Sunday, December 4, 2011


Conspiracy theories have abounded since a series of seemingly coordinated, militarized police attacks began on various Occupy camps throughout the country last month, all in the space of just a few days. One of the more vocal proponents of the theory that Homeland Security has had its puppet-stringy tentacles stretched out, outsourcing/coordinating the national crackdown, is writer Naomi Wolf. Her Guardian article on the subject last month was almost universally panned. The main problem was her dearth of sourcing -- although as someone who was arrested by the NYPD and threatened with a permanent record with DHS, her theory is most likely correct. She just can't prove it to everyone's satisfaction.

 Her original piece is here.  A rebuttal from AlterNet's Joshua Holland is here, and next comes her sur-rebuttal, and finally (I think), here is Holland's counter-rebuttal to Wolf's sur-rebuttal. 

Meanwhile,  from writer Max Blumenthal comes this exposé (thanks to Kate Madison for the link) which tends to vindicate Wolf in its connection of the thuggish tactics of police during Occupy protests with special training provided by Israeli anti-terrorist forces.  It is a pretty chilling read. "No wonder our Occupy cops are so violent," Kate writes. "They learned from the 'Harvard anti-terrorism school' of dealing with our Occupy protesters."

Unrelated, or maybe semi-related, but every bit as chilling, is Glenn Greenwald's Salon piece about the Senate vote last week that overwhelmingly approved detention without trial of American citizens suspected of being terrorists.  Although President Obama has threatened a veto of the bill, it is not because of any particular allegiance to the Constitution or civil liberties.  As Greenwald has consistently been pointing out for a long time, Obama already approves of such detention (not to mention assassinations) -- he just wants it to remain a unitary executive power and does not welcome or need any legislative stamp of approval.

A bipartisan group of only seven of the 100 Senators voted against the bill, and for civil liberties. They are Sanders, Coburn, Wyden, Paul, Harkin, Lee and Merkley. 

The other 93 are what Greenwald calls war addicts, true believers that the whole world is a battlefield and due process can fly out the window in the name of safety.  Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina spoke for his fascist compatriots:

"It has been the law of the United States for decades that an American citizen on our soil who collaborates with the enemy has committed an act of war and will be held under the law of war, not domestic criminal law.In World War II it was perfectly proper to hold an American citizen as an enemy combatant who helped the Nazis. But we believe, somehow, in 2011, that is no longer fair. That would be wrong. My God, what are we doing in 2011? Do you not think al-Qaeda is trying to recruit people here at home? Is the homeland the battlefield? You better believe it is the battlefield."

Wow. And the so-called "progressive" Democrats are falling dutifully in line with this thinking. Now, that's a conspiracy we can all believe in. Keep Occupying!

Japanese-American Internment Camp During World War II 


James F Traynor said...

Then pray tell, why did Prescott Bush, Averill Harriman and sundry others avoid prosecution for collaborating with Nazi Germany while we were at war with same? I understand they had to be threatened by FDR before they ceased and desisted.

And then there is that bit about the U.S. paying reparations to U.S. corporations for damage done to their German subsidiary plants during WWII.

James F Traynor said...

And not to forget, there was that plan to overthrow the U.S. government during the FDR administration and its exposure by General Smedley (war is a racket) Butler, ex U.S. Marine commandant and (twice, I think) winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Anne Lavoie said...

All we have left are theories, because EVERYTHING is being classified as a national security secret. It's sickening.

I don't even recognize this country anymore. I'm glad my parents aren't alive to see what has happened to it. It would break their hearts.

Valerie said...

Have you even noticed that there is always some financial crisis story in very close time proximity to our losing more of our civil liberties? I don't think that is a coincidence.

I came across an excellent article by Ray McGovern on TruthOut concerning the National Defense Authorization Act. He doesn’t pull any punches:

“Ambiguous but alarming new wording, which is tucked into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and was just passed by the Senate, is reminiscent of the “extraordinary measures” introduced by the Nazis after they took power in 1933.

And the relative lack of reaction so far calls to mind the oddly calm indifference with which most Germans watched the erosion of the rights that had been guaranteed by their own Constitution. As one German writer observed, “With sheepish submissiveness we watched it unfold, as if from a box at the theater.”

Here is the link if anyone wants to read the full article.

Valerie said...

Does Dennis or anyone recognise this sentiment? I can't remember who said it - maybe Noam Chomsky? It basically says that our politicians are quite mediocre in intelligence and basically need to be told what to do by the electorate. I am really seeing this. Even the ones who are supposedly intelligent like Obama don't act with much intelligence when it comes to understanding the long term effects of so many of the policies they support.

Kat said...

I'm calling my "progressive" senator tomorrow to let him know what I think.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

None of those 93 senators, whether Republican or Democrat, who voted last week to gut the U.S. Constitution will ever get my vote for any office, even for something as lowly as county dog-catcher (were it an electable office).

Do these "senators" — un-capitalized, and in quotes, because they don't deserve the appellation — really believe in eviscerating fundamental Constitutional protections? Do they really believe that military rule should supersede civilian law, even within the borders of the nation? Do they not understand the need for the checks and balances that arise from the three branches of government, and which include civilian courts? Or did they simply forget to strap on their (leadership) balls when they went to Washington D.C., instead deciding to pander to the lowest common denominator of demagogued public fear?

It's pitiful — the disassembly of the American Republic. Step by step we continue the move towards American fascism, with the enhanced military powers that are usually a central component of fascism.

I think this vote should be a wake-up call for anyone who believes that either of the two major political parties has any redeeming value. If these party notables are willing to sell out basic Constitutional protections, what won't they sell out?

And since James F Traynor and Valerie have already brought up some relevant historical references, I’ll confine myself to a film one: It’s not yet “Seven Days In May”, but we’re heading there.

Neil said...

Thanks for a great piece Karen. Our rights are often shown to be a fiction when put to a test.

Homeland Security involvement in the crackdown on OWS was reported by Wonkette in a story with more links November 15, 2011, "Surprise, Homeland Security Coordinates #OWS Crackdowns"

OWS was effective, that is why it was shut down in the parks. Anybody still think Obama wants to change the status quo to help the 99 percent?

Jay - Ottawa said...

“And the so-called ‘progressive’ Democrats are falling dutifully in line with this thinking.”

Carefully groomed group think is what it is, and millions of our fellow citizens suffer from it. How else explain their tuning in to the Sunday TV interviews for enlightenment, not for fun.

Reading the worrisome words of Karen’s post and seeing that photo of Americans behind barbed wire, and having been a member of Amnesty International for many years, and maybe in need of some Paxil after paying attention for the past three and a half years, my brain comes up with the dead-end cliché “political prisoners.” A reach, off topic and inappropriate, of course, but it’s the way my mind jumps between the dots.

“Political prisoner” is a phrase we attach to other countries, mostly in Central and Eastern Eurasia and just about all of the nations south of the equator, with the exception of our new marine outpost, Australia. Pace, Valerie. The term isn’t heard much in advanced countries of the West, except when we’re pointing fingers elsewhere. In the West we are free from creeping repression and political prisoners thanks to our constitutions with their iron-clad guarantees of civil liberties.

Google dished up a few interesting links for “political prisoners.” I pursued them further only as an intellectual exercise, please understand. I found myself reading up on one particular Italian writer from the Thirties. A real loser. This loser philosopher/writer/rabble rouser invented a number of catchy terms in the process of interpreting his times. Then, fortunately, Benito stepped in to erase him from the Italian landscape.

Part II follows ....

Jay - Ottawa said...

Part II

For various reasons -- fear being the only real one -- I shall substitute a different term of my own invention for the conceptual term used by the Italian political-philosopher-loser. Let’s recast his term into this one: “cultural hegemony.” Don’t bother looking it up. As I said, I just now invented it.

Still with me, comrade? So, what is “cultural hegemony”?

The political theorist explained that capitalism does not maintain itself in power primarily through violence and economic coercion. It does so “ideologically” for the most part, through a culture that serves to bully people into a certain mindset and more, a pack mentality -- a culture, in other words, that maintains hegemony over all others. Over time, extraordinary practices creep in and are accepted as normal by the majority of citizens.

Control of the media is essential. Imagine how you might convince virtually everyone in a nation that what was a seriously warped way of dealing with people was only “normal” -- IF you were able to influence, directly or indirectly, film and theatre, the music scene, the press, radio, television and almost all of the digital gadgetry adults spend half the day playing with. Not through the messages of advertising on the periphery, but within the heart of the content in each medium. Greed is good; peace through drones; privatization brings happiness; terrorism trumps civil liberties – an Orwellian culture begins to dominate.

“A consensus culture develops in which people in the working-class identify their own good with the good of the bourgeoisie and help to maintain the status quo rather than revolt.”

That is the payoff for “cultural hegemony” and we have seen its effects on populations in other countries. In the free world under capitalism we have no need to worry about insidious forces like “cultural hegemony,” but it’s good to know, as we look around from the high ground of our exemplary democracy, what’s happening outside the borders of unfettered capitalism.

Let’s skip down to that Italian political philosopher’s ultimate forecast for “cultural hegemony.” For A.G. – oops, I let slip his initials – “hegemonic dominance ultimately relied on a ‘consented’ coercion, and in a ‘crisis of authority’ the ‘masks of consent’ slip away, revealing the fist of force.” “The fist of force”: maybe that’s how my mind jumped to the term “political prisoners.”

Sorry to have gotten so far off Karen’s topic. By the way, ‘Jay-Ottawa’ did not write this comment. I, coming to you direct from the Anonomi, sometimes take over his computer and have my way with it. I should also thank Wikipedia for allowing me to borrow a line or two along the way.

Anonymous said...

Only problem, Karen, is that the Israeli police have not responded even remotely thuggishly to the street sleep ins and strikes roiling Israel for the last three months, mostly ignored by the US press, but covered extensively in most British news outlets.

Jay Diamond

Anne Lavoie said...

@Jay - Ottawa

We can count on you for depth of thought. Thanks.

I keep wondering lately if we are the dinosaurs heading for extinction, or if the groupthink masses are the dinosaurs.

I just started re-reading a book first printed in 1980 titled 'The Aquarian Conspiracy, Personal and Social Transformation in Our Times' by Marilyn Ferguson. (Conspiracy as in with breath or in harmony.)

If you read it substituting 'Occupy' for 'Aquarian Conspiracy', it's as if she is writing about the Occupy Movement/Revolution which does indeed transcend politics. It's a paradigm shift in the way people think and see the world. A groupthink shift, if you will.

Best laid plans oft go astray. Our corporate government is over its head trying to control the masses here at home and every other country on earth. They aren't winning hearts and minds anywhere. They might have a great mass of domestic automatons right now, but people can wake up suddenly. The PTB, even with all their technological snoop tools, will not have a clue. They tend to be pretty blind anyway, even when something is staring them in the face!

We are, after all, a superorganism connected to each other on levels indiscernible by the Powers That Be, and, most of the time, even to ourselves.

I wouldn't give up hope. Let Nature takes its course, and have patience and faith. OUR hearts and minds are in the right place.


Kat said...

Well, when I call they pointed out his vote on the Udall amendment. As if that was for anything but show.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

@Jay - Ottawa: Great comments, with your usual understated eloquence --- and five stars for slyly sneaking in just enough detail to prompt at least some of your readers to look up Antonio Gramsci.

Jay - Ottawa said...

@ Fred

Corretto. E grazie.