Bush�s "war on terror" quickly became Bush�s war
on Iraqi civilians. So far over one million Iraqi civilians have lost their
lives because of Bush�s invasion, and four million have been displaced. Iraq�s
infrastructure is in ruins. Disease is rampant. Normal life has disappeared.
Self-righteous Americans justify these monstrous crimes as
necessary to ensure their own safety from terrorist attack. Yet, Americans are
in far greater danger from their own police forces than they are from foreign
terrorists. Ironically, Bush�s "war on terror" has made Americans
less safe at home by diminishing US civil liberties and turning an epidemic of
US police brutality into a pandemic.
The only terrorist most Americans will ever encounter is a
policeman with a badge, nightstick, mace and Taser. A Google search for "police
brutality video" turns up 2,210,000 entries. Some entries are foreign
and some are probably duplications, but the number is so large that a person
could do nothing but watch police brutality videos for the rest of his life. A
search on "You Tube" alone turned up 2,280 police brutality videos.
PrisonPlanet has a selection
of the most outrageous recent cases.
Police brutality has crossed the line from using excessive
force against a resisting Rodney King
to unprovoked gratuitous violence against persons offering no resistance, such
as the elderly, women, students, and elected officials. Americans are not safe
anywhere from police. Police attack
Americans in university libraries, in public meetings, and in their own
Last week we had the case of the University
of Florida student who was repeatedlt Tasered without cause for asking
Senator Kerry some good questions in the question and answer period following
Kerry�s speech. Two days after the Florida student was gratuitously brutalized,
Senate Republicans defeated
Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy�s bill to restore habeas corpus
student was Tasered by police without cause for studying in the university
library without having his student ID on his person. Following police orders to
leave, the student was walking toward the door when police grabbed him and
repeatedly Tasered him.
19, 2007 a young woman was repeatedly Tasered without cause by a large
brutal cop in a parking lot outside a nightclub in Warren, Ohio.
On September 14, 2007, Roseland, Indiana, city council
member David Snyder was ejected
from a council meeting by dictatorial council chairman Charlie Shields.
Snyder had protested being limited to one minute to speak. Police goon Jack
Tiller escorted Snyder out, and as Snyder exited the building, Tiller,
following behind, pushed Snyder to the ground and without cause began beating
Snyder in the head with a nightstick. Snyder was hospitalized.
Local TV news stations throughout the US offer an endless
stream of police brutality videos, which are then posted on the stations� web
sites, often with an opportunity for citizens to express their opinion of the
There are many disturbing aspects to police brutality cases.
One disturbing aspect is that the police always arrest the
people that they have gratuitously brutalized. There was no justification
whatsoever to arrest Councilman Snyder, or the UCLA student, or the University
of Florida student. The cops committed assault against innocent citizens. The
cops should have been arrested for their criminal acts. Instead, the cops cover
up their own crimes by arresting their victims on false charges that are invented
to justify the unprovoked police violence against citizens.
Another disturbing aspect is that no one tells the police to
stop the brutality. "Free" Americans are so intimidated by police
that on February 19 of this year male customers in a Chicago bar stood aside
while a drunk cop weighing 251 pounds beat a 115-pound barmaid, knocking
her to the floor with his fists and repeatedly kicking her, for obeying the
bar rules and not serving him more drinks.
Yet another disturbing
aspect is that a minority of citizens will justify each act of police brutality
no matter how brutal and how unprovoked. For example, WNDU.com�s poll of its
viewers found that 64.2 percent agreed that Snyder was a victim of police
brutality, but 27.8 percent thought that Snyder got what was coming to him.
"Law and order conservatives" and other authoritarian personalities
invariably defend acts of police brutality. Perhaps the police brutality
pandemic will bring the day when we will be able to say that a civil
libertarian is a law and order conservative who has been brutalized by police.
The most disturbing aspect is that the police usually get
away with it.
I remember decades ago when civil libertarians in New York
City tried to stop police brutality by establishing civilian review boards to
introduce some accountability into the police�s interaction with civilians. Law
and order conservatives at William
F. Buckley�s National Review went berserk.
Accountability was "second-guessing" the police. The result would be
a crime wave. And so on.
Police forces have always attracted bullies with
authoritative personalities who desire to beat senseless anyone who does not
quake in their presence. In the past, police could get away with brutalizing
blacks but not whites. Today white citizens are as likely as racial minorities
to be victims of police brutality.
The police are supreme. The militarization of the police,
armed now with military weapons and trained to view the general public as the
enemy, against whom "pain
compliance" must be used, has placed every American at risk of personal
injury and false arrest from our "public protectors."
In "free and democratic America," citizens are in
such great danger from police that there are websites devoted to police
brutality with online forms to report the brutality.
Nine years ago Human Rights Watch published a report
entitled, "Shielded from
Justice: Police Brutality and Accountability in the United States."
The report stated:
"Police abuse remains one of the most serious and
divisive human rights violations in the United States. The excessive use of
force by police officers, including unjustified shootings, severe beatings,
fatal chokings, and rough treatment, persists because overwhelming barriers to
accountability make it possible for officers who commit human rights violations
to escape due punishment and often to repeat their offenses. Police or public
officials greet each new report of brutality with denials or explain that the
act was an aberration, while the administrative and criminal systems that
should deter these abuses by holding officers accountable instead virtually
guarantee them impunity.
"This report examines common obstacles to
accountability for police abuse in fourteen large cities representing most
regions of the nation. The cities examined are: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago,
Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York,
Philadelphia, Portland, Providence, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
Research for this report was conducted over two and a half years, from late
1995 through early 1998.
"The brutality cases examined, which are set out in
detail in chapters on each city, are similar to cases that continue to emerge
in headlines and in survivors' complaints. It is important to note, however,
that because it is difficult to obtain case information except where there is
public scandal and/or prosecution, this report relies heavily on cases that
have reached public attention; disciplinary action and criminal prosecution are
even less common than the cases set out below would suggest."
There is no way to hold police accountable when the
president and vice president of the United States, the attorney general, and
the Republican Party maintain that the civil liberties and the separation of
powers mandated by the US Constitution must be abandoned in
order that the executive branch can keep Americans safe from terrorists.
Even before the "war on terror," federal police murdered 100 people in
the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, and no one was held accountable.
Who is a terrorist? If the police and the US government have
the mentality of airport security, they cannot tell a terrorist from an 86-year
old Marine general on his way to give a speech at West Point. Retired Marine
Corps General Joseph J. Foss was delayed and nearly had
his Medal of Honor confiscated. Airport security regarded the pin on the
medal as a weapon that the 86-year old Marine general and former governor of
South Dakota could use to hijack an airliner and commit a terrorist deed.
In America today, every citizen is a potential terrorist in
the eyes of the authorities. Airport security makes this clear every minute of
every day, as do the FBI and NSA with warrantless spying on our emails, postal
mail, telephone calls, and every possible invasion of our privacy. We are all
recipients of abuse of our constitutional rights whether or not we suffer
beatings, Taserings, and false arrests.
The law makes it impossible for Americans to defend
themselves from police brutality. Law and order conservatives have made it a felony
with a long prison sentence to "assault a police officer." Assaulting
a police officer means that if a police thug intends to beat your brains out
with his nightstick and you disarm your assailant, you have "assaulted a
police officer." If you are not shot on the spot by his backup, you will
be convicted by a "law and order" jury and sent to prison.
No matter how gratuitous and violent the police brutality, a
"free" American citizen can defend himself only at the expense, if
not of his life, of a long stay in prison. Osama bin Laden must wish that he
had such power over Americans.
Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the
Reagan Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side
Revolution : An Insider's Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation
and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown:
Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the
co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The
Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the
Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter
Brimelow�s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of