Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The FBI has sided with the powerful against the powerless to maintain an unjust social order


counterpunch  |  The indictments are a major political story, but not for the reasons given in mainstream press coverage. Once Mr. Mueller’s indictment is understood to charge the exploitation of existing social tensions (read it and decide for yourself), the FBI, which Mr. Mueller directed from 2001 – 2013, is precisely the wrong entity to be rendering judgment. The FBI has been America’s political police since its founding in 1908. Early on former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover led legally dubious mass arrests of American dissidents. He practically invented the slander of conflating legitimate dissent with foreign agency. This is the institutional backdrop from which Mr. Mueller proceeds.

In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s the FBI’s targets included the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, the American Indian Movement (AIM), the Black Panther Party and any other political organization Mr. Hoover deemed a threat. The secret (hidden) FBI program COINTELPRO was intended to subvert political outcomes outside of allegations of criminal wrongdoing and with no regard for the lives of its targets. Throughout its history the FBI has sided with the powerful against the powerless to maintain an unjust social order.

Robert Mueller became FBI Director only days before the attacks of September 11, 2001. One of his first acts as Director was to arrest 1,000 persons without any evidence of criminal wrongdoing. None of those arrested were ever charged in association with the attacks. The frame in which the FBI acted— to maintain political stability threatened by ‘external’ forces, was ultimately chosen by the George W. Bush administration to justify its aggressive war against Iraq.

It is the FBI’s legacy of conflating dissent with being an agent of a foreign power that Mr. Mueller’s indictment most insidiously perpetuates. Russians are ‘sowing discord,’ and they are using Americans to do so, goes the allegation. Black Lives Matter and Bernie Sanders are listed in the indictment as roadblocks to the unfettered ascension of Hillary Clinton to the presidency. Russians are sowing discord, therefore discord is both suspect in itself and evidence of being a foreign agent.

The posture of simple reporting at work in the indictment— that it isn’t the FBI’s fault that the Russians (allegedly) inserted themselves into the electoral process, runs against the history of the FBI’s political role, the tilt used to craft criminal charges and the facts put forward versus those put to the side. Given the political agendas of the other agencies that the FBI joined through the charges, they are most certainly but a small piece of a larger story.

In the aftermath of the indictments it’s easy to forget that the Pentagon created the internet, that the NSA has its tentacles in all of its major chokepoints, that the CIA has been heavily involved in funding and ‘using’ social media toward its own ends and that the FBI is only reputable in the present because of Americans’ near-heroic ignorance of history. The claim that the Russian operation was sophisticated because it had corporate form and function is countered by the fact that it was, by the various agencies’ own claims, ineffectual in changing the outcome of the election.

I Have a List
While Robert Mueller was busy charging never-to-be-tried Russians with past crimes, Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, declared that future Russian meddling has already cast a shadow over the integrity of the 2018 election. Why the Pentagon that created the internet, the NSA that has its tentacles in all of its major chokepoints, the CIA that has been heavily involved in funding and ‘using’ social media toward its own ends and the FBI that just landed such a glorious victory of good over evil would be quivering puddles when it comes to precluding said meddling is a question that needs to be asked.