9 12 2007

HR 1955 recently passed the House of Representatives by a pretty emphatic 404-6 vote. This overwhelmingly approved act, entitled ” the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007,” was introduced by Jane Harman, a California Democrat who, like her more famous counterpart Nancy Pelosi, is not the kind of radical new-ager that you might think of when you think California Democrat. Jane is a big fan of the Rand Corporation, which calls itself ”a non-profit institution that addresses the challenges facing the public and private sectors around the world.”

That sounds innocuous, or even positive, enough, right? Umm….guess who calls the shots at Rand….Don Rumsfeld, Scooter Libby, and Condi Rice have been involved, and Reagan’s former Secretary of Defense, Frank Carlucci, is currently on the board. Most other board members are people you probably haven’t heard of, because they find it easier to operate out of the limelight, but they are generals and bank presidents and the former publisher of the Wall Street Journal. These are the people who are running the world and intend to keep on doing so, come hell or high water—and, come to think of it, “hell and high water” is a pretty good four-word description of global warming. So, that’s who Jane Harman is flacking for. There’s speculation that HR 1955 was flat-out written by Rand. It wouldn’t be the first time, I’m sure.

This act, according to its preamble, is designed ”To prevent homegrown terrorism, and for other purposes.” The bill establishes a National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism. This comission is enjoined to travel around the country, holding hearings and deposing witnesses, for six months to a year, and then propose legislation to address the threat of possible “radicalization” of people legally residing in the US. Democrat Harman has set up the ten-member comission so that its makeup will be predominantly Republican, with four Republican congressmembers, four Democrats, one member appointed by the homeland security Reichsfuhrer, and one by the Uberfuhrer himself.

Just what is “violent radicalization,” you might ask…well, Ms. Harman, or the Rand gang, define it thus: “the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence . . ..” And the bill is aimed at “homegrown terrorism,” which it defines as “the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born [or] raised . . . within the United States . . . to intimidate or coerce the United States, the civilian population . . . or any segment thereof . . . .” Well gee, that sounds like a good thing to do, and certainly Ms. Harman sounds noble enough when she talks about it, sayingOur plan must be to intervene before a person crosses that line separating radical views from violent behavior, to understand the forces at work on the individual and the community, to create an environment that discourages disillusionment and alienation, that instills in young people a sense of belonging and faith in the future.”

You may have noticed a pattern starting to emerge: “the planned or threatened use of force”…hmm, could they have gone after the Repugs who disrupted the Flordia recount with this? Not likely….Gandhi called his tactics ”truth force,” which is a literal tranlation of ”satyagraha.” Putting several thousand people on the Capitol steps and refusing to move could very easily be defined as “force or intimidation” in today’s hyper-paranoid legal climate. On a different tack, most of the Muslims who have been persecuted for ”terrorism” in America since 9-11 were led on by government agents who introduced the idea of employing violence into the groups they formed or joined.

Next piece of pattern: Jane wants ” to intervene before a person crosses that line separating radical views from violent behavior.” In other words, the government is going to suss out peoples’ intentions and prosecute them for that. If I want to waterboard everybody from Mr. Bush on down who says that waterboarding isn’t torture, and then ask them if they’ve changed their minds, am I going to be the subject of a government ”intervention”?

Well, as usual, I’m digressing, but going after people for what the government thinks they’re about to do, especially a government as divorced from reality as this one, sounds pretty repressive to me, especially in light of some of Rand’s other, recent work, in which they said that anti-globalist, anti-corporatist activists (like me and the Green Party and, I hope, you) “challenge the intrinsic qualities of capitalism, charging that in the insatiable quest for growth and profit, the philosophy is serving to destroy the world’s ecology, indigenous cultures, and individual welfare.” Well, they got that right. That’s what we say, and that’s what they’re doing. In this particular study, Rand goes on to claim that we “exist in much the same operational environment as al Qaida.” What the bleep does that mean? Ain’t no Green Party of Waziristan that I ever heard of! Well, they’re crazy. Just because they’re right about some things doesn’t mean they’re right about others.

And I think the next thing they say in their report either proves that they’re paranoid, or that we’re doing a better job than we think. They say that we pose “a clear threat to private-sector corporate interests, especially large multinational business.” Well, gee, I guess that’s a compliment. Sometimes I despair over how ineffective me and my small band of friends seem to be on a daily basis, but the Rand Corporation is taking us seriously! And so, apparently, are the Feds.

It starts to look like no coincidence that the Republican co-sponsor of this bill, Dave Reichert, was Sheriff of King’s County, Washington—that’s Seattle—during the 1999 World Trade Organization demnstrations there.

Just as the ”war on drugs” has used cocaine, heroin, and, more recently, amphetamines as stalking horses for its real purpose—to suppress and demonize the use of marijuana and the stronger psychedelics, so this bill uses the threat of Islamic terrorists to go after anti-corporatist, anti-globalization activists, who are pretty universally opposed to harming other human beings, even rich and obnoxious ones. When we talk about ”shocking the bourgeoisie,” we mean psychologically, not with tasers! And really, we’re more interested in seducing people away from their self-destructive ideas, which is more productive than putting them on the defensive, anyway.

It should come as no surprise that the real danger of violence in the US comes from the far right. William Krar was arrested and imprisoned for possession of nearly half a million rounds of ammunition, more than 60 pipe bombs, machine guns, silencers and remote-controlled bombs disguised as briefcases. He also had two pounds of cyanide and pamphlets on how to make chemical weapons, as well as anti-Semitic, anti-black and anti-government books. He was discovered only when a package of forged ID papers and gun permits that he also produced was delivered to the wrong address. For this, he is serving 11 years in prison. Mr. Krar’s case has received almost no publicity.

By contrast, let’s look at Tre Arrow, an environmental activist in Oregon, who was implicated in the arson of $200,000 worth of dump trucks. First, we need to note that there is no direct evidence linking him to this arson. The three individuals who were convicted for the arson gave his name in order to avoid 30-year prison sentences, and Arrow is currently imprisoned in Canada, fighting extradition. As “mastermind” of the plot, the government will likely want to put him away for at least 30 years. Moreover, this case was widely publicized by the Justice Department and the media, unlike Mr. Krar’s.

Now, you could argue that mere possession of illegal firearms and bombs is not the same as actually using them, but to me there’s a big difference between blowing up three dump trucks in the middle of the night when nobody’s around and being caught with lethal weapons and literature that indicates you’re not averse to using them, and that big difference is inversely represented in the sentences handed down or threatened in these two “domestic terrorism” cases. I think this tells us exactly what the government has in mind, and I don’t like it, because it seems like it’s aimed at me and my friends, and aimed at suppressing our vision of a better world—non-corporate, non-hierarchical, and locally self-sufficient.

And sure, this bill has to go through the Senate, which sometimes acts as a brake on the crazier ideas of the House, but it’s going to Joe Lieberman’s Homeland Security Committee, and we all know where Joe stands. And it’s probably unconstitutional, but our current Supreme Court is so expedient about enforcing the fascist agenda that I’m sure they would give it a pass. So look out, people, here comes something big, stupid, red, white, blue, and Democratic all over.

Jackson Browne, Lives in the Balance




One response

18 04 2008

[…] to close Guantanamo, a bill that was introduced by Jane Harman, who I have characterized elsewhere in this chronicle as a lapdog of the CIA. The CIA wants to close it, the junta wants to keep it […]

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