Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Civil Rights" and Total War

State Terrorism: Sherman's Army of the West burns Atlanta.

"The Vendee is no more, my republican comrades.... The streets are littered with corpses which sometimes are stacked in pyramids. Mass shootings are taking place in Savenay because there brigands keep turning up to surrender.... [P]ity is incompatible with the spirit of revolution."

-- General Fracois-Joseph Westermann, commander of the "infernal column" that slaughtered tens of thousands of Vendean secessionists during the French Revolution

Westermann: Butcher of La Vendee.

"[F]or five days, ten thousand of our men worked hard and with a will, in that work of destruction, with axes, sledges, crowbars, clawbars, and with fire.... Meridian no longer exists."

-- Union General William T. Sherman, reporting on the federal destruction of Meridian, Mississippi in 1862 

 "We must kill three hundred thousand [as] I have told you so often, and the further they run the harder for us to get them...."

"I was satisfied, and have been all the time, that the problem of war consists in the awful fact that the present class of men who rule the South must be killed outright rather than in the conquest of territory...."

-- William T. Sherman, the Union Army's General Westermann, in separate letters to his wife Ellen and to General Philip Sheridan, as quoted in The Soul of Battle by Victor Davis Hanson

Sherman: America's first "civil rights" crusader.

William Sherman's march to the sea, writes Victor Davis Hanson approvingly, was a war of "terror" intended to destroy an aristocratic Southern culture he hated because of its impudence in resisting the central government's authority.

Although rarely acknowledged as such, Sherman could be considered America's first "civil rights" crusader. This isn't an endorsement of Sherman; it's an indictment of contemporary "civil rights" ideology.

 While it's true that Sherman never descended to the depths of mass-murdering depravity plumbed by Westermann and his army of berserkers, he was prepared, by his own repeated admissions, to annihilate civilians by the hundreds of thousands in order to vindicate Washington's supposed authority.

Those who didn't render immediate and unqualified submission, he warned, would be "crushed like flies on a wheel."

Following Appomattox, Sherman's genocidal skill-set proved useful to the corporatist federal railroad combine, which required the removal of the Plains Indians from land that it coveted but couldn't be troubled to purchase on honest terms. In carrying out that task Sherman abandoned what little restraint he had exercised in dealing with white southerners. In the meantime, the war of federal consolidation and cultural liquidation against the South continued by way of what was euphemistically called "Reconstruction."

In theory, "Reconstruction" was the process of re-integrating the rebellious states into the One Holy Eternal Union. In practice, it was a reign of terror and plunder swaddled in the rhetoric of righteousness and carried out through the apparatus of military dictatorship.

"After the Civil War, radical Republicans sought to drastically alter the social and political structures of the states of the former Confederacy," notes historian Benjamin Ginsberg of Johns Hopkins University in his book The Fatal Embrace. "The sought to establish a regime that would break the political power of the planter class that had ruled the region prior to the war."

The "radical Republicans" to whom Ginsberg refers were Jacobins, not Jeffersonians. The most powerful figure in that cohort was the detestable Thaddeus Stevens, a Pennsylvania Congressman who, the words of historian Paul Leland Haworth, "possessed much of the sternness of the old Puritans, without their morality."
Pitiless, power-mad, vindictive: Thaddeus Stevens

Rep. Stevens hated the pre-Lincoln Constitution with a passion eclipsed only by that he nurtured toward the South; the document produced by the 1787 Philadelphia Convention, Stevens once told an associate, was nothing but "a worthless bit of old parchment." 

As co-chairman, with Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, of the Joint Committee for Reconstruction, Stevens adapted Cromwell's schematic for military dictatorship in England for use in administering the conquered Confederacy.

"Where Cromwell had divided England up into eleven military districts, each governed by a major general with wide-ranging powers, [Stevens and the radical Republicans] divided the South into five districts, each ruled by a military governor under the overall direction of General Grant," explains Daniel Lazare in his book The Frozen Republic:

 "The military authorities banned veterans' organizations and other groups deemed threatening to the new order, fired thousands of local officials and half a dozen governors, and purged state legislatures of pro-Confederate elements as well. A twenty-thousand-strong army of occupation, aided by a black militia, enforced order.... Political rights were withdrawn from thousands of Confederates who had been granted executive clemency by the President, and all told some one hundred thousand white voters were stricken from the rolls."

As Dr. Haworth observed in his 1912 study Reconstruction and Union,  military governors on the occupied South "proceeded to create a new electorate and through it new civil governments." Those "civil governments," predictably, used patronage and officially sanctioned plunder to entrench themselves.

When federal subsidies and confiscation of private wealth proved inadequate, the Reconstruction governments turned to deficit financing, driving the states they misruled into even deeper economic misery.

The Reconstruction regime, writes Haworth, was built on a "sinister alliance" between military governors, their political satraps, and state-allied secret societies within the "Union League" (also known as the "Loyalty League"). Those criminal cabals were used to enforce political discipline and carry out covert acts of terrorism against dissenters. For example, notes Haworth, League members "resorted to whipping or otherwise maltreating Negroes who became Democrats."

Robber Oligarch: Reconstruction-era Governor Franklin Moses
In South Carolina governor Franklin Moses, a "scalawag" (that is, southern Quisling) sold tens of millions of dollars' worth of junk state securities while he and his cronies pilfered everything of value.

Moses, who became known as the "Robber Governor," enforced his will through a 14,000-man militia "composed mainly of black troops ... led by white officers," recounts Dr. Ginsberg. That Praetorian Guard protected Moses against enforcement of legal judgments and was deployed to harass, intimidate, and threaten potential political rivals in the 1870 election.

Similar conditions prevailed elsewhere in the prostrate South. In Louisiana, for instance, "wholesale corruption, intimidation of new voters by the thousands and tens of thousands, political assassinations, riots, revolutions -- all of these were the order of the day," records Dr. Haworth.

State-sponsored terrorism in the occupied South precipitated the creation of the Ku Klux Klan -- a development that could be considered the first recorded example of "blowback."

In both its ritualized, oath-bound organizational structure and the terrorist tactics it employed,  the KKK was morally indistinguishable from the terrorists whose depredations inspired the Klan's creation. Unlike the Union League-aligned terrorists, however, the Klan operated without federal sanction. Thus in 1870 and 1871, Congress passed two Enforcement Acts (the second commonly called the "Ku Klux Klan Act") under which President Grant deployed troops to suppress "rebellion" in the occupied South. 

The use of active-duty federal troops as a post-war domestic "peacekeeping" force "represented, from a military standpoint, the darkest days in the history of the Army," writes Professor James J. Schneider of the Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth. "The Reconstruction activities of Army units were unprecedented in their time, and they sound remarkably familiar today."

 The occupied South was where Washington field-tested methods later used to "liberate" and "pacify" the Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries through mass slaughter and military dictatorship.

By January 1877, embattled southerners had managed to gain sufficient political traction to extract an end to the military occupation as the price of supporting a compromise awarding Rutherford B. Hayes the electoral votes he needed to prevail over Samuel Tilden (whose popular vote tally exceeded that of Hayes by roughly 164,000 votes).

Two months after Hayes was inaugurated, federal troops were withdrawn, and the Reconstruction plunderbund dissolved. A little more than a year later, Congress passed the Posse Comitatus Act forbidding the use of the Army as a domestic law enforcement body.

Jim Crow could be considered --at least to some extent -- another example of "blowback" from Reconstruction, which did much more to exacerbate than alleviate racial hostilities in the South. Like all measures intended to restrain the Regime's powers, the Posse Comitatus measure is ignored at the whim of our rulers. Thus on more than one occasion since 1878, troops have been deployed to the South to enforce federal decrees intended to break down systems of government-imposed segregation at the state and local level.

Although the post-war military dictatorship in the South ended in 1877, the 1964 "civil rights" act is a continuation -- and expansion -- of Reconstruction. That act was designed and intended to make every private institution, transaction, and relationship subject to federal scrutiny in the name of abolishing "discrimination."

In principle, and sometimes in practice, the federal "civil rights" apparatus is literally making war upon Americans whose hiring policies, business practices, and private associations don't find favor with the exalted beings who have made themselves the arbiters of acceptable attitudes and social outcomes.

Those numinous creatures -- as wise as the overseers of Plato's ideal Republic, as omniscient as the Guardians of Oa -- are somehow exempt from the prejudices and unworthy passions to which we lesser beings are heir. They are thus suited to the task of micro-managing social affairs and compelling the rest of us to live according to their decrees, lest we be crushed "like flies on a wheel," as their predecessor "Uncle Billy" Sherman put it.

The most candid and compelling summary of this perspective doesn't come from a right-wing revisionist, but rather from Columbia Law School Professor George P. Fletcher, an establishment academic of an unabashedly Marxist bent.

In his valuable book The Secret Constitution, Fletcher  acknowledges that the war waged by Abraham the Annihilator was not an effort to "preserve the Union," much less to restore the pre-war constitutional order. Instead, that war was intended to consolidate the united States into a unitary state governed by what Fletcher calls a "New Constitutional Order." In the New Order, writes Fletcher, the founding premise is that "the federal government, victorious in warfare, must continue its aggressive intervention in the lives of its citizens."(Emphasis added.)

 There is nothing hypothetical about the federal aggression Fletcher correctly identifies as the central feature of the post-Lincoln Soyuz (the term "union" is inapposite here). Since, from the perspective Fletcher represents, Lincoln's war supposedly settled the question of the central government's "authority" to kill Americans in any quantity necessary to reconfigure society, there are no limits to what it can do in the interest of establishing "social justice."

"Civil rights," as the term is used today, has nothing to do with the rights of individuals apart from the role played by some members of designated classes as a pretext for federal violations of the property rights of others not granted such protected status. Melissa Harris-Lacewell, an associate professor at Princeton and self-appointed watchdog of the "radical right," makes that point with the eager earnestness of someone who assumes that her political opponents aren't listening. 

Our Enemy, the State in action.
According to Harris-Lacewell, the 1960s civil rights movement was valuable because it was a tool to expand and consolidate federal power.

Because of southern resistance to Washington's demands, the "legitimacy of the central state was challenged," she writes in The Nation. "[This] is why the Civil Rights Movement was so powerful. The overt abuse of state power evidenced by the violence of Southern police called into question their foundational legitimacy. The federal government had to act or risk losing its authority as a state altogether."

This is to say that the chief accomplishment of the civil rights movement was not the validation of the individual rights of those victimized by government-imposed discrimination, but rather the validation and enhancement of federal power.

For Harris-Lacewell and other acolytes of the unitary totalitarian state, Reconstruction continues to this day.  The genuine outrage is not that the South was ruled for a decade by a military kleptocracy, but rather that the military dictatorship was brought to an end through what she calls "the unholy Hayes-Tilden compromise of 1877." And the chief task for the forces of "tolerance" today, she insists, is to "guard against the end of our new Reconstruction" -- a system Ronn Neff perceptively describes as "polite totalitarianism," in which the 1964 Civil Rights Act is an indispensable pillar.

That measure, it should be remembered, was enacted by a government that was in the early stages of its war of aggression against Vietnam -- a conflict in which, as Stokely Carmichael aptly put it, "white people [drafted] black people to make war on yellow people [supposedly] to defend land stolen from red people." The government in charge of enforcing that Act today is slaughtering "people of color" in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and (lest we forget) Detroit, and looking for an excuse to inflict its lethal humanitarianism on Iran and North Korea.

And yet, as we see in the contrived controversy over Rand Paul's views of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it is a grave civic blasphemy even to suggest that the Regime responsible for such murder and mayhem shouldn't have the power to scrutinize and regulate every aspect of private life.

Thank you ...

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Dum spiro, pugno!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"Kill Them All, For God Will Know His Own"

Scene of the crime: The couch where Aiyana Jones was sleeping when she was killed. 

Kevin Weeks was a career criminal employed as a Mob hitman, but even he possessed sufficient good judgment and self-restraint to avoid risking the life of a seven-year-old girl.

In Brutal, his aptly titled memoir of the years he spent working for Boston Mob boss -- and protected FBI asset -- James "Whitey" Bulger, Weeks describes how he was given an order to assassinate Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr, who relentlessly tormented Bulger in print. Weeks set up a sniper nest near Carr's home. He had the target set up for the kill, but didn't pull the trigger because Carr's daughter, "a little girl, like seven years old or so," was walking hand-in-hand with her father. 

"I couldn't take a chance of the bullet fragmenting and ricocheting or hitting her or just killing her father in front of her," recounts Weeks.
Not ruthless enough for government "work": Mob Hitman Kevin Weeks

This episode, admittedly, is retold from the self-serving perspective of a convicted murderer.  Ironically, Carr himself, in his valuable book The Brothers Bulger, relates a somewhat similar story of a proposed contract hit that was vetoed by former Boston Mob boss Raymond Patriarca. 

Joe Barboza, a hitman employed by Patriarca, pointed out that the hoodlum targeted by the contract lived in a three-story house in Boston. Barboza suggested that he could "break into the basement and pour gasoline all around and torch the place, after which I either get him with the smoke inhalation or I pick him off when he's climbing out the window."

"Barboza had worked out a plan for every contingency," notes Carr. "He would bring three shooters with him, to watch each side of the house. They would cut the telephone lines to the houses, so that the victim couldn't call the fire department. And just in case one of the neighbors called, before setting the house on fire Barboza planned to phone in false alarms across the city to tie up every fire company." 

Patriarca, who had few compunctions about killing when it suited him, wasn't keen on Barboza's plan, in large measure because of the potential harm to non-combatants.

"Patriarca asked Barboza if anyone else lived in [the targeted hoodlum's] house, and Barboza mentioned the victim's mother," continues Carr. 

"You're gonna kill his mother too?" asked Patriarca.

"It ain't my fault she lives there," the hitman snorted by way of reply. 

"Patriarca canceled the contract," Carr tersely summarizes. Barboza, not surprisingly, proved to be too ruthless and deranged for the Mob, and ended up -- like Bulger -- as another of the FBI's protected assets.

It is a monumental pity that the Detroit Special Response Team, or the decision-makers above them in the Detroit PD, didn't have the sense of proportionality displayed by Mob figures like Kevin Weeks and Raymond Patriarca. If they had, the murder suspect they sought -- 34-year-old Chauncey Owens -- could have been taken into custody without the midnight paramilitary raid that resulted in the burning and shooting death of seven-year-old Aiyana Jones. 

Shortly after midnight on May 16, while Aiyana -- a radiant little girl who might have grown up to resemble Zoe Saldana -- was sleeping on the downstairs living room sofa where she would be killed just a few minutes later, the raid team gathered for a "safety briefing." 

As described by police sources to the Detroit Free Press, that briefing dealt entirely with considerations of "officer safety," which -- as any honest observer will admit -- is the highest and most important consideration in any law enforcement operation.

The raid team "was told there was information that the suspect might be armed, possibly with an assault rifle and a handgun," reports the Free Press. "Someone said there also might be dangerous dogs and that the house was believed to be a possible dope den." 

Another intelligence source speculated that the unprepossesing duplex might actually be the location of the missing Iraqi WMDs, which had been stored in a basement vault guarded by a basilisk. 

No, not really. 

But in its anxiety over officer safety, and its eagerness to stage a properly impressive raid for the benefit of the embedded A&E camera crew, the SRT did not take into account "the possibility of any children being present," despite the fact that the front yard was littered with toys -- a clue that even a police officer should be able to recognize -- and warnings to that effect offered by neighbors as the raid unfolded. 

Ground Zero: Notice the toys? The cops didn't.
Street officers and homicide detectives were already on the scene when the SRT's armored personnel carrier rolled up in front of the duplex. 

The APC was driven by Officer Joseph Weekley, who was also the first through the door after a flash-bang grenade had been thrown through the window. Weekley went barreling into the living room armed with a machine gun and protected by a ballistic shield. 

Meanwhile, Aiyana -- according to at least one eyewitness -- was being severely burned by the incendiary grenade that had been thrown into her bed. 

It's not clear whether Aiyana suffered her fatal gunshot wound before or after Weekley entered the house. In either case, Officer Weekley has been identified as the shooter. He initially claimed that his gun accidentally went off during a "scuffle" with Aiyana's 47-year-old grandmother. 
Within a few hours that account was "clarified" by the police, who said that there was incidental "contact" between Weekley and Aiyana's grandmother; the latter denies having contact of any kind with Weekley. Her story hasn't changed. The same can't be said for the official police account.

Geoffrey Fieger, the attorney representing Aiyana's family, claims to have seen a videotape of the raid showing that the shot was fired into the house shortly after the grenade was hurled through the downstairs window. 

Chauncey Owens, who has been charged with the murder of 17-year-old Je'Rean Blake, was arrested in the upstairs flat, a separate domicile from the one in which Aiyana was killed. Prior to the SRT raid, Owens had been seen on the streets near the duplex. There was no reason -- well, none not dictated by the demands of Homeland Security Theater -- to mount a midnight paramilitary operation to take Owens into custody. 

 Why wasn't an effort made to arrest him on the streets -- after staking out the duplex, if necessary? That question, of course, fails to take into account the "reality TV" camera crew. Once that factor is considered, it's a matter of res ipsa loquitir

A&E's Detroit SWAT program made Joseph Weekley a television star. The May 16 raid, as some veteran police officers might put it, wasn't Weekley's first rodeo. Nor was this the first time his conduct put children at severe risk. 

Weekley took part in a February 2007 SRT raid on a Detroit residence occupied by several children. A lawsuit filed on behalf of the family claims that the  SRT gunned down two dogs "without any justifiable reason whatsoever," and that during the operation the officers "had their guns pointed at ... [a] child and [an] infant." 

In that 2007 raid Weekley and his comrades were pursuing a suspect in an armed robbery. As was the case last Sunday, the SRT wasn't dealing with a hostage situation or a barricaded shooter, let alone a heavily armed serial killer on a rampage. None of the people terrorized by the raid and detained at gunpoint was charged in connection with the crime. At least in that earlier incident, the SRT -- in what appears to be an example of unwonted restraint -- declined to use a flash-bang grenade. 

Paramilitary units like the Detroit SRT are used to carry out what are described as "high-risk" operations. This description is generally true -- when applied to those targeted by the raids; the risks experienced by the heavily armed raiders in body armor are minuscule. 

On average, between 100-150 such raids take place every day in this supposedly free country, most of them are narcotics enforcement actions against people involved in non-violent, consensual behavior. Typically, the only "risk" confronted by law enforcement personnel in such circumstances is the possibility that if they knock on the door and present their warrant the evidence will disappear down the toilet. Under this order of priorities, the convenience of prosecutors enforcing asinine drug laws is served at the expense of those brutalized and often killed without reason in their own homes. 

The truly sickening thing about the death of Aiyana Jones is that the decision to carry out a SRT raid was almost certainly dictated by the media ambitions of Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans, who -- in the words of Detroit News columnist Charlie LeDuff -- is positioning himself as a "reality TV" star.

"Television executives around the country have been shown what is known in television parlance as the `sizzle reel' of Chief Evans himself, a video compilation of Detroit's top cop trying to take back the streets," writes LeDuff, who saw that footage several weeks ago. "It is part of a pitch for a full-blown television series."

As Detroit's civic and economic implosion accelerates, the city has become an irresistible setting for state-centric media outlets "peddling mayhem," continues LeDuff. "Spike TV featured the Detroit bureau of the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2008. A&E is taping a season of `Parking Wars' here; production on a series about the Fire Department wrapped late last year. Even Animal Planet is in on the deal with `Animal Cops Detroit.'"

Badass FAIL: Wannabe TV star Warren Evans

Chief Evans' "reality" show pitch begins with the uniformed bureaucrat "gripping a semi-automatic rifle, standing in front of crumbling Michigan Central Depot, staring down a camera and declaring that he'll do whatever it takes to take his city back from crime. The camera will tag along with Warren Evans as he goes on house raids, smokes cigars with his underlings and recalls words to live by told to him by his mother." 

LeDuff's disclosures do much to explain why the A&E camera crew went along on the SRT raid that killed Aiyana Jones, and why the Department chose to stage a midnight "Shock and Awe" operation rather than quietly bringing in the suspect.

Aiyana Jones was killed because the Detroit PD wanted to boost Chief Evans's Q Score

Nearly two decades ago, millions of Americans were mortified by the assault on Randy Weaver's family in northern Idaho and the federal siege of the Branch Davidians at Mt. Carmel. 

In the first atrocity, FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi proved -- by gunning down a nursing mother who was cradling her infant daughter -- that he wasn't burdened with the scruples that prevented Kevin Weeks from pulling the trigger on Howie Carr. 

The latter episode ended with the FBI (aided by the Delta Force) carrying out -- on a much larger scale -- an arson/murder plan very similar to the one proposed by Mob hitman Joe Barboza, and vetoed by Mob boss Raymond Patriarca. As Barboza proposed, the Feds pumped the Branch Davidian dwelling full of gas and, when the fire erupted, used snipers to pick off anybody attempting to flee the holocaust. They even interdicted fire and emergency crews while the victims burned and suffocated.

Waco and Ruby Ridge were anomalous only in the sense that they were large, well-publicized versions of the daily acts of state terrorism carried out by the Regime, both here and abroad. Pashtun and Tajik families terrorized by Special Forces raids in Afghanistan could profitably compare notes with survivors of SWAT raids in the United States.

Jason Moon, who served with the U.S. Army in Iraq, brought back a video in which a sergeant told his troops that "The difference between an insurgent and an Iraqi civilian is whether they are dead or alive." For the benefit of those who fail to take that sergeant's meaning, Moon explains: "If you kill a civilian he becomes an insurgent because you retroactively make that person a threat." 

Jason Washburn, who served three tours in Iraq, has recounted how troops were encouraged to carry "drop guns" to be deposited near newly-minted "insurgents"; eventually, this instruction was modified to permit "drop shovels," since a solider in the heat of combat must assume that someone armed with a shovel was planting an IED, and the holy imperative of "force protection" dictates that he take no chances.

By his third tour of Iraq, recounts Marine Jason Wayne Lemue, the rules of engagement had achieved a certain compelling clarity: "[W]e were told to just shoot people and the officers would take care of us." 

Terrifying as all of this is, the really bad news is that there is substantial reason to believe that there are fewer restrictions on the use of lethal force by domestic paramilitary police than there are on U.S. military personnel operating overseas. 

This trend will likely grow much worse when the Homeland Security Apparatus is filled with veterans of the Empire's current foreign campaigns. You know, the kind of people who can blithely dismiss the anguish of a father whose children have been gunned down by foreign invaders by saying, "Well, it's their fault for bringing their children to a battle." 

I can't help but see just a hint of that casual sadism in the following detail regarding the death of Aiyana Jones: Charles Jones recalls that after he heard a flash grenade followed by a gunshot, he rushed into the living room, where "police forced him to lie on the ground, with his face in his daughter's blood."

It was a terrible thing, of course. But at least the troops were safe. And, as Joe Barboza might observe, it wasn't the SRT's fault that Aiyana lived there. 

                                                  Of related interest ...

Here is my recent interview with Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio on the killing of Aiyana Jones, and police militarization in general.

                                                                            An Appeal 

I am deeply grateful for the generous help many of you have provided to me over the past several months. At present, your donations -- and the very modest amounts I get from web advertising -- are the only means I have to provide for my family, and maintain this website and my other ventures. If you have the means and the inclination, I would greatly appreciate the help. Thank you so much! 

Be sure to tune in each Saturday night at 8:00 PM Mountain Time (9:00 Central) for Pro Libertate Radio on the Liberty News Radio Network.

Dum spiro, pugno!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Death of Aiyana Jones: "Showtime Syndrome" Claims a Child (UPDATED)

Death of a princess: Aiyana Jones, victim of the Homeland Security State

In physics, the term "observer effect" describes how examining a phenomenon can change it, because of the influence of the instruments used to make the observation. Something similar happens to human interactions when cameras are present. The irresistible impulse to play to the lens makes human behavior mannered and self-aware. Every statement becomes a performance, every gesture a pose. 

The steady onslaught of police propaganda shows of the "COPS" genre constitute the worst and most dangerous form of "reality" television. 

A couple of years ago I coined the term "COPS Effect" to describe how pseudo-documentary programs glorifying the police abet irresponsible (but highly telegenic) use of paramilitary tactics. The presence of cameras during law enforcement operations often triggers a condition I call "Showtime Syndrome," a frequently lethal tendency toward self-dramatization on the part of police.

Conflict and danger, whether genuine or contrived, make for high-impact television; de-escalation and sober, careful police work do not. Thus embedding camera crews with the police -- only officially vetted personnel from State-aligned media are suitable; Mundanes  with cameras are subject to summary arrest -- creates a perverse incentive for "peace" officers to choose an approach more likely to result in avoidable death, injury, and property destruction.

Troops from the Detroit Police Department's Special Reaction Team ("troops" is a more appropriate description than "officers") seeking a murder suspect executed a no-knock warrant on the home where Aiyana was sleeping on the couch.

Despite warnings from neighbors that there were children present in the home -- a fact attested by the toys scattered in the front yard -- the SRT paramilitaries chose a Fallujah-style "dynamic entry," hurling a flash-bang grenade through a closed window and storming through the front door with guns drawn.

The incendiary grenade landed on the couch where Aiyana was sleeping. Her father claims that the child suffered burns as a result. Seconds later, she was dead. 

One of the SRT troopers engaged in what was called a "tussle" with Mertilla Jones, Aiyana's grandmother. In the antiseptic and completely dishonest language favored by the state-aligned media, the officer's gun "went off."

This means, apparently, that the inanimate object simply discharged sua sponte, independent of intentional or negligent action on the part of its owner, a fully credentialed member of the exalted "Only Ones" -- as in "law enforcement and the military are the Only Ones who should be permitted to own and carry firearms."

Firearms in the hands of the hoi polloi, we are told, have a way of spontaneously firing and killing innocent children. Oddly enough, that's what supposedly happened to a beautiful 7-year-old girl named Aiyana Jones. 

The raid took place at about 12:30 a.m. The individual being sought at the multi-family dwelling was a suspect in a murder that took place at about 3:00 p.m. the previous Friday. Police report that they arrested the suspect at the duplex where the raid occurred. However, they pointedly refuse to say whether the shooting death of Aiyana Jones took place in the same unit where the suspect was found.

This was not a hostage situation. The proverbial clock wasn't ticking. Why didn't the police quietly set up a perimeter at the targeted address, and wait until the suspect left the building? Why stage a post-midnight paramilitary raid against a home where children were present?

A paragraph found toward the end of a Detroit Free Press account provides a likely answer:

"Outside the home, the department's special response team was prepared to go in. Film crews with A&E's `The First 48' reality show, which follows police departments nationwide during the crucial 48 hours after a homicide is committed, were taping the team for a documentary. Police spokesman John Roach said the tapes will be reviewed as part of the investigation."

In other words, the decision-making process in this investigation was being distorted by the "COPS Effect." The department insists that this was a high-risk warrant enforcement operation, but it wasn't too dangerous to bring a camera crew along. Had the intent been simply to capture a murder suspect, the police could have sent a team of street officers and homicide detectives, rather than the paramilitary goon squad and their archivists.

Detroit is an economic moonscape in which the police -- through the institutionalized larceny called "asset forfeiture" -- have become the single largest source of property crime. The SRT and the Narcotics Enforcement Division (which is trained by the SRT) average two full-force raids each day, most of them conducted against single- and multi-family dwellings.

A few years ago, the SRT was featured in an A&E "reality" program entitled "SWAT." Viewers learned, among other things, that each member of the 21-officer SRT is given a GI Joe-style "codename" that is "based upon a specific action, or character trait that the officer has. These codenames are used as tactical call signs, similarly to how pilots in the military refer to one another."

 If the member of this little club who shot Aiyana hasn't been assigned a codename, I think "Fumbles" would make the best match for his skill-set.

The SRT, described as "one of the nation's most elite SWAT teams," was also featured on Attack of the Show in a segment heavy on hardware porn and loaded with preening and posturing by overgrown adolescents who get to wear bitchin' black outfits and carry great big guns.



The SRT's armory, cooed the man-crushing host, is "beyond impressive," and its techniques and tactics are "awesome." Sure, the unit isn't all that useful when it comes to protecting life, liberty, and property, but it certainly looks intimidating, especially on television.

Just another day in the Reich: A child uses the bathroom under the benevolent gaze of a stormtrooper during a paramilitary drug raid. 

 Of course, this is precisely the point: Paramilitary outfits of this kind are designed to advertise the might of the State. That's why the cameras were along to capture the early morning raid that claimed the life of Aiyana Jones, and it's why the SRT -- rather than a less dangerous and less telegenic police unit -- was assigned that task in the first place.

The life of Aiyana Jones -- may she rest in God's peace -- ended violently in an act of homeland security agitprop. She wasn't the first to die that way, and won't be the last. 


Attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who is representing the family of Aiyana Jones, claims that "video footage shows police fired into the home at least once after lobbying a flash grenade through the window."

This apparently contradicts the official account in which Jones was killed by a round fired in an accidental discharge during a "tussle" between one of the raiders and Aiyana's 46-year-old grandmother.

Tune in each Saturday night (8:00-11:00 Mountain Time, 9:00-Midnight Central) for Pro Libertate Radio on the Liberty News Radio Network. Be sure to check out the archives and podcasts as well.  

Dum spiro, pugno!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Idiocracy's Finest at Work

High caliber weaponry, small-bore intellects: Stormtroopers assemble in Philadelphia, 2010 (above); their 26th Century descendants, as depicted in the film Idiocracy (below, right).

Imagine, if you can stand to, a world in which the entire population has succumbed to Hannitization, and you'll capture the dystopian future depicted in the 2006 cult film Idiocracy

The fictional future America (written and pronounced "Uhhmerica") of the year 2505 is inhabited by torpid, barely ambulatory imbeciles, in large measure because of a quasi-Malthusian population imbalance: Smart people, according to the film, reproduce arithmetically, but dimwits multiply like tribbles. The result is what Huxley's Brave New World would have been had it been populated exclusively by Epsilon-minus Semi-Morons.

Uhhmericans spend most of their time in consumption -- glutting their bellies on nutrition-free junk food (Carl's Jr. fare washed down by a "sports drink" called Brawndo), and clotting their minds with sub-puerile entertainment.

The minimal interpersonal communications that occur are transacted in a patois that is equal parts hillbilly dialect, urban slang, casual profanity, and gibberish.

Each Uhhmerican is tattooed at birth with a laser-readable UPC code that serves as a commercial interface and tracking device. As long as a particular Uhhmerican is content to be a dutiful consumer and displays no troublesome individuality, he will be left unmolested. Otherwise, his UPC tattoo will attract the immediate attention of the police, who -- in addition to packing heavy artillery and wearing body armor -- are even stupider than the common herd.

As a result of a failed human hibernation experiment, 21st-century Army clerk Joe Bauers -- the very embodiment of the term "dull normal" -- is deposited in this moronic milieu. Without a UPC tattoo, Bauers is "unscannable," and thus he quickly finds himself in prison.

Joe uses his robustly unexceptional mental skills to escape (remember, this is a society in which even Sean Hannity would be seen as marginally bright) and is pursued by the police. After the car he's in is remotely disabled, Joe and two associates flee on foot. 

Seconds later, the empty car is besieged by roughly a dozen police, who without warning simply open up on the vehicle with automatic weapons. One particularly zealous hero deploys a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, which he is holding backwards. When the trooper pulls the trigger he sends the projectile skyward. Scant seconds later, a flaming passenger jet tumbles to the ground. Nobody -- least of all the police -- notices when the airliner crashes and explodes in the distance. 

 Brawndo: It's got what plants crave.

As with any successful satire, Idiocracy uses cultural caricature to diagnose disturbing trends. 

Writer-director Mike Judge doesn't flinch from 
extravagant exaggeration,  as when he makes the U.S. President a no-holds-barred fighting champion and porn star named Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho and turns the entire population into marginally sentient bags of protoplasm. 

By way of contrast, Judge displays creative austerity in his depiction of gratuitous police violence, since -- in this particular, at least -- there is little difference between the world created in his film and the one in which we're presently living.

The 2006 death of 20-year-old Tualatin, Oregon resident Jordan Case, who was gunned down by police while unarmed and blitzed on hallucinogenic mushrooms, offers a splendid example of Idiocracy-style police overkill. On May 4, a federal jury hearing an excessive force lawsuit brought by Case's parents and stepmother deadlocked; a second civil trial will take place this fall. 

When the second trial begins, I earnestly hope that it will focus on this question: Since an unarmed, terrified 120-pound woman was able to restrain the intoxicated, 128-pound Case, why was it "necessary" for three much larger police officers (each weighing well over 200 pounds) to electrocute the young man 12 times with a Taser, and pummel him with nine beanbag rounds, before he was perforated with several gunshots fired in two separate volleys? 

A life needlessly cut short: Jordan Case (holding infant) made some terrible mistakes, and he shouldn't have barged into his neighbor's home uninvited. But he did nothing to justify his violent, avoidable death at the hands of the police. 

Just before midnight on October 21, 2006, Case -- who had consumed a large quantity of hallucinogenic mushrooms -- barged into the home of neighbor Sally Arellano, a single mother who lived with her 8-year-old daughter. 

 Arellano, who had been sleeping on the couch, awoke to see the uninvited guest in her living room. Case, who was intermittently lucid, told Arellano that he was under the influence of an hallucinogen. 

After making this admission, Case curled up on the floor, giving Arellano time to call 911 -- and then flee to her daughter's room. After Case forced the door open, Arellano and her daughter both grappled with the intoxicated man. When Officer John Jayne of the Tualatin Police Department arrived, Arellano had pinned the intruder face-down on the floor. 

At this point, Jayne said "Thanks -- I've got it now," slapping Arellano's hand like a tag-team partner and taking physical custody of the smaller man. 

One would expect that's how it happened. One would be wrong. 

For some reason, "Jayne began his own stand-off with Case, who alternated between sitting calmly on a bed and lunging at the officer," recounts Willamette Week. At one point, Case reportedly obtained an item described as "similar to a kitchen knife," something that wouldn't have happened if Jayne had taken control of him immediately. Case discarded the knife and Jayne -- along with a man identified as his "friend," Grant Collins -- "struggled" with the intruder. 

Bear in mind that we're discussing a skinny, 128-pound 20-year-old who had just lost a pinfall to a 5'2", 120-pound single mother. An adult man in decent shape -- or even a typical police officer, for that matter -- should have been able to bulldog the kid to the floor and drag him out of a home he had invaded without permission. Yet for some reason, rather than subduing the suspect, "Jayne backed out of the apartment and Case followed, leaping a fence in a single bound," continues the WW account.  

Jayne called for backup, and shortly thereafter two other officers -- Washington County Sheriff's Deputy Glenn Howard, and Sherwood Police Officer Adam Keesee -- arrived at the scene. By this time, Jayne had already used his Taser on Case, to no effect. Howard and Keesee pelted Case with several beanbag rounds, which likewise did little to slow him down. 

Case then approached Deputy Howard, who had left his car running with the door open. Howard fired his Taser at Case "for seven separate cycles," narrates the Oregonian. When that failed to subdue Case, Howard -- who at one point managed to shock himself while reloading his Taser cartridge -- drew his firearm. 

According to eyewitness testimony, Case (who, recall, had been shocked more than a half-dozen times) was staggering in the direction of Howard's patrol car -- as if he were "just trying to hold on to something" -- when the Deputy unloaded on him. Howard testified that he was concerned Case might be reaching for an MP-5 assault rifle, which was stored in a locked rack accessible through the open driver's side door. Howard also admits that he "didn't think" of closing the door to prevent Case from reaching the rifle.  

Apparently it also didn't occur to Howard -- or either of the other uniformed heroes on the scene -- to secure the rifle and move the injured suspect from the car after he had been shot and immobilized. 

One of the rounds fired by Howard had found its way into Case's chest. For two minutes the 20-year-old sat slumped against the patrol car, motionless and bleeding, while the three police on the scene conferred with each other. Although he didn't move to restrain Case or render medical aid, Howard took the opportunity to re-load his Glock.

According to the official police account, after breathing heavily for a couple of minutes Case suddenly "sprung off the ground" and reached into the still-open vehicle. Howard, who later testified that he was worried that Case might grab the still-unsecured rifle, fired several more shots. One of them penetrated Case's skull, killing him instantly. 

Given that he apparently couldn't handle the effects of consuming psychotropic fungi, Jordan Case shouldn't have done so. More importantly, he shouldn't have been trespassing, and most likely wouldn't had he been in control of his faculties. His behavior created a serious problem for his neighbor. It was the intervention by the police that turned that problem into an eminently avoidable tragedy. 

It is not a sterile exercise in second-guessing to say that four large men (three police officers and a tag-along) should have been able to restrain Case without resorting to weapons of any kind: Remember, when Deputy Jayne arrived, a 120-pound woman had Case pinned to the floor. Yet for some reason -- most likely years of indoctrination regarding ubiquitous threats to "officer safety" -- the three Paladins of Public Order were terrified of the skinny 20-year-old kid, whom they later described as displaying "almost superhuman strength and endurance."

"My level of fear is skyrocketing, 'cause he's not responding to anything," Deputy Howard later recalled, explaining his decision to unload two separate volleys with his sidearm. "You don't understand what that feels like until you actually fear for your life."

Note this well: This armed, trained Sheriff's Deputy feared for his life because he and two other law enforcement officers couldn't subdue a 128-pound kid who -- his "superhuman strength" notwithstanding -- had just finished second in a grappling match with a frightened 120-pound woman. 

The single mother who had pinned Case to the floor of her daughter's bedroom had the sand to take the boy down and hold him there, yet we're supposed to believe that a similar feat was simply beyond the capacity of three tax-fed badasses with badges. 

"Though there were ... three officers on the scene and Jordan was only 128 pounds, unarmed, outnumbered and did not make any threatening gestures toward the officers, at no point did any officer attempt to restrain Jordan without the use of the taser or other weapons," summarizes the civil complaint filed on behalf of the victim's family. "Instead, the officers elected to tase him and shoot him.... At no point did any officer attempt to calm Jordan or to communicate with Jordan in any way other than shouting threats and commands to get down on the ground."

In describing what went through his mind as he gunned down Jordan Case, Deputy Howard expresses himself in terms suitable to the world depicted in Idiocracy: "I remember thinking, unplug him, unplug him, we're f*****g done with this sh*t."

Though substantially more vulgar, Howard's internal monologue was similar in substance and intent to the words that fell from the lips of Officer Troy Meade as he executed the intoxicated Niles Meservey in an Everett, Washington parking lot June 2009: "Time to end this -- enough is enough." 

Meade was acquitted of criminal homicide by the same Idiocracy-caliber jury that rejected his self-defense claim. The Washington County, Oregon DA declined to file criminal charges against Deputy Howard, insisting that his conduct comported with the "reasonable officer" standard governing lethal force cases.  

This is to say that the combination of timidity, ineptitude, and impulsive violence displayed by Howard and his comrades in this episode is what the public should expect when they seek "help" from the police. Under the "reasonable officer" standard, summary execution is a proportionate punishment for overtaxing a police officer's patience. And things will only get worse from here because most people prefer to take refuge in comforting illusions, rather than confronting grim and potentially lethal realities.

"People have a huge emotional investment in believing  the police are on our side," explains attorney Greg Kafoury, who has represented plaintiffs in law enforcement-related wrongful death lawsuits. "If somebody sits on a jury that concludes that the police have used unlawful violence against a citizen, that's a declaration that the world is a lot scarier place than they want it to be." 

Unfortunately, reality isn't optional -- something too many residents of our proto-Idiocracy come to understand only when they find themselves on the receiving end of officially sanctioned criminal violence.


(Note: This essay has been slightly modified from the original version to clarify my views regarding Jordan Case's consumption of psilocybin.) 

Tune in each Saturday at 8:00 PM Mountain Time (9:00 Central) for Pro Libertate Radio on the Liberty News Radio Network.

Dum spiro, pugno!