|When Criminals Rule The World|
There is probably a potential Doctoral thesis in Philosophy in making a formal argument for the case, but around us today there is a lot of evidence to suggest that when criminals take control of the reigns of power, perhaps to the point of ruling the world, then it becomes inevitable that ordinary, decent people will be criminalized. I say inevitable because the most decent among them feel compelled to resist the criminality of power and power, in response, uses the force of law to restrain them.
A good case in point is the story of Sophie Scholl who, along with others of the non-violent, anti-Nazi student resistance group called the White Rose, was beheaded by the criminal, NAZI government for treason [[i]]
The point is well expressed in the words of Professor Huber of Munich University who, in1943, shortly before he was condemned to death with five of his students for spreading sedition, told the court:
"As a citizen I regard it not only as a right but as a moral duty to help shape the destiny of my country, to uncover and oppose manifest evils. What I aimed to do was to rouse my students to an ethical understanding of the grave evils of our present political life; a return to definite ethical principles, to the rule of law, to mutual trust between man and man. This is not illegal rather it is the establishment of legality." (From Humanising Hell by George Delf [ii]).
It’s generally accepted that Hitler and his NAZI regime constituted a criminal government; ten out of sixteen judges of his Reich Ministry of Justice were convicted of Crimes Against Humanity in trials at Nuremberg and sentenced to death [iii].
Wilhelm Frick, a lawyer and prominent German Nazi official serving as Hitler’s Minister of the Interior and Hans Frank, Adolph Hitler's personal legal adviser who expressed the view that "The National Socialist ideology, especially as expressed in the party program and in the speeches of our leader, is the basis for interpreting legal sources", were instrumental in crafting the legal framework for the NAZI regime [iv].
After the Night of the Long Knives [v], when Hitler purged many of his political enemies and removed some impediments to his power the German courts and cabinet quickly swept aside centuries of legal prohibition against extra-judicial killings to demonstrate their loyalty to the regime. Both men were tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg Trials, convicted and executed. Frick was also indicted for Count Two, Waging Aggressive War, or "Crimes Against Peace"
for his part in the planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression. [vi]
The moral discord for people of conscience within a criminally run society is probably at its height in the case of theologian and Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was convicted of complicity in an attempt to assassinate the regime’s leader, and the logic of his situation is as self-evident as the plight of Hamlet.
More Recent Examples
Bert Sacks is a man of conscience, not of the type who sees an injustice, wrings his hands and shrugs it off saying “nothing I can do about it” but one who takes what action he can to put things right. Bert Sacks took action against the criminal immorality of sanctions against Iraq, his government sought to criminalise him by fining him $10,000 for breech of US law [vii] and will probably criminalise him further with a jail term now that he refuses, on principle, to pay the fine [viii] arguing that the crime is the government’s not his.
An interviewer who put the question to US Secretary of State, Madeline Albright if she thought the cost of sanctions of 500,000 Iraqi childrens’ lives was “worth it” [ix] framed her question generously, portraying this consequence as if it were some unavoidable side effect of an action taken to serve some higher purpose when in fact, this consequence was the deliberate and intended purpose of the sanctions [x].
After the United States' deliberate destruction of Iraq's civilian infrastructure during the first Gulf War sanctions called for, maintained and accentuated by the action of the US government prevented the restoration of treatment of water supplies and sewage resulting in 12 years of outbreaks of diseases mainly affecting children while the denial of medical supplies accentuated the problem and an estimated 500,000 children died unnecessarily.
Joe Glenton is a patriotic British soldier. Believing that “sometimes force is necessary” and wanting to serve his country he joined up and went to Afghanistan. However, after a tour of duty he had “grave doubts” about what was being achieved there and expressed empathy with the courage of Afghans who fought to repel invaders of their country. He refused to return to Afghanistan and absconded. Joe Glenton has been jailed for 9 months by his government and stripped of his rank [xi]. By contrast, the former Prime Minister who defrauded the public and his own cabinet with a misleading case for an illegal, aggressive war against the advice of his own government legal service has been rewarded to the order of millions of pounds by oil companies and other beneficiaries of the war [xii].
Diane Kogan, young as she is at 18, is a wise and noble human being. She is an Israeli citizen living in the Tel-Aviv suburb of Bat Yam who refused to sign on for her mandatory period of service in the Israeli military. In doing so she made the following, highly impressive statement:
I refuse to enlist to the Army because I strongly believe that a military system will never help to achieve peace.
The Military is a violent force because it teaches how to solve conflict by using offensive means, such as weapons and brute force. It makes no sense that one side will use violence as a way towards peace in hope that the other side will just accept it.
Violence leads to violence and eventually to war, which then leads to more wars. Bloodshed is not the way and should be avoided at all cost.
Therefore I wholeheartedly decline to cooperate with the military system (and its ideals), which I think is rotten from the core, and is far away from ever achieving peace among people.
But Diane Kogan is not alone. She is just one victim of an Israeli system of compulsory military service. Every Israeli eighteen-year-old must serve a term of service brutalising and humiliating Palestinians at the bleeding edge of Zionist expansionism. Freud would have summed it up as “learning to hate Arabs for the unconscionable things we do to them”, a system in which mental illness becomes contagious and endemic as those afflicted take measures to ensure that the whole population becomes afflicted at an early age. Many resist. They are dealt with just like Diane.
The Pirate Bay Four are four of Sweden’s brightest and best. Thinking people of the world understand how copyright law and monopoly control of technology, access to commercial advertising communications and all other aspects of the entertainment, news and most avenues for communication of public information are abused to deliver control of the masses and the ability to manipulate not only public opinion but also overall collective social outlook to a few powerful people who control a few powerful multi-national corporations. Here we have a prime example of how the law itself becomes a tool for what most of us would call criminal behaviour – corruptly supporting unfair advantage of a powerful minority over the rest of society.
These four clever young men devised and implemented a technology that allowed them to facilitate without actually participating in the sharing of copyright material.
The Swedish government had no inclination to prosecute these men for what should have been an action no more illegal than a hire-car company providing the getaway car to a gang of bank robbers or the manufacturer and retailer of a gun used by a murderer. Yet the Swedish government succumbed to pressure from the multinational companies of the entertainment industry and even from the US government by pursuing prosecutions. The result is that four of the country’s brightest and best are rewarded for what should have been recognised as a service to society and humanity with fines, costs and prison terms. On April 17 2009 the verdict in their case was announced. All four defendants were accused of ‘assisting in making copyright content available’. Peter Sunde: Guilty. Fredrik Neij: Guilty. Gottfrid Svartholm: Guilty. Carl Lundström: Guilty. The four receive 1 year in jail each and fines totaling $3,620,000 [xiii].
Mordechai Vanunu is a socially responsible world citizen. Seeing beyond his small part in a bigger enterprise, a corrupt and criminal enterprise, he did what a socially responsible person does, blow the whistle and alert the world to the crime in progress. When the State of Israel, a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty secretly developed a nuclear weapons capability – the very thing for which the US is alleging and condemning Iran at the present time, with threats of nuclear attack – Mortachai Vanunu saw the significance of his part in the process and reported Israel’s secret nuclear weapons programme to the British press in 1986. Illegally kidnapped in Italy he was returned to Israel and served 18 years in prison. To this day he is not permitted to leave Israel nor talk to the media [xiv] while the criminal state of Israel refuses to declare its nuclear weapons capability nor to sign the NPT repeatedly violates International Law, ignores UNSC resolutions and threatens violence against its Arab and muslim neighbours. The world pays a price for the ill-treatment of a hero for the proliferation of peace.
The Cuban Five is a group of national heroes who did great service to their native Cuba. Since the revolution that liberated Cubans from the barbaric Batista dictatorship in 1960 Cuban exiles loyal to the overthrown dictatorship have used Miami, Florida in the US as a base from which to organise terrorist attacks against the revolutionary government and its people. The Cuban Five were sent by the Cuban government to infiltrate these groups and stop the terrorism against Cuba. They were caught in the US, charged, tried, found guilty and sentenced in June 2001 to long prison terms for crimes of espionage against the US [xv]. The Five’s actions were never directed at the U.S. government. They never harmed anyone nor ever possessed nor used any weapons while in the United States and their mission was to stop terrorism, not to spy on the US. The denial of justice to these men is an outrage that any nation’s people would be ashamed of, much less a nation that has waged two illegal wars resulting in over a million civilian deaths and the catastrophic destruction of a nation as part of an alleged “War on Terror”. The hypocrisy evident in the contrast of US refusal to extradite Luis Posada to Venezuela, convicted in absentia of involvement in various terrorist attacks and plots in the Western hemisphere, including involvement in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed seventy-three people is stark and disgraceful [xvi]. The Venezuelan government lodged an extradition request for Posada in the US in 2005, to which the US government did not respond. More recently, upon renewal of the request, considerate of US sensitivities, the Venezuelan government has proposed one possible alternative path for the US, to put him on trial in US soil for his terrorism crimes. [xvii]. However, the government that runs the world’s leading University of Terrorism [xviii] is unlikely to prosecute one of its alumni.
Protestors against the attack by the Israeli military on Gaza in December 2008 were generally people of conscience opposed to violence and injustice. However, in London, police used provocative, violent and intimidating tactics against them, tactics that are illegal under British law. There were over 33 complaints to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which the IPCC refused to investigate. After the demonstrations, the police arrested 119 people. The majority of these people were not arrested at the demonstrations, but often months later, using intelligence gathered at the demonstrations. Many of these arrests were made in shocking dawn raids, which included the handcuffing of entire families, and the seizing of phones and computers. Many of the young people arrested were pressured both by the presiding judge and their own solicitors to plead guilty to the offences with which they were charged, with the expectation of receiving minor sentences. They have since been sentenced to long prison terms, almost all for harmless acts.
As Labour MP for Islington North, Jeremy Corbyn said: “What possible justification can there be for handing down a year in prison for a 19-year-old lad, studying dentistry, who threw a plastic bottle in the direction of the Israeli Embassy?” [xix].
So here we have a stark contrast. The Israeli government unleashes a violent attack on an unarmed and defenceless population, an action condemned by human rights organisations and the United Nations for having deliberately and systematically targeted civilians and used Palestinians, including young children, as human shields, actions which constitute war crimes under the Geneva Conventions. The British government, while criticising the Palestinian Hamas for firing rockets into southern Israel (token acts of feeble resistance to a vile, brutal and illegal occupation that have killed zero Israelis), conspicuously declines to criticise Israel for causing civilian casualties while the mainstream media all sing the chorus of Israeli propaganda about “self defence”. As hundreds of thousands of people all over the world came onto the streets to express outrage over the violence, police in London engaged in a systematic persecution of the demonstrators targeting young people from Muslim communities and the courts cooperated by severely sentencing those charged. Although the demonstrators represented a broad community cross-section, of the 79 arrested and charged, 77 are Muslim, mostly under 25 years old. The youngest was 12 years old. Many of them received long prison terms for minor offences.
Julian Assange is a very clever man, but more importantly, one with moral vision and courage. His technical achievements and moral development earned him a reputation, while still a teenager as "Australia's most famous ethical computer hacker" as reported on Wikipedia [xx] but his reputation for both has recently risen dramatically with the co-founding of WikiLeaks [xxi], a website created for the publication of leaked documents and other material by whistleblowers. One of the documents published was the website blacklist for the proposed Australian Internet Filter [xxii] which exposes that far from censoring only child pornography sites, 68% of the list is intended to exclude otherwise legal viewing material. The site became highly controversial with the release of a classified military video dubbed “Collateral Murder” [xxiii] which has revealed the callous manner in which unarmed civilians are routinely attacked and murdered in Iraq by the occupying US military forces.
It’s not at all surprising that the Australian government, far from celebrating the technical accomplishments of a champion for the “clever country” or his contributions to a more informed democracy, sought to clip his wings by confiscating and cancelling his passport in May 2010 [xxiv]. Leaked documents published on WikiLeaks reveal the sinister measures considered by the US “Intelligence” to destroy the site [xxv]. However, with the revelation that Assange is in possession of some 260,000 classified documents that he may be intending to publish the Pentagon has taken a specific interest in his whereabouts [xxvi] and Daniel Ellsberg (of Pentagon Papers fame) has gone so far as to warn Assange that his life may be in danger.
Lynne Stewart believes that the Law should be about Justice. Many lawyers, if you express a view that the law is about justice will just laugh and mock your naivety; Lynne Stewart is not one of them, she has spent much of a thirty year career in law defending political prisoners and unpopular clients in social justice and human rights cases, often unpaid for people who could not afford representation. As a result she has earned for herself an international reputation as “the peoples’ lawyer”; hardly the background of someone who would assist terrorists against her fellow Americans. Yet this is the situation of Lynne Stewart today – convicted by US courts under the US “Patriot” act and jailed for giving material support to terrorists on the basis of having issued a press release on behalf of her client. Lynne Stewart has spent her working years at the very coal-face of the struggle between on the one hand those who would use the courts as a foundation for social justice, a system for the peaceful resolution of conflict and the prosecution of criminal acts and on the other hand, those who would use the courts as tool of power, falsely criminalizing political enemies and as means to frighten, discredit, intimidate, and silence those who would challenge power or defend the rights of others. These latter would like to imprison Lynne for the remainder of her natural life and on July 15th 2010 will attempt to do just that. You can find out more about Lynne Stuart and lend your support at the “Justice for Lynne Stewart” website [xxvii].
The Symptoms of our Times
I have cited only a few examples above, but they are International and diverse and they represent only instances that have had public attention and can be easily researched on the Internet. They are only the visible part of the iceberg. They represent a highly significant indicator, a visible symptom of a dire illness in our globalised society and a warning. These are the indicators of what we should all recognise with some considerable alarm as a criminal inversion of society. When the people who hold the keys of power are criminals - and the nature of our capitalist system is that it tends to favour this situation - ordinary people begin to be criminalized.
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|Allen L. Jasson|