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Forum Post: Hegemony Abroad Requires a Security State at Home

Posted 10 months ago on Nov. 7, 2013, 5:50 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5763)
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Hegemony Abroad Requires a Security State at Home

Thursday, 07 November 2013 11:52 By Paul Jay, The Real News Network | Video Interview

http://truth-out.org/news/item/19891-hegemony-abroad-requires-a-security-state-at-home

Also see Part 1: Ex-CIA Analyst on Snowden and Calling Journalists Terrorists

In this segment of Reality Asserts Itself, Paul Jay and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern discuss the relationship between seeking to be the world's single superpower and the resulting blowback and need to suppress dissent at home.

TRANSCRIPT:

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to Reality Asserts Itself.

We are continuing our interview with Ray McGovern, who now joins us in the studio.

Thanks for joining us again, Ray.

RAY MCGOVERN, RETIRED CIA ANALYST: Welcome.

JAY: So Ray, in case you don't know, is a former CIA analyst. He's now a political activist. He's--was instrumental in founding the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence. He's a cofounder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

Thank you. And I know you actually have found some veterans and professionals with some sanity. It's somewhat of a--.

MCGOVERN: And with some conscience.

JAY: You have. I've actually been quite impressed. You know, I got politicized during Vietnam days, and then we had no idea there actually were anyone like you in the CIA.

MCGOVERN: Thanks a lot.

JAY: You were all the bad guys. I'm going to pick up--part one of the interview I suggest you watch, 'cause I'm going to kind of pick up on something we talked about in part one. You said that the Constitution defends people's rights at home and that should be respected in an ironclad way--my words, but that's what you meant. But you understand the need for adult intelligence abroad, meaning don't do something stupid like spy on Merkel, but you might do something else that's required.

MCGOVERN: That's correct. Yeah.

JAY: I want to push back a little bit on that, which is, with U.S. foreign policy as it is, with the basic mindset of the American elite, whether it's represented by Republicans or Democrats in terms of their leadership, that you will necessarily violate the Constitution at home if you have this mindset abroad.

And let me just quickly--from right after World War II, with the development of Truman and the national security state and the fighting of the Cold War and the beginnings of the fight against national liberation movements and anything that smelled anything like socialism anywhere in the world, you have at home the House Un-American Activities Committee. You have McCarthyism, which, if they had had the NSA kind of spying in those days--and I'm sure they did as much as they could in terms of listening to phones, but they were going after everybody. I mean, they were going--ordinary teachers and union members and actors. And let me emphasize how much it was directed against trade unions to get rid of militants. Jump ahead. The Vietnam War creates the conditions at home for the criminalizing of dissent, and even to the point of shooting students on university campuses. You know.

Jump ahead. And, of course, I'm missing all kinds of stuff in between. The ambition, objective, which actually gets enunciated most clearly by Zbigniew Brzezinski--if you want to, you know, run the world, you'd better dominate Eurasia, and Brzezinski works for Jimmy Carter, a Democrat. And I'm not saying that Brzezinski was saying anything that a Kissinger wouldn't, a Republican, but the desire to dominate the world, dominate Eurasia, leads to the arming of jihadists in Afghanistan and gives rise to bin Laden, gives rise to 9/11, you know, in terms of not just that thread but the whole issue of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and attitude towards Israel and so on and so on, you wind up getting 9/11, which becomes a whole new rationale for spying on Americans at home.

What I'm saying is you cannot disconnect the two, that if you seek hegemony abroad, you will violate people's rights at home. And if you really want to deal with this issue of the development of a security state that violates people's constitutional rights at home, then people have to also take a stand against this kind of superpower activities abroad.

MCGOVERN: Paul, you don't understand. America is the sole exceptional country in the world, the soul indispensable country in the world. Now, if you know the antonym for indispensable, it's dispensable. Okay? So the rest of you Canadians, everybody else, are dispensible by definition. Okay? The president said that. He said that as recently as just a couple of months ago. And Putin of all places--of all persons says, you know, you ought to be careful giving the impression that your country is so exceptional that it can do what it wants around the world.

Now, the answer to this is that after World War II, that's when we became the sole remaining superpower in the world. Russia was decimated, 30 million people killed. You know, Europe was in ashes. We had to devise a policy. And what did we do? George Kennan, who used to be my hero, George Kennan, head of the policy planning staff at State Department, policy planning paper number one, we comprise--we dominate 50 percent of the world's national resources but comprise only 6.3 percent of its population. Therefore our policy has to be devised in such a way as to maintain this equilibrium. We can't be diverted by thoughts about soft power or democracy or civil rights. The time will come when we have to exert hard straight power.

JAY: Yeah, if you want to consume 50 percent of the world's resources, then you do what it takes.

MCGOVERN: That's right. So that's the policy, okay? And that's 1948. First policy.

Now, what happened? He's instrumental in setting up an intelligence agency that is far from what President Truman wanted, an analysis shop to tell him what was going on in the world, with a clandestine collection part, which would give us some spies to tell us that kind of information. And Kennan says, no, let's put these OSS guys, these people that overturn governments, these people that, you know, can really operate abroad, let's put them in with these analysts. What happens? Well, these operators get all the money and all the attention, and when this upstart, Mosaddegh, in Iran gets this weird notion that the oil underneath the sands of Iran should be--you know, should go to the benefit of the Iranian people at least, and he doesn't realize it all belongs to British Petroleum, well, the British take this by the--you know, MI6 says, okay, you fledgling CIA, you're only six years old; this is what you do. So we--.

Now, was that a smart thing?

JAY: Overthrew Mosaddegh.

MCGOVERN: Overthrow Mosaddegh, yeah. And, you know, BP emerge.

Now, what were the results of that? Well, we know what--the results of that. We can see them today.

So what we have is a sort of myopic view of what the world is like. It goes in four-year cycles, or two-year cycles if you talk about Congress, four-year cycles about what would be good for politicians. And it hinders the achievement of a broad policy that could be based, despite George Tenet's disavowal of this, on a certain degree of altruism. You know? On a certain degree of recognition that we're all in this together. And, God, if we don't come to that now with, what, 7 billion people in the world and resources going down the drain, we'll never do that. But the political cycle makes that very different. Now, with respect to the intelligence services, you know, this goes in waves as well. After Vietnam, after all those abuses, after Bill Colby, the head of the CIA, to his credit, decided he would be a lawyer and obey the law and testify to Congress about the incredible abuses that took place in the '50s and '60s by the CIA, after the FISA law was put it in in '78, this Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which prohibited precisely the kinds of things that NSA is doing now--.

JAY: And it has become a kind of rubberstamp for the NSA.

MCGOVERN: Yeah, now it's become a complete--. So these things do go in circle--in cycles. And I'm hopeful that out of all this, with the help of some of our allies that know what it's like to live under a different kind of regime, you know, know what it's like to live under fascism--let's say the word--that we can come to our senses, and maybe some leadership will come to the top and say, well, you know, President Obama, you know, you think you can't deal with these security types, you don't have the backbone or you don't want to risk the political costs it would take, but you really can, because the American people are fed up with this kind of stuff.

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[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 10 months ago

JAY: But there's no reason to think President Obama doesn't share the same mindset. In fact, there's every reason to think he does.

MCGOVERN: Well, share the same mindset of--.

JAY: Which--that the United States needs to project power abroad, and to do so, if you have to curtail rights at home, you do so.

MCGOVERN: Well, you know, I don't know. It doesn't really matter, because even if he thought that, even if he thought the better of that, he doesn't seem to have the backbone implant that he needs to stand up to those.

JAY: Doesn't even articulated anything, any--. He more or less justifies it.

MCGOVERN: Well, his--well, in some of his speeches he does. But the point is that as far as Obama is concerned, he is intimidated.

JAY: But I guess what I'm saying is I'm kind of less speaking to the elites here, 'cause I don't think the elites are going to change much, except for one thing. There are sections of the elites that don't want to get spied on by other sections of the elite. I mean, I saw Hayden on TV a couple of months ago, and Hayden was--Hayden's the former head of the CIA and is right in the--.

MCGOVERN: And NSA too.

JAY: NSA. And NSA.

MCGOVERN: Both.

JAY: Both. Yeah. And Hayden was defending all this. But all of a sudden he was upset about something, and he says, who exactly authorized the spying on Petraeus? Now he's concerned, 'cause, like, one of his guys actually got, you know, listened to. So, I mean, there are fractures in the elite who don't like this 'cause they may be on it. And I'm sure, you know, Congress, there's a lot of congressmen who don't want to be listened to, 'cause what if some of that leaks, some of the stuff they're up to, both in terms of their personal life and what--all the money they get in the connection between policy and receiving money? So within the elite there's fractures.

But I'm kind of talking to more ordinary people who find foreign policy abstract, who think what happens over there doesn't affect me. And what I'm saying, I guess, is, number one, not only are you paying for it, and as a result--. Like, in an ordinary worker in the United States pays about the same taxes a Canadian worker does. You know, Canadian workers get a health care policy, and here you get a Pentagon that spends almost $1 trillion a year. But to speak to what's happening now, the issue of people's constitutional rights, it is affecting you, because it's--that foreign policy creates the condition and the rationale for violating all these rights that people consider at the core of what it is to be an American.

MCGOVERN: You're right. And one of the major problems is the military leadership and the way it gets to be--gets to the top. When Hayden was told by Dick Cheney very early--before 9/11, mind you--forget about that first commandment out of NSA, okay, forget about the commandment that says thou shalt not eavesdrop on Americans without a court warrant, forget about it, okay, before 9/11, okay, Hayden said, okay, I'll do that, despite his constitutional oath to defend the Fourth Amendment and everything else.

Now, earlier heads of the NSA, Bill Odom, for example, said, as soon as he realized that, that Hayden should be court-martialed. Okay? And Bobby Ray Inman, who was sort of the father of the NSA, who helped actually with the wording of the FISA act, said what Hayden did was clearly illegal, was clearly beyond what FISA, what the FISA law--.

Okay. Now, I heard Inman say that one Thursday. And the next Thursday, I'm in with Lou Dobbs's blue room, okay, and I'm going to talk about my little debate with Rumsfeld. And in rushes Bobby Ray Inman. You know, he's got no tie on. So they put it on. And they say, what are you talking about? Hayden's nomination. He's just been nominated to be the CIA director. I said, oh! I said, great. Tell them what you told the New York Library folks there a week ago when Bobby Ray Inman said, look, what Hayden did was beyond the law, it's illegal, and I know, and I even put wording in that FISA law saying you can't do anything else that's not expressly put in this law! [incompr.] go at it! So I'm watching a monitor. Lou Dobbs: Admiral Inman, what do you think of Michael Hayden becoming the head of the CIA? He said, I couldn't pick a more qualified person. He's an excellent--he's very bright and he's devoted to our country. And he comes out, and I say, what the hell happened there? And he just--he's out of there. [incompr.]

Well, that's how it works. You know, they were all in this together [incompr.] except people like Bill Odom, who was really furious. He said, Hayden, you know, we take this oath to the Constitution. I take that seriously. Every other NSA director before me, Bill Odom says, did. And to watch that happen, that's not a trivial thing. Okay? That's the Fourth Amendment. And that's what, you know, the Third Reich just--they had a similar provision in their Constitution in 1933. All that went by the board.

So this is important stuff. And you're right to point out that some repression internally is often a companion, a handmaiden of what's going on abroad. But I don't see that it needs to be that way. And I see that with all this that's been happening, you know, if people can unshackle themselves from party affiliation--.

You know, I'm a Bronx Irish Catholic. Okay? When I was baptized, I had membership in the Democratic Party, as well as the union, automatically. Okay? And I am incredibly ashamed for what's happened to the Democratic Party. I don't want any part of it anymore. When people come canvassing, I say, are you in favor of targeted assassination? Oh, what's that about? And I says, well, you know, look what the Democratic president is tolerating or even approving before he has lunch with Michelle every Tuesday at noon time. Hello? First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment. You know, I'm a Virginian now. And when those folks said that we're going to risk their--pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to this enterprise, they meant it. And it was just as likely they would end up on the end of a rope as they would emerge as new leaders of a wonderful country. Okay? Well, the latter happened. And we have an obligation to safeguard those freedoms.

JAY: And let's not forget the NDAA amendment, because it's kind of--you know, there was a lot of fuss about it, and it's now not being talked about, 'cause everything's on the intelligence gathering, but President Obama signs this thing, right? It's become law. Did I miss something? The military can arrest you if they can just somehow--like, we were talking in part one how the British can call Glenn Greenwald's partner, Dave Miranda, call him a terrorist, well, if you can start using language like that, then you got the NDAA amendment, which has been passed, which is if you can be defined as a terrorist or some sort of ally of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, you can be arrested by the army, never mind the FBI. You can be put into military detention.

MCGOVERN: Right, come in here right now, Paul, pluck me out, and--. No, they wouldn't detain me forever; just so long as there are no terrorists around in the world. Okay?

Now, I thought that that was John McCain and Lindsey Graham in the Senate. You know? That came out of the Senate, okay? And when the bill came back and indicated that American citizens could be wrapped up this way, there was a hue and cry by some progressive senators. And they asked Carl Levin, the head of the Armed Services [Committee], well, what about this [incompr.]? And he said, and I quote, well, it wasn't that way when we sent it over to the White House, but that's the way it came back.

JAY: Actually, we're going to run the tape right now that has Levin doing that.

~~~

MCGOVERN: Two questions. Since when does Carl Levin, one of the most powerful members of Congress, have to take legislation that's changed by the White House and enact it into law? 'Cause they're all afraid. And you and I had a little dispute about this two years ago. I said it was because of Occupy. I still think it was because of Occupy. They want to protect themselves against a mass movement, which is, you know, fledgling right now, but they want to be able to arrest people off the streets. They have the capability the NSA provides. They're going to do it real easy.

JAY: Oh, I never said it wasn't about fear of a mass movement. I'm just said Occupy wasn't going to be that mass movement. It wasn't Occupy they were afraid of.

MCGOVERN: Yeah, but Occupy was a symptom of what they're afraid of, yeah. So, yeah.

So it's really kind of--we're at a crossroads now, and I feel it, I feel it in my bones. And for some reason I think that the people who feel violated, you know, in that sense of the word, in Western Europe and others of our allies, the Brazilians and other--you know, maybe, maybe they will be able to stop their servile, their supine posture towards the U.S. and say, look, enough of this stuff. This is the way the new world is. You're losing your clout. We've got all kinds of movements that are exceeding your power to dictate to people. And maybe, just maybe enlightened leadership will come along and say, oh, you know, read the signs of the times and say, well, we need really not to think that we can do what George Kennan advocated in 1948, that we're no longer the sole remaining superpower in the world, that we have to deal with these other countries in a more mutually beneficial and--what's the word?--respectful way.

JAY: Alright. Thanks for joining us, Ray.

MCGOVERN: Welcome.

JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5763) 10 months ago

The Brutal Past and Present Are Another Country in Secret Australia

Thursday, 07 November 2013 00:00 By John Pilger, Truthout | Op-Ed

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/19840-the-brutal-past-and-present-are-another-country-in-secret-australia

Suppressing racist truths, while venerating Australia's servile role in the colonial wars of Britain and the United States, has almost cult status in Canberra today.

The corridors of the Australian Parliament are so white you squint. The sound is hushed; the smell is floor polish. The wooden floors shine so virtuously they reflect the cartoon portraits of prime ministers and rows of Aboriginal paintings, suspended on white walls, their blood and tears invisible.

The Parliament stands in Barton, a suburb of Canberra named after the first prime minister of Australia, Edmund Barton, who drew up the White Australia Policy in 1901. "The doctrine of the equality of man," Barton said, "was never intended to apply" to those not British and white-skinned.

Barton's concern was the Chinese, known as the Yellow Peril; he made no mention of the oldest, most enduring human presence on Earth: the first Australians. They did not exist. Their sophisticated care of a harsh land was of no interest. Their epic resistance did not happen. Of those who fought the British invaders of Australia, the Sydney Monitor reported in 1838: "It was resolved to exterminate the whole race of blacks in that quarter." Today, the survivors are a shaming national secret.

The town of Wilcannia, in New South Wales, is twice distinguished. It is a winner of a national Tidy Town award, and its indigenous people have one of the lowest recorded life expectancies. They are usually dead by age 35. The Cuban government runs a literacy program for them, as they do among the poorest of Africa. According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth report, Australia is the richest place on Earth.

Politicians in Canberra are among the wealthiest citizens. Their self-endowment is legendary. Last year, the then- minister for indigenous affairs, Jenny Macklin, refurbished her office at a cost to the taxpayer of $331,144.

Macklin recently claimed that, in government, she had made a "huge difference." This is true. During her tenure, the number of Aboriginal people living in slums increased by almost a third, and more than half the money spent on indigenous housing was pocketed by white contractors and a bureaucracy for which she was largely responsible. A typical, dilapidated house in an outback indigenous community must accommodate as many as 25 people. Families, the elderly and the disabled wait years for sanitation that works. In 2009, professor James Anaya, the respected UN rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, described as racist a "state of emergency" that stripped indigenous communities of their tenuous rights and services on the pretext that pedophile gangs were present in "unthinkable" numbers - a claim dismissed as false by police and the Australian Crime Commission.

The then-opposition spokesman on indigenous affairs, Tony Abbott, told Anaya to "get a life" and not "just listen to the old victim brigade." Abbott is now the prime minister of Australia.

I drove into the red heart of central Australia and asked Dr. Janelle Trees about the "old victim brigade." A general practitioner whose indigenous patients live within a few miles of $1,000-a-night resorts serving Uluru (Ayers Rock), she said, "There is asbestos in Aboriginal homes. And when somebody gets a fiber of asbestos in their lungs and develops mesothelioma, [the government] doesn't care. When the kids have chronic infections and end up adding to these incredible statistics of indigenous people dying of renal disease and vulnerable to world-record rates of rheumatic heart disease, nothing is done. I ask myself: Why not? Malnutrition is common. I wanted to give a patient an anti-inflammatory for an infection that would have been preventable if living conditions were better, but I couldn't treat her because she didn't have enough food to eat and couldn't ingest the tablets. I feel sometimes as if I'm dealing with similar conditions as the English working class at the beginning of the industrial revolution."

In Canberra, in ministerial offices displaying yet more first-nation art, I was told repeatedly how "proud" politicians were of what "we have done for indigenous Australians." When I asked Warren Snowdon - the minister for indigenous health in the Labor government recently replaced by Abbott's conservative coalition - why, after almost a quarter of a century representing the poorest, sickest Australians, he had not come up with a solution, he said, "What a stupid question. What a puerile question."

At the end of Anzac Parade in Canberra rises the Australian National War Memorial, which historian Henry Reynolds calls "the sacred centre of white nationalism." I was refused permission to film in this great public place. I had made the mistake of expressing an interest in the frontier wars in which black Australians fought the British invasion without guns but with ingenuity and courage - the epitome of the "Anzac tradition." Yet, in a country littered with cenotaphs, not one officially commemorates those who fell resisting "one of the greatest appropriations of land in world history," wrote Reynolds in his landmark book Forgotten War. More first Australians were killed than Native Americans on the American frontier and Maoris in New Zealand. The state of Queensland was a slaughterhouse. An entire people became prisoners of war in their own country, with settlers calling for their extinction. The cattle industry prospered using indigenous men virtually as slave labor. The mining industry today makes profits of $1 billion a week on indigenous land.

Suppressing these truths, while venerating Australia's servile role in the colonial wars of Britain and the United States, has almost cult status in Canberra today. Reynolds and the few who question it have been smeared with abuse.

When I began filming this secret Australia 30 years ago, a global campaign was under way to end apartheid in South Africa. Having reported from South Africa, I was struck by the similarity of white supremacy and the compliance and defensiveness of liberals. Yet no international opprobrium, no boycotts disturbed the surface of "lucky" Australia. Watch security guards expel Aboriginal people from shopping malls in Alice Springs; drive the short distance from the suburban barbies of Cromwell Terrace to Whitegate camp, where the tin shacks have no reliable power and water. This is apartheid, or what Reynolds calls "the whispering in our hearts."

Copyright, Truthout.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 10 months ago

Border Patrol International: "The American Homeland Is the Planet"

Tuesday, 19 November 2013 12:46 By Todd Miller, TomDispatch | News Analysis

http://truth-out.org/news/item/20144-border-patrol-international-the-american-homeland-is-the-planet

It isn’t exactly the towering 20-foot wall that runs like a scar through significant parts of the U.S.-Mexican borderlands. Imagine instead the sort of metal police barricades you see at protests. These are unevenly lined up like so many crooked teeth on the Dominican Republic’s side of the river that acts as its border with Haiti. Like dazed versions of U.S. Border Patrol agents, the armed Dominican border guards sit at their assigned posts, staring at the opposite shore. There, on Haitian territory, children splash in the water and women wash clothes on rocks.

One of those CESFRONT (Specialized Border Security Corps) guards, carrying an assault rifle, is walking six young Haitian men back to the main base in Dajabon, which is painted desert camouflage as if it were in a Middle Eastern war zone.

If the scene looks like a five-and-dime version of what happens on the U.S. southern border, that’s because it is. The enforcement model the Dominican Republic uses to police its boundary with Haiti is an import from the United States.

CESFRONT itself is, in fact, an outgrowth of a U.S. effort to promote “strong borders” abroad as part of its Global War on Terror. So U.S. Consul-General Michael Schimmel told a group from the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic in the Dominican Republic back in 2008, according to an internal report written by the law students along with the Dominican immigrant solidarity organization Solidaridad Fronteriza. The U.S. military, he added, was training the Dominican border patrol in “professionalism.”

Schimmel was explaining an overlooked manifestation of U.S. imperial policy in the post-9/11 era. Militarized borders are becoming ever more common throughout the world, especially in areas of U.S. influence.

CESFRONT’s Dajabon commander is Colonel Juan de Jesus Cruz, a stout, Napoleonic figure with a booming voice. Watching the colonel interact with those detained Haitian teenagers was my first brush with how Washington’s “strong borders” abroad policy plays out on the ground. The CESFRONT base in Dajabon is located near the Massacre River that divides the two countries. Its name is a grim reminder of a time in 1937 when Dominican forces slaughtered an estimated 20,000 Haitians in what has been called the “twentieth century’s least-remembered act of genocide.” That act ensured the imposition of a 227-mile boundary between the two countries that share the same island.

As rain falls and the sky growls, Cruz points to the drenched young Haitians and says a single word, “ilegales,” his index finger hovering in the air. The word “illegals” doesn’t settle well with one of the teenagers, who glares at the colonel and replies defiantly, “We have come because of hunger.”

His claim is corroborated by every report about conditions in Haiti, but the colonel responds, “You have resources there,” with the spirit of a man who relishes a debate.

The teenager, who will undoubtedly soon be expelled from the Dominican Republic like so many other Haitians (including, these days, people of Haitian descent born in the country), gives the colonel a withering look. He’s clearly boiling inside. “There’s hunger in Haiti. There’s poverty in Haiti. There is no way the colonel could not see that,” he tells Cruz. “You are right on the border.”

This tense, uneasy, and commonplace interaction is one of countless numbers of similar moments spanning continents from Latin America and Africa to the Middle East and Asia. On one side, a man in a uniform with a gun and the authority to detain, deport, or sometimes even kill; on the other, people with the most fundamental of unmet needs and without the proper documentation to cross an international boundary. Such people, uprooted, in flight, in pain, in desperate straits, are today ever more commonly dismissed, if they’re lucky, as the equivalent of criminals, or if they aren’t so lucky, labeled “terrorists” and treated accordingly.

In a seminal article “Where’s the U.S. Border?,” Michael Flynn, founder of the Global Detention Project, described the expansion of U.S. “border enforcement” to the planet in the context of the Global War on Terror as essentially a new way of defining national sovereignty. “U.S. border control efforts,” he argued, “have undergone a dramatic metamorphosis in recent years as the United States has attempted to implement practices aimed at stopping migrants long before they reach U.S. shores.”

In this way, borders are, in a sense, being both built up and torn down. Just as with the drones that, from Pakistan to Somalia, the White House sends across national boundaries to execute those it has identified as our enemies, so with border patrolling: definitions of U.S. national “sovereignty,” including where our own borders end and where our version of “national” defense stretches are becoming ever more malleable. As Flynn wrote, although “the U.S. border has been hardened in a number of ways -- most dramatically by building actual walls -- it is misleading to think that the country’s efforts stop there. Rather the U.S. border in an age dominated by a global war on terrorism and the effects of economic globalization has become a flexible point of contention.”

In other words, “hard” as actual U.S. borders are becoming, what might be called our global, or perhaps even virtual, borders are growing ever more pliable and ever more expansive -- extending not only to places like the Dominican Republic, but to the edges of our vast military-surveillance grid, into cyberspace, and via spinning satellites and other spying systems, into space itself.

Back in 2004, a single sentence in the 9/11 commission report caught this changing mood succinctly: “9/11 has taught us that terrorism against American interests ‘over there’ should be regarded just as we regard terrorism against Americans ‘over here.’ In this same sense the American homeland is the planet.”

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 10 months ago

New World Border

Washington’s response to the 2010 Haitian earthquake provides one example of how quickly a mobile U.S. border and associated fears of massive immigration or unrest can be brought into play. In the first days after that disaster, a U.S. Air Force cargo plane circled parts of the island for five hours repeatedly broadcasting in Creole the prerecorded voice of Raymond Joseph, Haiti’s ambassador to the United States.

“Listen, don’t rush [to the United States] on boats to leave the country,” he said. “If you do that, we’ll all have even worse problems. Because I’ll be honest with you: if you think you will reach the U.S. and all the doors will be wide open to you, that’s not at all the case. And they will intercept you right on the water and send you back home where you came from.”

That disembodied voice from the heavens was addressing Haitians still stunned in the wake of an earthquake that had killed up to 316,000 people and left an additional one million homeless. State Department Deputy Spokesman Gordon Duguid explained the daily flights to CNN this way: “We are sending public service messages… to save lives.” Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) quickly dispatched 16 Coast Guard cutters to patrol Haitian waters, blocking people from leaving their devastated island. DHS authorities also cleared space in a 600-bed immigration detention center in Miami, and at the for-profit Guantanamo Bay Migrations Operation Center (run by the GEO Group) at the infamous U.S. base in Cuba.

In other words, the U.S. border is no longer static and “homeland security” no longer stays in the homeland: it’s mobile, it’s rapid, and it's international.

Maybe this is why, last March, when I asked the young salesmen from L-3 Communications, a surveillance technology company, at the Border Security Expo in Phoenix if they were worried about the sequester -- Congress’s across-the-board budget cuts that have taken dollars away from the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security -- one of them simply shrugged. “There’s the international market,” he said as if this were almost too obvious to mention.

He was standing in front of a black globular glass eye of a camera they were peddling to security types. It was draped with desert camouflage, as if we were out in the Arizona borderlands, while all around us you could feel the energy, the synergy, of an emerging border-industrial complex. Everywhere you looked government officials, Border Patrol types, and the representatives of private industry were meeting and dealing in front of hundreds of booths under the high ceilings of the convention center.

On the internationalization of border security, he wasn’t exaggerating. At least 14 other countries ranging from Israel to Russia were present, their representatives browsing products ranging from miniature drones to Glock handguns. And behind the bustle of that event lay estimates that the global market for homeland security and emergency management will reach $544 billion annually by 2018. “The threat of cross-border terrorism, cyber-crime, piracy, drug trade, human trafficking, internal dissent, separatist movements has been a driving factor for the homeland security market,” the market research company MarketsandMarkets reported, based on a study of high-profit security markets in North America, Europe, and Asia.

This booming business thrives off the creation of new border patrols globally. The Dominican Republic’s CESFRONT, for instance, did not exist before 2006. That year, according to Dominican Today, a group of “U.S. experts” reported that there were “a series of weaknesses that will lead to all kinds of illicit activities” on the Haitian-Dominican border. The U.S. team recommended that “there should be helicopters deployed in the region and [that] there be a creation of a Border Guard.” A month after their report appeared, that country, by Dominican presidential decree, had its own border patrol. By 2009, the new force had already received training, funding, and resources from a number of U.S. agencies, including the Border Patrol itself. Somehow, it seems that what the U.S. consulate calls “strong borders” between the Dominican Republic and the hemisphere’s poorest country has become an integral part of a terror-obsessed world.

When I met with Colonel Orlando Jerez, a CESFRONT commander, in the border guard agency’s headquarters in the Dominican capital Santo Domingo, I noticed that on his desk he had a U.S. Border Patrol model car, a replica of the one that agency sponsored on the NASCAR circuit from 2006 to 2008 in an attempt to recruit new agents. Along the side of the shiny box that held it was this mission statement: “We are the guardians of the nation’s borders, we are America’s frontlines.”

When I asked Jerez whether CESFRONT had a relationship with our Border Patrol, he replied without a second’s hesitation, “Of course, they have an office in the U.S. embassy.”

Jerez is not alone. Washington’s global boundary-building, its promotion of those strong borders, and its urge to preempt “terrorism against American interests ‘over there,’” as the 9/11 commission report put it, are spreading fast. For example, the Central American Regional Security Initiative, a $496 million U.S. counter-drug plan launched in 2008, identifies “border security deficiencies” among Central American countries as a key problem to be dealt with ASAP. So the U.S. Border Patrol has gone to Guatemala and Honduras to help train new units of border guards.

As in Central America, border patrolling’s most vibrant markets are in places that Washington sees as far too chaotic, yet where its economic and political interests reside. For six years now, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has sent its agents, clad in brown jumpsuits, to Iraq’s borderlands to assist that government in the creation of a force to police its “porous” borders (where chaos has indeed been endemic since the 2003 U.S. invasion and subsequent occupation of the country). U.S. boundary-building efforts began there in 2004 with an operation labeled “Phantom Linebacker” in which 15,000 border guards were trained to patrol in -- as the name of the operation indicates -- the spirit of American football.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 10 months ago

In 2012, agent Adrian Long told Frontline, the CBP's in-house magazine, that his agency trains Iraqis “in Border Patrol techniques like cutting sign, doing drags, setting up checkpoints and patrols.” Long was repeating the same lingo so often heard on the U.S.-Mexican border, where agents “cut sign” to track people by their trail marks and do “drags” to smooth out dirt roads so they can more easily see the footprints of any “border intruders.” In Afghanistan, Border Patrol agents are similarly training forces to police that country’s 3,436 miles of frontiers. In 2012, during one training session, an Afghan policeman even turned his gun on two CBP agents in an “insider attack,” killing them and seriously injuring a third. Around soccer’s World Cup, which South Africa hosted in 2010, CBP assisted that government in creating a Customs and Border Control Unit tasked with “securing South Africa’s borders while facilitating the movement of goods and people,” according to CBP’s Africa and Middle East branch country manager for South Africa Tasha Reid Hippolyte. South Africa has even brought its military special forces into the border patrolling process. Near the Zimbabwean border, its militarized guards were using a triple barrier of razor wire and electric fencing that can be set to offer shocks ranging from mild to deadly in their efforts to stop border crossers. Such equipment had not been used in that country since the apartheid-era.

In many cases, the U.S. is also training border forces in the use of sophisticated surveillance systems, drones, and the construction of fences and barriers of various kinds, largely in attempts to clamp down on the movement of people between poorer and richer countries. More than 15,000 foreign participants in more than 100 countries have taken part in CBP training sessions since October 2002. It is little wonder, then, that an L-3 Communications sales rep would shrug off the constraints of a shrinking domestic national security budget.

Meanwhile, U.S. borders are functionally being stretched in all sorts of complex ways, even across the waters. As Michael Schmidt wrote in the New York Times in 2012, for example, “An ocean away from the United States, travelers flying out of the international airport here on the west coast of Ireland are confronting one of the newest lines of defense in the war on terrorism: the United States border.” There, at Shannon International Airport, Department of Homeland Security officials set up the equivalent of a prescreening border checkpoint for air travelers.

Whether it is in your airports or, as in Haiti’s case, in the international waters around your country, the U.S. border is on its way to scrutinize you, to make sure that you are not a threat to the “homeland.” If you don’t meet Washington’s criteria for whatever reason, you will be stopped, forcibly if necessary, from entering the United States, or even in many cases from travelling anywhere at all. CBP attachés are now detailed to U.S. embassies in Brazil, Mexico, Kenya, South Africa, Italy, and Canada, among many other countries. According to an agency publication, Customs and Border Protection Today, they have been tasked with the mission of keeping “terrorists and their weapons from our shores,” as well as providing technical assistance, “fostering secure trade practices, and strengthening border authority principles.” The anonymous writer then typically, if floridly, describes “our country’s border” as “the armor of the body politic; it protects the systems and infrastructures that function within. Knives pierce armor and can jeopardize the body -- so we sheath them; keep them at bay; and demand accountability from those who use them.”

As CBP Commissioner Robert Bonner put it in 2004, the U.S. is “extending our zone of security, where we can do so, beyond our physical borders -- so that American borders are the last line of defense, not the first line of defense.”

Perhaps this is why few here batted an eye when, in 2012, Assistant Secretary of International Affairs and Chief Diplomatic Officer for the Department of Homeland Security Alan Bersin flatly declared, "The Guatemalan border with Chiapas is now our southern border."

On the Edge of Empire

As dusk falls and the rainstorm ends, I walk along the river’s edge where those Dominican border patrol agents are still sitting, staring into Haiti. Considering that U.S. forces occupied the Dominican Republic and Haiti numerous times in the previous century, it’s easy to imagine why Washington’s border chieftains consider this sad, impoverished spot part of our “backyard.” Not far from where I’m walking is the Codevi industrial free trade zone that straddles the border. There, Haitian workers churn out jeans mainly for Levi Strauss and the North American market, earning less than three dollars a day.

I approach one of the CESFRONT guards in his desert camouflage uniform. He’s sitting with his assault rifle between his legs. He looks beyond bored -- no surprise since being suspicious of people who happen to be on the other side of a border can be deadly tedious work.

Diaz, as his name patch identifies him, tells me that his shift, which runs from 6 p.m. to midnight, is normally eventless because Haitians rarely cross here. When I explain where I’m from, he wants to know what the U.S.-Mexico border looks like. I tell him about the fencing, the sensors, the cameras, and the agents everywhere you look. I ask if he has ever met agents of the U.S. Border Patrol.

“Of course!” he says in Spanish, “there have been training sessions.” Then I ask if terrorists are crossing this border, which is the reason the U.S. consulate in Santo Domingo gives for supporting the creation of CESFRONT.

Diaz looks at me as if I’m nuts before offering an emphatic “No!” No surprise there either. CESFRONT, like similar outfits proliferating globally, isn’t really about terrorism. It’s all about Haiti, one of the poorest countries on the planet. It is a response to fears of the mass movement of desperate, often hungry, people in the U.S. sphere of dominance. It is the manifestation of a new vision of global geopolitics in which human beings in need are to be corralled, their free movement criminalized, and their labor exploited.

With this in mind, the experimental border control technologies being tested along the U.S.-Mexican boundary line and the border-industrial complex that has grown up around it are heading abroad in a major way. If Congress finally passes a new multi-billion dollar border-policing package, its effects will be felt not only along U.S. borders, but also at the edges of its empire.

To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here http://eepurl.com/lsFRj

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 10 months ago

War Crimes in Afghanistan? Ten Bodies of Abducted Villagers Found Outside US Special Forces Base

Friday, 08 November 2013 12:07 By Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Democracy Now! | Video Interview

http://truth-out.org/news/item/19924-war-crimes-in-afghanistan-ten-bodies-of-abducted-villagers-found-outside-us-special-forces-base

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 10 months ago

Drone Strike Served CIA Revenge, Blocked Pakistan's Strategy

Friday, 08 November 2013 10:18 By Gareth Porter, IPS News | News Analysis

http://truth-out.org/news/item/19905-drone-strike-served-cia-revenge-blocked-pakistans-strategy

Washington - After a drone strike had reportedly killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud Nov. 1, the spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council declared that, if true, it would be “a serious loss” for the terrorist organisation.

That reaction accurately reflected the Central Intelligence Agency’s argument for the strike. But the back story of the episode is how President Barack Obama supported the parochial interests of the CIA in the drone war over the Pakistani government’s effort to try a new political approach to that country’s terrorism crisis.

The failure of both drone strikes and Pakistani military operations in the FATA tribal areas to stem the tide of terrorism had led to a decision by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to try a political dialogue with the Taliban.

But the drone strike that killed Mehsud stopped the peace talks before they could begin.

Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan immediately denounced the drone strike that killed Mehsud as “a conspiracy to sabotage the peace talks.” He charged that the United States had “scuttled” the initiative “on the eve, 18 hours before a formal delegation of respected ulema [Islamic clerics] was to fly to Miranshah and hand over this formal invitation.”

An unidentified State Department official refused to address the Pakistani minister’s criticism, declaring coolly that the issue was “an internal matter for Pakistan”.

Three different Taliban commanders told Reuters Nov. 3 they had been preparing for the talks but after the killing of Mehsud, they now felt betrayed and vowed a wave of revenge attacks.

The strategy of engaging the Taliban in peace talks, which was supported by the unanimous agreement of an “All Parties Conference” on Sept. 9, was not simply an expression of naïvete about the Taliban as was suggested by a Nov. 3 New York Times article on the Pakistani reaction to the drone strike.

A major weakness of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) lies in the fact that it is a coalition of as many as 50 groups, some of whose commanders are less committed to the terrorist campaign against the Pakistani government than others. In the aftermath of the Mehsud killing, several Taliban militants told Reuters that some Taliban commanders were still in favour of talks with the government. The most important success achieved by Pakistan in countering Taliban violence in the past several years has been to reach accommodations with several militant leaders who had been allied with the Taliban but agreed to oppose Taliban attacks on government officials and security forces.

Sharif and other Pakistani officials were well aware that the United States could unilaterally prevent such talks from taking place by killing Mehsud or other Taliban leaders with a drone strike.

The government lobbied the United States in September and October to end its drone war in Pakistan – or at least to give the government a period of time to try its political strategy.

Obama had already suggested in a May 23 speech at National Defence University that the need for the strikes was fast diminishing and would soon end, because there were very few high value targets left to hit, and because the U.S. would be withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. In August, Secretary of State John Kerry had said the end might come “very, very soon.”

After the meeting with Sharif on Oct. 23, Obama said they had agreed to cooperate in “ways that respect Pakistan’s sovereignty, that respect the concerns of both countries” and referred favourably to Sharif’s efforts to “reduce these incidents of terrorism.”

Shortly after the meeting, Sharif’s adviser on national security and foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, said in an interview with Al Jazeera that the Obama administration had promised to “consider” the prime minister’s request to restrain drone attacks while the government carried out a political dialogue.

A “senior Pakistani official” told the Express Tribune that Obama had “assured Premier Nawaz that drone strikes would only be used as a last option” and that he was planning to end the drone war once “a few remaining targets” had been eliminated.

The official said the Pakistani government now believed the unilateral strikes would end in “a matter of months.”

But Obama’s meeting with Sharif evidently occurred before the CIA went to Obama with specific intelligence about Mehsud, and proposed to carry out a strike to kill him.

The CIA had an institutional grudge to settle with Mehsud after he had circulated a video with Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, the Jordanian suicide bomber who had talked the CIA into inviting him to its compound at Camp Chapman in Khost province, where he killed seven CIA officials and contractors on Dec. 30, 2009.

The CIA had already carried out at least two drone strikes aimed at killing Mehsud in January 2010 and January 2012.

Killing Mehsud would not reduce the larger threat of terrorism and would certainly trigger another round of TTP suicide bombings in Pakistan’s largest cities in retaliation.

Although it would satisfy the CIA’s thirst for revenge and make the CIA and his administration look good on terrorism to the U.S. public, it would also make it impossible for the elected Pakistani government to try a political approach to TTP terrorism.

Obama appears to have been sympathetic to Sharif’s argument on terrorism and had no illusions that one or a few more drone strikes against leading Taliban officials would prevent the organisation from continuing to mobilise its followers to carry out terror attacks, including suicide bombers.

But the history of the drone war in Pakistan shows that the CIA has prevailed even when its proposed targets were highly questionable. In March 2011, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter had opposed a CIA proposal for a drone strike just as CIA contractor Raymond Davis was about to be released from a jail in Lahore. Munter had learned that the CIA wanted the strike because it was angry at Pakistan’s ISI, which regarded the Haqqani group as an ally, over Davis’s incarceration, according to an AP story on Aug. 2, 2011. The Haqqani group was heavily involved in fighting U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan but was opposed to the TTP’s terror attacks in Pakistan.

CIA Director Leon Panetta rejected Munter’s objection to the strike, however, and Obama had supported Panetta. It was later revealed that the strike had been based on faulty intelligence. It was not a meeting of Haqqani network that was hit but a conference of tribal leaders from all over the province on an economic issue. But the CIA simply refused to acknowledge its mistake and continued to claim to journalists that only terrorists had attended the meeting.

After the strike, Obama had formalised the ambassador’s authority to oppose a proposed drone strike, giving Munter what he called a “yellow card.” But despite the evidence that the CIA had carried out a drone strike for parochial reasons rather then an objective assessment of evidence, Obama gave the CIA director the power to override an ambassadorial dissent, even if the secretary of state supported the ambassador.

The extraordinary power of the CIA director over the drone strike policy, which was formalised by Obama after that strike, was evident in Obama’s decision to approve the CIA’s proposal for the Mehsud strike. The director was now John Brennan, who had shaped public opinion in favour of drone strikes through a series of statements, interviews and leaks as Obama’s deputy national security adviser from 2009 to 2013.

Even though Obama was determined to phase the out drone war in Pakistan and apparently sympathised with the need for the Pakistani government to end it within a matter of months, he was unwilling to reject the CIA’s demand for a strike that once again involved the agency’s parochial interests.

A late July 2013 survey had shown that 61 percent of U.S. citizens still supported the use of drones. Having already shaped public perceptions on the issue of terrorism, Obama allowed the interests of the CIA to trump the interests of Pakistan and the United States in trying a different approach to Pakistan’s otherwise intractable terrorism problem.

Visit IPS news for fresh perspectives on development and globalization.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 10 months ago

Gunning Down a Boy With a Toy Gun

Thursday, 07 November 2013 09:10 By Dennis J Bernstein, Consortium News | Report

http://truth-out.org/news/item/19879-gunning-down-a-boy-with-a-toy-gun

On Oct. 22, at 3:14 in the afternoon, 13-year-old Andy Lopez was walking to a friend's house on the outskirts of Santa Rosa, California, to return the friend's toy rifle, when two Sonoma County sheriff deputies drove up behind him in a marked police car and say they mistook the replica AK-47 for a real gun.

Sheriff's Deputy Erick Gelhaus, a training officer with 24 years experience in the department, later told investigators that he shouted at the boy to drop his "gun" and that when Lopez turned, Gelhaus feared for his life and opened fire, riddling the eighth-grader with seven bullets from a 9 mm Smith & Wesson handgun. According to the other deputy, who was driving the car and who did not open fire, the shooting was over in just a few seconds, even before he had time to move from behind the wheel and take cover behind his door. The slaying also has raised questions about blowback from the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan where American soldiers often find themselves in dangerous surroundings and develop a tendency to open fire at the first hint of a threat. Now, some of those veterans are returning to jobs in domestic law enforcement sometimes without adequate counseling or screening before they begin patrolling city streets.The legal question in the aftermath of the slaying is whether Gelhaus, a master marksmen and former military trainer in Iraq, reacted rashly without giving Lopez any reasonable chance to respond to the police order and without properly assessing the actual danger of the situation from his position behind his door of the patrol car.

The Latino, Chicano and indigenous communities in and around Santa Rosa are still reeling from the slaying, but have moved from mourning at a mass funeral to various actions, demanding justice for the killing. Many see the case as another example of profiling a brown-skinned youth in a hoodie as somehow dangerous and deserving of a shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later response. Almost every day since the killing, there has been some kind of protest, vigil or community meeting.

As details about the shooter and the shooting accumulate, alarm in the community has grown. Signs posted around a makeshift memorial for the popular eighth-grader, who was a member of the school band, read: "Sheriff Wanted for Murder" and "A good cop wouldn't have shot."

Gelhaus, 48, is assigned to the patrol division as well as being a senior firearms instructor. Before that, he was part of a gang enforcement team. He and the unnamed deputy who was driving the patrol car are now on administrative leave.

The Shooter

But Eric Gelhaus is a lot more than your typical deputy on the beat. He is a seasoned weapons expert, firearms instructor, veteran trainer in the Sheriff's Department, and a range master with extensive training in firearms. He also served in Iraq as a combat leader and a weapons trainer.

According to his own bio, Gelhaus was an infantry non-commissioned officer in the California National Guard: "My assignments included operations assistant for a 600+ soldier unit, small arms trainer, and squad leader during a combat employment. While in Iraq, in addition to supervising a heavy weapons squad and being responsible for the soldiers and the equipment, I testified in Iraq courts during the prosecution of insurgents."

Gelhaus is also an adjunct instructor for various gun-training centers, among them, the Arizona-based Gunsite Academy that provides extensive weapons training for law-enforcement as well as "free citizens of the US" and has close ties to the National Rifle Association and various gun manufacturers. Gelhaus's LinkedIn page notes that he worked for Aimpoint, a company that develops new technology for a whole assortment of firearms.

Besides his training and other gun expertise, Gelhaus is a columnist and contributor to S.W.A.T Magazine and various other gun-culture forums that deal with the use of deadly force by police. He described his work with law enforcement as a "Contact sport."

In a 2008 column, entitled "Ambush Reaction in the Kill Zone," Gelhaus reflected on the need to possess the "mean gene" to survive in "the kill zone," adding that "Today is the day you may need to kill someone to go home. If you cannot turn on the Mean Gene for yourself, who will?"

Acting as a moderator for "The Firing Line," an online forum for gun enthusiasts, sponsored by S.W.A.T Magazine, Gelhaus, in his own name, reflected on all aspects having to do with the owning and use of guns including the use of force if someone fires a BB gun at another person.

Whether Gelhaus will ever have to answer any hard questions as to whether he was trigger-happy when he cut down an eighth-grader with a toy gun in the middle of the afternoon is already in doubt. Given his extensive relationship with the military and his position as a senior police trainer, Gelhaus may be very well insulated. In the initial stages of the investigation, it was announced that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) would be conducting a thorough and independent probe to see if there was cause for federal civil rights charges to be filed.

On Oct. 25, three days after the slaying, FBI spokesman Peter Lee told local reporters that the Bureau had begun a "shooting review," calling the incident "a civil-rights type of case." But last week, Lee was non-committal and said nothing about any kind of independent investigation that the FBI would do.

According to the Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, Lee "refused multiple queries to describe what exactly agents would be doing in Sonoma County -- or whether they would be truly autonomous or working side-by-side with local police or even conducting their own interviews with the deputies involved and witnesses."

Indications were that local officials would head up at least the initial investigation. "My understanding is simply that [FBI officials are] here for support but not actively engaged in an investigation," said Santa Rosa District Attorney Jill Ravish, "The only investigations currently occurring are the sheriff's review for their own internal affairs and the criminal investigation being conducted by the Santa Rosa Police Department."

A Difficult Case

Senior officials in the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department have described Gelhaus as a "solid employee" with "a lot of credibility in the department," according to local news reports. Gelhaus has testified as an expert on narcotics trafficking and gang-related activities. According to law enforcement records, Gelhaus has never killed anyone before in his capacity as a Sheriff's deputy.

But there were some warning signs in his record. According to local press reports, Gelhaus got into a scuffle with a couple of minors in 1997 and apparently battered them with a flashlight. But a jury later found that Gelhaus and the Sheriff's Office were not liable in a civil lawsuit alleging excessive force against the two minors, Karla and Israel Salazar.

Legal experts say it is rare for a police officer to be charged criminally in a shooting when a claim can be made about a life-threatening situation, even when the threat turns out to be non-existent. A greater legal opening can be available to victims and their families in civil actions claiming wrongful injury or death.

Casillas said the lawsuit, filed in Federal Court in the Northern District of California, alleges that "without cause or provocation, Erick Gelhaus shot and killed Andy Lopez on October 22, 2013, as he walked along a rural residential neighborhood sidewalk. The shooting was absolutely unjustified and its plaintiffs' goal here is to show that the killing of Andy Lopez was a senseless and unwarranted act of police abuse."On Monday, the attorney for the Lopez family, Arnoldo Casillas, announced that the Lopez family had filed three separate wrongful death claims, seeking damages against Gelhaus and the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department.

Casillas said he did not wait to file the lawsuit because it appears that the Sheriff's Department is already involved in a cover-up, trying to withhold crucial information from the public, and suggesting in various ways that the killing of Lopez was justified. Casillas said Gelhaus acted in a "super reckless way with no regard for public's safety. " He unloaded his gun in a public area in an uncontrolled way."

The lawsuit states that Lopez was unarmed and posed no risk or threat to the deputies or others and was shot without cause or provocation, a overzealous use of force condoned by the Sheriff's Office.

"The Sheriff's Department's training encourages deputies to prematurely shoot suspects who pose no threat or danger to deputies or the public at large," the lawsuit states. It also alleges that the Sheriff's Office failed to create and implement policies and training to set out clear guidelines for the use of deadly force and proper tactics for pedestrian stops.

Lopez's parents were at the press conference and were asked what they wanted in terms of justice for their slain son. The mother, who is undocumented along with her husband, noted that their son was a full citizen of the United States.

"Me and my husband came to this country for a better life and to raise a family in the richest and most powerful country on earth," Lopez's mother said. "We were attracted by its freedom and justice and equality. We raised our family believing this, and now I have to live with the death of my son forever and that's never going to go away and no money can replace him or cure the pain."

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 10 months ago

Murder Charge?

At an Oct. 29 protest against the killing in Santa Rosa, I spoke to civil rights and human rights attorney John Burris, who has specialized in police shootings particularly in communities of color. Burris said he believes the slaying of Lopez was an "unlawful police shooting" and that Gelhaus should be prosecuted under some type of murder charge.

"What is alleged to happen is that Andy was walking down the street with what appeared to be an AK-47 in his hand. The police come up behind him, jump out of the car and say, 'Drop it.' When he doesn't comply right away, but turns back to look, I imagine, he was shot numerous times by one officer hitting him on his back side three or four times, and on his side three or four times."

Burris continued...

"Certainly, from my perspective, this was an unlawful shooting. This young man was walking. There were no reports of a man with a gun. There were no reports of any illegal activity. The officers pull up behind him, not on the side or in front. They immediately jump out and tell him to drop the gun."The problem with that, of course, is the young man didn't have a gun, so he wouldn't have known if the police were talking to him or not. When he finally turns around, he was immediately shot, with no opportunity to make any statements, to tell them it wasn't a gun. He was immediately fired upon, which was an overreaction on the part of the police.

"The worst part is the police officers, both of them, were in a position of safety. They jumped out of their car, stayed behind the doors, in a position with a hard object, and could have had some communication with this kid as he was turning around, such as what was he doing, why was he there, what did he have in his hands. But they did not. So within 10 seconds of stopping him, this young man was shot to death...

"It was excessive from my point of view, just thinking about [Gelhaus] firing his gun in rapid succession, particularly because it was without knowing, a supposition, basically an overreaction, making an assumption based on facts that he did not have.

"A military person, trained marksmen, knows how to shoot his weapon, but he also knows about cover, and this is the part that is most disturbing to me. He was in a position of cover, which would have given him ample opportunity to react and talk to this young man before he fired his gun. He said that the gun looked like an AK-47, but there was some different color on it.

"The officer never, ever had an opportunity to view this particular weapon because he approached the person from behind. He saw what might have been a weapon, but he did not see it, and more importantly, the kid did not react to him as if he had a weapon. So there are many conditions that would suggest this officer overreacted. "The question is whether an objective reasonable police officer would have reacted the same way, or would he have used other tactics, which clearly were available."

Burris suggested that the shooter could be prosecuted at "two levels that make sense to me. Second degree murder, which is a reckless disregard for human life ... or involuntary manslaughter, which is a negligent act on his part, either from the manner in which he was stopped or the manner in which he reacted to the events."

Community Protests

At a mass march and rally in front of the Sonoma Country's Sheriffs Department on Oct. 29, community members, teachers, students, activists spoke out against the shooting, and one after another called for justice for Andy Lopez. There were tears, laments, and cries for justice

"Why did they kill our friend, he was so beautiful and funny and now he has been taken away from us," said one 13-year-old Latino girl at a memorial service. Another young girl standing right next to her with tears in her eyes said, "He was the sweetest kid you will ever see. We really miss him... and they don't even apologize, they just sent more sheriffs and more police and more guns to scare us kids."

Nell, a classmate of Lopez, said, "Andy was our friend. The family is very devastated. I want to tell the cop who killed Andy that it wasn't fair. He was just a kid."

Another young schoolmate said, "I have smaller siblings so I wouldn't want that to happen to them. I miss him so much. It's not right for a cop to do that seven times to a 13-year-old. We don't want that to keep on happening. I'm 14. Yeah I knew him a lot. He was a great kid, He played instruments, and he did sports."

Also at the protest, many parents protested alongside their kids. One parent, Christina, would only give her first name, held her daughter close, as she said, on the verge of tears, "I'm a parent and I'm upset by the 13-year-old boy got shot. With 7 shots. I have a daughter who's 13 and it is just unfair and I want to know why."

Miguel Gavilan Molina, a former farmworker from Santa Rosa who worked with Cesar Chavez, spoke to the students, declaring: "we know that peace and unity will triumph over violence and hatred. ... But it is time for the militarized, heavily armed police and sheriffs to stop coming into our neighborhood and killing our children."

Molina told me later that this is a "new day" in a California where brown folks are "rising up for their rights with a new militancy as the new majority. ... We are the new majority, and we are feeling our power, especially with the passage of recent legislation such as the Trust Act, and the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. "

"All these brown kids you see in the street today, were in baby carriages ten years ago, as their parents began this struggle. And as you can see today, these kids are no longer willing to just stand by and let one of their own be cut down."

As Molina spoke, there were police helicopters in the air and fully armed and heavily equipped sharpshooters peering down from the roof of the Sheriff's Department. There was also an armored personnel carrier nearby.

Michael Rothenberg, a local poet and activist, is working with a small group of community people who are helping the Lopez family navigate the various aspects of the massive outpouring from the community, as well as helping them communicate with the lawyers, the public and law enforcement in the aftermath of the killing.

"It was murder," Rothenberg said in a written statement, "Sheriff deputies shot and killed 13-year-old Andy Lopez for carrying a toy gun. A cop who fancied himself, promoted himself, as an expert and skilled killer took only seconds to come to a judgment on the life of Andy Lopez. He assassinated an innocent child. ... We can never have real peace unless the police are held responsible for their crimes against the community."

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 10 months ago

America's Drone Wars

Thursday, 07 November 2013 09:01 By Staff, Moyers & Company | Video Report

http://truth-out.org/news/item/19878-americas-drone-wars

America's Drone WarsMoyers & Company

This week, members of Congress heard testimony for the first time from victims of drone attacks, including that of 13-year-old Zubair Rehman, from Pakistan, who spoke of a strike last year that killed his grandmother and wounded him and his little sister. “I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer grey skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are grey… When the sky brightens, drones return and we live in fear,” Rehman told the five members of Congress who showed up for the testimony.

The use of drones has intensified under President Obama’s leadership as the number of troops on the ground in Afghanistan and the Pakistani tribal areas has been scaled back. But the drones often kill innocent civilians, including children. That is the subject of Robert Greenwald’s new documentary, Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars. Here, we look at clips from the film, which shares testimony, stories and alarming news on the fatal impact of our drone strategy.

TRANSCRIPT:

BILL MOYERS: Welcome. “The Disposition Matrix” sounds like the title of a suspense thriller. But that’s what America's counterterrorism experts call their database, the list of those our government believes are preparing to do America harm. From it, targets are chosen for assassination. However, the drones they use are not always so selective, and often kill innocent civilians, including children. Last Tuesday, for the first time, drone attack victims testified at a briefing for members of Congress. Five members showed up. The briefing coincided with the release of a new documentary, “Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars,” the latest from Brave New Films, produced and directed by Robert Greenwald. It tells the story of civilians who have lost their lives to drones and includes the testimony of others. Among them, Brandon Bryant, a former American drone operator who carried out attacks by remote control from a military base in New Mexico.

BRANDON BRYANT in Unmanned: Getting into the drone program was weird. The introduction is like, “This is what we do, we kill people and break things. That is what our job is.” […]

And depending on atmospherics, if it was a completely clear day, you’d definitely get a good picture. And depending on how close you were you could probably read the license plate on someone’s car. We can see something as simple as people playing a soccer game. We can see individual players, and we can even see the ball.

BILL MOYERS: One of those featured in the film is Tariq Aziz, 16 years old. He lived in the mountainous region northern Pakistan and he loved to play soccer.

In April 2010, his 18 year old cousin, Asmar Ullah, was killed by a missile fired from an American drone as he rode his motorcycle. A year and a half later, Tariq, determined to tell his cousin’s story, made a tough, day-long journey through treacherous terrain to attend a gathering in the capital of Islamabad, where tribal elders met with Western journalists to describe the drone war being waged in their homeland by the United States.

KAREEM KHAN in Unmanned: These drones attack us and the whole world is silent.

KHUN MARJAN KHAN in Unmanned: I raise my voice to take a stand.

DR. BASHIR KHAN in Unmanned: You press a button and annihilate entire families and tribes.

CLIVE STAFFORD SMITH in Unmanned: This is a part of the drone, the missile, that was used to kill that child.

OSAMA HINJI in Unmanned: It was a gathering to get the voice of the victims of the drone attacks out to the general public as well as the rest of the world.

NEIL WILLIAMS in Unmanned: And that was the main goal. We were going to use the media to try and establish who had been killed. And also why, where and how.

JEMIMA KHAN in Unmanned: Well because of the inaccessibility of Waziristan, it’s very, very hard to compile any kind of credible evidence or evidence that others will see as credible. That was why we compiled this conference at Islamabad.

CLIVE STAFFORD SMITH in Unmanned: We called it a Jirga.

JEMIMA KHAN in Unmanned: A Jirga is a traditional tribal gathering.

CLIVE STAFFORD SMITH in Unmanned: It’s what people in that area use to settle their disputes.

MAN in Unmanned: This is simply indiscriminate bombing! There are so many women and children killed.

NEIL WILLIAMS in Unmanned: At one stage I came upon a young boy, Tariq Aziz. When I was talking to Tariq one of the first things that he did was he handed me his cousin’s student ID card. And as I looked at it I looked back at Tariq and I noticed he was crying, he started to tell me the story of his cousin who had been killed from a drone strike. He’d come to the Jirga primarily to inform us a little bit more about what had happened to his cousin to people in his local village and find out how to stop the killing. We sat together all day, we ate together at lunch time. We laughed together, we became friends. Tariq was extremely intelligent and funny to be around. He had a nice sense of humor. He was fascinated by photography and intrigued by western music, mentioning artists and one that sprang to mind was Lady Gaga. He started to talk about drone strikes in his village. How he was unable to sleep at night, he was scared he was worried about his family, his friends. Tariq was traumatized. […]

PRATAP CHATTERJEE in Unmanned: And the people who were gathered there adopted a resolution condemning the strikes. […]

Then we went together to a rally and Tariq Aziz traveled there with us. […]

NEWS ANCHOR 1 in Unmanned: Thousands of Pakistanis came to support a giant rally on Sunday.

NEWS ANCHOR 2 in Unmanned: The protest against the United States’ drone attacks in Pakistan.

MAN in Unmanned: The drones are violations of the people of Pakistan as well as their human rights.

NEWS ANCHOR 3 in Unmanned: People from all over the country irrespective of their ages and backgrounds came together to the rally.

PRATAP CHATTERJEE in Unmanned: After that Tariq Aziz and the other attendees returned to their homes.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5763) 10 months ago

BILL MOYERS: Three days later, Tariq and another cousin, 12-year-old Waheed Khan, were driving to pick up players for a soccer match. In a flash, both young people were killed by a CIA drone strike; the car destroyed, their bodies badly burned.

SHAHZAD AKBAR in Unmanned: Two days later I got a call […]

JEMIMA KHAN in Unmanned: I got an email.

OSAMA HINJI in Unmanned: I was at work when we found out.

PRATAP CHATTERJEE in Unmanned: We got an email and a telephone call.

NEIL WILLIAMS in Unmanned: Four days after the Jirga, I received an email from Shazhad. The email simply said “Tariq” as the heading. And I opened it instantly. To my shock I found out that Tariq had been murdered by a drone strike.

SHAHZAD AKBAR in Unmanned: And that was a shock. And we were like, how, how is it possible. Where was he? What was he doing? And it's like, completely unbelievable.

FAISAL WALI in Unmanned: He was just an innocent student. He was my student.

ABDUL AZIZ in Unmanned: They said that Tariq has been killed. I could not believe it. […]

MAN in Unmanned: In Pashto there is a saying, "Let me be buried with your picture, in case I forget you in heaven." […]

MARY ELLEN O'CONNELL in Unmanned: If the US had any information that Tariq Aziz was part of a criminal organization, was planning to carry out attacks on the United States, then our federal law enforcement agents should have been working with the authorities of Pakistan to arrest him.

PRATAP CHATTERJEE in Unmanned: And one really has to ask the question why the government was not able to arrest or even question him. This is Islamabad we're talking about. It's the capitol of the country.

NEIL WILLIAMS in Unmanned: Population is over a million people. Jirga was a real public event.

PRATAP CHATTERJEE in Unmanned: It was at a big hotel. It was advertised widely. It was an open event.

MARY ELLEN O'CONNELL in Unmanned: Tariq Aziz was plainly visible to hundreds and hundreds of people. He talked with reporters. Everything about him that the authorities could have wanted to know about his location and about his recent activities, were known to the United States.

PRATAP CHATTERJEE in Unmanned: It would have been extremely easy for them to approach him, sit down and talk to him, or for that matter, put him in jail. But instead the CIA chose to go and kill him, without giving him the opportunity to give his side of whatever it is that they thought that he had done. There is no evidence there whatsoever. And they've given him no lawyers, there's no judge and there's no jury.

PRESIDENT OBAMA in Unmanned: Our preference is always to capture if we can, because then we can gather intelligence. But a lot of the terrorist networks that target the United States, the most dangerous ones, operate in remote regions and it's very difficult to capture them.

CORA CURRIER in Unmanned: But what we can discern from the pattern of strikes is essentially Pakistan's been declared a no capture zone. That automatically capture is not considered feasible.

MARK MAZZETTI in Unmanned: If we just look at the numbers, there have been dramatically more people killed in recent years than have been captured. […]

CLIVE STAFFORD SMITH in Unmanned: There are no CIA agents in Waziristan, so they rely on local people.

SHAHZAD AKBAR in Unmanned: And this is where the fundamental wrong is. Because these people are working for you for money.

CLIVE STAFFORD SMITH in Unmanned: And that reliance is utterly misplaced. And what you see in Tariq's case, and it just pains me to say this, that you know without any real room for dispute that there was someone in that room when we were having our Jirga who was an informant for the US intelligence services. And that that person picked out Tariq. I can tell you as a matter of fact that Tariq was not an extremist. And the way you know what intelligence they relied on to kill someone is what they release immediately after the killing. And in that case they said four militants were killed. And of course we know two kids were killed. That's how it happened.

KAREN DEYOUNG in Unmanned: I asked the CIA about the strike, and their response was that on that day child was killed, in fact the adult males were supporting al Qaeda's facilitation network. So, despite all of these technological assets and human assets, we're not there, we don't know. And I think there is a lot of room for error.

BILL MOYERS: You can see Robert Greenwald’s film in its entirety at the website, Unmanned.Warcosts.com. I urge you to watch it with a companion, because you will want to talk about the questions it raises concerning national security, drones, and the nature of war. Then I’d like to know what you think.

Remember that in the excerpt we showed earlier the former drone operator says: "This is what we do, we kill people and break things, this is what our job is." It’s true. Once we insist on war as a solution, this is always the outcome. There is no way to avoid killing the innocent when you have determined to destroy your enemy.

Our own government has fought our wars by dropping atomic bombs on whole cities. By firebombing. Carpet-bombing. By spreading the poison of Agent Orange over the homes and farms of noncombatants. By splashing burning napalm on children. In this War on Terror, we are told, either we put boots on the ground and see our own young men and women killed, or we put drones in the sky firing missiles at strangers who can be seen only from a distance. If you were President Obama, what choice would you make? I’d like to hear your succinct and considered response. Write me at BillMoyers.com or on Facebook.

I promise to read every response.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.