Beware of ‘official’ violence

Government creates ways to punish without due process

MellaneoussquareWhile much of the talk around violence centers around crazed folks with guns, the events and information that has come out over the last week has added “official” violence by government and government agencies and law enforcement as institutions that are to be feared as well. A White House memo has given justification to killing Americans without trial.

Nearly one-third of women in the armed forces have been sexually assaulted. This, as well as Christopher Dorner’s fiery death, is proof positive that we Americans are not even safe from those who are supposed to look out for our best interests.

Christopher Dorner went down in a blaze set by San Bernardino county law enforcement. Officials insist that they didn’t intentionally set the cabin Dorner was holed up in on fire. But official communications by the department at the time clearly show the opposite, that they indeed set the cabin on fire deliberately.

In fact, there was a communication that indicated that when the police found out that the cabin had a basement, they insisted that the fire finish off the basement as well. Clearly there was no effort to capture Dorner or take him alive.

Dorner had accused the police in his manifesto — a document that has been widely circulated on the Internet and originally posted on his Facebook page — of a kind of savage indifference. He told of how racism and brutality were still very much a part of the LAPD’s Standard Operating Procedure. He was kicked off the force when he tried to turn in a fellow officer for allegedly brutalizing a handcuffed mentally ill man; instead, he was accused of filing a false report and fired, which he said prompted his killing spree.

Ironically and almost on cue, LA police nearly killed two Latin women delivering papers in a van that came nowhere near matching the description of the car Dorner had supposedly been driving. The police had not tried to detain the couple or stop them, but rather opened fire on them.

While Dorner can’t be seen as a hero, his accusations were received as truth by many around the country who surprisingly sympathized with him and his desire to clear his name, even after it was reported that he had murdered a couple. And more ironic yet is the police’s cold-blooded murder of Dorner, which further made his point that law enforcement doesn’t really exist to serve, and that when it serves them, law enforcement can quickly become judge, jury and executioner — in other words, official vigilantes.

Speaking of vigilantism, the White House memo that was recently released explained how the right to due process as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution could be circumvented when the president decides that he wants to kill someone because of their connection to Al Queada or one of its associates.

At present, the president has what has become known as a “kill list,” a list of folks who have been declared at war with the U.S. and who the government therefore can use drones to kill at will. As might be assumed, the drones don’t perform their work as cleanly as hoped, and often innocent women and children are killed.

Last year it was estimated that about 300 civilians, including women and children, have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan over the last few years. The White House has been on record saying that a certain number of civilian casualties are something they can live with. Not surprisingly, the victims and victims’ families don’t share that sentiment.

Now however, since the killing of Ymeni imam Anwar al-Aulaqi, the U.S. government has decided that it has the right to kill Americans who hold contempt and utter threats against the country. That’s right, the president has killed three Americans by use of drone without the benefit of a trial.

Neither al-Aulaqi nor his son enjoyed the right to presumed innocence, due process or trial by jury. Nor were they afforded the right to life and liberty. This is precedent setting; no president — not even George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan — has suspended the right of an American citizen to life without proper jurisprudence.

And rounding out our concern for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, it was revealed that last year alone 1,900 U.S. servicewomen were sexually assaulted. Imagine the families sending their precious daughters to join in the effort to supposedly protect their country, and it turns out that many need protection from their fellow soldiers.

Adding to their woe is the fact that the military turns the women who have been victimized into further victims by often punishing the women for reporting violence perpetrated against them. Making matters worse is the need for a near decree from God to bring the perpetrators to justice.

There is a great documentary on this problem for those who refuse to believe this is happening in the U.S. military, but none of this should be all that surprising. Violence really is as American as cherry pie, and “official” violence by the government and its agencies that are supposedly sworn to protect us is becoming just as endemic.


Mel Reeves welcomes reader responses to mreeves@spokes