Jackboots Without Borders

by Kevin Carson

More than a year ago, I reported on the mission of Frank “Bagman of Empire” Wisner to Egypt (“Egypt: Let the Looting Begin,” Center for a Stateless Society, February 4, 2011). Wisner, formerly of Enron and AIG, was Obama’s plenipotentiary to Egypt, tasked with managing the post-Mubarak succession in as U.S.-friendly a direction as possible. Wisner’s father, by the way, was another Bagman of Empire; as a founding spook of the OSS and CIA he managed the overthrow of Arbenz and Mossadegh. Wisner had co-chaired (with another noted bagman, James Baker) a commission that developed a post-Saddam vision for the governance of Iraq. Just reading the “100 Orders” issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority, and the corporate looting pursuant to them, should give you a good idea of Wisner’s agenda.

Today’s column is about another Bagman of Empire: John Timoney.

Richard Moore wrote twelve years ago, in “Escaping the Matrix” (Whole Earth Catalog, Summer 2000) about the Empire importing technologies of repression from the imperial Periphery to the Core and using them to manage the domestic population.

It’s nothing new. It’s as old as Caesar bringing the legions from Gaul back across the Rubicon. But now it’s being done in reverse. A high-level maestro of political repression from the American domestic police apparatus has found lucrative employment in Bahrain.

Timoney had already established himself as a notable carpetbagger of repression within the United States. As Philadelphia’s Police Commissioner, he supervised the police riot at the August 2000 GOP Convention. His Gestapo tactics there, and later as police chief of Miami during the anti-FTAA protests, were dress rehearsals for the police repression of Occupy protests in hundreds of cities across America: Gassing and breaking the bones of unarmed people, preemptively arresting organizers, planting evidence — you name it, Timoney’s been there and done that.

From the outset of the Seattle movement, Timoney was its J. Edgar Hoover — warning shrilly of the “International Anarchist Conspiracy” to disrupt meetings of neoliberal institutions. He agitated relentlessly to apply the RICO statute to the anti-globalization movement. Timoney is a close associate of Tom Ridge, going back to the latter’s provision of political cover to Timoney’s police riot, and after the post-9/11 establishment of the US Department of Homeland Security was rumored to have close informal ties to much of the Department’s leadership. Although his prospects for high office in Fatherland Security never materialized, he went on to an extremely lucrative career as lobbyist for the security-industrial complex. And as police chief of Miami, he got a chance to further refine his jackbooted thuggery from the Philly days.

Now Timoney — along with fellow carpetbagger John Yates, assistant commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police — serves the Bahraini royal government. You know, the despotic Bahraini state that’s been engaged in brutal and murderous repression of the Arab Spring uprising there for the past year. Timoney, it seems, is for sale to any petty tyrant with petrodollars burning a hole in his pocket and wants to do a really high-class job (ahem) “using chemical weapons against his own people.”

It’s been said that to a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Give people a bunch of big hammers, and they’ll start looking for new ways to use them. Likewise, if your Empire has a need for torturers, thugs and detention camp guards, you’ll find all the volunteers you need to keep Abu Ghraib, Gitmo or Philly running. But once you have those guys (and gals, pace Lynndie England), they become an established constituency.

Somebody once quipped that the French Empire was built by retired army officers. Marijuana criminalization began, in part, as patronage for G-men unemployed by the repeal of Prohibition. Sometimes, likewise, MPs who get a taste for inflicting pain and domination on the powerless in squalid holes like Abu Ghraib or Baghram AFB come home and decide to become cops or prison guards (remember Dim in A Clockwork Orange?). And sometimes American cops become advisers to foreign despots’ secret police.

All uniformed thugs are brothers under the skin. And repression is becoming an industry without borders.

3 responses to “Jackboots Without Borders

  1. Marijuana criminalization began, in part, as patronage for G-men unemployed by the repeal of Prohibition.

    Interesting (perhaps) ancillary facts: before Prohibition, the first job of the Feds was suppression of brothels under the Mann Act. A certain repressed homosexual (or possibly repressed heterosexual, but definitely a repressed something, as Barbara Castle quipped about Ted Heath) J Edgar Hoover first got interested in running a social repression agency after studying the methods of the infamous Anthony Comstock. As I often like to say, anglo-statism is puritanism, rebranded. Our liberty fell not to Marxists, but to a Mutaween.

    Not germaine to the main article, just grabbing the chance to push my hobby horse. Delenda Carthago and all that.

  2. I wiki’d Anthony Comstock, not having ever heard of the bugger (well, you can’t know everything in the world). What a foul fellow: did he have problems in the manhood-trouser-department and just hadn’t got over them and “moved on”, or what?

    I don’t see “spouse”, children etc on his wikipage anywhere.

    Or did he like finding out what people liked to do, and then harming them until they stopped? That approach would make him a good candidate for any ordinary British “Metropolitan Council” staff or elected-bugger.

    The point is: the evidence does seem to be building up that Ian B’s hypothesis is right. The most problems are caused empirically by the avowedly non-Marxist denizens of the “sociosphere” applying what are supposed to be “Victorian Values”. Although it’s the MarxoNazis that do the most killing and apply the most direct “repression”. In Britain we seem to be turning into North Korea or Cuba by stealth – even to the tune of having been forced to hold an “Olympics”, at which un-knowing, innocent primary-school children will no doubt be drilled in thousand-squares, for the wireless-tele-vision, to wave flags in unison and the like.

    I mean, if you lived in Hogarthian London, what then? Look… I know it’s rather horrid and careless to have an accidental baby because you shagged that guy Josiah from Scunthorpe up via cart-lift to see his auntie and you fancied him, and then just chuck the poor little bastard mewling and puking, onto the nearest midden-pile to die of Magpie-pecking and dehydration, and shamble away for your gin, but what would you have done in that position, before the Industrial Revolution freed you and your kind to rise? Capitalism itself directly made poverty and desperation hideous, not Christian Morals, which had been around for more than fifteen centuries with little effect on people’s condition.

    With a bit of effort, Ian might even make me anti-religious, but I suspect that’s not what he’s really driving at.

  3. I’m not trying to make you or anyone else anti-religious David. If I’m trying anything in that department, it’s to convince people that some decidely nasty and indeed not particularly Christian values got purchase during and after the Reformation and those need expunging from our society. Really, my point is no more than the devoutly Christian CS Lewis’s “t may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.” Except I wouldn’t include the “may”. :)