthier peers. The drawbridge is rising. The gap between the self image of meritocratic openness and reality is wide. Psychologists call this “self-discrepancy”. Economists call it barriers to entry.

This is an important observation. He also added:

…Social capital is about knowing what to say to whom and when, which is a sophisticated skill. Technical learning is for others. Children of the elites are learning how to raise money for philanthropic causes. Economists define this as a positional good. Sociologists call it virtue signalling. Mr Trump calls it political correctness.

And finally, Luce points out that the new bourgeoisie (not his word) are suffering from a loss of even the appearance of a meritocracy. Too few jobs for what are now the over-educated (well, over degreed). And Luce concludes with a particularly astute insight. The bourgeoisie are finding they need Trump. Without him there is no distraction. And then he poses the question for these aspiring classes; do they really love the highly educated as they claim? Do they deserve admiration because of their degrees?

And here we touch upon the core issues at work socially in the Trump phenomenon. Trump is easy and even enjoyable to make fun of. He IS a distraction. But Trump also serves a very clear purpose for the 1%. Those who reign above the haute bourgeoisie. For Trump is still implementing the same policies that Hillary Clinton would have. The same wars, by and large. The same military build up. All the right people are still making money. The difference is in Trump’s less important appointments. The difference is Jeff Sessions for one. And the various minor cabinet hacks and flunkies he has installed in positions of limited but not insignificant power. He is normalizing in a way unprecedented, the weaponized ignorance of the Christian right.

And this includes, of course, the open racism and xenophobia on display and perhaps crystalized in Mike Pence’s boorish crassness at the Olympics. Pence suffers no doubts. The new Christians of televangilism never do. These are creationists and believers in the rapture. That they are barking mad has been known for a while now, but never before have they entered the corridors of power. The 1% carry on as before. So does the Pentagon and CIA — though the infilitration of the Christian extremists in the Air Force is well documented. Remember, all Presidents must have prayer breakfasts for fuck sake. They must go to Church. They get a dog, and they put on leather bomber jackets for photo ops. And they have a spiritual advisor. There is a whole laundry list of must do’s. What is different now is that stupidity is being not just normalized but accepted as, perhaps, a virtue. Beevis and Butthead go to Washington. Bill & Ted’s excellent adventure on Capital Hill. How different, really, was George W. Bush? (the newly rehabilitated GWB, in a curious charm make over…but I digress…).

So, no, the aspiring haute bourgeoisie do not REALLY love education. The hard work of studying is for proles. For Asian kids and social climbers and those quota scholarship kids. The idea of learning having some inherent value is now fully gone from the public imagination. Socrates who? He played *soccer* for Brazil, no? Literally nobody reads. I mean book stores are closing en mass. The Gutenberg era is over. I wrote recently on my blog about Hugh Kenner. I used to sneak into his lectures at UCSB in the early 70s. There are no Hugh Kenners anymore. Erudition is to become an obsolete word.

The state of Minnesota is taking Huckleberry Finn off high school reading lists. Harper Lee is being taken off, too. No doubt others will follow. Hurtful. Twain’s epic novel is, apparently, “hurtful”. I am coming, I have to admit, to just not care about who has hurt feelings.

All those social correctives that looked to rid the culture of racist images and language are now appropriated for other purposes. For narcissistic vehicles for anger. For America is as angry a society as the world may have ever seen. All that I see now, the new McCarthyism, the Russophobic propaganda that is swallowed wholesale, and not just swallowed but used as a kind of narcotic — is carried along and draws energy from a deep reservoir of rage. The old Puritan consciousness that wants nothing more than to chastise and shun is alive in the U.S. today. All these hurt feelings are expressions of the narcissistic desire to believe in our own uniqueness and specialness. And such subjective manufacture helps distract from the increasing sadism of American society overall.

The real violence of a system based on inequality is buried. It is obscured. The violence of capital, of wage slavery is mystified. All relations under capitalism are coercive. And when the early Capitalist class collaborated with the Church to burn a few hundred thousand women as witches in the early 1700s, across Europe, they were setting a structural dynamic in motion. The Inquisition and witch burning were not the result of magic, but of the need for scapegoats and for ridding the system of autonomous women and small craftspeople. It set up a class war, essentially, one mediated in that case by a deep hatred of women. And fear. The destruction of various celebrities (mostly) for sexual *misconduct* has already been appropriated by NATO and CAA and even Paul Kagame got in the act (see Emma Watson and the Rwandian war criminal share a dais…all to *help* women in war torn areas, or something. I mean who knows. But its mind numbing how quickly such things are activated). Angelina Jolie, who never saw a country she didn’t want to bomb or quarantine (see marriage and honeymoon in Namibia) is also is out stumping for NATO aggressions under cover of protecting women in war zones. No mention of stopping war zones from being created, of course. MeToo became, as quick as you can write hashtag, a vehicle for the exact opposite of that for which it began. And this was predictable.

Today the system has other scapegoats and other needs than it did during the witch trials in Europe. But the violence of capital is alive throughout the carceral system, alive in black communities where cops operate as anti insurgency soldiers bent on pacification. Fallujah or Baltimore, there is not a lot of difference. And the violence of Nikolas Cruz will cause great oceans of tears and hand wringing. Get rid of guns. Okay, how about those in the hands of cops — or those in the army or marine corps? Those are OK, because they don’t shoot up schools. Well, not *our* schools, anyway. There is a sort of pattern recognition in the public now. Shoot up a school is a certain class of irrational violence. People will posit notions about anti depressants or whatever. And it might have some truth to it. Maybe a lot, but I can guarantee that few will read anything about the beliefs of these *sick* shooters. That they all, like Anders Breivik, adhere to classic fascistic values and ideology. They do not fall out of the sky. They are the product of a vast number of forces, but they also kill not just because they suffer humiliation and are frustrated and emotionally disfigured. Or, rather, that emotional disfigurement creates the fascist sensibility. They do not think it is wrong, what they do. Cruz had a history of aggressive behaviour toward women. He was a member of ROTC and posted constantly on social media with various guns and weapons. Those who knew him said he was obsessed with guns. The chilling photos of cops in SWAT attire arresting a kid who wanted to be just like them. There is a strange closed loop of morbid mimetic activity on display.

The U.S. today creates enemies. It often seems the primary activity of America, the manufacturing of global enemies and threats. Of late it is Putin and Kim Jong Il. But they are only the latest in a long line. U.S. police departments, heavily militarized, and increasingly trained in Israel for counter insurgency, are no longer in the policing business but rather in the soldiering business. They are militia, not peace officers. The dysfunctional extreme for what this produces is Nikolas Cruz. But how far is Cruz from the Florida cop who murdered a begging man, on his knees, on video? How far from George Zimmerman? One suspects those three might enjoy a beer together and share many of the same values. I am always struck when reading about these alleged lone wolf shooters how NOT alone they are. Klaus Thewelit’s seminal work Male Fantasies should be required reading.

But if male-female relations of production under patriarchy are relations of oppression, it is appropriate to understand the sexuality created by, and active within, those relations as a sexuality of the oppressor and the oppressed. If the social nature of such “gender-distinctions” isn’t expressly emphasized, it seems grievously wrong to distinguish these sexualities according to the categories “male” and “female.” The sexuality of the patriarch is less “male” than it is deadly, just as that of the subjected women is not so much “female” as suppressed, devivified.
— Klaus Thewelit

Theweleit didn’t see genocide as the thwarted expression of inhibited sexual energies. His point was rather that the production of gender and sexuality are intimately tied to the content of anti-Semitism and overt racism—both before, during, and after the fall of the Weimar Republic. Fascist sexuality is not so much repressed as it is ideological: it idealizes virility and fertility as political imperatives.
— Ana Teixeira Pinto

The cultural post-modernism of today, at least in the U.S., is technologically sophisticated and socially hyper conservative. The neoliberal system might marginalize white nationalists but they cultivate their symbolism and much of their rhetoric. A Nikolas Cruz desired completion as the captain of capitalist manhood. His failures, his lack of productive labor, his relative poverty, escalated his hatred of those he saw as responsible — and at the head of that list one would guess would be women. But the indoctrination of men like Cruz, or boys, begins earlier. As Theweleit writes: “No man is forced to turn political fascist for reasons of economic devaluation or degradation. His fascism develops much earlier, from his feelings; he is a fascist from the inside.”

The violence of the U.S. military, globally, inflicted on the most defenseless nations and people cannot be separated from cops in Chicago or Baltimore or Los Angeles, nor from Fallujuh and Libya and Syria. I mean, the U.S. has occupied Afghanistan for sixteen years. The U.S. military metaphorically rapes these countries. And it is a kind of re-colonializing. Sylvia Federici called the World Bank and IMF “the new Conquistadors”. Nor can it be separated, finally, from Harvey Weinstein or James Toback. Nor from the lynch mob hysteria that has coopted the entire #metoo* phenomenon.

Nikolas Cruz sensed he was broken, and his longing for restoration was reflected back at him by those men who would later capture him. Kevlar and weaponry, helmeted faceless phallic superbodies. He could only merge with his fantasy through mimetic approximation. Cruz may be seen as insane, but he was not *only* insane.

The anti-Russian propaganda that is spewed out daily by mainstream media is an insidious and destructive force that also cannot really be separated from the tidal swell of violence on the streets and in the institutions of U.S. society. Manufacturing contempt for North Korea or Yemen or Libya is not *only* propaganda. It has consequences to the psyches of the people that must absorb that inculcating assault.

(Go back and read Ben Judah’s bizarre and lurid anti Putin piece at Newsweek,July 2014 — the one with Putin in shades on the cover, his eyes reflecting a burning …we presume…America. Read it now and just try to digest that this is what passes for *real* news as opposed to fake news).

In March of last year Brian Cloughly began an article on this massive anti Russian propaganda this way…

On January 30 NBC News reported that “On a snowy Polish plain dominated by Russian forces for decades, American tanks and troops sent a message to Moscow and demonstrated the firepower of the NATO alliance. Amid concerns that President Donald Trump’s commitment to NATO is wavering, the tanks fired salvos that declared the 28-nation alliance a vital deterrent in a dangerous new world.

One intriguing aspect of this slanted account are the phrases “dominated by Russian forces for decades” and “vital deterrent” which are used by NBC to imply that Russia yearns, for some unspecified reason, to invade Poland. As is common in the Western media there is no justification or evidence to substantiate the suggestion that Russia is hell-bent on domination, and the fact that US troops are far from home, operating along the Russian border, is regarded as normal behaviour on the part of the world’s “indispensable nation”.

This is just one example of out of literally hundreds and hundreds. One could find the same against Maduro and Venezuela and against the DPRK. It hardly needs pointing out that Hollywood produces endless paeans of love for militarism and male destructiveness. Capitalism produces economic inequality and as such cannot exist without political and social oppression. The contradictions of Hollywood’s endless fascist product and its equally endless hand wringing over sexual harassment or gun control should be obvious. The sexual harassment in Hollywood goes back to Shirley Temple. It is built into a system in which all parties are there to monetize themselves. It is also true that men with power must punish those beneath them. They cannot exist without subordinates. What Theweleit wrote of the *soldier male* (his term for the prototype ur fascist) that the most urgent task facing him…“is to pursue, to dam in, and to subdue any force that threatens to transform him back into the horribly disorganized jumble of flesh, hair, skin, bones, intestines, and feelings that calls itself human.” Hollywood produces narratives that make the non human heroic. The first Terminator was a watershed moment in that respect. A film whose message was that an android…no, a ‘killer’ android…made a better parent that the human version.

Propaganda that creates phantom enemies is justified because Trump is now the perfect villain. And as such, is a tool of the ruling class. He is the justification for the abandonment of all notions of integrity and honesty, compassion or honour. One case of harassment I know of included a woman who had signed a non disclosure agreement and took payment of tens of thousands of dollars. She disclosed anyway and was applauded as heroic. It is not heroic to break your word. To take a payoff and then snitch anyway. But punishment is its own justification. Trump’s vulgarity is a kind of pride in ignorance trope. He intentionally chooses to be crude, because that is what his base desires. They may not admit it, those suburban small businessmen and managerial white class — but they do. A sense of shunning the soft and sensitive. Stories about escorts and golden showers only adds to his appeal. Those guys wish they could afford escorts. Trump is the grandson of a whore house owner, after all. He never sold himself as Adlai Stevenson.

So, Mark Twain is hurtful. Libraries are being shuttered across the country. Book stores are closing. The U.S. poverty levels have exceeded those of many developing countries. The compulsive hatred of Putin by many who have almost zero idea about Putin or Russian history is disproportionate to any rational analysis, but not surprising. Trump and Putin are like weird doppelgangers in the liberal imagination.

For the propagandists of the exceptional and indispensable nation the by-product of their creative activities is Nikolas Cruz. Trump shares with the far right parties growing across Europe the open disdain for democracy and free speech. Cruz was wearing a Trump cap in one of his Instagram photos. He wasn’t wearing a Che t-shirt. He wanted to kill antifa. He was not an isolated mentally disturbed killer. He was a fascist killer. He wanted to be made whole and inviolate. The way all fascists want to be whole, but cannot.

Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments

Tagged to the Trump presidency like an insistent limpet, the investigation into Russian interference in the US elections of 2016 provides constant fodder for the unimaginative political animals in the United States. But any diet that remains unvaried is bound to induce illness or nutritional deficiency.  Variety is strength.

US politics, and its political culture, distinctly lacks nutritional health.  Estranged, polarised, and paranoid, it has ceased being a green house of hope and governance.  Little wonder, then, that its politicians see external forces of such character and effect, agents of influence that can alter the destiny of the imperium.  Scant regard is paid to a system so putrescent it had to produce a Trump or conjured up the demonic properties of a Steve Bannon.  Foreign interference remains, not merely a red herring but a fairly insignificant one.

On Friday, thirteen Russians and three Russian entities were charged by special counsel Robert Mueller for conspiring in interfering with “US political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.”  While there was tooting and trumpeting on the media circuit, the more astute were less impressed.  Various intelligence professionals preferred to see the indictments as reflecting “a different level of certainty, confidence and evidence.”

The charges, interestingly enough, omit the issue of hacked Democrat emails (Podesta and the DNC) and computer systems connected with the election itself.  They focus, rather, on such housekeeping matters as fraud and identity theft.

The first count, for instance, alleges a conspiracy by the 16 defendants to defraud the United States with the purpose of “impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful governmental functions of the United States by dishonest means to enable the Defendants to interfere with US political and electoral processes, including the 2016 US presidential election.”

The defendants supposedly interfered with the administration of the Federal Election Campaign Act by the Federal Election Commission touching on political spending by foreign nationals during elections, the Justice Department’s overseeing of the Foreign Agent Registration Act regarding registering foreign agents working within the US on political matters, and the State Department’s visa program for foreign individuals entering the United States.

Then come charges of wire and bank fraud centred on Richard Pinedo, who operated “Auction Essistance”, an online business ostensibly formed to frustrate standard security safeguards of online payment companies.  This, in turn, became the vehicle for purchasing rallies and political ads.

For Andrew Prokop, these “don’t add much to what was already publicly known about exactly how Russians tried to interference with the campaign – and they don’t contain any new allegations about anyone in Trump’s orbit.”

One entity stands out in what must be regarded as the huffing effort of an information war: the kremlobots of the Internet Research Agency, supposedly behind the various rallies, online advertisements and social media agitation.  The St. Petersburg based Agency was allegedly charged with a strategy favouring Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein.  Hillary Clinton and Republican contenders such as Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, were subjects of denigration.

Such a strategy, however, would not be etched in stone.  The theme of chaos was central.  Trump may well have been favoured, but that hardly prevented the staging of both pro-Trump and anti-Trump rallies in various parts of the country, including New York City.  Dysfunction and disorientation, in other words, was exploited.

The genius of the Agency lies in the art of the masquerade, turning the Internet into a medium of dancing stories, narratives and fictions.  Fake US personas were supposedly created; identities were stolen to open PayPal and bank accounts.  This was politics as theatre.

What is easier to ignore in this fuss is that material, to generate any momentum, must have some pre-existing inspiration.  The US political classes are continuing that now established tradition of treating those who vote them in as mugs, fools easily swayed by the next hoax or the next marketable story.  This hardly charitable attitude means that changes can be avoided and electoral dissatisfaction ignored. Thank god for the Kremlin.

The nature of the indictment will be exactly what Democrats, in particular, want to hear.  Trump is partly right in claiming this to be a “phony excuse for losing the election”, though detractors will naturally remove the first word of that observation.  Mueller is certainly convinced that he can make these charges stick.

In of itself, these actions, including the social media campaigns and advertising, were matters of minor significance, even if they did simulate the idea of grand chaos.  To suggest that they somehow tipped the balance is self-comfortingly delusional.  What these indictments may well inadvertently show is that such Russian operations were a form of revenge for US meddling, notably in Ukraine in 2014. The target of that meddling was the pro-Russian leader, Viktor Yanukovych.

Then comes the actual effect of such indictments, which even hard-nosed analysts admit will be minimal.  As the staff at Lawfare (February 16) concede, “None of the defendants indicted Friday for their alleged influence operation against the US political system is likely to ever see the inside of an American courtroom.  None is in custody.  None is likely to surrender to US authorities.  And Vladimir Putin will probably not race to extradite them.”  The illusion of busy fury can be all powerful.

Will The Conspiracy Against Trump and American Democracy Go Unpunished?

In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.

— Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

The American people do not realize the seriousness of the Russiagate conspiracy against them and President Trump. Polls indicate that a large majority of the public do not believe that Trump conspired with Putin to steal the presidential election, and are tired of hearing the media prostitutes repeat the absurd story day after day. On its face the story makes no sense whatsoever. Moreover, the leaked emails are real, not fabricated. The emails show exactly what Hillary and the DNC did. The public knows that these transgressions were pushed out of news sight by the false story of a Trump/Putin conspiracy. The fact that the entirety of the US print and TV media served in a highly partisan political way to bury a true and disturbing story with a fake news story—Russiagate—is one reason some polls show that only 6% of Americans trust the mainstream media. All polls show that large majorities of independents, Republicans, and youth distrust the mainstream media. In some polls about half of Democrats trust the media, and that is because the media is servant to Democratic Party interests.

Russiagate is a dagger aimed at the heart of American governmental institutions. A conspiracy involving top officials of the Obama Department of Justice, FBI, and other “security” agencies was formed together with Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, the purpose of which was to defeat Trump in the presidential election and, failing that, to remove Trump from office or to discredit him to the point that he would be reduced to a mere figurehead. This conspiracy has the full backing entirely of the mainstream media.

In other words, it was a coup not only against Donald Trump but also against American democracy and the outcome of a presidential election.

There is no doubt whatsoever about this. The facts are publicly available in the declassified Top Secret Memorandum Opinion and Order of the FISA Court—and in the declassified report from the House Intelligence Committee—given by the presstitutes the misleading name of the “Nunes Memo,” as if it is Nunes’ personal opinion and not the findings of months of work by an oversight committee of Congress.

All of this information has been posted on my website for some time. If you have difficulty following my explanation, former US Attorney Joe DiGenova explains the felony actions by the FBI and Obama Justice (sic) Department here.

Briefly, the National Security Agency discovered that the FBI and DOJ were abusing the surveillance system. As a favor of one security agency to another, NSA Director Adm. Rogers permitted the FBI and DOJ to rush to the FISA Court and confess their transgressions before the NSA informed the Court. The FBI and DOJ pretended that their deception of the Court in order to obtain surveillance warrants for highly partisan political purposes was not due to their intent but to procedural mistakes. The FBI and DOJ told the Court that they were tightening up procedures so that this would not happen again. The FISA Court Memorandum and Order clearly states:

On October 24, 2016, the government orally apprised the Court of significant non-compliance with the NSA’s minimization procedures involving queries of data acquired under Section 702 using U.S. person identifiers. The full scope of non-compliant querying practices had not been previously disclosed to the Court.

What this legalese jargon is saying is the the FBI and DOJ confessed to obtaining warrants under false pretexts. These are felonies.

The FISA Court Memorandum and Order is about resolving these deficiencies and returning the FBI and DOJ to legal practices. For example, the Court Memorandum and Order says:

On January 3, 2017, the government made a further submission describing its efforts to ascertain the scope and causes of those compliance problems and discussing potential solutions to them. See January 3, 2017, Supplemental Notice of Compliance Incidents Regarding the Querying of Section 701-Acquired Data (“January 3, 2017 Notice”). The Court was not satisfied that the government had sufficiently ascertained the scope of the compliance problems or developed and implemented adequate solutions for them and communicated a number of questions and concerns to the government.

In other words, the FBI and DOJ were attempting to make corrections to their “compliance problems” in ways that would allow them to continue to mislead the FISA Court, and the Court wasn’t letting them.

The FISA Court Memorandum and Order was released prior to the House Intelligence Committee report and has been completely ignored by the utterly corrupt press prostitutes. The FISA Court Memorandum and Order, relying on the confessions of the FBI and DOJ, verifies the House Intelligence Committee report that the FBI and DOJ illegally obtained spy warrants for partisan political purposes.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat who is a disgrace to the voters of his California district, to the Democratic Party, and to the House of Representatives, knows full well that the FBI and DOJ deceived the FISA Court. Schiff is so partisan that he lies to the hilt in the face of hard documented evidence from both the FISA Court and his own House committee. Schiff is so totally devoid of all honesty and integrity that he is the perfect leader for a shithole country, something that he and his ilk are turning the United States into.

The honest left—not the Identity Politics left, which is a collection of deranged idiots—does not believe a word of the concocted Russiagate conspiracy against Trump. They object to the Russiagate conspiracy not because they like Trump, which they most certainly do not, but because they understand that it is a lie directed against truth. They understand that the American mainstream media has deserted factual, truthful reporting and serves as a propaganda ministry for the war/police state that American is becoming.

For example, Eric Zuesse holds The Atlantic and its presstitute writer, David A. Graham, to account for lying about the House Intelligence Report.

Andre Damon writes on the World Socialist Web Site:

The Democratic Party was thrown into disarray Friday after the publication of a classified memo exposing as a factionally-motivated witch hunt the investigation by leading intelligence agencies into the Trump administration’s alleged collusion with Russia. . . . The release of the memo once again underscores the fact that the US intelligence agencies have massively intervened in US politics.

The real left, as opposed to the fake left, understands that the people have no chance when the highest officials of the Department of Justice and the security agencies join in a conspiracy against a democratic outcome. When the justice and police authorities have no respect for the truth, as the Russiagate conspiracy proves, the people are doomed. If the FBI-DOJ-DNC-presstitute conspiracy goes unpunished, The Lie will have prevailed over The Truth and all of us will be endangered.

The important question before us is: will the treasonous criminals in the FBI, DOJ, and DNC be indicted and held responsible? Or do high government officials get a pass as do the police who rob and murder citizens and never face justice for their crimes?

From the sound of things, it looks like they will get a pass. Rep. Nunes felt compelled to say on TV how much he likes Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is a party to the deception of the FISA Court. President Trump says he will not fire the conspirator against him, Robert Mueller, even though both Trump and Mueller know that the Russiagate investigation headed by Mueller is a concocted conspiracy against American democracy and the President of the United States. It seems that high government officials, like state and local police and executives of “banks too big to fail,” are above the law.

What about the FISA Court, readers ask, why did the FISA Court let the FBI and DOJ get away with their illegal acquisition of spy warrants? Once the Court knew about it, the Court did not let them get away with it, as the Memorandum and Order makes clear. The FISA Court does not have prosecutorial power to indict and bring a case against the FBI and DOJ criminals. That has to be done by the DOJ, and the DOJ is not going to indict itself.

Former US Attorney Joe DiGenova believes that continuing investigations will result in high officials being indicted, convicted, and sent to prison. If the US is to have any future as a country in which government is accountable to law, it is essential that DiGenova be correct. However, I will believe it when I see it.