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FTR #1126 Bio-Psy-Op Apocalypse Now, Part 2: The Democracy-Killing Virus

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FTR #1126 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.  

Trump kept a copy of this by his bed­side, accord­ing to his ex-wife Ivana (in an inter­view in “Van­i­ty Fair.”)

Intro­duc­tion: We begin a series of pro­grams high­light­ing var­i­ous aspects of the “three-dimen­sion­al chess” aspect of the Covid-19 “bio-psy-op” we feel is under­way. Actu­al­ly six or sev­en dimen­sion­al chess might be a bet­ter way of express­ing this ana­lyt­i­cal con­cept.

It is of para­mount impor­tance for listeners/readers to under­stand that the con­cep­tu­al break­down is for cog­ni­tive clar­i­ty only. The bio-psy-op” is mul­ti-dimen­sion­al in its entire­ty and must be under­stood to be a type of “fascist/totalitarian lasagna” with many lay­ers to be con­sumed.

In this pro­gram, we present ways in which the Covid-19 out­break is sub­vert­ing democ­ra­cy, both inside and out­side of the Unit­ed States.

Although he has only flirt­ed with exer­cis­ing them, to date, Trump does indeed have some emer­gency pow­ers that can be invoked to fur­ther his agen­da” ” . . . . The most notable aspect of pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments might be their extreme secre­cy. It’s not uncom­mon for the gov­ern­ment to clas­si­fy its plans or activ­i­ties in the area of nation­al secu­ri­ty. . . . By con­trast, we know of no evi­dence that the exec­u­tive branch has ever con­sult­ed with Con­gress — or even informed any of its mem­bers — regard­ing the con­tents of pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments. . . . That is a dan­ger­ous state of affairs. The coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic is fast becom­ing the most seri­ous cri­sis to face this coun­try since World War II. And it is hap­pen­ing under the watch of a pres­i­dent who has claimed that Arti­cle II of the Con­sti­tu­tion gives him ‘the right to do what­ev­er I want.’ It is not far-fetched to think that we might see the deploy­ment of these doc­u­ments for the first time and that they will assert pres­i­den­tial pow­ers beyond those grant­ed by Con­gress or rec­og­nized by the courts as flow­ing from the Con­sti­tu­tion. . . .”

Next, we add that the Bio-Psy-Op Apoc­a­lypse is spawn­ing total­i­tar­i­an manifestations–not surprisingly–at the Depart­ment of Jus­tice head­ed by “ex” CIA offi­cer William Barr. ” . . . . The request raised eye­brows because of its poten­tial impli­ca­tions for habeas cor­pus — the con­sti­tu­tion­al right to appear before a judge after arrest and seek release. ‘Not only would it be a vio­la­tion of that, but it says ‘affect­ing pre-arrest,’” said Nor­man L. Reimer, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Crim­i­nal Defense Lawyers. ‘So that means you could be arrest­ed and nev­er brought before a judge until they decide that the emer­gency or the civ­il dis­obe­di­ence is over. I find it absolute­ly ter­ri­fy­ing. Espe­cial­ly in a time of emer­gency, we should be very care­ful about grant­i­ng new pow­ers to the gov­ern­ment.’ . . .”

It will come as no sur­prise to vet­er­an lis­ten­ers, the Pen­ta­gon has con­tin­gency plans for vary­ing degrees of gov­ern­men­tal and/or civic dis­abil­i­ty. ” . . . . But Coro­n­avirus is also new ter­ri­to­ry, where the mil­i­tary itself is vul­ner­a­ble and the dis­as­ter sce­nar­ios being con­tem­plat­ed — includ­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of wide­spread domes­tic vio­lence as a result of food short­ages — are forc­ing plan­ners to look at what are called ‘extra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances’. Above-Top Secret con­tin­gency plans already exist for what the mil­i­tary is sup­posed to do if all the Con­sti­tu­tion­al suc­ces­sors are inca­pac­i­tat­ed. Stand­by orders were issued more than three weeks ago to ready these plans, not just to pro­tect Wash­ing­ton but also to pre­pare for the pos­si­bil­i­ty of some form of mar­tial law. . . .”

The mil­i­tary’s con­tin­gency plans have been par­tial­ly acti­vat­ed” . . . . While being hit with coro­n­avirus at rates equiv­a­lent to the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion, the U.S. mil­i­tary has acti­vat­ed its ‘defense sup­port of civ­il author­i­ties’ appa­ra­tus, estab­lish­ing liaisons in all 50 states, acti­vat­ing units and com­mand posts, and mov­ing forces to pro­vide med­ical, trans­porta­tion, logis­tics, and com­mu­ni­ca­tions sup­port in New York and Wash­ing­ton states. Lt. Gen. Lau­ra Richard­son, the com­mand of Army North (ARNORTH), has request­ed and received approval for the deploy­ment of ground units in response to the now declared nation­al emer­gency. . . .”

We note, in pass­ing, that, although not in effect at this point, dis­cus­sion of “mar­tial law” are far more than just social media fod­der, to coin a term. ” . . . . Because of so many rumors fly­ing in social media, the Pen­ta­gon estab­lished a ‘rumor con­trol’ web­site to beat down sto­ries of mil­i­tary-imposed quar­an­tines and even mar­tial law. And it said it was going to lim­it details of both the spe­cif­ic num­bers of coro­n­avirus cas­es and oper­a­tional details. . . .”

Mar­tial law dis­cus­sion has been spurred by, among oth­er things, Trump’s rumi­na­tions about what he can and will do: “. . . . Ear­li­er Sat­ur­day, Mr. Trump said that he is con­sid­er­ing declar­ing an ‘enforce­able’ quar­an­tine affect­ing some res­i­dents of the New York met­ro­pol­i­tan area, pos­si­bly includ­ing New Jer­sey and Con­necti­cut. He called the region a ‘hot spot’ of the coro­n­avirus out­break sweep­ing the coun­try. . . . Mr. Trump reit­er­at­ed in his remarks before the send off of the USNS Com­fort that he was con­sid­er­ing a quar­an­tine of the area. The Com­fort is a naval hos­pi­tal boat which is car­ry­ing over 1,000 beds and 1,200 med­ical per­son­nel to New York City. . . . Using active duty troops to enforce a quar­an­tine would require the pres­i­dent to sus­pend the Posse Comi­ta­tus Act, which for­bids the use of the armed ser­vices for law enforce­ment. . . .”

Trump has plen­ty of com­pa­ny” . . . . In Hun­gary, a new law has grant­ed Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orban the pow­er to side­step Par­lia­ment and sus­pend exist­ing laws. Mr. Orban, who declared a state of emer­gency this month, now has the sole pow­er to end the emer­gency. Par­lia­ment, where two-thirds of the seats are con­trolled by his par­ty, approved the leg­is­la­tion on Mon­day. . . .‘The draft law is alarm­ing,’ said Daniel Kar­sai, a lawyer in Budapest who said the new leg­is­la­tion had cre­at­ed ‘a big fear’ among Hun­gar­i­ans that ‘the Orban admin­is­tra­tion will be a real dic­ta­tor­ship.’ . . .”

Orban’s Hun­gary has been joined by, among oth­ers, the long-stand­ing British democ­ra­cy: ” . . . . some of the pro­vi­sions . . . . will give the gov­ern­ment unchecked con­trol. The leg­is­la­tion gives sweep­ing pow­ers to bor­der agents and the police, which could lead to indef­i­nite deten­tion and rein­force ‘hos­tile envi­ron­ment’ poli­cies against immi­grants, crit­ics said. ‘Each clause could have had months of debate, and instead it’s all being debat­ed in a few days,’ said Adam Wag­n­er, a lawyer who advis­es a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee on human rights. . . . ‘These are eye-water­ing pow­ers that would have not been real­ly imag­in­able in peace­time in this coun­try before,’ said Silkie Car­lo, the direc­tor of Big Broth­er Watch, a rights group. She called the mea­sures ‘dra­con­ian.’ . . . .”

Pri­va­cy is being dra­mat­i­cal­ly cur­tailed under cov­er of com­bat­ting the virus: ” . . . . As Thomas Gaulkin of the Bul­letin of the Atom­ic Sci­en­tists not­ed ear­li­er this month, many Amer­i­cans— often fierce in their objec­tions to per­ceived gov­ern­ment over­reach into their lives—might nor­mal­ly object to dystopi­an images of fly­ing robots polic­ing lock­downs. But these, of course, are not nor­mal times. ‘If drones do begin to hov­er over U.S. streets to help con­trol this pan­dem­ic,’ Gaulkin wrote, ‘it will be yet anoth­er vis­i­ble reminder that we’ve entered a pub­lic health Twi­light Zone where Amer­i­cans have no bet­ter option than to embrace what was once only imag­in­able, and nev­er real.’ . . . ”

The alpha preda­tor of the elec­tron­ic sur­veil­lance land­scape is Peter Thiel’s Palan­tir. They have land­ed two key gov­ern­ment con­tracts in con­nec­tion with the Covid-19 out­break:” . . . . Palan­tir, the $20 bil­lion-val­ued Palo Alto tech com­pa­ny backed by Face­book-fun­der Peter Thiel, has been hand­ed a $17.3 mil­lion con­tract with one of the lead­ing health bod­ies lead­ing the charge against COVID-19. It’s the biggest con­tract hand­ed to a Sil­i­con Val­ley com­pa­ny to assist America’s COVID-19 response, accord­ing to Forbes’ review of pub­lic con­tracts, and comes as oth­er Cal­i­forn­ian giants like Apple and Google try to fig­ure out how best to help gov­ern­ments fight the dead­ly virus. . . . The mon­ey, from the fed­er­al government’s COVID-19 relief fund, is for Palan­tir Gotham licens­es, accord­ing to a con­tract record reviewed by Forbes. That tech­nol­o­gy is designed to draw in data from myr­i­ad sources and, regard­less of what form or size, turn the infor­ma­tion into a coher­ent whole. The ‘plat­form’ is cus­tomized for each client, so it meets with their mis­sion needs, accord­ing to Palan­tir. . . . Palan­tir Gotham is slight­ly dif­fer­ent to Foundry, a new­er prod­uct that’s aimed more at gen­er­al users rather than data sci­ence whizzes, with more automa­tion than Gotham. As Forbes pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed, Foundry is being used by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) to ingest infor­ma­tion from all man­ner of hos­pi­tals across Amer­i­ca to see where best to pro­vide more or less resource. . . . Palan­tir is now work­ing with at least 12 gov­ern­ments on their respons­es to coro­n­avirus, accord­ing to two sources with knowl­edge of its COVID-19 work. That includes the U.K.’s Nation­al Health Ser­vice, which is using Foundry for sim­i­lar pur­pos­es as the CDC. . . .”

Exem­pli­fy­ing the mul­ti-dimen­sion­al chess sce­nario in con­nec­tion with the “bio-psy-op” is the GOP’s plan to use the Covid-19 out­break to scape­goat Chi­na and tar the Democ­rats and Joe Biden with the same brush. Of par­tic­u­lar note in this regard is the Steve Bannon‑J. Kyle Bass-Tom­my Hicks, Jr. tri­umvi­rate dis­cussed in–among oth­er pro­grams–FTR #‘s 1111 and 1112.

At the epi­cen­ter of the anti-Chi­na effort, Ban­non is net­worked with Bass, who is asym­met­ri­cal­ly invest­ed with regard to the Hong Kong and Chi­nese economies. Hicks, in turn, is a co-investor with Bass, co-chair­man of the RNC, and one of the prime movers of the inter­a­gency gov­ern­men­tal net­works involved in the anti-Chi­na desta­bi­liza­tion oper­a­tion. This net­worked rela­tion­ship affords investors like Bass and Hicks the ulti­mate posi­tion from which to prof­it from “insid­er” infor­ma­tion. 

The syn­the­sis of covert oper­a­tions and elec­toral pol­i­tics reminds us of the 1952 elec­tion, in which Arthur Bliss Lane occu­pied a key posi­tion in the Cru­sade For Free­dom, as well as the GOP. (We dis­cussed this in AFA #37, and uti­lized infor­ma­tion from, among oth­er sources, Blow­back by Christo­pher Simp­son.

Exem­plary, as well, of the bio-psy-op as syn­the­sis of covert oper­a­tion and polit­i­cal cru­sad­ing is the GOP’s cyn­i­cal manip­u­la­tion of emer­gency appro­pri­a­tions to achieve their long­stand­ing objec­tive of crip­pling state and local gov­ern­ments, as well as dri­ving the Postal Ser­vice into bank­rupt­cy. Pri­va­tiz­ing postal ser­vice has been a right-wing/­GOP objec­tive for a long time. ” . . . . Every­one, and I mean every­one, knows what is real­ly hap­pen­ing: McConnell is try­ing to get more mon­ey for busi­ness­es while con­tin­u­ing to short­change state and local gov­ern­ments. After all, “starve the beast” — forc­ing gov­ern­ments to cut ser­vices by depriv­ing them of resources — has been Repub­li­can strat­e­gy for decades. This is just more of the same. . . . Oh, and Trump per­son­al­ly has ruled out aid for the Postal Ser­vice. . . .”

1a. Although he has only flirt­ed with exer­cis­ing them, to date, Trump does indeed have some emer­gency pow­ers that can be invoked to fur­ther his agen­da” ” . . . . The most notable aspect of pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments might be their extreme secre­cy. It’s not uncom­mon for the gov­ern­ment to clas­si­fy its plans or activ­i­ties in the area of nation­al secu­ri­ty. . . . By con­trast, we know of no evi­dence that the exec­u­tive branch has ever con­sult­ed with Con­gress — or even informed any of its mem­bers — regard­ing the con­tents of pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments. . . . That is a dan­ger­ous state of affairs. The coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic is fast becom­ing the most seri­ous cri­sis to face this coun­try since World War II. And it is hap­pen­ing under the watch of a pres­i­dent who has claimed that Arti­cle II of the Con­sti­tu­tion gives him ‘the right to do what­ev­er I want.’ It is not far-fetched to think that we might see the deploy­ment of these doc­u­ments for the first time and that they will assert pres­i­den­tial pow­ers beyond those grant­ed by Con­gress or rec­og­nized by the courts as flow­ing from the Con­sti­tu­tion. . . .”

“Trump Has Emer­gency Pow­ers We Aren’t Allowed to Know About” by Eliz­a­beth Gotein and Andrew Boyle; The New York Times; 4/10/2020.

The past few weeks have giv­en Amer­i­cans a crash course in the pow­ers that fed­er­al, state and local gov­ern­ments wield dur­ing emer­gen­cies. We’ve seen busi­ness­es closed down, cit­i­zens quar­an­tined and trav­el restrict­ed. When Pres­i­dent Trump declared emer­gen­cies on March 13 under both the Stafford Act and the Nation­al Emer­gen­cies Act, he boast­ed, “I have the right to do a lot of things that peo­ple don’t even know about.”

The pres­i­dent is right. Some of the most potent emer­gency pow­ers at his dis­pos­al are like­ly ones we can’t know about, because they are not con­tained in any pub­licly avail­able laws. Instead, they are set forth in clas­si­fied doc­u­ments known as “pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments.”

These doc­u­ments con­sist of draft procla­ma­tions, exec­u­tive orders and pro­pos­als for leg­is­la­tion that can be quick­ly deployed to assert broad pres­i­den­tial author­i­ty in a range of worst-case sce­nar­ios. They are one of the government’s best-kept secrets. No pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ment has ever been released or even leaked. And it appears that none has ever been invoked.

Giv­en the real pos­si­bil­i­ty that these doc­u­ments could make their first appear­ance in the coro­n­avirus cri­sis, Con­gress should insist on hav­ing full access to them to ensure that they are con­sis­tent with the Con­sti­tu­tion and basic prin­ci­ples of democ­ra­cy.

Pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments emerged dur­ing the Eisen­how­er admin­is­tra­tion as a set of plans to pro­vide for con­ti­nu­ity of gov­ern­ment after a Sovi­et nuclear attack. Over time, they were expand­ed to include pro­posed respons­es to oth­er types of emer­gen­cies. As described in one declas­si­fied gov­ern­ment mem­o­ran­dum, they are designed “to imple­ment extra­or­di­nary pres­i­den­tial author­i­ty in response to extra­or­di­nary sit­u­a­tions.”

Oth­er gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments have revealed some of the actions that old­er pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments — those issued up through the 1970s — pur­port­ed to autho­rize. These include sus­pen­sion of habeas cor­pus by the pres­i­dent (not by Con­gress, as assigned in the Con­sti­tu­tion), deten­tion of Unit­ed States cit­i­zens who are sus­pect­ed of being “sub­ver­sives,” war­rant­less search­es and seizures and the impo­si­tion of mar­tial law.

Some of these actions would seem uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, at least in the absence of autho­riza­tion by Con­gress. Past pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments, how­ev­er, have test­ed the line of how far pres­i­dents’ con­sti­tu­tion­al author­i­ty may stretch in an emer­gency.

For exam­ple, a Depart­ment of Jus­tice mem­o­ran­dum from the Lyn­don B. John­son admin­is­tra­tion dis­cuss­es a pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ment that would impose cen­sor­ship on news sent abroad. The memo notes that while no “express statu­to­ry author­i­ty” exists for such a mea­sure, “it can be argued that these actions would be legal in the after­math of a dev­as­tat­ing nuclear attack based on the president’s con­sti­tu­tion­al pow­ers to pre­serve the nation­al secu­ri­ty.” It then rec­om­mends that the pres­i­dent seek rat­i­fy­ing leg­is­la­tion from Con­gress after issu­ing the orders.

Much less is known about the con­tents of more recent pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments — but we do know they exist. They under­go peri­od­ic revi­sion to take into account new laws, con­di­tions and con­cerns. The Depart­ment of Jus­tice reviews the pro­posed changes for legal sound­ness, the Fed­er­al Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency plays a coor­di­nat­ing role and the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil pro­vides pol­i­cy direc­tion and final approval.

Based on bud­getary requests from the Depart­ment of Jus­tice to Con­gress and oth­er doc­u­ments, it appears that pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments were revised in the late 1980s, in the 2000s and again start­ing in 2012 and con­tin­u­ing into the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. The lat­est num­bers avail­able sug­gest there are between 50 and 60 such doc­u­ments in exis­tence.

There is no ques­tion that pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments could be used in a pan­dem­ic like that caused by the coro­n­avirus. A 2006 Nuclear Reg­u­la­to­ry Com­mis­sion mem­o­ran­dum addressed that agency’s plan under Pres­i­dent Bush’s 2005 “Nation­al Strat­e­gy for Pan­dem­ic Influen­za.” The con­cern was how to main­tain oper­a­tions in response to a pan­dem­ic that proved to be “per­sis­tent, wide­spread, and pro­longed.” The memo’s authors offered the Nuclear Reg­u­la­to­ry Com­mis­sion 14 bul­let points of actions, includ­ing to “review pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments” and “select those most like­ly to be need­ed” by the com­mis­sion.

The most notable aspect of pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments might be their extreme secre­cy. It’s not uncom­mon for the gov­ern­ment to clas­si­fy its plans or activ­i­ties in the area of nation­al secu­ri­ty. How­ev­er, even the most sen­si­tive mil­i­tary oper­a­tions or intel­li­gence activ­i­ties must be report­ed to at least some mem­bers of Con­gress. By con­trast, we know of no evi­dence that the exec­u­tive branch has ever con­sult­ed with Con­gress — or even informed any of its mem­bers — regard­ing the con­tents of pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments.

That is a dan­ger­ous state of affairs. The coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic is fast becom­ing the most seri­ous cri­sis to face this coun­try since World War II. And it is hap­pen­ing under the watch of a pres­i­dent who has claimed that Arti­cle II of the Con­sti­tu­tion gives him “the right to do what­ev­er I want.” It is not far-fetched to think that we might see the deploy­ment of these doc­u­ments for the first time and that they will assert pres­i­den­tial pow­ers beyond those grant­ed by Con­gress or rec­og­nized by the courts as flow­ing from the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Even in the most dire of emer­gen­cies, the pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States should not be able to oper­ate free from con­sti­tu­tion­al checks and bal­ances. The coro­n­avirus cri­sis should serve as a wake-up call. Pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments have man­aged to escape demo­c­ra­t­ic over­sight for near­ly 70 years. Con­gress should move quick­ly to rem­e­dy that omis­sion and assert its author­i­ty to review these doc­u­ments, before we all learn just how far this admin­is­tra­tion believes the president’s pow­ers reach.

Eliz­a­beth Goitein is a co-direc­tor and Andrew Boyle is a lawyer at the Lib­er­ty and Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Pro­gram at the Bren­nan Cen­ter for Jus­tice at New York Uni­ver­si­ty School of Law.

1b. The Bio-Psy-Op Apoc­a­lypse is spawn­ing total­i­tar­i­an man­i­fes­ta­tions, including–not surprisingly–at the Depart­ment of Jus­tice head­ed by “ex” CIA offi­cer William Barr.

“DOJ seeks new emer­gency pow­ers amid coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic” by Bet­sy Woodruff Swan; Politi­co; 03/21/2020

The Jus­tice Depart­ment has qui­et­ly asked Con­gress for the abil­i­ty to ask chief judges to detain peo­ple indef­i­nite­ly with­out tri­al dur­ing emer­gen­cies — part of a push for new pow­ers that comes as the nov­el coro­n­avirus spreads through­out the Unit­ed States.

Doc­u­ments reviewed by POLITICO detail the department’s requests to law­mak­ers on a host of top­ics, includ­ing the statute of lim­i­ta­tions, asy­lum and the way court hear­ings are con­duct­ed. POLITICO also reviewed and pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed on doc­u­ments seek­ing the author­i­ty to extend dead­lines on merg­er reviews and pros­e­cu­tions.

The move has tapped into a broad­er fear among civ­il lib­er­ties advo­cates and Don­ald Trump’s crit­ics — that the pres­i­dent will use a moment of cri­sis to push for con­tro­ver­sial pol­i­cy changes. Already, he has cit­ed the pan­dem­ic as a rea­son for height­en­ing bor­der restric­tions and restrict­ing asy­lum claims. He has also pushed for fur­ther tax cuts as the econ­o­my with­ers, argu­ing it would soft­en the finan­cial blow to Amer­i­cans. And even with­out pol­i­cy changes, Trump has vast emer­gency pow­ers that he could deploy right now to try to slow the coro­n­avirus out­break.

The DOJ requests — which are unlike­ly to make it through a Demo­c­ra­t­ic-led House — span sev­er­al stages of the legal process, from ini­tial arrest to how cas­es are processed and inves­ti­gat­ed.

In one of the doc­u­ments, the depart­ment pro­posed that Con­gress grant the attor­ney gen­er­al pow­er to ask the chief judge of any dis­trict court to pause court pro­ceed­ings “when­ev­er the dis­trict court is ful­ly or par­tial­ly closed by virtue of any nat­ur­al dis­as­ter, civ­il dis­obe­di­ence, or oth­er emer­gency sit­u­a­tion.”

The pro­pos­al would also grant those top judges broad author­i­ty to pause court pro­ceed­ings dur­ing emer­gen­cies. It would apply to “any statutes or rules of pro­ce­dure oth­er­wise affect­ing pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-tri­al, tri­al, and post-tri­al pro­ce­dures in crim­i­nal and juve­nile pro­ceed­ings and all civ­il process and pro­ceed­ings,” accord­ing to draft leg­isla­tive lan­guage the depart­ment shared with Con­gress. In mak­ing the case for the change, the DOJ wrote that indi­vid­ual judges can cur­rent­ly pause pro­ceed­ings dur­ing emer­gen­cies but that their pro­pos­al would make sure all judges in any par­tic­u­lar dis­trict could han­dle emer­gen­cies “in a con­sis­tent man­ner.”

The request raised eye­brows because of its poten­tial impli­ca­tions for habeas cor­pus — the con­sti­tu­tion­al right to appear before a judge after arrest and seek release.

“Not only would it be a vio­la­tion of that, but it says ‘affect­ing pre-arrest,’” said Nor­man L. Reimer, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Crim­i­nal Defense Lawyers. “So that means you could be arrest­ed and nev­er brought before a judge until they decide that the emer­gency or the civ­il dis­obe­di­ence is over. I find it absolute­ly ter­ri­fy­ing. Espe­cial­ly in a time of emer­gency, we should be very care­ful about grant­i­ng new pow­ers to the gov­ern­ment.”

Reimer said the pos­si­bil­i­ty of chief judges sus­pend­ing all court rules dur­ing an emer­gency with­out a clear end in sight was deeply dis­turb­ing.

“That is some­thing that should not hap­pen in a democ­ra­cy,” he said.

The depart­ment also asked Con­gress to pause the statute of lim­i­ta­tions for crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tions and civ­il pro­ceed­ings dur­ing nation­al emer­gen­cies, “and for one year fol­low­ing the end of the nation­al emer­gency,” accord­ing to the draft leg­isla­tive text.

Trump recent­ly declared the coro­n­avirus cri­sis a nation­al emer­gency.

Anoth­er con­tro­ver­sial request: The depart­ment is look­ing to change the Fed­er­al Rules of Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure in some cas­es to expand the use of video­con­fer­ence hear­ings and to let some of those hear­ings hap­pen with­out defen­dants’ con­sent, accord­ing to the draft leg­isla­tive text.

“Video tele­con­fer­enc­ing may be used to con­duct an appear­ance under this rule,” read a draft of poten­tial new lan­guage for Fed­er­al Rule of Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure 5(f), cross­ing out the phrase “if the defen­dant con­sents.”

“Video tele­con­fer­enc­ing may be used to arraign a defen­dant,” read draft text of rule 10©, again strik­ing out the phrase “if the defen­dant con­sents.”

Reimer said forc­ing peo­ple to have hear­ings over video rather than in per­son would threat­en civ­il lib­er­ties.

“If it were with the con­sent of the accused per­son it would be fine,” he said. “But if it’s not with the con­sent of the accused per­son, it’s a ter­ri­ble road to go down. We have a right to pub­lic tri­als. Peo­ple have a right to be present in court.”

The depart­ment also wants Con­gress to change the law to explic­it­ly say that peo­ple with COVID-19 — the ill­ness caused by the nov­el coro­n­avirus — are not includ­ed among those who may apply for asy­lum. And the depart­ment asked for the same change regard­ing peo­ple who are “sub­ject to a pres­i­den­tial procla­ma­tion sus­pend­ing and lim­it­ing the entry of aliens into the Unit­ed States,” accord­ing to the draft leg­isla­tive lan­guage.

Layli Miller-Muro, the CEO of the Tahir­ih Jus­tice Cen­ter, which advo­cates for women and girls flee­ing vio­lence, said the lan­guage would block any­one on a pres­i­den­tial trav­el ban list from seek­ing asy­lum in the U.S.

“I think it’s a human­i­tar­i­an tragedy that fails to rec­og­nize that vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple from those coun­tries are among the most per­se­cut­ed and that pro­tect­ing them is exact­ly what the refugee con­ven­tion was designed to do,” she said.

The asy­lum request comes as the Trump admin­is­tra­tion says it will begin deny­ing entry to all migrants ille­gal­ly cross­ing the U.S. south­ern bor­der, includ­ing those seek­ing asy­lum.

“I hope we come out of this with a sense of one­ness, inter­con­nect­ed­ness,” Miller-Muro said of the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic. “Bor­ders can’t pro­tect us. Virus­es do not care.”

2. It will come as no sur­prise to vet­er­an lis­ten­ers, the Pen­ta­gon has con­tin­gency plans for vary­ing degrees of gov­ern­men­tal and/or civic dis­abil­i­ty. ” . . . . But Coro­n­avirus is also new ter­ri­to­ry, where the mil­i­tary itself is vul­ner­a­ble and the dis­as­ter sce­nar­ios being con­tem­plat­ed — includ­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of wide­spread domes­tic vio­lence as a result of food short­ages — are forc­ing plan­ners to look at what are called ‘extra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances’. Above-Top Secret con­tin­gency plans already exist for what the mil­i­tary is sup­posed to do if all the Con­sti­tu­tion­al suc­ces­sors are inca­pac­i­tat­ed. Stand­by orders were issued more than three weeks ago to ready these plans, not just to pro­tect Wash­ing­ton but also to pre­pare for the pos­si­bil­i­ty of some form of mar­tial law. . . .”

“Exclu­sive: Inside the Military’s Top Secret Plans If the Coro­n­avirus Crip­ples Gov­ern­ment” by William M. Arkin; Newsweek; 3/18/2020.

Even as Pres­i­dent Trump says he test­ed neg­a­tive for coro­n­avirus, the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic rais­es the fear that huge swaths of the exec­u­tive branch or even Con­gress and the Supreme Court could also be dis­abled, forc­ing the imple­men­ta­tion of “con­ti­nu­ity of gov­ern­ment” plans that include evac­u­at­ing Wash­ing­ton and “devolv­ing” lead­er­ship to sec­ond-tier offi­cials in remote and quar­an­tined loca­tions.

But Coro­n­avirus is also new ter­ri­to­ry, where the mil­i­tary itself is vul­ner­a­ble and the dis­as­ter sce­nar­ios being con­tem­plat­ed — includ­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of wide­spread domes­tic vio­lence as a result of food short­ages — are forc­ing plan­ners to look at what are called “extra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances”.

Above-Top Secret con­tin­gency plans already exist for what the mil­i­tary is sup­posed to do if all the Con­sti­tu­tion­al suc­ces­sors are inca­pac­i­tat­ed. Stand­by orders were issued more than three weeks ago to ready these plans, not just to pro­tect Wash­ing­ton but also to pre­pare for the pos­si­bil­i­ty of some form of mar­tial law.

Accord­ing to new doc­u­ments and inter­views with mil­i­tary experts, the var­i­ous plans – code­named Octa­gon, Free­jack and Zodi­ac – are the under­ground laws to ensure gov­ern­ment con­ti­nu­ity. They are so secret that under these extra­or­di­nary plans, “devo­lu­tion” could cir­cum­vent the nor­mal Con­sti­tu­tion­al pro­vi­sions for gov­ern­ment suc­ces­sion, and mil­i­tary com­man­ders could be placed in con­trol around Amer­i­ca.

“We’re in new ter­ri­to­ry,” says one senior offi­cer, the entire post‑9/11 par­a­digm of emer­gency plan­ning thrown out the win­dow. The offi­cer jokes, in the kind of mor­bid humor char­ac­ter­is­tic of this slow-mov­ing dis­as­ter, that Amer­i­ca had bet­ter learn who Gen. Ter­rence J. O’Shaugh­nessy is.

He is the “com­bat­ant com­man­der” for the Unit­ed States and would in the­o­ry be in charge if Wash­ing­ton were evis­cer­at­ed. That is, until a new civil­ian leader could be installed.

‘We’re in ter­ri­to­ry we’ve nev­er been in before’

What hap­pens, gov­ern­ment expert Nor­man Orn­stein asked last week, if so many mem­bers of Con­gress come down with the coro­n­avirus that the leg­is­la­ture can­not meet or can­not muster a quo­rum? After 9/11, Orn­stein and oth­ers, alarmed by how lit­tle Wash­ing­ton had pre­pared for such pos­si­bil­i­ties, cre­at­ed a bipar­ti­san Con­ti­nu­ity of Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion to exam­ine pre­cise­ly these and oth­er pos­si­bil­i­ties.

It has been a two-decade long futile effort, Orn­stein says, with Con­gress unin­ter­est­ed or unable to either pass new laws or cre­ate work­ing pro­ce­dures that would allow emer­gency and remote oper­a­tions. The rest of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment equal­ly is unpre­pared to oper­ate if a pan­dem­ic were to hit the very peo­ple called upon to lead in an emer­gency. That is why for the first time, oth­er than plan­ning for the after­math of a nuclear war, extra­or­di­nary pro­ce­dures are being con­tem­plat­ed.

In the past, almost every imag­ined con­tin­gency asso­ci­at­ed with emer­gency pre­pared­ness has assumed civ­il and mil­i­tary assis­tance com­ing from the out­side. One mil­i­tary offi­cer involved in con­ti­nu­ity plan­ning calls it a “cav­al­ry” men­tal­i­ty: that mil­i­tary assis­tance is request­ed or ordered after local civ­il author­i­ty has been exhaust­ed.

“There might not be an out­side,” the offi­cer says, ask­ing that she not be named because she is speak­ing about sen­si­tive mat­ters.

In recog­ni­tion of the equal vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of mil­i­tary forces, the Pen­ta­gon has insti­tut­ed unprece­dent­ed restric­tions on off-base trav­el. Last Wednes­day it restrict­ed most over­seas trav­el for 60 days, and then on Fri­day issued sup­ple­men­tal domes­tic guid­ance that essen­tial­ly keeps all uni­formed per­son­nel on or near mil­i­tary bases. There are excep­tions, includ­ing trav­el that is “mis­sion-essen­tial,” the Pen­ta­gon says.

Mis­sion essen­tial in this regard applies to the maze of more than a dozen dif­fer­ent secret assign­ments, most of them falling under three larg­er con­tin­gency plans:

  • CONPLAN 3400, or the mil­i­tary’s plan for “home­land defense,” if Amer­i­ca itself is a bat­tle­field.
  • CONPLAN 3500, “defense sup­port of civ­il author­i­ties,” where the mil­i­tary assists in an emer­gency short of armed attack on the nation.
  • CONPLAN 3600, mil­i­tary oper­a­tions in the Nation­al Cap­i­tal Region and con­tin­u­a­tion of gov­ern­ment, under which the most-secret plans to sup­port con­ti­nu­ity are nest­ed.

All of these plans are the respon­si­bil­i­ty of U.S. North­ern Com­mand (or NORTHCOM), the home­land defense mil­i­tary author­i­ty cre­at­ed after 9/11. Air Force Gen­er­al O’Shaugh­nessy is NORTH­COM’s Col­orado Springs-based com­man­der.

On Feb­ru­ary 1, Defense Sec­re­tary Mark T. Esper signed orders direct­ing NORTHCOM to exe­cute nation­wide pan­dem­ic plans. Secret­ly, he signed Warn­ing Orders (the WARNORD as it’s called) alert­ing NORTHCOM and a host of east coast units to “pre­pare to deploy” in sup­port of poten­tial extra­or­di­nary mis­sions.

Sev­en secret plans – some high­ly com­part­ment­ed – exist to pre­pare for these extra­or­di­nary mis­sions. Three are trans­porta­tion relat­ed, just to move and sup­port the White House and the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment as it evac­u­ates and oper­ates from alter­nate sites. The first is called the Res­cue & Evac­u­a­tion of the Occu­pants of the Exec­u­tive Man­sion (or RESEM) plan, respon­si­ble for pro­tect­ing Pres­i­dent Trump, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, and their families–whether that means mov­ing them at the direc­tion of the Secret Ser­vice or, in a cat­a­stro­phe, dig­ging them out of the rub­ble of the White House.

The sec­ond is called the Joint Emer­gency Evac­u­a­tion Plan (or JEEP), and it orga­nizes trans­porta­tion for the Sec­re­tary of Defense and oth­er nation­al secu­ri­ty lead­ers so that they can leave the Wash­ing­ton area. The Atlas Plan is a third, mov­ing non-mil­i­tary lead­ers – Con­gres­sion­al lead­er­ship, the Supreme Court and oth­er impor­tant fig­ures – to their emer­gency relo­ca­tion sites. Under Atlas, a still- secret bunker would be acti­vat­ed and cor­doned, with gov­ern­ment oper­a­tions shift­ing to Mary­land.

The three most com­part­ment­ed con­tin­gen­cies – Octa­gon, Free­jack, and Zodi­ac – call upon var­i­ous mil­i­tary units in Wash­ing­ton DC, North Car­oli­na and east­ern Mary­land to defend gov­ern­ment oper­a­tions if there is a total break­down. The sev­enth plan – code­named Gran­ite Shad­ow – lays out the play­book for extra­or­di­nary domes­tic mis­sions that involve weapons of mass destruc­tion. (I dis­closed the exis­tence of this plan in 2005, and its asso­ci­at­ed “nation­al mis­sion force”–a force that is on alert at all times, even in peace­time, to respond to a ter­ror­ist attack or threat with the nuclear weapon.)

Most of these plans have been qui­et­ly acti­vat­ed dur­ing pres­i­den­tial inau­gu­rals and State of the Union address­es, the cen­tral­i­ty of the weapons of mass destruc­tion sce­nario seen in the annu­al Cap­i­tal Shield exer­cise in Wash­ing­ton. Last year’s exer­cise posit­ed a WMD attack on Metro Sta­tion. Mil­i­tary sources say that only the mas­sive destruc­tion caused by a nuclear device – or the enor­mous loss of life that could be caused by a bio­log­i­cal agent – present cat­a­stroph­ic pres­sure great enough to jus­ti­fy move­ment into extra-Con­sti­tu­tion­al actions and extra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances plans.

“WMD is such an impor­tant sce­nario,” a for­mer NORTHCOM com­man­der told me, “not because it is the great­est risk, but because it stress­es the sys­tem most severe­ly.”

Accord­ing to anoth­er senior retired offi­cer, who told me about Gran­ite Shad­ow and is now work­ing as a defense con­trac­tor, the nation­al mis­sion force goes out on its mis­sions with “spe­cial author­i­ties” pre-del­e­gat­ed by the pres­i­dent and the attor­ney gen­er­al. These spe­cial author­i­ties are need­ed because under reg­u­la­tions and the law, fed­er­al mil­i­tary forces can sup­plant civ­il author­i­ty or engage in law enforce­ment only under the strictest con­di­tions.

When might the mil­i­tary’s “emer­gency author­i­ty” be need­ed? Tra­di­tion­al­ly, it’s thought of after a nuclear device goes off in an Amer­i­can city. But now, plan­ners are look­ing at mil­i­tary response to urban vio­lence as peo­ple seek pro­tec­tion and fight over food. And, accord­ing to one senior offi­cer, in the con­tin­gency of the com­plete evac­u­a­tion of Wash­ing­ton.

Under Defense depart­ment reg­u­la­tions, mil­i­tary com­man­ders are autho­rized to take action on their own – in extra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances – where “duly con­sti­tut­ed local author­i­ties are unable to con­trol the sit­u­a­tion.” The con­di­tions include “large-scale, unex­pect­ed civ­il dis­tur­bances” involv­ing “sig­nif­i­cant loss of life or wan­ton destruc­tion of prop­er­ty.” The Joint Chiefs of Staff cod­i­fied these rules in Octo­ber 2018, remind­ing com­man­ders that they could decide, on their own author­i­ty, to “engage tem­porar­i­ly” in mil­i­tary con­trol in cir­cum­stances “where pri­or autho­riza­tion by the Pres­i­dent is impos­si­ble” or where local author­i­ties “are unable to con­trol the sit­u­a­tion.” A new Trump-era Pen­ta­gon direc­tive calls it “extreme sit­u­a­tions.” In all cas­es, even where a mil­i­tary com­man­der declares mar­tial law, the direc­tives say that civ­il rule has to be restored as soon as pos­si­ble.

“In sce­nar­ios where one city or one region is dev­as­tat­ed, that’s a pret­ty straight­for­ward process,” the mil­i­tary plan­ner told me. “But with coro­n­avirus, where the effect is nation­wide, we’re in ter­ri­to­ry we’ve nev­er been in before.”

An extend­ed peri­od of devo­lu­tion

Con­ti­nu­ity of gov­ern­ment and pro­tec­tion of the pres­i­den­cy began in the Eisen­how­er admin­is­tra­tion with the pos­si­bil­i­ty emerg­ing that Wash­ing­ton could be oblit­er­at­ed in an atom­ic attack. The need to plan for a nuclear deci­sion-mak­er to sur­vive even a direct attack led to the build­ing of bunkers and a maze of secret pro­ce­dures and excep­tions, many of which are still fol­lowed to this day. Con­gress was also fold­ed in – at least Con­gres­sion­al lead­er­ship – to ensure that there would always be a Con­sti­tu­tion­al suc­ces­sor. And then the Supreme Court was added.

Before 9/11, con­ti­nu­ity and emer­gency pro­grams were broad­ened beyond nuclear war pre­pared­ness, par­tic­u­lar­ly as hur­ri­canes began to have such dev­as­tat­ing effects on mod­ern urban soci­ety. And because of the advent of pan­demics, broad­ly begin­ning with the Avian Influen­za, civ­il agen­cies respon­si­ble for nation­al secu­ri­ty, such as the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices, which is the lead agency to respond to coro­n­avirus, were also brought into con­ti­nu­ity pro­tec­tion.

Despite well-honed plans and con­stant test­ing over 30 years, the attacks of Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 severe­ly test­ed all aspects of con­ti­nu­ity move­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Many of the pro­ce­dures writ­ten down on paper were either ignored or thrown out the win­dow. As a result, con­ti­nu­ity had a sec­ond com­ing, bil­lions spent by the new Depart­ment of Home­land and the oth­er nation­al secu­ri­ty agen­cies to ensure that the Wash­ing­ton lead­er­ship could com­mu­ni­cate and move, a whole new sys­tem estab­lished to be ready if a ter­ror­ist attack came with­out warn­ing. Bunkers, many shut­tered at the end of the Cold War, were reopened and expand­ed. Befit­ting the pan­ic at the time, and the atom­ic lega­cy, the most extra­or­di­nary plan­ning sce­nario posit­ed a ter­ror­ist attack that would involve an impro­vised nuclear or radi­o­log­i­cal dis­per­sal device in a major Amer­i­can city.

The ter­ror­ist attack sce­nario dom­i­nat­ed until 2006, when the dis­as­trous gov­ern­ment response to Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na in New Orleans shift­ed fed­er­al gov­ern­ment pre­pared­ness to for­mal­ly adopt an “all-haz­ards” sys­tem. Civ­il agen­cies, the 50 states and local com­mu­ni­ties – par­tic­u­lar­ly large cities – all began to syn­chro­nize emer­gency pre­pared­ness with com­mon pro­to­cols. U.S. North­ern Com­mand was cre­at­ed to har­ness mil­i­tary assis­tance in domes­tic dis­as­ters, it’s three over­ar­ch­ing con­tin­gency plans the prod­uct now of 15 years of tri­al and error.

3. The mil­i­tary’s con­tin­gency plans have been par­tial­ly acti­vat­ed:

“Exclu­sive: U.S. Mil­i­tary Acti­vates Its Nev­er-Before-Used Fed­er­al Response to Com­bat Coro­n­avirus Out­break” by William M. Arkin; Newsweek; 2/27/2020.

While being hit with coro­n­avirus at rates equiv­a­lent to the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion, the U.S. mil­i­tary has acti­vat­ed its “defense sup­port of civ­il author­i­ties” appa­ra­tus, estab­lish­ing liaisons in all 50 states, acti­vat­ing units and com­mand posts, and mov­ing forces to pro­vide med­ical, trans­porta­tion, logis­tics, and com­mu­ni­ca­tions sup­port in New York and Wash­ing­ton states.

Lt. Gen. Lau­ra Richard­son, the com­mand of Army North (ARNORTH), has request­ed and received approval for the deploy­ment of ground units in response to the now declared nation­al emer­gency. The moves begin to imple­ment two exist­ing con­tin­gency plans—CONPLAN 3400 for “home­land defense” and CONPLAN 3500 for “defense sup­port of civ­il authorities”—as well as numer­ous new orders specif­i­cal­ly relat­ing to coro­n­avirus. Four­teen states have also appoint­ed “dual-sta­tus com­man­ders,” pres­i­den­tial­ly-approved Nation­al Guard offi­cers who serve in both state and fed­er­al chains of com­mand, with anoth­er 20 states to fol­low.

The Pen­ta­gon announced that the first dual-sta­tus com­man­ders had been appoint­ed in Cal­i­for­nia, Col­orado, Mass­a­chu­setts, Mary­land, New York, Okla­homa, South Car­oli­na and Wash­ing­ton.
“The role of the dual-sta­tus com­man­der is that he works for two dif­fer­ent prin­ci­pals through two dif­fer­ent chains of com­mand,” says Army Maj. Gen. Giselle Wilz, head of the Nation­al Guard Bureau’s strate­gic plans and pol­i­cy direc­torate. The dual-sta­tus com­man­ders will report to Gen. Richard­son as well as to the gov­er­nors of each state.

That is, except for Hawaii. That dual-sta­tus com­man­der reports to U.S. Army Pacif­ic (USARPAC) – an orga­ni­za­tion of U.S. Indo-Pacif­ic Com­mand that is respon­si­ble for Hawaii and the Pacif­ic ter­ri­to­ries.

The fed­er­al mil­i­tary response, nev­er before acti­vat­ed on a nation­wide scale, is a patch­work of com­plex orga­ni­za­tion­al schemes. While Gen. Richard­son is the com­man­der of the Joint Forces Land Com­po­nent Com­mand of U.S. North­ern Com­mand for all fed­er­al (and dual-sta­tus) ground troops in the con­ti­nen­tal Unit­ed States and Alas­ka, USARPAC is in charge in the Pacif­ic, report­ing to NORTHCOM just as Gen. Richard­son does. As “mar­itime” assets, the two hos­pi­tal ships—the USNS Com­fort and the USNS Mer­cy, now in Los Ange­les and New York—are also under a sep­a­rate com­mand, the Navy’s Fleet Forces Com­mand, which also serves as Naval Forces North (NAVNORTH) and the Joint Forces Mar­itime Com­po­nent Com­man­der for North Amer­i­ca. And still anoth­er com­mand, Marine Forces North (MARFORNORTH) oper­ates side-by-side with ARNORTH, in charge of Marine Corps troops.
In total, Army North has deployed approx­i­mate­ly 1,100 active duty ser­vice­mem­bers assigned to spe­cif­ic units, and they start­ed mov­ing to New York and Wash­ing­ton states imme­di­ate­ly after they were assigned. The active duty units deployed include:

  1. Joint Task Force-Civ­il Sup­port Head­quar­ters, Fort Eustis, Vir­ginia
  1. 3rd Expe­di­tionary Sus­tain­ment Com­mand, Fort Bragg, North Car­oli­na
  2. 4th Sus­tain­ment Brigade, 4th Infantry Divi­sion, Fort Car­son, Col­orado
  3. 63rd Expe­di­tionary Sig­nal Bat­tal­ion, Fort Stew­art, Geor­gia

Joint Task Force-Civ­il Sup­port was estab­lished in 1999 as the domes­tic response author­i­ty in case involv­ing weapons of mass destruction—chemical, bio­log­i­cal, radi­o­log­i­cal and nuclear (CBRN). Accord­ing to its web­site, “when direct­ed, JTF-CS will deploy to an inci­dent site, estab­lish com­mand and con­trol of Depart­ment of Defense forces, and pro­vide mil­i­tary assis­tance and sup­port to civ­il author­i­ties by sav­ing lives, pre­vent­ing fur­ther injury and pro­vid­ing tem­po­rary crit­i­cal sup­port to enable com­mu­ni­ty recov­ery.”

But its sec­ondary mis­sion is what the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment calls “all-haz­ards” response. “Although pri­mar­i­ly charged with a CBRN response mis­sion,” the Joint Task Force says, it “could be direct­ed to respond to a nat­ur­al or man-made dis­as­ter if asked to do so by U.S. North­ern Com­mand.“
On March 28th, Gen. Richard­son also announced that four U.S. Army Reserve units would be called to active duty to sup­port the fed­er­al response:

  1. Task Force 76 Head­quar­ters, formed by the 76th Oper­a­tional Response Com­mand, Salt Lake City, Utah
  1. 377th The­ater Sus­tain­ment Com­mand Head­quar­ters, New Orleans, Louisiana.
  2. 4th Expe­di­tionary Sus­tain­ment Com­mand Head­quar­ters, San Anto­nio, Texas.
  3. 505th Mil­i­tary Intel­li­gence Brigade Head­quar­ters, San Anto­nio, Texas.

To align with the ten FEMA regions respon­si­ble for emer­gency man­age­ment, Army North has also acti­vat­ed its ten Defense Coor­di­nat­ing Offices, senior Colonels who are embed­ded with each region­al com­mand cen­ter. These are a spe­cial­ized plan­ning cells that serve as mil­i­tary liaisons to coor­di­nate fed­er­al assis­tance. Anoth­er 100 Emer­gency Pre­pared­ness Liai­son Offi­cers are also now active, aug­ment­ing the Defense Coor­di­na­tion cells.

In announc­ing the acti­va­tion and move­ment of forces, Army North was care­ful to spec­i­fy that none of the units “will ... direct­ly par­tic­i­pate in civil­ian law enforce­ment activ­i­ties.”

Sim­i­lar­ly, Air Force Maj. Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the Nation­al Guard Bureau and a mem­ber of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: “I’m hear­ing unfound­ed rumors about Nation­al Guard troops sup­port­ing a nation­wide quar­an­tine. Let me be clear: There has been no such dis­cus­sion.”

Because of so many rumors fly­ing in social media, the Pen­ta­gon estab­lished a “rumor con­trol” web­site to beat down sto­ries of mil­i­tary-imposed quar­an­tines and even mar­tial law. And it said it was going to lim­it details of both the spe­cif­ic num­bers of coro­n­avirus cas­es and oper­a­tional details.

“Unit lev­el readi­ness data for key mil­i­tary forces is infor­ma­tion that is clas­si­fied as a risk to oper­a­tional secu­ri­ty and could jeop­ar­dize oper­a­tions and/or deter­rence,” Alyssa Farah, the Pen­tagon’s press sec­re­tary, told Mil­i­tary Times. “If at some point in the future, a com­man­der believes that the coro­n­avirus could affect the readi­ness of our strate­gic deter­rent or strate­gic response forces we would under­stand­ably pro­tect that infor­ma­tion from pub­lic release and falling into the hands of our adversaries―as we expect they would do the same.”

As of March 31, the Defense Depart­ment report­ed 1204 con­firmed active cas­es of coro­n­avirus through­out its com­mu­ni­ty: 673 ser­vice­mem­bers, 247 civil­ians work­ing for the mil­i­tary, 212 fam­i­ly mem­bers and 72 con­trac­tors. . . .

4. Trump float­ed the idea of a fed­er­al­ly enforced quar­an­tine of the New York metro area, along with New Jer­sey and parts of Con­necti­cut. A fed­er­al­ly enforced quar­an­tine. It appeared Trump was propos­ing using the mil­i­tary to ensure no one leaves New York City, some­thing that would require sus­pend­ing the Posse Comi­ta­tus Act. That was what he tweet­ed about ear­li­er on Sat­ur­day and lat­er talked about dur­ing a press con­fer­ence on the White House lawn and reit­er­at­ed that it was under con­sid­er­ing dur­ing a speech on the Naval hos­pi­tal ship the USNS Com­fort. Trump decid­ed to make a big point to the pub­lic on a mil­i­tary ship that he was con­sid­er­ing send­ing in the mil­i­tary to quar­an­tine the tri-state area. 

Declar­ing on Sat­ur­day that he decid­ed a quar­an­tine wasn’t nec­es­sary,  Trump issued a “severe trav­el advi­so­ry” instead. The idea is now out there. Fed­er­al­ly quar­an­ti­ning large cities with the mil­i­tary is now going to be one of things Trump is con­sid­er­ing in order to seem like a ‘strong wartime leader’. Going ‘to war’ against New York City’s spread of the Chi­nese virus. That’s now part of his ‘being a wartime pres­i­dent’ the­atri­cal reper­toire.

The push for enforce­ably quar­an­ti­ning large (pre­dom­i­nant­ly Demo­c­rat-con­trolled) metro areas has­n’t been lim­it­ed to Trump. It was appar­ent­ly Florida’s Repub­li­can Gov­er­nor Ron DeSan­tis who put the idea of a fed­er­al quar­an­tine for New York City in Trump’s head. DeSan­tis – who is now infa­mous for decid­ing to allow Florida’s beach­es to remain open as Spring Break partiers filled Florida’s beach­es before scat­ter­ing back across the world – has appar­ent­ly decid­ed to make New York City res­i­dents the main vil­lain as his state becomes the new nation­al ‘hot spot’ for COVID-19 cas­es. So when Trump pushed this idea, he was implic­it­ly run­ning polit­i­cal cov­er or DeSan­tis as Flori­da becomes a glob­al COVID-19 infec­tion vec­tor.

Per­ceived polit­i­cal neces­si­ty to deflect polit­i­cal out­rage over the COVID-19 out­breaks in ‘Red states’ may man­i­fest in every state to some extent–will we see a nation­wide GOP call for quar­an­ti­ning New York and Cal­i­for­nia? Per­haps the Amer­i­can far right can use this as an excuse to use the mil­i­tary to turn US cities into giant pris­ons and act like they’re defend­ing against a for­eign invad­er. All of the ‘Patri­ot’ per­son­al­i­ties that dom­i­nate mod­ern right-wing Amer­i­can dis­course like Alex Jones and Tuck­er Carl­son can explain to their grow­ing audi­ences why sus­pend­ing Posse Comi­ta­tus is required to defend against the New World Order’s viral inva­sion and this isn’t at all like the mar­tial law sce­nar­ios they’ve spent decades warn­ing their audi­ences against. ‘Blame it on New York (and/or Cal­i­for­nia) and the Chi­nese virus’ can become the ral­ly­ing cry of GOP offi­cials for the rest of the elec­tion sea­son. The high­er the num­ber of COVID-19 cas­es in ‘Red state’ Amer­i­ca, the greater the calls for call­ing in the army to quar­an­tine New York and even­tu­al­ly Cal­i­for­nia. It’s like some sort of alter­na­tive Serpent’s Walk Nazi dream sce­nario play­ing out. So when Trump float­ed this idea it wasn’t just the ran­dom mus­ings of an addled mind. It was the strate­gic mus­ings of an addled mind that warns of many more mus­ings about fed­er­al quar­an­tines of large cities because a fas­cist dream sce­nario is tak­ing shape.

“Trump revers­es ear­li­er call for quar­an­tine on New York res­i­dents” by Grace Segers; CBS News; 03/28/2020

Hours after Pres­i­dent Trump said he was con­sid­er­ing an “enforce­able” quar­an­tine of all res­i­dents who leave the New York metro area, includ­ing pos­si­bly parts of New Jer­sey and Con­necti­cut, Mr. Trump tweet­ed that a “quar­an­tine will not be nec­es­sary.” Mr. Trump tweet­ed that he has asked the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion and state gov­er­nors to cre­ate a “trav­el advi­so­ry.”

Ear­li­er Sat­ur­day, Mr. Trump said that he is con­sid­er­ing declar­ing an “enforce­able” quar­an­tine affect­ing some res­i­dents of the New York met­ro­pol­i­tan area, pos­si­bly includ­ing New Jer­sey and Con­necti­cut. He called the region a “hot spot” of the coro­n­avirus out­break sweep­ing the coun­try.

“I am giv­ing con­sid­er­a­tion to a QUARANTINE of devel­op­ing ‘hot spots’, New York, New Jer­sey, and Con­necti­cut. A deci­sion will be made, one way or anoth­er, short­ly,” Mr. Trump tweet­ed Sat­ur­day after­noon.

Speak­ing to reporters on the White House South Lawn, Mr. Trump told reporters that he had spo­ken to Flori­da Gov­er­nor Ron DeSan­tis about the pan­dem­ic. Mr. Trump said DeSan­tis, a Repub­li­can, told the pres­i­dent that he want­ed to stop the flow of New York­ers who may be infect­ed with the new COVID-19 virus into the state.

“We’d like to see New York quar­an­tined because it’s a hotspot — New York, New Jer­sey, maybe one or two oth­er places, cer­tain parts of Con­necti­cut quar­an­tined. I’m think­ing about that right now,” Mr. Trump said. “We might not have to do it but there’s a pos­si­bil­i­ty that some­time today we’ll do a quar­an­tine — short-term two weeks for New York, prob­a­bly New Jer­sey and parts of Con­necti­cut.”

Mr. Trump also said “I’ll speak to the gov­er­nor about it lat­er.”

New York Gov­er­nor Andrew Cuo­mo said a few hours lat­er on CNN that he had not spo­ken to Mr. Trump about a quar­an­tine, but said it would be a “pre­pos­ter­ous idea.”

“I don’t believe that any fed­er­al admin­is­tra­tion could be seri­ous about phys­i­cal lock­downs of states or parts of states across this coun­try,” Cuo­mo said. “I don’t believe it’s legal. I think it would be eco­nom­ic chaos. I don’t think the Amer­i­can peo­ple would stand for it and I think it makes absolute­ly no sense and I don’t believe any pro­fes­sion­al would sup­port it.”

Mr. Trump reit­er­at­ed in his remarks before the send off of the USNS Com­fort that he was con­sid­er­ing a quar­an­tine of the area. The Com­fort is a naval hos­pi­tal boat which is car­ry­ing over 1,000 beds and 1,200 med­ical per­son­nel to New York City.

“I am now con­sid­er­ing, and will make a deci­sion very quick­ly, very short­ly, a quar­an­tine, because it’s such a hot area,” Mr. Trump said. “We’ll be announc­ing that one way or anoth­er fair­ly soon.”

Mr. Trump also said that the quar­an­tine would not affect truck dri­vers pass­ing through the region, or trade in any­way.

The chief of the Nation­al Guard, Gen­er­al Joseph Lengel, has said there is no con­sid­er­a­tion being giv­en to using the mil­i­tary to enforce a quar­an­tine. How­ev­er, he has also said that the Nation­al Guard troops called up by state gov­er­nors can be used to sup­port law enforce­ment oper­a­tions — but they are under con­trol of the gov­er­nor.

Using active duty troops to enforce a quar­an­tine would require the pres­i­dent to sus­pend the Posse Comi­ta­tus Act, which for­bids the use of the armed ser­vices for law enforce­ment.

Cuo­mo, a Demo­c­rat, told reporters short­ly after Mr. Trump’s first remarks on it that he had not spo­ken to the pres­i­dent about quar­an­ti­ning the metro region. Cuo­mo also said he didn’t know what an enforce­able quar­an­tine means, but “I don’t even like the sound of it.”

“I don’t even know what that means. I don’t know how that could be legal­ly enforce­able. And from a med­ical point of view, I don’t know what you’d be accom­plish­ing,” Cuo­mo said.

The gov­er­nor added that there were no geo­graph­i­cal con­straints when the state required peo­ple in the city of New Rochelle to stay home.

“So we nev­er set any geo­graph­ic con­straints, right? Manda­to­ry quar­an­tine is a scary con­cept, because it sounds like you’re say­ing to peo­ple can’t leave this dis­trict. We nev­er did that,” Cuo­mo said.

Cuo­mo said that he spoke with Mr. Trump Sat­ur­day morn­ing about four tem­po­rary hos­pi­tal sites in New York City. Cuo­mo said there have been 728 deaths in New York, an increase of over 200 from the pre­vi­ous day. There are over 50,000 cas­es of coro­n­avirus in New York alone, with New Jer­sey fol­low­ing with 8,825 cas­es.

Gov­er­nor Phil Mur­phy of New Jer­sey also said he had not received any infor­ma­tion from the admin­is­tra­tion about a poten­tial quar­an­tine.

In a state­ment, Con­necti­cut Gov­er­nor Ned Lam­ont indi­cat­ed that he did not believe a fed­er­al­ly man­dat­ed quar­an­tine would be nec­es­sary.

“Regard­ing the President’s con­sid­er­a­tion of a quar­an­tine of New York, as well as parts of Con­necti­cut and New Jer­sey, our state has already called on res­i­dents to stay at home. Fur­ther, if inter­state trav­el is absolute­ly nec­es­sary, our state has direct­ed trav­el­ers to self-quar­an­tine to pre­vent against fur­ther trans­mis­sion of the virus,” Lam­ont said.

Mean­while, DeSan­tis announced Sat­ur­day check­points along major inter­states, such as I‑95 and I‑10, to check for dri­vers for New York and New Orleans.

5. Trump has plen­ty of com­pa­ny: ” . . . . In Hun­gary, a new law has grant­ed Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orban the pow­er to side­step Par­lia­ment and sus­pend exist­ing laws. Mr. Orban, who declared a state of emer­gency this month, now has the sole pow­er to end the emer­gency. Par­lia­ment, where two-thirds of the seats are con­trolled by his par­ty, approved the leg­is­la­tion on Mon­day. . . .‘The draft law is alarm­ing,’ said Daniel Kar­sai, a lawyer in Budapest who said the new leg­is­la­tion had cre­at­ed ‘a big fear’ among Hun­gar­i­ans that ‘the Orban admin­is­tra­tion will be a real dic­ta­tor­ship.’ . . .”

Orban’s Hun­gary has been joined by, among oth­ers, the long-stand­ing British democ­ra­cy: ” . . . . some of the pro­vi­sions . . . . will give the gov­ern­ment unchecked con­trol. The leg­is­la­tion gives sweep­ing pow­ers to bor­der agents and the police, which could lead to indef­i­nite deten­tion and rein­force ‘hos­tile envi­ron­ment’ poli­cies against immi­grants, crit­ics said. ‘Each clause could have had months of debate, and instead it’s all being debat­ed in a few days,’ said Adam Wag­n­er, a lawyer who advis­es a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee on human rights. . . . ‘These are eye-water­ing pow­ers that would have not been real­ly imag­in­able in peace­time in this coun­try before,’ said Silkie Car­lo, the direc­tor of Big Broth­er Watch, a rights group. She called the mea­sures ‘dra­con­ian.’ . . . .”

“For Auto­crats and Oth­ers, Coro­n­avirus Is a Chance to Grab Even More Pow­er” by Selam Gebrikadan; The New York Times; 3/30/2020.

In Hun­gary, the prime min­is­ter can now rule by decree. In Britain, min­is­ters have what a crit­ic called “eye-water­ing” pow­er to detain peo­ple and close bor­ders. Israel’s prime min­is­ter has shut down courts and begun an intru­sive sur­veil­lance of cit­i­zens. Chile has sent the mil­i­tary to pub­lic squares once occu­pied by pro­test­ers. Bolivia has post­poned elec­tions.

As the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic brings the world to a jud­der­ing halt and anx­ious cit­i­zens demand action, lead­ers across the globe are invok­ing exec­u­tive pow­ers and seiz­ing vir­tu­al­ly dic­ta­to­r­i­al author­i­ty with scant resis­tance.

Gov­ern­ments and rights groups agree that these extra­or­di­nary times call for extra­or­di­nary mea­sures. States need new pow­ers to shut their bor­ders, enforce quar­an­tines and track infect­ed peo­ple. Many of these actions are pro­tect­ed under inter­na­tion­al rules, con­sti­tu­tion­al lawyers say.

But crit­ics say some gov­ern­ments are using the pub­lic health cri­sis as cov­er to seize new pow­ers that have lit­tle to do with the out­break, with few safe­guards to ensure that their new author­i­ty will not be abused.

The laws are tak­ing swift hold across a broad range of polit­i­cal sys­tems — in author­i­tar­i­an states like Jor­dan, fal­ter­ing democ­ra­cies like Hun­gary, and tra­di­tion­al democ­ra­cies like Britain. And there are few sun­set pro­vi­sions to ensure that the pow­ers will be rescind­ed once the threat pass­es.

“We could have a par­al­lel epi­dem­ic of author­i­tar­i­an and repres­sive mea­sures fol­low­ing close if not on the heels of a health epi­dem­ic,” said Fion­nu­ala Ni Aolain, the Unit­ed Nations Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on coun­tert­er­ror­ism and human rights.

As the new laws broad­en state sur­veil­lance, allow gov­ern­ments to detain peo­ple indef­i­nite­ly and infringe on free­doms of assem­bly and expres­sion, they could also shape civic life, pol­i­tics and economies for decades to come.

The pan­dem­ic is already redefin­ing norms. Inva­sive sur­veil­lance sys­tems in South Korea and Sin­ga­pore, which would have invit­ed cen­sure under nor­mal cir­cum­stances, have been praised for slow­ing infec­tions. Gov­ern­ments that ini­tial­ly crit­i­cized Chi­na for putting mil­lions of its cit­i­zens under lock­down have since fol­lowed suit.

Israel’s prime min­is­ter, Ben­jamin Netanyahu, has autho­rized his country’s inter­nal secu­ri­ty agency to track cit­i­zens using a secret trove of cell­phone data devel­oped for coun­tert­er­ror­ism. By trac­ing people’s move­ments, the gov­ern­ment can pun­ish those who defy iso­la­tion orders with up to six months in prison.

And by order­ing the clos­ing of the nation’s courts, Mr. Netanyahu delayed his sched­uled appear­ance to face cor­rup­tion charges.

In some parts of the world, new emer­gency laws have revived old fears of mar­tial law. The Philip­pine Con­gress passed leg­is­la­tion last week that gave Pres­i­dent Rodri­go Duterte emer­gency pow­ers and $5.4 bil­lion to deal with the pan­dem­ic. Law­mak­ers watered down an ear­li­er draft law that would have allowed the pres­i­dent to take over pri­vate busi­ness­es.

“This lim­it­less grant of emer­gency pow­ers is tan­ta­mount to autoc­ra­cy,” a Philip­pine rights group, the Con­cerned Lawyers for Civ­il Lib­er­ties, said in a state­ment. The lawyers not­ed that Mr. Duterte had once com­pared the country’s Con­sti­tu­tion to a “scrap of toi­let paper.”

Some states are using the pan­dem­ic to crack down on dis­sent. In Jor­dan, after an emer­gency “defense law” gave wide lat­i­tude to his office, Prime Min­is­ter Omar Raz­zaz said his gov­ern­ment would “deal firm­ly” with any­one who spreads “rumors, fab­ri­ca­tions and false news that sows pan­ic.”

Prime Min­is­ter Prayuth Chan-ocha of Thai­land has assumed the author­i­ty to impose cur­fews and cen­sor the news media. Jour­nal­ists there have been sued and intim­i­dat­ed for crit­i­ciz­ing the government’s response to the out­break.

While the virus itself may have cooled pro­test­ers’ will to crowd pub­lic squares, Chile’s dec­la­ra­tion of a “state of cat­a­stro­phe” and the military’s pres­ence on city streets has mut­ed rag­ing dis­sent that rocked the nation for months.

The pan­dem­ic has also dis­rupt­ed planned elec­tions. This month, Bolivia sus­pend­ed a much antic­i­pat­ed pres­i­den­tial elec­tion that had been sched­uled for ear­ly May. A dis­put­ed elec­tion last year set off vio­lent protests and forced Pres­i­dent Evo Morales to resign.

The inter­im pres­i­dent, who promised to serve only as a care­tak­er, has since con­sol­i­dat­ed pow­er and announced her plan to run for an elect­ed term. The country’s elec­tion tri­bunal said on Thurs­day that it would hold the elec­tions some­time between June and Sep­tem­ber.

In the Unit­ed States, the Jus­tice Depart­ment asked Con­gress for sweep­ing new pow­ers, includ­ing a plan to elim­i­nate legal pro­tec­tions for asy­lum seek­ers and detain peo­ple indef­i­nite­ly with­out tri­al. After Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats balked, the depart­ment scaled back and sub­mit­ted a more mod­est pro­pos­al.

Rights groups say gov­ern­ments may con­tin­ue to absorb more pow­er while their cit­i­zens are dis­tract­ed. They wor­ry that peo­ple may not rec­og­nize the rights they have ced­ed until it is too late to reclaim them.

Some emer­gency bills were waved through so quick­ly that law­mak­ers and rights groups had no time to read them, let alone debate their neces­si­ty. Rights advo­cates have also ques­tioned the speed with which states have draft­ed lengthy leg­is­la­tion.

Cer­tain gov­ern­ments have a set of desired pow­ers “ready to go” in case of emer­gency or cri­sis, said Ms. Aolain, the Unit­ed Nations spe­cial rap­por­teur. They draft laws in advance and wait “for the oppor­tu­ni­ty of the cri­sis to be pre­sent­ed,” she said.

It is far from clear what will become of the emer­gency laws when the cri­sis pass­es. In the past, laws enact­ed in a rush, like the Patri­ot Act that fol­lowed the Sept. 11 attacks, have out­lived the crises they were meant to address.

Over time, emer­gency decrees per­me­ate legal struc­tures and become nor­mal­ized, said Dou­glas Rutzen, the pres­i­dent of the Inter­na­tion­al Cen­ter for Not-for-Prof­it Law in Wash­ing­ton, which is track­ing new leg­is­la­tion and decrees dur­ing the pan­dem­ic.

“It’s real­ly easy to con­struct emer­gency pow­ers,” Mr. Rutzen said. “It’s real­ly dif­fi­cult to decon­struct them.”

The pan­dem­ic may be a boon to gov­ern­ments with an auto­crat­ic bent.

“A Real Dic­ta­tor­ship”

In Hun­gary, a new law has grant­ed Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orban the pow­er to side­step Par­lia­ment and sus­pend exist­ing laws. Mr. Orban, who declared a state of emer­gency this month, now has the sole pow­er to end the emer­gency. Par­lia­ment, where two-thirds of the seats are con­trolled by his par­ty, approved the leg­is­la­tion on Mon­day.

Crit­ics say the new leg­is­la­tion could allow Mr. Orban’s gov­ern­ment to fur­ther erode demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions and per­se­cute jour­nal­ists and mem­bers of the oppo­si­tion. The law will per­ma­nent­ly amend two arti­cles of the crim­i­nal code that will fur­ther lim­it free­dom of expres­sion and penal­ize peo­ple for breach­ing quar­an­tine orders. It will also sus­pend all elec­tions and ref­er­en­dums.

Under one mea­sure, any­one who dis­sem­i­nates infor­ma­tion that could hin­der the government’s response to the epi­dem­ic could face up to five years in prison. The leg­is­la­tion gives broad lat­i­tude to the pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor to deter­mine what counts as dis­tort­ed or false infor­ma­tion.

“The draft law is alarm­ing,” said Daniel Kar­sai, a lawyer in Budapest who said the new leg­is­la­tion had cre­at­ed “a big fear” among Hun­gar­i­ans that “the Orban admin­is­tra­tion will be a real dic­ta­tor­ship.”

“There is not enough trust in the gov­ern­ment in this respect,” he said.

Oth­ers point­ed to the government’s track record of pro­long­ing emer­gency leg­is­la­tion long after a cri­sis. One such decree, issued at the height of Europe’s migra­tion cri­sis five years ago, is still in effect.

“Eye-Water­ing Pow­ers”

Robust democ­ra­cies are also using the pan­dem­ic to expand their pow­er.

Britain has a long his­to­ry of democ­ra­cy and well-estab­lished demo­c­ra­t­ic cus­toms. Nev­er­the­less, a coro­n­avirus bill that was rushed through Par­lia­ment at a break­neck pace affords gov­ern­ment min­istries the pow­er to detain and iso­late peo­ple indef­i­nite­ly, ban pub­lic gath­er­ings includ­ing protests, and shut down ports and air­ports, all with lit­tle over­sight.

Intro­duc­ing the bill in Par­lia­ment, the health sec­re­tary, Matt Han­cock, called it “a depar­ture from the way that we do things in peace­time.” He said the mea­sures would be “strict­ly tem­po­rary and pro­por­tion­ate to the threat that we face.”

But some of the pro­vi­sions — called Hen­ry VIII pow­ers, after the noto­ri­ous 16th-cen­tu­ry monarch — will give the gov­ern­ment unchecked con­trol. The leg­is­la­tion gives sweep­ing pow­ers to bor­der agents and the police, which could lead to indef­i­nite deten­tion and rein­force “hos­tile envi­ron­ment” poli­cies against immi­grants, crit­ics said.

“Each clause could have had months of debate, and instead it’s all being debat­ed in a few days,” said Adam Wag­n­er, a lawyer who advis­es a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee on human rights.

“Everybody’s been try­ing just to read it, let alone prop­er­ly cri­tique it,” he said of the leg­is­la­tion, which runs to 340 pages.

“These are eye-water­ing pow­ers that would have not been real­ly imag­in­able in peace­time in this coun­try before,” said Silkie Car­lo, the direc­tor of Big Broth­er Watch, a rights group. She called the mea­sures “dra­con­ian.”

Ms. Car­lo fears that Britain will “swing from cri­sis to cri­sis, health pan­ic to health pan­ic, and then find that we’ve lost.”

“We risk eas­i­ly find­ing our­selves in a per­pet­u­al state of emer­gency,” she said.

6. Naren­dra Modi of India has used the Covid-19 out­break to fur­ther his Hin­dut­va fas­cist agen­da: Media voic­es that were crit­i­cal of Mod­i’s han­dling of the Kash­mir cri­sis and recent police beat­ings and harass­ment of Mus­lims in Mum­bai and New Del­hi have been har­rassed and/or dri­ven into silence under cov­er of the coro­n­avirus out­break.

“Media Dis­sent Fades as Modi Tight­ens Grip” by Vin­du Goel and Jef­frey Get­tle­man; The New York Times; 4/3/2020.

Span­ish Coro­n­avirus Sur­veil­lance Drone

7a. Pri­va­cy is being dra­mat­i­cal­ly cur­tailed under cov­er of com­bat­ting the virus: ” . . . . As Thomas Gaulkin of the Bul­letin of the Atom­ic Sci­en­tists not­ed ear­li­er this month, many Amer­i­cans— often fierce in their objec­tions to per­ceived gov­ern­ment over­reach into their lives—might nor­mal­ly object to dystopi­an images of fly­ing robots polic­ing lock­downs. But these, of course, are not nor­mal times. ‘If drones do begin to hov­er over U.S. streets to help con­trol this pan­dem­ic,’ Gaulkin wrote, ‘it will be yet anoth­er vis­i­ble reminder that we’ve entered a pub­lic health Twi­light Zone where Amer­i­cans have no bet­ter option than to embrace what was once only imag­in­able, and nev­er real.’ . . . ” 

“Coro­n­avirus Sur­veil­lance Is Enter­ing Dystopi­an Ter­ri­to­ry” by Eric Lutz; Van­i­ty Fair; 4/9/2020.

Ear­li­er this week, the Eliz­a­beth, New Jer­sey police depart­ment gave res­i­dents a look at one of the drones offi­cials there will use to help mon­i­tor res­i­dents and enforce social dis­tanc­ing mea­sures aimed at slow­ing the spread of the nov­el coro­n­avirus. “These drones will be around the City with an auto­mat­ed mes­sage from the May­or telling you to STOP gath­er­ing, dis­perse and go home,” the depart­ment said.

The city, which has seen close to 1,500 con­firmed COVID cas­es, is one of a grow­ing num­ber of com­mu­ni­ties in the Unit­ed States that is either deploy­ing or con­sid­er­ing the use of unmanned drones to sup­port their shel­ter-in-place directives—a prac­tice that has been used, seem­ing­ly with suc­cess, in coun­tries like France and Chi­na. But on Wednes­day, the Eliz­a­beth police depart­ment was forced to clar­i­fy in a sec­ond video empha­siz­ing that the drones were only there to spread “an auto­mat­ed notice about keep­ing your social dis­tance.”

“We are just try­ing to save lives, not try­ing to be big broth­er,” the depart­ment said on Face­book. “There is no record­ing and no pic­tures being tak­en, it is a tool of encour­age­ment to fol­low the rules.”

The episode under­scores the loom­ing ten­sions for fed­er­al and local gov­ern­ments between civ­il lib­er­ties and efforts to com­bat a dead­ly pan­dem­ic that has par­a­lyzed the coun­try. The U.S. gov­ern­ment was caught flat-foot­ed by the pub­lic health cri­sis, thanks to Don­ald Trump ignor­ing months of warn­ings and rely­ing on wish­ful think­ing rather than action. But with Amer­i­ca now the epi­cen­ter of the pan­dem­ic, the admin­is­tra­tion is try­ing to play catch-up, with Jared Kushner—the president’s unqual­i­fied son-in-law and senior advis­er—lead­ing a coro­n­avirus response team that has float­ed a num­ber of poten­tial mea­sures, includ­ing a nation­al sur­veil­lance sys­tem to mon­i­tor out­breaks. That has raised pri­va­cy con­cerns, with crit­ics liken­ing it to the Patri­ot Act put into place fol­low­ing 9/11. “This is a gen­uine crisis—we have to work through it and do our best to pro­tect people’s health,” Jes­si­ca Rich, a for­mer direc­tor of the Fed­er­al Trade Commission’s con­sumer pro­tec­tion bureau, told Politi­co. “But doing that doesn’t mean we have to destroy pri­va­cy.”

With­in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment itself, there has been a clum­sy acknowl­edge­ment that there are lim­its to what the U.S. can do in its efforts to con­tain the virus. “We are not an author­i­tar­i­an nation,” Sur­geon Gen­er­al Jerome Adams said on Fox News last month, soon after the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion declared coro­n­avirus a pan­dem­ic. “So we have to be care­ful when we say, ‘Let’s do what Chi­na did, let’s do what South Korea did.’” (South Korea is a democ­ra­cy.) Still, actions by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion to loosen data shar­ing rules around health­care and the nation­al coro­n­avirus sur­veil­lance pro­pos­al from Kushner’s team have raised con­cerns from pri­va­cy advocates—particularly giv­en the long­stand­ing fears about how the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has used sur­veil­lance and tech­nol­o­gy in its immi­gra­tion enforce­ment and oth­er con­tro­ver­sial poli­cies, along with the president’s ero­sion of demo­c­ra­t­ic norms.

“We dealt with sim­i­lar issues in 9/11,” Rich said. “One rea­son that the gov­ern­ment doesn’t have all of this data is there’s a lot of con­cern about big broth­er main­tain­ing large data­bas­es on every con­sumer on sen­si­tive issues like health, and for good rea­son.” Indeed, for crit­ics, the pri­va­cy ques­tions extend beyond the present moment when gov­ern­ments are grap­pling with the dead­ly pan­dem­ic — what hap­pens when this cri­sis pass­es? Is it pos­si­ble to get the tooth­paste back in the tube? “My biggest con­cern is that tech will emerge more pow­er­ful than it was,” Bur­cu Kil­ic, who leads a dig­i­tal right pro­gram at con­sumer advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion Pub­lic Cit­i­zen, told Politi­co. “When things get back to nor­mal, do you think they’ll want to reg­u­late them?”

Munic­i­pal­i­ties like Eliz­a­beth and Day­tona Beach, Flori­da that are mak­ing use of drones to enforce social dis­tanc­ing are get­ting a taste of what nor­mal might look like, thanks to the pan­dem­ic. As Thomas Gaulkin of the Bul­letin of the Atom­ic Sci­en­tists not­ed ear­li­er this month, many Amer­i­cans— often fierce in their objec­tions to per­ceived gov­ern­ment over­reach into their lives—might nor­mal­ly object to dystopi­an images of fly­ing robots polic­ing lock­downs. But these, of course, are not nor­mal times. “If drones do begin to hov­er over U.S. streets to help con­trol this pan­dem­ic,” Gaulkin wrote, “it will be yet anoth­er vis­i­ble reminder that we’ve entered a pub­lic health Twi­light Zone where Amer­i­cans have no bet­ter option than to embrace what was once only imag­in­able, and nev­er real.”

7b. The alpha preda­tor of the elec­tron­ic sur­veil­lance land­scape is Peter Thiel’s Palan­tir. They have land­ed two key gov­ern­ment con­tracts in con­nec­tion with the Covid-19 out­break: ” . . . . Palan­tir, the $20 bil­lion-val­ued Palo Alto tech com­pa­ny backed by Face­book-fun­der Peter Thiel, has been hand­ed a $17.3 mil­lion con­tract with one of the lead­ing health bod­ies lead­ing the charge against COVID-19. It’s the biggest con­tract hand­ed to a Sil­i­con Val­ley com­pa­ny to assist America’s COVID-19 response, accord­ing to Forbes’ review of pub­lic con­tracts, and comes as oth­er Cal­i­forn­ian giants like Apple and Google try to fig­ure out how best to help gov­ern­ments fight the dead­ly virus. . . . The mon­ey, from the fed­er­al government’s COVID-19 relief fund, is for Palan­tir Gotham licens­es, accord­ing to a con­tract record reviewed by Forbes. That tech­nol­o­gy is designed to draw in data from myr­i­ad sources and, regard­less of what form or size, turn the infor­ma­tion into a coher­ent whole. The ‘plat­form’ is cus­tomized for each client, so it meets with their mis­sion needs, accord­ing to Palan­tir. . . . Palan­tir Gotham is slight­ly dif­fer­ent to Foundry, a new­er prod­uct that’s aimed more at gen­er­al users rather than data sci­ence whizzes, with more automa­tion than Gotham. As Forbes pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed, Foundry is being used by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) to ingest infor­ma­tion from all man­ner of hos­pi­tals across Amer­i­ca to see where best to pro­vide more or less resource. . . . Palan­tir is now work­ing with at least 12 gov­ern­ments on their respons­es to coro­n­avirus, accord­ing to two sources with knowl­edge of its COVID-19 work. That includes the U.K.’s Nation­al Health Ser­vice, which is using Foundry for sim­i­lar pur­pos­es as the CDC. . . .”

“Palan­tir, The Peter Thiel-Backed $20 Bil­lion Big Data Crunch­er, Scores $17 Mil­lion Coro­n­avirus Emer­gency Relief Deal” by Thomas Brew­ster; Forbes; 04/11/2020

Palan­tir, the $20 bil­lion-val­ued Palo Alto tech com­pa­ny backed by Face­book-fun­der Peter Thiel, has been hand­ed a $17.3 mil­lion con­tract with one of the lead­ing health bod­ies lead­ing the charge against COVID-19.

It’s the biggest con­tract hand­ed to a Sil­i­con Val­ley com­pa­ny to assist America’s COVID-19 response, accord­ing to Forbes’ review of pub­lic con­tracts, and comes as oth­er Cal­i­forn­ian giants like Apple and Google try to fig­ure out how best to help gov­ern­ments fight the dead­ly virus.

The deal was signed on April 10 with a Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices (HHS) sub­sidiary agency, the Pro­gram Sup­port Cen­ter (PSC), which pro­vides “shared ser­vices across the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.”

The mon­ey, from the fed­er­al government’s COVID-19 relief fund, is for Palan­tir Gotham licens­es, accord­ing to a con­tract record reviewed by Forbes. That tech­nol­o­gy is designed to draw in data from myr­i­ad sources and, regard­less of what form or size, turn the infor­ma­tion into a coher­ent whole. The “plat­form” is cus­tomized for each client, so it meets with their mis­sion needs, accord­ing to Palan­tir.

Palan­tir Gotham is slight­ly dif­fer­ent to Foundry, a new­er prod­uct that’s aimed more at gen­er­al users rather than data sci­ence whizzes, with more automa­tion than Gotham. As Forbes pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed, Foundry is being used by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) to ingest infor­ma­tion from all man­ner of hos­pi­tals across Amer­i­ca to see where best to pro­vide more or less resource. That includes sup­plies of COVID-19 per­son­al pro­tec­tion equip­ment like masks and res­pi­ra­tors.

Forbes also revealed ear­li­er this week that the U.S. Coast Guard, a depart­ment with­in the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty (DHS), had con­tract­ed Palan­tir for $8 mil­lion for its own COVID-19 response efforts. The tech com­pa­ny declined to talk about the nature of the work, whilst the Coast Guard hadn’t com­ment­ed at the time of pub­li­ca­tion.

Palan­tir is now work­ing with at least 12 gov­ern­ments on their respons­es to coro­n­avirus, accord­ing to two sources with knowl­edge of its COVID-19 work. That includes the U.K.’s Nation­al Health Ser­vice, which is using Foundry for sim­i­lar pur­pos­es as the CDC.

Despite the osten­si­bly con­tro­ver­sy-free deal with the British health body, the recep­tion was some­what frosty. That was, in part, because of Palantir’s links to the U.S. mil­i­tary intel­li­gence com­plex; it was fund­ed by the CIA’s ven­ture cap­i­tal fund, In-Q-Tel, and was said to have helped find Osama bin Laden. The uneasi­ness from pri­va­cy bod­ies was also relat­ed to Palantir’s work with Immi­gra­tion Cus­toms Enforce­ment (ICE), which has drawn some crit­i­cism from human rights groups.

Call­ing Cal­i­for­nia For Coro­n­avirus Con­tracts

Out­side of Cal­i­for­nia, a hand­ful of tech com­pa­nies are sign­ing off COVID-19 relief con­tracts. The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment sales arm of Dell, the Tex­an hard­ware and soft­ware busi­ness, signed off on a $35 mil­lion deal to pro­vide Vet­er­ans Affairs with Microsoft secu­ri­ty tech­nol­o­gy and ser­vices.

Oth­er Sil­i­con Val­ley giants like Apple, Google and Ora­cle have been offer­ing solu­tions to help ease the cri­sis. Ora­cle, as Forbes exclu­sive­ly report­ed, is work­ing on a giant data­base to track the impact of COVID-19 treat­ments on patients. On Fri­day, Apple and Google announced they were col­lab­o­rat­ing on a project for a pro-pri­va­cy con­tact trac­ing app to help peo­ple know if they’ve been in the same area as some­one who’d con­tract­ed the virus.

But in terms of Sil­i­con Val­ley com­pa­nies, whom many were hop­ing would rapid­ly devel­op coro­n­avirus-fight­ing tech, it’s Palan­tir that’s lead­ing, in mon­ey terms at least.

7c. About the above-men­tioned Foundry:

“Palan­tir, The $20 Bil­lion, Peter Thiel-Backed Big Data Giant, Is Pro­vid­ing Coro­n­avirus Mon­i­tor­ing To The CDC” by Thomas Brew­ster; Forbes; 03/31/2020

In the last week, staff at the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) start­ed log­ging into a new web app. It promis­es to help them watch where COVID-19 is spread­ing and checks how well equipped hos­pi­tals are to deal with the spike in cas­es of the fatal virus, accord­ing to two sources famil­iar with the work. Accord­ing to those sources, it was built by Palan­tir, a $20 bil­lion-val­ued big data com­pa­ny whose data har­vest­ing work for the U.S. Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment agency has pro­voked crit­i­cism from human rights groups.

With the CDC project, it’s avoid­ing any such con­tro­ver­sy, part­ly because it isn’t ingest­ing per­son­al­ly-iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion, said the sources, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty due to the sen­si­tiv­i­ties of the gov­ern­ment con­tract. Instead, the sources said the tech, based on its big data gath­er­ing and analy­sis tech­nol­o­gy called Palan­tir Foundry, takes in a range of anonymized data from U.S. hos­pi­tals and health­care agen­cies, includ­ing lab test results, emer­gency depart­ment sta­tus­es, bed capac­i­ty and ven­ti­la­tor sup­ply. Palan­tir is also devel­op­ing mod­els for the out­break of the virus to help CDC pre­dict where resources are required, they added.

“In the U.S. we are con­tin­u­ing to work close­ly with our part­ners at HHS, includ­ing CDC, and across the gov­ern­ment agen­cies to ensure they have the most com­pre­hen­sive, accu­rate and time­ly view of infor­ma­tion as the COVID-19 response effort evolves,” a Palan­tir spokesper­son said.

The CDC hadn’t respond­ed to a request for com­ment at the time of pub­li­ca­tion.

Such tech would give the CDC a clear under­stand­ing of what’s hap­pen­ing in any giv­en U.S. geog­ra­phy, whether at state, coun­ty or city lev­el, at a sin­gle moment in time. The infor­ma­tion would help the CDC decide where to allo­cate resources, such as masks and ven­ti­la­tors, one source said. That could prove vital giv­en the rush to meet a per­va­sive and urgent need for ven­ti­la­tors, in par­tic­u­lar.

Palan­tir is one of sev­er­al tech com­pa­nies, includ­ing Google and Ora­cle, flex­ing their prowess in data gath­er­ing and analy­sis in efforts to stem the coro­n­avirus. Some ideas, such as using loca­tions from mobile phones to track move­ments of peo­ple, have prompt­ed con­cerns that once the cri­sis ebbs, increased sur­veil­lance will be hard to unwind. Palantir’s tool does not use any per­son­al­ly-iden­ti­fi­able data at this point, but could do in the future, said one of the sources.

Sim­i­lar to Palantir’s U.K. work

The app, which CDC staff start­ed to use in the last few days, is host­ed by Ama­zon Web Ser­vices as part of a part­ner­ship for the CDC project, one of the sources said. Palan­tir has long used the cloud giant for back-end infra­struc­ture.

The U.S. data gath­er­ing app looks a lot like a project revealed in the U.K. last week, where reports indi­cat­ed Palan­tir was also pro­vid­ing its Foundry plat­form, along­side Ama­zon Web Ser­vices and Microsoft, to assist the Nation­al Health Ser­vice (NHS) in the coro­n­avirus cri­sis.

Palantir’s Foundry will help the NHS deter­mine cur­rent occu­pan­cy lev­els at hos­pi­tals, down to the num­ber and type of beds, as well as the capac­i­ty of acci­dent and emer­gency, depart­ments and wait­ing times, wrote the U.K. gov­ern­ment late last week. The tool is also gath­er­ing details of the lengths of stay for coro­n­avirus patients, the U.K. project coor­di­na­tors said.

“Palan­tir is a data proces­sor, not a data con­troller, and can­not pass on or use the data for any wider pur­pose with­out the per­mis­sion of NHS Eng­land,” it added.

The response to Palantir’s involve­ment in the U.K. has been cau­tious in light of its pre­vi­ous sur­veil­lance work, notably its pro­duc­tion of tools that helped ICE tar­get undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants in Amer­i­ca. It has close ties to U.S. intel­li­gence and law enforce­ment agen­cies, includ­ing the CIA, an investor via the agency’s In-Q-Tel ven­ture fund, and was cred­it­ed with help­ing find Osama Bin Laden before his killing. The com­pa­ny was found­ed by a social the­o­ry Ph.D. Alex Karp, a long-time asso­ciate of Palan­tir investor Peter Thiel, the bil­lion­aire ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist who was also an ear­ly backer of Face­book.

It’s unclear just how much Palan­tir will make from the work. Accord­ing to pub­lic records, the most recent con­tract signed by Palan­tir with the CDC was in ear­ly Feb­ru­ary for $675,000 for unspec­i­fied hard­ware and soft­ware license renewals. Palan­tir also signed a con­tract for just $28,000 with the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion late last month for use of the Palan­tir Gotham tool, which is typ­i­cal­ly used to help gov­ern­ment agen­cies find crim­i­nals or crim­i­nal groups with­in mass­es of data. . . .

8. Exem­pli­fy­ing the mul­ti-dimen­sion­al chess sce­nario in con­nec­tion with the “bio-psy-op” is the GOP’s plan to use the Covid-19 out­break to scape­goat Chi­na and tar the Democ­rats and Joe Biden with the same brush.

Of par­tic­u­lar note in this regard is the Steve Bannon‑J. Kyle Bass-Tom­my Hicks, Jr. tri­umvi­rate dis­cussed in–among oth­er pro­grams–FTR #‘s 1111 and 1112.

At the epi­cen­ter of the anti-Chi­na effort, Ban­non is net­worked with Bass, who is asym­met­ri­cal­ly invest­ed with regard to the Hong Kong and Chi­nese economies. Hicks, in turn, is a co-investor with Bass, co-chair­man of the RNC, and one of the prime movers of the inter­a­gency gov­ern­men­tal net­works involved in the anti-Chi­na desta­bi­liza­tion oper­a­tion.

This net­worked rela­tion­ship affords investors like Bass and Hicks the ulti­mate posi­tion from which to prof­it from “insid­er” infor­ma­tion. 

The syn­the­sis of covert oper­a­tions and elec­toral pol­i­tics reminds us of the 1952 elec­tion, in which Arthur Bliss Lane occu­pied a key posi­tion in the Cru­sade For Free­dom, as well as the GOP. (We dis­cussed this in AFA #37, and uti­lized infor­ma­tion from, among oth­er sources, Blow­back by Christo­pher Simp­son.

“G.O.P. Aim­ing To Make Chi­na The Scape­goat” by Jonathan Mar­tin and Mag­gie Haber­man; The New York Times; 4/19/2020; pp. A1-A6 [West­ern Edi­tion]

The strat­e­gy could not be clear­er: From the Repub­li­can law­mak­ers blan­ket­ing Fox News to new ads from Pres­i­dent Trump’s super PAC to the bit­ing crit­i­cism on Don­ald Trump Jr.’s Twit­ter feed, the G.O.P. is attempt­ing to divert atten­tion from the administration’s heav­i­ly crit­i­cized response to the coro­n­avirus by pin­ning the blame on Chi­na.

With the death toll from the pan­dem­ic already sur­pass­ing 34,000 Amer­i­cans and unem­ploy­ment soar­ing to lev­els not seen since the Great Depres­sion, Repub­li­cans increas­ing­ly believe that ele­vat­ing Chi­na as an arch­en­e­my cul­pa­ble for the spread of the virus, and har­ness­ing America’s grow­ing ani­mos­i­ty toward Bei­jing, may be the best way to sal­vage a dif­fi­cult elec­tion.

Repub­li­can sen­a­tors locked in dif­fi­cult races are prepar­ing com­mer­cials con­demn­ing Chi­na. Con­ser­v­a­tives with future pres­i­den­tial ambi­tions of their own, like Sen­a­tors Tom Cot­ton and Josh Haw­ley, are com­pet­ing to see who can talk tougher toward the coun­try where the virus first emerged. Par­ty offi­cials are pub­licly and pri­vate­ly bran­dish­ing polling data in hopes Mr. Trump will con­front Bei­jing.

Mr. Trump’s own cam­paign aides have endorsed the strat­e­gy, releas­ing an attack ad last week depict­ing Joseph R. Biden Jr., the pre­sump­tive Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee, as soft on Chi­na. The ad relied heav­i­ly on images of peo­ple of Asian descent, includ­ing for­mer Gov. Gary Locke of Wash­ing­ton, who is Chi­nese-Amer­i­can, and it was wide­ly viewed as fan­ning the flames of xeno­pho­bia. . . .

. . . . The strat­e­gy includes efforts to lever­age the U.S.-China rela­tion­ship against Mr. Biden, who Repub­li­cans believe is vul­ner­a­ble because of his com­ments last year play­ing down the geopo­lit­i­cal chal­lenge posed by Chi­na and what Repub­li­cans claim was high-pay­ing work that his son, Hunter, has done there. (A lawyer for the younger Mr. Biden said he was uncom­pen­sat­ed for his work.)

Mr. Biden, for his part, has crit­i­cized Mr. Trump’s warm words for Chi­na. On Fri­day, his cam­paign released a video assail­ing the pres­i­dent for not press­ing Mr. Xi to let the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion into his coun­try and for being “more wor­ried about pro­tect­ing his trade deal with Chi­na than he was about the virus.”

On a con­fer­ence call with reporters, Antony J. Blinken, a senior Biden advis­er, not­ed that in Jan­u­ary and Feb­ru­ary “the pres­i­dent praised Chi­na and Pres­i­dent Xi more than 15 times.” He attrib­uted the flat­tery to the administration’s not want­i­ng to “risk that Chi­na pull back on imple­ment­ing” the ini­tial trade agree­ment the two coun­tries signed in Jan­u­ary. . . .

. . . . The president’s hopes for secur­ing a major trade agree­ment with Chi­na have been rein­forced by a coterie of his advis­ers, includ­ing Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin,who have often pre­vailed in inter­nal bat­tles over White House hard-lin­ers.

But with the coro­n­avirus death toll grow­ing and the econ­o­my at a stand­still, polls show that Amer­i­cans have nev­er viewed Chi­na more neg­a­tive­ly.

In a recent 17-state sur­vey con­duct­ed by Mr. Trump’s cam­paign, 77 per­cent of vot­ers agreed that Chi­na cov­ered up the extent of the coro­n­avirus out­break, and 79 per­cent of vot­ers indi­cat­ed they did not think Chi­na had been truth­ful about the extent of infec­tions and deaths, accord­ing to a Repub­li­can briefed on the poll. . . .

. . . . “At this moment in time a trade deal is not the right top­ic of dis­cus­sion,” said Sen­a­tor Steve Daines, Repub­li­can of Mon­tana, who said the pan­dem­ic had high­light­ed the country’s reliance on Chi­na in the same painful fash­ion that the oil cri­sis of the 1970s revealed how it was at the mer­cy of the Mid­dle East. “This has exposed our depen­den­cy on Chi­na for P.P.E. and for crit­i­cal drugs.”

Mr. Haw­ley, a first-term Mis­souri sen­a­tor has also denounced Chi­na, call­ing for a Unit­ed States-led inter­na­tion­al com­mis­sion to deter­mine the ori­gin of the virus and demand­ing that Amer­i­can vic­tims be allowed to sue the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment.

“This is the 9/11 of this gen­er­a­tion,” said Mr. Haw­ley, adding that he hopes Mr. Trump “keeps the pres­sure high.”

He said Repub­li­cans should make the issue cen­tral this fall and demon­strate “how are we going to come out of this stronger by actu­al­ly stand­ing up to the Chi­nese.”

Few Repub­li­cans have been more out­spo­ken than Mr. Cot­ton, an Arkansan who was warn­ing about the virus at the start of the year when few law­mak­ers were pay­ing atten­tion, and has been urg­ing Sen­ate can­di­dates to make Chi­na a cen­ter­piece of their cam­paigns.

“Chi­na unleashed this pan­dem­ic on the world and they should pay the price,” Mr. Cot­ton said. “Con­gress and the pres­i­dent should work togeth­er to hold Chi­na account­able.” . . .

9. Exem­plary, as well, of the bio-psy-op as syn­the­sis of covert oper­a­tion and polit­i­cal cru­sad­ing is the GOP’s cyn­i­cal manip­u­la­tion of emer­gency appro­pri­a­tions to achieve their long­stand­ing objec­tive of crip­pling state and local gov­ern­ments, as well as dri­ving the Postal Ser­vice into bank­rupt­cy. Pri­va­tiz­ing postal ser­vice has been a right-wing/­GOP objec­tive for a long time. ” . . . . Every­one, and I mean every­one, knows what is real­ly hap­pen­ing: McConnell is try­ing to get more mon­ey for busi­ness­es while con­tin­u­ing to short­change state and local gov­ern­ments. After all, “starve the beast” — forc­ing gov­ern­ments to cut ser­vices by depriv­ing them of resources — has been Repub­li­can strat­e­gy for decades. This is just more of the same. . . . Oh, and Trump per­son­al­ly has ruled out aid for the Postal Ser­vice. . . .”

“Starve the Beast, Feed The Depres­sion” by Paul Krug­man; The New York Times; 4/17/2020; p. A27 [West­ern Edi­tion].

. . . . Right now the econ­o­my is in the equiv­a­lent of a med­ical­ly induced coma, with whole sec­tors shut down to lim­it social con­tact and hence slow the spread of the coro­n­avirus. We can’t bring the econ­o­my out of this coma until, at min­i­mum, we have sharply reduced the rate of new infec­tions and dra­mat­i­cal­ly increased test­ing so that we can quick­ly respond to any new out­breaks. . . .

. . . . Since we’re nowhere close to that point — in par­tic­u­lar, test­ing is still far behind what’s need­ed — we’re months away from a safe end of the lock­down. This is caus­ing severe hard­ship for work­ers, busi­ness­es, hos­pi­tals and — last but not least — state and local gov­ern­ments, which unlike the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment must bal­ance their bud­gets. . . .

. . . . What pol­i­cy can and should do is mit­i­gate that hard­ship. And the last relief pack­age did, in fact, do a lot of the right things. But it didn’t do enough of them. . . .

. . . . It’s true that Sen­ate Repub­li­cans are try­ing to push through an extra $250 bil­lion in small-busi­ness lend­ing — and Democ­rats are will­ing to go along. But the Democ­rats also insist that the pack­age include sub­stan­tial aid for hos­pi­tals and for state and local gov­ern­ments. And Mitch McConnell, the Sen­ate major­i­ty leader, is refus­ing to include this aid.

McConnell claims that he would be will­ing to con­sid­er addi­tion­al mea­sures in lat­er leg­is­la­tion. But let’s get real. There is absolute­ly no rea­son not to include the mon­ey now.

Every­one, and I mean every­one, knows what is real­ly hap­pen­ing: McConnell is try­ing to get more mon­ey for busi­ness­es while con­tin­u­ing to short­change state and local gov­ern­ments. After all, “starve the beast” — forc­ing gov­ern­ments to cut ser­vices by depriv­ing them of resources — has been Repub­li­can strat­e­gy for decades. This is just more of the same.

This real­i­ty leaves Democ­rats with no choice except to stand firm while they still have lever­age. Bear in mind that McConnell could have the mon­ey he wants tomor­row if he were will­ing to meet them halfway. So far, how­ev­er, he isn’t. Oh, and Trump per­son­al­ly has ruled out aid for the Postal Ser­vice.

Discussion

9 comments for “FTR #1126 Bio-Psy-Op Apocalypse Now, Part 2: The Democracy-Killing Virus”

  1. This AP arti­cle reports that the UN Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al, Anto­nio Guter­res urged world lead­ers to fight hate in his speech. He address­es this dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic in which he reports how strength­ens eth­no-nation­al­ism, pop­ulism, author­i­tar­i­an­ism intrude and repress on human rights. He men­tions that elder­ly are being tar­get­ed by claim­ing they are the most vul­ner­a­ble. Oth­er tar­gets include health pro­fes­sion­als, aids work­ers, jour­nal­ists and whistle­blow­ers, He talked about how minori­ties includ­ing Mus­lim and Jews and Mus­lims were being tar­get­ed. The link at the bot­tom also includes a video por­tion of his speech.

    By ASSOCIATED PRESS
    PUBLISHED: 00:54 EDT, 8 May 2020 | UPDATED: 05:13 EDT, 8 May 2020
    Covid-19 has unleashed a ‘tsuna­mi of hate’ with a surge in anti-Semit­ic con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and attacks on Mus­lims, UN chief warns
    • Anto­nio Guter­res urged world lead­ers to ‘immu­nize soci­ety against virus of hate’ 
    • Said minori­ties such as Jews and Mus­lims are being scape­goat­ed over Covid-19 
    • Warned extrem­ists will use lock­down ‘to prey on cap­tive and despair­ing peo­ple’ 

    UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al Anto­nio Guter­res said Fri­day the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic keeps unleash­ing ‘a tsuna­mi of hate and xeno­pho­bia, scape­goat­ing and scare-mon­ger­ing’ and appealed for ‘an all-out effort to end hate speech glob­al­ly.’

    Guter­res said ‘anti-for­eign­er sen­ti­ment has surged online and in the streets, anti-Semit­ic con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries have spread, and COVID-19-relat­ed anti-Mus­lim attacks have occurred.’

    The UN chief said migrants and refugees ‘have been vil­i­fied as a source of the virus — and then denied access to med­ical treat­ment.’
    Anto­nio Guterres@antonioaguterres
    #COVID19 does not care who we are, where we live, or what we believe.

    Yet the pan­dem­ic con­tin­ues to unleash a tsuna­mi of hate and xeno­pho­bia, scape­goat­ing and scare-mon­ger­ing.

    That’s why I’m appeal­ing for an all-out effort to end hate speech glob­al­ly.

    ‘With old­er per­sons among the most vul­ner­a­ble, con­temptible memes have emerged sug­gest­ing they are also the most expend­able,’ he said. ‘And jour­nal­ists, whistle­blow­ers, health pro­fes­sion­als, aid work­ers and human rights defend­ers are being tar­get­ed sim­ply for doing their jobs.’

    Guter­res called on polit­i­cal lead­ers to show sol­i­dar­i­ty with all peo­ple, on edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tions to focus on ‘dig­i­tal lit­er­a­cy’ at a time when ‘extrem­ists are seek­ing to prey on cap­tive and poten­tial­ly despair­ing audi­ences.’

    He called on the media, espe­cial­ly social media, to ‘remove racist, misog­y­nist and oth­er harm­ful con­tent,’ on civ­il soci­ety to strength­en their out­reach to vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple, and on reli­gious fig­ures to serve as ‘mod­els of mutu­al respect.’

    ‘And I ask every­one, every­where, to stand up against hate, treat each oth­er with dig­ni­ty and take every oppor­tu­ni­ty to spread kind­ness,’ Guter­res said.

    The sec­re­tary-gen­er­al stressed that COVID-19 ‘does not care who we are, where we live, what we believe or about any oth­er dis­tinc­tion.’
    His glob­al appeal to address and counter COVID-19-relat­ed hate speech fol­lows his April 23 mes­sage call­ing the coro­nar­ivus pan­dem­ic ‘a human cri­sis that is fast becom­ing a human rights cri­sis.’

    Guter­res said then that the pan­dem­ic has seen ‘dis­pro­por­tion­ate effects on cer­tain com­mu­ni­ties, the rise of hate speech, the tar­get­ing of vul­ner­a­ble groups, and the risks of heavy-hand­ed secu­ri­ty respons­es under­min­ing the health response.’

    With ‘ris­ing eth­no-nation­al­ism, pop­ulism, author­i­tar­i­an­ism and a push back against human rights in some coun­tries, the cri­sis can pro­vide a pre­text to adopt repres­sive mea­sures for pur­pos­es unre­lat­ed to the pan­dem­ic,’ he warned.

    In Feb­ru­ary, Guter­res issued a call to action to coun­tries, busi­ness­es and peo­ple to help renew and revive human rights across the globe, lay­ing out a sev­en-point plan amid con­cerns about cli­mate change, con­flict and repres­sion.

    https://mol.im/a/8299683

    Posted by Mary Benton | May 9, 2020, 11:51 am
  2. Oh look at that: Pres­i­dent Trump was rage tweet­ing on Thurs­day night about the protests in the Twin Cities over the clear mur­der of an African Amer­i­can man under arrest, George Floyd, end­ing the rage tweets with a threat to call in the Nation­al Guard to start shoot­ing pro­tes­tors:

    I can’t stand back & watch this hap­pen to a great Amer­i­can City, Min­neapo­lis. A total lack of lead­er­ship. Either the very weak Rad­i­cal Left May­or, Jacob Frey, get his act togeth­er and bring the City under con­trol, or I will send in the Nation­al Guard & get the job done right.....— Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020

    And to under­score that threat he end­ed the tweets with a tru­ly chill­ing phrase that was quite pos­si­bly the worst and most inflam­ma­to­ry thing he could have pos­si­bly said under the sit­u­a­tion: “When the loot­ing starts, the shoot­ing starts.”

    ....These THUGS are dis­hon­or­ing the mem­o­ry of George Floyd, and I won’t let that hap­pen. Just spoke to Gov­er­nor Tim Walz and told him that the Mil­i­tary is with him all the way. Any dif­fi­cul­ty and we will assume con­trol but, when the loot­ing starts, the shoot­ing starts. Thank you!— Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020

    As the fol­low­ing TPM piece points out, it was­n’t just hyper-inflam­ma­to­ry because it was a pres­i­den­tial threat of dead­ly mil­i­tary force against civil­ians. It’s also a slo­gan that has become syn­ony­mous with a cel­e­bra­tion of police bru­tal­i­ty against the black com­mu­ni­ty. Sur­prise:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    News

    ‘When The Loot­ing Starts, The Shoot­ing Starts’: Trump Quotes ’60s Police Chief’s Bloody Phrase

    By Matt Shuham
    May 29, 2020 11:40 a.m.

    Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day tweet­ed a phrase that recalled the racist police vio­lence of the ’60s: “When the loot­ing starts, the shoot­ing starts.”

    The Pres­i­dent was respond­ing to the upheaval in Min­neapo­lis in recent days in response to the police killing of George Floyd.

    Trump’s use of that phrase earned him a warn­ing label of sorts from Twit­ter: The tweet wasn’t vis­i­ble until click­ing through a dis­claimer that the text “vio­lat­ed the Twit­ter Rules about glo­ri­fy­ing vio­lence.”

    In a state­ment, Twit­ter con­firmed that the spe­cif­ic vio­la­tion had to do with “the his­tor­i­cal con­text of the last line, its con­nec­tion to vio­lence, and the risk it could inspire sim­i­lar actions today.”

    The words indeed have a bloody his­to­ry.

    The phrase itself comes from a Decem­ber 1967 press con­fer­ence held by then-Mia­mi police chief Wal­ter Headley, in which he declared a “get tough” pol­i­cy — a “war” on crime in black neigh­bor­hoods in Mia­mi. Or as Headley was quot­ed in news reports at the time, “young hood­lums, from 15 to 21, who have tak­en advan­tage of the civ­il rights cam­paign.”

    “We don’t mind being accused of police bru­tal­i­ty,” Headley said. “They haven’t seen any­thing yet. Com­mu­ni­ty rela­tions and all that sort of thing have failed. We have done every­thing we could, send­ing speak­ers out and meet­ing with Negro lead­ers. But it has amount­ed to noth­ing.”

    The chief added that Mia­mi hadn’t had a “seri­ous prob­lem with civ­il upris­ing and loot­ing because I’ve let the word fil­ter down that when the loot­ing starts, the shoot­ing starts.”

    Headley said at the press con­fer­ence that patrols in black neigh­bor­hoods would be armed with shot­guns and police dogs.

    The police chief was known for his aggres­sive “stop and frisk” pol­i­cy, which often esca­lat­ed police encoun­ters. In Feb­ru­ary 1968, for exam­ple, police sus­pect­ed a teenag­er had car­ried a con­cealed knife into a pool hall. In 2018, The Wash­ing­ton Post detailed what hap­pened next: Police offi­cers dan­gled the teen by his feet over a bridge 100 feet above the Mia­mi Riv­er.

    The Post not­ed a report from the Nation­al Com­mis­sion on the Caus­es and Pre­ven­tion of Vio­lence pub­lished the fol­low­ing year, in 1969, that said the poli­cies had left the black com­mu­ni­ty in Mia­mi “in a state of con­tin­ued agi­ta­tion” from Decem­ber 1967 to August 1968. It read:
    [see news arti­cle excerpt]

    Eight months after that press con­fer­ence, Headley repeat­ed the “loot­ing” phrase dur­ing a riot that occurred par­al­lel to the August 1968 Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion in Mia­mi Beach.

    The three-day riot began with the police incur­sion into what orga­niz­ers described as “a mass ral­ly of con­cerned Black peo­ple” — and end­ed with the police killing of three peo­ple and wound­ing of 18 more.

    Headley was on vaca­tion in North Car­oli­na at the time and did not return home as the vio­lence esca­lat­ed, the New York Times report­ed in his obit­u­ary when he died in Novem­ber 1968.

    “They know what to do,” the vaca­tion­ing Headley said of Mia­mi police offi­cers. “When the loot­ing starts, the shoot­ing starts.”

    On Fri­day, even the right-wing mili­tia group the Oath Keep­ers con­demned the President’s tweet. That group first came to promi­nence in 2015 as an armed pres­ence in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri, after the police killing there of Michael Brown.

    “This is a dis­as­ter,” the tweet­ed tweet­ed. “Pres­i­dent Trump needs to retract that state­ment ASAP, stat­ing that he mis­spoke & did not mean to say that Nation­al Guard should shoot peo­ple for steal­ing.”

    ...

    ————

    “‘When The Loot­ing Starts, The Shoot­ing Starts’: Trump Quotes ’60s Police Chief’s Bloody Phrase” by Matt Shuham; Talk­ing Points Memo; 05/29/2020

    The phrase itself comes from a Decem­ber 1967 press con­fer­ence held by then-Mia­mi police chief Wal­ter Headley, in which he declared a “get tough” pol­i­cy — a “war” on crime in black neigh­bor­hoods in Mia­mi. Or as Headley was quot­ed in news reports at the time, “young hood­lums, from 15 to 21, who have tak­en advan­tage of the civ­il rights cam­paign.””

    You have to won­der: did Trump con­scious­ly choose that slo­gan or did he just vague­ly remem­ber it from decades ago with­out real­iz­ing the con­text and thought it had a nice ring to it? It’s one of fea­tures of Trump’s strate­gic chaos: we can nev­er real­ly dif­fer­en­ti­ate between the delib­er­ate cun­ning vs uncon­trol­lable chaos of his actions. But either way, Trump man­aged to choose to end his Nation­al Guard threat with what was pos­si­bly the most inflam­ma­to­ry his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ence he could have cho­sen. A slo­gan that was­n’t used just once by police chief Wal­ter Head­ly but mul­ti­ple times:

    ...
    “We don’t mind being accused of police bru­tal­i­ty,” Headley said. “They haven’t seen any­thing yet. Com­mu­ni­ty rela­tions and all that sort of thing have failed. We have done every­thing we could, send­ing speak­ers out and meet­ing with Negro lead­ers. But it has amount­ed to noth­ing.”

    The chief added that Mia­mi hadn’t had a “seri­ous prob­lem with civ­il upris­ing and loot­ing because I’ve let the word fil­ter down that when the loot­ing starts, the shoot­ing starts.”

    ...

    Eight months after that press con­fer­ence, Headley repeat­ed the “loot­ing” phrase dur­ing a riot that occurred par­al­lel to the August 1968 Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion in Mia­mi Beach.

    The three-day riot began with the police incur­sion into what orga­niz­ers described as “a mass ral­ly of con­cerned Black peo­ple” — and end­ed with the police killing of three peo­ple and wound­ing of 18 more.

    Headley was on vaca­tion in North Car­oli­na at the time and did not return home as the vio­lence esca­lat­ed, the New York Times report­ed in his obit­u­ary when he died in Novem­ber 1968.

    “They know what to do,” the vaca­tion­ing Headley said of Mia­mi police offi­cers. “When the loot­ing starts, the shoot­ing starts.”
    ...

    It was such appalling lead­er­ship even the Oath Keep­ers had to come out and con­demn him. It’s pret­ty bad when your own mili­tia cult has to rebuke you:

    ...
    On Fri­day, even the right-wing mili­tia group the Oath Keep­ers con­demned the President’s tweet. That group first came to promi­nence in 2015 as an armed pres­ence in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri, after the police killing there of Michael Brown.

    “This is a dis­as­ter,” the tweet­ed tweet­ed. “Pres­i­dent Trump needs to retract that state­ment ASAP, stat­ing that he mis­spoke & did not mean to say that Nation­al Guard should shoot peo­ple for steal­ing.”
    ...

    But that rebuke by the Oath Keep­ers isn’t just notable because the Oath Keep­ers are the lead­ing group in the US advo­cat­ing for a ‘sov­er­eign citizen’-style rev­o­lu­tion that calls for mili­tias to be dep­u­tized to pro­vide law enforce­ment ser­vices, a sce­nario in keep­ing with the Rex-84 mar­tial law sce­nar­ios drawn up by the Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion. It’s also notable because it comes after weeks of Trump and the mili­tia joint­ly and enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly sup­port­ing the armed anti-COVID lock­down protests on state cap­i­tals across the US. It high­lights the sur­re­al nature of US pol­i­tics: the Pres­i­dent is sup­port­ing armed mili­ti­a’s intim­i­da­tion of state offi­cials — a con­flict that pits local offi­cials against state offi­cials which is the­mat­i­cal­ly con­sis­tent with the ‘sov­er­eign cit­i­zen’ refusal to rec­og­nize the author­i­ty of gov­ern­ment offi­cials above the lev­el of coun­ty sher­iff — at the same time we have the pres­i­dent threat­en­ing to send in the Nation­al Guard to shoot pro­tes­tors dur­ing anti police bru­tal­i­ty protests.

    But as the fol­low­ing Raw Sto­ry arti­cle describes, there’s anoth­er sig­nif­i­cant aspect of this the sto­ry of the Twin Cities protests that make the Oath Keep­er’s con­dem­na­tion of Trump’s threats so sig­nif­i­cant: as we should have expect­ed, the mili­tia move­ment that’s been increas­ing­ly open­ly threat­en­ing civ­il war over the COVID-19 lock­down poli­cies has been infil­trat­ing the Twin Cities protests. It’s being osten­si­bly done in ‘sol­i­dar­i­ty’ with the pro­tes­tors under the guise of a mutu­al oppo­si­tion to police bru­tal­i­ty. But as the fol­low­ing arti­cle makes clear, that’s basi­cal­ly just the cov­er sto­ry for infil­trat­ing the protests and try­ing and stok­ing vio­lence in the hopes of cre­at­ing a larg­er civ­il con­flict:

    Raw Sto­ry

    ‘They want their civ­il war’: Far-right ‘booga­loo’ mil­i­tants are embed­ded in the George Floyd protests in Min­neapo­lis

    By Jor­dan Green, Spe­cial to Raw Sto­ry
    Pub­lished on May 28, 2020

    Young, white men dressed in Hawai­ian-style print shirts and body armor, and car­ry­ing high-pow­ered rifles have been a notable fea­ture at state capi­tols, lend­ing an edgy and even some­times insur­rec­tionary tone to gath­er­ings of con­ser­v­a­tives angered by restric­tions on busi­ness­es and church gath­er­ings dur­ing the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic.

    Just as many states are reopen­ing their economies — and tak­ing the wind out of the con­ser­v­a­tive protests — the booga­loo move­ment found a new gal­va­niz­ing cause: the protests in Min­neapo­lis against the police killing of George Floyd.

    A new iter­a­tion of the mili­tia move­ment, booga­loo was born out of inter­net forums for gun enthu­si­asts that repur­posed the 1984 movie Breakin’ 2: Elec­tric Booga­loo as a code for a sec­ond civ­il war, and then mod­i­fied it into phras­es like “big luau” to cre­ate an insu­lar com­mu­ni­ty for those in on the joke, with Hawai­ian-style shirts func­tion­ing as an in-real-life iden­ti­fi­er. Booga­loo gained cur­ren­cy as an inter­net meme over the sum­mer of 2019, when it was adopt­ed by white suprema­cists in the accel­er­a­tionist ten­den­cy. In Jan­u­ary, the move­ment made the leap from the inter­net to the streets when a group booga­loo-ers showed up at the Sec­ond Amend­ment ral­ly in Rich­mond, Va.

    It’s not just the jit­tery aes­thet­ics and pop-cul­ture irony that sets booga­loo apart from an old­er gen­er­a­tion of mili­tia activists, but also its unbri­dled hos­til­i­ty towards law enforce­ment. In late 2019, the move­ment spread beyond pri­vate Dis­cord servers to mul­ti­ple Face­book groups with names like Thicc Boog Line, Boo­jahideen of Occu­pied Appalachis­tan and, in North Car­oli­na, Blue Igloo. Some of the memes gen­er­at­ed and shared on the Face­book pages con­tain overt sig­nals towards white nation­al­ists, includ­ing images of the Ger­man Wehrma­cht dur­ing World War II and ref­er­ences to the failed war to pre­serve white rule in Rhode­sia dur­ing the 1970s. But oth­ers sig­nal an inter­est in build­ing bridges with the polit­i­cal left by lift­ing up the names of black vic­tims of police vio­lence like Oscar Grant, Eric Gar­ner and Bre­on­na Tay­lor, along­side right-wing mar­tyrs like LaVoy Finicum, Sam­my Weaver and Dun­can Lemp, the lat­ter a booga­loo-er who was killed by police in March dur­ing a no-knock raid at his home in Mary­land.

    When protests against the police killing of George Floyd esca­lat­ed into clash­es between police and pro­test­ers on Tues­day night, a sig­nif­i­cant seg­ment of the booga­loo move­ment was elec­tri­fied.

    At 8:38 p.m., an anony­mous Dis­cord user iden­ti­fied as [MN-TC] Jimmydean338 post­ed in the #SOS chan­nel for the pri­vate Cit­i­zens Lib­er­ty Orga­ni­za­tion serv­er. The post dis­played a red but­ton inscribed with the words, “Send help!” fol­lowed by the address 3000 Min­neha­ha Ave., which is the loca­tion of the Min­neapo­lis Police 3rd Precinct. “Police open­ing fire on pro­test­ers breach­ing precinc [sic],” Jimmydean338 wrote. “Not a drill.”

    At about 11:30, the Big Igloo Bois Face­book group post­ed a pho­to of a young man hold­ing the trade­mark booga­loo flag depict­ing an igloo and palm tree in the protests.

    “If there was ever a time for bois to stand in sol­i­dar­i­ty with all free men and women in this coun­try, it is now,” the admin for the page wrote. “This is not a race issue. For far too long we have allowed them to mur­der us in our homes, and in the streets. We need to stand with the peo­ple of Min­neapo­lis. We need to sup­port them in this protest against a sys­tem that allows police bru­tal­i­ty to go unchecked.”

    Ben­jamin Ryan Teeter, a res­i­dent of the coastal com­mu­ni­ty of Hamp­stead in south­east­ern North Car­oli­na, reshared the red but­ton pan­el post­ed by Jimmydean338 on his Face­book page at 11:44 p.m., writ­ing, “Lock and load boys. Boog flags are in the air, and the nation­al net­work is going off.”

    Teeter, who is active in the North Car­oli­na Lib­er­tar­i­an Par­ty and has par­tic­i­pat­ed in week­ly armed excur­sions through down­town Raleigh with a group orga­nized through the Blue Igloo Face­book group over the four weeks alert­ed his friends that he would be dri­ving, not fly­ing to Min­neapo­lis.

    Tom Bai­ley, a Lib­er­tar­i­an can­di­date for Con­gress in 2018, com­ment­ed, “Grim.” To which Teeter replied, “Exact­ly! I love it!”

    Anoth­er pri­vate Dis­cord serv­er set up for booga­loo users — named “We should all Led(better)” — had des­ig­nat­ed spe­cial chan­nels for dif­fer­ent func­tions: #on-scene-only (for users on the ground), #off-scene-intel (for remote users shar­ing infor­ma­tion), and #loca­tion-want-to-repond (for users across the coun­try to coor­di­nate trav­el to Min­neapo­lis).

    Booga­loo activists who showed up for the first night of protests on Tues­day met with mixed reac­tion.

    One, a white man iden­ti­fied on Face­book as Michael Solomon, post­ed pho­tographs of him­self and anoth­er friend hold­ing high-pow­ered rifles while pos­ing along­side black pro­test­ers, includ­ing one wear­ing a Black Lives Mat­ter hood­ie. But anoth­er, Tyler Scott of Min­neso­ta man, warned in the Big Igloo Bois thread: “This is not the time for boog, this is how a race war starts.” He added that the pro­test­ers “jumped one of our 3%ers” — a term that denotes an old­er gen­er­a­tion of mili­tia activists — “ear­li­er tonight and stole a firearm. They are not with us. They’ve made it clear they don’t want us.” Scott’s state­ments were met with skep­ti­cism, with oth­er com­menters sug­gest­ing he was mak­ing it up or spec­u­lat­ing that the old­er mili­tia activists were racist and had it com­ing.

    “I think for a lot of booga­loo-ers, their pri­ma­ry inter­est is resist­ing the state, what they believe to be state tyran­ny,” said Alex Fried­feld, an inves­tiga­tive researcher at the ADL Cen­ter on Extrem­ism in Chica­go. “They have this hos­til­i­ty towards law enforce­ment…. They oppose these [pan­dem­ic] direc­tives. They’re upset about no-knock raids, police bru­tal­i­ty. The George Floyd case — this is an exam­ple of police bru­tal­i­ty, this will­ing­ness of the state to exe­cute those who dis­obey — so it’s not sur­pris­ing that they showed up to protest.”

    The nascent booga­loo move­ment is not mono­lith­ic, Fried­feld said, and it draws from spec­trum of groups from the right wing to the far right, from mili­tias and anar­cho-cap­i­tal­ists to white suprema­cists. An inter­nal strug­gle is under­way to define the movement’s rela­tion­ship with race, he said.

    “You see this in the Face­book com­ments,” Fried­feld said. “You’ll see very strong con­dem­na­tions of racism and homo­pho­bia. Then there are peo­ple who use racial­ly charged phras­es such as, ‘Vote from the rooftops.’ It’s a ref­er­ence to Kore­an shop-own­ers who went to rooftops to fire on loot­ers [dur­ing the 1992 Los Ange­les riots], who are pre­sumed to be black. There’s this debate: Why are we accept­ing Black Lives Mat­ter when they won’t accept us? There’s a good deal of social dis­trust.”

    ...

    “It’s a right-wing thing; it’s a neo-fas­cist thing,” said Daryle Lam­ont Jenk­ins, a vet­er­an antifas­cist orga­niz­er based in New Jer­sey, in a Twit­ter video. “And they’re try­ing to use what’s hap­pen­ing in Min­neapo­lis as a jump-off. Do not let them. They are not our friends.”

    Jenk­ins told Raw Sto­ry that he fears that booga­loo-ers are bring­ing their apoc­a­lyp­tic fan­tasies about civ­il war to Min­neapo­lis and will leave res­i­dents to pick up the pieces.

    “They can be more aggres­sive, and they can cause the police to be more aggres­sive,” he said. “They can get peo­ple hurt because they want their civ­il war…. Peo­ple who are in the com­mu­ni­ty, all they know is they have to defend them­selves. The peo­ple they hate get hurt, and they walk away scot-free. So, it’s kind of a win-win for them.

    “You don’t even nec­es­sar­i­ly have to be inter­act­ing with any­body in order to pop some­thing off,” he added. “You’re going to be one with the crowd.”

    Jenk­ins not­ed that Min­neapo­lis has rocky track record with armed white men inter­pos­ing them­selves in protests against police bru­tal­i­ty: In 2015, five peo­ple at a Black Lives Mat­ter protest were shot, result­ing in non-life-threat­en­ing injuries. A white man from Bloom­ing­ton named Allen Scarsel­la was lat­er con­vict­ed in the shoot­ings.

    Jenk­ins charges that the booga­loo-ers are oper­at­ing in bad faith, cit­ing a fel­low New Jer­sey res­i­dent named Paul Miller who was recent­ly involved in a Memo­r­i­al Day reopen protest. Miller iden­ti­fies him­self as a “Booga­loo Boy” on his Insta­gram account, which also includes the Latin Catholic mot­to “Deus vult,” or “God wills [it],” gen­er­al­ly asso­ci­at­ed with Islam­o­pho­bia.

    On Wednes­day, Miller re-shared livestreams from Min­neapo­lis on his Insta­gram, while refrain­ing from pro­vid­ing his views on the action under­way. A pre­vi­ous post includes a whim­si­cal video of armed pro­test­ers dur­ing an April 30 reopen protest at the Michi­gan state capi­tol cap­tioned, “When the booga­loo kicks off cuz the boys had enough.”

    Oth­ers more defin­i­tive­ly sig­nal that Miller’s pol­i­tics don’t align with the pro­test­ers in Min­neapo­lis. One calls for the release of the white father and son who are charged with mur­der­ing Ahmaud Arbery, a black jog­ger in Geor­gia, while anoth­er con­tends that the media is bury­ing cov­er­age of migrants “riot­ing through­out France.” Miller fre­quent­ly uses booga­loo hash­tags with Insta­gram posts, includ­ing #biglu­au, #booga­loomemes, #boogaloo2020, #Boogvirus, #booga­loosid­e­quest and #booga­loobois.

    “There’s two ver­sions of booga­loo,” said Fried­feld of the ADL. “There’s the white suprema­cist burn soci­ety down and build a white eth­no-stage. And then there’s the anti-gov­ern­ment resist tyran­ny at all costs, and if it cre­ates a civ­il war, so be it ver­sion.”

    So far, the wing of the booga­loo move­ment that’s shown up in the streets is the more main­stream, out­ward­ly inclu­sive ver­sion.

    But some white suprema­cists, espe­cial­ly in the accel­er­a­tionist ten­den­cy, are like­ly cheer­ing events in Min­neapo­lis from the side­lines, or look­ing for ways to melt into the crowd.

    A user iden­ti­fied as “Ter­ror­wave Refine” mes­saged at 11:59 p.m. on Tues­day: “Booga­loo boys are report­ed­ly on [sic] place. If some­one real­ly want­ed to kick off the booga­loo, now would be a fine time to fire some shots and frame the crowd around you as respon­si­ble.”

    Ear­li­er in the evening, a user named “The Shit­post Facil­i­ty (Dick)” wrote, “I hate that I sup­port the n****** over the pigs at this point, get some you dumb mon­key f****ot. This is absolute­ly the end goal of our philose­mit­ic soci­ety. Imag­ine giv­ing n****** ‘civ­il rights’ hahah­ha.”

    Anoth­er, named “Uncle Paul,” for­ward­ed Dick’s mes­sage, adding, “I don’t sup­port either the n****** or the pigs… cer­tain­ly not the k****. How­ev­er, I’ll do some pushups and pull-ups while I watch them redact­ing each oth­er.”

    Ben­jamin Ryan Teeter, the North Car­oli­na man trav­el­ing to Min­neapo­lis, said he is moti­vat­ed to join the protests out of gen­uine sol­i­dar­i­ty with black res­i­dents who are oppressed by police vio­lence. Teeter, who describes him­self as an “LGBT left-lean­ing anar­chist,” said he plans to “defend the pro­test­ers.”

    He deflect­ed when asked if he and oth­er booga­loo-ers are con­sult­ing with local res­i­dents to see how they can best sup­port them, as opposed to pur­su­ing their own agen­da.

    “I think try­ing to get the police to stop killing peo­ple is try­ing to sup­port the peo­ple of the com­mu­ni­ty,” he said. “If we’re not will­ing to stand up because we might hurt some­one, how bad are we going to allow things to get?”

    Teeter insist­ed the share of white suprema­cists in the booga­loo move­ment is no greater than any oth­er group or polit­i­cal par­ty. But he plead­ed igno­rance when asked about Dil­lon Goad, a North Car­olin­ian who attend­ed the first Raleigh booga­loo walk on May 1 wear­ing a Hawai­ian-style shirt. In addi­tion to his pri­ma­ry Face­book page, Goad has an alt page under his name that pays trib­ute to Hans Friedrich, a mem­ber of the SS Infantry Brigade accused of mur­der­ing Jews and com­mu­nists in the Sovi­et Union.

    Teeter post­ed a breath­less update at 1:23 a.m. on Wednes­day.

    “Bal­ti­more cop shot,” Teeter wrote. “Chica­go is a pow­derkeg. MN police are plan­ning an emer­gency exit if the build­ing is breached.”

    Goad was the first to com­ment: “It’s all com­ing togeth­er.”

    Reached on the road nine hours out­side of Min­neapo­lis on Wednes­day evening, Teeter demurred when asked about Goad.

    “Dil­lon is some­one I’m not famil­iar with,” he said. “I don’t want to speak to the account with­out know­ing. I don’t know if it’s a satire account or some­thing else.”

    Whether their move­ment is infil­trat­ed with neo-Nazis or not, there’s lit­tle doubt that the booga­loo-ers want to see an esca­la­tion in Min­neapo­lis.

    In a post that has now been removed from the We should all be Led(better) serv­er, (KS) Rug­by­Is­Life lament­ed at 11:38 p.m. on Wednes­day: “Looks like it’s just a bunch of loot­ing that should have been booging. Are peo­ple going to wake the fu ck up and start lay­ing down lead or just steal TVs and sh it?

    ———–

    “‘They want their civ­il war’: Far-right ‘booga­loo’ mil­i­tants are embed­ded in the George Floyd protests in Min­neapo­lis” by Jor­dan Green; Raw Sto­ry; 05/28/2020

    Just as many states are reopen­ing their economies — and tak­ing the wind out of the con­ser­v­a­tive protests — the booga­loo move­ment found a new gal­va­niz­ing cause: the protests in Min­neapo­lis against the police killing of George Floyd.”

    It’s a key point in all of this: the glom­ming on of these mili­tia groups to the protests in Min­neapo­lis is hap­pen­ing at the same time vir­tu­al­ly all of the states are repen­ing their economies under­min­ing the entire premise of their “booga­loo” civ­il war cam­paign to wage wars against state gov­ern­ments. A “booga­loo” move­ment that reflects the growth of the “accel­er­a­tionist” wing of the far right that views cre­at­ing as much chaos and destruc­tion as pos­si­ble as the path to foment­ing a civ­il war intend­ed to be a race war. In oth­er words, this is basi­cal­ly an adap­ta­tion of Atom­waf­fen’s strat­e­gy which, in turn, is an adap­ta­tion of James Mason and Charles Man­son. That’s the under­ly­ing motive for the mili­tia groups’ sud­den sym­pa­thy for the black com­mu­ni­ty. So when we hear about the booga­loo move­ment cre­at­ing memes that incor­po­rate civ­il rights fig­ures it’s basi­cal­ly just trolling. Trolling intend­ed to cre­ate the illu­sion of a com­mon cause in the hops of using the protests as props to accel­er­ate the col­lapse of soci­ety to start a race war:

    ...
    A new iter­a­tion of the mili­tia move­ment, booga­loo was born out of inter­net forums for gun enthu­si­asts that repur­posed the 1984 movie Breakin’ 2: Elec­tric Booga­loo as a code for a sec­ond civ­il war, and then mod­i­fied it into phras­es like “big luau” to cre­ate an insu­lar com­mu­ni­ty for those in on the joke, with Hawai­ian-style shirts func­tion­ing as an in-real-life iden­ti­fi­er. Booga­loo gained cur­ren­cy as an inter­net meme over the sum­mer of 2019, when it was adopt­ed by white suprema­cists in the accel­er­a­tionist ten­den­cy. In Jan­u­ary, the move­ment made the leap from the inter­net to the streets when a group booga­loo-ers showed up at the Sec­ond Amend­ment ral­ly in Rich­mond, Va.

    It’s not just the jit­tery aes­thet­ics and pop-cul­ture irony that sets booga­loo apart from an old­er gen­er­a­tion of mili­tia activists, but also its unbri­dled hos­til­i­ty towards law enforce­ment. In late 2019, the move­ment spread beyond pri­vate Dis­cord servers to mul­ti­ple Face­book groups with names like Thicc Boog Line, Boo­jahideen of Occu­pied Appalachis­tan and, in North Car­oli­na, Blue Igloo. Some of the memes gen­er­at­ed and shared on the Face­book pages con­tain overt sig­nals towards white nation­al­ists, includ­ing images of the Ger­man Wehrma­cht dur­ing World War II and ref­er­ences to the failed war to pre­serve white rule in Rhode­sia dur­ing the 1970s. But oth­ers sig­nal an inter­est in build­ing bridges with the polit­i­cal left by lift­ing up the names of black vic­tims of police vio­lence like Oscar Grant, Eric Gar­ner and Bre­on­na Tay­lor, along­side right-wing mar­tyrs like LaVoy Finicum, Sam­my Weaver and Dun­can Lemp, the lat­ter a booga­loo-er who was killed by police in March dur­ing a no-knock raid at his home in Mary­land.

    ...

    The nascent booga­loo move­ment is not mono­lith­ic, Fried­feld said, and it draws from spec­trum of groups from the right wing to the far right, from mili­tias and anar­cho-cap­i­tal­ists to white suprema­cists. An inter­nal strug­gle is under­way to define the movement’s rela­tion­ship with race, he said.

    ...

    “There’s two ver­sions of booga­loo,” said Fried­feld of the ADL. “There’s the white suprema­cist burn soci­ety down and build a white eth­no-stage. And then there’s the anti-gov­ern­ment resist tyran­ny at all costs, and if it cre­ates a civ­il war, so be it ver­sion.”

    So far, the wing of the booga­loo move­ment that’s shown up in the streets is the more main­stream, out­ward­ly inclu­sive ver­sion.
    ...

    Keep in mind that, while it’s tech­ni­cal­ly true that the booga­loo move­ment is not mono­lith­ic and draws from a spec­trum of groups from mili­tias and anar­cho-cap­i­tal­ists to white suprema­cists, rare is the mili­tia mem­ber or anar­cho-cap­i­tal­ist that isn’t at least a latent white suprema­cist. Yes, such rare indi­vid­u­als do exist but all of those groups have a heavy over­lap in world­views. Also keep in mind that the ‘resist tyran­ny at all costs, and if it cre­ates a civ­il war, so be it’ ver­sion of the booga­loo move­ment is typ­i­cal­ly the pub­lic jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the idea of stok­ing a race war under osten­si­bly ‘patri­ot­ic’ rea­sons. In oth­er words, ‘resist tyran­ny at all costs, and if it cre­ates a civ­il war, so be it’ is real­ly just brand­ing for ‘burn soci­ety down and build a white eth­no-stage’.

    And note how rapid­ly there was bool­ga­loo mem­bers on the scene of the Min­neapo­lis protests: they were there on the scene on the first night with­in a few hours, with mem­bers in encrypt­ed chat forums open­ly talk­ing about fir­ing shots and blam­ing it on the crowd. And oth­ers from out-of-state were ready to pack up and dri­ve to Min­neapo­lis. So we can be con­fi­dent that these protests were infused with these far right activists from the very first evening of protests:

    ...
    When protests against the police killing of George Floyd esca­lat­ed into clash­es between police and pro­test­ers on Tues­day night, a sig­nif­i­cant seg­ment of the booga­loo move­ment was elec­tri­fied.

    At 8:38 p.m., an anony­mous Dis­cord user iden­ti­fied as [MN-TC] Jimmydean338 post­ed in the #SOS chan­nel for the pri­vate Cit­i­zens Lib­er­ty Orga­ni­za­tion serv­er. The post dis­played a red but­ton inscribed with the words, “Send help!” fol­lowed by the address 3000 Min­neha­ha Ave., which is the loca­tion of the Min­neapo­lis Police 3rd Precinct. “Police open­ing fire on pro­test­ers breach­ing precinc [sic],” Jimmydean338 wrote. “Not a drill.”

    At about 11:30, the Big Igloo Bois Face­book group post­ed a pho­to of a young man hold­ing the trade­mark booga­loo flag depict­ing an igloo and palm tree in the protests.

    ...

    Ben­jamin Ryan Teeter, a res­i­dent of the coastal com­mu­ni­ty of Hamp­stead in south­east­ern North Car­oli­na, reshared the red but­ton pan­el post­ed by Jimmydean338 on his Face­book page at 11:44 p.m., writ­ing, “Lock and load boys. Boog flags are in the air, and the nation­al net­work is going off.”

    Teeter, who is active in the North Car­oli­na Lib­er­tar­i­an Par­ty and has par­tic­i­pat­ed in week­ly armed excur­sions through down­town Raleigh with a group orga­nized through the Blue Igloo Face­book group over the four weeks alert­ed his friends that he would be dri­ving, not fly­ing to Min­neapo­lis.

    ...

    Anoth­er pri­vate Dis­cord serv­er set up for booga­loo users — named “We should all Led(better)” — had des­ig­nat­ed spe­cial chan­nels for dif­fer­ent func­tions: #on-scene-only (for users on the ground), #off-scene-intel (for remote users shar­ing infor­ma­tion), and #loca­tion-want-to-repond (for users across the coun­try to coor­di­nate trav­el to Min­neapo­lis).

    ...

    A user iden­ti­fied as “Ter­ror­wave Refine” mes­saged at 11:59 p.m. on Tues­day: “Booga­loo boys are report­ed­ly on [sic] place. If some­one real­ly want­ed to kick off the booga­loo, now would be a fine time to fire some shots and frame the crowd around you as respon­si­ble.”
    ...

    Also recall then when antifas­cist activist Daryle Lam­ont Jenk­ins warns us of the 2015 inci­dent when a far right group fired shots at a Black Lives Mat­ter (BLM) protest in Min­neapo­lis, that was­n’t just an inci­dent involv­ing a far right group approach­ing the BLM pro­tes­tors and fir­ing shots. They had pre­vi­ous­ly showed up at the protests pre­tend­ing to be sup­port­ers. And around that same time, an Oath Keep­er mem­ber was found try­ing to hand out AR-15 rifles to BLM pro­tes­tors at a par­al­lel protest in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri. So this far right tac­tic of infil­trat­ing police bru­tal­i­ty protests in the hopes of stok­ing more vio­lence has been going on for a while:

    ...
    Jenk­ins not­ed that Min­neapo­lis has rocky track record with armed white men inter­pos­ing them­selves in protests against police bru­tal­i­ty: In 2015, five peo­ple at a Black Lives Mat­ter protest were shot, result­ing in non-life-threat­en­ing injuries. A white man from Bloom­ing­ton named Allen Scarsel­la was lat­er con­vict­ed in the shoot­ings.
    ...

    So we’ll see how much suc­cess the boola­goo move­ment has at form­ing alliances with groups they want to even­tu­al­ly go to war with. Maybe their joint open loathing of the police will be enough. But, of course, we can’t ignore the fact that these far right groups aren’t opposed to use of force by gov­ern­ment author­i­ties, espe­cial­ly when it’s used against per­ceived ene­mies. They’re only against the use of force against fel­low far right groups. That’s why they’re so keen on vig­i­lante jus­tice and they ask­ing to be dep­u­tized and giv­en pow­er by the state to enforce their own form of jus­tice. When Ammon Bundy waged his armed stand­off in Ore­gon they kept talk­ing about form­ing cit­i­zen grand juries with the pow­er to hang pub­lic offi­cials for trea­son because that’s the ulti­mate plan: bring about a civ­il war/race war and then exe­cute all of their polit­i­cal ene­mies. Pret­ty author­i­tar­i­an stuff.

    And as the fol­low­ing Buz­zFeed arti­cle describes, it was that exact far right dream meme — of hav­ing mili­tias go and round up and exe­cute all of their polit­i­cal ene­mies — that Pres­i­dent Trump just amplied Thurs­day morn­ing when he retweet­ed a post by a local New Mex­i­co GOP offi­cial. This offi­cial, Couy Grif­fin, an Otero Coun­ty, New Mex­i­co, com­mis­sion­er, also hap­pens to be a mem­ber of “Cow­boys for Trump.” So what did this offi­cial say that Trump decid­ed to retweet? Well, dur­ing an anti-COVID-lock­down protest ral­ly, Couy decid­ed to declare that “I’ve come to a place where I’ve come to the con­clu­sion that the only good Demo­c­rat is a dead Demo­c­rat,” to cheers and applause. And as we’re going to see, Grif­fin is unam­bigu­ous­ly of ‘sov­er­eign cit­i­zen’ vari­ety with a his­to­ry of encour­age local law enforce­ment to go to war with state police. That’s who Trump decid­ed to retweet on Thurs­day morn­ing, hours before his “when the loot­ing starts the shoot­ing starts” tweet:

    Buz­zFeed News

    Gab­by Gif­fords’ Group Con­demned Trump For Shar­ing A Video Say­ing “The Only Good Demo­c­rat Is A Dead Demo­c­rat”

    Gif­fords was almost killed by a gun­man in 2011 when she was a Demo­c­rat rep­re­sent­ing Ari­zona in Con­gress.

    Julia Rein­stein Buz­zFeed News Reporter

    Last updat­ed on May 28, 2020, at 5:56 p.m. ET
    Post­ed on May 28, 2020, at 4:20 p.m. ET

    Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump retweet­ed a video on Thurs­day in which a sup­port­er said that “the only good Demo­c­rat is a dead Demo­c­rat,” earn­ing the con­dem­na­tion of promi­nent Democ­rats — includ­ing the anti–gun vio­lence group found­ed by Gab­by Gif­fords, the for­mer Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­ber of Con­gress who was almost assas­si­nat­ed by a gun­man in 2011.

    Peter Ambler, cofounder of Gif­fords’ orga­ni­za­tion, told Buz­zFeed News the US had already “seen the dead­ly con­se­quences of the twin threats of hate­ful rhetoric and loose gun laws.”

    “My home­town of El Paso suf­fered a hor­rif­ic tragedy because a man moti­vat­ed by hate drove 10 hours to slaugh­ter Lati­nos with a gun,” Ambler said. “We’ve already seen armed men enter state cap­i­tals in attempts to intim­i­date law­mak­ers nav­i­gat­ing pan­dem­ic response.”

    “Trump’s encour­age­ment of vio­lence, harass­ment, and intol­er­ance is a threat to our core demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions, and it’s going to result in fur­ther vio­lence and tragedy,” he said. “It must end now.”

    In the video shared by the pres­i­dent, which was post­ed Wednes­day by the account “Cow­boys for Trump,” Couy Grif­fin, an Otero Coun­ty, New Mex­i­co, com­mis­sion­er, can be heard speak­ing at a ral­ly against the state’s restric­tions to slow the spread of the coro­n­avirus.

    The May 17 protest in the city of Truth or Con­se­quences was held after a local church received a cease-and-desist order for ille­gal­ly hold­ing in-per­son ser­vices, accord­ing to NM Polit­i­cal Report.

    “I’ve come to a place where I’ve come to the con­clu­sion that the only good Demo­c­rat is a dead Demo­c­rat,” Grif­fin says in the record­ed speech, to cheers and applause.

    Thank you Cow­boys. See you in New Mex­i­co! https://t.co/aCRJeskUA8— Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2020

    After the cheers die down, Grif­fin then adds that he does not mean that “in the phys­i­cal sense.”

    “I don’t say that in the phys­i­cal sense, and I can already see the videos get­ting edit­ed where it says I wan­na go mur­der Democ­rats,” Grif­fin says. “No, I say that in the polit­i­cal sense, because the Demo­c­ra­t­ic agen­da and pol­i­cy is anti-Amer­i­can right now.”

    Trump retweet­ed the Cow­boys for Trump video at mid­night on Thurs­day, say­ing, “Thank you Cow­boys. See you in New Mex­i­co!”

    In response to ques­tions about the tweet, a White House spokesman told Buz­zFeed News the pres­i­dent con­demns vio­lence.

    “The Pres­i­dent and the entire admin­is­tra­tion con­demn vio­lence in all forms as we have stat­ed many times,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in an email.

    Grif­fin was pho­tographed meet­ing Trump in the Oval Office in Feb­ru­ary, report­ed­ly after he and a group of sup­port­ers rode horse­back from Cum­ber­land, Mary­land, to Wash­ing­ton, DC, in sup­port of Trump’s dec­la­ra­tion of a nation­al emer­gency to build a wall along the US–Mexico bor­der.

    ...

    In an inter­view with ABC‑7, Grif­fin said he would not resign.

    “If their demand was war­rant­ed, then I would con­sid­er it,” Grif­fin said. “But their demand for me to step down because of that instance in which I said ‘the only good Demo­c­rat is a dead demo­c­rat’ when I was talk­ing about pol­i­tics to begin with — I believe it’s unwar­rant­ed.”

    In an inter­view with the Dai­ly Beast, Grif­fin admit­ted he should have cho­sen his words bet­ter.

    “I could’ve cho­sen a dif­fer­ent ver­biage, you know. I guess I need to be more care­ful when I choose the words that I speak,” Grif­fin said. “But you know, it’s just so hyp­o­crit­i­cal of the left how they’re blow­ing this up, like I’m some hate-speech mur­der­er.”

    But Grif­fin also said he would not rule out vio­lence as a tac­tic for the reopen­ing protests.

    “I’ll tell you what, part­ner, as far as I’m con­cerned, there’s not an option that’s not on the table,” Grif­fin said.

    He also repeat­ed to the Dai­ly Beast that “the only good Demo­c­rat is a dead Demo­c­ra­t­ic,” and said he thinks some Democ­rats, includ­ing Vir­ginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Michi­gan Gov. Gretchen Whit­mer, could be guilty of trea­son and even sug­gest­ed they be pun­ished by exe­cu­tion for it.

    “You get to pick your poi­son: You either go before a fir­ing squad, or you get the end of the rope,” Grif­fin said.

    Grif­fin has a his­to­ry of call­ing for vio­lence and the exe­cu­tion of Democ­rats.

    Accord­ing to KRWG, he has repeat­ed­ly said Democ­rats should be hanged for “trea­son” and has said laws requir­ing masks could result in “civ­il war.”

    ...

    ————

    “Gab­by Gif­fords’ Group Con­demned Trump For Shar­ing A Video Say­ing “The Only Good Demo­c­rat Is A Dead Demo­c­rat”” by Julia Rein­stein; Buz­zFeed News; 05/28/2020

    ““I’ve come to a place where I’ve come to the con­clu­sion that the only good Demo­c­rat is a dead Demo­c­rat,” Grif­fin says in the record­ed speech, to cheers and applause.”

    Those were the words Grif­fin speaks ear­ly on in the video Trump decid­ed to retweet Thurs­day morn­ing. And while Grif­fin goes on to clar­i­fy that he was­n’t talk­ing about dead “in the phys­i­cal sense”, we have to keep in mind how this entire move­ment to stoke a civ­il con­flict is root­ed in code words and trolling. That’s how it’s done in plain sight. Just say you were jok­ing or did­n’t real­ly mean you want to kill peo­ple to dis­tract the pub­lic from all of the pre­vi­ous com­ments that are very explic­it about killing peo­ple while the tar­get audi­ence goes on to hear those explic­it mes­sages. That’s the tac­tic at work here and it was just mas­sive­ly ampli­fied by the pres­i­dent yes­ter­day:

    ...
    After the cheers die down, Grif­fin then adds that he does not mean that “in the phys­i­cal sense.”

    “I don’t say that in the phys­i­cal sense, and I can already see the videos get­ting edit­ed where it says I wan­na go mur­der Democ­rats,” Grif­fin says. “No, I say that in the polit­i­cal sense, because the Demo­c­ra­t­ic agen­da and pol­i­cy is anti-Amer­i­can right now.”

    ...

    But Grif­fin also said he would not rule out vio­lence as a tac­tic for the reopen­ing protests.

    “I’ll tell you what, part­ner, as far as I’m con­cerned, there’s not an option that’s not on the table,” Grif­fin said.

    He also repeat­ed to the Dai­ly Beast that “the only good Demo­c­rat is a dead Demo­c­ra­t­ic,” and said he thinks some Democ­rats, includ­ing Vir­ginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Michi­gan Gov. Gretchen Whit­mer, could be guilty of trea­son and even sug­gest­ed they be pun­ished by exe­cu­tion for it.

    “You get to pick your poi­son: You either go before a fir­ing squad, or you get the end of the rope,” Grif­fin said.
    ...

    And now here’s that KRWG arti­cle with more Couy Grif­f­en quotes, all from the past cou­ple of months. Quotes call­ing for local police to go to war with state pol­i­cy if COVID-lock­down orders are enforced. And quotes ask­ing for the local police to dep­u­tize Grif­fin and his fel­low mili­tia mem­bers to help wage that war:

    KRWG

    Com­men­tary: Com­mis­sion­er Couy Grif­fin Has A Long His­to­ry of Vio­lent Speech Against Democ­rats

    By DPNM • May 20, 2020

    Com­men­tary: Otero Coun­ty Com­mis­sion­er Couy Grif­fin on Sun­day claimed that “the only good Demo­c­rat is a dead Demo­c­rat” dur­ing an event in Truth or Con­se­quences. His com­ments have been wide­ly con­demned by elect­ed offi­cials, can­di­dates, and polit­i­cal groups, who have called on him to apol­o­gize and resign. GOP lead­ers, how­ev­er, have remained silent on the inci­dent.

    Com­mis­sion­er Grif­fin is resist­ing calls for his res­ig­na­tion, but this threat­en­ing lan­guage is the lat­est in a long his­to­ry of vio­lent polit­i­cal speech.

    ...

    BACKGROUND ON OTERO COUNTY COMMISSIONER COUY GRIFFIN’S HISTORY OF INCITING POLITICAL VIOLENCE:

    GRIFFIN HAS REPEATEDLY ENCOURAGED HANGING OR EXECUTION FOR “TRAITORS” SUCH AS DEMOCRATIC LEADERS AND POLITICIANS

    Grif­fin: “I Don’t Care If You Are A Gov­er­nor, You Can Still Swing At The End Of A Rope.” If there’s polit­i­cal lead­ers such as governors...y’all bet­ter start pay­ing real close atten­tion, because we’re mov­ing to you. And you bet­ter make sure that you haven’t been doing any­thing where you would be guilty of the charge of trea­son, because I don’t care if you are a gov­er­nor, you can still swing at the end of a rope.” 4/20/20

    Grif­fin Con­tin­ued To Call For The Death Penal­ty For “Trea­so­nous” Politi­cians Who Are Under­min­ing The Pres­i­dent. “If we have polit­i­cal lead­ers in our coun­try today... that are guilty of trea­son, which is to direct­ly under­mine the Unit­ed States of America...such things like the Mueller Report… all this fake stuff that was con­struct­ed to try to destroy our pres­i­dent and in turn bring our nation down in my opin­ion is trea­son in its truest form. Trea­son is pun­ish­able by death.” 4/20/20

    Grif­fin Said Democ­rats Are Guilty Of Trea­son, Which He Referred To As “A Hang­ing Offense.” “They’re gonna milk this coro­n­avirus deal as long as they pos­si­bly can...Maybe they’re doing it because some of them might be guilty of trea­son, and trea­sons a hang­ing offense. I don’t know why they’re doing it, but they’re doing it, and we can’t let them win. We’ve got­ta fight back; we’ve got­ta push back.” 4/26/20

    Grif­fin On Twit­ter: “There Will Come A Day When Pol­i­tics Won’t Be Able To Hide Trea­so­nous Acts. Hang Em High Mr. Pres­i­dent!” 5/10/20

    GRIFFIN HAS SPOKEN ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF CIVIL WAR AND THE NEED FOR POSSES AND MILITIAS IN ORDER TO ADDRESS POLITICAL CONFLICTS

    Grif­fin Called On NM Coun­ty Sher­iffs To “Hold The Line” Against Red Flag Laws And Vol­un­teered Him­self And Oth­ers For Any “Poss­es” That Were Nec­es­sary For Upcom­ing “Bat­tles.” “Draw the hard line, hold it, God bless you. And if you need any patri­ots all you got­ta to do is call and we’ll come run­ning. We’ll sign up for what­ev­er poss­es you want us to sign up for. We’ll stand in any bat­tles that you want to lead us into...We will stand with you. We will stand shoul­der to shoul­der with you through any bat­tle that you choose to lead us into.” 5/8/20

    Grif­fin Told State Police Offi­cers Gov­er­nor Lujan Grisham Not To “Start A War” By Enforc­ing Stay At Home Orders. “I ask you state police offi­cers — I hope you watch this video; I hope it’s shared with the gov­er­nor — don’t start a war. Don’t come out and think you’re gong to shut busi­ness­es down...because if you do, I’d be will­ing to bet the rent that Sher­iff Tony Mace and his deputies are going to make sure that doesn’t hap­pen.4/26/20

    Grif­fin Called For For­ma­tion Of “An Army” Through NM Fish And Game Email Lists. “If a man wants to put an army togeth­er, that’s where you would put it togeth­er at, through all of our hunters. Y’all are the guys that can pro­tect our bor­ders and get our Coun­try back. That’s why that email list is so crit­i­cal. That’s why it does­nt need to get in the hands of some glob­al­ist.” 3/28/20

    Grif­fin Called For A “Sheriff’s Posse” To Push Back Against New Mex­i­co State Police. “Don’t allow the state police to oper­ate inside of your coun­ty uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly. And if y’all don’t have enough deputies to get the job done, call on us, because there’s a lot of us ready. Form a sheriff’s posse. We’re ready. I’d rather push back now than lat­er.5/3/20

    GRIFFIN HAS USED THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC TO ENCOURAGE FURTHER POLITICAL VIOLENCE AND CONFLICT

    Grif­fin Claimed That Vio­lence And Loot­ing Was Com­ing As A Con­se­quence Of COVID-19. “As we see our nation sit at rest I believe that we could see a huge unrest in our nation soon. My biggest fear is riot­ing and loot­ing in our big cities. If it does, that could be much more of a threat than the coro­n­avirus.” 3/31/20

    Grif­fin Pro­mot­ed A Pos­si­ble Civ­il War Between Mask Wear­ers And Non-mask Wear­ers. “It might be a lead up to a civ­il war and if we do have a civ­il war over this, maybe that’s gonna be the uni­forms. Maybe one of the uni­forms will have masks on and the oth­er ones won’t.” 5/3/20

    Grif­fin Pro­mot­ed on Face­book a Poten­tial Civ­il War Between the NM State Police And Coun­ty Sher­iffs. “This “pan­dem­ic” could lead us to a civ­il war! We must stand behind our Coun­ty Sher­iffs and guard our Con­sti­tu­tion at any cost! The State Police and his admin­is­tra­tion are appoint­ed. Our Coun­ty Sher­iffs are elect­ed. Our Found­ing Fathers were bril­liant vision­ar­ies! They gave us a thresh­old to stand on. It is time to stand!” 4/30/20

    Grif­fin Said On Twit­ter That Con­flict Over Stay At Home Orders “Can End Peace­ful Or Stronger Stands Can Be Tak­en.” Please pray for our Coun­ty Sher­iffs. They are need­ed to stand strong in their oath to the Con­sti­tu­tion. This can end peace­ful or stronger stands can be tak­en. But Amer­i­ca can­not nor will not allow our Con­sti­tu­tion to be tak­en from us. And our Sher­iffs are still “LawOfThe­Land” 4/30/20

    ———-

    “Com­men­tary: Com­mis­sion­er Couy Grif­fin Has A Long His­to­ry of Vio­lent Speech Against Democ­rats” by DPNM; KRWG; 05/20/2020

    Grif­fin Called On NM Coun­ty Sher­iffs To “Hold The Line” Against Red Flag Laws And Vol­un­teered Him­self And Oth­ers For Any “Poss­es” That Were Nec­es­sary For Upcom­ing “Bat­tles.” “Draw the hard line, hold it, God bless you. And if you need any patri­ots all you got­ta to do is call and we’ll come run­ning. We’ll sign up for what­ev­er poss­es you want us to sign up for. We’ll stand in any bat­tles that you want to lead us into...We will stand with you. We will stand shoul­der to shoul­der with you through any bat­tle that you choose to lead us into.” 5/8/20

    Vol­un­teer­ing him­self and oth­ers to form a poss­es to help fight upcom­ing “bat­tles”. Bat­tles appar­ent­ly with New Mex­i­co state police try­ing to enforce COVID lock­down orders. That’s what Couy Grif­f­en has been call­ing for, which is clas­sic sov­er­eign cit­i­zen ide­ol­o­gy:

    ...
    Grif­fin Told State Police Offi­cers Gov­er­nor Lujan Grisham Not To “Start A War” By Enforc­ing Stay At Home Orders. “I ask you state police offi­cers — I hope you watch this video; I hope it’s shared with the gov­er­nor — don’t start a war. Don’t come out and think you’re gong to shut busi­ness­es down...because if you do, I’d be will­ing to bet the rent that Sher­iff Tony Mace and his deputies are going to make sure that doesn’t hap­pen.4/26/20

    Grif­fin Called For For­ma­tion Of “An Army” Through NM Fish And Game Email Lists. “If a man wants to put an army togeth­er, that’s where you would put it togeth­er at, through all of our hunters. Y’all are the guys that can pro­tect our bor­ders and get our Coun­try back. That’s why that email list is so crit­i­cal. That’s why it does­nt need to get in the hands of some glob­al­ist.” 3/28/20

    Grif­fin Called For A “Sheriff’s Posse” To Push Back Against New Mex­i­co State Police. “Don’t allow the state police to oper­ate inside of your coun­ty uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly. And if y’all don’t have enough deputies to get the job done, call on us, because there’s a lot of us ready. Form a sheriff’s posse. We’re ready. I’d rather push back now than lat­er.5/3/20

    ...

    Grif­fin Pro­mot­ed on Face­book a Poten­tial Civ­il War Between the NM State Police And Coun­ty Sher­iffs. “This “pan­dem­ic” could lead us to a civ­il war! We must stand behind our Coun­ty Sher­iffs and guard our Con­sti­tu­tion at any cost! The State Police and his admin­is­tra­tion are appoint­ed. Our Coun­ty Sher­iffs are elect­ed. Our Found­ing Fathers were bril­liant vision­ar­ies! They gave us a thresh­old to stand on. It is time to stand!” 4/30/20
    ...

    As we can see, on the same day Trump threat­ened to send in the Nation­al Guard to shoot pro­tes­tors, he was retweet­ing and ampli­fy­ing a sov­er­eign cit­i­zen call for war between state and local author­i­ties and a broad­er call for civ­il war. And this is all hap­pen­ing as the Trump-aligned ‘booga­loo’ move­ment infil­trates these protests over police vio­lence with the inten­tion of stok­ing vio­lence and, sure enough, those protests explode. And that gives us a gen­er­al idea of Trumps 2020 reelec­tion strat­e­gy: Hel­ter Skel­ter. Because the accel­er­a­tionist neo-Nazis clear­ly aren’t the only ones tak­ing a page from Charles Man­son in 2020.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 29, 2020, 1:49 pm
  3. Well this is odd, although not real­ly unex­pect­ed sto­ry that poten­tial­ly relates to the reports of far right ‘booga­loo’ fig­ures infil­trat­ing the protests over the death of George Floyd: There are videos and reports of a Min­neapo­lis pro­tes­tor dress in all black wear­ing a pink gas mask and hold­ing an umbrel­la who was con­spic­u­ous­ly walk­ing around with a ham­mer and smash­ing the win­dows of Auto­zone store. It does­n’t appear to have been rain­ing at the time. This was sev­er­al hours before that Auto­zone build­ing went up in flames lat­er Wednes­day evening, which was the first build­ing to burn down dur­ing the protests of George Floy­d’s killing by a Min­neapo­lis police offi­cer.

    The iden­ti­ty of the man is unclear although there’s already sus­pi­cions that he’s a Min­neapo­lis police offi­cer. While there are claims that the offi­cer’s ex-wife has come out to say she believes the man in the videos is her ex-hus­band the police depart­ment has for­mal­ly denied its one of their offi­cers. Part of what added to the sus­pi­cion that the man was a police offi­cer is that idea that hold­ing an umbrel­la is a tac­tic to allow police heli­copters to iden­ti­fy under­cov­er offi­cers in the crowd. But as the fol­low­ing arti­cle notes, umbrel­las were also found to be use­ful in the face of tear gas and used wide­ly by pro­tes­tors in Hong Kong.

    Adding to the mys­tery is peo­ple point­ing out the odd “umbrel­la man” chap­ter of the JFK assas­si­na­tion, where a man unfurled an umbrel­la right at the moment and spot where JFK was shot in Dal­las and lat­er claimed it was part of a sym­bol­ic protest of the Kennedy fam­i­ly’s sup­port of Neville Cham­ber­lain’s appease­ment of Adolf Hitler. So there’s quite a range of pos­si­ble rea­sons some­one might have an umbrel­la at protest appar­ent­ly, from tac­ti­cal pur­pos­es to JFK assas­si­na­tion sym­bol­ism.

    But as the fol­low­ing Insid­er arti­cle points out, there’s anoth­er part of this that has almost like a play-act­ing the­atri­cal dimen­sion: In the videos where the man is casu­al­ly smash­ing the Auto­zone win­dows, a man in a pink shirt comes up to seem­ing­ly con­front the man before a sec­ond pro­tes­tor also comes up to con­front him. At point point they appear to be exchang­ing taunts with each oth­er, with the man in the pink shirt fol­low­ing the umbrel­la man after a crowd of pro­tes­tors starts fol­low­ing him. The umbrel­la man tells the man in the pink shirt some­thing like, “If you keep fol­low­ing me I’ll fight you right now”, and the guy in the pink shirt says, “you wan­na go? What’s up?”. But that man in the pink shirt is also pre­vi­ous­ly filmed walk­ing right along­side the umbrel­la man ear­li­er on in the protests so it seems like they’re togeth­er the whole time. That’s what gives their lat­er con­fronta­tion almost a the­atri­cal feel. At the same time, the man in the pink shirt isn’t was­n’t hid­ing his face at all and spoke on video to pro­tes­tors about the need for sus­tained reform efforts that go beyond imme­di­ate protests. So while it’s unclear if we’ll ever learn the iden­ti­ty of the umbrel­la man, we’ll prob­a­bly learn the iden­ti­ty of the guy in the pink shirt at some point. That should be inter­est­ing:

    Insid­er

    Rumors are swirling over footage show­ing a shad­owy fig­ure dubbed ‘umbrel­la man’ break­ing win­dows dur­ing the Min­neapo­lis protests

    Isaac Sch­er
    May 29, 2020, 12:08 PM

    * A viral video of a man break­ing win­dows in Min­neapo­lis, Min­neso­ta, has stirred up a fren­zy online.
    * The “umbrel­la man” took a ham­mer to sev­er­al Auto Zone win­dows on Wednes­day, hours before the store went up in flames.
    * Some users spec­u­late he is an “agent provo­ca­teur,” or under­cov­er police offi­cer.
    * “The per­son in the video is not our offi­cer,” the St. Paul Police Depart­ment said in a social media state­ment.

    The man was wear­ing a gas mask. In one hand he held an umbrel­la, black like his cloth­ing. In the oth­er, a ham­mer.

    The man took the ham­mer to sev­er­al win­dows of an Auto­Zone store in Min­neapo­lis, Min­neso­ta, on Wednes­day, video footage shows. That was before the store was set on fire, and before flames engulfed much of the city dur­ing demon­stra­tions protest­ing the police killing of George Floyd.

    The footage went viral, and now the man is the sub­ject of scruti­ny on social media. Some peo­ple spec­u­late that he was not a pro­test­er, but a police offi­cer from neigh­bor­ing St. Paul.

    The St. Paul Police Depart­ment reject­ed the spec­u­la­tion: “The per­son in the video is not our offi­cer.” The Min­neapo­lis Police Depart­ment did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to a request for com­ment.

    The man was seen break­ing four win­dows before a pro­test­er, wear­ing a pink T‑shirt, inter­vened, step­ping between the man and the store­front. He broke anoth­er win­dow as a sec­ond per­son inter­vened.

    “Those cops will come for you if you’re pulling that crap,” Brad Sven­son, a Min­neapo­lis man who caught the inci­dent on video, said while record­ing. “That’s garbage, pulling that s—.”

    Anoth­er video on social media shows the pink T‑shirted man chas­ing the man away. “Guy just came with a ham­mer and smashed the win­dows,” said the woman who record­ed the scene.

    “Are you a f—ing cop?” some­one can be heard ask­ing the man.

    —mol­ly (@molllygurl) May 28, 2020

    But in anoth­er video, filmed the same day, the two men appear to be walk­ing and talk­ing togeth­er.

    —Thomas C. Lang (@ThomasCLang1) May 29, 2020

    The inci­dent has whipped up a social media fren­zy. Some users called the man an “agent provo­ca­teur.”

    Oth­ers claimed — with­out evi­dence — that the man’s umbrel­la is “a known tac­tic to let police heli­copters ID cops under­cov­er.” (That notion seems unlike­ly, giv­en that the umbrel­la would also iden­ti­fy a per­son just as eas­i­ly to pro­tes­tors.)

    Also, amid social unrest, umbrel­las are com­mon­ly used to ward off tear gas — notably in Hong Kong, dur­ing the 2014 “Umbrel­la Move­ment” and dur­ing protests over the past year.

    ...

    ———–

    “Rumors are swirling over footage show­ing a shad­owy fig­ure dubbed ‘umbrel­la man’ break­ing win­dows dur­ing the Min­neapo­lis protests” by Isaac Sch­er; Insid­er; 05/29/2020

    The man took the ham­mer to sev­er­al win­dows of an Auto­Zone store in Min­neapo­lis, Min­neso­ta, on Wednes­day, video footage shows. That was before the store was set on fire, and before flames engulfed much of the city dur­ing demon­stra­tions protest­ing the police killing of George Floyd

    It’s pret­ty unam­bigu­ous from the videos: no one at the protest appeared to rec­og­nize the umbrel­la man and sus­pi­cious about him were imme­di­ate. Except for one pro­tes­tor who did seem to have some sort of con­nec­tion to him: the man in the pink shirt who was filmed ear­li­er in the day walk­ing and talk­ing with him. And it’s the man in the pink shirt who is the first to con­front the umbrel­la man after pro­tes­tors turn on him for break­ing the Auto­zone win­dows. It’s all quite odd:

    ...
    Anoth­er video on social media shows the pink T‑shirted man chas­ing the man away. “Guy just came with a ham­mer and smashed the win­dows,” said the woman who record­ed the scene.

    “Are you a f—ing cop?” some­one can be heard ask­ing the man.

    —mol­ly (@molllygurl) May 28, 2020

    But in anoth­er video, filmed the same day, the two men appear to be walk­ing and talk­ing togeth­er.

    —Thomas C. Lang (@ThomasCLang1) May 29, 2020
    ...

    And now here’s a Forbes piece that men­tions the ‘Umbrel­la Man’ sym­bol­ism in rela­tion to the JFK assas­si­na­tion:

    Forbes

    Who Is ‘Umbrel­la Man’? Mys­tery Van­dal At Min­neapo­lis Riot Spurs Con­spir­a­cies

    Car­lie Porter­field Forbes Staff
    Busi­ness
    May 30, 2020,02:45pm EDT
    Updat­ed May 30, 2020, 04:54pm EDT

    KEY FACTS
    * The man first drew atten­tion Wednes­day, when he was filmed break­ing the win­dows of an Auto­Zone near the Min­neapo­lis Third Precinct as pro­test­ers appeared to look on in con­fu­sion before inter­ven­ing and ask­ing him if he was a police offi­cer.

    * The white man—decked out in an all-black out­fit, includ­ing a gas mask and hood­ie, and a black umbrella—stood out from pro­test­ers on the scene.

    * Even Min­neso­ta Attor­ney Gen­er­al Kei­th Elli­son post­ed the video and asked if any of his fol­low­ers could iden­ti­fy the man, adding he “doesn’t look like any civ­il rights [pro­test­er] I have ever seen.”

    * Rumors soon began to swirl that the man was actu­al­ly a police offi­cer from a neigh­bor­ing com­mu­ni­ty sent in as an “agent provo­ca­teur,” or even a mem­ber of the white suprema­cist move­ment look­ing to spark wide­spread vio­lence.

    * The police depart­ments in Saint Paul and Eagan, both com­mu­ni­ties near Min­neapo­lis, have put out state­ments deny­ing that one of their offi­cers was the per­son caught on video break­ing win­dows in Min­neapo­lis.

    * The spec­u­la­tion into Umbrel­la Man’s iden­ti­ty comes as Min­neapo­lis offi­cials sug­gest that grow­ing num­bers of people—including pos­si­ble white supremacists—on the streets show­ing destruc­tive behav­ior are not mem­bers of the com­mu­ni­ty and are com­ing to the city from out of state.

    This man doesn’t look like any civ­il rights pro­tes­tor I have ever seen. Looks like a provo­ca­teur. Can any­one ID him? “Sus­pi­cious Man Breaks Win­dow & Starts Min­neapo­lis Riots” — YouTube https://t.co/e1lNAabWcb— Kei­th Elli­son (@keithellison) May 28, 2020

    KEY BACKGROUND

    Min­neapo­lis offi­cials sug­gest that an increas­ing num­ber of peo­ple rioting—perhaps as many as 80%—are com­ing from out­side the city in what Min­neso­ta Gov. Tim Walz said was “an orga­nized attempt to desta­bi­lize civ­il soci­ety.” Walz has sug­gest­ed that white suprema­cists and drug car­tels were pos­si­bly involved in the chaos. Accord­ing to The Star Tri­bune, about 40 peo­ple were arrest­ed over Fri­day night, and that Hen­nepin Coun­ty jail records showed detainees hailed from states like Flori­da, Michi­gan, Mis­souri, Illi­nois and Alas­ka on charges like destroy­ing prop­er­ty, break­ing cur­few and bur­glary. On Sat­ur­day morn­ing, Saint Paul May­or Melvin Carter said he was told that every per­son arrest­ed in the city over Fri­day night was from out of state.

    TANGENT

    This isn’t the first time the mys­te­ri­ous iden­ti­ty of an Umbrel­la Man has whipped up spec­u­la­tion. In the wake of Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy’s 1963 assas­si­na­tion in Dal­las, a man seen hold­ing an umbrel­la as he stood near Dealey Plaza became the sub­ject of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries. Some spec­u­lat­ed he act­ed as a look­out and that his umbrel­la was a sig­nal to start shoot­ing, or that it con­tained some kind of weapon. But in 1978, the Umbrel­la Man came for­ward as Dal­las res­i­dent Louie Steven Witt, who tes­ti­fied he brought the umbrel­la to protest what he said was Nazi appease­ment on the part of the Kennedy fam­i­ly pri­or to World War II. Kennedy’s father and fam­i­ly patri­arch Joseph P Kennedy aligned him­self with British Prime Min­is­ter Neville Cham­ber­lain, who was known for car­ry­ing an umbrel­la. Umbrel­las were used as a sym­bol of crit­i­cism against Cham­ber­lain in the 1930’s for his appease­ment pol­i­cy toward Adolf Hitler.

    ————-

    “Who Is ‘Umbrel­la Man’? Mys­tery Van­dal At Min­neapo­lis Riot Spurs Con­spir­a­cies” by Car­lie Porter­field; Forbes; 05/30/2020

    “This isn’t the first time the mys­te­ri­ous iden­ti­ty of an Umbrel­la Man has whipped up spec­u­la­tion. In the wake of Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy’s 1963 assas­si­na­tion in Dal­las, a man seen hold­ing an umbrel­la as he stood near Dealey Plaza became the sub­ject of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries. Some spec­u­lat­ed he act­ed as a look­out and that his umbrel­la was a sig­nal to start shoot­ing, or that it con­tained some kind of weapon. But in 1978, the Umbrel­la Man came for­ward as Dal­las res­i­dent Louie Steven Witt, who tes­ti­fied he brought the umbrel­la to protest what he said was Nazi appease­ment on the part of the Kennedy fam­i­ly pri­or to World War II. Kennedy’s father and fam­i­ly patri­arch Joseph P Kennedy aligned him­self with British Prime Min­is­ter Neville Cham­ber­lain, who was known for car­ry­ing an umbrel­la. Umbrel­las were used as a sym­bol of crit­i­cism against Cham­ber­lain in the 1930’s for his appease­ment pol­i­cy toward Adolf Hitler.”

    As we can see, umbrel­las are high­ly use­ful props if send­ing high­ly con­fus­ing and con­tra­dic­to­ry sym­bol­ic mes­sag­ing is one of your protest goals. Maybe you have that umbrel­la to ward off the tear gas. Maybe it’s to noti­fy the pol­i­cy not to attack you. Or per­haps there’s some sort of con­fus­ing JFK-assas­si­na­tion-relat­ed sym­bol­ism at work. It’s worth keep­ing in mind that deploy­ing sym­bol­ism with high­ly con­tra­dic­to­ry inter­pre­ta­tions is a core aspect of the clas­sic trolling tac­tics that are now ubiq­ui­tous on the far right and at the core of Trumpian pol­i­tics and the main­stream­ing of far right memes and ideas.

    At the same time, when we hear Attor­ney Gen­er­al Kei­th Elli­son say:

    This man doesn’t look like any civ­il rights pro­tes­tor I have ever seen. Looks like a provo­ca­teur. Can any­one ID him? “Sus­pi­cious Man Breaks Win­dow & Starts Min­neapo­lis Riots” — YouTube https://t.co/e1lNAabWcb— Kei­th Elli­son (@keithellison) May 28, 2020

    We have to acknowl­edge that the umbrel­la man real­ly does look a lot a very typ­i­cal pro­tes­tor we’ve seen over and over at civ­il rights protests for decades now: He’s dressed exact­ly like Black Bloc anar­chists who rou­tine­ly show up at vir­tu­al­ly any left-lean­ing protest pre­cise­ly in order to break stuff, start fires, and spark vio­lence. And Black Bloc is, of course, one of those move­ments that’s absolute­ly per­fect for infil­tra­tors of all stripes. It’s a reminder of how wild­ly unhelp­ful the Black Bloc anar­chists are: if you want to dress up like a bad actor to just dress up like a Black Bloc anar­chist because if there’s a protest in the Unit­ed States you can be sure Black Bloc will show up even­tu­al­ly with their sig­na­ture black out­fits and masks. And that’s not even count­ing the very real far right influ­ences in the black com­mu­ni­ty via groups like the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood or the Nation of Islam, although in the case of the white ‘umbrel­la man’ he seems like an unlike­ly affil­i­ate with those groups. The point is that deal­ing with bad actors ped­dling awful coun­ter­pro­duc­tive advice has been one of the pri­ma­ry chal­lenges of the left in the US for a long time now and that leaves us with quite a long sus­pect list for the ori­gins of ‘umbrel­la man’.

    And that rais­es the ques­tion regard­ing the asser­tion by Min­neso­ta gov­er­nor Tim Walz that 80 per­cent of the peo­ple arrest­ed for prop­er­ty dam­age came from out of state: so how many of them were Black Bloc? How about far right ‘booga­loo’ move­ment mem­bers? Are author­i­ties going to be able to deter­mine the affil­i­a­tions of the arrestees and will that infor­ma­tion even­tu­al­ly be released? We’ll see, but with the Nation­al Guard now being called in to there could be a lot more arrests com­ing up so it’s going to be inter­est­ing to see if we even­tu­al­ly get to learn about the ide­o­log­i­cal make­up of those arrest­ed for arson and oth­er sig­nif­i­cant crimes of that nature:

    Star Tri­bune

    Gov. Tim Walz: We’re ‘under assault’ from out­side agi­ta­tors
    The gov­er­nor cites the pres­ence out­side agi­ta­tors “to desta­bi­lize civ­il soci­ety.”

    By Patrick Con­don
    MAY 30, 2020 — 4:13PM

    Shak­en by anoth­er night of chaos that over­whelmed law enforce­ment, Gov. Tim Walz said Sat­ur­day he will ful­ly mobi­lize the Nation­al Guard to com­bat what he called a “tight­ly con­trolled” group of out­side agi­ta­tors, some of them from out of state, who have turned city streets into scenes of loot­ing and arson.

    The strug­gle to con­trol the may­hem could bring anoth­er 1,000 Nation­al Guard sol­diers into the cities, sup­ple­ment­ing a force of 700, already the largest civ­il polic­ing author­i­ty in the state’s his­to­ry. Law enforce­ment offi­cials said it would be the first full mobi­liza­tion of the Guard in Min­neso­ta since World War II.

    “Our cities of Min­neapo­lis and St. Paul are under assault,” Walz said, sug­gest­ing that a grow­ing num­ber of riot­ers are com­ing from out­side the city, and pos­si­bly out­side the state, in what he called “an orga­nized attempt to desta­bi­lize civ­il soci­ety.”

    Walz said as many as 80% of the peo­ple caus­ing destruc­tion and fire in the cities could be from else­where. He dis­tin­guished the wan­ton loot­ing and van­dal­ism from the legit­i­mate and most­ly peace­ful protests that began Tues­day, the day after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died at the hands of Min­neapo­lis police.

    It was not clear if the out­side groups sus­pect­ed to be play­ing a part in the may­hem are made up of white suprema­cist agi­ta­tors, left wing anar­chists, or both.

    At a news con­fer­ence just after noon Sat­ur­day, Min­neso­ta elect­ed offi­cials and faith lead­ers urged peo­ple to abide by the cur­few. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D‑Minn., asked peo­ple to stay home tonight instead of tak­ing to the streets: “We can­not move for­ward when peo­ple are burn­ing down our city, burn­ing down our state. That’s what we are unit­ed behind here today.”

    Emil­ia Gon­za­lez Ava­l­os, exec­u­tive direc­tor of Nav­i­gate MN, said the peo­ple from the out­side who burned down more build­ings around Lake Street last night came to “cause more harm and pain in places where there’s already harm and pain.”

    Said U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, D‑Minn.: “I stand here with anger at the evil that is destroy­ing, burn­ing and des­e­crat­ing the com­mu­ni­ty we love so much.”

    Author­i­ties said they made about 40 arrests overnight in Min­neapo­lis and St. Paul, most­ly for bur­glary, cur­few vio­la­tions and destruc­tion of prop­er­ty. Hen­nepin Coun­ty jail logs showed detainees from Flori­da, Michi­gan, Mis­souri, Illi­nois and Alas­ka.

    Walz said that while the agi­ta­tors have got­ten the atten­tion they want, he vowed that by Sat­ur­day night “they are going to get an over­whelm­ing force of safe­ty, secu­ri­ty and peace.”

    Walz ordered anoth­er tem­po­rary cur­few start­ing at 8 p.m. Sat­ur­day and said peace­ful pro­test­ers and oth­ers who remained out­side after that would be “aid­ing and abet­ting” van­dals who use the crowds as cov­er.

    Walz’s announce­ment came after a third night of vio­lent protests and loot­ing, despite an overnight cur­few fol­low­ing the arrest of Min­neapo­lis police offi­cer Derek Chau­vin, who faces mur­der charges in Floyd’s death, cap­tured on video beamed around the world.

    The vio­lence spread rapid­ly until just before mid­night and into ear­ly Sat­ur­day, when hun­dreds of police offi­cers, state troop­ers and armed Nation­al Guard troops fanned out into areas of van­dal­ism and arson, con­fronting riot­ers with tear gas and orders to dis­perse.

    The con­tin­u­ing hav­oc, which has spread to cities across Amer­i­ca, has prompt­ed rounds of recrim­i­na­tion and fin­ger-point­ing among state and local lead­ers about the law enforce­ment response, which in many parts of Min­neapo­lis had seemed all but unde­tectable ear­li­er Fri­day night.

    Walz sought to calm the pro­test­ers ear­li­er in a 1:30 a.m. news con­fer­ence with Min­neapo­lis May­or Jacob Frey, both mak­ing emo­tion­al appeals to end the vio­lence.

    “The absolute chaos — this is not griev­ing, and this is not mak­ing a state­ment [about an injus­tice] that we ful­ly acknowl­edge needs to be fixed — this is dan­ger­ous,” Walz said. “You need to go home.”

    Walz said he had talked to Floyd’s fam­i­ly and that they agreed what was hap­pen­ing in Min­neapo­lis was hor­rif­ic and coun­ter­pro­duc­tive.

    The DFL gov­er­nor has come under fire from Repub­li­cans in the Leg­is­la­ture call­ing for a more robust response. “They need to show the force, not have every­thing hid­den behind the scenes,” said Sen­ate Minor­i­ty Leader Paul Gazel­ka, R‑East Gull Lake. “I’m glad that they called the cur­few, but when peo­ple vio­late the cur­few you have to arrest them.”

    Walz and the may­ors of Min­neapo­lis and St. Paul acknowl­edged that police, state patrol and Nation­al Guard sol­diers were over­whelmed the past two nights by the extent of the riot­ing and van­dal­ism, which State Pub­lic Safe­ty Com­mis­sion­er John Har­ring­ton esti­mat­ed to involve “tens of thou­sands” of peo­ple.

    Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, adju­tant gen­er­al of the Min­neso­ta Nation­al Guard, said that despite the largest show of force in state his­to­ry Fri­day night, “it was not enough.” He said the governor’s full deploy­ment order would mean “the Min­neso­ta Nation­al Guard is all in.”

    Walz said he also has been in touch with mil­i­tary author­i­ties in Wash­ing­ton to dis­cuss logis­ti­cal and intel­li­gence sup­port as author­i­ties work to regain con­trol of the streets in Min­neapo­lis and St. Paul.

    ...

    ———–

    “Gov. Tim Walz: We’re ‘under assault’ from out­side agi­ta­tors” by Patrick Con­don; Star Tri­bune; 05/30/2020

    “The strug­gle to con­trol the may­hem could bring anoth­er 1,000 Nation­al Guard sol­diers into the cities, sup­ple­ment­ing a force of 700, already the largest civ­il polic­ing author­i­ty in the state’s his­to­ry. Law enforce­ment offi­cials said it would be the first full mobi­liza­tion of the Guard in Min­neso­ta since World War II.

    The first full mobi­liza­tion of the Guard in Min­neso­ta since World War II. That’s what is now under­way. And accord­ing to Gov­er­nor Walz, as many as 80% of the peo­ple caus­ing destruc­tion and fire in the cities could be from else­where:

    ...
    “Our cities of Min­neapo­lis and St. Paul are under assault,” Walz said, sug­gest­ing that a grow­ing num­ber of riot­ers are com­ing from out­side the city, and pos­si­bly out­side the state, in what he called “an orga­nized attempt to desta­bi­lize civ­il soci­ety.”

    Walz said as many as 80% of the peo­ple caus­ing destruc­tion and fire in the cities could be from else­where. He dis­tin­guished the wan­ton loot­ing and van­dal­ism from the legit­i­mate and most­ly peace­ful protests that began Tues­day, the day after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died at the hands of Min­neapo­lis police.

    It was not clear if the out­side groups sus­pect­ed to be play­ing a part in the may­hem are made up of white suprema­cist agi­ta­tors, left wing anar­chists, or both.

    ...

    Author­i­ties said they made about 40 arrests overnight in Min­neapo­lis and St. Paul, most­ly for bur­glary, cur­few vio­la­tions and destruc­tion of prop­er­ty. Hen­nepin Coun­ty jail logs showed detainees from Flori­da, Michi­gan, Mis­souri, Illi­nois and Alas­ka.
    ...

    “It was not clear if the out­side groups sus­pect­ed to be play­ing a part in the may­hem are made up of white suprema­cist agi­ta­tors, left wing anar­chists, or both.”

    Don’t for­get: a big part of what makes the left wing anar­chists so trou­ble­some is half of them are prob­a­bly under­cov­er agents or far right infil­tra­tors. That’s just the nature of these groups. Plus, being gen­uine anar­chists just makes them unhelp­ful in gen­er­al whether they’re left wing or right wing anar­chists. It’s one of those schools of pol­i­tics that’s just not ground­ed in real­i­ty whether it’s well-inten­tioned or not.

    And that points towards one of the major chal­lenges this round of protest move­ments are clear­ly going to have going for­ward: stay­ing ground­ed in the real­i­ty of the orig­i­nal pur­pose of the protests. What start­ed off as a high­ly sym­pa­thet­ic protest over a man being unam­bigu­ous­ly and casu­al­ly mur­dered on the streets by police is in the process of being suc­cess­ful­ly rede­fined as a cri­sis over chaot­ic destruc­tion and arson. A repeat­ing cycle of protest root­ed in rage and des­per­a­tion, inci­dents of vio­lence and destruc­tion fol­lowed by a police response(often over-response), more rage and des­per­a­tion, and now the Nation­al Guard is being called him. And there are so many pos­si­ble bad actors influ­enc­ing or try­ing to speak for these protests we have no idea who is actu­al­ly doing what. It’s a big reminder that the bad actors oper­at­ing in bad faith — whether they are fake pro­tes­tors, mis­guid­ed anar­chists, ‘boola­gloo’ neo-Nazis, or the kind of bad cops who mur­der cit­i­zens in cold blood — are one group we all should be protest­ing against.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 30, 2020, 4:02 pm
  4. @Pterrafractyl–

    Again, great work!

    In my fifth decade on the air, one gets a bit of a sixth sense about such things.

    In addi­tion to the grow­ing con­vic­tion that we are see­ing a man­i­fes­ta­tion of “Ass­holes for Trump,” I have a lit­tle bird whis­per­ing in my ear that some of these out-of-state ele­ments may have done some train­ing with Azov or some sim­i­lar ele­ments.

    In any event, this will cer­tain­ly ben­e­fit Trump and the far right.

    I close with the reminder that, before the trou­ble began, Al Sharp­ton (FBI and CIA links) and Jive Jesse (Jack­son), whose piv­otal role in mur­der­ing Mar­tin Luther King is high­light­ed in both FTR #46 and FTR #1005, decamped for Min­neapo­lis.

    http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-46-orders-to-kill/

    http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-1005-what-the-hell-does-dave-emory-mean-by-the-so-called-progressive-sector/

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | May 30, 2020, 8:07 pm
  5. @Everybody–

    The footage of the Floyd arrest/death speaks for itself.

    What may be more dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to grasp is why I have termed the Covid-19 “op” a “bio-psy-op apoc­a­lypse.”

    What you are see­ing is why.

    Get peo­ple ter­ri­fied for their eco­nom­ic future (jus­ti­fi­ably), ter­ri­fied of some­thing they can’t see but that can kill them (a virus), social­ly iso­late them from nec­es­sary human con­tact (includ­ing sex­u­al inter­ac­tion), then infu­ri­ate them and–watch the fire­works!

    Sad­ly, peo­ple don’t seem to be able to learn from the past. It does­n’t sur­prise me that there are report­ed white suprema­cists, along with agents prova­ca­teurs and the usu­al cast of Black Bloc morons, along with infu­ri­at­ed black folks.

    One can only won­der if the riot­ers can grasp that this is going to ben­e­fit Trump?

    It is a sure bet that the Booga­loo neo-Nazis et al do.

    THAT is why they are doing what they are doing.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | May 31, 2020, 7:20 pm
  6. @Dave-

    Yes the zom­bie apoc­a­lypse stag­gers on with those who sim­ply do not die. Jack­son, who moved MLK to the upstairs bal­cony room at the Lor­raine
    Motel to be assas­si­nat­ed, and FBI infor­mant Sharp­ton whose doomed 2004 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign was fund­ed by Nixon acolyte (and Trump advi­sor)
    Roger Stone still walk the earth.

    But oth­er old hands have sud­den­ly been maneu­vered into place as well.

    Kei­th Elli­son, AG of Min­neso­ta, has just been appoint­ed by the gov­er­nor to lead the pros­e­cu­tion in George Floy­d’s mur­der. Elli­son used to belong to
    the Nation of Islam and was an orga­niz­er for the vile racist and anti-semi­te Louis Far­rakhan’s 1995 Mil­lion Man March. Far­rakhan has long been viewed
    as a per­son of inter­est in the assas­si­na­tion of Mal­colm X yet Elli­son once described Far­rakhan as a role mod­el for black youth.

    And War­ren Com­mis­sion defend­er Michael Baden per­formed a sec­ond autop­sy at the request of the Floyd fam­i­ly attor­ney con­clud­ing that Floyd died
    of homi­cide by asphyx­ia. This con­clu­sion con­tra­dicts the Min­neapo­lis med­ical exam­in­er’s report which found no trau­mat­ic asphyx­ia or stran­gu­la­tion.
    Defence coun­sel for any police offi­cers charged will nat­u­ral­ly exploit these two con­tra­dic­to­ry reports at tri­al. Are Elli­son and Baden capa­ble of bring­ing
    jus­tice for Floyd or will they fum­ble this police mur­der bad­ly lead­ing to more despair and dis­gust with Amer­i­ca’s bro­ken legal sys­tem?

    Time will tell but I’m not hope­ful and if they blow it that will just mean more vio­lence and more oppres­sion.

    The Kennedys, KIng, Mal­colm are long gone but zom­bies like Jack­son, Sharp­ton, Far­rakhan, Stone, Elli­son and Baden stag­ger on.

    Posted by Dennis | June 1, 2020, 6:26 pm
  7. I omit­ted anoth­er impor­tant detail in Min­neso­ta AG Kei­th Ellison’s resume. He’s been a Bernie Sanders sup­port­er. Sanders endorsed Elli­son to become
    DNC chair over the even­tu­al win­ner Tom Perez. And from his posi­tion as AG Elli­son in turn sup­port­ed Sanders’ bid for the pres­i­den­cy. So he appears
    to have moved from a Mus­lim African-Amer­i­can social polit­i­cal focus, when he used the name Kei­th Elli­son-Muhammed, over to the so-called
    pro­gres­sive wing of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty and now back to state pol­i­tics as the top law­man in Min­neso­ta. He gets around and seems to eas­i­ly shift
    iden­ti­ty and pur­pose, almost as though he has some unseen spon­sors man­ag­ing his career.

    Posted by Dennis | June 1, 2020, 9:00 pm
  8. Posted by Dave Emory | June 1, 2020, 9:31 pm
  9. Here’s a few arti­cles that high­light one of the aspects of the glob­al finan­cial mar­ket tur­moil that could end up being a big­ger and big­ger deal as the pan­dem­ic con­tin­ues to cre­ate unprece­dent­ed mar­ket extremes like the neg­a­tive spot price of oil hit back in April: the mas­sive sov­er­eign wealth funds of the world using these mar­ket plunges to go on equi­ty buy­ing sprees.

    First, here’s a Bloomberg arti­cle from the end of May talk­ing about an unusu­al move by the Sau­di cen­tral bank dur­ing March and April: an over­all injec­tion of $40 bil­lion from the cen­tral bank into the coun­try’s Pub­lic Invest­ment Fund (PIF) sov­er­eign wealth fund so it could cap­i­tal­ize on the his­toric mar­ket drops to buy stock in com­pa­nies like BP, Boe­ing, Cit­i­group and Face­book:

    Bloomberg

    Sau­di Ara­bia Moved $40 Bil­lion in Reserves to Sov­er­eign Fund

    * Move sup­port­ed stock buy­ing spree by Pub­lic Invest­ment Fund
    * Trans­fer came as king­dom faced fis­cal pres­sure from oil crash

    By Vivian Nereim
    05/29/2020 Updat­ed

    Sau­di Ara­bia trans­ferred 150 bil­lion riyals ($40 bil­lion) from its cen­tral bank to its sov­er­eign wealth fund as it went on an invest­ment spree seek­ing to take advan­tage of recent mar­ket tur­moil.

    The trans­fers from the kingdom’s for­eign-cur­ren­cy reserves to its Pub­lic Invest­ment Fund were made in March and April on an “excep­tion­al” basis, and will “strength­en the invest­ment capac­i­ty of the fund,” Finance Min­is­ter Mohammed Al-Jadaan said in a state­ment pub­lished by the offi­cial Sau­di Press Agency on Fri­day.

    The move comes as the world’s largest crude exporter faces excep­tion­al fis­cal pres­sure from a crash in glob­al oil mar­kets. Al-Jadaan said the cen­tral bank trans­fer con­tributed to a his­toric drop in Sau­di Arabia’s net for­eign assets, which fell at the fastest rate in two decades in March, and will also have an impact on April’s cen­tral bank data, expect­ed to be released on Sun­day.

    “This pro­ce­dure was tak­en after com­pre­hen­sive study and tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the suf­fi­cient lev­el for for­eign-cur­ren­cy reserves,” Al-Jadaan said. The PIF has an “impor­tant role in diver­si­fy­ing and strength­en­ing eco­nom­ic growth,” he said, not­ing that the fund’s invest­ment returns “will be avail­able to sup­port pub­lic finances if need­ed.”

    A reg­u­la­to­ry fil­ing ear­li­er this month showed that the sov­er­eign fund has spent bil­lions of dol­lars this year buy­ing equi­ties, includ­ing stakes in cruise oper­a­tor Car­ni­val as well as BP Plc, Boe­ing Co., Cit­i­group Inc and Face­book Inc.

    In his state­ment on Fri­day, Al-Jadaan said the fund was cap­i­tal­iz­ing on “a range of invest­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties that pre­sent­ed them­selves in light of the cur­rent cir­cum­stances glob­al finan­cial mar­kets are pass­ing through.”

    The news of the fund’s buy­ing spree abroad coin­cid­ed with the gov­ern­ment cut­ting back on spend­ing at home. Al-Jadaan has said that the king­dom will need to trim expens­es this year to redi­rect resources to health care and sup­port­ing busi­ness­es as the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic hob­bles eco­nom­ic growth.

    ...

    ———–

    “Sau­di Ara­bia Moved $40 Bil­lion in Reserves to Sov­er­eign Fund” by Vivian Nereim; Bloomberg; 05/29/2020

    “In his state­ment on Fri­day, Al-Jadaan said the fund was cap­i­tal­iz­ing on “a range of invest­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties that pre­sent­ed them­selves in light of the cur­rent cir­cum­stances glob­al finan­cial mar­kets are pass­ing through.””

    Yes, even his­toric eco­nom­ic crises are an opportunity...as long as you have a giant pile of cash. And the Sau­di PIF clear­ly need­ed a cash injec­tion to ful­ly take advan­tage of the oppor­tu­ni­ty.

    And as the fol­low­ing Bloomberg arti­cle from mid-May describes, this move into for­eign equi­ties by the PIF is actu­al­ly a rel­a­tive­ly new phe­nom­e­na for the $320 (now $360?) bil­lion sov­er­eign wealth fund. Five years ago it was hold­ing com­pa­ny for gov­ern­ment stakes in domes­tic busi­ness­es. But its man­date was broad­ened in 2015 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to include inter­na­tion­al invest­ments to sup­port eco­nom­ic diver­si­fi­ca­tion and today it’s hold­ing $10 bil­lion in US equi­ties alone includ­ing a $2 bil­lion stake in Uber:

    Bloomberg

    Sau­di Ara­bia Wealth Fund Buys Boe­ing, Citi, Dis­ney Stakes

    * Mas­sive fund also describes bets on BP, Face­book and Mar­riott
    * The bar­gain-hunt­ing amounts to wager on rebound in com­merce

    By Pierre Paulden
    05/15/2020 Updat­ed

    Sau­di Arabia’s sov­er­eign wealth fund said in April that it was look­ing into “any oppor­tu­ni­ty” aris­ing from the eco­nom­ic wreck­age of the coro­n­avirus cri­sis. A reg­u­la­to­ry fil­ing Fri­day shows how the fund spent bil­lions of dol­lars this year on stocks.

    The $320 bil­lion Pub­lic Invest­ment Fund, which until five years ago was a hold­ing com­pa­ny for gov­ern­ment stakes in domes­tic busi­ness­es, dis­closed an $827.8 mil­lion stake in BP Plc, a $713.7 mil­lion invest­ment in Boe­ing Co. and $522 mil­lion posi­tions in both Cit­i­group Inc. and Face­book Inc. at the end of the first quar­ter. Oth­er bets include $495.8 mil­lion on Walt Dis­ney Co. and $487.6 mil­lion on Bank of Amer­i­ca Corp.

    The PIF is look­ing into “any oppor­tu­ni­ty” aris­ing from the eco­nom­ic wreck­age of the cri­sis, the fund’s gov­er­nor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, said at a vir­tu­al event in April. The fund expects to see “lots of oppor­tu­ni­ties,” he pre­dict­ed at the time, cit­ing air­lines, ener­gy and enter­tain­ment com­pa­nies as exam­ples.

    Behind the scenes, as coro­n­avirus out­breaks dis­rupt­ed com­merce and drove stock prices to their low­est lev­els in years, the fund reas­signed staff to find bar­gains to broad­en its glob­al port­fo­lio, peo­ple famil­iar with the plan have said. The invest­ments dis­closed in a quar­ter­ly fil­ing Fri­day amount to a bet that mar­quee names of the cor­po­rate world will rebound as many facets of life return to nor­mal.

    ...

    Oth­er hold­ings described by the fund include a $513.9 mil­lion invest­ment in hotel own­er Mar­riott Inter­na­tion­al Inc. that’s even greater than the PIF’s pre­vi­ous­ly dis­closed wager on cruise oper­a­tor Car­ni­val Corp. Both com­pa­nies are con­tend­ing with a vir­tu­al shut­down in glob­al trav­el. Sim­i­lar­ly, the fund gath­ered a $416.1 mil­lion stake in con­cert pro­mot­er Live Nation Enter­tain­ment Inc., which faces bans on large gath­er­ings.

    The fund also amassed shares of Cana­di­an oil sands play­ers Sun­cor Ener­gy Inc. and Cana­di­an Nat­ur­al Resources Ltd., on top of invest­ments that pre­vi­ous­ly emerged in Equinor ASA, Roy­al Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA and Eni SpA. The reg­u­la­to­ry fil­ing dis­closed the fund held almost $10 bil­lion of U.S. equi­ties, includ­ing an approx­i­mate­ly $2 bil­lion posi­tion in Uber Tech­nolo­gies Inc.

    The bar­gain-hunt­ing con­trast­ed with retreats by the likes of War­ren Buffett’s Berk­shire Hath­away Inc., which pre­vi­ous­ly announced a full exit from invest­ments in four major U.S. air­lines. On Fri­day, Berk­shire also dis­closed that it sold off most of a long­time invest­ment in Gold­man Sachs Group Inc. and trimmed stakes in com­pa­nies includ­ing JPMor­gan Chase & Co.

    Coin­ci­den­tal­ly, the fund bought a $78.4 mil­lion stake in Berk­shire as well.

    The PIF’s man­date was broad­ened in 2015 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to include inter­na­tion­al invest­ments to sup­port eco­nom­ic diver­si­fi­ca­tion.

    ———–

    “Sau­di Ara­bia Wealth Fund Buys Boe­ing, Citi, Dis­ney Stakes” by Pierre Paulden; Bloomberg; 05/15/2020

    “The fund also amassed shares of Cana­di­an oil sands play­ers Sun­cor Ener­gy Inc. and Cana­di­an Nat­ur­al Resources Ltd., on top of invest­ments that pre­vi­ous­ly emerged in Equinor ASA, Roy­al Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA and Eni SpA. The reg­u­la­to­ry fil­ing dis­closed the fund held almost $10 bil­lion of U.S. equi­ties, includ­ing an approx­i­mate­ly $2 bil­lion posi­tion in Uber Tech­nolo­gies Inc.”

    $10 bil­lion in US equi­ty hold­ings out of a $320 bil­lion fund that was only acquired in the last five years after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman changed the fund’s man­date to include inter­na­tion­al invest­ments. So it sounds like that $10 bil­lion is just the begin­ning of a longer-term agen­da of turn­ing the PIF into a glob­al invest­ment firm. In oth­er words, we should prob­a­bly expect that $10 bil­lion to grow pret­ty sub­stan­tial­ly in com­ing years, espe­cial­ly since the PIF will clear­ly have plen­ty of cash on hand for these COVID-induced buy­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. If the cash runs low while buy­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties still abound the Sau­di cen­tral bank can just hand over some more cash.

    Final­ly, here’s a Reuters arti­cle from the end of March about the heavy sell­ing of stocks by sov­er­eign wealth funds that month that gives us a sense of size of the role sov­er­eign wealth funds play in glob­al equi­ty mar­kets: with over $8 tril­lion in net hold­ings, sov­er­eign wealth funds hold around 5–10 per­cent of glob­al stocks. Sov­er­eign wealth funds were esti­mat­ed to have expe­ri­enced around $1 tril­lion in equi­ty loss­es from the coro­n­avirus-induced down­turn. So that’s going be inter­est­ing to see how that share of glob­al stock hold­ings by sov­er­eign wealth funds ris­es or falls as the coro­n­avirus eco­nom­ic shock con­tin­ues to play out.

    As the arti­cle describes, sov­er­eign wealth funds from oil-pro­duc­ing nations (exclud­ing Nor­way) had actu­al­ly been rapid­ly sell­ing stocks in the last weeks of March, $100–150 bil­lion in total, in response to the col­lapse in both the mar­kets and oil prices. These oil-state sov­er­eign wealth funds are also man­dat­ed to keep large cash reserves on hand as a poten­tial reserve for their gov­ern­ments to draw upon in the case of a drop in oil prices so if there’s a fall in the stock mar­kets that coin­cides with a drop in oil prices there’s going to be extra sell­ing pres­sure from for the sov­er­eign funds...at least until a bot­tom is reach at which point the funds will have plen­ty of cash on hand to repur­chase the sold shares. It points to the pow­er­ful role sov­er­eign funds play in glob­al stock mar­kets that’s going to be worth keep­ing in mind as the pan­dem­ic plays out: they have stock posi­tions large enough to trig­ger a mar­ket sell off and cash reserves large enough to swoop in and pick up the pieces:

    Reuters

    Oil-rich wealth funds seen shed­ding upto $225 bil­lion in stocks

    Tom Arnold
    March 29, 2020 / 12:13 AM

    LONDON (Reuters) — Sov­er­eign wealth funds from oil-pro­duc­ing coun­tries main­ly in the Mid­dle East and Africa are on course to dump up to $225 bil­lion in equi­ties, a senior banker esti­mates, as plum­met­ing oil prices and the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic hit state finances.

    The rapid spread of the virus has rav­aged the glob­al econ­o­my, send­ing mar­kets into a tail­spin and cost­ing both oil and non-oil based sov­er­eign wealth funds around $1 tril­lion in equi­ty loss­es, accord­ing to JPMor­gan strate­gist Niko­laos Pani­girt­zoglou.

    His esti­mates are based on data from sov­er­eign wealth funds and fig­ures from the Sov­er­eign Wealth Fund Insti­tute, a research group.

    Stick­ing with equi­ty invest­ments and risk­ing more loss­es is not an option for some funds from oil pro­duc­ing nations. Their gov­ern­ments are fac­ing a finan­cial dou­ble-wham­my – falling rev­enues due to the spi­ral­ing oil price and rock­et­ing spend­ing as admin­is­tra­tions rush out emer­gency bud­gets.

    Around $100-$150 bil­lion in stocks have like­ly been offloaded by oil-pro­duc­er sov­er­eign wealth funds, exclud­ing Norway’s fund, in recent weeks, Pani­girt­zoglou said, and a fur­ther $50-$75 bil­lion will like­ly be sold in the com­ing months.

    “It makes sense for sov­er­eign funds to front­load their sell­ing, as you don’t want to be sell­ing your assets at a lat­er stage when it is more like­ly to have dis­tressed val­u­a­tions,” he said.

    Most oil-based funds are required to keep sub­stan­tial cash-buffers in place in case a col­lapse in oil prices trig­gers a request from the gov­ern­ment for fund­ing.

    A source at an oil-based sov­er­eign fund said it had been grad­u­al­ly rais­ing its liq­uid­i­ty posi­tion since oil prices began drift­ing low­er from their most recent peak above $70 a bar­rel in Octo­ber 2018.

    In addi­tion to the cash reserves, addi­tion­al liq­uid­i­ty was typ­i­cal­ly drawn first­ly from short-term mon­ey mar­ket instru­ments like trea­sury bills and then from pas­sive­ly invest­ed equi­ty as a last resort, the source said.

    It’s gen­er­al­ly a sim­i­lar trend for oth­er funds.

    ...

    The sov­er­eign fund source said the fund had made adjust­ments to its active­ly-man­aged equi­ty invest­ments due to the mar­ket rout, both to stem loss­es and posi­tion for the recov­ery, when it comes.

    Exact­ly how much sov­er­eign wealth funds invest and with whom remain undis­closed. Many don’t even report the val­ue of the assets they man­age.

    On Thurs­day, the Nor­we­gian sov­er­eign wealth fund said it had lost $124 bil­lion so far this year as equi­ty mar­kets sunk but its out­go­ing CEO Yngve Slyn­gstad said it would, at some point, start buy­ing stocks to get its port­fo­lio back to its tar­get equi­ty allo­ca­tion of 70% from 65% cur­rent­ly.

    Slyn­gstad also said that any fis­cal spend­ing by the gov­ern­ment this year would be financed by sell­ing bonds in its port­fo­lio.

    DEFENDING THE CURRENCY

    State-backed, ener­gy-rich funds account for a sig­nif­i­cant chunk of the rough­ly $8.40 tril­lion in total sov­er­eign wealth assets, funds they’ve built up as a bul­wark for when oil rev­enues dry up.

    Sov­er­eign funds have become major play­ers on glob­al stock mar­kets, account­ing for rough­ly 5–10% of total hold­ings, and an impor­tant source of income for Wall Street asset man­agers.

    While they have been hit hard by the approx­i­mate 20% slide in glob­al equi­ty prices, the oil-based funds’ gov­ern­ments in Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Sau­di Ara­bia, Nige­ria and Ango­la have also seen their finances strained by a near­ly two thirds drop in oil prices this year.

    Gulf sov­er­eign wealth funds could see their assets decline by $296 bil­lion by the end of this year, accord­ing to Gar­bis Ira­di­an, chief Mid­dle East and North Africa econ­o­mist at the Insti­tute of Inter­na­tion­al Finance (IIF).

    Around $216 bil­lion of that fall would be from stock mar­ket loss­es and a fur­ther $80 bil­lion from draw­downs tak­en by cash-squeezed gov­ern­ments.

    The cen­tral banks of Sau­di Ara­bia, the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates and Qatar have offered a total $60 bil­lion in stim­u­lus, although expec­ta­tions of tighter liq­uid­i­ty have already pres­sured Gulf cur­ren­cies, pegged for decades to the U.S. dol­lar.

    “There’s a ques­tion of whether some of these funds are going to be used to sup­port cur­ren­cies, as some legal frame­works allow this,” said Danae Kyr­i­akopoulou, chief econ­o­mist of the Offi­cial Mon­e­tary and Finan­cial Insti­tu­tions Forum (OMFIF), a think tank.

    “In the pre­vi­ous 10 years some coun­tries moved reserves from their cen­tral banks to sov­er­eign funds, allow­ing them to invest in more risky assets as they have greater flex­i­bil­i­ty.”

    “Now, that may be a prob­lem, because you have more reserves in the sov­er­eign fund than the cen­tral bank when you may need the reserves to defend the cur­ren­cy.”

    Sau­di Ara­bia is among coun­tries that have in recent years moved reserves from its cen­tral bank to beef up its sov­er­eign invest­ment vehi­cle, Pub­lic Invest­ment Fund, which holds stakes in Uber and elec­tric car firm Lucid Motors, and had around $300 bil­lion in assets under man­age­ment in 2019.

    In 2015, the last time crude prices col­lapsed, Sau­di Arabia’s cen­tral bank, which then over­saw a larg­er chunk of the kingdom’s invest­ments, main­ly in secu­ri­ties such as U.S. Trea­sury bonds, ran down its for­eign assets by over $100 bil­lion to cov­er a huge state bud­get deficit.

    This month, Sau­di Arabia’s Finance Min­is­ter Mohammed al-Jadaan said the coun­try would look to bor­row to finance its deficit after announc­ing an eco­nom­ic sup­port pack­age worth more than $32 bil­lion.

    ———–

    “Oil-rich wealth funds seen shed­ding upto $225 bil­lion in stocks” by Tom Arnold; Reuters; 03/29/2020

    “The rapid spread of the virus has rav­aged the glob­al econ­o­my, send­ing mar­kets into a tail­spin and cost­ing both oil and non-oil based sov­er­eign wealth funds around $1 tril­lion in equi­ty loss­es, accord­ing to JPMor­gan strate­gist Niko­laos Pani­girt­zoglou.”

    Around a $1 tril­lion in equi­ty loss­es for the globe’s sov­er­eign wealth funds by the end of March. Loss­es that coin­cid­ed with sub­stan­tial equi­ty sell­offs by the funds that were effec­tive­ly man­dat­ed by the coro­n­avirus-induced drop in oil prices. But with over $8 tril­lion in assets held by these funds and large manda­to­ry cash reserves there’s going to be plen­ty of cash avail­able to buy up cheap stocks:

    ...
    Stick­ing with equi­ty invest­ments and risk­ing more loss­es is not an option for some funds from oil pro­duc­ing nations. Their gov­ern­ments are fac­ing a finan­cial dou­ble-wham­my – falling rev­enues due to the spi­ral­ing oil price and rock­et­ing spend­ing as admin­is­tra­tions rush out emer­gency bud­gets.

    Around $100-$150 bil­lion in stocks have like­ly been offloaded by oil-pro­duc­er sov­er­eign wealth funds, exclud­ing Norway’s fund, in recent weeks, Pani­girt­zoglou said, and a fur­ther $50-$75 bil­lion will like­ly be sold in the com­ing months.

    “It makes sense for sov­er­eign funds to front­load their sell­ing, as you don’t want to be sell­ing your assets at a lat­er stage when it is more like­ly to have dis­tressed val­u­a­tions,” he 5–10said.

    Most oil-based funds are required to keep sub­stan­tial cash-buffers in place in case a col­lapse in oil prices trig­gers a request from the gov­ern­ment for fund­ing.

    A source at an oil-based sov­er­eign fund said it had been grad­u­al­ly rais­ing its liq­uid­i­ty posi­tion since oil prices began drift­ing low­er from their most recent peak above $70 a bar­rel in Octo­ber 2018.

    ...

    Exact­ly how much sov­er­eign wealth funds invest and with whom remain undis­closed. Many don’t even report the val­ue of the assets they man­age.

    ...

    State-backed, ener­gy-rich funds account for a sig­nif­i­cant chunk of the rough­ly $8.40 tril­lion in total sov­er­eign wealth assets, funds they’ve built up as a bul­wark for when oil rev­enues dry up.

    Sov­er­eign funds have become major play­ers on glob­al stock mar­kets, account­ing for rough­ly 5–10% of total hold­ings, and an impor­tant source of income for Wall Street asset man­agers.
    ...

    So with sov­er­eign wealth funds account­ing for rough­ly 5–10 per­cent of total glob­al equi­ty hold­ings going into this cri­sis it’s going to be quite inter­est­ing to see what their total per­cent of hold­ings is at the end up it. Espe­cial­ly since, as we saw with Sau­di Ara­bi­a’s PIF, there’s cash injec­tions from cen­tral banks poten­tial­ly avail­able to take advan­tage of his­toric buy­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties.

    Still, a sov­er­eign wealth fund is at least osten­si­bly oper­at­ed for the ben­e­fit of the cit­i­zens of a nation and that makes these large con­cen­tra­tions of wealth poised to get even more con­cen­trat­ed a lot less con­cern­ing than the pri­vate­ly owned mas­sive invest­ment funds that are also poised to ben­e­fit the most from this cri­sis. Or at least it would be less con­cern­ing if coun­tries like Sau­di Ara­bia weren’t basi­cal­ly pri­vate­ly owned by roy­al fam­i­lies nations. And that’s what makes the pos­si­ble mar­ket manip­u­la­tion gains by these Gulf monar­chy-owned funds extra con­cern­ing: these mas­sive funds that rep­re­sent the con­tin­ued abil­i­ty of roy­al fam­i­lies to basi­cal­ly own a nation are the same enti­ties per­haps best posi­tioned to come out big­ger than ever at the end of this if they play their cards right. It’s nev­er a pret­ty pic­ture when the hyper-con­cen­tra­tion of wealth com­pounds itself.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 4, 2020, 4:16 pm

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