On American Criminality

by Alan Gilbert

Clive Stafford Smith is a lawyer who has defended those held indefinitely and without the right to meet with a lawyer in the American legal black hole at Guantanamo. As Stafford Smith names it, the American drone hit on 16 year old Tariq Khan and his 12 year old cousin Wahid in Waziristan earlier this week is murder. Further, Tariq had attended a conference in Islamabad for people who wanted to halt drone murders in Waziristan. Tariq went because his teenage cousin had been murdered two years ago. Stafford Smith told him that Americans do not know the carnage of the drones that Tariq and others could see often hovering over houses, crashing down and killing.

Others had warned him not to come to the conference because he might become a target. But he listened to Stafford Smith who told the participants that they should photograph the carnage, the dead civilians, that Americans might come to know something of the murder in their name.

His cousin was not Osama Bin Laden…

Osama Bin Laden was not taken out by drones…

Tariq Khan resolved to photograph the deaths near him.

At Occupy Denver two Saturdays ago, a student of mine was photographing the riot police in a tug of war to pull down a tent near the State House. The film turns to the police grabbing him, blocking the camera, his falling…

The riot police had orange triggered paint ball guns (to tell them from rifles or drones). A young man was in a tree taking pictures. They lit him up with paint ball bullets making some punctures in his body as he fell, injured but not murdered, from the tree.

For the “crime” of photographing the riot police – the story line of the Denver Post and the New York Times could not stand against the photographs.

Each of these young men was taking pictures of the police ostensibly doing their “duties” – a legal act. But of course, the police – it was a police riot – were not engaged in legal activities…

Though the demonstrators work to be nonviolent and in these cases, were entirely, the press insists that the police were “provoked.”

The drone that took out Tariq Khan, a 16 year old boy who did not hate even those who murdered his cousin, along with another 12 year old cousin, was just the version for non-white, non-citizens of the paint ball guns. 72 hours after the conference in Islamabad, the two boys were going to meet Tariq’s sister and died.

Led by the criminal Rodriguez who destroyed some 90 tapes of torture, no CIA members have been brought to trial for torture, murder or destruction of evidence.

A government “above the law…”.

One might think that these murders by the Obama administration are far from Denver and the paint ball guns of Hickenlooper and Hancock. Or far from the shooting of Iraq vet Scott Olson in Oakland or the police riot two days ago at Berkeley. Sadly, one would be mistaken.

Militarism abroad threatens murder and impoverishment at home (see myMust Global Poltiics Constrain Democracy?), As America declines and in the midst of a global depression, this cycle becomes more dangerous. Occupy is a deeper and more hopeful democratic form of the people arising against tyranny than the mass support for Obama once was. It is part of a great international democratic explosion against the banks and war complex…

But democracy will not bring back Tariq and his cousins.

Stafford Smith calls it criminality. That is because it is criminality.

The New York Times doesn’t carry the story (though of course Glenn Greenwald’s material circulates just out of editorial view even at the Times).

The elite, Democrat as well as Republican, sneers. The emperor’s clothes would be ruffled.

Joe Biden would like to restrict nuclear weapons as would Obama. This is a very good thing. And yet Joe Biden is the smiling murderer of Tariq Khan and will, for electoral purposes, continue to support the use of drones…

It is this quality of “statesmanship” – catering to the drone murders of civilians, particularly children when he knows better – that will sink Obama if he fails for reelection. It resembles though on a lesser scale the torture and murder (full scale aggressions) under Bush and Cheney. The America of Obama no longer jails children and other innocents indefinitely in secret prisons; it murders them with drones.

76 political scientists signed a letter to the American Political Science Association below criticizing their allowing the torturer John Yoo to speak as if he were not a criminal. But it is hard to keep up…

Faced with mass protest and civil disobedience, Obama delayed the Keystone XL pipeline which would ruin the environment. With pressure from below, he sometimes does the decent, in this case, the not yet wholly destructive of the climate thing. As government climatologist James Hansen says of tar sands production and global warming, however: “game over.” That is a point that goes beyond this particular pipeline…

As a teenager, I lived in Karachi with my parents. Pakistanis are as visible and visceral to me as any teenagers I know. The slogans of “Christian” politicians (I refer particularly to Bush, Perry and Romney and the Republicans) neglect the thought that every child, Palestinian, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Pakistani, American is of equal worth. Barack speaks now on his trip to Asia of how Indonesia is part of him (running with 9 others once along a dam while he lived in Indonesia as a teenager).

That Obama promises something better than the Republicans – this is not hard; in a depression, they seek to destroy the American people, none of the Republican candidates are worthy human beings (Huntsman might recover himself some day, though it is a far day). But Obama held out the hope of something better. Is the murder of Tariq and his young cousins better?

This entry was posted in Afghanistan, American Military Culture, Barack Obama, The Left's Challenge and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to On American Criminality

  1. Great article, I will share it. But don’t forget Republican candidate Ron Paul, he is still publicly standing against torture & murder.

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