Submitted by Gonzalo Lira
This past Monday, June 14, 2010, the Unites States Supreme Court let
stand without comment or dissent the Second Circuit Appeals Court
decision to dismiss Maher Arar's suit against the U.S. Government.
(Arar v. Ashcroft, No. 09-923)
illegally detained by U.S. officials while in transit back to his home
in Canada, and then handed over to Syrian intelligence officials using
“extraordinary rendition”. The Syrians kept Arar for ten months,
interrogating him using torture, and finally releasing him when they
concluded that Mr. Arar was neither a terrorist, nor in possession of
any relevant intelligence.
sued both the Canadian government (which peripherally assisted in his
kidnapping and torture) and the U.S. government. The Canadian
government issued him an unequivocal apology, and $10 million Canadian
similar justice from the U.S. government, though. The Second Circuit
Appeals Court quashed his suit by stating that Congress had not
authorized such suits as Mr. Arar’s. (!)
letting stand the Appeals Court decision to quash the suit Mr. Arar
brought against the U.S. Government, the Supreme Court effectively
ruled that the Government cannot be held accountable by private
citizens for its actions. The Government can do as it pleases to any
individual—including assassinating one of its own citizens—and there is
no legal remedy.
the U.S. Government dealt with BP, regarding the oil spill disaster in
the Gulf of Mexico: President Obama met with BP officials, and as a
product of that meeting, BP promised to set up a “compensation fund” of
$20 billion over the next two years.
how this was agreed to outside of the ordinary judicial process. There
was no suit. Neither did this agreement follow the law. It was simply a
deal the White House made with BP. A Republican politician is receiving
a lot of grief over having characterised the meeting and subsequent
deal as a “shake down” of BP by the Government. This politician is
being censured because apparently he sided with BP, the party
responsible for the oil spill disaster—clearly the guy is an idiot.
the Arar case, one of the Government’s arguments in favor of quashing
the case was that the suit would bring under scrutiny “the motives and
sincerity of the United States officials who concluded that petitioner
[Mr. Arar] could be removed to Syria.” In other words, the Government
was deploying its full weight and power to protect the individuals who
had actually ordered Mr. Arar’s detention and deportation to Syria.
in the “compensation agreement” whereby BP acquiesced to pay $20
billion, the company as a whole was acting to protect the executives
and personnel responsible for the oil spill disaster. (I have yet to
read the actual deal memo, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that,
as part of the deal, the Government agrees not to prosecute any BP
executive or personnel, either in criminal or civil court. This is pure
supposition on my part—but it ought to be the first thing scrutinized
once the actual deal memo comes out.)
third example, during the financial crisis, when AIG, Fannie Mae and
Freddie Mac were all bailed out, none of the executives actually
responsible for the firms being in the position that they were in were
indicted or punished in any way. The corporations assumed the
responsibility of the individuals who had made the bad decisions.
a fourth example, the unions, in both the public sector and the
private. GM’s unions forced the company to assume pension and health
care liabilities which any actuarian would have realized would
eventually bring about GM’s bankruptcy—which of course is exactly what
happened. Teacher's unions across the U.S. refuse to implement basic
competency tests on their members, threatening to strike if such tests
are imposed, even going so far as to protect not merely incompetent
teachers, but pedophiles—and these are the people who are supposed to
be educating America’s youth.
example: The U.S. military. Soldiers routinely violate human rights of
Iraqis and Afghans, in the most despicable, egregious manner
imaginable. Yet they get away with it, the military going out of its
way to protect its soldiers, under the rationale that to prosecute
gross human rights violations would “erode the morale of the troops”.
In the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, a half-dozen non-commissioned
officers were jailed—but apart from a lone Lieutenant Colonel being
tried and acquitted of a couple of minor charges, no officer was tried,
and none jailed.
same problems we are having throughout our society in the
Industrialized West: Corporate entities, be they corporations, unions,
the military, or the government, act lawlessly—anarchically—trampling
the individual without hesitation, yet coming to accomodations between
one corporate entity and another.
words, our society has become a neighborhood where
street-gangs—corporate entitites—battle one another for position. Even
the Government is just another street gang.
full protection of the corporate entity to which they belong, much as
street gangs are fiercely loyal to their individual members. The higher
up in the corporate entities’ hierarchy—CEO, General, President—the
more untouchable he or she is.
unaffiliated members—such as Mr. Arar, such as myself—have no such
protection. Neither do they have recourse to the courts, as the Arar
case proves. Courts and the so-called “justice system” are busy
policing individuals. Individuals’ rights are more curtailed and restricted than ever before. But corporate entities are freer than ever before.
such a lawless neighborhood, what can an individual do? Obvious: Join a
gang—any gang. To remain unaffiliated is to be begging to be set upon
by members of one gang or another, be it the various gangs that make up
the government (TSA, IRS, ICE, Homeland Security, etc.), or the various
corporations who have made sure that unaffiliated individuals are
fleeced in health care, insurance, financial services, etc. (As an
individual, health insurance is prohibitive in the U.S.—but as a
corporate cog of a big corporation? That’s another story. How often do
we hear of corporate employees kowtowing to their corporate masters in
order to hang on to their health-care coverage?)
what happens to a neighborhood where gangs dominate? Why, that’s quite
simple: The neighborhood is destroyed. The gangs don’t disappear, as
the neighborhood is slowly ruined. The gangs stay put, feeding off the
corpse of the neighborhood, until it's nothing but a husk—kind of like
Update I: An article in the New York Times,
about a Cameroonian man married since 2005 to an American woman who was
about to be wrongly deported, gives another example of this street-gang
style of protection: The man would have been deported, had not the ICE
been pressed by the NY Times. The Times pressed the ICE because the woman happened to work for an advertising company which presumably did business with the Times. After being contacted by the Times, not only was the man not deported, he was released with promises to have his case “taken care of”.