Is ‘Seize Now, Sort It Later’ Itself an Assault on Liberty?

Yves here. Lambert was early to identify what he called “authoritarian followership” among Team Dem. It’s now going to its logical conclusion as the Democrats and even many supposedly lefties are fine with the trashing of civil rights and liberty if that expedites bringing down Hair Furore.

By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at God’s Spies

“In Trump-related cases, the DOJ has pushed the tactical envelope in all the same ways it has with other types of unpopular defendants over the years, only it’s done so with a disturbing … presumption that the public wants them to color outside the lines more than ever, and deal even more cruelly with targets. The DOJ has political winds at its back[that] it lacked even in the early War on Terror days.”
—Matt Taibbi, writing about the increasing power of the prosecutorial state

“The FBI has always been a tool of repression of left-wing movements.”
—Alex Vitale, author of The End of Policing

“The CIA is not your friend.”
—Edward Snowden, here

Two things can be true at the same time:

• Donald Trump can be an indefensible excuse for a president and represent a danger to the Republic (the formal institution of our government).

• At the same time, the National Security State can be exercising a power grab the likes of which will end both our democracy and our republican version of it.

Of course, both things can also be false, or just one true. If I were a novelist, I’d make both things true. But that’s just a novelist’s view. Let’s see what we find when we take a real-world view.

The Once and Future Danger

I take it as a given that Trump is a dangerous president. You can give your reasons, if you have them, as easily as I can give mine. Our lists might even match.

The point is not to argue our lists. The point is to wonder what made liberals — people who used to hate “spook state” agents like the FBI and CIA — suddenly love them, support their penetration of media via “unaffiliated” spokespeople, and blind themselves to the conversion of J. Edgar Hoover’s criminal, blackmail enterprise into modern angels of democratic deliverance in the present American mind?

A recent democratic angel of such deliverance is George W. Bush, he of torture and war crimes fame. Another is from the Cheney family, Trump-hating Liz Cheney, enemy of all that progressives hold dear save her animosity toward the Previous Occupant.

Are either of them friends of freedom? Not if you look at them — or retain the semblance of a memory — but they’re certainly praised as such, these days that is. Some Democrats might even finance her run for the presidency, should she choose to make one.

The lovable Mr. Bush, welcomed back to the fold

Who’s the once and future danger? Is it only Trump?

Hoover’s FBI, of course, has been credibly linked to the murder of Malcolm Xand less credibly linked to the murder of Martin Luther King. And the misdeeds of the National Security State writ large are numerous and indefensible. From the murder of Americans by the CIA drone operation(2010), to spying on the Supreme Court by the FBI (2012), to outright and unpunished lying under oath to Congress by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (2017) — it’s surprising to me that fervent defenders of democracy, folks to the left of the Right, your friends and mine, have become their fast friends as well, some even their defenders.

So surprisingly strong is the defense of the FBI by its former attackers that even the venerable folks at Democracy Now are taking a look. Describing a recent broadcast, they wrote (all bolded emphasis mine):

“There Are Good Reasons to Defund the FBI. They Have Nothing to Do with Trump” “Defund the FBI” is the growing call by Republicans after the FBI searched former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. We get response from Alex Vitale, author of “The End of Policing,” who lays out reasons to defund the FBI that have nothing to do with Trump. Vitale reviews the history of the FBI, which he says has “always been a tool of repression of left-wing movements,” and calls the FBI investigation into Trump a “shortsighted” attempt to shut down some of the most extreme parts of the right wing. He uplifts efforts to “reduce the power and scope of the FBI in ways that limit their ability to demonize and criminalize those on the left.”

Has Trump made us blind, or has the prosecutorial state reformed itself?

Is that question even being asked?

The DOJ’s Trojan Horse

All this leads me to recommend a full read of a series that appeared recently at Matt Taibbi’s Substack site. In a piece called “What Happened to America’s Civil Libertarians?” Taibbi details how disturbing it is for readers to even see these doubts expressed:

Over the weekend I published a feature on Justice Department use of bullying tactics and unfair practices, called “The Justice Department Was Dangerous Before Trump. It’s Out of Control Now.” Despite the fact that the bulk of the article focused on targets broadly sympathetic to the left, like the late radical lawyer Lynne Stewart and a civil rights firm in Baltimore raided for the crime of representing another lawyer, a flood of emails and social media posts ensued, most on the predictable theme that this piece [—] packed with facts and testimonials by people other than myself [—] was right-wing grift: “What happened to you, man?”

But the piece he refers to is solid and solidly researched. I strongly recommend reading it all.

In it he examines the use of “taint teams” by the FBI, a practice whereby they go into a target’s office, often a lawyer defending someone under investigation, and scoop up everything they can find, with the intention of assigning one of their own (but “not part of the investigation”) to look at everything and sort it out later. They’ve been doing this long before Trump took center stage.

Judges were especially upset with prosecutors who were taking advantage of technological changes to seize masses of electronic data — usually computers or cell phones containing private information outside the scope of the warrant request — and, in defiance of courts, keeping that information. In a case involving seizure of emails from a defense contractor suspected of a kickback scheme, a D.C. Magistrate named John Facciola expressed concern that the government would “keep data indefinitely” despite the fact that it is “illegal” to refuse to return “seized documents not described in a warrant.” Facciola, who’d dealt with this issue more than once, blew his top … [but he was] overturned by a judge, Richard Roberts, who said the government’s take-everything, construct-probable-cause-later method was okay so long as there was “sufficient chance of finding some needles in the computer haystack.” This was the kind of judicial advice the feds liked: seize now, worry later.

Of one such raid of the law office of Joshua Treem, “the lawyer of the lawyer of a suspect,” Taibbi writes:

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Maryland had long been pursuing a lawyer named Ken Ravenell, one of the top criminal attorneys in Baltimore, believing he was essentially part of the criminal operation of a Jamaican marijuana kingpin named Richard Byrd. That the feds raided Ravenell’s office in 2014 was one thing. The real shocker came in 2019, when the U.S. Attorney and the I.R.S. raided the law office of Ravenell’s lawyer, Joshua Treem. If the Lynne Stewart case was about intimidating the lawyer of a suspect, this case was about intimidating the lawyer of the lawyer of a suspect. The DOJ didn’t just take Treem’s files. It took huge amounts of data and files from the firm where Treem was and is a partner, Brown, Goldstein, and Levy. This group of lawyers had been repeatedly recognized as a top firm by U.S. News and World Report and Best Lawyers in America, with several attorneys winning annual “Baltimore Lawyer of the Year” awards, including Treem himself. Despite their standing, the Justice Department treated Treem’s firm like terror suspects, delivering a surprise search replete with armed, kevlar-clad agents, on the basis of a warrant issued in an ex parte hearing with a district judge, meaning the firm had no chance to contest the raid. The Brown, Goldstein, and Levy lawyers were in a state of shock. “For a civil rights law office, mid-morning on a business day, in the middle of Baltimore, they felt the need to get fully armed,” says Treem, laughing in amazement as he recalls the scene. “They never even sent a subpoena,” says fellow partner Kobie Flowers. “That was part of our argument later in the Fourth Circuit. We’re all officers of the court. We all have ethical duties to follow. We can’t destroy evidence. Had you just sent a subpoena for this stuff, we would have given it over to you.

Why do all this?

One consequence of becoming a criminal suspect was that Treem, who’d received a target letter six months before, had a conflict of interest that prevented him from defending Ravenell, which of course might have been part of the point. “I had to withdraw from representing my client,” says Treem. “Once I got the target letter, I had to advise my current clients and any people who were calling me to ask for representation.” Asked if such tactics could be interpreted as a message, that any attorney who wants to stay in business should think twice about representing someone the government is serious about pursuing, Flowers said the intimidation factor goes further than that. “On the one hand, it’s a strategy move. They get to kick Josh off the case,” he said. “But the next step, or a corollary to that thought, is: for many criminal defense attorneys, it causes them to question whether they want to be in this profession?

The FBI and DOJ also get a peek — and chance to copy and use without revealing their sources to the defense — all of the communication and files of all of the other lawyers at the firm. What’s the benefit of that? Taibbi answers:

The government took 37,000 emails from Treem’s inbox alone, of which only 62 were from Ravenell or contained his name. Treem’s firm had over twenty lawyers, files about whom were taken into the custody of a separate office of the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s office. As a judge in the case later wrote, referencing Treem and Ravenell as Lawyer A and Client A: An “extensive” portion of the seized emails were “from other [Law Firm] attorneys concerning . . . other attorneys’ clients that have no connection with th[e] investigation[s]” of Lawyer A and Client A. Notably, some of those Law Firm clients “are being investigated by, or are being prosecuted by, the United States Attorney’s Office [for the District of Maryland] for unrelated crimes.” In other words, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Maryland decided to cruise through the defense files of clients that same office was already investigating and/or prosecuting.

Is the Justice Department out of control when it comes to its prosecutorial powers and abilities? Has the National Security State, of which the FBI and the DOJ are part, slipped its leash thanks to 9/11 and our new-found love of making life miserable for terrorists?

The permanently detained and never-to-be-tried at Guantánamo Bay
Has the FBI, in the words of one of its liberal defenders, “reformed and modernized”? Or is it, in Taibbi’s words, “a Trojan Horse, inside which the Justice Department has assembled an army for a grand assault on civil liberties”?

Left and Right vs. Right and Wrong

These questions are currently handled through a left vs. right framework. I’d argue they should be handled through a right vs. wrong framework. “Is the criticism true or not?” is a different question than “Does it help Trump or not?”

If the nation becomes an authoritarian hellhole, it may not be the Right that’s in charge. The national security state, with bipartisan support, is already a candidate.

Of course, a lonely writer and a few thousand loyal readers aren’t going to decide this matter for the nation. The nation will decide for itself which spinning wheels it wants to be dazzled by.

I wait with bated breath for the day it decides. I will release that breath when I see what flows from the result.

And I hope to God that the result is not presaged by the lines of the famous poem “First they came…”, whose middle verse might soon be revised to say: “Then they came for Trump, but I hated the bastard, so f-ck him.”

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59 comments

  1. jailbraker

    The left and the right both work for the same owners, the promoters of the liberal project with its ultimate end of making the globe a giant hypermarket and humans voracious consumers.
    They have almost succeeded.

    Reply
  2. griffen

    The article from Taiibbi is a must read; I scanned through it twice, as portions of the material can be quite dense to sort and filter through what he is trying to convey. Unbelievable work, from a writer I began following during the GFC. And as I described Matt to someone I shared the article with, Taiibbi is so far away from being in the pockets of the right or conservatives and that is what I believe it adds heft to what he says. The examples in his article are startling.

    It’s clarifying however. No need for a Two minutes speech to know who the enemy is and that enemy is Trump, Trump, Trump! I don’t care for him either, to be certain.

    Reply
  3. JBird4049

    Last I checked, General Warrants were outlawed by the Fourth Amendment, or at least that’s what I was told in high school and college, plus those history books I have read over the decades. In fact, the Bill of Rights is pretty much a reaction to all the British abuses of the law. Abuses that I see both more of and which is increasingly seen as acceptable. But I am not a former constitutional law professor like former president Barack Obama was. Maybe I am not credential enough to opine on the courts’ increasing approval of the unconstitutional actions (and laws) that I see at every level of government.

    This is not a left-right or a left-liberal-conservative issue. It is an issue of the state and its powers, including the people who control or run it, using them to maintain, and then accrue even more power, with the goal of staying in power. Rights, laws, customs, traditions, even common sense are all pushed aside if not destroyed to stay in power with actually governing often ignored. You can see this over and over in history.

    And if anyone believes that a President Pence or a President Clinton would truly be less dangerous than the other, you are really, sadly wrong especially as both would be happy to use the latest powers of the state to destroy their “enemies.” Or rather, who they think are either their enemies or convenient scapegoats.

    Sometimes, I do despair when thinking on the sense missing in so many.

    Reply
  4. The Rev Kev

    Knocking down the laws of the land, one at a time. Here, making fishing expeditions legal-

    “William Roper: “So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!”

    Sir Thomas More: “Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?”

    William Roper: “Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!”

    Sir Thomas More: “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDBiLT3LASk (52 secs)

    Reply
  5. skippy

    Am I really going to post this – ?????

    As previously posted and commented on NC topics elites have gone wild because its all about setting up income steams that keep them and theirs in power and that is how history rolled till a stronger power took it away for better or worse.

    The problem with the West Elites is they thought they had won and had a party, oops GFC, that did necessitate pulling the rug off how money is crated and destroyed and its distribution through ideological/political machinations.

    So now its a game of how do you get the natural resources from the last two country that have untapped natural capital and keep the number game going ….

    Reply
  6. YankeeFrank

    The notion that Trump is some unique danger as president has been manufactured and shoved at us for 6 long years now with propaganda items both small and large to the point where among many it has become conventional wisdom. Ironically its the small stuff that really dings him for many — gossip-style stories like “OMG Trump said ___ to advisor ___ and this was his response — OMG he is so ___ !” Of course the things other presidents say that display the same lack of knowledge never get aired because they carry water for the deep state in every way and so get protected. People have no idea how propagandized they really are, even “smart” people. In fact I’d say smart people are MORE susceptible to propaganda because when they believe something they have REASONS and the deep state is very good at providing REASONS.

    And yet here we are and everything they said would happen under Trump is occurring under Biden: the world is approaching nuclear war and the economy is collapsing. So who really is the unique danger here? Or is it that Trump just happened to be perceived as a unique danger to the deep state’s agenda while the rest of them are dangerous for actual, human reasons? You know, the things the deep state turns a blind eye to — like the well being of the American people.

    I was never a Trump fan and never voted for him (or for his Dem opponents). But the constant coup perpetrated against him should horrify anyone who cares about democracy: both its effectiveness and what it says about the likelihood of breaking out of the roach motel that is deep state-controlled America. They did similar to Bernie in 2016, but since he didn’t become president they didn’t have to pull out all the stops. And they will do it again to anyone they deem a threat. I’ll say it again — there was a coup in this country in 1963 and since we don’t yet acknowledge it as a national reality the parties that ran it are still in charge. Even that dullard Obama knew it.

    Reply
    1. Bruno

      “I’ll say it again — there was a coup in this country in 1963 and since we don’t yet acknowledge it as a national reality the parties that ran it are still in charge.”

      If this is not understood, nothing about US politics can be understood!

      Reply
  7. Lex

    IMO the fundamentals are the “fix” for stovepiping that allowed 9/11 meant the lines between CIA (et al) and FBI were purposefully blurred, allowing for deeper penetration of DoJ by intelligence and the takeover of mass media by the “intelligence community”. The latter is the democratic voters have been won over to the national security state. With a side of Russophobia propaganda which was particularly effective on boomers because they were raised on Russophobic propaganda. We won’t have a military dictatorship but an intelligence agency dictatorship.

    Note, it’s not an anti-boomer thing and doesn’t apply 100%. It’s an historical analysis that a generation was subjected to serious propaganda as children so it was relatively easy to reactivate it. It’s really quite tragic that a generation came into the world being told the Russians would kill them all and will leave it with the same belief.

    Reply
    1. lyman alpha blob

      Remember the complaint back in 2001 that the intelligence agencies were too siloed and not talking to each other and that’s what allowed the WTC bombing to happen?

      Right about now I wish they’d shut the eff up and get back to their silos. And then we drop the silos into the Marianas trench.

      Reply
    2. Rod

      Thanks Lex
      The point that the Boomer Gen (largest of the 20th century, and mine) was propagandized with the Red Threat, and a Manufactured War to prove it is so, is quite an insight.
      I often think about 1963, Operation Mockingbird, the War, and then the Church Commission, having witnessed all without the understanding hindsight gives you.
      Especially that Church Commission. I bet Frank, blessed sort of Cassandra, has spun himself into powder.
      I am believing more and more that I have no real idea of what a ‘Long Game’ really is.

      Reply
    3. YankeeFrank

      Agree about the Boomer susceptibility to anti-Russian prop. What surprised me was I thought the younger generations would be a bit more sophisticated about it, given they grew up with at least a smattering of knowledge of what the CIA had been up to since WWII, but many have jumped right on board as well. I know I’m not alone in this but I had friends from HS (gen-X) that became outright hostile to me when I told them I didn’t buy the Russiagate fantasy. It turns out silly films like Red Dawn and Rocky IV really had an impact on many. They did to me at the time as well, but as I matured and got to know Russian culture and actual Russian people that stuff atrophied. Its funny how people can be all into multiculturalism on the one hand and then single out an enemy culture amongst the crowd on cue.

      Reply
      1. Lex

        As a later Gen Xer with a “right off the boat” Russian/Slavic name I have firsthand knowledge of the second red scare under Reagan. I got called a commie, right off the boat and even snown***er on the playgrounds of middle America regularly. Thankfully my schooling was in a forced integration district, because the black kids never teased or tried to bully me over my name.

        By later Xer, I mostly mean that I’m young enough to be the child of Boomers who had kids young rather than kids of the silent generation like the older Xers.The stuff I heard was obviously way above what elementary school kids would know about geopolitics, so looking back I assume it was regurgitated and strengthened by the movies.

        Reply
      2. semper loquitur

        That’s an interesting point about Rocky IV and Red Dawn. I recently posted a John Oliver segment about that odious show Law and Order. Significant numbers of people, including cops, take it as an accurate reflection of reality, even when regarding proper technical procedures for investigations. I’ve encountered Russophobia as well as Sinophobia in liberal millennial friends who are otherwise dedicated to notions of diversity. It has to come from somewhere.

        As to multiculturalism, I’ve heard it described as “stealth racism” as it proposes that humans can be organized into distinct cultural groups with definite boundaries. In reality, there is a constant flow of information and influences between cultural groups. Funny how the notion of fluidity is so selectively applied by the liberal progressive identity politics types. Gender, whatever that word means anymore, is fluid but humungous populations of people can be crisply demarcated into this or that.

        When you can clearly break up great swaths of humanity this way, in fact denying the notion of a common humanity, you have the framework in place to begin to identify the just versus the unjust, the saved versus the damned. Some people just aren’t as “people” as other people. That mobile framework can then be applied where and when ever any sort of a challenge to the liberal establishment arises.

        I have a theory that liberalism, especially that sphere of it represented by the Democratic establishment and their identity politics running-dogs, are in fact crypto-Puritans. This has been alluded to here before. Monolithic conceptions of the “other” as unworthy, a moralistic ontology of politics that dismisses material and historical realities for pious conceptions of right and wrong*, and above all, in fact driving all else, a worship of private property.

        *I keep going back to that video posted by Ignacio a month plus back in which Mearsheimer is addressing a group of academics about the war in Ukraine. The group broadly rejected his arguments but not by countering his points with their own. Rather, they seemed, to my recall, more concerned with expressing a sort of righteous indignation that anyone would frame the issue the way he did.

        Reply
        1. scott s.

          While popular culture items like “Red Dawn” may have fueled anti-Russian attitudes at the time, today what I see from the hated “maga republicans” is the idea of “Wolverine” as resistance to a deep or national security state. What I see as a key difference of maga vs non-maga is that maga has intense distrust of WEF/globalism. If anything Putin’s Russia is viewed as an ally to counter globalism for maga.

          Reply
          1. semper loquitur

            In that vein, here’s Jimmy Dore talking about Klaus Schwab and brain-chips:

            https://youtu.be/bPEl9eyPaPc

            Schwab even has an evil henchman! The longer I live, the more the doom preppers are proven right.

            Jackson Hinkle is Jimmy’s guest. To your point about Wolverine and Putin, Hinkle has put out videos describing the growing relationship of China and Russia as being a threat to the globalists:

            https://youtu.be/bCDh7WZITNg

            Interesting times…

            Reply
          2. Amfortas the hippie

            Red Dawn(and Rambo) actually led me to discover our own high crimes and genocides.
            (and run around in the woods, of course…just now with camo)
            but i was already a Fidel and Che fan, due to the shortwave dad gave me(lol).

            the thing i see with the Right, wherever on that continuum…as well as on the continuum of involvement in the tribal actvities…is an insistence on using “the Left”…and even “Far Left” to describe all the woke inquistionary nonsense.
            i see that even among smart middle of the roaders(damon linker to rod dreher).
            i consider myself pretty far left….with front porch conservative sensibilities as i age…and i have always thought the woke mess was incredibly dangerous, and definitely Not Of The Frelling Left.
            hell///25 years ago taking my late wife to the hippie commune i had stayed at, outside of austin…and the strident, bright eyed young coed following us around, handing down the testaments, which included that me saying “my wife” was sexist…and further! that my wife saying “my husband” was evidence of patty hearstism,lol.
            i didnt have a name for this at the time…although i had read(and loathed) judith butler, etc.
            it is more akin to puritanism…or ancient imperial catholicism…than even to the better features of Liberalism(universalism, including that of Due Process, and the like that weve utterly failed to live up to in my lifetime, save for gay folks)
            its the secular mirror of the religious right of the 80’s.
            just as odious.

            i cannot help but think that it is also not an accident, somehow.
            its turned out to be the perfect foil for the actual left…from erstwhile “progressives”.
            similar to the madrasas we paid for in afghanistan in the 70’s that created al quaeda…or to the very right wing movement it insists it is meant to counter.

            Reply
            1. semper loquitur

              Here’s Zizek talking about why liberals love to humiliate themselves:

              https://youtu.be/gIeZZ3vNsvM

              It’s because once you have engaged in public flagellation and testifying to one’s own impurity, you are empowered to lecture to others. Liberalism and it’s current iteration of identity politics really is a religion.

              Reply
      3. eg

        Lest you think this anti-Russian generational phobia is confined to the USA, spare a thought for the Canada vs CCCP “Summit Series” in hockey which is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary. I recall vividly as a child (I was in Grade 4) how the games became an extended exercise in Orwell’s “two minute hate.”

        It wasn’t about hockey so much as a confrontation of ways of living, and the common publicly used term of contempt was explicitly “Russian” rather than the more accurate Soviet.

        I had thought with the coming of Glasnost and the fall of the Berlin Wall that these ridiculous prejudices were behind us — how wrong I was!

        Reply
    4. Kouros

      From a broader, systemic perspective, having an intelligence agency dictatorship makes perfect sense. Military would be a great danger for an oligarchic/plutocratic system. But with the spooks, and shaping the narrative, and using the Law organs of repression, it makes the system more secure from internal threats.

      Paul Keating addressing the National Press Club on Australia’s strategic framework last year clearly states that the country is run by the spooks nowadays…and it is only logical to conclude that this is a consequence of the fact that US and UK are also run by security/”intelligence” agencies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bg0pMSe4W4U&t=1586s

      Cynthia Chung (Rising Tide Foundation, in Canada), in one of her series, has written of the origins of CIA and FBI and the profound links of the main actors with Wall Street, formalizing in her essay the idea that these agencies were created as a means of defense and furtherance of the interests of the oligarchic / financial elites in the US. They are like the Borg, and want everyone assimilated.

      I can say that the Soviets where not as adamant in their “assimilation” of eastern Europe countries as the US has proven to be with respect to the rest of the world…

      Reply
  8. Mark Gisleson

    I read the Taibbi article when he published it but reading excerpts made me furious all over again. It’s hard not to think that the entire leadership of the FBI belongs behind bars, but only after a jacked up trial featuring secret evidence and a biased judge but even then they’d still think it was OK when they did it.

    Reply
      1. semper loquitur

        One lesson I’ve learned over the years is that underneath every liberal is an authoritarian. I used to think of the Right as being the enemies of freedom, and some definitely are. I’ve come to see that it’s the liberals, the other Right, that are in fact the greater threat.

        Reply
          1. britzklieg

            I take exception to David’s conclusion, not withstanding his obvious erudition.

            It is not a “combination” of elitist arrogance and practical incompetence that has the world in its grasp, it is a derivation: the latter derives from the former.

            Marcuse and Scott-Heron were both right.

            Marcuse’s contempt was for an elitist stupidity which has persuaded, over centuries, the common man through its marketing of arrogance as a virtue. The implied and perhaps naively hoped for real revolution which Scott-Heron imagined and ultimately spoke to, the “live” one not the “televised” one, never happened and never will for precisely that reason. Their prescience is not invalidated but confirmed.

            Reply
  9. Tom Stone

    “Defending Trump” by questioning the DOJ/FBI’s actions has been personally expensive for me.
    It has cost me my relationship with my Sister, a friendship of nearly 30 years with the best man at my wedding and more.

    “Russia” came up intwo of these final conversations.
    By supporting the Rule of Law I have been accuses of swallowing Putin’s lies hook, line and sinker.
    I’ll add that among the murders committed by FBI agents were the cold blooded killing of Vicki and Sammy Weaver, neither of ehom had been charged with a crime and both of whom were unarmed.
    14 year old Sammy was machine gunned in the back while running to his Mother, Vicki Weaver was shot in the head by FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi while holding her 10 month old daughter in her arms.
    The job of thr FBI is to maitain the status quo by whatever means are necessary and that’s what they do.
    By any means necessary.

    Reply
    1. Jeff

      That friends and relatives are so brainwashed and delusional to place this level of importance on what is essentially the equivalent of baseball trading cards for politicians is remarkable. It’s akin to not hating the home team’s main rival. The stupidity and shortsightedness of believing this con is breathtaking.

      Reply
  10. Michael Hudson

    Let’s add to Taibbi’s notes a parallel dimension: the dog that didn’t bark:
    While there’s support (or at least, non-criticism) of the FBI on the “left,” there’s also almost no opposition to the NATO war in Ukraine — or against neoliberal bank-run politics, for that matter. The “left” here has been Tony Blaired — catalyzed by the Mighty Wurlitzer that has shaped Democratic identity politics for every identity except the economic one of being a wage-earner (spanning all the sub-identities) or opposing neocon wars.

    Reply
    1. YankeeFrank

      What I realized after 2016 was that the thing I had called “the left” for most of my life was made up of largely milquetoast liberals with skin deep morality larping as socialists since being anti-war or anti-corporate was hip. I should’ve realized it sooner given the silence with which they reacted to Obama’s crimes and incompetence in those realms but I think I didn’t want to. Then it became unavoidable.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        That is a better description than what I could ever give. I would just add that what there is of the old school left, the class reductionists, are buried under this American maskirovka.

        It is like how people come into the DSA and then claim that socialists talking about class is class reductionist.

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    2. Questa Nota

      The barking consists only of recitation of those dictated talking points. When the bulk of the media spout the same lines at the same time, then the inquisitive ask Where did you get your information, and do you have verifiable sources? That type of question gets shouted down, or worse. Notations have been made in your Permanent Record, and don’t ask about agency.

      The supine nature of so many in the media gets displayed routinely, without distinction between what has been presented as Left or Right, Dem or Rep, Liberal or Conservative, Labour or Tory, et cetera.

      If the narrative fits, they mustn’t quit. Sentence first, trial later, if at all.

      Did people really believe examples, or add your own, such as the following?
      WMD, which led to those tasty Freedom Fries
      17 Intelligence Agencies

      On that latter, will someone from Coast Guard Intelligence, for example, weigh in about their own, independent investigation? Oh, yeah, NO.

      Reply
      1. Skip Intro

        Dogs will also stop barking when they are lapping up their own vomit. I believe this is the case with the military infotainment complex and its denizens, they start believing their own hype, and get lost in the echo chamber. The faux-confirmation ploy of citing each other – investigations of reporting, reporting of investigations – which used to launch fake news, is now implicitly trusted by its own embubbled practitioners.

        Reply
  11. camelotkidd

    At this point it’s obvious that Russia-gate was a psy-op utilized to whip up support for a new cold (hot) war with Russia. That Trump made liberals lose their minds by insinuating that he was a Russian secret agent only solidified their antipathy towards Russia as all of the blue a yellow flags fluttering from homes in my quaint liberal neighborhood attest.
    I too have lost friends and loved ones as a result of my apostasy.
    Thank god for NC where I can find solace in my alienation

    Reply
    1. YankeeFrank

      As Aaron Mate framed it — Russiagate is a privilege protection racket. Many different power factions and institutions benefited from it in various ways so it became a widely backed putsch. One of those, a major one, was the coming war against Russia.

      Reply
    2. Mike

      I think the scarier thing for me is that both sides could have been played by the intelligence community. Corbett Report gives a compelling case in a portion of the episode below that the Q movement (loosely drain the swamp) was a recycled narrative from the later 90s / early 2000s with its origins in the intelligence community.

      corbettreport.com/hopium/

      I find it easy to believe because the intelligence community obviously has decades of experience domestically and internationally at playing narratives.

      Reply
      1. YankeeFrank

        That’s a common understanding among many on the internet fringes now — QAnon was CIA. And so simple too: just post anon “PGP key-validated” psyops on 4chan and let the rest unfold organically. The CIA love to play both sides against each other and against the middle. They want us confused and chaotic and they’ll jump in bed with anyone to get there. Of course the most psyoped of all is themselves. They have made themselves so neurotic they actual believe Havana Syndrome and “directed energy weapons” are real.

        If we all die in a nuclear fireball it will be the CIA’s fault. And if we don’t the untold misery and chaos they have inflicted on the world will be their proud legacy.

        Reply
  12. Steve Moran

    Yeah, I just had a friend since 1975 call me a “Putinista” in an email sent from his home inside the DC Beltway. He’s a brilliant humane guy, but a reader of the Post and the Atlantic. I think that many Americans today, like genteel Americans in 1896 receiving in words and graphics scary portraits of supporters of Bryan, are receiving a daily dose of class hatred, not all of it sublimated. Putin = Trump. Trump = his lowbrow supporters. Trump’s lowbrow supporters = Hitler’s supporters in 1933. So every “Russia” story out of Ukraine, thousands of miles away, heaps wood on the fire. As usual, Yves says it best: if the United States becomes an authoritarian hell-hole, the Right may not be in charge.

    Reply
    1. YankeeFrank

      Garland Nixon said on The Duran yesterday that the divide is between the narrative and fact based communities: those who follow narratives ignore facts that don’t fit the narratives they want to believe.

      I want to believe Russia is winning in Ukraine for a number of reasons but I also know they have had setbacks and are imperfectly executing since it’s war and their are real people involved. And if they start losing I will recognize it as well.

      I really think this frenetic covering up of inconvenient facts is a top down effort that is a direct result of the failure of the elites. And they have failed every which way for a long time. Their credibility is shot but like Wile E Coyote they refuse to acknowledge there is only air and not ground under them. And this wild neurotic energy, via mass media and internet, is transmitted to those most susceptible to its corrupting nature.

      I’ve never been a religious man but the devil’s afoot in the west and he’s on a run.

      Reply
    2. Dave in Austin

      Inside the Beltway

      I’m now staying in DC so I get to read the Washington Post every morning. Of course it is propaganda. But the act of repeating minor stories repeatedly elevates them to “What we should be thinking about”.

      Two days ago I reviewed the paper in detail. No national company adds. One self-congratulatory full page for the folks who got the “sorta bid” contract to put windmills in Nantucket Sound. Many half-pages advertising the Post’s website. And more than 30 1/8 or 1/16 page “In home sales” adds for companies generating leads to get a salesman inside your home to sell siding and bathroom rehabs. The written circulation is down to roughly 175,000 from more than half a million a few years ago. There is no longer an economic model that supports the Post. But there is a political model; buy the paper people read and use it as a mouthpiece. Get a copy and see for yourself.

      Reply
    1. Otis B Driftwood

      Briney demonstrates that Congress has now moved to give law enforcement the same extensive powers against US citizens that the Patriot Act gave against foreign governments and their citizens.

      All dissent, no matter how benign, is at risk given the broad authorities granted by this legislation.

      Perfectly aligns with what Taibbi writes about here.

      Reply
  13. Tom Stone

    “Liberties” or inalienable Rights?
    To my mind an American “liberal” is someone who fully supports those parts of the “Bill of Liberties” that do not encourage rude or disruptive behavior.

    Reply
  14. Carolinian

    Thanks so much for this which for some of us is a theme under the category “those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.” The totalitarian mindset was vividly present back in our Boomer 20th century whereas a newer generation seems to view all that as fogey stuff. Also this morning have been reading this essay on Orwell for whom it was also a theme.

    https://www.spiked-online.com/2022/09/17/why-orwell-matters/

    It talks about the distinction between intellectuals and what used to be called “pseudo intellectuals”–people for whom the trappings of education are mere excuses to exercise power over others. Censorship and the destruction of dissent and individualism are key aspects of this power whereas true intellectuals would never favor the suppression of ideas since ideas are their bread and butter (the critic John Simon once said and intellectual is someone to whom “ideas are more important than people”). It’s hardly surprising therefore that the authoritarian impulse exists in a dim bulb like Joe Biden for whom any debate is a challenge to his weak ego. Trump at least didn’t worry about challenges to his ego since he has so much of it.

    So we are living in a age where power has been conveyed to mediocrities, not just here but in Europe and elsewhere. Only the increasingly censored truth will set us free.

    Reply
  15. Jake Dickens

    Please note that the FBI conspired with the Chicago police to murder Fred Hampton and Mark Clark of the Black Panthers in 1969.

    Reply
      1. Carolinian

        There have been movies about it–Judas and the Black Messiah being the most recent.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Hampton

        Wiki says he was shot by the Chicago police but the FBI was heavily involved.

        In 1967, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) identified Hampton as a radical threat. It tried to subvert his activities in Chicago, sowing disinformation among black progressive groups and placing a counterintelligence operative in the local Panthers organization. In December 1969, Hampton was drugged,[8][9] shot and killed in his bed during a predawn raid at his Chicago apartment by a tactical unit of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, who received aid from the Chicago Police Department and the FBI leading up to the attack. Law enforcement sprayed more than 90 gunshots throughout the apartment; the occupants fired once.[10] During the raid, Panther Mark Clark was also killed and several others were seriously wounded. In January 1970, the Cook County Coroner held an inquest; the jury concluded that Hampton’s and Clark’s deaths were justifiable homicides

        Reply
      2. britzklieg

        click on this and receive a most poignant response: https://harvardpolitics.com/cgi-sys/suspendedpage.cgi

        the original link is listed as: harvardpolitics.com/fred-hampton-assassination and the title one can see in the links but not in the suspended page is: The FBI Killing of Fred Hampton: A Reminder for Young…

        These they haven’t banned… yet:

        https://jacobin.com/2021/03/newly-obtained-fbi-files-fred-hampton/
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vewm6-FEIQs
        https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/fred-hampton-black-panthers-fbi-surveillance/2021/05/04/2b12f826-acd7-11eb-b476-c3b287e52a01_story.html

        searching the subject will provide many links

        Reply
      3. marym

        Book review: The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther by Jeffrey Haas

        “When the COINTELPRO files became public, [attorney Jeffrey] Haas, PLO [People’s Law Office], and his Panther clients immediately suspected that the Dec. 4 police raid had been part of this program…As part of their civil rights lawsuit, they filed numerous motions requesting all FBI files relating to the Illinois Panthers and COINTELPRO. After repeated attempts by the defendants and Judge Parry to cover up the FBI role, eventually a few explosive documents were made available.”

        https://www.zinnedproject.org/materials/assassination-of-fred-hampton
        https://peopleslawoffice.com/issues-and-cases/panthers/

        Reply
  16. Gulag

    “The national security state with bipartisan support is already a candidate.”

    The national security state with bipartisan support has been a reality since, at least, the 1960s. And as well, it can be plausibly argued that as far back as the 1820s an individual like Hegel was one of the first to notice that there was a distinction between the state and civil society and that what held them together, by straddling both, was an emerging and increasingly powerful administrative system.

    It is this administrative system which is increasingly running things today and it appears to be the present populist right which has been successful in shifting the notion of class from a left-wing category championed by socialists, Marxists and anarchists to a more general condemnation of our largely unelected managerial elite who populate such institutions as our national security/intelligence organizations, the Federal Reserve, private tech monopolies as well as steering the creation of increasingly powerful public-private digital tools like artificial intelligence.

    Reply
  17. spud

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/01/15/neoliberalism-is-fascism-with-better-manners/?fbclid=IwAR07Q6wAePMouGpYX8olhfk4hQf6NAGS7OQVFDUqtKnyVXsxHe_3VtHcZ8I

    “In history, it was Democrat Bill Clinton— along with Joe Biden, who was able to pass the ‘Republican’ agenda that included deregulating Wall Street, facilitating the consolidation of media ownership, cutting social welfare programs, militarizing the police, and greatly increasing the scale and scope of the carceral state, after leading Republicans had been unable to. While the CIA was born Republican— Allen Dulles was a committed Republican, it has been liberal Democrats who have been more effective in selling neoliberalism. That neoliberalism is the reigning ideology of power in the U.S. explains the desire its restoration.”

    “The unwillingness of liberals and the self-described left to come to terms with the political violence that the neoliberal political center is responsible for is ultimately deference to power. Madeleine Albright starved half a million Iraqi children to death for the Clinton administration, but she still has credibility to call other people fascists? George W. Bush killed between 400,000 and three million people in the misguided U.S. adventure in Iraq, but he can show his face in respectable society. Joe Biden is, according to his own words, uniquely responsible for destroying millions of lives through mass incarceration, but he has plausibility to ‘restore decency?’”

    “actually bill clinton helped to create the patriot act, proposed building a wall against mexico, used the pre patriot act to attack muslims: The harm that Obama has done to devastate some of the poorest, war-torn countries on earth: Libya was the richest in Africa, and relatively stable until Hillary Clinton decided otherwise.

    Clinton was Secretary of State during Obama’s first term in office. In 2011, she craved for war. A ‘New York Times’ report citing 50 top US officials, left no doubt that Clinton was the ‘catalyst’ in the decision to go to war.”

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/02/09/the-uncomfortable-truth-are-we-hating-donald-trump-for-the-wrong-reasons/

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/47722.htm

    “An additional step has been taken with military preparations against Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador following Mexico, Colombia and British Guyana. The team responsible for co-ordinating these measures is from the former Office of Global Democracy Strategy.

    This was a unit established by President Bill Clinton, then continued by Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz. Mike Pompeo, the current director of the CIA, has confirmed that this unit exists. This has led to rumours in the press, followed up by President Trump, of a US military option.”

    they will never go after bush for torture, well because this guy made it legal. so i wish authors would realize that bush just did what official government policy that was set up by bill clinton and al gore.

    so if we go after bush, we need to go to the source of why bush was safe to use torture.

    http://listverse.com/2014/02/05/10-reasons-bill-clinton-was-secretly-a-terrible-president/

    i am being polite: clintonism started it all: Extraordinary rendition” is when shady government operatives stuff a bag over your head and fly you off to some foreign country where they can legally torture you. It sounds like something Alex Jones might dream up in a paranoid frenzy, but it’s a well-documented phenomenon under both Bush, Jr. and Obama—and Bill Clinton was the guy who started it all.

    Clinton and Gore signed off on the first rendition back in the ’90s, despite being aware that it breached international law. Until recently, rendered people frequently wound up in the prison cells of places like Mubarak’s Egypt or Gaddafi’s Libya, where they were tortured with electric shocks, rape, beatings, and even crucifixion. It can sometimes go hideously wrong: In 2003, the CIA snatched a terrorist off the streets and beat, tortured, and sodomized him, only to discover they’d accidentally grabbed the wrong man. The victim just happened to share a name with a wanted criminal. His suffering came care of the Clinton/Gore dream team.”

    https://benjaminstudebaker.com/2020/08/31/the-left-case-against-supporting-joe-biden-in-the-general-election/

    Trump, for all his faults, poses no existential
    threat to the republic. dupes deeply underestimating the damage a
    Biden presidency will cause. The Republican Party has become what it
    is because of Democrats like Joe Biden. These Democrats are pushing
    the Republican Party further and further right, and a Biden presidency
    will make the Republican Party even more dangerous going forward. Let
    me show you how it works.

    When Americans vote for Republicans, they’re often voting against the
    consequences of the right wing policies of Democrats.”

    https://benjaminstudebaker.com/2022/05/03/ironically-if-donald-trump-were-president-the-supreme-court-might-have-left-roe-alone/

    Ironically, if Donald Trump were President, the Supreme Court Might Have Left Roe Alone.

    Reply
    1. marym

      The conservative movement has agency and an agenda. Trump has been a useful tool in appointing judges to support that agenda and providing rhetorical fuel for the id politics grievances of its rank and file. This doesn’t negate the impact of the Democrats’ pursuit of neoliberal, authoritarian, and other evil policies; or their failure to counter and/or complicity in some of the conservative agenda. However, it’s not accurate to discount the conservative movement as a force in itself that has been building its organization, funding, media, and elite leadership for decades.

      Reply
      1. britzklieg

        The Democrats have been rubber stamping conservative jurists for decades. Every Democrat in the Senate voted for Scalia. John Kerry voted “for” Alito and Roberts at the only moment his vote would have made a difference… and then voted “against” after the fait was accompli. It was known that Brett had perjured himself back when he was vetted for a lesser judgeship and they let it slide. Biden is possibly MOST responsible for Thomas. It’s a long and devastating list of Democrat complicity.

        … and Hillary has always been a Republican.

        Reply
        1. marym

          It didn’t really need fixing, as I already said “This doesn’t negate the impact of the Democrats’ pursuit of neoliberal, authoritarian, and other evil policies; or their failure to counter and/or complicity in some of the conservative agenda.“ but thanks :).

          Republicans and conservatives are responsible for the evils of their agenda and the harm they do. They work very hard at achieving these objectives. It’s not useful to ignore the complicity of the Democrats, nor is it useful to say it’s all the fault of the Democrats.

          Reply
  18. Gulag

    What may be happening on the populist right (not among the mainstream conservative authoritarians) is the beginnings of a counter-culture which is increasingly using such tools a satire and ridicule to take on the earnest left-wing squares. As N.S. Lyons has argued in a recent City Journal article it is not looking good for the woke left when young women begin to prefer right-wing reactionary bad boys. (See “A New Counterculture? ” by N.S. Lyons

    Reply

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