Archive for the ‘U.S.A.’ Category

9/11 After Thirteen Years: Continuous Warfare, Police State, Endless Falsehoods

September 14, 2014

The tragedy of September 11, 2001, goes far beyond the deaths of those who died in the towers and the deaths of firefighters and first responders who succumbed to illnesses caused by inhalation of toxic dust.  For thirteen years a new generation of Americans has been born into the 9/11 myth that has been used to create the American warfare/police state.

The corrupt Bush and Obama regimes used 9/11 to kill, maim, dispossess and displace millions of Muslims in seven countries, none of whom had anything whatsoever to do with 9/11.

  • A generation of Americans has been born into disdain and distrust of Muslims.
  • A generation of Americans has been born into a police state in which privacy and constitutional protections no longer exist.
  • A generation of Americans has been born into continuous warfare while needs of citizens go unmet.
  • A generation of Americans has been born into a society in which truth is replaced with the endless repetition of falsehoods.

According to the official story, on September 11, 2001, the vaunted National Security State of the World’s Only Superpower was defeated by a few young Saudi Arabians armed only with box cutters.  The American National Security State proved to be totally helpless and was dealt the greatest humiliation ever inflicted on any country claiming to be a power.

That day no aspect of the National Security State worked.  Everything failed.

The US Air Force for the first time in its history could not get interceptor jet fighters into the air.

The National Security Council failed.

All sixteen US intelligence agencies failed as did those of America’s NATO and Israeli allies.

Air Traffic Control failed.

Airport Security failed four times at the same moment on the same day. The probability of such a failure is zero.

If such a thing had actually happened, there would have been demands from the White House, from Congress, and from the media for an investigation.  Officials would have been held accountable for their failures. Heads would have rolled.

Instead, the White House resisted for one year the 9/11 families’ demands for an investigation.  Finally, a collection of politicians was assembled to listen to the government’s account and to write it down.  The chairman, vice chairman, and legal counsel of the 9/11 Commission have said that information was withheld from the commission, lies were told to the commission, and that the commission “was set up to fail.”  The worst security failure in history resulted in not a single firing. No one was held responsible.

Washington concluded that 9/11 was possible because America lacked a police state.

The PATRIOT Act, which was awaiting the event was quickly passed by the congressional idiots.  The Act established executive branch independence of law and the Constitution.  The Act and follow-up measures have institutionalized a police state in “the land of the free.”

Osama bin Laden, a CIA asset dying of renal failure, was blamed despite his explicit denial.  For the next ten years Osama bin Laden was the bogyman that provided the excuse for Washington to kill countless numbers of Muslims. Then suddenly on May 2, 2011, Obama claimed that US Navy SEALs had killed bin Laden in Pakistan.  Eyewitnesses on the scene contradicted the White House’s story.  Osama bin Laden became the only human in history to survive renal failure for ten years.  There was no dialysis machine in what was said to be bin Laden’s hideaway.  The numerous obituaries of bin Laden’s death in December 2001 went down the memory hole. And the SEAL team died a few weeks later in a mysterious helicopter crash in Afghanistan. The thousands of sailors on the aircraft carrier from which bin Laden was said to have been dumped into the Indian Ocean wrote home that no such burial took place.

The fairy tale story of bin Laden’s murder by Seal Team Six served to end the challenge by disappointed Democrats to Obama’s nomination for a second term.  It also freed the “war on terror” from the bin Laden constraint.  Washington wanted to attack Libya, Syria, and Iran, countries in which bin Laden was known not to have organizations, and the succession of faked bin Laden videos, in which bin Laden grew progressively younger as the fake bin Laden claimed credit for each successive attack, had lost credibility among experts.

Watching the twin towers and WTC 7 come down, it was obvious to me that the buildings were not falling down as a result of structural damage.  When it became clear that the White House had blocked an independent investigation of the only three steel skyscrapers in world history to collapse as a result of low temperature office fires, it was apparent that there was a coverup.

After 13 years people at home and abroad find the government’s story less believable.

The case made by independent experts is now so compelling that mainstream media has opened to it.

Here is Richard Gage of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth on C-SPAN:

After years of persistence a group in New York has secured the necessary number of valid signatures to put on the ballot a vote to investigate the cause of the collapse of the three WTC buildings.  The official account, if correct, means that existing fire and building codes are insufficient to protect the public and that all other steel high rise structures are subject to the same failure.  The group has been clever to frame the issue in terms of public safety and not in terms of 9/11 truth.

New York authorities, of course, continue to oppose the initiative.  The question now rests on a judge’s ruling.  It is difficult to imagine a judge going against the government in such a major way, but the group will have made the point that the government has no confidence in the truth of its own story.

Over these 13 years, physicists, chemists, architects, engineers, pilots, and first responders have provided massive evidence that completely disproves the official account of the failure of the three skyscrapers.  The response to experts has been for non-experts to call experts “conspiracy theorists.”  In other words, the defenders of the government’s story have no scientific or factual basis on which to stand.  So they substitute name-calling.

9/11 was used to fundamentally alter the nature of the US government and its relationship to the American people.  Unaccountable executive power has replaced due process and the checks and balances established by the US Constitution.  In the name of National Security, executive power knows no restraints.  Essentially, Americans today have no rights if the government targets them.

Those Americans born after 9/11 were born into a different country from the rest of us. Having never experienced constitutional government, they will not know what they have lost.

The anthrax attacks of October 2001 have been forgotten, but Professor Graeme MacQueen in The 2001 Anthrax Deception (Clarity Press, 2014) shows that the anthrax attacks played an essential role in setting the stage for the government’s acquisition of unaccountable police state power.  Two Democratic Senate committee chairmen, Thomas Daschle and Patrick Leahy, were disturbed by the Bush regime’s overreach for carte blanche power, and were in a position to block the coming police state legislation  and the ability of the executive branch alone to take America to war.

Both senators received anthrax letters, as did major news organizations. The TV network news anchors, such as Dan Rather, who compared the collapse of WTC skyscrapers to buildings brought down by controlled demolition, had not yet been fired by Republicans on framed-up charges.

Initially, the anthrax letters, which caused the deaths of some USPS employees, were seen as the second stage of the 9/11 attack.  Fear multiplied. The senators and media shut up.  Then it was discovered that the anthrax was a unique kind produced only by a US government military facility.

The response to this monkey wrench thrown into the government’s propaganda, was the FBI’s frame-up of a dead man, Bruce Edwards Ivins, who had been employed in the military lab that produced the anthrax and was driven to suicide by the false charges.  The dead man’s colleagues did not believe one word of the government’s false story, and nothing in the dead man’s past indicated any motive or instability that would have led him to such a deed.

Initially, the US government tried to frame up Steven Jay Hatfill, but despite the best efforts of the New York Times and Nicholas Kristof the attempt to frame Hatfill failed.  Hatfill received $5 million from the US government for the false accusation that ruined his life. So the corrupt US government moved on to Ivins.

Ivins was dead and couldn’t defend himself, but his colleagues did.

The entire episode stinks to high heaven.  Justice is something that exists outside the borders of the United States. Never expect to find justice within the United States.

Most Americans are unaware of the extent to which the federal government owns the experts who can contradict its fairy tales.  For example, no competent physicist can possibly believe the official story of the destruction of the three WTC buildings.  But physics departments in US universities are heavily dependent on federal money. Any physicist who speaks his mind jeopardizes not only his own career but also the career of all of his colleagues.  Physicist Steven Jones, who first pointed to the use of thermite in the destruction of the two towers had to agree to having his university buy out his tenure or his university was faced with losing all federal financing.

The same constraints operate in the private sector.  High rise architects and structural engineers who express doubts about the official explanation of the collapse of three skyscrapers are viewed by potential clients as Muslim apologists and conspiracy kooks.

The clients, of course, have no expert knowledge with which to assess the issue, but they are indoctrinated with ceaseless, endless, repetition that 9/11 was Osama bin Laden’s attack on America. Their indoctrination makes them immune to facts.

The 9/11 lie has persisted for 13 years.  Millions of Muslims have paid for this lie with their lives, the destruction of their families, and with their dislocation.  Most Americans remain comfortable with the fact that their government has destroyed in whole or part seven countries based on a lie Washington told to cover up an inside job that launched the crazed neoconservatives’ drive for Washington’s World Empire.


David Swanson on America’s Obsession with War as Foreign Policy

August 29, 2014
Published: Friday 29 August 2014
The U.S. is to blame for its eschewed diplomacy and overall favor of war. But how many wars will the U.S. be able to fight at one time?

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Carl von Clausewitz once called war “the continuation of politics by other means.” Turning that on its head, China’s brilliant diplomat, the revolutionist Chou En-lai, said “Diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means.”

America, through the decades of the Cold War, but especially since the inception of the Bush/Cheney administration, and continuing during the two terms of current President Barack Obama, has largely eschewed diplomacy altogether, in favor of war, says David Swanson.

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A long-time labor and peace activist, Swanson, the author of the book War No More: The case for abolition, and of the website War, was the guest on ThisCantBeHappening’s radio program “This Can’t Be Happening!” on Wednesday’s show on the Progressive Radio Network.

He and host Dave Lindorff attempted to count the number of places around the globe where the US is either technically at war (by sending in attack drones to bomb targets inside countries without permission) as in Pakistan and Somalia, is committing acts of war, as in the case yesterday of a US Coast Guard vessel firing a shot at an Iranian boat in the Persian Gulf or in Iraq, where US planes are bombing ISIS targets, or is pushing for or preparing for war, as in Ukraine or Syria. They found the number too high to tally.Swanson argues forcefully that no US military adventures or military threats are legal or moral, but also argues that Russia likewise has no legal or moral right to send its forces into eastern Ukraine to defend ethnic Russians against brutal attack by the Ukrainian military.

While Lindorff argues that at least in the Ukraine, Russia will probably have to, and indeed should, send in its military to defend areas under indiscriminate attack by Ukrainian rockets, cannons and aerial bombardment, both he and Swanson agree that the various crises around the globe are largely of US making, and that this obsession by US policymakers with exacerbating local conflicts, selling and donating arms to conflict regions, often to both sides, has to be ended.

To hear this interview, click here or on the image below.


Dave Lindorff is an investigative reporter, a columnist for CounterPunch, and a contributor to Businessweek, The Nation,Extra! and He received aProject Censored award in 2004. Dave is also a founding member of the online newspaper ThisCantBeHappening!

How the Brutalized Become Brutal

August 26, 2014

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Posted on Aug 24, 2014

By Chris Hedges, truthdig

  A Palestinian youth wears a bandoleer of cartridge casings left by the Israeli army next to his destroyed home in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, earlier this month.  AP/Hatem Moussa

The horrific pictures of the beheading of American reporterJames Foley, the images of executions of alleged collaborators in Gaza and the bullet-ridden bodies left behind in Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are the end of a story, not the beginning. They are the result of years, at times decades, of the random violence, brutal repression and collective humiliation the United States has inflicted on others.

Our terror is delivered to the wretched of the earth with industrial weapons. It is, to us, invisible. We do not stand over the decapitated and eviscerated bodies left behind on city and village streets by our missiles, drones and fighter jets. We do not listen to the wails and shrieks of parents embracing the shattered bodies of their children. We do not see the survivors of air attacks bury their mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. We are not conscious of the long night of collective humiliation, repression and powerlessness that characterizes existence in Israel’s occupied territories, Iraq and Afghanistan. We do not see the boiling anger that war and injustice turn into a caldron of hate over time. We are not aware of the very natural lust for revenge against those who carry out or symbolize this oppression. We see only the final pyrotechnics of terror, the shocking moment when the rage erupts into an inchoate fury and the murder of innocents. And, willfully ignorant, we do not understand our own complicity. We self-righteously condemn the killers as subhuman savages who deserve more of the violence that created them. This is a recipe for endless terror.

Chaim Engel, who took part in the uprising at the Nazis’Sobibor death camp in Poland, described what happened when he obtained a knife and confronted a German in an office. The act he carried out was no less brutal than the beheading of Foley or the executions in Gaza. Isolated from the reality he and the other inmates endured at the camp, his act was savage. Set against the backdrop of the extermination camp it was understandable.


“It’s not a decision,” Engel said. “You just react, instinctively you react to that, and I figured, ‘Let us to do, and go and do it.’ And I went. I went with the man in the office, and we killed this German. With every jab, I said, ‘That is for my father, for my mother, for all these people, all the Jews you killed.’ ”Any good cop, like any good reporter, knows that every criminal has a story. No one, except for perhaps a few psychopaths, wakes up wanting to cut off another person’s head. Murder and other violent crimes almost always grow out of years of abuse of some kind suffered by the perpetrator. Even the most “civilized” among us are not immune to dehumanization.

The enemies on the modern battlefield seem elusive because death is usually delivered by industrial weapons such as aerial drones or fighter jets that are impersonal, or by insurgent forces that leave behind roadside bombs or booby traps or carry out hit-and-run ambushes. This elusiveness is the curse of modern warfare. The inability of Sunni fighters in Iraq to strike back at jets and drones has resulted in their striking a captured journalist and Shiite and Kurdish civilians.

U.S. soldiers and Marines in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Israeli soldiers in assaults on Gaza, have been among those who committed senseless acts of murder. They routinely have gunned down unarmed civilians to revenge killings of members of their units. This is a reaction I saw in several wars. It is not rational. Those murdered were not responsible, even indirectly, for the deaths of their killers’ comrades, just as Foley and the Shiites and Kurds executed in Iraq were not responsible for the deaths of Sunni militants hit by the U.S. Air Force.

J. Glenn Gray, who fought in World War II, wrote about the peculiar nature of vengeance in “The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle”:

When the soldier has lost a comrade to this enemy or possibly had his family destroyed by them through bombings or through political atrocities, so frequently the case in World War II, his anger and resentment deepen into hatred. Then the war for him takes on the character of a vendetta. Until he has himself destroyed as many of the enemy as possible, his lust for vengeance can hardly be appeased. I have known soldiers who were avid to exterminate every last one of the enemy, so fierce was their hatred. Such soldiers took great delight in hearing or reading of mass destruction through bombings. Anyone who has known or been a soldier of this kind is aware of how hatred penetrates every fiber of his being. His reason for living is to seek revenge; not an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but a tenfold retaliation.

Those killed are not, to the killers, human beings but representations of what they fear and hate. The veneer of the victim’s humanity, they believe, is only a mask for an evil force. The drive for vengeance, for “tenfold retaliation,” among those who are deformed by violence cannot be satiated without rivers of blood—even innocent blood. And Americans do as much of this type of revenge killing as those we fight. Our instruments of war allow us to kill from a distance. We therefore often lack any real consciousness of killing. But this does not make us any less depraved.

Christopher Browning in his book “Ordinary Men” tells of a German reserve police battalion that was recruited to carry out mass executions of Jews in World War II. Browning’s book echoed the findings of the psychologist Stanley Milgram, who concluded that “men are led to kill with little difficulty.” Browning, like Milgram, illustrates how easily we become killers. This is a painful truth. It is difficult to accept. It forces us to look into the eyes of Foley’s executioners and see not monsters but ourselves.

“Few of us ever know how far fear and violence can transform us into creatures at bay, ready with tooth and claw,” Gray wrote. “If the war taught me anything at all, it convinced me that people are not what they seem or even think themselves to be.”

I am teaching inmates at a supermax prison this summer. We are reading William Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” Every student in my classroom was charged with murder, and, though the American judicial system imprisons its share of innocents, it is a safe bet that many if not most in my class have killed. At the same time, once you hear the stories of their lives, the terrifying domestic abuse, the crushing poverty, the cruelty of the streets, including police use of deadly force against unarmed people, the societal and parental abandonment, the frustration at not being able to live a life of dignity or find a job, the humiliation of being poorly educated—some went into prison illiterate—you begin to understand the power of the institutional racism and oppression that made them angry and finally dangerous.

Marguerite Duras in her book “The War” describes how she and other members of the French Resistance kidnapped and tortured a 50-year-old Frenchman they suspected of collaborating with the Germans. The group allows two of its members who were beaten in Montluc prison at Lyon to strip the alleged informer and repeatedly beat him as onlookers shout: “Bastard. Traitor. Scum.” Blood and mucus soon run from his nose. His eye is damaged. He moans, “Ow, ow, oh, oh. …” He crumples in a heap on the floor. Duras wrote that he had “become someone without anything in common with other men. And with every minute the difference grows bigger and more established.” She goes on: “Every blow rings out in the silent room. They’re hitting at all the traitors, at the women who left, at all those who didn’t like what they saw from behind the shutters.” She departs before finding out if he is executed. She and her small resistance band had become Nazis. They acted no differently than Hamas did when it executed more than 15 suspected collaborators last week in Gaza.

Our failure to understand the psychological mechanisms involved means that the brutality we inflict, and that is inflicted upon us, will continue in a deadly and self-defeating cycle in the Middle East as well as within poor urban areas of the United States. To break this cycle we have to examine ourselves and halt the indiscriminant violence that sustains our occupations. But examining ourselves instead of choosing the easy route of nationalist self-exaltation is hard and painful. These killings will stop only when we accept that the killers who should terrify us most are ourselves.

The Uncivil War Escalating Across America

August 24, 2014
Published: Sunday 24 August 2014
Our police forces have become aggressively violent towards their very own citizens they are suppose to be protecting. A change is needed and it needs to start with U.S. citizens.

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Americans are used to this nation’s military being engaged in wars across the world; wars against nations and enemies “over there.” But what we are not at all used to is what is happening here in America today as we witness more and more incidents of overly aggressive police actions using deadly force in situations that simply do not call for anything of the kind.

I’m talking about what might accurately be described as an uncivil war. If you look up the definition of uncivil you will find that it means barbarous, uncivilized conduct, not conducive to civic harmony and welfare. Well those words could certainly be used to describe the many recent incidents involving extremely violent measures taken by police in this country against its very own citizens.

Americans watch with an increasing sense of apprehension at what just happened in Ferguson, Missouri where Michael Brown, a black teenager, was shot and killed by a police officer who found him walking down the middle of the street and then confronted him.

The latest reports indicate that this young man was shot six times, twice in the head. That community is on the verge of exploding, to the point that the Missouri National Guard has now been mobilized; and that’s another great mistake.

In mid-July in New York City we saw another black man, Eric Garner, confronted by police and accused of illegally selling cigarettes. He was wrestled to the ground and one of the officers applied a choke hold that resulted in his death. That situation could and should have been handled by using either mace, pepper spray or a taser if competent, trained officers were involved; but they weren’t.

These kinds of confrontations involving the use of deadly force are becoming far too common in America and when they happen they often set off a firestorm of protests from those in the community who are incensed by these brutal police tactics.

Something very troubling, very frightening is going on in America, something we have never seen before to this extent. Police swat teams seem to be everywhere, in large cities and small towns and when we see them on the TV they look like storm troopers. Many of them brandish high powered assault-type weapons and even some types of machine guns. An increasing number of police units around the country have obtained monstrous armored vehicles handed down to them by the military.

We must not minimize or dismiss what is happening; Ferguson represents an ominous sign of the great chasm that has developed between the police and the people of this country. This, unquestionably, is a war of sorts with the vast majority of firepower possessed by this new-type quasi-military police force. If something is not done to address and solve this problem, and soon, then this country is in danger of becoming a full-blown police state.

These are the latest examples of a long succession of overly aggressive police actions and they are certainly not limited to black people. For example, not that long ago members of the Occupy Movement, primarily in New York City as well as a few other areas of the country, were harassed and abused by the police for demonstrating against what its members felt were abusive and unethical practices by the government and Corporate America. Then there was the incident in which University of California campus police sprayed huge amounts of pepper spray directly into the faces of students sitting on the ground peacefully protesting.

What is going on, why are we seeing the growth of all these highly aggressive police units? Does the level of crime in this country call for that degree of force ready to go into action at any given time with so much firepower?

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I recall, in the aftermath of the 911 attacks on the WTC, hearing the words “America will never be the same” and those words were certainly prophetic. In fact we might say that ever since America entered the 21st Century it has never been the same. These heightened police actions are proof of exactly that.

Let’s look at this problem in more depth. Psychological studies have determined that there is a condition that affects certain individuals who have in their genetic code what is referred to as a “Warrior gene.” It’s a condition in which higher levels of aggressive behavior can surface at any time if such an individual is subjected to some form of direct provocation.

It seems that in these persons there is a high degree of anger that is always simmering just below the surface and can erupt any a moment’s notice. In fact, as brought out in this ABC News article and video,Scientists say one-in-three western men have a ‘warrior gene’ that predisposes them to violence.”

This country cannot let its primary law enforcement agencies become a subsidiary of the military. There has always been a great danger that the U.S. military could be used in enforcing the laws of this country on a state and local level and so Congress enacted the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 as a means to prevent that from ever happening. Here is the key premise of this law:

“Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”

There are exceptions to this statement in that the military can be involved in catastrophic situations at the discretion of the U.S. president such as was the case with Hurricane Katrina or years ago when President Eisenhower sent the military into Little Rock, Arkansas during the 1958 school desegregation crisis. However, the law was designed to restrict military use to only such unique situations.

Well then, if the regular military is, by law, banned from enforcing the laws of the land that apply to its citizenry then how did we ever get to this point in which the police can be referred to as pseudo-military? It’s simple; these local law enforcement agencies created their own version of the military and, in effect, have made an end run around the Posse Comitatus Act; and what we have now is what might accurately be called quasi-military law enforcement.

While we know that Congress is normally ineffectual in these kinds of situations let’s commend one of its members who has already stepped forward with a positive recommendation. U.S. Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia is going to introduce legislation to cancel the “1033” program by which the Pentagon has, for years, been distributing billions of dollars of surplus armored vehicles, assault rifles and other lethal equipment at no cost to police agencies all across the country. This is a politician who is fully aware that this program is one of the root causes of the entire problem.

However, the overall solution for the longer term has to come from the American people who must make up their minds that this condition can no longer be tolerated. People at the local levels of this country have to get involved in their community’s law enforcement affairs; they must demand that mayors, members of city councils and other elected officials overhaul police departments and transform them back to ones that concentrate on establishing dialogue with the community and maintaining a sense of harmony in order to prevent such dangerous confrontations.

Yes, the answer to bringing this situation under control is to use logic and common sense instead of brute force. Law enforcement agencies need to be banned from using swat teams and armored vehicles in relatively minor civil disturbances; they must be prevented from using high-powered assault type weapons and even machine guns except in extremely dangerous and highly volatile confrontations.

Americans need to make clear to these mayors and other officials that the police must deal with people in ways that are firm but not overly aggressive. If these officials respond with positive and constructive actions then that’s fine and the problems will be minimized over a period of time. But if they refuse to listen to reason and totally reject these directives, then those mayors and other elected officials should be thrown out of office by the voters post haste; get rid of the incompetents and bring in those individuals who are capable of addressing these problems. There is no reason why this cannot be done.

If these kinds of actions are not taken by the people and this very dangerous condition is allowed to escalate further, we could see a massive societal eruption in this society. The inner cities where there are guns everywhere could be the first to erupt and then this violence could spread across America. No one wants this kind of anarchy to take place in this country but if we the people do not take positive actions and do it now, then what is happening today will be nothing compared to the massive violence that will take place between the quasi-military police and the people going into the future.

So where exactly do we go from here? Will logic, reason and rational thinking prevail and bring this situation under control or will we see anarchy erupt in America?

In 2013 British Police Fired Guns: 3 Times

August 24, 2014

Police officers take pictures of giant puppets as they move through the streets of Liverpool, northern England July 25, 2014. (photo: Nigel Roddis/Reuters)
Police officers take pictures of giant puppets as they move through the streets of Liverpool, northern England July 25, 2014. (photo: Nigel Roddis/Reuters)

By Public Radio International

24 August 14


In 2012, 409 people were shot and killed by American police in what were termed justifiable shootings. In that same year, British police officers fired their weapons just once. No one was killed.

n 2013, British police officers fired their weapons all of three times. No one died.According to The Economist, “British citizens are around 100 times less likely to be shot by a police officer than Americans. Between 2010 and 2014, the police force of one small American city — Albuquerque in New Mexico — shot and killed 23 civilians; seven times more than the number of Brits killed by all of England and Wales’s 43 forces during the same period.

The Economist argues that the reason for this disparity is actually quite simple: guns are comparatively rare in the UK. Most cops don’t carry them and criminals rarely have access to them. The last time a British officer was killed by a gun was in 2012. In the US last year, 30 police officers were shot and killed in the line of duty.

In December, PRI’s The World reported on Icelanders grieving after their police force killed a man — for the first time in the country’s history as a republic.


US Now Faces Threat of US-Made Weapons in Iraq

August 23, 2014

Published: Saturday 23 August 2014
How are military weapons, meant for the Iraqi army, ending up in the hands of ISIS?

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Never mind that the vehicle is a boxy, lumbering, second-hand set of wheels with a top speed of just 60 mph. To some of the fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the U.S. M1117, aka the Guardian Armored Security Vehicle, has become their favorite ride.

Or so says Jeremy Binnie, editor of Jane’s Terrorism and Security Monitor, who has monitored propaganda sites for reports of jihadis toting, towing or tooling around in some of the millions of dollars’ worth of U.S.- and other foreign-built military equipment that ISIS captured after it swept into northern Iraq in early June.

promotional video by the manufacturer, Textron Marine and Land Systems, touts the four-wheel-drive, amphibious vehicle as “survivable,” due to its armor, and “lethal,” with its mounted grenade launcher and heavy machine gun. The vehicles, which can cost more than $600,000 each, are everything, apparently, that the modern militant could ask for.

“I’m sure Textron will be very happy,” Binnie said. “Their vehicle has the thumbs up from the Islamic State.”

By authorizing the first of dozens of airstrikes against militants in Iraq on Aug. 8 and dispatching more than 1,000 troops there as military advisers, President Barack Obama has sent U.S. forces back to a conflict that many Americans wanted to forget.

In battles from Afghanistan to Iraq, the United States defeated conventional forces equipped mainly with Soviet-design hardware. Now as the United States conducts air sorties in areas controlled by ISIS, the United States faces the prospect of having some of its own modern weapons systems turned against its military forces and those of its Iraqi allies.

“It’s a cautionary tale, in terms of the consequences of sending more arms to the Kurds and the Iraqi security forces,” said William Hartung, author and director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy in Washington. “I think once you send this kind of equipment into the middle of a civil war, it’s hard to say where it will end up.”

Michael Pregent, a former U.S. Army officer who speaks Arabic and has worked for the Defense Department in Iraq as a military and political analyst, estimated that the militants have captured up to 60 of the three heaviest pieces of U.S.-built equipment in the Iraqi arsenal — M1 Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M109 self-propelled howitzers.Pregent, who is now an adjunct lecturer at National Defense University, said some of these weapons were used in attacks on the Kurdish Peshmerga militia forces defending their semi-autonomous region. ISIS’ threat to the Kurdish capital of Erbil triggered the United States’ intervention.

video of the first U.S. airstrikes shows a U.S.-made F/A-18 Hornet, which cost roughly $61 million, bombing what appears to be a U.S.-made M198 towed howitzer, which cost $527,000, in the hands of insurgents. Both Pregent and Birnie said the artillery piece was clearly identifiable in the video.

Pregent said he would expect that at least some U.S. airstrikes have targeted captured U.S.-built military equipment. Lt. Col. James Gregory of the Pentagon Press Office called that “speculative” and declined to discuss what ISIS may or may not have captured.

The jihadis claimed to have captured at least one abandoned M1 Abrams tank, and have posted photographs of flatbed trucks hauling Humvees to unknown destinations. But many of the photos on the Web purporting to be of captured U.S. equipment show Russian equipment instead.

When the Iraqi government announced in 2008 that it planned to spend almost $11 billion on weapons for its military, The Long War Journal reported that these purchases demonstrated Iraq’s resolve to create “a military capable of protecting its own borders.” Instead, the Iraqi National Army in early June withdrew from huge swathes of northern Iraq in the face of underwhelming odds.

Hartung estimated that since 2005 the United States has sold about $8 billion worth of weapons to Iraq. According to a July report by the Congressional Research Service, prior to the U.S. withdrawal in December 2011, Iraq purchased 140 M1A1 Abrams tanks, at a cost of about $6 million each, as well as two naval vessels and border monitoring equipment.

The CRS said Iraq has also struck a deal to pay $6.5 billion for 36 F-16 combat aircraft, the first of which scheduled for delivery next month. The F-16s were supposed to be based at Balad Air Base north of Baghdad, but reported Aug. 15 that preparations for their arrival were suspended because of the threat.

The U.S. also sold or leased Iraq 30 Apache helicopters in a deal worth $6.17 billion, the CRS report said, but delivery was held up by Congress until recently over concerns that the government might use them in sectarian clashes.

Iraq has also consided purchasing a $2.4 billion air defense system that includes 681 Stinger missiles, three Hawk antiaircraft batteries, and other equipment. The Pentagon has said the Stingers can only be operated as part of the larger air defense system they were designed to serve, not by militants on their own.

ISIS may not be able to use a lot of the equipment, Pregent said, because the fighters lack the training and facilities to operate and maintain it. He said that, based on his experience working with Iraqi forces, as many as half of the 60 largest weapons seized may have been broken down and in need of repair when they were captured.

“Every advisor who’s ever been with the Iraqi military knows that its biggest headache was to get the Iraqis to maintain this equipment,” Pregent said.

Binnie said untrained militants would find it a “trick to master” firing their new U.S. tanks and artillery, and probably couldn’t use them accurately against targets they couldn’t see in front of them. “You probably couldn’t hit much besides a city,” he said.

While the larger vehicles are more photogenic, Binnie said the small arms and ammunition caches seized by ISIS may have more military value.

“That is probably the main thing for the Islamic State guys, is just capturing large quantities of infantry weapons and ammunition, the stuff they’re using anyway,” Binnie said. “They burn through a lot of ammunition — rocket-propelled grenade rounds, mortars, bullets. Capturing that is probably going to be a major boon.”

Most militants, he said, would “prefer a land cruiser to a Humvee,” he added. “It’s just going to be easier for them to keep running.” As evidence of the low regard they have for the American military vehicles, he said that after the militants captured the Iraqi Army’s Humvees, it loaded some of them up with explosives for use as car bombs.

Pregent said even captured U.S. ammunition may not be as useful to the militants as it might seem, because they probably prefer their rugged if less accurate Soviet-designed weapons to U.S. military arms.

As for the M1117 Guardians, Pregent said he could see why they would appeal to young militants. “It’s a sexy vehicle,” he said. “It looks great.” But he estimated that there are probably fewer than 10 of them in jihadi hands. “If they’re not destroyed already.”



Veteran foreign correspondent Douglas Birch has reported from more than 20 countries, covered four wars, a dozen elections, the death of a pope and the hunt for a malaria vaccine. He formerly served as the Moscow bureau chief for the Associated Press and spent 22 years at the Baltimore Sun.

Birch was the AP’s diplomatic and military editor in Washington, following his work in Moscow from 2001 to 2005 and from 2007 to 2010. At the Baltimore Sun, he was an enterprise, feature and science writer. Birch was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2002 for his series on the abuse of human subjects in drug trials. A graduate of Columbia University and its graduate journalism school, he was also a Knight science journalism fellow at MIT.

Birch lives in Baltimore with his wife, Jane, who works for a Baltimore charitable foundation. His daughter Alison is an architect living in Charleston, S.C.

‘This is the Story of Power in this Country': Ferguson, Institutionalized Racism and the Militarization of Police

August 21, 2014
Published on

‘They’re willing to sacrifice the lives of the community members based on the actions of a few’ — CCR Bertha Fellow Chauniqua Young

Police officers in Ferguson, Missouri arrested 31 people during protests Monday night (Photo: Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images)

Last week, after days of violent police rampages in Ferguson, Missouri, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Michigan) said the Senate will “review” the Defense Department program that gives military weapons and equipment to civilian police departments for free.

It took five apocalyptic nights in Ferguson for Levin to make that statement, but the national dialogue on the militarization of police has begun.

Only it didn’t just take Ferguson. It took years of violent arrests. Exposés that revealed small towns being patrolled by tanks and big cities controlled by force. Rampant and institutionalized violations of citizens’ human and constitutional rights. Protests and demonstrations around the country suffocated by intimidation, brutality, and weapons only ever seen in warfare.

The most recent crackdown came in response to a march that grew out of a vigil for Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old who was shot to death by Officer Darren Wilson on August 9th. The community of 20,000 wanted justice for another young black man killed with impunity; the police did not want to answer for their actions.

“There’s a real problem in this country in thinking systematically about power,” Chauncey DeVega, founder and editor of the blog We Are Respectable Negroes, told Common Dreams. “We need to emphasize that racism and police brutality are not separate things.”

Harrowing images and videos from Ferguson’s ongoing protests showed tense days turning into chaotic nights as police forces descended on the demonstrations, dressed in army camouflage and black helmets, wielding attack dogs and assault rifles, straddling armored tanks. They arrested reporters, refused to answer questions, and confiscated and dismantled news cameras. They fired tear gas canisters and rubber bullets at groups of protesters, eerily backlit by sporadic street-lamps and tank headlights. The smoke grenades sent heavy, billowing clouds through crowds of people who recoiled from the gas and held their empty arms in the air with the simple, pleading message, “Don’t shoot.”

handsup.jpg“Hands up, don’t shoot” (Photo: The Independent)

On Thursday, after almost a week of nightmarish standoffs documented with equal reverence by reporters and social media users, Attorney General Eric Holder made a statement on the excessive and violent police response to the protests.

“[It] is clear that the scenes playing out in the streets of Ferguson over the last several nights cannot continue,” Holder said. “At a time when we must seek to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the local community, I am deeply concerned that the deployment of military equipment and vehicles sends a conflicting message.”

The 1033 program

How did we come to this? The reasons are complex and deeply ingrained in America’s troubling racial history, but the source of the problem is simple: widespread partnerships between law enforcement and government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense.

The quiet militarization of police departments began in 1990, when Congress passed theNational Defense Authorization Act, a provision of which — known as the 1033 program — allowed the Secretary of Defense to “transfer to Federal and State agencies personal property of the Department of Defense, including small arms and ammunition.”

In 1996, during the peak of the War on Drugs, Congress expanded the program and incentivized active use of the equipment, making it free for recipient agencies and simultaneously requiring them to use it within a year. The expansion of the 1033 program also required agencies to give preference to transferring equipment for “counterdrug and counterterrorism activities.” And it hasn’t stopped there.

But equally concerning as the 1033 program itself is the recent opportunity Congress had to end it — which it didn’t take.

On June 19th, almost two months before the death of Michael Brown, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Florida), introduced an amendment to the defense appropriations bill that would have prohibited federal funds from being used to “transfer aircraft (including unmanned aerial vehicles), armored vehicles, grenade launchers, silencers, toxicological agents (including chemical agents, biological agents, and associated equipment), launch vehicles, guided missiles, ballistic missiles, rockets, torpedoes, bombs, mines, or nuclear weapons (as identified for demilitarization purposes outlined in Department of Defense Manual 4160.28) through the Department of Defense Excess Personal Property Program.”

The amendment failed in a House vote 355-62. One of the votes against the amendment came from Rep. William Lacy Clay, a Democrat who represents Ferguson, Missouri.

As political finance research organization MapLight points out, Clay is one of the many members of Congress who receives a large chunk of campaign donations from the defense industry — $25,000 in Clay’s case. The representatives who voted against the amendment receive, on average, 73 percent more money from defense contractors than those who voted to de-fund the militarization program.

The Center for Investigative Reporting found in 2011 that more than $34 billion in federal grants have gone to stocking police forces with tanks, riot gear, and assault weapons.The relationship between government and the defense industry is unmistakable. The Center for Investigative Reporting found in 2011 that more than $34 billion in federal grants have gone to stocking police forces with tanks, riot gear, and assault weapons. The number could well be higher, but neither the federal government nor the state and local governments keep close track of what they sell or obtain, the Center said.

In 2011 alone, approximately 12,000 police organizations procured $500 million in firearms, helicopters, and other equipment. A highly publicized moratorium imposed by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) in 2012 to prevent inappropriate weapons transfers was lifted — this time without fanfare — in 2013 with no new safeguards.

As the ACLU reported (PDF) in June, the DLA, which is responsible for transferring the equipment to civilian police forces, “can simply purchase property from an equipment or weapons manufacturer and transfer it to a local law enforcement agency free of charge.”

The phenomenon of surplus of military weapons making their way into the supplies of city police forces is not always visible to the public, as it has been in Ferguson. The turmoil is all too often private, witnessed only by people inside their homes and the SWAT teams that kick down their doors in the middle of the night to serve a warrant. Michael Brown’s tragic death is part of a much more pervasive trend of police brutality on large and small scales that is strengthened and perpetuated by militarization — one that encourages the police to see the people as an enemy, and vice versa.

Racial disparities in policing

Michael Brown’s death — and Eric Garner’s, John Crawford’s, Ezell Ford’s, and Dante Parker’s — are the most recent examples of a historic trend with deep, troubling roots.

“There is a historical precedent” to racism in policing, DeVega told Common Dreams. “Modern police can trace their origins back to slave patrols.”

As Eastern Kentucky University professor Victor E. Kappeler writes, “The institution of slavery and the control of minorities… were two of the more formidable historic features of American society shaping early policing.”

“[T]he St. Louis police were founded to protect residents from Native Americans in that frontier city, and many southern police departments began as slave patrols,” writes Kappeler, who is Associate Dean of the School of Justice Studies at EKU. “Slave patrols helped to maintain the economic order and to assist the wealthy landowners in recovering and punishing slaves who essentially were considered property.”

Institutional racism in policing is not a new development, but militarization is. During the 1980s and 90s, the government took advantage of the public fear of drugs to gain support for ramped up military-grade policing programs. Apart from 1033, federal support also came in a variety of DOJ and DHS grants that bolstered state and local law enforcement agencies, which used them to purchase lethal weapons, body armor, and vehicles built to withstand roadside bombs in war zones. Joint operations between police departments and the federal agencies like the FBI became common.

But the changes caused by militarization were not equal among all communities. Racial disparities were rampant. Black communities were disproportionately targeted for policing and arrests — and the increasingly militarized equipment and conduct that went with it — despite evidence pointing to higher levels of drug crimes among whites.

“Police are now being trained by military,” DeVega told Common Dreams. “They try out their programs on poor black communities.”

Militarization gave police forces a “warrior” mentality that gradually normalized the use of assault weapons on routine patrols, ACLU found. Legalized racial profiling programs, like the SB1070 bill in Arizona and the Stop and Frisk policy in New York City, quickly followed.

To see the warrior mentality in one single, heartbreaking example, look no further than Michael Brown’s recently released autopsy report. The bullet path indicates that he was in a position of surrender when he was shot. Brown might even have survived the first five hits, forensic expert Dr. Michael Baden said — it was the final shot to his head that killed him.

EKU criminal justice professor Pete Kraska, who has studied the rise of paramilitary policing for decades, wrote in a report (PDF) that the mentality is also fueled by “[t]he allure of police paramilitary subculture… the enjoyment, excitement, high status, and male camaraderie that accompany the heavy weaponry, new technologies, dangerous assignments, and heightened anticipation of using force in most PPU [Police Paramilitary Unit] work.”

Harsh sentencing policies, such as the three-strikes law in California, have led to a 40 percent black prison population, compared to a 12 percent black U.S. population — an example of the kind of institutional racism that feeds into the “cycle of cruelty,” as DeVega puts it.

“Most people likely assume this must be due to rising crime rates, but the explosion in the prison population, as well as its changing complexion, are better explained by harsh criminal justice policies,” said Rebecca Hetey, a Stanford University psychology researcher. Joshua Correll and Tracie Keesee, psychology researchers at the University of Chicago, likewise discovered that police officers are more likely to shoot black targets, whether they are armed or unarmed.

Outside of prison, many poor black communities found themselves subject to a different kind institutionalized control, which Yale University assistant professor Vesla Weavercalled “custodial citizenship.”

“Criminal justice interventions transform how people understand their government… their citizenship,” Weaver wrote for the Boston Review. “[T]hose who have been exposed to criminal justice tend to have low levels of trust in politicians and public institutions and a diminished sense of standing. They don’t believe the state will respond to their needs.”

“Their relationship to the state looks more like that of an undocumented person than that of a citizen,” Weaver wrote.

A study (PDF) by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement published in April 2013 discovered that police officers, security guards, or self-appointed vigilantes “extrajudicially” killed at least 313 black men in 2012. That means a black person was killed by an officer, without trial, every 28 hours in one year. However, as these statistics come only from reported deaths, the real number could be much higher, MXGM said.

The report, Operation Ghetto Storm, quoted New York State Senator and former NYPD police captain Eric Adams, who testified that police commissioner Ray Kelly focused Stop and Frisk on young black and Latino men because “he wanted to instill fear in them every time they leave their home.”

A recording made at a Brooklyn police station captured Kelly telling NYPD officers, “If you get too big of a crowd there, they’re going to get out of control, and they’re going to think that they own the block. We own the block… We own the streets here.”

Ferguson as a front line

Militarization shows that police and governments are “willing to sacrifice the lives of the community members based on the actions of a few.”
— Chauniqua Young, Center for Constitutional Rights
The police response in Ferguson poses another question: Why is it that, with years of reports on tanks and weapons being funneled into small town police forces, the first time we see widespread coverage of these doomsday armies emerging is in a town that happens to be majority black?

Chauniqua Young, Bertha Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, told Common Dreams that “the excessive force by the police demonstrates disrespect for black lives” at an institutional level. “It was justified based on the alleged actions of individuals… in reality, it affected families.”

Young, who was present during the protests in Ferguson, said many of the residents running from tear gas were parents with strollers.

Militarization shows that police and governments are “willing to sacrifice the lives of the community members based on the actions of a few,” Young said.

Operation Ghetto Storm’s authors write that “police, sheriffs, security guards and, to a certain extent self‐appointed enforcers of law (vigilantes) ARE ‘authorized’ by governments and paid for by taxes” to kill black people. Many cities see police forces killing black citizens without trial in numbers that greatly outweigh their black populations. Roughly 71 percent of them were, like Brown, either unarmed or “allegedly” armed, a status that MXGM says is used by police forces that are “infamous for planting weapons or declaring that a cell phone, wallet or other harmless object is a gun.”

Statistics compiled by the National Safety Council and the U.S. Census Bureau in 2011, and immortalized in social media memes ever since, showed that an individual is eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist. Added together, the presence of racism and militarization in the institution of law enforcement have combined to target minorities at unprecedented levels.

fuckthepolice_2.jpgRacism and police militarization go hand-in-hand (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty)

A study published in December 2013 found that, from 1997 to 2008, 49 percent of black men in the U.S. were arrested by age 23. That was the same year that the U.S. Bureau of Justice published the shocking estimate that 40.2 percent of all inmates in the corrections system were black — at 846,000 inmates, that statistic meant that there were more black men in jail that year than there were enslaved in 1850, before the start of the Civil War.

As Deadspin writer Greg Howard wrote for The Concourse, “If officers are soldiers, it follows that the neighborhoods they patrol are battlefields. And if they’re working battlefields, it follows that the population is the enemy. And because of correlations, rooted in historical injustice, between crime and income and income and race, the enemy population will consist largely of people of color, and especially of black men.”

SWAT teams as police

Paramilitary policing in majority-black neighborhoods doesn’t stop with supplying war-grade weapons to local departments and giving cops free rein to target minorities for illegal search and seizures. It also includes the widespread, excessive, and often deadly use of SWAT teams to conduct low-risk operations.

In theory, Special Weapons and Tactics teams are specialized units only called in for missions considered too dangerous for ordinary police departments, like hostage situations and shooter standoffs. But as the ACLU discovered, more than 800 SWAT deployments — roughly 62 percent — between 2011 and 2012 were drug searches in people’s homes. Only 7 percent of deployments were in response to the very situations SWAT teams were created for.

What is a SWAT raid like? As described by the ACLU, they begin when officers armed with grenades and assault rifles break down suspects’ doors and windows with battering rams, often in the middle of the night, often with children present. On far too many occasions, they include SWAT officers opening fire into residential homes with no cause and no warning; on far too many occasions, they end in death.

SWAT raids have killed at least seven civilians and injured 46 since 2010, ACLU reports. Among them were Eurie Stamp, a grandfather of 12; seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones; Tarika Wilson, a young mother whose baby was also wounded by the gunshots; and Jose Guerena, an Iraq veteran. The injured also include 19-month-old Bou Bou, who was put into a medically-induced coma after a grenade that landed in his crib gave him third-degree burns and chest wounds.

None of them were suspects. None of the raids turned up drugs. Few of the officers involved were ever held responsible for killing innocent civilians.

But SWAT teams turning low-risk operations into deadly missions is only one aspect of police militarization and its direct consequences for communities of color.

“There is a collective consciousness that black men are criminals,” DeVega told Common Dreams. “And there is a reluctance to say, ‘Why these communities?'”

“Who are some of the people who are invested in militarization?” DeVega said. “Who are they trying their tactics out on? Innocent black people are more likely to encounter police than guilty white people. It’s not coincidental.”

Vincent Warren, CCR executive director, said the killing of Michael Brown and the subsequent protests are “part of a continuum of racial profiling and state violence.”

The future of militarization

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) on Thursday introduced the first tangible action to defund 1033 since Grayson’s failed bill in June. Garnering immediate support from Sen. Claire McCaskill, who represents Missouri, Johnson announced that he would soon propose a Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act (PDF) in the House of Representatives.

“[A]re MRAPs [Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles] really needed in small-town America?” Johnson wrote for USA Today. “Are improvised explosive devices, grenade attacks, mines, shelling and other war-typical attacks really happening in Roanoke Rapids, a town of 16,000 people? No.”

“Militarizing America’s main streets won’t make us any safer, just more fearful and more reticent,” wrote Johnson, who supported Grayson’s previous bill to de-fund 1033.

Other supporters of the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act include Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan), who also voted in favor of Grayson’s effort in June.

The program is unlikely to go down without a fight. Pentagon spokesperson and Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told the U.S. News and World Report that 1033 is “a useful program that allows for the reuse of military equipment that would otherwise be disposed of, that could be used by law enforcement agencies to serve their citizens.”

There is also the rhetoric of fear. “The problem is always [in the] public safety argument… that it would disempower [police] to enhance public safety,” Young told Common Dreams. “People need to understand that there are alternatives to militarization, like community policing.”

“This is the story of power in this country.”
— Chauncey DeVega
Ferguson’s brief window of calm, led by Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, was a working example of community policing. On August 14th, Johnson and other officers — who dressed in plain uniforms and did not carry assault weapons — walked side by side with protesters, hugged and took photographs with them, and assured residents that the police were there to protect their rights, not to threaten their safety. Mutual cooperation ensured a night of peaceful marches and a joyful, party-like atmosphere, as many reported.

Tensions rose again the following day as Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson releasedsurveillance footage of Brown allegedly stealing cigars from a convenience store a few hours before he was shot. The information was irrelevant to Brown’s death, but the police department’s smear campaign against him had begun. As St. Louis County officers were allowed back on the ground, tear gas poisoned the air again and more violent arrests were reported. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon instituted a city-wide curfew that the ACLU called “a  lockdown  on  the  residents  of  Ferguson  who  have  done  no  wrong  and  seek  nothing  more than justice.”

Many media outlets called the protests and the subsequent crackdown “standoffs” and “clashes,” but those terms are misleading, Young said. “The narratives are simply not true,” Young continued. “The over-escalation has been by the police, not the protesters.” Photographs surfacing on Twitter showed residents — mostly young black men — standing guard in front of storefronts that had been targeted for looting. “Who you out here for? Better be for Mike Brown,” one said.

Some critics say the problem with community policing is that the institution is too problematic at its core — that police threaten the community with or without military weapons. As Ed Kilgore wrote for the Washington Monthly, “even with conventional weaponry (indeed, probably more so since the outrages in Ferguson might not have attracted so much national attention if not for the Fallujah imagery), the shooting of Michael Brown and the handling of the whole situations would have illustrated a systemic problem that all the tanks and tear gas and riot gear made worse but did not create.”

Johnson, who helped create the sense of calm in Ferguson that lifted spirits earlier this week, on Monday began subtly changing his tone about protesters after police once again began using brutal tactics against them. “We are not going to let groups congregate and build into larger groups because that’s what causes problems,” Johnson said during a press conference.

On Monday, officers told protesters that they were not allowed to stand still unless they were in an approved protest area.

In the meantime, it seems at least a small faction of the government has finally noticed the power differential. “Before another small town’s police force gets a $700,000 gift from the Defense Department that it can’t maintain or manage, it behooves us to press pause on Pentagon’s 1033 program and revisit the merits of a militarized America,” Rep. Johnson wrote in his letter.

DeVega notes that no poor community is immune from excessive police force. “When people think about white supremacy… the police are a part of that,” he told Common Dreams. “This is the story of power in this country.”

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Michael Brown and America’s Structural Violence Epidemic

August 16, 2014
Published on

Michael Brown’s father holds a sign in protest of his son’s killing. (Credit: flickr/cc/blue cheddar)

I flew into St. Louis on Saturday, August 9, to celebrate the birthdays of my mother and nephew and immediately learned about Mike Brown, a soon-to-be college student who was fatally shot by Ferguson police. As my community and I struggle to make sense of this recent murder, I cannot help but think of the structures of racism and violence in America and how they perpetuate police brutality against Black Americans. Police brutality is a national crisis, but the underlying structural violence – racism, economic injustice and militarism – is a national epidemic.

Disproportionality in police use of force against Black Americans persists and cannot be tolerated. An April 2013 report prepared by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement found that killings of Black Americans by “law enforcement, security guards and stand-your-ground vigilantes” have increased from one every 36 hours, in the first half of 2012, to one every 28 hours by the end of that year. This appalling statistic is rooted in structural racism that systematically excludes persons of color from opportunities and perpetuates negative stereotypes.

In their 2006 book, The Color of Wealth: The Story Behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide, Meizhu Lui and Barbara Robles illustrate this continuing, race-oriented, systematic exclusion of Americans of color from opportunities that are supposed to build an individual’s wealth – business loans, employment opportunities, mortgages and G.I. benefits, for example.  BBC News’ 2012 mini-documentary, “The Delmar Dividing Line,” illuminates how the structural violence of impoverishment in St. Louis, Mo., continues to fall along racial lines with Blacks in the North with low incomes and Whites in the south with significantly higher incomes – a separation reminiscent of the 19th century.

In a society where wealth brings respect, these economic injustices translate into social, cultural and institutional views of Blacks as lazy and morally inferior. In addition, the Black community is often framed as violent and animalistic, as illustrated by a recent CNN video of a protest in Ferguson, Mo., where a police officer shouted, “Bring it, all you fucking animals!” Perspectives like these serve to perpetuate structural racism and justify violence against the Black community as people who should be feared.

In his August 4, 2014 article for Gawker, Jason Parham argues that police brutality should finally be considered a national crisis. While I agree, we should go a step further and address our national epidemic of structural violence. With increasingly militarized police departments throughout the US, supported and influenced by a government that uses violence to police the world, our city streets are battlegrounds. With structural racism’s harmful, dehumanizing images, the enemy insurgents are Black.

How should we respond to this national epidemic and the murder of Michael Brown? In dealing with the immediate issue, protesters and the family of Michael Brown want his killer immediately arrested and tried in court. This may happen, but while the motto on most police cars is protect and serve, there is an overwhelming sense in communities of color that police often simply protect their own.

In the short-term, as a start, we should require police to wear cameras on their uniforms. A2013 Cambridge University study found that body cameras for police in Rialto, Ca. reduced the use of force by 50 percent. We should pursue greater community involvement in, and oversight of, policing. Further, we need to create policies that reward those who have taken mediation and nonviolence training and who demonstrate empathy and commitment to the communities they serve.

Most importantly, in the long-term, we need restorative justice programs and processes enabled in communities across the nation. Restorative justice processes can open dialogues between police and their communities and lessen the friction and false images that lead to Brown’s murder–or Eric Garner, or Oscar Grant or Kendra James or Jonathan Ferrell or James Perez or any other unarmed young black person unjustly killed by police who have been primed and pumped up to use lethal force against perceived but nonexistent threat.

As a national community, we have to demand justice for Michael Brown and all others killed by or suffering from structural violence and its perpetuation of police brutality in America. We have to demand justice that restores our communities through listening, power sharing and mutual respect and moves us toward a cure for this national epidemic.

David Ragland, writing for PeaceVoice, is a visiting Assistant Professor of education at Bucknell University, board member for the Peace and Justice Association and United Nations representative for the International Peace Research Association.

‘A Hideous Atrocity:’ Noam Chomsky on Israel’s Assault on Gaza and US Support for the Occupation

August 9, 2014

Published: Friday 8 August 2014
Noam Chomsky describes Israel’s land offensive in Gaza as hideous, sadistic, vicious and murderous. What will it take to create “Peace in the Middle East?”

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Hideous. Sadistic. Vicious. Murderous. That is how Noam Chomsky describes Israel’s 29-day offensive in Gaza that killed nearly 1,900 people and left almost 10,000 people injured. Chomsky has written extensively about the Israel/Palestine conflict for decades. After Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, Chomsky co-authored the book “Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on Israel’s War Against the Palestinians” with Israeli scholar Ilan Pappé. His other books on the Israel/Palestine conflict include “Peace in the Middle East?: Reflections on Justice and Nationhood” and “The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians.” Chomsky is a world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author, Institute Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught for more than 50 years.


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: To talk more about the crisis in Gaza, we go now to Boston, where we are joined by Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author, Institute Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he’s taught for more than 50 years. He has written extensively about the Israel-Palestine conflict for decades.

AMY GOODMAN: Forty years ago this month, Noam Chomsky published Peace in the Middle East?: Reflections on Justice and Nationhood. His 1983 book, The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians, is known as one of the definitive works on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Professor Chomsky joins us from Boston.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Noam. Please first just comment, since we haven’t spoken to you throughout the Israeli assault on Gaza. Your comments on what has just taken place?

NOAM CHOMSKY: It’s a hideous atrocity, sadistic, vicious, murderous, totally without any credible pretext. It’s another one of the periodic Israeli exercises in what they delicately call “mowing the lawn.” That means shooting fish in the pond, to make sure that the animals stay quiet in the cage that you’ve constructed for them, after which you go to a period of what’s called “ceasefire,” which means that Hamas observes the ceasefire, as Israel concedes, while Israel continues to violate it. Then it’s broken by an Israeli escalation, Hamas reaction. Then you have period of “mowing the lawn.” This one is, in many ways, more sadistic and vicious even than the earlier ones.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what of the pretext that Israel used to launch these attacks? Could you talk about that and to what degree you feel it had any validity?

NOAM CHOMSKY: As high Israeli officials concede, Hamas had observed the previous ceasefire for 19 months. The previous episode of “mowing the lawn” was in November 2012. There was a ceasefire. The ceasefire terms were that Hamas would not fire rockets—what they call rockets—and Israel would move to end the blockade and stop attacking what they call militants in Gaza. Hamas lived up to it. Israel concedes that.

In April of this year, an event took place which horrified the Israeli government: A unity agreement was formed between Gaza and the West Bank, between Hamas and Fatah. Israel has been desperately trying to prevent that for a long time. There’s a background we could talk about, but it’s important. Anyhow, the unity agreement came. Israel was furious. They got even more upset when the U.S. more or less endorsed it, which is a big blow to them. They launched a rampage in the West Bank.

What was used as a pretext was the brutal murder of three settler teenagers. There was a pretense that they were alive, though they knew they were dead. That allowed a huge—and, of course, they blamed it right away on Hamas. They have yet to produce a particle of evidence, and in fact their own highest leading authorities pointed out right away that the killers were probably from a kind of a rogue clan in Hebron, the Qawasmeh clan, which turns out apparently to be true. They’ve been a thorn in the sides of Hamas for years. They don’t follow their orders.

But anyway, that gave the opportunity for a rampage in the West Bank, arresting hundreds of people, re-arresting many who had been released, mostly targeted on Hamas. Killings increased. Finally, there was a Hamas response: the so-called rocket attacks. And that gave the opportunity for “mowing the lawn” again.

AMY GOODMAN: You said that Israel does this periodically, Noam Chomsky. Why do they do this periodically?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Because they want to maintain a certain situation. There’s a background. For over 20 years, Israel has been dedicated, with U.S. support, to separating Gaza from the West Bank. That’s in direct violation of the terms of the Oslo Accord 20 years ago, which declared that the West Bank and Gaza are a single territorial entity whose integrity must be preserved. But for rogue states, solemn agreements are just an invitation to do whatever you want. So Israel, with U.S. backing, has been committed to keeping them separate.

And there’s a good reason for that. Just look at the map. If Gaza is the only outlet to the outside world for any eventual Palestinian entity, whatever it might be, the West Bank—if separated from Gaza, the West Bank is essentially imprisoned—Israel on one side, the Jordanian dictatorship on the other. Furthermore, Israel is systematically driving Palestinians out of the Jordan Valley, sinking wells, building settlements. They first call them military zones, then put in settlements—the usual story. That would mean that whatever cantons are left for Palestinians in the West Bank, after Israel takes what it wants and integrates it into Israel, they would be completely imprisoned. Gaza would be an outlet to the outside world, so therefore keeping them separate from one another is a high goal of policy, U.S. and Israeli policy.

And the unity agreement threatened that. Threatened something else Israel has been claiming for years. One of its arguments for kind of evading negotiations is: How can they negotiate with the Palestinians when they’re divided? Well, OK, so if they’re not divided, you lose that argument. But the more significant one is simply the geostrategic one, which is what I described. So the unity government was a real threat, along with the tepid, but real, endorsement of it by the United States, and they immediately reacted.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Noam, what do you make of the—as you say, Israel seeks to maintain the status quo, while at the same time continuing to create a new reality on the ground of expanded settlements. What do you make of the continued refusal of one administration after another here in the United States, which officially is opposed to the settlement expansion, to refuse to call Israel to the table on this attempt to create its own reality on the ground?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, your phrase “officially opposed” is quite correct. But we can look at—you know, you have to distinguish the rhetoric of a government from its actions, and the rhetoric of political leaders from their actions. That should be obvious. So we can see how committed the U.S. is to this policy, easily. For example, in February 2011, the U.N. Security Council considered a resolution which called for—which called on Israel to terminate its expansion of settlements. Notice that the expansion of settlements is not really the issue. It’s the settlements. The settlements, the infrastructure development, all of this is in gross violation of international law. That’s been determined by the Security Council, the International Court of Justice. Practically every country in the world, outside of Israel, recognizes this. But this was a resolution calling for an end to expansion of settlements—official U.S. policy. What happened? Obama vetoed the resolution. That tells you something.

Furthermore, the official statement to Israel about the settlement expansion is accompanied by what in diplomatic language is called a wink—a quiet indication that we don’t really mean it. So, for example, Obama’s latest condemnation of the recent, as he puts it, violence on all sides was accompanied by sending more military aid to Israel. Well, they can understand that. And that’s been true all along. In fact, when Obama came into office, he made the usual statements against settlement expansion. And his administration was—spokespersons were asked in press conferences whether Obama would do anything about it, the way the first George Bush did something—mild sanctions—to block settlement expansions. And the answer was, “No, this is just symbolic.” Well, that tells the Israeli government exactly what’s happening. And, in fact, if you look step by step, the military aid continues, the economic aid continues, the diplomatic protection continues, the ideological protection continues. By that, I mean framing the issues in ways that conform to Israeli demand. All of that continues, along with a kind of clucking of the tongue, saying, “Well, we really don’t like it, and it’s not helpful to peace.” Any government can understand that.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke to foreign journalists yesterday.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Israel accepted and Hamas rejected the Egyptian ceasefire proposal of July 15th. And I want you to know that at that time the conflict had claimed some 185 lives. Only on Monday night did Hamas finally agree to that very same proposal, which went into effect yesterday morning. That means that 90 percent, a full 90 percent, of the fatalities in this conflict could have been avoided had Hamas not rejected then the ceasefire that it accepts now. Hamas must be held accountable for the tragic loss of life.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam Chomsky, can you respond to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu?

NOAM CHOMSKY: [inaudible] narrow response and a broad response. The narrow response is that, of course, as Netanyahu knows, that ceasefire proposal was arranged between the Egyptian military dictatorship and Israel, both of them very hostile to Hamas. It was not even communicated to Hamas. They learned about it through social media, and they were angered by that, naturally. They said they won’t accept it on those terms. Now, that’s the narrow response.

The broad response is that 100 percent of the casualties and the destruction and the devastation and so on could have been avoided if Israel had lived up to the ceasefire agreement after the—from November 2012, instead of violating it constantly and then escalating the violation in the manner that I described, in order to block the unity government and to persist in their policy of—the policies of taking over what they want in the West Bank and keeping—separating it from Gaza, and keeping Gaza on what they’ve called a “diet,” Dov Weissglas’s famous comment. The man who negotiated the so-called withdrawal in 2005 pointed out that the purpose of the withdrawal is to end the discussion of any political settlement and to block any possibility of a Palestinian state, and meanwhile the Gazans will be kept on a diet, meaning just enough calories allowed so they don’t all die—because that wouldn’t look good for Israel’s fading reputation—but nothing more than that. And with its vaunted technical capacity, Israel, Israeli experts calculated precisely how many calories would be needed to keep the Gazans on their diet, under siege, blocked from export, blocked from import. Fishermen can’t go out to fish. The naval vessels drive them back to shore. A large part, probably over a third and maybe more, of Gaza’s arable land is barred from entry to Palestinians. It’s called a “barrier.” That’s the norm. That’s the diet. They want to keep them on that, meanwhile separated from the West Bank, and continue the ongoing project of taking over—I can describe the details, but it’s not obscure—taking over the parts of the West Bank that Israel intends—is integrating into Israel, and presumably will ultimately annex in some fashion, as long as the United States continues to support it and block international efforts to lead to a political settlement.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Noam, as this whole month has unfolded and these images of the carnage in Gaza have spread around the world, what’s your assessment of the impact on the already abysmal relationship that exists between the United States government and the Arab and Muslim world? I’m thinking especially of all the young Muslims and Arabs around the world who maybe had not been exposed to prior atrocities in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, first of all, we have to distinguish between the Muslim and Arab populations and their governments—striking difference. The governments are mostly dictatorships. And when you read in the press that the Arabs support us on so-and-so, what is meant is the dictators support us, not the populations. The dictatorships are moderately supportive of what the U.S. and Israel are doing. That includes the military dictatorship in Egypt, a very brutal one; Saudi Arabian dictatorship. Saudi Arabia is the closest U.S. ally in the region, and it’s the most radical fundamentalist Islamic state in the world. It’s also spreading its Salafi-Wahhabi doctrines throughout the world, extremist fundamentalist doctrines. It’s been the leading ally of the United States for years, just as it was for Britain before it. They’ve both tended to prefer radical Islam to the danger of secular nationalism and democracy. And they are fairly supportive of—they don’t like—they hate Hamas. They have no interest in the Palestinians. They have to say things to kind of mollify their own populations, but again, rhetoric and action are different. So the dictatorships are not appalled by what’s happening. They probably are quietly cheering it.

The populations, of course, are quite different, but that’s always been true. So, for example, on the eve of the Tahrir Square demonstrations in Egypt, which overthrew the Mubarak dictatorship, there were international polls taken in the United States by the leading polling agencies, and they showed very clearly that I think about 80 percent of Egyptians regarded the main threats to them as being Israel and the United States. And, in fact, condemnation of the United States and its policies were so extreme that even though they don’t like Iran, a majority felt that the region might be safer if Iran had nuclear weapons. Well, if you look over the whole polling story over the years, it kind of varies around something like that. But that’s the populations. And, of course, the Muslim populations elsewhere don’t like it, either. But it’s not just the Muslim populations. So, for example, there was a demonstration in London recently, which probably had hundreds of thousands of people—it was quite a huge demonstration—protesting the Israeli atrocities in Gaza. And that’s happening elsewhere in the world, too. It’s worth remembering that—you go back a couple decades, Israel was one of the most admired countries in the world. Now it’s one of the most feared and despised countries in the world. Israeli propagandists like to say, well, this is just anti-Semitism. But to the extent that there’s an anti-Semitic element, which is slight, it’s because of Israeli actions. The reaction is to the policies. And as long as Israel persists in these policies, that’s what’s going to happen.

Actually, this has been pretty clear since the early 1970s. Actually, I’ve been writing about it since then, but it’s so obvious, that I don’t take any credit for that. In 1971, Israel made a fateful decision, the most fateful in its history, I think. President Sadat of Egypt offered Israel a full peace treaty, in return for withdrawal of Israel from the Egyptian Sinai. That was the Labor government, the so-called moderate Labor government at the time. They considered the offer and rejected it. They were planning to carry out extensive development programs in the Sinai, build a huge, big city on the Mediterranean, dozens of settlements, kibbutzim, others, big infrastructure, driving tens of thousands of Bedouins off the land, destroying the villages and so on. Those were the plans, beginning to implement them. And Israel made a decision to choose expansion over security. A treaty with Egypt would have meant security. That’s the only significant military force in the Arab world. And that’s been the policy ever since.

When you pursue a policy of repression and expansion over security, there are things that are going to happen. There will be moral degeneration within the country. There will be increasing opposition and anger and hostility among populations outside the country. You may continue to get support from dictatorships and from, you know, the U.S. administration, but you’re going to lose the populations. And that has a consequence. You could predict—in fact, I and others did predict back in the ’70s—that, just to quote myself, “those who call themselves supporters of Israel are actually supporters of its moral degeneration, international isolation, and very possibly ultimate destruction.” That’s what’s—that’s the course that’s happening.

It’s not the only example in history. There are many analogies drawn to South Africa, most of them pretty dubious, in my mind. But there’s one analogy which I think is pretty realistic, which isn’t discussed very much. It should be. In 1958, the South African Nationalist government, which was imposing the harsh apartheid regime, recognized that they were becoming internationally isolated. We know from declassified documents that in 1958 the South African foreign minister called in the American ambassador. And we have the conversation. He essentially told him, “Look, we’re becoming a pariah state. We’re losing all the—everyone is voting against us in the United Nations. We’re becoming isolated. But it really doesn’t matter, because you’re the only voice that counts. And as long as you support us, doesn’t really matter what the world thinks.” That wasn’t a bad prediction. If you look at what happened over the years, opposition to South African apartheid grew and developed. There was a U.N. arms embargo. Sanctions began. Boycotts began. It was so extreme by the 1980s that even the U.S. Congress was passing sanctions, which President Reagan had to veto. He was the last supporter of the apartheid regime. Congress actually reinstated the sanctions over his veto, and he then violated them. As late as 1988, Reagan, the last holdout, his administration declared the African National Congress, Mandela’s African National Congress, to be one of the more notorious terrorist groups in the world. So the U.S. had to keep supporting South Africa. It was supporting terrorist group UNITA in Angola. Finally, even the United States joined the rest of the world, and very quickly the apartheid regime collapsed.

Now that’s not fully analogous to the Israel case by any means. There were other reasons for the collapse of apartheid, two crucial reasons. One of them was that there was a settlement that was acceptable to South African and international business, simple settlement: keep the socioeconomic system and allow—put it metaphorically—allow blacks some black faces in the limousines. That was the settlement, and that’s pretty much what’s been implemented, not totally. There’s no comparable settlement in Israel-Palestine. But a crucial element, not discussed here, is Cuba. Cuba sent military forces and tens of thousands of technical workers, doctors and teachers and others, and they drove the South African aggressors out of Angola, and they compelled them to abandon illegally held Namibia. And more than that, as in fact Nelson Mandela pointed out as soon as he got out of prison, the Cuban soldiers, who incidentally were black soldiers, shattered the myth of invincibility of the white supermen. That had a very significant effect on both black Africa and the white South Africa. It indicated to the South African government and population that they’re not going to be able to impose their hope of a regional support system, at least quiet system, that would allow them to pursue their operations inside South Africa and their terrorist activities beyond. And that was a major factor in the liberation of black Africa.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam, we have to break, and we’re going to come back to this discussion. We’re talking to Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author, Institute Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back with Professor Chomsky in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Our guest is Professor Noam Chomsky. I want to turn to President Obama speaking Wednesday at a news conference in Washington, D.C.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Long term, there has to be a recognition that Gaza cannot sustain itself permanently closed off from the world and incapable of providing some opportunity, jobs, economic growth for the population that lives there, particularly given how dense that population is, how young that population is. We’re going to have to see a shift in opportunity for the people of Gaza. I have no sympathy for Hamas. I have great sympathy for ordinary people who are struggling within Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s President Obama yesterday. Noam Chomsky, can you respond?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, as always, for all states and all political leaderships, we have to distinguish rhetoric from action. Any political leader can produce lovely rhetoric, even Hitler, Stalin, whoever you want. What we ask is: What are they doing? So exactly what does Obama suggest or carry out as a means to achieve the goal of ending the U.S.-backed Israeli siege, blockade of Gaza, which is creating this situation? What has it done in the past? What does it propose to do in the future? There are things that the U.S. could do very easily. Again, don’t want to draw the South African analogy too closely, but it is indicative. And it’s not the only case. The same happened, as you remember, in the Indonesia-East Timor case. When the United States, Clinton, finally told the Indonesian generals, “The game’s over,” they pulled out immediately. U.S. power is substantial. And in the case of Israel, it’s critical, because Israel relies on virtually unilateral U.S. support. There are plenty of things the U.S. can do to implement what Obama talked about. And the question is—and, in fact, when the U.S. gives orders, Israel obeys. That’s happened over and over again. That’s completely obvious why, given the power relationships. So things can be done. They were done by Bush two, by Clinton, by Reagan, and the U.S. could do them again. Then we’ll know whether those words were anything other than the usual pleasant rhetoric.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Talking about separating rhetoric from actions, Israel has always claimed that it no longer occupies Gaza. Democracy Now! recently spoke to Joshua Hantman, who’s a senior adviser to the Israeli ambassador to the United States and a former spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Ministry. And Hantman said, quote, “Israel actually left the Gaza Strip in 2005. We removed all of our settlements. We removed the IDF forces. We took out 10,000 Jews from their houses as a step for peace, because Israel wants peace and it extended its hand for peace.” Your response?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, several points. First of all, the United Nations, every country in the world, even the United States, regards Israel as the occupying power in Gaza—for a very simple reason: They control everything there. They control the borders, the land, sea, air. They determine what goes into Gaza, what comes out. They determine how many calories Gazan children need to stay alive, but not to flourish. That’s occupation, under international law, and no one questions it, outside of Israel. Even the U.S. agrees, their usual backer. That puts—with that, we end the discussion of whether they’re an occupying power or not.

As for wanting peace, look back at that so-called withdrawal. Notice that it left Israel as the occupying power. By 2005, Israeli hawks, led by Ariel Sharon, pragmatic hawk, recognized that it just makes no sense for Israel to keep a few thousand settlers in devastated Gaza and devote a large part of the IDF, the Israeli military, to protecting them, and many expenses breaking up Gaza into separate parts and so on. Made no sense to do that. Made a lot more sense to take those settlers from their subsidized settlements in Gaza, where they were illegally residing, and send them off to subsidized settlements in the West Bank, in areas that Israel intends to keep—illegally, of course. That just made pragmatic sense.

And there was a very easy way to do it. They could have simply informed the settlers in Gaza that on August 1st the IDF is going to withdrawal, and at that point they would have climbed into the lorries that are provided to them and gone off to their illegal settlements in the West Bank and, incidentally, the Golan Heights. But it was decided to construct what’s sometimes called a “national trauma.” So a trauma was constructed, a theater. It was just ridiculed by leading specialists in Israel, like the leading sociologist—Baruch Kimmerling just made fun of it. And trauma was created so you could have little boys, pictures of them pleading with the Israeli soldiers, “Don’t destroy my home!” and then background calls of “Never again.” That means “Never again make us leave anything,” referring to the West Bank primarily. And a staged national trauma. What made it particularly farcical was that it was a repetition of what even the Israeli press called “National Trauma ’82,” when they staged a trauma when they had to withdraw from Yamit, the city they illegally built in the Sinai. But they kept the occupation. They moved on.

And I’ll repeat what Weissglas said. Recall, he was the negotiator with the United States, Sharon’s confidant. He said the purpose of the withdrawal is to end negotiations on a Palestinian state and Palestinian rights. This will end it. This will freeze it, with U.S. support. And then comes imposition of the diet on Gaza to keep them barely alive, but not flourishing, and the siege. Within weeks after the so-called withdrawal, Israel escalated the attacks on Gaza and imposed very harsh sanctions, backed by the United States. The reason was that a free election took place in Palestine, and it came out the wrong way. Well, Israel and the United States, of course, love democracy, but only if it comes out the way they want. So, the U.S. and Israel instantly imposed harsh sanctions. Israeli attacks, which really never ended, escalated. Europe, to its shame, went along. Then Israel and the United States immediately began planning for a military coup to overthrow the government. When Hamas pre-empted that coup, there was fury in both countries. The sanctions and military attacks increased. And then we’re on to what we discussed before: periodic episodes of “mowing the lawn.”

AMY GOODMAN: We only—Noam, we only have a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: Very quickly, at this point, a lot of the U.S. media is saying the U.S. had been sidelined, it’s now all about Egypt doing this negotiation. What needs to happen right now? The ceasefire will end in a matter of hours, if it isn’t extended. What kind of truce needs to be accomplished here?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, for Israel, with U.S. backing, the current situation is a kind of a win-win situation. If Hamas agrees to extend the ceasefire, Israel can continue with its regular policies, which I described before: taking over what they want in the West Bank, separating it from Gaza, keeping the diet and so on. If Hamas doesn’t accept the ceasefire, Netanyahu can make another speech like the one you—the cynical speech you quoted earlier. The only thing that can break this is if the U.S. changes its policies, as has happened in other cases. I mentioned two: South Africa, Timor. There’s others. And that’s decisive. If there’s going to be a change, it will crucially depend on a change in U.S. policy here. For 40 years, the United States has been almost unilaterally backing Israeli rejectionism, refusal to entertain the overwhelming international consensus on a two-state settlement.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam, we have to leave it there, but we’re going to continue our conversation post-show, and we’re going to post it online at Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author, professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 900 stations in North America. She is the author of “Breaking the Sound Barrier,” recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.

The Atomic Bomb, Then and Now

August 8, 2014

Dennis Kucinich. (photo:
Dennis Kucinich. (photo:

By Dennis J. Kucinich, Reader Supported News

07 August 14


ixty-nine years ago, the United States dropped the first atomic bombs on Japan — Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 — killing over a quarter of a million people.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower and other government leaders said at the time that the atomic bomb was not necessary militarily and that Japan was already facing certain defeat by the US and the Soviet Union.

Despite these warnings, the bombs were used and were wrongfully credited with ending the war. The atomic bomb ushered in an age of warfare that gave nations the ability to annihilate other nations and to commit environmental suicide, as Jonathan Schell related in his masterpiece The Fate of the Earth.

The ability to split the atom also legitimatized a nuclear industry which poisons our land and our water as shown in the new documentary film Hot Water, produced by Liz Rogers and Elizabeth Kucinich, which will be released late 2014.

Two years ago, Congress brought forward a proposal to create a new national park to honor those who developed the bomb. I opposed the bill because I felt the effects of the bomb were nothing to celebrate or glorify and was instrumental in the proposal’s defeat in the House in 2012. A transcript of the debate in the house can be found here. In the 2014 Congress, this bill (S. 507 by Senator Cantwell) passed the House, but is unlikely to pass the Senate.

Our problem isn’t simply our nuclear past, but is our present addiction to nuclear weapons which threaten humanity’s future. Professor Francis A. Boyle observed that in 2013 the Obama administration changed the United States nuclear posture. The United States has historically positioned its nuclear arsenal for the purposes of “deterrence,” yet under President Obama’s administration they are for brandishing. “In today’s security environment” the United States now reserves the right to use nuclear weapons against any country (first strike policy).

Lest anyone forget that nuclear is a big business, the United States is the leader in the global nuclear energy market. Nuclear energy technology is one of our biggest exports and is promoted as a boon to the environment, forget Fukushima. Forget that dozens of nuclear reactors in the US are operating way past their original licensing permits and that the aging reactor vessels are in late stages of embrittlement.

Forget that nuclear utilities are pleading with Wall Street to give them a break. We have come full circle, back to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, where the United States struck first with nuclear weapons. The most recent nuclear posture, the White House claimed, is necessary to eventually get rid of nuclear weapons! Read Professor Boyle’s analysis and the White House document.

During this time of commemoration of man’s inhumanity, visited upon the people of Japan three generations ago, let us resolve that we shall demand leaders who will resist the impulse to solve political and security problems through weapons of mass destruction.

Such leaders already exist in an organization known as the Parliamentarians for Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament, or PNND. Additionally, The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation promotes citizen action for nuclear abolition.

We must work together to support all efforts to get rid of nuclear weapons, not through appeals to violence but through the instinct to celebrate life. Let us find a path to love so that we can dismantle the destructive forces within our own hearts, which paralyze any sense of compassion necessary for the survival of all life on this planet. Let us build technologies for sustainability, and peace.



We are concerned about a recent drift towards vitriol in the RSN Reader comments section. There is a fine line between moderation and censorship. No one likes a harsh or confrontational forum atmosphere. At the same time everyone wants to be able to express themselves freely. We’ll start by encouraging good judgment. If that doesn’t work we’ll have to ramp up the moderation.

General guidelines: Avoid personal attacks on other forum members; Avoid remarks that are ethnically derogatory; Do not advocate violence, or any illegal activity.

Remember that making the world better begins with responsible action.

- The RSN Team

+1# John S. Browne 2014-08-07 15:21


So right! Let us prevent any further Fukushimas. One more such disaster could mean the end of life on earth, or at least kill millions of innocent people throughout the Northern Hemisphere (if the Fukushima disaster itself doesn’t already do so, since it is ongoing, with three melted-down cores sinking into the earth and continuing to release massive amounts of lethal radiation into the air, not to mention the tons of same being released into the Pacific Ocean, causing a plume of lethality that is already hitting the Pacific Coast of North America).

Right now, it is not safe to eat anything, or to drink any water, in North America, because it is all being inundated with radioactive-dus t fallout that continues to this day, over three years following the onset of the disaster. And the U.S. and Canadian governments have lied to their people that there is supposedly no threat to North America from Fukushima, and nothing to worry about, as well as telling them that it is supposedly unnecessary to take any precautions concerning same; continuing a cover-up of same that is also ongoing.

I know most of those in North America who read this comment of mine will not take it seriously, but I recommend that EVERYONE wear a face mask at all times when they go outside, against the radioactive dust; that they keep their doors and windows sealed in both their homes and their vehicles, with all vents closed; that they go outside as little as possible…


0# John S. Browne 2014-08-07 15:45


…(T)hat they take Potassium Iodide, preferably in the Potassium IodATE form (KI03; non- cancer-causing) , at max daily dose at least twenty-four hours before venturing outdoors, and before every incidence of going outside (or, if they go out everyday, that they take 35 to 50 mgs every day—about one-third of the maximum daily dose); that they monitor online when the jetstream from Japan is or is not flowing right over where they live, and if they can, ONLY go outdoors when it is NOT flowing over their area; and that they monitor the weather for their area and stay out of ALL precipitation (which brings down a lot of the fallout from the atmosphere—or , if they must go outside in precipitation, use an umbrella, only being out in same for as short a time as possible, and not touch the parts of the umbrella that the precipitation lands on) [see helpful links below]. (the background radiation readings for North America on this site have remained, on average, two to three times higher than those readings prior to the onset of Fukushima, starting about one week to ten afters after the beginning of the disaster, and continuing for the entire, now three years and four months since the disaster began) (a regularly-updat ed image of the jetstream affecting North America) (insert your zip code on the website for the ten-day forecast for your area)


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