A Day in the Life of a Free Country -- Not!

by William Blum


"It's a free country."


The thought comes with mother's milk.


"It's a free country."


How many times does someone growing up in the United States

have to hear those words before it settles comfortably, deep in

the "received truth" lobe of the brain?


"It's a free country."


There is, in fact, a lot to be said in defense of this

cliché. But a lot less than most Americans would like to

believe. Overtly and covertly, legally and illegally, the

military-industrial complex has joined forces with the prison-

industrial complex, linked further to the omnipresent national

security-police complex, all clasping hands tightly with the War

on Drugs, in a declaration of War on the American People. This

Authority Juggernaut -- enamored with its own perpetuation,

glorification, and enrichment -- has convinced the American

public that without its storm troopers all hell would break loose

and the safety and security of the citizenry would be on a life-

support machine. In this dubious undertaking, it has had the

indispensable assistance of intimidated legislatures, a compliant

media, and a president who -- in the words of civil-liberties

columnist Nat Hentoff -- has done more "damage to constitutional

liberties" than any previous president.


On any given day, a day like today in fact, or one during

last month, or last year, much of the following -- all of it

derived directly from actual happenings or disclosures of the

past few years -- is taking place somewhere in the United States.

Time and again we have been assured that certain practices have

been terminated, only to discover that -- perhaps with slight

modifications -- they are still being carried out.


It should be noted that what is presented herein deals

essentially with violations of civil liberties and human rights,

and does not include the numerous forms of corporate abuse which

are solely or primarily economic in nature or which adversely

affect people's health.



None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely

believe they are free.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe



* Heavily armed bounty hunters, with the force of law behind

them, are using a sledgehammer to smash in a door and invade

a private home, firing shots, handcuffing people, frightening

children, spraying mace, kidnaping people, sometimes killing

someone, sometimes the "wrong" person.


* In hundreds of American cities, young people are being

subjected to a nighttime curfew law; many have a daytime curfew

as well.


* In every state, the National Guard and, at times, active-duty

army troops, are conducting relentless low-level helicopter drug

surveillance over people's homes and property, setting up

roadblocks, interrogating, detaining, harassing, and terrifying

residents with displays of excessive power.


* The CIA, FBI and other federal agencies are ignoring subpoenas

for documents issued by attorneys who need them for the defense

of their clients in national security cases in state courts.


* US residents are undergoing assorted harassments and penalties

from the federal government for having traveled to and spent

money in Cuba, Libya or Iraq, or for shipping various goods to

those countries or to North Korea, Angola, Burma, Iran, Sudan, or

Syria. The CIA is opening and reading mail to and from selected

countries. The FBI is peeking at our correspondence, domestic

and international, for a host of its own priorities.


* The National Security Agency (NSA) is intercepting messages

between people in the United States and people overseas: email,

fax, telex, telephone, microwave -- if it has electrons that

move, the NSA is there -- without necessarily having cause to

believe that dangerous foreign agents are involved.

The NSA and other components of the national security

establishment are striving, with marked success so far, to

require telecommunications manufacturers and carriers to design

their networks to optimize the authorities' wiretapping ability,

and to impose a national civilian cryptography standard designed

to allow the government to decode encrypted communications at


Government agencies are running "anonymous re-mailers", the

Internet entities which allow people to send email without

revealing their true email address. Users of these particular

re-mailing services have no idea that their partner in privacy

protection is a government spook of some kind.


* In Western states, police and federal Border Patrol agents, are

stopping pedestrians and motorists purely because they look

Latino, and asking them to prove that they're lawful residents of

the United States.


* Private corporations are recording employees' phone calls and

voice mail, reading their computer files and email, counting the

number of their keystrokes per minute, peeping at what they have

on their screens, videotaping them as they work, observing them

in bathrooms with hidden cameras, subjecting them to airport-style

electronic searches, testing their urine for drugs, doing

extensive security checks on their backgrounds -- all this

whether or not they have ever behaved poorly on the job, or

whether their work involves any danger to anyone.


* At the Naval Academy in Annapolis, a random group of about 300

students is having to undergo urinalysis each week.


* The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is keeping up to

date its list of aliens and radicals who will be rounded up and

detained in times of "national emergency".


* Criminal charges are being brought against women for delivering

a controlled substance to their fetuses, even if the baby is

perfectly normal at birth.


* Government agencies and private corporations are not giving gay

couples or unmarried heterosexual couples the same benefits they

offer married heterosexual couples. Homosexuals are being

discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation,

without being charged with any misbehavior.


* Chinese refugees whose ship ran aground in New York in 1993 are

still being held in US prisons. Cubans who arrived in Florida by

sea years ago are still being held in federal prisons without

being charged with a crime in the United States.


* Task forces of international, federal, military, state, and

local law enforcement and intelligence agencies, as well as

private entities, are employing increased interaction, abundant

funds, new laws, new technologies, and new octopus-like data

bases to spy on and harass activists of many stripes: Irish and

Middle-East support groups, human rights, immigrants' rights,

civil liberties, prison reform, minorities, labor, environmental,

animal rights, nuclear power, and anti-imperialism, even if there

is no evidence of violence or any illegal activities. The FBI

and police are noting license plate numbers of people attending

meetings and demonstrations, photographing people, paying

informers to infiltrate groups, breaking into offices to steal

mailing and contributor lists, rifling through files, and

carrying out "harassment arrests" (i.e., charges later dropped).

Individual members of these groups are receiving FBI visits at

their homes and workplaces, or the Bureau is sending anonymous

letters to the person's colleagues implying that s/he is actually

an informer, as well as assorted poison-pen letters to employers,

landlords, and spouses designed to produce optimal distress.


* Airport passengers are being detained and missing flights

because they fit a "terrorist profile" based on their

nationality, ethnicity, appearance, airport behavior, travel

itinerary, and other criteria.


* The FBI is urging librarians to report on the books taken out

by patrons with foreign-sounding names, particularly scientific

and technical books. (When this program was first revealed, the

FBI proceeded to do checks on the critics of it.)


* The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is demanding that a

bookstore provide it with the names of people who bought a

marijuana cultivation book.


* The police are confiscating the cars of customers of

prostitutes, sometimes after a female police officer has lured

the man into offering her money for sex. It matters not if the

car does not belong to the man.


* Women desiring an abortion are finding various daunting

obstacles placed in their path by state and federal authorities.


* The FBI is carrying out a sting operation in order to arrest a

black elected official regarded as too charismatic or "uppity".


* People are being rejected for housing and employment because of

their race.


* Foreign academics and activists are being refused entry to the

US to attend a conference due to their ideology and/or the

ideology of the conference not being to the liking of the US

State Department.


* Language minorities are facing discrimination and hostility

from the "English Only" movement.


* US government agents provocateurs are encouraging some people,

as in the World Trade Center bombing or within militia groups, to

carry out a bombing or other terrorist act.


* The judge sentences you to prison. Then the prison officials

sentence you to hell ... Prisoners are being handcuffed or

hogtied and forced to lap their food like dogs from plates shoved

under their faces ... non-violent drug offenders thrown in with

dangerous murderers, rapists, and robbers, despite court orders

to segregate them ... guards kicking inmates in the groin,

siccing dogs on them ... female prisoners being raped by guards,

male prisoners slain, with impunity ... guards using tear gas,

pepper spray and Mace against prisoners in handcuffs or locked in

their cells ... prisoners not protected from assaults, physical

and sexual, by other prisoners ... kept in shackles, belly

chains, and handcuffs at all times when outside their cells, even

in the shower ... chain gangs resurrected ... guards who report

abuses risk reprisals from prison officials.


* The 1.5 million people incarcerated in the US are increasingly

seeing their rights and privileges taken away or seriously

curtailed in regard to academic classes, vocational training,

sports, exercise, prison law libraries, access to free legal

advice, ease of appealing their cases, and access to media. They

are being charged for meals, forbidden to receive packages,

forced to shave off beards and long hair and remove earrings;

their phone use is limited to one 10-minute call every 15 days,

visits to one hour a month, visiting family members treated

rudely and subjected to humiliating searches and disrobings;

prisoners are being transferred to other prisons very far from

their families. HIV-positive and terminally ill prisoners denied

special care, asthmatics not monitored, those on anti-psychotic

medications miss their doses, hyperintensives cannot get proper

diets; confined to cells for all but a few hours a week; women's

sex acts photographed by guards, women taken off the grounds to

work as prostitutes; prisoners of both genders kept naked or in

their underwear, and monitored by the opposite sex; lights on in

cells 24 hours a day.


* In a new prison being built 3,000 feet up in Big Stone Gap,

Virginia, windows in each cell command spectacular views of the

valley below. Prison officials are planning to smoke the windows

so inmates can't see out.


* Motorists are being stopped on highways for drug checks, blacks

and Latinos being the most likely to be stopped because of the

race-based drug courier profile being employed. Blacks and

Latinos returning from abroad are also more likely to be singled

out by US Customs or Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS}

officials for interrogation and searching.


* Intercity busses and trains are being boarded by DEA agents to

conduct searches of passengers' belongings. Passengers are

assured that it's all "voluntary".


* In the Miami area and sections of New Jersey, those who don't

toe the anti-Castro party line are being subjected to a wide

range of abuses. Suggesting a rapprochement with Cuba, calling

for an end to the US embargo, arranging for travel to the island,

shipping medicines there, etc., has on hundreds of occasions led

to bombings, shootings, death threats, murder, beatings, being

driven out of business, fired from a job, forced off the air.

Perpetrators of these acts have enjoyed a virtual immunity from

prosecution by the US government.


* In contrast to Washington's hands-off treatment for anti-Castro

terrorists (perhaps the longest lasting and most prolific

terrorist group in the world), under the Antiterrorism and

Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, there are 30 foreign

"terrorist" organizations which are held in official disdain.

(The list, unduly influenced by political criteria, also does not

include the CIA clients, the Afghan mujahadeen, perpetrators of

heinous acts of terrorism all over the world, including the US.)

The law prohibits persons from "knowingly providing material

support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist

organization". Thus it is that donating toys to an orphanage

operated by Hamas in Jordan, or books to a school run by a

Kurdish independence organization, or collecting money for the

families of Irish prisoners can be regarded as "association with

a known terrorist organization", and be subject to federal


Under this legislation, tens of thousands of legal US

residents, many here for a decade or more, with families and

children born in the US, are being deported or being refused

re-entry into the country because of such associations, or because

they were once convicted of a crime, even though they've served

their sentence, and regardless of how long ago it was; many were

convicted of misdemeanors for which no sentence was imposed other

than probation of one year, but that is sufficient for expulsion.

The INS formerly could look at individual cases and keep out only

people judged potentially dangerous. Now, regardless of all

other circumstances, the person must be deported. Sometimes they

are apprehended and deported when they apply for citizenship.


* The INS is bursting into the home of Palestinians, legally

resident in the US, and dragging them out for distributing the

magazine of a Palestinian organization or raising funds for

various Palestinian causes which are not involved with violence.

They will be incarcerated for an indefinite term, with an

indefinite fate, without criminal charges being filed against

them. (Aliens, the Justice Department has long believed, do not

have the full protection of the Bill of Rights.)


* Various kinds of government agents or private investigators are

covertly checking through your garbage, either behind your house

or at the dump.


* A Federal judge is sentencing an American citizen to six months

in a "halfway house" and 300 hours of community service because

he drove a Libyan official, who had been denied a visa, from

Mexico to Texas, or in some equally innocuous way, treated a

citizen from an ODE (Officially Designated Enemy) country with

simple human dignity.


* The police are beating up and arresting strikers and escorting

scab workers into plants, thus taking the side of the employer,

as the police have done virtually without exception during 150

years of industrial conflict in the United States.

Corporations are using many of the more than 10,000 private

security firms, which employ some 1.5 million guards, to suppress

strike action and intimidate union organizers.


* Law enforcement officers in northern California, taking the

side of logging interests once again, are pressing cotton swabs

saturated with pepper spray into the eyes of non-violent people

chained to each other, who are protesting the felling of ancient

redwoods; protestors are shrieking and writhing in pain as the

solution takes effect.

People are dying in police custody in cases where pepper

spray -- 600 times hotter than cayenne pepper -- is a

contributing factor.


* Banks, telephone companies, utility companies, credit card

companies, and other private institutions are providing various

local, state and federal authorities with all the information

about you they desire.


* Scenarios along the lines of the following from Savannah, Ga,

are probably taking place elsewhere: Without warning, a team of

armed county and school system officers periodically entered the

schools, ordered everyone into the hallways, used dogs to sniff

the students' belongings, and scanned the students' bodies with

metal detectors. One of the high-school teachers was very upset

by this -- "Because I teach the Constitution", she explained --

and made her feelings known to the authorities. A police officer

told her principal that because of her "attitude" problem, she

might have to be detained or restrained during future surprise

raids. During a subsequent raid, the teacher's son was the only

student out of 1,500 to be individually searched. Later, cars in

the parking lot were searched, and the police claimed to have

found a marijuana cigarette in the teacher's car. The Board of

Education suspended her and she was later fired.


* In various schools: a student is being suspended for bringing a

bottle of the nonprescription painkiller Advil to school; another

suspended for giving a classmate a Midol tablet for relief of

menstrual cramps; another, a six-year-old boy, for bringing

"drugs" to school -- lemon drops; another for bringing a gift-

wrapped bottle of wine as a Christmas gift for his teacher; yet

another punished for carrying a small paring knife to cut her

lunch fruit; a six-year-old boy sent home for planting a kiss on

a girl's cheek; eight-year-old girls strip searched in school,

looking for stolen money (not found); and a high school is

employing random Breathalyser testing to ferret out students who

have imbibed alcohol.

A high-school teacher is being suspended without pay for

teaching mathematics using real-life problems, such as:"Jerome

wants to cut his half-pound of heroin to make 20 percent more

profit. How many ounces of cut will be needed?"


* Juveniles in reform schools are being hogtied and thrown into

isolation cells for weeks at a time; placed in straightjackets;

standing with noses pressed against a wall for as long as 16

hours a day; handcuffed naked to beds.


* Drunk driving, generally defined 15 years ago as a blood

alcohol concentration of .15, was later defined as .10, and now

Congress is pushing for .08. If .08 doesn't do, will Congress go

for .06, and then .04?


* People are being harassed, arrested, and/or having their

property confiscated for engaging in certain forms of gambling,

even in their own homes. Other forms of gambling, which are

legitimized by the local or state government, proceed happily



* Over 100 political prisoners are rotting away in American

prisons. As US-based human rights groups have testified before

the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations in Geneva,

these people are being held "as a direct result of actions

undertaken in furtherance of a political or social vision". Many

go back to the black liberation struggles of the 1960s and 70s,

others are native American or anti-nuclear activists, opponents

of US interventionist policies in Puerto Rico, Central America,

and elsewhere, policies that are illegal under domestic and

international law. A number of these prisoners were set up by

FBI dirty tricks under the notorious COINTELPRO (counter-

intelligence program), aimed at "neutralizing" Black Panthers and

white radicals.

Many have used violence against property, and a few toward

police, but persons who commit politically motivated offenses in

furtherance of leftist causes receive substantially, often

shockingly, harsher treatment than those who commit similar acts

for monetary or right-wing reasons. Many were sentenced to more

than 50 years for actions, such as possession of explosives, in

which no one was hurt.

The Congressional Black Caucus, in October 1997, issued a

declaration to remind the world of the existence of these

political prisoners.


* Aliens who have come to the US from oppressive countries,

seeking political asylum, are wasting away in prison under

intolerable conditions, without criminal charges being filed

against them, some dying because of unattended health problems,

forgotten about until perhaps Amnesty International or some other

human rights organization takes up their case. The FBI and the

INS are using secret evidence -- which neither the accused nor

his attorney has a right to examine -- to detain these people and

ultimately deport them, even if they are married to an American

citizen. The aliens are often those who decried human rights

abuses in their home country and fled torture and other

retribution from their government, which may be putting pressure

on Washington to silence and return them by providing the

evidence in question. (As of fall 1997, the INS was holding more

than 10,000 asylum seekers. Many may be regarded as political



* The Boy Scouts are rejecting some young person as a member

because she or he is an atheist, or rejecting an adult as a troop

leader because the person is homosexual.


* Support groups for persons suing the President of the United

States for sexual harassment are experiencing break-ins,

wiretaps, stolen files, and tampering with the office alarm



* Some of the more than 10,000 FBI agents are spending their time

enticing people on the internet to purchase child porno, or the

G-men are pretending online to be a 13-year-old girl in order to

lure a man to a meeting. When the man shows up, he's arrested.


* Many foreigners, in the US legally, are sitting in prisons,

charged with a crime, without their country's consulate having

been informed, without the prisoner being told that he has the

right to contact his consulate. Some of them are sitting on

death row.


* The IRS, acting as judge, jury and executioner, is subjecting

innocent taxpayers to nightmarish collection processes, ordering

them to pay taxes they don't owe, failing to credit them for

payments made, seizing their cars and bank accounts, boosting tax

penalties to meet office quotas, and generally wreaking havoc in

peoples' lives; an audit is being carried out upon an individual

because he has upset someone in a very high position in the



* First-time drug offenders, carrying no weapons, including many

who were simply couriers or played peripheral roles in drug

trafficking, and others with no record of violence or involvement

in sophisticated criminal activity, are being sentenced to very

long prison terms, with no chance of parole. Approximately 70%

of federal inmates are confined on drug charges.


* Those wishing to experiment with their mind in the privacy of

their home, those seeking transcendence and nirvana, are being

punished by the state for their sin. Young men are being

sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for possession of less than

a gram of LSD, with no evidence presented of them having done any

harm to any other person.


* Human Rights Watch is charging New York and other states of

violating international law by sentencing drug dealers to prison

terms similar to those given to violent offenders. A person

convicted in New York of selling two ounces of cocaine receives a

mandatory sentence of 15 years to life, the same penalty meted

out to a murderer.


* More states are joining the frenzy to make publicly available

the names, addresses, and photos of convicted sex offenders for

the rest of their lives, driving these people from their

neighborhoods and jobs, regardless of whether the popular a

priori view of sex offenders being untreatable is true or not, or

whether they're undergoing therapy or not.


* Hundreds, if not thousands, of school books are being dropped

from curriculums because of complaints by parents, religious

groups and others. Many books in public libraries are under

attack as well, books which no one is obliged to read -- Catcher

in the Rye, Huckleberry Finn, Oliver Twist, The Grapes of Wrath,

The Diary of Anne Frank, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and

numerous other lesser known novels, as well as countless books of

history, social studies, geography, even home economics. School

newspapers, other curriculum materials, music, and art, are also

being targeted.


* The Smithsonian Museum is altering a planned exhibit because

certain groups feel that it portrays the United States in a

negative light, such as happened with the "Enola Gay" exhibit,

which had the historical context and the human consequences of

the dropping of the A-bomb airbrushed out of the picture. Now

the museum's planned exhibit on American sweatshops, 1820 to the

present, is under attack by the garment industry.


* Individuals who wish to end their lives with dignity and with a

minimum of suffering are being denied the assistance of a doctor

by state legislatures, the Catholic Church, and citizens' groups.

In Oregon, after passage by 60 percent of a referendum allowing

doctor-assisted suicide, the DEA warned that physicians who help

someone commit suicide will risk their licenses to write


Most people who could get exceedingly welcome relief from

dreadful symptoms by the use of marijuana are denied the legal

right to do so.


* Hundreds of cities, small as well as large, are employing

highly armed and trained Special Weapons and Tactics Teams

(SWAT), based on military special operations models, ready to

terrorize the citizenry with tanks and grenade launchers, called

out even in non-crisis situations.


* A known militant but non-violent opponent of the president is

being removed by the Secret Service from a site where the

president is going to speak, then released after the speech.


* Young men are registering with Selective Service, making

themselves subject to be drafted for a future "national

emergency" -- as defined solely by the government, no opposing

arguments accepted. Failure to register is punishable by a large

fine, imprisonment, and/or permanent loss of all federal

financial aid and employment. Those in the service are risking

death in combat, while the military is busy breaking down their

deep-seated reluctance to kill people they don't know and don't

hate. They are also being forced, under threat of court martial,

and in violation of international human rights standards, to take

experimental drugs and vaccines, whose effects on health are



* Aliens are being denied citizenship for refusing to agree to

bear arms in defense of the United States because of their

pacifist beliefs, a reason not acceptable to the INS, which

insists on a religious basis.

For a citizen to qualify as a conscientious objector, it

means being opposed to participation in all wars, not a selective

objection to a particular war, no matter how repulsive it may

appear to an individual. (A female Kansas doctor, who was an

Army Reserve captain, and refused to serve in the Gulf War,

insisting that it was a "public health catastrophe", was kept in

military prison for eight months, and Kansas medical authorities

moved to revoke her medical license.)


* DEA, ATF, INS, FBI, DIA, Secret Service, US Forest Service,

National Park Service, Sheriff's Department, National Guard,

and/or other official cowboys, wearing black suits, ski masks,

and the like, forming massively armed mobs of screaming, swearing

agents, helicopters chopping above, battering down doors, raiding

people's homes, smashing up furniture, handcuffing residents,

manhandling pregnant women, terrifying children, separating them

from their parents, beating up residents, shooting them dead,

looking for drugs or individuals which often are not there --

this jihad the outcome of no more than a tip from an informant.

Operators of "pirate" radio stations are also being invaded,

with FCC agents, federal marshals, a SWAT team, customs agents,

and local police comprising the attacking force.


* Forced labor is thriving: people compelled to work off their

welfare grants, with no prospect of real employment, sometimes at

sub-minimum wages, or no wages at all; convicted defendants

sentenced to "community service"; inmates denied vital privileges

if they refuse to work in prison, many producing for private

companies, who get away with paltry wages, no benefits, no

unions. (Some prison-made products are being exported, exactly

what the US has lambasted China for.)


* US embassies abroad are surveilling selected American

travelers, fingered by a joint effort of the FBI and the State

Department Passport Office.


* US residents who visit the Cuban United Nations Mission in New

York or the Cuban Interests Section in Washington are receiving

visits or phone calls from the FBI.


* The INS and the US Border Patrol at the Mexican border are

killing, beating up, or otherwise physically mistreating large

numbers of would-be immigrants, pushing the faces of some into

their own excrement, showering them with verbal abuse, committing

sexual assaults. In INS centers around the country, thousands

of immigrants are being held under inhumane conditions, including

heads pushed into toilets, forced drugging, and being made to

kneel naked and chant "America is Number One."

The INS is illegally seizing files of social agency

employees working with undocumented immigrants. Lawyers and

others working on behalf of victims of abuse are finding it

almost impossible to file a complaint and receive a response from

the INS or the Border Patrol. Media and human rights groups are

facing near total exclusion.


* The INS is holding children (under age 18), mainly from Latin

America and China, for months at a time in prison-like

conditions, not informing them of their rights, interfering with

their attempts to obtain lawyers, and failing to facilitate

contact with relatives; or detaining them to force their illegal

alien parents to come for them, so they can be taken into



* Demonstrations against detention centers and other INS

practices are being brutally squashed in Los Angeles by a phalanx

of local and federal armed forces -- riot squads, mounted units,

ATF agents, INS commando units, water cannons, tear gas ... many

protestors are being injured and arrested; some of those not

carrying proper documents are being deported directly from a

police station.


* Citizens are being sentenced to inordinately long prison terms,

often for life, for providing information, or merely attempting

to do so, to a country not named the United States of America.

The disclosure of the information -- in some cases already

publicly available, or declassified before the arrest -- would

typically cause no actual harm to the United States at all, nor

to anyone else on earth, except that the act of passing it to an

alien nation grates on the sensibilities of those who

professionally play the secrets game, the patriots game, and the

enemies game. These professional players are fond of announcing

that the "betrayal" has caused "irreparable harm" or

"incalculable damage" to US national security. In some cases,

the information has been passed only to the FBI, in a sting

operation, yet the duped person is put away for decades.


* The federal government is busily creating new documents, at the

rate of some five million a year, which are unavailable to the

citizens of the republic because they are stamped with words like

"Secret", "Top Secret", or "For Eyes Only".


* Workers in the Defense Department's "Area 51", in the Nevada

desert, are suffering and dying from inhaling toxic chemicals

that spew from the burning of hazardous wastes in huge open pits.

Severe, persistent respiratory distress, cancers, aching guts,

ugly crusty scales, cracked and bleeding skin, "tissues filled

with industrial toxins rarely seen in humans" ... But because of

the ultra secrecy surrounding Area 51, they can't obtain

information about what chemicals they've been exposed to in order

to get appropriate medical treatment, and they can't claim

workmen's compensation because Area 51 can't be investigated.

The place is subject to no law of the land save national



* Black-uniformed officers in laced-up black boots, wearing black

berets, with name tags missing, are descending without warning on

a prison, hauling prisoners, some without clothes, from their

beds, shackling them and beating them, jumping on their backs; an

inmate's head is driven into a wall, a sickening cracking sound,

the prisoner screams, blood splatters the wall and the ground.

All to demonstrate that the Correction Commissioner doesn't

"coddle" prisoners.


* Human Rights Watch's investigation of US prisons is uncovering

"extensive abuses of the U.N.'s minimum standards for the

treatment of prisoners ... amounting to torture." A handcuffed

prisoner forced into a tub of 145-degree water, prisoners dying

after receiving repeated jolts of electricity from stun guns,

prisoners held in outdoor cages, rain or shine, prisoners held in

total isolation from other human beings for long periods of time

with sensory deprivation.

HRW and the ACLU are finding once again that the United

States is violating Article 10 of the International Covenant on

Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the US in 1992, which

requires that all prisoners and detainees "be treated with

humanity and with respect to the inherent dignity of the human



* You're exercising your precious freedom to vote and the only

candidates presented to you with more than a snowball-in-hell's

chance of winning are those whose ideologies enable them to raise

about a half million dollars to contest a seat in the House,

about five million for the Senate, and about a hundred million

for the White House. Or, increasingly, the candidates themselves

are multi-millionaires.


* In California, teenagers are being stopped, harassed,

photographed, and questioned by police purely because their

clothing is thought to be gang attire, or of gang colors.

Courts are issuing orders prohibiting gang members from

hanging out in public in groups of more than two, including

gathering on porches or attending backyard barbecues where they

can be seen by others.

In the early morn, sheriff's deputies are descending upon

the homes of parents of suspected gang members, warning them that

if they don't take responsibility for their children, they could

face criminal charges, even jail.


* As in Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, or Indianapolis in

recent years, police in large cities are exhibiting a remarkable

level of disdain for the laws of the land: giving false

information to courts to secure search warrants, or acting

without warrants, staging drug raids in order to steal drugs,

money, guns, and other valuables; taking money and drugs from

dealers in exchange for immunity, illegally searching the

inhabitants, menacing them with their guns, firing shots at

people without cause, planting drugs or other false evidence on

innocent people and arresting them, tampering with evidence,

carrying out strip searches, committing perjury, filing false

arrest reports, assaulting or threatening people who make charges

against them.


* Public relations firms, hired by large corporations and

business associations, are utilizing hefty fees, lawyers,

detectives, spies, and phony "grassroots" campaigns to influence

the media and public opinion against food, environmental, and

other activists and authors who pose a threat to one of their

special interest clients, trying to make the activists look

foolish, if not criminal.


* NBC is canceling an appearance by a nuclear activist because

she has criticized General Electric, which owns the network.

Another nuclear activist or author, or opponent of military

spending, is unwelcome at CBS because it belongs to Westinghouse;

while yet another finds doors closed at ABC because of having

treated the Disney conglomerate with less than reverence; ditto

at CNN, owned by the Time Warner octopus; while the advertisers

are increasingly influencing the content of the news stories.

{As A. J. Liebling famously wrote: "If you want freedom of the

press, you have to own one.")


* During a new US invasion abroad, the media is being severely

restricted as to what it can report to the American people about

the war; reporters are required to submit their copy to the

Pentagon censor, and are told where they can go, what they can

film, who they can interview; those who don't toe the line are

transferred by their employer under heavy Pentagon pressure.


* The FBI is placing ads in Vietnamese-language and Russian-

language newspapers in the US asking immigrants to report on

suspected spies amongst their number.


* A prison inmate's sacramental confession to a Catholic priest

is surreptitiously being taped by prison officials. The personal

mail of inmates, including those awaiting trial, is being read.


* The FBI is staging photos used in a trial, and its crime

laboratory is producing scientifically flawed, misleading or

altered evidence benefitting the prosecutor's case against a

defendant, even allowing a judge to be impeached on false

charges. A Bureau official is destroying an internal report

critical of an FBI action in a particular case and not disclosing

its existence to prosecutors or defense attorneys; or the Bureau

is allowing inaccurate and/or incomplete "expert" testimony

during court proceedings, tilting it in such a way as to

incriminate the accused. A veteran FBI agent who blows the

whistle on such goings-on is being harassed and suspended.


* Prosecutors and sheriff's investigators are colluding, such as

happened in Illinois, to fabricate evidence and conceal

exculpatory evidence, resulting in innocent men spending many

years in prison on murder charges.


* Medical records containing people's most intimate personal

information are being gathered and stored in commercial data

banks maintained by hospital networks, HMOs, drug companies, and

insurance companies. These organizations are exerting increasing

pressure on doctors and therapists to reveal information about

their patients. Corporations are requiring employment applicants

to give them full rights to their medical records. Law

enforcement and national security agencies are increasingly

gaining access to this information.


* Police sting operations in Maryland are ensnaring gay men and

charging them with "soliciting lewdness", under a state anti-sodomy

law, which prohibits homosexual couples, but not heterosexual

couples, from having consensual oral sex in private.

Next door in the nation's capital, police are photographing

married men leaving a gay sex club and extorting money from them

by threatening to inform their wives or bosses.


* Students are being punished by their schools for refusing to

stand up for the American flag or recite the Pledge of



* The INS is sending letters to immigrants who have been applying

to legalize their status. The letters tell the immigrants to

come to the federal building, bring some ID, and the INS will

give them a work permit good for a year. When the immigrants

eagerly arrive at the INS office, they will be promptly arrested

and deported.


* Amnesty International is releasing a report on "Police

Brutality and Excessive Force" in another American city's police

department, to go along with its previous reports on New York and

Los Angeles. These reports speak of "violating international

human rights standards through a pattern of unchecked excessive

force amounting to torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading

treatment". (In 1995, 2,322 civilian complaints were filed

against the NYPD, which kills someone every ten days on average,

often unarmed, or in handcuffs, or in jail.)


* Police are stopping cars on the road, stealing money and other

goods from the passengers, or taking bribes to refrain from

making (false) arrests.


* A whistleblower in a federal government agency is being

transferred, demoted, fired, or losing his security clearance

because he reported a violation of law, an abuse of authority, or

other wrongdoing.


* Undercover vice squads in Arizona, wearing black ski masks, are

seizing hundreds of copies of an adult newspaper from vending



* Copies of the Cuban newspaper Gramma are being seized by

customs officials in Boston. Videos taken in Iraq are being

seized by Customs in Detroit from American citizens.


* Employees of the Customs Service who implicate colleagues in

the drug trafficking they're supposed to be policing, are

suffering reprisals and harassment.


* Mentally ill people are languishing in prisons all over the

country, receiving no treatment and often suffering physical and

sexual abuse from other inmates and guards.


* Some persons judged to be mentally ill, retarded, or in other

ways regarded as "misfits" are being sterilized without their

knowledge in secluded corners of various state institutions.


* The DEA and other federal and state agents are seizing houses,

boats, cars, real estate, furnishings, bank accounts, and other

assets, belonging to people suspected of involvement in drug

trafficking, or belonging to their spouses, often without a

conviction, and whether or not the assets seized were tied to the

alleged crime. In South Dakota, a man is losing his home and his

business for selling two grams of cocaine. In Virginia, numerous

cars are being confiscated from new car dealerships for failing

to report all cash transactions involving more than $10,000.


* The concept of equal access to legal remedy and justice is

being invalidated every day after a decade of deep government

cutbacks to the legal aid program, thus robbing the poor of what

is often their sole defense against unscrupulous landlords, scam

artists, battering spouses, home foreclosure, consumer fraud, and

many other legal predicaments.


* People going to police stations to lodge complaints against

officers are being unceremoniously ushered out.


* Police in Los Angeles are carrying out a pre-dawn raid of more

than 100 homes in a fishing expedition for individuals and

contraband, yielding very little but many frightened and upset



* In many cities, the homeless are being rounded up in parks and

other sites supposedly open to the public and taken to places

where respectable citizens, particularly tourists, will not be

forced to cast eyes upon them.


* People who bring food to the homeless in public parks are being

arrested, charged with giving out food without a permit,

trespassing, or whatever else the authorities can think of;

cooking equipment and vehicles are being confiscated.


* An FBI sting operation is entrapping police officers in

Washington, DC and elsewhere by offering them bribes to escort

supposed drug couriers, resulting in the officers being sentenced

to as much as 55 years in prison without the possibility of parole

-- a veritable life sentence.


* In many states, thousands of people are having their driver's

licenses suspended for six months for any drug conviction,

whether or not their offenses were related to operation of a

motor vehicle.


* Numerous individuals are being harassed and/or arrested because

of a "positive alert" from a drug-sniffing dog even though law

enforcement and scientific circles have known for many years that

most US currency has some amount of cocaine or other drug stuck

to it -- in Los Angeles it was found that more than 75 percent of

all the paper money in circulation was so tainted.


* Several other extreme police brutality cases like Rodney King

in Los Angeles and Abner Louima in Brooklyn are taking place, but

there are no video cameras or witnesses observing, or the victim

dies and his death is ruled accidental or a heart attack.


* A public official who speaks out against any part of the War On

Drugs, is paying a severe price, like former Surgeon General

Jocelyn Elders whose son was sentenced to 10 years prison for

selling one-eighth of an ounce of cocaine to an undercover police

officer. His arrest took place five months after the sale, on a

warrant issued a week after his mother suggested that the

government study the legalization of drugs.




And these are the good new days. The Authorities can no

longer claim a threat from anti-Vietnam War radicals or a civil

rights movement. The Black Panther Party is history, as is the

alleged International Communist Conspiracy. The Central American

and South African struggles are over. And J. Edgar Hoover,

proving, after all, that he actually had something in common with

the rest of humanity, has died. But the Authorities continue to

need enemies -- to justify their swollen budgets, to provide

themselves with a mission, to protect and aggrandize their jobs.

Ergo, in place of finding a commie under every bed, they now find

a drug possessor, user, shipper, courier, or dealer. Instead of

The Evil Empire, they now see lots of Rogue Nations out there,

Outlaw Nations, Pariah States -- enemies need catchy names --

with their regiments of terrorists, supporters of terrorists,

nuclear smugglers, asylum seekers, and other anti-American types.

In place of civil rights agitators, the Authority Juggernaut now

zooms in on youth gangs, immigrants, environmentalists, welfare

recipients, prisoners, and a host of other folks with little

political power.

What keeps most Americans from being shocked by the

shredding of the Bill of Rights is that they have yet to feel the

consequences, either personally or through someone close to them.

It would appear, however, that they only have to wait.


William Blum

Author: Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since

World War II


(Note capital "A" and underline _)

email: bblum6@aol.com

William Blum page