No Fly List Used by Government to Intimidate Activists and Recruit Informants

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The idea of a No Fly List has always been a flawed concept as a true terrorism prevention measure. If people are deemed too dangerous to be allowed to board a flight after being searched and/or scanned and having their bags x-rayed, why would it be okay to let them go free to attack somewhere else? If there’s not enough evidence to suggest they’d stage such attacks they should be allowed to fly. Of course preventing terrorism was merely a stated goal used to justify the unconstitutional No Fly List.

New revelations regarding the true purposes of the No Fly List have been revealed as a result of two recent lawsuits. In 2010, Panagacos v. Towery was filed by Julianne Panagacos and six other antiwar activists against government spy John Towery, who infiltrated at least four different organizations in the Northwest, Port Militarization Resistance, Students for a Democratic Society, the Industrial Workers of the World, and Iraq Veterans Against the War. New documents recently came to light as the result of a Public Records Act request which, according to a WSWS.org article, proved:

Towery attended a Domestic Terrorism Conference in 2007 at which “domestic terrorist” dossiers on antiwar and left-wing activists were distributed for police review. These individuals could later be targeted for state repression ranging from preventing them from boarding airplanes (if they were placed on the federal “no-fly” list) to preventive detention in the event of a mass roundup of supposed “terrorists.”

Of course this comes as no surprise to anyone following independent news sources (and especially activists), but it’s rare to see it supported by official documentation. The same article reveals how, like other instances of FBI entrapment, Towery attempted to recruit one of the plaintiffs in the suit as a terrorist patsy:

Crespo described how Towery had sought to entrap him by persuading him to buy guns and learn how to shoot. After seeming to befriend Crespo while attending antiwar meetings, Towery at one point visited him at home and showed him a gun and how to load and unload it. Later, he showed Crespo documents about military tactics and suggested making use of them in “our actions.” Subsequently, he gave Crespo a copy of a proposed article written from the perspective of the 9/11 hijackers. Fortunately, Crespo’s reaction to these approaches—which he described as “the weirdest thing in the world”—was to keep his distance.

Read the full article here: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/03/01/anti-m01.html?view=article_mobile

In a new article just posted at RT, another lawsuit in a New York federal court has revealed how the No Fly List has been used by the FBI to recruit Muslim informants:

FBI ‘intentionally and unlawfully’ used No Fly List to recruit Muslims as informers

By RT.com

The FBI used a no-fly list to recruit four US Muslims as informants, violating their constitutional rights to freedom of speech, association and religion. That’s the claim being made by four US Muslims in a New York federal court Tuesday.

Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah, Naveed Shinwari and Awais Sajjad, who are between them either US residents or permanent US residents, are demanding that the FBI remove them from the no-fly list which contains the names of people who are not permitted to board a commercial aircraft for travel in or out of the United States, according to threat and intelligence reporting.

“This impermissible abuse of the No Fly List has forced Plaintiffs to choose between their constitutionally-protected right to travel, on the one hand, and their First Amendment rights on the other,” says the lawsuit.

One of the plaintiffs, Awais Sajjad, a lawful permanent US resident, learned that he was on a No Fly List in 2012 when he tried to board a flight to Pakistan. The FBI agents questioned Sajjad at the airport before releasing him. Soon they returned with an offer: he could work as an FBI informer and in return the agency would give him citizenship and compensation, the Washington Post reported.

When he refused, the bureau “kept him on the list in order to pressure and coerce Mr. Sajjad to sacrifice his constitutionally-protected rights,” says the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, three other complainants – Tanvir, Algibhah and Shinwari – said they were added to the list immediately after they refused to work as FBI informants for religious reasons.

Shinwari, a legal US resident from Omaha, Nebraska, said that after his arrival from his native country, Afghanistan, in 2012, he was twice detained and questioned by FBI agents who wanted to know if he knew anything about national security threats. He was soon put on the No Fly List, though he has never been convicted of a crime or posed a threat to national security, according to his lawyers.

In one of their visits, FBI agents wanted to know about the “local Omaha community, did I know anyone who’s a threat?” he says.

“I’m just very frustrated, [and I said] what can I do to clear my name?” says Shinwari. “And that’s where it was mentioned to me: you help us, we help you. We know you don’t have a job; we’ll give you money,” The Guardian reported him as saying.

Though Shinwari was allowed to fly within the United States in March, he still fears that if he flies to Afghanistan to see his wife and family, whom he hasn’t seen for at least two years, he might not be able to return.

“Defendants’ unlawful actions are imposing an immediate and ongoing harm on Plaintiffs and have caused Plaintiffs deprivation of their constitutional rights, emotional distress, damage to their reputation, and material and economic loss,” adds the lawsuit.

According to Jameel Algibhah, from the Bronx, New York, the FBI asked him to get access to a Queens mosque and even pose as an extremist in online forums.

“We’re the only ones who can take you off the list,” an unnamed FBI agent told him, Algibhah told The Guardian.

The fourth plaintiff, Muhammad Tanvir, started taking action against the FBI in October 2013, after he refused to spy on his local Pakistani community. Now he can’t visit his ailing mother.

Ramzi Kassem, associate professor of law at the City University of New York, told the Washington Post that “the no-fly list is supposed to be about ensuring aviation safety, but the FBI is using it to force innocent people to become informants.”

Meanwhile, the lawsuit seeks not only the plaintiffs’ removal from the no-fly list but also the establishment of a more robust legal mechanism to contest placement upon it.

“This policy and set of practices by the FBI is part of a much broader set of policies that reflect over-policing in Muslim-American communities,” said Diala Shamas, one of the lawyers for the four plaintiffs.

The FBI has not commented on the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, this is not the first No Fly List-related lawsuit against the FBI. In 2010 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attempted to sue US Department of Justice and the FBI over their barring of American citizens, including several veterans of the US military, who ended up on the No Fly List and have been denied entry to their own country.

The No Fly List was created by the US government’s Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. In 2012, the list was extended to around 21,000 individuals.

The list, including US citizens and residents as well as foreigners, has been repeatedly criticized on civil liberties grounds, due to ethnic, religious, economic, political and racial discrimination. It has also raised concerns about privacy and government secrecy.

The ACLU called inclusion on a list a potentially “life-altering” experience, adding that “it is not at all clear what separates a ‘reasonable-suspicion-based-on-a-reasonable-suspicion’ from a simple hunch.”

Until March, no one had successfully convinced a court to force authorities to take them off the No Fly List. Rahinah Ibrahim, a Malaysian architect, became the first person ever removed from the notorious list after the managed to force officials to admit she had been placed on the list due to an error by the agency.

Related Podcast: On the 4/21/14 broadcast of the Project Censored radio show, host Mickey Huff is joined by  co-host Dr. Deepa Kumar and Dr. Arun Kundnani, author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror. The topic of the show is Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, from the national insecurity state to drone wars and beyond in the 21st century.


https://s3.amazonaws.com/Pcradiodos/PROJECT-CENSORED-041814.mp3

 

Posted in Activism, civil disobedience, civil liberties, conditioning, Corruption, culture, FBI, freedom of speech, news, police state, Psy-ops, Racism, Social Control, society, State Crime, war on terror | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two for Tuesday

Prodigy (Mobb Deep)

Sage Francis

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“Crimes against Peace”: Historic Class Action Law Suit against George W. Bush

WarCrimesBushObama

The case for Aggressive War against George W. Bush and his Administration.

By Inder Comar

Source: GlobalResearch.ca

On March 13, 2013, my client, an Iraqi single mother and refugee now living in Jordan, filed a class action lawsuit against George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz in a federal court in California.

 She alleges that these six defendants planned and waged the Iraq War in violation of international law by waging a “war of aggression,” as defined by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, more than sixty years ago. (The current complaint can be found here). 

At the Nuremberg Trials, American chief prosecutor and associate justice of the US Supreme Court Robert H. Jackson focused his prosecution on the planning and execution of the various wars committed by the Third Reich. Jackson aimed to show that German leaders committed “crimes against peace,” and specifically, that they “planned, prepared, initiated wars of aggression, which were also wars in violation of international treaties, agreements, or assurances.”

For Jackson, the Nuremberg Trials were a high watermark of legalism. In his report regarding the negotiations of the treaty that would set up the Nuremberg Tribunal, Jackson wrote that the Tribunal “ushers international law into a new era where it is in accord with the common sense of mankind that a war of deliberate and unprovoked attack deserves universal condemnation and its authors condign penalties.” He concluded, “all who have shared in this work have been united and inspired in the belief that at long last the law is now unequivocal in classifying armed aggression as an international crime instead of a national right.”

The Nuremberg Tribunal agreed with Jackson. In its famous judgment in 1946, the Tribunal wrote,

“War is essentially an evil thing . . . to initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

The case against Bush is based on the conduct of members of the administration prior to coming into office as well as conduct taking place on and after 9/11. Years before their appointment to the Bush Administration, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz were vocal advocates of a militant neoconservative ideology that called for the United States to use its armed forces in the Middle East and elsewhere.

They openly chronicled their desire for aggressive wars through a non-profit called The Project for the New American Century (or PNAC). In 1998, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz would personally sign a letter to then-President Clinton, urging the president to implement a “strategy for removing Saddam’s regime from power,” which included a “willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing.”

On 9/11, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz openly pressed for the United States to invade Iraq, even though intelligence at the time confirmed that it was al Qaeda, and not Saddam, that was responsible. Richard Clarke, former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism, famously told President Bush that attacking Iraq for 9/11 would be like invading Mexico after Pearl Harbor.

We now know that the Bush Administration began a concerted effort to scare and mislead the American public in order to obtain support for the Iraq War. As alleged in the complaint, this included the famous phrase that “the smoking gun could not be a mushroom cloud,” which was used repeatedly by Administration officials on news shows as a way of equating non-action with the vaporization of a United States city. The Administration used bogus and false intelligence to make the case for weapons of mass destruction, and also falsely linked al Qaeda to Iraq, despite the fact that there has never been any evidence of any operational linkages between the two. These were not simple mistakes: this was an intentional campaign by Administration officials to use faulty data to garner support for a war.

The crime of aggression was completed when these officials failed to secure proper authorization for the war. So concerned with their invasion, the Administration dismissed any need for a formal Security Council mandate. Today, Kofi Annan, an official Dutch inquiry, the Costa Rican Supreme Court, a former law lord from the House of Lords (Lord Steyn) and a former chief prosecutor from the Nuremberg Trials (Benjamin Ferencz) have all concluded the Iraq War was illegal under international law.

After months of briefing, the Northern District of California will issue its order any day as to whether it will recognize the crime of aggression, and whether my client may pursue a civil case against the Bush-era defendants based on that crime. In August of last year, the Obama Department of Justice requested that the district court immunize Bush and his high officials from civil charges on the basis that they were acting “within the scope of their authority.” This issue also remains pending before the court, but it should be noted that both Nuremberg, as well as the more recent Pinochet decision, reject the idea of immunity for leaders when they step outside the appropriate scope of their authority.

We need your support and attention to this case. We cannot let the crime of aggression disappear into history; indeed, even the International Criminal Court has now provided its own definition for aggression, with jurisdiction for this crime being enabled after 2017. We must affirm Jackson’s belief that, “law is not only to govern the conduct of little men, but that even rulers are, as Lord Chief Justice Coke put it to King James, under God and the law.”

For most of the post-war period, this notion — that leaders must be held accountable for their decisions to go to war — has gathered dust. This must change, or else the legacy of Nuremberg, and its foundation for the post-war international legal regime, will be tossed aside in favor of the state of anarchic international relations that led to the Second World War itself. It is time to fulfill Jackson’s dream of a global order governed by law, not war. And it is time for accountability over the Iraq War and for the millions of people who lost their lives or who were affected by it.

Inder Comar is counsel of record for Sundus Shaker Saleh in her case against members of the Bush Administration. The case is Saleh v. Bush, Case No. 3:13-cv-1124 JST (N.D. Cal. March 13, 2013). The firm is providing case updates at witnessiraq.com and is representing Saleh pro bono.

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Monsanto’s Dream Bill is a Nightmare for State GMO Labeling Efforts

anti_gmo_labeling_companies_0

By Genna Reed

Source: Food & Water Watch

Last week, Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) introduced the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014” (HR 4432), a brainchild of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) that would serve as a real road block to the thousands of people who have been fighting for the right to know what’s in their food. This piece of legislation would make voluntary (not mandatory) labeling for genetically engineered foods the national standard, ensure that GMOs can be ambiguously labeled as “natural,” create its own rules for non-GMO labeling and, most heinously, preempt all state efforts to require labeling of GMO foods.

We have been aware of the GMA’s plot to move into the GMO labeling policy world since Politico leaked its proposed bill language in January and then the GMA launched its “Safe and Affordable Food Coalition” in February. Unsurprisingly, the GMA found a sponsor who would support all of its original intended language in the bill, resulting in an extremely industry-friendly final version.

So, what is the GMA and why is it so powerful that congressmen do its bidding? Well, this massive trade organization represents 300 of the world’s biggest food and beverage companies as well as agribusinesses like Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences and Syngenta. The GMA and its member companies have poured over $50 million into political action committees to help block GMO labeling ballot initiatives in California and Washington state over the past two years. To illustrate the type of political power GMA is wielding with its big pockets, here’s a paragraph from Food & Water Watch’s new profile on the GMA:

“Between 2001 and 2012, the GMA political action committee donated more than $1 million to federal candidates, political parties and other campaign committees. But it is a much bigger presence roaming the halls of Congress. From 2004 to 2013, the GMA spent $38.9 million lobbying the U.S. Congress and federal officials. In 2013 alone, the GMA spent $14.3 million lobbying on food labeling, country-of-origin labeling, labeling foods with genetically engineered ingredients (commonly known as GMO labeling), food marketing to children and other regulations affecting the food and beverage industry.” 

This kind of spending activity on the GMA’s part makes the food movement’s state-level efforts that much more significant. Not only does it show that grassroots organizing is working to hold elected officials accountable on food issues, but it also shows how work in the states is truly bothering the industry and impacting national policy. It gives us even more reason to keep pressuring our lawmakers to protect consumers because they want the right to know if GMOs are in their food. What consumers definitely don’t want is a voluntary labeling policy created by the very companies who have kept that information from them for 20 years.

Now is the time to stop the GMA from getting its way and fueling its own profit-driven interests. Food & Water Watch will continue to work with the grassroots movement to fight for  GMO labeling around the country. You can take action by telling your members of Congress not to pass Monsanto’s dream bill. For more information on the GMA, you can view our industry profile, here.

 

Posted in Activism, Corporate Crime, Corruption, culture, GMOs, Health, Law, news, Science, society, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

William K. Zabel on the Columbine Cover-Up

school-shooting

To mark the 15th anniversary of Columbine, featured below are a mindblowing trio of interviews with William K. Zabel from the Binnall of America podcast examining oddities surrounding the Columbine either ignored or suppressed by corporate media:

4/20/09


http://host1.cyberears.com//13065.mp3

6/15/12:


http://host1.cyberears.com//16762.mp3

9/10/13:


http://host1.cyberears.com//21105.mp3

 

Posted in black ops, CIA, conditioning, corporate news, culture, Podcasts, police state, Psy-ops, Social Control, society, State Crime | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Saturday Matinee: Memorial Triple Feature

Today happens to be the day of two pivotal events in American history: the WACO massacre (1993) and the Oklahoma City bombing (1995). In both cases there’s much evidence pointing towards state terrorism and cover-up. Two of the best documentaries which build convincing cases in support of this are “WACO: Rules of Engagement” and “A Noble Lie: Oklahoma City 1995″, both presented here in their entirety.

Lastly, I have recently and belatedly heard the news that whistleblower, investigative journalist and author of “Crossing the Rubicon” Michael C. Ruppert is dead. He reportedly killed himself last Sunday shortly after his final broadcast. Given the nature of Ruppert’s research it would be natural to suspect foul play, but the story is supported by the following statement from a close friend:

Sunday night following Mike’s Lifeboat Hour radio show, he was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. This was not a “fake” suicide. It was very well planned by Mike who gave us few clues but elaborate instructions for how to proceed without him. His wishes were to be cremated, and as of this moment, there are no plans for a memorial service. However, I will be taking his show this coming Sunday night, April 20, and the entire show will be an In Memoriam show for Mike with opportunities for listeners to call in. It was my privilege to have known Mike for 14 years, to have worked with him, to have been mentored by him, and to have supported him in some of his darkest hours, including the more recent ones. I am posting this announcement with the blessing of his partner Jesse Re and his landlord, Jack Martin. Thank you Mike for all of the truth you courageously exposed and for the legacy of truth-telling you left us. Goodbye my friend. Your memory will live in hour hearts forever. I have no more details to share than I am posting here. We should have much more information by Sunday night.

Carolyn Baker

Many including myself discovered Ruppert’s work through his early independent 9/11 research on his From the Wilderness website. A few years ago his work on Peak Oil was brought to a larger audience through the critically acclaimed documentery “Collapse” (2009). Rest in peace, Mike Ruppert.

Posted in 9/11, Activism, Art, black ops, CIA, conditioning, culture, divide and conquer, Economics, Empire, Energy, False Flag, Film, Financial Crisis, Geopolitics, History, police state, propaganda, Psy-ops, Recession, Saturday Matinee, Social Control, society, State Crime, Uncategorized, Video, war on terror, Whistleblowers | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie

Source: Prison Policy Initiative

A Prison Policy Initiative briefing

By Peter Wagner and Leah Sakala

Wait, does the United States have 1.4 million or more than 2 million people in prison? And do the 688,000 people released every year include those getting out of local jails? Frustrating questions like these abound because our systems of federal, state, local, and other types of confinement — and the data collectors that keep track of them — are so fragmented. There is a lot of interesting and valuable research out there, but definitional issues and incompatibilities make it hard to get the big picture for both people new to criminal justice and for experienced policy wonks.

On the other hand, piecing together the available information offers some clarity. This briefing presents the first graphic we’re aware of that aggregates the disparate systems of confinement in this country, which hold more than 2.4 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 2,259 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,283 local jails, and 79 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the U.S. territories.

pie chart showing the number of people locked up on a given day in the United States by facility type and, where available, the underlying offense

 

Jail churn is particularly high because at any given moment most of the 722,000 people in local jails have not been convicted….

While the numbers in each slice of this pie chart represent a snapshot cross section of our correctional system, the enormous churn in and out of our confinement facilities underscores how naive it is to conceive of prisons as separate from the rest of our society. In addition to the 688,000 people released from prisons each year, almost 12 million people cycle through local jails each year. Jail churn is particularly high because at any given moment most of the 722,000 people in local jails have not been convicted and are in jail because they are either too poor to make bail and are being held before trial, or because they’ve just been arrested and will make bail in the next few hours or days. The remainder of the people in jail — almost 300,000 — are serving time for minor offenses, generally misdemeanors with sentences under a year.

So now that we have a sense of the bigger picture, a natural follow-up question might be something like: how many people are locked up in any kind of facility for a drug offense? While the data don’t give us a complete answer, we do know that it’s 237,000 people in state prison, 95,000 in federal prison, and 5,000 in juvenile facilities, plus some unknowable portion of the population confined in military prisons, territorial prisons and local jails.

There are almost 15,000 children behind bars whose “most serious offense” wasn’t a crime.

Offense figures for categories such as “drugs” carry an important caveat here, however: all cases are reported only under the most serious offense. For example, a person who is serving prison time for both murder and a drug offense would be reported only in the murder portion of the chart. This methodology exposes some disturbing facts, particularly about our juvenile justice system. For example, there are almost 15,000 children behind bars whose “most serious offense” wasn’t anything that most people would consider a crime: almost 12,000 children are behind bars for “technical violations” of the requirements of their probation or parole, rather than for a new specific offense. More than 3,000 children are behind bars for “status” offenses, which are, as the U.S. Department of Justice explains: “behaviors that are not law violations for adults, such as running away, truancy, and incorrigibility.”

Turning finally to the people who are locked up because of immigration-related issues, more than 22,000 are in federal prison for criminal convictions of violating federal immigration laws. A separate 34,000 are technically not in the criminal justice system but rather are detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), undergoing the process of deportation, and are physically confined in special immigration detention facilities or in one of hundreds of individual jails that contract with ICE. (Notably, those two categories do not include the people represented in other pie slices who are in some early stage of the deportation process because of their non-immigration-related criminal convictions.)

This whole-pie approach can give Americans, who seem increasingly ready for a fresh look at the criminal justice system, some of the tools they need to demand meaningful changes.

Now that we can, for the first time, see the big picture of how many people are locked up in the United States in the various types of facilities, we can see that something needs to change. Looking at the big picture requires us to ask if it really makes sense to lock up 2.4 million people on any given day, giving us the dubious distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the world. Both policy makers and the public have the responsibility to carefully consider each individual slice in turn to ask whether legitimate social goals are served by putting each category behind bars, and whether any benefit really outweighs the social and fiscal costs. We’re optimistic that this whole-pie approach can give Americans, who seem increasingly ready for a fresh look at the criminal justice system, some of the tools they need to demand meaningful changes to how we do justice.

Notes on the data

This briefing draws the most recent data available as of March 13, 2014 from:

Several data definitions and clarifications may be helpful to researchers reusing this data in new ways:

  • The state prison offense category of “public order” includes weapons, drunk driving, court offenses, commercialized vice, morals and decency offenses, liquor law violations, and other public-order offenses.
  • The state prison “other” category includes offenses labeled “other/unspecified” (7,900), manslaughter (21,500), rape (70,200), “other sexual assault” (90,600), “other violent” (43,400), larceny (45,900), motor vehicle theft (15,000), fraud (30,800) and “other property” (27,700).
  • The federal prison “other” category includes people who have not been convicted or are serving sentence of under 1 year (19,312), homicide (2,800), robbery (8,100), “other violent” (4,000), burglary (400), fraud (7,700), “other property” (2,500), “other public order offenses” (17,100) and a remaining 7,850 records that could not be put into specific offense types because the “2011 data included individuals commiting drug and public-order crimes that could not be separated from valid unspecified records.”
  • The juvenile prison “other” category includes criminal homicide (924), sexual assault (4,638), simple assault (5,445), “other person” (1,910), theft (3,759), auto theft (2,469), arson (533) “other property” (3,029), weapons (3,013) and “other public order” (5,126).
  • To minimize the risk of anyone in immigration detention being counted twice, we removed the 22,870 people — cited in Table 8 of Jail Inmates at Midyear 2012 — confined in local jails under contract with ICE from the total jail population and from the numbers we calculated for those in local jails that have not been convicted. (Table 3 reports the percentage of the jail population that is convicted (60.6%) and unconvicted (39.4%), with the latter category also including the immigration detainees held in local jails.)
  • At least 17 states and the federal government operate facilities for the purposes of detaining people convicted of sexual crimes after their sentences are complete. These facilities and the confinement there are technically civil, but in reality are quite like prisons. They are often run by state prison systems, are often located on prison grounds, and most importantly, the people confined there are not allowed to leave.

Acknowledgements

Thanks especially to Drew Kukorowski for collecting the original data for this project and to Alex Friedmann for both identifying ways to update the data, and for locating the civil commitment data. We thank Tracy Velázquez and Josh Begley for their insights on how to use color to tell this story. Thanks to Holly Cooper, Cody Mason, and Judy Greene for helping to untangle the immigration-related statistics. Thanks also to Arielle Sharma and Sarah Hertel-Fernandez for their copy editing assistance.

Footnotes

  1. The number of state and federal facilities is from Census of State and Federal Correctional Facilities, 2005, the number of juvenile facilities from Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement, 2010, the number of jails from Census of Jail Facilities, 2006 and the number of Indian Country jails from Jails in Indian Country, 2012. We aren’t currently aware of a good source of data on the number of the facilities of the other types.  ↩
  2. U.S. Department of Justice, Prisoners in 2011, page 1, reporting that 688,384 people were released from state and federal prisons in 2011.  ↩
  3. See page 3 of Bureau of Justice Statistics, Jail Inmates at Midyear 2012 – Statistical Tables for this shocking figure of 11.6 million.  ↩
  4. See Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement, 2010 page 3.  ↩
  5. Of all of the confinement systems discussed in this report, the immigration system is the most fragmented and the hardest to get comprehensive data on. We used Congress Mandates Jail Beds for 34,000 Immigrants as Private Prisons Profit, Bloomberg News, Sept 24, 2013. Other helpful resources include Privately Operated Federal Prisons for Immigrants: Expensive. Unsafe. Unnecessary, Dollars and Detainees The Growth of For-Profit Detention and The Math of Immigration Detention.  ↩
  6. It is important to remember that the correctional system pie is far larger than just prisons and includes another 3,981,090 adults on probation, and 851,662 adults on parole. See Appendix tables 2 and 4 in Bureau of Justice Statistics, Probation and Parole in the United States, 2012.  ↩
Posted in Activism, Corruption, culture, divide and conquer, Drug War, History, Law, police state, Racism, Social Control, society, State Crime, wasted taxpayer dollars | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Global Money Matrix: The Forces behind America’s Economic Destruction

money-globe

By Dr. Gary Null

Source: GlobalResearch.ca

On the Brink of Economic Calamity

We are witnessing unprecedented low points in American economic history as 50 million Americans—17 million of them children—are living below the poverty line[i],[ii] while 47 million citizens rely on food stamps[iii].  All told, the 2008 economic collapse cost over $20 trillion globally[iv]. Millions of people lost their homes and jobs, while many of our nation’s children fell deeper into hunger. According to some figures, 53 million people entered the poverty ranks.[v] In the US and other developed nations, suicide rates skyrocketed due to financial stress and disruption of families. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has listed unemployment at 7.5% — a rate that is irreconcilable with reality. The more reliable figure, calculated by economist John Williams from Shadow Government Statistics, places unemployment at 22%. If we are to believe the analyses of Tyler Cowen at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, we might be looking at an unemployment rate as high as 41%, since 33% of Americans are not working and no longer have the desire to find jobs.[vi]  This group is categorically removed from the government’s labor radar and is absent from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ fudged data. 

 The Global Money Matrix

In the midst of this economic turmoil there is one group that still manages to flourish: the global elite. With more than $32 trillion stashed in offshore banks around the world, the wealth of the so-called “1%” is staggeringly obscene and grows by the day.[vii]  Their aggregate wealth, larger than the US GDP and national debt combined, is a testament to the tremendous influence and lobbying power held by a coterie of private interests that dominate nearly every sector of society.

Instead of reining in the inordinate control exercised by the elite, most of our elected officials have become little more than shills for these corporate overlords, creating policies that favor their campaign donors instead of the American people. Hundreds of millions of dollars were funneled into Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign by donors whose business affiliations run the gamut from real estate and finance to media and law firms. According to Opensecrets.org, “Together, 769 elites are directing at least $186,500,000 for Obama’s re-election efforts — money that has gone into the coffers of his campaign as well as the Democratic National Committee.”[viii] This figure doesn’t even account for the massive contributions to Obama’s reelection by corporate-driven SuperPACs. Obama is just one example of how our politicians are beholden to the elite agenda. A quick glance at the campaign donation figures presented at Opensecrets.org reveals just how much special interests control Washington’s policymakers.

Given the corporatist influence that infects our halls of power, it is little wonder that our tax dollars continue to fund unconstitutional spying, perpetual war, and neoliberal policies that extend the powers of the world’s richest individuals and organizations. As Americans struggle financially, our social safety nets are increasingly losing priority to military and security expenditures that are historically unmatched anywhere in the world. Increasingly, the actions taken by the world’s most powerful corporations and governments seem to be at odds with public perception and wellbeing. Here are a few examples of how this combined influence has increased at the expense of the average American:

ALEC – This conservative group, funded by donors like the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil and fueled by politicians including Ohio Governor John Kasich and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker,[ix] writes model legislation calling to “privatize education, break unions, deregulate major industries, pass voter ID laws, and more.”[x] They do so with the stated aim to “form formal internal Task Forces to develop policy covering virtually every responsibility of state government.”[xi] ALEC’s website claims, “Each year, close to 1,000 bills, based at least in part on ALEC Model Legislation, are introduced in the states. Of these, an average of 20% become law.”[xii]

Federal Taxes and Expenditures – In 2014, President Obama plans to spend 57% of his discretionary budget on military, with 6% going to education, 3% to science, and 1% to food and agriculture.[xiii] And while the federal corporate tax rate is 35% in America, a variety of loopholes means that the average rate paid by corporations is 25%, with some companies paying as low as 10%.[xiv]

Citizens United – This US Supreme Court case set the legal precedent for unlimited campaign donations in US elections, qualifying corporate donations as a form a free speech. Since this case concluded, campaign expenditures have tripled.[xv]

TARP, or “the Bailout” – Following the economic crisis of 2008, US taxpayers handed $700 billion to major players in the automotive, financial, and insurance industries[xvi]. According to The New York Times, “Treasury…provided the money to banks with no effective policy or effort to compel the extension of credit. There were no strings attached: no requirement or even incentive to increase lending to home buyers, and…not even a request that banks report how they used TARP funds.”[xvii]  The Huffington Post reports, “Twenty-five top recipients of government bailout funds spent more than $71 million on lobbying in the year since they were rescued.”

In the Name of Security

The most concerning imbalance of power, however, may lie in the ‘security state’. In 2010, there were over 1900 private corporations with government contracts working for Homeland Security and NSA intelligence projects. Just one of these firms, Booz Allen Hamilton, where Edward Snowden was employed, has over 25,000 employees, nearly half of whom have security clearance of “top secret or higher”.[xviii]  Overall, there are an estimated half million individuals in private firms with access to intelligence secrets.[xix]  The federal intelligence agencies only employ 107,000 individuals; therefore, the bulk of intelligence and surveillance operations are conducted by private workforces.[xx] For fiscal year 2013, the country’s budget for intelligence, across 16 agencies, was approximately $52.6 billion, with 70% going to private contractors.[xxi]

Recent revelations by Edward Snowden unearthed the breadth and scope of this surveillance network. The National Security Agency has collected vast amounts of data to spy upon American citizens, elected legislators in Congress, leaders and populations of other nations, multilateral and international administrations, non profit organizations, and a variety of public and environmental advocacy groups. This defines the current trajectory of the US as a failed republic degenerating into a fascist regime.  For both corporate Republicans and Democrats, the rise of surreptitious surveillance on citizens, in direct violation of the Constitution, is perceived as a matter of national security to protect both the country’s domestic and foreign interests.

NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander claimed publicly that intelligence surveillance of the American public “foiled” 54 terrorist attacks by extremists. Independent research confirmed that in fact only one, and a possible second attack, could be directly associated with the war on terrorism.  Speaking on the matter, Vermont Senator Patrick J. Leahy stated,

“There is no evidence that [bulk] phone records collection helped to thwart dozens or even several terrorist plots….These weren’t all plots and they weren’t all foiled.”.[xxii]

The Washington Times reported that “Keith B. Alexander admitted that the number of terrorist plots foiled by the NSA’s huge database of every phone call made in or to America was only one or perhaps two—far smaller than the 54 originally claimed by the administration.” General Alexander, under the questioning of Senator Leahy, also admitted that only 13 of the 54 cases were in any way connected to the U.S.  As the Washington Times clarifies,

“The [NSA phone records] database contains so-called metadata—the numbers dialing and dialed, time and duration of call—for every phone call made in or to the U.S.”[xxiii] 

This is but one example highlighting how the consolidation of corporate and political power comes at the cost of human rights and personal liberties for the average citizen.

 Obama has lied to the American people repeatedly about the extent of the security state and its infiltration into the lives of average citizens, including massive data collection of private phone calls, emails, and internet activity. The NSA revelations of Edward Snowden provide documented proof that intelligence surveillance is far more extensive than ever believed. The activities of the FBI, CIA, Pentagon, FISA courts, USDA and FDA, and the Justice Department contribute to the deterioration of citizens’ privacy and freedom. And a recent report by Essential Information entitled Spooky Business describes how some of America’s largest corporations have engaged in corporate espionage to spy on non-profit organizations. Ralph Nader writes, “In effect, big corporations have been able to hire portions of the national security apparatus, and train their tools of spycraft on the citizen groups of our country.”[xxiv] Thus, the powers of government and corporations are fostered and increased by one another, while those of the average American continue to dwindle

Groupthink and the 15%

It is unrealistic to frame the problem of control and socio-economic manipulation as a war between the 1 and the 99.  The 1 percent cannot achieve its goals without support from armies of technocrats and workforces willing to sacrifice moral values to secure careers in corporations and political parties, regardless of the inhumane ruthlessness behind their undemocratic agendas. The private industrial complexes of Too Big to Fail corporations require minions of technocrats and employees—as well as a large network of contracted small businesses, advisors, and consultants—to exert control over the population.  Therefore, we should realistically be speaking of a 15 versus 85 percent in the war on inequality, control, and power.

 When this additional 45 million people, or 15 percent of the population, are added to the formula for who controls the major stakes of power, wealth, influence and policymaking today, we can more easily understand how the psychology of “group think” creates a protective shield around the power brokers calling the shots.  When the psychologist Irving Janis first used the term “groupthink”, he referred to a collective weakening of individuals’ “mental efficiency, reality testing and moral judgment” through pressure to stick with the corporate plan.[xxv]  Among the characteristics common to groupthink, which enables the privileged elite to exert compliance to their mission without dissent, is a false belief in the inherent morality of their jobs. For example, the neoliberal free-market ideology posits that trickle down economics from the top will create more jobs and raise families’ personal income—a persistent myth that has no historical example to prove it as fact.  

The actual facts, according to the 2012 Global Wealth Data Book, show that since the implementation of neoliberal economics in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the financial health of America’s middle class has fallen to 27th globally, behind Qatar, Taiwan, Cyprus and Kuwait. Simultaneously, the US has the most millionaires and billionaires of any other nation.[xxvi]  Groupthink also generates an “illusion of invulnerability,” an insincere and narrow confidence that enables workers to take extreme risks and a distorted group rationalization to deny facts to the contrary of their optimism.  Other characteristics include stereotyping enemies, managerial pressure on nonconformists, and self-censorship of doubts within the organization.  An illusion of unanimity is sustained whereby the image is created and perpetuated that the majority agree with organization’s purpose and mission.[xxvii]

Without the possibility of groupthink and this additional 15 percent passively serving the most powerful 1 percent’s destructive acts, life in the US would be far more democratic, just, and free today. Unfortunately, our society currently necessitates profit for both legitimacy and survival. This unprecedented economic and political atmosphere is giving birth to a new face of fascism.

 The Dominant Culture

When considering the human element in our societal structure, the question arises as to how human beings can act with such blatant disregard for damage incurred. There are varying figures assessing the percent of psychopathology among high level financial and corporate executives. In the general population, approximately 1% can be clinically diagnosed with sociopathic and psychopathic disorders[xxviii]. However, for the wealthy and power elite, estimates are higher.

Canadian psychiatrist Dr. Robert Hare estimates that 4 percent of corporate executives are clinically sociopathic.[xxix] Sherree DeCovny, a former high-powered investment banker now with CFA Financial Magazine, believes it is as high as 10 percent.[xxx] Figures from psychological surveys in the UK place estimates even higher. Psychologist Clive Boddy has argued that the psychopathological behavior of financial executives was a major cause for the 2007 economic collapse. He also notes that individuals with the strongest psychopathic tendencies are those who tend to be promoted fastest.[xxxi]

Research supports this claim. In a survey of 500 senior executives in the US and UK, 26 percent observed firsthand wrongdoing in the workplace and 24 percent believed that it was necessary for professionals in the financial sector to engage in unethical and even illegal conduct in order to be successful. Sixteen percent said they would commit insider trading if they were certain they could get away with it, and 30 percent said that the pressures of compensation plans were an incentive to break the law.[xxxii]

Today, this banking elite owns the lives of millions of Americans by imprisoning them in debt. In the third quarter of 2013, consumer indebtedness reached $11.28 trillion.[xxxiii]  2014 and every year thereafter will see household debt increase. The majority of this debt, in the form of mortgages and outstanding home equity, student loans, auto loans, and credit cards, is money owed to the banking industry. It is by keeping the masses indebted, securing government allegiance and protection to extract money from citizens, that bankers are able to control the economy.

In a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Representative Alan Grayson and three of his Congressional colleagues raised their concern over large investment banks taking over the real economy.  According to their investment relations reports, both banks are engaged in the “production, storage, transportation, marketing and trading of numerous commodities.”[xxxiv] These include crude oil and oil products, natural gas, coal, electric power, agricultural and food products, and precious and rare metals. Additionally, JP Morgan markets electric power and “owns electricity generating facilities in the US and Europe.”[xxxv] Goldman Sachs has entered the uranium mining market.  According to Rep. Grayson, none of these activities have anything to do with the business of banking, and there is no indication that the Fed or any other agency is regulating these irregular business undertakings.[xxxvi]

In early 2013, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich conducted the most thorough analysis of the financial ties between over 43,000 transnational banks and corporations. This was the first empirical study to identify a network where global power and wealth is most heavily concentrated. Their startling results observed that a small faction of 147 super companies controls over 40 percent of the entire transnational network, with an additional 36 million companies below them. 

Predictably, almost all of the 147 super companies were financial institutions, with Barclays, Capital Group, the Vanguard Group, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, and Bank of New York among the top of the list.[xxxvii]  With financial instruments of speculative trade insufficient to satisfy greed, such companies have every incentive to move into new territory, particularly resources and services that are essential to life. This includes fuel, water, food and minerals. As it stands, at least twenty-five major US companies have more wealth than entire countries.[xxxviii]

The prediction can be suggested that with current trends, the largest global banks will become the world’s most powerful “nations,” acting with complete autonomy outside of international laws that apply to sovereign states.  As corporate groupthink increases and infiltrates the larger civilian community, the transnationalist mind will persist as a breeding ground for psychopathology.

Conclusion

The consequences of today’s cowboy free market culture have sent the US middle class and economic mobility spiraling downward. Laid off workers have nowhere to use their skills to earn a livelihood for themselves and their families. Consequently, the worker is unable to meet expenditures and falls into a lower income bracket or poverty.  Mortgage defaults, credit card payments, and loans drag him further into debt. Without work and hence unable to pay taxes, the state, county and town suffer. In turn, local entities are forced to reduce their workforce and public services. The final result is the decline in the national quality of life, and the gradual deterioration of the US.  The inequality gap widens as the wealthy get richer and more powerful, while growing numbers of families become destitute.

A clear conflict exists between the values that we promote in the home and those values that are rewarded in the workplace. Unless we apply the same moral requirements to governments and corporations as we do to ourselves, friends, and families, the revolving door at the top of society will continue to consolidate power and wealth at any cost.

Notes

[i] Fessler, Pam. “How Many Americans Live In Poverty?” NPR. http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/11/06/243498168/how-many-americans-live-in-poverty (accessed December 2, 2013).

[ii] National Center for Children in Poverty. “Child Poverty.” NCCP. http://www.nccp.org/topics/childpoverty.html (accessed December 1, 2013).

[iii] Plumer, Brad. “Why are 47 million Americans on food stamps? It’s the recession — mostly.” WashingtonPost.com. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/09/23/why-are-47-million-americans-on-food-stamps-its-the-recession-mostly/ (accessed December 3, 2013).

[iv] Melendez, Eleazar. “Financial Crisis Cost Tops $22 Trillion, GAO Says.” The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/14/financial-crisis-cost-gao_n_2687553.html (accessed December 3, 2013).

 [v] Moench, Brian. “Death by Corporation, Part II: Companies as Cancer Cells.” Truthout. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/17705-death-by-corporation-part-ii-companies-as-cancer-cells (accessed December 3, 2013).

 [vi]  “The real jobs numbers: 41% of America unemployed, 1 in 3 doesn’t want work at all – RT USA.” RT.com. http://rt.com/usa/jobs-us-employment-welfare-749/ (accessed December 3, 2013).

 [vii] Vellacott, Chris. “Super Rich Hold $32 Trillion in Offshore Havens.” Reuters.com. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/22/us-offshore-wealth-idUSBRE86L03U20120722 (accessed December 13, 2003).

 [viii] “Barack Obama’s Bundlers.” Opensecrets RSS. http://www.opensecrets.org/pres12/bundlers.php

[ix] “What is ALEC?.” ALEC Exposed. http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/What_is_ALEC%3F#Who_funds_ALEC.3F (accessed December 3, 2013).

[x] Nichols, John. “ALEC Exposed.” The Nation. http://www.thenation.com/article/161978/alec-exposed# (accessed December 3, 2013).

[xi] “History.” ALEC American Legislative Exchange Council. http://www.alec.org/about-alec/history/ (accessed December 3, 2013).

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] “Where Does the Money Go? Federal Budget 101.” National Priorities Project. http://nationalpriorities.org/budget-basics/federal-budget-101/spending/ (accessed December 2, 2013).

[xiv] The Economist Newspaper. “The Trouble with Tax Reform.” The Economist. http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2011/02/corporate-tax_reform (accessed December 3, 2013).

[xv] “Daily Kos.” : Buying Elections: Campaign Spending TRIPLES Since Citizens United. If You Can’t Win, Cheat + News!. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/03/11/1193246/-Buying-Elections-Campaign-Spending-TRIPLES-Since-Citizens-United-If-You-Can-t-Win-Cheat# (accessed December 3, 2013).

[xvi] Stein, Sam. “Top Bailout Recipients Spent $71 Million On Lobbying In Year Since Bailout.” The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/05/top-bailout-recipients-sp_n_346877.html (accessed December 3, 2013).

[xvii] Barofski, Neil. “Where the Bank Bailout Went Wrong.” NYTimes.com. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/30/opinion/30barofsky.html (accessed March 12, 2013).

[xviii] Murphy, Dan. “Booz Allen Hamilton, federal contractor.” Christian Science Monitor. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Security-Watch/Backchannels/2013/0610/Booz-Allen-Hamilton-federal-contractor (accessed December 4, 2013).

[xix] Jonathan Fahey, Adam Goldman. “NSA Leak Highlights Key Role of Private Contractors,”  Huffington Post. June 10, 2013  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/10/nsa-leak-contractors_n_3418876.html

[xx] Barton Gellman, Greg Miller.  “US Spy Network’s Successes, Failures and Objectives Detailed in ‘Black Budget’ Summary,”  Washington Post. August 29. 2013  http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-08-29/world/41709796_1_intelligence-community-intelligence-spending-national-intelligence-program

[xxi] Aubrey Bloomfield. “Booz Allen Hamilton: 70% of the US Intelligence Budget Goes to Private Contractors,”  Policymic.  http://www.policymic.com/articles/48845/booz-allen-hamilton-70-of-the-u-s-intelligence-budget-goes-to-private-contractors

[xxii] Waterman, Shaun. “NSA chief’s admission of misleading numbers adds to Obama administration blunders.” Washington Times. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/2/nsa-chief-figures-foiled-terror-plots-misleading/ (accessed December 3, 2013).

 [xxiii] Ibid.

[xxiv] Nader, Ralph. “Corporate espionage undermines democracy.” The Great Debate RSS. http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2013/11/26/corporate-espionage-undermines-democracy/ (accessed December 2, 2013).

[xxv] “Groupthink in Service of Government.” BATR. http://www.batr.org/wrack/080413.html (accessed December 3, 2013).

 [xxvi] “How Does America’s Middle Class Rank Globally?.” A Lightning War for Liberty. http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/07/23/how-does-americas-middle-class-rank-globally-27/ (accessed December 3, 2013).

[xxvii] BATR.  Ibid.

[xxviii] Hare, Robert. “Focus on Psychopathy.” FBI. http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/july-2012/focus-on-psychopathy (accessed December 1, 2013).

 [xxix] Bercovici, Jeff. “Why (Some) Psychopaths Make Great CEOs.” Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2011/06/14/why-some-psychopaths-make-great-ceos/ (accessed December 2, 2013).

[xxx] Decovny, Sherree. “The Financial Psychopath Next Door.” CFA Magazine, Mar. – Apr. 2012. http://www.cfapubs.org/doi/pdf/10.2469/cfm.v23.n2.20 (accessed December 3, 2013).

 [xxxi] Boddy, Clive R.. “The Corporate Psychopaths Theory Of The Global Financial Crisis.” Journal of Business Ethics 102, no. 2 (2011): 255-259.

  [xxxii] LaCapra, Lauren Tara, and Leslie Adler. “Many Wall Street Executives Say Wrongdoing is Necessary: Survey.” Reuters. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/07/10/business-us-wallstreet-survey-idUKBRE86906G20120710 (accessed December 3, 2013).

[xxxiii] Salas Gage, Caroline. “Household Debt in US Climbed 1.1% in Third Quarter, Fed Says.” Bloomberg.com. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-14/household-debt-in-u-s-climbed-1-1-in-third-quarter-fed-says.html (Accessed December 4, 2013.)

 [xxxiv]“Giant Banks Take Over Real Economy As Well As Financial System … Enabling Manipulation On a Vast Scale.” Washingtons Blog. http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/07/giant-banks-take-over-real-economy-as-well-as-financial-system-enabling-manipulation-on-a-vast-scale.html (accessed December 3, 2013).

  [xxxv] Hopkins, Cheyenne. “Fed Said to Review Commodities at Goldman, Morgan Stanley.” Bloomberg.com. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-01/fed-said-to-review-commodities-at-goldman-morgan-stanley.html (accessed December 3, 2013). 

[xxxvi] “Giant Banks Take Over Real Economy As Well As Financial System … Enabling Manipulation On a Vast Scale.” Washingtons Blog. http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/07/giant-banks-take-over-real-economy-as-well-as-financial-system-enabling-manipulation-on-a-vast-scale.html (accessed December 3, 2013).

 [xxxvii] Upbin, Bruce. “The 147 Companies That Control Everything.” Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/bruceupbin/2011/10/22/the-147-companies-that-control-everything/ (accessed December 3, 2013).

Posted in Activism, black ops, civil liberties, Corporate Crime, culture, Economics, Empire, Financial Crisis, Geopolitics, History, military spending, NSA, police state, Recession, Social Control, society, State Crime, surveillance state, war, war on terror, wasted taxpayer dollars | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Timeless Message From Charlie Chaplin

Charlie_Chaplin

Today marks the 125th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin’s birthday. Countless video clips demonstrate his comic genius, but the enlightened aspect of his soul was never more apparent than in his monologue at the end of “The Great Dictator” which to this day remains one of cinema’s greatest political speeches. The film was released at the peak of Chaplin’s career, for shortly after he was investigated by the FBI, his personal life was sensationalized by the media, he was accused of being a communist sympathizer and was forced to leave the U.S. for Switzerland. Interesting facts about the The Great Dictator are recounted in the following passage from Chaplin’s Wikipedia page:

The 1940s saw Chaplin face a series of controversies, both in his work and in his personal life, which changed his fortunes and severely affected his popularity in the United States. The first of these was a new boldness in expressing his political beliefs. Deeply disturbed by the surge of militaristic nationalism in 1930s world politics, Chaplin found that he could not keep these issues out of his work. Parallels between himself and Adolf Hitler had been widely noted: the pair were born four days apart, both had risen from poverty to world prominence, and the German dictator wore the same toothbrush moustache as the Tramp. It was this perceived physical resemblance that supplied the pretext for the plot for Chaplin’s next film, The Great Dictator, which directly satirized Hitler and attacked fascism.

Chaplin spent two years developing the script, and began filming in September 1939 – six days after Britain declared war on Germany. He had submitted to using spoken dialogue, partly out of acceptance that he had no other choice, but also because he recognized it as a better method for delivering a political message. Making a comedy about Hitler was seen as highly controversial, but Chaplin’s financial independence allowed him to take the risk. “I was determined to go ahead,” he later wrote, “for Hitler must be laughed at.” Chaplin replaced the Tramp (while wearing similar attire) with “A Jewish Barber”, a reference to the Nazi party’s belief that he was a Jew. In a dual performance he also played the dictator “Adenoid Hynkel”, who parodied Hitler.

The Great Dictator spent a year in production, and was released in October 1940. There was a vast amount of publicity around the film, with a critic for the New York Times calling it “the most eagerly awaited picture of the year”, and it was one of the biggest money-makers of the era. The ending was unpopular, however, and generated controversy. Chaplin concluded the film with a six-minute speech in which he looked into the camera and professed his personal beliefs. Charles J. Maland has identified this overt preaching as triggering a decline in Chaplin’s popularity, and writes, “Henceforth, no movie fan would ever be able to separate the dimension of politics from [his] star image”. The Great Dictator received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor.

The Great Dictator’s Speech

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone – if possible – Jew, Gentile – black man – white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost….

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men – cries out for universal brotherhood – for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world – millions of despairing men, women, and little children – victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say – do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed – the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. …..

Soldiers! don’t give yourselves to brutes – men who despise you – enslave you – who regiment your lives – tell you what to do – what to think and what to feel! Who drill you – diet you – treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate – the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!

In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” – not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power – the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

Then – in the name of democracy – let us use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world – a decent world that will give men a chance to work – that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill that promise. They never will!

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world – to do away with national barriers – to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

Posted in Activism, anti-war, Art, culture, Film, History, society, Spirituality, Video, war | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Two for Tuesday

Invincible

Posted in Activism, Art, culture, Music Video, society, Two for Tuesday, Video | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment