March 28, 2007

Our Secret Police

Although it's been known for a long time, The New York Times reported again (thank you Jim Dwyer) that the NY Police Dept. engaged in domestic and international spying. If this surprises you, you're probably one of the many Americans who are unconcerned, trusting the authorities to recognize that you never do anything illegal, and so have no reason to be concerned.

But maybe you don't realize that protesting the Republican Party is illegal. At least, that's what the NYPD thought during the 2004 Republican convention. After illegally spying on protest groups, they arrested people before their demonstrations took place. Therefore, protesters' only crime was their intention to demonstrate, to voice their ideological beliefs, to utilize their freedom of speech.

The scary part of this is the timing. This local abuse of power has a backdrop of massive disregard for the law at the federal level. Looked at systemically, it's clear that law and justice in America are nothing more than political weapons.

To legally spy on US citizens, cops need "probable cause" to believe criminal activity is occurring. Otherwise they violate the Constitution (search and seizure).

But just as the White House uses the Department of Justice and the FBI to harass enemies of the Republican Party, the NYPD harassed groups doing legal protest.

Also similar to the White House disdain for the truth, the NYPD argued successfully to a judge that police files should remain secret, even after leaked documents proved that the NYPD violated the law by spying on groups that were not suspected of anything illegal.

The point is this: These people cannot be trusted. Laws do not restrain them. They enforce the laws, and they wish to do so selectively, as a secret police apparatus of the ruling executive.

March 15, 2007

KSM- Tortured Enough?

The Pentagon has released some sanitized versions of what are purported to be Khalid Sheik Mohammed's confessions.

News sources are expressing skepticism over whether his many claims are to be trusted.

Ummm, why does anyone have any confidence in the statement itself? After the rendition, the secret prisons, the torture, and the supremely opaque camp x-ray, does this statement really have any credibility?

Well, it seems like the press has gobbled it up anyway. But really, how do we even know there is a Khalid Sheik Mohammed?

The final irony is that the immediate redaction by the military panel of KSM's allegations of torture at the hands of his CIA interrogators actually lends credence to the rest of his statement.

March 9, 2007

Fascism on the March

Can we all start getting alarmed now? Cut the delusion. Stop dismissing conspiracy theories. Nothing is theoretical about it. It is happening, and it has been happening for years.

Just consider the simple question of who is watching the watchers, and who polices the police. What happens when the top officer of the law disavows, contorts, and abuses the law?

The Justice Department retaliated against its own attorneys who's work ran contrary to the political aims of the Republican Party. In other words, Alberto Gonzales uses the DoJ to persecute the president's political enemies. Then of course, he lies about it.

Today, it's revealed that the DoJ and the FBI are abusing "national security letters." These are the letters it sends when asking for personal records of US citizens without a warrant.

While the Inspector General who reported the DoJ's violations says they were not deliberate, what was deliberate was the mechanism that removed the checks and balances designed to prevent such abuse of power: The Patriot Act.

ps - How about them secret trials, eh?

pps - Fascism? Here? Check out Joe Conason's It Can Happen Here.