Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Your Government is Closed

by DAVE LINDORFF

I was working on a story about the FBI’s harassment, intimidation and extortion of friends and associates of Ibragim Todashev, the man they executed at the end of a six-hour night-time interrogation in his apartment in Orlando, Florida earlier this year. Since his death, which the FBI initially claimed, variously, was the result of his lunging at an officer, or trying to grab the officer’s gun, or attacking the officer with a sword or a broom, but later admitted it couldn’t explain, the agency has been systematically picking up and intimidating, Gestapo-style, his girlfriend and other friends and associates, reportedly threatening them with deportation or arrest if they don’t agree to assist the FBI by spying on local mosques or middle eastern restaurants in Florida’s Islamic neighborhoods.

One particularly egregious case involved a friend of the late Todashev’s named Ashur Miraliev, who last month was picked up by the FBI, which claimed he was wanted for questioning on a charge of “intimidating a witness” to an alleged bar fight (a local, not a federal charge). Miraliev, according to the Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), says that the agents, once they had him, never asked about that case, but wanted to question him about his relationship to Todashev, who had been a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder of the two brothers accused of the Boston Marathon bombing, and who died in a shootout with Boston police. Miraliev said he demanded an attorney, but was told he couldn’t have one, and was then grilled for hours in violation of his Miranda rights. He remains in a local jail on $50,000 bail on the “intimidation” charge, and has been there now for 15 days, unable to raise the bail.

I tried to call the FBI for comment, since one news report had quoted the FBI’s top flak, Paul Bresson, as claiming that the FBI would never question a witness who had requested an attorney’s presence, unless the witness agreed to be questioned without legal counsel. I wanted to ask how voluntary such questioning could be in this case, since Miraliev would clearly have known that his friend Todashev was killed by the FBI during his attorney-free interrogation. Not the kind of situation in which one would be comfortable refusing to answer questions, one would think!

Anyhow, when I called the FBI Public Affairs office, the phone just rang on and on. There was not even a voice-mail recording offering a journalist a chance to leave a message.

Curious about what was going on, I called the Justice Department, which oversees the FBI. That federal department’s press office line had a recording saying:

“In the event of a lapse of appropriations, this message will be listened to and responded to upon a funding resolution.”

Wow! That could be some wait. I left a message, but if Republicans continue to block passage of a rise in the debt ceiling, I may have to wait weeks for a response or maybe longer.

Wondering how many federal departments, agencies and offices have shut down their public affairs and press offices, I phoned the White House press office. That call elicited another recording. This one said:

“You have reached the White House press office. This office remains open during the lapse in appropriations, but with greatly reduced staffing. We are available to handle urgent or emergency requests but no one is available at this time to take this call. Please emailpress@who.eop.gov [2] with any urgent requests. Thank you. Sorry. Cannot leave a message now because user’s mailbox is full.”

So it has come to this: The US government, including the White House and the Justice Department and the FBI, are no better than the Apple help line or the Verizon Wireless customer support office, only without the Muzak.

Except that when you get lousy customer support from a company, at least you can change to another one.

What do we do in this case? Hmmmm….

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 29, 2016
Robert Fisk
The Butcher of Qana: Shimon Peres Was No Peacemaker
James Rose
Politics in the Echo Chamber: How Trump Becomes President
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Vice Grip on the Presidential Debates
Daniel Kato
Rethinking the Race over Race: What Clinton Should do Now About ‘Super-Predators’
Peter Certo
Clinton’s Awkward Stumbles on Trade
Fran Shor
Demonizing the Green Party Vote
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Road Rage to the White House
Luke O'Brien
Because We Couldn’t Have Sanders, You’ll Get Trump
Michael J. Sainato
How the Payday Loan Industry is Obstructing Reform
Robert Fantina
You Can’t Have War Without Racism
Gregory Barrett
Bad Theater at the United Nations (Starring Kerry, Power, and Obama
James A Haught
The Long, Long Journey to Female Equality
Thomas Knapp
US Military Aid: Thai-ed to Torture
Jack Smith
Must They be Enemies? Russia, Putin and the US
Gilbert Mercier
Clinton vs Trump: Lesser of Two Evils or the Devil You Know
Tom H. Hastings
Manifesting the Worst Old Norms
George Ella Lyon
This Just in From Rancho Politico
September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
Gareth Porter
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]