Archive for the “War on Drugs” pretext Category

War Comes Home – The Excessive Militarization of American Policing [ACLU Report]

Posted in "War on Drugs" pretext, ACLU / American Civil Liberties Union, Pentagon, Pentagon, Police, Police brutality, Police State, US Government Cover-up, USA on September 24, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

June 2014


War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing

Across the country, heavily armed Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams are forcing their way intopeople’s homes in the middle of the night, often deploying explosive devices such as flashbang grenades to temporarily blind and deafen residents, simply to serve a search warrant on the suspicion that someone may be in possession of a small amount of drugs. Neighborhoods are not war zones, and our police officers should not be treating us like wartime enemies. However, the ACLU encountered this type of story over and over when studying the militarization of state and local law enforcement agencies.

This investigation gave us data to corroborate a trend we have been noticing nationwide: American policing has become unnecessarily and dangerously militarized, in large part through federal programs that have armed state and local law enforcement agencies with the weapons and tactics of war, with almost no public discussion or oversight.1 Using these federal funds, state and local law enforcement agencies have amassed military arsenals purportedly to wage the failed War on Drugs, the battlegrounds of which have disproportionately been in communities of color. But these arsenals are by no means free of cost for communities. Instead, the use of hyper-aggressive tools and tactics results in tragedy for civilians and police officers, escalates the risk of needless violence, destroys property, and undermines individual liberties.

This report provides a snapshot of the realities of paramilitary policing, building on a body of existing work demonstrating that police militarization is a pervasive problem. Analyzing both existing secondary source materials and primary source data uncovered through the ACLU’s public records investigation, this report examines the use of SWAT teams by state and local law enforcement agencies and other aspects of militaristic policing.2 As explained in the Methodology section, our statistical analysis included more than 800 SWAT deployments conducted by 20 law enforcement agencies during the years 2011-2012.3 SWAT was created to deal with emergency situations such as hostage, barricade and active shooter scenarios. Over time, however, law enforcement agencies have moved away from this original purpose and are increasingly using these paramilitary squads to search people’s homes for drugs.

Aggressive enforcement of the War on Drugs has lost its public mandate, as 67 percent of Americans think the government should focus more on treatment than on policing and prosecuting drug users.4 This waning public support is warranted, as evidence continues to document how the War on Drugs has destroyed millions of lives, unfairly impacted communities of color, made drugs cheaper and more potent, caused countless deaths of innocent people caught up in drug war-related armed
conflict, and failed to eliminate drug dependence and addiction. The routine use of heavily armed SWAT teams to search people’s homes for drugs, therefore, means that law enforcement agencies across the country are using this hyper-aggressive form of domestic policing to fight a war that has waning public support and has harmed, much
more than helped, communities…

Full PDF report:


Cooking the Books: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the China Lobby and Cold War Propaganda, 1950-1962 [Asia-Pacific Journal / Sweet & Sour Socialism Essential Archives]

Posted in "War on Drugs" pretext, Afghanistan, Anti-China propaganda exposure, Anti-communism, Black propaganda, China, China-bashing, CIA, Colombia, Connection to drugs and narcotics, Cuba, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Karzai puppet regime corruption, Korean War, Law enforcement, Media smear campaign, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Panama, PLA, Sweet and Sour Socialism Essential Archives, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela on April 20, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 37, No. 1, September 14, 2013.

Jonathan Marshall

As influential contributors to national policy, intelligence professionals inevitably face strong political and bureaucratic pressures to shape their assessments to fit official or factional policy. In the modern era, such pressures have contributed to costly, even disastrous, escalations of the Vietnam War, the arms race, and, most notoriously, Washington’s conflict with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.2

Intelligence on the international narcotics menace has been particularly subject to such pressures ever since U.S. leaders vowed to wage “war” on the illicit drug trade more than a half century ago.3 In recent years, influential interest groups and policy makers have leveled epithets like “narco-terrorism” and “narco-communism” against targets such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Panama, Syria, the Taliban, and Venezuela to justify harsh policies ranging from economic sanctions to armed invasion, while ignoring or downplaying evidence implicating U.S. allies (the Nicaraguan Contras, the Afghan mujahedeen and Karzai administration, the Colombian military, and so forth).4 Given the stakes, critical scrutiny of such claims, and rigorous attention to de-politicizing intelligence on international narcotics matters, may be as vital to preventing foreign policy disasters as is ensuring sound intelligence on more traditional matters of national security.

To shed historical light on the dangers of turning international drug enforcement into a political weapon, this paper re-examines a classic case of alleged manipulation of narcotics intelligence: the vilification of Communist China by U.S. Commissioner of Narcotics Harry J. Anslinger at the height of the Cold War. His inflammatory rhetoric denouncing the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as an evil purveyor of narcotics went largely unchallenged in the Western media during the 1950s and early 1960s, when Anslinger acted as America’s leading drug enforcement official and its official representative to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). As we shall see, his charges strongly reinforced Washington’s case for diplomatic isolation of China, including its exclusion from the United Nations.

In 1971, as relations between Washington and Beijing began to thaw, the official U.S. line on China’s responsibility for drug trafficking abruptly reversed. At about the same time, a young scholar named Alfred McCoy published an authoritative volume on the modern history of the international heroin trade, contesting Anslinger’s claims and pinning blame for much of the traffic on U.S. military allies in Southeast Asia.5 Since then a number of historians have endorsed McCoy’s conclusions and characterized Anslinger’s conduct as the work of a master bureaucrat (or ideologue) bent on augmenting his agency’s prestige and power by inflating Cold War stereotypes of the PRC.6

This paper reexamines and extends their work by asking the question made famous by Tennessee Sen. Howard Baker during the Watergate hearings: What did he know, and when did he know it? As Kevin F. Ryan has observed, “it is unclear how much the FBN actually knew about [China’s involvement in] the international narcotics trade (and how much was simply convenient rhetoric) . . .”7 McCoy and most subsequent historians have relied on ex post rejections of Anslinger’s claims by U.S. and foreign law enforcement officials in the aftermath of the opening to China. But can we be sure Anslinger had no evidence to support his charges? If so, did Anslinger simply invent his claims, or did other interested parties feed him misleading or false information? And, equally important, what did Anslinger know but choose to ignore about drug trafficking by American allies, including those covertly backed by the Central Intelligence Agency?

New evidence, including recently declassified files of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Central Intelligence Agency, along with overlooked public materials from that period, sheds important new light on the state of Anslinger’s knowledge and probable motives. The records, unavailable to or unused by previous historians, provide strong new confirmation of Anslinger’s manipulation of intelligence to serve both his agency’s bureaucratic interests and a militantly anti-Communist foreign policy agenda at the expense of genuine narcotics enforcement. They leave open the possibility that Chinese traffickers continued to smuggle opiates out of the mainland into the 1950s, but do not challenge what is widely accepted today about the communist government’s attempt to suppress cultivation and trafficking…

— Anslinger’s Questionable Sources: the SCAP Connection —

…In reassessing the credibility of Anslinger’s claims, one of the most striking facts to note is that Anslinger had no full-time agents stationed in the Far East until 1962.37 (The U.S. Customs service had jurisdiction over narcotics investigations in the region, with offices in Hong Kong and Japan.)38 He thus depended heavily on agents of friendly governments — and particularly on partisan intelligence sources connected with U.S. occupation forces in Japan (SCAP) and Nationalist China.

Anslinger acknowledged that SCAP intelligence provided among “the first reports we received about the Communist narcotic smuggling in the Far East.”39 He made a SCAP account of heroin trafficking in Japan the centerpiece of his first all-out assault against Communist China before the CND in May 1952.40 The report declared that “Investigations, arrests, and seizures in Japan during 1951 proved conclusively that communists are smuggling heroin from China to Japan, and are using the proceeds from the sale thereof to finance party activities and to obtain strategic materials for China.” In support of that strong claim, it [among other allegations] cited one seizure of heroin that carried the seals of a pharmaceutical laboratory in northern China. But more than a half dozen other cases cited in the document simply involved heroin smuggled into Japan from Hong Kong — typically by Chinese from Taiwan (“Formosans”). Evidently, for Anslinger, heroin carried from British-controlled Hong Kong by smugglers from Nationalist-controlled Taiwan was proof of a Communist conspiracy…

…neither SCAP intelligence nor its sources could ever be considered “reliable,” except politically…42

–Anslinger and the China Lobby–

Many of Anslinger’s detailed allegations about large opium-growing regions in China, heroin laboratories in Chinese cities, and smuggling directives by Chinese government agencies originated from Nationalist China, whose representative to the CND issued grandiose allegations against the mainland’s new Communist masters.55 In 1951 Nationalist China provided the CND laboratory with its only “authenticated” samples of opium from the mainland. These samples were in turn used to implicate the PRC whenever the lab found a chemical match with opium seized by a member nation, including the United States. This stunning conflict of interest — perhaps fraud is not too strong a word — was uncovered only in 1963 following an inquiry by the Polish representative to the CND.56

Anslinger’s uncritical reliance on intelligence from Nationalist China was all the more irresponsible because he knew all about that regime’s own sordid history of profiting from the drug trade. Throughout much of the 1930s, a senior Treasury agent based in China sent Anslinger voluminous, detailed reports implicating senior government officials in opium trafficking. Indeed, history Chiang Kai-shek rise to power was smoothed by the muscle and financial support of China’s most infamous criminal syndicate, the Green Gang.57

In the 1950s, Anslinger collaborated closely with the “China Lobby,” a network of Nationalist Chinese officials and American supporters who sought to maintain high levels of aid to Taiwan while denying diplomatic recognition to the PRC…

…Anslinger helped the China Lobby in another key respect — by delegitimizing serious charges that some of its own personnel were tainted by the illegal drug trade. In 1960, Anslinger helped the Taiwan regime suppress publication of the first scholarly study of the China Lobby, because it contained the sensational claim:

There is . . . considerable evidence that a number of [Nationalist] Chinese officials engaged in the illegal smuggling of narcotics into the United States with the full knowledge and connivance of the Nationalist Chinese Government. The evidence indicates that several prominent Americans have participated in and profited from these transactions. It indicates further that the narcotics business has been an important factor in the activities and permutations of the China Lobby…61

–The FBI, Customs and CIA v. Anslinger–

Most Americans were in no position to question Anslinger’s assertions about China. Out of public view, however, many official experts in the U.S. and allied governments rejected his claims—including some in his own bureau.

The British Foreign Office, for example, dismissed his sources, which included Nationalist Chinese press accounts and claims by arrested traffickers in Japan, as “very dubious.” British Home Office official John Henry Walker privately derided Anslinger’s “annual onslaughts on Red China” as largely unsubstantiated and speculated that Anslinger sought to grab headlines because he was “under pressure in Washington and having to fight to keep his job…”70

–What the FBN Knew about the CIA and the Golden Triangle Drug Trade–

[I’ve excerpted this particularly sensational section which is quite long, but highly recommend reading it in its entirely – Zuo Shou]

It is notable that the single biggest redaction from the 1956 CIA study, when it was quietly declassified several decades later, concerns Thailand. For it was the CIA’s assets in Thailand who bore more responsibility than any other group in the “Golden Triangle” for the resurgence of the opium trade after the Communist victory in China in 1949. It is thus critical to explore what Anslinger must have known but chose not to disclose about the CIA’s drug-trafficking allies in the region.

Several excellent studies of the Golden Triangle in the 1950s provide rich background — without necessarily answering the question of what Anslinger knew.79 In brief, by January 1950, the People’s Liberation Army had driven thousands of Chinese Nationalist soldiers from the Eighth and Twenty-Sixth armies out of Yunnan province into Burma and French Indochina. In northeast Burma, more than 10,000 men under the command of General Li Mi found sanctuary in the wild hill country settled by minority peoples, many of whom cultivated opium as a traditional cash crop. Having themselves profited from opium for many years in Yunnan, the KMT forces — named for the Kuomintang party that ruled Nationalist China — began trafficking once again from Burma, both to make ends meet and to finance their schemes to reconquer China.

Washington’s interest in using Li Mi’s forces to contain the Chinese Communists soared after the start of the Korean War. By direction from President Truman in December 1950, the CIA secretly began supplying the KMT by air and with ground caravans through Thailand.80 Security was provided by the CIA-backed Thai national police, who in turn were eager to market the KMT’s opium to the legal Thai national opium monopoly and to international traffickers.

After several hapless forays by the KMT into southern China in 1951 and early 1952, Washington gave up serious hope of using them to roll back Communism in China. Meanwhile, as the CIA’s “covert” mission became widely known, U.S. relations with Burma worsened and Washington grew alarmed at the possibility of a retaliatory invasion by Communist China.81 The United States tried in vain to persuade the KMT forces to decamp for Taiwan, but the Chinese insisted on staying put — and in the words of one U.S. ambassador, “continuing nefarious operations in Burma and Thailand including opium smuggling racket.”82 Tabling preparations for war, they focused instead on building a drug empire that helped boost the region’s opium exports from an estimated 40 tons before World War II to more than three hundred tons by 1962.

Washington’s role in this trade was much more than incidental.83 As U.S. officials understood early on,84 the Thai national police, under the ruthless and brutal General Phao Sriyanon, “had become the largest opium-trafficking syndicate in Thailand,” in McCoy’s words. He adds:

CIA support for Phao and the KMT seems to have sparked . . . a ‘takeoff’ in the Burma-Thailand opium trade during the 1950s: modern aircraft replaced mules, naval vessels replaced sampans, and well-trained military organizations expropriated the traffic from bands of illiterate mountain traders.

Never before had [Burma’s] Shan States encountered smugglers with the discipline, technology, and ruthlessness of the KMT. Under General Phao’s leadership Thailand had changed from an opium-consuming nation to the world’s most important opium distribution center. The Golden Triangle’s opium production approached its present scale . . .85

The Golden Triangle would remain the world’s largest exporter of opiates until supplanted in the 1980s by a new set of CIA allies in South Asia, the Afghan mujahedeen and Pakistani military intelligence.86

All of this was top secret—so much so that the very existence of the operation to support the KMT guerrillas was kept from the CIA’s deputy director for intelligence, most or all top State Department officials, and the U.S. ambassadors to Burma and Thailand.87 The CIA went to especially great lengths to hush up the drug-related murder of one agent and widespread opium trafficking under its auspices.88 So is it fair in retrospect to hold Anslinger responsible for ignoring or underplaying the U.S.-Thailand drug connection?

Washington’s lies fooled no one on the scene and could not have fooled Anslinger. A review of the often-overlooked public record shows that Anslinger must have known more than to sound the alarm about the emergence of the KMT and its U.S.-supported Thai allies as one of the world’s largest narcotics-trafficking syndicates. Ignorance was simply not a credible excuse.

As early as May 1950, the New York Times reported on the presence in Northeast Burma of “an aggregation of refugee Nationalist troops” who “operate pretty much as a law unto themselves” and “have been engaging extensively in opium dealing.” The story noted that the United States planned to open a consulate “at the little northern Thailand city of Chiangmai to watch American interests in an area of increasing importance in Southeast Asia,” a tip that U.S. authorities were in touch with the KMT.89

Less than two years later, the respected London Observer accused “certain Americans” of joining Thai officials and KMT officers in “making large profits” from the “guns for opium trade.” The story pointed to the large quantities of American-made weapons and ammunition flown to General Li Mi “from a certain trading company in Bangkok in which Americans have an interest.” (As we will see, that was a reference to the CIA’s Sea Supply Company.) Amazingly, the American embassy in Bangkok confirmed the allegation. “It cannot be denied that we are in the opium trade,” one U.S. diplomat told the reporter.90 In case Anslinger missed the story, the Washington Post made it the subject of an editorial: “It is somewhat startling to read the allegation that in supporting the Chinese Nationalist effort in northeastern Burma to harass the Chinese Communists, Americans have gone into the opium business!…”91

…Anslinger could hardly deny the obvious any more. The narcotics commissioner now acknowledged publicly that, “More opium moves to and around Chiengrai in northern Thailand than any other place in the world in illicit traffic.” But he still blamed Red China, choosing not to draw attention to the pro-American parties responsible for bringing the drugs to the world market.101 “By an accident of history,” wrote one journalist friendly with Anslinger who nonetheless appreciated the irony, “the middlemen between Yunnan and Thailand are anticommunist Chinese. . . . They grow opium and add it to the supplies they get from China and neighboring tribal villages of Laos and Burma…”102


Anslinger’s sweeping rhetoric against “Red China” today strikes most historians—rightly so—as an anachronistic product of the McCarthy era. But the long litany of arrests, interrogation reports and statistics that Anslinger cited to back up his claims sounded authoritative and proved persuasive to Westerners all through the 1950s and into the 1960s…

…Anslinger, however, went far beyond…limited claims [of PRC involvement in illegal narcotics trade] to condemn the Beijing regime as a uniquely grand and evil purveyor of narcotics. Such strong charges demanded equally strong evidence. Anslinger never provided it and almost certainly never had it. With the opening of FBN records, we now know that its Communist China files hold no credible reports implicating the Maoist regime in drug smuggling. Furthermore, other U.S. and British officials privately called Anslinger on the matter at the time, savaging the credibility of his sources. The CIA’s definitive study of the question in 1956 demonstrates that Anslinger pushed his incendiary charges at the United Nations and in the media despite clear intelligence to the contrary. At the same time, Anslinger ignored or downplayed readily available public and private evidence that America’s allies — and its own officials — were contributing far more than Communist China to the growth of the Far East drug trade and the expansion of the world heroin market.

Clearly, the FBN chief chose to put anti-communism, national security [sic], and bureaucratic self-interest ahead of his agency’s declared mission. These disparate values meshed seamlessly. By serving up a steady supply of lurid claims to feed the propaganda mills of professional Cold Warriors and China Lobbyists, Anslinger bought protection against budget cuts, premature retirement, loss of authority to rival agencies, and any weakening of the nation’s drug laws. Today one must agree with the British Home Office official who concluded disparagingly in 1954 that Anslinger had “strong motives for emphasizing the responsibilities of other countries for illicit traffic in the United States and for attributing this traffic to Communist sources.”129 Anslinger’s deplorable record should remind us today of the need for critical scrutiny of claims related to drug trafficking to avoid letting our own era’s propaganda warriors generate fear and revulsion to escalate international conflicts.

Excerpted; full article (with notes) link:

CIA role in Colombia assassination program bared [World Socialist Website]

Posted in "War on Drugs" pretext, Bill Clinton, CIA, Colombia, Corporate Media Critique, FARC, National Security Agency / NSA, NSA, Obama, Pentagon, US "War on Terror", US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela on January 1, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Bill Van Auken
24 December 2013

Both the US Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency have participated for over a decade in a secret targeted assassination program that has killed at least two dozen leaders of guerrilla movements in Colombia, according to a lengthy article written by the Washington Post’s investigative reporter Dana Priest.

The operation involved the provision of “smart bomb” GPS guidance systems — at the cost of $30,000 for each bomb — that would allow the pinpointing of targeted individuals in the Colombian jungle. It was also based on the systematic and continuous interception of Colombian communications by the NSA.

Those target included senior commanders of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), a peasant-based movement that emerged nearly five decades ago in the context of armed resistance to the forced expropriation of small landholdings by Colombia’s oligarchy and the ELN (National Liberation Army), a smaller Castroite guerrilla movement operating in the northeast of the country.

The operation was funded through a secret “black” budget, over and above the $9 billion in primarily military aid that Washington has poured into the South American country since the Clinton administration launched “Plan Colombia” on the pretext of carrying out a “war on drugs.” In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the Colombian intervention was woven into the “war on terror” propaganda used to justify US militarism internationally and focused increasingly on destroying the guerrilla movements challenging the Colombian government…

Full article link:

HSBC: Impunity of the Oligarchs [Antifascist Calling]

Posted in "War on Drugs" pretext, Afghanistan, Bill Clinton, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, China, Colombia, Connection to drugs and narcotics, Early 21st Century global capitalist financial crisis' US origins, Economic crisis & decline, Hong Kong, Mexico, Obama, Saudi Arabia, U.K., US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on January 15, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

December 30, 2012

In another shameful decision by the US Department of Justice, earlier this month federal prosecutors reached a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with UK banking giant HSBC, Europe’s largest bank.

Shameful perhaps, but entirely predictable. After all, in an era characterized by economic collapse owing to gross criminality by leading financial actors, policy decisions and the legal environment framing those decisions have been shaped by oligarchs who quite literally have “captured” the state.

Founded in 1865 by flush-with-cash opium merchants after the British Crown seized Hong Kong from China in the aftermath of the First Opium War, HSBC has been a permanent fixture on the radar of US law enforcement and regulatory agencies for more than a decade.

Not that anything so trifling as terrorist financing or global narcotrafficking mattered much to the Obama administration.

As I previously reported…when the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued their mammoth 335-page report, “U.S. Vulnerabilities to Money Laundering, Drugs, and Terrorist Financing: HSBC Case History,” we learned that amongst the “services” offered by HSBC subsidiaries and correspondent banks were sweet deals, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, with financial entities with ties to international terrorism and the grisly drug trade.

Charged with multiple violations of the Bank Secrecy Act for their role in laundering blood money for Mexican and Colombian drug cartels, as a sideline HSBC’s Canary Wharf masters conducted a highly profitable business with the financiers of the 9/11 attacks who washed funds through Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi Bank into accounts controlled by whomever controlled the hijackers.

While the media breathlessly reported that the DPA will levy fines totaling some $1.92 billion (£1.2bn) which includes $655 million (£408m) in civil penalties, the largest penalty of its kind ever levied against a bank, under terms of the agreement not a single senior officer will be criminally charged. In fact, those fines will be paid by shareholders which include municipal investors, pension funds and the public at large.

With some 7,200 offices in more than 80 countries and 2011 profits topping $22 billion (£13.6bn), Senate investigators found that HSBC’s web of 1,200 correspondent banks provided drug traffickers, other organized crime groups and terrorists with “U.S. dollar services, including services to move funds, exchange currencies, cash monetary instruments, and carry out other financial transactions. Correspondent banking can become a major conduit for illicit money flows unless U.S. laws to prevent money laundering are followed.” They weren’t and as a result the bank’s balance sheets were inflated with illicit proceeds from terrorists and drug gangsters.

Revelations of widespread institutional criminality are hardly a recent phenomenon. More than a decade ago journalist Stephen Bender published a Z Magazine piece which found that “99.9 percent of the laundered criminal money that is presented for deposit in the United States gets comfortably into secure accounts.”

According to Bender: “The key institution in the enabling of money laundering is the ‘private bank,’ a subdivision of every major US financial institution. Private banks exclusively seek out a wealthy clientele, the threshold often being an annual income in excess of $1 million. With the prerogatives of wealth comes a certain regulatory deference.”

Such “regulatory deference” in the era of “too big to fail” and its corollary, “too big to prosecute,” is a signal characteristic as noted above, of state capture by criminal financial elites.

Indeed, HSBC’s private banking arm, HSBC Private Bank is the principal private banking business of the HSBC Group. A holding company wholly owned by HSBC Bank Plc, its subsidiaries include HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) SA, HSBC Private Bank (UK) Limited, HSBC Private Bank (CI) Limited, HSBC Private Bank (Luxembourg) SA, HSBC Private Bank (Monaco) SA and HSBC Financial Services (Cayman) Limited. All of these entities featured prominently in money laundering and tax evasion schemes uncovered by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee in their report. Combined client assets have been estimated by regulators to top $352 billion (£217.68).

According to Senate investigators, HSBC Financial Services (Cayman) was the principle conduit through which drug money laundered through HSBC Mexico (HBMX) flowed. “This branch,” Senate staff averred, “is a shell operation with no physical presence in the Caymans, and is managed by HBMX personnel in Mexico City who allow Cayman accounts to be opened by any HBMX branch across Mexico.”

“Total assets in the Cayman accounts peaked at $2.1 billion in 2008. Internal documents show that the Cayman accounts had operated for years with deficient AML [anti-money laundering] and KYC [know your client] controls and information. An estimated 15% of the accounts had no KYC information at all, which meant that HBMX had no idea who was behind them, while other accounts were, in the words of one HBMX compliance officer, misused by ‘organized crime’.”

In fact, the “normal” business model employed by HSBC and other entities bailed out by Western governments fully conform to the “control fraud” model first described by financial crime expert William K. Black.

According to Black, a control fraud occurs when a CEO and other senior managers remove checks and balances that prevent criminal behaviors, thus subverting regulatory requirements that prevent things like money laundering, shortfalls due to bad investments or the sale of toxic financial instruments.

In The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One, Black informed us: “A control fraud is a company run by a criminal who uses it as a weapon and shield to defraud others and makes it difficult to detect and punish the fraud.”

“Control frauds,” Black reported, “are financial superpredators that cause vastly larger losses than blue-collar thieves. They cause catastrophic business failures . Control frauds can occur in waves that imperil the general economy. The savings and loan (S&L) debacle was one such wave.”

Indeed, “control frauds” like HSBC “create a ‘fraud friendly’ corporate culture by hiring yes-men. They combine excessive pay, ego strokes (e.g., calling the employees ‘geniuses’) and terror to get employees who will not cross the CEO.” In such a “criminogenic” environment, the CEO (paging Lord Green!) “optimizes the firm as a fraud vehicle and can optimize the regulatory environment.”

In their press release, the Department of Justice announced that HSBC Group “have agreed to forfeit $1.256 billion and enter into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department for HSBC’s violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA).”

“According to court documents,” the DOJ’s Office of Public Affairs informed us, “HSBC Bank USA violated the BSA by failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and to conduct appropriate due diligence on its foreign correspondent account holders.”

The DOJ goes on to state, “A four-count felony criminal information was filed today in federal court in the Eastern District of New York charging HSBC with willfully failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering (AML) program, willfully failing to conduct due diligence on its foreign correspondent affiliates, violating IEEPA and violating TWEA.”

However, “HSBC has waived federal indictment, agreed to the filing of the information, and has accepted responsibility for its criminal conduct and that of its employees.”

In other words, because they accepted “responsibility” for acts that would land the average citizen in the slammer for decades, those guilty of “palling around with terrorists” or smoothing the way as billionaire drug traffickers hid their loot in the so-called “legitimate economy,” got a free pass. In fact, under terms of the agreement DOJ’s “deferred prosecution” will be “deferred” alright, like forever!

Why might that be the case?

The New York Times informed us that state and federal officials, eager beavers when it comes to protecting the integrity of a system lacking all integrity, “decided against indicting HSBC in a money-laundering case over concerns that criminal charges could jeopardize one of the world’s largest banks and ultimately destabilize the global financial system.”

Keep in mind this is a “system” which former United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime director Antonio Maria Costa told The Observer thrives on illicit money flows. In 2009, Costa told the London broadsheet that “in many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital. In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system’s main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor.” Costa said that “a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.”

Glossing over these facts, Times’ stenographers Ben Protess and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, cautioned that “four years after the failure of Lehman Brothers nearly toppled the financial system,” federal regulators “are still wary that a single institution could undermine the recovery of the industry and the economy.”

“Given the extent of the evidence against HSBC, some prosecutors saw the charge as a healthy compromise between a settlement and a harsher money-laundering indictment. While the charge would most likely tarnish the bank’s reputation, some officials argued that it would not set off a series of devastating consequences.”

Devastating to whom one might ask? The 100,000 Mexicans brutally murdered by drug gangsters, corrupt police and Mexican Army soldiers whose scorched-earth campaign kills off the competition on behalf of Mexico’s largest narcotics organization, the Sinaloa Cartel run by fugitive billionaire drug lord Chapo Guzmán?

“A money-laundering indictment, or a guilty plea over such charges,” the Times averred, “would essentially be a death sentence for the bank. Such actions could cut off the bank from certain investors like pension funds and ultimately cost it its charter to operate in the United States, officials said.”

Many of the same lame excuses for prosecutorial inaction were also prominent features in the British press.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the “largest banks have become too big to prosecute because of the impact criminal charges would have on confidence in them, Britain’s most senior bank regulator has admitted.”

“In a variant of the ‘too big to fail’ problem, Andrew Bailey, chief executive designate of the Prudential Regulation Authority, said bringing a legal action against a major financial institution raised ‘very difficult questions’.”

“‘Because of the confidence issue with banks, a major criminal indictment, which we haven’t seen and I’m not saying we are going to see… this is not an ordinary criminal indictment’,” Bailey told the Telegraph.

Echoing Bailey, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said the decision not to prosecute HSBC was made because “in this day and age we have to evaluate that innocent people will face very big consequences if you make a decision.”

This from an administration that continues to prosecute–and jail–low-level drug offenders at record rates!

“Breuer’s argument is facially absurd,” according to William K. Black. In a piece published by New Economic Perspectives, Black argues:

Prosecuting HSBC’s fraudulent controlling managers would not harm anyone innocent other than their families–and virtually all prosecutions hurt some family members. Breuer claims that virtually all of HSBC’s senior officers have been removed, so his argument is doubly absurd. Mostly, however, Breuer ignores all of the innocents harmed by the control frauds. SDIs [systemically dangerous institutions] that are control frauds are weapons of mass economic destruction that drive global crises and are the greatest enemy of ‘free’ markets. They are also the greatest threat to democracy, for they create crony capitalism. We are all innocent victims of these control frauds–and the Obama and Cameron governments are allowing them to commit their frauds with impunity from criminal prosecutions. The controlling officers get wealthy without fear of prosecution. The SDIs controlled by fraudulent officers have to purchase an indulgence, but the price of the indulgence is capped by the ‘too big to prosecute’ doctrine at a level that will not cause it any real distress. Breuer’s and Bailey’s embrace of too big to prosecute should have led to their immediate dismissals. Obama and Cameron should either fire them or announce that they stand with the criminal enterprises and their fraudulent controlling officers against their citizens.

As Rowan Bosworth-Davies, a former financial crimes specialist with London’s Metropolitan Police observed on his web site, “When you get a bank which admits, like HSBC has just done, that it is nothing more than a low-life money launderer for Mexican drug kingpins, and when it serves powerful vested interests to get round internationally-ratified sanctions against rogue nations, what possible benefit is achieved by trying to pretend that they cannot be prosecuted and charged with criminal offences?”

“Oh, excuse me,” Bosworth-Davies wrote, “it might impact the confidence they enjoy? Whose confidence, their Mexican drug traffickers, their international sanctions breakers, their global tax evaders, or the ordinary, law-abiding clients who are entitled to assume that their bank will obey the laws imposed on them and will provide a safe place of deposit?”

“Confidence,” the former Met detective averred, “what bloody confidence can anyone have when they know their bank is an admitted criminal? When their money is deposited with a bank that breaks the criminal law at every possible opportunity, which cheats them at every turn, sells them fraudulent products, launders drug money, evades international sanctions, moves foreign oligarchs’ tax evasion, safeguards the deposit accounts of Third World dictators and their families, then what is that confidence worth?”

Instead, as with the 2010 deal with Wachovia Bank, federal prosecutors cobbled together a DPA that levied a “fine” of $160 million (£99.2m) on laundered drug profits that topped $378 billion (£234.5bn).

Although top Justice Department officials charged that HSBC laundered upwards of $881 million (£546.5m) on behalf of the Sinaloa and Colombia’s Norte del Valle drug cartels, federal prosecutors investigating the bank told Reuters in September that this was merely the “tip of the iceberg.”

In fact, as Senate investigators discovered during their probe, the bank failed to monitor more than $670 billion (£415.6bn) in wire transfers from HSBC Mexico (HBMX) between 2006 and 2009, and failed to adequately monitor over $9.4 billion (£5.83bn) in purchases of physical U.S. dollars from HBMX during the same period.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, said in prepared remarks announcing the DPA that “traffickers didn’t have to try very hard” when it came to laundering drug cash. “They would sometimes deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in a single day, into a single account,” Breuer said, “using boxes designed to fit the precise dimensions of the teller windows in HSBC Mexico’s branches.”

While Breuer’s dramatic account of the money laundering process may have offered a gullible financial press corps a breathless moment or two, a closer look at Breuer’s CV offer hints as to why he chose not to criminally charge the bank.

A corporatist insider, after representing President Bill Clinton during ginned-up impeachment hearings, Breuer became a partner in the white shoe Washington, DC law firm Covington & Burling. From his perch, he represented Moody’s Investor Service in the wake of Enron’s ignominious collapse and Dick Cheney’s old firm Halliburton/KBR during Bush regime scandals. Talk about “safe hands”!

Appointed as the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division by Obama in 2009, Breuer presided over the prosecution/persecution of NSA whistleblower Thomas A. Drake on charges that he violated the Espionage Act of 1917 for disclosing massive contractor fraud at NSA to The Baltimore Sun.

More recently, along with 14 other officials Breuer was recommended for potential “disciplinary action” by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General over the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal which put some 2,000 firearms into the hands of cartel killers in Mexico.

“A Justice official said Breuer has been ‘admonished'” by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, “but will not be disciplined,” The Washington Post reported.

Breuer had the temerity to claim that deferred prosecution agreements “have the same punitive, deterrent, and rehabilitative effect as a guilty plea.”

“When a company enters into a deferred prosecution agreement with the government, or an non prosecution agreement for that matter,” Breuer asserted, “it almost always must acknowledge wrongdoing, agree to cooperate with the government’s investigation, pay a fine, agree to improve its compliance program, and agree to face prosecution if it fails to satisfy the terms of the agreement.”

As is evident from this brief synopsis, when it came to holding HSBC to account, the fix was already in even before a single signature was affixed to the DPA.

Without batting an eyelash, Breuer informed us that HSBC has “committed” to undertake “enhanced AML and other compliance obligations and structural changes within its entire global operations to prevent a repeat of the conduct that led to this prosecution.”

“HSBC has replaced almost all of its senior management, ‘clawed back’ deferred compensation bonuses given to its most senior AML and compliance officers, and has agreed to partially defer bonus compensation for its most senior executives–its group general managers and group managing directors–during the period of the five-year DPA.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Despite charges that would land the average citizen in a federal [prison] for decades, senior managers have “agreed” to “partially defer bonus compensation” for the length of the DPA!

As Rolling Stone financial journalist Matt Taibbi commented: “Wow. So the executives who spent a decade laundering billions of dollars will have to partially defer their bonuses during the five-year deferred prosecution agreement? Are you fucking kidding me? That’s the punishment? The government’s negotiators couldn’t hold firm on forcing HSBC officials to completely wait to receive their ill-gotten bonuses? They had to settle on making them ‘partially’ wait? Every honest prosecutor in America has to be puking his guts out at such bargaining tactics. What was the Justice Department’s opening offer — asking executives to restrict their Caribbean vacation time to nine weeks a year?”

“So you might ask,” Taibbi writes, “what’s the appropriate penalty for a bank in HSBC’s position? Exactly how much money should one extract from a firm that has been shamelessly profiting from business with criminals for years and years? Remember, we’re talking about a company that has admitted to a smorgasbord of serious banking crimes. If you’re the prosecutor, you’ve got this bank by the balls. So how much money should you take?”

“How about all of it? How about every last dollar the bank has made since it started its illegal activity? How about you dive into every bank account of every single executive involved in this mess and take every last bonus dollar they’ve ever earned? Then take their houses, their cars, the paintings they bought at Sotheby’s auctions, the clothes in their closets, the loose change in the jars on their kitchen counters, every last freaking thing. Take it all and don’t think twice. And then throw them in jail.”

But there’s the rub and the proverbial fly in the ointment. The government can’t and won’t take such measures. Far from being impartial arbiters sworn to defend us from financial predators, speculators, drug lords, terrorists, warmongers and out-of-control corporate vultures hiding trillions of taxable dollars offshore, officials of this criminalized state are hand picked servants of a thoroughly debauched ruling class.

Writing for the World Socialist Web Site, Barry Grey observed: HSBC “was allowed to pay a token fine–less than 10 percent of its profits for 2011 and a fraction of the money it made laundering the drug bosses’ blood money. Meanwhile, small-time drug dealers and users, often among the most impoverished and oppressed sections of the population, are routinely arrested and locked up for years in the American prison gulag.”

“The financial parasites who keep the global drug trade churning and make the lion’s share of money from the social devastation it wreaks are above the law,” Grey noted.

“Here, in a nutshell,” Grey wrote, “is the modern-day aristocratic principle that prevails behind the threadbare trappings of ‘democracy.’ The financial robber barons of today are a law unto themselves. They can steal, plunder, even murder at will, without fear of being called to account. They devote a portion of their fabulous wealth to bribing politicians, regulators, judges and police–from the heights of power in Washington down to the local police precinct–to make sure their wealth is protected and they remain immune from criminal prosecution.”

Regarding America’s fraudulent “War on Drugs,” researcher Oliver Villar, who with Drew Cottle coauthored the essential book, Cocaine, Death Squads, and the War on Terror: US Imperialism and Class Struggle in Colombia, told Asia Times Online, it is a “war” that the state and leading banks and financial institutions in the capitalist West have no interest whatsoever in “winning.”

When queried why he argued that the “war on drugs is no failure at all, but a success,” Villar noted: “I come to that conclusion because what do we know so far about the war on drugs? Well, the US has spent about US$1 trillion throughout the globe. Can we simply say it has failed? Has it failed the drug money-laundering banks? No. Has it failed the key Western financial centers? No. Has it failed the narco-bourgeoisie in Colombia–or in Afghanistan, where we can see similar patterns emerging? No. Is it a success in maintaining that political economy? Absolutely.”

Equally important, what does the impunity shamelessly enjoyed by such loathsome parasites say about us?

Have we become so indifferent to officially sanctioned crime and corruption, the myriad petty tyrannies and tyrants, from the boardroom to the security checkpoint to the job, not to mention murderous state policies that have transformed so-called “advanced” democracies into hated and loathed pariah states, who we really are?

As the late author J. G. Ballard pointed out in his masterful novel Kingdom Come, “Consumer fascism provides its own ideology, no one needs to sit down and dictate Mein Kampf. Evil and psychopathy have been reconfigured into lifestyle statements.”

Paranoid fantasy? Wake up and smell the corporatized police state.

Article link:

The New Obama Doctrine, A Six-Point Plan for Global War []

Posted in "War on Drugs" pretext, Afghanistan, Africa, CIA, DEA, Iraq, Libya, Obama, Pakistan, Pentagon, State Department, US drone strikes, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on July 3, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Special Ops, Drones, Spy Games, Civilian Soldiers, Proxy Fighters, and Cyber Warfare
By Nick Turse

…The face of American-style war-fighting is once again changing.   Forget full-scale invasions and large-footprint occupations on the Eurasian mainland; instead, think:  special operations forces working on their own but also training or fighting beside allied militaries (if not outright proxy armies) in hot spots around the world.   And along with those special ops advisors, trainers, and commandos expect ever more funds and efforts to flow into the militarization of spying and intelligence, the use of drone aircraft, the launching of cyber-attacks, and joint Pentagon operations with increasingly militarized “civilian” government agencies.

Much of this has been noted in the media, but how it all fits together into what could be called the new global face of empire has escaped attention.   And yet this represents nothing short of a new Obama doctrine, a six-point program for twenty-first-century war, American-style, that the administration is now carefully developing and honing.   Its global scope is already breathtaking, if little recognized, and like Donald Rumsfeld’s military lite and David Petraeus’s counterinsurgency operations, it is evidently going to have its day in the sun — and like them, it will undoubtedly disappoint in ways that will surprise its creators.

The Blur-ness

For many years, the U.S. military has been talking up and promoting the concept of “jointness.”  An Army helicopter landing Navy SEALs on a Korean ship catches some of this ethos at the tactical level.   But the future, it seems, has something else in store.  Think of it as “blur-ness,” a kind of organizational version of war-fighting in which a dominant Pentagon fuses its forces with other government agencies — especially the CIA, the State Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration — in complex, overlapping missions around the globe…

…Shedding Light on “the Dark Continent”

One locale likely to see an influx of Pentagon spies in the coming years is Africa.  Under President Obama, operations on the continent have accelerated far beyond the more limited interventions of the Bush years.  Last year’s war in Libya; a regional drone campaign with missions run out of airports and bases in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and the Indian Ocean archipelago nation of Seychelles; a flotilla of 30 ships in that ocean supporting regional operations; a multi-pronged military and CIA campaign against militants in Somalia, including intelligence operations, training for Somali agents, secret prisons, helicopter attacks, and U.S. commando raids; a massive influx of cash for counterterrorism operations across East Africa; a possible old-fashioned air war, carried out on the sly in the region using manned aircraft; tens of millions of dollars in arms for allied mercenaries and African troops; and a special ops expeditionary force (bolstered by State Department experts) dispatched to help capture or kill Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and his senior commanders, operating in Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic (where U.S. Special Forces now have a new base) only begins to scratch the surface of Washington’s fast-expanding plans and activities in the region…

…Back in the Backyard

Since its founding, the United States has often meddled close to home, treating the Caribbean as its private lake and intervening at will throughout Latin America.   During the Bush years, with some notable exceptions, Washington’s interest in America’s “backyard” took a backseat to wars farther from home.   Recently, however, the Obama administration has been ramping up operations south of the border using its new formula.   This has meant Pentagon drone missions deep inside Mexico to aid that country’s battle against the drug cartels, while CIA agents and civilian operatives from the Department of Defense were dispatched to Mexican military bases to take part in the country’s drug war.

In 2012, the Pentagon has also ramped up its anti-drug [sic]operations in Honduras…

…Still in the Middle of the Middle East

Despite the end of the Iraq and Libyan wars, a coming drawdown of forces in Afghanistan, and copious public announcements about its national security pivot toward Asia, Washington is by no means withdrawing from the Greater Middle East.  In addition to continuing operations in Afghanistan, the U.S. has consistently been at work training allied troops, building up military bases, and brokering weapons sales and arms transfers to despots in the region from Bahrain to Yemen…

…From Brushfires to Wildfires

Across the globe from Central and South America to Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, the Obama administration is working out its formula for a new American way of war.   In its pursuit, the Pentagon and its increasingly militarized government partners are drawing on everything from classic precepts of colonial warfare to the latest technologies.

The United States is an imperial power chastened by more than 10 years of failed, heavy-footprint wars.  It is hobbled by a hollowing-out economy, and inundated with hundreds of thousands of recent veterans — a staggering 45% of the troops who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq — suffering from service-related disabilities who will require ever more expensive care.   No wonder the current combination of special ops, drones, spy games, civilian soldiers, cyberwarfare, and proxy fighters sounds like a safer, saner brand of war-fighting.   At first blush, it may even look like a panacea for America’s national security ills.   In reality, it may be anything but.

The new light-footprint Obama doctrine actually seems to be making war an ever more attractive and seemingly easy option — a point emphasized recently by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace.   “I worry about speed making it too easy to employ force,” said Pace when asked about recent efforts to make it simpler to deploy Special Operations Forces abroad.   “I worry about speed making it too easy to take the easy answer — let’s go whack them with special operations — as opposed to perhaps a more laborious answer for perhaps a better long-term solution.”

As a result, the new American way of war holds great potential for unforeseen entanglements and serial blowback.   Starting or fanning brushfire wars on several continents could lead to raging wildfires that spread unpredictably and prove difficult, if not impossible, to quench.

By their very nature, small military engagements tend to get larger, and wars tend to spread beyond borders.  By definition, military action tends to have unforeseen consequences.   Those who doubt this need only look back to 2001, when three low-tech attacks on a single day set in motion a decade-plus of war that has spread across the globe.   The response to that one day began with a war in Afghanistan, that spread to Pakistan, detoured to Iraq, popped up in Somalia and Yemen, and so on.   Today, veterans of those Ur-interventions find themselves trying to replicate their dubious successes in places like Mexico and Honduras, the Central Africa Republic and the Congo.

History demonstrates that the U.S. is not very good at winning wars, having gone without victory in any major conflict since 1945.   Smaller interventions have been a mixed bag with modest victories in places like Panama and Grenada and ignominious outcomes in Lebanon (in the 1980s) and Somalia (in the 1990s), to name a few.

The trouble is, it’s hard to tell what an intervention will grow up to be — until it’s too late.   While they followed different paths, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq all began relatively small, before growing large and ruinous.  Already, the outlook for the new Obama doctrine seems far from rosy, despite the good press it’s getting inside Washington’s Beltway.

What looks today like a formula for easy power projection that will further U.S. imperial interests on the cheap could soon prove to be an unmitigated disaster — one that likely won’t be apparent until it’s too late.

Excerpted by Zuo Shou

Full article:

“Prison Slavery by another Name in United States” – Louisiana is the globe’s #1 imprisoner of citizens [Prensa Latina]

Posted in "War on Drugs" pretext, Police, Police State, USA on June 10, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Silvio Gonzalez

Convict leasing…was a system of force[d] penal labour practiced in the deep south of United States that began with the emancipation of slaves at the end of the American Civil War in 1865, and it was suppose[d] to end in Alabama in 1928, but until today it still prevails in Louisiana.

It provided prisoner labour to private parties, such as plantation owners and corporations but corruption, lack of accountability and racial violence resulted in one of the harshest and most exploitative labour systems known in American history.

Louisiana is the world’s prison capital [sic]; the state imprisons more of its people, than any of the other state of the Union.

That state is the most glaring example of how the US prison system policies have failed and it also is a showcase of how private prisons do not serve the public interest. It also shows how mass incarceration is an abomination of justice and civility that creates a long term crisis.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune published that the very people entrusted to enforce the law in the state have deep financial ties to the for profit prisons, which house a majority of all Louisiana inmates.

“You have people who are so invested in maintaining the present system, not just the sheriffs, but judges, prosecutors, and many other people who have links to it,” said Burk Foster, a former professor at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette and an expert on Louisiana prisons.

He added: “They don’t want to see the prison system get smaller or the number of people in custody reduced, even though the crime rate is down, because the good old boys are all linked together in a punishment network, which is good for them financially and politically.”

The $182 million private prison industry in Louisiana flourishes from a system full [of] conflicts of interest and unjust abusive practices.

One in 86 Louisiana adults is in the prison system, which is nearly double the national average and more than 50 percent of Louisiana’s inmates are in local prisons, which is more than any other state. The next highest state is Kentucky at 33 percent. The national average is only 5 percent.

Louisiana leads the nation in the percentage of its prisoners serving life sentence without parole and spends less on local inmates than any other state.

Nearly two-thirds of Louisiana’s prisoners are non-violent offenders. The national average is less than half. This has meant that Louisiana has some of the stiffest sentencing guidelines in the entire country.

There is another problem with this morally offensive system, prisoners who wind up in these for profit jails, where many of the inmates are short-timers, get fewer rehabilitative services than those in state institutions.

According to The Times-Picayune: “In five years, about half of the state’s ex-convicts end up behind bars again.”

Furthermore, the more money the state spends on incarceration, the less it can spend on preventive measures like education.

According to Education Week’s State Report Cards, Louisiana was one of three states to receive a rate of bad in education achievement in 2011.

In the early 1990s, the state was under a federal court order to reduce overcrowding, but instead of releasing prisoners or loosening sentencing guidelines, the state bet it all in building more private prisons and instead encouraged sheriffs to pay for private prison construction.

In return, they would, enjoy a cut of all future profits. “The financial incentives were so sweet, and the corrections jobs so sought after, that new prisons sprouted up all over rural Louisiana” says The Picayune newspaper.

Two decades later, this now-entrenched private prison system has helped to double Louisiana’s prison population. In fact, the state wins the distinction of imprisoning more of its residents than any other legal jurisdiction on the planet.

Despite Louisiana having the highest murder rate in the country, it surprisingly has a much lower percentage of people incarcerated for violent offences when compared to the national average, and a much higher percentage behind bars for drug offences when compared to the national average.

Why? Because violent criminals like murderers, rapists, armed robbers, get sent to state prisons, whereas the non-violent offenders are housed at private for profit prisons. The sheriffs therefore have a financial incentive to find and charge more non-violent offenders.

But the profiteering goes even beyond the sheriffs. One article of that newspaper describes the entire corrupt judicial system as being in on “the take”.

Non violent criminals, will get sent to a private prison where they will do little more than sit in an overcrowded 80-men cell for months or years, gaining no skills that might prepare them to qualify for a good job upon release.

On their release date, they will enter the community with a criminal record and no new vocational skills, making it virtually impossible to find a job in the outside, this…helps to ensure they return as repeat offenders, says Charles M. Blow from The New York Times.

Modificado el ( jueves, 07 de junio de 2012 )

Edited by Zuo Shou

Article link:

The US is a Police State – Review of Andrew Kolin’s “State Power and Democracy” []

Posted in "War on Drugs" pretext, 9/11, Anti-communism, Anti-Islam hysteria, Bill Clinton, CIA, Corporate Media Critique, Genocide, George W. Bush, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Iraq, Islamophobia, Libya, Obama, Police brutality, Police State, Red Scare, Sanctions as weapon of war, US "War on Terror", US imperialism, USA, Wall Street, Western nations' human rights distortions, Yugoslavia - former FRY on November 21, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Prof. John McMurtry

Nov. 9, 2011

* Excerpted *

Global Research Editor’s Note

This article by Professor McMurtry had been commissioned by an academic journal called New Politics.

Upon receiving Professor McMurtry’s text, the editorial board decided to reject it: “We are sorry to inform you that the Editorial Board finds it inappropriate”.

Review of Andrew Kolin[‘s] State Power and Democracy (2011), New York: St. Martin’s Press/Palgrave Macmillan, 248 pp.

Many readers may have thought the U.S. is “like a police state” – – think of the security dress down of everyone boarding a flight within the U.S. sphere of control. Political scientist Andrew Kolin goes far beyond hasty analogue. He argues with rich factual substantiation that the U.S is a police state all the way down – not only since the stolen elections and war state of George Bush Jr., but before and since in a cumulative throughline of bureaucratized despotism across borders.

Documented examples are reported in detail from 1950 on to disclose a record that is as systematic in suppressing public dissent as its client dictatorships elsewhere – albeit far more successfully kept out of public and scholarly attention. Since the electoral contests of, by and for the rich in America are proclaimed as “the leader of the Free World” in the ad-vehicle media many still watch and read, an example helps to clarify the reality not reported. When three nuns protested before the war-criminal bombing of Iraq in 2002 where no war crime was left undone, “they were arrested, handcuffed, left on the ground for three hours and then jailed for seven months before trial – – [for] sabotage and obstruction of justice” (p. 153).

Every step of their police repression was within the laws that had been concocted before and after 9-11, in particular by the provisions of “the Patriot Act” – with here as elsewhere the legislative title as integral to the Orwellian language of rule. The symbolic action of the nuns – painting blood on a missile silo – was in fact backed by international law against the “supreme crime” of non-defensive armed invasion of another country. Indeed their protest occurred just before the saturation bombing of civilian Baghdad which ended in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children. But mass-murderous facts, citizen responsibility, moral courage and peaceful expression of the law of nations do not detain U.S. legal machinery. It is this legal machinery that Kolin focuses on to make his case that the U.S. is a police state.

What is a police state? Kolin states no criterion, but it can be deduced as unlimited state power of armed force freely discharged without citizen right to stop it. Anyone who has lived in the U.S. or its client dictatorships may recognize the concrete phenomena, but what is featured in this account are the laws and directives which empower the police state norms. While the men at the top always proclaim their devotion to the defence of freedom as armed force assaults on domestic dissent and dissident countries increase, none have been found guilty of breaking the law or repressing freedom of speech or assembly. It is U.S. laws and policies which form the U.S. police state, the argument is, and they are continuously made to enable an endless litany of crimes against human life.

The sustaining concern of this work, however, is not to define ordering principles, but to track the bureaucratic trails of legally terrorist offices, directives, and channels. The result is a detailed history of the inner workings of the U.S. state which exposes the legal suppression of democratic speech and action (omitting the use of laws against harmless non-pharmaceuticals as lettres de cachet to imprison the poor and the rebellious by the millions). Beneath continuous corporate-state and media proclamation of America’s freedoms and simultaneous academic fear to expose the lines of despotism, this work largely succeeds in providing the procedural workings of the U.S. police state building both before, and dramatically after, the turning point of 9-11.

The manufacture of pretext imprinted in the very timing and naming of the high-tech destruction of the World Trade Center as “9-11”, and the fact that the Bush Jr. presidency needed a war or two to distract from its illegitimacy and to empower its program of “full spectrum dominance” are not, however, raised in this book. They remain unspeakable facts within the official conspiracy theory now normalized as fact. Yet this canonical theory of the 9-11 tragedy assumes the collapse of the fireproof steel-cored buildings into their footsteps near the the speed of gravity – an impossibility within the laws of physics – and the first legal question of any homicidal crime – cui bono, who benefits? – is erased from its record. So although this official story allowed all the post-9-11 police state legislation and unlimited powers Kolin focuses on, he avoids the pretext itself.

Critical attention is instead confined to the silencing of questions, alternatives and dissent by the legal machinery of repression justified by it. Such “institutional analysis” is favoured by America’s lead critics, and positivist social science rules out what is not so corroborated. The clear exception to this methodological silencing here is attachment of the descriptor “police state” to the U.S., and the legally well informed record of demonstration. The maze-like bureaucratization of operations of repression is not ultimately covert, Kolin shows, but sanctified by official policies and laws.

Kolin’s attention to dated laws, directives, offices, and machinations behind the spotlight and personalization of politics is a welcome re-grounding amidst the daily media kaleidoscope of ever-changing images and personalities. In contrast to the usual academic fear of ideological non-conformity, Kolin clearly summarizes at the outset: “In the latter part of the twentieth century, when mass movements for all intents and purposes were eliminated, what remained was for the most part was procedural democracy, which in a short period, would also be eliminated, to be replaced by a form of absolute power in which government had been made into a permanent police state. Much of this took place after the attacks of 9-11, during which the administration of George Bush in a very short time, was able to put in place many of the essential features of what is now an American police state” (p.2).

* U.S. Police State in Formation from the Revolution through Reagan to Bush-Obama *

Kolin goes back to the U.S. state’s foundation to find the dictatorial impulse. “The truth of the matter”, he says, “is that after the American Revolution there was thinking among economic and democratic elites that America had become too democratic, especially as mass democracy was expressing itself on the state level”(p. 3) – a view better known since a Rockefeller-founded Trilateral Commission Report made it famous centuries later. The Founding Fathers’ anti-democratic politics have been explored before by Michael Parenti, who blurbs for the book. For Kolin, it is “mass democracy” that frightens the dominant ownership class from the start because it threatens their ruling proprietary control. But this economic diagnosis is not pursued by Kolin . He conceives the motor force as “control over people and territory by the state in itself. This non-Marxian thesis is historically associated with theoretical anarchism, but is here conjoined to the idea of “mass democracy”, a motivating idea behind this work which is not given further definition…

…Desires of popular masses can be as overwhelmingly compelled to control people’s thought, action and dissent by force as state elites are, and they can be as driven to seize the territories of other people and to lord it over them via great majorities – as in the popular witch-hunts through American history and as, more broadly, age-old ethnic warfare and killing and enslavement of losing societies. Something deeper than the will of the demos to which it is accountable is required – rules to live by which protect and enable life itself. This may be the most fundamental gap in democratic [sic] theory.

* Annihilating Not Only Democracy, But Countless Lives and Life Supports *

For perhaps the majority in the U.S., loathing of government is a national pastime except for “our men in uniform” – that is, arms-laden American enforcers chasing, shooting and bombing designated enemies of America at home and abroad. Wars seem in fact very popular with the majority if they are not being lost, and public pillories and prisons for deviators from the American Way seldom lack similar support. Police state laws, the invasion of Iraq and so on seem to have been popular if they are successful. Yet Kolin’s work is more concerned to expose the state which is represented as the world leader in democracy while it rules by armed force, secrecy and terror and – especially since 9-11 – violently suppresses dissent in its own society. The inside mechanisms of legalist-bureaucratic rule not discussed or connected in the dominant media or political science are uniquely laid bare. There were many designated “enemies” from the beginning – from American Indians and genocidal laws against them to the FBI, Sedition, Alien and Espionage Acts of 1917-18, the CIA founding in 1947, followed by the Internal Security Act of 1950, McCarthy’s House UnAmerican Activities Committee from 1957, and the Patriot and Homeland Security Acts of today. All of these legal mechanisms, he shows, have been structured to silence alternative thoughts and voices in the public sphere. When to be merely unAmerican brings life ruin to U.S. citizens and designation as “the enemy” can justify the saturation bombing of weaker societies, the derangement becomes clear amidst a sustained train of such abuses over generations.

When these systematic attacks simultaneously annihilate life-serving advocacy and institutions at home and elsewhere, a more sinister and unidentified pattern emerges. Not only non-conforming speech and thought are repressed, but standing up for other people’s lives and life means becomes criminalized. An invisible war is waged on social conscience and defence of life itself. Indeed this is the unrecognized selector of what the U.S. police state invariably attacks inside and outside its borders – social movements and orders to enable the lives of citizens opposed to transnational private money sequencing to more. Consider here for immediate example what the police protected in New York in the Wall Street protests until world attention no longer allowed the savage beating to continue with the dominant media cheering it on. Government armed force did not protect the lives of citizens or their cause of life justice or real market businesses on the street. Armed protective attention was directed instead to Wall Street operations by barricades, long swinging truncheons, continuous special vehicles of service to the money-men, and moving lines of trap and assault of the citizens standing for “the 99%”. In the wider world, the seven-month U.S.-NATO bombing of Libya– not to defend citizens as pretended, but to bomb main cities and government capacities, seize control of the country’s wealthy financial assets and sub-soil oil fields – went on with hardly a voice of dissent. That it destroyed Libya’s social state of free healthcare, higher education and guaranteed subsistence in food, housing and fuel was never reported even by public broadcasters.

The U.S. state is in these ways structured not only towards total force and control. It is, more deeply, programmed to liquidate what serves the lives of people so as to grow transnational corporate profit for the few. Always however, there is a pretext of a demonic enemy that people are being protected from – “communism”, “subversives”, “Islamic militants”, “terrorists”, “violence-threatening protestors”, all with no criteria. Most warred upon by the U.S. state are societies’ social life support systems – including public water, electricity, health and living subsidies. Consider here the bombed former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya – not to mention trillions of dollars of defunding of U.S. social security itself to pay for private bank bailouts by public dollars. This is the deeper shadow side of the U.S. state and its global allies…

…Command over ever more external territory and peoples is always the direction. Permanent war is the omnibus vehicle of its advance, and mass mind control including by torture is a standard method, along now with serial murders across borders by drones. While seldom penetrating these generic principles of the global police state, Kolin follows the specifica of the inside workings of the legal-bureaucratic machine through many phases, acronyms and abhorrence of real democracy built into policies and laws. One better knows why the U.S. becomes a failed state when one sees the absolutist overriding of every attempt to bring it back into line with life-respecting values during the last half century. The Fulbright and Church Committees, the mass progressive movements of the 1960’s and 70’s, all come to nought until post-9-11 laws, terror and surveillance make the police state a formal affair, and what is not mentioned here, Congress increasingly degenerates into the best frontmen the banking, oil, weapons, med-insurance and pharma corporations can buy. The apogee of police state method follows – military tribunals in place of due process to deal with endless arrests for an open-ended charge of terrorism against people in their own countries, systematic rendition and torture against international laws, abolition of habeus corpus and all procedures protecting against false charge, simultaneous denial of legal standing as prisoners of war, and evidence kept secret without possibility of disproof. The legal limbo of the Guatanomo prison has helped to permit evasion of any accountability to the rule of law. After promising to eliminate it, President Obama did not.

If one ignores the blinkering out of the private transnational corporate-financial system behind ever more people and territory for natural resource, market, labor, and strategic exploitation without limit, the book is a treasure-trove of the U.S. state-machinery for undemocratic world rule. The despotic compulsion to intimidate, control and terrorize innocent and conscientious citizens across the world including within the U.S. is hard to deny in face of such organized evidence. Just about every horror story one has heard of U.S. state rule finds a reference here. Even Franklin Roosevelt (internment of Japanese citizens) and Robert Kennedy (greenlights to FBI spying and bugging without cause, including of M.L. King) are flagged. As for Bill Clinton, he led genocide of Iraqi’s social state, attack on social security at home, and refused to ratify the International War Crimes Court…

…Yet the economic level of the U.S. police state remains in the shadows. From the start, the founding of the U.S. was on the basis of protecting private wealth and its accumulation with no common life interest defined. It allowed the limitless seizure of Indian people’s lands and territories West of the Appalachians which George III had forbidden, and extended the unregulated rights of the private money power so fast and far that Thomas Jefferson himself warned that “banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a monied aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The [money and credit] issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it belongs”. Over 230 years later, the problem is clearer as U.S. state rule by force and dictate becomes a visible dead-end. But as to whether the Wall-Street money power behind the state that predates the world is brought under control is a question not posed in this study. So far the first step solution of public-bank utilities and non-profit loans to government has been silenced wherever it is raised.

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