The power to incarcerate men, women and children in military prisons is just plain bad business for a number of reasons. I say this based on my experience as an enlisted marine for 8 years and as an officer in the army for 16 years.
Both soldeirs and marines as well as police carry guns and there is the point where all similarity ends. A soldier’s life in combat often depends on bringing the maximum amount of fire power on the target as fast as possible. The job of a soldier is to take land and destroy the enemy. This is job one and a soldier has to train and train with this sole objective.
Theorically, a police officer uses a gun as a last resort and then only as much as is required to subdue the criminal. A police officer always has to take into account the potential damage to innocent civilians.
The training for both is very diferent. While a soldier is focused on the skills required for combat and police officer is required to learn a lot of law and constituational proceedures. Also, a soldier goes to the field for weeks, months and years. A police officer works an eight hour shift. Yes, a soldier is required to learn the Geneva Convention and Code of Conduct.
The treatment of Prisoners of War as opposed to the treatment of those arrested is very different. Bear in mind when you take a prisoner there is always the hope that they will provide immediate information that will save lives on the battle field. If the police arrest a person then the basic treatment is miranda and isolation.
I spent five and a half years working as a soldier in Central and South America. I saw first hand what happens when the military get involved in police work. I have known many officers from such countries as Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, Columbia and Guatemala in the 70s and 80s that have been involved in counter terrorist activities of that period.
Did we not learn anything from the war on terrorism in Latin America in the 70s.
Now think in terms of this quotation that came out of a presidential campaing in the not too distant past: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” Know that this was a presidential candidate for an office that would have the power of the commander in chief of the armed forces.
Then take a look at the movie The Battle of Algiers and ask yourself if this is the role you want the US military to play in the US. Think it is a far stretch. Then know that this was a training film for counter-terrorism we used while I was in Special Forces.
Finally, turn back the pages of US history and look at the film Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and see if you could find any and I mean any historical reference where the army or the soldiers who participated in the massacre were punished in any way shape or form for that massacre that happened on US soil in the war against ‘Indian Terrorism.’
This is what we can expect when a group is labled terrorist: Incident at Oglala:
I challenge anyone to watch The Battle of Algiers, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Incident at Oglala without being moved by the potential of a disaster in the making being set up in the US.
Another point that is not often considered. In the Battle of Algiers it was the French Paras and Foriegn Legion that had been through the meat grinders of World War II as well as Indo China were the politicans turn their back on their brothers in Dien Bien Phu and they were a very exhausted and angry group. Then it was Sitting Bull that soundly defeated the 7th Cav not too far before the Cav took it out on the Indians at Wounded Knee. It was the US government chafing under the unpopularity of Vietnam that took it out on the Indians Oglala.
Then there was the massacre at Kent State University and again another video on the massacre at Kent State. A politician is more apt to employ the force of guns when their power base is threatened than in the survival of the nation from foreign threats. In my 7 decades on this planet, this is the single greatest cause of death, destruction and suffering I have ever seen. Is this the unchecked power we want to invest in one person to use against the people of this nation?
If you compare the massacre at Kent State by the army and Chicogao riots by the police; the intenisty of Chicago far exceeded that of a relatively beniegn college campus and no one died. The police forces of the nation were able to cope with such organizations as the Weathermen 1968 in 1970 without having to call in the military. Now, look back on the period and ask yourself, do we want a military handling such affairs in the style of the War for Algiers or to let the forces of Law and Order dealing with them with the checks of excess contained in the constitution.
Now think in terms of both our regular forces doing repeated tours in Iraq and Afganistan being pulled out and then turned on some rebelious group in the USA. If you think My Lai was bad where troops were doing one rotation and getting out for the most part waith till you see troops that have done 4, 5 or 6 rotations will do.
The saddest part about this process is that there is no power or force to check the military when it goes astray to protect the country. It operates on military reservations where civil courts have no jurisdiction and when you legally isolate a person there is way to check abuses, wrongful incarceration and etc.
The military trains soldiers to withstand all kinds of torture in all sorts of situations. This is hard training to say the least and the trainers are good and fully understand what they are doing. However, to turn these trainers loose on civilians without recourse is an invitation to a disaster and abuse. The view of the military will quickly shift from that as defenders of the nation to a terrorist force in itself.
Think in terms of a person that has been secretly arrested and dies in confinment. Think in terms of the body being disposed of in a hospital incineration stack without a report or even a record of it happening other than the incineration unit was fired up. Who could be held responsible if it did not happen because who is to say it did happen.
This is the kind of stuff that happened in Latin America during the war on terror in the 1970s. Given human nature and the concept that ‘there is no extremison in the defense of liberty’ it will happen here too.
There is not one police force on the state or national level that has endorsed or favored this legislation yet the politicians to include the president signed it into law. I can only think we have a totalitaian state in the making.
Here is a very good summary of the situation:
Why I’m Suing Barack Obama
Monday 16 January 2012
by: Chris Hedges, Truthdig | Report
A Guard in a cell block at Camp 6, Camp Delta, located at the Guantanamo Naval Station in Cuba, in October, 2007. (Photo: Todd Heisler / The New York Times)
Attorneys Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran filed a complaint Friday in the Southern U.S. District Court in New York City on my behalf as a plaintiff against Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to challenge the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force as embedded in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by the president Dec. 31.
The act authorizes the military in Title X, Subtitle D, entitled “Counter-Terrorism,” for the first time in more than 200 years, to carry out domestic policing. With this bill, which will take effect March 3, the military can indefinitely detain without trial any U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism. And suspects can be shipped by the military to our offshore penal colony in Guantanamo Bay and kept there until “the end of hostilities.” It is a catastrophic blow to civil liberties.
I spent many years in countries where the military had the power to arrest and detain citizens without charge. I have been in some of these jails. I have friends and colleagues who have “disappeared” into military gulags. I know the consequences of granting sweeping and unrestricted policing power to the armed forces of any nation. And while my battle may be quixotic, it is one that has to be fought if we are to have any hope of pulling this country back from corporate fascism.
Section 1031 of the bill defines a “covered person”—one subject to detention—as “a person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”
The bill, however, does not define the terms “substantially supported,” “directly supported” or “associated forces.”
I met regularly with leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. I used to visit Palestine Liberation Organization leaders, including Yasser Arafat and Abu Jihad, in Tunis when they were branded international terrorists. I have spent time with the Revolutionary Guard in Iran and was in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey with fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. All these entities were or are labeled as terrorist organizations by the U.S. government. What would this bill have meant if it had been in place when I and other Americans traveled in the 1980s with armed units of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua or the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front guerrillas in El Salvador? What would it have meant for those of us who were with the southern insurgents during the civil war in Yemen or the rebels in the southern Sudan? I have had dinner more times than I can count with people whom this country brands as terrorists. But that does not make me one.
Once a group is deemed to be a terrorist organization, whether it is a Palestinian charity or an element of the Uighur independence movement, the military can under this bill pick up a U.S. citizen who supported charities associated with the group or unwittingly sent money or medical supplies to front groups. We have already seen the persecution and closure of Islamic charity organizations in the United States that supported the Palestinians. Now the members of these organizations can be treated like card-carrying “terrorists” and sent to Guantanamo.
But I suspect the real purpose of this bill is to thwart internal, domestic movements that threaten the corporate state. The definition of a terrorist is already so amorphous under the Patriot Act that there are probably a few million Americans who qualify to be investigated if not locked up. Consider the arcane criteria that can make you a suspect in our new military-corporate state. The Department of Justice considers you worth investigating if you are missing a few fingers, if you have weatherproof ammunition, if you own guns or if you have hoarded more than seven days of food in your house. Adding a few of the obstructionist tactics of the Occupy movement to this list would be a seamless process. On the whim of the military, a suspected “terrorist” who also happens to be a U.S. citizen can suffer extraordinary rendition—being kidnapped and then left to rot in one of our black sites “until the end of hostilities.” Since this is an endless war that will be a very long stay.
This demented “war on terror” is as undefined and vague as such a conflict is in any totalitarian state. Dissent is increasingly equated in this country with treason. Enemies supposedly lurk in every organization that does not chant the patriotic mantras provided to it by the state. And this bill feeds a mounting state paranoia. It expands our permanent war to every spot on the globe. It erases fundamental constitutional liberties. It means we can no longer use the word “democracy” to describe our political system.
The supine and gutless Democratic Party, which would have feigned outrage if George W. Bush had put this into law, appears willing, once again, to grant Obama a pass. But I won’t. What he has done is unforgivable, unconstitutional and exceedingly dangerous. The threat and reach of al-Qaida—which I spent a year covering for The New York Times in Europe and the Middle East—are marginal, despite the attacks of 9/11. The terrorist group poses no existential threat to the nation. It has been so disrupted and broken that it can barely function. Osama bin Laden was gunned down by commandos and his body dumped into the sea. Even the Pentagon says the organization is crippled. So why, a decade after the start of the so-called war on terror, do these draconian measures need to be implemented? Why do U.S. citizens now need to be specifically singled out for military detention and denial of due process when under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force the president can apparently find the legal cover to serve as judge, jury and executioner to assassinate U.S. citizens, as he did in the killing of the cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen? Why is this bill necessary when the government routinely ignores our Fifth Amendment rights—“No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law”—as well as our First Amendment right of free speech? How much more power do they need to fight “terrorism”?
Fear is the psychological weapon of choice for totalitarian systems of power. Make the people afraid. Get them to surrender their rights in the name of national security. And then finish off the few who aren’t afraid enough. If this law is not revoked we will be no different from any sordid military dictatorship. Its implementation will be a huge leap forward for the corporate oligarchs who plan to continue to plunder the nation and use state and military security to cow the population into submission.
The oddest part of this legislation is that the FBI, the CIA, the director of national intelligence, the Pentagon and the attorney general didn’t support it. FBI Director Robert Mueller said he feared the bill would actually impede the bureau’s ability to investigate terrorism because it would be harder to win cooperation from suspects held by the military. “The possibility looms that we will lose opportunities to obtain cooperation from the persons in the past that we’ve been fairly successful in gaining,” he told Congress.
But it passed anyway. And I suspect it passed because the corporations, seeing the unrest in the streets, knowing that things are about to get much worse, worrying that the Occupy movement will expand, do not trust the police to protect them. They want to be able to call in the Army. And now they can.