No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by Thanas » 2014-12-15 07:24am

General Brock wrote:Today, the only other nation that prefaces their constitution with "We, the People" is India. Then they go on to enshrine socialism. Socialist measures that support individual rights are fine, but socialist measures can also deny individual rights (such as nationalist socialism; nazism). The saving grace is that "We, the people" states that India's People are the final arbiter of how to interpret their constitution. Europe generally falls under The European Convention on Human Rights, which is prefaced with "The Governments signatory hereto...".

I'm not an expert on every constitution of every European country, but it seems likely that many play into that same legalistic/philosophical hoodwink; we think government is for the people by the people, but how well does it stand up to reasonable interpretations of what's actually written down as fundamental law (let alone practiced)? There's a running joke about EU referenda; if you don't vote for what they want and win, you've also voted to hold another referendum till you do. The People can be reduced to a rubber stamp; morally wrong, but where's the material law to back that up and what can people do about it when it happens?
Are you fucking kidding me?
But where they are essentially top-down contracts between the rulers and the ruled, drawing legitimacy from the government, not the governed, as to what is reasonable, that's a lockout on inalienable.
....yeah, you just don't know anything, do you?
Although the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly enshrine a right to revolt, some individual state constitutions do. These state provisions are far more explicit than say Germany or Greece. The right to revolution is part of America's Constitutional tradition as a moral right with means also provided. Notwithstanding the irresponsible folly of shooting up one's own country, the right to keep and bear arms characteristic of a militia is enshrined in the Second Amendment.
Please quote the relevant portions of the German constitution which you feel is being less explicit (and why it therefore is worth less) here.
Its also notable that the American armed forces are sworn to protect the Constitution, not the Government. There is an organizations called the Oathkeepers all about backing that up.
How is this different from "I swear to serve the Federal Republic of Germany and to bravely defend the rights and liberty of the German people", which is the current oath rendered by the armed forces of Germany.
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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by cmdrjones » 2014-12-15 11:24am

Thanas wrote:
cmdrjones wrote:Just like homeschoolers have the right to not have their kids taken away, and anyone can say anything they like regarding the holocaust too right, oh wait...
Oh how about you just shut the fuck up? You claimed there was no right to resistance in the German constitution. There is. Some religious nutjobs deciding to break school law is not the same as the government turning into a tyranny and you know it.
I'd like to talk to Edi then since YOU haven't provided proof of military experience Who are you to adjudicate this?
A supermod on this board you chose to enter and post in. Don't like being challenged? Don't make claims about personal expertise.

i don't mind being Challenged... my point is that due to the lack of debating 'goodwill' if you will I doubt that ANYTHING that I provide will be acceptable. For example earlier on I made the claim, that IMHO, the US constitution was the most pro-freedom (legal) document produced by mankind to date. Another poster provided the Altlantic Charter as a counter example. I continue to disagree citing that theAtlantic Charter doesn't have the same (theoretical) authority that the Constiution does and so on... BUT at no time did I shout that he was a liar, and that I didn't BELIEVE that the Atlantic charter existed because he ONLY provided a wikipedia page and that he could have simply created that entry, did I? (yes, I know that's an extreme example, kinda need to use one to make the point.)
If I had, for example uploaded my IRaq pics All I would have heard was: You got them off the internet! Or if I had scanned in my DD-214: "You used photoshop! Prove you are that guy!" etc etc.

Also, it isn't fun to have nonsensical/insulting questions thrown back at you is it supermod?
Terralthra wrote:It's similar to the Arabic word for "one who sows discord" or "one who crushes underfoot". It'd be like if the acronym for the some Tea Party thing was "DKBAG" or something. In one sense, it's just the acronym for ISIL/ISIS in Arabic: Dawlat (al-) Islāmiyya ‘Irāq Shām, but it's also an insult.
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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by cmdrjones » 2014-12-15 11:25am

Dominus Atheos wrote:Anyway, cmdrjones' military service and discussions of the US Constitution completely unrelated to Eric Garner, so maybe those discussions should be split?

DING!! WINNAH!!
Terralthra wrote:It's similar to the Arabic word for "one who sows discord" or "one who crushes underfoot". It'd be like if the acronym for the some Tea Party thing was "DKBAG" or something. In one sense, it's just the acronym for ISIL/ISIS in Arabic: Dawlat (al-) Islāmiyya ‘Irāq Shām, but it's also an insult.
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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by cmdrjones » 2014-12-15 11:29am

Ziggy Stardust wrote:
cmdrjones wrote: So do you see it? C'mon, you can do it! Notice the relevant phrase is "female or otherwise"? You keep saying that I claimed to have observed female snipers in action and that I admitted that I hadn't, which makes me a liar when YOU put in the phrase "female or otherwise" well, the ones I observed were otherwise, being that there ARE NO FEMALE SNIPERS IN THE US ARMY.
I see you are continuing with your dishonest debating tactics. I like the way you selectively quote that thread to make it sound like I'm the liar. Why don't we actually go and quote some posts from that thread, eh, Colonel Klink?

At the top of page 2 of that thread:
cmdrjones wrote:My observation of women being snipers is that they are more patient and willing to wait for the "perfect" shot, but have problems with the physicalty required to SET UP the "perfect" shot. i.e. lay in this field covered with biting insects in your own piss for 3 days until you get what you came for...
You specifically claimed that you have personally observed female snipers, and were qualified to judge their qualifications at being a sniper. Did you forget about this particular lie of yours, you stupid shit?

This was BEFORE I asked you about your combat experience. You intentionally quoted that thread to remove this particular claim of yours, in the hopes nobody would notice. The fact that you admitted in this very thread
being that there ARE NO FEMALE SNIPERS IN THE US ARMY.
Is an admission that your original claim was a lie. THIS ALL STARTED WITH YOU CLAIMING TO HAVE OBSERVED FEMALE SNIPERS. You now admit that they aren't any female snipers for you to have observed anyway. Therefore, you are a liar. That's why I continue to press you on your military qualifications, since we here have definitive proof that you are dishonest. If you lied about the female snipers, it would stand to reason that you are also lying about your military service.
cmdrjones wrote:oh wait, you never answered my question you "THUNDEROUS CUNT" how many battles have you been in? WHat are your military qualifications?
Actually, you NEVER asked me what my military qualifications are. Not even once. And I never claimed to have any in the first place. Not even once. So this is an amazingly pathetic attempt to turn the tables, isn't it?
cmdrjones wrote: Note that I won't automatically assume that your reply is a lie... because I don't debate in bad faith right off the bat.
Again, you are acting like I am assuming something out of the blue, when the proof that you lied is in the original thread. You claimed to have observed female snipers in action. You have yet to actually admit that this claim of yours was a lie, though you've tacitly done so by your admission there aren't any female snipers in the Army.
cmdrjones wrote: AS for the 3/5th compromise, again it WAS moral to CLAIM that black people were 3/5th of a person FOR THE PURPOSES OF REPRESENTATION in order to KEEP THE SOUTH FROM SECEDING or NEVER SIGNING ON IN THE FIRST PLACE. But it's NOT PERFECT, hence the reason why its' called a COMPROMISE.... YOU DOUCHENOZZLE!!! :banghead:
Do you even understand what the word 'compromise' means? The Constitution COMPROMISED morality for the sake of expediency and utility. By definition that's a moral failure. Whether or not it made practical sense to do so is irrelevant; I understand the historical reasons for the compromise. You are so thoroughly dishonest I doubt you can even remember what your original argument was, so I'll recap: YOU claimed that the Constitution is intrinsically the most moral document ever created, and essentially have held it up as infallible.
cmdrjones wrote: And finally, I have already posted on the other thread about my military experience. I feel no need to scan in any military documents or otherwise PROVE a goddam thing to you, who has failed to answer the above questions about YOUR extensive combat experience....
Again, I never claimed military experience, AND you never asked me my military experience. I think it's hilarious that you think that furiously repeating my accusations towards you back at me will actually get you anywhere.
cmdrjones wrote: http://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/ ... -1.105699/

Oh yeah, I forgot, I wrote an autobiographical account of one of these non-existent battles in 2006, just to create a plausible backstory! I'm THAT clever that I did this almost 9 years ago, just knowing I'd need it someday!
A piece of creative writing is not proof of anything. Do you really not understand this?

You know, for someone who claims to be a veteran, I would expect you to take the idea of someone falsifying military qualifications very seriously. Most soldiers and ex-soldiers I know take it VERY personally if they hear about someone pretending to be a veteran when they weren't. So I'd expect you to be sympathetic towards proving your military service.

And stop acting like I'm harassing you. YOU were the one that staked your claims in the other thread on your own military experience, YOU were the one that made it relevant. I've already caught you lying about the female snipers, why then should I trust your other military claims? If you want to shut me up, provide the evidence. Or provide it to a mod, as Thanas suggested, and the mods will tell me to shut the fuck up.

Incidentally, is J.R. Boyd your real name? That's the name on that Spacebattles post. If you really don't want to provide the evidence, I have no problem contacting the 7th US Cavalry Association myself to see if they can verify things. That's what you said, right? 7th Cavalry Regiment?

Go right ahead
Terralthra wrote:It's similar to the Arabic word for "one who sows discord" or "one who crushes underfoot". It'd be like if the acronym for the some Tea Party thing was "DKBAG" or something. In one sense, it's just the acronym for ISIL/ISIS in Arabic: Dawlat (al-) Islāmiyya ‘Irāq Shām, but it's also an insult.
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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by Thanas » 2014-12-15 11:59am

cmdrjones wrote:i don't mind being Challenged...
Yes you do. How can I tell? Because you are still arguing about something which is firmly in the board rules. If you didn't mind being challenged, you would simply have attempted to provide proof right away instead of running away from the original thread.
my point is that due to the lack of debating 'goodwill' if you will I doubt that ANYTHING that I provide will be acceptable.
That is funny, considering Edi believed you right of the bat despite you having no good standing whatsoever. His word is good enough for me, I do believe that you spent a tour in Iraq.
Also, it isn't fun to have nonsensical/insulting questions thrown back at you is it supermod?
See, you continue to pull this stuff in the assumption that this is a game of gotcha or that you are somehow scoring points here. Let me dissuade you from that right now, because it will not turn out well for you in the end.
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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by Gaidin » 2014-12-15 05:58pm

General Brock wrote: Or just ignore a constitution anyway, as the American COG (Continuity of Government) may be doing. That most people seem too intimidated to look at the COG, doesn't change the fact that these apparent actions fail the "We the People" test; the American Revolution was very upfront. Wholehearted support for the COG seems relegated to an aggressive minority, dependent on the fear and ignorance of everyone else for implementation.
If keeping the power on and the government running in a major disaster is a huge conspiracy, let me be the first to say, BEST CONSPIRACY EVER and sign on the dotted line. If only Detroit had a clue. Though I suppose fixing that big an outage in a single day isn't bad.

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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by Dominus Atheos » 2014-12-15 06:50pm

Batman wrote:Um-why, exactly should they be allowed to make unlawful arrests? What with them being the people who are supposed to, you know, enforce the law?
Here is what happens in the United States when you resist an unlawful arrest:



Skip to one minute in to see the arrest and (very mild) resistance.
A Victoria police officer is under investigation after a 76-year-old man accused him of using excessive force during a traffic stop.

The officer, Nathanial Robinson, 23, was placed on administrative duty Friday pending the outcome of an internal investigation into whether he violated the use of force policy when he tased Victoria resident Pete Vasquez, said Chief J.J. Craig. The officer was hired after graduating from the police academy two years ago.

The incident happened Thursday after Robinson saw an expired inspection sticker on the car Vasquez was driving back to Adam's Auto Mart, 2801 N. Laurent St., where he helps with mechanical work.

Vasquez got out of the car, which is owned by the car lot, attempting to get the manager. He pointed out to the officer the dealer tags on the back of the car, which would make it exempt from having an inspection.

Police dashboard camera video shows Robinson arresting Vasquez for the expired sticker.

When the officer first grabbed Vasquez's arm, the older man pulled it away. Robinson then pushed Vasquez down on the hood of the police cruiser. The two fell out of the camera's video frame, but police said the officer used the Taser on Vasquez twice while he was on the ground.

"He just acted like a pit bull, and that was it," Vasquez said. "For a while, I thought he was going to pull his gun and shoot me."

Vasquez was handcuffed, placed in the back of the police cruiser and taken to Citizens Medical Center, where he remained in police custody for two hours.

Craig said the police department's dash cam footage "raises some concerns."

He decided to open the investigation after viewing the footage and has personally apologized to Vasquez for the incident.

"Public trust is extremely important to us," Craig said. "Sometimes that means you have to take a real hard look at some of the actions that occur within the department."

The internal investigation also will examine the details of the arrest. Driving with an expired inspection sticker is a Class C misdemeanor, typically addressed with a citation. Because Vasquez was driving a car with dealer tags, the car was exempt, Craig confirmed. Vasquez was released from the hospital without being cited.

If the investigation finds Robinson violated the use of force policy, his possible punishment ranges from a letter of reprimand to suspension without pay or termination, Craig said.
As you can see the officer attempts to use an armlock, but when the guy lightly swats at his face (and misses), the cop puts him into a nelson hold, drags him to the ground, and eventually tases him.

So that's why you don't resist an unlawful arrest in the US, because the police will beat your ass even if it's 76 years old.

Also note that the officer isn't actually being accused of making an unlawful arrest, just excessive force which I guarantee he will be cleared of. Actually, what's shown in the video isn't even excessive force under most police guidelines. Kamikaze Sith can probably explain more, but in the United States, that was a 100% righteous arrest procedure, straight out of the training manual.

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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by Kamakazie Sith » 2014-12-15 09:25pm

Dominus Atheos wrote:
As you can see the officer attempts to use an armlock, but when the guy lightly swats at his face (and misses), the cop puts him into a nelson hold, drags him to the ground, and eventually tases him.

So that's why you don't resist an unlawful arrest in the US, because the police will beat your ass even if it's 76 years old.
Maybe you and I grew up with different experiences but that 76 year old did not get his ass beat.

However, I do believe the use of a taser against defensive resistance is excessive. A taser should only be used against someone that is actively resisting with either a threat or show of force.
Also note that the officer isn't actually being accused of making an unlawful arrest, just excessive force which I guarantee he will be cleared of. Actually, what's shown in the video isn't even excessive force under most police guidelines. Kamikaze Sith can probably explain more, but in the United States, that was a 100% righteous arrest procedure, straight out of the training manual.
According to your article that is likely to happen, and should happen, since the man had a dealer plate so he was exempt from registration requirements.

If we substituted a legal arrest for what actually happened there are things I would have done differently but that's true of any use of force incident. The fact is when someone, even a 76 year old man, doesn't want to be taken into custody it can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to effect without resorting to a higher level of force such as a takedown.
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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by General Brock » 2014-12-20 10:03pm

madd0ct0r wrote:um Brock, the UK hasn't left the convention on human rights. and of course the EU refers to signatory goverments - it's an international level organisation. Were it to refer directly to the people it'd be a goverment.

that's for starters. sadly I've got to go to work.
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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by General Brock » 2014-12-20 10:13pm

Edi wrote:
General Brock wrote:The Colonial revolutionaries hoped to correct what they saw were the Enlightenment fails of Europe, some of whose nations were very Enlightened, others, not so. How they often went about it wrong under Manifest Destiny way is another topic or even series of topics.

Today, the only other nation that prefaces their constitution with "We, the People" is India. Then they go on to enshrine socialism. Socialist measures that support individual rights are fine, but socialist measures can also deny individual rights (such as nationalist socialism; nazism). The saving grace is that "We, the people" states that India's People are the final arbiter of how to interpret their constitution. Europe generally falls under The European Convention on Human Rights, which is prefaced with "The Governments signatory hereto...".

I'm not an expert on every constitution of every European country, but it seems likely that many play into that same legalistic/philosophical hoodwink; we think government is for the people by the people, but how well does it stand up to reasonable interpretations of what's actually written down as fundamental law (let alone practiced)? There's a running joke about EU referenda; if you don't vote for what they want and win, you've also voted to hold another referendum till you do. The People can be reduced to a rubber stamp; morally wrong, but where's the material law to back that up and what can people do about it when it happens?
This here quoted bit betrays a fundamental ignorance of the roots of constitutional law, which go far deeper than merely the presence or lack of the words "We the People..." on a written constitution. That phrasing, or its lack, is in the context of western constitutional law, utterly irrelevant.

The roots of constitutional law go as far down as the principles of sovereignty, who and what constitutes a people and what constitutes a sovereign state. Most often the requirements for that are a contiguous geographical area, usually (but not always) with a homogenous population, or a population that has enough in common that it functions as a workable society. That population must be able to exert control over said geographical territory as well. Before you have these factors, you don't even have the basic requirements for statehood and any question of constitutional law is irrelevant.

Once you do have the requirements, you can get down to the business of organizing how that area and its population are governed. There are a number of options, from kingship, warlordism, autocracy, despotism, direct democracy, representative democracy, kingdom with representative democracy etc. If we go by the most common form of government in the west, representative democracy, that has a set of assumptions built in.

The first of those is that a government is only legitimate if it has the consent of the governed, or the majority of the governed at the very least. Every citizen of majority age gets a voice in the determining of the representatives (by whatever electoral method chosen), and the representative body then makes the rules for everyone.

The constitution itself is more or less a set of both data and metadata. It determines what is and is not part of the nation it is intended to form the basis of government. It sets the rules on how the governing bodies (such as the head of state and the legislative body) are constituted. It sets down the rules of how other rules are formulated and how much support they must have to come into effect. Usually it also sets certain limits that cannot be altered by other rules, but which can only be altered by changing the constitution itself. The process of altering the constitution is also one the rules set out in it, since the document cannot be the subordinate to other rules that rely on it as their foundation.

Most European constitutions have a far greater set of rights and liberties as well as protections against certain kinds of behavior enshrined in them than the American constitution, and crucially, many of these protections do not apply only to actions by the government, but also by other citizens and entities under the nation's jurisdiction.

These things are true regardless of the exact wording of each particular constitution. Whether a nation actually follows its written constitution or not is a different matter and does not reside in the realm of the theoretical, but practical (e.g. Soviet Union, China, the former DDR etc.) and if it does not, if the government goes rogue, then getting things back where they are supposed to be usually requires upheaval of some sort, whether violent or not.

You make the same mistake as most Americans, confusing a constitution as a document for the underlying foundational principles, which are taken more or less as assumptions and axioms that underlie the entire construct. Without them, the document has no meaning, purpose or function and collapses in on itself. This confusion and ignorance leads Americans by and large to worship their constitution as if it were a god, and regard it as an object of religion, without any understanding of its underlying principles and assumptions.
Interesting. I'll have to think further on this.

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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by General Brock » 2014-12-20 11:37pm

Thanas wrote:
Are you fucking kidding me?
Sadly, not.
Thanas wrote:
....yeah, you just don't know anything, do you?
Apparently not?
Thanas wrote: Please quote the relevant portions of the German constitution which you feel is being less explicit (and why it therefore is worth less) here.
I'm in a hurry so I'll grab from the Wiki, 'Right of Revolution':
New Hampshire's constitution guarantees its citizens the right to reform government, in Article 10 of the New Hampshire constitution's Bill of Rights:

Whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.

The post-World War II Grundgesetz, the Fundamental Law of the Federal Republic of Germany contains both entrenched, un-amendable clauses protecting human and natural rights, as well as a clause in its Article 20, recognizing the right of the people to resist unconstitutional tyranny, if all other measures have failed:

All Germans shall have the right to resist any person seeking to abolish this constitutional order, if no other remedy is available.
The German government has not gone against its own constitutional order, but if it it did, it would be a little more complicated than 'any person', it would be 'the government' and the culture of uber-elitist elites who have decided that they are the only People that count and propaganda that squares this with the People.

Germany has hard-won experience on this; far harder than most nations. I haven't found the oath of service of the Weimar Republic and am not an expert on its constitution either, but it appears to have been enlightened. Defense of it was not successful against Naziism. Of course, the German people were a little distracted by overwhelming economic collapse and racial and ethnic divisions, and not animated by safeguarding fundamental civil rights as defined in the constitution of the Weimar Republic.

The CIA and other spy agencies recruited over 1000 ex-Nazis during the cold war. Its easy for an undereducated observer to look at America today as maybe their peculiar revenge.
Thanas wrote:
How is this different from "I swear to serve the Federal Republic of Germany and to bravely defend the rights and liberty of the German people", which is the current oath rendered by the armed forces of Germany.
American Enlistment Oath:

"I, (state name of enlistee), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

Well, there's a difference between oathing to a constitution first and oathing to serve a government first. It seems the American oath has the edge in dealing with an internal conflict between 'the People', versus 'the ruling elites' over what constitutes their rights and liberties.

Interestingly, the Oathkeepers website is presently down for maintenance.

The balance between elites and the People, republic constitutional guarantees and and statute law, is an ongoing struggle. Just think; three Members of Congress can reignite the Cold War with Russia gaming an obscure House rule. Agents of a state can kill a man over the world's most widely smuggled legal substance, enforcing a government-sanctioned system that made profitable cigarette smuggling in the first place.

Its not the People going rogue here; rather than work with the People, some people in the government prefer to deceive and bully against the public good.

As Edi and others have pointed out, I'm no scholar on these issues and need to learn more. On the other hand, some government policies and actions don't seem to reflect sage and educated reasoning. If genuine intellectual input has any positive effect, its not always in evidence and its the People who will suffer the consequences.

The National Rifle Association's unofficial motto is, 'From my cold dead hands'. They don't plan on literally backing this up as their first tactic. They educate, educate, educate, network, network, network, and then they lobby, lobby, lobby. Any attempt to legislate people's guns away from them is a single-issue campaign issue almost guaranteed to killing a political career in many constituencies. Whether or not one believes in private gun ownership isn't the point here; the point is how the NRA achieved what it did under Heston, legally, constitutionally, without firing a shot in anger.

Its too bad they and like constitutional lobby 'militias' haven't been able to expand upon the rest of the fundamental civil rights of the Constitution as well as the NRA has the Second Amendment.

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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by General Brock » 2014-12-22 10:31pm

The ACLU doesn't mind splashing the cash by others who do have it, considering their stand on Citizen's United. They've been under pressure to change it; not sure where that is atm.

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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by General Brock » 2014-12-23 12:17am

Edi wrote:...
These things are true regardless of the exact wording of each particular constitution. Whether a nation actually follows its written constitution or not is a different matter and does not reside in the realm of the theoretical, but practical (e.g. Soviet Union, China, the former DDR etc.) and if it does not, if the government goes rogue, then getting things back where they are supposed to be usually requires upheaval of some sort, whether violent or not.

You make the same mistake as most Americans, confusing a constitution as a document for the underlying foundational principles, which are taken more or less as assumptions and axioms that underlie the entire construct. Without them, the document has no meaning, purpose or function and collapses in on itself. This confusion and ignorance leads Americans by and large to worship their constitution as if it were a god, and regard it as an object of religion, without any understanding of its underlying principles and assumptions.
OK, I've thought about it.

I have insufficient knowledge to continue debating Europe vs America democratic/civil rights approaches at a high level and cannot acquire such within a reasonable amount of time. Falling down the rabbit hole of America's constitutional crisis is becoming quite a meander in itself. A comprehensive 'European' stereotype is also a little elusive.

There's apparently a conservative movement to implement an Article V constitutional convention by conservatives brewing as well, that has gained 34 states. There are arguments that such a convention cannot have a closed agenda, so they may back off if they figure they can't win a conservative agenda.
madd0ct0r wrote:...
um Brock, the UK hasn't left the convention on human rights. and of course the EU refers to signatory goverments - it's an international level organisation. Were it to refer directly to the people it'd be a government.

that's for starters. sadly I've got to go to work.
OK, found the opt out provisions.

The Wiki says its a limited opt-out, but it reads like a comprehensive opt out. As for the EU, well, yes that's the reason for the democracy deficit; its a collection of governments whose own democratic merits are subject to an appointed EU legislative body, the European Commission. On the other hand I'm not a lawyer or familiar with European legal precedents. Hmmm.

OK, you got me. Its possible I'm not reading this right.

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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by General Brock » 2014-12-23 12:49am

Gaidin wrote: If keeping the power on and the government running in a major disaster is a huge conspiracy, let me be the first to say, BEST CONSPIRACY EVER and sign on the dotted line. If only Detroit had a clue. Though I suppose fixing that big an outage in a single day isn't bad.
Um, the U.S. government hasn't exactly fallen; there's no need to implement COG provisions such that it may be functioning as an unaccountable shadow government.

Similarly, there was no need to attack Garner and roust cigarette peddlers. New York, like most of the U.S., has been experiencing an overall drop in crime rates not attributable to fiercer policing.

Government is resorting to extreme measures where they are not needed, it seems, to justify an expanded presence for its own benefit, not the public good.

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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by Thanas » 2014-12-23 12:36pm

General Brock wrote:The German government has not gone against its own constitutional order, but if it it did, it would be a little more complicated than 'any person', it would be 'the government' and the culture of uber-elitist elites who have decided that they are the only People that count and propaganda that squares this with the People.
What are you on about? Any person both means the Government and anybody else threatening the order, like, say, if the SA would be pulling of a coup.
Well, there's a difference between oathing to a constitution first and oathing to serve a government first. It seems the American oath has the edge in dealing with an internal conflict between 'the People', versus 'the ruling elites' over what constitutes their rights and liberties.
Well, the oath made by German soldiers is not to the Government first. It is to the whole of the Federal Republic, which is not the same as the Government. It implicitly means both the people and the government and all other pieces that build the Federal Government (including but not limited to the judiciary, citizens etc.). It is especially left vague to include as many things as possible.

What it emphatically is not is an oath to a particular government. We had that under Hitler, no more. And also, there is no difference in importance of being listed first or last. In the long tradition of European oaths, both models exist.
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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by Simon_Jester » 2014-12-25 09:25am

Located this article on fivethirtyeight.com, discussing the relationship between "broken windows policing," Eric Garner's neighborhood, and police making discretionary and potentially frivolous arrests.

http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/mino ... ghborhood/

I discussed the idea of broken-windows policing here, earlier in the thread.

But basically, the article discusses the idea that Garner's neighborhood, specifically, was being targeted for broken-windows arrests (and possessing-one-joint arrests, and standing-on-the-sidewalk-in-a-funny-way arrests).

As we'd expect, there's a correlation between a neighborhood's level of arrests for minor violations per capita and the number of violent felonies per capita. But in the precinct Garner lived in, the number of arrests for minor violations was about 1.5 or 1.6 times what we'd expect from looking at the number of felony convictions.

In addition, the number of complaints against police was likewise about 1.5 to 1.6 times what we'd expect for a New York precinct. Again, the complaint rate is correlated with the number of felonies per capita, which personally I find counterintuitive but I'm not going to argue with a scatter plot.

So basically, the Staten Island precinct where Garner lived (and was killed) is definitely an outlier in terms of how many arrests for petty crime occur there. And in terms of how often people file complaints against the police. Plenty of neighborhoods have higher levels of both, those are almost all neigborhoods with considerably higher levels of serious, felony-level offenses... whereas Garner's precinct has relatively low levels of felonies. Eyeballing the graph, I'd say it's around the median level of felonies for a New York precinct, or below it... but in terms of arrests for minor violations and complaints against police, it's above the median.
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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by Adam Reynolds » 2014-12-25 10:29am

Simon_Jester wrote:In addition, the number of complaints against police was likewise about 1.5 to 1.6 times what we'd expect for a New York precinct. Again, the complaint rate is correlated with the number of felonies per capita, which personally I find counterintuitive but I'm not going to argue with a scatter plot.
How is that counterintuitive? It would make sense that the two would be related. The greater the number of criminals, the worse the community's relationship with police would be. The fact that it would generally lead to more arrests and thus more negative interactions than positive ones would also be logical.

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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by Simon_Jester » 2014-12-25 05:40pm

Put this way.

A naive person might think "hey, my neighborhood is full of criminals and violent felons, I'm sure glad the cops are here a lot!"

Further thought obviously makes it clear that it's not that simple, because high-crime communities tend to view the criminals as being 'part of our own' instead of being some kind of hostile parasite. And, of course, because of police getting negative with the community.

But on a gut level, one that is informed more by what I wish the police were and less by what they are... I wish it were not so.
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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by General Brock » 2014-12-28 01:16am

Thanas wrote:
General Brock wrote:The German government has not gone against its own constitutional order, but if it it did, it would be a little more complicated than 'any person', it would be 'the government' and the culture of uber-elitist elites who have decided that they are the only People that count and propaganda that squares this with the People.
What are you on about? Any person both means the Government and anybody else threatening the order, like, say, if the SA would be pulling of a coup.
If the German government is a person under German law, OK, but who exactly defines what the order is going to be? Germany is a responsible nation that does not act unilaterally and declare is exceptionality. Its government reflects that; there's been no break between popular expectation and government actions unresolved by an election. America is not so lucky just at the moment, but in response they have a pre-existing culture of unilateral constitutionalists who can address unilateral governance.

Germany does not have a constitutional crisis and the German People may be able to keep it that way. However, the government yielding to American/NATO elite imperialism against the Slavic frontier is not an encouraging sign.
Thanas wrote: Well, the oath made by German soldiers is not to the Government first. It is to the whole of the Federal Republic, which is not the same as the Government. It implicitly means both the people and the government and all other pieces that build the Federal Government (including but not limited to the judiciary, citizens etc.). It is especially left vague to include as many things as possible.

What it emphatically is not is an oath to a particular government. We had that under Hitler, no more. And also, there is no difference in importance of being listed first or last. In the long tradition of European oaths, both models exist.
Yes, but what happens if there is a persisting split between those forming the government and the People, not confined to any particular government?

This is what the American Continuity of Government (COG) represents. In 2008 America voted against neoconservative warmongering justified by American unilateral exceptionalism. Obama has proven tweedle-dumber, and brought in neoliberal humanitarian interventionism justified by unilateral American exceptionalism. The difference between neoconservatism and neoliberalism is the difference between the Republican and Democratic parties. The only constant is that they have their unilateral governing ideals from the American Enterprise Institute, not the American People. Post modern representative government seems characterized by hijacking by special interest groups.

Germany hasn't fully experienced that yet under its new constitution. However, 60 prominant Germans have signed a "Not in Our Name" petition against the Merkel government going along with American/NATO war plans against Russia, and they reflect popular sentiment. They are being dismissed as ignorant by commentators siding with the government.

What if the Merkel government continues to politely ignore the popular will? What if she loses an election over this but the new government likewise can't resist supporting a key American foreign policy? What if the German people revolt trying to avoid war (there are peaceful ways to do this, like non-violent civil disobedience). With the Deutsche Bank exposed to $78.2 trillion dollars of derivatives, antiwar unrest could be muddled with economic unrest fairly quickly. The German security establishment's broad loyalties to the Federal Republic - despite 'Republic' implying constitutional rule - might mean the path of least resistance is to follow government orders even if it means compromising the constitution here and there.

America's unilateral constitutionalists are part of a long tradition of democratic republican dissent, of which the "We Can't Breath" movement is also a part. They can point to the Constitution, not just emotionally strong but specifics-vague appeals to the nation.
#WeCantBreathe

... Of the three, the anti-police movement (sans the looting by the few) is the most unambiguously deserving of support, at least for me. The police are the frontlines of the state. There was a time, when I was a kid, when it was possible to think of them as part of the structure of civil society, the aspect of the state that we actually need to keep order.

But all of that changed after 9/11, when the federal government essentially implemented an undeclared martial law and armed local cops to the teeth with military weaponry. A crazed paranoia also overtook all law-enforcement institutions. All citizens were suddenly potential terrorists. We were treated as such by the regime. Anyone around in those days remembers the feeling of being under foreign occupation, not by Al Qaeda but by our own government.

The decisive moment came after the 2008 financial crisis, when local government turned to the cops to be revenue-collecting agents. That’s when the full force of the law came after our property and rights at every turn. Quiet and implicit antagonisms became loud and explicit.

In communities across the United States, citizens were being hunted by their own protectors. The guardians became predatory.

This third great wave of protest is the culmination of many years of growing abuse of police power, and, most importantly, growing knowledge and awareness that something is fundamentally wrong. The pain is felt most intensely by black Americans, who have been subjected to abusive treatment for many decades — and this treatment is a follow-up to racist policies with deep roots. They include exclusionist and even exterminationist policies that began just after slavery officially ended.

But blacks and other minority populations are not the only victims. What these videos reveal is the most fundamental conflict in the history of humanity: the conflict between society and state. It takes many forms. It is sometimes the taxation and regulation that the bourgeoisie loathe. It is sometimes the policies that favor the wealthy and privileged elite over everyone else — the policies most hated by the working class, the unemployed, and the poor. And it is sometimes the outright police violence experienced by the most conspicuous victims: expendable and powerless racial minorities.

But in the end, we all face the same struggle. It’s the struggle between the voluntary associations that constitute the beautiful part of our lives, on the one hand, and, on the other, the legal monopoly of violence and compulsion by the institutions of the state, which lives at the expense of society.

Remember that the protests we see are only the visible ones. Underneath them, there is a seething in the very foundations of society among all classes, races, and political outlooks. For every protester in front of the camera, there are hundreds of thousands of sympathizers, which is what happens in a country wheregovernment impositions have stopped household incomes from rising in real terms for 20 years. (And this reality has struck us during a time of explosive technological improvements that would have otherwise conferred massive material benefits on society!)

You could reflect more on the profound implications, or you could have the whole thing explained to you by Frédéric Bastiat in The Law:

"The safest way to make laws respected is to make them respectable. When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law. These two evils are of equal consequence, and it would be difficult for a person to choose between them."

The rise of power has robbed us all. We experience different forms of victimization. We express our frustration in different ways. We have a different set of triggers. But when it comes to knowing the enemy, we should all be clear and united: it is the state. We must never lose sight of the solution, which is human liberty.

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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by Simon_Jester » 2014-12-28 11:17am

Brock, your essential problem is that you take more-or-less valid criticisms of state power, or of official narratives. And you wed them to random chunks of conspiracy theory.

It's like, you go "they're lying to us, therefore they must be Reptons from Zabriska VII!"
General Brock wrote:If the German government is a person under German law, OK, but who exactly defines what the order is going to be? Germany is a responsible nation that does not act unilaterally and declare is exceptionality. Its government reflects that; there's been no break between popular expectation and government actions unresolved by an election. America is not so lucky just at the moment, but in response they have a pre-existing culture of unilateral constitutionalists who can address unilateral governance.
Except that this 'check' on unilateral governance has proved to be a meaningless farce. Where were the constitutionalists during the Bush administration? I happen to know where a lot of them were, but one answer has to be "not very effective."

Expressing your awe and reverence for how the Consitution can fix everything is stupid. Without the will to actually resist and reform the abuses of state power, the Constitution is meaningless and can be lawyered into irrelevance by renegade constitutional lawyers (e.g. "unary executive" lickspittles). With the will to resist and reform, the Constitution is at best a useful form of backup, and indeed much of what we need to do involves reforming the Constitution itself rather sharply.

You see, Brock, there is NO written constitution that cannot be loopholed until it ceases to matter. Living wills always find a way to defeat the dead hand of a written document. This is doubly true of a written constitution that dates back to the 18th century and reflects 18th century concepts of state power, what threats the state faces, what threats the state presents.

To give just one example:

There's a reason that the Constitution, as written, contains several paragraphs on court proceedings, but nothing whatsoever on the right to privacy as such. Because in 18th century monarchical tyrannies, kangaroo courts were commonplace, but comprehensive spy networks weren't... and there was literally no such thing as wiretapping.

It turned out that a system which comprehensively spies on us via wiretapping and traffic analysis was a threat- one nobody could have foreseen until roughly the mid-20th century, by which point the government had enough of a vested interest in being able to spy on us that they were never really going to amend the Constitution to protect us from the threat. Oops. It turned out that massive drug bans could choke the court system and create miscarriages of justice even with the courts in working order. Oops.
Yes, but what happens if there is a persisting split between those forming the government and the People, not confined to any particular government?
Then the wording of the military's oath is irrelevant, at least to the majority of real humans in the 21st century.

Men are not computers. Oaths are not programs. I suppose you could find 18th century gentlemen who would decide whether or not to stage a revolution or risk death on the basis of the exact wording of an oath... but not many even then. As a rule, people take their cues on what is and is not worth taking risks over from their cultural background.

So stop getting obsessed with irrelevant minutiae.
This is what the American Continuity of Government (COG) represents.
Oh, bullshit.

Continuity of Government, the real term with a real meaning, refers to the system by which the US government can continue to function in the face of a 'decapitation' attack aimed at destroying Congress, the President, the top echelons of the military chain of command, and/or the central leadership of key government departments. It has been a major concern of the US government ever since the invention in 1945 of weapons capable of destroying Washington, D.C. and the key facilities of US governance. It has been slightly amended to deal with the threat of massive terrorist attacks, but was always in play to deal with the threat of Soviet ICBMs.

Continuity of Government is not the problem and is not the target.

Now, what IS the problem is that many of the Bush-era policies have become 'locked in' by the bureaucracy, to the point where removing Bush did not remove the policies.

And that Obama has turned out to be quite willing to follow a ballistic trajectory of ignoring most of the problematic aspects of the War on Terror. And for that matter of the Bush administration's collusion in allowing Wall Street financiers to reach a state of overweening power that made the current depression possible.

Describing these things as COG and rambling about its evils, when COG is a real term with a real meaning, is stupid. It's like if you decided that "bears" was a good name for the threat to democracy in America and started rambling about how we're being subverted by bears. Even if you don't actually mean to refer to the hairy ursine quadrupeds, and think "bear" means something totally different, it doesn't matter. People will read and listen to you, conclude that you're a nut, and move on.
In 2008 America voted against neoconservative warmongering justified by American unilateral exceptionalism. Obama has proven tweedle-dumber, and brought in neoliberal humanitarian interventionism justified by unilateral American exceptionalism. The difference between neoconservatism and neoliberalism is the difference between the Republican and Democratic parties. The only constant is that they have their unilateral governing ideals from the American Enterprise Institute, not the American People. Post modern representative government seems characterized by hijacking by special interest groups.
Neoliberalism is a real term that does not mean what you think it means. It's about laissez-faire economics, shrinking government via deregulation and the reduction of the social safety net, and a shift of power from public to private (corporate executive) hands.

Republicans are, if anything, more reliably neoliberal than Democrats.

And it is thoroughly possible to be a neoconservative and a neoliberal at the same time, because neo-conservatism is mostly a foreign policy ideology based on the idea that the Cold War is over, we won, and now we get to rule the world. Neo-liberalism is an economic ideology mostly concerned with domestic affairs.
Germany hasn't fully experienced that yet under its new constitution. However, 60 prominant Germans have signed a "Not in Our Name" petition against the Merkel government going along with American/NATO war plans against Russia, and they reflect popular sentiment. They are being dismissed as ignorant by commentators siding with the government.
Honestly, I think the commentators have a point. It is part of ANY government's responsibility to be prepared for the prospect of war. Making plans about war, and building up equipment to fight a war, are normal things any government should be expected to do.

Germany's military is in a lamentable state where it is essentially incapable of defending the state from serious foreign aggression, with at best 10-20% of its heavy military hardware fit for battle, and training levels in the process of collapsing.

So this is not a time when the bare fact that several dozen German celebrities wish to embrace pacifism should stop the government from providing for the common defense of the German people.
America's unilateral constitutionalists are part of a long tradition of democratic republican dissent, of which the "We Can't Breath" movement is also a part. They can point to the Constitution, not just emotionally strong but specifics-vague appeals to the nation.
If we're still referencing the German constitution, the German constitution has plenty of specific provisions for the rights of the people.

If we're talking about different classes of dissent in the US... The problem is that the Tea Party is a revolt against the very kind of governance it would take to fix the problems cited by "We Can't Breathe" or the Occupy movement. It's the construction workers mobilizing to smash the hippies for protesting the Kent State shootings. Sure, all these protests and counterprotests reference the Constitution. But that does not mean they represent a unified political force that could unite everyone across party lines.

At least, not until the right-wing propaganda machine now in use by the Republican Party breaks down and the current tea-ists realize how very badly they are being lied to and manipulated.

Unfortunately, the author of the article you linked on the Tea Party, Occupy movement, and "We Can't Breathe" movement is incapable of recognizing this. Because he is a libertarian and therefore thinks universal health insurance and police strangling unarmed men to death in the street are basically similar in that both are "excessive government power" or whatever.
#WeCantBreathe

... Of the three, the anti-police movement (sans the looting by the few) is the most unambiguously deserving of support, at least for me. The police are the frontlines of the state. There was a time, when I was a kid, when it was possible to think of them as part of the structure of civil society, the aspect of the state that we actually need to keep order.

But all of that changed after 9/11, when the federal government essentially implemented an undeclared martial law and armed local cops to the teeth with military weaponry. A crazed paranoia also overtook all law-enforcement institutions. All citizens were suddenly potential terrorists. We were treated as such by the regime. Anyone around in those days remembers the feeling of being under foreign occupation, not by Al Qaeda but by our own government.
9/11 was not the turning point here; the War on Drugs was. Black people were being beaten and shot unjustly by police long before 9/11.

I'll grant that the (most likely white) author of this article may not have noticed that this was going on until he (horrors!) first had to submit to a TSA checkpoint. But if you lived in the ghetto you already knew this was going on.
The decisive moment came after the 2008 financial crisis, when local government turned to the cops to be revenue-collecting agents. That’s when the full force of the law came after our property and rights at every turn. Quiet and implicit antagonisms became loud and explicit.
They'd always been doing this, and the revenue-collecting cops were mostly collecting property on behalf of other private actors. If you think this is wrong, you should revisit your libertarianism- or at least, the author of the article should revisit his.
But in the end, we all face the same struggle. It’s the struggle between the voluntary associations that constitute the beautiful part of our lives, on the one hand, and, on the other, the legal monopoly of violence and compulsion by the institutions of the state, which lives at the expense of society.

Remember that the protests we see are only the visible ones. Underneath them, there is a seething in the very foundations of society among all classes, races, and political outlooks. For every protester in front of the camera, there are hundreds of thousands of sympathizers, which is what happens in a country where government impositions have stopped household incomes from rising in real terms for 20 years. (And this reality has struck us during a time of explosive technological improvements that would have otherwise conferred massive material benefits on society!)
See, this guy just cannot get off his soapbox long enough to understand what's going on.

The abusive power structure here is fundamentally a "public-private partnership" of the kind neoliberalism embraces.

So the threat is a public-private partnership dedicated to stripping the American people of their wealth and concentrating it in corporate hands, while removing the public's ability to resist or alter the situation by a combination of propaganda, suppression of dissent, and refusal to prosecute rich abusers of power by granting them "privilege" (literally, 'private laws')

Again, the threat is a public-private partnership. Occupy Wall Street was a protest against the existence of the partnership and against the private side of it. "We Can't Breathe" is a protest against the security apparatus that is really only a minor adjunct to the partnership, but plays an important role in keeping the lower and lower-middle class too immiserized to fight back effectively.

Meanwhile the Tea Party is manning the barricades to fight against... black people in the White House and fictional welfare queens and subsidized health insurance for the poor.

This is not three protests based on the same "the Constitution is being violated!" sentiment. This is two protests and a counterprotest, or two protests and a counter-reform anti-protest.
The rise of power has robbed us all. We experience different forms of victimization. We express our frustration in different ways. We have a different set of triggers. But when it comes to knowing the enemy, we should all be clear and united: it is the state. We must never lose sight of the solution, which is human liberty.
Occupy Wall Street never thought the enemy was the state, or it would have been Occupy Lafayette Square.

This is a lucky person who is very comfortable with the rise of the elite beneficiaries of the public-private partnership, trying to pretend that a tyrannical government without private backers is the problem.
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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by Dominus Atheos » 2014-12-31 02:16pm

http://nypost.com/2014/12/29/arrests-pl ... -two-cops/
NYPD traffic tickets and summonses for minor offenses have dropped off by a staggering 94 percent following the execution of two cops

Citations for traffic violations fell by 94 percent, from 10,069 to 587, during that time frame.

Summonses for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination also plunged 94 percent — from 4,831 to 300.

Even parking violations are way down, dropping by 92 percent, from 14,699 to 1,241.

Drug arrests by cops assigned to the NYPD’s Organized Crime Control Bureau — which are part of the overall number — dropped by 84 percent, from 382 to 63.

The Post obtained the numbers hours after revealing that cops were turning a blind eye to some minor crimes and making arrests only “when they have to” since the execution-style shootings of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.
Oh no, that's terrible?

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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by Edi » 2015-01-01 04:01am

Most of the slavery and constitution debate has been moved to a separate thread.

Due to the intertwined nature of some posts, there is some overlap between the two in some sections, but mostly not. TRY to keep this thing on fucking track, because the next time it digresses to completely unrelated bullshit, I will lock it even if the off-topic posts are doctoral thesis level dissertations.
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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by madd0ct0r » 2015-01-01 05:50am

There's an excellent essay in London Review of books pulling the links between the public reaction to Garner's killing and the torture scheme:
Like everything from LRB it looks long, but flows like a dream.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n01/david-brom ... -dark-side
A week before the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA, a Staten Island grand jury chose not to return an indictment for the police killing of Eric Garner – a large black man standing on the sidewalk of a street in New York City. The attention of millions had been transfixed by a video that showed the fatal attempt to arrest Garner. Looking on wearily as he saw the police approach, Garner told a cop that he was doing nothing wrong, in fact he had just broken up a street fight (which was why the police were called). They were always harassing him, he said. In the foreground of the image, a cop hung back from Garner at arm’s length, then closed in (with an eye on other police at the edge of the picture); he began to poke Garner, to trick him into a response and occupy his hands while a second cop surprised him from behind with a choke hold – ‘a take-down move’ he would later testify he had learned at the academy. There were five of them, and they piled onto the unresisting Garner as if they were wrestling a steer at a rodeo. The one applying the choke hold kept it tight while the others pressed Garner face down on the sidewalk. He said ‘I can’t breathe,’ and repeated it many times before he died as the police were fumbling with handcuffs. It was this spectacle – more than the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, after a violent altercation – that set off the demonstrations which continue in many American cities to protest against the mistreatment and killing of citizens with impunity.

The Senate Select Committee report on CIA detention and interrogation was published on 9 December; and it seemed part of the same story as the video of Garner. The agency co-operated minimally with the committee. It had declined, in the words of Senator Dianne Feinstein, to ‘compel its workforce to appear before the committee’. Almost all the Republicans in Congress, with the distinct exception of John McCain, opposed the publication of the findings, and their highest card was the absence of testimony by agents. Yet written materials of sufficient quantity and authority may have a credibility that only the most reliable of witnesses could claim. The committee staff reviewed more than six million pages of CIA documents, while also drawing on an earlier CIA inspector general’s report. A wrangle over agency requests for censorship began in February 2013 and was never resolved. But after the midterm loss of the Democrats’ Senate majority, Feinstein, as chairman of the committee, decided to publish the findings before the party of Bush and Cheney could vote to seal them for ever.

The total report exceeds six thousand pages. We have been shown only the 525-page summary, but any American can read it, and the director of the CIA, John Brennan, offered no challenge to the facts. Exactly 119 detainees were held at CIA sites in various countries from 17 September 2001 to 22 January 2009. It is the first official tally since Michael Hayden, a CIA director under Bush and Cheney, ordered that no matter how the facts changed the reported numbers should never climb above 98. Of all who were held and interrogated, 22 per cent were found to be innocent. There was no process for freeing them.

Some of the methods employed were atrocious in ways that are scarcely imaginable. One prisoner was subjected to forced ‘rectal feeding’. Another was chained to a wall for 17 days. A third, subjected to sensory and sleep deprivation and chained to a concrete floor, died of hypothermia. The secret programme was placed under the guidance of two former instructors in resistance to torture, James E. Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. Like the agents they supervised, Mitchell and Jessen are protected by pseudonyms, but earlier reporting in their case has made it possible to penetrate the disguise. Their strategy was to ‘reverse engineer’ the pedagogic methods of resistance training. Selling themselves to the government as experts on the psychology of terrorism, they were paid $80 million over the years of the Bush-Cheney administration when the programme was in force. Occasionally in that period, the press had hints of the abuse which it declined to follow up. The Washington Post disclosed the existence of the torture programme in November 2005. As early as 2002 the New York Times had a story in preparation about a secret prison in Thailand, but agreed at Cheney’s request not to publish it. How were the journalists cowed? ‘Termination of the programme’, according to the CIA, would ‘result in loss of life, possibly extensive’. The same thing is now being said about the committee report. No disgrace is deep enough, it seems, to stand up to the knock-down question: will it be good for America if people learn the truth?


The US national security state is the lengthened shadow of Dick Cheney. He made himself a master of the levers of government when he was secretary of defence under George H.W. Bush. His sense of rightful authority will have been confirmed by his regular participation in the continuity-of-government exercises: a yearly ritual enactment of the government’s response to a national catastrophe, begun in the Reagan years and put aside under Clinton, in which the lives of important members of the government and military were preserved at a fortress hideaway, and a design was worked up and executed for a post-constitutional order. An account of these exercises is given in James Mann’s excellent Rise of the Vulcans (2004); a curious detail is that Cheney and his associate Donald Rumsfeld stayed on as participants even when they held no government office.

After the real catastrophe of September 2001, Cheney succeeded in changing America’s idea of itself. He did it with a tireless diligence of manipulation behind the scenes, commonly issuing his orders from a bunker underneath the Naval Observatory in Washington. The element of fear in Cheney is strong: a fact that is often lost in descriptions of him as an undiluted malignity. His words and actions testify to a personal fear so marked that it could project and engender collective fear.

Cheney worked hard to eradicate from the minds of Americans the idea that there can be such a thing as a ‘suspect’. Due process of law rests on the acknowledged possibility that a suspect may be innocent; but, for Cheney, a person interrogated on suspicion of terrorism is a terrorist. To elaborate a view beyond that point, as he sees it, only involves government in a wasteful tangle of doubts. Cheney concedes from time to time that mistakes can happen; but the leading quality of the man is a perfect freedom from remorse. ‘I’d do it again in a minute,’ he said recently of the plan for the interrogation programme and the secret prisons which the office of the vice president vetted and approved.

In a Daily Mail interview concerning details of the programme, Mitchell was prompted to recall that he saw British agents at some of the CIA black sites. Add his testimony to what is known of the collaboration between MI6 and the CIA in preparing the ground for regime change in Libya in 2011 – add also the surveillance-sharing agreement by the ‘Five Eyes’ partners (Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) – and the evidence suggests that Anglo-Saxon democracies in our time have influenced each other chiefly in the cause of social control and illegal violence. In effecting this rupture of morale, Tony Blair had an importance second only to Cheney. After 2001, Blair’s words carried a weight with respectable opinion in the US unrivalled by any American politician. His demeanour lent to the campaign for war a presumption of humility that Cheney could never have supplied. His pledge of fidelity to the ‘sense of justice that makes moral the love of liberty’ was a much-needed supplement to the Cheney imperative of ‘working the dark side’; and the combination of Blair and Cheney seems to have relieved George W. Bush of any last residue of doubt that he was right to set the entire Middle East on the path of war. Two wise and experienced politicians, so different yet speaking now in a single voice: how could they be wrong?

Cheney has dogged the Obama administration from its earliest days, and he has continued in interviews that seek to discredit the committee report. He is a team player to the death, and the team he plays for is the greatest power. It was Cheney’s indifference to any other standard of right and wrong that made him more than a match for opponents like Senator Patrick Leahy, the head of the judiciary committee in 2007-8, or Jay Rockefeller, the head of the intelligence committee in those years. Leahy and Rockefeller had their chance to subject him to investigation when the Democrats became the majority party in 2006. They chose to do nothing. No Senate hearings of any substance were conducted during the last two years of the Bush-Cheney administration.

Most of the relevant indications and considerable earlier documentation appeared in Seymour Hersh’s Chain of Command (2004), Mark Danner’s Torture and Truth (2004), Alfred McCoy’s A Question of Torture (2006), Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side (2008), Philippe Sands’s Torture Team (2008) and Barton Gellman’s Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency (2008). Before Obama became president, he seems to have had some exposure to this literature. He denounced torture and implied, early on, that the practices fomented by Bush and Cheney fitted the international definition of torture; yet Obama also told workers at the CIA, in early 2009, that under no circumstances would they be prosecuted. He paired the words of responsible acknowledgment with a policy of non-accountability. This show of forbearance was high-sounding in its way – hate the crime, pardon the criminal – but if it makes a generous line to take with vices such as a gambling habit or heavy drinking, the hands-off resolution seems radically unsuited to crimes such as rape, torture and murder. Obama was leaving someone like Feinstein to do the investigative work of justice when he declared his recognition of a crime and in the same breath avowed that he would stand in the way of its being punished as a crime.

At the very outset of his government, he pulled into the White House an ambiguous figure from the Bush-Cheney years, John Brennan. As a high official of the CIA under George Tenet, Brennan had registered a dissenting view of the interrogation techniques in 2001 and 2002, but took care to do so in a way that would maintain his status. He quit the agency in the second term of Bush-Cheney and offered his services to Senator Obama. Brennan was Obama’s first choice to serve as director of the CIA, but in 2009 he was judged a bad fit for confirmation: his role in the actions of the agency under Tenet was too fresh in the public mind.

Yet Obama was unwilling to part with an insider so potentially useful in dealing with the CIA, and he elected to move Brennan inside the national security apparatus of the White House itself. Brennan took charge of the ‘kill lists’ for drone strikes which would replace torture as the technique of choice for the new president. (Bush ordered fifty drone strikes; Obama has ordered four hundred.) The reliance on a different secret policy and the man he chose to control it were Obama’s signal to the CIA and the armed forces that he, too, was willing to transgress the boundaries of conventional war.

Brennan has defended the drone strikes in terms as wildly improbable as those Cheney used in defending the CIA protocols for torture. The CIA, as Cheney tells it, squeezed, smashed, deafened, hounded, shocked and drowned its inmates into giving up truths that assisted the US effort to fight al-Qaida. Looking back on his time in command of a virtual CIA inside the White House, Brennan claimed in June 2011 that the drone strikes of the preceding year had caused not a single ‘collateral death’: every missile hit its designated target and nothing else. Later, slowly, he revised that estimate. In recent days he has also tempered his response to the Senate committee report whose publication he resisted. Brennan seems to have read it with care (where Cheney boasts of not having read it at all) and the findings have prompted him to alter the agency explanation that the torture of Hassan Ghul produced the lead that opened the trail to Bin Laden.

*

The emerging line among the members of the ‘deep state’ seems to be this. A misguided love of our country and a justified panic caused many persons – between 2001 and 2008 especially, and with decreasing intensity thereafter – to do things which if rightly understood would naturally be forgiven. This was the alibi endorsed in January 2010 by David Margolis, the Justice Department official who reviewed the recommended censure of the ‘torture memos’ by the lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee and upgraded the evaluation of their actions from ‘professional misconduct’ to ‘poor judgment’. Like the interrogators who were spared any penalty, the lawyers who twisted the law were said to have done their best to serve the president in a time that was hard on everyone.

The promise of impunity that has greeted the lawless conduct of government officials obeys the ancient maxim fac et excusa. The deeds in fact are free to recur because the excuses are potentially limitless. We are all patriots – Obama’s word for CIA interrogators – and under enemy attack, we respond as patriots do. The truth of course is that we know nothing about the motives of the torturers or the motives of those who wrote up the exculpating rationale for torture before the fact. Selfless patriotism may be part of it. Sadistic self-indulgence may also be part of it. Who can say in what proportions they were mixed? A principle such as an unconditional ban on torture is tested precisely by its observance in a fear-engendering crisis. If your belief in the principle gradually disintegrates, it was never a solid belief.

There was, in any event, a traceable motive for the brutality of the interrogations apart from the quest for clues about al-Qaida. The CIA counterterrorism organiser Jose Rodriguez, who destroyed the torture videotapes and has been effusively praised by Cheney, may have had more than one reason for eliminating the record of interrogations. As Sam Husseini noticed in a commentary for the website Common Dreams, a main purpose of the torture was achieved whether the things the prisoners said were true or not. Bush and Cheney in early 2002 were hell-bent on a war against Iraq; essential to the case for war was the production of quotable sentences (truth or lie would do equally well) concerning the links between al-Qaida and Iraq, and the possession of WMD by Iraq. A groan of assent of the relevant kind was extorted from the prisoner Ibn Shaykh al-Libi, as footnote 857 of the report clearly says. Additional materials seem to have been drawn from other prisoners, and in that sense the use of torture was a success. The stainless Colin Powell would cite al-Libi’s confession in his presentation to the UN in February 2003.

The record of illegal violence, dissimulation and suppression of evidence runs very deep. The torture of Abu Zubaydah lasted for weeks; objections by officers who questioned the procedure were unavailing. (Rodriguez told the disturbed agents to scrub all language about legality from their communications.) And the programme seems to have thoroughly penetrated the ‘culture’ of the spy agency. In April this year, Brennan was told by the new head of counterterrorism that more than two hundred people still working for the agency were at one time involved in the detention and torture programme. To dispose of even a quarter of those agents would be a significant purge. This has been suggested to Obama by Senator Mark Udall, but Obama can be relied on not to do it, for reasons that are tactical, politic and implicit in his decision to grant all agents immunity.


So a conspiracy of silence to muffle the crimes of the past now encompasses members of two administrations – not least because of the continuity between them. Much of Brennan’s utility to Obama came from his status as an insider to the torture arrangements. If Obama called in Brennan the former agent in large part to protect himself from the agency, Brennan on his side must have been wary of still-active agents. There were things they could divulge about him if they chose. The silence regarding torture until now was a predictable consequence of this web of mutual fears. As for the posture of Obama toward the contents of the report, it has been fairly consistent. He acted so as to be able to tell the intelligence community that he had done the most he could to slow down its release and muffle its impact. At the same time, he could tell his own party that he did his best, after all, to assure its publication in some fashion.

Apologists for torture come in two sorts. There are the contingent defenders (‘We were beside ourselves in a time of emergency; understand us and forgive us!’). And there are the unabashed (‘War is hell and we play by the rules of hell’). A whole subset of the argument on torture has asked whether it works – whether any confession extracted by such means can supply a useful lead or serve as reliable evidence at a trial. With the same propriety, one might ask whether slavery works. It is said that people have always tortured. Indeed they have, and so, too, have people always had an appetite for slavery. But the judgment of slavery in the 21st century is very different from what it was in the 19th; and before 2001, the same had come to be true of torture: it was understood as an atrocious practice which no one should defend and no one should want to get away with. This was the recent heritage that Bush and Cheney tore to shreds.

The object of torture is a slave as long as the infliction lasts; a slave has no recourse against torture so long as the master chooses to inflict it. To suppose that slavery is a matter of ownership is a half-truth that misses the political basis of the oppression. The evil consists in the ability to dominate other persons without check, the ability to do with them what you will, armed with assurance of impunity. Such a custom of acquittal or habit of non-accountability may have broad consequences in the treatment by the state of its own people – the treatment, for example, of a large black man on the streets of New York by a huddle of police who are determined to subdue him. The suspect becomes a rightless subject and not a person who bears the inalienable rights of a citizen.
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Thanas
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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by Thanas » 2015-01-01 06:08am

This is a great article, thanks for posting.

And this is why Judgement at Nuremberg should be required viewing for every public official at least once a year.
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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood
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cmdrjones
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Re: No indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

Post by cmdrjones » 2015-01-01 05:01pm

Seconded... The Vile shit that the secret squirrels get up to never ceases to amaze.

As Napoleon said, torture doesn't even work.
Terralthra wrote:It's similar to the Arabic word for "one who sows discord" or "one who crushes underfoot". It'd be like if the acronym for the some Tea Party thing was "DKBAG" or something. In one sense, it's just the acronym for ISIL/ISIS in Arabic: Dawlat (al-) Islāmiyya ‘Irāq Shām, but it's also an insult.
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