“Hau Mi Kola (Hello My Friends). The following missive which I am forwarding to you all, is nothing more than a mirror and this is for those that can think critically.”
The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak
[Note to TomDispatch Readers: This week, the website Foreign Policy In Focus, whose work I greatly admire and whose co-director John Feffer is a TomDispatch regular, will be using this piece to kick off its new strategic focus on empire. FPIF will be exploring the question of whether the Obama administration is likely to wind down our empire or will simply try to implement a somewhat kinder and gentler version of the same. Its weekly e-newsletter, World Beat, is particularly useful and can be subscribed to by clicking here. Tom]
The Imperial Unconscious
Afghan Faces, Predators, Reapers, Terrorist Stars, Roman Conquerors, Imperial Graveyards, and Other Oddities of the Truncated American Century By Tom Engelhardt
Sometimes, it’s the everyday things, the ones that fly below the radar, that matter.
Here, according to Bloomberg News, is part of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s recent testimony on the Afghan War before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
“U.S. goals in Afghanistan must be ‘modest, realistic,’ and ‘above all, there must be an Afghan face on this war,’ Gates said. ‘The Afghan people must believe this is their war and we are there to help them. If they think we are there for our own purposes, then we will go the way of every other foreign army that has been in Afghanistan.’”
Now, in our world, a statement like this seems so obvious, so reasonable as to be beyond comment. And yet, stop a moment and think about this part of it: “there must be an Afghan face on this war.” U.S. military and civilian officials used an equivalent phrase in 2005-2006 when things were going really, really wrong in Iraq. It was then commonplace — and no less unremarked upon — for them to urgently suggest that an “Iraqi face” be put on events there.
Evidently back in vogue for a different war, the phrase is revelatory — and oddly blunt. As an image, there’s really only one way to understand it (not that anyone here stops to do so). After all, what does it mean to “put a face” on something that assumedly already has a face? In this case, it has to mean putting an Afghan mask over what we know to be the actual “face” of the Afghan War — ours — a foreign face that men like Gates recognize, quite correctly, is not the one most Afghans want to see. It’s hardly surprising that the Secretary of Defense would pick up such a phrase, part of Washington’s everyday arsenal of words and images when it comes to geopolitics, power, and war.
And yet, make no mistake, this is Empire-speak, American-style. It’s the language — behind which lies a deeper structure of argument and thought — that is essential to Washington’s vision of itself as a planet-straddling goliath. Think of that “Afghan face”/mask, in fact, as part of the flotsam and jetsam that regularly bubbles up from the American imperial unconscious.
Of course, words create realities even though such language, in all its strangeness, essentially passes unnoticed here. Largely uncommented upon, it helps normalize American practices in the world, comfortably shielding us from certain global realities; but it also has the potential to blind us to those realities, which, in perilous times, can be dangerous indeed. So let’s consider just a few entries in what might be thought of as The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak.
War Hidden in Plain Sight: There has recently been much reporting on, and even some debate here about, the efficacy of the Obama administration’s decision to increase the intensity of CIA missile attacks from drone aircraft in what Washington, in a newly coined neologism reflecting a widening war, now calls “Af-Pak” — the Pashtun tribal borderlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Since August 2008, more than 30 such missile attacks have been launched on the Pakistani side of that border against suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban targets. The pace of attacks has actually risen since Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, as have casualties from the missile strikes, as well as popular outrage in Pakistan over the attacks.
Thanks to Senator Diane Feinstein, we also know that, despite strong official Pakistani government protests, someone official in that country is doing more than looking the other way while they occur. As the Senator revealed recently, at least some of the CIA’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) cruising the skies over Af-Pak are evidently stationed at Pakistani bases. We learned recently as well that American Special Operations units are now regularly making forays inside Pakistan “primarily to gather intelligence”; that a unit of 70 American Special Forces advisors, a “secret task force, overseen by the United States Central Command and Special Operations Command,” is now aiding and training Pakistani Army and Frontier Corps paramilitary troops, again inside Pakistan; and that, despite (or perhaps, in part, because of) these American efforts, the influence of the Pakistani Taliban is actually expanding, even as Pakistan threatens to melt down.
Mystifyingly enough, however, this Pakistani part of the American war in Afghanistan is still referred to in major U.S. papers as a “covert war.” As news about it pours out, who it’s being hidden from is one of those questions no one bothers to ask.
On February 20th, the New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti and David E. Sanger typically wrote:
“With two missile strikes over the past week, the Obama administration has expanded the covert war run by the Central Intelligence Agency inside Pakistan, attacking a militant network seeking to topple the Pakistani government… Under standard policy for covert operations, the C.I.A. strikes inside Pakistan have not been publicly acknowledged either by the Obama administration or the Bush administration.”
On February 25th, Mazzetti and Helene Cooper reported that new CIA head Leon Panetta essentially bragged to reporters that “the agency’s campaign against militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas was the ‘most effective weapon’ the Obama administration had to combat Al Qaeda’s top leadership… Mr. Panetta stopped short of directly acknowledging the missile strikes, but he said that ‘operational efforts’ focusing on Qaeda leaders had been successful.” Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal reported the next day that Panetta said the attacks are “probably the most effective weapon we have to try to disrupt al Qaeda right now.” She added, “Mr. Obama and National Security Adviser James Jones have strongly endorsed their use, [Panetta] said.”
Uh, covert war? These “covert” “operational efforts” have been front-page news in the Pakistani press for months, they were part of the U.S. presidential campaign debates, and they certainly can’t be a secret for the Pashtuns in those border areas who must see drone aircraft overhead relatively regularly, or experience the missiles arriving in their neighborhoods.
In the U.S., “covert war” has long been a term for wars like the U.S.-backed Contra War against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in the 1980s, which were openly discussed, debated, and often lauded in this country. To a large extent, when aspects of these wars have actually been “covert” — that is, purposely hidden from anyone — it has been from the American public, not the enemies being warred upon. At the very least, however, such language, however threadbare, offers official Washington a kind of “plausible deniability” when it comes to thinking about what kind of an “American face” we present to the world.
Imperial Naming Practices: In our press, anonymous U.S. officials now point with pride to the increasing “precision” and “accuracy” of those drone missile attacks in taking out Taliban or al-Qaeda figures without (supposedly) taking out the tribespeople who live in the same villages or neighboring compounds. Such pieces lend our air war an almost sterile quality. They tend to emphasize the extraordinary lengths to which planners go to avoid “collateral damage.” To many Americans, it must then seem strange, even irrational, that perfectly non-fundamentalist Pakistanis should be quite so outraged about attacks aimed at the world’s worst terrorists.
On the other hand, consider for a moment the names of those drones now regularly in the skies over “Pashtunistan.” These are no less regularly published in our press to no comment at all. The most basic of the armed drones goes by the name of Predator, a moniker which might as well have come directly from those nightmarish sci-fi movies about an alien that feasts on humans. Undoubtedly, however, it was used in the way Col. Michael Steele of the 101st Airborne Division meant it when he exhorted his brigade deploying to Iraq (according to Thomas E. Ricks’ new book The Gamble) to remember: “You’re the predator.”
The Predator drone is armed with “only” two missiles. The more advanced drone, originally called the Predator B, now being deployed to the skies over Af-Pak, has been dubbed the Reaper — as in the Grim Reaper. Now, there’s only one thing such a “hunter-killer UAV” could be reaping, and you know just what that is: lives. It can be armed with up to 14 missiles (or four missiles and two 500-pound bombs), which means it packs quite a deadly wallop.
Oh, by the way, those missiles are named as well. They’re Hellfire missiles. So, if you want to consider the nature of this covert war in terms of names alone: Predators and Reapers are bringing down the fire from some satanic hell upon the peasants, fundamentalist guerrillas, and terrorists of the Af-Pak border regions.
In Washington, when the Af-Pak War is discussed, it’s in the bloodless, bureaucratic language of “global counterinsurgency” or “irregular warfare” (IW), of “soft power,” “hard power,” and “smart power.” But flying over the Pashtun wildlands is the blunt-edged face of predation and death, ready at a moment’s notice to deliver hellfire to those below.
Imperial Arguments: Let’s pursue this just a little further. Faced with rising numbers of civilian casualties from U.S. and NATO air strikes in Afghanistan and an increasingly outraged Afghan public, American officials tend to place the blame for most sky-borne “collateral damage” squarely on the Taliban. As Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen bluntly explained recently, “[T]he enemy hides behind civilians.” Hence, so this Empire-speak argument goes, dead civilians are actually the Taliban’s doing.
U.S. military and civilian spokespeople have long accused Taliban guerrillas of using civilians as “shields,” or even of purposely luring devastating air strikes down on Afghan wedding parties to create civilian casualties and so inflame the sensibilities of rural Afghanistan. This commonplace argument has two key features: a claim that they made us do it (kill civilians) and the implication that the Taliban fighters “hiding” among innocent villagers or wedding revelers are so many cowards, willing to put their fellow Pashtuns at risk rather than come out and fight like men — and, of course, given the firepower arrayed against them, die.
The U.S. media regularly records this argument without reflecting on it. In this country, in fact, the evil of combatants “hiding” among civilians seems so self-evident, especially given the larger evil of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, that no one thinks twice about it.
And yet like so much of Empire-speak on a one-way planet, this argument is distinctly uni-directional. What’s good for the guerrilla goose, so to speak, is inapplicable to the imperial gander. To illustrate, consider the American “pilots” flying those unmanned Predators and Reapers. We don’t know exactly where all of them are (other than not in the drones), but some are certainly at Nellis Air Force Base just outside Las Vegas.
In other words, were the Taliban guerrillas to leave the protection of those civilians and come out into the open, there would be no enemy to fight in the usual sense, not even a predatory one. The pilot firing that Hellfire missile into some Pakistani border village or compound is, after all, using the UAV’s cameras, including by next year a new system hair-raisingly dubbed “Gorgon Stare,” to locate his target and then, via console, as in a single-shooter video game, firing the missile, possibly from many thousands of miles away.
And yet nowhere in our world will you find anyone making the argument that those pilots are in “hiding” like so many cowards. Such a thought seems absurd to us, as it would if it were applied to the F-18 pilots taking off from aircraft carriers off the Afghan coast or the B-1 pilots flying out of unnamed Middle Eastern bases or the Indian Ocean island base of Diego Garcia. And yet, whatever those pilots may do in Afghan skies, unless they experience a mechanical malfunction, they are in no more danger than if they, too, were somewhere outside Las Vegas. In the last seven years, a few helicopters, but no planes, have gone down in Afghanistan.
When the Afghan mujahedeen fought the Soviets in the 1980s, the CIA supplied them with hand-held Stinger missiles, the most advanced surface-to-air missile in the U.S. arsenal, and they did indeed start knocking Soviet helicopters and planes out of the skies (which proved the beginning of the end for the Russians). The Afghan or Pakistani Taliban or al-Qaeda terrorists have no such capability today, which means, if you think about it, that what we here imagine as an “air war” involves none of the dangers we would normally associate with war. Looked at in another light, those missile strikes and bombings are really one-way acts of slaughter.
The Taliban’s tactics are, of course, the essence of guerrilla warfare, which always involves an asymmetrical battle against more powerful armies and weaponry, and which, if successful, always depends on the ability of the guerrilla to blend into the environment, natural and human, or, as Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong so famously put it, to “swim” in the “sea of the people.”
If you imagine your enemy simply using the villagers of Afghanistan as “shields” or “hiding” like so many cowards among them, you are speaking the language of imperial power but also blinding yourself (or the American public) to the actual realities of the war you’re fighting.
Imperial Jokes: In October 2008, Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, refused to renew the U.S. lease at Manta Air Base, one of at least 761 foreign bases, macro to micro, that the U.S. garrisons worldwide. Correa reportedly said: “We’ll renew the base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami — an Ecuadorean base. If there’s no problem having foreign soldiers on a country’s soil, surely they’ll let us have an Ecuadorean base in the United States.”
This qualifies as an anti-imperial joke. The “leftist” president of Ecuador was doing no more than tweaking the nose of goliath. An Ecuadorian base in Miami? Absurd. No one on the planet could take such a suggestion seriously.
On the other hand, when it comes to the U.S. having a major base in Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian land that not one in a million Americans has ever heard of, that’s no laughing matter. After all, Washington has been paying $20 million a year in direct rent for the use of that country’s Manas Air Base (and, as indirect rent, another $80 million has gone to various Kyrgyzstani programs). As late as last October, the Pentagon was planning to sink another $100 million into construction at Manas “to expand aircraft parking areas at the base and provide a ‘hot cargo pad’ — an area safe enough to load and unload hazardous and explosive cargo — to be located away from inhabited facilities.” That, however, was when things started to go wrong. Now, Kyrgyzstan’s parliament has voted to expel the U.S. from Manas within six months, a serious blow to our resupply efforts for the Afghan War. More outrageous yet to Washington, the Kyrgyzstanis seem to have done this at the bidding of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has the nerve to want to reestablish a Russian sphere of influence in what used to be the borderlands of the old Soviet Union.
Put in a nutshell, despite the crumbling U.S. economic situation and the rising costs of the Afghan War, we still act as if we live on a one-way planet. Some country demanding a base in the U.S.? That’s a joke or an insult, while the U.S. potentially gaining or losing a base almost anywhere on the planet may be an insult, but it’s never a laughing matter.
Imperial Thought: Recently, to justify those missile attacks in Pakistan, U.S. officials have been leaking details on the program’s “successes” to reporters. Anonymous officials have offered the “possibly wishful estimate” that the CIA “covert war” has led to the deaths (or capture) of 11 of al Qaeda’s top 20 commanders, including, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report, “Abu Layth al-Libi, whom U.S. officials described as ‘a rising star’ in the group.”
“Rising star” is such an American phrase, melding as it does imagined terror hierarchies with the lingo of celebrity tabloids. In fact, one problem with Empire-speak, and imperial thought more generally, is the way it prevents imperial officials from imagining a world not in their own image. So it’s not surprising that, despite their best efforts, they regularly conjure up their enemies as a warped version of themselves — hierarchical, overly reliant on leaders, and top heavy.
In the Vietnam era, for instance, American officials spent a remarkable amount of effort sending troops to search for, and planes to bomb, the border sanctuaries of Cambodia and Laos on a fruitless hunt for COSVN (the so-called Central Office for South Vietnam), the supposed nerve center of the communist enemy, aka “the bamboo Pentagon.” Of course, it wasn’t there to be found, except in Washington’s imperial imagination.
In the Af-Pak “theater,” we may be seeing a similar phenomenon. Underpinning the CIA killer-drone program is a belief that the key to combating al-Qaeda (and possibly the Taliban) is destroying its leadership one by one. As key Pakistani officials have tried to explain, the missile attacks, which have indeed killed some al-Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban figures (as well as whoever was in their vicinity), are distinctly counterproductive. The deaths of those figures in no way compensates for the outrage, the destabilization, the radicalization that the attacks engender in the region. They may, in fact, be functionally strengthening each of those movements.
What it’s hard for Washington to grasp is this: “decapitation,” to use another American imperial term, is not a particularly effective strategy with a decentralized guerrilla or terror organization. The fact is a headless guerrilla movement is nowhere near as brainless or helpless as a headless Washington would be.
Only recently, Eric Schmitt and Jane Perlez of the New York Times reported that, while top U.S. officials were exhibiting optimism about the effectiveness of the missile strikes, Pakistani officials were pointing to “ominous signs of Al Qaeda’s resilience” and suggesting “that Al Qaeda was replenishing killed fighters and midlevel leaders with less experienced but more hard-core militants, who are considered more dangerous because they have fewer allegiances to local Pakistani tribes… The Pakistani intelligence assessment found that Al Qaeda had adapted to the blows to its command structure by shifting ‘to conduct decentralized operations under small but well-organized regional groups’ within Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
Imperial Dreams and Nightmares: Americans have rarely liked to think of themselves as “imperial,” so what is it about Rome in these last years? First, the neocons, in the flush of seeming victory in 2002-2003 began to imagine the U.S. as a “new Rome” (or new British Empire), or as Charles Krauthammer wrote as early as February 2001 in Time Magazine, “America is no mere international citizen. It is the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome.”
All roads on this planet, they were then convinced, led ineluctably to Washington. Now, of course, they visibly don’t, and the imperial bragging about surpassing the Roman or British empires has long since faded away. When it comes to the Afghan War, in fact, those (resupply) “roads” seem to lead, embarrassingly enough, through Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, and Iran. But the comparison to conquering Rome evidently remains on the brain.
When, for instance, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post recently, drumming up support for the revised, age-of-Obama American mission in Afghanistan, he just couldn’t help starting off with an inspiring tale about the Romans and a small Italian city-state, Locri, that they conquered. As he tells it, the ruler the Romans installed in Locri, a rapacious fellow named Pleminius, proved a looter and a tyrant. And yet, Mullen assures us, the Locrians so believed in “the reputation for equanimity and fairness that Rome had built” that they sent a delegation to the Roman Senate, knowing they could get a hearing, and demanded restitution; and indeed, the tyrant was removed.
Admittedly, this seems a far-fetched analogy to the U.S. in Afghanistan (and don’t for a second mix up Pleminius, that rogue, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, even though the Obama-ites evidently now believe him corrupt and replaceable). Still, as Mullen sees it, the point is: “We don’t always get it right. But like the early Romans, we strive in the end to make it right. We strive to earn trust. And that makes all the difference.”
Mullen is, it seems, the Aesop of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and, in his somewhat overheated brain, we evidently remain the conquering (but just) “early” Romans — before, of course, the fatal rot set in.
And then there’s the Washington Post’s Thomas Ricks, a superb reporter who, in his latest book, gives voice to the views of Centcom Commander David Petraeus. Reflecting on Iraq, where he (like the general) believes we could still be fighting in “2015,” Ricks begins a recent Post piece this way:
“In October 2008, as I was finishing my latest book on the Iraq war, I visited the Roman Forum during a stop in Italy. I sat on a stone wall on the south side of the Capitoline Hill and studied the two triumphal arches at either end of the Forum, both commemorating Roman wars in the Middle East… The structures brought home a sad realization: It’s simply unrealistic to believe that the U.S. military will be able to pull out of the Middle East… It was a week when U.S. forces had engaged in combat in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan — a string of countries stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean — following in the footsteps of Alexander the Great, the Romans and the British.”
With the waning of British power, Ricks continues, it “has been the United States’ turn to take the lead there.” And our turn, as it happens, just isn’t over yet. Evidently that, at least, is the view from our imperial capital and from our military viceroys out on the peripheries.
Honestly, Freud would have loved these guys. They seem to channel the imperial unconscious. Take David Petraeus. For him, too, the duties and dangers of empire evidently weigh heavily on the brain. Like a number of key figures, civilian and military, he has lately begun to issue warnings about Afghanistan’s dangers. As the Washington Post reported, “[Petraeus] suggested that the odds of success were low, given that foreign military powers have historically met with defeat in Afghanistan. ‘Afghanistan has been known over the years as the graveyard of empires,’ he said. ‘We cannot take that history lightly.’”
Of course, he’s worrying about the graveyard aspect of this, but what I find curious — exactly because no one thinks it odd enough to comment on here — is the functional admission in the use of this old adage about Afghanistan that we fall into the category of empires, whether or not in search of a graveyard in which to die.
And he’s not alone in this. Secretary of Defense Gates put the matter similarly recently: “Without the support of the Afghan people, Gates said, the U.S. would simply ‘go the way of every other foreign army that’s ever been in Afghanistan.’”
Imperial Blindness: Think of the above as just a few prospective entries in The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak that will, of course, never be compiled. We’re so used to such language, so inured to it and to the thinking behind it, so used, in fact, to living on a one-way planet in which all roads lead to and from Washington, that it doesn’t seem like a language at all. It’s just part of the unexamined warp and woof of everyday life in a country that still believes it normal to garrison the planet, regularly fight wars halfway across the globe, find triumph or tragedy in the gain or loss of an air base in a country few Americans could locate on a map, and produce military manuals on counterinsurgency warfare the way a do-it-yourself furniture maker would produce instructions for constructing a cabinet from a kit.
We don’t find it strange to have 16 intelligence agencies, some devoted to listening in on, and spying on, the planet, or capable of running “covert wars” in tribal borderlands thousands of miles distant, or of flying unmanned drones over those same borderlands destroying those who come into camera view. We’re inured to the bizarreness of it all and of the language (and pretensions) that go with it.
If The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak were ever produced, who here would buy it? Who would feel the need to check out what seems like the only reasonable and self-evident language for describing the world? How else, after all, would we operate? How else would any American in a position of authority talk in Washington or Baghdad or Islamabad or Rome?
So it undoubtedly seemed to the Romans, too. And we know what finally happened to their empire and the language that went with it. Such a language plays its role in normalizing the running of an empire. It allows officials (and in our case the media as well) not to see what would be inconvenient to the smooth functioning of such an enormous undertaking. Embedded in its words and phrases is a fierce way of thinking (even if we don’t see it that way), as well as plausible deniability. And in the good times, its uses are obvious.
On the other hand, when the normal ways of empire cease to function well, that same language can suddenly work to blind the imperial custodians — which is, after all, what the foreign policy “team” of the Obama era is — to necessary realities. At a moment when it might be important to grasp what the “American face” in the mirror actually looks like, you can’t see it.
And sometimes what you can’t bring yourself to see can, as now, hurt you.
Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of the American Age of Denial. He also edited The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (Verso, 2008), a collection of some of the best pieces from his site and an alternative history of the mad Bush years.
[Note: In thinking about a prospective Dictionary of American Empire-Speak, I found four websites particularly useful for keeping me up to date: Juan Cole's invaluable Informed Comment (I don't know how he stays at day-in, day-out, year after year); Antiwar.com and the War in Context, where editors with sharp eyes for global developments seem to be on the prowl 24/7; and last but by no means least, Noah Shachtman's Danger Room blog at Wired.com. Focused on the latest military developments, from strategy and tactics to hunter-killer drones and "robo-beasts," Danger Room is not only a must-follow site, but gives an everyday sense of the imperial bizarreness of our American world. Finally, a deep bow of thanks to Christopher Holmes, who keeps the copyediting lights burning in Japan, and TomDispatch eternally chugging along.]
Copyright 2009 Tom Engelhardt
There are three points of view when it comes to the federal government:
1) Everything is more or less going along just fine. Sure we have some problems but we’ll work them out.
2) It’s too cumbersome and intrusive, taxes are excessive, the national debt is a disgrace, and our foreign policy is long on machismo and short on goodwill. The Democrats and Republicans got us into this mess and probably can’t get us out.
3) If you ignore it, it will go away.
Our recent presidential election took place in November of 2008. As usual, our so-called democracy basically gave us two choices.
The Democrats want an extensive, intrusive federal government to engineer social change and redistribute wealth. Higher taxes and more government involvement (intervention), thereby suffocating free enterprise and diminishing individual freedom. Their goal is to nurture (control) their subjects from cradle to grave.
The Republicans want a strong federal government to engineer endless economic growth and support a vast military-industrial complex. Increased military expenditures and more self-appointed international police action, thereby contributing to global strife and tarnishing our relationship with the rest of the world.
Both of these philosophies are extremely costly. Democrats and Republicans have driven our national debt up to nearly $12 trillion, and it continues to rise. Future generations will bear the burden for this insane federal spending recklessness.
If you’re enthusiastic about one of these two options, by all means stay the course.
But if you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place trying to choose the lesser of two evils, perhaps it’s time to unscrew your head back out of the sand and seek an alternative. Even though the media will try to convince you that a vote for anyone other than a Democrat or a Republican is a wasted vote, there are other alternatives.
The election process is meant to give the voters the illusion of a free democracy without actually having one.
The two major candidates for president, one Democrat and one Republican, are basically chosen by a handful of small states (the New Hampshire Primary, the Iowa Caucuses, etc.), then each of the candidates personally selects their respective running mate and potential successor.
To maintain their position of power and control, the two major political parties enacted election laws that have given them a decisive advantage over any emerging alternative philosophies.
Democrats and Republicans in Congress have awarded matching campaign funds to the two major political parties (themselves) while making it difficult for third parties to qualify for them. The candidates of these two parties are automatically placed on ballots in every state, while third party candidates must contend with legal quagmires on a state by state basis to get on ballots. And so on.
To anyone with a brain larger than a pinto bean this doesn’t seem like much of a democracy.
To make matter worse, the mass media focuses only on the two major political parties, as if they’re the only two points of view, further diminishing a free democracy.
There aren’t many choices when there are only two alternatives.
This unbalanced, unfair system wasn’t the result of evil intent. But government operates on endless compromise and those in power tend to manipulate the system to favor those in power. And the mass media goes along with it to maintain a positive relationship with those in power in order to obtain access.
Basically, the system is rigged.
The two parties in power have made it difficult for a third party to compete and the mass media has become their ally by promoting an illusion of a democracy, encouraging everyone to participate in the process under the mistaken premise that the public is apathetic rather than disgusted.
So the masses turn out every four years to do their civic duty and vote for the lesser of two evils. But a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil and an illusion of a democracy is only an illusion.
A two-party system is not a democracy – it’s a closed system tightly controlled by the two parties in power. Anyone who enthusiastically supports such a system is perpetuating a narrow, unjust form of government.
Every citizen has three choices:
1) You can participate in a rigged system, giving legitimacy to that system, by voting for one of the two major candidates as usual. Be sure to pat yourself on the back for doing your civic duty.
2) You can vote for a third party candidate, preferably one that seeks to limit the power and scope of government, sending a message to the two major parties and the mass media that politics as usual is unacceptable. Be sure to pat yourself on the back for having a mind of your own.
3) You can choose to ignore your enslavement by ever increasing government forces and bang your head against the wall. Be sure to pat yourself on the back so you don’t swallow your gum.
Choose wisely. The fate of eternity is in your hands.
Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist and author of four novels. Contact email@example.com
2000 – Head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs admits to crimes, “Remarks of Kevin Gover, Assistant Secretary–Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior, at the Ceremony Acknowledging the 175th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.” CLICK HERE for Full Text.
“Immediately upon its establishment in 1824, the Office of Indian Affairs was an instrument by which the United States enforced its ambition against the Indian nations. As the nation expanded West, the agency participated in the ethnic cleansing that befell the western tribes. War begets tragedy, but the deliberate spread of disease, the decimation of the bison herds, the use of alcohol to destroy mind and body, and the cowardly killing of women and children made for tragedy on a scale so ghastly that it cannot be dismissed as merely the inevitable consequence of the clash of competing ways of life. After the devastation of tribal economies, the BIA set out to destroy all things Indian by forbidding the speaking of Indian languages, prohibiting traditional religious activities, outlawing traditional government, and making Indians ashamed of who they were. Worst of all, the BIA committed these acts against the children entrusted to its boarding schools. The trauma of shame, fear, and anger has passed from one generation to the next, and manifests itself in the rampant alcoholism, drug abuse, and domestic violence that plague Indian country. The BIA expresses its profound sorrow for these wrongs, extends this formal apology to Indian people for its historical conduct, and makes promises for its future conduct. “
Response to Mentally Challenged Americans (who do not understand the Constitution of the United States of America)
My statements and video regarding President Obama’s “Final Solution” to the “Indian Problem” have generated a lot of response, about 10 to 1 in agreement. So, this message is directed at the 10% of our readers who do not yet understand our history and the significance of President Obama’s statements.
While many people point out the President Obama was referring to the Tribes of Palestine or the Tribes of Israel, or just using the word willy-nilly; we disagree. The ONLY “Lines of Tribes” in America are those of the American Indians.
Other people have pointed out that President Obama has spoken to Indian groups and invited “Native Journalists to the White House” and Tribal Councils to the inauguration. Below is a common response that I will address.
Sent: Saturday, January 24, 2009 10:55:25 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Obama Announces “Final Solution” to “Indian Problem”
With all due respect, why would Obama invite his newly adopted Crow parents to the White House for the Inauguration? Why would he invite a team of Native journalists to accompany him the week before the Inauguration? If he was going to dissolve the sovereignty, why did he invite all of the tribal councils to meet with him in Washington? Why didn’t he just ignore them like every other politician has ever done?
I am not saying he is NOT going to dissolve sovereignty, I am just curious. I am going to forward this on to one of the Native journalists, Jodi Rave, who was on that traveling team with Obama and ask her what she thinks. I think she will have better insight into these questions than I will. And in the meantime, I think it is better to know the answers to those questions before one spreads hate and dissension. I have seen radical activists make things worse because they assumed it was better to go full steam ahead into attacks. It is toooooooo early in the game to make these assumptions. I am not saying ignore it, I am staying, watch and wait. Its very early in the game.
In the meantime, here is her blog from her trip. There is a lot amount of stuff about the Crow tribe participation. Start from the bottom up. http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=59108769417&h=dSZGc&u=xl_MP
Dear C.R. and others yet sleeping,
It is evident that you have not read, or at least not understood, Einstein’s definition of Insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
As a Lakotah/Dakota and Crow Indian, I don’t have the time, nor the desire to explain colonialism to you. I will point out the insidious and self-destructive nature of the colonized mindset.
Those “Natives Journalists” mentioned above who were invited to Washington, D.C. are part of an ongoing conspiracy to sell out the American Indians. The Tribal Councils invited by Obama are also known as the “Tribal Government” or, in a more sophisticated society, “Colonial Puppets” and “Vichy Indians.” “Native American” is U.S.A. “Newspeak” term used to identify all its indigenous prisoners which include, but are not limited to, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Micronesia, American Samoa, Aluetes, Inupiats, Yupiks, Hawaiians and American Indians.
You say “watch and wait.” While you and the rest of the World have been watching and waiting, these “Natives” are, and have been, aiding and abetting the continual loss of our People, our Land, our mineral rights, and our water rights. And all along, the government denies us redress as in the Cobell case. (http://www.indiantrust.com/)
The history of the U.S.A.’s genocidal policies spans all 43 past presidents. How can we be expected to trust the 44th president?
In 1779, George Washington instructed Major General John Sullivan to attack Iroquois people. Washington stated, “lay waste all the settlements around…that the country may not be merely overrun, but destroyed”. In the course of the carnage and annihilation of Indian people, Washington also instructed his general not to “listen to any overture of peace before the total ruin of their settlements is effected”. (Stannard, David E. AMERICAN HOLOCAUST. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. pp. 118-121.)
In 1783, Washington’s anti-Indian sentiments were apparent in his comparisons of Indians with wolves: “Both being beast of prey, tho’ they differ in shape”, he said. George Washington’s policies of extermination were realized in his troops behaviors following a defeat. Troops would skin the bodies of Iroquois “from the hips downward to make boot tops or leggings”. Indians who survived the attacks later re-named the nation’s first president as “Town Destroyer”. Approximately 28 of 30 Seneca towns had been destroyed within a five year period. (Ibid)
In 1807, Thomas Jefferson instructed his War Department that, should any Indians resist against America stealing Indian lands, the Indian resistance must be met with “the hatchet”. Jefferson continued, “And…if ever we are constrained to lift the hatchet against any tribe, ” he wrote, “we will never lay it down till that tribe is exterminated, or is driven beyond the Mississippi.” Jefferson, the slave owner, continued, “in war, they will kill some of us; we shall destroy all of them”. (Ibid)
In 1812, Jefferson said that American was obliged to push the backward Indians “with the beasts of the forests into the Stony Mountains”. One year later Jefferson continued anti-Indian statements by adding that America must “pursue [the Indians] to extermination, or drive them to new seats beyond our reach”. (Ibid)
In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln ordered the execution, by hanging, of 38 Dakota Sioux prisoners in Mankato, Minnesota. Most of those executed were holy men or political leaders of their camps. None of them were responsible for committing the crimes they were accused of. Coined as the Largest Mass Execution in U.S. History. (Brown, Dee. BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE. New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1970. pp. 59-61)
The fourth face you see on that “Stony Mountain” is America’s first twentieth century president, alleged American hero, and Nobel peace prize recipient, Theodore Roosevelt. This Indian fighter firmly grasped the notion of Manifest Destiny saying that America’s extermination of the Indians and thefts our their lands “was ultimately beneficial as it was inevitable”. Roosevelt once said, “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth”.
In Gaza, the reported statistics are 65% unemployment and an average life expectancy for males of about 73 years. On the Pine Ridge Sioux Indian Reservation, the unemployment rate is over 80% and the average life expectancy for men is just 44 years, lower even than Haiti. This county, Shannon, is the poorest in the U.S. What the government has done to the Indians is a holocaust worse than what the Nazis perpetrated. In 1492, it is estimated that the Indian population was between 12 and 20 million. By the 1900 census, this figure had been reduced to 250,000 full-bloods. Now there is even less. An extermination rate both greater in absolute numbers and percentage population than what happened to the Jews and Gypsies in Germany.
Yet this extermination is celebrated in the media and movies with notions of “manifest destiny”, “westward expansion” and the totally inaccurate portrayal of Indians as savages. Clearly the European invaders were the savages!
Need I say more on this?
For a full listing of the deprivation here, see this link:
Now, it’s not just the American Indian I am concerned about, it is ALL Americans. You should be alarmed with Obama’s economic and financial planning which will guarantee that you and yours will soon be reduced to the same abject poverty we have been enduring for more than a century. Welcome to the U.S.A Reservation!
The inaugural address is THE most important speech a President EVER makes. Billions of People look at it. The speech is written over a period of many weeks by a whole team of writers. It is edited and re-edited. Each word and each phrase is scrutinized so as to not offend anyone. Click to View the VIDEO.
“For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers.” He has placed our successful AND peaceful way of life and Spirituality into the category of “Non-Believers!”
Then he uses the phrase “the lines of tribes shall soon dissolve.” What does he mean? Certainly, NOT the tribes of Israel. Who, but the American Indians are referred to as Tribes? We are the ONLY ones.
Obama’s “Final Solution” to the centuries-old “Indian Problem” is total dissolution. Click to View the VIDEO.
This case is not a straight murder trial. It is a political trial where the government is trying to dredge up, sensationalize and demonize the American Indian Movement (A.I.M.). The government continues in its centuries-old unlawful and racist prosecution American Indian People.
We must put a stop to this decades-long unlawful prosecution!
PLEA FOR ATTORNEYS: Marshall’s court-appointed defense attorney, Dana Hanna, is a babe-in-the-woods when it comes to such a high-profile political case. Marshall desperately needs qualified counsel that understands the methodology of political trials.
US Government Continues to Attack Innocent American Indians by Utilizing the Now Defunct American Indian Movement (A.I.M.) to Fan the Flames of Racism in the Heart of the Republic of Lakotah (Now Known as the State of South Dakota)
Anna Mae Aquash (b. Indian Brook, Nova Scotia, Canada, March 27, 1945; d. mid-December 1975) was a Mi’kmaq activist from Nova Scotia, Canada who became one of the most active and prominent female members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) during the early 1970s.
After nearly three decades of dormancy, law enforcement attempts to “solve” the murder of Aquash recently resumed.
On February 24, 1976, Aquash was found dead by the side of State Road 73 on the far northeast corner of the Pine Ridge Reservation, about 10 miles from Wanblee, South Dakota, close to Kadoka. Her body was found during an unusually warm spell in late February, 1976 by a rancher, Roger Amiotte.
FBI’s Initial Cover up:
At the Pine Ridge morgue, a doctor and nurse found blood on the woman’s head. However, BIA pathologist Dr. W. O. Brown, described the case as “awfully routine,” reported no blood, and concluded the woman had died from “exposure” two weeks earlier, in early February. On FBI instructions, Brown severed the victim’s hands for later identification and approved a burial.
“It was the darndest thing I ever saw,” said mortician Tom Chamberlain, “an unidentified corpse buried without a death certificate or burial permit.” On March 3, 1976, the anonymous body rested in a pauper’s grave on Pine Ridge. On that day, the FBI identified the dead woman as 30-year-old Anna Mae Aquash from Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, a member of the American Indian Movement (AIM). The Bureau notified the Pictou family in Canada that Anna Mae had died “by natural causes.”
The family requested another autopsy, and AIM lawyer Bruce Ellison petitioned the FBI to exhume the body. On March 11, Dr. Garry Peterson examined the corpse, noticed “a bulge in the dead woman’s left temple and dry blood in her hair,” and revealed the actual cause of death: a .32 caliber bullet “shot at close range into the back of her head.”
FBI Blames AIM for the Murder:
The story itself raises many obvious questions, including:
- Why would an AIM “hit squad” take Aquash, in the presence of so many witnesses, from one city to another, across two states, to several apartments and a defense office (more than likely under surveillance), then execute her?
- If the FBI seriously considered the death of Aquash to have been carried out by AIM in 1976, we can be sure vast amounts of resources would have been devoted to this case at that time. Instead, the FBI attempted to cover it up!
There are many theories about who may have been behind the murder of Anna Mae. John Trudell fingers Dennis Banks, stating in both the 1976 Butler and Robideau trial and the Looking Cloud trial that Banks told him about the killing before the body had been identified. In Dennis Banks’ autobiography, Ojibwa Warrior, he states that he was informed by John Trudell that the body that had been found was Annie Mae. Banks states that he did not know until that time that Aquash had been killed.
The FBI’s version is that Aquash was taken from a house in Denver, Colorado, by Graham, Looking Cloud, and Thelda Clarke. She was then driven to various offices & apartments in Rapid City, S. Dakota. One of these included the legal offices of the Wounded Knee defense committee. From there, she was taken to houses on Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations, then executed on a desolate road near Wanbli, on or around Dec. 12, 1975 (where her body was found two months later).
According to the FBI, Aquash was suspected of being an informant and had sensitive info related to the Oglala shoot-out. Because of this, she had to be killed.
History of the Prosecution’s Grand Juries
Denver, Colorado, Detective Abe Alonzo, spent years visiting and questioning Looking Cloud about the murder. During these years, the Government, through Alonzo, gave Looking Cloud immunity and tried to turn him into prosecution witness. It was only after this immunity expired that Looking Hawk was indicted.
After 29 years, the FBI, blatantly ignoring both Trudell’s 1976 testimony, and his testimony in the Looking Cloud trial, was turned away by Grand Juries in 1976, 1983, 1994, and 1999. In the fourth Grand Jury, Russell Means testified that Vernon Bellecourt, now deceased, and a former spokesperson for his own Intergalactic American Indian Movement wherein he purportedly was the Grand Poupa of AIM, was the person who ordered the murder. Not until a fifth grand jury was convened in March, 2003 did the U.S. Attorney for South Dakota finally get indictments against Arlo Looking Cloud and John Graham.
In August 2008, a sixth federal grand jury indicted a third man, Vine Richard “Dick” Marshall, with aiding and abetting the murder. It is alleged that Graham, Looking Cloud and Clark had taken Anna Mae to Marshall’s house where she was held just prior to her being driven to her death.
Looking Cloud is an Oglala Lakota and a father of two. He also has serious substance abuse problems that were exploited by Alonzo during his investigation. In March 2003, in an alleged video-taped confession, Looking Cloud admitted to being under the influence of alcohol. Alonzo then fed him leading questions, and Looking Cloud slurred contradictory answers. He allegedly confessed that he had been the unwitting accomplice in Aquash’s execution by AIM. He stated that he witnessed Graham take her to the edge of a ravine and shoot her in the back of the head.
The Looking Cloud Trial
On February 8, 2004 Arlo Looking Cloud was tried before a U.S. federal jury and five days later was found guilty. While the prosecution called 23 witnesses, his government appointed lawyer called only one, an FBI agent! NO physical evidence linking Looking Cloud to the crime was presented!
Although, a videotape was shown in which Looking Cloud admits to being at the scene of the murder but claims that he was unaware that Aquash was going to be killed. In that video, in which Looking Cloud is interviewed by Detective Abe Alonzo of the Denver Police Department and Robert Ecoffey, the Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Law Enforcement Services, taped on March 27, 2003, he states that Graham was the trigger man. This interview granted Looking Cloud immunity for his information. When the immunity expired he was arrested!
Looking Cloud’s video-taped statement reflects the FBI’s version of events, except in one important detail: according to Looking Cloud, he did not know what was occurring until moments before John Graham took her out of the car and shot her. The FBI’s version of events has always been based on rumors within AIM that Anna Mae was a suspected informant. Candy Hamilton, a friend of Aquash, reports that it was common for people to be suspected of being an informant at this time.
Over the years, many people had in fact informed or gave evidence to police. It is a common practice of police and the FBI to use informants & collaborators. In 1975, Douglas Durham was exposed as an FBI infiltrator who worked at the highest levels within AIM.
During the trial , government witnesses gave conflicting testimony, including that of an admitted informant: Kamook Banks (former wife of AIM leader Dennis Banks, current wife of B.I.A. cop Robert Ecoffey !). Under cross-examination, Kamook revealed she was paid $42,000 by the FBI to wear wiretaps & record meetings with Looking Cloud, Banks, & others.
Despite requests to change lawyers, the judge has consistently denied this basic right. Although he entered a plea of not guilty, his video-taped confession from April/03 was not challenged by his lawyer!
Graham adamantly denies any involvement in the death of Anna Mae. He claims that the U.S. government threatened to name him as the murderer of Anna Mae if he “didn’t co-operate”. Claiming that he last saw Annie Mae on a drive that took them from Denver to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where he left her at a “safe house” (in his own words, in an interview with Antoinette Nora Claypoole), Graham explains why he believes he is being charged as her murderer:
“…in the mid-80s or sometime about there. The FBI showed up at my home in the Yukon, and asked me all kinds of questions about Anna Mae and the death. They were trying to say I was there, or I knew about it, or I was aware of it. And I had to tell them I wasn’t aware, I wasn’t around there and I wasn’t involved in her killing at all. And they wanted me to name leadership that would have given the order to that effect, to kill Anna Mae. And they were trying to tell me they would put me in the witness protection program, they would change my identity, they would relocate me if I would go to testify in front of the federal Grand Jury in South Dakota against the AIM leadership. So I told them I couldn’t do that because it never happened.
I never, ever received orders of any kind like that from any of the AIM leadership. And so I wouldn’t do it; I wouldn’t cooperate with them. And they left. Then they came back a year or so later and said…. if I didn’t cooperate with them to put this information on the AIM leadership, then I would be facing all these charges myself.”
During this interrogation, Looking Cloud states that he is still under the influence of alcohol; the FBI not only continue to ask him questions, they get him to sign statements!
Looking Cloud was denied the right to choose his own lawyer. During his trial, every witness for the prosecution presented AIM in the most negative light possible, and they contradicted each other in their testimonies. Many people could have been called as defense witnesses, to testify that Aquash had been afraid of the FBI, not AIM. But the defense called only one witness—FBI Agent Price! He was questioned for 10 minutes on Aquash as to whether she was an FBI informant. If only to accentuate the obvious set-up, the prosecution didn’t even bother to cross-examine Agent Price, the sole witness for the ‘defense.’
Looking Cloud’s lawyer made few motions and did not challenge Alonzo’s manipulation of his client. Looking Cloud was not allowed to take the stand to defend himself; all that was shown was the videotaped interview that he had given.
Due to an “unfortunate accident,” Denver police claim to have lost these critical recordings; the only evidence given was hearsay based on alleged conversations with Looking Cloud over the years.
A large focus of the trial did not even concern Looking Cloud, but instead AIM & the case of Leonard Peltier. In a Feb. 7th news release, Peltier’s lawyer Barry Bachrach stated:
“Who was on trial? The majority of the testimony presented had nothing whatsoever to do with Arlo Looking Cloud, but prominent members of the American Indian Movement. There was not one iota of proof presented to support many witnesses’ “beliefs”. And for every witness presented, there are any number of other individuals who could be called to appear and who would tell very different stories.”
Arlo Looking Cloud now claims that, over the years, the FBI & police would periodically pick him up and feed him drugs & alcohol while indoctrinating him with their version of events.
On April 23, 2004 he was given a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
South Dakota in the Early 70’s
AIM first came to South Dakota when a call was made for outside help to get serious convictions against white men responsible for a racially motivated murder that took place in a Nebraska border town. A Lakota man had been publicly humiliated and later murdered by 2 white brothers. Disinterested law officials didn’t have the time of day to bother to investigate the death of an Indian. Angry Lakotas and AIM members caravaned to the Nebraska border, only miles away from Pine Ridge, and confronted the law officials.
The sight of hundreds of angry Indians, shocked law officials and they immediately caved in to their demands. A year later, a young man was murdered by a rich white businessman, who had told people that he was “gonna go kill himself an Indian.” A riot occurred at the Custer courthouse because police beat the mother of the victim. The riot lasted over an hour, and 2 cop cars were overturned, and the vacant building beside the courthouse was torched.
U.S. Government’s Motive to Grab Resources
Thirty years after the death of Aquash, the US government has renewed its war against the last remnants of AIM. As in the 1970s, this attack is only part of a larger war to gain control over Native lands and resources.
In 1975, with his control of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota secured by force, Tribal President Wilson set about ceding uranium-rich areas of the Reservation to the federal government. AIM assisted in protecting Pine Ridge’s traditional families from the constant onslaught of violence, which culminated in the AIM occupation and government siege of Wounded Knee in the Spring of 1973. From 1973 to 1976, the people of Pine Ridge lived under the “Reign of Terror”—more than 76 Natives, mainly traditional Lakotah and AIM members, were murdered, primarily by,, Wilson’s goons, a term coined by the elderly women who protested against them. Later, in a perverse play on words, the goons called themselves, “Guardians of the Oglala Nation” (GOONs). In response the Wilson and his GOONs, AIM launched a campaign to expose the injustice and protect the innocent.
On June 26, 1975—while Wilson was in Washington, DC, signing away an eighth of the reservation—the FBI launched an attack on an AIM camp at Pine Ridge. The US was dealt a humiliating blow—two FBI agents lost their lives. Although Joe Stuntz Killsright, a Lakotah defender, was killed in the shoot-out, an estimated 40 Native men, women and children escaped.
In extreme rage, the FBI violently harassed Lakota families. They drafted a list of people that they suspected were present at the shoot-out, and they blamed Leonard Peltier, Bob Robideau, Dino Butler and Jimmy Eagle for killing the agents. The four young men went on the run. Butler and Robideau were eventually arrested, tried and acquitted by an all-white jury, so the FBI targeted Peltier for the “murder” of the agents. Of course, there has never been an investigation into Stuntz Killsright’s death.
FBI’s Counter-intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) Directly Targets AIM and Its Members
September 24, 2006
“REP. McKINNEY INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO RE-OPEN CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS INTO COINTELPRO PAST AND PRESENT
(Washington, DC) Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA 4^th ) has introduced legislation calling for a re-opening of the investigations of the 1970’s by the United States Select Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities chaired by Senator Frank Church which led to startling revelations concerning federal, state and local intelligence and law enforcement agency violations of Constitutional rights of privacy, limits on search and seizure, surveillance, wiretapping and disruption of dissent and protected activities, and massive collection of dossiers by FBI, CIA, NSA, Pentagon, Defense Intelligence Agencies and other local agencies, targeting the civil rights, Native American and anti-war movements of the period and “neutralizing” their leadership and discrediting the efforts for social change over decades.
The most infamous of these abuses was the FBI’s COINTELPRO operations, or counter intelligence program…, Following the attacks on September 11, 2001, there were immediate calls to renew COINTELPRO-style surveillance, go to Continuity of Government, release intelligence agencies from the restrictions of the Church Committee era laws (which included the establishment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court to pre-approve Presidential surveillance programs), calls to end the principle of Posse Comitatus, which separates police and military functions, and renewed surveillance and disruption by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Transportation Security Agency (TSA), Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and by certain provisions of the USA PATRIOT ACT…”
The US made its first violent attack against AIM in 1972, in what became known as the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Takeover. Indians had been conducting a peaceful protest outside the BIA headquarters in Washington, DC, when they were attacked by riot police. In response, the Indians barricaded themselves inside the building, smashed up offices and took top-secret documents. These documents proved that the government was illegally handing out Reservation land, water and mineral rights to corporations.
At this time, Aquash was “snitch-jacketed” by the FBI. This tactic of the FBI’s Counter-intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) undermined valuable members of a group by casting them in suspicious situations. Wherever Aquash went, arrests would follow. She’d be released, while other AIM members were slapped with charges and high bail. In September 1975, FBI Agent David Price attempted to force her to sign an affidavit implicating Peltier for the murder of the two FBI agents. She refused to cooperate, and Price promised her that she wouldn’t live to see the year’s end.
Aquash went underground, turning to AIM for protection and putting her fears of the FBI in writing. In late February, her body was found outside of Wanbli, on Pine Ridge. Four FBI agents joined the “investigation,” including Price. They cut off her hands for “fingerprint analysis,” and despite the visible bullet hole in the back of her head, they determined that the cause of her death was exposure. They quickly arranged for her to be buried as a Jane Doe. After this cover-up came to light, the FBI released a statement announcing that Aquash was not a government informant. As intended, this statement insinuated that AIM might have believed Aquash to be an informant and murdered her.
Through Dickie Wilson, the corrupt Tribal President of Pine Ridge, the FBI established a paramilitary group made up of local boys who called themselves the Guardians of Oglala Nation (goons).
The FBI trained and supplied the goons with bullets, guns and intelligence on AIM. Indians began to arm themselves for protection against the onslaught of assaults, torched houses, and hit and runs, and drive-by shootings. Only years later, did it become clear to Indians why the FBI reacted so brutally to the bold assertions Lakotas were making in the districts of Pine Ridge.
Unknown at that time, the US had an eye on developing uranium mining on a portion of the sacred Black Hills, and an area known as Sheep Mountain. This area has proven to be one of the richest in uranium deposits in the US. The FBI implemented their counterintellegence operation in Pine Ridge in order to weaken and destroy the urban Indian movement, and to subjugate the traditional Lakotas once and for all. The FBI Counterintellegence Program (COINTELPRO), targets political groups that are viewed as a threat to national security.
Often these groups were fighting oppression, systemic racism, and were attempting to make things better for their people. This program discredits organizations, and its’ members through media smears. Infiltrators staged many scandals that put AIM in a bad light to weaken their popularity and wide-support.
COINTELPRO has lethal consequences, as any means necessary can be used to thwart the enemy. This is why so many AIM members have been criminalized, imprisoned, or outright murdered as a result of this FBI program. Also the once powerful and effective movement became riddled with FBI informers, and infiltrators. As the violence escalated, the paranoia and suspicion grew. The FBI put trustworthy AIM leaders in situations that made them look suspicious, which the FBI call snitch jacketing, or bad jacketing. Soon, it was hard for people to tell the difference between whom they could trust, and who was working with the feds.
The FBI officially and publicly ended its COINTELPRO operations on April 28, 1971. But FBI documents obtained by NFIC from the FBI Reading Room in the capital indicate that in November of 1973 the FBI continued “COINTEL measures to further disrupt AIM leadership” which it had employed in its discredited former counterintelligence program. There is also ample evidence that many of the actions by the FBI in the 1970’s across the country where grossly illegal!
Trial Scheduled for February 24, 2009
By Heidi Bell Gease, Journal staff | Tuesday, January 13, 2009
“The attorney for Richard “Dickie” Marshall, one of two men charged with killing American Indian Movement activist Annie Mae Aquash in 1975, has asked that the trial be moved back two months.
Marshall, 57, and John Graham, 52, are to go on trial Feb. 24 in U.S. District Court in Rapid City. Both men are charged with first-degree murder.
On Monday, Marshall’s defense attorney, Dana Hanna, filed a motion for continuance, saying he needs more time to prepare for the trial.
Hanna said he had read more than 5,000 pages of case background information provided by the federal government but has not reviewed those documents with his client. He also said he needs but has not received copies of the more than 100 audio cassette tapes produced during the investigation.
Hanna’s motion also states that the government has refused to provide records or information concerning other AIM-related events during the 1970s that could come into play during the trial.
“I require more time to locate and interview witnesses, gather records, subpoena evidence, research legal issues and to investigate the case,” Hanna wrote.
Marshall was indicted last August, more than 32 years after Aquash’s body was found on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in February 1976. She had been shot in the head.
Marshall and Graham would face life in prison if convicted. A third man charged in the case, Arlo Looking Cloud, was convicted of murder after a 2004 trial and is serving a life sentence.”
We must put a stop to this decades-long unlawful prosecution. As in previous cases, the prosecution will try this case before an all-white jury using racial bias and fabricated evidence to further it’s centuries-old campaign to wipe out every trace of the once great Lakotah people:
- Wounded Knee trial of Russell Means and Dennis Banks where all charges were dismissed by Judge Nichol due to “gross misconduct” by the F.B.I. and U.S. Attorneys.
- Over 200 trials of Wounded Knee defendants have been held and ALL have either been dismissed or found not guilty.
- Over a five-year period, Russell Means endured twelve criminal trials as a sole defendant. Again all charges were dismissed or returned with not guilty verdicts.