Countering the Neo-Cold Warriors

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By Wayne Madsen

Source: Strategic Culture Foundation

Shortly, the «gruesome twosome» of U.S.-Russian relations, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and NATO Supreme Commander General Philip Breedlove, will be joined by a third neo-Cold Warrior, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, the prospective Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to become the «terrible troika» of American officials clamoring for a military showdown with Moscow.

During his confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Dunford said he viewed Russia as the greatest threat to America. But not just any «threat». In language that could have been pulled out of a U.S. newspaper from the 1960s, Dunford testified, «If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia», adding, «and if you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming».

While Dunford’s Cold War rhetoric warmed the cockles of the hearts of leading Senate committee war hawks such as John McCain, McCain’s eyelash-batting pal Lindsey Graham – a 2016 presidential candidate – and Texas Joseph McCarthy lookalike Ted Cruz, it was not well-received at the White House or the State Department. White House Press Secretary John Earnest distanced President Obama from Dunford’s views, stating at a press conference that Dunford was expressing «his own view and [it] doesn’t necessarily reflect the . . . consensus analysis of the president’s national security team».

State Department spokesman Mark Toner, in commenting on Dunford’s remarks, was more emphatic when stating that Secretary of State John Kerry rejected the general’s comments, «The secretary doesn’t agree with the assessment that Russia is an existential threat to the United States, nor China, quite frankly». Toner was referring to Dunford’s testimony that China was second only to Russia in posing a significant threat to the United States.

However, it was Kerry who promoted Nuland, who is married to arch-neoconservative and Project for the New American Century (PNAC) architect Robert Kagan, to the position that placed her in charge of U.S.-Russian relations. Previously, Nuland served as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s press spokeswoman. And if Mrs. Clinton’s penchant for «standing by her women» is any indication, a Hillary Clinton presidency could see Nuland, who once worked for Vice President Dick Cheney, promoted to a higher-level position, including Secretary of State or National Security Adviser. Obama and Kerry can distance themselves from Dunford’s alarming comments all they want, however, it is they who have permitted individuals like Nuland, Breedlove, Dunford, and the saber-rattling Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to become major policy officials within the Obama administration.

Dunford and Breedlove appear to have been pulled from central casting for a remake of the 1960s Stanley Kubrick noire comedy film, «Dr. Strangelove». Dunford, who bears the problematic nickname «Fighting Joe» and has been described as a «fervent Catholic», sounds like the blusterous General Buck Turgidson, who, after a wayward B-52 continues on to Russia, against orders, to drop its nuclear payload on a missile base, tells a bewildered president, «It is necessary now to make a choice, to choose between two admittedly regrettable, but nevertheless ‘distinguishable,’ postwar environments: one where you got twenty million people killed, and the other where you got a hundred and fifty million people killed». Breedlove, on the other hand, is just as much an ideologue as is the fictional General Jack Ripper, who in «Dr. Strangelove» tells his British liaison officer, «Today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought».

Dunford, Breedlove, Nuland, and Carter could very well push the United States and Russia to the brink of a hot war. Breedlove championed the creation of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, or VHRJTF as it is known to the acronym- and abbreviation-addicts of the Pentagon. VHRJTF brings ground forces from nine NATO nations to Russia’s borders. The new rapid-response unit took part in the first «live fire» exercise in Poland, code-named NOBLE JUMP, since the end of the Cold War. VHRJTF also consists of U.S.-supplied drones. The possibility that an unmanned drone could bring about a replay of the 1960 U-2 incident, in which a manned American spy plane was shot down over Russia, this time with a drone straying into Russian airspace from one of the Baltic countries, cannot be ruled out.

Obama and Kerry were quick to distance themselves from «Fighting Joe» Dunford’s saber rattling before the Senate committee. However, if they wanted to truly reset relations with Russia, Kerry could fire Nuland, Obama could pull Dunford’s nomination, and both could ask NATO to request a new Supreme Commander. However, as President Dwight Eisenhower warned in his 1961 Farewell Address about the menace of the «military-industrial complex», Obama and Kerry are powerless to get rid of those who were placed in power by what has now become a «military-intelligence-contractor» complex.

What is even more troubling is that Breedlove, Dunford, Nuland, and Carter appear prepared to not only take on Russia and China in a new Cold War, but are willing to confront the new «anti-NATO», the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which just wrapped up its summit in Ufa, the capital of the Russian Federation’s autonomous republic of Bashkortostan. If the «gruesome twosome» of Nuland and Breedlove, soon to become the «terrible troika» after Dunford is confirmed by the Senate, have their way, NATO and the United States will not only be willing to face off militarily against SCO members China and Russia but also the new members of Pakistan and India, in addition to charter members Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

Russia has savaged the West’s attempts to isolate it and China has broken America’s attempt to establish a military containment «cordon sanitaire» around China by welcoming Belarus as a new observer nation of SCO, joining Afghanistan, Mongolia, and Iran as prospective full members of the alliance. Cambodia, Nepal, Armenia, and Azerbaijan joined the organization as dialogue partners, supplementing existing partners Sri Lanka and Turkey. Egypt, Bangladesh, and Syria are also prospective members of the organization that is a counter to the ever-expanding NATO. SCO’s geopolitical security mission, coupled with the emerging economic power of the BRICS alliance of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, equates to a majority of the world’s population rejecting America’s military and economic dominance and NATO’s and the Pentagon’s menacing swagger. It is as if Dunford, Breedlove, and Nuland have never heard of SCO, BRICS, or the Eurasian Economic Union.

It is amazing that Dunford and Breedlove can issue challenges to their perceived enemies when Carter has announced a 40,000 troop strength cut for the U.S. Army. Instead, Carter plans to supplement NATO forces in Europe with more Bradley Fighting Vehicles and tanks that would be manned by a smaller number of U.S. troops. Like the Roman Empire, the United States has over-extended itself around the world.

It is not Russia nor China that maintain troops in 150 countries around the world. That dubious distinction falls on the United States. Fighting Joe Dunford and General Breedlove can talk all they want about the Russian and Chinese «threat». But for the rest of the world, which sees SCO and BRICS as welcome foils to the plans for further NATO expansion, it is America and its policy of fostering «color revolutions» and displaying military shows of force that represent the true threats to global stability.

Posted in culture, divide and conquer, Economics, Empire, Geopolitics, History, propaganda, Psy-ops, society, State Crime, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Coincidence, Chaos, & Archetypes in Our Science-Fictional World

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By Eric Wargo

Source: The Nightshirt

You don’t have to be a hardheaded materialist skeptic or an atheist to be troubled by the idea of synchronicity. The fundamental mystery—or really, outrage—of synchronicities is they seem arranged, stage managed, in a way that is impossible without imagining an active higher intelligence taking interest in guiding us and arranging the events of the wider world to produce unmistakeably uncanny outcomes. Even if we believe in God, many people aren’t comfortable living in a world of miracles and signs.

This was the problem faced by Philip K. Dick, whose Christianity couldn’t countenance fully divine meddling in his psyche and life. The story had to be more complex and also more rational. Hence, he tended to think that the synchronicities he experienced in 1974 reflected his own enlarged self haunting him from an orthogonal dimension of time, perpendicular to the four spacetime dimensions we ordinarily experience.

My last post sparked an interesting discussion in the comments about the apparent role of coincidence in synchronicities if they are really, as I argued, cases of misrecognized precognition or premonition. For instance, even if Jung’s famous scarab arriving at the window of his office was a purely random event that his patient had dreamed about the night before, there is still a coincidental element to it: Why a scarab, which has an archetypal meaning connected to the patient’s therapeutic situation, as opposed to some other insect?

Here’s where I think we really need to take seriously the revised picture of time that Dick grappled with through his 8-year frenetic journaling in his Exegesis: What is the connection between the archetypal world and the multidimensional nature of time? In a Eureka moment (not unlike the hundreds recorded by the manic Dick), I think I figured it out: Archetypes are an illusory effect produced by our failure to recognize self-confirmatory actions (feedback loops) made possible by the looping nature of time. Temporal feedback loops amplify the personal significance of symbolic formations, which (because we fail to recognize psi) appear as somehow objective or external to us.

For reasons I discussed in my Psi of Regret post, most information from the future should be negated by one’s own and others’ willed actions; but in a minority of cases, a self-confirming feedback effect could arise which would actually intensify or amplify the significance of the stimulating event in the future. This would happen specifically when that event involves a minor random coincidence (which are myriad) and/or fulfills some kind of unconscious thought or desire we had harbored.

Through this time-loop mechanism, minor coincidences, when they resonate with our own personal meanings and priorities, can be the nuclei of major significant moments (synchronicities) as well as meta-symbols (archetypes). Small coincidences, in other words, may be like grains of sand around which time’s oyster builds Platonic-Jungian pearls.

Bootstrapping Ourselves Toward Meaning

The idea of information from the future reaching us in the present should be unproblematic to parapsychologists and Forteans, yet we still tend to think of it somehow as a very special case. But if we grant the experimental results of Daryl Bem and Dean Radin and the observations of J.W. Dunne and others, then information must indeed be constantly rippling backwards in the time stream; this would have to produce all the paradoxical effects familiar from time travel stories in science fiction: doubling or multiplication or intensification of information (not unlike what happens in the interesting 2004 sci-fi film Primer), as well as self-cancelling effects such as I discussed in the context of Dune Messiah, and perhaps even wholesale self-negation (the famous grandfather paradox). If I am right about the future not being etched in stone (or glass, as in the Minkowski glass football)—that is, as subject to free will—then precognitive material cannot be about what is definitely going to happen but about what is probabilistic, and much of that information will be rendered inaccurate by our willed actions, and thus we would have no way of knowing it (i.e., because it didn’t come true or wasn’t close enough to how events unfolded to be discernible). It wouldn’t even be information, just noise.

However, in special circumstances, for instance when there is a slight perceived (and random) coincidence, such as between a specific genus of insect and the theme of therapeutic rebirth, it could instead have the effect of entraining our actions to the signal, in turn amplifying the felt significance of the signal into the past, generating a precognitive or premonitory experience which in turn feeds forward to intensify the uncanniness of the stimulating event, in turn boosting the signal into the past, and so on … The result would be an informatic/emotional time-loop feedback effect centered on what emerges as a truly uncanny, meaningful, and even decisive coincidence (the ’synchronicity’) that could even alter the course of a person’s life in a significant fashion going forward.

Within Jung’s larger and less radical paradigm of “individuation,” the unconscious is ever seeking out opportunities to progress and develop and change toward wholeness, and its capitalization on significant coincidences provides a way for the individual to bootstrap him/herself toward integration. The unconscious has no sense of time, so it doesn’t recognize this operation of atemporal time-looping—that is, the artificiality of the apparent coincidence (i.e., the fact that the person him/herself created the apparent coincidence through his/her actions and attributed it to objective external reality). The tendency of ‘synchronistic’ events to have a recursive, fractal, or self-similar quality, in some way being ‘about’ the whole notion of synchronicity or coincidence, reflects the tendency of the coincidence-receptive person to be attuned to coincidences in the first place. It is, quite literally, self-fulfilling prophecy.

Jung and Plato Must Die (that Psi May Live)

Thus the kinds of events that spark an emotional ripple into the past will be ones that support the ‘prophetic enjoyment’ I mentioned in the last post: Synchronicities are self-confirming effects produced by misrecognized precognition within an overall attitude of receptivity to mystery, magic, and meaningful coincidence. Belief in synchronicity produces synchronicity, which further reinforces the belief. In a larger sense, this mechanism may underlie the “law of attraction” in all its forms. It really is just like the “strange attractor” in Chaos Theory (and which is also identical to what Lacan and Žižek call the “symptom”).

What this suggests—and this is my Eureka—is that “archetypes” as such—as well as the Platonic world of “forms” that Dick suggested was the “fifth dimension” (printing out archetypes on the paper of history as on an IBM Selectric typewriter)—are really an illusory or anamorphic effect produced by not seeing or recognizing these self-confirmatory time loops, these informational/emotional eddies in the spacetime continuum, and failing to see our own role in feeding them through our perceptions and actions. We ourselves make meaning, including the intensified meaningful nuclei in the collective unconscious that so fascinated Jung and that formed the centerpiece of Platonic metaphysics.

At times, Dick came close to saying this: He suggested that synchronicities occur because we in the future are time traveling, cultivating our own development; that our own enlarged consciousess has the power to “stage manage” not because it is a white-bearded deity sitting up in a cloud reaching down and playing with us like chess pieces, but because of the nature of time itself. Coincidences may be the product of time tampering, our own time tampering in the future.

Where I’m departing from this notion is in emphasizing misrecognition and the role of the unconscious: Instead of our future (conscious) selves meddling in the past, our unconscious minds are constantly receiving and reacting to future information without knowing it comes from the future; through our actions, we thus sometimes confirm this information, particularly when it resonates with our priorities and unconscious beliefs about meaning or our own significance in the bigger cosmic picture. That sort of information will act as an ‘attractor’ in the Chaos Theory sense and give rise to the illusion of BIG coincidences and the meta-symbols that are necessary (in Jungian thinking) to make sense of them.

We live in a world that curves and bifurcates and loops back on itself, and these loopings and crossings and doublings and cancellations exert a shaping force on our lives and larger events via what we call psi, but we (a) think linearly and do not believe in time travel, (b) generally disbelieve in psi, and (c) fail to include the knower in the known even when we do believe in those possibilities. Consciously being open to coincidence and ‘larger meaning’ but failing to recognize our own role in creating significant moments, we inevitably imagine a Higher Knower who recognizes and certifies these eternal forms or archetypes, stage-managing these amazing occurrences as signals or signposts for us. But this is a mistake.

I’m suggesting we kill both Jung and Plato here in one stroke … maybe even God. Not only synchronicities but also archetypes and Ideal Forms are illusions caused by our failure to recognize the truly science-fictional way that informational-emotional time loops may intensify the potency of confluent events and symbols in our lives, and the role we ourselves play in the process.

We live in a science-fictional universe. To move forward, we need to recognize that fact.

Posted in conditioning, consciousness, culture, Philosophy, Psychology, society, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saturday Matinee: Mr. Robot

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“Mr. Robot” is one of the rare shows to make it to mainstream cable television with a voice that might worry corporate sponsors of cable television. It incorporates some of the more subversive elements of films such as Fight Club and The Matrix in it’s narrative centering on a network security programmer who moonlights as an anarchist vigilante hacker. Series such as this are all too rare but much needed for their ability to introduce and/or spread important information through the collective imagination. It’s also one of the first television shows to truly speak to and reflect growing but often ignored segments of internet culture.

Give the nature of its format, an episodic series produced for a basic cable network (though it is the same network that aired Night Flight), it is vulnerable to censorship and manipulation. But as it stands now it’s surprisingly awesome so enjoy it while you can.

(Hulu requires Adobe Flash Player 11.1 to view)

Pilot episode can also be viewed here.

Posted in Art, conditioning, culture, Film, media, Saturday Matinee, Video | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Global One Percent Celebrate at the Bohemian Grove

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By Peter Phillips

Source: Dissident Voice

July 18th 2015 was the first day of this year’s summer camp for the world’s business and political aristocracy and their invited guests. 2,000 to 3,000 men, mostly from the wealthiest global one percent, gather at Bohemian Grove, 70 miles north of San Francisco in California’s Sonoma County—to sit around the campfire and chew the fat—off-the-record—with ex-presidents, corporate leaders and global financiers.

Speakers this year giving “Lakeside Chats” include past Secretary of Defense and the CIA Leon Panetta, Paul Volcker Jr. former Federal Reserve Chairman, retired Admiral Mike Mullen former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, NYU Law Professor Bryan Stevenson, producer Norman Lear, the founder of AOL Steve Case, and Christopher Hill former US Ambassador to Iraq.

The Bohemian Grove summer encampments have become one of the most famous private men’s retreats in the world. Club members and several hundred world-class guests gather annually in the last weeks of July to recreate what has been called “the greatest men’s party on earth.” Spanning three weekends, the outdoors event includes lectures, rituals, theater, camp parties, golf, swimming, skeet shooting, politics, sideline business meetings and feasts of food and alcohol.

One might imagine modern-day aristocrats like Henry Kissinger, the Koch brothers, and Donald Rumsfeld amid a circle of friends sipping cognac and discussing how the “unqualified” masses cannot be trusted to carry out policy, and how elites must set values that can be translated into “standards of authority.”

Private men’s clubs, like the San Francisco Bohemian Club, have historically represented institutionalized race, gender and class inequality. English gentlemen’s clubs emerged during Great Britain’s empire building period as an exclusive place free of troublesome women, under-classes, and non-whites. Copied in the United States, elite private men’s clubs served the same self-celebration purposes as their English counterparts.

The San Francisco Bohemian Club was formed in 1872 as a gathering place for newspaper reporters and men of the arts and literature. By the 1880s local businessmen joined the Club in large numbers, quickly making business elites the dominant group. More than 2,500 men are members today. Most are from California, while several hundred originate from some 35 states and a dozen foreign countries. About one-fifth of the members are either directors of one or more of the Fortune 1000 companies, corporate CEOs, top governmental officials (current and former) and/or members of important policy councils or major foundations. The remaining members are mostly regional business/legal elites with a small mix of academics, military officers, artists, or medical doctors.

Foremost at the Bohemian Grove is an atmosphere of social interaction and networking. You can sit around a campfire with directors of PG&E, or Bank of America. You can shoot skeet with the former secretaries of state and defense, or you can enjoy a sing-along with a Council of Foreign Relations director or a Business Roundtable executive. All of this makes for ample time to develop personal long-lasting connections with powerful influential men.

On the surface, the Bohemian Grove is a private place where global and regional elites meet for fun and enjoyment. Behind the scene, however, the Bohemian Grove is an American version of building insider ties, consensual understandings, and lasting connections in the service of class solidarity. Ties reinforced at the Grove manifest themselves in global trade meetings, party politics, campaign financing, and top-down corporatism.

Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University, and President of Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored. He wrote his dissertation on the Bohemian Club in 1994. Read other articles by Peter, or visit Peter’s website.

 

Posted in Conspiracy, Corporate Crime, Corruption, Empire, History, news, Social Control, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Assassination of Sandra Bland and the Struggle against State Repression

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The Black Lives Matter movement has another martyr, as it prepares for a national conference in Cleveland, this weekend. Sandra Bland’s murder in Texas shows, once again, that “defending one’s dignity in an encounter with the police is a crime that that can lead to a death sentence.” The emerging movement must be clear on the political nature of Bland’s death, and that only real power in the hands of the people can break the cycle of oppression.

By Ajamu Baraka

Source: Black Agenda Report

Authentic justice and liberation will only come when there is authentic de-colonization and revolutionary power in the hands of self-determinate peoples’ and oppressed classes and social groups.”

During the struggle in South Africa black activists who were captured by the state had a strange habit of jumping to their deaths from the windows of jails and courthouses whenever the authorities would turn their backs. In the U.S. the method of suicide black prisoners appear to choose is death by hanging – that is, when they are unable to pull a gun from an officer and shoot themselves in the chest while handcuffed behind their backs.

In Waller County, Texas, Sandra Bland, a young black woman from Illinois, an activist with Black Lives Matter, who was, according to friends and family, excited about her new job in Texas, is stopped for a minor traffic violation, beaten, jailed and found dead two days later in her cell. Her death is labeled a suicide by the Waller County Sheriff Glen Smith.

Because Sandra Bland was an activist who advised others about their rights and the proper way to handle a police encounter, no one is accepting the official explanation that she took her own life.

What does seem clear is that Sandra was a woman who understood her rights and was more than prepared to defend her dignity. However, for a black person in the U.S. defending one’s dignity in an encounter with the police is a crime that that can lead to a death sentence, or in the parlance of human rights, an extra-judicial execution by state agents.

While many are calling for something called justice for Sandra Bland, we would be doing Sandra and all those who have had their lives taken by the agents of repression a disservice if we didn’t place this case in its proper political and historical context.

Sandra was a woman who understood her rights and was more than prepared to defend her dignity.”

A psycho-analytic analysis of the dynamics involved with Blands’ gender and blackness could easily conclude that Bland was perceived as an existential threat to the racist male cops who pulled her out of car. Being a conscious, “defiant” black woman she probably disrupted their psychological order and meaning of themselves by her presence and willingness to defend her dignity.

However, as interesting as the individualized analysis and expressions of the psychopathology of white supremacy might be, the murder of Sandra Bland has to be contextualized politically as part of the intensifying war being waged on black communities and peoples across the country.

And because the state is waging war against us and will be targeting our organizations, as an activist, organizer and popular educator, Sandra’s murder must be seen a political murder and receive sustain focus as such.

Coming right before the Black Lives Matter Movement gathering in Cleveland, Sandra’s murder dramatically drives home the ever present dangers of not just being black in a culture of normalize anti-blackness, but the vulnerabilities associated with being a black activist and especially a black woman activist.

Historically the tyranny of white power has always had its most dehumanized expressions in relationship to black women. The unrestrained and unlimited power of white supremacist domination converged on the captive bodies of black women during slavery and has symbolically and literally continued during the post-enslavement period of capitalist/colonialist subordination of black people in the U.S.

The murder of Sandra Bland has to be contextualized politically as part of the intensifying war being waged on black communities and peoples across the country.”

However, from Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Claudia Jones, Fannie Lou Hammer through to Assata Shukur, Elaine Brown, Jaribu Hill and countless others, revolutionary black women held up the sky and provided the vision of liberation over the ages.

When the South African government began to target black women activists, the popular response was that now the racist government had “struck a rock.”

This week, under the leadership of black woman activists, much of the resistance movement to the escalating violence of the state will gather in Cleveland to engage in reflection and planning. Sandra Bland will be on the minds of those activists as well as Malissa Williams, who found herself at the receiving end of 137 bullets fired by members of the Cleveland police department that ripped apart the bodies of her and her companion Timothy Russell. And the activists will certainly highlight the case of 12 year old Tamir Rice who was shot point blank two seconds after police arrived on the scene where he had been playing with his toy gun in a park near his home.

Yet, the assassination of Sandra must be seen as a blow against the movement. That is why the BLM must struggle to develop absolute clarity related to the political, economic, social and military context that it/we face.

We understand history and our responsibilities.”

The struggle in the U.S. must be placed in an anti-colonial context or we will find ourselves begging for the colonial state to violate the logic of its existence by pretending that it will end something called police brutality and state killings. The settler-state is serious about protecting white capitalist/colonialist power while we are still trapped in the language of liberal reformism demanding “justice” and accountability. Those demands are fine as transitional demands if we understand that those demands are just that – transitional. Authentic justice and liberation will only come when there is authentic de-colonization and revolutionary power in the hands of self-determinate peoples’ and oppressed classes and social groups.

The martyrdom of Sandra Bland and all that came before her and who will follow – and there will be more – demands this level of clarity. We did not ask for this war. But we understand history and our responsibilities to our history of resistance and our radical vision that we can be more than we are today. Our enemies want us to think that they are invincible but we know their secrets and know that they can be defeated. All we have to do is to be willing to fight.

Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist, organizer and geo-political analyst. Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. and editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. He is a contributor to “Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence” (Counterpunch Books, 2014). He can be reached at www.AjamuBaraka.com
Posted in Activism, civil liberties, culture, History, police state, Racism, Social Control, society, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Land of the Unfree – Police and Prosecutors Fight Aggressively to Retain Barbaric Right of “Civil Asset Forfeiture”

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By Mike Krieger

Source: Washingtons Blog

Efforts to limit seizures of money, homes and other property from people who may never be convicted of a crime are stalling out amid a wave of pressure from prosecutors and police.

Their effort, at least at the state level, appears to be working. At least a dozen states considered bills restricting or even abolishing forfeiture that isn’t accompanied by a conviction or gives law enforcement less control over forfeited proceeds. But most measures failed to pass.

– From the Wall Street Journal article: Efforts to Curb Asset Seizures by Law Enforcement Hit Headwinds

The fact that civil asset forfeiture continues to exist across the American landscape despite outrage and considerable media attention, is as good an example as any as to how far fallen and uncivilized our so-called “society” has become. It also proves the point demonstrated in a Princeton University study that the U.S. is not a democracy, and the desires of the people have no impact on how the country is governed.

Civil asset forfeiture was first highlighted on these pages in the 2013 post, Why You Should Never, Ever Drive Through Tenaha, Texas, in which I explained:

In a nutshell, civil forfeiture is the practice of confiscating items from people, ranging from cash, cars, even homes based on no criminal conviction or charges, merely suspicion. This practice first became widespread for use against pirates, as a way to take possession of contraband goods despite the fact that the ships’ owners in many cases were located thousands of miles away and couldn’t easily be prosecuted. As is often the case, what starts out reasonable becomes a gigantic organized crime ring of criminality, particularly in a society where the rule of law no longer exists for the “elite,” yet anything goes when it comes to pillaging the average citizen.

One of the major reasons these programs have become so abused is that the police departments themselves are able to keep much of the confiscated money. So they actually have a perverse incentive to steal. As might be expected, a program that is often touted as being effective against going after major drug kingpins, actually targets the poor and disenfranchised more than anything else.

Civil asset forfeiture is state-sanctioned theft. There is no other way around it. The entire concept violates the spirit of the 4th, 5th and 6th amendments to the Constitution. In case you have any doubt:

The 4th Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The 5th Amendment: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The 6th Amendment: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

Civil asset forfeiture is a civil rights issue, and it should be seen as such by everyone. Just because it targets the entire population as opposed to a specific race, gender or sexual orientation doesn’t make it less important.

The problem with opposition in America today is that people aren’t seeing modern battle lines clearly. The greatest friction and abuse occurring in these United States today comes from the corporate-fascist state’s attack against average citizens. It doesn’t matter what color or gender you are. If you are weak, poor and vulnerable you are ripe for the picking. Until people see the battle lines clearly, it will be very difficult to achieve real change. Most people are divided and conquered along their superficial little tribal affiliations, and they completely miss the bigger picture to the peril of society. Which is why women will support Hillary just because she’s a woman, not caring in the least that she is a compromised, corrupt oligarch stooge.

In case you have any doubt about how little your opinion matters when it comes to the rights of police to rob you blind, read the following excerpts from the Wall Street Journal:

Efforts to limit seizures of money, homes and other property from people who may never be convicted of a crime are stalling out amid a wave of pressure from prosecutors and police.

Read that sentence over and over again until you get it. This is a free country?

Critics have taken aim at the confiscatory powers over concerns that authorities have too much latitude and often too strong a financial incentive when deciding whether to seize property suspected of being tied to criminal activity.

But after New Mexico passed a law this spring hailed by civil-liberties groups as a breakthrough in their effort to rein in states’ forfeiture programs, prosecutor and police associations stepped up their own lobbying campaign, warning legislators that passing such laws would deprive them of a potent crime-fighting tool and rip a hole in law-enforcement budgets.

Their effort, at least at the state level, appears to be working. At least a dozen states considered bills restricting or even abolishing forfeiture that isn’t accompanied by a conviction or gives law enforcement less control over forfeited proceeds. But most measures failed to pass.

“What happened in those states is a testament to the power of the law-enforcement lobby,” said Scott Bullock, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian-leaning advocacy group that has led a push for laws giving property owners more protections. 

It seems the only people in America without a powerful lobby group are actual American citizens. See: Charting the American Oligarchy – How 0.01% of the Population Contributes 42% of All Campaign Cash

Prosecutors say forfeiture laws help ensure that drug traffickers, white-collar thieves and other wrongdoers can’t enjoy the fruits of their misdeeds and help curb crime by depriving criminals of the “tools” of their trade. Under federal law and in many states, a conviction isn’t required.

“White-collar thieves,” they say. Yet I haven’t seen a single bank executive’s assets confiscated. Rather, they received taxpayer bailout funds with which to pay themselves record bonuses after wrecking the global economy. Don’t forget:

The U.S. Department of Justice Handles Banker Criminals Like Juvenile Offenders…Literally

In Texas, lawmakers introduced more than a dozen bills addressing forfeiture during this year’s legislative session, which ended Monday. Some would either force the government to meet a higher burden of proof or subject forfeiture programs to more stringent financial disclosure rules and audits. 

But only one bill, which law-enforcement officials didn’t object to, ultimately passed. It requires the state attorney general to publish an annual report of forfeited funds based on data submitted by local authorities. That information, at the moment, is only accessible through freedom-of-information requests.

This is what a corporate-statist oligarchy looks like.

Shannon Edmonds, a lobbyist for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, said local enforcement officers and prosecutors “educated their legislators about how asset forfeiture really works in Texas.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan last month vetoed a bill that would, among other things, prohibit the state from turning over seized property to the federal government unless the owner has been charged with a federal crime or gives consent.

Remember, the terrorists hate us for our freedom.

Prosecutors said the Tenaha episode was an isolated breakdown in the system. “Everybody knows there are bad eggs out there,” Karen Morris, who supervises the Harris County district attorney’s forfeiture unit, told Texas lawmakers at a hearing this spring. “But we don’t stop prosecuting people for murder just because some district attorneys have made mistakes.”

When police aren’t out there stealing your hard earned assets without a trial or charges, they can often be found pounding on citizens for kicks. I came across the following three headlines this morning alone as I was the scanning news.

Cop Exonerated After Being Caught on Video Brutally Beating A Tourist Who Asked For A Tampon

Kids in Police-Run Youth Camp Allegedly Beaten, Threatened By Cops

Florida Cop Charged With On-Duty Child Abuse; Suspended With Pay

This is not what freedom looks like.

For related articles, see:

The DEA Strikes Again – Agents Seize Man’s Life Savings Under Civil Asset Forfeiture Without Charges

Asset Forfeiture – How Cops Continue to Steal Americans’ Hard Earned Cash with Zero Repercussions

Quote of the Day – An Incredible Statement from the City Attorney of Las Cruces, New Mexico

“Common People Do Not Carry This Much U.S. Currency…” – This is How Police Justify Stealing American Citizens’ Money

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Two for Tuesday

Natalie Merchant

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The Mess that Nuland Made

nolan

By Robert Parry

Source: Consortium News

As the Ukrainian army squares off against ultra-right and neo-Nazi militias in the west and violence against ethnic Russians continues in the east, the obvious folly of the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy has come into focus even for many who tried to ignore the facts, or what you might call “the mess that Victoria Nuland made.”

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs “Toria” Nuland was the “mastermind” behind the Feb. 22, 2014 “regime change” in Ukraine, plotting the overthrow of the democratically elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych while convincing the ever-gullible U.S. mainstream media that the coup wasn’t really a coup but a victory for “democracy.”

To sell this latest neocon-driven “regime change” to the American people, the ugliness of the coup-makers had to be systematically airbrushed, particularly the key role of neo-Nazis and other ultra-nationalists from the Right Sektor. For the U.S.-organized propaganda campaign to work, the coup-makers had to wear white hats, not brown shirts.

So, for nearly a year and a half, the West’s mainstream media, especially The New York Times and The Washington Post, twisted their reporting into all kinds of contortions to avoid telling their readers that the new regime in Kiev was permeated by and dependent on neo-Nazi fighters and Ukrainian ultra-nationalists who wanted a pure-blood Ukraine, without ethnic Russians.

Any mention of that sordid reality was deemed “Russian propaganda” and anyone who spoke this inconvenient truth was a “stooge of Moscow.” It wasn’t until July 7 that the Times admitted the importance of the neo-Nazis and other ultra-nationalists in waging war against ethnic Russian rebels in the east. The Times also reported that these far-right forces had been joined by Islamic militants. Some of those jihadists have been called “brothers” of the hyper-brutal Islamic State.

Though the Times sought to spin this remarkable military alliance – neo-Nazi militias and Islamic jihadists – as a positive, the reality had to be jarring for readers who had bought into the Western propaganda about noble “pro-democracy” forces resisting evil “Russian aggression.”

Perhaps the Times sensed that it could no longer keep the lid on the troubling truth in Ukraine. For weeks, the Right Sektor militias and the neo-Nazi Azov battalion have been warning the civilian government in Kiev that they might turn on it and create a new order more to their liking.

Clashes in the West

Then, on Saturday, violent clashes broke out in the western Ukrainian town of Mukachevo, allegedly over the control of cigarette-smuggling routes. Right Sektor paramilitaries sprayed police officers with bullets from a belt-fed machinegun, and police – backed by Ukrainian government troops – returned fire. Several deaths and multiple injuries were reported.

Tensions escalated on Monday with President Petro Poroshenko ordering national security forces to disarm “armed cells” of political movements. Meanwhile, the Right Sektor dispatched reinforcements to the area while other militiamen converged on the capital of Kiev.

While President Poroshenko and Right Sektor leader Dmitry Yarosh may succeed in tamping down this latest flare-up of hostilities, they may be only postponing the inevitable: a conflict between the U.S.-backed authorities in Kiev and the neo-Nazis and other right-wing fighters who spearheaded last year’s coup and have been at the front lines of the fighting against ethnic Russian rebels in the east.

The Ukrainian right-wing extremists feel they have carried the heaviest burden in the war against the ethnic Russians and resent the politicians living in the relative safety and comfort of Kiev. In March, Poroshenko also fired thuggish oligarch Igor Kolomoisky as governor of the southeastern province of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. Kolomoisky had been the primary benefactor of the Right Sektor militias.

So, as has become apparent across Europe and even in Washington, the Ukraine crisis is spinning out of control, making the State Department’s preferred narrative of the conflict – that it’s all Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fault – harder and harder to sell.

How Ukraine is supposed to pull itself out of what looks like a death spiral – a possible two-front war in the east and the west along with a crashing economy – is hard to comprehend. The European Union, confronting budgetary crises over Greece and other EU members, has little money or patience for Ukraine, its neo-Nazis and its socio-political chaos.

America’s neocons at The Washington Post and elsewhere still rant about the need for the Obama administration to sink more billions upon billions of dollars into post-coup Ukraine because it “shares our values.” But that argument, too, is collapsing as Americans see the heart of a racist nationalism beating inside Ukraine’s new order.

Another Neocon ‘Regime Change’

Much of what has happened, of course, was predictable and indeed was predicted, but neocon Nuland couldn’t resist the temptation to pull off a “regime change” that she could call her own.

Her husband (and arch-neocon) Robert Kagan had co-founded the Project for the New American Century in 1998 around a demand for “regime change” in Iraq, a project that was accomplished in 2003 with President George W. Bush’s invasion.

As with Nuland in Ukraine, Kagan and his fellow neocons thought they could engineer an easy invasion of Iraq, oust Saddam Hussein and install some hand-picked client – in Iraq, Ahmed Chalabi was to be “the guy.” But they failed to take into account the harsh realities of Iraq, such as the fissures between Sunnis and Shiites, exposed by the U.S.-led invasion and occupation.

In Ukraine, Nuland and her neocon and liberal-interventionist friends saw the chance to poke Putin in the eye by encouraging violent protests to overthrow Russia-friendly President Yanukovych and put in place a new regime hostile to Moscow.

Carl Gershman, the neocon president of the U.S.-taxpayer-funded National Endowment for Democracy, explained the plan in a Post op-ed on Sept. 26, 2013. Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and an important interim step toward toppling Putin, who “may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

For her part, Nuland passed out cookies to anti-Yanukovych demonstrators at the Maidan square, reminded Ukrainian business leaders that the U.S. had invested $5 billion in their “European aspirations,” declared “fuck the EU” for its less aggressive approach, and discussed with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who the new leaders of Ukraine should be. “Yats is the guy,” she said, referring to Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

Nuland saw her big chance on Feb. 20, 2014, when a mysterious sniper – apparently firing from a building controlled by the Right Sektor – shot and killed both police and protesters, escalating the crisis. On Feb. 21, in a desperate bid to avert more violence, Yanukovych agreed to a European-guaranteed plan in which he accepted reduced powers and called for early elections so he could be voted out of office.

But that wasn’t enough for the anti-Yanukovych forces who – led by Right Sektor and neo-Nazi militias – overran government buildings on Feb. 22, forcing Yanukovych and many of his officials to flee for their lives. With armed thugs patrolling the corridors of power, the final path to “regime change” was clear.

Instead of trying to salvage the Feb. 21 agreement, Nuland and European officials arranged for an unconstitutional procedure to strip Yanukovych of the presidency and declared the new regime “legitimate.” Nuland’s “guy” – Yatsenyuk – became prime minister.

While Nuland and her neocon cohorts celebrated, their “regime change” prompted an obvious reaction from Putin, who recognized the strategic threat that this hostile new regime posed to the historic Russian naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea. On Feb. 23, he began to take steps to protect those Russian interests.

Ethnic Hatreds

What the coup also did was revive long pent-up antagonisms between the ethnic Ukrainians in the west, including elements that had supported Adolf Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union during World War Two, and ethnic Russians in the south and east who feared the anti-Russian sentiments emanating from Kiev.

First, in Crimea and then in the so-called Donbas region, these ethnic Russians, who had been Yanukovych’s political base, resisted what they viewed as the illegitimate overthrow of their elected president. Both areas held referenda seeking separation from Ukraine, a move that Russia accepted in Crimea but resisted with the Donbas.

However, when the Kiev regime announced an “anti-terrorism operation” against the Donbas and dispatched neo-Nazi and other extremist militias to be the tip of the spear, Moscow began quietly assisting the embattled ethnic Russian rebels, a move that Nuland, the Obama administration and the mainstream news media called “Russian aggression.”

Amid the Western hysteria over Russia’s supposedly “imperial designs” and the thorough demonizing of Putin, President Barack Obama essentially authorized a new Cold War against Russia, reflected now in new U.S. strategic planning that could cost the U.S. taxpayers trillions of dollars and risk a possible nuclear confrontation.

Yet, despite the extraordinary costs and dangers, Nuland failed to appreciate the practical on-the-ground realities, much as her husband and other neocons did in Iraq. While Nuland got her hand-picked client Yatsenyuk installed and he did oversee a U.S.-demanded “neo-liberal” economic plan – slashing pensions, heating assistance and other social programs – the chaos that her “regime change” unleashed transformed Ukraine into a financial black hole.

With few prospects for a clear-cut victory over the ethnic Russian resistance in the east – and with the neo-Nazi/Islamist militias increasingly restless over the stalemate – the chances to restore any meaningful sense of order in the country appear remote. Unemployment is soaring and the government is essentially bankrupt.

The last best hope for some stability may have been the Minsk-2 agreement in February 2015, calling for a federalized system to give the Donbas more autonomy, but Nuland’s Prime Minister Yatsenyuk sabotaged the deal in March by inserting a poison pill that essentially demanded that the ethnic Russian rebels first surrender.

Now, the Ukraine chaos threatens to spiral even further out of control with the neo-Nazis and other right-wing militias – supplied with a bounty weapons to kill ethnic Russians in the east – turning on the political leadership in Kiev.

In other words, the neocons have struck again, dreaming up a “regime change” scheme that ignored practical realities, such as ethnic and religious fissures. Then, as the blood flowed and the suffering worsened, the neocons just sought out someone else to blame.

Thus, it seems unlikely that Nuland, regarded by some in Washington as the new “star” in U.S. foreign policy, will be fired for her dangerous incompetence, just as most neocons who authored the Iraq disaster remain “respected” experts employed by major think tanks, given prized space on op-ed pages, and consulted at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

 

[For more on these topics, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Obama’s True Foreign Policy Weakness” and “A Family Business of Perpetual War.”]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

 

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