Um Occupy – Mother of All Occupys
The developments come from everywhere, so let us just take them as they seem offensive.
After Israel announced that it was giving back the revenue it took from the Palestinians in retribution of their seeking recognition at the United Nations, the U.N. announced that 300 Palestinian children are incarcerated in Israeli prisons and are subject to interrogation and torture. However, in an unparalleled example of what our pentagon calls “a-symmetric warfare,” (bad stuff such as hanging oneself), some people in Gaza destroyed an Israeli chicken coop. Now this is reaching a new low. I mean, not even chickens are safe? We at the Times are calling for a midnight vigil and lighting candles for all the dead chickens in that coop. Some things just can not be tolerated.
Tahrir Square, however, is the Mother of All Occupations. It started in Tunisia, yes, but that leader was just greedy. Mubarak and the army, however, show no signs of giving up. Hence, the riots. The elections are taking place and it looks like the Moslem Brotherhood is in the best position. This is a good thing as the organization at least has some values, non-capitalist values. Just to be clear about it, I am not a religious zealot – why I did not even say a word when four Amish men had their beards snipped.
In Iran, the Brits are getting their asses kicked, finally, and the conservative government is “outraged”. Well, fine. Meanwhile, two million workers there are on strike today to protest “austerity”.
This may be the place to define “Austerity” as practiced today. It is what we usually did to lesser developed nations – forced them to privatize (meaning give away) their national resources, including water, let the people starve, lower their wages, and so on. Since Capitalism is in need of more expansion for the 1%, austerity is what they are now trying to do to us.
So, there were 200 arrests in the City of the Angels and quite a bit of bloodshed in the City of Brotherly Love. In the Big Apple, there is a lawsuit to have about 4,500 books replaced by the protestant mayor Bloomberg as a result of the Gestapo tactics used a week or so ago.
Meanwhile, Obama rests secure as the Republicans continue to support his re-election. Rick Perry invited all of those who will be 21 before the 12th to vote for him. Other members of the electorate should just “work hard”.
The Times called Mrs. Perry, posing as Bob Newhart, and played the tape for her. This is a transcript of our side of the call:
“So, Mrs. Perry, what do you think of that? ‘It was good?’ Maybe a little context will help…context?…oh, that’s background…see, the voting age in New Hamshire is 21 as it is everywhere, it is a primary election, not a caucus as he said, and it is on the 6th, not the 12th, so what do you say now? ‘At least he doesn’t say 999’? And why’s that? He can’t count that high? Right, I get your drift. And what’s that? ‘At least he keeps his dick to himself?’ Very good, very good. Er…how do you know, Mrs. Perry? ‘Trust you, you know?’ How do you know? You ‘cut it off’’? I find that hard ‘you don’t’?” At this point she hung up.
The great Hermann Cain did not have a 13 year affair and when asked if he was dropping out, saying “9,9,9” but it sounded very German in pronunciation.
Student debt equals that of credit cards in toto. For those of us who can remember parts of the 60s, now burning draft cards has been replaced by buring letters from collection departments on student loans. As far as prison, if the new bill passes, all they have to do is label you as a terrorist and you can be put in prison, none of this fancy, schmancy ‘due process’ crap. There is a nice story about the Mother of Occupy and an interview with an inventor of pepper spray that explains why pepper spray is not a ‘food product’ as Fox news would have its viewers believe (and they will).
Here are a few interview transcripts on the subjects:
AMY GOODMAN: The Senate could vote as early as Wednesday on a Pentagon spending bill that could usher in a radical expansion of indefinite detention under the U.S. government. A provision in the National Defense Authorization Act would authorize the military to jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect anywhere in the world without charge or trial. The measure would effectively extend the definition of what’s considered the U.S. military’s battlefield to anywhere in the world, even the United States. The measure’s authors, Democratic Carl Levin of Michigan and Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, have been campaigning for its passage in a bipartisan effort. But, the White House has issued a veto threat with backing from top officials including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence James clapper, an FBI Director Robert Mueller. The measure was inserted into the full military spending bill after the Armed Services Committee quietly approved it without a single public hearing. Now Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has set Wednesday as a procedural vote day to advance the legislation. For more we’re joined by Daphne Eviatar, Senior Associate with the Law and Security Program at Human Rights First. On Monday, Human Rights First released a letter from 26 retired military leaders urging the Senate to vote against the measure as well as against a separate provision that would repeal the executive order banning torture. Daphne Eviatar joins us in the studio today. Welcome to Democracy Now!. Explain exactly what this legislation is about.
DAPHNE EVIATAR: OK, first of all, the legislation is 680 pages long, and so one reason this has been able to get through so quietly is that the controversial provisions are just three or four provisions within this huge package. The ones that we’re particularly concerned about, are for—-specifically the one you mentioned about creating a system of indefinite military detention within the United States by statute. This would be the first time since the McCarthy era that the United States Congress has tried to do this. In the 1950’s, that was actually repealed before it was ever used. In this case have seen the administration very eagerly hold people without trial for 10 plus years in military detention, so there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t continue to do that here. So we’re talking about indefinite military detention of U.S. citizens, of lawful U.S. residents as well as of people abroad.
AMY GOODMAN: Here in this country. U.S. citizens abroad as well as others abroad and others abroad in this country as well as U.S. citizens.
DAPHNE EVIATAR: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you’re picked up off the street and you have no trial.
AMY GOODMAN: And it could be for things you’ve done here in this country. If you communicate with Al Qaeda, you’re suspected of being even a supporter of Al Qaeda in some way or of Al Qaeda’s associated forces. And the U.S. gets to decide who they think is associated with Al Qaeda, and that list grows longer almost every day.
AMY GOODMAN: Now again, suspected. This is not that you’ve been convicted.
DAPHNE EVIATAR: Suspected. And this is military custody without trial. So, this is for example what we have in Guantanamo Bay and at Bagram only you’re now expanding the battlefield, as you said, to the United States. And, explicitly, some members of congress have said recently, yes, the battlefield now is the United States as well and the U.S. military ought to be able to operate here as well. And one other point, another very controversial provision in the bill and what the administration has particularly objected to, is the mandatory military custody provision which would say anyone suspected of terrorism in any way connected to Al Qaeda would have to be put into military custody. So, the government wouldn’t even have the option. So, all these FBI investigations that are thwarting terrorist attacks and local police investigations, immediately that would have to be turned over to the U.S. military, and that would become a military action here in the United States, on U.S. soil.
AMY GOODMAN: How is this constitutional?
DAPHNE EVIATAR: That’s a good question. It could be challenged, constitutionally, but, by the time something like this gets to the Supreme Court and we get a decision, it could be years.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, this is a bipartisan bill. You’ve got McCain, Arizona, you’ve got Michigan’s Carl Levin. What are their motivations in this?
DAPHNE EVIATAR: It’s very hard to know. McCain generally is always very interested in getting the military and—-he’s obviously very pro-military, he has a military background—-but it’s odd to me because so many people within the military have said this is a terrible idea. So, it makes him look very tough on terrorism, and I think there’s a lot of politics here about looking tough on terrorism. Levin was able to soften the bill in various ways, and that was—-so, they cut this deal behind closed doors, as you mentioned earlier. But, they haven’t softened it in any substantive way. It still allows for this indefinite military detention.
AMY GOODMAN: What about the Udall Amendment?
DAPHNE EVIATAR: The Udall Amendment would basically table this. It would say, OK, let’s let the NDAA, which is the defense authorization, the spending bill go forward, we can...
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, this is spending bill. It’s supposed to be about spending.
DAPHNE EVIATAR: Yeah. It’s about what the government—-what Congress authorizes the government to spend for the military. So, it’s everything. It’s weapons systems, it’s everything. Let that go forward and something like creating a whole new system of indefinite detention without trial. Let’s stop and think about that more. Let’s have hearings. Let’s really study what the implications are before we pass it. That’s what the Udall Amendment would do.
AMY GOODMAN: Who are the military leaders who have signed on to the letter that you released this week?
DAPHNE EVIATAR: Those are retired generals and admirals, very senior people. Many of the same people who stood behind President Obama when he signed an executive order on his second day in office banning the use of torture and closing the CIA’s secret prisons. So many of those same people are saying, you know what, this is not a good idea. This would disrupt ongoing criminal investigations of terrorism. We shouldn’t have mandatory military custody.
AMY GOODMAN: If this bill passes, does a person who’s been detained have any recourse?
DAPHNE EVIATAR: Again, it’s not clear. There’s still the right of habeas corpus. But, what we’ve seen is in the courts, the D.C. Circuit has really gutted that right. They’ve essentially said in their most recent cases, and this is the court right below the Supreme Court, has said you have to presume that the government’s evidence in these cases involving secret intelligence is true. You basically have to give the government presumption their evidence is true. Which means the can get away with almost anything because you can’t test secret intelligence information. So that whole right of habeas corpus, which is also not the equivalent of a criminal trial, it’s a civil proceeding, really has become gutted.
AMY GOODMAN: Will President Obama veto this if it is incorporated into the bill?
DAPHNE EVIATAR: He has said he will. Whether he will is a difficult question because, politically, it’s difficult to veto a defense spending bill that 680 pages long and includes authorization to spend on a whole range of military programs. We hope he will. He has said he will. He very strongly opposes it. But, we’ll see.
AMY GOODMAN: And how are you organizing against it? How is Human Rights First organizing against it?
DAPHNE EVIATAR: We’re working a lot with members of the Senate and in Congress, urging them to vote against it. Some senators, even, who in the past suggested they would support this bill, are starting to waver and saying maybe they won’t support it. They’re starting to understand. We’re really working with these retired military leaders to go out there and explain to people in the Senate, look, this is a bad idea and here’s why.
AMY GOODMAN: What does this mean for Guantanamo?
DAPHNE EVIATAR: Means—-the third provision, which I didn’t have a chance to talk about is just that it extends the transfer restrictions. It means you can’t transfer anyone out of Guantanamo. And the worst thing, and this is also something very few people have realized, but, Secretary Panetta mentioned this recently, is it would prevent the transfer of detainees out of Bagram and Afghanistan. So, we have about 3000 detainees being detained indefinitely in Afghanistan at the Bagram Air Base. Now, the U.S. wants to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. This would make it almost impossible to do that, because you wouldn’t be able to transfer these detainees to Afghanistan because Afghanistan could never meet the conditions that are set out in the bill to accept detainees from the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: Daphne Eviatar, thank you very much for being with us. Senior Associate at Human Rights First Law and Security program.
AMY GOODMAN: Egypt’s in the second day of its first election since the ouster of longtime President Mubarak. On Monday, Egyptians waited in long lines across the country to choose their first ever democratically elected parliament. The elections are being held in the wake of fierce clashes between protesters and police that left at least 42 people dead and more than 3100 wounded. It marked the worst violence in Egypt since Mubarak’s ouster. Thousands of protesters remained in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, many of them boycotting the vote. Democracy Now!correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous has been on the ground reporting on the Egyptian revolution since it broke out nearly a year ago. He’s been in the streets of Cairo throughout the last week, reporting on the deadly clashes that preceded the national elections. As Egyptians headed to the polls, Sharif filed this report on an election held in the aftermath of a deadly crackdown.
CROWD: [Chanting] Yasqot yasqot hokm el Askar.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Down with military rule. The clarion call of a new uprising in Egypt. The revolution that erupted 10 months ago and succeeded in ousting 30-year autocrat Hosni Mubarak has re-ignited into Tahrir Square and has spread across the country. This time, protesters are rising up against the Supreme Council of Armed Forces that came to power after Mubarak’s ouster in what is perhaps the biggest challenge to military rule in Egypt in 60 years.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: The uprising was marked by some of the fiercest street battles between protesters and police since the revolution began, and the launch of a new mass sit-in in Tahrir Square. This all comes at a pivotal time in Egypt’s transition. Parliamentary elections began on Monday. The first poll to select a new post-Mubarak government. While political parties have been scrambling over the past few weeks to organize and campaign, uncertainty surrounding the vote looms large, and the very legitimacy of the election itself is in question. The rules of the voting system are deeply confusing, and the mandate for the elected parliament remains unclear. More glaringly, the elections are taking place in the shadow of clashes that have left at least 42 protesters dead and more than 3100 wounded in the past few days. Sherief Gaber is an Egyptian protester.
SHERIEF GABER: I think that the elections are not going to make a difference to the fundamental issue that we’re living under a military government. It’s an exercise in legitimacy for the military to basically parade around the fact that they’re supposedly transitioning to democracy. The parliament is going to have no powers. It’s been a rush job. There will be probably more violence. And how can you even consider holding elections in light of the fact that we’ve had state violence happening for five days here, over 120 hours nonstop?
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: The clashes first erupted last Saturday, November 19th, when Central Security forces stormed a small sit-in of a few dozen protesters in Tahrir Square. Riot police violently broke up the sit in and beat those who had set up camp. In response, hundreds of protesters descended to Tahrir in solidarity. They clashed with security forces and forced them out of the square. The fighting quickly escalated into the fiercest street battles in post-Mubarak Egypt.
SHERIEF GABER: We’ve seen an absolutely brutal assault by police and by the army on the demonstrators here, starting with an attack on a group of wounded from the original 18-day uprising. Since then, we’ve seen them using live ammunition of various kinds. We’ve seen them using thousands upon thousands of tear gas canisters. We’ve had over 3000 wounded. We’ve had over 38 killed. We’ve held them off. People are not willing to move because what they want, they know now they want and end to military government. They want it now.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: For five straight days, nearly 120 continuous hours, thousands of protesters, most of them young men and women, did battle with security forces. Police used live ammunition, rubber bullets, shotgun cartridges, and an astonishing amount of tear gas. Protesters fought back mostly with rocks and sometimes Molotov cocktails. The number of dead and wounded quickly began to mount. Ghada Shahbandar is a member of the board of directors of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.
GHADA SHAHBANDAR: Injuries, maimings and killings are caused by teargas. The number one cause is teargas and then pellet bullets and rubber bullets. The pellet bullets and rubber bullets have been proven to be aimed at protesters faces and necks and hands. The large number of eye injuries. On Saturday, and upon my arrival to Tahrir Square, I personally overheard an officer instructing his soldiers to aim for protesters’ heads.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Despite the statements of many witnesses, doctors, and even the Health Ministry, the Supreme Council denied in a press conference that security forces had fired live ammunition or birdshot in their clashes with protesters. Dr. Mona Mina is a member of the Doctors’ Syndicate and founding member of the Tahrir Doctors Group that has helped organize and provide medical care in the square.
DR. MONA MINA: I visited one of the wounded in the Red Crescent Hospital. The injury was to the bone and the x-ray clearly showed the bullet. I also saw other injuries that had entry and exit bullet wounds, and in the middle, the bone was broken. No injury of this type has an entry and exit wound with broken bone in the middle unless a bullet went through. At the state morgue, I saw bodies that have been shot with live ammunition that had entry and exit bullet wounds. So, yes, of course, there was live ammunition fired. There were shotgun pellets and rubber pellets that hit people in the eye. We saw all of these things with our own eyes.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Dozens were killed in the crackdown and more than 3100 injured over the five days of clashes; a rate of over 620 injured per day. Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypt’s Revolution, had turned into a massive hospital. The wounded, the majority of them overwhelmed by tear gas and barely conscious, were carried from the front lines to field hospitals set up in and around the square, on motorcycles. Protesters linked arms to create lanes for the bikes to speed through the crowds. Despite the near certainty of being injured or passing out from too much gas, protesters kept going forward to the front lines to confront police. The fighting centered on Mohammed Mahmoud, a street leading from Tahrir to the headquarters of the Interior Ministry. This is actor and activist, Khalid Abdalla.
KHALID ABDALLA: There’s an essential thing to understand about Mohammed Mahmoud, is that it is the frontier between Tahrir and the Ministry of Interior. You’re always going to have, no matter where you define it, an area that is a no man’s land in which it’s not clear it; is this your territory or my territory? As they hit you, you are not going to give up. The more they kill us, the more we multiply. And that has always been the story of this revolution. So, obviously, the front lines have been—-I mean it’s funny, tear gas, it’s almost like it has a natural kind of—-what’s the word? You kind of develop immunity to it. Not immunity in terms of your lung, but you develop immunity of spirit. It’s made to break you. But what it does is gradually make you more furious to the point that there is nothing that will stop you. This revolution has always been about having it having body. When you know there are thousands upon thousands upon thousands behind you, you don’t stop. People fight for as long as they can. They die, they go to hospitals, they lose their eyes and there are others behind them. It’s a matter of—-it’s how, kind of, consensus expresses itself as a movement. And essentially, your heart takes over your body. It takes over your mind. We’re fighting for things far bigger than this.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Each day, more and more people descended to Tahrir square. What began as a protest of a few hundred, had grown to many thousands. Ambulances waded through the crowd in what had become an almost surreal scene of chaos and bloodshed. Protesters called for a million-person gathering on Tuesday. And when the day came, the square saw one of the largest demonstration since the January 25th revolution began. It had one clear call, an end to military rule. That evening, Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Supreme Council, directly addressed the Egyptian people for the first time since assuming the position of de facto ruler of the country. He delivered only minor concessions and refused to answer the call of the protesters to hand over power. The speech had little affect and the protests in Tahrir continue as strong as ever. The next day, the clashes continued as fierce as ever. On Thursday, the army stepped in. Soldiers erected a large wall of concrete blocks in the middle of Mohammed Mahmoud street to separate the two sides. The fighting in Cairo had stopped, but clashes in Alexandria and elsewhere continued, and the battle for Egypt’s future was far from over. On Friday, tens of thousands filled the Tahrir for a massive demonstration. Theater marches hit the streets across Cairo and headed to the square. Many of the protesters spoke out against his scheduled elections. Hany Nazim Mohamed Salama is a protester from northeast Cairo.
HANI SALAMA: The elections are rejected completely, completely. Firstly, we can’t have elections with all that has happened. The police can’t secure the elections and we have no confidence whatsoever in the Military Council to accept these elections under them. Any group that stands with the elections, that says yes to elections, is against the Egyptian revolution. They don’t care about the blood that has been spilled. Those who approve the elections sell our blood just to run after the seats in Parliament.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Among those who have come under heavy criticism from the protesters is the Muslim Brotherhood. The longtime Islamist opposition group stands to gain a large number of seats in the parliamentary elections, and has pushed heavily for the vote to go ahead as scheduled. The Brotherhood declined to join any demonstrations and went so far as to forbid its members from taking part.
KHALID ABDALLA: The Muslim Brotherhood clearly are interested in the elections. They have a political interest, which they’re declaring now above the demands of this revolution to get rid of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. I feel very strongly that it is—-that I say, shame on them. Shame on their history. They are after all are a movement that has been tortured and abused and beaten and killed for 60 years at the hands of this regime, this army regime that is still in power today, and at the last moment, they take an opportunistic decision to choose sham elections over the people of this country.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Instead of elections, many protesters have called for power to be handed over to some kind of civilian presidential council or a national salvation government that has full authority currently held by the Military Council. Rania Mohamed Fawzi is an accountant from Cairo.
RANIA MOHAMED FAWZI: We are ordinary Egyptians, the ones they say just stay at home. We are not staying at home. We’re right here saying we want our rights, which are very simply [a] civilian presidential council that is formed from people that represent us, and that is agreed upon, but they must have full authority, not just someone like before, like Essam Sharaf’s government, just a secretary that just carries out with the staff wants. No, we’ve been silent for a long time. This time, we are not silent, and we will get all our rights. And this won’t be like the first time. They said Mubarak left and we all went home. No, this time, we won’t go home until we get our rights.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: At the top the list to head a National Salvation Revolutionary government, is Mohamed ElBaradei, a presidential candidate and Nobel Peace Prize winner who has declared his willingness for the role as long as he is given full powers. Protesters have also proposed other potential politicians to head the government along side several young revolutionaries. In the meantime, the Supreme Council announced its opponent of a new prime minister to replace Essam Sharaf who had resigned along with the rest of the cabinet. Kamal Ganzouri was the man they chose, a 78-year-old closely tied to Mubarak’s regime. In response, protesters chose to extend their Tahrir sit-in to occupy the nearby street, housing the Cabinet and Parliament. On Sunday morning, brief clashes with Central Security forces near the Cabinet sit-in left a 19-year-old protester dead, the latest martyr and revolution that has been re-ignited.
KHALID ABDALLA: This country is in a moment of absolute clarity and awareness about where it stands, about the front lines of what it has to fight for, what it has to bring down in order to build itself. I’m not saying that in one swift move everything will be great. But, right now, we have a crucial—-right now you have millions of people pitted against the biggest institution in the country, and they are not afraid, and they are willing to die for it and they are willing to fight for it. It may take some people more time to get to a point where they’re willing to stand in front of a tank and say, run over me, and that’s extraordinary moment for anyone to come to. But, we saw that on the 25th of February when the army first came down to kick us out of this square. and the number that was there was very small, but, right then they said it is the people or the army and people will win because they always do. You cannot enforce stability. If you try and enforce stability, the cracks will be volcanic and they will melt your way.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: For Democracy Now!, I’m Sharif Abdel Kouddous with Jacquie Soohen in Cairo, Egypt. Special thanks to the Mosireen Video Collective and to Pierre Siouffi.
AMY GOODMAN: Sharif’s reporting from Egypt is made possible in part by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org,The War and Peace Report. When we come back, one of the people responsible for the development of weapons grade pepper spray, extremely critical of how police are using it now in the United States. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: The singer and actress Miley Cyrus, yes, Hannah Montana, a new remix of her song, "Liberty Walk." Cyrus is showing her support for Occupy Wall Street and international pro-democracy movements by using protest footage from around the world. The video begins with a statement on the screen saying, "This is dedicated to the thousands of people who are standing up for what they believe in." This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I am Amy Goodman.
It’s not unprecedented for an inventor to voice regrets when a creation turns out to have harmful uses. It is widely believed the Swedish industrialist, Alfred Nobel, created the Peace Prize bearing his name in response to feelings of guilt around his invention of dynamite and ballistite, both of which were used in violent acts during his lifetime. The famed physicist, Albert Einstein, was said to be greatly distressed for unintentionally advancing the development of the atomic bomb through his work. Today in the aftermath of the crackdown on Occupy Wall Street protesters nationwide, there is a new name to add to the list, Kamran Loghman. In the 80’s Loghman was the expert responsible with the FBI in developing weapons grade pepper spray. He also collaborated with police departments to develop guidelines for pepper spray’s use. But now after seeing footage of police using pepper spray on non-violent Occupy Wall Street protesters nationwide, including students at UC Davis, protesters with the Occupy movement in New York and 84 year old protester Dora Lee Rainey in Seattle, Kamran Loghman is speaking out against what he calls the most inappropriate and improper use of chemical agents he has ever seen. Loghman will join us in a minute, but first I want to play an excerpt from when the campus police officers at UC Davis pepper sprayed students earlier this month. The students were sitting down during a peaceful protest when officers began pepper spraying them at close range.
CROWD: [Shouting] The whole world is watching. [Shouting] Shame on you. Shame on you. Shame on you.
PROTESTER: I want your name. I want his name. [Shouting]
AMY GOODMAN: UC Davis police pepper spraying students two weeks ago as they peacefully protested at UC Davis. We’re joined now by Kamran Loghman who helped the FBI develop weapons grade pepper spray in the 80’s and developed guidelines for police departments using the spray. He is joining us from Washington, DC. Welcome to Democracy Now!. Talk about your reaction to the use of the chemical agent that you helped the FBI develop.
KAMRAN LOGHMAN: Shocked and bewilderment. I mean, I saw it and the first thing that came to my mind wasn’t police or students but my own children sitting down, having an opinion, and their being shot and forced by chemical agents.
AMY GOODMAN: How did you develop this in the 80’s? How did you help develop pepper spray, Kamran Loghman?
KAMRAN LOGHMAN: Pepper spray was available in those days as a dog repellant, but it did not have the strength to be a weapon grade product for law enforcement and military application, so it went through a series of research and development and a lot of field testing and by the time it became available, it went under three years of study at the FBI Firearms Training Unit in Virginia and became a standard issue with almost every police department in the United States. I was involved in all the research and development and basically development of the product.
AMY GOODMAN: So explain how it went from pepper spray to weapons grade pepper spray and then why the FBI was interested in developing this, and then how it came to be used by police departments all over the country.
KAMRAN LOGHMAN: Well, what you have is that in chili peppers or capsicum peppers or cayenne pepper, as you call it, is the family of capsicum pepper. You have an ingredient which is called capsaicinoids. Capsaicinoid is the active ingredient which actually causes inflammation of the mucous membranes, the eyelids, the nose, the respiratory system, anything that basically is moist in the human body and causes irritation and inflammation in that regard. So that part was manipulated, concentrated, strengthened so it was no longer something you see just in chili pepper but was fortified to many more degree. Then it was formulated under pressure in a canister in aerosol with a variety of chemicals which are not pepper spray such as alcohol or water, depending on the brand, different kinds of propellants or gasses in order to eject this spray. That’s how the military specification would be applied making sure that it works every time you pull the trigger, let’s call it. In regards to why FBI was interested in it, is because prior to that in the use of force by law enforcement, when you encounter somebody who is aggressive, let’s say somebody was under the influence of narcotics or alcohol, and you arrest them and the highway patrol wants to take him out of the car and they become combatant. At that time police officers had really little choice, it was either baton or go to deadly force. By introduction of pepper spray, it was very quick and police officers were trained to do that. They could arrest the individual, take him back to the jail, wash their face, give them proper decontamination and that was the end of the story. In that regard, it was a great weapon. It saved hundreds of thousands of lives in the last 20 years.
AMY GOODMAN: And talk about what you are seeing today, how it is being used, because you also work with police departments around the country in developing a protocol in how weapons grade pepper spray should be used, Kamran Loghman.
KAMRAN LOGHMAN: One of the original training manuals that was developed for the FBI, as well as many federal law enforcement around the country, as well as the state agencies, was actually authored by me and several other people. In there we made it very specifically clear what the intention of use of pepper spray is and that is how every police officer gets trained, even today. That’s how they get certified when they learn how to use the pepper spray. What occurred here is that in UC Davis you see a complete improper and inappropriate use. Normally pepper spray is used when there is a physical threat to the police officers or bystanders or there is a possibility of property damage and you see that things are going haywire. In that situation, police officers are justified to bring things under control by using a force that is not deadly, such as pepper spray. In the case of UC Davis, individuals are totally quiet. They are not saying anything and they are not harming anybody and they are not being aggressive to police officers. So the use was just absolutely out of ordinary and was not in accordance with any training or policy of any department that I know of. I personally certified 4000 police officers in the early 80’s and 90’s and I have never seen this before and that’s why I was shocked. That’s why I have come up and I feel it is my civic duty to explain to the public that this is not what pepper spray was developed for.
AMY GOODMAN: Deborah Blum, a Pulitzer Prize winning science writer and professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin – Madison told KPCC that the US military is banned by international law from using pepper spray on the battlefield. Kamran Loghman, is this true?
KAMRAN LOGHMAN: It is true, but it is not the complete picture. It is not just pepper spray. According to Geneva Convention, any use of chemical agent is not legal anywhere in the world by any country in the world at the time of war.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me go to Egypt for a minute. The Egyptian military is reportedly in the process of purchasing 21 tons of tear gas from the Jamestown, PA, company called Combined Systems. Workers at the Suez seaport say an initial 7 ton shipment of the US made tear gas has already entered the port. Of course, we have seen and talked with people on the ground in Cairo about what many are saying is what can be lethal teargas, that people are choking or being asphyxiated by this. Talk about the difference and about tear gas being used in this way.
KAMRAN LOGHMAN: Well, pepper spray is, as I mentioned to you, the active ingredient that is derived from what is called oleoresin capsicum which is the oily resin of capsicum chili peppers. In a scientific way you extract that out of capsicum and it is from chili peppers where as tear gasses are manmade chemicals or synthetic and the one that you see being used in Egypt is called CS and it stands for a long term chemical which means autochlorobenzylmalononetrial. It has been in use since the 60’s, tear gasses, and what it is supposed to do is cause tearing of the eye, that’s why it’s called tear gas, a lot of itching and when you inhale it, because it’s in the air in a form of dust or cloud, and then you start the coughing and having shortness of breath. Tear gasses have what we call LD50. LD50 is the lethal dosage of 50% of population. How much chemical do you introduce into the air before 50% of the population can have fatality. It is becoming more and more fashionable this day and age to use chemical on people who have an opinion and that, to me, is a complete lack of leadership both in the police department and other people who cannot really deal with the root of the problem and they want to spray people to quiet them down and it is really not supposed to be that. It is not a thing that solves any problem, nor is it something that quiets people down. It is just a temporary tool in which it is justified to use in crowds when, as I mentioned to you, there is property damage and you want to quietly and quickly take care of that spot and not just the masses of people so that you can bring order and peace. It is not meant to take the mass of people, such as Egypt, and just tell them basically go home, shut up and don’t say anything. That is not what tear gas is meant to be.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to a clip of Fox News anchor, Megan Kelly, who made some controversial comments to Bill O’Reilly on Monday’s edition of the O’Reilly Factor. The two Fox hosts were discussing the UC Davis police that pepper sprayed the protesters.
BILL O’REILLY: First of all pepper spray, that just burns your eyes, right?
MEGAN KELLY: Right, I mean its like a derivative of actual pepper. It’s a food product essentially; but a lot of experts are looking at that and saying is that the real deal, has it been diluted, because …
BILL O’REILLY: Yeah, they should have more of a reaction than that..
MEGAN KELLY: Yeah, that’s really beside the point. I mean, it was something that was obviously abrasive and intrusive and several went to the hospital.
BILL O’REILLY: Right, they just wanted them to get out of there, stop blocking what they were blocking and wanted to scatter them.
MEGAN KELLY: This was on the chancellor’s orders. The chancellor ordered the police to go in and force these students to disburse.
BILL O’REILLY: That’s Linda Catalli or Catay.
MEGAN KELLY: Yes, and it is a crime. They were charged. Ten of them were charged with unlawful assembly and failure to disperse because they were posing a sit-in, you know, a student protest and you can do that. That is very American, but it may also happen to break the law.
BILL O’REILLY: They wanted to get these people off the campus and they didn’t want to lay hands on them so there’s two ways to do this. You can do the pepper spray or, you know, you can physically drag them out of there.
MEGAN KELLY: They then did lay hands on them….
BILL O’REILLY: But you don’t lay hands on someone..
MEGAN KELLY: No, but what I’m saying is the police would respond by saying, you pepper spray first to allow the hands-on part to be less confrontational because you are going to less resistance when you got somebody who just got pepper sprayed. Listen, I know the tape looks bad, I agree it looks bad. All I’m saying is that from a legal standpoint, I don’t know that the cops did anything wrong.
AMY GOODMAN: Fox’s Megan Kelly and Bill O’Reilly. Kamran Loghman, your response.
KAMRAN LOGHMAN: Well, first of all, in regards to pepper spray being a food ingredient. Aspirin also comes from bark of a tree so does wild yam is a natural herbal thing, but then again, what you derive from that becomes birth control pill. That doesn’t mean the end product is still something that you can eat. It is true that it is being derived from capsicum and chili pepper, but by the time it is weaponized and becomes a weapon grade product, you can’t eat it. I mean, it is impossible to eat the end product. So that’s that. But in regards to the way the officer handled the situation, well it is obvious that many things went wrong. They did not use pepper spray justifiably according the use of force policy that they are trained for. They used a canister that was too large and was not meant for that kind of environment at such a close range. They did not properly decontaminate students where students were screaming and yelling for water, but what is really important is that we keep focusing on what happened at that moment. I really want to take that back because I go around the country and talk about leadership and I just finished one at US Naval Academy. I think the lack of leadership was very important because that is one of the things I train police officers. One of the most important things here was for someone to go back, bring the professor who has some affinity and wisdom to talk to the students and say listen, you made your point. Why don’t we create a group? Why don’t we go to an amphitheater? Let’s do all of us help. Let the whole college help you guys so the world can all hear your voice. I don’t think anybody was interacting with these people in the right way and they would just let them sit there and then treat them like insects. Let’s go ahead and spray them as if you are watering plants.
AMY GOODMAN: Kamran Loghman, I want to thank you for being with us. He is the expert who helped develop weapons grade pepper spray with the FBI in the 1980’s as well as helped develop guidelines for police departments around the country.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! democracynow.org, the war and peace report. We continue to talk about protests and another way. Well, Monday was a day of action for university students on both coasts of the United States angered by the rising cost of tuition and the crackdowns on the recent protests. In California, students temporarily shut down a meeting of the UC Board of Regents to protest a series of tuition hikes and the violent response to protests at UC Berkeley and UC Davis. Wary of a massive demonstration the regents met by conference call from four different campuses but were still forced to switch venues after being confronted by chanting students at three of the four sites. Meanwhile, here in New York, about a thousand students marched outside a meeting where City University of New York trustees voted to authorize annual tuition increases through 2015. This is Julian Guerrero of Students United for a free CUNY.
JULIAN GUERRERO: Me myself...
CROWD: Me myself...
JULIAN GUERRERO: I’m in debt $70,000.
CROWD: I’m in debt $70,000.
JULIAN GUERRERO: I actually got a letter...
CROWD: I actually got a letter...
JULIAN GUERRERO: from Sallie Mae...
CROWD: from Sallie Mae...
JULIAN GUERRERO: saying that if I don’t start paying today...
CROWD: saying that if I don’t start paying today...
JULIAN GUERRERO: $900 a month...
CROWD: $900 a month...
JULIAN GUERRERO: they’re going to have more aggressive attempts at collecting my debt.
CROWD: they’re going to have more aggressive attempts at collecting my debt.
JULIAN GUERRERO: And so I’m going to burn this right here and now.
CROWD: And so I’m going to burn this right here and now. [Applause]
AMY GOODMAN: That was Julian Guerrero, among four people arrested at last night’s protest, burning a letter from Fannie Mae about student debt. Thanks toDemocracy Now!'s Jaisal Noor for that footage. Well, Monday's actions were the latest in a long-running battle against tuition hikes and education cuts that originated two years ago on UC campuses two years ago and quickly spread across the country. I’m joined by two guests, Pamela Brown is a PHD student in sociology at the New School who’s helped launch the Occupy Student Debt Campaign Pledge of Refusal, which asks signatories to refuse their student loan debt until a number of education reforms are implemented including free public education. And I’m joined by Andrew Ross, a professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University working with the Occupy Student Debt Campaign. Welcome both to Democracy Now!. Pam, explain the campaign, what you’re trying to do.
PAMELA BROWN: Well, the campaign involves taking a pledge of refusal. At the time that we would gather 1 million pledgers, then we would, in essence, have a debt strike.
AMY GOODMAN: How many pledges do you have so far, how many signatures?
PAMELA BROWN: Well, in less than a week, we’ve already amassed almost 1200 signatures last I checked, and it’s constantly growing, and we’ve barely rolled out this campaign.
AMY GOODMAN: What are people committing to when they sign?
PAMELA BROWN: People are committing to, once we reach 1 million signatures, that they would refuse to continue paying, refuse to continue to be complicit, in the devastating student loan system we have today.
AMY GOODMAN: Andrew Ross, talk about the student loan system.
ANDREW ROSS: Well, our universities are increasingly dependent on what is essentially the debt bondage of the very people that they’re supposed to serve. This is the case nationwide and it’s an intolerable and unsustainable system. I think there’s a great degree of public recognition about the soaring cost of higher education, but there is not a lot of awareness about the debt bondage upon which it is actually based, and I think that extends into the ranks of university teachers themselves who are loath to dwell on this aspect of their employment.
AMY GOODMAN: Because?
ANDREW ROSS: Because it affects the way they think about their salaries. I mean our salaries to some degree dependent on our students going into debt that is essentially unpayable at this point. I’m not suggesting that faculty salaries are the reason for the surging costs and higher education. That’s another issue. But I think it’s a question of awareness here that we’re trying to raise with the campaign.
AMY GOODMAN: Pam Brown, talk about how the student debt issue relates to Occupy Wall Street, the whole movement.
PAMELA BROWN: Right, well, I think the student issue is actually incredibly critical to the underlying ideas behind Occupy Wall Street. Occupy Wall Street has attacked the inequality in our social system, widely, and student loans are a critical juncture where that inequality is developed. If you take a look, you can see that students go into this debt generally before they’re even of legal drinking age. So students are incurring huge amounts of debt before they’re even allowed to drink. So, when you think about it, it’s really crazy. And this debt carries with them an entire lifetime, over the course of the 90’s all consumer protections were stripped away. You cannot go bankrupt, you cannot go bankrupt from private or public loans, and our has government actually enabled that system to occur.
AMY GOODMAN: The racial dimensions of this?
PAMELA BROWN: Well, if you see, CUNY students are protesting right now. CUNYis really an interesting...
AMY GOODMAN: City University...
PAMELA BROWN: City University of New York is a really interesting place because it actually graduates more African-American students than all the historically black colleges combined. So, when you increase tuition at a location liked CUNY, what actually occurs, long-term is increased inequality. This is part and parcel with the shifting burden that we’ve seen over the last 30 years where the costs of education are now beared by students, are now beared by individuals rather than the public, which is how that system used to be. In fact, CUNY was actually a free school up until I believe it was 1976.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there. I thank you both for being with us. The website that you’ve developed?
PAMELA BROWN: It’s Occupystudentdebtcampaign.org
AMY GOODMAN: Pam Brown and Andrew Ross of New York University and The New School. Thanks for being with us.
The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.