Skip to Content

Lawless Law Enforcers

In America the 'Terrorists' All Too Often Are the Police

 

Two acts of ugly terrorism occurred in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963.

One act was widely abhorred. The other act ignored.

Many across America know about the 9/15/63 Birmingham murders of four little girls slain in the bombing of a black Baptist church 18-days after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his stirring “I Have A Dream” speech.

However, few know about the Birmingham murder of Johnny Robinson, a 16-year-old shot in the back by a policeman hours after that church bombing.

If the deaths of those four children inside that Birmingham church catalyzed the 1960s-era Civil Rights Movement contributing to the racial progress America now praises itself for achieving, the death of Johnny Robinson represents yet another instance of the regression across America on the issue of effectively addressing lawlessness by law enforcers – lawlessness that most often evades legal accountability.

Historically, America has a history of downplaying brutal behavior by police.

Police abuses – from fatal shootings through false arrests to the gratuitous use of foul or threatening language – are dismissed as isolated acts of a ‘few bad apples’ instead of as an endemic scourge historically impacting minorities and increasing impacting non-minorities. Top policy-makers and even much of the public embrace this dismissal dynamic.

Michael Brown, murdered by a Fergusson cop while surrendering, and two images of modern US policing at workMichael Brown, murdered by a Fergusson cop while surrendering, and two images of modern US policing at work
 

A Cultural Essay

Going To War With a Vengeance

 
To do nothing is to send a message to the wrongdoer, and the general public, that the victim has no self-worth and will not marshal the internal resources necessary to reclaim his or her honor. Shattered dignity is not beyond repair, but no elevating and equalizing of dignity can occur without the personal satisfaction of revenge.
        -Thane Rosenbaum, Payback: The Case For Revenge

The one who forgives, far from rallying around evil, decides instead not to imitate it, not to resemble it in any way, and without having expressly willed it, to negate it with the sole purity of silent love.
        -Vladimir Jankelevitch, Forgiveness
 
 
Two months ago polls suggested the American public was weary of war. Then, a group of furious extremists nurtured out of the fertile chaos of our invasion/occupation of Iraq and led by former generals from Saddam Hussein’ army went through Anbar Province in western Iraq like Patton went through Europe: Like crap through a goose. They were taking back what the US had taken from them by empowering Iraqi Shiites. Their secret was psychopathic violence -- massacres of men, women and children from hated ethnic or religious factions.

Soon, people from around the world were being recruited to join ISIS. Two brave US journalists were captured in Syria and sold to ISIS in western Iraq. Utilizing 21st century skills with video production, they flaunted their power by brutally beheading the two journalists.

ISIS and Senator Bernie Sanders, President Obama, Senators John McCain and Lindsey GrahamISIS and Senator Bernie Sanders, President Obama, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham

Suddenly, US polls flipped and a majority of Americans now felt it was necessary to race willy-nilly back to war in Iraq. The likelihood that ISIS's goal was to stir up this kind of fear and blind reaction in America didn't seem to matter. No one is quite sure what any of it really means. Following President Obama’s war speech, Lawrence O’Donnell asked, “Exactly how many people do we have to kill to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ this movement called ISIS?” No one knows. No one wants to lose face or appear weak. Being smart didn't seem to be a concern; many were ready to hose out more treasure and lose even more ground in addressing our huge domestic problems.

                Crime Fiction and Vengeance as Religion

As part of a personal study in the area of crime fiction, I’ve been reading a lot on the subject of vengeance. One of the classic avenging angels is Mike Hammer, Mickey Spillane’s popular Cold War era private detective who followed Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade and Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe. They were real tough guys -- detectives. Mike Hammer was primarily about vengeance, which was generally administrated on the final page with a couple slugs in the guts from his beloved .45 automatic.

Spillane and his persona had no patience with something like the ethical movement that, for lack of a better term, goes by the label forgiveness. It's not about forgiveness in any literal sense, and it does not preclude self-defense. It's more about not getting sucked into costly cycles of violence and just getting on with life. When thinking about crime fiction, I find it useful to place the two -- vengeance and forgiveness -- as extremes on a continuum. It allows the analytic possibility of complexity and dialogue between the extremes when it comes to addressing a mess like the one the nation finds itself in right now.

Andrew Vachss is a popular, self-proclaimed vengeance writer working today. His character Burke is a fierce avenging angel hunting down those who abuse and violate children. Vachss is a lawyer who has had a colorful life working in the area of child protection. “He's not a hit man,” Vachss has written of the fictional Burke. “But he shares the same religion I do, which is revenge.”

Making the news fit the politics:

NY Times Finds Conclusions Where None Exist in Dutch Flight 17 Downing Report

 

The New York Times, which has been misreporting on, and misleading its readers about the downing of Malaysian Flight 17 since the plane was downed last July 17, continues its sorry track record of flogging anti-Russian sentiment in the US and of supporting the post-putsch Ukrainian government in Kiev.

This time America’s leading “newspaper of record” is distorting the preliminary report of the Dutch Safety Board which has been leading an investigation into the cause of the Flight 17 crash that killed all 283 passengers and 15 crew members of a Boeing 777 aircraft flying from Amsterdam to Malaysia.

In an article published Wednesday, headlined “Report Finds Missile Strike Likely in Crash of Flight 17” and datelined Brussles, Times reporters Andrew Higgens and Nicola Clark write in their lead paragraph that “investigators, in their first account of the calamity, released evidence on Tuesday consistent with an attack by a surface-to-air missile but shed no clear light on who was responsible.”

They go on to write, however, on the basis of no evidence at all, that the preliminary report “...gave some indirect support to assertions by the United States and Ukraine that pro-Russian rebels shot down the aircraft with an SA-11, or Buk, surface-to-air missile.”

Both paragraphs are completely at odds with the report, and that supposed “indirect support” is never mentioned. And no wonder: it doesn't exist in the report.

Frame of front windshield of Malaysian Flight 17 showing possible bullet holes or rocket shrapnel, flight boxes and Flight 17Frame of front windshield of Malaysian Flight 17 showing possible bullet holes or rocket shrapnel, flight boxes and Flight 17 in the air
 

Washington’s seedy propaganda campaign

Satellite Images of Alleged Russian Artillery in Ukraine Come A-Cropper

 

UPDATE, 9/11/2014: In a comical development, Agence France Presse reports that Ukrainian President Petro Portoshenko is now saying that Russia's army and its heavy weapons, which he and the US and its NATO puppets were claiming had flooded eastern Ukraine and were responsible for the stunning route of Ukrainian forces in recent weeks, have now been "withdrawn" from Ukrainian territory.

In other words, the Russian Army, whose existence was never documented by US satellite or ground photos, has now vanished from the scene as mysteriously as it arrived. How convenient. What appears to actually be happening is that Portoshenko, whose war against eastern Ukraine separatists was an abject failure, is trying to save his presidency in the face of what amounts to a complete surrender of the eastern part of the country to separatist rebels.

Further evidence of this is provided by an article in Business Insider, which shows a map reportedly issued by the Ukrainian military, which has the whole eastern part of the Ukraine, including the Lugansk region and the whole Donetsk region, including the area around and well beyond the contested port city of Mariupul in the hands of separatist rebels.

It seems incredible beyond believing that if it were true that this victory by separatist rebels was only possible because of Russian troops, that now, with a ceasefire in place, those Russian troops and their equipment would be pulling out, abandoning the allegedly incompetent and poorly armed separatists to hold on. Either the Ruskies are still there, or they were never there in the first place. The article has NATO making the absurd claim that the original little 1000 contingent of Russian troops it initially claimed were in eastern Ukraine providing the clout for separatist successes, is still in there.
 

In the ongoing propaganda campaign mounted by the Obama administration to claim that Russia has “invaded” Ukraine from the east, it offered up some grainy black-and-white satellite images purporting to show heavy Russian military equipment inside the Ukraine.

I earlier noted how unlikely it was that heavy mobile artillery pieces would be set up in a perfect line in what appeared to be a field of crops, with, as the government claimed, cannons aimed towards Ukrainian positions in toward the west. As I pointed out, there was no sign of piles of ammunition alongside these “units” as we routinely see in closeups of heavy mobile artillery -- for example in photos of IDF pieces positioned outside of Gaza. I also noted the unlikelihood that such equipment would have been set up in an open field, unprotected by trees or other cover, and lined up to make for easy targeting by enemy artillery or air attack.

Now an alert reader from the agricultural state of Texas (Laredo, TX to be precise), has sent a note suggesting out that what the supposedly incriminating images most likely show are combines in a field of grain or some other crop planted in rows. He sent along photos showing harvesters, which of course feature a long, straight “cannon-like” tube which is used to shoot the harvested grain up and into an accompanying truck to be hauled off to market or to a storage silo.

captionCombines or cannons? From 100 miles up, Washington's 'clear evidence' of Russian heavy artillery in the Ukraine starts looking a little 'corny'. Are these mobile heavy artillery pieces or harvesting combines in a field of maize
 

What Russian invasion?

In-Place Cease-Fire Reached between Government and Rebel Forces in Ukraine

 

The separatist rebels of eastern Ukraine and the government in Kiev that controls the Ukrainian army have reached a cease-fire in place that leaves the separatists largely in control of the Russian-majority regions of the eastern part of that country.

The agreement to stop the fighting was reached at negotiations organized and led by Russia and held in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. It was reached at the same time that the US was pressing leaders of the NATO countries, at a meeting in Wales, to boost their military spending and to set up more offensive military positions in countries bordering Russia.

The one thing that did not happen as a result of the cease-fire, and that in fact never even got addressed in the Minsk talks, was a withdrawal of Russian troops from eastern Ukraine.

There was no withdrawal or even mention of those troops -- said to number about 1000 by the US and the Kiev government -- because there never were Russian troops invading Ukraine.

As both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic have, quite logically, pointed out, if Russia had invaded eastern Ukraine, it would not have done so by just secretly slipping in 1000 troops. It would have gone in with all 20,000 of the heavily armed troops it has reportedly massed on the Russian side of the border with Ukraine, and with its overwhelming air power, and by now would be threatening Ukraine’s capital of Kiev.

The Pentagon knows this. The CIA knows it. The State Department knows it. Anyone who’s watched the Russians in prior military actions (Afghanistan, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, etc.) knows it. Never mind, President Obama continues talking ominously and speciously about a Russian invasion. But as I learned when I wrote a spoof piece about that “invasion” a few days ago and tried to find some photos of Russian soldiers or Russian weapons in Ukraine on-line to go with it, there is absolutely no photographic evidence of such an attack.

Oh, there were some alleged satellite photos of perfectly lined up heavy mobile artillery which the US claimed were Russian arms inside Ukraine aiming westward, allegedly targeting Ukrainian forces. But these photos, which looked suspiciously like screen shots of video game images, and not like the crisp photos we have grown accustomed to seeing provided by military and even commercial satellites, didn’t even include GPS coordinates. The weapons were also far too perfectly lined up to be actually in operation in the field under wartime conditions. There was no effort to camouflage them from aerial attack, no effort to put them in protected positions, for example in a forest. Rather they were out in what appeared to be a plowed field (one which, significantly, didn't show any piled up ammunition around the weapons, either).

 "#NATO's latest evidence of #Russian armor invading #Ukraine hasImage from a Tweet by the Russian Embassy in the UAE, saying : "#NATO's latest evidence of #Russian armor invading #Ukraine has been leaked! Seems to be the most convincing ever!
 

New poem

Monster in my garden

 

After yesterday
I’m afraid to go down there
Into my own garden.
I went down after sunset to water and
There it was, crouching
Like a gargoyle among the tomatoes.
I got a good look at it
As I stood there afraid to breathe
While a spray of water
From the hose soaked my shoes.
It had two heads
That look exactly like John Boehner,
Terrible to behold...

none
 

No! Your data is not safe!

Hackers Used Government Spyware to Data-rob iCloud

 

One sensationally reported incident this week exposes a dual threat: your data isn't safe on a corporate-controlled "cloud" and spying software made for police and government agencies makes it completely accessible.

The leaking of celebrities' photos, most compromising and some nude, from Apple's iCloud storage system shows how silly we can be about nudity and celebrity and what our media thinks is important in the world. These were self-shot photos nude people and nudity is something we can all see in the mirror!

There is, however, a very important point to the entire affair and, unlike the naked photos, it's worth talking about.
 

From phone to computer! But to whose computer?From phone to computer! But to whose computer?
 

Apparently, according to Apple, this wasn't a breach; there was no break-down in the security system for the company's giant storage service. Instead, the hackers used what is called a "brute force attack" -- a password-guessing method that uses software readily available to hackers to guess and test passwords to access a private account.

In the last couple of days, however, experts have become almost sure that the software used to capture the iCloud user data is a program designed for use by police and government surveillance. The program is called EPPB or Elcomsoft Phone Password Breaker and it's made by a Russian outfit called Elcomsoft. Elcomsoft specializes in selling it to government authorities but it will sell it to anyone willing to pay the price. Apparently these hackers got a hold of that program and maybe, indeed, have done so through legal purchase.

It's all about Ukraine

Two Chance Meetings While Traveling in Europe

 

On a trip to Europe for a two-week stay in Finland, my wife and I at one point found ourselves seated next to a congenial 30-something guy, dressed casually in jeans and a T-shirt. He said he was US Army major.

Initially, our conversation revolved around his little kids, and his complaint about how often he was sent out on “short assignments” in Europe far away from home. He also mentioned being somewhat hard of hearing after having been sent out on 250 missions in Iraq as a soldier in the cavalry, where he had been the gunner on a stryker armored vehicle. (He explained that he couldn’t wear ear protectors despite the constant loud roar of the heavy vehicle’s engine, “because you have to hear when you’re taking fire, and also to be able to communicate with the other guys inside the vehicle.”)

He was voluble, but discreet when it came to his current Army role, saying only that he had been reassigned from cavalry to “international relations,” which he later explained meant “handling relations” between US military forces and various countries’ militaries in the “European Theater.” He said he had become particularly busy since the beginning of the “Ukraine crisis,” but wouldn’t go into detail about what he was busy doing.

One could make an educated guess. Looking at the bulging muscles on this guy’s arms, shoulders and chest, it seemed clear that this was not a someone who just who sat at conferences and talked across tables discussing protocol. More likely, he was Special Forces in some training capacity.

In any event, his regular travels, which he said had him flying back and forth from the US to assignments in Europe almost every other week, make suggest that the US has ramped up in its military activities in Europe.

Later, in Finland, I made a road trip from the southern city of Kuopio to northern Lapland above the Arctic Circle, to report on arctic climate change. Just before reaching the Arctic Circle on my first evening on the road, I came on two young people, a man and a woman, who were hitchhiking. Being a long-time hitchhiker myself, and deeply in karmic debt as a driver, I immediately pulled over and invited them to hop in.

Ukrainian mothers in an anti-conscription protest against the Kiev government, and destruction as separatist rebels advanceUkrainian mothers in an anti-conscription protest against the Kiev government, and destruction as separatist rebels on a demoralized Ukrainian military
 

Break the Vengeance Cycle

Why We Should Not Go To War Over James Foley

 
Back in June 2011, James Foley gave an hour-long interview before an auditorium of students from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he had graduated three years earlier with a Master’s degree in journalism. It was 15 days after he had been released from 45 rough days of captivity in Libya. He was a handsome young hero returning to his alma-mater.

In a recent item in The New Yorker, Mark Singer quotes Foley that his Libyan captivity was “a cautionary tale.” He makes it clear to the journalism students at Medill that the business of covering wars was pretty new to him when he was captured in Libya in early 2011.

James Foley at Medill School of Journalism in June 2011, with Timothy McNultyJames Foley at Medill School of Journalism in June 2011, with Timothy McNulty

"I started as a leftist war protester," he tells interviewer Timothy McNulty, a Medill professor and former editor at the Chicago Tribune. Foley's brother was a soldier in Iraq, which led him to sympathize with his brother. He began to feel pulled to get into the middle of conflict himself; he aspired to become an active voice in the affairs of the world. So at Medill he took academic coursework on covering international conflicts. Singer points out he participated in something called the National Security Journalism Initiative, in which ex-British commandos grabbed him in a mock kidnapping and shot blanks by his head they'd covered with a bag.

In the interview, he says one thing the US military learned in Vietnam was the need to control journalists. So they came up with the "embed" idea. With a shiny Masters degree in hand, he got a job embedded with a US National Guard unit in Iraq. At one point, he worked for US-AID.

"You start to bond with these guys," he says. "You wonder about your objectivity sometimes -- especially with US soldiers." He fully appreciates the history and the thinking behind the military’s embed program, which relies on a reporter bonding with the soldiers he is covering. These same soldiers are protecting his life. He seems to understand the pressures this relationship puts on his ability as a journalist to be “objective.” By now, everyone in the journalism business knows there is no such thing as objectivity. I have a Masters Degree in Journalism from Temple University and I first learned the same lesson about objectivity in coursework there.

Foley next reveals the key to why many war journalists are so driven to do what they do.

“When you see something violent it doesn't always repel you. It can draw you close,” he says. Shots of individual students in the audience reveal young faces in rapt attention. “Feeling that you survived has a strange sort of force." There's the famous adrenaline rush.

The ThisCantBeHappening! news collective loses a founding member

Charles M. 'Chuck' Young (1951-2014)

 

The ThisCantBeHappening! collective has lost a friend and a perceptive and peerlessly witty analyst of the American political and cultural scene, while Rock& Roll has lost its leading critic. Charles M. Young (Chuck to his friends), has died, following a year and a half of battling an aggressive brain tumor.

When Dave Lindorff decided back in the Spring of 2010, to convert his thiscantbehappening.net blog into a collectively-owned and collectively-run news site, he immediately contacted three friends and journalistic colleagues--John Grant, Linn Washington, Jr. and Chuck Young. All three immediately jumped for the idea. But Chuck's response was classic Young. His lip curling up in a sign that cued a listener that he was about to crack a joke, he said, "Wait, let me get this straight: a newspaper that has no editor? It sounds like a dream come true! Sign me up!"

Charles M. 'Chuck' Young, Presente!Charles M. 'Chuck' Young, Presente!

 

Syndicate content
Loading

Find more artists like Dave Lindorff at Myspace Music

This is the video tape of Davis in Lahore police custody


___________________________

___________________________


Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com

Live Stream of the Occupation of Wall Street! The Revolution will be filmed after all! (Courtesy of Globalrevolution)
________________________

Fightin' Cock FlyerFightin' Cock Flyer

Listen as Chuck, John, Dave and Linn Join Prairie Radical Mike Caddell of the Fightin' Cock Flyer on Radio Free Kansas

Here's the link to prairie radio radical Mike Caddell's Radio Free Kansas program, where you can hear the podcast of the whole group interview that was conducted on Saturday, May 8.

Also, listen to Dave Lindorff on Chris Cook's Gorilla Radio on CFEV Radio in Victoria, Canada.

Donate $50 to ThisCantBeHappening.net and get a free signed copy, postage paid, of Dave's classic tome The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin's Press, 2006). Just click on the cover image to go to the Paypal payment page, make your payment, and send a note to Dave calling his attention to the payment, and giving your mail address and the name you want the inscription addressed to.

---------------

Have a comment to make?

You can write us at ThisCantBeHappeningMail@yahoo.com
We may not answer you, but we'll probably read it.



by Dr. Radut