December 13, 2007

Shocked To Our Senses?

A great deal has been said on the sad topic of the tragic deaths of persons struck by the latest in police technology, the 'taser.' Yet, there are still a few nuances that I haven't seen or heard in the media coverage.
When tasers were first introduced by police forces across North America, they were 'sold' to the public on the assurance that they were going to be used only in those situations where, previously, fire-arms would have been used. Hence, the police promoted these weapons as safe and humane alternatives to guns, whose use very often result in death. On this pretext, the public accepted the deployment of tasers, and police forces eagerly bought them from the equally eager corporation that manufactures them.

Just a few years after their introduction, what are we finding? It's quite obvious from a deluge of reports, that the police regardless of what their training manuals state are now using tasers as their preferred, primary tactic in dealing with anyone who doesn't immediately submit to their approach. This assertion is amply illustrated by a list of those who've been tasered, which includes senior citizens, both men and women, pregnant women, teens, and those with physical and mental handicaps. Now, think about it: does that sound like individuals who would be involved in such dangerous criminal acts as to require the use of fire-arms? Obviously no! The police have discovered that they have a new toy that can be used anytime, anywhere to subdue any person they merely suspect of being uncooperative. Using the taser removes any need to use their brains, removes any risk to the officers, and until recently, they haven't had to answer to anyone outside the 'blue-line' to justify their actions.

Sure, the cops have a difficult job; so do psychiatric nurses and doctors, for example. But they manage to do their jobs without resorting to tasers as the first tactic. What the public is outraged about is the clear threat that we are now all living under you are no longer innocent until charged with something; the police may decide to taser you for any little action or 'lip' that they don't like. No member of society is safe from this weapon by reason of age, sex, or status. That is very troubling in a country that likes to promote itself as 'free' and law-abiding. There can be no respect for law once the law-keepers consider themselves above it!

A lot of blame, I contend, must go towards the manufacturer of these infernal weapons of torture. The company insists that the device is not lethal despite clear statistics of numerous deaths following its use. It's just like the sad saga of tobacco, all over again! "There is no scientific link between the use of 'blahblah' and injuries/conditions resulting in mortality." Yeah, sure! Neither is there a link between the results of the research and the fact that much of the research is funded by the manufacturer of tasers! The way corporate America uses 'research' to bamboozle the public is a blatant insult to our intelligence. How many more needless deaths will have to be whitewashed before our legislators wake up and stop this idiocy? Quite frankly, I think there is a place for the use of tasers by police but put them in the same category as fire-arms, deadly weapons. Every use of tasers should require a full report by the officer involved, with proper justification for its use based on real risk of serious injury or death.

From all that Canadians have learned in the past few years the Air India enquiry, the Arar enquiry, the RCMP pension fund scandal, the freezing deaths of native detainees, the YVR killing, etc. it is abundantly clear that our police forces are out of control. It is past time that police officers everywhere be made accountable to civilian authority. Yes, the idea is repugnant to them; they think no-one can understand the pressures they work under. The police have to remember that above all they are civil servants that means they are paid by, and answerable to, civil society. If they continue to act as independent vigilantes, they will soon find their job becoming a lot harder than it is now, as public trust in them is eroded and replaced by fear.

We, ordinary citizens, must continue to press our politicians for better, and impartial oversight of those charged with our protection, before we wake up in an Orwellian police state. When the law-keepers are accountable, we will all benefit police officers as well as the public at large. If we can find the courage to take the necessary steps, Mr. Dziekanski's particularly senseless death at the Vancouver airport will not have been in vain.

Intelligent 'Intelligence Reversal?'

Six years after a disastrous invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration has been unabashedly employing the same sorry strategy in a bid to extend American hegemony with an attack on Iran. By now, every intelligent person knows the strategy. It involves continued, escalating accusations of developing nuclear weapons, and relentless tarring of Iran and its government as the latest embodiment of evil in the Middle East. In this classic exercise in propaganda, Bush has been aided, until recently, by the giant media machine the major 'tri-literal' TV networks, and their print affiliates. However, sometime in late 2006, we started seeing something strange: the networks started taking a more even-handed approach in handling stories related to the White House and its policies. Later, they even got brave enough to openly question, even lampoon, some of the obvious inconsistencies and liberties taken by Bush and his administration. Just lately, the US 'intelligence' agencies released a NIE (National Intelligence Estimate) on Iran in which they pronounce that the 'rogue state' ceased its development of nuclear arms capability in 2003, and poses no danger to the USA.

That last sentence could have terminated with an exclamation mark, so radically does it depart from the anguished rhetoric emerging from the White House over the years. The report amounts to a slap in the face for Bush and his harping, and essentially pulls the veil away from his desperate posturing to fabricate a pretext for war with Iran. Most objective onlookers understood that the old game that failed in Iraq was being played out once again with Iran as the goal; but now there is proof coming right from official US sources. It looks like a miracle for the forces of peace, the drowned-out voices of sanity in the USA. But behind the miracle, what is going on? After all, it was 'official sources' that provided Bush with his flimsy 'WMD' excuse for invading Iraq. And surely, the participating agencies have known this 'news' about Iran for a few years. So why did they release it now?

You will find various reasonable explanations for this remarkable about-face. One thing is clear, though there is serious opposition to the Bush machinations within the ranks of the federal agencies that are supposed to support the administration in power in carrying out its policies. During his first term, Bush ran roughshod over the advice from these professionals, and bullied them into doctoring reports to lend weight (often quite dubious) to his preconceived plans. In those first four years in office, the Bushmen showed their true colors, made a lot of enemies, and especially, frightened a lot of thinking Americans with their utter disregard for the constitution and all that it symbolizes about their country. In today's media-conditioned climate, it can be next to impossible to remove even a patent madman from the Oval Office as long as the media giants are behind him. What, then, can genuine patriots do to resist and thwart the insane decisions of a president bent on propelling the nation towards sure disaster? Well, we are seeing before us if we care to discern just how the game can be played by the insiders. This NIE report that contradicts the Bush agenda is just the latest, and most recognizable instance of 'civil sabotage' by patriotic officials who realize that the survival of their nation and its freedoms depends on their internal resistance to the self-destructive directives issuing from the Mad House on the Potomac. I contend that the public has been blissfully innocent of other, dramatic, behind-the-scenes, often heroic actions taken by individuals of conscience with the aim of blunting Bush's desperate gambles.

For blatant example the public seemed to react with a bored yawn at the crazy story that emerged around August of a B-52 bomber flying across America with nuclear-armed missiles, bound for the port city of New Orleans. The US Air Force had, we were told, 'temporarily lost track' of the missiles. The whole story was so bizarre that only a few insiders really knew the truth that a lower-ranking officer had blown the whistle on an attempt to conceal the delivery of nuclear weapons to some unknown off-shore destination. The 'mistake' had to have originated at the highest ranks of military authority just like the 'stand-down' order issued to USAF/NORAD forces on 9-11-2001. (Yes, the buck stops with Cheney, if you had any lingering doubts). Then there was an alleged discovery of a 'dirty bomb' in the Big Apple; the Mad House expected to leverage this incident into an excuse for martial law but those in the line of command simply played down the hysteria until it was demonstrated to be trivial. Another time, Bush attempted to employ the emergency radio communication protocol (designed for national emergencies) to broadcast a pretext for martial law and suspension of civil liberties. Again, the personnel in charge of broadcasting took steps to quash the emission without interrupting regular radio transmissions.

The pattern is now apparent; individual officers within the ranks of public agencies are conducting a campaign of civil sabotage on any edicts from the president or his cabinet that undermine the precepts of the constitution or work against the best interests of the nation. They have only to hold on and continue this counter-strategy for another 12 months, until the next president is elected. However, who knows what could happen in those 12 months? Desperate men do desperate deeds; and this Bush cabal is furious at seeing its dreams of global dominion crumbling away. They will continue to try any measure that holds any prospect of furthering their nefarious goals. The counter-insurgency will have to be steadfast and resolute in refusing to prop up their plans. Meanwhile, in the remaining months, opponents of the Bush-putsch will continue collecting evidence in support of the case for impeaching Bush, Cheney, and others.

One more observation: some pundits claim that there are 'grey eminences' hidden forces behind the scenes that are really manipulating the levers of power (media psy-ops, political influence buying, corporate power mongering, etc.) to decapitate the current regime in DC. They were the same 'powers that be' who were instrumental in getting Bush into the White House in 2001 despite his clear loss of the popular vote. Now their patsy has become a monster, refusing to respond to the puppet strings as required. Hence, TPTB have become irate with their Boy George, and now they are pulling out the stops to throw a monkey wrench into the haughty ambitions of Curious George. There is substantive evidence in favor of this view, not the least being the sudden turn-around in the treatment Bush receives in the popular press (as noted above). Whether this explanation is the real deal I leave with the reader but as you can see, there's plenty of circumstantial evidence to lend credence to it.