By David Hoffman
In a previous Pravda.Ru article entitled Welcome to the Village (October 25, 2010), I discussed how the United States government's ability to spy upon its own citizens was eerily similar to the techniques used in the classic 1960s sci-fi drama The Prisoner.
Sadly, this article did not garner much attention, primarily because people who argued that humanity's growing dependency on cell phones, e-mails, the Internet, and other such technologies would increase the potential for government spying and decrease the right of privacy were equated to the "Unabomber" or viewed as "paranoid."
But no longer. With the recent United States Supreme Court decision allowing police agencies to collect and enter into a national database the DNA profiles of people who have simply been arrested, but not charged or convicted of a crime (a power that will most certainly be exploited to target and track political protesters), being closely followed by revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have been spying on the cell phones, e-mails, and Internet searches of millions of Americans, it has become clear that anyone residing within the borders of the United States are no longer on the outskirts of "the Village"-they are living in it.
And what makes these new government powers even more frightening is that those who use, and abuse, them have absolutely no fear of any legal repercussions, because America's legal system has become nothing more than a cheerleader for government-sponsored terrorism and criminality.
The FBI recently released its new list of the "Ten Most Wanted Terrorists." Noticeably included on this list is Joanne Chesimard (aka Assata Shakur), who is wanted in connection with the 1973 murder of a New Jersey State trooper. In explaining Chesimard's addition to this list, New Jersey attorney-general Jeffery Chiesa remarked, "Justice has no expiration date, and our resolve to capture Joanne Chesimard does not diminish with the passage of time. Instead, it grows stronger with the knowledge that this killer continues to live free."
Powerful words indeed! But strangely absent from this list, or perhaps in keeping with the FBI's sordid history of racism, is any mention of any right-wing terrorist being sought for any of the numerous unsolved murders of civil rights activists that occurred during the same era as Chesimard's alleged crimes.
Also conspicuously absent are the names of government-sponsored terrorists. So, to remedy this, I have decided to release a list of "unwanted terrorists" who operate, or have operated, with the blessings of the FBI, America's legal system, the "Justice" Department, the NSA, and other entities within the United States government. While there certainly would be no problem finding ten such terrorists living free in America today, for brevity's sake I have reduced the number to eight.
When I say "unwanted," I do not mean it in the sense that these individuals should not be held accountable for their crimes against humanity. I mean they are unwanted by the very people with the power and authority to prosecute and punish them.
My list defines a terrorist as a person, group, or organization that induces and/or uses fear as an excuse to abuse human rights and/or as a means to compel individuals and/or a society to alter their lifestyles and to sacrifice rights and freedoms they would be unwilling to sacrifice in the absence of this fear.
Number Eight: The Corporate-Controlled Media. America's corporate-controlled media make prominent use of the "what came first, the chicken or the egg" quandary. When critics condemn them for feeding Americans a steady diet of garbage, these media respond that they are only "giving the people want they want."
This garbage has been largely responsible for the "dumbing down of America," and the glorification of ignorance, irresponsibility, selfishness, and stupidity that may have even helped launch the "patron saint" of ignorance, George W. Bush, into the White House.
But these media's greatest acts of terrorism occurred shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Suddenly the airwaves were filled with "talking heads" screeching how these attacks "changed the rules." Suddenly governmental intrusions into people's private lives, unthinkable before 9/11, were myopically accepted by the corporate-controlled media as part of the "changed rules," and Bush's lies about the necessity to invade Iraq were unquestioningly regurgitated as truth.
Some of these media also instigated the "outrage" that resulted in the firing of Ward Churchill from the University of Colorado (UC) for what a jury decreed was nothing more than the exercise of his First Amendment right to "freedom of speech."
So it was perhaps fitting that the corporate-controlled media recently got a proverbial "taste of their own medicine" when Bush-lite (aka Barack Obama) and his corrupt Attorney General Eric Holder, in what many describe as an "unprecedented move," seized telephone records from the Associated Press (AP).
Number Seven: The University of Colorado (UC) and the Colorado "Legal" System. Throughout history, and as underscored by the current government spying, freedoms have not been only lost through violence, but also through stealth. During the 1960s, for example, the FBI, through its infamous COINTELPRO operation, covertly sought to undermine the anti-war and civil rights movements. Although many of these COINTELPRO tactics were vociferously condemned during the "Church Committee" hearings in the mid-1970s, they are, thanks to the so-called "war on terror," common practice today.
The University of Colorado (UC) continued this tradition of using stealth when it obliterated academic freedom throughout the United States by firing Churchill, a tenured professor, for writing a controversial essay about the 9/11 attacks.
To create the facade of "due process," UC conducted a hearing, which ultimately claimed that Churchill had committed various forms of "academic misconduct." A jury saw through this facade, however, and returned a verdict in favor of Churchill. But the presiding judge, Larry Naves, a graduate of UC law school and subsequent recipient of its "Distinguished Achievement Award," reversed the jury verdict-a ruling that was "upheld" throughout the entire appeals process.
So today, thanks to UC, the Colorado "legal" system, and the fear of economic retaliation they've engendered, all academics throughout the United States will be reluctant to publish any writings, or conduct any studies, that could remotely be construed as "controversial."
Number Six: Jose Rodriguez and the CIA. One of the biggest, if not the biggest, terrorist organizations in the world, the CIA's hands drip with the blood from shattered democracies, torture, political assassinations, and extrajudicial executions. Like the FBI, the CIA's legacy is so sordid that it once contracted with members of organized crime to assassinate Fidel Castro.
Also, as with the FBI, the CIA's illegal and unconstitutional tactics have been met with an approving "nod and wink" by both the Bush and Obama administrations. For example, Jose Rodriguez, former director of the CIA's "National Clandestine Service" illegally destroyed videotapes depicting CIA tortures. While this would have brought forth charges of "obstruction of justice" and "evidence tampering" if committed by the average person, Eric Holder, a self-professed "paradigm of integrity," refused to prosecute Rodriguez. In "gratitude," Rodriguez, seeking to profit from the blood upon his hands, subsequently wrote a book wherein (according to the Huffington Post) he denounces the Obama administration for condemning "waterboarding" as torture.
Undeterred by Rodriguez's "gratitude," Holder finalized the Obama administration's whitewashing of Bush-era crimes when, in August of 2012, he announced he would not be filing charges against the CIA agents who tortured two detainees to death-one, according to the British newspaper The Guardian, in 2002 at a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan, and the other, in 2003, at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), it is the height of arrogance, corruption, and hypocrisy for the United States government to argue that every person's life-including their telephone calls, Internet videos, e-mails, and pictures-should be an open book so the NSA and FBI can allegedly thwart potential terrorism, while this same government permits, and even encourages, the destruction of videos, e-mails, and pictures that depict its own acts of terrorism.
In fact, Obama's and Holder's depravity are so pronounced that the "bad guys" in their eyes are Bradley Manning, the United States soldier who exposed America's lies, hypocrisy, lawlessness, war crimes, and other atrocities to the world, and John Kiriakou, the former CIA agent who exposed the CIA's use of torture.
Number Five: John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and David Margolis. Yoo, author of the now infamous "torture memos," and Bybee, signator of these memos, are responsible for providing the "green light" that made torture an American institution. These memos even endorsed the detention and torture of American citizens. One such citizen was Jose Padilla, who ultimately sued Yoo for the tortures he endured while being held in incommunicado detention.
But America's corrupt legal system, which rarely sees a government atrocity it cannot rationalize, proclaimed that persons tortured by the United States government, including American citizens, have absolutely no legal recourse against their torturers. In other words, thugs and sadists operating with the blessing of the American government can now kidnap, detain, and torture people at will, without fear of criminal prosecution or civil lawsuits, even when they mistakenly seize and/or torture an innocent person, a scenario that tragically happened to a German citizen named Khaled el-Masri. According to The Guardian, for twenty-three days CIA agents detained, sodomized, shackled, beat, and subjected Masri to total sensory deprivation before realizing they had kidnapped the wrong person.
And the tax dollars of hardworking, honest Americans are beingused to pay these torturers.
One voice of sanity in this world of insanity is retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who stated bluntly that Yoo, Bybee, and other architects of the torture memos "broke the law" and could be subject to prosecution in a foreign or international court.
But there's little chance of that happening, given that one of the "secrets" Bradley Manning exposed was how the Obama administration strong-armed foreign governments into not pursuing charges against Yoo, Bybee, and others.
Another voice of sanity, the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, concluded that Yoo had committed "intentional professional misconduct" and recommended that disciplinary action be taken against him. But, in keeping with Obama's and Holder's policy of whitewashing Bush-era crimes, the "Justice" Department's highest ranking career official, David Margolis, refused to take such action, claiming that Yoo had simply used "poor judgment."
Today, Yoo teaches law at the University of California at Berkeley, the very subject he has demonstrated nothing but contempt for, and Bybee-the man who sanctioned Yoo's "poor judgment"-now ironically serves as a federal judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the very court that unanimously ruled Jose Padilla could not sue Yoo for the tortures he suffered, because the legal definition of torture was "unclear" during the time it was being used against him.
Number Four: Barack Obama and Eric Holder. In determining the order of this list, I was tempted to place Obama and Holder ahead of George W. Bush, et al. On the one hand, Obama did acknowledge that many of the tactics used during the Bush administration constituted torture, and he did officially repudiate the "torture memos" via an executive order.
On the other hand, as explained above, both he and Holder have gone to extraordinarily lengths to both defend and prevent prosecution of those who advocated, engaged in, or covered up these tortures. Despite all his lofty talk about "hope" and "change," if history is an honest judge then Obama will undoubtedly be remembered as the ultimate example of how American democracy is impotent when it comes to electing just and moral leaders or producing meaningful political change.
In fact, in several ways Obama has abused his power more than Bush. He has set the precedent that gives the American government the power to extrajudicially execute its own citizens, and has even used a drone to intentionally target and kill a sixteen-year-old boy. He has also rabidly reauthorized the so-called "Patriot Act" so he could cite it as an excuse for NSA and FBI spying and other abuses of power. Not surprisingly, once news of this spying became public, Reuters reported that Obama was planning an investigation into who leaked the documents exposing it.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, even though Obama promised "a new era of open government," his administration is "intensely secretive, and more zealous than any of its predecessors in guarding that secrecy." The article notes that the law being used to prosecute Bradley Manning-the 1917 Espionage Act-was used only three times before Obama took office, and has been used at least six times since. It also describes Obama's persecution of those who release "information . . . about government malfeasance or abuse of power" as a "ruthless" campaign to intimidate potential whistleblowers. This fact alone makes the leak of the NSA and FBI spying documents even more courageous, and Obama even more deserving of contempt.
Number Three: George W. Bush, et al. What can be said about history's most ruthless cabal of terrorists that has not been said already? Although Obama is now picking the fruit, it was Bush who first planted the seeds of government-sponsored terrorism in the United States. After the 9/11 attacks, Bush claimed that foreign terrorists hated America because they were jealous of its "freedoms." Yet it was Bush and his minions, not foreign terrorists, who so ruthlessly decimated these freedoms: Illegal spying upon American citizens; detentions without charge or trial; denial of legal due process; extraordinary rendition; secret prisons; torture; murder; war crimes; abuse of material witness statutes; Guantanamo Bay; the "Patriot Act"; the intimidation of officials who exposed his lies; the corrupt awarding of no-bid military and "rebuilding" contracts to political cronies; the use of America's military resources for personal, financial, and political gain; the destruction of the Bill of Rights; the outrageous powers given to agencies like the FBI and CIA, despite their histories of abusing such powers; and the corruption and politicalization of the judicial branch of government all came to, and took root in, America thanks to George W. Bush and his cabal of terrorists.
In addition, no meaningful investigation has yet been done, and probably never will be done, to determine if Bush and/or his minions intentionally ignored warnings about the 9/11 attacks so they could exploit the outrage generated by them to illegally invade Iraq.
Number Two: America's "Legal" System. The terrorist activities of the Bush and Obama administrations might not have been possible without the servile compliance of America's judicial branch of government. This branch's terrorism resides in the fact that, since the start of the new millennium, it has abdicated its constitutional responsibility as a "check-and-balance" against the legislative and executive branches of government and become nothing more than a rubberstamp for governmental abuses, injustices, corruption, and atrocities.
Some might argue that the legal system's sycophancy emanates from its fear of appearing weak and ineffective. It is true that a few presidents in American history (Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln are notable examples) refused to obey court decrees, and, given the megalomania of Bush and Obama, it is highly possible that any constitutional impediments the legal system placed upon their power to wage the so-called "war on terror" would have been ignored as well. So, instead of doing what was constitutionally sound, the system decided to take the coward's way out-pretending it was clueless about what acts constituted torture; granting "immunity" to government kidnappers, torturers, and war criminals who clearly acted beyond the authority of their offices; routinely reciting the mantra of "national security" when denying legal redress to those victimized by these kidnappers, torturers, and war criminals; and making it virtually impossible for anyone to legally challenge and remove his/her name from government "death lists."
In addition, the so-called "warrants" the Obama administration touts as a "protection" against illegal government spying are a grim farce-nothing but rubberstamps issued by subservient judges and lacking in probable cause or specificity, giving agencies like the NSA and FBI carte blanche to indiscriminately seize cell phone records, access personal e-mails, and track Internet searches. In fact, such warrants are suspiciously similar to the "writs of assistance" (general warrants) that were the source of much contention between American colonists and the British monarchy shortly before the Revolutionary War.
What is particularly tragic about the legal system's obsequiousness is that standing up to Bush's and Obama's crimes could have had a positive effect, because any refusal by these men to obey judicial decrees would have exposed the extent of their tyranny and hypocrisy. Instead, America's corrupt legal system has not only regressed to the point of endorsing pre-Revolutionary war legal practices, it has even turned the presidency into a monarchy.
Number One: The United States Supreme Court. Although a powerful part of America's corrupt legal system, the United States Supreme Court deserves a dishonorable mention all its own. Comprised primarily of politicized, unethical, and overtly biased "justices," this court has been responsible for much of the legal system's terrorism. It recently refused to hear Ward Churchill's appeal, and even more recently sanctioned the warrantless collection of DNA samples discussed at the beginning of this article.
But the Supreme Court has gone far beyond the mere destruction of the Bill of Rights: It has also destroyed democracy.
This destruction began with the coup of 2000, when this court circumvented democracy and appointed George W. Bush president of the United States. It was completed with the court's 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. As I've discussed in previous Pravda.Ru articles, the Citizens United decision states that corporations are considered to be "people" for purposes of "freedom of speech." Although the court pretended to create some "balance" by recognizing labor unions in the same manner, it knew that, thanks to the existence of so-called "right to work" laws that make the paying of union dues optional, the financial resources available to labor unions to support and promote pro-labor candidates and viewpoints during political campaigns could easily be depleted, leaving the corporate voice the only effective voice in the political arena.
It wasn't long after the Citizens United ruling that this depletion began, as corrupt politicians in Indiana and Michigan passed "right-to-work" laws. Although they tried to claim these laws were desired by their constituents (and not by their corporate masters), these politicians refused to give voters the right to decide the "right-to-work" issue for themselves via ballot initiatives and/or voter referendums.
So, at the risk of being accused of being "paranoid," I have no doubt that the terrorist goal of the United States Supreme Court is to create a corporate fascist nation devoid of individual rights. Since the installment of John Roberts as "Chief Justice," the court's majority has ruled in favor of corporate interests 70% of the time. In fact, this majority's zealous trumpeting of corporate rights over human rights is so shameless it recently obliterated the effectiveness of a 224-year-old law that was designed to prevent American corporations from committing human rights abuses on foreign soil. Yet a law more than 90-years-old that is increasingly being abused to prosecute and imprison people who expose government abuses of power causes the court no consternation.
Besides requiring persons who are simply arrested, but not prosecuted or convicted of any crime, to submit samples of their DNA, this court has also decimated the legal precept that one is "innocent until proven guilty" through its approval of strip-searches for persons arrested for even the most minor of offenses, and the random drug testing of public school students.
The reasons for this decimation are twofold: First, requiring people to prove their innocence, instead of requiring the government to prove their guilt, and extracting that proof through forced nudity and the compulsory submission of bodily cells and/or fluids, make the masses less resistant to future governmental intrusions upon their civil rights and liberties, particularly their right to privacy; Second, a corporate fascist state demands people who are mindless, regimented, fearful, economically enslaved, and blindly obedient to authority.
Thanks to these eight terrorists, the following freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights are now dead or moribund: The First Amendment right to "freedom of speech"- nonexistent in academia thanks to the University of Colorado, and subject to government spying when exercised in other venues; The First Amendment right to "freedom of press"-now also subject to government spying; the Fourth Amendment right to be free from "unreasonable searches and seizures"-nullified because nothing, in the eyes of America's legal system, is considered to be "unreasonable"; the Fifth Amendment right to be free from self-incrimination-erased thanks to America's new doctrine of "guilty until proven innocent, provided you're not extrajudicially executed first"; the Eighth Amendment right to be free from "cruel and unusual punishments"-dead thanks to the use of torture and extrajudicial executions; and the clauses in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments that prohibit the government from taking one's life, liberty, or property without "due process of law"-murdered thanks to all the reasons stated above.
Still, despite the existence of these terrorists, America is still "the land of the free and the home of the brave." The problem is the free are the government-sponsored terrorists and the brave are those who have been vilified, victimized, denied legal redress, prosecuted, and/or imprisoned for exposing them.
David R. Hoffman
Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
The Russian military have already achieved significant success in the demilitarization of the Armed Forces of Ukraine