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Stifling Dissent on the Upper East Side

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Original published here by *Todd E. Pierce.


Did COIN -- or counterinsurgency doctrine -- come to New York's Upper East Side in late October? One might think so when a critic of retired Gen. David Petraeus was denied entry to a public event and then roughly arrested by New York police.

On Oct. 30, this generation's COIN deity David Petraeus and acolytes John Nagl and Max Boot were to discuss "national security" at an event open to the public at the Upper East Side Y. However, when former CIA analyst and war critic Ray McGovern arrived with ticket in hand, he was "neutralized," as the COIN practitioners might put it.

McGovern was greeted by a security official who addressed McGovern by name and seemed to be expecting him. The security official told McGovern he was "not welcome" and denied him entry, ticket or no ticket. Not only did the security officer seem to expect McGovern, but NYPD reinforcements were on hand to arrest McGovern on charges of trespassing, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

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The 75-year-old ex-CIA analyst, who was suffering from a shoulder injury, had his arms pulled painfully behind him as he was handcuffed, causing him to scream in pain. He was then transported to jail where he spent the night on a metal cot.

McGovern wrote afterward: "But one mystery lingers. The 'organs of state security' (the words used by the Soviets to refer to their intelligence/security services) were lying in wait for me when I walked into the Y? Why? How on earth did they know I was coming?"

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McGovern's answer to his own question was that it would seem the group that he was staying with was the target of an intelligence collection operation. That is what one would expect the authorities to do to "counter insurgents" in a foreign nation where U.S. forces operate, as Petraeus's Counterinsurgency Manual explains. Or, you might see it in a nation under an authoritarian political system, what we used to call a Police State before we Americans adopted those same methods.

But the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is supposed to prevent the suppression of public speech by government or quasi-government officials. That was the principle at least, until the 9/11 attacks "changed everything."

Unlimited Powers

On Oct. 23, 2001, six weeks after those attacks, Justice Department officials Robert Delahunty and John Yoo signed an Office of Legal Counsel Opinion entitled "Authority for Use of Military Force To Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States," essentially giving President George W. Bush, as the "Commander in Chief," the power to impose martial law.

Yoo/Delahunty wrote in that opinion that the Fourth Amendment did not apply to military operations within the United States, which would logically include operations by the National Security Agency, an intelligence agency within the Department of Defense, i.e., surveillance operations against the U.S. population.

Yoo/Delahunty also claimed: "First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the over-riding need to wage war successfully. 'When a nation is at war many things that might be said in time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight and that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.'"

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This assertion that the Constitution's safeguards of a citizen's rights must be set aside at a time of war -- even one as vague as the "war on terror" -- and must be replaced by the prerogative power of the military authorities, with the "Commander in Chief" at the top, acting under a theory of unlimited presidential powers, is descriptive of martial law.

Or as the Supreme Court once said, "what is termed martial law, but which would be better called martial rule, for it is little else than the will of the commanding general ... sometimes advanced by men, with more zeal than wisdom ... and is at variance with every just notion of a free government."

All the available evidence, principally the DOD/NSA's spying-on-citizens program, would indicate that martial law was instituted under the Bush regime and remains in place with continued domestic DOD/NSA spying under the Obama regime. That authority for domestic military operations would logically include COIN, a menu of tactics so extensive that it covers everything from full-scale army operations to the control of undesired political speech.

This is what Ray McGovern can be said to have encountered at the Upper East Side Y. It is irrelevant that no military personnel were on hand, other than retired military officers. Martial law is not limited to only the military exercising the prerogative power of the Commander in Chief; it is most successful when citizens themselves take on the task of enforcing the "Commander's intent," in whole or in part.

Nor is it necessary that martial law be publicly declared. For example, the removal of the Japanese-Americans from the West Coast during World War II at the instigation of General John L. DeWitt was an example of martial law. It wasn't called that for political purposes, just as it is not called that now, even though the military, via the DOD's NSA, continues to conduct a military operation against U.S. citizens.

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