Millionaire Ezra Klein thinks raising taxes on the rich is Bad Now

Vox’s Ezra Klein on Bernie Sanders health care plan (bolding mine):

Clinton’s third attack was that Sanders’s plan would raise taxes on the middle class. In response, Sanders gets very detailed on the financing of his plan. It would raise taxes on the middle class — in part through a 2.2 percent tax increase on all income, and in part by a 6.2 percent “income-based premium” on employers (which would, in turn, get passed onto workers through lower wages and higher prices).

The rest of the financing would come through a raft of new taxes on the rich. Sanders would raise marginal rates on income over $250,000, he would raise the tax rate on capital gains and dividend income, he would hike the estate tax, and he would close sundry deductions and loopholes.

In general, I’m comfortable with higher taxes on the rich — though they’ve risen substantially in the Obama era already — but tax increases of the scale Sanders proposes here would begin to have real economic drawbacks. European countries tend to pay for their health-care systems through more broad-based, economically efficient taxes like VATs; Sanders’s effort to fund a universal health-care system so heavily on the backs of the wealthy would be unprecedented.

The highest tax rate under Sanders’ plan, for the record, is 52% for incomes exceeding $10 million a year. Now I certainly realize that 52% sounds like a big chunk of anything, but once you hear the “FOR INCOMES OVER TEN FUCKING MILLION DOLLARS PER YEAR” any such concern should dry up. I mean seriously, if you honestly feel the slightest bit of sympathy for someone making over $10 million in a year because they face paying more in taxes to support health care for all Americans, you shouldn’t get to call yourself a “liberal” (and I realize how diluted that term has become already). You are a moderate libertarian.

I really wish Klein and his crew of “wonky” moderate libertarians would just fuck off already. It’s bad enough that self-proclaimed “liberal Democrats” are shitting on the very concept of single-payer health care because Hillary is against it. Now we’re supposed to believe that taxing the rich can Go Too Far because everyone’s favorite millionaire boy genius says it could be “inefficient.”

And for the record: I don’t even like Bernie. I’ve loathed him since I heard him lauding the bombing of Serbia at the first Democratic debate. In addition to warmongering, his brand of social democracy aims at middle class respectability far too much. But good god, if establishment progressives are now convinced that taxing multi-millionaires at a rate only slightly above half is “too much” then things are even worse than I could have imagined.

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Sources and quotes on war crimes by the US and its proxies in the Korean War

Sources

Quotes

USAF Far East commander Gen. George E. Stratemeyer, 5 September 1950 (Source, p. 258):

The gist of General MacArthur’s instructions are as follows: Every installation, facility, and village in North Korea now becomes a military and tactical target. THE ONLY EXCEPTIONS ARE: the big hydro-electric power plant on the Manchurian border at Changsi and the hydro-electric power plants in Korea. General MacArthur reiterated his scorched earth policy to burn and destroy. Starting from the Yalu River into Korea, every method of surface communication will be destroyed. The towns on the Korean side, bordering the Yalu River–except between Korea and Russia – will be destroyed.

Gen. Stratemeyer, 5 September 1950, 5 September 1950 (Source, p. 261):

FEAF [Far East Air Force] Bomber Command will destroy the cities and large towns. Aircraft under Fifth Air Force control will destroy all other targets including all buildings capable of affording shelter.

US Ambassador to South Korea John Muccio, 17 November 1950 (Source):

The General [Douglas MacArthur] then went on that he had finally received authorization to knock out the Korean end of the bridges across the Yalu; the Air Force was concentrating on doing so and, at the same time, destroying all resources in the narrow stretch between our present positions and the border. Unfortunately, this area will be left a desert.

US Defense Secretary Robert Lovett, 12 September 1952 (Source):

If we keep on, tearing the place apart, we can make it a most unpopular affair for the North Koreans. We ought to go right ahead.

USAF Gen. Curtis LeMay, 15 June 1984 (Source, p. 88):

Right at the start of the war, unofficially I slipped a message in “under the carpet” in the Pentagon that we ought to turn SAC [Strategic Air Command] loose with incendiaries on some North Korean towns. The answer came back, under the carpet again, that there would be too many civilian casualties; we couldn’t do anything like that. So we went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea anyway, some way or another, and some in South Korea, too. We even burned down Pusan-an accident, but we burned it down anyway. The Marines started a battle down there with no enemy in sight. Over a period of three years or so, we killed off–what–twenty percent of the population of Korea as direct casualties of war, or from starvation and exposure? Over a period of three years, this seemed to be acceptable to everybody, but to kill a few people at the start right away, no, we can’t seem to stomach that.

Quotation of an officer from Capt. Walter Karig’s Battle Report, 1952 (Source):

So, we killed civilians, friendly civilians, and bombed their homes; fired whole villages with the occupants–women and children and 10 times as many hidden communist soldiers–under showers of napalm, and the pilots came back to their ships stinking of vomit twisted up from their vitals by the shock of what they had to do!

Gen. William F. Dean, who was released from North Korean custody (source):

The town of Huichon amazed me. The city I’d seen before–two-storied buildings, a prominent main street–wasn’t there any more.

South Korean strongman Syngman Rhee on his intentions for the occupation of North Korea (source):

I can handle the Communists. The Reds can bury their guns and burn their uniforms, but we know how to find them. With bulldozers we will dig huge excavations and trenches, and fill them with Communists. Then cover them over. And they will really be underground.

Bruce Cumings (source):

The Korean Truth Commission on Civilian Massacres was organized in September 2000. Its charge was to investigate massacres of civilians by all sides before and during the Korean War. […] Ultimately it appears that after the war began in June, South Korean authorities and auxiliary right-wing youth squads executed around 100,000 people and dumped them into trenches and mines, or simply threw them into the sea. […] However much it may discomfit American sensibilities, the record shows that Communist atrocities constituted about one sixth of the total number of cases, and tended to be more discriminating.

#OregonUnderAttack and the occasional authoritarianism of “privilege” discourse

[I try to keep internal left disputes and Twitter stuff off of this blog for the most part but I can’t really restrain myself right now, sorry.]

The recent occupation by an armed militia of a federal building in Oregon has created a predictable stir of indignation on Twitter directed mostly against the media for purportedly either not covering it enough or not immediately labeling the perpetrators “terrorists” as they do for non-white and/or left-wing militants. We’ve seen and heard all this stuff before, and much of the underlying sentiment is understandable. It can be frustrating to see the federal government officially charge animal rights activists with “terrorism” for freeing minks and watch conservative outlets portray desperate refugees as potential terrorists while right-wing militants and their sympathizers appear to receive preferential treatment. However, there comes a point when this type of “privilege checking”  seems to be more focused on revoking certain privileges rather than expanding them to cover marginalized groups.

Case in point: whenever a white mass shooter is arrested alive we hear complaints that this treatment was not afforded to the endless list of black individuals who were murdered by police with impunity. On the surface, there appears to be a legitimate case for pointing out the double standard. But when this point is made over and over and over again (as certain “takes” often are on Twitter), it can subconsciously reinforce authoritarian narratives. Last year, when rival biker gangs and police got into a shootout in Waco, Texas, and 9 of the bikers ended up dead, a presumption in progressive circles was made that the bikers who were arrested (all 177 of them) were beneficiaries of white privilege and thus any further discussion of the incident was Officially Over. Despite the discrepancies in the police version of events, an admission that police bullets hit bikers, media reports of “police threatening to shoot people if they rise from the ground” and a convenient gag order on the accused, self-appointed BlackLivesMatter leader Shaun King decided to push the idea that those charged in the deaths (none of them cops) were somehow the “definition of white privilege.”

Now, we obviously do not have all the facts yet. But it should be considered an absolute disgrace that a self-purported opponent of police brutality would immediately take the police’s account of the event at face value. One can’t help but wonder how far this type of “logic” goes.

In the case of Ruby Ridge, federal authorities shot dead both the son and wife of their target in the initial investigation, Randy Weaver. It turned out that the FBI actually rewrote its rules of engagement for the siege and, as a probable result, Weaver’s wife was shot dead by an FBI sniper as she was standing behind a door and holding a 10 month old baby in her arms.

At the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, the ATF started the conflagration with a showy and likely unnecessary raid. The FBI was then put in charge and a 51 day siege commenced. The FBI’s own negotiators criticized the bureau’s tactical commanders for “undercutting” negotiations. In the final assault, which was approved by then-Attorney General Janet Reno, the bureau pumped large amounts of tear gas into the compound. A number of fires broke out and killed most of the sect’s members who remained in the compound. The government maintains that the fires were all intentionally started by sect members while some of those who escaped alleged that they were “accidentally or deliberately started by the [FBI] assault.” By the most charitable reading of events that transpired that could be offered by any reasonable person, federal law enforcement was overly gung-ho on finding a militarized solution than negotiating a peaceful means of ending the standoff.

The US left very rarely focuses on either of these events in American history, writing them off mere causes célèbres for right-wing extremists. This is unfortunate, because both incidents were clear abuses of official power. While it is true that Randy Weaver was himself a right-wing extremist and had ties with white supremacists, the Branch Davidian sect had no real sympathies for the far-right or white supremacy. There is actually evidence to indicate the contrary, as 29 of the members who died were black and numerous others were Hispanic and Asian. Additionally, during the seige there was a sign hanging from one the windows that read “RODNEY KING WE UNDERSTAND.” Of course, no one needs to endorse David Koresh’s behavior and beliefs in order to condemn the federal government’s actions at Waco than one needs to endorse Saddam Hussein to condemn the numerous US crimes against the Iraqi people.

So, without in anyway defending the armed militiamen that are occupying a federal building in Oregon, let me just suggest that you try not to justify, or neglect, government abuses of power under the guise of internet “social justice” rhetoric.

UPDATE: People are saying that this situation is considerably different than both Waco and Ruby Ridge and that there is a legitimate public interest in suppressing these militias. Both of these arguments are generally on the right track.

First, it is true that the only people currently inside the building being occupied are either armed militiamen or their willing adult male supporters. As such, any federal attempt to move in on the building would not be restricted by the restraints one would expect of them if it was a private residence with women and children inside. Considering such circumstances, federal agents would be justified in establishing a perimeter around the building, giving those inside a deadline to surrender and then raiding it once the deadline passes. In the case of the Branch Davidian compound, the government had a clear obligation to rely more on negotiation since there were women and children inside.

It is also true that there is a legitimate reason for suppressing anti-public lands militia activity. It cannot be said that these groups have any legitimate grievances. Indeed, they openly represent the interests of wealthy ranchers, miners and others with an obvious interest in privatizing publicly owned lands.

It still needs to be said that the government should abide by the proper rules of engagement upon engaging in any type of raid, individual agents should not open fire unless directly threatened with a gun themselves. That’s about it.

UPDATE 2: After reading this I’m not certain what the solution is. It appears I was mistaken in my earlier assumption that there were no women inside. There’s a lot of contradictory media accounts going around and it seems it isn’t clear if that many of the occupiers are even armed. Now, it may be that the Oregonian is being biased and painting a rosy picture. I honestly don’t know what is going on. I am going to strikeout my most of my previous update until more details come to light. I still stand by my belief that the militia’s demands are ridiculous.

Right-wing rages over aid for refugees and human trafficking victims

A confusingly written article  in the always deceptive, neocon-run Washington Free Beacon is attracting a fair share of rage clicks from US conservatives and attention from Rush Limbaugh. The headline states  that the recent budget deal passed by Congress contains “$1.6B to resettle illegal immigrants arriving at border through 2018.” It bases this assertion on the following passage:

For necessary expenses for refugee and entrant assistance activities authorized by section 414 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and section 501 of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980, and for carrying out section 462 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, section 235 of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (“TVPA”), section 203 of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005, and the Torture Victims Relief Act of 1998, $1,674,691,00 […]

The article is incredibly misleading because it suggests that government efforts to assist refugees seeking asylum and victims of human trafficking are somehow a form of “resettlement,” a word that heavily implies a grant of permanent residency. In reality this aid is a temporary measure so that certain immigrants who claim to have been victimized by repression in foreign counties or enslaved by labor or sex traffickers don’t have to be held in detention (a more inhuman and expensive, but profitable for prison companies , solution) while they await their status. In the vast majority of cases of immigrants from Mexico and Central America seeking protected status (which the article singled out for fear-mongering), they are typically rejected   and eventually deported. Even rescued victims of human trafficking are typically placed in detention and deported, as I have pointed out years ago. If the passage authorizes any type of aid to “resettle” people, it means that their asylum claims have succeeded and are now legal residents (duh!).

None of these facts matter to the banshees of the US right-wing though. The false narrative of Obama the radical, communist, Third World sympathizer naturally comes before the objective reality of Obama the Deporter-in-Chief.

The same bill contains $5,779,041,000 for the ICE to use for “necessary expenses for enforcement of immigration and customs laws.” Of this amount, $3,217,942,00 is to be specifically set aside for “enforcement, detention, and removal operations.” Militarizing the border, putting people in cages, deporting them is incredibly expensive. There is a case to be made that a more lenient immigration policy, in addition to being morally correct, would be much cheaper   than the current status quo of mass detention and deportation. But cost-effectiveness is not a value of the modern conservative movement despite its self-purported emphasis on “fiscal conservatism.” State-mandated sadism, specifically towards the poorer and darker skinned, comes first. Always.

Casual reminder that Israeli establishment views ISIS as bulwark against Iran and Shia influence

Michael Oren, ex-Israeli ambassador to US, 27 June 2015  :

if we have to choose the lesser of evils here, the lesser evil is the Sunnis over the Shiites. … It’s an evil, a terrible evil. Again, they’ve just taken out 1700 former Iraqi soldiers and shot them in a field. But who are they fighting against? They’re fighting against a proxy with Iran that’s complicit in the murder of 160,000 people in Syria. You know, do the math. And again, one side is armed with suicide bombers in Iraq and the other side has access to nuclear military capabilities. So from Israel’s perspective, you know, if there has got to be an evil that is going to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail…

Series of tweets from Israeli PM’s official account, 2014-2015:

israel isis iran

Editorial by Gilad Sharon, Ariel Sharon’s son, 12 May 2015  (emphasis mine):

The fall of Assad’s regime would bring Islamic State to our borders – and that’s a problem. But it would also be a fatal blow for Hezbollah. Without the Assad regime and the Hezbollah-Syria-Iran axis, the threat from Lebanon would fade significantly. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen for sure.
[…]
Things aren’t quiet now, and thus Assad’s guarantee should expire. If the Golan Heights aren’t peaceful in any event, Israel then has no interest in the survival of the Syrian tyrant. Islamic State – unlike Assad and unlike Hezbollah – is the enemy of an international coalition that is fighting the organization; thus Israel wouldn’t have to face this new threat alone.
[…]
This is not to say that we would welcome the presence of the Islamic State lunatics on our border; but it’s certainly no worse, and may even be better, than the presence there of Hezbollah, which is the Lebanese proxy of the Iranian regime.

International Business Times, 7 December 2014  :

A report submitted to the United Nations Security Council by UN observers in the Golan Heights over the past 18 months shows that Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have been in regular contact with Syrian rebels, including Islamic State (ISIS) militants.
[…]
Israel initially had maintained that it was treating only civilians. However, reports claimed that earlier last month members of Israel’s Druze minority protested the hospitalisation of wounded Syrian fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front in Israel.

A statement issued by a group of Druze activists accused the Israeli government of supporting radical Sunni factions such as the Islamic State (ISIS).
[…]
The UN report also laid out instances where in Israeli army was seen interacting with armed rebels. In one incident, the report claimed that the IDF gave some boxes to the Syrian armed rebels.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), pro-Israel Congressman, 11 February 2015 :

Everybody is talking about ISIS, and they have videos of evil to show that they are on the cutting edge of unspeakable crimes. But the fact is that the Shiite alliance headed by Iran is far more deadly than ISIS, just in Syria, having killed perhaps as many as 200,000 people, and certainly they have killed more Americans, starting with the Marine barracks in Beirut in—I believe it was 1983. The Shiite alliance is more dangerous than ISIS. ISIS aspires, may have some capacities as of yet unproven, to carry out directed attacks in the West. […] Before we wage more intense war on ISIS, we have to ask who will fill that space and are we not weakening an enemy of the Shiite alliance without noting that that alliance is a greater threat to us than ISIS.

The easiest way to defeat al-Qaeda and ISIS is for the West to do nothing

This may be obvious to most readers, but I feel it needs to be restated: al-Qaeda and ISIS are not anti-imperialist movements in any meaningful sense of the phrase. They are primarily religiously-motivated chauvinists that are responsible for countless genocidal atrocities against non-Muslims, Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims who do not share their ideology. One could even say that the two groups and the larger Salafi movement are “right-wing” in the same way the Hindutva in India is. It would be an error on the part of the left to view last night’s act of mass murder in Paris attacks as some sort of “just desserts” for the West’s long history of imperial plunder in the Middle East. This is because (in addition to the obviously horrible moral reasoning) the same Sunni chauvinist ideology responsible for the Paris slaughter has historically been used by the West to contain and combat communism, Arab nationalism and rival governments.

This does not mean that the attacks should be seen as totally unintentional “blowback” either. As we can see from the immediate effects on public opinion in the Western world, the attacks will end up strengthening the political position of the militarists, anti-immigration forces, and national security-obsessed authoritarians. This will indeed result in policies that will further empower groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS, but not precisely for the same reasons some left-commentators think.

The day before the Paris attacks, a predominantly Shia Muslim neighborhood in Lebanon was attacked by ISIS suicide bombers. The Western media downplayed the murderous nature of the attacks and victim-blamed the innocent civilians murdered by calling the neighborhood a “Hezbollah stronghold  .” For the Middle East, Hezbollah is a relatively principled anti-imperialist movement that has a mass base among the impoverished Shia of Lebanon while making appeals for cross-sectarian solidarity among Sunnis   and Christians  . It also remains consistently opposed to Israeli aggression against Lebanon and Palestine. This is perhaps why it was not been viewed as a tragedy by the Western media when suicide bombers murdered civilians that were simply perceived as sympathizers with the group. When the mask slips like this we see ISIS is viewed by the ruling class as a tool for the West to combat counter-hegemonic movements.

Today the Western powers are bombing targets in Iraq and Syria with the purported goal of defeating ISIS. There are many reasons to view this effort cynically since the US still remains publicly committed to overthrowing the Syrian government (“our position has long been and it remains that Assad has no role in Syria’s political future  ”) and has sought to arm anti-Assad forces  , many of them Sunni chauvinists themselves  , as a means of fighting ISIS. Before ISIS emerged as a distinct force to be reckoned with, the US government and its regional proxies armed the opposition to Assad and destabilized the country  . This is probably what lead to ISIS seizing so much territory in Syria and Iraq in the first place. There is recent confirmation that arms the US claimed it intended to give to moderate rebels has ended up in the hands of al-Nusra Front  , which is al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise.

I believe that the best means for the Western world to end this carnage is to butt out of the region altogether and let the governments of Syria and Iraq deal with al-Qaeda and ISIS on their own terms and allow them to seek assistance from Iran and Russia if they feel they need it. The US specifically needs to inform its local allies such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey that it is no longer seeking regime-change in Syria and that sending arms to the rebels is ultimately a futile endeavor. The West ultimately cannot be trusted to broker a just peace in the region considering its long history of exploitation, backing of reactionary governments and movements and outright acts of aggression. Any legitimate grievances the domestic populations of Syria and Iraq have with their governments must be addressed without the specter of Western intervention or Gulf state-funded fanaticism.

Human rights group suing CIA over El Salvador war crimes victimized by suspicious burglary

Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

University of Washington police are investigating after an apparent break-in at the office of a professor who recently sued the CIA.

Angelina Godoy, director of the university’s Center for Human Rights, reported early this week that her desktop computer and a hard drive had been taken from her on-campus office. The burglary came shortly after Godoy and her center sued the CIA for records related to human rights violations in El Salvador.

“While we have backups of this information, what worries us most is not what we have lost but what someone else may have gained,” a spokesperson for the center said Wednesday in a statement. “The files include sensitive details of personal testimonies and pending investigations.”
[…]
The break-in came two weeks after the center filed a federal lawsuit against the CIA seeking access to documents related to the Salvadoran wars from 1980 to 1992. The center has filed about 200 document requests under the Freedom of Information Act aimed at several federal intelligence and military agencies.

The documents at issue in the lawsuit relate to Salvadoran Col. Sigifredo Ochoa Perez. The CIA has refused to release the documents, as well as documents related to an American academic who witnessed a massacre purportedly conducted by Ochoa’s troops.
[…]
“While we cannot rule out the possibility of this having been an incident of common crime, we are deeply concerned that this breach of information security may increase the vulnerability of Salvadoran human rights defenders with whom we work,” the spokesperson said.

The targeting of Central America-focused solidarity activists and human rights investigators would certainly not be without precedent. During the 1980s the Central American peace movement found itself targeted by the FBI and a privatized network of right-wing spies. At the time it was subject of numerous Congressional hearings and an investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. This campaign of surveillance and intimidation was meticulously documented by Boston Globe reporter Ross Gelbspan in Break-ins, Death Threats and the FBI. Other useful sources include Chapter 10 of Christian Smith’s Resisting Reagan, prepared Congressional testimony from the Center for Constitutional Rights and Chip Berlet’s The Hunt for Red Menace.

Before the Reagan administration entered office, the Heritage Foundation issued a wishlist of desired policies that included draconian measures against left-wing dissidents. It asserted with an alarmist tone that “the threat to the internal security of the Republic is greater today than at any time since World War II.” It directed criticism at “many of the current restrictions on internal security functions” and declared that “it is axiomatic that individual liberties are secondary to the requirement of national security and internal civil order.” The report called upon Reagan to recognize “the reality of subversion” and “the un-American nature of much so-called ‘dissidence.'” Most disturbingly, it demanded the loosening of standards that required suspicion of criminal activity before engaging in “such standard surveillance techniques as wiretapping, mail covers […], informants, and at least occasionally, illegal entries” [emphasis mine]. This was an explicit endorsement of the type of political burglaries that would later plague the Central America movement throughout the rest of the decade.

The main target of the FBI’s investigations into the Central America movement was the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES). According to Chip Berlet:

The FBI probe of CISPES involved 52 of the 59 Field Offices of the FBI. Dossiers were compiled on hundreds of other organizations which intersected in some vague way with CISPES during the course of the investigation. […] Among the many groups named in the CISPES FBI files were: Central American Solidarity Committee, Clergy and Laity Concerned, Church of the Brothers, Chicago Interreligious Task Force, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Friends Religious Society, Maryknoll Sisters, National Education Association, Southern Christian Leaderhip Conference, United Steel Workers Union, and the United Auto Workers union. Also named in the files were a number of individual churches, colleges, religious orders, community organizations, women’s groups and political groups.

To get an idea of how zealous certain elements within the FBI were about the investigation, a 10 November 1983 teletype from New Orleans FBI field office declared that:

It is imperative at this time to formulate some plan of attack against CISPES and, specifically, against individuals [redacted] who defiantly display their contempt for the U.S. Government by making speeches and propagandizing their cause while asking for political asylum.

The FBI’s key infiltrator within CISPES, Frank Varelli, would eventually become disenchanted with the investigation and declared before a Congressional hearing on 20 February 1987 that:

I was told the main reason for the concern for CISPES was because it was the largest and most active group opposed to the Reagan Administration’s policies in Central America. […] I now realize that the purpose of the FBI’s attention directed towards the CISPES was political and not criminal. The aim of the FBI was to break CISPES for its stand against Reagan’s policy in Central America.

A run down of the type of tactics used against CISPES and similar organizations can be found in CCR’s testimony before the US House’s Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, mentioned earlier. Examples of their findings include:

  • “The FBI questioned over one hundred U.S. persons after they visited Nicaragua. Agents also contacted scores of others involved in dissent from Administration Central American policies.”
  • “Customs agents are taking a special interest in returnees from Central America: copying and seizing personal written materials, and subjecting such travelers to unnecessary questioning and verbal abuse”
  • “An abnormally large percentage of individuals who travel to Central America, and the legal political organizations involved in Central American dissent, have been audited by the IRS”
  • “The data on more than 58 burglaries directed against groups and individuals dissenting from administration Central American policies, indicate that the purpose of the burglaries is to gather intelligence, intimidate and disrupt groups involved in lawfully protected First Amendment activities.”

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this campaign of domestic repression to this very day remains the burglaries. Organizations such as the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), Amnesty International, Sojourners, Nicaragua Solidarity Network and Witness for Peace all were victimized by suspicious break-ins at some point or another in which files (sometimes containing confidential membership information) were rifled through or stolen outright. It is still generally unknown who was responsible for these burglaries and to what extent the FBI was involved or knew what was going on. According to the CCR testimony, the evidence has occasionally pointed in the direction of private right-wing groups:

Ross Gelbspan’s article in the Boston Globe of January 18, 1987, quoted an unnamed source, who is an expert on right wing paramilitary groups, and a CIA consultant, as saying that the break-ins could well be financed by a number of well-endowed right-wing organizations. We know that a number of right-wing groups collect intelligence data. For example, the Western Goals Foundation was given secret computer intelligence files stolen from the Los Angeles police department’s Public Disorder Intelligence Division. Western Goals used the material to create files on as many as 6,000 people.

Information has surfaced on a possible Western Goals-NSC connection. The head of the Western Goals is Carl Russell Channell, and until 1984, retired Army Major General Singlaub was a member of the foundation’s advisory board. The Corvill (Mass.) Sun reported on December 14, 1986, that Channell had received funds from Oliver North. Robert White, whose offices were burglarized, speculated that the break-in at his office might be the work of anti-communist vigilantes: “There’s a whole private network that’s been built up…to reinforce what Oliver North has been doing.”

A detailed list of suspicious incidents targeting left-wing activists in the US throughout the 1980s can be found here. It includes numerous cases of death threats, intimidation and arson.

Probably the most serious incident occurred on 7 July 1987. A young Salvadoran woman who volunteered for CISPES in Los Angeles named Yanira Corea was abducted by three men who threw her into the back of a van and tortured and interrogated her for the next six hours. They cut the Spanish acronym for “death squad” into the palms of her hands, cut open the skin on her neck and raped her with a foreign object. She was questioned about other members of CISPES and her union organizer brother in El Salvador. Injuries backing up her story were subsequently confirmed by an LAPD officer and a local doctor who examined her.