Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Like no other president in modern times, Barack Obama is determined to criminalize the Left opposition through relentless reshaping of Constitutional notions of law. Whistleblowers are domestic public enemy number one. “Having knowledge of government wrongdoing is criminal, in the eyes of this administration.”

 

Obama’s War: Criminalize the Left

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Obama legal team has been single-minded in its determination to make political dissent a crime.”

The Obama administration is methodically erecting the legal structures of a police state. The president late last year smoothed the way for bipartisan passage through Congress of a preventive detention bill that is so vaguely worded, a federal judge in New York last week ruled that it is likely to be successfully challenged on Constitutional grounds. And in Richmond, Virginia, a three-judge appeals court heard Justice Department lawyers argue that reporters can be compelled to reveal the identities of whistleblowers in so-called national security cases.

The government is prosecuting a former CIA officer, Jeffrey Sterling, for allegedly leaking secret documents toNew York Times investigative reporter James Risen. The ex-spy is accused of showing the reporter documents on the agency’s campaign of sabotage against Iran’s nuclear research program, information the reporter later used to write a book.

In both cases, the Obama legal team has been single-minded in its determination to make political dissent a crime. The judge in the preventive detention proceeding repeatedly asked the government to explain, specifically, how or if the seven plaintiffs might be detained under the wording of the National Defense Authorization Act, which makes it a crime to provide “substantial support” to groups “associated” with Al Qaida. The plaintiffs, including former New York Times correspondent Chris Hedges, academic activist Noam Chomsky, and Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, wanted to know exactly what the terms “substantial support” and “associated groups” meant, and if their actions as journalists, authors, activists and just plain citizens made them vulnerable to detention without trial. Obama’s lawyers refused to explain, as if the vague and highly interpretable language spoke for itself. What they were trying to create is a legal trap so vague and amorphous that it can ensnare almost anyone opposed to Washington’s foreign policies. The New York federal judge refused to accommodate the government’s lawyers, and allowed the plaintiffs legal standing to sue.

The Obama legal doctrine seems to be that whatever the government does not want the public to see, is criminal.”

The Richmond federal appeals court is being asked to recognize the government’s contention that reporters who receive secret government documents are not protected as journalists because they are witnesses to a crime. One of the judges pressed the prosecutor to explain how the public’s interest in the maintenance of a free press might be outweighed by the specific circumstances of the case. Obama’s lawyers refused to explain, claiming there was no need to balance Constitutional issues, because the reporter was the only witness to a crime. Receiving secret government documents, he said, is the same as receiving illegal drugs.

The Obama legal doctrine seems to be that whatever the government does not want the public to see, is criminal. Having knowledge of government wrongdoing is criminal, in the eyes of this administration.

President George Bush may have felt that way, too, but Obama will go down in history as the major architect to date of the evolving American police state. He has already prosecuted more whistleblowers than all his presidential predecessors, combined, and is the first chief executive to arm himself with a preventive detention law. And to think, Angela Davis says Obama identifies with the historical Black radical tradition. In reality, he has much more in common with the traditions of fascism.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20120523_gf_ObamaPoliceState.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:43am EDT

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Did Newark mayor Corey Booker really cross the Obama campaign when he defended vampire capital companies like Romney's Bain? Or was he just being truer to his own, and Obama's roots than presidents and their surrogates ought to be in an election year?

Don't Be Fooled. Corey Booker, Barack Obama & the Whole Black Political Class Love Bain Capital

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Barack Obama, Corey Booker and the entire black political class have a problem. They must deliver the votes of their people to the campaign contributors who make their careers possible. Their voters oppose unjust wars, privatizations of public assets and services, and corporate bailouts. Once safely in office, these are exactly the measures Obama, Booker and their colleagues enact. But right now Barack Obama and other Democrats need to be re-elected, and to be re-elected they must pose at least as half-hearted opponents of the bloodsucking model of parasitic venture capital practiced by Bain Capital, J.P. Morgan and other players..

It's not an easy act to sell, and sometimes Obama and his surrogates are caught in their own tangled webs. Romney's Bain Capital, like other vampire capital firms like it don't just have relations with Democrats as well as Republicans. They have deep institutional and personal ties with leading members of the nation's black political class. Bain's business models, along with reams of their business advice in the forms of pro bono “transition” and “turnaround” reports recommending the mass firings of public workers, especially teachers, and the wholesale privatization of local water, government payrolls, parking meters, garbage pickup, parks and recreation departments, and everything that can or cannot be nailed down have been common staples on the desks of incoming black mayors in Newark, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Columbia SC, Atlanta and other cities.

When former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin swept into office in 2005 her pro-bono transition report was “the Bain Report” put together by Mitt Romney's colleagues intent on turning government services into lucrative business opportunities and pocketing the money saved by firing workers, reducing their benefits and eliminating their pensions while jacking user fees for the public to the maximum sustainable levels. Fortunately for Atlanta, the water privatization deal already done by her predecessor unraveled in spectacular fashion just as Franklin was entering office, creating a less favorable atmosphere for other immediate privatizations. Out of office, Franklin is a lobbyist and consultant to firms specializing in the privatization of education and government services of all kinds.

On last week's Meet The Press, Newark mayor Corey Booker rose to the defense of parasitic venture capital, declaring himself disgusted at what he called the useless rhetoric about how the nation's bloodsucking financial sector extracted its profits. Booker has his own relations with Bain and similar outfits, and looting the public sector at their behest is at the very center of his mayoral administration. You wouldn't know it from the national media coverage, but Corey Booker has been a relentless advocate of privatizing the city's water, parks, garbage collection and a whole range of public assets and services --- implementing the vampire capitalist model in Newark.

It's not easy either, for Barack Obama to pretend to be against what Bain Capital does, when his former chief of staff William Daley, brother and son to longtime Chicago mayors and one of the guys who wrote NAFTA, was a vice president at J.P. Morgan, a much bigger shark swimming in the same pool as Bain Capital. The Obama administration and its advisory bodies are riddled on every level with hundreds of vice presidents, lobbyists and functionaries of vampire capital. Barack Obama knows where his real allegiances lie, and what time of year this is. He'll score a few rhetorical points at the expense of Bain Capital. But his heart belongs to J.P. Morgan. He knows, and we should know, that talk is cheap.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20120523_bd_bain_barack_booker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:16am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Fascist-minded state policies are often executed by likeable, sociable operatives. Chicago police officers “Mo” and “Gloves” appear to have made friends in anti-war circles all over Chicago – with disastrous consequences to some activists. “The two undercovers were clearly among the most gregarious couples in town for the NATO summit meeting.”

 

Mo” and “Gloves” Run Amok in Chicago

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The dynamic duo are expected to testify the defendants confided that they wanted to burn and bomb things.”

White middle class Americans grow up imbibing Hollywood stereotypes of police states in which the villains have exotic names and accents and are very definitely not the kind of people you’d want to drink beer or smoke a joint with. But five young people who went to Chicago to oppose U.S. wars had the misfortune to meet some secret police who seemed to fit in quite well with their peer group. Known only as “Mo” and “Gloves,” the undercover police officers were among the eleven people originally seized at an apartment in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side. Then, suddenly, they were gone, but three of their erstwhile anti-war friends would face charges of manufacturing Molotov cocktails and conspiring to mount an attack on President Obama’s campaign headquarters. Apparently, Mo and Gloves will testify to that effect. However, attorneys at the National Lawyers Guild say there were no Molotov cocktails found at the scene, just some equipment to home brew beer.

Mo and Gloves were also apparently behind the arrest of two other activists, both from Chicago, charged with making terrorist threats and attempted possession of explosives or incendiary devices. The dynamic duo Mo and Gloves are expected to testify that the defendants confided that they wanted to burn and bomb things. One of the guys supposedly bragged that he could blow up a bridge in downtown Chicago. The other man allegedlywanted to build a pipe bomb. They are guilty, you see, of felonious and wishful thinking.

The two undercovers were clearly among the most gregarious couples in town for the NATO summit meeting. A defense attorney said lots activists told her they had met Mo and Gloves – and were, understandably, worried.

The informant Azir accomplished this feat of mass manipulation through the dispensing of vast quantities of beer.”

In Cleveland, a 39-year-old police informant named Shaquille Azir appears to have lured five young guys who were associated with the Occupy movement and called themselves anarchists into a possible lifetime in prison. According to an excellent Counterpunch article by Jake Olzen, Azir talked himself into the men’s lives, encouraged them to separate from Occupy to form a People’s Liberation Army, and finally, got them to try to blow up a bridge with an inert bomb built with materials provided by the FBI. The informant Azir accomplished this feat of mass manipulation through the dispensing of vast quantities of beer. Every morning, he gave his victims a case of beer, and each evening he showed up with marijuana and another case of beer. It is, therefore logical to conclude that American capitalism is threatened, not so much by implacable opponents or internal contradictions, but by beer.

When I was a very young child, there was a television show called “I Led Three Lives.” The hero was an undercover informant who infiltrated American communist cells to expose their violent plans. The communists were all played by character actors from gangster films. The result was pure fiction, but it did hang together as a typical TV melodrama of the time. However, I think there will never be a movie about the undercover cops Mo and Gloves, who flitted around Chicago making up conversations in order to put people they had never met in prison for life. There oughta be a movie like that, but there won’t. Even the cops would be shamed.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20120523_gf_MoAndGlovesRunAmuk.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:06am EDT