|Lead Plaintiff Albert Florence|
The Constitution is not just being chiselled away, little piece by little piece. It's being pounded to dust by the sledge hammers of all three branches of government. In the eyes of The Homeland, we are all potential terrorist threats. And the terror comes in endless forms. Justice Kennedy rationalized that one peachy-keen reason for strip searches is that enforced nudity will allow jail personnel to detect disease and parasites, including.... scabies! Kennedy should keep his medical opinions to himelf, because nobody can detect scabies with the naked eye. Scabies are teensy little mites that burrow under the skin and cause intense itching, mainly at night. Diagnosis is made by taking skin scrapings and examining them under the microscope.
We as a nation are suffering a massive infestation of psychic scabies. The fear of the unknown has crept under our collective skin and made us all nuts. Terror has become a cottage industry. The Supreme Court decision is just one more manifestation of how bin Laden won. Our democracy is not just beginning to be subsumed by the quicksand of totalitarianism -- it has already been sucked in up to its eyeballs.
That President Obama's Justice Department had filed an amicus brief in the recent court case in support of strip searches should come as no surprise. This administration is going down as one of the most authoritarian and repressive in modern history. No Democratic president since Woodrow Wilson has seized upon, and fomented, fear like this one. It was during World War One that the Espionage Act was passed, making it a crime to be anti-war. It is no coincidence that Bradley Manning is now being charged under the Espionage Act for his heroic whistleblowing of war crimes. It is no coincidence that the same government which forced Bradley Manning to stand naked in his jail cell for weeks is now urging that millions more citizens suffer the same humiliation. Strip-searching is simply a corollary to indefinite detention without charge, and the self-proclaimed right to assassinate people by secret decree. It's an all-inclusive program of The Naked and the Dead.
Let's be clear -- the unfettered strip-searching of suspects has little to do with safety, and everything to do with the cowing of the underclass, and sexual humiliation -- and since the majority of inmates are male, and black -- emasculation. This is especially true for Muslim prisoners, for whom forced nudity is the ultimate horror. Look at Abu Ghraib. Look at Gitmo. Now, look to Rikers Island in New York, the world's largest penal colony.
The Supreme Court decision is just one more manifestation of this country's institutional racism. If you are guilty of walking while black or brown, the next big thing after being stopped and frisked will be getting hauled off to jail and being forced to strip naked, and worse. Writes D.L. Chandler:
Last year alone, the NYPD stopped and questioned almost 700,000 persons, 87 percent of them being either Black or Hispanic. The low level of arrests made by way of this aggressive program is another matter deserving of investigation. Further, one of out of ten African-American men are in prison. According to research from the American Leadership Forum, 1 out of 3 Black boys born in 2001 have the potential to spend a lifetime in jail.
Should a person with a few unpaid parking tickets or missed court dates for a rent hearing be subjected to the same cavity search of a known murderer? The sensible answer is that the criminal proven to have the more violent record should be treated as such. The wide-sweeping assumption that every person with a traffic violation or similar minor offense needs to be treated like the town’s biggest drug dealer is a foolish one.The practical ramifications of the Supreme Court ruling remain to be seen, says the ACLU. Will police use it as an excuse to strip-search Occupy protesters the next time they're arrested on trumped-up charges of blocking a sidewalk? Judging from the Obama Administration's own amicus brief, the authoritarians have this possibility very much in their paranoid little minds. In oral arguments, according to Steve Bergstein of the Z Magazine blog, a Justice Dept. lawyer said:
"Protesters...who decide deliberately to get arrested... might be stopped by the police, they see the squad car behind them. They might have a gun or contraband in their car and think hey, I’m going to put that on my person, I just need to get it somewhere that is not going to be found during a patdown search, and then potentially they have the contraband with them.” This position would probably be identical to that advanced by a Republican presidential administration.
The arguments, and ensuing decision, justify strip searches because your very presence within an incarceration facility automatically strips you of your civil rights. The legality of your arrest is not taken into consideration. The security of the institution always supersedes individual rights. Wide-ranging deference must always be paid to corrections personnel, says the Obama Justice Department and the concurring Supremes. They don't mention the fact that said corrections personnel are more and more likely to be underpaid and unscreened security guards in private prisons. Or that a lot of the smuggling of contraband into jails is done by corrupt guards and wardens.
The ultimate irony, of course, is that the liberal members of the Court did not side with the Obama Administration on this one, and for that moment of sanity we should be grateful.
I had been wondering if perhaps the Justice Department would start an investigation of the Supreme Court on suspicion of influence peddling and corruption and financial malfeasance in light of the Citizens United ruling and canoodling with the Koch Brothers. There are indeed grounds for charging Clarence Thomas will failure to disclose his finances and ties with his wife's Tea Party group. There is precedent; Abe Fortas was forced to resign during the Johnson Administration after it was revealed he was on the take from Wall Street. But if past performance is any indication, Eric Holder and his boss will most likely view the judicial jokesters as useful idiots to run against during the campaign.
Government corruption is nothing new. What is new is that all three branches and their apparatchiks are in it up to their scalps. The wrong people are being strip-searched.
Stay tuned for a grade F for the United States when Human Rights Watch comes out with its next report. As Glenn Greenwald noted in his excellent column today, the strip-searching of detainees is also a blatant violation of international human rights treaties.
We are exceptional, all right. Exceptionally sadistic.