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The US does not have justice or even the rule of law

2012 April 19
by Ian Welsh

and whether the public approves or disapproves is irrelevant.  Black letter law, on the books, makes most of what the banks did leading up to the subprime crisis illegal.  It was fraud.  Black letter law makes the war on Iraq a war crime, and no one went to jail for that.  Black letter law does not allow freestanding resisting arrest charges, and those happen all the time.  Basic law states that an accused has a right to face their accuser and see the evidence against them, that no longer occurs in many cases.  Basic justice says that you can’t punish someone without a trial, and the “no-fly list” indicates that is no longer true (along with being unable to face your accusers and see the evidence against you.)  The US Congress retroactively made wiretapping without a warrant “legal” and if I have to explain why retroactive immunity is wrong I give up.  Basic justice says that secret laws and secret courts are unjust, yet the US has plenty of both.

This is not just an issue with the US.  During the G20 up here in Toronto the Ontario government used a SECRET LAW to strip civil liberties from anyone in the downtown Toronto core.  Of course, it must be said that the public couldn’t give a shit, it was not an issue in the next election.

In Britain, after the riots, family members of those convicted of crimes were evicted from public housing.  Collective punishment of family members is unjust

And, in most countries today, the rich and powerful are not even charged with crimes that their “lessers” regularly do jail time for.

It is done.  It is over.  The US is not a nation of laws, it is a nation of men, and the law does not treat everyone equally.  You do not even have the right to a trial before punishment, to see the evidence against you or to face your accusers.  And virtually every other nation in the so-called developed world is walking down the same road.

29 Responses
  1. Staryu permalink
    April 19, 2012

    This is not just an issue with the US.

    Any country that dares to buck the trend for any length of time very rapidly finds itself over a barrel, so that’s hardly surprising. Going by the size of the lynch mob out for the CableGate principals, a lot of people in the US are just fine with that.

  2. Mary Mac permalink
    April 19, 2012

    Terrorism, indeed.

  3. April 19, 2012

    I recently coined a phrase on my blog to describe our billionaires oligarchy, specifically referring to a radioactive waste dump being built in Texas but applying to the political system across the board: Toxic Wasteland.

    “Welcome to modern day America, where our politics is as toxic as the air we breathe, and the water we drink and the soil in which we plant our crops. It is the playground of unaccountable billionaires, who throw their wads of cash around as they please, buying the political process to ensure they make even more money–long term damage to the environment and the body politic be damned.”

  4. groo permalink
    April 20, 2012

    here is a rough translation of a piece by Italian philosopher Domenico Losurdo, June 2011
    (bing translation)

    While hundreds of Syrians, civil and military, of the Saidiri led operation by Sniperschüsse have been funded and the CIA, the Western media accuse the Bachar el Assad Government, on its own people and their own security forces to shoot. This disinformation campaign aimed at a possible military intervention. The philosopher Domenico Losurdo reminds us that the method is not new. The new humankind have pointed to just more they made. FROM NOW ON IS THE LIE NOT ONLY THROUGH THE PRESS THAT PROPAGATES RADIO AND TELEVISION BUT ALSO BY FACEBOOK AND YOU TUBE.

    see here:
    (bing translate gives you the essence)

    Losurdo recently wrote a book about the linguistic methods of deception, empire uses. (not translated to english, as far as I know)
    Unlike Lakoff, Losurdo appeals to a THINKING person, and not a programmable neural net, called a ‘brain’ nowadays.

    ‘Justice’ seems to be a mostly irrelevant issue, deeply buried in BS-talk.
    Same with ‘freedom’ or ‘terrorism’.

    Those are mere cover-words.
    Behind them hides a naked pursuit of power.

    It is the destruction of vocabulary, which is the most effective means of domination.
    Words were never innocent, to be sure, but nowadays we have to distrust every word, which power uses to explain the world to us.

    It gets clearer by the day, that the old britsih saying ‘might is right’ only went through a transitional phase, and is alive and kicking as in the old days.
    The rest is a veil of delusion.

    When words loose their meanings, then, I’m afraid, the substructure emerges, which is physical violence.
    I never wanted that, but can see it coming.

  5. April 21, 2012

    THis is my little comment: We, the humans, such as we are, we are on a course to complete destruction. The worst elements…. as Eisenhower suggested… are really in control of it.

    The only reason for these “wars” that are siphoning off from, and parisitising from the commons… (our taxes, and that is from the commons… the tax monies… goes to pay off the f’n
    suppliers/contractors…(in quotes) the whole f’n thing is a grift, of the bastards that control the f’n ordinance! Bigger guns, they might even not give a shit about… so called… Posse Comitatis.

    So just sayin’n…

  6. April 21, 2012

    I suspect we are reverting to type. That the experiment in liberal democracy underpinned by the rule of law was an aberration and that authoritarian government in one form or another is the norm.


  7. groo permalink
    April 21, 2012


    That the experiment in liberal democracy underpinned by the rule of law was an aberration and that authoritarian government in one form or another is the norm.

    This is the make-believe:
    Habeas corpus : Away with it. –One bit.
    Privacy: Away with it. –One bit.
    Open space: Away with it. –One bit.

    The battle is on bits , not the mythical ‘whole’.

    Fragmented minds never have a problem to discard the whole, because they have no awareness of it.
    They take it bit by bit.
    Their ultimate ‘whole’ is a void. A sink. A NIL device. Ultimately armageddon.
    Upon that they project a fictitional ‘judgement’, where they come out as the good ones.

    How silly is that?

  8. groo permalink
    April 21, 2012

    Re the mythical whole:
    T think verything has beeen said 3000 years ago in the tao te king.

    So it is static, with its inner dynamic of yin/yang.
    The monks know that.

    The outer ring is that of human folly. Chasing for the bits, never seeing the ‘whole’.
    In the buddhist tradition it was eg Confucius, who tried to put order onto the outer ring of human folly.

    There are some interesting discussions whether Confucius knew Lao Tse, but this is mainly myth and not essential.

    Chinese thinking, as far I can see, is two-tiered:
    a) an inner ring, which is Zen for the enlightened lot
    b) an outer ring, which is Confucian,

    Compare this with the Euro/American belief system, and you see its utter deficiency.


  9. spartacus permalink
    April 21, 2012

    Here’s another example:

    Megaupload founder will likely never go to trial, says US judge

    “Remember earlier this year when the New Zealand government and the US government conspired to send a SWAT team to arrest Kim Dotcom, founder of Megaupload, shut down the service, make 220 people unemployed, seize Dotcom’s assets, and deprive millions of users of access to their files? Well now a US judge says that the trial against Dotcom will probably never proceed, because the US government didn’t ever formally charge Dotcom. This wasn’t a mere oversight, either. They were not legally allowed to charge him.”

    And another:

    New York Times Details Widespread Bribery in Wal-Mart Mexico and Top Executive Coverup

    “In 2005, Sergio Cicero Zapata, a lawyer who had been with WalMart in Mexico for ten years and had resigned in 2004, came forward with a description of his involvement, sanctioned by top executives in Wal-Mart’s Mexican operation, of handing out bribes totaling over $24 million to accelerate the construction of new stores. This activity is a clear violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

    Even though the Bentonville giant quickly found evidence corroborating the Cicero’s charges, as well as that of a cover-up by the top brass in Mexico, and looked into hiring an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation, it quickly converted it to a limited review by an internal unit whose main activity was handling shoplifting cases. …”

  10. April 22, 2012

    But .. but .. but .. the country would have been torn apart if we tried to try BushCo for their crimes!!

  11. Morocco Bama permalink
    April 22, 2012

    And just who would be in charge of that prosecution? The equally corrupt, or equally corruptible, Eric Holder Justice Department? The political process is corrupted beyond repair. You cannot expect it to render Justice consistently, if at all. The Judicial process is corrupted beyond repair and is joined at the hip with the Political process. There is no separation of powers any longer, and an argument can be made that perhaps there never was except on paper….and that lack of separation is ever so more apparent these days due to information overload.

    This System will not heal itself. This System is the disease. The double-bind is that we must live in it to survive, and in doing so we must support it as a matter of some degree…and that involuntary commitment, zealously voluntary for some, helps perpetuate this utter madness into what seems eternity or death do us part…except now death is no longer a final escape. No, as we speak, this sadistic System seeks to conquer death as a portal of refuge from its madness. Soon enough, there will be No Way Out.

  12. April 22, 2012

    @spartacus – Whenever I see a case like that Wal-Mart bribery “scandal,” I assume that somebody just pissed-off somebody powerful, for it to come up at all. I think it was the documentary “Black Money” on Frontline that documented the scale of behind-the-scenes international off-the-books big-money action violating all kinds of nominal anti-corruption & -bribery proscriptions. Business as usual.

  13. ultra permalink
    April 22, 2012

    The U.S. has a gigantic criminal justice system and ordinary citizens are held fully accountable to the letter of the law. It’s the members of the elite and near-elite who are exempt, in varying degrees, to the letter of the law. This is really nothing new. This system exists to crush members of the underclass and to control the more wayward members of the middle-class. The rich usually have little to worry about — unless they swindle or kill other rich people. Bernie Maddoff is an example of this.

  14. Ian Welsh permalink
    April 22, 2012

    Even that is not true, Ultra. There are grades. The numbers on black vs. white (not elite, ordinary people) tell the story. For the same arrest, a black is FAR more likely to go to jail. I am quite confident that the same story would play out if you were to break down white arrests by social class/income.

    The prosecutorial system has immense discretion and it is used very corruptly.

    And it has not always been thus: in the S&L crisis a lot of people went to jail from the same class immunized this time around.

    I agree entirely about Maddoff.

  15. Celsius 233 permalink
    April 22, 2012

    Here’s a link to Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now for April 20th;

    It should give one pause about how one communicates; cell phones, Internet, e-mails; all compromised!
    Orwell’s 1984 is here now (I know, cliche’, but true) and everyone who fancies themselves as “freedom fighters/progressives” (whatever the hell that means) should probably find a different way to communicate because your government knows what your eating, saying, and thinking; as well as who you speak to and what you’re saying.
    Even encryption (128, 256, 512 bit) is no longer able to block the ability of the government to read your e-mail. Their computers are able to break encryption in minutes or seconds.
    But then, when all is said and done, we’re relatively harmless pecking away at our keyboards.
    In the end, a distraction, and a failure of genuine action.
    Groo mentions the Tao; therein lies the definition of genuine action and this ain’t it.

  16. jcapan permalink
    April 22, 2012

    233, thanks for the link! Dissidents should look to the past, when successful activism, revolutionary or otherwise, was (I know it’s shocking) practiced without Twitter!

    Bertram Wolfe’s classic, Three Who Made a Revolution, is great on this topic.

  17. Celsius 233 permalink
    April 22, 2012

    jcapan PERMALINK
    April 22, 2012
    233, thanks for the link! Dissidents should look to the past, when successful activism, revolutionary or otherwise, was (I know it’s shocking) practiced without Twitter!
    Bertram Wolfe’s classic, Three Who Made a Revolution, is great on this topic.

    You’re welcome. Without Twitter, LOL. Yes. I dumped twitter and facebook years ago; vile things, they are.
    I find Amy’s show to be the best, bar none, there in the states. Counterspin is pretty good as well.
    I don’t see forums as worth more than a discussion venue; they’re of limited value, IMO, but can be sources of education (good) but not vehicles of change; I still maintain, that must come to us individually. True change is a form of action, IMO.
    Of late I have drastically cut back on posting; this being one place I mostly enjoy. Ian tends towards thoughtful threads. I’d like to see a little more diversity here in the posts, but oh well.

  18. Pepe permalink
    April 23, 2012

    find a different way to communicate because your government knows what your eating, saying, and thinking; as well as who you speak to and what you’re saying.

    I’m reminded of the war games where they wanted to test out their surveillance capabilities, and the general who led the “bad guys” used motorcycle couriers to deliver messages. The war games were stopped and the general was told not use couriers but rather to use phones and email.

  19. Celsius 233 permalink
    April 23, 2012

    April 23, 2012

    I’m reminded of the war games where they wanted to test out their surveillance capabilities, and the general who led the “bad guys” used motorcycle couriers to deliver messages. The war games were stopped and the general was told not use couriers but rather to use phones and email.
    Nice one; I had completely forgotten that incident. But it’s certainly in line with what I was thinking; pigeons would be another possibility. I think even snail mail, up to a point, would be effective.
    Low-tech/no-tech is really on order here.
    I just talked to a friend in Oregon 2 hours ago and this was the topic of a good deal of our conversation. I usually say hello to the NSA (Asia to U.S. is monitored 100%).
    I’ll not fly ever again. Ground/Sea transportation or nothing.

  20. Morocco Bama permalink
    April 23, 2012

    It’s the members of the elite and near-elite who are exempt, in varying degrees, to the letter of the law.

    Case in point.

    New Jersey State Police are investigating whether troopers escorted a “Death Race” convoy of Porsches, Lamborghinis and Ferraris speeding at 100 miles per hour on the Garden State Parkway to Atlantic City.

    Witnesses said they saw two state police cruisers on March 30 escorting a caravan of 25 to 30 sports cars, according to complaints obtained by the Newark Star-Ledger. The pack included former New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, the newspaper reported, citing an unidentified person with knowledge of the trip.

    The patrol cars had their flashing lights on, and the cars were weaving in and out of other vehicles and had their license plates covered with tape, the Star-Ledger said, citing the complaints. One witness, Wayne Gantt of Little Egg Harbor, dubbed the incident “Death Race 2012,” according to the paper.

  21. Celsius 233 permalink
    April 23, 2012

    Part 2: Democracy Now interview with NSA whistleblower William Binney;

  22. Celsius 233 permalink
    April 23, 2012

    For those interested; Jacob Appelbaum talks about the TOR Project and supplies the URL for DL’ing the secure browser;

    Do your homework before downloading and using this browser; there is a learning curve.

    These last 2 Democracy Now programs should scare the holy shit out of anybody viewing said programs.
    It’s a very dangerous world out there.
    Learn and thrive; cheers.

  23. April 25, 2012

    December 12, 2000, a date that ought to live in infamy but will soon either be forgotten or — perversely — celebrated.

    That was the date that the Constitution of the United Stated of America, already a tattered and threadbare document barely being held together with tape and chewing gum, was irrevocably shredded by the lawless intervention of the US Supreme Court into a presidential election dispute.

    Ever since, the ‘rule of law’ in the United States has — and will continue to be — a joke. The impunity with which Our Rulers operate has grown exponentially since the decision in Bush v Gore was rendered, and there is no going back under the present regime.

    What seems odd to me is that we are still in a period of transition between the remnant republic (quite extinct, though many of its attributes remain in place for show) and a full on imperial autocracy.

    Arbitrary imposition of authority is taken for granted, as is the differential application of “justice.” Everybody knows that authority is arbitrarily imposed on those who can’t easily fight back, and that the poor, the brown, and the black people among us are treated far more harshly than they deserve, and that the rich and the palest and most powerful of us are able to avoid any sort of rational justice at all, quite literally getting away with murder, even being rewarded for it.

    Nothing the People do seems able to change this state of affairs for the better; in fact, in too many circumstances the People are actually complicit in the destruction of Law and Justice.

    Still, we do what we can…

  24. groo permalink
    April 25, 2012

    Ché Pasa

    … in fact, in too many circumstances the People are actually complicit in the destruction of Law and Justice. …

    and why is that?

    It is beliefs, imposed by those who should know better.
    Albeit they would have the leisure to know better, they do the opposite.
    See Thorstein Veblen’s leisure class.
    The human condition mostly is inclined NOT for the pursuit of ‘knowing’, but for ‘relative status’.

    ‘Happiness is a warm gun.’
    Alright, if it fits your target.

  25. April 25, 2012

    Veblen you say, groo? Many Americans should know better, it’s true, but the idea of actually looking into things has come to be regarded as somewhat pervy, you know.

    And what is this “leisure” of which you speak? Americans know not thereof, for they have little now and can’t remember a time when they ever had more.

    “Leisure” comes when Americans get old enough to drive around in their Winnebagos, sour and perplexed, until they die.

  26. April 26, 2012

    Ah, leisure. I just finished David Graeber’s “Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology” and he reminds us that the Wobblies advocated a 4 day week and 4 hour day. From Colin Ward I learned that he difference between anarchists and socialists were that the anarchists wanted more leisure time to think, to make music, to dance, to read, to invent. Socialists wanted higher wages.

    The powers that be do not want the working class to have time to think. They have succeeded in that.

    And thanks, Che Pasa, for the reminder about the coup of 2000. I was reading Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine” when it occurred to me that the Bolivian coup of 1985 that she writes about reminded me of 2000. A disputed election led to:
    “The details of the backroom negotiations have never been disclosed, but the results are clear enough. On August 6, 1985, it was Paz who was sworn in as president of Bolivia. Only four days later, Paz appointed Goni [Businessman who went to U of Chicago} to head up a top-secret bipartisan emergency economic team charged with radically restructuring the economy.”

    The secret plan called for taking away food subsidies, dropping price controls, freezing government wages, letting unrestricted imports in, raising the price of oil by 300 percent, and “called for a downsizing of state companies, the precursor to privatization.”

    Paz’s party knew nothing about this plan, neither did his own cabinet. When he unveiled it, he locked the doors of the cabinet room and had the plan read to them. He said that if they didn’t agree to it, they must resign.

    So sad that our lawyers did not take to the streets in 2000 as they did in Pakistan when their Supreme Court went amok.

  27. groo permalink
    May 1, 2012

    Ché Pasa,

    well, my understanding of Veblen is, that he -with the ‘leisure class’- characterized a character-type, which nowadays is synonymous with the 1%.

    Which correlates, upon closer inspection, with relative status, narcisissm, self-interest, downto outright sociopathy.
    Which is a syndrome, i.e. a cluster of traits, which are self-reinforcing.

    I tell you a story:
    I have been in the hospital for a couple of days, which is not such a scary thing over here from the financial side, and met some people whom I never would meet during normal circumstances.
    Those were medium high class-people, privately health insured, and so on.

    Now what are those people?
    What do they think?

    I tell you.
    They have, say, average five properties all over southern Europe, which they occasionally visit and most of their mental energy goes into maintaining this property.

    Which, I think is quite typical of the upper middle class over here, and quite aligns to Veblens thinking.

    This class is totally absorbed into
    a) maintaining/multiplying their property
    b) maintaining relative status VIA property. Property is a display of status.

    This is NOT the 0.1%, but they share their values, and through this shared value system they reinforce the status quo, which is a system of rent extraction through property values, and its display as status-‘value’.

    The lower classes are pressured downto subsistence level, not being aware of that.
    And ‘belief’ follows the pressure.

    These pressures lead to something peculiar:
    A divergence of beliefs: master-belief versus slave-belief.

  28. May 5, 2012

    Montana Maven: I think Fragments is just a glorious piece of writing. I was grinning ear to ear while reading it, even got a little choked up, it was that delightful. Yes. There was once a time…

    And what happened to “leisure?” People forget. They don’t remember that they had “leisure” — not in the sense of Veblen’s or groo’s but in the sense of the Athenian citizen… to study, ponder, make art or love, to learn and to grow and to serve one another. This kind of leisure was typical of the middle class, and it was being extended more and more broadly. There was no idea of raising retirement ages; they were going to be lowered. I am old enough to remember a time when 55 was proposed as the retirement age in the future, even as lifespans were being extended. I remember a time when there was no tuition charge for higher education in California and the University system and California higher education in general were the envy of the world. The goal was to provide all California residents with the benefits of higher education, even if not all residents went to college.

    The ideal of leisure is necessary for that kind of educational system to exist.

    When it once again required at least two incomes per household to maintain even a relatively modest standard of living, that whole concept of “leisure” disappeared. Family life, nearly everything one did or had an interest in, became the equivalent of “work”. The very idea of having time and space and interest for personal growth and community disappeared. In my experience, many people have simply forgotten there ever was a time when these concepts weren’t like they are now.

    Not so strangely, though, when the economy collapsed, throwing millions of Americans out of their homes and into unemployment and poverty, for some of them, “leisure” re-appeared (or appeared for the first time.) Many older workers realized they were never going to be employed again. Many younger people realized there were no jobs and thus no materialist future, so they found other avenues. Occupy is part of that, but there is much more. There’s a whole other world in the process of coming into being as we ponder these things.

    Necessity is the mother of invention and all that.

    The lawlessness and impunity with which our rulers and their hirelings operate is part of the impetus for the creation of something else again — hopefully better, but there’s no guarantee!

    And groo your leisure class description of small property holdings and equally modest rent extractions reminds me of some of the real estate investment schemes that used to be promoted endlessly at “seminars” conducted in hotel ballrooms all over this great land of ours (they may still happen, I don’t know.) The idea was to convince the rubes to buy the books and tapes that would tell them how to buy properties for little or no money down and then rent them out and live like potentates on the beach at Maui or in the Caribbean. As few as five properties would be enough to live like kings, working not at all, living the life of Leisure they have always aspired to. A few were always able to do it, too!

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