Wednesday, November 24, 2004

My Hat is a Nice Soft Beanie, Thanks 

Still wondering about the military’s role in domestic affairs? This wasn’t really covered by the SCLM, was it? Here’s Rumsfeld’s vision of the ideal nation, speaking in Ecuador last week and calling for a return to police states:

''Since Sep. 11, 2001, we have had to conduct an essential re-examination of the relationships between our military and our law enforcement responsibilities in the U.S.'', asserted Rumsfeld, who never let the phrase ''human rights'' pass his lips. ''The complex challenges of this new era and the asymmetric threats we face require that all elements of state and society work together''.

Indeed, the Pentagon chief included under the rubric of ''enemies'' faced by the region's armed forces a number of actors who normally would come under the jurisdiction of the civilian authorities. ''Terrorists, drug traffickers, hostage takers and criminal gangs form an anti-social combination that increasingly seeks to destabilise civil societies'', he declared, further blurring the line between the roles of the military and the police…

Of the newspapers that covered the conference, only the 'Miami Herald' stressed Rumsfeld's recommendations on expanding the role of the military in dealing with the region's security problems and quoted Jose Pampurro, the Argentine defence minister, and his Brazilian counterpart, Jose Alencar, on the subject…

The same article quoted Brazil's Alencar as calling for global disarmament, and insisting, ''the cause of terrorism is not just fundamentalism, but misery and hunger''. Inter Press Service

There’ll be none of that touchy-feely crap here, pal. Go back to Brazil! So, Rumsfeld is encouraging Latin America to return to the police state model, and Chimpie is encouraging a review of whether “paramilitary forces” should be under CIA or Pentagon control (see Lambert’s question, below). Hmmm. Naah. Of course American troops would never do that. It’s not part of their training:

MOSUL, Iraq - It began with U.S. troops busting through the doors of the wrong house.

Dozens of soldiers rammed the white gates of a well-to-do home in central Mosul early on Tuesday, detaining three Iraqi men, only to discover their target was a house with black gates.
"Four houses down," said the elderly homeowner patiently, his hands bound behind his back by yellow plastic cuffs.

"You've got the wrong people," he told the officer leading the operation in good English, his wife, daughter and two pajama-clad grandchildren cowering alongside him, trying to avoid the glare from the spotlights on the soldiers' guns…

Down the road, soldiers were ramming open the gates of an upscale house. They were about to burst through the door when it opened. Inside were seven young women and six dazed children.
The men of the house were in a village outside Mosul for a few days, one of the women said in fluent English. The soldiers were looking for her father, a Mosul university professor.

"Is he a member of the Baath party?" Lackey asked her. "The Baath party that still exists?"

She replied that he wasn't any more, "that was ages ago." She pointed out her father was detained by U.S. troops in a previous raid and held for five months without charge. Reuters

Tonight, we eat, drink, sing and plan. While we still can. Not that America will ever become a police state—I mean, there would never be any need for martial law here. Right?

UPDATE: I am reminded that it's already been happening. One example:

In March 1992 a police SWAT team in Everett, Washington killed Robin Pratt in a no-knock raid while carrying out an arrest warrant for her husband. (Her husband was later released after the allegations on which the arrest warrant was based turned out to be false.) The Seattle Times summarized the raid:"Instead of using an apartment key given to them, SWAT members threw a 50- pound battering ram through a sliding glass door that landed near the heads of Pratt's six-year-old daughter and five-year-old niece. As deputy Anthony Aston rounded the corner to the Pratt's bedroom, he encountered Robin Pratt. SWAT members were yelling, `GET DOWN,' and she started to crouch to her knees. She looked up at Aston and said, `Please don't hurt my children'. Aston had his gun pointed at her and fired, shooting her in the neck. According to attorney John Muenster, she was alive another one to two minutes but could not speak because her throat had been destroyed by the bullet. She was then handcuffed, lying facedown."

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