The morning of 9/11/2001, as America was learning about the terror attacks in NYC and Washington, DC, I was approached by three prison lieutenants and locked down in the Segregated Housing Unit (SHU, the “hole”) at FCI Jesup, GA. It wasn’t yet noon.
I would be held there incommunicado for the next 50 days. I later learned I was one of 130+ political prisoners in the United State’s federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) locked down by a secret Justice Department directive that day.
Upon my eventual release back to general population in November, I learned of the specifics of the attack and that a grab-bag of security-state powers had been enacted as the oxymoronic Patriot Act.
The business partners of Bush & Cheney– the Saudis and bin Ladens—had been allowed to escape FBI interrogation and returned to their nation (even as all general and commercial aviation in the US had been shut down).
The most astonishing fact was that wars against Afghanistan and Iraq were in preparation. The attack was obviously an international criminal act, not perpetrated by any nation (unless one considered the regime of Saudi Arabia who financed Al Qaeda and provided 15 of the 19 terrorists). As a former journalist in the Middle East, I knew that blaming Afghanistan or Iraq was pure folly.
Millions have subsequently been murdered and displaced. The blowback continues. Only the military-corporatist complex has profited … which was obviously the intent following Day One of Ground Zero.
The use of the military to combat terrorist groups that have sanctuary w/in national borders is understandable, but only w/in the context of an international criminal-justice context … not a war that can’t help but target the innocent population.
And that’s where we remain today…
“Political” propaganda is the default cloak of state and high crime. “Crime” itself is defined and legislated by those who rule and regulate it. (The Koch Brothers are today’s poster boys for political-criminal corporatism.) Civilization can be measured by how well the masses of a given society can assert political power over themselves.
When I was 14, I robbed my newspaper-route manager. I was given probation. (While the cops were writing me up, one of them said, “You gotta be pretty stupid knowing that you couldn’t get away w/this!”
Without thinking, I replied, “YOU gotta be pretty stupid if you think that I did this knowing I’d be caught!” (Actually, I wasn’t “caught,” I was snitched out.) The cop behind me kicked out the chair and slapped the piss outta me. I learned a life lesson. Cops can say and do whatever they want, you can’t. That life lesson continues.
At 16, I was given a choice of going into the Army or facing charges for a number of business burglaries.
In the Army at 17, I found real crime and terror (1959-61; 101st Airborne, GA and TN). I was introduced to the KKK, their police allies (most often one and the same) and a post-bellum population that largely excused and enabled them. I managed to survive…barely.
How much have the times REALLY changed?
After the Army I remained in the Old South, re-trained as a draftsman, taught roller-dancing and sold encyclopedias door-to-door. I was also active in civil rights throughout GA, FL, AL, MS and TN. I served a brutal year+ on a rock-quarry, chain-gang, and Finally Got the News.
In September of ’65, they took me outta their hole–after patching up my bones and an operation to remove a soup spoon handle from my stomach—took me down to the Trailways bus station to the first bus going north, removed my chains, and warned me, “Don’t let your goddamn yankee, ‘nigger-lovin’ ass, step foot south of the Mason-Dixon again, boy!”
I left them with a gift. I blew the whistle on their criminal-terror system in a series of articles in the Nashville Tennessean, helped get the rock-quarry gang closed down and place the workhouse under federal receivership. At least for awhile…
Trailways took me to Detroit. I got a factory job that exposed me to old-time radicals from the 1930s and soon acquired a comprehensive class-consciousness (Local #212, UAW). In the summer of ’66 I had a conversion experience and have since considered myself a revolutionary socialist.
Turning to political activism, I was elected Chairman of the Detroit Committee to End the War in Vietnam (DCEWV), co-founder and chair of the Veterans Against the War (VAW) and an Executive Committee member of the Young Socialist Alliance and the Socialist Workers Party (YSA/SWP).
In ’68, I took the SAT and was accepted at Wayne State University (despite my 9th grade education, I had passed the GED in the Army). I attended school on the GI Bill. In my freshman year, I became the Managing Editor of the daily student newspaper, The South End. The skids were well-greased for several years as a journalist in the Middle East, 17-yrs in criminal/civil investigations out of Detroit, and eventually a doctorate (PsyD) in Forensic Psychology. I also learned some of the finer merits of capitalism … at least the truly free enterprise side.
Coming out of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, in addition to rock ‘n roll and free-love, were a variety of drugs … especially reefer. Whenever the state prohibits a popular product or service they in fact create a profitable market for it.
Make Love — Not War!
The reality is that a significant portion of the US economy is based on under-the-table entrepreneurship … a cash economy. What? You thought all that $$ went into backyard PVC tubes? The real deal is that 99% of illicit cash is either recirculated into the economy and/or “trickles up” into the coffers and pockets of the wealthy elite (the reverse of Stockman/Reagan’s dictum.)
For some of us (on main-street), rather than continuing to seek drugs from a stone-criminal market, we developed independent sources. Why let our money keep flowing to external and criminal orgs? We could finance our own ops.
The market and purchases continued to escalate reaching higher into wholesale suppliers. Mid-level business developed and the standard market-pyramid was created. I was soon marketing lots of 100 lbs and up. I recall one delivery of 2,000 lbs. People major in Harvard business for this shit.
I was not much into personally profiteering … most of the funds went into progressive causes. (Right-wing orgs do the same, but of course they’re criminal predators to begin with and focused on personal wealth.)
In 1974, pursuing a defense witness in a drug case I was investigating, I traveled to Colombia, South America. Long story short, I was on the cusp of a marketing revolution in cocaine…a product that had also become ubiquitous in the student/grad/professional community (including cops, lawyers, teachers, doctors, judges, politicians, etc.).
A kilo of coke (2.2 lbs.) in ’74 in Colombia went for $1500-to-$5000. It flipped in Detroit (wholesale) for $50,000! ($275,000 in today’s $$) I was also a pilot by then, so the transition was logical. Returning vets from ‘Nam were quite ubiquitous in their entrepreneurial skills … yachts, ships, subs … you name it.
But things changed big-time in 1983 when the CIA and its ultra-right contractors got into the drug and arms trade. Reagan had a war to finance (Congress denied him funding after Vietnam.) Col. Oliver North and Admiral John Poindexter actually testified to Congress in the Iran-Contra Hearings that they didn’t inform Reagan because, they “knew what he wanted and what needed to be done,” and that it was their duty to give the President “plausible deniability.” In addition to arms, the DEA, CIA and other ops opened up new coke markets in the US (starting in LA) by creating crack. The whole episode is documented in a new film coming out on the subject, “Kill the Messenger.”
Unlike powder coke, usually sold by gram weight, snorted and costing about $100, rocks of crack (free-base coke) was smoked, having a greater and immediate rush-high and affordable rocks at $5, $10 and $20 sizes.
As a marketing strategy, it was brilliant. It was also deadly. It was remarkably cheap, instantaneous, and psychologically, addictively devastating. And it had the dual benefit of financing both the war and providing unending fodder to the prison-industrial complex. (The mirth in gov’t and corporate club rooms must have been quite hilarious.)
Practically every progressive/left org in the US that I had contact w/had at least one op who handled “underground fund-raising.” Discussions concerning the social devastation being created upon a susceptible mass of the population led to our decision to suspend all sales related to cocaine.
♪”Bringin’ in a couple of keys…”♫
By 1988, I became personally aware of a mail-cover, wiretaps and surveillance by the FBI (they got their spies; we had plenty of our own … still do). Being long out of the drug trade, I ignored them and continued my investigation work for Detroit area law firms.
Well, as the ancient Chinese Curse goes, “May you live in interesting times…” A series of incidents, occurred that put me back on the burner. I shot a former client in self-defense who later turned out to have been a confidential informant (CI) for the FBI. Opps… He was a part of their entrapment scheme.
While the state ruled it justifiable homicide, the FBI set me up for charges w/a crew they had just busted (a criminal group; no one I ever worked with). It was a pressure tactic to recruit me. I refused to “cooperate.” They gave several of those conspirators a free ride if they testified against me (putting me in their conspiracy). Three did.
I was tried, convicted and sentenced to 25-yrs. Long story. From 1990 thru 2010, I attended the American Gulag University (the federal Bureau of Prisons) “grad-school” for advanced criminal “justice.” (Hey! What can I say… It’s not like I can get too bent outta shape. Come the revolution, they’ll have no complaints when THEY TOO will pay for their PAST miss-deeds…)
During the same period as my trial, August of 1990, I was amused to watch former US ally Iraq roll into Kuwait for a 7-month occupation. They systematically looted numerous banks of $billions in foreign currency and notes, 3,216 gold bars (30#s each), 1,500 sets of commemorative gold coins, 120,000 valuable and historical books and documents from the National Library, numerous art and archaeo-antiquities from the National Museum, cars, planes…etc. The heist caravan of loot stretched for over 300 miles back to Baghdad.
I did my time honorably, serving in over a dozen US prisons, mostly clerking for staff, UNICOR (prison factories), eventually even being assigned to the Air Force at Maxwell AFB as an animal trainer, and the Navy as a Haz-Mat officer at Pensacola NAS. (Fed time can be different than state time.)
When several US banks and Wall Street financial manipulators busted the economy in 2008, they had their bribed elected officials loot the public treasury in turn to “bail them out.” They were “too big to fail.” Ponzi taken to the nth power… Back in ’33 FDR signed the Glass-Steagall Act to prevent that bank theft; in ’99 the banks “bought” enough Congressmen to have it gutted. (Economists like Richard Wolff have proposed rational alternatives.)
I have had lots of interesting cellmates (including Chelsea Clinton’s father-in-law, Congressman Ed Mezvinsky). Another cellmate was “Hans,” a Deutsche Bank exec. He taught me another aspect of high crime. He devised his own heist system—based upon the international scams he was daily observing/handling in NYC. Thru a not-so-complicated scheme, he grafted a scam-w/in-a-scam and sucked in Citibank, Goldman-Sachs and others (not his own bank).
Attributed to P.T. Barnum is the quote, “You can’t cheat an honest man.” His point was that the foundation to most scams is a touch of larceny; the sucker goes w/it because they think they’re getting away w/something.
The NY bank/financial syndicates thought they were routinely heisting several pension funds. Hans took them for $200 million. Of course, these corps were “connected,” so they got their gov’t pols to arrest Hans.
Hans laughed as he related it to me. He took an 11-yr rap. The banks never did recover the funds. Hans did his time and, last I heard he was on his yacht in the Carib. Let’s see … would you trade 11-yrs in Club Fed for $200 million? Sounds like a great retirement plan to me. While I was celling w/Hans, he even received a letter from Deutsche Bank assuring him that his job awaited his release.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Watergate. A president was forced to resign (the first in history), a US Attys General and a number of others were convicted and sent to prison. (Could you imagine that happening today?) The reporters for the Washington Post, Woodward and Bernstein, got much of their info from an inside source they called “Deep Throat.” That turned out to be Mark Felt, Associate Director of the FBI.
Felt’s advice to the reporters: Follow the Money. For corporatist-political-crime, that’s about as clear as one can get. Where are all those surviving players today? Working for big $$ finance firms, and being interviewed for their current “political and economic” opinions on Fox News, CNN, et al. So you tell me … does crime pay?
When Bush & Cheney were (s)elected to the White House by the Gang-of-Five co-conspirators on the US Supreme Court (having heisted the election), one of the first things they did is gut Clinton’s anti-terror/Al Qaeda/bin Laden initiatives.
The Bushes & Cheney had considerable history and business w/the Saudis and the bin Ladens … thick as thieves. They ignored all evidence—it was considerable and ongoing—that these Salafist fanatics were also terrorists. To the Bushes & Cheney it was all simply business… Enter 9/11.
I presume they thought at first: Holy Shit ! WTF!! But they soon recovered … “Oh well, how we gonna profit from this and keep our asses outta the line of fire?!?” (Hey! When you control the gov’t and its police, intel, military, etc., what’s the problem?)
When 9/11 occurred, there was a missed opportunity that we and the world are paying for to this day… The corporateers couldn’t afford to regard terrorism as a “criminal” offense, per se. Who knows where that could lead? People might actually start “following the money.”
When we sanction individual/group criminal actions as war, and corporations as “too big to fail,” we empower them and their “ideology.” I could go on w/examples all the long day…
The people, corporations, their political allies … the very system itself: It’s not just an “ideology.” It’s a CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY.
Maybe it just takes one to know one…