State Terror: SOCOM

“Whereas the late scholar of militarism Chalmers Johnson used to refer to the CIA as “the president’s private army,” today JSOC performs that role, acting as the chief executive’s private assassination squad, and its parent, SOCOM, functions as a new Pentagon power-elite, a secret military within the military possessing domestic power and global reach.

 In 120 countries across the globe, troops from Special Operations Command carry out their secret war of high-profile assassinations, low-level targeted killings, capture/kidnap operations, kick-down-the-door night raids, joint operations with foreign forces, and training missions with indigenous partners as part of a shadowy conflict unknown to most Americans.”

Nick Turse on SOCOM “The (US) Military’s Secret Military.”

US Police State

“The federal government has appropriated about $635 billion, accounting for inflation, for homeland security-related activities and equipment since the 9/11 attacks. To conclude, though, that “the police” have become increasingly militarized casts too narrow a net. The truth is that virtually the entire apparatus of government has been mobilized and militarized right down to the university campus.” –Stephan Salisbury, “How to fund an American police state.”

Communism is the Father of Capitalist Culture

It is communism that elicits culture in capitalism. Britain’s Channel 4 and The Independent newspaper report the story “Modern Art Was CIA Weapon” of how the CIA in the mid-20th century promoted and used modern art–Abstract Expressionism–to flog the idea that capitalism can foster artistic freedom, where communism cannot. However, the extent to which the market fosters artistic freedom was greatly exaggerated–by the elite cadre of American secret police that temporarily, for propaganda purposes, fostered that freedom. And that little mid-century “long leash” blip of freedom depended on capitalists who believed that they had to compete with communism for world opinion.

Capitalist Artistic Freedom (2 AA Communist Batteries Required)

Without communism, do we have freedom in capitalism? For the working class, the post-communist evidence points to “not much” or “no.”

Interesting in the report are 2 subplots:

1) The mid-20th century division of labor/personnel between the CIA and other ruling institutions in the US, and
2) An early chapter in the long tradition of media manipulation:

“The decision to include culture and art in the US Cold War arsenal was taken as soon as the CIA was founded in 1947. Dismayed at the appeal communism still had for many intellectuals and artists in the West, the new agency set up a division, the Propaganda Assets Inventory, which at its peak could influence more than 800 newspapers, magazines and public information organisations. They joked that it was like a Wurlitzer jukebox: when the CIA pushed a button it could hear whatever tune it wanted playing across the world.”

The Capitalist Press

US anti-free speech law developed in apartheid Courts

Decisions from the following cases tried in apartheid Southern Courts laid the legal precedence for the Bush-era development of restrictions on extra-corporate free speech in the US and its fellow neoliberal Anglo countries:

Edwards v. South Carolina
Brown v. Louisiana
Cox v. Louisiana
Adderley v. Florida

Previous court decisions had upheld free speech in public areas:
United States Supreme Court found in Hague v. Committee for Industrial Organization (1939); Thornhill v. Alabama.

Today, the US courts only count “content” of extra-corporate speech as protected by law. The physical practice of political speech in physical space is no longer protected by Anglo law. Hence, the rise of “free speech cages” in the Bush era. These free speech cages were used extensively in the Presidential election of 2008, and are basic Secret Service policy.

Militarized US police forces have introduced “mobile” free speech cages, which is a legalistic way of saying that they trap and immobilize civilians who exercise civil liberties by protesting or marching. Other Anglo countries have begun to replicate this narrow (extra-corporate) American interpretation of free speech, including Canada, which will only allow political speech in designated cages during the upcoming Vancouver Winter Olympics and which is fighting environmental activism with terror law. By contrast, all corporate communications practices continue to be protected by Anglo-American Constitutional law as proper “free speech.”

A Free Speech Cage in the United States, 2008

Update: Canadian civil rights lawyer Amir Attaran recently suggested that people concerned about freedom of expression in Canada should take municipalities or provinces to court when the state makes known it will use its power to crush political activism and before the activism and arrests take place. Canadian law is not yet developed on how to approach time and place restrictions on freedom of expression, and people interested in preserving and expanding Enlightenment achievements would be smart to move now on helping to influence the formation of that body of law.

In contrast, US freedom of expression law is already extremely incoherent, and not salvageable, comments Attaran.

The Freeman Affair

This comment earned an American fatal censure by the neocon Israeli lobby:

“As long as the United States continues unconditionally to provide the subsidies and political protection that make the Israeli occupation and the high-handed and self-defeating policies it engenders possible, there is little, if any, reason to hope that anything resembling the former peace process can be resurrected” (Charles W. Freeman Jr.).

Freeman lost an intelligence position. (See this NYTimes article.)

How bad is Israeli control of the US? It is out of control. We’re down to all the Likud’s yes-men in the federal government. …You can call them Ivy League geniuses if it makes you feel better about the decisive US decline, but we all know they’re just dumb-but-glib, destructive yes men.