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xmag.com : April 2000 : Conspiracy Central

CONSPIRACY CENTRAL
by Jim Redden (an Exotic Online xtra)

FOREIGN POLICY POLITICS

America has a new foreign policy. As demonstrated in Bosnia and Kosovo, the Clinton Doctrine suggests that America should send military forces anywhere that people are oppressed because of their ethnic or religious backgrounds. But if that’s the case, why aren’t American troops being dispatched to two African countries where far more people have been “ethnically cleansed” than in the Balkans? These countries are Sudan and Sierra Leone. According to recent news reports, nearly two million people have been killed and at least four million have been displaced during the 16-year-old civil war that is currently raging in Sudan. Hospitals, schools and other civilian targets are being bombed on a daily basis. Meanwhile, in Sierra Leone, more than 50,000 persons have been killed and one million displaced over the past eight years. According to Human Rights Watch, rebel forces systematically murdered, mutilated, and raped civilians during their January offensive. Entire families were gunned down in the street, children and adults had their limbs hacked off with machetes, and girls and young women were taken to rebel bases and sexually abused. So far Clinton hasn’t made an issue of the slaughter in either country.

 

YOU’RE BEING WATCHED

According to the Irish Times, U.S. and European governments have reached an agreement to help each other spy on their citizens. The scheme, called Enfopol, is currently being considered by the European Union. It would allow law enforcement officials to eavesdrop on Internet, fax and mobile phone conversations and will force the communications providers to foot the bill. Writes the Times: "What concerns [European Parliament members] is that there is no clear definition of what constitutes a serious crime, and that law enforcement officials do not have to obtain a court order before an interception ... Enfopol will enable police to track and record email and mobile phone calls across international boundaries through real-time remote access points or backdoors. For instance, Internet service providers must provide police forces with access to their computer systems so that they can track email traffic. The agreement also includes a memorandum of understanding between Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Norway. So law enforcement officials from any of these states can eavesdrop on each other's citizens."

 

WATCH OUT FOR MARTIAL LAW

In what appears to be a carefully-orchestrated move, the Pentagon is using President Bill Clinton’s numerous warnings about domestic terrorism to fundamentally change the role of the U.S. military. Federal law prohibits military troops from domestic law enforcement operations, unless the President formally declares martial law. The Posse Comitatus Act, passed after the Civil War to reign in the military, bars federal troops from doing police work within the United States. But now the Pentagon has asked Clinton to appoint a military leader for the continental United States. The Pentagon says the appointment is necessary to respond to the threat of major terrorist strikes on American soil. The request was made in late January, shortly after Clinton delivered a series of warnings about domestic terrorism, including a passage of his State of the Union address. On January 21, Clinton said it was “highly likely” that a terrorist group will launch or threaten a germ or biological attack somewhere in America in the next few years. The New York Times reported the Pentagon’s request one week later. White House officials characterize the request as a minor adjustment of the lines of military authority and organization. But civil libertarians say such military power could threaten the privacy and liberty of private citizens. “The danger is in the inevitable expansion of that authority so the military gets involved in things like arresting people and investigating crimes,” said Gregory Nojeim, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “It’s hard to believe that a soldier with a suspect in the sights of his M-1 tank is well positioned to protect that person’s civil liberties.” The White House says Clinton has the power to approve the request without seeking Congressional approval.

 

DRUG WAR DISASTER

The American Bar Association says the government’s War on Drugs is a failure. According to a February study conducted by the ABA, more people are being arrested on drug charges and sentenced to longer jail terms than ever before. Among other things, the study found that 1.2 million people were arrested on drug charges in 1997, a 73 percent increase over the number of people arrested in 1992. Despite that, the study says, illegal drug use increased 7 percent from 1996 to 1997. Myrna Raeder, chairwoman of the ABA’s Criminal Justice Section, says the statistics suggest the policy of arrest and incarceration “does not work.” Marc Mauer, assistant director of the Sentencing Project in Washington, DC, agrees. He says drug crimes, more than most other offenses, “are much less affected by tough sentencing policies.”

 

MEXICAN PRIORITIES

The Mexican economy is in turmoil, with millions of people unemployed and daily protests in the capital city. Despite that the Mexican government recently committed to spending $400 million to $500 million over the next few years to fight drugs. The money will go to buy a wide range of military and law enforcement equipment, including planes, helicopters, high-speed navy patrol boats, satellite surveillance systems, radar systems, and hydraulic X-ray devices that can detect drugs or weapons in any vehicle. The United States government pressured the Mexican government into developing and adopting the spending plan. It was announced just weeks before the March 1 deadline when President Clinton informed Congress whether Mexico and 27 other countries have fully cooperated in the War on Drugs. Failing the certification scorecard could result in financial and other penalties. Borrowing a phrase from Nazi Germany, Mexican Interior Secretary Francisco Labastida Ochoa declared “total war against drug trafficking” on February 4. “This is the most ambitious anti-drug effort that has ever been undertaken by our country.”

 

BIG BROTHER ALERT

Richard Clarke may be the most powerful person in the Clinton Administration you’ve never heard of. Clarke is the White House terrorism czar, charged with coordinating the federal government’s response to all forms of domestic and international terrorism — ranging from bombings to anthrax attacks to cyber-sabotoge. Working out of Oliver North’s old office at the National Security Council, Clarke has written at least four classified Presidential directives on terrorism. They helped create the $11 billion-a-year operation he is now overseeing. In addition, Clarke has a reserved seat when Cabinet members meet in the White House on National Security issues, next to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Secretary of Defense William Cohen. He pushed for the decision to fire cruise missiles at Afghanistan and Sudan in August, and he is currently coordinating efforts to capture suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. Clarke is also trying to rally public support for military attacks on computer hackers. “An attack on American cyber-space is an attack on the United States, just as much as landing on New Jersey,” he told New York Times. “I’m talking about shutting down a city’s electricity, shutting down 911 systems, shutting down telephone networks and transportation systems. You black out a city, people die. Black out lots of cities, lots of people die. It’s as bad as being attacked by bombs. The notion that we could respond with military force against a cyber-attack has to be accepted.”

 

CRIME (LAW) WAVE

Congress is passing so many new criminal laws that even the American Bar Association is worried about the growing power of the federal government. In mid-February 1999, an ABA task force chaired by former attorney general Edwin Meese III said Congress is sometimes pushed to pass "misguided, unnecessary and harmful" anti-crime laws out of fear of being considered soft on crime if it fails to act. The "Federalization of Criminal Law" report mirrors criticism raised by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist in his year-end report on the federal judiciary in December. Rehnquist blamed the trend on pressure in Congress "to appear responsive to every highly publicized societal ill or sensational crime." The report states: "Enactment of each new Federal crime bestows new Federal investigative powers on Federal agencies, broadening their power to intrude into individual lives. Expansion of federal jurisdiction also creates the opportunity for greater collection and maintenance of data at the Federal level in an era when various databases are computerized and linked." The panel notes with alarm that more than 40 percent of all federal criminal laws enacted since the Civil War have been passed since 1970. Federal criminal justice expenditures grew by 317 percent from 1982 to 1993, compared to a 163 percent increase on the state level. The number of Federal prosecutors increased from 3,000 to 8,000 over the past 30 years. And, of 59,242 Federal charges filed against individuals in 1997, over 25 percent were for a single offense — drug trafficking. Several new federal laws, "championed by many because they would have a claimed impact on crime, have hardly been used at all," the task force found. It cited laws dealing with drive-by shootings, interstate domestic violence, failure to report child abuse and murder by escaped prisoners. "There is no persuasive evidence that federalization of local crime makes the streets safer for American citizens," the report concludes.

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