Prison privatization in its current form began in 1984 as a result of the War on Drugs. While crime rates otherwise remained steady dating back to 1925, the number of arrests quickly exploded. While the War on Drugs initially had a small impact on incarceration, it was President Reagan’s Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 that kickstarted the prison boom.
From 1970 to 2005, the prison population rose 700 percent, while violent crime remained steady or declined. Between 1990 and 2009, the populations of private prisons shot up 1,600 percent. Today, the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world – 754 inmates per 100k residents as of 2008. This is roughly 600% that of the rest of the civilized world, with England and Wales having 148, and Australia 126 inmates per 100k residents. As of 2010, private corporations house over 99,000 inmates in 260 facilities nationwide.
Corrections Corp. of America and other private contractors became members of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a non-profit 501(c)(3) association that advocates “tough on crime” legislation. In their 2010 report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Corrections Corp. of America discussed how drug policy reform threatens their business model:
The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.
To ensure those pieces of legislation aren't passed, Corrections Corp. of America spent $970,000 and GEO Group spent $660,000 lobbying Congress in 2010 alone. In Corrections Corp. of America’s Feb 2011 press release, CEO Damon Hininger stated, “...we are pleased our populations have remained strong, in excess of the 80,000 inmate milestone we surpassed late in 2010.” With the 3.2% increase in inmate population over the previous year, Corrections Corp. of America was able to make $511.26M profit, earning their CEO over $3,000,000 in compensation.
Private prison proponents claim that private corporations are able to provide the same service more efficiently than the government. However, according to the Department of Justice’s “Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons” report, private prisons offer at best a 1% cost savings over their government operated counterparts, while at the same time having 49% more assaults on staff and 65% more assaults on other inmates.
Corporations owning correctional facilities is not the only way that prisons and the War on Drugs have been used as a source of income. For instance, even in government-ran facilities, inmates and their families are regularly subject to price gouging by phone carriers. While the average cost of a phone call in the United States is 3 cents per minute, inmates and their families end up paying between 16 cents and $5.00 per minute. The profits are then split between the carrier and the government body who awarded the contract. In fact, it is not uncommon for the government body to receive a signing bonus from the carrier, like $17M in the case of Los Angeles County. Unlike the public, the Federal Communications Commission has no safeguards against price gouging when it applies to those behind bars.
In the federal prison system, all able-bodied inmates who are not a security risk are forced to work for UNICOR or another prison job. UNICOR, also known as Federal Prison Industries, is a government-created corporation that provides many products and services, including clothing, electronics, furniture, data entry and military hardware. UNICOR enjoys a “mandatory source clause” that according to US laws & regulations, forces all federal agencies with the exception of the Department of Defense to purchase products offered by UNICOR instead of the private sector. However, despite the Department of Defense not being required to purchase its products, many defense contractors take advantage of the cheap labor offered by prisons. For example, inmates make as little as 23 cents an hour manufacturing components used in Patriot missiles, which then sell for $5.9 million apiece. Prisoners also made helmets for the military, until 44,000 defective units were recalled due to their inability to stop bullets. Despite its shortcomings, UNICOR generated $854.3M in sales for fiscal year 2008 – of which 4% went to inmate salaries. Much of this money later ends up in the hands of the local government, as the inmates use their salary to pay for phone calls home. In New York, inmates refusing work assignments have been known to be placed in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day until work is resumed. At the same time, it is illegal to import products made using prison labor into the United States.
Just six corporations own the vast majority of media outlets in the United States. Through years of relentless mergers, acquisitions and consolidations, a handful of corporations have been able to dominate most of what Americans read, see and hear on a daily basis.
Regardless of your position on the viability of the concentration of media ownership into fewer and fewer hands, it is an irrefutable fact that over the past few decades the corporations controlling the preponderance of American media have lessened considerably.
Walt Disney – or more specifically Disney Media Networks – controls a staggering amount of media outlets. In the field of motion pictures, they own Walt Disney Pictures (which includes Pixar Animation Studios), Touchstone Pictures and Hollywood Pictures. They then distribute these films through Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment while distributing soundtracks and original music under Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records.
They also own the entire ABC Television Network (which includes ABC Daytime, ABC Entertainment Group and ABC News), the Disney Channel, ABC Family, SOAPnet, 80% of ESPN (along with ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU, ESPN HD and ESPN2 HD, ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Enterprises, ESPN Zones, ESPN360, ESPN Mobile Properties, ESPN On Demand, ESPN Interactive and ESPN PPV) and television distribution divisions of Disney-ABC Domestic Television and Disney-ABC ESPN Television.
Walt Disney also owns large shares of A&E Television Networks and Lifetime Entertainment Services, while ABC Television Network boasts over 200 affiliated stations which together reach 99% of American household televisions, and that isn’t even getting in to Walt Disney’s control of radio, publishing and other holdings.
News Corp., now infamous for the News International phone hacking scandal in the UK, owns Fox, MyNetworkTV and other stations totaling some 27 television stations in the United States alone, with Fox Television Stations reaching over 35% of American television homes with six duopolies in the top 10 television markets.
Fox International owns 120 channels around the globe while News Corp. also owns production and distribution companies like Fox Home Entertainment, 20th Century Fox Television, Fox Film Entertainment, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Blue Sky Studios, Fox 2000 Pictures and more on an international scale.
General Electric (GE) owns a 49% stake in NBC-Universal and NBC Networks (includes NBC News, NBC Sports, NBC Television, NBC Universal, CNBC, CNBC World (Arabia, India, Asia, Europe), MSNBC, Bravo, SyFy Channel, Telemundo, USA, Oxygen and more) along with 46 NBC affiliate stations and more stations internationally.
In the realm of film production and distribution, GE owns Universal Pictures, Focus Features, and Rogue Pictures with production agreements with more companies and distribution through Universal Studios Home Entertainment. They also control NBC.com, CNBC.com etc. along with Hulu.com (a News Corp. and NBC Universal joint venture) MSNBC.MSN.com and more.
Then comes Time Warner, the largest media conglomerate with the second highest revenue behind Disney, both of which have holdings which far exceed the space here and include a wide variety of industries including monopolies on cable service in some locations.
As with many of the other powerful media groups, Time Warner Inc. was formed with the merger of Warner Communications, Inc., Time Inc., and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. and now encompasses a plethora of properties in television, the Internet (like AOL, CNN, TMZ, People.com, Moviefone, Advertising.com, NASCAR.com and more), film, publishing (including comic books and more than 150 magazines) along with marketing companies as well.
Viacom owns a massive amount of television properties including MTV Networks (and the many variants including MTV Networks International which operates in 160 nations), BET Networks, CMT, Comedy Central, Logo, Nickelodeon, Spike TV, TV Land, and VH1. They also control several film production companies under Paramount Pictures Corporation and a massive internet presence.
CBS Network consists of 30 stations and a 50% share of the CW Network, the other 50% belonging to Time Warner along with 130 radio stations, major book publishers like Simon & Shuster, prominent online holdings, CBS Outdoor and more.
The case against increased media conglomeration is a strong one with countless supporting factors, although many individuals seem to come to this conclusion naturally when seeing how the vast majority of the media they are exposed to come from just a few corporations, all of which have close relationships with each other.
Following the end of the Second World War, the spread of communism was considered to be the #1 threat to the United States. The Soviet Union’s ability to secure a nuclear weapon, coupled with the communist ideology spreading across the globe, fueled a state of fear during this time. Even in the United States, the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) was gaining traction as a legitimate political party. The CIA was tasked with combating this threat abroad, and the FBI at home.
In 1956, the FBI instituted a Counter Intelligence Program (CoIntelPro) which among its goals, was to maintain “the existing social and political order.” This initially meant targeting the CPUSA, who was implicated in the passing of nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union several years prior. However, operating in secrecy with very little oversight, CoIntelPro’s scope was later widened to include any group the FBI deemed “subversive.” Among these groups were the Womens’ Rights Movement, the Civil Rights movement, and the growing anti-war movement. Individual students demonstrating against the Vietnam War were targeted by the FBI, along with American luminaries such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Albert Einstein.
The assistant to the Director of the FBI, William C. Sullivan, described the methods employed during CoIntelPro as “rough, tough, and dirty.” The tactics ranged from selectively enforcing tax codes & government regulations, to fabricating evidence and using perjured testimony to illegally incarcerate Americans. The FBI conspired with local police departments to commit crimes ranging from illegal break-ins and vandalism, to assaults, beatings, and assassinations of American citizens.
The FBI’s actions were successfully kept a secret for over 15 years, until a group called the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI burglarized an FBI Field Office in Media, Pennsylvania. Several dossiers acquired during the burglary were passed to news agencies, who initially refused to publish the information. Within the year, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover declared that CoIntelPro was over. In 1976, the Church Committee conducted an investigation into the actions of the FBI during CoIntelPro. Despite Hoover’s statement, the Church Committee concluded that “...CoIntelPro-type activities may continue today under the rubric of ‘investigation.’”
Those taking part in political activity three decades after the official conclusion of CoIntelPro still find themselves under scrutiny by federal officials. The New York Times reported in 2004 that the FBI conducted interviews of 40 to 50 activists in the lead-up to the presidential elections. Several were tailed by federal agents, others had their friends and family interviewed, and some were subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury. There were ultimately no arrests as a result.
In 2009, The Department of Homeland Security sent a confidential memo to law enforcement in Missouri that listed supporters of several political candidates and third parties as potential terrorists. Americans opposed to the bailout and the income tax were also listed in the same group as Neo-nazi’s and bombers of abortion clinics. After appearing on the Wikileaks website, letters of apologies were sent to Representive Ron Paul, Former Congressman Bob Barr, and Presidental Candidate Chuck Baldwin – all of whom were listed by name in the document.
In the same year, the ACLU discovered materials used to train Department of Defense personnel that listed protesting as a form of terrorism. In a multiple choice test for the annual Level 1 Anti-terrorism Awareness course, participants were asked, “Which of the following is an example of low-level terrorist activity?” To correctly answer, one must select “protests” among the options of attacking the Pentagon, committing hate crimes and using IED’s. In an interview with Fox News, the DoD stated that they have since removed the question.
In 2012, it was reported that FBI trained its agents that they can “bend or suspend the law” at will. The training materials were uncovered during a six-month internal review of the Bureau’s training policies. Despite its findings, the review has not resulted in any disciplinary action, nor did it require any re-training.
With the “terrorism” label being used so loosely, many are critical of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. Signed into law by President Obama, the 2012 NDAA is heavily criticized for declaring that American citizens can be held without trial indefinitely on the mere suspicion of supporting terrorism. It also contains provisions that allows citizens to be transferred to the custody of foreign nations for interrogation, trial, and/or imprisonment – an act known as “rendition.” While suspected enemy combatants found on the battlefield were already subject to these conditions since the Bush administration, this is the first time that these powers will apply American citizens on American soil.
Following the defeat of the Third Reich in 1945, the predecessor to the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), sought to recruit Nazi scientists for employment by the United States. Under the directions and supervision of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Operation Paperclip recruited Nazi scientists who had a broad skill-set, ranging from rocketry to torture.
Using the newly gathered intelligence, the United States Navy started Project Chatter and the CIA started Project Artichoke, both of which studied the effects of drugs for the purposes of interrogation. The CIA’s project used hypnosis, forced morphine addiction, and the use of other chemicals and methods.
On April 13, 1953, Project MK-Ultra was officially approved. MK-Ultra initially began its human experimentation on CIA employees and military personnel, but soon began to include prostitutes, the mentally ill, and abducted American & Canadian citizens. Operating under the umbrella of Project MK-Ultra, Operation Midnight Climax consisted of a web of CIA-run safe houses in San Francisco, Marin, and New York. Prostitutes on the CIA payroll were paid to lure clients to these safe houses, where the men would be drugged and monitored behind one way glass. This method of experimentation was desired because the victims, when released, would be too embarrassed to discuss the events. In 1962, the use of these safe houses were significantly scaled back following the recommendation of CIA Inspector General John Earman.
With the CIA safe houses no longer in operation, human experimentation under MK-Ultra continued in Canada under the supervision of psychiatrist Donald Ewen Cameron, who previously served on the medical tribunal at the Nuremberg trials in the late 1940’s. From 1957-1964, Cameron was paid $69,000 by the CIA to conduct experiments at the Allan Memorial Institute of McGill University in Quebec. It was here that the most disturbing experiments took place, which included heavy doses of LSD and electroshock therapy at 30-40 times the normal power. Subjects were also intentionally placed in comas, where recordings of noise or simple statements would be played on a loop for periods of time ranging from several weeks up to three months. When awakened, the patients were severely and often permanently damaged. They suffered from losing control of their bodily functions, amnesia, forgetting how to speak, and some thought the doctors were their parents. Cameron later became the first chairman of the World Psychiatric Association, as well as president of the American and Canadian psychiatric associations.
In 1973, CIA director Richard Helms ordered the destruction of all documents pertaining to MK-Ultra. Due to the destruction of these records, it is difficult or impossible to perform additional research into MK-Ultra or the 150 individually funded sub-projects that operated under the MK-Ultra banner. Regardless, The New York Times reported that the CIA had conducted illegal domestic activities, including experiments on U.S. citizens, which prompted Congress to intervene and conduct investigations. The Church Committee and Rockefeller Commission both released reports in 1975 that revealed that the CIA and Department of Defense conducted experiments on citizens without their consent. The Church Committee concluded in their report that “[p]rior consent was obviously not obtained from any of the subjects.” With the program now in the open, both the Canadian and American governments fought a number of court battles related to MK-Ultra’s experiments. The Canadian government settled out of court, paying each of the 127 victims $100,000 each. The American government aggressively contested any court cases relating to MK-Ultra, some of them successfully. Several plaintiffs received compensation through court orders, out-of-court settlements, and acts of Congress. President Ford and CIA director William Colby met with the family of Frank Olson, a man who died as a direct result of MK-Ultra, to publicly apologize. Olson’s family also received $750,000 via a special act of Congress.
In 1959, an armed revolution by Fidel Castro succeeded in overthrowing the US-backed Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista. Castro became the first communist leader in the western hemisphere, just 90 miles from the American mainland.
The US government sought ways of replacing the Castro regime with one more in line with American policies, with President Eisenhower creating a plan to overthrow the Cuban government using anti-Castro forces from Cuba and the surrounding area. After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, it was desirable to use the United States military to conduct a large scale invasion of Cuba instead of relying on rebel fighters. However, it was important for the United States to not look like the aggressor.
Operation Northwoods was a plan drawn up by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962 which outlined ways to generate support for American military operations in Cuba. In a nutshell, it consisted of a number of attacks, some real and some simulated, that would be performed by American forces and then blamed on the Cuban government. The document, which has since been declassified and can be read in its entirety over a cup of coffee, outlined plans that ranged from blowing up unmanned drones and performing mock funerals, to conducting legitimate attacks on US military installations and American cities. At one point it states, “We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington.”
On March 16, 1962, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Lemnitzer, presented Operation Northwoods to President Kennedy. Nothwoods was rejected and Lemnitzer was quickly removed from his seat as chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Operation Northwoods was successfully kept a secret until 1997, when the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review board declassified 1,521 secret military records dated 1962-64.
While Operation Northwoods was officially rejected and never put into action, elements of the plan sprung up elsewhere in American history. Operation Dirty trick was a plot to blame Castro if the 1962 Mercury space flight carrying John Glenn crashed, stating, “The objective is to provide irrevocable proof that, should the Mercury manned orbit flight fail, the fault lies with the Communists et al. Cuba [sic].” It continues, “This to be accomplished by manufacturing various pieces of evidence which would prove electronic interference on the part of the Cubans.” Even following the departure of General Lemnitzer, a Department of Defense policy paper in 1963 outlined the possibility of making it appear that Cuba attacked a member of the Organization of American States. The attacked party would request American assistance, giving the US a way into all-out war with Cuba.
Throughout history, regime change often has ulterior motives – particularly when it comes to control of natural resources. The history of such operations dates back to the late 1800’s, with the overthrowing of the Hawaiian government, and spans across many continents and administrations.
Former bureau chief for The New York Times and Latin America correspondent for The Boston Globe, Stephen Kinzer, argues in his book “Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq” that there are three eras of America’s regime change activity:
One of the most infamous and drawn out instances of this resource-focused regime change began in 1876 with the government of Honduras. The Honduran government gave tax exemptions along with plots of land to foreign corporations in order to expand their mining and agriculture industries.
Some native Hondurans were able to exploit these Liberal economic policies to their benefit, but the vast majority of the allowances actually went to American corporations which had the capital on hand to purchase the land and quickly develop it.
The result of these policies was the total dominance of U.S.-based corporations throughout Honduras, with the major stakeholders being Standard Fruit (now Dole Food Company), the Cuyamel Fruit Company, and the Tela and Trujillo Railroad Companies (which were subsidiaries of United Fruit).
By 1929, the United Fruit Company operated across 650,000 acres and controlled all of the major ports and railroads. The total dominance of American corporations drove nearly all local competition out of business, and gave rise to “company towns” – where the influence of these companies were so strong that they actually outweighed the authority of the government.
From 1903 to 1925 American troops were inserted into Honduras several times during the widespread “Banana Wars” that took place across Central America and the Caribbean. U.S. troops would shut down the insurrections, revolutions and even disputes throughout the region that stemmed largely from economic conditions.
Other nations to become part this trend included Cuba, Puerto Rico, Panama, Nicaragua, Haiti, The Dominican Republic and Mexico. Two-time Medal of Honor recipient Major General Smedley D. Butler addressed these issues in his short work published in 1935 entitled, “War is a Racket.”
I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. – Major General Smedley Butler, “War is a Racket”, 1935.
In more recent history, Iran was targeted because they began to demand an equal share of the oil profits from the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (now known as British Petroleum, or BP) who was operating their oil fields. The British government bought a controlling share of the company, effectively nationalizing oil production in Iran and using it as the primary fuel source for the Royal Navy during World War I.
Mohammad Mosaddegh felt that the 16% profit share offered by the British was too little, and instead sought an amount closer to 50% – an amount considered the norm elsewhere in the world. Mosaddegh was elected Prime Minister and nationalized Iran’s petroleum industry and oil reserves, making him enormously popular among the Iranian people. Time Magazine even went as far to call him the “Iranian George Washington.”
Mohammad-Reza Shah Pahlavi, known primarily as “the Shah”, was installed as a strongman to ensure that foreign oil companies could continue pumping Iranian oil. Now instead of Iranian fields being open to just the British, five American oil companies, in addition to Royal Dutch Shell (now known as “Shell”) and the Compagnie Française des Pétroles, were free to operate in the country.
After 26 years of ruling with an iron fist, The Shah was overthrown during the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the country officially became an Islamic Republic. Relations with the West deteriorated, leading to the Iran hostage crisis in which 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days. The revolution was led by Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini, who became the 1st Supreme Leader of Iran, a position now held by Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hoseyni Khamenei. The blowback that ensued is considered by many, including the CIA, to be at least partially responsible for the strong anti-American and anti-Western sentiment still present in the region today.
Following the end of World War I, over 40,000 marchers - 17,000 veterans with families and affiliated groups, gathered in Washington, D.C. in 1932 to demand immediate cash payment of their war time service certificates. In the midst of the Great Depression, the veterans demanded immediate cash payment of the bonuses promised to them by The World War Adjusted Compensation Act of 1924. Setting up camp and refusing to leave, they were referred to as the Bonus Army.
Retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler was publicly supportive of the demands of the Bonus Army and visited the encampment. Earning 16 medals during his military career, Butler was one of the most popular military figures of his time. He toured the camp, making speeches and telling veterans that they had a right to lobby Congress just as much as any corporation. President Hoover then ordered the Army to clear the encampment. Using gas, mounted cavalry and tanks, General MacArthur dispersed the crowd the next day, wounding and killing several veterans in the process.
The following year, according to Butler, powerful business interests sought to create a fascist veterans organization and use it to overthrow the American government. Funded by the Du Pont family and J.P. Morgan, the goal was to arm the veterans organization and march on Washington, D.C. with upwards of 500,000 men. President Roosevelt would be demoted to a “figurehead” role, with Butler having near-absolute power in a new “Secretary of General Affairs” position.
In 1934, Butler tells Congress of the plot and a congressional investigative committee is formed. Headed by John W. McCormack and Samuel Dickstein, the committee was called the “McCormack-Dickstein Committee,” later known as the “Special Committee on Un-American Activities.” On Nov 24 1934, the McCormack-Dickstein Committee released a preliminary report stating they are hearing Butler’s testimony on the plot and that it heavily relied on hearsay thus far. The alleged plot came under fire in the press, most notably by The New York Times and Time Magazine.
The final report is released in 1935 and takes a noticeably different tone:
In the last few weeks of the committee’s official life it received evidence showing that certain persons had made an attempt to establish a fascist organization in this country. [...] There is no question that these attempts were discussed, were planned, and might have been placed in execution when and if the financial backers deemed it expedient.
This committee received evidence from Maj. Gen Smedley D. Butler (retired), twice decorated by the Congress of the United States. He testified before the committee as to conversations with one Gerald C. MacGuire in which the latter is alleged to have suggested the formation of a fascist army under the leadership of General Butler.
MacGuire denied these allegations under oath, but your committee was able to verify all the pertinent statements made by General Butler, with the exception of the direct statement suggesting the creation of the organization. This, however, was corroborated in the correspondence of MacGuire with his principal, Robert Sterling Clark, of New York City, while MacGuire was abroad studying the various forms of veterans organizations of Fascist character.
After the release of the final report, both The New York Times and Time Magazine reported that the congressional investigation had found evidence of a Wall Street plot to overthrow the American government, while still remaining skeptical in their editorials.
Elements of Butler’s allegations were supported by the testimony and statements of others. Paul Comly French, a reporter for the Philadelphia Record and the New York Evening Post, testified before the committee that he was told, “We need a Fascist government in this country [...] to save the Nation from the communists.” James E. Van Zandt, the Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, told the press, “Less than two months” after General Butler warned him, “he had been approached by ‘agents of Wall Street’ to lead a Fascist dictatorship in the United States under the guise of a ‘Veterans Organization’.”
Extensive excerpts of testimony implicating J.P. Morgan, the Du Pont interests, Remington Arms, and others were removed from hearing transcripts by the The McCormack-Dickstein Committee. However, Committee Chairman Samuel Dickstein unwittingly granted access to the unedited transcripts to a reporter for an upcoming story, which was printed in the New Masses magazine. Despite the expunged testimony being printed in the press, full unedited transcripts of the McCormack-Dickstein Committee’s hearings cannot be found to this day.
While that is a very serious accusation to make of any nation, using the United States Government’s definition of a “rogue state” and applying it fairly across the board, a case can be made that not only does The State of Israel fit the definition, but also does the United States itself. However, due to the foreign policy of the United States already being covered at length, the main focus of this article will be Israel’s behavior and America’s unwavering support.
According to the 2002 National Security Strategy published by the White House, rogue states:
Before beginning it is also important to note that this is not an attack on the Israeli people, the Jewish people, nor is this an endorsement of any of the enemies of the State of Israel. This is merely taking the U.S.’s definition, and applying it fairly across the board without prejudice.
At the time of this writing, there are over 220 United Nations resolutions concerning the behavior of Israel in international affairs. Much of the criticism stems from the aftermath of the Six Day War, in which Israel seized territories from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. While there is much controversy over the status and future of many of these territories, it is widely accepted among the international community that the act of transferring one’s population into occupied territory is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. As of 2012, there are more than 600,000 Israeli settlers living in the seized territories.
Israel came under fire again from the international community for its behavior during the 2008-09 Gaza War. The UN Human Rights Council established a team to investigate the alleged violations of international law taking place in the Palestinian territories. The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, as it was formally called, was headed by Justice Richard Goldstone. Goldstone previously served as the first chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia conflicts.
Known as the Goldstone Report, it criticized Israel for a number of transgressions of international law – including the blockade of Gaza, intentional targeting of civilians, the use of human shields, and the use of white phosphorous in urban areas. White phosphorous, which causes deadly burns, was even used on the UN Relief and Works Agency compound in Gaza City. While the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution endorsing the Goldstone Report and Amnesty International characterized the conflict as “22 days of death and destruction,” the United States Congress passed a resolution which condemned the report by a vote of 344-36.
While Israel maintains a policy of deliberate ambiguity on whether or not they possess nuclear weapons, it is generally accepted that Israel has between 75 and 400 nuclear weapons. The U.S. Congress also lists Israel as having chemical warfare abilities in addition to an offensive biological warfare program. Former President Jimmy Carter and International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei stated that Israel has nuclear weapons. A technician who worked at Israel’s Negev Nuclear Research Center was also jailed for 18 years for disclosing that Israel had produced nuclear weapons.
The Irgun, also known as “The National Military Organization in the Land of Israel,” committed acts of terrorism against Arab and British targets dating back to 1937. Civilian markets, trains, and hotels were bombed in addition to the British embassy in Rome and British CID Headquarters in Jerusalem. Described as a terrorist group by the New York Times, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and others, The Irgun was absorbed into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 1948 , and a military service ribbon was created in their honor in 1979.
Also absorbed into the IDF was the terrorist group Lehi, also known as the “Stern Group” or “National Military Organization in Israel.” Lehi also attacked civilian targets, including women and children during the Deir Yassin massacre, in addition to United Nations and British government officials. Israel granted amnesty to Lehi members in 1949, created a service ribbon in their honor in 1980, and former Lehi leader Yitzhak Shamir became Prime Minister of Israel in 1983, and again in 1986.
In more recent history, Israel was discovered to be working with terrorist groups operating inside Iran. Israeli Mossad agents, posing as CIA officers with U.S. passports, were actively recruiting Jundallah operatives in 2007 and 2008. According to the U.S. State Department, Jundallah is a terrorist organization that is responsible for the killing of Iranian civilians and government officials. Their tactics include suicide bombings, ambushes, kidnappings and targeted assassinations.
Still ongoing is the support of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran – an “Iranian dissident group that is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service.” The People’s Mujahedin of Iran, which has a history of killing Americans , has been used by the Mossad to kill Iranian nuclear scientists since 2010.
While pinning down a widely accepted definition of “basic human values” can be difficult, one can use the criteria set forth by the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted in 1948. Israel violates a number of its definitions of human rights.
The U.S. government has been aware that Israel uses physical coercion to attain confessions since 1978, when a message called “Jerusalem A-19” sent to the State Department from the Consulate General reported that two young American citizens and two young Palestinians were physically beaten by Israeli authorities. The boys were accused of throwing rocks at an Israeli military bus and were found guilty by a military judge. Jerusalem A-19 corroborated two previous messages sent in 1978, Jerusalem 1500 and Jerusalem 3239, which reported that similar tactics were being used on Palestinian prisoners.
By 1987, the Israeli government set up a commission to investigate allegations of torture and perjury by the GSS (General Security Service/Shabak/Shin Bet). Headed by former Supreme Court Justice Moshe Landau, the Landau Commission submitted a two part report of their findings four months later. The Commission defended the use of physical coercion, stating that “the exertion of a moderate degree of physical pressure cannot be avoided.” The report condemned the use of perjury, but at the same time recommended that no criminal action be taken against the GSS officials who committed it.
According to Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, over 300 Palestinians are currently being held without charge or trial. Israel’s use of administrative detention violates the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the The Fourth Geneva Convention. Palestinians can find themselves imprisoned for periods of time ranging from several months to several years, including children under the age of eighteen.
According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), Israel is the single largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign aid since World War II and from 1976-2004 Israel was the largest annual recipient of U.S. foreign aid.
Since 1985, the United States has given Israel almost $3 billion in grants every year, and Israel enjoys many unusual benefits like the entirety of American aid being delivered in the first 30 days of the fiscal year whereas most recipients receive aid in installments throughout the year.
In the United States, individuals and businesses can be penalized for boycotting Israel. According to the Bureau of Industry and Security, a child agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, conduct that may be penalized under the Ribicoff Amendment to the 1976 Tax Reform Act (TRA) and/or prohibited under Export Administration Regulations (EAR) includes, “Agreements to refuse or actual refusal to do business with or in Israel or with blacklisted companies” and “Agreements to furnish or actual furnishing of information about business relationships with or in Israel or with blacklisted companies.”
Penalties can be quite severe, with penalties for each “knowing” violation of the regulations being a fine of up to $50,000 or five times the value of the exports involved (whichever is greater) along with imprisonment for up to five years or longer depending on if there an Executive Order issued pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act which continues the EAR. During this period criminal penalties for each “willful” violation of the regulations can be a fine of up to $50,000 and up to ten years in prison. Administrative penalties also exist, including denial of export privileges, fines of up to $11,000 per violation and/or exclusion from practice. When the Export Administration Act (EAA) is in lapse, the penalties are governed by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) which provides for penalties up to $250,000 per violation or twice the value of the transaction involved for administrative violations of these Anti-boycott Regulations while criminal violations can result in up to $1 million in fines and 20 years of imprisonment for each violation.
While the laws prohibit discrimination based on “race, religion, sex or national origin or nationality,” Israel is the only nation which is specifically named in the regulations.
The Federal Reserve is also, in fact, not entirely a federal agency. In 1982 the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, found that the Federal Reserve banks are actually “independent, privately owned and locally controlled corporations” and “for purposes of the FTCA [Federal Tort Claims Act]”.
An amendment by Senator Bernie Sanders to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act resulted in a second audit of the Federal Reserve by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), after which a 120 page report was publicly released.
The office of Senator Bernie Sanders produced a shorter summary report on October 19, 2011 entitled “The Sanders Report on the GAO Audit on Major Conflicts of Interest at the Federal Reserve.” 
The GAO was able to uncover 18 former and current individuals sitting on the Federal Reserve’s board who were affiliated with the financial institutions and corporations that received the so-called emergency loans, better known as “bailouts” from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis in the United States. This includes major companies like JP Morgan Chase, General Electric and Lehman Brothers.
On top of this, many of the members of the Federal Reserve’s board of directors actually own stocks or even work directly by the banks that are supervised and regulated by the Federal Reserve, meaning that essentially the regulators are regulating themselves. These same board members have power over many of the Federal Reserve’s operations, even matters of salaries and personnel.
Directors of Federal Reserve Banks who are also employees of banking institutions or hold stock in said entities are currently able to participate in deciding the interest rates for financial institutions receiving loans from the Federal Reserve, along with being allowed to participate in the approval or disapproval of loans to certain financial institutions.
The Federal Reserve system not only does not publicly disclose their regulations in matters of real or potential conflicts of interest but it also does not disclose when or why it grants waivers for the conflict of interest regulations to select banks.
In 2008 and 2009, the Federal Reserve Board utilized their emergency authority under the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 several times in order to authorize new financial assistance to particular financial institutions.
Under two of the Federal Reserve’s programs, less than 50 percent of the total transaction amount by parent company country of domicile was devoted to the United States. The Government Accountability Office found that only 35% of loans went to American companies under one of the Federal Reserve’s programs while 41% in loans went to American companies under another one of the Federal Reserve’s lending programs.
Under one program, roughly 65% of the loans were made to American branches, agencies and subsidiaries of entirely foreign institutions.
From December 1, 2007 to July 21, 2010, the Federal Reserve made more than $16 trillion in loans, including large sums to institutions not based in the United States. $868 billion went to Barclays PLC of the United Kingdom, $541 billion to the Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC of the United Kingdom, $354 billion to German Deutsche Bank AG, $287 billion to Switzerland’s UBS AG, $181 billion to the United Kingdom’s Bank of Scotland PLC and more.
In all, these loans are larger than the entire current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP) for 2011, which was a relatively small sum of $15.294 trillion.
Since the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 passed the dollar has steadily declined in value, while the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ Consumer Price Index has steadily risen.
The failure of fiat currency, like the notes issued by the Federal Reserve, dates back not only to the American colonial period, but also to the Roman empire. The most dramatic example of how fiat currency can quickly spiral out of control is the hyperinflation experienced in Germany, which at the time was the Weimar Republic, between 1921 and 1924. From 1918 to around 1923, the value of one gold Mark in paper Marks skyrocketed from one to one trillion.
While inflation in the United States has never been so dramatic, there have been some great concerns over the conflicts of interest and practices at the Federal Reserve coming from both conservatives and progressives – spawning works like 2009’s “End the Fed” by Congressman Ron Paul, and the National Emergency Employment Defense Act from Congressman Dennis Kucinich.
A poll conducted for Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig’s book, Republic Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress–and a Plan to Stop It, found that 71% of Republicans and 81% of Democrats believed that “money buys results in Congress.” According to a ABC News/Washington Post poll, Congress has just a 13% approval rating. When a government that is largely a two party system is that unpopular with the vast majority of those voters, that’s indicative of not a problem with a candidate or a party, but a problem with the system itself. How could a government “of the people, by the people, for the people” have such a low approval rating?
It’s no secret that elections cost money. It’s also no secret that most people don’t donate to campaigns either. According to data published by the Federal Election Commission, only 818,764 Americans donated $200+ in the 2010 election cycle. 146,715 of those donated $2,400 or more, making up just 0.05% of the population.
In a nation of more than 300 million, the effects that these small numbers have is huge. Money spent lobbying Congress and federal agencies has more than doubled from $1.44 Billion in 1998 to $3.30 Billion in 2011. What does this buy?
Despite the official corporate tax rate being 35%, many pay zero taxes – or in some cases, even receive funds from the federal government despite reporting record profits. According to a report published by Citizens for Tax Justice, 30 of the 280 corporations investigated either paid zero taxes or “negative taxes” between 2008 and 2010. Pepco Holdings, despite reporting $882M in profit, had a tax rate of -57.6%. In other words, instead of paying taxes, Pepco Holdings received $508M in taxpayer dollars from the federal government. General Electric, which produces everything from jet engines to nuclear power plants, reported $10B in profit and received $4.7B from the federal government – a tax rate of -45.3%. This trend includes corporate powerhouses like DuPont, Verizon, Boeing and Wells Fargo. Despite rhetoric about the corporate tax rate being too high in America, the most powerful corporations often end up paying less than 0% in federal taxes.
The three major credit rating companies – Moody’s, Fitch Ratings, and Standard & Poor’s, have together spent more than $16 million lobbying financial-related legislation over the past decade. For example, the firms are looking to undo a portion of the Dodd-Frank law which removed lawsuit protection from the ratings agencies for negligence. When deciding to downgrade the credit rating of the United States, Standard & Poor’s made a $2 trillion mathematical mistake.
Since the 1990 election cycle, the Oil & Gas industry spent more than $238 million lobbying to weaken or remove regulations. The biggest spenders include ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Koch Industries and BP. Opening up previously restricted areas for drilling and curtailing safety regulations also rank high on the priorities list for oil companies. BP, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, lobbied extensively to oppose stricter safety and environmental standards.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also been targeted by lobbyists. Tasked with ensuring that the food and medical products are safe, lobbyists aim to either block competitors from entering the market or to push their product to consumers regardless of safety protocol. Sanofi, the pharmaceutical company that created the blood-thinner Lovenox, lobbied the FDA to block generics of the drug from entering the marketplace. ReGen Biologics and the FDA came under fire in 2009 regarding the approval of a knee implant device. The decision to approve the Menaflex, according to the FDA, was made despite protests from FDA scientists that the device provides any benefit to patients. After the FDA revoked their approval of the device, ReGen Biologics went bankrupt.
Instead of hiring lobbyists themselves, some opt to instead join an already established lobbying organization. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a 501(c)(3) policy organization that is comprised of state legislators and members from the private sector. ALEC can be described as a “pay to play” system for government policy, where companies pay between $5,000 and $25,000 per year for a corporate membership. Once a member, ALEC will draft legislation on their members’ behalf and submit it to state legislatures. For example, Coors Brewing Company was fined for their smog-inducing air pollution in 1992. ALEC responded with their “Environmental Audit Privilege” measure, which relieves companies of legal responsibility for their own pollution as long as they report their environmental violations. In addition to Coors, other members of ALEC include Amazon.com, American Express, and AT&T – and that’s only the A’s. There are over 400 corporations associated with ALEC, in addition to the 3,000 past and present lawmakers.
Use of this Web site is conditioned on the acceptance, without modification, of all terms and conditions of this agreement. By using this Web site you represent that you have read and understand the terms and conditions and that you agree to be bound by these terms and conditions as set forth below.
“IfEveryoneKnew.com” reserves the right at its discretion to modify the terms and conditions under which this Web site is offered. Use of this Web site after the posting of any such modification constitutes your agreement to be bound by the terms and conditions as modified.
If you do not agree with the terms and conditions of this Web site and do not wish to be bound by them, please do not use this Web site.
All material (“Materials”) displayed or transmitted on this site, including but not limited to text, photographs, images, illustrations, video clips, audio clips, and graphics are protected under the Fair Use disclaimer.
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. § 106 and 17 U.S.C. § 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.
“IfEveryoneKnew.com” reserves the right to modify, update, suspend, discontinue, or restrict the use of or access to this Web site or any portion of this Web site, at any time and without notice or liability.
ALTHOUGH ALL INFORMATION AND MATERIALS CARRIED ON THIS WEB SITE IS BELIEVED TO BE RELIABLE, “IfEveryoneKnew.com” MAKES NO REPRESENTATION, NEITHER EXPRESSLY NOR IMPLIEDLY, AS TO THE ACCURACY, COMPLETENESS, TIMELINESS OR RELIABILITY OF THE MATERIALS OR ANY INFORMATION ON THIS WEB SITE. BY USING THIS WEB SITE OR BY RELYING ON ANY OF THE MATERIALS OR INFORMATION CARRIED ON THIS WEB SITE YOU ASSUME ALL THE RISK AND RESPONSIBILITY ARISING OUT OF USE OR RELIANCE ON THIS WEB SITE. “IfEveryoneKnew.com” EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR AGAINST INFRINGEMENT. “IfEveryoneKnew.com” SHALL NOT BE LIABLE TO YOU OR ANYONE ELSE FOR ANY LOSS OR DAMAGES WHATSOEVER, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, OR OTHER DAMAGES, ARISING OUT OF THE USE OF OR INABILITY TO USE THIS WEB SITE OR ANY MATERIALS CARRIED ON THIS WEB SITE.
This Web site may from time to time contain links or pointers to Internet sites maintained by third parties. “IfEveryoneKnew.com” does not operate or control in any way any information, products or services on these third-party sites and “IfEveryoneKnew.com” expressly disclaims any responsibility for such third-party sites, which are provided for your convenience on an “as is” basis without warranties of any kind, express or implied.
This constitutes the entire agreement between the parties concerning the terms and conditions of use of this Web site. All e-mail sent to the e-mail addresses of “IfEveryoneKnew.com” becomes the property of “IfEveryoneKnew.com”. “IfEveryoneKnew.com” reserves the right, but shall not be obligated to, publish any email message received, in whole or in part, or make such other use as “IfEveryoneKnew.com” in its sole discretion sees fit.
We do not sell, trade, or otherwise transfer to outside parties your personally identifiable information. This does not include trusted third parties, such as Google, who assist us in operating our website, so long as those parties agree to keep this information confidential. We may also release your information when we believe release is appropriate to comply with the law, enforce our site policies, or protect ours or others’ rights, property, or safety. However, non-personally identifiable visitor information may be provided to other parties for marketing, advertising, or other uses.
Occasionally, at our discretion, we may link to third party products, services, or other content on our website. These third party sites have separate and independent privacy policies. We therefore have no responsibility or liability for the content and activities of these linked sites. Nonetheless, we seek to protect the integrity of our site and welcome any feedback about these sites.
We are in compliance with the requirements of COPPA (Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act), we do not collect any information from anyone under 13 years of age. Our website, products and services are all directed to people who are at least 13 years old or older.
You may use the following form to provide feedback. All messages will be read, but a reply is not guaranteed.
You also have the option of using e-mail.