Lots of important things that aren’t necessarily related. Or maybe they are.
Probably the most pressing news of the day is a rumor. Middle East expert Prof. Juan Cole tells us that a “reliable, knowledgable contact” has told him that a military coup is being planned for Iraq. There is very little information to back this possibility up, but it does seem to coincide with new reports about the inability of the Iraqi government to govern the country, negative comments about Iraqi president Nouri al-Maliki coming from the President Bush himself, the “need” for the Iraqi oil law that the current Iraqi regime is slow to pass, and the generalized scapegoating of the Iraqi government by American politicians. Throw out the current government, put in a dictator and call him a moderate, and pass the oil law over the opposition of the Iraqi population. Pretty much defines America’s “committment to democracy.”
Prof. Cole doesn’t say that he thinks this is going to take place, but that it is likely being “discussed at high levels”. I’m just wondering where this “military” for the coup would come from. The military is mostly Shia, and putting a Shia dictatorship in Iraq would help the Iranians, who America would like to destroy.
I should also mention this new interview with journalist Nir Rosen about Iraq, where he talks about the refugee crisis there, and says that the country has changed to dramatically that it’s like “Iraq” has ceased to exist, it’s something else now. Rosen then goes into deep discussion of Middle East history as it relates to Iraq, and the various national and regional players vying for control.
SECURITY THROUGH LAWLESSNESS
In other news, the US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has pretty much spelled out that since 9/11, the US government has illegally spied on Americans, without warrants, with the cooperation of American telephone companies. The Congress recently passed a law which would make the government’s actions legal, but now McConnell is pushing for retroactive immunity for his telecom buddies as well.
McConnell is not a whistleblower saying all these things to inform us and bring about change; he’s the man in charge, speaking openly, publicly, and favorably about massive law-breaking by the US government. As long as you can pretend you are doing something for national security, you are apparently above the law. Think I’ll start stealing cars to protect America from terror.
Also, according to the last portion of the article linked to above, McConnell has personal financial connections with the telecom companies he’s trying to protect from justice. Which is perfectly okay, because nothing says Security like Filthy, Filthy Money.
CANADIAN PROTEST 1
There is some news coverage floating around about Canadian police using undercover agents posing as protesters to try to provoke riots at a North American summit meeting in Quebec this week. Three cops joined the labor union faction of a protest, dressed up as “anarchists” (cuz they’re wearing black and have bandanas over their faces, see) armed themselves with rocks, and shoved fellow protesters. When people started accusing them of being police provacateurs, the guys sort of saunter over to the police line, slip in with them, and then are “arrested” (although their arrests are mysteriously missing from the police statistics). The provacateurs were also videotaped wearing boots of the same make of boot as the cops arresting them. A tad… suspicious. Watch the video for yourselves, ongoing coverage here.
Quebec police now admit that they had officers undercover as protesters, but deny they were trying to instigate violence. Of course, this comes shortly after Quebec police denied ever posing as protesters, so they’re obviously not the most reliable of sources.
This is, of course, nothing new. Cops love to end the chaos of peaceful protests by fabricating or provoking a “violent” incident, which then gives them justification for the tear gas, billy clubs, and mass arrests. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen “protesters threw a water bottle at police in full riot gear armor” being used as an excuse to disrupt a gathering of thousands of nonviolent dissenters.
CANADIAN PROTEST 2
Naomi Klein writes about other repressive tactics at that same protest event. In another common tactic, protesters were prevented from being anywhere near the summit meeting, kept in a type of “Free Speech Zone”, or whatever Orwellian word-dance the Canadian government is using. But in a new twist, the Zone is being (allegedly) filmed and broadcast on televisions inside the hotel where the summit meeting is taking place:
“Leaders were not able to see the protesters in person, but they could watch the protesters on TV monitors inside the hotel…. Cameramen hired to ensure that demonstrators would be able to pass along their messages to the three leaders sat idly in a tent full of audio and video equipment…. A sign on the outside of the tent said, ‘Our cameras are here today providing your right to be seen and heard. Please let us help you get your message out. Thank You.’”
The spokesperson for Prime Minister Harper explained that although protesters were herded into empty fields, the video-link meant that their right to political speech was protected. “Under the law, they need to be seen and heard, and they will be.”
So rest easy, Canadians, Your Voices Are Being Heard (if anyone is watching any of those televisions, if those televisions are turned on, if any of that video footage is being sent to those televisions, if those televisions exist…)
Klein teases the argument out, tongue somewhat in cheek, and says that if “being videotaped” means “free speech”, then security cameras, intercepted emails, and wiretapped phones are signs of ever-increasing Freedom and Democracy.
CANADIAN PROTEST 3
But I haven’t even gotten to the most important aspect of this story: what the protesters were protesting.
It’s called the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), an “‘ambitious’ plan to ‘keep our borders closed to terrorism yet open to trade.’”
And as we know from recent history
- “open trade” means “no workers’ rights, jobs to the lowest bidder, ruined environments, copyrights protected at all costs, race to the bottom”
- “fighting terrorism” means “crack down on civil rights and bomb whoever we want”
- and “closed borders” means “hate on the Mexicans, and people who look like they might be Mexican”
So the SPP is NAFTA/corporate globalization, with a sizeable dose of militarization and racism. Klein’s article gives a brief overview, and then starts pointing out the increased surveillance that is set to be instituted, and the corporations who’ve been outsourced to do the surveilling, raking in billions of your American, Canadian, and Mexican dollars (or pesos, as the case may be).
Why would anyone want to protest that?
[As a sidenote, the SPP has been in effect since March 2005]
Good articles about the SPP here and here. It’s obviously a hugely important issue, so I’ll be doing more research on it. I’d like to link to some organizations involved in fighting it, but so far the only ones I’ve seen are more anti-immigrant and “new world order”-style conspiracy theorists. If anyone’s got a good link, post it in the comments.
TROOPS VS. LIES
I’m late to mention it, but seven members of the US 82nd Airborne Division just wrapping up a 15-month tour of Iraq wrote this op-ed to the NY Times, saying what almost any honest person is saying about Iraq. Things are bad, and anyone who says otherwise is likely a sucker or a huckster. Clearly these guys are putting their jobs at risk (well, maybe not the one of them who was shot in the head during the weeks the soldiers were collaborating on this article. They say he’ll “survive”, no idea in what sort of condition). Hard to say if the military is going to want to ignore this altogether, or try to punish and silence these guys.
THE VANISHING OF URO
And in the final bit of news on repression and protest, we’ve got the somewhat mysterious visit to the US by Oaxaca governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (for those of you who have forgotten, URO is the corrupt Mexican governor who’s presided over a wave of police terror and murder in Oaxaca in the past year and a half). I say “mysterious” because although it was announced that Ortiz would be visiting several cities across the nation, he seems to vanish every time protesters show up. Or perhaps he never showed up in the first place, I just can’t tell. But we’ve got some nice photos of the anti-URO protests in NYC, Chicago, and Dallas.