An Act of State
The execution of Martin Luther King
a book by William F. PepperVerso, 2008, paperback
In spring 1966, US carpet-bombing had systematically devastated ancient village-based rural culture in South Vietnam as napalm rained from the sky, slaughtering helpless peasants.
Dr. [Martin Luther] King planned to move into mainstream politics as a potential candidate on a presidential ticket with Dr Benjamin Spock in order to highlight the anti-poverty, anti-war agenda. He called for conscientious objection, political activity, and a revolution in values to shift American society from materialism to humanism. As a result, he came under increasing attack.
In excess of 1,300,000 [Vietnamese] people were killed ... and many others were maimed for life.
By 1970, Vietnamese babies were being born without eyes, with deformed hearts and stumps instead of legs. Six pounds of toxic chemicals per head of population were dumped on the people of Vietnam. President Reagan referred to this as a "noble cause."
When business speaks with one voice, as it did in respect to the [Vietnam] war or the purported extreme threat of war at the time when Martin King set himself up in opposition, the relevant government agencies and their officials become mere footsoldiers for the mighty economic interests.
When Martin King began to crusade against the war, he would cast a long shadow over the economic forces of America. Little wonder that they shuddered at the possibility that his efforts might result in the tap of the free-flowing profits being turned off. Should the American people come to demand an end to the war and should the war end, the losses were not something they could accept.
Perhaps it was for this reason alone that King had to be stopped.
By mid-1967, [Martin Luther King] began to formulate a strategy to address the widening gap between the rich and the poor. The project gradually took the form not of a march by itself but the extensive Poor People's Campaign and mobilization culminating in an encampment in the shadow of the Washington Memorial. The projection was for the establishment of a tent city of some 500,000 of the nation's poorest and most alienated citizens, who would regularly lobby their elective officials for a range of socio-economic legislation. They would remain as long as it took to get action from the Congress.
If the wealthy, powerful interests across the nation would find Dr King's escalating activity against the war intolerable, his planned mobilization of half a million poor people with the intention of laying siege to Congress could only engender outrage - and fear.
They knew that it was not going to be possible for the Congress to satisfy the demands of the multitude of poor, alienated Americans led by Dr King, and they believed that the growing frustration could well lead to violence. In such a situation with the unavailability of sufficient troops to control that mass of people, the capital could be overrun. Nothing less than a revolution might result. This possibility simply could not be allowed to materialize, and neither could Martin King's crusade against the war be permitted to continue.
In January 1979, the House Select Committee published its final report on the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin King. It found no evidence or complicity on the part of the CIA, the FBI, or any other government agency in the assassination of Martin King.
In December 1963, less than a month after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, bureau [FBI] officials met in Washington to explore ways of "neutralizing King as an effective Negro leader."
A massive [FBI] campaign was under way from 1964 aimed at destroying [Martin Luther King] through dirty tricks and media manipulation.
Steve Tompkins, the former Commercial Appeal investigative reporter had spent 18 months researching a front-page piece on the role of army intelligence in surveying and infiltrating black organizations and civil rights groups. It had been published on March 21 1993. Army intelligence had spied on Dr King's family for three generations. The article noted that there was an extraordinary fear in official circles about what would happen if Dr King was allowed to lead masses of American poor into Washington that spring. It stated that army intelligence was "... desperately searching for a way to stop him..." The article also noted in passing, and without comment, that there was a Special Forces Alpha 184 sniper team in Memphis on the day of the killing [of Martin Luther King].
[Steve Tomkins] had come to believe that after talking with a former [Army] Special Forces soldier now living in Latin America, in addition to surveilling Dr King on April 4 1968, the army in Memphis was implicated in the assassination.
[The former [Army] Special Forces soldier now living in Latin America said he was relieved to be away from the Special Forces, stating, "Most of these people are the dregs of humanity, real slime. They'd kill you, your mother, or your kids as soon as look at you."
The role of the army and the other cooperating government agencies in the assassination of Dr King has been one of our nation's deepest, darkest secrets. I have only been able to uncover it by piecing together the accounts of Warren and Murphy [aliases of Army Special Forces soldiers] with those of other participants, people who were in strategic positions with access to information, and analyzing relevant army intelligence documents, files and other official records which have never been made public.
In 1967, Military Intelligence formed part of the US Army Intelligence Command (USAJNTC) based at a military compound based at Fort Holabird, Maryland. By 1968 the Investigative Records Repository (IRR) was housed in a huge two-story steel room, containing more than seven million brown-jacketed dossiers on American citizens and organizations. They included files on allegedly subversive individuals, who, according to army intelligence, were "persons considered to constitute a threat to the security and defense of the United States." There were files on the entire King family.
US Army Military Intelligence Groups (MIGs) ... employed 798 army officers and 1,532 civilians including 67 black undercover agents. Of this total force, 1,576 were directly involved in domestic intelligence gathering, and of these "spies," some 260 were civilians.
The MIG officers were responsible for eye-to-eye surveillance operations which included audio and visual recordings of people and events designated as targets. Dr King was a target and throughout the last year of his life was under surveillance by one or another MIG team.
Warren and Murphy [aliases of Army Special Forces soldiers] ... were part of an eight-man "Operation Detachment Alpha 184 team - a Special Forces field training team in specialized civilian disguise.
... Warren and Murphy stated that the team was specifically briefed before departing from Camp Shelby for Memphis at 4:30 AM on the morning of April 4 1968. During the half-hour session the team was left in no doubt as to its mission. On the order they were to shoot to kill - "body mass" (center, chest cavity) - Dr Martin Luther King Jr and the Reverend Andrew Young.
They were shown "target acquisition photos" of the two men and the Lorraine Motel. The team's pep talk stressed how they were enemies of the United States who were determined to bring down the government. Warren said that no one on the team had any hesitancy about killing the two "sacks of shit."
... The [CIA] contact took them to the roof of a tall building that dominated that downtown area and loomed over the Lorraine. Their guide provided them with a detailed area-of-operations map, pictures of cars used by the King group, and the "Memphis police TAC" radio frequencies.
... Finally, near what Warren termed the "TTH" (top of the hour - 6:00 PM)) King came on to the balcony... Warren recognized his target, Andrew Young, putting on his coat, and took aim, holding him in his sights... Warren kept Andy Young in the cross hairs of his scope, and then, he said, just after TTH, a shot rang out.
It sounded like a military weapon, and Warren assumed that the other sniper unit had jumped the gun and fired too soon because the plan was always for a simultaneous shooting [of Martin Luther King and Andrew Young]... the team leader came on and ordered the team to disengage in an orderly fashion and follow the egress routes assigned to them out of South Memphis.
Europe's decimation of the world's tribal peoples sprawled across five continents over five centuries, put the Europeans in possession of most of the world's material resources, and caused the deaths of hundreds of millions and the complete extinction of distinct tribal peoples. Continuing still, it constitutes the most persistent act of human destructiveness in the history of our species and the planet.
In the North American theater of this conquest, the European immigrant descendants carried the materialistic torch forward against the native Americans. Through genocidal actions, lies, broken agreements, and incarceration on reservations, tribe after tribe was subjugated in much the same fashion as was visited upon their brothers in Tasmania, Mexico, Africa, and elsewhere.
During these four hundred years, when not openly supportive of the conquest of materialism, organized religion continued to attempt to minister to a vastly less significant spiritual life whilst the increasingly mainstream secular society embraced the physical world as the primary reality and materialism as the dominant value. These values ultimately led to economic growth, and the indulgence of our physical appetites became the primary purpose of human activity.
Riding the Copernican wave over the last four hundred years, economists have gradually attempted to elevate their craft to the level of pure science, focusing on the behavior of markets involving prices and flows of money which are easily measured. All values are reduced to market values and market prices. Air, water, and essentials of life provided freely by nature are valueless unless scarcity sets in. Gold, diamonds, and other precious metals, and stones which are relatively useless in sustaining life, are valued highly. The value of a human life is determined by calculating a person's lifetime earning potential. Thus, it has been said that economists know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
The state of the world that Martin King and his colleagues inherited was an increasingly dehumanized society which defined the success of human beings in terms of the amount of money they made. Life energy was devoted to and traded for the acquisition of money. The amount one had determined one's feeling of self-worth.
The seemingly insatiable quest for money and material consumption which he confronted then, and which has grown in exponential proportions today, is a consequence of a society that is incomplete and dysfunctional, which denies and co-opts the spiritual side of life by allowing monetary values to become the primary foundation of cultural values and relationships.
Martin knew, as did Gandhi, that people who experience an abundance of love in their lives rarely seek comfort and meaning in compulsive, personal acquisitions. For those deprived of love, no amount of material acquisition, consumption, and indulgence can ever be enough. A world starved of love, in which human caring and the spiritual dimension are de-emphasized, will eventually become one of material scarcity, massive inequality, overly stressed environmental systems and developing social disintegration.
Arnold Toynbee noted that civilizations in decline were characterized by a tendency toward standardization and uniformity, in contrast to the stimulation of diversity which occurs during a growth period. As the growth of corporate power parallels the increasing dominance of materialism, the movement for community control and localization becomes the natural reaction to the process of societal dehumanization.
In the post-Second World War world, realpolitik, the political brother of materialism, ruled the day. The entire German intelligence apparatus under Hitler was assimilated into the American intelligence establishment and set the tone for much of the United State's Cold War anti-Soviet policies. War criminal Nobusuke Kishi, the former minister of munitions in Tojo's war cabinet, was put in as Japan's prime minister in 1957, and the CIA financed and firmly planted one-party rule in Japan which legitimated Japan's role as a satellite of the United States. Rather than liberating colonized peoples around the world, as promised, in national mass movements of liberation in Indochina, Malaya, and Indonesia against the French, British, and Dutch, the Americans turned up on the side of European imperialism.
In South Korea, a brutal dictatorial government was set up and defended by the US government. From 1961 to 1993, the Americans supported the regimes of three army generals. During the 1980s, two senior CIA officials were sent as successive ambassadors. Only the actions of the Korean people themselves through demonstrations and street confrontations in 1987 finally brought democracy to the fore. The eventual prosecution and conviction on grounds of sedition, state terrorism, and corruption of two surviving dictators received only minimal coverage in the United States media. The post-war legacy that caused Martin King to accuse his government of cultural betrayal included the following legacy of American dictatorial support:
1. Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-kuo in Taiwan. (Taiwan started to democratize only in the 1980s after the Carter administration had broken relations with it.)
2. Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines (brought down by Corazon
Aquino and her People Power movement after Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush had hailed him as a democrat).
3. Ngo Dinh Diem (assassinated on American orders), General Nguyen Khanh, General Nguyen Cao Ky, and General Nguyen Van Thieu in Vietnam.
4. General Lon Nol in Cambodia (and eventually Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge).
5. Marshal Pibul Songgram, Sarit Thanarat, Praphas Charusathien, and Thanom Kittichorn in Thailand.
6. General Suharto in Indonesia.
This legacy in East Asia was mirrored in our own hemisphere where dictators and oligarchs fronting for American corporations were put in power and maintained often by the most brutal state terroristic acts including the use of death and torture squads in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Haiti, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay. It is not necessary to detail here these extensive covert operations, most of which have been hidden from the people who pay for them, the American citizens. Suffice it to say that the post-1945 worldwide satellite system of states which it has constructed and sustained on authoritarian foundation is remarkably similar to that of the "evil empire" - the old Soviet Union.
Postwar America [WWII] began to breed a military establishment which would gradually grow beyond civilian control. By the year 2000, the pre-1960 warning of President Dwight Eisenhower about the power of the military-industrial complex was all too real... in our lifetimes, the American military establishment has virtually become an autonomous system. It is today an entirely mercenary - voluntary - force increasingly separate from all but the transnational corporate interests it protects.
The Pentagon sets its own agenda in collaboration with its transnational corporate masters. Gone is the older notion that the military is only one of several means that a democratic government uses to implement its policies. As their size and prominence grow, the armed forces of any empire tend to overshadow and displace other instruments of foreign policy. Militarism rules abroad and sets the tone at home.
[There is] virtual autonomy of the military in contemporary American society. Health and welfare programs receive ten percent of the discretionary budgetary funds, education receives six percent while the defense budget consumes fifty percent of the total. There is no rational justification for this state of affairs other than the fast that it is driven by the greed of the defense contract conglomerates.
The growth of militarism ... may finally cause the end of democracy in America, with the unraveling ultimately resorting from an economic collapse spurred on by the exploitative hegemony called globalization by which America seeks to impose its model on the major economies of the world - a model in which unbridled, non-value-producing speculators thrive and consumerism is a sacred activity.
[John] Ruskin contended that criminals should be regarded by their society as any other manufactured product. They are products, which we turn out. We will need fewer prisons, he said, if we seek a system that will develop ,. honest men rather than one which regards criminality as inevitable and / thus focuses on punishing its criminal products.
Anticipating our contemporary environmentalists, Ruskin despised a world, which he saw emerging, where the deification of money - the physical symbols of the wealth of the day - eclipses the intrinsic value of joyful human labour. "As the art of life is learned, it will be found at last that all lovely things are also necessary; a wild flower by the wayside, tended corn, wild birds and creatures of the forest, as well as the tended cattle; because man doth not live by bread only. "66 He saw the timeless beauty of all things on earth surrounding humanity and establishing for all time an endless, lasting chain of brotherhood, linking one generation to another in a way that man's ephemeral riches could never sustain.
Ruskin was appealing to activist prophets of the oppressed like Gandhi and King because he never knew from around which corner genius would come, not to put money in someone's pocket but to enhance the quality of life in his or her time and place. As a much younger man, I remember being impressed by an engraved quotation of Ruskin's on a public building: "A man never stood so tall as when he stooped to help a child."
This, I thought, from a specialist in pre-Raphaelite art. He led me to T. E. Lawrence. Ruskin led Gandhi to a vision of justice denied him by his British legal training. Indirectly, then, Ruskin, a link in the long chain of prophets and visionaries, had his impact on Martin King. As though anticipating the depth of feeling of seers like Gandhi and King when coming face to face with the misery of the poor, Ruskin asked: How is it possible to desire luxury and wealth if the accompanying suffering is clearly seen existing side by side with such affluence? Only, he said, could the most ignorant and cruel man sit at such a feast of plenty, and even then, a blindfold would likely be in place.
Gandhi saw [John] Ruskin as the product of a realm which tended to afford reverence and a special place in history for those whose words and deeds epitomized the conscience of the nation at the time. Had not the moral power of Thomas a Becket caused Henry II to walk on his knees from Canterbury city limits to Becket's tomb in the cathedral? Had Thomas More in death not sealed Henry VIII's moral bankruptcy for all ages of Englishmen? Did not T. E. Lawrence's bold public repudiation of the king's honours inspire future legions in support of the anti-imperialist ethic of the right of people everywhere to self-determination?
In such circumstances, the English were predictable and Gandhi knew it. He understood that there was no way that the political descendants of Becket, More, Bacon, and Coke, and the cultural heirs of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Byron, Blake, Ruskin, and Lawrence, would long tolerate the slaughter of unarmed Indians who themselves laid claim to their lush 5,000-year-old Indus Valley civilization which they sought to reclaim armed only with their moral integrity and a willingness to be beaten, tortured, arrested, and die. Gandhi reasoned that at some point, the word would go out from the government of the day - enough, no more. He was right.
Martin King's transfer of energy and resources to oppose the war was a move beyond the traditional civil rights struggle and few of his colleagues cared to link up the denial of civil liberties and existence of dehumanising poverty at home with the daily atrocities being committed on an ancient people by a new colonialist crusade 10,000 miles away. Not only would they reject the relationship but most, ignoring the moral dimension, would trade off some progress on the home front rights issues for providing support of the war effort.
He refused, and thus alienated most of his own as had Gandhi on the Muslim state issue. Amongst those offended by his commitment to end the war were powerful economic, military, and political leaders - including the president - who, so they thought, had bought his allegiance by facilitating the passage of civil rights legislation. They and the powerful corporate interests in the shadows felt betrayed.
... When Dr King came out formally in opposition [to the Vietnam War], popular support of the military adventure was lacking. The people reacted to the lies they were told. The body bags were increasing, and all for what? On the subjective side of the equation, no leader had emerged by 1967, who could articulate the tragedy of the powerful few benefiting from the wasting of resources of many. No one had emerged who could bring together the disparate groups in opposition to the continued degradation of the cultural life of his native land.
... To the chagrin of the powerful economic interests and their steward government, [Martin Luther King's] leadership against the increasingly unpopular Vietnam adventure had public approval and support. The vehicle for the expression of this growing anti-war movement, nonviolent action, and civil disobedience which included draft resistance and flight, draft-card burnings, peaceful demonstrations, sit-ins and teach-ins had an impact across the country. It all began to unravel, however, as indignation and anger took a more violent turn.
The Pentagon demonstration involving some 200,000 largely middleclass Americans coming on the heels of the 1967 urban riots was regarded as a preview of what would happen in the nation's capital with the Poor People's Campaign.
Objectively, the nation's poor were in bad and worsening condition. They were suffering at home so that their own young could be cannon fodder 10,000 miles away. Martin King agonized over the problem of the Vietnam War. Whenever he expressed concern for the people of Vietnam and the American soldiers sent over to kill them, he was attacked by fellow civil rights leaders, members of Congress, and brother clergymen for not concentrating on civil rights.
With the steady deterioration of the quality of life in urban America, city after city erupted in violence for the next six months of 1967. Military intelligence was derived from those urban riots that Martin King had singular popularity amongst the urban poor and that he had every intention of mobilizing the largest gathering of American poor ever assembled in the nation's capital. It was to be a peaceful encampment to remind the Congress that these legions of poor people existed, that they had faces and voices, families, rights, and hopes which were unfulfilled, and they were not going to go away.
Like Gandhi's ragged forces confronting the might of the British Empire, Martin King's equally unkempt wretched of America were scheduled to come to the seat of power and demand the unthinkable the reallocation of resources and priorities in the richest country on earth so that no child would go to bed hungry, health care and education would be available to all, and basic food, shelter, and clothing would become a right of every person.
From the moment that he formally opposed the war [Vietnam], followed by his commitment to the Poor People's Campaign, Martin King began a fateful struggle against another type of colonial domination and another colonialist master. This enemy would emerge as the most powerful domineering force ever to span the globe. During the last year of his life, he became locked in a deadly struggle with the behemoth of transnational corporate colonialism and the awesome power of its steward state, the United States of America.
Whilst the earlier forms of oppression confronted by Gandhi and King were in decline, when King turned his attention to economic injustice, it was another matter. He had come to realize that the fundamental, underlying injustice in American life was the exclusion of the poor of all races and cultures from the opportunity to attain even the bare minimum of the necessities of life. Martin King then, entered a new and different arena. [Martin Luther King] was involved no longer in fighting regional, social injustice but rather in attempting to confront the core issue of economic injustice in American society, which went hand in hand with waging a costly war and the growth of militarism. This new struggle brought him into direct conflict with the federal government and its numerous agency surrogates whose mission it was to serve and protect American corporate interests at home and abroad.
Martin King never lost hope that the system could be compelled to live up to its stated ideals and respond to the genuine needs of its poorest citizens. He was hardly a revolutionary up to the time of his death, but this is not to say that he - like any of us - was not subject to the process of radicalization.
Had he lived and been confronted with the abject failure of liberal democracy to alleviate the suffering and deprivation of its teeming masses, his formidable conscience might well have required him to advocate root and branch reconstruction of the government of his native land, as, in fact, ed by Mr. Jefferson as the responsibility of each new generation.
The corporate-dominated economy and the transnational corporate state had consolidated its power over almost every aspect of public and private life in his native land, and under a formal globalization movement the transnational corporations were extending their tentacles all over the planet.
Footsoldiers like Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, the ever-dutiful Bush family, Helmut Kohl, and a list of Japanese tenders had diligently kept the faith. Working with the timeworn International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and ultimately with the new engine of globalization, the World Trade Organization, they ensured that the interests of capital were nowhere endangered by the needs of the world's three billion poor to eat, have shelter, clothing, sanitation, medical care, and education.
The framework for the post-1945 economy had largely been worked Out by the United States and Britain. It called for the creation of three multilateral institutions - the World Bank, the IMF, and an international trade organization... With the demise of the Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1990s, however, there were no longer any alternatives or restrictions on the planet to the spread of corporate colonialism.
On that New Year's Day in 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO) was quietly born during the Uruguay round of GATT. In low-income "developing countries," the World Bank and the IMF had institutionalized the doctrine that extensive borrowing was the way forward. Thus, subject economies became enslaved to repayment schedules and loan conditions which invariably required the cutback of necessary social services and population assistance programs, whilst the loan funds found their way back to Western corporations.
... With the way clear for the WTO, the world's largest corporations are now represented by a global body with legislative and judicial power committed to protecting their rights against the intrusion of governments and the citizens to whom those governments are theoretically responsible.
... Any national law requiring imported goods to meet national health, safety, labour, or environmental standards may be declared an unfair trade practice by the WTO if the legislation requires stricter standards than the international standards accepted by the WTO.
We have come to live in a nation dominated by avarice and acquisitiveness... We see a culture where people have increasingly less value and where corporate and banking institutions determine public policy and thus the interests of capital take precedence over people.
America has clearly emerged as the greatest purveyor of state terrorism on the planet. If there is any doubt one only has to consider, amongst others, the incidents of American intervention in Guatemala, Iran, Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba (ongoing for 43 years), Chile, Uruguay, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and, most recently, Venezuela.
Arnold Toynbee, in his 1948 work Civilization on Trial
Civilizations ... come to birth and proceed to grow by successfully responding to successive challenges. They break down and go to pieces if and when a challenge confronts them which they fail to meet.
The blame for the initiation planning conspiracy, and execution of the killing [of Martin Luther King] should be laid squarely on the shoulders of agents of the h government of the United States in collaboration with Memphis operatives of the Marcello criminal organization.
As horrifying as that fact is, it gets worse when one realizes the extent of the military's involvement, from the coordination of the flow of events down to the last detail, including the selection of the back-up team by the head of the 902nd Military Intelligence Group. Even prior to the assassination, the use of military intelligence to spy on Dr King and other Americans, leading to other army sharpshooter actions against targeted civilians, makes it clear that for a half century or more the military have been heavily involved in the domestic affairs and life of the nation. Very few people at the time knew, or even now know, the extent of this involvement. It is only in retrospect that we begin to get a glimpse of how widespread this activity was in the 1960s.
[Hugo] Chavez more than anyone drawing a breath, carries on and expands [Martin Luther] King's struggle on behalf of the wretched of the earth. He is a revolutionary leader deeply committed, as was [Martin Luther] King, to liberating the poor from the impoverishment, physical deprivation, and exclusion that denies all life in the face of the challenge to survive.
Corporate capitalism continues to grow more avaricious, pursuing control over the natural resources of the planet with unprecedented greed.
Capitalism has been shaped by the Washington Consensus, which was formed around the neoliberal policies that had been imposed on developing countries by Milton Friedman's Chicago Boys, and on Eastern Europe by Jeffrey Sachs. The Shock Doctrine, as recently described by Naomi Klein, involves cutting back or eliminating social programs, privatization, tax cuts and incentives for the wealthy, and increasing prices on strategic goods - gasoline, fuel oil which affect the poor more than any other segment of society.
The American people have been swept along to accept previously unthinkable restrictions and acts upon both citizens and foreigners.
The mainstream corporate media has consistently supported the effort to coerce an entire population of "good Americans" - our equivalent of the "Good Germans" - to accept these draconian controls.
The American government could already be described as authoritarian... Due process of law and the right of habeas corpus, which for centuries have characterized the rule of law in democratic states, have been eliminated. At the discretion of the president, non-citizens and citizens alike may be classified as enemy combatants, picked up and held for an indeterminate period of time without access to counsel. A network of secret prisons and / camps is being established both inside and outside of the United States. Paramilitary forces or private mercenary armies are being developed to make up for the inadequate numbers of the existing volunteer army. This is effectively resulting in the privatization of the US military.
One of the characteristics of tyranny is the monitoring and surveillance of citizens. Done primarily as a means of control, this has existed in every authoritarian state, not to mention totalitarian dictatorship, which seeks total control of the population. The defense is almost always based on national security grounds.
Anti-war protesters in 1917, after the Espionage Act was passed, were often arrested and sentenced... Today's Espionage Act, ostensibly \directed at domestic terrorism, is just as wide-ranging.
On October 23 2007 the House of Representatives - by a vote of 404 to 3, with others not voting - passed the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Bill.
... The bill is designed to identify which ideas are likely to radicalize the American people and promote dissenting activity. A nationwide network of academic researchers is charged with the responsibility of identifying certain ideologies and the thoughts that underpin them. Thus, it is a pre-criminal thought control piece of legislation amending the Homeland Security Act, and has moved stealthily through two committees of the House of Representatives. While not criminalizing "thought crime" at this juncture, it sets up an elaborate foundation for that move in the future.
The definitions section 899A [of the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Bill passed by Congress in 2007] is revealing.
(2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION - The term "violent radicalization" means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.
(3) HOMEGROWN TERRORISM - The term "homegrown terrorism" 7 means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.
(4) IDEOLOGICALLY BASED VIOLENCE - The term "ideologically based violence" means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs.
SEC. 899B. FINDINGS [of the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Bill passed by Congress in 2007]
The Congress finds the following:
(1) The development and implementation of methods and processes that can be utilized to prevent violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in the United States is critical to combating domestic terrorism.
(2) The promotion of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence exists in the United States and poses a threat to homeland security.
(3) The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.
(4) While the United States must continue its vigilant efforts to combat international terrorism, it must also strengthen efforts to combat the threat posed by homegrown terrorists based and operating within the United States.
(5) Understanding the motivational factors that lead to violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence is a vital step toward eradicating these threats in the United States.
[This is] a frontal assault on the First Amendment that would likely have sent Mr. Jefferson, Justice William 0. Douglas, and Martin Luther King to prison for their words and advocacy alone.
The forces running the corporate state ... are surely now aware of the impending disaster. Their fear and anxiety is caused by the realization that when the impoverished masses have lost all or most of what they had, they will organize and take to the streets. Hence, every means of mass control is being put in place by the legislature and by executive order, to provide for the use of force to control the population. A pretext for the declaration of martial law and the wholesale detention of American
citizens must not be ruled out during a period of decline and disaster.
The Defense Authorization Act gives the Executive the power to move National Guard units anywhere in the country, without regard for the wishes of the state governors, and to declare martial law. This declaration would authorize the detention of dissenting citizens who could then be picked up and held incommunicado for an indefinite period, without access to counsel or the courts. This is nothing short of a militarization of the Republic.
The ... Defense Authorization Act of 2007 was signed into law on October 17 2006 ... allowing the President to declare a public emergency and station National Guard units anywhere in the country in order to "suppress public disorder" - measures that had long been prohibited by the 1807 Insurrection Act. This Defense Authorization Act, one section of which is called "Use of Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies," gives the President unitary power to determine that an emergency exists in any state sufficient to require the use of the armed forces without the consent of the state government. Previously, gubernatorial requests for such action had been the rule. Section 333 of the Act allows the exercise of this power "in the order to suppress, in any state, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination or conspiracy."
America is now confronted with a de facto repeal of the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which made it a criminal offense for anyone to use any section of the US military forces for domestic law enforcement purposes. In the face of this effective repeal, the media and the Congress have been silent and complicit, and the citizens go about their business unaware of the fact that the soul of any functioning democracy - the existence of checks and balances between the branches of government - has disappeared.
Enabled by the Defense Authorization Act , the president can now declare martial law, transfer military technology to militarized domestic police forces, and detain dissenting citizens virtually at will. These detainees could be held in camps that are now being constructed and refurbished by Kellogg Brown and Root, ostensibly for illegal immigrants.
The unitary presidency has been granted the authority to order kidnapping, detention, and torture abroad under the Military Commissions Act of 2006. This act authorizes extraordinary rendition, which inevitably means foreign detention and torture of anyone the President determines to be an unlawful combatant.
[The] process of incrementally closing down what is left of an "open society" has been a part of the political program of every dictatorship. Control over the major sources of mass information through an elaborate filtering system, ultimately presided over by compliant editors, is essential to creating homogenous views in a population who, in many instances, are already conditioned not to want to know. Allowing peripheral dissent still affords rulers the opportunity to claim that other views are allowed. The reality is that it is a fringe activity, irrelevant to the dominant system of control.
History is ultimately written by those in power, and it must be framed to support the love of the homeland and all of its virtues.
The movement from democracy to fascism has historically involved the criminalization not only of active dissent, but also of speech and ideas... the Violent Radicalization Bill, which is clearly on that track, is an attempt to legitimize an effort to identify words and thoughts that may be capable of radicalizing citizens of the Republic. As a part of this process, the narrow constitutional definition of treason is expanded to a new level. Unpatriotic speech or slander against the president, the government, or the state becomes treasonous.
The Defense Authorization Act of 2007 has laid the foundation for martial law, since it empowers the president to order' National Guard troops from one state to any other to respond to what the president sees as a national emergency ... the occurrence of another "terrorist act" could provide the government with the excuse it needs.
The American Republic survived the 1917 Palmer Raids, the attacks of Senator Joe McCarthy, and the red scares of the Cold War, but never has liberty, the rule of law, our constitution, and representative democracy experienced such a sustained attack, on as many fronts, as it has since September 11 2001.
The Venezuelan Bolivarian Revolution and its commitment to the poor as the most important movement on the planet. [Hugo] Chavez fully embraces the values that inspired by [Martin Luther] King to help the poor and marginalized. Corporate media will continue to distort and misrepresent what is going on there, as it will with respect to very non-capitalist, cooperative effort.