Tuesday, 19 August 2014

So much for hope then as the veneer of democracy is ripped away


American police and law enforcement officials have taken advantage over the years of Israel's expertise in various facets of what is called counter-terrorism.

In 2002, Los Angeles Police Department detective Ralph Morten visited Israel to receive training and advice on preparing security arrangements for large public gatherings.

In January 2003, thirty-three senior U.S. law enforcement officials - from Washington, Chicago, Kansas City, Boston and Philadelphia - traveled to Israel to attend a meeting on "Law Enforcement in the Era of Global Terror."  The workshops helped build skills in identifying terrorist cells, enlisting public support for the fight against terrorism and coping with the aftermath of a terrorist attack.

Also, in 2003, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security established a special Office of International Affairs to institutionalize the relationship between Israeli and American security officials. “I think we can learn a lot from other countries, particularly Israel, which unfortunately has a long history of preparing for and responding to terrorist attacks,” said Senator Susan Collins (R) about the special office.

In November 2011, a delegation of senior American law enforcement officials, including police commanders, security experts and FBI agents, went to Israel for a joint training seminar with Israeli counter-terrorism officials sponsored by the Anti-Defamation.

In early September 2012, the New York Police Department (NYPD) opened an Israeli branch at the Sharon District Police Headquarters in the Israeli coastal city of Kfar Saba. The NYPD decision to open an Israeli branch rested on the fact that the Israeli police is one of the major police forces with which it must maintain close work relations and daily contact.

In September 2013, a special team of bomb squad members from cities along the U.S.-Mexico border travelled to Israel in an effort to improve techniques and tactics for dealing with illegal immigration and IED attacks.

The world were shocked by images coming out of a place called Ferguson, Missouri in the US, a small city that erupted into anger over the police murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown, the suburb of St. Louis was transformed into a war zone. SWAT teams decked out in battle fatigues and goggles descended on the city, wielding high-power shotguns and automatic rifles and driving armored attack vehicles. Peaceful protesters and journalists were confronted at gunpoint and attacked with tear gas, rubber bullets, rifle-fired bean bags and flash-bang grenades. The police imposed arbitrary curfews and issued dispersal orders without any legal basis.

The forces involved may technically be local police, but what they are engaged in is essentially a military occupation. They look like the military, act like the military and have close ties to the military. Not only have police been armed with military equipment, they have been given a new set of rules. They are being trained to employ the methods used by the US and its allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza and Ukraine.

President Obama, who said  “While I understand the passions and the anger that arise over the death of Michael Brown, giving in to that anger by looting or carrying guns, and even attacking the police, only serves to raise tensions and stir chaos,” he said.  “It undermines, rather than advancing, justice.”

What justice, his words as always are nothing but excuses for the system he represents, so much for hope then as the veneer of democracy is ripped away. This is what martial law looks like in Ferguson, Missouri, USA.

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