New Orleans police officer fires stun gun at demonstrators demanding entry to a City Council meeting where over 4,000 housing units were approved for demolition.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
Mike Whitney won a 2008 Project Censored Award for his February, 2007 article titled "Operation FALCON and the Looming Police State." In it, he reported that the Bush administration "carried out three massive sweeps in the last two years, rolling up more than 30,000 minor crooks and criminals" that he calls a "blueprint for removing dissidents and political rivals" reminiscent of Nazi Germany or any other repressive police state. Those chickens now reside at home, but the public is largely unaware and unconcerned. We all should be as Whitney raises a "red flag for anyone who cares at all about human rights, civil liberties, or simply saving his own skin."
Operation FALCON stands for "Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally" and came out of the Bush Justice Department and right-wing think tanks "where fantasies of autocratic government have a long history" and are now playing out in real time. The scheme centralizes power in Washington and uses resources of local authorities for its own purposes.
Whitney traces its short history starting in the week of April 4 - 10, 2005 when over 10,000 criminal suspects were arrested in "the largest criminal sweep in the nation's history" in a "single initiative." Its aim was "quantity," not "quality," but Whitney asked why did the Feds get involved in local police work and suggested something more sinister was involved "than just ensuring public safety." His answer - "to enhance the powers of the 'unitary' executive" by giving Washington power over local law enforcement, and that makes perfect sense under an administration obsessed with wanting unchallengeable control.
Operation FALCON II followed a week later from April 17 - 23 and swept up another 9037 "alleged fugitives." The final FALCON III came from October 22 - 28, 2006 with 10,773 more arrests. Each sweep was the same and concentrated on alleged criminal types out of character for a federal operation, so clearly another motive was involved. Further, no one arrested was charged with a terrorist-related crime, and that alone looks fishy. Whitney thought so and called FALCON "new drills for a new world order" that's waging permanent war, defiles the law, ignores checks and balances, condones torture, repealed habeas, and illegally spies on everyone.
Muslim and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) Sweeps
As FALCON targeted petty crooks and criminals, Muslims are the administration's main "war on terrorism" victims. Post-9/11, thousands were mercilessly harassed and persecuted through mass witch-hunt roundups, detentions, prosecutions and deportations. Their assets were frozen, and legal immigrants among them were subjected to secret federal immigration court status hearings where those found guilty of minor past infractions were illegally held or returned to their countries of origin where they faced possible arrest and torture.
Others fared even worse and became political prisoners. Professor Sami Al-Arian was one of them because of his faith, beliefs and activism. Palestinian refugee, scholar, academic, community leader, civic activist, and freedom and justice advocate for his people made him a Bush administration target. His ordeal began when he was arrested in February, 2003 and unjustly charged with supporting terrorism, conspiracy to commit murder, racketeering, giving material support to an outlawed group, extortion, perjury and other offenses proved spurious in his subsequent trial in which he was exonerated. Yet he remains imprisoned under harsh conditions as the Bush Justice Department finds ways to hold him.
Another victim was Dr. Rafil Dhafir, a Muslim American of Iraqi descent and practicing oncologist until his license was suspended. He was convicted in a shameless kangaroo court trial of 59 of 60 trumped up charges of violating the Iraqi Sanctions Regulations (IEEPA) for using his own funds and what he could raise through his Help the Needy charity to bring desperately needed essential to life humanitarian aid to Iraqis under sanctions. He's now serving a 22 year sentence in a special Terre Haute, IN "Communications Management Unit" (CMU) for Muslims and Arabs for his "crime of compassion" (see dhafirtrial.net, Katherine Hughes) where he, like Sami Al-Arian, is a Bush administration "trophy" prisoner in the "war on terrorism."
Undocumented Latino immigrants have also been targeted with ICE shock troops mandated to do it. The agency was established in March, 2003 as the largest DHS investigative and enforcement arm and charged with protecting the public safety by identifying and targeting "criminal" and "terrorist" threats to the country. In most cases, they're innocent victims of NAFTA and globalized trade coming north to survive. ICE heads them off at the border, hunts them down ruthlessly once they're here, and boasts how well their multi-billion dollar budget lets them conduct a reign of terror against vulnerable people.
Workplace assaults continue, and on October 3, ICE said it swept up and deported (or will deport) more than 1300 "criminal aliens, immigrations fugitives, and immigration violators" in the "largest-ever" operation of its kind in the Los Angeles area. Most were Mexican nationals, but some were from 30 other countries, and ICE called them "immigration violators." They're Bush administration targets in its "war on terrorism" that soon may come for us.
Police State America Preparations
Today, dissent is an endangered species, and preparations are underway for mass detentions in the "war on terrorism" targeting anyone seen as a threat. Halliburton is the beneficiary with a DHS contingency contract worth nearly $400 million to build US-based camps for "detention and processing" in case of an "emergency influx of immigrants....or to support the rapid development of new programs (for planned) expansion facilities (for anyone with capacity for 5000 or more persons)."
This language is cover for planned US-based concentration camps for anyone labeled an enemy of the state or threat to "national security." The plan is clear - to have facilities in place if martial law is declared with plenty of reasons to fear it's coming. Why else these camps and why all the repressive laws, EOs, NSPDs, and HSPDs put in place if they weren't for a purpose.
The Pentagon is also ready with a DOD action plan called "Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support." It envisions an "active, layered defense" both within and outside the country that pledges to "transform US military forces to execute homeland defense missions in the....US homeland." It lays out a strategy for increased reconnaissance and surveillance to "defeat potential challengers before they threaten the United States." It also "maximizes threat awareness and seizes the initiative from those who would harm us."
These are ominous developments that suggest a likely real or contrived homeland terror attack severe enough to warrant suspending the Constitution and declaring martial law with the public acquiescing out of fear. If it comes, anyone may be targeted as a "national security" threat, indefinitely detained in a camp, and no evidence is needed for proof. The state and military will be empowered by law to act preventively through mass roundups and detentions that appears the reason for three test-run FALCON operations.
Full-scale militarization of the country is already lawful under the 1988 Reagan administration's "national security emergency" EO 12656. It was meant for "Any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States." "Police state America" has been in the works a long time, and it now may be near the boiling point.
The Role of Blackwater USA in Police State America
Most people know about Blackwater but not how it operates. We better learn because it's coming to a neighborhood near you, and that means trouble. Author Jeremy Scahill wrote the book on the company he calls "the world's most powerful mercenary army" and describes it as a "shadowy mercenary company (employing) some of the most feared professional killers in the world accustomed to operating without worry of legal consequences (and) largely off the congressional radar." It has friends in high places who give it "remarkable power and protection within the US war apparatus" with unaccountable license to practice street violence with impunity to include cold-blooded murder wherever their paramilitaries are deployed.
For now, that's mostly abroad, and controversy surfaced about the company after its mercenaries killed two dozen or more Iraqis and wounded dozens more in al-Nisour on September 16. It was the latest incident involving a company with a disturbing history of unprovoked violence and then claiming self-defense. Blackwater is contracted to provide security services for US diplomats, officials and others that once was assigned to the military at one-sixth or less what the company charges under an administration that believes anything government can do private business does better, so let it whatever the cost.
Using Blackwater and other paramilitaries is part of the scheme to militarize America, and New Orleans is its first test case. Scahill wrote that "about 150 heavily armed Blackwater troops dressed in full battle gear" arrived in the Crescent City right after Katrina hit and spread out into the city's chaos. Others came later. Their cover was to provide hurricane relief, but that was a ruse as local residents still around in the wrong places soon discovered. They patrolled like Gestapo in SUVs with tinted windows and their logo on the back. Others used unmarked cars with no license plates, and relief wasn't their mandate. They came to secure neighborhoods from their legal residents and treat those wanting to return like criminals. They wore flak jackets, carried automatic weapons and had extra guns strapped to their legs. They weren't for show.
Instead of helping hurricane victims, they came as vigilantes to terrorize them and be empowered by federal, state and local authorities to do it. Blackwater USA is the face of paramilitarism on US streets as the "war on terrorism" comes to a neighborhood near you with New Orleans the first test case to see if the company can operate here the way it does in Iraq and get away with it. It's doing it.
More than two years after Katrina, New Orleans is still a disaster zone, and many thousands of its residents are still without homes. Instead of helping them rebuild and restore their lives, federal funds instead go to private mercenaries to protect the privileged from desperate people needing help. Blackwater is another element in place in "police state America" where the streets of Boston, Boise or Buffalo may one day resemble Baghdad and bring the "war on terror" to the homeland with chilling implications of what that means.
A Look Ahead in Police State America
This article began and will end with the same chilling thought. It past is prologue, the outlook isn't good in "police state America" under neocon rule that won't appreciably change when the White House has a new occupant in 2009. The nation is at war and laws are in place that end constitutional protections, militarize the country, repress dissent, and our government is empowered to crush freedom and defend privilege from beneficial social change it won't tolerate. It's the price of imperial arrogance we the people are paying, and that won't end until the spirit of resistance gets aroused enough to stop it in our own self-defense. We better hope that happens in time with potentially little of it left.
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 The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on TheMicroEffect.com Mondays at noon US Central time.