The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>
Publications Filter?
AKarlin.com Da Russophile
Nothing found
 TeasersRussian Reaction Blog
/
Law

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New Reply
🔊 Listen RSS

Livestream in Russian, English.

He’s been found guilty, as expected. The main question is what the sentence will be: Suspended, or a real term. Here is my prediction (which on developments so far might well turn out to be awfully wrong).

Discuss.

UPDATE: Even if he is found guilty and sentenced, he still has the choice of appealing his sentence. This will give him enough time to contest the Moscow elections.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

If you remember a couple of weeks ago, the Internet was rocked – for a total of about one or two days – by a wave of leaks from the ICIJ about the identities of offshore account holders in the British Virgin Islands. What juicy revelations did we have about the henchmen of the kleptocratic Putin regime?

Other high profile names identified in the offshore data include the wife of Russia’s deputy prime minister, Igor Shuvalov, and two top executives with Gazprom, the Russian government-owned corporate behemoth that is the world’s largest extractor of natural gas.

Shuvalov’s wife and the Gazprom officials had stakes in BVI companies, documents show. All three declined comment.

So that comes to one Minister who has always been open about the wealth which he made in the 1990′s as a law firm manager and then multiplied by leaving it in a blind trust invested into the Russian stockmarket; and a couple of top executives at one of the world’s biggest companies, are the two most prominent names that have been dredged up.

Rather underwhelming, TBH.

Incidentally, in most countries there is nothing particularly illegal about having offshore bank accounts. Morally questionable? Perhaps. For some, yes. And I can understand why countries like Germany (mistakenly, IMO) might not want to contribute to bailing out alleged tax havens like Cyprus, or why the US demands Switzerland reveal the identities of Swiss secret bank account holders to the IRS.

But is keeping money offshore illegal? No, it isn’t. Not in the US, not in Russia, not practically anywhere else. Not in any country that supports the principle of basically free movements of capital. Now if said money is suspected to have been laundered or otherwise acquired illegally then yes, investigations can follow. But the past few years of pressed government budgets have seen the big countries lean heavily on alleged tax shelters to reveal more information about their clients so it is arguably a much smaller problem than it was, say, a decade ago.

The non-illegal nature of offshore banking is the reason why Romney isn’t being prosecuted for his $250 million stash in the Cayman Islands, and why revelations that many wealthy Germans keep bank accounts in Panama has led to a lot of media noise but no legal proceedings. Is it because Germany is a kleptocracy in which the elites corruptly protect their own? To ask the question is to mock it.

But funnily enough whenever it comes to Russia even otherwise neoliberal or even Randian commentators start frothing at the mouth and demanding populist, Bolshevik reprisals against any Russian – that is, if he isn’t opposed to Putin – with money abroad.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

The anti-corruption crusader and best hope of the Russian race Navalny will be on trial for embezzlement on April 17th. And it has to be admitted that even many of us who tend to look at the liberal opposition’s claims of repression with a healthy degree of skepticism are now “plagued by vague suspicions.”

It’s just too convenient. After all, there are now a total of four criminal cases against him, three of them potential (SPS, Yves Roche, Post of Russia) and one in process (Kirovles). Most of them appear to be pretty flimsy. It’s as if the Investigative Committee read through the entire book of his life and placed a laser-like focus on every spelling and grammatical error. Which the IC itself acknowledges:

Interviewer: But if the case didn’t have Navalny, then, probably, the case itself wouldn’t exist?

Vladimir Markin, IC spokesman: Perhaps, it would not have happened so quickly, because unfortunately the numbers and energy of our investigators are quite limited. In an ordinary case of embezzlement and misappropriation perhaps our hands wouldn’t have reached in so quickly. But if the person in question draws attention to himself with all his strength, or we can even say, teases authority – saying that oh I am so white and flawless, then the interest in his past increases and the process of exposing it to the sunlight, understandably, accelerates.

Yet with all that said, the fact of this vastly intensified scrutiny being politically motivated does not – as with Khodorkovsky – absolve the defendant of guilt should he actually have committed the crimes in question. And here is where an objective appraisal of the case parts ways with the narrative that has been presented by the liberal opposition and Western media, which asserts that the case against Navalny has been invented out of thin air on Putin’s orders.

After all, stealing 15 million rubles of timber should, at least in theory, be as bad if done by Navalny as if done by any random Nashist – and as deserving of punishment. IF he did actually steal them. But how to find out if he did?

You could do a lot worse than avoiding the media din, and instead systemically reading through the documents and arguments offered by both sides. Here are the more important sources I have identified:

The only problem? All this material is in Russian. But despair not! For your fearless Leader (aka myself) is going to do this for you in the coming days, and write informative posts and articles on the basis of his discoveries.

I will not write a lot right now, but there are four things I wish to clear up from the beginning, to set down the correct channels about how to think about the case.

(1) At the most basic level, the allegation is that Navalny, in concert with Ofitserov, set up a shell company to criminally enrich themselves. Originally, Kirovles, a state company headed by Opalev, had a set of agreements with its customers to supply them with timber. Under pressure from Navalny, who was an adviser to Governor Belykh, these agreements were torn up and rewritten at the same prices, but with their shell company as the new partner. Kirovles, in its turn, sold the same amount of timber to the shell company, but at lower prices. The difference, presumably, was pocketed by Navalny and Ofitserov. This scheme only lasted four months before there was a scandal and Opalev was evicted from Kirovles.

(2) It is not clear that this, even if true, would constitute outright theft. As Politrash’s second lawyer Strigov argues, the charges then would not be Article 160, part 4 of the Criminal Code (theft/хищение) – as per the Investigative Committee – but Article 165, part 2 (causing financial loss by way of deceit and misuse of trust/Причинение имущественного ущерба путем обмана или злоупотребления доверием).

(3) There are dozens of witnesses testifying that they were pressured into rewriting timber supply contracts from Kirovles to Navalny and Ofitserov’s shell company. For his part, Navalny alleges that he had nothing to do with the shell company and was only marginally acquainted with Ofitserov. The evidence within the IC’s indictment however overwhelmingly suggests that this was the not case on both counts. Navalny would have been wiser to focus his defense on proving that the shell company did not do anything illegal, as opposed to (falsely) disavowing any involvement with it, and I do not know if it’s now too late to change tactics.

PS. More links:

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

Everybody in the Western media seems to have forgotten Pussy Riot. Well, not forgotten, they still wheel them out every so often as symbols of the repressiveness of the Putin regime – but news of actual developments in the affair have come to a standstill. Which is a pity, because they undermine the commonly accepted narrative about what it was in the first place.

I am talking, of course, about the estrangement of Pussy Riot from their original trio of lawyers – Mark Feygin, Nikolay Polozov, and Violetta Volkova. This began approximately when they Pussy Riot lost their case and got sent off to jail, which led them to switch lawyers. Their new lawyer, Irina Khrunova, managed to get Samutsevich (one of the Pussies) released by arguing that she was not an active participant in the “performance.” Khrunova continues to represent the other two who are still in jail. Here is pretty much the only article you will find out about this in the Western media. (Funny that it’s in The Independent, and not in the Guardian, which was otherwise Pussy Riot’s most fiery supporter).

Then Mark Feygin, via his wife’s company, tried to register the Pussy Riot brand. Pussy Riot claims that he did not have their permission to do so and that it was an attempt to cash in on the case. Feygin denies this, saying that he did have permission and that his intentions were to prevent OTHERS from unscrupulously profiting off the name. He says the newspapers smeared him. In any case this is a moot point anyway, as Russia’s patent office denied them their trademark anyway; but this was just one of a series of wedges that would alienate the lawyers from the Pussies.

Things moved up into critical mode when Samutsevich asked Russia’s bar association to consider Volkova’s status as a lawyer, and now, to dismiss her. This prompted a furious, vitriolic, and frankly stunning reaction from the lawyers:

Mark Feygin: Samutsevich again requested the Association to disbar Violetta Volkova!

Mark Feygin: Without a doubt, we are dealing with a RAT here!

Mark Feygin: As regards Samutsevich, I still can’t forget that Big Mac which Violetta brought to her in her pre-trial detention… How could one be such an ungrateful rat?

(AK: A whole BIG MAC? How *generous* of her!)

Also, in response to a commentator, who tweeted:

Marina Marinina: Have you ever noticed that if a person looks ugly on the outside, she’s also probably ugly on the inside?

Mark Feygin: Yep, I noticed. https://twitter.com/mark_feygin/status/322046597955457025/photo/1

(AK: Funny, that. Marina Marinina hardly strikes me as a star in the looks department. Let alone Volkova LOL).

Nikolay Polozov: The regime eggs on Samutsevich to debar Volkova on the threshold of her defense of Udaltsov in soon forthcoming trials. The rat earns her keep.

Violetta Volkova, replying to a commentator: I can only say one thing – Samutsevich could not have written this complaint by herself. She was helped a lot – but this is just my private opinion.

Elsewhere by the pattern of her re-Tweets she makes it quite clear that she agrees with the theory that Samutsevich is a rat, though she does not use the actual word herself unlike her two colleagues.

There are two ways of looking at this.

(1) From the lawyers’ side:

Mark Feygin: In Russia, we all know that Samutsevich agreed with the Kremlin. So let her go

That, and now she is working on their orders, trying to discredit their work.

(2) From (what I assume to be) Samutsevich’s, and perhaps the other two’s, side:

Feygin and Co. are not so much lawyers as political activists posing as lawyers, whose primary concern is not so much the welfare of their clients (e.g. keeping them out of prison) as smearing egg all over the Kremlin’s face. This explains the decision to switch them for Irina Khrunova and the general acrimony between them since.

Frankly, with their online behavior, I think the lawyers have – if anything – lent more credence to #2. Calling out a former client of yours as a “rat” is extremely unprofessional, something you might see in a “Lawyers from Hell” episode. Who on Earth would want to be represented by them in the future? When you know that if you have issues with their defense strategy and professional ethics you will be subjected to an online barrage of smears from them and their liberal opposition groupies?

I know who! The professional revolutionaries like Udaltsov, who would gladly go to jail if it made the “regime” look bad. And what then would that make the lawyers? It would make them their professional enablers.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

In a recent interview with the opposition Dozhd TV channel – which is, incidentally, available for public viewing in Russia as part of the NTV Plus satellite TV package – for the first time openly declared he wants to be President. He also speculated about the motivations behind the Kirovles fraud case being brought against him. (He expects to get a suspended jail sentence that will disbar him from electoral politics).

However, I think other parts of the interview were at least equally interesting and telling about what sort of politician Navalny would be. First, he unequivocally said that he would send Putin and his friends to jail. It is rather ironic that the self-appointed leader of the extra-parliamentary Russian opposition doesn’t bother, unlike Putin, to even pay lip service to the rule of law and judicial impartiality that he supposedly espouses. Second, his tendency to intemperately react to critics – even those who support him – is, once again, on full and inglorious display.

Below is a translation from the relevant part of the interview.

Host: Many people interpreted you as saying, I paraphrase, “I am Alexey Navalny and I will put you in prison, once I become President.”

Navalny: I don’t know about a President Navalny, but one day there will come to power those who will put him in prison. It’s a general feeling, I or we altogether, in another regime we would put him…

Host: [interrupting] [unclear] is it we or I?…

Navalny: Well, I, because I feel myself as part of this process, and I will do everything possible to make sure that he, and Putin, and Timchenko, and the entire list go to prison. To me these are all chains in this odious, kleptocratic regime, from the policeman who breaks your arm to Timchenko who steals oil, it’s all related…

Host: [interrupting] Do you want to become President?

Navalny: I do want to become President. I want to change life in this country, I want to change the system of administration, I want to make it so that the 140 million people of in this country – who are surrounded by oil and gas that flows out of the ground – would no longer have to live in destitution and hopeless squalor, but lived normally, like in any European country. We aren’t any worse than Estonians!

Host: Do you have a clear, well-planned program? Because as we know, and I think we raised the issue a year ago with you, you said that one shouldn’t lie and steal, and we got questions from many people like this on air: “To not steal and lie is all well and good, but what can we concretely do about it?”

Navalny: These “many people” are all idiots. We don’t need to do anything other not lie and not steal.

Host: So everyone will cease to not lie… will cease lying and will cease stealing…

Navalny: [interrupting] It’s the principles that are important.

Host: … and the Sun will start shining?

Navalny: If the top echelons of government will no longer lie and steal, but will do what is expected of it, and will at the least start to realize those nice programs of Putin such as Strategy 2020… All the reforms we need have already been compiled, down to roadmap detail. But none of them are being fulfilled.

Host: [interrupting] [unclear] … So the plans suit you. At least as they are on paper.

Navalny: No. They don’t exist. The plan for Russia’s development, and reforms, has been reworked multiple times, and overall everybody pretty much understands and agrees… We have this strange situation where we have a consensus between Left and Right as relates to the reforms we have to carry out, but they aren’t getting carried out, because the essence of the current regime is corruption. Everybody more or less understands how to combat this corruption, and we bring very concrete and constructive proposals on how to combat corruption to Medvedev’s anti-corruption conferences…

Host: For example Rospil.

Navalny: Yes Rospil, and our Anti-Corruption Fund, and many other suggestions, and many people there agree with those suggestions, but nothing happens further.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

Russia is preparing to “nationalize the elites” by forbidding bureaucrats (and their spouses and children) from owning property or bank accounts abroad.

(1) This need hardly be said at this point but this does demonstrate that Russia is not the “kleptocracy” it is frequently described as. Why would kleptocrats purposefully make life any harder for themselves?

(2) It is also unprecedentedly harsh and rigid. I know of no similarly harsh law in any other country, be it clean or corrupt.

(3) The law was pushed for in its current form by UR deputy Valery Trapeznikov, who used to be an industrial worker from the Urals. The same type of person whom democratic journalist Julia Ioffe calls sovoks, and the same organization that is called the “party of crooks and thieves” by Navalny and chums.

(4) There is some opposition to the law, but it does not come from the quarters a consumer of Western media might expect. By and large, they are liberals.

(5) President of Londongrad Prokhorov argues that this “automatically closes the gates to power for those, who have succeeded in life – young, entrepreneurial, independent people. For those, who have earned enough so as to not steal, who have reasons for going into politics other than to fatten their bank accounts.” Despite the obvious self-interest and poorly disguised class chauvinism this reeks of, there is some measure of truth to this.

(6) But voices like Prokhorov’s are in the minority. While a majority of Russians are fine with people holding foreign bank accounts, they’re not okay with bureaucrats doing the same. 66% support this law, while only 10% are again.

(7) One common but rather unconvincing argument is that it will have no effect anyway because bureaucrats would just re-register their houses to their parents’ or other relatives’ names; or transfer ownership to an anonymous account with an offshore firm; or use the law’s exceptions, e.g. undergoing (fictitious) medical treatment or education abroad. This is besides the point. Of course all this will happen to some extent, but the whole point is that it will make things much harder for them, and will tilt the incentives against owning property abroad. Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign didn’t end Russia’s alcoholism problem either, but it did diminish it to a great enough extent to add 2 years in life expectancy in the space of a couple of years.

(8) Many of the critics say that it is also a substitute for a “real” war against a corruption, one of many. As I pointed out before, that is because liberals can never be truly appeased. They seem to think that corruption is a problem that can be solved at the drop of a hat should the thieving authorities really desire it, when in fact it is a product of deeply-seated and only barely corrigible institutional and even biopolitical factors.

(9) One truly problematic feature that the critics are correct about is that this law doesn’t distinguish between magnitudes. A $50,000 two bedroom apartment in a Bulgarian seaside town is honestly affordable even for a relatively middling Russian bureaucrat, so why should he be denied it? There is clearly a difference between that, and a multi-million dollar villa in the French Riviera.

(10) I also think a major and understated reason for this law’s appearance is security concerns now that the US may be enacting the Magnitsky Act and some of its close allies are considering similar sanctions. The broad texting of the law, encompassing anyone who the US decides to name as a “human rights abuser”, as well as its proposed extension to cover other countries like China, clearly indicate that it probably has little to do with human rights and a lot more to do with subversion; i.e., a Russian official, clean or otherwise, who happens to have a residence or bank account in the US, can be blackmailed into spying or influencing the country in certain ways by a threat to freeze or seize his US assets. So ironically, I guess this infringement on Russian sovereignty has actually – arguably – had a positive effect on it.

I guess “nationalizing” elites is one way to reduce the risks of hostile takeover bids on them.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

Taisiya Osipova was sentenced to 8 eight years in jail for selling and possessing heroin.

This was twice more even than what the prosecution requested. Even if the case was rock solid it would still be wildly disproportionate as she suffers from diabetes. But it’s not; to the contrary, there are reasonable suspicions that the drugs were planted by the police.

However Mrs. Osipova isn’t telegenic, and her politics are National Bolshevik, so she will get 1,000x less attention than the Pussy Rot whores.

Addendum 8/30: Certainly, unlike with Pussy Riot, I don’t see any Raskolnikov wannabe knifing a mother and daughter to death in their apartment and inscribing “Free Taisiya Osipova” in blood on the walls.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

User Jennifer Hor writes:

Last time I looked at the financial cost of capital punishment in the US was several years ago and already in the late 1990s – early 2000s, the cost of executing someone was US$8 million in Florida… There are costs involved like the various appeals processes which take up people’s time and hiring and paying juries for several trials that might take weeks or months. Economic austerity may be the one thing that gets cash-strapped states like California to abolish the death penalty.

My highlights. The death penalty is expensive in America only because it chooses to make it so. I’m not much against that because the US is also clearly rich enough to afford the process. The only problem of course is that it in effect nullifies the deterrent value of the DP. I read in Freakonomics that the average life expectancy of a man on death row is actually higher than of a bro selling drugs in the hood. So what kind of deterrent is that? Either go the Singapore/China route of a quick trial and execution – or you might as well cancel it altogether.

But it’s not really an issue I care about much either way. It’s not exactly going to make the US or California bankrupt. As long as the DP applies for appropriate crimes (e.g. premeditated murder, serial murder, national treason during wartime, etc) and not stupid shit like blasphemy or drugs possession then I’m basically fine with it. I’m not a bloodthirsty person but why the hell should I care about the life of some lowlife who derives entertainment from killing people or eating children or whatever?

I submit that in some places and circumstances however the DP would be highly useful. In low IQ / high testosterone countries where violent crime levels are extremely high – and where policing isn’t very effective. Visceral demonstrations are very good deterrents and this is in fact probably the reason why virtually all pre-industrial societies enforced the DP. I submit that the DP would still be highly desirable in places where violent crime is out of control like Venezuela or South Africa.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

That is, when it happens to show that someone is a mental retard and as such shouldn’t be executed for murder.

Just the old liberal hamster wheel logic in action.

I’m actually quite indifferent to the DP. But I’m not indifferent to using mental retardation as a defense. If anything it is more of a reason to execute the murderer as the very dull operate by instinct and emotion, not cost/benefit calculations, and as such cannot be expected to reform and make positive contributions to society even if provided with incentives to do so.

The other reason is shown by the graph above. Stupid people are simply far, far more likely to be criminals than normal people. Making retardation a defense against the DP effectively puts the most criminally prone cognitive fraction of the American population above the law.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

Imagine you’re a British extraditions judge and you are asked to rule on the following cases.

(1) An oligarch exile who came from a country where he might well have ordered contract murders and is now loudly and implacably opposed to its new President who dispossessed him of his political influence. Although the British establishment considers said country, Russia, a geopolitical competitor, the exile has more delusions than power, and is unable to inflict any damage on it.

(2) A British computer science student who made $230,000 through a website that offered hyperlinks to films and TV shows online; nothing cardinally differentiates it from Google. The US demands his extradition where he can be imprisoned for up to 10 years. What he did is not even a crime in the UK.

(3) A celebrity Australian citizen wanted on sexual molestation charges in Sweden that are not even a crime in the UK, and which were, in fact, previously dismissed – only to be brought up again soon after Cablegate on the initiative of a Swedish prosecutor who happens to have a rich history of radical feminist advocacy. The opacity of Sweden’s judicial system on sexual crimes means said Australian citizen can easily be renditioned to the US where a grand jury has already been convened and issued a secret indictment against him.

(4) A serial pedophile who is an American citizen who is wanted by the US.

Berezovsky lives a happy life in Moscow on the Thames. Richard O’Dwyer was ruled eligible for extradition by the Home Office. Assange’s bail conditions were more stringent than that of a suspected murderer from South Africa, and his extradition has recently been ruled eligible causing him to seek refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy. Shawn Sullivan is protected from extradition by the High Court because imprisonment is a violation of pedophiles’ human rights.

No further comment is necessary on my part. Take from this what you will.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

Via Economist:

This makes sense to me. While cannabis is well-known in Russia, attitudes towards it are mostly disparaging where not hostile even in relatively enlightened Moscow. The druggies there tend to be more hardcore anyway. It is a large part of the conversation in the UK – see the debates over what classification it should get – but actually getting hold of it wasn’t easy (I never managed to at any rate, though in fairness I didn’t try; nor did I ever see a weed circle).

In contrast, weed is ubiquitous in the US – well, at least in California. There are books on cannabis horticulture openly sold on the streets (some go on to put this knowledge into practice in secluded inland forest glades). There is the 4/20 Festival in which thousands of people gather round the Bay to smoke weed. While it is illegal in theory in practice it is almost never enforced and one can easily find dealers with product. Indeed one can buy a medical certificate proving that you have an ailment that required treatment with marijuana from a doctor for a small fee.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

Authoritarianism doesn’t always come with bells, whistles and goose-steps. More typically, it develops in a series of interlocking steps – a state of emergency (“war on terror”) here, a couple of indefinite detentions and Presidential hit orders there, their eventual legal codification – that while on their own seem justifiable and even innocuous, when taken together generate a pernicuous influence on the democratic polity. Furthermore, the gradualism or “creeping normalcy” of these processes insulate the gradual amassment of powers by the power ministries from challenge and conceals it from the eyes of a largely apathetic citizenry and compliant mass media. Nonetheless, in retrospect, specific precedents and laws will stand out: say, Article 58 in the early USSR, or…

While browsing Glenn Greenwald’s blog today, I came across a bill proposed by McCain and Lieberman (both tireless promoters of the freedom agenda abroad if not at home) back in March 2010 that, if passed, may well come to be seen as the tombstone to meaningful civil rights and rule of law in the US. Welcome to the S. 3081 “Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010.” First, the definitions:

SEC. 6. DEFINITIONS. …

(9) UNPRIVILEGED ENEMY BELLIGERENT- The term ‘unprivileged enemy belligerent’ means an individual (other than a privileged belligerent) who–

  • (A) has engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners;
  • (B) has purposely and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners; or
  • (C) was a part of al Qaeda at the time of capture.

This basically replaces the Bush-era concept of the “alien enemy combatant” with “unpriveleged enemy belligerent”. At least they no longer discriminate against non-American citizens. ;)

In particular, note that in our age, the concept of “material support” is coming to be interpreted in the broadest terms (it includes, amongst other things, to “to engage in public advocacy to challenge a group’s “terrorist” designation or even to encourage peaceful avenues for redress of grievances.”)

SEC. 2. PLACEMENT OF SUSPECTED UNPRIVILEGED ENEMY BELLIGERENTS IN MILITARY CUSTODY.

5(a) Military Custody Requirement- Whenever within the United States, its territories, and possessions, or outside the territorial limits of the United States, an individual is captured or otherwise comes into the custody or under the effective control of the United States who is suspected of engaging in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners through an act of terrorism, or by other means in violation of the laws of war, or of purposely and materially supporting such hostilities, and who may be an unprivileged enemy belligerent, the individual shall be placed in military custody for purposes of initial interrogation and determination of status in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

This not only allows but REQUIRES all individuals just SUSPECTED of “materially supporting” (the vaguely defined) “hostilities against the United States”, be he arrested in the Empire or its colonies, to be INCARCERATED by the military. With help from particularly liberal interpretations of the Espionage Act, the opportunities are endless!

(b) Reasonable Delay for Intelligence Activities- An individual who may be an unprivileged enemy belligerent and who is initially captured or otherwise comes into the custody or under the effective control of the United States by an intelligence agency of the United States may be held, interrogated, or transported by the intelligence agency and placed into military custody for purposes of this Act if retained by the United States within a reasonable time after the capture or coming into the custody or effective control by the intelligence agency, giving due consideration to operational needs and requirements to avoid compromise or disclosure of an intelligence mission or intelligence sources or methods.

These checks are just subjectivity galore, offering no real protections. What constitutes a “reasonable time”? What’s “due consideration to operational needs” in an endless-by-definition “war on terror” which many of the supporters of this bill gleefully proclaim will last decades?

Now for the nuts and bolts of how the status of “unprivileged enemy belligerent” is to be conferred.

SEC. 3. INTERROGATION AND DETERMINATION OF STATUS OF SUSPECTED UNPRIVILEGED ENEMY BELLIGERENTS. …

(a) Establishment of Interrogation Groups-

(2) COMPOSITION- Each interagency team under this subsection shall be composed of such personnel of the Executive Branch having expertise in matters relating to national security, terrorism, intelligence, interrogation, or law enforcement as the President considers appropriate. The members of any particular interagency team may vary depending on the skills most relevant to a particular case. …

(b) Interrogations- …

(2) UTILIZATION OF OTHER PERSONNEL- A high-value detainee interrogation group may utilize military and intelligence personnel, and Federal, State, and local law enforcement personnel, in conducting interrogations of a high-value detainee. The utilization of such personnel for the interrogation of a detainee shall not alter the responsibility of the interrogation group for the coordination within the Executive Branch of the interrogation of the detainee or the determination of status and disposition of the detainee under this Act.

(3) INAPPLICABILITY OF CERTAIN STATEMENT AND RIGHTS- A individual who is suspected of being an unprivileged enemy belligerent shall not, during interrogation under this subsection, be provided the statement required by Miranda v. Arizona (384 U.S. 436 (1966)) or otherwise be informed of any rights that the individual may or may not have to counsel or to remain silent consistent with Miranda v. Arizona.

If the glorious Government suspects you then you have no rights. Props to them for spelling it out clearly.

(c) Determinations of Status- …

(1) PRELIMINARY DETERMINATION BY HIGH-VALUE DETAINEE INTERROGATION GROUP- The high-value detainee interrogation group responsible for interrogating a high-value detainee under subsection (b) shall make a preliminary determination whether or not the detainee is an unprivileged enemy belligerent. The interrogation group shall make such determination based on the result of its interrogation of the individual and on all intelligence information available to the interrogation group. The interrogation group shall, after consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, submit such determination to the Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General.

All unelected; unaccountable.

(2) FINAL DETERMINATION- As soon as possible after receipt of a preliminary determination of status with respect to a high-value detainee under paragraph (1), the Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General shall jointly submit to the President and to the appropriate committees of Congress a final determination whether or not the detainee is an unprivileged enemy belligerent for purposes of this Act. In the event of a disagreement between the Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General, the President shall make the final determination.

Well that’s reassuring! But things are about to get even more interesting…

(d) Regulations-

(2) CRITERIA FOR DESIGNATION OF INDIVIDUALS AS HIGH-VALUE DETAINEES- The regulations required by this subsection shall include criteria for designating an individual as a high-value detainee based on the following:

(A) The potential threat the individual poses for an attack on civilians or civilian facilities within the United States or upon United States citizens or United States civilian facilities abroad at the time of capture or when coming under the custody or control of the United States.

(B) The potential threat the individual poses to United States military personnel or United States military facilities at the time of capture or when coming under the custody or control of the United States.

(C) The potential intelligence value of the individual.

(D) Membership in al Qaeda or in a terrorist group affiliated with al Qaeda.

(E) Such other matters as the President considers appropriate.

The emphasis on “potential threats” – everyone is if you’re paranoid enough – is disturbing enough. But the final point gives practically unlimited leeway to the President, to Obama and his successors, and is otherwise known as “rule by man“, or Caesarism.

SEC. 4. LIMITATION ON PROSECUTION OF ALIEN UNPRIVILEGED ENEMY BELLIGERENTS.1

(a) Limitation- No funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Justice may be used to prosecute in an Article III court in the United States, or in any territory or possession of the United States, any alien who has been determined to be an unprivileged enemy belligerent under section 3(c)

(b) Applicability Pending Final Determination of Status- While a final determination on the status of an alien high-value detainee is pending under section 3(c)(2), the alien shall be treated as an unprivileged enemy belligerent for purposes of subsection (a).

If I understand it correctly, this basically reinforces the essential points of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Once a foreigner suspected of being an ememy combatant / enemy belligerent is captured, not even the (minimal) protections offered to US citizens will be made available.

SEC. 5. DETENTION WITHOUT TRIAL OF UNPRIVILEGED ENEMY BELLIGERENTS.

An individual, including a citizen of the United States, determined to be an unprivileged enemy belligerent under section 3(c)(2) in a manner which satisfies Article 5 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War may be detained without criminal charges and without trial for the duration of hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners in which the individual has engaged, or which the individual has purposely and materially supported, consistent with the law of war and any authorization for the use of military force provided by Congress pertaining to such hostilities.

The reference to the Geneva Conventions is irrelevant filler: it has already been determines that these protections don’t apply to unlawful enemy combatants. Since the “war on terror” is an Orwellian permanent war, it implies that the detentions can in fact be as long as the system wants it to be (unless cut short by “intentional homicide” or accidents).

One has to be deluded to think that this bill will only be used against real terrorists if it passes. There are a whole lot of other targets for the picking by the power elites:

  • Environmentalists, climate scientists: Are already regularly harassed, marginalized, occassionally branded as “eco-terrorists.” Note that one of the sponsors of the bill, Jim Inhofe, is a rabid AGW denier who has called for the criminal prosecution of climate scientists. No doubt he will have his own peculiar ideas of what constitutes hostilities against the US.
  • Muslim activists: For every real Islamic terrorist who is swept up by the security services, it seems there are at least ten or more whose only sin was being engaged with Islamic charities or activist causes or purposefully set up by the FBI.
  • Wikileaks: Prominent political figures in the US have equated Assange with terrorists, with Sarah Palin calling for him to be hunted down like Osama bin Laden. Imagine the possibilities if someone like her were to be President with this law on her side. Meanwhile, the Bradley Manning imprisonment shows that grim reality (a US citizen held in stiffling solitary confinement for months without charge) remains well ahead of its own impending legalization / normalization.
  • Pirates: With the soaring corporate takeover of politics and the influence of the MPAA and other dedicated opponents of information freedom, will pirates be “information terrorists”?
  • Tea Party: While the GOP may entertain those elements of Tea Party populism that benefit their rich backers, they have zero interest in accomodating those Tea Party off-shoots that actually advocate Establishment-contrary policies such as ending Wall Street bailouts or paring down the military-industrial complex. Aren’t these also a potential terrorist threat?

This is a bill that must be watched closely, if or once it gets round to a hearing or markup; its passage unlikely today, but vastly more probable if there is another terrorist act (even a failed one). Note that a decade ago, and maybe even five years ago, such a “extremist, tyrannical and dangerous” (in Greenwald’s words) piece of legislation would have been unimaginable.

At least in its current form, adoption would open the floodgates to a massive retreat of civil liberties – especially under future Presidents operating with lowered ethical standards and a more accomodating and conservative Supreme Court, and higher dependencies on corporate sponsors and unaccountable security agencies.

(Republished from Sublime Oblivion by permission of author or representative)
 
No Items Found
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.