Friday, August 15, 2014

it's all about enhancing overseer safety in the occupied territories...,


firstlook |  Police militarization is increasingly aimed at stifling journalism as well. Like the arrests of Lowery and Reilly last night, Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman and two of her colleagues were arrested while covering the 2008 St. Paul protests. As Trevor Timm of the Freedom of the Press Foundation (on whose board I sit) explained yesterday, militarization tactics “don’t just affect protesters, but also affect those who cover the protest. It creates an environment where police think they can disregard the law and tell reporters to stop filming, despite their legal right to do so, or fire tear gas directly at them to prevent them from doing their job. And if the rights of journalists are being trampled on, you can almost guarantee it’s even worse for those who don’t have such a platform to protect themselves.”

Ultimately, police militarization is part of a broader and truly dangerous trend: the importation of War on Terror tactics from foreign war zones onto American soil. American surveillance drones went from Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia into American cities, and it’s impossible to imagine that they won’t be followed by weaponized ones. The inhumane and oppressive conditions that prevailed at Guantanamo are matched, or exceeded, by the super-max hellholes and “Communications Management Units” now in the American prison system. And the “collect-it-all” mentality that drives NSA domestic surveillance was pioneered by Gen. Keith Alexander in Baghdad and by other generals in Afghanistan, aimed at enemy war populations. 

Indeed, much of the war-like weaponry now seen in Ferguson comes from American laws, such as the so-called “Program 1033,” specifically designed to re-direct excessive Pentagon property – no longer needed as foreign wars wind down – into American cities. As the Missouri Department of Public Safety proudly explains on its website, “the 1033 Program provides surplus DoD military equipment to state and local civilian law enforcement agencies for use in counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations, and to enhance officer safety.”