Friday, 24 July 2009

High Crimes

High crimes were political offences against the country, such as abuse of office or failure to carry out obligations, or treason or bribery. They were 'high' because they related to the state and could only be committed by people in 'high' office.

"High" in the legal parlance of the 18th century means "against the State". A high crime is one which seeks the overthrow of the country, which gives aid or comfort to its enemies, or which injures the country to the profit of an individual or group. In democracies and similar societies it also includes crimes which attempt to alter the outcome of elections

High crimes were the basis for the impeachment of unsuccessful politicians before Parliament in medieval and early modern England, and for the American constitutional provision to punish the President and other office holders for treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanours.

As explained by Under the English common law tradition, crimes were defined through a legacy of court proceedings and decisions that punished offenses not because they were prohibited by statutes, but because they offended the sense of justice of the people and the court. Whether an offense could qualify as punishable depended largely on the obligations of the offender, and the obligations of a person holding a high position meant that some actions, or inactions, could be punishable if he did them, even though they would not be if done by an ordinary person.

The recent media exposure of the venality of our expense troughing MP's certainly showed their behaviour to be offensive to the sense of justice of the people, although it is doubtful that many, if any, will be exposed to the sentencing of a court. Fiddling their expenses is not something that could only be done by high officials, it's well within the capacity of common people, who are all the more offended by it's banality in defining how the public increasingly regard their 'representatives' or rulers - as common thieves. Of course fixing the rules to give themselves special latitude in claiming expenses, and setting their own salaries absurdly high, offends the public's sense of justice, and can only be done by 'high' people; so it might be regarded as a high crime, particularly as it reveals their disposition to abuse their positions of authority and public trust.

Indeed, the normal conduct of Parliament is open to the suspicion of constituting a series of High crimes against the people that MP's are supposed to represent. They fail to execute their office faithfully, by passing legislation which they have not even read let alone pondered it's principles and likely effects so as to come to an honest opinion on it's merits. They prostitute their opinions and votes to the party system. In most cases they abase themselves to their party leaders in search of ministerial preferment. In many cases they all too obviously lack the moral and intellectual qualities suitable for high office and indeed, especially on the Labour side, are clearly selected because of their lack of capacity, which makes them servile lackeys of their leaders or leftist lunatics working to destroy anything worthwhile. It's nauseating to see the parade of sleazy riff-raff and shady characters given places in our legislature, and even in the cabinet. British politicians, especially on the left, have loved to pontificate about Britain's moral leadership in the world. Such pretensions must now be laid aside, as foreigners such as the Iranian leadership have been able to criticise the Prime Minister for allowing financially corrupt ministers to remain in his government. The House of Lords is likewise stuffed with placemen and shameless influence-peddlers. Neither leaders nor many followers have been much concerned about the progressive cession of British sovereignty to Brussels. This treason is obviously a High crime, but there is no way of holding them to account.

The state can function as a criminal enterprise. There's a famous old story of Alexander and the pirate according to which Alexander the Great asked a pirate if he had anything to say in his own defence before Alexander passed judgement upon him for troubling the world with his crimes. The pirate replied that he had done nothing which Alexander himself had not done on a far greater scale, but that because he had had only a single ship he was called a pirate, whereas Alexander's vast fleets and armies enabled him to be called King of Kings.

It is said that under Communism the rulers of Eastern Europe and their intelligence services engaged in massive looting of art and valuables for sale abroad and actively engaged in all sorts of crimes, and cultivated criminal groups to assist their money laundering, forgery, spying and subversion of other countries. It was rumoured in The Assassination of Robert Maxwell, who seems to have been involved with several intelligence agencies, that he made a lot of his money through such contacts, including money laundering for communist leaders under cover of publishing their dreary speeches in the West. The governments of much of the world are almost routinely expected to be involved in crimes such as drug trafficking or theft of natural resources and ill treatment of anyone who objects. International indignation is very selective. We hear some condemnation of governments such as those of Burma or North Korea which are not major powers, not floating on oil, and not on Israel's hit list. The media soon becomes bored. We don't hear so much about Zimbabwe now - and that's not because things there are getting better. Occasionally a maverick critic such as Craig Murray gets some publicity for the oppressive rulers of Uzbekistan and drug smuggling from Afghanistan, but the British government is embarrassed by his well informed accusations that it condoned the use of torture by third parties in the hope of gaining useful intelligence. He has now ceased to be employed by the government and is almost ignored by the media. It's interesting to see how criticism of the Chinese government has diminished as those in charge enriched themselves and created opportunities for Western companies to share in economic development. The slow genocide of Tibetans and destruction of their culture and religion as they are replaced by Han Chinese who loot the resources of the country and degrade it's environment, (as they have already done in China proper), the use of slave labour and the other oppressive brutalities of Communism no longer attract much media exposure or political opposition from Western governments. Scale of operation continues to matter - and, oh yes, China is now the greatest creditor of the American government which is very dependent on their continued purchase of still more of it's IOU's.

Of course, people in official positions may misuse them to commit crimes on their own account. That's more or less what laws are meant to detect and punish. It gets more difficult when there is widespread corruption and collusion between officials and politicians and outside media business and political interests. Honest officials may then be punished or prevented from doing their jobs properly to expose and remove the corruption. Here is a very recent reference in the Lew Rockwell blog to the intimate connection between politics and crime, especially drugs and money laundering and the complicity of the agencies of the state, which the author calls the Narcosaurus. It is partly based on the account of Catherine Fitts who was hounded by the American government for trying to expose this sort of thing. She lists an extensive bibliography concerning corrupt dealings by governments and their intelligence agencies. It's not just the state apparatus that can be hand in glove with crime. The most shocking part of her revelations is on page 18 of her 23 page account, where she recounts the story of a lecture she gave to about 100 people. These people were supposedly "committed to contributing to the spiritual evolution of our culture", yet only one would agree to decriminalise narcotics trafficking and prevent money laundering if he could. The others agreed that they would rather have an underclass continue to sell drugs to their children and grandchildren than risk a reduction in share values or government payouts. That was before the financial slump started. Now they'll get both. There may be some justice in the universe.

Madcowprod is a website which has for years exposed such connections between criminals and lobbyists and politicians and officials and spies; especially where drugs and 9/11 associations intersect in Florida. Here's one of their articles about the extensive criminal and political connections of one, Jack Abramoff , who was in trouble a few years ago. They also advertise a book about Barry Seal, someone who as a CIA agent was apparently involved in flying small aeroplane loads of cocaine into Mena airport in Arkansas when Clinton was governor. Indeed here is a whole page listing their articles about similar scandals.

Another similar website is Al Martin Raw, whose author was involved in the Iran-Contra affair, but fell out with the major figures and has been spilling the beans ever since. Years ago, about the time of the invasion of Iraq, he had a whole series of rumours about massive corruption at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, from which vast amounts of American military equipment were said to have been secretly sold to foreign buyers. Senior officers were allegedly most lucratively involved and it was not clear how much might have been known and connived at by top officials. His informant, the 'Friendly Colonel', explained that equipment such as tanks or artillery would be re-labelled as spare desks or surplus furniture, and sold.

When Iraq was occupied there were many stories about the corruption and waste and theft of money which followed. Here is one from Mother Jones reprising the tale of the billions that went missing under the rule of Paul Bremer. Here is another about the lack of proper accounting and justification for more billions of dollars disbursed by the American military in the Middle East. The auditors of the Inspector General reported that about 95% of over $10.7 billion expended in a particular programme was not supported by proper documents. It is perhaps understandable that an organisation dedicated to 'killing people and breaking their stuff', might not be the most ardent of record keepers; but this is an age of bureaucracy, and the Pentagon is a vast bureaucracy, so such failures seem to go well beyond incompetence. However, even Alexander had similar problems. He was not a man to cross, but his Treasurer, Harpalus, twice managed to steal vast sums before finally absconding when he feared punishment for his life of debauchery in Babylon. Is it something in the Middle East that encourages corruption? Or is it the vast opportunities and the political connections? Is it the people or is it the Pentagon?

Indeed, the Pentagon seems to have only the most feeble grasp on its money and assets; one of the stories buried in the rubble of 9/11 was the fact that they simply could not account for what had happened to trillions of dollars! This is exceedingly hard to believe, but if investigations had been seriously pursued, investigators would have had some tough questions for the man who had been the Pentagon's financial controller at the time, Rabbi Dov Zakheim, who appears to have had some interesting and extremely influential business and political connections.

Only recently, after many years of alleged corruption, a whole lot of New Jersy politicians and officials were arrested along with a 'Kosher Nostra' of rabbis who are accused of organ trafficking, money laundering and corrupting state officials. Hmmm... this 'family' wasn't Italian, but perhaps there may be a relation between perpetrators and victims that isn't entirely explained by 'reasons of state'. Perhaps it's the relation between predators and prey, or parasite and host. Could there even be a 'Culture of Deceit'? That would overlap our original concept of High Crimes, because such opportunities would not be available to ordinary people, and they would be facilitated by favoured access to officials of the state.

Another aspect of High Crimes could be terrorism perpetrated or sponsored by the state. Unfortunately this may not be restricted to totalitarian regimes. Phillip Coppens wrote an article in Conspiracy Times, summarising allegations about terrorism perpetrated by Russian and Western government agencies who were supposed to be fighting terrorists. It's not altogether a new idea that something may be the disease or problem of which it claims to be the cure. It may even have been a medieval academic joke about philosophy. Of course, there are those who apply this notion to our modern War on Terror. One enthusiast, who made a series of videos on You Tube, picking holes in the official story about the London tube and bus bombings on 7/7 and blaming the authorities for the atrocities, and sent a copy to a judge, is now - predictably - in trouble with the law. See Ripple Effect and associated spin offs.

It is hardly to be supposed that political leaders or senior bureaucrats would issue clearly criminal orders - but they wouldn't have to do so. In the country of Thomas Becket and HenryII, David Kelly and 'King Tony', there's no shortage of ambitious would-be knights eager to please their bosses by finding ways of preventing inconvenient persons from troubling them, or to 'sex-up' dossiers to tell the media whatever will please their masters. Americans can remember Oliver North and 'plausible deniability'.

Of course, although there may be rogue elements within security services, it is difficult to imagine a Western bureaucracy officially proceeding with clearly criminal actions, such as causing explosions in public places. On the other hand, if all the requisite actions were segmented, 'need to know' security would prevent people from seeking the overview, and it is equally hard to imagine them failing to carry out specific tasks ordered by their superiors. If some of those superiors were disloyal or suborned, and if the more suspicious activities were contracted out and overall control was outside the normal channels, it is easy to imagine that the power of the state could be manipulated against the interests of the people it was supposed to protect. After all, that's what seems to have been happening slowly on the cultural, social and political levels for decades, as the culture and identity of the natives has been subverted and their institutions turned against them; so it would not be surprising if it was also done on the level of physical violence. The official leaders could be ignorant of the plan, shocked, and themselves actually believe the cover-up and propaganda fed to the media.

It's not only Western countries who may have trouble with rogue elements and subversion within the intelligence services and other state agencies. Turkey, for instance, has had troubles and suspicions of plots, labelled Deep State.

Things can get extremely weird in the area where politics, intelligence agencies, crime, secret societies, personal ambitions, delusions and sheer insanity meet and mingle. For instance, there is a set of interlinked blogs apparently run by ex-agents of British Intelligence, who appear to be assisting each other to recover from horrific torture, allegedly inflicted upon them in the course of their training as spies, intended to make them docile mind controlled slaves. MI5 and MI6 Exposed is an entry to this maze. MI5 and MI6 Exposed3 explains the torture in more detail and has thousands of supplementary comments, some of which make very strange allegations about public figures. Seemingly some of their torture training took place in exotic locations such as in excavations under the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, and a Templar castle in France; and it involved perversion of religious and masonic symbolism, and remote viewing. Presumably the underlying idea would have been that if a spy carried information sub-consciously, it would be difficult to make him reveal it, until exposed to the correct trigger. It may be nonsense, but if any of it is true, it shows that agents of our Western liberal democratic states are capable of abominable crimes, and are unlikely to be punished. It also raises questions about the sanity and fitness for office of officials in responsible positions, and their political masters. Any quirks and mental twitches will be concealed from public view, doubtless under the rubric of 'security', which it would not be 'in the public interest' to question. Our elected representatives will be too busy claiming expenses or cringing to their masters to subject them to any robust scrutiny. The parties don't pay more than lip service to their members and the public they purport to represent, which may partly explain the shrivelling of their membership. They do pay attention to those who pay them, and who control the media which shape public perceptions of them. The similarity in those who finance all the mainstream parties, and are close 'friends' of their leaders, may have something to do with the similarity of the parties policies and of the 'politically correct' attitudes they all enforce.

Indeed, the rule of the 'Political Class' is proving to be in their own immediate self-interest, and not in the long term interests of those they purport to represent. Communism with better Public Relations. This may be regarded as a High Crime. The public they rule is not blameless. Ordinary people are not in a position to commit High Crimes against the state, but they can still influence their rulers, and if their attitudes are selfish and short sighted, it's not surprising they get representatives and rulers who are even more so - but more cunning and energetic than average in hypocritically advancing themselves at the expense of the country.

The Highest Crime may be considered to be betrayal of one's own identity and potentiality, and that of one's people, although it will not be found on any statute book. People and rulers are guilty in their varying degrees. The Biblical tale of Esau selling his birthright to Jacob for a mess of pottage is grimly relevant. The rulers have done so, and their people shall pass away, displaced by strangers, not understanding what wrong they have done, ignorant of what was and what might have been.