By Stansfield Smith – Jun 21, 2023
The National Security police state now regards the Democratic Party as a more useful tool to criminalize opposition to US wars and maintain their control over the US government. We see this in the attack on the Uhuru Movement as being in the pay of Russia, in the imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange, in the jailing of numerous whistleblowers, in the censoring of hundreds of anti-war websites, claiming they spread Russian “disinformation.” Unfortunately, not a few who consider themselves on the left or liberals acquiesce to these attacks. Many actually repeat them.
Many more self-described leftists and liberals are supportive and participate in national security state/Democratic Party attacks on Trump and his supporters. In doing so, first, they are oblivious to the fact that these repressive police state operations will be used against them in the future. We saw that when we okayed the blocking access to Alex Jones’ website because of his abusive and cruel attacks on the Sandy Hook families and killings as a hoax. Once we tolerated that, the national security state used the same measures against hundreds of our own anti-war websites.
Second, in supporting police state operations against Trump, leftists are caving into the Democratic Party and the national security state, some at a faster rate than others. Traditionally, liberals and leftists have always considered, either consciously or not, the Democrats as the “lesser evil.” They paint Republicans, particularly with the rise of Trump, as a fascist threat that must be stopped. In reality, the ruling class has no need for fascism in the present political climate of a quiescent and disorganized working class.
The Man with the horned hat and “obstruction of an official proceeding”
We saw liberal and left supporters of civil liberties silent after the imprisonment of Jacob Chansley, the January 6 man with the horned hat. He was sentenced to 3 ½ years for “obstruction of an official proceeding,” even though the prosecutors admitted he was non-violent, that the videos of him in the Capitol showed he was respectful of the police, and was actually guided around by some of them.
Jimmy Dore reported that police agencies had infiltrated the groups involved in January 6 long before it occurred, so they knew well enough what to expect. Dore also reported over 100 undercover police (FBI, Department of Justice and Homeland Security police, DC Metro Police, Secret Service, etc.) were part of the January 6 crowd both outside and inside the Capitol.
For those of us who see the need for fundamental social change in this country, as most in the US now do, obstructing an official proceeding will sooner or later be obligatory – if many of us have not done so already.
Oath Keeper Stewart Rhodes and Seditious Conspiracy
Liberal and left supporters of civil liberties were also silent after Stewart Rhodes, head of the police infiltrated Oath Keepers, was sentenced to 18 years for “seditious conspiracy.” Key Oath Keeper Jessica Watkins, was tried but not found guilty of “seditious conspiracy.” She is, incidentally, a transwoman – so much for the view that these right-wingers are “transphobic.”
Seditious conspiracy is codified as:
“If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”
To “conspire” to use “force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States.” In contrast, Martin Luther King proclaimed, “one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
“Seditious conspiracy” was used to imprison Puerto Rican nationalists opposed to the US occupation of their country. In 1936, Pedro Albizu Campos and other leaders of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party were found guilty of the “crime.” Later, 17 members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party were charged after four of them carried out the 1954 shooting inside the Capitol, wounding five Congresspeople. Oscar Lopez Rivera, who declared, “By international law, a colonized people has the right to fight against colonialism by any means necessary, including the use of force,” was imprisoned for seditious conspiracy and other charges.
On January 6, thousands of people went to the Capitol to protest, and hundreds went inside, some by violently attacking the police, some by breaking in, some let in by the police. The Oath Keepers were not some driving force behind the riot. It is silly to think a few hundred people, without guns, could seize control of the Capitol from armed police forces, let alone overturn an election.
Stewart Rhodes, leader of the rightwing Oath Keepers, didn’t engage in violence against the government, didn’t carry a weapon, didn’t go inside the Capitol, didn’t vandalize government property, and wasn’t commanding those outside or inside the Capitol. His crime was apparently talking about revolution in private chats and lamenting after the event that “we should have brought rifles.” How is that so different from the Black Panthers? The Oath Keepers didn’t bring guns to the Capitol, and they didn’t take part in an “insurrection” – everyone left the Capitol after just a few hours when asked to. Rhodes was basically convicted for mouthing off to his associates – a common occurrence among leftist revolutionaries. The government prosecution failed to prove they had a coordinated plan to seize the Capitol, let alone overthrow the government.
In spite of this, the sentencing judge declared Rhodes conspired with others “to take up arms and foment revolution.” That is exactly the reason many leftists support some version of the Second Amendment. Rhodes had his sentence jacked up to 18 years with a “terrorism enhancement” charge, in part because the Oath Keepers had weapons elsewhere.
The judge could assert, “You, sir, present an ongoing threat and a peril to this country and to the republic and to the very fabric of this democracy.” Rhodes’ lawyer legitimately stated his case was about the “weaponization of speech by the Department of Justice.” Exactly the same was true of Eugene Debs and later Socialist Workers Party leaders for their “seditious conspiracy” convictions for opposing US involvement in World War I and World War II.
Sedition and conspiracy prosecutions, like those the Biden administration pursue, turn advocacy of ideas into a crime. This conviction of Rhodes, if not thrown out, you can expect to be used against a working class left wing in the coming years.
Donald Trump and the Espionage Act
Last summer President Biden branded so-called MAGA Republicans as “semi-fascists” who “threaten the very foundations of our Republic.” Liberals and leftists use the same label to describe Trump supporters, who they claim are white supremacists and reactionaries.
In January 2017, Democratic Senator Charles Schumer bluntly admitted who really controls Washington when he said President Trump was “being really dumb” by challenging the US police state apparatus. “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” he foretold.
The latest national security state operation is the Biden administration attempting to jail and exclude his chief rival in the upcoming presidential election, Trump, by charging him with treason. That is unprecedented in US history. There would be outrage and cries of a fascist government takeover if in 2020, sitting President Trump had charged his chief presidential rival, Joe Biden, with treason and aimed to imprison him for having classified and secret government documents in his garage and elsewhere. Trump could just as easily have done that, just as he could have charged Hillary and Obama with treason for the same reason.
Previously the Espionage Act had been used against Eugene Debs, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Daniel Ellsberg, and Julian Assange. Obama used the Espionage Act more than all previous presidents combined in order to shut down public knowledge of criminal US military policies abroad and at home. The Obama administration charged Jeffrey Sterling with espionage, a former CIA officer who publicized details of covert CIA spying on Iran; Thomas Drake, a former National Security Agency official who attempted to blow the whistle on NSA spying; Chelsea Manning, who provided information about US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan; John Kiriakou, who leaked information about the illegal torture of detainees; Edward Snowden, who showed the NSA was engaged in massive illegal surveillance against the world population; and Daniel Hale, who leaked documents about the Pentagon’s drone assassination program.
The national security state and its puppet Biden are using this same Espionage Act to try to lock up Biden’s main opponent in the 2024 presidential campaign. Trump is an anathema to them in part because he is against their proxy war on Russia in Ukraine, just as he was against their war on Iraq. Tucker Carlson made this point in a show now seen by 101 million.
Tulsi Gabbard highlighted that this prosecution of President Biden’s rival is like “authoritarian regimes around the world [that] wield the power of the state to silence or eliminate opposition.” She called out the blatant double standard when it came to the same by Clinton, Biden, when CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied under oath to Congress, when 51 senior intelligence officials deliberately lied and labeled Hunter Biden’s laptop Russian disinformation, when FBI officials spread the Russia-Trump collusion hoax.
Carlson’s and Gabbard’s positions are ones that leftists and defenders of civil liberties should be taking. However, because of widespread anti-Trumpism in the liberal-left milieu, they don’t because they worry of losing their “left” credentials by standing up and condemning Democratic Party backed police state operations against rightwing groups, against Trump, against the attempt to deny people’s right to vote for Trump. We also saw this fear of standing for people’s rights and against the Democrat and police state operations with their support for the Russiagate hoax, with their condemnation of the Ottawa protestors, with unjustified sentences of those January 6 protestors who were non-violent. We even see it with the hesitation of many liberals and the left to defend Julian Assange and the Uhuru Movement, as they are considered “pro-Russian.”
Given liberals and leftists paint the Republicans as a fascistic party, it follows they see – whether they admit it or not – the Democrats as the lesser evil. No matter that all Democrats in Congress vote to arm Ukraine fascists in the war on Russia, and only Republicans, a minority, oppose it. It is irrelevant to the Democrats how much you criticize them and what names you call them if in November you ok voting for them to stop the Republicans from winning. That makes you an election time supporter of the Democratic Party. That makes people like Bernie Sanders, even Cornel West and left groups, sheep dogs for the Democratic Party because in the end they say the Republicans are so dangerous we can’t let them win.
This amounts to caving into the Democratic Party, the national security state, and inevitably to the ideology they push. One counterproductive result is that Trump becomes seen by much of the public as one real opposition to the national security state. He said after his indictment, the “deep state…they want to take away my freedom because I will never let them take away your freedom…They are not coming after me, they are coming after you, and I just happen to be standing in their way….” He is standing in their way, he is seen as a threat to their controlling power, though he differs from his enemies only in the manner of maintaining US imperial world rule. But in the end, Trump is right: what the national security state does to him, they will later do to us.
Stansfield Smith is a Chicago based anti-imperialist activist. He was active for over a decade in the Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban 5. His work is now on ChicagoALBASolidarity.wordpress.com. He has written on Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs and on North Korea for Counterpunch and others.
Stansfield Smith#molongui-disabled-linkSeptember 20, 2023