David Slesinger: There Is a Widespread Militarization of Police in the United States
An American political activist believes the personal freedoms and civil liberties of the American people have begun to decline, especially following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
According to David Slesinger, the Bush administration, following the 9/11 events, trampled such fundamental rights as the “habeas corpus” law, arrested hundreds of people on terrorism charges without obtaining the legal warrants necessary for detaining them, and then sent them to prisons in such places as the Guantanamo bay to be tortured.
In an interview with Fars News Agency, Mr. Slesinger said, “[t]he Obama administration took this violation of due process of law a step further. Using drones, it has killed US citizens, at least 4 by its own admission as of a year ago, not to mention hundreds if not thousands of innocent citizens of other nations.”
“I am particularly offended by this behavior because Mr. Obama, when running for the nomination from his party against former first lady Hillary Clinton, actually received the support of dozens of lawyers representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He used to teach constitutional law. He knows better,” he added.
David Slesinger is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate. He is a political activist working with “Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.” His first activism experience included his engagement in student protests in 1970s against a special program set up by MIT at the cost of $1.4 million to help the Iranian monarch Mohammad Reza Pahlavi train nuclear engineers and increase the funding of his brutal intelligence apparatus, SAVAK.
Most of Slesinger’s activism in his youth was in opposition to US nuclear power plant constructions, for which he spent 4 months in jail. He has been active trying to expose the “lies of 9/11” since 2002. In 2006, he was arrested for trespass at the showing of Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center.” The arresting officer complimented Slesinger by telling him, “You seem to know what you are doing,” When he went to court, he gave the judge the Gandhian plea from the great trial of 1922, “if you believe in what you’re doing, give me your stiffest sentence. If you don’t, resign.” Slesinger has been working with AE911Truth.org for years.
Slesinger has been promoting the idea that Muslims didn’t have anything to do with the 9/11 attacks and that the tragic event was used as a pretext for spreading Islamophobic sentiments. On May 31, 2014, he participated in Left Forum and criticized Noam Chomsky’s viewpoints about the September 11, 2001 attacks. The video for his statements is available on the internet.
To discuss the decline of American democracy following the 9/11 attacks, the militarization of the US police and the social crisis that is now emerging in the United States, FNA did an interview with David Slesinger. The following is the text of the interview.
Q: It seems that the logic of War on Terror has turned into a rigid ideology for a large number of American politicians, intellectuals and media people, and those who question the authenticity of the official accounts of the 9/11 attacks are automatically branded “conspiracy theorist,” which I’m sure doesn’t give a positive feeling to those scholars who have invested a great deal of time on exploring the truth behind the 9/11 attacks. What’s your viewpoint on that? Why have the 9/11 attacks and the Global War on Terror become sanctioned by the US government and the corporate media and are being considered incontestable?
A: Those who support US world hegemony need a rationalization to maintain that hegemony. That is the simple answer. Those who facilitate this huge lie have a variety of motivations. The traitors who promulgated 9/11 know better but understand best why 9/11 occurred. It occurred to further the ends of empire. A large number of supporters who were not involved have fallen prey to the myth of “ American exceptionalism” which holds that if you are born in the US, you need not choose to be a decent human being, that honor is an automatic birthright. How absurd. For me, if good is not freely chosen, it is not correctly considered,” good.”
There are two simple criticisms of the use of the term “conspiracy theorist” as a pejorative. For one thing, the official story involving 19 hijackers directed by a man in cave outsmarting the US military is a conspiracy theory. That’s why those of us in the 9/11 truth movement refer to the government version as the OCT or Official Conspiracy Theory. Secondly, if the only thing those in power need do to cover up a dastardly deed is to label their accusers, “conspiracy theorists”, that implies those in power would never abuse that power, another absurdity.
I have begun to assert that pride in ignorance is the most prominent feature of the American character.
Sadly, I am more concerned that at least the leadership of the US antiwar movement is hostile to 9/11 truth efforts and research. Every progressive magazine and almost every progressive blog in the US suppresses discussion of these issues. In this discussion I will present your readers an opportunity to have a significant opportunity to correct this grievous error.
One of the foremost progressive voices in the US is Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, heard weekdays on over 1,000 radio stations throughout the United States. When she had the 9/11 Truth’s top scholar, Prof. David Ray Griffin, as a guest, she turned it into a debate with Chip Berlet without prior notification of Dr. Griffin.
Currently I have challenged my professor from MIT, Noam Chomsky, to public discussion of our differences over 9/11. I had hoped to have my website to connect with supporters by now, but it is not ready. Prof. Chomsky, by refusing to examine the evidence of a false flag operation sets a bad example for other opponents of US imperialism.
Here is how residents of Middle Eastern nations can make a huge difference in the struggle for 9/11 truth. Noam and most antiwar activists would be much more open to criticisms of their defense of the official 9/11 lie if that criticism came from Muslims rather from people like me, of European heritage. If you can help generate a letter to Noam and even other western antiwar activists where the communication has extensive support in the Muslim world, this could make a huge difference. All Muslim peace activists who live in the US are too frightened to take such a stand. I can’t blame them. My friend Enver Masud of The Wisdom Fund (TWF.org) is an exception.
Q: Has it become costly in the United States to be an anti-war, pro-peace activist? How does the US government treat the critics of its foreign policy and those who resist its numerous military expeditions and adventurism across the world?
A: At times, there has been repression of European, American antiwar activists at national conventions of the two major parties, but repression of Muslims is much worse. The FBI regularly generates situations where they arrest young troubled youth of Muslim heritage charging them unfairly with terrorist activities. Respected mature Muslims have also been severely persecuted as terrorists. The persecution of Prof Sami al-Arian went on for years after a grand jury balked at pressing charges.
Q: Is civil disobedience a sustainable and effective means for countering the illegal practices of the superpowers? I read that you were arrested more than 30 times for taking part in peaceful protests and acts of civil disobedience, including a 16-hour detainment for participating in a rally on climate change. Is this the response that the US government usually gives to the protesters and people engaged in acts of defiance? Do you consider it fair and justifiable?
A: Let me explain first that those who practice civil disobedience expect to get arrested. Arresting those protesting legally would be unjustifiable, but it would be unfair to take issue with the government for arresting people who break the law openly and on purpose, which is what civil disobedience means.
In general I assert that the US authorities understand the practice of nonviolence better than the protesters. The government realizes that repression of educated light skinned protesters would only help the protesters cause.
Since the 1980s, there have been many dozen “ploughshares” protests by Catholic pacifists against nuclear weapons where, because they hammer on military equipment, they are convicted of felonies and serve years in jail. In addition, those who are convicted of misdemeanor trespass at Fort Benning, Georgia with the School of the Americas Watch often serve 6 months in jail. They oppose the training by the US military of torturers from Latin American countries.
I am at odds with most other practitioners of nonviolent civil disobedience in the US. I am the only advocate of Gandhi’s approach to resistance in the US. This is shameful since the US is so huge and my foremost accomplishments have been in another realm, humorous political street theater. Gandhi addressed much more than resistance issues so there are many people, especially scholars, who are much more knowledgeable about Gandhi that I am. More specifically, I am the only advocate of “pleading guilty and suffering in jail to touch the heart of the adversary.” Gandhi always pleaded guilty, in keeping with his term “satyagraha”, defined as “holding fast to the truth.” I once did 4 months in jail in 1982 for a Gandhian style trespass arrest against nuclear power where we pleaded guilty, told the judge we did not seek leniency, and did not use a lawyer.
The reason I say I am at odds with most practitioners of public arrest for a higher cause is not that protesters should not freely look within to decide whether or not they can handle jail. It is because my attempts to discuss how nonviolence can be practiced with greater strength are suppressed. I believe the primary reason is that most protesters are secular and Gandhi is associated with spirituality. A discussion of the differences between the two primary techniques of US public arrest for a higher cause and Gandhi’s approach can be found at my Facebook page “Gandhian Resistance.” The most significant difference is that Gandhi’s approach is an appeal to everyone, adversaries, their supporters, neutrals, and one’s own supporters. Most politics is just appealing to one’s own supporters.
Most people avoid politics because they fear all activists, whether in power or just getting started. Because Gandhi was genuinely concerned about the spiritual progress of his adversaries, there was less cause to fear him and those who follow his example.
Most of those in the US who get arrested on purpose plead not guilty and seek to avoid serving time. I once described this as “getting arrested on purpose and then complaining that you were arrested.”
Ironically, the author of the original book advocating the civil resistance technique so popular among US activists is Prof Francis Boyle, whose support for asking hard questions about 9/11 is conveniently ignored.
Q: What do you think about the role played by Israel in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, including in the process of whitewashing the evidence regarding its role and involvement in the event, silencing the critics of the War on Terror and pushing the Bush and Obama administrations to wage new wars of aggression on behalf of Tel Aviv?
A: I am greatly troubled by the likelihood of Mossad involvement in 9/11. However, I blame the US citizens who facilitated that involvement more than any misguided sense of patriotism among citizens of other countries. Certainly the many neoconservatives high in the Bush administration are easily linked to Israel. The Israeli lobby in the US is, along with the lobbies for doctors, gun owners, and retired people, the most effective of all US lobbies. It should be cause for concern that a lobby from a whole different nation is more effective than most US based lobbies.
I agree with Noam Chomsky that Israel would be better off building positive relations with its Muslim neighbors rather than complete reliance of support from the US. It should also be noted that the centuries of abuse the Jewish people have endured is much more at the hands of Christians than of Muslims. Also, that longstanding abuse of Jewish people in no way legitimizes the monstrous abuse that Israel heaps on modern Muslims.
The group I have worked the most closely with in my 9/11 truth activism is Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth (AE911Truth.org). Their policy is to point no fingers at any possible perpetrators. I support this position because the top priority for the US-based truth movement is to generate enough support among the US public that a genuine subpoena powered investigation becomes a reality. If we were to point fingers at, say, former VP Dick Cheney, those who support Mr. Cheney would just retort that we don’t know the difference between evidence and speculation, and we just have an axe to grind.
Q: The wars which the United States government waged following the 9/11 attacks have claimed thousands of innocent lives in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Syria, but the killings are justified under the name of combating terrorism, while it’s quite clear that these wars are themselves giving rise to terrorism and leading to the growth of fundamentalist cults such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Is there anybody who can hold the US government accountable and instruct it that these unrestrained wars and military expeditions have never been constructive and helpful for the international community?
A: I would prefer that the US public stand for freedom and justice and hold the gangsters who control US institutions to task, but because that would probably require the US public to throw off its long history of racism, I am less confident than I would like to be. Do remember that the techniques of public relations began and were developed in the US. Because the mass media and institutions of journalism in the US are nearly completely devoid of integrity, the US public faces a huge challenge. The existence of the internet has certainly undercut the power of the corporate media, but the freedom of the internet is always under attack by telephone and cable TV mega-corporations and is by no means guaranteed indefinitely.
The economic pressure from the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) provides some hope as a counterweight to US hegemony. In addition, as the US dollar is replaced as the primary world currency, things could change drastically within the United States. Sadly, everyday US citizens of humble means who suffer from this change could just as easily react the way economic challenges to the German people after World War I produced the rise of Hitler and Nazism.
Q: In the recent years and following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, some scholars and thinkers have talked of the decline of American democracy and the fact that the social freedoms and civil liberties which the American citizens enjoyed before are waning and getting smaller with new laws and regulations being put into effect by the federal government. Do you agree with the idea of the decline of the American democracy and the evaporation of the values which the American society boasted of being reliant on?
A: This is my actual primary reason for my dedication to 9/11 Truth. The easiest way to raise this concern is the undermining of the right to habeas corpus by the Bush administration with its extraordinary rendition practice of kidnapping people and sending them to places outside the US to be tortured. The right to habeas corpus requires that someone cannot be held as a prisoner without being legally charged. Whether or not this right began with the Magna Carta 800 years ago, it is certainly centuries old.
The Obama administration took this violation of due process of law a step further. Using drones, it has killed US citizens, at least 4 by its own admission as of a year ago, not to mention hundreds if not thousands of innocent citizens of other nations. I am particularly offended by this behavior because Mr. Obama, when running for the nomination from his party against former first lady Hillary Clinton, actually received the support of dozens of lawyers representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He used to teach constitutional law. He knows better.
One of the simplest ways to raise suspicion about these abuses to civil liberties is the passage of the USA Patriot Act. It was introduced to Congress only eight days after 9/11 and it was 241 pages long. A reasonable person should suspect it had been prepared long before the events of 9/11. This was the first of many bills eviscerating civil liberties in the US.
Another widespread weakening of rights is the militarization of the police. You can imagine that it is hard for police chiefs to pass up big money for tanks and various SWAT team equipment. When I addressed the judge after my 2006 civil disobedience on behalf of 9/11 truth, I noted, “In a democracy, most people consider the police to be their friends. This is as it should be. However, under tyranny, relatives of law enforcement are ashamed of their relatives.”
By Kourosh Ziabari