- Straightaway, Obama's promised "change" and
"yes we can" became hard line foreign and domestic extremism,
betraying his loyal constituency and any hope for kinder, gentler policies.
His populist hypocrisy now exposed, voters are losing faith, but most remain
mindless about the harm he commits daily, much of it touching them directly.
- Several recent articles explain, accessed through the
- Many others add exclamation points about a rogue administration
rampaging at home and globally, most recently involved in a failed Ecuadorean
coup, and for sending FBI goon squads against Chicago and Minneapolis anti-war/pro-Palestinian
activists. No arrests were made, but their homes were ransacked, agents
seizing computers, cell phones, books, photos, papers, correspondence,
and other possessions. They were also ordered before grand juries from
October 5 - 12, potentially facing serious criminal charges for providing
material support to terrorism.
- The Grand Jury System
- The American Bar Association (ABA) explains that grand
juries review evidence to determine "whether there is probable cause
to return an indictment." Critics, however, say they're rubber stamps
for aggressive prosecutors.
- In the federal system, they have "extraordinary
investigative powers," developed since the 1950s. "This wide,
sweeping, almost unrestricted power is the cause of much of the criticism,"
because prosecutors exploit it advantageously, manipulating proceedings
for the outcomes they want, leaving targets unfairly vulnerable to indictments.
The Constitution's Fifth Amendment "requires a grand jury indictment
for federal criminal charges."
- Though nominally independent, they only hear cases prosecutors
choose. They also select witnesses, grant discretionary immunity, and do
nearly all the questioning. Grand jury members may ask their own after
witness testimonies, but their job is to judge what prosecutors present,
then decide if enough evidence warrants indictment.
- Conducted in secret, no one may disclose what goes on
unless ordered to do so judicially. Anyone may be subpoenaed, and must
answer questions unless a specific privilege is claimed, such as lawyer/client
or self-incrimination. In the federal system, lawyers can't represent their
clients while testifying.
- In addition, double jeopardy doesn't apply to grand juries,
but without indictments, prosecutors need Criminal Division Attorney General
permission to try again. Though seldom asked, in a climate of fear, targets
remain vulnerable if prosecutors intend to get them, perhaps on new grounds.
- The ABA asks, "What protection does a target have
against witnesses lying to the grand jury (perhaps for leniency on existing
or threatened charges), or against the use of unconstitutionally obtained
evidence? None," except to challenge the evidence at trial.
- Especially post-9/11, prosecutors want grant jury indictments,
manipulate proceedings to get them, leaving targets vulnerable on their
own. At fault is the system. It's rigged against them, so many are hung
out to dry unfairly. That's what Chicago and Minneapolis anti-war/pro-Palestinian
supporters now face, a tough road ahead if Justice Department officials
are determined to convict.
- Police State Thuggery
- Post-9/11, an earlier article explained the path America
chose, accessed through the following link:
- Though well along earlier, the pace accelerated in the
last decade. Obama has been as hard line as Bush, showing he's no different
from America's worst ever leaders. He may, in fact, be the most dangerous,
given the support he so far retains. None of it, of course, is deserved.
- Bush made America a police state. Obama hardened it -
among other ways through:
- -- greater intrusive surveillance;
- -- unjustifiable preventive detentions;
- -- targeting American citizens for assassination, solely
by presidential edict;
- -- invoking the "state secrets" doctrine to
block litigation against rendition, torture, and warrantless wiretapping;
- -- opposing Net Neutrality;
- -- threatening free expression and the right to dissent,
- -- prosecuting whistleblowers as well as journalists
and others who protect their anonymity or publish their revelations; and
- -- making anyone against US extremism vulnerable to lawless
political persecutions, especially anti-war and Muslim American activists
as well as lawyers who defend them too vigorously.
- The USA Patriot Act eroded at least four Bill of Rights
- -- due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments;
- -- First Amendment free expression; and
- -- Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable
searches, seizures, and as a consequence privacy.
- Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called it
"the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by a
free people." Patriot Act legislation and today's sophisticated technology
make unconstitutional intrusions easier than ever. Obama officials have
taken full advantage, besides targeting other freedoms for destruction.
- Chicago and Minneapolis State Terror
- September 24 raids in both cities are the latest examples
- police state terror against (supposedly) constitutionally protected speech,
political activism, and right of free association. No matter, innocent
people may be slapped with unsubstantiated charges, then criminally prosecuted
for providing material support to terrorism.
- According to an FBI spokesman, raids were aimed at people
"providing, attempting and conspiring to provide material support"
to terrorist organizations, meaning, among others, Colombia's FARC-EP,
Lebanon's Hezbollah, and Palestine's Hamas and the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) - no matter their legitimacy, and except
for FARC, are part of their countries' governments.
- Opposition to War and Occupation (OWO) is a Twin Cities-based
education and solidarity group against America's imperial wars - abroad
and at home by repressing activists who oppose them. On September 27, it
issued the following statement:
- OWO "wholeheartedly condemns the recent FBI house
raids of social justice activists in Minneapolis and Chicago on Friday,
September 24, 2010. These raids are part of the long history of coordinated
government repression against those who fight against imperialism and exploitation
and those working in solidarity with them."
- Victims guilty only of supporting right over wrong are
"systematically harassed, targeted, and even murdered in an attempt
to undermine struggles for justice." As a result, front line activists
must confront state terror "with steadfast resistance to war and occupation,
and all forms of state violence," abroad and at home.
- The Committee to Stop FBI Repression named October 4
as a national call-in day to Obama and Attorney General Holder, demanding
an end to state repression. The Committee also called for solidarity actions
outside FBI and federal buildings throughout America on October 5, the
first grand jury date.
- Supreme Court Endorses State Terrorism
- More than ever now, US policy aims to crush dissent,
destroy political opposition, and subvert democratic freedoms. On June
21, 2010, the Supreme Court's Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project ruling
advanced that disquieting agenda. In a 6 - 3 decision, the Roberts court
upheld the "material support" statute's constitutionality (18
USC, 2339B), making it a crime to support any State Department-designated
Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), no matter how unwarranted.
- At the time, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
- "the challenged provisions violate the First Amendment
insofar as they criminalize the provision of forms of support such as the
distribution of literature, engaging in political advocacy, participating
in peace conferences, training in human rights advocacy, and donating cash
and humanitarian assistance, even when such support is intended solely
to promote the lawful and non-violent activities of a designated organization."
- Holder's Justice Department disagreed, claiming the statute
imposes guilt by association, harming innocent people for the illegal acts
of groups they supported. Further, it doesn't require showing intent to
support terrorism or other illegal activity.
- CCR countered saying, "the statute was unconstitutionally
vague, and that the Secretary of State's power to designate groups was
too broad, giving the executive too much discretionary power to label groups
'terrorist' (with or without proof) and turn their supporters into outlaws."
- With High Court approval, Holder, like his predecessors
under Bush, has run rough shot over constitutionally protected freedoms,
making anyone for right over wrong vulnerable to criminal prosecution and
imprisonment. It's why now, more than ever, America is a police state,
a disquieting judgment, putting even activist writers and media hosts at
risk, as well as anyone against state extremism.
- A Final Comment
- After September 24, rallies and protests took place in
dozens of US cities against the thuggish FBI raids. On September 27, hundreds
mobilized outside its Chicago and Minneapolis offices. On September 28,
the Chicago Sun Times headlined, "Protesters target FBI raids,"
- "Hundreds of protesters gathered outside FBI offices
in Chicago and Minneapolis on Monday, bearing signs and shouting chants
condemning recent searches of homes and offices of anti-war activists in
- The Minneapolis Star Tribune published a similar report,
using an AP story, not its own, that quoted one of the targets, Minnesotan
Mick Kelly, saying:
- "We have provided no material support. I can't stress
that long enough or loud enough, and honestly I don't believe that's why
we're facing this scrutiny."
- It's for the above-cited reasons - to crush opposition
to state-sponsored roguishness abroad and at home, as well as discourage
potential new resisters.
- An earlier article quoted Merriam-Webster's police state
definition, saying it's "characterized by repressive government control....(the)
arbitrary exercise of power by police and especially secret police,"
and in America, the FBI, CIA, and other oppressive agencies, targeting
innocent people instead of protecting them.
- Post-9/11 especially, George Bush took that route. In
less than two years, Obama outdid him, adopting the worst of his policies,
establishing more of his own, and accelerating America faster on the road
to despotism. Chicago and Minneapolis raids signal worse to come unless
mass outrage erupts to stops them. Otherwise, midnight or pre-dawn raids
will be the norm on whatever grounds authorities charge against which there's
no defense, a possibility too nightmarish to allow.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays
at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs
are archived for easy listening.