FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Empire of Madness

by RITT GOLDSTEIN

It was 1998 when I read Zbigniew Brzezinski’s ‘The Grand Chessboard’, and while much of what I read troubled me, I seem to recall both the effective acknowledgement of American Empire and what I interpreted as an observation suggesting that democracy made it difficult to govern.  Well, in the years since, in my opinion it seems the powers that be have been trying to make The Empire easier to run.

Since 1980, the population of America’s Federal Prisons has risen about 880%, according to a new report by the Congressional Research Service, and the US does seem the unchallenged leader among nations in the imprisoning of its citizens.  Of course, debate is currently ongoing regarding the ‘extrajudicial killing’ of American citizens, and it is unfortunate that a 2010 Bill to prohibit such acts did fail in Congress.  But, we do know the Government is doing its best to ’keep an eye on things’, especially as drones will soon be patrolling US skies, Congress working on the “Integration of Drones into Domestic Airspace” as you read this.

Gosh, it’s good that America is ‘the land of the free’, think of what might be going on if it wasn’t!

Now, while there are those that might recall Orwell’s ‘1984’, the ubiquitous posters announcing that ‘Big Brother is Watching You’, Congressional leadership has assured us that they’re acting in our ‘best interests’, doing all that can be done to protect American citizens.  After all, if one has nothing to hide, is there anything to fear?  Though, Naomi Wolf did write a Guardian article upon “how the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy”, observing “documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.”

Extrajudicial killings, the targeting of peaceful demonstrators by security forces working with business interests, massive levels of incarceration – weren’t these the kind of things that, when they allegedly occurred abroad, US rights groups were once often joined by the Government in protesting against?  And now, questions have arisen as to whether the death of Christopher Dorner provides an example of ‘extrajudicial killing’ in itself.

I do recall that in ‘1984’ it seemed Big Brother did considerably more than just watch, and it could possibly be argued that something similar might be in progress here.  But, in a way, ‘all this’ might be good – President Bush had earlier said some folks hate us for our freedoms, and there are some today that perhaps would suggest those that govern are doing all they can to eliminate the source of such jealousy.  However, perhaps contrary to what elected officials seem to think, most citizens just may not appreciate such efforts — one can but wonder why — a Gallup poll showing only about 10% of those surveyed approving of the job America’s Congress is doing. Go figure.

Once I wrote laws, not articles, the laws being on ‘Police Accountability’, a hearing I chaired being held in Connecticut’s legislature on the measures introduced. Notably, as America’s attention is captured by what I’ll term the ‘Dorner Phenomenon’, to me it seems that many of the same kinds of questions we saw Dorner raising were similarly raised by those testifying at my legislative hearing, North America’s leading police accountability people among them.

While I did not applaud Dorner’s alleged conduct, I will say that the issues he raised — of officers accused of misconduct being promoted vs reprimanded, ‘troubled’ police accountability systems, etc — were addressed by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in their 1998 report ‘Shielded from Justice’.  In 1998, in my opinion HRW did seem to confirm the type of accusations Dorner made, doing so fifteen years ago.

In 2006, I received ‘humanitarian asylum’ in Sweden, and write this from there, becoming one of very, very, very few Americans to receive sanctuary abroad since the Vietnam era.  What does it say when an American is compelled to become a refugee?
Following sustained attacks, being shot at, having the steering unscrewed on my car, I fled The States about seven months after the legislative hearing I chaired occurred, that being a year before the HRW report appeared. Here is a link to 60 minutes of Hearing highlights, with the truths revealed then perhaps being even more relevant now.  In example, a former mayor relates how his home was attacked by police, vandalized, while he was mayor, his interpretation of events being that it was to show that the police ran that town, not him, the chief elected official.  But, police vandalism is the least of such issues.

There is another video segment, one dealing with an alleged plot by police to murder a police accountability activist (someone other than myself), an alleged plot that was reported upon in the Hartford Courant – Connecticut’s largest paper.  The Courant’s headline reads ‘Colchester Officers Accused Of Death Plot’, its first line being: “A state police informant says he was offered $10,000 by two town police officers to make ‘disappear’ a man who had lodged a brutality complaint against the officers.”

In HRW’s ’98 report, there is a quote by Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham: “When the police are indistinguishable from the bad guys, then society has a serious problem.”  But, this report was fifteen years ago, and when societal problems are left unaddressed, like all problems, they don’t tend to get better…only worse.

Ritt Goldstein is an American investigative political journalist living in Sweden. His exposé on NATO in the Arctic appears in the January issue of CounterPunch magazine.

Ritt Goldstein is an American investigative political journalist living in Sweden.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious madness in Ulster
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
January 19, 2017
Melvin Goodman
America’s Russian Problem
Dave Lindorff
Right a Terrible Wrong: Why Obama Should Reverse Himself and Pardon Leonard Peltier
Laura Carlsen
Bringing Mexico to Its Knees Will Not “Make America Great Again”
John W. Whitehead
Nothing is Real: When Reality TV Programming Masquerades as Politics
Yoav Litvin
Time to Diss Obey: the Failure of Identity Politics and Protest
Mike Whitney
The Trump Speech That No One Heard 
Conn Hallinan
Is Europe Heading for a “Lexit”?
Stephen Cooper
Truth or Twitter? Why Donald Trump Is No John Steinbeck
Binoy Kampmark
Scoundrels of Patriotism: The Freeing of Chelsea Manning
Ramzy Baroud
The Balancing Act is Over: What Elor Azaria Taught Us about Israel
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail