Friday, February 24, 2017

Trump Admits Military Runs the Place, Deep State Panic Ensues

Donald Trump's minions are once again in damage control mode, forced to rush out some alternative facts and excuses to squelch the inconvenient truths that have an increasing tendency to escape from his big fat mouth.

Trump on Thursday made the big gaffe of claiming that his threatened crackdown on migrants and refugees will be a militarized operation, even though we have laws against that sort of thing in America. On the books, anyway.

"We’re getting really bad dudes out of this country and at a rate that nobody has ever seen before,” Trump boasted to a gaggle of multinational CEOs meeting with him at the White House. "And it’s a military operation because what has been allowed to come into our country—when you see gang violence that you’ve read about like never before and all of the things—much of that is people that are here illegally. And they’re rough and they’re tough, but they’re not tough like our people. So we’re getting them out.”

He couldn't have picked a better time for his bluster, given how the military dude in charge of domestic Homeland Security is just fresh off his stint of running American military operations in huge chunks of Central and South America. Even more awkward, Gen. John Kelly was physically present in Mexico at the exact moment that Trump was thumping his chest. Accompanied by Rex Tillerson, Exxon-Mobil's new Secretary of State, Kelly already was ineffectually trying to convince his Mexican counterparts that America really loves Mexico. He was already trying to do damage control over the Wall business as well as over Trump's threat to send armed troops over the border to "fight the drug war" in a more public fashion than has been heretofore deemed proper by the Deep State/military-industrial complex.

"There will be no use of military forces in immigration,” Kelly insisted in a direct rebuttal of his putative boss. “There will be no—repeat, no—mass deportations.”

There's also the matter of the administration "dumping" immigrants into Mexico who are not even Mexican citizens. Most of those coming across the southern border are refugees from the drug and gang violence in Central American countries.

And that, as the Intercept's Lee Fang puts it, has the private prison industry salivating. If the Mexican government refuses to accept the deportees, they'll have to be locked up somewhere. And there is a shortage of "facilities" to deal with the millions of human beings whom the Trump administration apparently has in mind.

Meanwhile, the corporate mainstream media has chosen to freak out not so much about the deportations per se, but about Trump's semantics on the militarization of the crackdown. Press Secretary Sean Spicer, for his own part, ineffectually tried to explain that his boss was only using the military term as an adjective to describe how "precise" and streamlined the roundups are going to be.

But the alternative reality is that Trump was only speaking the truth in his own usual disjointed, context-free way. 

US law enforcement - and that very much includes the Border Patrol and Immigration enforcement - has been highly militarized for at least the past decade. As Nafeez Ahmed writes in Alternet,
  Under the controversial "1033" program, the Department of Defense (DoD) is able to provide "surplus" military-grade equipment to law-enforcement agencies.
The program, legislated for in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), provided local police forces access to billions of dollars worth of high-tech military equipment, including armoured tanks, rocket launchers, automatic weapons, night-vision goggles, and other supplies traditionally used by the U.S. Army in foreign war theaters.
The DHS often provided multimillion-dollar grants to law-enforcement agencies to purchase the military equipment.
After criticism of the program in the wake of militarized police force during protests in Ferguson and Baltimore, the Obama administration made some feeble P.R. efforts to rein in the foisting of excess war hardware upon minimally trained local law enforcement agencies.

The truth, though, is that domestic militarization is easier than ever. The only requirement is for the agencies to convince the feds -- specifically, the Pentagon - that such high tech weaponry is needed to control any number of vaguely-defined situations and "threats."

Despite what Obama's public relations offensive claimed at the time, Ahmed continues
 The 1033 program’s open-ended carte blanche for domestic law-enforcement agencies to access military-grade equipment has not been repealed, but integrated deeper into the Pentagon bureaucracy.
The new amendments dramatically increase the Pentagon’s powers to scrutinize and supervise the use of military equipment in the homeland. Among their implications, they make DoD-supervised military training mandatory for domestic agencies who receive these weapons.
In effect, this places all domestic law enforcement operations using Pentagon-supplied military equipment under the partial jurisdictional authority of the Secretary of Defense. By making domestic agencies more accountable to the DoD, the revamped 1033 program in effect extends the Pentagon’s jurisdictional authority into the homeland by bureaucratic fiat.
 Trump's military "adjective" is boosted by the fact that the Pentagon is now run not by the traditional civilian, but by an active military man -- Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis, who has absolute legal carte blanche to militarize whatever domestic agency he feels like.

Trump's deportation directives are only the culmination of decades of institutional xenophobia and greed.  According to Princeton University sociologists Douglas Massey and Karen Pren, "(...) border enforcement emerged as a policy response to a moral panic about the perceived threat of Latino immigration to the United States propounded by self-interested bureaucrats, politicians, and pundits who sought to mobilize political and material resources for their own benefit. The end result was a self-perpetuating cycle of rising enforcement and increased apprehensions that resulted in the militarization of the border in a way that was disconnected from the actual size of the undocumented flow."

Translation: follow the money.

After 9/11 and the founding of the Homeland Security state, the militarization of the Mexico border took off like a shot. And the very definition of "border" has increased exponentially. For greed and fear purposes, the border is the entire contiguous United States. This is not a new Trump invention, according to the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights:
The border has become an imagined war zone, where the war on drugs, crime, and aliens are fought. Such arrangements make the border an area where the U.S. constitution has little to no value, a post-constitutional territory that expands across the country. Although there are many ways to assess just how militarized the border has become, one of the clearest ones is looking at the colossal spike in funds funnelled into border security.
And Trump's Wall is also a highly unoriginal concept, given that there is already a huge fence spanning much of the border. In 2006,  the Bush-era Congress (and that included an enthusiastic Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama) approved the construction of the multibillion-dollar Secure Fence, which turned 700 miles of the southern border into a virtual war zone. 

Then during the Obama presidency came the draconian enforcement and expansion of 2008's Secure Communities initiative. It tore apart millions of families whose members were arrested and deported for even very minor traffic infractions, such as an unpaid parking ticket. 

This is the exact same program which Trump now wants to revive, after Obama scaled it back somewhat in 2014, due to legal challenges and electoral pressure from immigration rights activists and Latinos, whose votes the Democratic Party so desperately needs for its continued survival.

And Sarah Lazare explains,
Meanwhile, Obama expanded the 287(g) program, which was authorized in 1996 by former President Bill Clinton. According to ICE, the program “allows a state or local law enforcement entity to enter into a partnership with ICE, under a joint Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), in order to receive delegated authority for immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions.” The program expanded immigration enforcement powers to local police, giving them the authority target undocumented people in the streets and in jails, leading to an escalation in racial profiling. While the Obama administration later partially scaled back 287(g), Trump has referenced this initiative and Secure Communities as models to emulate and “revitalize.”
Still, Obama always kept up his big propaganda show of supporting immigrants, even as ICE continued its cruel - and racist - raids and roundups throughout his tenure. In 2013, for example, under the Criminal Alien Removal Initiative in New Orleans, ICE stalked and arrested people in their Bible Study groups, in laundromats, in apartment complexes with the aid of the same high-tech mobile biometric devices first designed for military use in Iraq and Afghanistan.

McClatchey's James Rosen reported in November that the very authoritarian Obama has actually been unfairly castigated by Trump and other Republicans as a weak little pussycat, given how cruel and right-wing his administration actually was in its accomplishment of more than 2.5 million deported human beings. The record proves it:
David Burnham, co-founder of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, said the increase represents a joint crackdown by lawmakers and the Justice Department under Obama.
“This outcome is a combination of policies and actions by a very aggressive Congress and a very aggressive Obama administration both wanting to work the borders – keep people out, as Mr. Trump says,” Burnham told McClatchy.
Obama has long been described as the “deporter in chief” by immigration advocates who dispute President-elect Donald Trump’s characterization of Obama as soft on immigration.
But the new numbers provide the first concrete evidence of how Obama’s record compares with his predecessors’.

Read more here:
Therefore, if and when he does succeed in revitalizing Obama's cruel agenda, Trump is absolutely right in characterizing this long-standing weaponized American policy of stalking, harassing, terrorizing, fingerprinting, arresting, incarcerating, deporting, wounding, and yes, even killing people as a military operation.

It's a domestic war in every brutal, racist, demeaning and profit-motivated sense of the word. It is what Barack Obama so cloyingly called a "norm" in that self-protective and self-serving farewell speech that he gave to the nation right before jetting off to canoodle with billionaires and raise a billion and half dollars for a museum celebrating his life. 

Trump is simply the first high-ranking American official to call it exactly what it is. His big lie is that more immigrants kill native-born Americans than are injured or killed by American immigration policies.


James said...

I have to admit as a Marxist I am against mass immigration. It only exists because the ruling class wants it to. With a mass influx of slave labor, corporations can increase profits and depress wages in this country. Caesar Chavez also saw this scam and was opposed to illegal immigration.

Wages in the computer science industry have also been flat for 30 years do to the influx of legal H1-B workers, there only to suppress wages and create a larger pool of the mass unemployed.

That said, we need to lock up the capitalists that hire these workers and not persecute their already exploited workers.

annenigma said...

Beware the Prison-Industrial Complex - the PIC. They and their Congressional partners-in-crime could become involved in a power struggle with Trump. He wants a military approach to the border, sealing it and removing those who come in illegally, while Congress and the PIC want a capitalist approach to the border - leave it porous so as to extract and exploit the human resources it provides. There are many benefits for them to maintaining an porous border providing an endless stream of detainees. It could become a real bonanza if they play their cards right. The Beast just keeps getting bigger and hungrier and it seems to always get fed by Congress.

Trump's military strategy for a closed border just isn't the cash cow that can be milked for profits endlessly. IF/when a wall is actually built, that construction expense ends and so do the profits. But if it remains porous, it provides a steady stream of people who, even if they choose to appeal their removal, need to be housed/detained for years as their case is adjudicated. There's money to be spread far and wide by letting them 'sneak' through those steel pilings deliberately spaced so only that the able-bodied can get over or through them. Let them in! Ka-ching!

The Military faction of the MIC, on the other hand, is relatively principled - it serves to protect and defend the nation. War profiteering Capitalists have managed to subvert many of the higher ranks in the Military, but even so, they're still more likely to stand with Trump to prioritize sealing the border to prevent entry. Btw, the new National Security Advisor, Gen'l McMaster, has some interesting things to say about the MIC and names it as such. I may add them to another comment.

Customs and Border Patrol is being beefed up to handle those who are already here, but if the border stays porous, they will become an army of hunters for the private prison industry where detainees may end up leased to corporations for slave labor as prisoners are now - see link below.

Consider two recent developments: Jeff Sessions' recent suspension of the Obama (belated) directive to curb DOJ use of private prisons, and Trump's tariff pressure to bring jobs back home from slave wage countries American industry has relied on. Given that we've waged war to open markets to exploit slave wage rates, what's a Capitalist country to do? Welcome the slaves here! Better yet, make a place for them within the prison industrial complex.

Here an article from 10 years ago I stumbled upon. The PIC is even bigger and more influential now. Money talks and Congress listens and acts.

'The Prison Industry in the United States: Big Business or a New Form of Slavery?'

"For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold. They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or comp time. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells."

"At least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons. The list of such companies contains the cream of U.S. corporate society: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more."

annenigma said...

Btw, the Federal Government has had no problem exploiting those who enter illegally - they offer some citizenship in exchange for military service (infantry probably).

As I mentioned in my previous comment, the new National Security Advisor, General McMaster, had some things to say about the MIC in 2015. Here are some excerpts.

Tampa Bay Times Tampa Bay Online.
Military News

'General Dissects U.S. Approach to War in Speech at USF'

By Howard Altman | Times Staff Writer
Published: April 8, 2015
Updated: April 9, 2015 at 07:27 AM

TAMPA — Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who spends his days trying to figure out the future of conflict and has gained wide respect for speaking his mind, told an audience at the University of South Florida on Wednesday that the United States needs to do a better job of learning lessons and adapting because of its “narcissistic approach to war.”

And, echoing outgoing President Dwight David Eisenhower’s farewell to the nation in 1961, McMaster urged renewed caution about the military-industrial complex and its influence on how America wages war.

McMaster is no stranger to asking tough questions about U.S. military involvement. In 1997 he published “Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam.”

Among other concerns, McMaster conjured up Eisenhower by saying “the military-industrial complex may represent a greater threat to us than at any time in history.”

The reason, said McMaster, is the jockeying for defense dollars, which mean money for communities and thus gain political support from politicians in those communities.

“And so where are these investments going in defense right now?” he asked. “They are going into areas that involve really big ticket items, that preserves the large capital transfer to defense industries and continue to bolster employment.”

McMaster, who said he is “not criticizing any element of this,” added another element to think about.

The military-industrial complex, he said, “involves increasingly as well think tanks, and when you see studies that are produced about the future of war or studies that are produced about certain aspects of defense strategy, you ought to look to see who is funding it.”

Without naming names, McMaster ticked off a few case studies of why he believes the funding of think tanks matters.

“There is a think tank now, for example, that’s about to publish a report on the future of the Army, and it’s bankrolled by a defense firm whose business model is the integration of high technology capabilities and selling them to the Department of Defense,” said McMaster. “What do you think that answer is going to be?”

Jay–Ottawa said...

Way off topic, but this news alert just came in: CNN, the NYTimes and Politico were barred from the West Wing today when Press Secretary Sean Spicer was giving a scheduled press briefing.

Forgive my laughter. Of course, such disrespect of the top media by the Trump Administration is utterly indefensible, but it's another reason why I find some of Trump's moves so winning. Sure to be front page in the Times Saturday morning. Trump plays them like a violin.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Required reading about Trump's history:

The brains and muscle around The Donald in an earlier day were Roy Cohen and the mob{s} along the east coast. Cohen has gone to his reward, but the mobsters are still around. That wasn't so bad as long as The Donald's Empire was held more or less in check by serial bankruptcies, high society's disdain and occasional settlements with federal prosecutors.

What's so different today is that the big brash baby described in Blumenthal's piece is now in charge of another empire, which includes the Justice Department, the Pentagon and the nuclear codes, among other toys. No wonder a few people in the know, both in the Dark State and broad daylight, are so busy undermining him by whatever means available.