By Glen Ford
Last week’s FBI raids likely signal that the Obama regime has begun a major campaign to criminalize and crush the Left. Think COINTELPRO, 21st century-style. President Obama, the constitutional rights lawyer who claims the right to kill at will, seeks to strangle the activist opposition to his wars and pro-Wall Street policies. “For targets not marked for oblivion, there awaits a grand jury with boundless powers to ensnare anyone.”
“Grand juries are places where rights are butchered, and we can clearly see the broad outlines of a mass prosecution strategy unfolding, in which grand juries are the engines of political destruction.”
Last week’s FBI raids in the Twin Cities, Chicago and Durham, North Carolina amount to a declaration of war on the activist Left, in which grand juries are deployed as omnibus weapons of political persecution under an infinitely expandable anti-terrorism rationale. The constitutional lawyer in the White House has tossed the founding document into the National Security State shredder, as he prepares for global capitalism’s High Noon encounter with – anyone and everyone that resists.
A government that claims the right to kill U.S. citizens without even a whiff of due process and for reasons that are secret to the public and to the victim, has broken with every notion of the rule of law since the Magna Carta. The Obama Justice Department has spent every available hour since Inauguration Day building upon George Bush’s fascist logic in an attempt to fashion a flawless Orwellian police state doctrine in which secrecy and security are entwined like a strand of DNA. For targets not marked for oblivion, there awaits a grand jury with boundless powers to ensnare anyone, absolutely anyone.
The scope of information demanded of some of last week’s FBI victims – demands with which no one can fully comply, such as all records of domestic as well as foreign travel since the year 2000, or a list of all “contacts” that might somehow have bearing on the conflict in Colombia or the Mideast – is naked proof that the intent is to smother, entangle and utterly demobilize the target. The Obama administration is constructing a legal minefield in which any honest activist can be charged with lying to federal officers or a grand jury by commission or omission – each count of which is punishable by years in prison.
“The intent is to smother, entangle and utterly demobilize the target.”
It is not brave, but prudent and self-protective, to refuse to discuss one’s political work or opinions or much of anything at all with FBI agents, as was reportedly the case with all of the recently targeted individuals. But grand juries are places where rights are butchered, and we can clearly see the broad outlines of a mass prosecution strategy unfolding, in which grand juries are the engines of political destruction. As Ron Jacobs wrote in Counterpunch, “There is a grand jury being convened in October 2010 with the intention of perhaps charging some of the people (and maybe others) subpoenaed on September 24. These raids are an attempt by the federal government to criminalize antiwar organizing.”
This is much more serious than merely “harassing” the anti-war movement. The Obama regime would not be going to so much trouble to systematically negate the Constitution just for the fun of it. They have a serious offensive in mind, which may have already begun.
U.S. intelligence services know perfectly well that activists like those raided last week barely have the material resources to put out slim periodicals or keep web sites updated. They cannot possibly provide “material support” to “terrorists” unless political statements against war (or silence in a grand jury) can be construed as, somehow, “support” for those the U.S. government deems terroristic. If the aim is to push anti-war and other social activists to the very edge of the cliff, where they will either shut down or fall into the carefully constructed legal abyss – that’s not harassment, that’s a campaign to “neutralize” the Left, in COINTELPRO terms.
“Those who profit from these wars and U.S. support for oppressive governments like Israel and Colombia hope that by having a Black President, it will discourage African Americans from speaking out in protest against these raids.”
As Black Workers for Justice stated, “We’ve seen these FBI and government raids and attacks on African American leaders and activists during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and members of the Black Panther Party, among others, were assassinated, jailed, beaten and driven into political exile for leading demonstrations and speaking out against racism, U.S. wars and other injustices…. Those who profit from these wars and U.S. support for oppressive governments like Israel and Colombia hope that by having a Black President, it will discourage African Americans from speaking out in protest against these raids, and against attacks on other social justice fighters. Dr. King said that during times like these, ‘We must break our silence!’”
Or, as the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women put it, in a joint statement, “the Obama administration is continuing COINTELPRO-type operations the FBI used in the '60s and '70s to divide the movements and smash dissent.”
A friend reminded me that, just as Nixon was thought to be the only U.S. president that could have pulled off the “opening” to China, based on his well-earned reputation as an arch anti-communist, so the First Black President might be the one that unleashes the 21st century police state in all its techno-horror. A Black president with a degree in constitutional law, who can still no do no wrong in the delusional eyes of strong majorities of African Americans, some of whom would remain in his corner even if Obama, himself, knocked down their doors in the wee hours of the morning.
If it is legal for Obama to kill Americans in total secrecy and impunity, with no explanation or even acknowledgement necessary, surely it is a lesser affront to an irrelevant Constitution to strangle the Left with grand juries.
“We demand that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder order an end to 'police state' tactics by the FBI and other security agencies and that the Justice Department investigate the Sept. 24 raids."
Even Obamite-ridden United for Peace and Justice is upset, although not enough to confront the president, directly. The FBI is “a recidivist agency whose abuses have unfortunately recurred throughout its history,” said UFPJ, lamely. So, this is a problem of one agency, disconnected from the larger administration? What about Obama, the boss-man? The UFPJ will be cheering him and the Democrats on Saturday, October 2, as head of the official “peace table” at the NAACP and Big Labor’s mass rally in Washington, while the United National Anti-War Committee (UNAC), the Black is Back Coalition and tens of thousands of folks that demand an immediate end to U.S. wars of aggression, bailouts of Wall Street, mass Black incarceration, a multi-million jobs public employment program and a halt to U.S. aid to Israel, will form a distinct and separate contingent. By their demands, ye shall know them.
The Green Party was, in its anger, bold enough to mention the president’s name. “We demand that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder order an end to 'police state' tactics by the FBI and other security agencies and that the Justice Department investigate the Sept. 24 raids," said Theresa El-Amin, Green Party co-chair. "We demand that grand jury investigations and subpoenas in connection with the raids be canceled immediately. We demand that President Obama restore the rule of law and order all security agencies and police forces to cease spying on citizens without obtaining a warrant. We encourage everyone to protest the FBI's lawless and outrageous actions as loudly as possible."
Obama’s newest assault on the Left has generated new demands for the October 2 rally. The San Francisco Labor Council, after resolving that the FBI raids “are reminiscent of the Palmer Raids, McCarthy hearings, J. Edgar Hoover, and COINTELPRO, and mark a new and dangerous chapter in the protracted assault on the First Amendment rights of every union fighter, international solidarity activist or anti-war campaigner, which began with 9/11 and the USA Patriot Act,” put forward a demand to choke the pep rally out of labor’s Democratic cheerleaders: “that this Council urge the AFL-CIO to ensure that denunciation of the FBI raids is featured from the speakers' platform at the October 2, 2010 One Nation march in Washington, DC, possibly by inviting one of those targeted by the raids, for example the SEIU chief steward whose home was raided, to speak at the rally.”
Will the NAACP and Big Labor allow it to happen? By their cowardices and betrayals, ye shall also know them.