Everybody run, the drag queen’s got a gun.
I read a lot of news each day and quite a few blogs. Among my favorites are Marcy Wheeler’s ‘Emptywheel‘ and Digby’s Hullabaloo. Sometimes by a trick of coincidence in my news RSS feed program, I’ll see two different stories that might as well be two sides of the same coin. Today that coin is ‘terrorism.’
Enviro protesters charged with bio-terror for having glitter on banners
When protest becomes terrorism
What happens when the government declares “war” on what is basically a violent political tactic, the working definition of which is in the eye of the beholder? When it further turns it into an existential threat so great that only the suspension of the constitution and the dedication of every possible national resource can keep it at bay, is it only a matter of time before normal dissent becomes a manifestation of that tactic and is thus considered a mortal enemy of the people? We’re not there yet. But the seeds are planted in certain dark corners of the country:
“It’s not uncommon for environmental protesters to face arrest, but here’s an apparent first: On Friday, Oklahoma City police charged a pair of environmental activists with staging a “terrorism hoax” after they unfurled a pair of banners covered in glitter—a substance local cops considered evidence of a faux biochemical assault.”
Emphasis added. It gets worse. More from the Mother Jones article:
“Police who responded to the scene arrested Warner and Stephenson along with two other protesters. But while their fellow activists were arrested for trespassing, Warner and Stephenson were hit with additional charges of staging a fake bioterrorism attack. It’s an unusually harsh charge to levy against nuisance protestors. In Oklahoma, a conviction for a “terrorist hoax” carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Oklahoma City Police spokesman Captain Dexter Nelson tells Mother Jones that Devon Tower security officers worried that the “unknown substance” falling from the two banners might be toxic because of “the covert way [the protesters] presented themselves… A lot were dressed as somewhat transient-looking individuals. Some were wearing all black,” he says. “Inside the banners was a lot of black powder substance, later determined to be glitter.” In their report, Nelson says, police who responded to the scene described it as a “biochemical assault.” “Even the FBI responded,” he adds. A spokesman for Devon Energy declined to comment.”
Let me get this straight. Two people who unfurled a banner with an excess of glitter on it are facing up to ten frickin’ years in prison and a lifetime of wearing the Scarlet T (‘Terrorist’) — just because the police got scared. Needlessly.
Captain Nelson’s description sounds an awful lot like an attempt after the fact to justify arresting Warner and Stephenson by making them and their friends out to be big scary anarchist/eco-terrorists.
HSBC gets wrist-slap for actually aiding and abetting terror
Juxtapose that thought with this now, the post by Marcy on Emptywheel (emphasis added):
US Government Slaps HSBC’s Wrist for Facilitating Terrorism, Again
As I noted last year, when DOJ trumpeted their settlement with HSBC for a slew of money laundering violations, they didn’t mention that HSBC had provided almost a billion dollars to a Saudi bank that funded terrorists. Effectively, HSBC’s material support for terrorism for 5 years after it first realized it was doing so got completely ignored.
It turns out, between the time in 2010 when HSBC stopped providing cash dollars to a terror-supporting bank and the time of the DOJ settlement, HSBC was still violating counterterrorism sanctions. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Controls just issued another settlement with HSBC’s US branch, detailing how HSBC processed 3 transfers totaling over $40,164 involving Husayn Tajideen after the bank learned he had gotten listed a designated terrorist.
(…)(T)he claim that HSBC hadn’t had any substantially similar violations in the five years previous is just ridiculous. They had been busted for all sorts of very similar money laundering problems involving known drug kingpins and were uniquely important in providing cash that terrorists likely used for significant attacks. It’s only not substantially similar because it is orders of magnitude worse, so much so DOJ got involved and the settlement was with a different agency!
And in response to a recidivist being caught again, OFAC fines a bank with $14 billion in profits $32,400.
A $32,400 fine against $14 billion in profits. Doing the math, that’s 0.00023%, by the way. Not even pocket change for a company the size of HSBC.
Up to ten years in prison each for two people who, in a protest, were mistaken to be terrorists by paranoid law enforcement officers.
Versus a tiny fine of a little over thirty-two grand for a company which will never even feel it — for actual, concrete financial support of terrorists in the form of money laundering. Which they were already caught doing before. And apparently can concur these tiny fines are just a cost of doing business, like a back-hander to the cops who willingly turn a blind eye to one’s criminal enterprises.
I don’t know what else to say, except that my ire and outrage are beginning to peg the meter again. We clearly have two entirely separate systems of justice in this country: One for the serfs, which is becoming ever more oppressive, authoritarian, and reactionary, and another for the plutocratic oligarchy, which excuses absolutely anything they might do in the pursuit of profit.
Including aiding and abetting actual terrorists.