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Name: William Rivers Pitt
Gender: Male
Hometown: Boston
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 57,226

Journal Archives

The Pleasant Fiction of "No Boots on the Ground"

A Kurdish peshmerga fighter holds an Islamic State flag he claimed from a checkpoint near the
Mosul Dam in Northern Iraq, Aug. 19, 2014. (Photo: Lynsey Addario / The New York Times)

The Pleasant Fiction of "No Boots on the Ground"
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Monday 15 September 2014

The nation has had several days to digest President Obama's remarks on Wednesday night, when he outlined his strategy for dealing with the ISIS/ISIL/IS militants in Iraq and Syria. The hood ornament of his plan involves increased air strikes against the group, along with the formation of a broad international coalition, which he claimed will serve as a one-two punch to knock out this newest iteration of "The Bad Guys Who Must Be Destroyed At All Costs."

"No boots on the ground," promised the president. Aside from his description of the air campaign, this oath to avoid re-re-re-inserting combat troops into the conflict was central to his argument. By and large, according to numerous polls taken after the speech, the citizenry climbed on board the bandwagon by a fairly sizable margin. Newspapers all across the country ran permutations of a headline that read, "While Weary of War, Majority Supports Air Strikes Against ISIS."

The backstop for this support is nebulous at best - a general sense of, "Well, we can't just do nothing!" - even as the "something" proposed by the president is equally murky, for two reasons.

First, the broad coalition described by the president on Wednesday does not appear to be coalescing. Germany and Turkey have ruled out joining in air strikes in Syria. The British Foreign Secretary said early last week his nation will likewise refrain from joining the fray, but the recent beheading of a British citizen by ISIS may have changed the geometry of the equation; Prime Minister David Cameron made some bellicose statements after video of the murder was released, but the Scottish independence vote looms. The Scots deeply disapproved of the last Iraq war, and the UK desperately wants to keep Scotland on board, so the UK's ultimate commitment is questionable.

As far as assembling allies in the region, the support gathered by Secretary of State John Kerry during his consultations with various Arab nations is tepid at best. Jordan and Egypt, in particular, both gave Secretary Kerry a similar version of, "You're on your own." Iran is chomping at the bit to join the fight against ISIS, but they are not even invited to the meeting in Paris on Monday to discuss strategy, because Mr. Kerry says "It would not be appropriate" for them to attend.


We come, then, to reason number two, which can be summed up in one word: Mosul.

The city of Mosul in northern Iraq is home to some two million residents, a majority of whom are Sunni. It hosts the nation's largest university, enjoys significant regional oil deposits, and is the hub of Iraq's main oil pipeline to Turkey. Most of the 150+ air strikes conducted by the US in Iraq have been directed at dislodging ISIS from the Mosul Dam, the largest in the country, which provides electricity to millions. If that dam were to be breached, those millions would be flooded out of their homes, and much of Iraq would go dark.

In June of this year, ISIS staged a surprise attack on Mosul, routed Iraqi security forces and police, and took control of the city. Hundreds of thousands fled the violence, including members of the defeated security forces, who shed their uniforms and ran with the civilians. ISIS is now dug into Mosul, surrounded by the hundreds of thousands of civilians who did not flee. Many of those who remained, while not necessarily supportive of their new masters, are so distrustful of the government in Baghdad that they are willing to hunker down and ride it out.

All the happy talk about air strikes does not in any way whatsoever jibe with the reality that is Mosul. Any ISIS militants caught out in the open can be dispatched from the air, to be sure, but they own a city. Dislodging ISIS from Mosul will require a large ground force that has training and experience in urban house-to-house warfare. The only other option is to go Dresden on Mosul and raze it to the ground. Without ground troops, or the war-crime obliteration of an entire city, there is simply no way to defeat ISIS with air power alone.


So there is that, but also this, put plainly: if you support the air strikes plan proposed by the president, because we have to do "something," understand full well what it is you are supporting.


The rest: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/26188-the-pleasant-fiction-of-no-boots-on-the-ground

Hunter S. Thompson, 12 September 2001: "Fear and Loathing in America"

Fear and Loathing in America

The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now -- with somebody -- and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.

It will be a Religious War, a sort of Christian Jihad, fueled by religious hatred and led by merciless fanatics on both sides. It will be guerilla warfare on a global scale, with no front lines and no identifiable enemy. Osama bin Laden may be a primitive "figurehead" -- or even dead, for all we know -- but whoever put those All-American jet planes loaded with All-American fuel into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon did it with chilling precision and accuracy. The second one was a dead-on bullseye. Straight into the middle of the skyscraper. Nothing -- even George Bush's $350 billion "Star Wars" missile defense system -- could have prevented Tuesday's attack, and it cost next to nothing to pull off. Fewer than 20 unarmed Suicide soldiers from some apparently primitive country somewhere on the other side of the world took out the World Trade Center and half the Pentagon with three quick and costless strikes on one day. The efficiency of it was terrifying.

We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or what will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once. Who knows? Not even the Generals in what remains of the Pentagon or the New York papers calling for WAR seem to know who did it or where to look for them.

This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed -- for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W. Bush. All he knows is that his father started the war a long time ago, and that he, the goofy child-President, has been chosen by Fate and the global Oil industry to finish it Now. He will declare a National Security Emergency and clamp down Hard on Everybody, no matter where they live or why. If the guilty won't hold up their hands and confess, he and the Generals will ferret them out by force.

The rest: http://proxy.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?id=1250751

Meet the New War, Same as the Old War

President Barack Obama departs after delivering
a televised address to the nation on his plans for military
action against the Islamic State, from the Cross Hall of
the White House in Washington, Sept. 10, 2014.
(Photo: Saul Loeb / Pool via The New York Times)

Meet the New War, Same as the Old War
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Thursday 11 September 2014

On the night before the thirteenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, President Obama delivered a prime-time press conference to discuss the new war in Iraq, which is really the old war, as it never actually ended. It dropped from the headlines here in the US a few years ago, except for an occasional heinous act that got brief ink - a marketplace massacre that killed 150, or a mosque bombing that killed 80 would get some ink and then fade - but people have been dying in Iraq every single day since we stuck our booted toe into their sand eighteen months after the Towers came down.


So maybe I'm wrong, and the Wednesday night words of the president will prove prescient, and everything will work out fine...except, by my calculations, every time we drop bombs on a problem that was caused by us dropping bombs, we wind up dropping more bombs to try and solve it, and nothing ever gets fixed, but some people get paid, so the impetus to drop more bombs on the bombs we already dropped increases by order of magnitude, especially when we get the ratings-happy "news" media involved in the show.

There is some controversy over who actually said this, but the line is generally attributed to Albert Einstein. "The definition of insanity," goes the quote, "is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result." Whoever actually said it should be awarded the Nobel Prize, just like the president.

It has been thirteen years since the attacks of September 11, and this nation has spent every one of the 4,745 days between that morning and today in the grips of a media and politics and money-driven high panic. Millions upon millions have been killed, maimed, displaced or bankrupted in the process. ISISISILIS are bad guys, and no mistake, but there are a pile of nations on this planet besides us with standing armies, many of them with a far more vested personal interest in eradicating these lunatics than us. Their militaries are not exhausted like ours is.

"Our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden," said President Obama on Wednesday night, "but as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead."

Who is this "we," sir? You got a mouse in your pocket? I can only imagine the comforts that come with living in the White House, but for an enormous swath of the country you lead, the "blessings" you speak of turned to ashes in our mouths a long time ago. The money we are going to spend bombing the problems we caused by bombing the problems we bombed can be better spent creating jobs, repairing infrastructure, and educating our children to know better when a politician comes calling with platitudes about the excellence of the United States before announcing his intention to blow more stuff up.

We were excellent, I suppose. We certainly can be. It has been twenty-four years of this, with the twenty-five years of Vietnam still receding in the rear-view. Imagine if we had those 50 years back, and then imagine what we could do with 50 years unencumbered by profiteering warfare.

Maybe I'm wrong. Enjoy your new war, which is the old war. I'm sure it will all work out just fine.

The rest: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/26113-william-rivers-pitt-meet-the-new-war-same-as-the-old-war

Within Reach of Your Arm

For my daughter.

(Image: Chris Devers)

Within Reach of Your Arm
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Friday 05 September 2014

My daughter is walking now...well, actually, she's running, in the stagger-sloppy way of all toddlers that careens close to the edge of disaster. Against all evident laws of gravity, she manages in her travels to hold it together. God watches over drunks and small children, it has been said, probably because they walk the world exactly the same way. I watch my little girl stumblebum her way across the yard, and my breath catches when she careens, and then she rights herself, and rumbles on.

I am her father. It is my sworn intention that she grow up to be and do as she pleases - if she wants to sell apples out of a barrel by the side of the road, or go to law school, or make matches in a factory, or become an Olympic athlete, or shine shoes, or whatever, because it makes her happy, then I will be happy, because it is what she wants to do - but I stand before you a man afraid, because it is also my sworn intention to give her the chance to choose her own path as best I can.

I'm not sure how much of that is going to be within my power to do for her. It's a hell of a thing to raise a child in the dying empire of a dying country stapled to a dying economic paradigm within a dying ecosystem. Corporations are people, my friends, but actual people don't matter as much as fracking and oil spills and coal exports and tar sands and pipelines and endless, bottomless greed.

Here's a fact: the ocean is coming. Big cities and small towns alike, especially along the Eastern seaboard, are watching their shorelines disappear as the waters lap higher and higher against the steel and concrete of our seeming invincibility. The world saw what happened to New York City and New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy, and according to all available estimates, that is but the beginning. NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia has spent $43 million over the last five years to shore up its collapsing beachhead. Five years on, a third of that work has been washed away.


Don't you worry, my love, I'll whisper to her. The multibillion dollar F-35 boondoggle that doesn't work and nobody wants is protecting you. The billion-dollar Osprey deathtrap that kills Marines almost every year is protecting you. Exactly fifty-three cents of every tax dollar I pay is spent on the "defense" of you, so they tell me, a vast swath of that money going to the CIA and the NSA, so if you're not happy about it later in life and happen to mention it, believe me, they'll hear it.

Hush little baby, don't say a word... Papa's gonna buy you a new Blackbird... called the SR-72 that goes Mach 6... and if it doesn't work, they'll tax me for the fix... wait... that's a terrible nursery rhyme.

Welcome to your future, little girl.

Or, you know, not.

All I have, all you have, all we have, is the power to do good and right within reach of our arm. I can't defeat ISIS, or suck the oil and oil-cleanup contaminants out of the Gulf, or imprison the people who wrecked the economy and laughed all the way to the bank, or imprison the people who started wars based on lies and torture and also laughed all the way to the bank, or break the "defense" industry over my knee and redirect their engorged funding toward the greater good, or stop the seas from rising, or the polar caps from melting. I can't end greed, or hunger, or hatred, or disease...I can try, and do every day, but it is the equivalent of yelling at a thunderstorm. No matter how loud I shout, I still get wet.

I can do the best I can within reach of my arm, one reach at a time. I can remember, and hold dear to heart, the verse of activist Daniel Berrigan:

Some stood up once, and sat down
Some walked a mile, and walked away
Some stood up twice, then sat down,
"I've had it" they said.
Some walked two miles, then walked away.
"It's too much," they cried.
Some stood and stood and stood.
They were taken for fools,
They were taken for being taken in.
Some walked and walked and walked.
They walked the earth,
They walked the waters,
They walked the air.
"Why do you stand," they were asked, "and why do you walk?"
"Because of the children," they said,
"And because of the heart,
"And because of the bread,"
"Because the cause is the heart's beat,
And the children born
And the risen bread."

Sometimes, the simplest answers are correct. If I - if we - hold to this simplicity, hold it tight and never let it go, if we do that good within our reach, matters will change for real and for true, and my daughter will surely get the chance to know what it is to also reach, to fly, to rise, to become. As will yours. And yours. And yours.

And yours.

The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/26002-within-reach-of-your-arm

Holy shit.

"Heterosexuals get drunk and pregnant, producing unwanted children; their reward is to be allowed to marry. Homosexual couples do not produce unwanted children; their reward is to be denied the right to marry. Go figure."

-- Federal judge Richard Posner, in his decision that overturned anti-marriage equality laws in both Indiana and Wisconsin

Methinks the judge is mighty sick of the bullshit.

Wham and splatter, baby. Wham and splatter.

Charlie Pierce: "On Thursday, federal judge Richard Posner was remarkably plain-spoken in his decision that overturned anti-marriage equality laws in both Indiana and Wisconsin. And when I say 'overturned,' I mean tore into tiny pieces, lit on fire, and fed through a wood chipper and into an acid bath.'"

"'Go figure?' Oh, just tell them to fk off, Your Honor. Go for the gold."


Afraid of ISIS?

A wee public service announcement for those who are feeling The Fear because some intelligence reports suggest ISIS is a direct threat to this country within our borders:

There is always intelligence that claims something here or there is a direct, dire threat. Intelligence organizations prepare three versions of these reports: Worst Case, Best Case and Middle Case. Depending on what they want to happen, they tailor the delivery and wording of their reports. That is old, old, old fact, and always political...with a dash of make-war-pay-my-friends thrown in for good measure all too often.

Case in point: There were intelligence reports that said Iraq had:

* 26,000 liters of anthrax

* 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin

* 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX gas

* Mobile biological weapons labs

* Chemical-bomb drones that could strike the US mainland

* Uranium from Niger for use in a "robust" nuclear weapons program

* Connections to al-Qaeda that led directly to the attacks of September 11

How'd that work out?

"I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again..."

What did DU used to be about, once upon a time?

Back in the summer of 2002, me and several DUers from the Boston area - Matcom was the copilot - put together a flyer about the Bush administration using 9/11 against us, and about the onrushing war in Iraq. We reprinted a thousand copies or so, stood out on the street, and handed them out all day long to whoever would take them, and talked/debated/argued with anyone who wanted to talk.

It's hard to remember 12 years later, but we were cat-nervous, and the simple act of handing out flyers and speaking political heresies out loud felt brave, because WE ALL HAD TO GET IN LINE AND YOU ARE BEING WATCHED AND PATRIOTISM AND SHIT. It was an astonishingly paranoid and fearful time if you weren't "on board" with the program, and actually had the gumption to say so in public. The swelling from 9/11 had not gone down very much, and people were still very sensitive and definitely locked into OBEY...and I don't know if we changed any minds on the spot with those flyers that day, but we made more than a few people think, which was the point of the exercise...and, also, we felt definitely emboldened, and took it from there.

When we were done, I posted both the story of our day and the flyer we handed out here at DU...and over the course of the next days, weeks and months, DUers posted their own stories about handing out our flier in their own towns and cities, the reactions they got, and the small bit of good it did...town after town, city after city, from sea to shining sea...and everyone who participated in the exercise felt emboldened, and took it from there.

The summer of 2002.

THAT is what DU used to be about.

No reason it can't be that way again.

The Iraq War Was a Smashing Success

Smoke rises from American airstrikes in the village of Resala in Iraq as Kurdish peshmerga fighters
watch at an overwatch position near the Mosul Dam in Northern Iraq, Aug. 18, 2014.
(Photo: Lynsey Addario / The New York Times)

The Iraq War Was a Smashing Success
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Thursday 28 August 2014

Make no mistake about it: by any vaguely human measure, the situation in Iraq is a US-made disaster of historic proportions. Millions dead or wounded, millions more displaced, and all overseen by a kleptocratic government more interested in grinding old enemies into the dust than governing...and of course, yes, a seemingly endless cycle of violence that claims new victims every day.

The beginning of this week saw bombs ring out all over Iraq, leaving 212 dead and 184 wounded. Three bombs exploded in a commercial district in Kirkuk, killing 31. A suicide bomber charged the gate of a security building in Baghdad, killing eleven. A Sunni mosque in Diyala was attacked, leaving 60 dead. A car bombing in Karbala killed 12. Another car bomb killed 11 people in Hilla. The butcher's bill goes on, and on, and on.

US military operations in Iraq, directed against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), are escalating by the day. Since the second week in August, the US has carried out some 100 air strikes in Iraq, has deployed about 1,000 troops back into the country, and is tickling the outside edges of bombing targets in Syria.

The question of whether to expand this ongoing war, however, is not likely to be put to a vote in congress any time soon; a roomful of Democratic congressional aides made it abundantly clear that the last thing their bosses want is to be forced to make a public vote on further military action in Iraq. Such a vote, they claim, is far too sticky a wicket to wrangle in an election year.

Same as it ever was.

Yet consider this: the news site Vox ran a story at the beginning of August under the headline, "The US Bombing Its Own Guns Perfectly Sums Up America's Total Failure in Iraq". The article refers to the US air campaign against ISIS, which is flush with US weapons of war obtained from the collapsed Iraqi military.


The United States' involvement in Iraq, dating back to 1990 but wildly exacerbated since March of 2003, has been a pluperfect Charlie Foxtrot from the jump, and gets worse with every passing year.


Well, it depends on who you ask.

Ask the "defense" industry, the makers and sellers of all these weapons, and they'll tell you this Iraq debacle is the greatest thing to happen since Vietnam. Twenty-four years of war since 1990, all those missiles and bombs dropped, all those bullets fired, all those armored vehicles blown up that needed to be replaced, all of which come with a price tag to be paid out of the taxpayers' pockets. Not everyone gets a payday that lasts a quarter of a century. The "defense" industry got one, again, and it is ongoing, and expanding.

The United States is bombing weapons the "defense" industry already got paid for with ordnance they will get paid for.

Think about it this way: In the same fashion that most people think the Iraq war was a disaster, the same majority now see George W. Bush as the worst president in modern American history. By the metrics of those who delivered him to the Oval Office, however, George W. Bush was the most successful president in the history of the country. Everything he was sent to do by those who paid his freight - gut the Treasury, break the government, establish permanent war, and make his friends rich - he accomplished to perfection.

So it is with Iraq. You think it's a disaster, I think it's a disaster, and by any vaguely human measure, it is a disaster...but for a few people, the ones who pay that political freight and count coins according to how many bombs and bullets get used, the specter of ongoing war and fear and death and weaponized mayhem makes what is happening in Iraq the equivalent of Christmas in August, a smashing success, and a fantastic return on their investment.

The rest: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/25858-the-iraq-war-was-a-smashing-success

Everytown USA: Is the Policeman Your Friend?

Protestors clash with police on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri, the night of
Aug. 19, 2014. (Photo: Eric Thayer / The New York Times)

Everytown USA: Is the Policeman Your Friend?
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Friday 22 August 2014

As the unrest in Ferguson, MO, grinds on, with everyone from the Revolutionary Communist Party to the Klan, to common racist fools like Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher weighing in (permanent has-been/never-was Mr. "Plumber" wants to hold a jobs fair in Ferguson to make the protester "cockroaches" scatter; dog-whistles can be found in a bowl by the door), now is an opportune moment to step back and take stock.

Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot six times by local police officer Darren Wilson. Eyewitness reports say Brown was running away and attempting to surrender after an altercation with Wilson, who ordered Brown and his friend to stop walking in the street. The police say Wilson was attacked by Brown and shot to defend himself. No one has heard from Darren Wilson himself, because he packed up his family and fled Ferguson immediately after the shooting. He is currently nowhere to be found.

The Ferguson police said Brown was the suspect in the robbery of some cigars at a store, and released a grainy security video to prove it. Then they said Officer Wilson did not know Brown was a suspect. Then they said he did know. Then they said, for reasons passing understanding, that Brown had marijuana in his system. Then it came to light that Brown, in fact, paid for his cigars. Meanwhile, with every story switch by the police, the protesters in the street got hotter and angrier and louder. The arrests began, sweeping up journalists along with protesters, along with local citizens just trying to go about their business...

...and that's when this country, and the world, finally got a long, hard look at what a hyper-weaponized military-style United States police force looks like in action. The process of selling hundreds of millions of dollars worth of surplus military hardware from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to local police forces has been ongoing for some time now, and with it has come a dramatic spike in police violence against citizens. Ferguson, however, was the first time this country has really seen it in all its armored and intimidating glory since the Occupy protests...but that was in New York City, and those protesters were dangerous radicals, or something.

Ferguson, on the other hand, is Everytown USA, maybe your town, maybe mine. People started wondering if their cops had MRAPs parked somewhere out of sight, sniper rifles and tear gas cannons and sonic rifles stacked and waiting for use. The Ferguson police became national poster children for police excess, and questions finally began to be asked about the wisdom of turning police officers into solders. If you have this stuff, went the thinking, you're going to want to use it. And they did. And they do.


Now that Ferguson has finally brought national attention, along with national reconsideration, of this phenomenon, it is time to ask why we arrived here in the first place.

National and institutional paranoia after 9/11? Certainly. Arms dealers looking to profit from the sale of leftover weapons from Iraq and Afghanistan? Sadly. Racism in the hearts of some officers? Undoubtedly. Poor training? Clearly. The preponderance of a terrifying authoritarian attitude toward citizens? You tell me.

There are, however, two more pieces to the puzzle. If you take an ordinary police officer, slap him in armor and camouflage gear, place highly lethal weapons in his hands, and then tell him his life is in mortal peril from the citizenry he is sworn to protect, even as he is practically invincible in his gear, his adrenaline will explode, and you wind up with guys like Ray Albers. Should police officers be protected? Undeniably. Does turning them into super-soldiers go too far? The evidence speaks for itself. As BuzzFlash columnist Akira Watts sagely noted in a recent commentary, "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

Finally, the elephant in the room: there are some 330 million guns loose in the United States, more guns than citizens, and every police officer knows this. They are trained to know this, trained to worry about it, and fear it. The hyper-militarization of police forces in the United States is directly proportional to the vast number of guns in the hands of citizens.

In a significant way - thanks to those who advocate for it, those who tolerate it, and those who have given up trying to fix it - the creation and expansion of our gun culture has made this happen. If I were a cop in a squad room, and was told that every person I see might have at least one gun on them, and the math bore that out, which it does, I'd want to go out on patrol dressed like an Abrams tank, as well.

So much to fix, and meanwhile, Michael Brown is dead. There must be answers, there must be justice, and there must be change.

The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/25742-everytown-usa-is-the-policeman-your-friend

Police in the US: Preserving and Protecting Disorder

My trake-away quote from this excellent article: "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

Police in the US: Preserving and Protecting Disorder
By Akira Watts
BuzzFlash | Op-Ed

Tuesday 19 August 2014

"The police are not here to create disorder, they're here to preserve disorder."

- Richard J. Daley

It's not terribly controversial to note that, in recent years, increased funding to police, across the country has led to what can only be termed a militarization of police activities. And this militarization just doesn't seem to go all that well. The recent debacle in Ferguson, Missouri is just the latest example. There was tear gas, there were arbitrary detentions of journalists, there was a freaking no fly zone. Things finally ended when the governor of Missouri stepped in to order the local police to stand down.

You could call this an isolated incident where things spiraled, very quickly, out of control. You would be wrong. While response to the (mostly) peaceful protests following the shooting of an unarmed, African American, 18 year old was noteworthy for its almost cartoonish excess, similar police actions are not uncommon. A similar, if less excessive, police response occurred in Albuquerque, NM, as protesters marched against APD's killing of an unarmed, mentally ill, homeless man who was in the process of surrendering. These protests, while again, not 100% peaceful, were met with disproportionate force. (And, as a cherry atop the whole thing, the APD wrapped up the night by killing yet another person who may or may not have had a weapon. The APD has an impulse control issue.)

But beyond the excessive reactions to public protest, let's take a quick look at the actions that people are actually protesting. It seems as though every few days, there is yet another incident in which a police officer kills a civilian. Often they're minorities. Often they're mentally ill. Rarely does the police action result in much more than a suspension with, of course, pay. And that tends to get people a little worked up, worked up enough to take to the streets, where they are met with police departments exercising their usual restraint.

But why is this happening? In the name of combating terror, massive amounts of funding have been launched at local police departments upwards of $30 billion. Departments used this funding to modernize, expand and, in many cases, start purchasing shiny new military grade equipment. Even before the universe was threatened by the abstract noun of terrorism, military equipment has been flowing to police departments. The 1033 program, begun in 1997, operating under the motto "From Warfighter to Crimefighter," distributes surplus military equipment to police forces. Last year alone, they passed out over $400 million worth. Funny thing about getting lots of money and shiny weaponry: you want to use it as much as you can. And once you're on the money and guns teat, you never want to let go.

The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/police-in-the-us-preserving-and-protecting-disorder
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