Without “Qualified Immunity,” Would Cops Be So Quick to Kill?

by William N. Grigg

agent1The story had a familiar beginning, but took an unexpected detour en route to an unanticipated conclusion.

Dante Price, a young black man, was trying to visit his girlfriend and infant son at the Summit Square apartment complex in Dayton, Ohio. Price was confronted by two uniformed, armed officers who told him had been banned from the property as a trespasser.

As the encounter grew heated, the officers drew their guns and ordered Price from his car. After the driver refused to comply, one of the officers contacted the Dayton PD to request backup; on the recording, his partner can be heard screaming at Price, “Get out of the car, now!” Instead of exiting his vehicle and prostrating himself at the feet of the officers, Price hit the gas and attempted to flee.

The officers unloaded seventeen shots at Price, three of which struck him. The 25-year-old plowed his Cadillac into a parked car. He was dead before the paramedics arrived.

“We got a guy trying to assault us with his vehicle,” one of the officers reported to Dayton PD headquarters immediately after the shooting. “We had to fire at him. He charged us.”

Within a few hours, an internal investigation conducted by veteran police officer Ivan G. Burke concluded that the shooting of the unarmed motorist was “justified.” By disobeying orders and attempting to flee, Price had caused the officers to “fear for their lives” and the shooting was therefore an act of self-defense.

So far, so familiar. However, at this point the story diverges sharply from the standard narrative.

Rather than dismissing the matter and lecturing Price’s grieving relatives about the need to “respect the process,” the Dayton PD made investigating the shooting a priority. The crime scene was carefully scrutinized, and investigators interviewed dozens of witnesses. Evidence was turned over to Montgomery County DA Mat Heck, who presented it to a grand jury.

Four months after the March 2012 shooting, the panel handed down murder and abduction indictments against the two officers, 32-year-old Christopher E. Tarbert and 24-year-old Justin R. Wissinger. Last week, Tarbert and Wissinger, who had been threatened with life imprisonment, were sentenced to four years of incarceration as a result of a plea bargain agreement.

The incident in which Dante Price was killed bears an uncanny resemblance to the shooting death of Danielle Willard by police in West Valley City, Utah in November 2012. In both cases, the victim was confronted by armed officers, refused orders to exit the vehicle, and was shot while trying to flee. Shaun Cowley, the former West Valley City Police Detective who killed Willard, claimed that he acted in self-defense.

Salt Lake County DA Sim Gill, in an almost unprecedented act of principle, indicted Cowley for manslaughter. That prompted nearly the entire “criminal justice” system in Utah to rally behind Cowley.

Former federal Judge Paul Cassell, who volunteered his services as defense counsel for Cowley, complained that “a guilty verdict in this case will jeopardize the safety of the community by making police officers fearful of defending themselves against criminals who are threatening deadly force.” Casell insisted that the simple act of charging Cowley endangered that most precious of all imaginable things, “officer safety.”

Utah Third District Judge L.A. Dever agreed, dismissing the charge in an October pre-trial hearing. Despite the overwhelming evidence that neither Cowley nor his partner was in the path of the vehicle at the time the fatal shots were fired, Judge Dever accepted the defendant’s claim that he “reasonably believed” the non-compliant driver posed a potential threat.

Officers Tarbert and Wissinger offered the same defense regarding their decision to shoot Price, but it availed them nothing. Rather than being exonerated immediately, the officers faced a long and expensive legal ordeal. While they were awaiting resolution of their case, another lethal force incident involving an unarmed black man took place at a retail store that had probably been frequented by the late Dante Price.

Last September, John Crawford, III was fatally shot by police at a Wal-Mart in Beavercreek – about seventeen miles from the apartment complex where Price was killed. At the time, Crawford was holding in one hand a BB rifle he intended to purchase, and carried a cell phone in the other. Sgt. David Darkow and Officer Sean Williams, who responded to a thoroughly inaccurate report via a panic-stricken 911 call shot Crawford within seconds of their arrival at the store.

In this case, rather than investigating the actions of the officers, the Dayton-area Beavercreek PD strove to find some way to blame the victim for the shooting. Tasha Thomas, the Crawford’s traumatized girlfriend, was detained andinterrogated for over an hour and a half by Beavercreek Detective Rodney Curd, who did everything he could to manipulate her into saying that Crawford was carrying an actual firearm. To that end Curd followed standard police procedure by lying to Thomas and threatening her with criminal charges unless she supplied him with the story he wanted.

“I want to be very clear, OK?” Curd told the sobbing woman. “That man got a weapon at some point, I understand, OK? That man produced that weapon. That man had the weapon when you picked him up. He had it in your car or something. You understand that we’re investigating a serious incident. You lie to me, and you might be on your way to jail, so I want to be very clear about that.”

Curd also pretended that Thomas, who was weeping and in shock, appeared to be on drugs.

The detective succeeded in extorting consent for a search of Thomas’s car and cellphone. During the entire ordeal the terrified woman hadn’t been informed that Crawford was dead. Curd withheld that news until after he had concluded the interrogation – and then disclosed it to her in what amounted to a final act of gratuitous, dishonest sadism: “Unfortunately John has passed away as a result of this. What happened there isn’t a good thing and as a result of his actions he is gone.” (Emphasis added.)

Scant hours had passed since Crawford – who had done nothing wrong or illegal – had been killed without cause or justification by Dayton-area police, but the official story was already set in granite: Crawford was dead “as a result of his actions,” not those of the privileged killers who had perforated his body with high-velocity rounds.

From the beginning, the Beavercreek PD and its allies in the Dayton-area “justice” system treated John Crawford as a “suspect,” rather than as a victim, solely because he had been killed by fellow police officers. Significantly, that had not been the case in the March 2012 shooting of Dante Price at an apartment complex just a few minutes’ drive away from the Wal-Mart where Crawford was killed. In that earlier case, Price had been identified as the victim, and the officers who shot him were treated as criminal suspects.

This is because Christopher E. Tarbert and Justin R. Wissinger were employed by the private Ranger Security Company, rather than the Beavercreek municipal police department. Ivan Burke, who owns the company, was briefly employed as an officer with two departments in small towns near Dayton, and at the time of the shooting he was an “auxiliary officer” in Clay Township, a village of about 9,000 people with no reported criminal activity.

Yes, Tarbert and Wissinger wore special costumes that included glittering baubles denoting their status as “officers”; they carried guns, and conducted patrols.

Their physical conditioning, mental acumen, and competence with firearms were certainly up to par with the undemanding standards of most municipal police departments. As their encounter with Price demonstrated they had learned to bark orders at the public, treat non-compliance as a threat to “officer safety,” and recite the expected self-exculpatory phrases after killing someone who had defied them.

In this case, however, the assailants hadn’t been fully invested with the mystical property called “authority.”

“The shooters were employed as private security guards through Ranger Security – they were not police officers,” explained Montgomery County DA Mat Heck. “They did not have any special arrest powers, authority or privileges beyond what a private citizen would have…. [T]hese private security guards had no legal authority to detain or attempt to detain the victim, and had no legal authority to use or threaten to use deadly force in order to make the victim comply with their orders.”

Tarbert and Wissinger were lawfully employed as contract security personnel to guard private property, and turn away uninvited intruders. But they hadn’t been consecrated as members of the State’s punitive priesthood, and without that official unction they weren’t able to transubstantiate aggressive violence into “law enforcement.”

Despite the trappings of their profession, their formal training, and their state-issued licenses, Tarbert and Wissinger were Mundanes, and thus were not endowed with “qualified immunity” that would protect them from accountability for their act of criminal homicide. The blame for the incident was imputed to them, rather than to the unarmed, fleeing victim. They didn’t have standing to insist that Price had died “as a result of his actions,” as the Beavercreek PD claimed in the killing of unarmed John Crawford.

Owing to the fact that police are employed by the class that preys on property, they have no obligation to protect it against crime. Those who want that service have to pay for it out of their own resources, in addition to surrendering the taxes that are used to pay the police. There are at least three times as many private security and investigative specialists than government law enforcement agents in this country. Nearly all of them — apart from moonlighting police officers — confront genuine risks on behalf of their customers, and do so without the benefit of “qualified immunity.”

This means that when they screw up, private peace officers, unlike government-employed police, can be held accountable.

Tarbert and Wissinger were entirely within their rights to demand that Price leave privately owned property where he wasn’t welcome. In doing so they comported themselves as peace officers acting in defense of property rights. Unfortunately they decided to mimic the behavior of law enforcement personnel by attempting to detain Price, trying to humiliate him by ordering him to the ground, and then summarily executing him for disobeying their orders.

As District Attorney Heck observed, because the guards were not state-employed purveyors of violence, they had no “authority” to restrain, demean, threaten, or kill someone who hadn’t committed an act of criminal aggression but simply refused to “comply with their orders.” What neither he nor anyone else can rationally explain is why anybody can claim such authority.


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Ruin Is Our Future

by Paul Craig Roberts

Neoconservatives arrayed in their Washington offices are congratulating themselves on their success in using the Charlie Hebdo affair to reunite Europe with Washington’s foreign policy. No more French votes with the Palestinians against the Washington-Israeli position. No more growing European sympathy with the Palestinians. No more growing European opposition to launching new wars in the Middle East. No more calls from the French president to end the sanctions against Russia.

Do the neoconservatives also understand that they have united Europeans with the right-wing anti-immigration political parties? The wave of support for the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists is the wave of Marine Le Pen’s National Front, Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party, and Germany’s PEGIDA sweeping over Europe. These parties are empowered by the anti-immigration fervor that was orchestrated in order to reunite Europeans with Washington and Israel.

Once again the arrogant and insolent neoconservatives have blundered. Charlie Hebdo’s empowerment of the anti-immigration parties has the potential to revolutionize European politics and destroy Washington’s empire. See my weekend interview with King World News for my thoughts on this potential game-changer. http://kingworldnews.com/paul-craig-roberts-new-crisis-worse-russia-unleashing-black-swans-west/

The reports from the UK Daily Mail and from Zero Hedge that Russia has cut off natural gas deliveries to six European countries must be incorrect. These sources are credible and well-informed, but such a cut-off would have instantly produced political and financial turmoil of which there is no sign. Therefore, unless there is a news blackout, Russia’s action has been misunderstood.

We know something real has happened. Otherwise, EU energy official Maros Sefcovic would not be expressing such consternation. Although I am without any definite information, I believe I know what the real story is. Russia, tired of Ukraine’s theft of the natural gas that passes through the country on its way to delivery to Europe, has made a decision to route the gas to Turkey, thus bypassing Ukraine.

The Russian energy minister has confirmed this decision and added that if European countries wish to avail themselves of this gas supply, they must put in place the infrastructure or pipeline to bring the gas into their countries.

In other words, there is a potential for a cutoff in the future, but no cutoff at the present.

These two events–Charlie Hebdo and the Russian decision to cease delivering gas to Europe via Ukraine–should remind us that the potential for black swans, and unintended consequences of official decisions that can produce black swans, always exist. Not even the American “superpower” is immune from black swans.

There is as much circumstantial evidence that the CIA and French Intelligence are responsible for the Charlie Hebdo shootings as there is that the shootings were carried out by the two brothers whose ID was conveniently found in the alleged get-away car. As the French made certain that the brothers were killed before they could talk, we will never know what they had to say about the plot.

The only evidence we have that the brothers are guilty is the claim by the security forces. Every time I hear government claims without real evidence, I remember Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction,” Assad’s “use of chemical weapons,” and Iran’s “nuclear weapons program.” If a US National Security Advisor can conjure up out of thin air “mushroom clouds over an American city,” Cherif and Said Kouachi can be turned into killers. After all, they are dead and cannot protest.

If this was, and we will never know for certain, a false flag attack, it achieved Washington’s goal of reuniting Europe under Washington and Israeli auspices. But this success has an unintended consequence. The unintended consequence is to unify Europe under the anti-immigration policy of the right-wing parties, thus empowering the leaders of those parties.

If this surmise is correct, Marie Le Pen and Nigel Farage will find their lives and/or reputations in danger as Washington will resist the rise of European governments that do not adhere to Washington’s line.

The consternation caused by Russia’s decision to relocate its gas delivery to Europe is proof that Russia holds many cards that Russia could play that would bring down the political and financial structures of the Western World.

China holds similar cards.

The two countries are not playing their cards, because they do not think that they need them. Instead, the two powers are withdrawing from the Western financial system that serves Western hegemony over the world. They are creating all of the economic institutions that they need in order to be completely independent of the West.

Therefore, the Russian and Chinese governments reason, “Why be provocative and slap down the Western fools. They might resort to their nuclear weapons, and the entire world would be lost. Let’s just walk away while they encourage us to depart with their provocations.”

We can be thankful that Vladimir Putin and the leaders of the Chinese government are both intelligent and humane, unlike Western leaders.

Imagine, for example, the dire consequences for the West if Putin were to become personally involved as a result of the numerous affronts to both Russia and Putin himself. Putin can destroy NATO and the entire Western financial system whenever he wants. All he has to do is to announce that as NATO has declared economic war against Russia, Russia no longer sells energy to NATO members.

The NATO alliance would dissolve as Europe cannot survive without Russian energy supplies. Washington’s empire would end.

Putin realizes that the insolent neoconservatives would have to push the nuclear button in order to save face. Unlike Putin, their egos are on the line. Thus, Putin saves the world from nuclear war by not being provocative.

Now, imagine if the Chinese government were to lose its patience with Washington. To confront the “exceptional, indispensable, unipower” with the reality of its impotence, all China needs to do is to dump its massive dollar-denominated financial assets on the market, all at once, just as the Federal Reserve’s bullion bank agents dump massive uncovered gold contracts on the future’s market.

In order to avoid US financial collapse, the Federal Reserve would have to print massive amounts of new dollars with which to purchase the dumped Chinese holdings. As the Federal Reserve would protect US financial markets by purchasing the dumped Chinese holdings, the Chinese would lose nothing from the sale. It is the next step that is decisive. The Chinese government then dumps the massive holdings of dollars it has received from its selloff of dollar-dominated financial instruments.

Now what happens? The Fed can print dollars with which to purchase the dumped Chinese holdings, but the Fed cannot print foreign currencies with which to buy up the dumped dollars.

The massive supply of dollars dumped in the exchange market by China would have no takers. The dollar’s value would collapse. Washington could no longer pay its bills by printing money. Americans living in an import-dependent country, thanks to jobs offshoring, would be faced with high prices that would seriously erode their living standard. The United States would experience economic, social, and political instability.

Putting aside their brainwashing, their defensiveness and patriotic support of the regime in Washington, Americans need to ask themselves: How is it possible that the government of the United States, an alleged Superpower, is so unaware of its true vulnerabilities that Washington is capable of pushing two real powers until they have had enough and play the cards that they hold?

Americans need to understand that the only thing exceptional about the US is the ignorance of the population and the stupidity of the government.

What other country would let a handful of Wall Street crooks control its economic and foreign policy, run its central bank and Treasury, and subordinate citizens’ interests to the interests of the one percent’s pocketbook?

A population this insouciant is at the total mercy of Russia and China.

Yesterday there was a black swan event, an event that could yet unleash other black swan events. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-01-16/largest-retail-fx-broker-stock-crashes-90-swiss-contagion-spreads The Swiss central bank announced an end to its pegging of the Swiss franc to the euro and US dollar. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-01-15/its-tsunami-swiss-franc-soars-most-ever-after-snb-abandons-eurchf-floor-macro-hedge-

Three years ago flight from euros and dollars into Swiss francs pushed the exchange value of the franc so high that it threatened the existence of the Swiss export industries. Switzerland announced that any further inflows of foreign currencies into francs would be met by creating new francs to absorb the inflows so as not to drive up the exchange rate further. In other words, the Swiss pegged the franc.

Yesterday the Swiss central bank announced that the peg was off. The franc instantly rose in value. Stocks of Swiss export companies fell, and hedge funds wrongly positioned incurred major hits to their solvency.

Why did the Swiss remove the peg? It was not a costless action. It cost the central bank and Swiss export industries substantially.

The answer is that the EU attorney general ruled that it was permissible for the EU central bank to initiate Quantitative Easing–that is, the printing of new euros–in order to bail out the mistakes of the private bankers. This decision means that Switzerland expects to be confronted with massive flight from the euro and that the Swiss central bank is unwilling to print enough new Swiss francs to maintain the peg. The Swiss central bank believes that it would have to run the printing press so hard that the basis of the Swiss money supply would explode, far exceeding the GDP of Switzerland.

The money printing policy of the US, Japan, and apparently now the EU has forced other countries to inflate their own currencies in order to prevent the rise in the exchange value of their currencies that would curtail their ability to export and earn foreign currencies with which to pay for their imports. Thus Washington has forced the world into printing money.

The Swiss have backed out of this system. Will others follow, or will the rest of the world follow the Russians and Chinese governments into new monetary arrangements and simply turn their backs on the corrupt and irredeemable West?

The level of corruption and manipulation that characterizes US economic and foreign policy today was impossible in earlier times when Washington’s ambition was constrained by the Soviet Union. The greed for hegemonic power has made Washington the most corrupt government on earth.

The consequence of this corruption is ruin.

“Leadership passes into empire. Empire begets insolence. Insolence brings ruin.”

Ruin is America’s future.

Metal Can Heaters

Nigeria: Unraveling the Mystery of Boko Haram

Nigeria: Unraveling the Mystery of Boko Haram

Posted: January 28th, 2015 by Militant Libertarian

b5604_Oil-NigeriaJanuary 28, 2015 (Eric Draitser – Counterpunch) The most entertaining mysteries are the ones with compelling protagonists, enigmatic and often surreptitious antagonists, and surprising or shocking conclusions. Indeed, without these essential elements, one is unlikely to read the story at all. However, when it comes to politics and geopolitics, somehow our mass media storytellers – the scores of journalists, military and counter-terrorism ‘experts,’ and establishment mouthpieces – fail to even point us in the right direction. Not only do they not follow the threads of the story, they prefer to pretend they simply aren’t there.

And so it is with the great ‘mystery’ of Boko Haram, a group that in just a few years has become one of the most recognizable terrorist entities in the world. Having carried out heinous massacres of men, women, and children, abducted thousands of innocents, and destroyed whole towns, Boko Haram now symbolizes just that perfect blend of barbarism, religious and ideological fundamentalism, and non-white skin, which come together to cast them, in the eyes of westerners especially, as the manifestation of evil – the devil incarnate that can only be destroyed by the forces of righteousness. You know, the ‘good guys.’

But what happens when there are no ‘good guys’ to be found? What happens when you follow the story only to find the most cynical of intentions from every player involved? Such is the case with this Boko Haram story, and indeed the regional politics and geopolitics of West Africa as a whole.

In trying to unravel the labyrinthine web of political, economic, and strategic threads connecting a number of significant actors, it becomes clear that no analysis of Boko Haram is worth reading unless it approaches the issue from three distinctly different, yet intimately connected, angles.

First, there is Nigeria’s domestic politics, and the issue of Boko Haram and the perception of the government and opposition’s responsibility for the chaos it has wreaked. With elections scheduled to take place in February, Boko Haram and national security have, quite understandably, become dominant issues in the public mind. The mutual finger-pointing and accusations provide an important backdrop for understanding how Boko Haram fits both into the public discourse, and into the strategies of political networks behind the scenes in Nigeria, and the region more broadly.
Second is the all-important regional political and economic chessboard. In West Africa – an area rich in strategic resources – there are a few interested parties who stand to gain from Boko Haram’s ongoing attacks which amount to a destabilization of the entire Nigerian state. Nigeria’s neighbor Chad has recently come under heavy scrutiny from Nigeria’s military apparatus for its purported role in financing and facilitating Boko Haram’s expansion. Chad sees in Nigeria potential oil profits as it expands its own oil extraction capabilities throughout the Chad Basin – a geographical region that includes significant territory in Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Niger. Of course, major oil companies, not to mention powerful western nations such as France, have a vested interest in maintaining their profits from West African oil.

Finally and, perhaps most importantly, is the continental and global perspective. Nigeria, as Africa’s most dynamic economy, presents major opportunities and challenges for key global powers. For China, Nigeria represents one of its principal investment footholds in Africa. A key trading partner for Beijing, Nigeria has increasingly been moving out of the direct orbit of the West, transforming it from a reliable, if subservient, Western ally, into an obstacle to be overcome. Coinciding with these developments has been the continually expanding US military presence throughout Africa, one that is increasingly concentrated in West Africa, though without much media fanfare aside from the Ebola story.

The international media has seized on the heart-rending story of thegirls of Chibok – the ubiquitous #BringBackOurGirls meme – and for most people that is all they know about Boko Haram. However, such a superficial understanding of one of the most complex international stories in recent years does little to further the discourse, or bring about a resolution. Rather, a more nuanced understanding puts Boko Haram into a larger international context, one which can go a long way to dismantling the organization, and the air of mystery that surrounds it. While many of the details remain murky at best, with powerful players operating behind the scenes, the contours of a regional destabilization and a proxy war become discernible.

The Politics of Boko Haram

With national elections less than a month away, the competing factions of Nigeria’s political establishment are busily trying to scapegoat their opponents, with each side implying that the other is either in league with Boko Haram, or is deliberately trying to capitalize on the situation. The two major parties – the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) led by President Goodluck Jonathan, and the All Progressives Congress (APC) – have made Boko Haram into a political hot potato, passing it back and forth in hopes that voters will associate it with their opponent.

Last September, before Boko Haram once again made international headlines with their most recent offensives, the political mudslinging was already fierce. The Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party Councillors Forum, Collins Onogu stated that:

Most of those who have been rendered homeless in the North Eastern part of the country by Boko Haram are PDP members. What is their offence? The spokesperson of APC…has neglected his duty and he is now making statements on behalf of Boko Haram….APC has been using the media to blackmail President Goodluck Jonathan, their plan is to make the country ungovernable for him, they have plans of diverting the attention of Nigerians but it will not work out.

While Onogu’s characterization of the issue is certainly debatable, it is quite clear the PDP sees the issue of Boko Haram as a major political liability for their party, and for President Jonathan. It is for this reason that Collins and other PDP leaders have repeatedly threatened to “reveal the names of APC members sponsoring Boko Haram.” It’s entirely possible that the PDP might do this purely to sabotage their opponents in the campaign. However, it is equally true that the PDP is desperately trying to deflect the blame for a crisis that has developed while the Government has been under their control. Either way, the PDP is smearing the APC in order to guilt them by association.

Conversely, the APC has not only denied all the charges, they have made their own counter-claims, alleging that former high-ranking PDP officials are intimately involved in financing Boko Haram. John Oyegun, national chairman of the APC said in September 2014:

Dr. Stephen Davis, a man hired by the President Jonathan-led Federal Government to negotiate with Boko Haram for the release of the Chibok girls decided to speak out, believing the best way to tackle the insurgency is to expose the sponsors. And who are they?…he named former Borno Governor Ali Modu Sheriff and a former Army Chief, Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, as the sponsors of Boko Haram… The sponsors of Boko Haram are within the PDP and the Presidency. They are known friends of President Jonathan. He knows them and they know him.

These revelations, vehemently denied by the PDP and Nigerian President Jonathan’s administration, certainly raise important questions as to the networks supporting and financing Boko Haram, and when, where, and why they were originally organized. According to leaked intelligence information obtained by the Nigerian news outletPremium Times, the former governor of Borno State, and Goodluck Jonathan ally, Ali Modu Sheriff has been one of the principal financiers and organizers of Boko Haram, basing his operations out of Chad (more on Chad later). The dated communications obtained by Premium Times “painted a picture of what appears to be a powerful regional support structure involving the Chadian president, Nigerian officials and Niger Republic, and spearheaded by Mr. Sheriff whom the intelligence presents as a powerful figure within this circle.”

Add to this information the findings of a presidential panel commissioned by President Jonathan:

The Report traced the origin of private militias in Borno State in particular, of which Boko Haram is an offshoot, to politicians who set them up in the run-up to the 2003 general elections. The militias were allegedly armed and used extensively as political thugs. After the elections and having achieved their primary purpose, the politicians left the militias to their fate since they could not continue funding and keeping them employed. With no visible means of sustenance, some of the militias gravitated towards religious extremism, the type offered by Mohammed Yusuf.

Certainly there are a lot of questions to answer here. Is Sheriff simply a former ally who has since “gone rogue” and decided to establish his own private army to enrich himself and his foreign patron? Conversely, could it be that Sheriff continues to be connected, if perhaps only indirectly, with the government in Abuja? The communications between Sheriff’s network and Nigerian military officials as far back as 2011 does seem to suggest at least an indirect connection between them. As such, there is obviously a complex web of relations connecting various parties in Nigeria, as well as its neighbors, with Boko Haram.

According to a 2011 intelligence memo from field officers in Chad, “members of Boko Haram sect are sometimes kept in Abeche region in Chad and trained before being dispersed. This happens usually when Mr. Sheriff visits Abeche.” So, even the most conservative analysis would have to admit there is undeniably a connection between the domestic politics of Nigeria, especially within the ruling party, and international actors who have their own agenda. And it is those actors, and their motivations, that deserve careful analysis.

Regional Conflict, Resource War

West Africa’s vast riches have long since been a prize for colonial powers and post-colonial states alike. Nigeria alone has become a global player in terms of oil production – supplying at least 8 percent of US oil imports – though it is debatable whether that has been much of a blessing for the Nigerian people. Throughout the region, economic interests have been central to the policies and agendas of a number of states whose leaders have both dollar signs in their eyes, and hegemony on their minds. This has only accelerated in recent years, especially since the imperialist war that toppled former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, perhaps the single force in Africa providing stability, and keeping peripheral actors such as Chad, Niger, and others more or less in line. Naturally, Gaddafi’s impact was seen a bit differently by those rulers whose ambitions suffered because of it.

Perhaps no leader has been more ambitious in recent years than Chadian President Idriss Déby who has played a central role in the entire Boko Haram story, from accusations that his government has provided them safe haven, to his possibly genuine, possibly disingenuous attempts to broker a ceasefire between the terror group and the Nigerian government. He has been linked with the aforementioned Ali Modu Sheriff, the alleged mastermind of the Boko Haram network. Intelligence information from a number of sources does seem to point to a direct connection. In addition, a 2009 US diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks revealed that:

A well-trained veteran Chadian extremist, Abu-Mahjin, who has limited ties to al-Qa’ida associates, recently traveled to Nigeria. He may be planning to conduct or facilitate a terrorist operation…recent tearline stated, ‘Nigerian-based probable Chadian extremist is keen to obtain more funds…it is not clear when he will receive this additional finance.’

Could it be that Abu-Mahjin acted as a de facto intermediary between certain elements in Nigeria and Chad? It is certainly plausible that, at the very least, the connection between Chad and Boko Haram goes back to the very transformation of that organization into a terrorist entity.

But what can Chad offer? And why would they?

To answer the former question, one must dive into recent history to see how Déby came to power. Curiously enough, his rise to the presidency was directly thanks to Gaddafi who, after years of war with Chad – war in which Déby himself led troops against Libyan forces – backed Déby against the former government of Hissène Habré who had been hosting a number of anti-Gaddafi Libyans with close ties to US intelligence, such as the once again relevant General Hifter. As Time magazine noted in 2001, “While the full scope of Déby’s relationship with Gaddafi remains hazy, it is known that Libya equipped Déby’s army with as many as 200 Toyota land cruisers fitted with 23-mm Soviet-made cannons.” It is quite likely that the military backing for Déby went far deeper than what is being acknowledged here.

In any event, the NATO-led war that toppled Gaddafi in 2011 radically changed the political character of the region. Suddenly, someone like Déby could pursue his own regional ambitions without the ever-watchful eye of Gaddafi who stood against any forces that sought to destabilize West Africa in the service of western corporations. With a long-established network of weapons and fighter smuggling, Chad became a major transit point for many of the weapons (and fighters) streaming out of Libya by the end of 2011. While much of the military hardware went through the Sahel region, likely into the arms of the equally shadowy Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), it is probable that a significant amount of it went to Chad. The long-standing ties with elements of the Libyan military only increase the likelihood that Chad became a refuge and/or conduit for countless weapons and fighters.

So, as Libya collapsed, and weapons and fighters came streaming out, Chad all of a sudden found itself in a position of strength, able to finally pursue an agenda to enrich itself, or at least enrich Déby and the clique around him. But what is it that he wants?

In recent years, oil discoveries throughout the Chad Basin have transformed how the states of West Africa view their economic future. At the heart of the basin is Lake Chad, surrounded by the nations of Chad, Cameroon, and Niger. According to a 2010 assessment from the US Geological Survey (USGS), the Chad Basin has “estimated mean volumes of 2.32 billion barrels of oil, 14.65 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, 391 million barrels of natural gas liquids.” The potential size of these resources certainly has whet a few palettes, both in the region and internationally.

All the countries of the basin have expressed strong desire in recent years to begin exploiting the energy reserves there. However, thus far, Nigeria has been unable to do so due to the Boko Haram insurgency.EP (Exploration Production), the publication of Hart Energy, noted in March 2014:

Hopes of stepping up oil exploration in Nigeria’s Lake Chad Basin have been dashed by the brutal attacks of Islamic Boko Haram and the Ansaru sect terrorists in the country’s northeastern region…Between 2011 and 2013 the Nigerian government provided $240 million to facilitate oil and gas exploration activities in the Lake Chad Basin…Oil prospecting in the Lake Chad Basin was “yielding promising results and may lead to commercial exploration of oil and gas this year,” Nigeria’s Vice President Namadi Sambo said in 2013…But the deadly activities of the Boko Haram insurgents halted plans.

So, while Nigeria is forced to put the brakes on its oil exploration and development in the Chad Basin, its neighbors, most notably Chad, continue theirs. As Dr. Peregrino Brimah explained, “The Boko Haram insurgency has conveniently provided Chad, under the government of Idriss Déby, unfettered access to oil under Nigeria’s soils through 3D oil drilling from within its territorial borders, which the country exports.” So, in true Daniel Plainview “I drink your milkshake” style, Déby has engaged in siphoning off Nigeria’s oil wealth, and exporting it for massive profits for himself and his cronies. But of course, Chad is not alone in this endeavor, as it has company from Cameroon and Niger, both of whom are doing precisely the same thing.

Standing above and behind this practice is the former colonial power France – the one-time colonial master of Chad, Cameroon, and Niger. Today, France’s dominant role continues as its port of Le Havre is the final destination for the unrefined oil extracted from under the feet of West Africans. Needless to say, there are very powerful interests both in Africa and Europe who want to ensure that the flow of their precious oil continues unabated. Moreover, they will do anything to prevent the major oil exporting power of the region, namely Nigeria, from being able to cut in on their action.

And this regional rivalry is, at least in part, the reason why Boko Haram really has the potential to spark international conflict. Last October, after Nigerian military forces launched an offensive against Boko Haram, the ensuing battle spilled across the Nigeria-Cameroon border where, depending on who you believe, either Nigerian forces retreated, or they pursued Boko Haram suspects. In total, 107 Boko Haram militants were killed, along with 8 Cameroonian military officers and dozens of civilians. In this way, the resource war is transmogrified into a shooting war. The destabilization of the entire region is not far off from that.

It is precisely this danger of a regional destabilization that has so many observers around the world biting their nails. The obvious danger is that West Africa could become, like the Sahel and most of North Africa, a locus of extremism and terror. However, the most pressing question of all is why. In whose interest is it to see the whole region destabilized? What is the global and geopolitical context for understanding these decidedly complex and interconnected issues?

Part 2 of this article will examine the geopolitical and strategic context within which these events should be understood. It will detail how the US and certain European powers are exploiting the situation for their own gain.

Eric Draitser is the founder of StopImperialism.com. He is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City. You can reach him at ericdraitser@gmail.com.

Article source: http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2015/01/nigeria-unraveling-mystery-of-boko-haram.html


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A Peace Officer Defies the “Blue Tribe”: The Exile of Officer Cariol Horne

A Peace Officer Defies the “Blue Tribe”: The Exile of Officer Cariol Horne

Posted: January 26th, 2015 by Militant Libertarian

by William N. Grigg

Horne with attorneysDavid Mack was dying of strangulation in front of his horrified teenage sons while nearly a dozen Buffalo Police Officers looked on with indifference. The man who was killing Mack, Gregory Kwiatowski, was a member of their privileged tribe. The other cops at the scene understood that their duty was to protect the assailant, rather than to aid the victim.

“My father was laying there blue, I ain’t never seen him like that,” Wesley Mack later testified in court. “A lady cop went up to him and said, `Chill, Greg, you’re choking him,’ and she pulled his arm and he jumped up and popped her.”

“Get the hell off me, you black bitch!” snarled the uniformed embodiment of all that is good and decent, slugging the female officer in the face.

Mack had been arrested by Officer Anthony Porzio for “contempt of cop” after exchanging words with Officer Paul Sobkowiak, who had responded to a domestic disturbance report. A postal carrier told Sobkowiak that Mack had been withholding Social Security checks from his ex-girlfriend, who still received her mail at the address.

Sobkowiak called for backup and a throng of officers converged on the home. Commanded to turn over the check, Mack went into his house and retrieved what he claimed was all of the mail he had received that day. After the cops accused him of concealing the check, Mack told them to leave him alone. Defiance of that kind from a Mundane is impermissible, of course, so Sobkowiak attacked Mack, as did Kwiatowski and every other officer on the scene.

“Where one acts, all must follow,” is the unwritten but binding code of the Blue Tribe.

Horne was among the cops who responded to an “officer in distress” call. She didn’t see the initial assault, but when she arrived at the address she helped drag Mack out of the house. Like all police officers, she had been programmed to follow the code of the Blue Tribe without hesitation. Kwiatowski’s conduct caused Horne’s resilient human decency to rebel and overcome that programming.

Once Mack had been handcuffed, Kwiatowski decided to inflict summary punishment for the impermissible act of resisting arrest, beating the prone and helpless 59-year-old man. The assault quickly escalated to attempted murder as Kwiatowski turned Mack around and sank a chokehold.

There were, once again, nearly a dozen police officers on the scene. Horne – a tiny black woman who was roughly half Kwiatowski’s size — was the only one who assumed the role of peace officer by intervening to prevent the murder of an innocent man. The use of lethal force would have been justified, but Horne – once again acting as a peace officer – used proportionate force, even though in doing so she exposed herself to risk.

“I thought whatever happened in the house [Kwiatokski] was still upset about so when he didn’t stop choking him I just grabbed his arm from around Neal’s neck,” Horne recalled in a recent television interview. “He comes up and punches me in the face and I had to have my bridge replaced.”

Mack, who survived the assault, was hit with the predictable assortment of cover charges, which were just as predictably dismissed. Cariol Horne was charged with “obstruction” for supposedly “jumping on Officer Kwiatowski’s back and/or striking him.”

Kwiatowski himself admitted that although Horne intervened, “she never got on top of me.” The charge filed against her was as spurious as those lodged against Mack, and they served precisely the same purpose – namely, providing pseudo-legal cover for an act of official retaliation.

Horne, who eventually was fired as a result of the charge, was “obstructing” an attempted murder. She was upholding the law in the face of privileged lawlessness. Her experience uncannily echoes that of Regina Tasca, another veteran female officer who was purged from the force for “obstructing” criminal violence inflicted on a prone and helpless victim by a fellow cop, and that of Ramon Perez, who was punished by the Austin Police Department for refusing to carry out an unlawful order to use his Taser on a non-violent elderly suspect.

Significantly, the Buffalo City Government waited until May 2008 to terminate Horne. At the time she was two months from retirement, which means that she lost her pension. Among the “charges” upheld against Horne was the accusation that she had impermissibly told her story to the media.

Mack and his son Wesley, who was also arrested during the November 2006 police riot at their home, filed a civil suit against the police who assaulted and abducted them. A six-member jury ruled against them – five white jurors siding with the officers, the sole black panelist with the black plaintiffs.

Kwiatowski filed a defamation suit against Horne, which he won because the former officer — a single mother with young children to support – was too busy earning a living to appear in court. Horne found employment in the productive sector as a truck driver, an honorable profession that is considerably more dangerous that law enforcement.

When he wasn’t seeking revenge in the courts, Kwiatowski earned a promotion to Lieutenant through the conduct Horne had attempted to stop. He was eventually allowed to retire – with a full pension – at age 46 after several other episodes of criminal violence, including one in which he assaulted an off-duty NFTA Officer. That attack, appropriately occurred at a restaurant following a police union dinner. The victim admonished some of his comrades for being loud, vulgar, and abusive, and warned that other patrons were capturing the event on their cell phones. This violated the unwritten rules of the Blue Tribe, and Kwiatowsky inflicted what he considered to be the appropriate punishment.

Several months ago, Kwiatowski and three current members of the Buffalo PD were indicted by a federal grand jury for civil rights violations allegedly committed in 2009. Even apart from his subsidized retirement, Kwiatowski remains a burden on Buffalo’s tax victims.

Renewed scrutiny of Kwiatowski’s behavior was prompted, in part, by the suspension of Buffalo PD Officer Robert Eloff last May. Eloff was put on paid vacation after the department’s internal affairs division began investigating his role in a near-fatal assault on an Air National Guardsman at Molly’s Pub, a bar where Eloff was paid $25 an hour to moonlight as a security guard.

The victim, William Sager, suffered a traumatic brain injury after being pushed down a flight of stairs by the pub’s manager. Surveillance tape from the bar reportedly shows Eloff and the manager going into the room where the recording equipment is kept just shortly before the video went dark. Rather than rendering aid to the victim, Eloff – in keeping with his training – handcuffed him in the interest of “officer safety.” A friend of the victim called 911 to report that they were being abused and harassed by Eloff and fellow Buffalo PD Officer Adam O’Shei, who was also working as a bouncer.

It should be understood that Eloff didn’t take a second job out of financial necessity. The 39-year-old tax-consumer was paid $106,300 last year, of which nearly $23,000 was overtime awarded for appearing in court. Eloff has long been regarded as one of the Buffalo PD’s most “productive” officers on account of his propensity for making arrests in volume, which – as his compensation figures demonstrate – is a singularly lucrative racket.

Eloff was also involved in the recent gang-beating of a man named Christopher Kozak, who was set upon by a thugscrum of at least a half-dozen Buffalo PD officers – and then left in a bloody heap on the sidewalk without being arrested or charged with an offense.

Amid these accumulating incidents of criminal depravity, Horne has renewed her campaign for vindication – not merely for self-interested reasons, but also to protect the public from the entitled, costumed bullies who prowl their streets.

“If the message they want to give is that an officer is going to be fired if they stop [abuse], then that’s the wrong message,” Horne observes. Of course, that is precisely the intended message: A police officer who attempts to strangle a handcuffed and defenseless man can expect a promotion, but an officer who carries out her legal duty to prevent that murder can expect to be assaulted, criminally charged, and financially ruined.

The treatment endured by Cariol Horne provides some necessary context to the police murder of Eric Garner. Some authoritarian-minded commentators, seeking to defend that crime as a necessary vindication of “law” in the face of defiance, have sought to deflect the blame from Officer Daniel Pantaleo to his “black, female supervisor” – the latter description lacquered with facile irony by people desperate to define such issues in terms of racial collectivism.

The officer who was an accessory to the murder of Eric Garner achieved that position because she had been faithful to what former LAPD Officer Mike Rothmiller calls “the code of the Blue Tribe: When one acted, all must follow.”

Government law enforcement, as an institution, is defined by that ethic, which is why it cannot be reformed.


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