Honduran military police on patrol in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. (Photo: Karen Spring)
The 1980s saw widespread political violence and countless forced disappearances in many countries in Latin America, and Honduras was no exception.
Hundreds of political opponents of the 1980s U.S.-backed regime were kidnapped, tortured, and assassinated by the CIA-trained secret army unit Battalion 316, while at the same time Honduras served as a military base and training ground for U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in the region, especially in neighboring El Salvador and Nicaragua.
With the Reagan Administration turning a blind eye to the brutality of Battalion 316, intentionally downplaying or denying its violence in order to continue backing Honduras financially and using the country as a key U.S. military outpost, the details of this death squad’s operations did not become clear until years later. A historic expose published in the Baltimore Sun in 1995, which included interviews with ex-Battalion 316 torturers and details from declassified U.S. government documents, revealed the full extent of the secret unit’s atrocities and its close links to Washington.
However, torture and disappearances aren’t just a tragic reality of the past in Honduras. Human rights defenders have drawn disturbing parallels between Battalion 316 and the present day situation in Honduras, saying the current level of human rights abuses and political repression is just as bad, if not worse than the era of forced disappearances in the 1980s.
In the wake of the 2009 U.S.-backed coup ousting democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya, forced disappearance, torture, and targeted assassinations re-emerged as state terror tactics to intimidate and repress a broad-based resistance. Conspicuous and even conscious links to 1980s tactics since the 2009 coup, as well as ongoing U.S. complicity, show a continuity of state sponsored terror, with new elements for the post-coup context.
Cold War Anti-Communism, Battalion 316, and Spreading Terror with U.S. Support
As U.S. President Ronald Reagan took office in January 1980, the Sandinista revolutionary government was in power in Nicaragua and revolutionary forces were struggling for political control in El Salvador. Honduras was undergoing its so-called transition to democracy with a return to civilian rule. The U.S., already supporting the Guatemalan military’s bloody counterinsurgency efforts for over a decade, played a key role in backing the counter-revolutionary factions of the political struggles gripping the region in civil war, namely Salvadoran government forces and the Nicaraguan Contras.
While Honduras did not have a mass revolutionary guerrilla movement like its neighboring Central American countries, political opposition was criminalized to contain the threat of an armed, popular uprising. Much of this violent work was carried out through forced disappearances by the death squad Battalion 316, the special unit of the Honduran military responsible for political torture and assassinations, with the collaboration of other military branches, special forces, and police.
According to the Honduran human rights organization COFADEH, formed in the 1980s by family members of the disappeared, Battalion 316 was responsible over 180 forced disappearances between 1980 and 1988, and many more were kidnapped and tortured.
Forced disappearance refers to the practice of secretly abducting and murdering victims, making them disappear from society without a trace. Bodies of the disappeared are often carefully hidden, or rendered unrecognizable, to instil fear without the identity of the victim or the perpetrator becoming known..
Battalion 316’s terror was simultaneously covert and public, carried out by disguised agents at times in broad daylight, intended to instill fear and make an example of their victims. Suspected political dissidents were kidnapped, detained in secret jails, and tortured. Sometimes remains of victims were found in ditches. According to the Baltimore Sun expose, torture techniques included electric shock, suffocation, freezing temperatures, and psychological torture as part of interrogation, which sometimes involved CIA agents. Berta Oliva, director of the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), has said that at least one prisoner was skinned alive in a clandestine Battalion 316 jail.
While the numbers of people disappeared in Honduras was considerably less than in many other Latin American countries during the same period, the hundreds killed and disappeared created a broader fear and terror campaign that had the intended outcome of disempowering the Honduran left.
According to Adrienne Pine, Professor of Anthropology at American University, it’s hard to overstate Battalion 316’s impact.
“The highly publicized disappearance, torture and murder of just under 200 activists, students, journalists and professors in the early 1980s created an atmosphere of terror, effectively crushing any possibility for civic or democratic engagement in Honduras,” she told teleSUR. “As such, it laid the groundwork for the implementation of U.S.-led neoliberal economic policies, of which the Honduran military itself was a primary beneficiary.”
Battalion 316, led in its most brutal years from 1982-1984 by School of the Americas and Argentine-trained head of the Honduran armed forces General Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, was a right-wing project designed to aid the Cold War fight against the alleged threat of communism in the region. Many Battalion agents were graduates of the U.S. School of the Americas (renamed in 2001 to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) military training center for U.S. allies in Latin America, specializing in Cold War counterinsurgency training. The Battalion itself was trained and financed by the CIA. Meanwhile, Honduras received tens of millions of dollars in U.S. funding throughout the decade, reaching its height of US$77.4 million in 1984.
The secret military unit also received training in Chile under dictator General Augusto Pinochet, as well as from Argentine counterinsurgency forces, at the time deep in their own dirty war against leftist dissidents that claimed some 30,000 victims in Argentina by early the 1980s.
U.S. Ambassador under the Reagan Administration, John Negroponte, is documented to have met frequently with Battalion 316 leader Alvarez Martinez. However, the violence and human rights abuses perpetrated by Alvarez Martinez’s forces are conspicuously absent from the hundreds of cables of records of their correspondence. In 1983, the U.S. awarded Alvarez Martinez the Legion of Merit for “encouraging the success of democratic processes in Honduras,” exposing the true face of U.S. hypocrisy.
U.S. denial of the violent situation in Honduras enabled the ongoing use of the country as a strategic U.S. military base from which to execute counterinsurgency strategy in the region, while the supposed threat of an armed insurgency in Honduras justified the existence of Battalion 316 and its terror.
State Terror Returns: Post-Coup Fear Tactics and Forced Disappearances
After the 2009 military coup against democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya, the ousted president said in an exclusive interview with Democracy Now! that Battalion 316 was “already operating” in Honduras under a different name and using “torture to create fear.”
“There was a tremendous resurgence (after the coup) of death squad activity and assassinations of human rights defenders, trade unionists, campesinos, activists of the resistance of all sorts including journalists, lawyers,” Dana Frank, professor of History at the University of California Santa Cruz, told teleSUR. “It was very rare in the 20 years before the coup for these kinds of assassinations to happen … but it shot up dramatically after the coup.”
The post-coup links to Battalion 316 terror were palpable, both in the vast increase in human rights abuses, including torture, assassinations, and forced disappearances, as well as the direct connections of Battalion 316 personnel offering their expertise to the coup regime.
Former head of the Battalion 316, School of the Americas graduate Billy Joya, became a prominent coup regime spokesperson, advisor, and aide to de facto president Roberto Micheletti. According to COFADEH, many other retired Battalion 316 agents also became government advisors.
Pine, author of “Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival in Honduras,” said that the numbers of state-sponsored disappearances, tortures, and extrajudicial killings since the coup have far exceeded those of the 1980s.
With striking similarity to the fear campaign of the 1980s, COFADEH documented in 2010, along with dozens of other death threats and assassinations, that a former Battalion 316 agent publicly threatened resistance activist Candelario Reyes with forced disappearance and death, saying that killing such a “communist dog” would make the “best example” for other resistance activists.
“You can see the continuity with some of these individuals including the references to the 80s that are conscious references,” said Frank. “It’s terror, it’s deliberately spreading terror.”
Harkening back to 1980s terror was a deliberate strategy to instil fear in perceived political threats. In 2012, COFADEH human rights defender Dina Meza received a series of threats of death and sexual violence by text message signed with the initials CAM, standing for Comando Alvarez Martinez, early 1980s head of Battalion 316 responsible for grave human rights abuses. According to Amnesty International, CAM was used as a pseudonym in numerous death threats against journalists and activists in the wake of the coup.
According to Frank, an expert on human rights and U.S. foreign policy in Honduras, the clearest and most alarming examples of post-coup strategies that follow the model of Battalion 316 are the TIGRES special units of the police force and FUSINA inter-agency task forces that bring together military, police, military police, prosecutors, and other government officials under military control.
FUSINA was initially headed by School of the Americas graduate Colonel German Alfaro, former commander of Battalion 15, the military unit in the Aguan Valley region implicated in dozens of post-coup murders of campesino activists. Trained by the FBI, DEA, and U.S. Marines, FUSINA is not only troubling for its conglomeration of agency functions under a military mandate, but also for its U.S.-enhanced intelligence capacities.
COFADEH denounced TIGRES as a “crude resurrection” of Battalion 316’s political disappearances, murder, and “criminal behaviour.”
These new constellations of state and military power, designed and deployed to create fear and contain political dissent, have again had a deep social and political impact in Honduras.
“A combination of the ‘soft power’ of USAID and NED-funded (so-called pro-democracy) programs on the one hand, and death squads within the police, the military, and now the military police have succeeded in destroying the post-coup resistance movement,” explained Pine. “This is what makes possible the neoliberal plunder of the country currently underway.”
A Different Pretext for Familiar Terror Tactics
But while there are clear continuities between the 1980s and post-coup strategies, there are also important differences.
Despite the fact that the armed left was a very small faction in Honduras, particularly in comparison to the revolutionary uprising in neighboring countries, Battalion 316’s violence was committed in the name of counterinsurgency. As Frank explains, the broad based nature of the post-coup popular resistance means that the victims of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances have been from a more diverse cross-section of society than the 1980s campaign against suspected revolutionary leftists.
Now, with the pretext of an alleged communist armed struggle no longer relevant, post-coup repression, including use of these historical counterinsurgency tactics, and U.S.-backing of a violent regime is framed in different terms.
“The pretext now is drug trafficking,” said Frank. “The drug war has been the frame within which the United States government has legitimated support for repression by state security forces in Honduras and increased funding for them.”
And while the U.S. goal of maintaining a regional base of power amidst the threat of emerging or consolidating leftist alternatives remains much the same, the political context in the region has significantly changed.
“The larger context is the many democratically elected center and center-left governments all over Latin America that the United States is threatened by because they aren’t going to pay obeisance to United States power,” said Frank. “The United States wanted to lock down its power in Honduras so that it can maintain what has long been the most captive nation in Latin America.”
In the process, the U.S. also promotes the interests of transnational corporations that are making a killing from state-sponsored death squads that suppress resistance and pave the way for capitalist exploitation of land, labor, and indigenous and campesino resources.
“With the consolidation of neoliberal corporate capital, Honduran and U.S. politicians are more beholden to their sponsors than they were three decades ago,” explained Pine. “Hondurans today suffer not just from the terror of death squads but from the ravages of three decades of the implementation of neoliberal policy made possible by death squads, which makes them that much more vulnerable.”
COFADEH: Seeking Justice, Truth, and Respect for Human Rights
Bertha Oliva, director of COFADEH, lost her husband Tomas Nativi to forced disappearance by Battalion 316. Nativi was taken from their home by masked agents in 1981 and has never been seen again.
Over the year after Nativi’s disappearance, Oliva came to realize that she was not alone, and others had similar experiences of family members being disappeared. In 1982, 12 of these families came together to form COFADEH with the clear objective of bringing back alive family members who had been disappeared. In the majority of cases throughout the 1980s while Battalion 316 was operating, COFADEH did not succeed in their goal.
After the 1980s, COFADEH broadened its scope as an organization not only committed to seeking justice for the families of the disappeared and truth for Honduran society, but also representing and defending victims of human rights abuses, documenting cases, and providing training to raise awareness about human rights.
The creation of COFADEH was, in its own words, a “concrete action” in the face of the inactivity of the state to ensure “the right of victims to live and to have due process, among other rights that have been violated.”
COFADEH has continued to play a key role in documenting and denouncing human rights abuses and demanding justice, particularly once again in the years since the coup.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch says that USA Patriot Act dragnet spy powers must be extended or else the terrorists will get us.
Lynch said Friday the country would be “less safe” if Congress fails to renew surveillance programs included in the Patriot Act.
Lynch joined other top Obama administration officials, who are urging the Senate to pass the USA Freedom Act, which would reform the National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk phone records collection program while renewing other key parts of the post-Sept. 11 law.
“Our biggest fear is that we will lose important eyes on people who have made it clear that their mission is to harm American people here and abroad,” Lynch told CBS News in her first interview since becoming attorney general.
If NSA’s phone metadata program expires completely, Lynch said the U.S. government would lose “important tools” to identify terror threats.
“I think that we run the risk of essentially being less safe,” Lynch added. “I think that we lose the ability to intercept these communications, which have proven very important in cases that we have built in the past. And I am very concerned that the American people will be unprotected if this law expires.”
Lynch didn’t marshal any evidence to support her claims about the connection between dragnet spying and public safety. That’s because there isn’t one. Even the Department of Justice has acknowledged as much, writing in an Inspector General report that FBI agents interviewed couldn’t identify “any major case developments” tied to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the provision the FBI claims enables dragnet spying.
Surveillance boosters have never been able to point to a circumstance—even one example—that proves dragnet surveillance is vital in stopping terrorism. Some insiders in the security state have observed that the bigger the haystack, the more difficult it is to successfully use intelligence information to identify and track threatening people. More information is not better. Better information is better, they say.
Loretta Lynch says she fears that if the Patriot Act isn’t reauthorized, “we will lose important eyes on people who have made it clear that their mission is to harm American people here and abroad.” That’s total nonsense. Anyone who “makes it clear” that they want to kill Americans is someone a judge would authorize targeted surveillance against. The government should leave the rest of us out of it.
Just about every recent terrorist attack on US and European soil has been committed by someone known to law enforcement. That’s true for the Garland, Texas shooter and for Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who blew up the Boston Marathon in April 2013. The government doesn’t need to spy on you and me in order to track people it already suspects of being up to no good.
You might be wondering: If dragnet spying doesn’t stop terrorism, and most terrorists are known to law enforcement, why do the FBI and the new Attorney General insist on renewing the Patriot Act’s worst provisions? It’s an important question, with a depressing answer.
The reason Lynch’s claims about dragnet spying don’t add up is because they are based on a perversion of the true purpose served by society wide surveillance. While the Patriot Act doesn’t stop terrorism, it’s quite good at enabling social and political control, and finding people who are vulnerable and may be easily coerced into becoming FBI informants.
If surveillance boosters were honest about why they want these powers, you might hear them talking less about terrorism and more about power. Add your voice: take action now to tell congress to reject dragnet surveillance.
Before the dust has had a chance to settle on the report detailing the American Psychologists Association’s complicity in the CIA torture program, the psychologist found to have violated the ethics code now appears to be helping the FBI do the same thing.
In late April, a 60-page report entitled ‘All the President’s Psychologists’ pointed to Susan Brandon as the White House architect behind the policies regulating the legality of an interrogator’s actions – something that goes against the APA’s own rulebook, which prohibits psychologists from making such judgments.
The document alleges the APA’s close coordination with the White House, the CIA and the Department of Defense on the formulation of a legal policy that would exempt the interrogators from prosecution, following a scandal involving allegation of torture at Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison. “Susan Brandon … played a central role in the development of the 2005 [Psychological Ethics and National Security] policy,” the report alleges – the second inquiry investigating the medical role in the practice.
“What we see is associations. And the associations with the apparent supervisor of [James] Mitchell and [Bruce] Jessen at each step of the process over a period of three years,” the report said then, in reference to the two masterminds of the CIA torture program, whom Brandon was allegedly in contact with in 2003, as evident from a string of emails.
Brandon’s complete role in the program is at this point unknown, but one particular email she was included on focuses on the pair “doing special things to special people in special places.”
“The issue here is not about what she thinks about torture; the issue is about what she did in the past to knowingly or unknowingly create a legal heat shield for the president using the ethics of the APA. That’s the issue. This is not a question of torture. It’s a question of alleged corruption,” says the report’s co-author and program director at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Nathaniel Raymond, according to the Huffington Post.
Now Brandon is advising the FBI’s High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group – essentially the Obama’s administration continuation of the CIA program regarded as having crossed the line. She is tasked with research into determining whether a crime has been committed in the course of an interrogation.
The FBI has not officially commented on the claims yet. Journalists might not get a reply from Brandon anytime soon, as she’s still an HIG adviser and is not expected to break protocol – the association has a policy of operating in secrecy, according to fellow member Mark Fallon.
The initial reason for the government’s acceptance of the CIA torture program hinged, in part, on the presence of psychologists and their expertise acting as a check, as is evident from a 2005 Justice Department document.
The reason the APA had to be called in was apparently due to the CIA’s own psychologists’ refusal to sign off on the memo, claiming that the proposed assessments simply strayed outside of medical professionals’ competence.
As a result, Brandon’s Psychological Ethics and National Security policy became the document that could be “seen as opening the door for psychologists to fulfil a function that [CIA Office of Medical Services] health professionals were resisting,” according to the report.
Brandon’s own language went in a separate direction from the CIA doctors’, effectively paving the way for a psychologist’s role in judging the harm and effectiveness of an interrogation.
The APA has denied the report’s findings. Its own review of the complicity in the Bush-era program is ongoing.
Brandon’s role as one of the HIG’s top specialists is now under scrutiny, but she has defenders as well. Fallon, for one, has since said that Brandon “is a research scientist who was helping craft language, from what I can read in those emails, that might in fact be totally appropriate.”
“[Was] it a witting collaboration, or is it an unwitting person within the government who’s a research scientist looking to ensure that we’re at least learning lessons? I just could not conceive that she would ever do anything that would support degrading and inhumane treatment,” he added.
21st Century Wire says…
In our story released late last night, we posed this question to our readers:
“Were these supposed ‘dead gunmen’ part of the drill, or were they patsies handled by a counter-terrorism federal ‘informant’?“
We didn’t know it at the time, but it turns out that we were right.
IMAGE: ‘Garland Gunman’ Elton Simpson, adjusting his CCTV camera at his apartment in Phoenix, AZ.
Last night in the Dallas suburb of Garland, Texas, at Pam Geller’s “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest”, two alleged “gunmen” were shot and killed by a Special Ops paramilitary ‘SWAT’ unit hired by the city of Garland to provide security for the controversial event.
It’s now been revealed that “gunman”, Elton Simpson, was already under surveillance by the FBI and was even the subject of a terror investigation. More importantly, we can also confirm Simpson was being handled by an FBI informant. Court papers filed in Arizona name the FBI undercover informant as Mr. Daba Deng, a Kenyan and who, from 2007, was paid $132,000 by the FBI to “become friends with Mr. Simpson”, and who appears to have groomed Simpson through a local mosque, and helped to develop Simpson’s ideas about “jihad”. Deng also helped to catch ‘Islamic convert’ Simpson on tape saying he wanted to travel to Somalia to join the terror orgaization al Shabaab. That recording was made on May 29, 2009, which shows Simpson telling his handler Deng, “It’s time to go to Somalia, brother… we gonna make it to the battlefield… it’s time to roll.” This recording was the basis for Simpson’s later FBI arrest, after which time he was ‘let off’ with 3 years probation.
The official misdirect device for this story can be found in a recent article from the Israeli-owned soft propaganda outlet, Vocativ, whose headline reads, “How Texas Terror Shooter Elton Simpson Avoided Prison In 2011″, which appears to be designed to pollute any inquiry by attempting to rationalize that Elton Simpson had avoided jail because a Judge was too lenient on this potential terrorist, furthering the popular talking point that somehow “the Feds dropped the ball.”
It is unknown exactly how far Deng had led Simpson in relation to yesterday’s attack, or if Simpson was assigned a new handler, but the revelation clearly demonstrates that not only have the FBI been aware of Simpson’s activities and movements for many years, but that the FBI has also had a hand in ‘managing’ Simpson. This fact should cast serious doubts on the official narrative being constructed about the Garland event being carried out by a bonafide and organic “home-gown jihadist” in America.
Authorities in Texas have identified the second “gunman” as Nadir Hamid Soofi (photo, above). It’s claimed that Soofi was Elton Simpson’s roommate and that they both shared an apartment in Phoenix, Arizona, and also attended the same mosque – the Islamic Center of North Phoenix. Is it not safe to assume then, that FBI informant Deng also knew and was interacting with Soofi as well? Does that not bring a whole new dimension to this, as a manufactured series of events?
We’re also meant to believe that just minutes before Simpson and Soofi launched their failed “terror attack”, they both posted Twitter messages and that ISIS Tweeters then joined-in to cheer them on, albeit, virtually.
“At least one of the suspects was already “under surveillance” by French anti-terror authorities, and that his file was “shared with US security officials” as well. If this is indeed the case, then it’s highly improbable that the suspect would have staged his attack so easily. Once again, official admissions practically cancel out the official narrative.”
In addition to similarities to the Hebdo attack, it’s worth pointing out that in every high-profile US ‘terror bust’, the assailants had some connection beforehand to federal authorities. Only days after the media was beginning to close-out their round-the-clock Hebdo coverage, FBI agents concluded the frame-up of 20 year old Christopher Lee Cornell from Cincinnati, Ohio, claiming the youth was planning a “pipe bomb attack” against the nation’s Capitol in Washington DC, and that he was “linked to ISIS”, and that this was somehow an “ISIS-inspired attack”, only no attack actually took place.
The Guardian reported on the scale and scope of this trend in 2014:
“In some cases the FBI may have created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by suggesting the idea of taking terrorist action or encouraging the target to act.”
The list of FBI-related ‘terrorist’ incidents inside the US is a long one. The formula for creating a ‘terror icon’ required a confidential informant to guide and manage the future “suspect” right up to the point of arrest, or in some cases, like the World Trade Center Bombing in 1993, the FBI have even allowed the terrorist incident to take place.
Other high-profile terror icons with informant and patsy stories include the other ‘Paris Shooter’, Amedi Coulibaby (see his compelling patsy-informant case here), ‘Ottawa Shooter’ Zehaf-Bibeau (see his patsy story here), ‘Boston Bomber’ Tamerlan Tsarnaev (see his FBI recruitment story here), ‘The Underwear Bomber’ Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (see his patsy story here), Buford Rogers (read his patsy-informant story here), Jerad Miller (read his patsy-informant story here), Naji Mansour (read his informant story here), Quazi Mohammad Nafis (read his informant story here), Mohamed Osman Mohamud (read his informant story here), ‘OKC Bomber’ Timothy McVeigh (read his informant story here).
In addition to these examples, we could also include last month’s ‘Queens of Brooklyn’ terror plot, Washington Metro bomb plot, the New York City subway bomb plot, as well as the Sears Tower bomb plot in Chicago, and last but certainly not least – the attacks of 9/11… where the alleged hijackers lived with an FBI informant.
Just a few reasons to question the official narrative in Garland, Texas.
READ MORE GARLAND NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Garland Files
Post-Modern Slave Patrols
Black people in America live in a police-state-within-a-state. The African American police state exercises its authority over the Black minority through an oppressive array of modern day lynchings by the police, increasing for-profit mass incarceration and the government sanctioned surveillance and assassination of Black leaders. The African American police state is unquestionably a modern day crime against humanity.
The first modern police forces in America were Slave Patrols and Night Watches, which were both designed to control the behaviors of African Americans.
Historian Victor Kappeler notes that in 1704, the colony of Carolina developed the nation’s first Slave Patrol. Historical literature is clear that prior to the Civil War a legally sanctioned police force existed for the sole purpose of oppressing the slave population and protecting the property and interests of white slave owners. The glaring similarities between the eighteenth century Slave Patrols and modern American police brutality in the Black community are too salient to dismiss or ignore.
America was founded as a slave holding republic and slaves did not take too kindly to being enslaved and they often rebelled, becoming enemy’s of the state. Slave Patrols were created in order to interrogate and persecute Blacks, who were out and about, without any due process or formal investigation. To this day, police do not serve and protect the Black community, they treat Blacks as inherently criminal and sub-human.
Ever since the first police forces were established in America, lynchings have been the linchpin of the African American police state.
The majority of Americans believe that lynchings are an outdated form of racial terrorism, which blighted American society up until the end of the era of Jim Crow laws; however, America’s proclivity towards the unbridled slaughter of African Americans has only worsened over time. The Guardian newspaper recently noted that historians believe that during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century on average two African-Americans were lynched every week.
Compare this with incomplete data compiled by the FBI that shows that a Black person is killed by a white police officer more than twice a week, and it’s clear that police brutality in Black communities is getting worse, not better.
Racial terrorism gave birth to America. It should come as no surprise that the state’s law enforcement agents routinely engage in the terrorism of modern day lynchings.
Traditional lynchings were not preceded by judge, jury or trial and were often for the most trivial of reasons such as talking to a white woman, failing to remove a hat or making a sarcastic grin. Modern day lynchings are also not preceded by due process. Numerous Black children like Tamir Rice have been slaughtered by police for trivialities like playing with a toy gun in public.
Lynching does not necessarily mean hanging. It often included humiliation, torture, burning, dismemberment and castration. A lynching was a quintessential American public ritual that often took place in front of large crowds that sometimes numbered in the thousands. Historian Mark Gado notes that, “onlookers sometimes fired rifles and handguns hundreds of times into the corpse while people cheered and children played during the festivities”.
Sensational American journalism, spared the public no detail no matter how horrible, and in 1899 the Springfield Weekly described a lynching by chronicling how, “the Negro was deprived of his ears, fingers and genital parts of his body. He pleaded pitifully for his life while the mutilation was going on… before the body was cool, it was cut to pieces, the bones crushed into small bits… the Negro’s heart was cut into several pieces, as was also his liver… small pieces of bones went for 25 cents…”. Such graphic accounts were the norm in the South, and photos, were regularly taken of the lynched bodies on display and made into postcards that were sent all over the country.
Nowadays, the broader American public participates in modern day lynchings by sharing videos that go viral of police officers slaying Black men, women and children. By opting not to censor the graphic content of police killing Blacks, today’s videos in the media serve the same purpose as the detailed written accounts of yesteryear by adding to the psychological suffering of the African American. Such viral graphic accounts also desensitize the white community to such an extent that empowers white policemen to do more.
A hallmark of twentieth century fascist police states, such as Italy under Mussolini or Franco’s Spain, is the lack of police accountability for their crimes. In spite of extremely egregious circumstances surrounding all lynchings and many police killings, police are rarely held liable.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee recently issued a report on human rights abuses in the United States which roundly condemned the epidemic of police brutality. It stated: “The Committee is concerned about the still high number of fatal shootings by police which has a disparate impact on African Americans”.
In modern America, the African American police state assassinates the Black victim twice. Once by way of lynching and again to assassinate the victim’s character so as to justify the public execution. All too often a Black victim’s school record, employment status and social media presence are dragged by the media into the court of public opinion, as if any of it has any bearing on whether an agent of the state has the right to lynch a Black U.S. citizen.
Arbitrary arrest and mass incarceration have been quintessential elements of police states from East Germany to Augusto Pinochet’s Chile.
The United States right now incarcerates more African-Americans as a percentage than South Africa did at the height of Apartheid.
A Senate hearing on the Federal Bureau of Prisons reported that the American prison population hovered around 25,000 throughout the 1900s, until the 1980’s when America suddenly experienced a massive increase in the inmate population to over a quarter million. The cause was Ronald Reagan’s War on Drugs which intentionally, and disproportionately targeted Blacks. The War on Drugs is now the African American police state’s main propaganda justification for police brutality and judicial discrimination against Blacks.
One out of three African American males will be arrested and go through the American injustice system at some point in their lives, primarily for nonviolent drug charges, despite studies revealing that white youth use drugs at higher rates than their Black counterparts.
For decades, the African-American crime rate has been falling but Black imprisonment rates have consistently soared. Aside from the War on Drugs, the rise in prison population may have another less publicized cause: gradual privatization of the prison industry, with its profits-over-justice motives. If the beds aren’t filled, states are required to pay the prison companies for the empty space, which means taxpayers are largely left to deal with the bill that might come from lower crime and imprisonment rates.
Private prisons were designed by the rich and for the rich. The for-profit prison system depends on imprisoning Blacks for its survival. Much in the same way the United States was designed.
After all, more Black men are in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850 before the Civil War began.
The history of Nazi Germany’s Gestapo has many parallels to what U.S. law enforcement in the Black community has become.
The infamous “stop-and-frisk” policies that allow the New York Police Department to stop you based on suspicion are Nazi-like. Latinos and Blacks make up 84 percent of all those stopped, although they make up respectively 29 and 23 percent of New York City’s population. Furthermore, statistics show that NYPD officers are far more likely to use physical force against Blacks and Latinos during stops.
The Gestapo operated without any judicial review by state imposed law, putting them above the law.
The FBI’s counterintelligence programs (COINTELPRO) of the 1950’s, 60s, and 70s formed one of the most infamous domestic initiatives in U.S. history, targeting Black organizations and individuals whom the FBI saw as threatening the racist, capitalist status quo.
COINTELPRO was a series of covert, and often illegal, government projects aimed at surveying, infiltrating, discrediting, and brutalizing Black communities.
After COINTELPRO director William C. Sullivan concluded in a 1963 memo that Martin Luther King, Jr. was “the most dangerous Negro in the future of this nation,” he wrote: “it may be unrealistic to limit [our actions against King] to legalistic proofs that would stand up in court or before Congressional Committees.”
The FBI waged an intense war against Martin Luther King Jr. The African American police state’s law enforcement agents bugged his hotel rooms, tried to provoke IRS investigations against him, and harassed magazines that published articles about him. In 1999, a civil trial concluded that United States law enforcement agents were responsible for Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination.
The perpetuation of the African American police state is a modern day crime against humanity. The ongoing protests and uprisings in Black communities are a direct and just response to centuries of worsening incarceration, modern day lynchings and systematic second class citizenship. Far from being a “post-racial” nation, American race relations are at a new low. Simmering discontent in Black communities will continue to rise towards a dangerous boiling point unless and until the African American police state is exposed and completely dismantled.
Garikai Chengu is a scholar at Harvard University. Contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org
A recent article by Jorge Elbaum, the former executive director of DAIA (Delegation for Argentine Jewish Associations), the principle Argentine Jewish umbrella groups, published in the Buenos Aires daily Pagina 12, provides a detailed account of the damaging links between the State of Israel, US Wall Street speculators, and local Argentine Zionists in government and out. Elbaum describes how their efforts have been specifically directed toward destabilizing the incumbent center-left government of President Cristina Fernandez, while securing exorbitant profits for a Zionist Wall Street speculator, Paul Singer of Elliott Management as well as undermining a joint Iranian-Argentine investigation of the 1994 terrorist bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires.
Elbaum’s article was written in response to the death of Alberto Nisman, a Zionist zealot and chief government prosecutor in the terrorist bombing investigation for over 20 years.
The serious issues raised by the political use and gross manipulation of the horrors of the bombing of the Argentine Jewish Community Center shows how Tel Aviv (and its political assets in Argentina and the US) further Israeli power in the Middle East, in particular, by isolating and demonizing Iran. This is important at two critical levels, which this article seeks to highlight.
First of all, Israel attempted to sidetrack the Argentine investigation, by involving some of its powerful Wall Street assets and influential pro-Israel lobbies (the Anti-Defamation League and AIPAC among others). Their purpose was to fabricate ‘evidence’ in order to implicate Iran in the crime and to manipulate their influential assets in Argentina, especially in this case, chief prosecutor Nisman and many of the leaders of DAIA, to accuse the Argentine government of complicity in an ‘Iranian cover-up’.
The second issue, raised by Israel’s intervention in Argentina’s investigation into the bombing, has wider and deeper implications: How Israel promotes its foreign policy objectives in various countries by grooming and manipulating local influential Jewish officials and community organizations. This furthers Tel Aviv’s goal of regional hegemony and territorial aggrandizement. In other words, Israeli political reach extends far beyond the Middle East and goes ‘global’, operating without any consideration of the dangers it inflicts on Jews in the ‘target countries’. To this end, Israel has been creating a worldwide network of Jews, which calls into question their loyalty to the polity of their home countries where they have resided for generations.
The nefarious impact, which Israel’s intervention has on the sovereignty of its ‘target countries’, presents a danger to innocent and loyal Jewish citizens who are not acting as agents of Tel Aviv.
For these reasons it is important to critically analyze the specific characteristics of Israel’s dangerous meddling in Argentina.
The Crisis of the Argentine Justice System: Unsolved Terrorist Crimes and Israeli Intervention
After the anti-Semitic bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, the Argentine judicial and legal system seriously bungled the investigation, despite collaboration from the US FBI and Israel’s Mossad. Argentina’s then President Carlos Menem was an ardent neo-liberal, unconditional backer of US foreign policy and strong supporter of Israel. His regime was still heavily infested with high-ranking police, military, and intelligence officials deeply implicated in the seven-year bloody military dictatorship (1976-83) during which 30,000 Argentine citizens were murdered. Among the victims of this ‘dirty war’ were hundreds of Argentine Jews, activists, intellectuals and militants who were tortured and murdered to the anti-Semitic taunts of their military and police assassins. During this same horrific ‘pogrom’ of Argentina’s committed Jewish activists, the state of Israel managed to sell tens of millions of dollars in arms to the junta, breaking a US-EU boycott. Notoriously, the conservative leaders of the DAIA and AMIA (Argentine-Israel Mutual Association) failed to defend the lives of Jewish activists and militants. After attending meetings with the junta, many conservative Jewish leaders would dismiss the concerns of the families of the disappeared and tortured Argentine Jews, saying: ‘They must have done something…’
The bungled investigation into the 1994 bombing included the arrest of right-wing police officials who were later released and the mysterious loss of vital forensic evidence. Accusations against various foreign regimes and organizations shifted according to the political needs of the US and Israel: First, the Lebanese group, Hezbollah, Israel’s main military adversary during its bloody occupation of southern Lebanon in 1990’s was touted as the responsible party. A few years later, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, prior to the Israeli-backed US invasion of Iraq; then the Palestinians were trotted out, followed by Syria’s Baathist intelligence forces. After the total destruction of Iraq by the US ‘coalition’ and the decline of influential Arab states in the Middle East, the Israelis have settled on Iran as the ‘prime suspect’, coinciding with Tehran’s rise of as a regional power – challenging Israeli and US hegemony.
With the 2001 collapse of Argentina’s version of a kleptocratic, neo-liberal, pro-US bootlicking regime, and in the midst of a dire economic depression, there was a popular upheaval and the subsequent election of President Kirchner bringing a new center-left government to power.
The new government, defaulting on its murderous foreign debt, oversaw Argentina’s economic recovery and a vast increase in social spending which stabilized capitalism. Kirchner also promoted greater independence in foreign policy and sought to enhance Buenos Aires relations with Israel by re-opening the investigation into the bombing and retaining Alberto Nisman, as chief prosecutor.
Nisman, the Mossad, and the US Embassy Connection
In his article, ‘Vultures, Nisman, DAIA: The Money Route’ (Pagina 12, 4/18/15), Jorge Elbaum, points out that chief prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, opened a secret bank account in New York. As Elbaum told prominent figures in Argentina’s Jewish community, Nisman’s campaign to discredit the government’s joint investigatory commission with Iran and demonize the Argentine government was financed, at least in part, by New York’s vulture fund head, Paul Singer, who stood to make hundreds of millions in profit. According to documents, cited by Elbaum, US embassy personnel and leading US Zionist organizations, including the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, led by Mark Dubowitz, as well as Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, fed Nisman fabricated ‘evidence’ and corrected numerous substantive and grammatical flaws in his report purporting to ‘demonstrate’ Argentine’s cover-up of the Iran’s role in the 1994 bombing. However, forensic and legal experts in Argentina have determined that Nisman’s claims lack any legal basis or credibility.
The entire ‘Operation Nisman’ appears to have been orchestrated by Israel with the goal of isolating Iran via fabricated evidence supposed to ‘prove’ its role in the 1994 bombing. The recruitment of Nisman, as a key Israeli operative, was central to Israel’s strategy of using the DAIA and other Argentine – Jewish organizations to attack the Argentine-Iran memo of understanding regarding the investigation of the bombing. Israel pushed US-Zionist organizations to intensify their intervention into Argentine politics via their networks with Argentine-Jewish organizations. The vulture-fund speculator, Paul Singer, who had bought defaulted Argentine debt for ‘pennies on the dollar’, was demanding full payment through sympathetic New York courts. He had funded a special speculators’ task force on Argentina joining forces with Israel, US Zionist organizations and Alberto Nisman in order to manipulate Argentina’s investigation and secure a bountiful return. Nisman thus became a ‘key tool’ to Israel’s regional military strategy toward Iran, to New York speculator Singer’s strategy to grab a billion dollar windfall and to the Argentine right wing’s campaign to destabilize the center-left government of Kirschner-Fernandez.
By acting mainly in the interest of Israel and US Zionists, Nisman sacrificed the Argentine-Jewish community’s desire for a serious, truthful investigation into the bombing leading to identification and conviction of the perpetrators. Moreover, Nisman compromised himself by being a tool for Israel’s foreign policy against the interest of the Argentine government, which he was sworn to serve, and endangered the status of the Argentine Jewish community among Argentines in general by raising questions about their loyalty to their home country.
Fortunately, Argentina has sophisticated, prominent Jewish leaders who see themselves as Argentine citizens first and foremost, including leaders like Foreign Secretary Hector Timmerman who proposed the joint investigation with Iran as well as the former DAIA Executive Director Jorge Elbaum who has played a major role in denouncing Israel’s intervention in Argentine politics. It is citizens, like Elbaum, who have exposed the Israeli government’s role in recruiting and manipulating local leading Argentine-Jews to serve Tel Aviv’s foreign policy interests.
This is in stark contrast to the United States where no major American-Jewish leader has dared to denounce the role of leading Zionist organizations as Israel’s conduit. Furthermore, unlike Argentina, where a sector of the liberal press (Pagina 12) has published critical accounts of Nisman’s fabrications and Israel’s destabilization campaign, newspapers in the US, like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, have continued to present Nisman’s discredited report as a serious investigation by a courageous, ‘martyred’ prosecutor. The US media continues to portray the entire Argentine judicial system as corrupt and argue that Nisman’s death must have been a state-orchestrated crime. The US public has never been presented with the fact that the leading critics of Nisman’s report and his own behavior were prominent Argentine Jews and that Argentina’s foreign minister, Hector Timmerman, organized the Argentine-Iran commission.
That Israel was willing to derail any serious the investigation into the 1994 bombing, which killed and maimed scores of Argentine Jews, in order to further its campaign against Iran, demonstrates the extent to which the self-styled ‘Jewish State’ is willing to sacrifice the interests and security of world Jewry to further its narrow military agenda.
Equally egregious is the way in which Tel Aviv recruits overseas Jews to serve Israel’s interests against that of their own countries, turning them into a ‘fifth column’, operating inside and outside of their governments. That Israeli intelligence has been exposed and denounced in the case of Nisman, has not forestalled nor prevented Israel from continuing this long-standing, practice of dangerous meddling. This is especially evident in the ‘Israel-first behavior’ of leading Jewish American organizations and political leaders who have pledged their total allegiance to Netanyahu’s war agenda against Iran an bought the US Congress to scuttle the peace accord.
It merits repetition: Israel’s widespread practice of recruiting Jewish citizens and officials of other countries to serve as vehicles of Israeli policies has the potential to foment a new and possibly violent backlash, once the greater population has been made aware of such treasonous activities. In this regard, Israel does not represent a bastion of security for world Jewry, but a cynical, manipulative and deadly threat. Perhaps that is Israel’s ultimate strategy – create a backlash of generalized anger against overseas Jews and precipitate massive flight to Israel from countries like Argentina, while the few who remain can be better manipulated to serve Tel Aviv.
A few days ago, on April 23, a crowd of several hundred Argentine Jews met to repudiate the arrogant claims of the established leaders of the DAIA and the AMIA that they represent ‘all Argentine Jews”. This overflow crowd in the auditorium of the telephone workers union proposed to create a ‘collective and democratic space, based on links of solidarity over and above commercial connections.’ The Jewish community in the US would be wise to pay close attention to Argentina’s example.
As the fear campaign advances into ever-more delirious extremes, Westerners continue to be submerged in sensationalist headlines about ‘homegrown terrorism’ and ‘ISIS recruits.’
The American, Australian, Canadian, British, French, German and other governments have been on the hunt lately, swooping up a handful of would-be ISIS recruits before they could make their journey to Syria and Iraq. The arrests appear to be part of a stage-managed public relations effort to 1) keep up the false pretense that the West is actually trying to stop people from joining ISIS, when in fact they have been gleefully turning a blind eye to it if not aiding and abetting it, and 2) to justify the growing surveillance state across the West.
ABC News tells us that more than 2000 Westerners, mostly from immigrant communities but also a number of white converts to Islam, have joined ISIS and other terrorist groups fighting to topple the Syrian government. Knowing the high level of surveillance and monitoring that Western agencies already employ against Muslim communities, it beggars belief that all of these individuals simply evaded the all-seeing eye of Western intelligence which includes the “Five Eyes” spy network consisting of the combined espionage might of the US, Canada, UK, New Zealand and Australia. The massive resources of the spy agencies of those countries in conjunction with the data mining brigands of the NSA makes it hard for one to believe that they’re just unable to track and intervene before Western citizens depart for the phony ‘jihad’ against Israel’s adversaries in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.
The Intercept revealed that in a recent FBI ‘bust’ of an alleged ISIS sympathizer who was purportedly planning an attack inside the US, the suspect was goaded by FBI informants, as is the case with nearly every major foiled ‘terror plot’ in recent American history. John T. Booker Jr., the Kansas man accused of plotting a terrorist attack on behalf of ISIS, had checked himself into a mental hospital about a year before his arrest. The Intercept reports that the two FBI informants who initiated contact with Booker Jr. “provided the 20-year-old with the materials and support that led to his arrest on Friday on charges stemming from his alleged plans to carry out an attack against Fort Riley in support of the Islamic State.”
This example is merely one of many hundreds of cases involving the FBI’s army of 15,000 plus informants who infiltrate Muslim communities then work to incite and coerce impressionable, dejected young Muslims into completely inept and doomed-to-fail ‘terror plots.’
Canadian authorities have been caught mimicking the FBI’s duplicitous and unethical tactics of fabricating terror plots by way of informants. One recent case involved a bumbling British Columbia couple, John Nuttall and his wife Amanda Korody, who were prodded and pushed into a laughable ‘terrorist conspiracy’ by undercover RCMP agents. The Vancouver Sun reported that the undercover agents “spent more than four months in a futile attempt to have John Nuttall articulate a real [terrorist] plan.” Another Sun report described the ‘terror couple’ as “impoverished addicts” and delineated how an undercover agent coddled and encouraged them every step of the way, making suggestions about explosives and targets.
A story that broke earlier this year unveiled the West’s two-faced gambit as it relates to ISIS. The Turkish government exposed the identity of a Syrian national on the payroll of Canadian intelligence who was acting as a human trafficker for ISIS, escorting dozens of Europeans through Turkey and delivering them to ISIS strongholds in Syria, including three British schoolgirls.
“Turkish news agencies reported … that a foreign intelligence agent detained in that country on suspicion of helping the [three British] girls travel to neighbouring Syria to join ISIL was working for the Canadian government,” stated an Ottawa Citizen report on the scandal. The agent in question, Mohammed Mehmet Rashid, told Turkish authorities that he made routine trips to the Canadian embassy in Jordan where he received his marching orders from CSIS, Canada’s spy agency. That embassy was headed by Bruno Saccomani, a former RCMP officer and the former chief of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s security detail. Harper handpicked Saccomani to be the ambassador to Jordan.
Another issue routinely overlooked by mainstream media is that ISIS is not the only violent radical group that Western citizens are bustling to join. Hundreds of Canadians, Americans, Australians and Europeans have joined the Israeli military over the years, participating in the murder of thousands of innocent Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, the mass destruction of property and other war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In an article entitled “Supporting ‘terror tourism’ to Israel gets Canadian tax credits,” Yves Engler, an expert on Canadian foreign affairs, observes that in Canada “[i]t is illegal for Somali Canadians to fight in that country but it is okay for Canadian Jews to kill Palestinians in Gaza. And the government will give you a charitable tax credit if you give them money to support it.” Engler documents the activities of pro-Israel charities operating freely in Canada that recruit young Jews to fight for Israel. “At least 25 volunteers from the Greater Toronto Area fought in Gaza during Israel’s 22-day 2008/2009 assault that left some 1,400 Palestinians dead,” notes Engler, adding that “during Israel’s 2006 attack on Lebanon the Canadian Jewish News reported that ‘Canadian youths leave home to join Israeli army.’”
“The double standard is extreme,” Engler writes, pointing out how Canadians are proscribed from recruiting for foreign militaries under the Foreign Enlistment Act, but this law apparently doesn’t apply to Jews who enjoy a privileged status in Canada and other Western countries.
The Canadian government’s pro-Israel extremism showed its ugly face in 2014 when the Harper administration added IRFAN-Canada, a Muslim charity which helped raise funds for the besieged people of Gaza and the occupied West Bank, to its list of banned ‘terrorist organizations.’ According to the Harper regime’s skewed Zionist logic, Muslim charities that work with the democratically elected leadership of Gaza in order to dispense humanitarian aid to the suffering Palestinians are engaged in ‘supporting terrorism.’ Yet Jewish-Zionist charities are allowed, even aided and abetted by the Canadian state through ‘tax credits’ for donors, to raise funds for the Israeli military and even to recruit radicalized Canadian Jews to fight in Israel’s bloody wars of aggression – but this somehow does not constitute material support for terrorism.
Evidently, in Harper’s pro-Zionist fantasy world ‘terrorist’ is a smear word applied exclusively to the opponents of Israeli imperialism, whereas a state birthed through ethnic cleansing and maintained by way of bribery, blackmail, and state-sponsored mass murder is praised to the heavens merely for allowing its privileged Jewish citizens and disenfranchised Arab subjects to vote for whichever hawkish Zionist politician will continue the policies of terror in the holy land.
Copyright 2015 Brandon Martinez
By Ben Schreiner | Global Research | April 21, 2015
Using the recent spree of high profile police murders as the latest catalyst, calls to outfit all cops with some sort of body camera are once again reverberating nationally. But given the staggering amounts of personal data on the American people police agencies are already collecting, the proposals to lend the police one more surveillance device raises significant privacy concerns.
Speaking on the repercussions of the police murder of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina, former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, a former opponent of body cams, recently remarked, “I think it is a game-changer. What you’ll see is a movement now by many more police departments to go to cameras.”
Indeed, the city of North Charleston has already announced plans to equip its entire police force with body cameras. This comes on the heels of President Obama announcement last December that the federal government would purchase 50,000 body cams for state and local police agencies in response to the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
For their proponents, body cameras promise to provide much needed accountability to the nation’s police agencies and their officers, who continue to gun down Americans at an alarming rate, while still mostly managing to allude prosecution. And as advocates note, limited study of such police cameras have already yielded seemingly promising results. In Rialto, California, for instance, a controlled study found a 60% decline in use of force by officers equipped with body cameras. Cops, to no surprise of anyone who has ever sought to film an on-duty officer, are all too cognizant of the power of recorded video (especially, we might add, when such video is in the hands of citizens).
But the anecdotal evidence championed by body camera backers aside, such police cams offer at best a flawed check on police abuse and brutality, and at worst portend a further bolstering of the already dystopian surveillance capabilities of law enforcement agencies.
The Limits of Police Body Cams
To begin with, as should be readily evident, police body cameras only work when officers turn them on. So in the case of the slaying of Walter Scott in South Carolina, even if Officer Michael Slager had been equipped with a body cam, there is no guarantee it would have captured his shooting of Scott; Slager could have simply turned it off. Indeed, a trial use of body cameras by Denver, Colorado police from June to December of 2014 saw less than half of all encounters involving the use of force actually recorded by camera equipped officers.
(And yet even when police brutality is captured on video and viewed publicly, accountability for officers is hardly guaranteed. The death of Eric Garner at the hands of New York City cops was, after all, captured on film, but no officers were charged in his death.)
For those police body cams that actually are recording, however, all data collected is often held and stored by the police themselves; that is, the very people the cameras are meant to hold to account. As the Washington Post reported, “Officials in more than a dozen states—as well as the District [of Columbia]—have proposed restricting access or completely withholding the [body cam] footage from the public.” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, as the Post explains, has sought to keep the public from viewing police body cam videos by exempting all such videos from the Freedom of Information Act.
Simply put then, police not only control what body cameras record, but also increasingly what is done with the captured video.
It is also worth considering the fact that devices touted as a way to hold police accountable for their actions are configured not to watch and record the police, but rather to watch us from the perspective of the police. And as anyone who has come face-to-face with armored clad riot cops during a political protest will no doubt attest, the routine use of cameras trained on protesters by police brings no measure of accountability to the cops. Police cameras do nothing to stop warrior cops from unleashing their truncheons on peaceful protesters, nor do they do anything to hold them to account afterwards. In fact, the police deploy such cameras at rallies largely to aid the future prosecution of those they will arrest for the great criminal offense that is political dissent.
The far more troubling issue with championing police body cameras as some sort of progressive police reform, though, is that their deployment is part of a larger proliferation of mass surveillance capabilities now allowing domestic law enforcement agencies to sweep up a breathtaking amount of data on American citizens.
As the Wall Street Journal reported, the 560 body cameras currently employed by officers of the Oakland, California police department “results in about five to six terabytes of data every month—equivalent to about 1,250 to 1,500 high-definition movie downloads.” The data, the Journal continues, “is stored on a department server for two years at a minimum.”
Using the FBI’s Lockheed Martin designed Next Generation Identification system, cops everywhere equipped with body cameras will soon be able to tap into an FBI database containing over 50 million photos in order to utilize facial recognition technology when making routine traffic stops. It’s difficult to see how the use of body cameras to conduct such fishing expeditions would serve in any way to further police accountability.
The threat to personal privacy posed by police body cams is heightened further when considering the intimate places cops routinely go (e.g. inside one’s apartment or home) and the often compromised state of those visited by police. As the Los Angeles Times notes, “Video from dashboard cameras in police cars, a more widely used technology, has long been exploited for entertainment purposes. Internet users have posted dash-cam videos of arrests of naked women to YouTube, and TMZ sometimes obtains police videos of athletes and celebrities during minor or embarrassing traffic stops, turning officers into unwitting paparazzi.”
It doesn’t take much imagination to picture huckster entrepreneurs of the near future using any and all police body cam video released to the public (which will undoubtedly be skewed toward those videos portraying officers in a positive light) to piggyback on the already booming online mug shot industry currently dabbling in the lucrative trade of public humiliation and shame.
Body cameras or not, though, police agencies the nation over are already fixing to amass vast swaths of data on no less than our daily movements via the widespread deployment of things like automatic license plate readers (ALPRs), which snap pictures of car license plates in conjunction with date, time, and location.
According to a separate Journal report, the Justice Department is currently using ALPRs strategically placed on major highways, in combination with those routinely used by state and local law enforcement agencies, to maintain a national database to “track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S.” Many of the devices used to feed the database, the paper notes, “also record visual images of drivers and passengers, which are sometimes clear enough for investigators to confirm identities.”
Consider, also, the ability local police agencies already possess to scoop up our electronic communications via devices like “dirtboxes” and “stingrays” (which mimic cellular towers in order to trick all adjacent cell phones into sending their identifying information back to the devices for collection). This is to say nothing of the “haystack” of personal data the National Security Agency is actively compiling in its search for needles.
Such a rush by law enforcement to deploy all the latest surveillance technologies on the American people quite predictably leaves the collecting agencies awash in more data than could ever possibly be of use. In fact, such mass surveillance is quite lousy at its purported purpose of predicting and preventing crime or “terrorism.” As Julia Angwin writes in her book Dragnet Nation, “the flood of data can be overwhelming and confounding to those who are charged with sorting through it to find terrorists.” “But,” Angwin goes on to add, “ubiquitous, covert surveillance does appear to be very good at repression.”
Police Surveillance as Repression
What the “war on drugs” was for mass incarceration, the “war on terror” has clearly been to domestic surveillance. So not only are militarized police now sent parading through the streets in their repurposed military vehicles and equipment, they are also increasingly turning to military-styled mass surveillance methods to achieve the very same ends sought by occupying American forces abroad; that is, collective pacification.
As Darwin Bond-Graham and Ali Winston write in a 2014 LA Weekly article on the Los Angeles Police Department’s use of data-intensive “predictive policing”: the “LAPD’s mild-sounding ‘predictive policing’ technique, introduced by former Chief William Bratton [now chief of the NYPD] to anticipate where future crime would hit, is actually a sophisticated system developed not by cops but by the U.S. military, based on ‘insurgent’ activity in Iraq and civilian casualty patterns in Afghanistan.”
Bond-Graham and Winston add: “Records obtained by L.A. Weekly from the U.S. Army Research Office show that UCLA professors Jeff Brantingham and Andrea Bertozzi (anthropology and applied mathematics, respectively) in 2009 told the Army that their predictive techniques ‘will provide the Army with a plethora of new data-intensive predictive algorithms for dealing with insurgents and terrorists abroad.’ In a later update to the Army, after they had begun working with LAPD, they wrote, ‘Terrorist and insurgent activities have a distinct parallel to urban crime.'”
The world, lest we ever forget, is now a battlefield. But if the American dragnet abroad is, as Alfred McCoy writes, a means of cheaply “projecting power and keeping subordinate allies in line,” the domestic dragnet imposed by militarized cops is likewise as much about keeping domestic threats (activists, dissidents, the working class, and poor) in line as imperial rot takes hold within the “homeland” in the form of widening economic inequality and deepening social crisis.
And utilizing mass surveillance as a tool of repression indeed appears the intent of snooping police departments.
Pouring over documents released on the city of Boston’s now suspended ALPR program, ACLU attorney Catherine Crump found that “The Boston Police Department was targeting mostly low income, working class, and Black neighborhoods with their license plate reader program.” In one case, Crump discovered that “one motorcycle that was recorded stolen in the police department’s system had driven past one fixed plate reader 60 times.”
“This signals to me that our greatest fear is true,” Crump adds. “While police say, ‘We need this technology because it helps us find stolen cars and criminals,’ we have found they’re also using these tools to collect data about people who they have no reason to believe were involved in any criminal activity. In Boston, we found that police aren’t using these cameras to respond to hits, they’re sucking up all this data to use potentially down the road for intelligence.”
Are we to believe, then, that the mountains of data to be captured by police body cameras and stored for possibly years by police departments is to be used to hold cops to account? Or is such footage more likely to be kept in secret to further police control over potentially rebellious poor, minority, and working class citizens?
Who gains by entrusting killer cops with policing our privacy?
OKC – A Conspiracy Theory
TRANSCRIPT AND SOURCES: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=14347
The US Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have admitted that almost every examiner with an FBI forensic unit presented flawed testimony in trials in which they provided evidence against criminal defendants for over two decades before 2000.
Out of 28 examiners working for the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches so that it favored prosecutors in over 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project.
NACDL and the Innocence Project are currently aiding the government with the largest post-conviction review of dubious forensic evidence, The Washington Post reported on Friday.
The cases were related to 32 defendants who received death sentences, of whom 14 have been executed or died in prison so far, the groups said.
The two bodies are under an agreement with the US government to disclose results after the review of the first 200 convictions has been completed.
Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project, said, “The FBI’s three-decade use of microscopic hair analysis to incriminate defendants was a complete disaster.”
“We need an exhaustive investigation that looks at how the FBI, state governments that relied on examiners trained by the FBI and the courts allowed this to happen and why it wasn’t stopped much sooner,” Neufeld said.
Mistakes made by the FBI alone do not mean that there was no other evidence to prove a convict’s guilt.
Defendants and federal and state prosecutors in 46 states and the District of Columbia are being urged to provide grounds for appeals as four defendants were previously exonerated.
Legal analysts believe that the acknowledgment marks one of the country’s largest forensic scandals, showing how the US courts have not been able to do their job properly for decades to protect false scientific information from juries.
Long-suspected problems with forensic techniques, including hair and bite-mark comparisons, have resulted in wrongful convictions in over one-quarter of 329 DNA-exoneration cases since 1989.
The FBI and Chicago police department are refusing to release a video of the shooting death of a 17-year-old black man, who was killed by a police officer last year.
Chicago police and the FBI are withholding the dash-cam video because it is “central to their investigation,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was quoted as saying by the Associated Press on Wednesday.
Authorities said they were “confident this video will be released at the appropriate time when their investigation is complete.”
Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times in October 2014 when he allegedly brandished a knife and refused to drop it when confronted by officers. The city has approved a $5 million settlement with the teen’s family.
Some members of the Chicago City Council fear releasing the video could spark the kind of angry protests seen elsewhere in the United States in recent months.
“Regaining the trust of the community, particularly the black community, starts with honesty and hiding a potential execution is the kind of thing that destroys trust,” said Craig Futterman, a law professor at the University of Chicago.
The shooting has not generated the same kind of national attention as other recent high-profile confrontations involving officers. The Chicago police department has long been dogged by a reputation for police brutality.
The officer who killed McDonald is not being named but he has been stripped of his police powers and put on desk duty. No decision has been made on whether he will face criminal charges in the case.
Several videos showing police brutality have been released in recent weeks. A newly released video shows a police officer in Arizona intentionally running over an armed suspect with his vehicle last month.
Police Officer Michael Rapiejko slammed his car into 36-year-old Mario Valencia which was recorded in the dashboard camera that was released on Tuesday. Valencia was taken to a hospital in serious condition but released two days later into police custody.
Another cell phone video was released last week showing an officer in North Charleston, South Carolina firing multiple times at an African-American man as he ran away, sparking outrage around the country.
The 9/11 narrative in the mainstream media has taken on a new slant. The FBI is now accused of whitewashing Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
The alleged Saudi involvement in supporting Osama bin Laden, not to mention the classified 28 pages of the 9/11 joint Congressional inquiry pertaining to the insidious role of Saudi Arabia in supporting the hijackers is part of a propaganda ploy.
When the report of Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 was released in December 2002, it was met with considerable skepticism. That skepticism grew for a period of time but then was reduced to speculation about what was contained in the 28 pages that had been redacted by the Bush White House.
Various U.S. government leaders have since suggested that the missing 28 pages point to Saudi Arabia’s complicity in the 9/11 crimes. However such musings fail to discuss other important issues, like the links between the Saudi regime and the Western deep state, or the fact that, from the start, even the Saudis were calling for the 28 pages to be released. Discussion of the missing 28 pages also omits mention of the highly suspicious nature of the Inquiry’s investigation and its leaders. (Kevin Ryan, The 9/11 Joint Congressional Inquiry and the 28 Missing Pages, Global Research, March 14, 2014
The report of the FBI 9/11 Review Commission (25 March 2015) has revealed circumstances which allegedly were withheld by the FBI from both the 9/11 Commission headed by former Jersey Governor Thomas Kean as well from the joint Senate House inquiry committee chaired by former Senator Bob Graham. Graham.
And now agencies of the US government including the FBI are being accused of protecting the Saudis. This alleged Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks has served to precipitate segments of the 9/11 Truth movement into an erroneous and contradictory discourse. On the part of the US government and its intelligence apparatus, the objective is to ultimately to build a narrative which will weaken the 9/11 Truth movement.
The purpose of this new propaganda ploy is ultimately to sustain the legend that Osama bin Laden was behind the attacks and that Saudi Arabia relentlessly supported Al Qaeda, namely that Saudi Arabia acted as a “state sponsor of terrorism”.
In this regard, the media reports intimate that if the Saudi connection is confirmed by the 28 classified pages, this “would make 9/11 not just an act of terrorism, but an act of war by a foreign government.”
There is, however, an obvious hiccup in this reasoning: if the Saudis were indeed the State sponsors of 9/11, why on earth did the US and the Atlantic Alliance (under the doctrine of collective security) choose to wage a “Just War” of retribution against Afghanistan. Did they get there countries mixed up?
Many 9/11 Truthers across America are now calling for the release of the 28 classified pages. They are also accusing the FBI of coverup and complicity.
All eyes are on the classified 28 pages, which document Saudi support for the alleged hijackers. Meanwhile, the irrefutable evidence of controlled demolition of the Twin Towers –not to mention the mysterious collapse of WTC 7 which was announced by CNN and the BBC more than 20 minutes before it occurred– no longer constitutes the centrefold of the 9/11 Truth movement: ’The Saudis are behind 9/11 and our government is protecting them.”
Framed in a “Tele Novela” style scenario featuring wealthy Saudis in the plush suburban surroundings of Sarasota, Florida two weeks before 9/11, the New York Post describes the circumstances of Saudi involvement (quoting the FBI 9/11 Review Commission Report) in an article entitled How the FBI is whitewashing the Saudi connection to 9/11:
“Just 15 days before the 9/11 attacks, a well-connected Saudi family suddenly abandoned their luxury home in Sarasota, Fla., leaving behind jewelry, clothes, opulent furniture, a driveway full of cars — including a brand new Chrysler PT Cruiser — and even a refrigerator full of food.
About the only thing not left behind was a forwarding address. The occupants simply vanished without notifying their neighbors, realtor or even mail carrier.
The 3,300-square-foot home on Escondito Circle (see image right) belonged to Esam Ghazzawi, a Saudi adviser to the nephew of then-King Fahd. But at the time, it was occupied by his daughter and son-in-law, who beat a hasty retreat back to Saudi Arabia just two weeks before the attacks after nearly a six-year stay here.
Neighbors took note of the troubling coincidence and called the FBI, which opened an investigation that led to the startling discovery that at least one “family member” trained at the same flight school as some of the 9/11 hijackers in nearby Venice, Fla.
… The Saudi-9/11 connection in Florida was no small part of the overall 9/11 investigation. Yet it was never shared with Congress. Nor was it mentioned in the 9/11 Commission Report.
Now it’s being whitewashed again, in a newly released report by the 9/11 Review Commission, set up last year by Congress to assess “any evidence now known to the FBI that was not considered by the 9/11 Commission.” Though the FBI acknowledges the Saudi family was investigated, it maintains the probe was a dead end.
The panel’s report also doesn’t explain why visitor security logs for the gated Sarasota community and photos of license tags matched vehicles driven by the hijackers, including 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta.
The three-member review panel was appointed by FBI Director James Comey, who also officially released the findings.
Former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham, who in 2002 chaired the congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11, maintains the FBI is covering up a Saudi support cell in Sarasota for the hijackers. He says the al-Hijjis “urgent” pre-9/11 exit suggests “someone may have tipped them off” about the coming attacks.
Graham has been working with a 14-member group in Congress to urge President Obama to declassify 28 pages of the final report of his inquiry which were originally redacted, wholesale, by President George W. Bush.
Sources who have read the censored Saudi section say it cites CIA and FBI case files that directly implicate officials of the Saudi Embassy in Washington and its consulate in Los Angeles in the attacks — which if true, would make 9/11 not just an act of terrorism, but an act of war by a foreign government. The section allegedly identifies high-level Saudi officials and intelligence agents by name, and details their financial transactions and other dealings with the San Diego hijackers. It zeroes in on the Islamic Affairs Department of the Saudi Embassy, among other Saudi entities.
The [FBI] review commission, however, concludes there is “no evidence” that any Saudi official provided assistance to the hijackers, even though the panel failed to interview Graham or his two key investigators — former Justice Department attorney Dana Lesemann and FBI investigator Michael Jacobson — who ran down FBI leads tying Saudi officials to the San Diego hijackers and documented their findings in the 28 pages. (emphasis added)
The key figure behind this new wave of propaganda is former Senator Bob Graham, who led the joint inquiry of the Senate and the House intelligence committees together with Rep. Porter Goss, a career CIA official who was subsequently appointed Director of National Intelligence (DNI) by the Bush administration. Graham coordinated the drafting and editing of the report including the 28 classified pages on Saudi Arabia.
While Graham is now heralded by the mainstream media as a 911 Truther, the evidence suggests that immediately in the wake of 9/11, he was involved (together with Porter Goss) in a coverup on behalf of Bush-Cheney. According to Kevin Ryan, “in the months following 9/11, both Goss and Graham rejected calls for an investigation”:
The Senate voted for one anyway, however, and that led both Bush and Cheney to attempt to stop it or limit its scope. Apparently the best they could do was to make sure that Goss and Graham were put in charge. That seemed to work as the Inquiry began in February 2002, more than five months after the attacks, and the approach taken was one of uncritical deference to the Bush Administration and the intelligence community.
Goss immediately made it clear that the Inquiry would not be looking for guilt or accountability with regard to 9/11. Saying he was “looking for solutions, not scapegoats,” Goss continued to defend the White House with regard to warnings the president had received about an impending attack, saying it was “a lot of nonsense.” The FBI did not cooperate but that didn’t seem to bother Goss and Graham. (Kevin Ryan, The 9/11 Joint Congressional Inquiry and the 28 Missing Pages, Global Research, March 14, 2014
Both the joint inquiry led by Graham and the 9/11 Commission were part of a Big Lie. And now Bob Graham and 9/11 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean are accusing the FBI of camouflage and the Saudis of collusion in the 9/11 attacks, while failing to acknowledge coverup and complicity at the highest levels of the US government.
According to Bob Graham in an interview with the Miami Herald,
’The FBI has served America through most of its history. There were stumbles by the agency before 9/11 and since the tragedy there has been a consistent effort to cover up the extent of Saudi Arabia’s involvement.’ (emphasis added)
And because Bob Graham accuses the FBI and the federal government, the 9/11 Truth movement applauds without realizing that these accusations directed against the FBI are “framed” with a view to sustaining the mainstream 9/11 narrative. What is at stake is a desperate ploy to uphold the legend that Muslims were behind 9/11 and that Saudi Arabia was behind the terrorists giving them money, with the FBI involved in a coverup, George W. Bush protecting his Saudi cronies because the Bushes and the bin Ladens were “intimo amigos”.
Former Senator Graham ”smells a rat” and that rat is the FBI and complicit government agencies:
“This is a pervasive pattern of covering up the role of Saudi Arabia in 9/11 by all of the agencies of federal government which have access to information that might illuminate Saudi Arabia’s role in 9/11.”
“The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11, and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier,” he said, adding, “I am speaking of the kingdom,” or government, of Saudi Arabia, not just wealthy individual Saudi donors.
Graham’s staged accusations thereby serve to distract the American public’s attention from the real evidence, amply documented that the WTC towers were brought down through controlled demolition and that Islamic terrorists were not behind the 9/11 attacks. The issue of Saudi financial support of al Qaeda is not only known and documented since the heyday of the Soviet Afghan war, it is irrelevant in establishing who was behind the terror attacks. Moreover, the contents of the 28 classified pages are known.
Former Senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who co-chaired a congressional inquiry into 9/11 — separate from the 9/11 Commission — stated, as though now it was obvious, “None of the people leading this investigation think it is credible that 19 people — most who could not speak English and did not have previous experience in the United States — could carry out such a complicated task without external assistance.”
Now, Graham says, a breakthrough may finally be around the corner with the upcoming declassification of the 28 pages of the “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.”
Calling for the official release and publication of the 28 page classified section of the joint inquiry report pertaining to Saudi Arabia is an obvious red-herring. The objective is to confuse matters, create divisions within the 9/11 Truth movement and ultimately dispel the fact that the 9/11 attacks were a carefully organized False Flag event which was used to declare war on Afghanistan as well as usher in sweeping anti-terrorist legislation.
Both the Congressional inquiry as well the 9/11 Commission report are flawed, their objective was to sustain the official narrative that America was under attack on September 11, 2001. And Graham’s role in liaison with the CIA, is “damage control” with a view to protecting those who were behind the demolition of the WTC towers as well sustaining the Al Qaeda legend, which constitutes the cornerstone of US military doctrine under the so-called “Global War on Terrorism”.
Without 9/11 and the “Global War on Terrorism”, the warmongers in high office would not have a leg to stand on. In turn, 9/11 Truth is an encroachment which undermines war propaganda and the US-led campaign of Islamophobia, which is sweeping the Western World.