The criminal investigation undertaken by the federal government against hundreds of participants in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol is polarizing the country and shredding civil liberties.
Executing the Law — by Mr. Fish
By Chris Hedges
There is little that unites me with those who occupied the Capitol building on Jan. 6. Their vision for America, Christian nationalism, white supremacy, blind support for Trump and embrace of reactionary fact-free conspiracy theories leaves a very wide chasm between their beliefs and mine.
But that does not mean I support the judicial lynching against many of those who participated in the Jan. 6 events, a lynching that is mandating years in pretrial detention and prison for misdemeanors. Once rights become privileges, none of us are safe.
The U.S. legal system has a very sordid history. It was used to enforce segregation and legitimize the reign of terror against Black people. It was the hammer that broke the back of militant union movements. It persecuted radicals and reformers in the name of anti-communism.
After 9/11, it relentlessly went after Muslim leaders and activists with Special Administrative Measures (SAMs). SAMs, established by the Clinton administration, originally only applied to people who ordered murders from prison or were convicted of mass murder, but are now used to isolate all manner of detainees before and during trial.
They severely restrict a prisoner’s communication with the outside world; prohibiting calls, letters and visits with anyone except attorneys and sharply limit contact with family members. The solitary confinement like conditions associated with SAMs undermine any meaningful right to a fair trial according to analysis by groups like the Center for Constitutional Rights and can amount to torture according to the United Nations.
Julian Assange faces SAMs or similar conditions should he be extradited to the U.S. The Classified Information Procedures Act, or CIPA, begun under the Reagan administration, also allows evidence in a trial to be classified and withheld from defendants.
The courts, throughout American history, have abjectly served the interests of big business and the billionaire class. The current Supreme Court is one of the most retrograde in decades, rolling back legal protections for vulnerable groups and denying workers protection from predatory corporate abuse.
At least 1,003 people have been arrested and charged so far for participation in events on Jan. 6, with 476 pleading guilty, in what has been the largest single criminal investigation in U.S. history, according to analysis by Business Insider. The charges and sentences vary, with many receiving misdemeanor sentences such as fines, probation, a few months in prison or a combination of the three.
Of the 394 federal defendants who have had their cases adjudicated and sentenced as of Feb. 6, approximately 220 “have been sentenced to periods of incarceration” with a further 100 defendants “sentenced to a period of home detention, including approximately 15 who also were sentenced to a period of incarceration,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C.
There are six convictions and four guilty pleas on charges of “seditious conspiracy.” This offense is so widely defined that it includes conspiring to levy war against the government on the one hand and delaying the execution of any law on the other. Those charged and convicted of “seditious conspiracy” were accused of collaborating to oppose “the lawful transfer of presidential power by force” by preventing or delaying the Certification of the Electoral College vote.
While a few of the organizers of the Jan. 6 protest such as Stewart Rhodes, who founded Oath Keepers, may conceivably be guilty of sedition, and even this is in doubt, the vast majority of those caught up in the incursion of the Capitol did not commit serious crimes, engage in violence or know what they would do in Washington other than protest the election results.
Joseph D. McBride went to law school because his brother was serving a 15-year sentence for a crime he did not commit. He provided free legal advice as a law school student to those encamped in Zuccotti Park in New York City during the Occupy movement. Following law school, he worked as a public defender and in the Legal Aid Society.
He represents several of those charged in the Jan. 6 incursion, including Richard Barnett. Barnett was photographed in Nancy Pelosi’s office with his leg propped up on her desk. Barnett was convicted by a federal jury, which deliberated for two hours, on eight counts, including disorderly conduct in the Capitol building. He faces up to 47 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 3.
A Tribalist Partisan State
“The post 9/11 model is being applied to American citizens,” McBride told me when I reached him by phone:
“That model is the 19 hijackers. Everyone who is a religious Muslim is a suspect for the next 20 years. They should be waterboarded. They should be put in fucking jail and left in Guantanamo Bay. Lock them up. Throw away the key. Because they are psychopath extremists who believe in Allah and we don’t have time for that. They’re a threat based on who they are, what they look like, what they believe in.
When the truth is, the vast majority of these guys don’t do drugs, don’t drink alcohol, they have five kids and they live pretty good lives. But because of the label of ‘terrorism’ and ‘Osama Bin Laden’ and ‘al-Qaeda’, everybody who is a Muslim is now a target. If we get on a plane next to one of these people, we get nervous about it because that’s how much it’s ingrained in us. The same thing is happening, except it’s being applied to a new group of people, primarily white Christians, Trump supporters, for now.”
“Power is going to change hands,” he warned.
“The Democrats are not going to be in power forever. When power changes hands, that precedent is going to travel with it. If somebody else from the other side gets in and starts to target the people who are in power now, their families, their businesses, their lives, their freedom, then it’s over. America goes from being a free democracy to a tribalist partisan state. Maybe there’s not ethnic-cleansing in the streets, but people are cleansing each other from the workplace, from social media, from the banking system and they’re putting people in jail. That’s where we’re headed. I don’t know why people can’t see what’s on the horizon.”
The Jan. 6 protestors were not the first to occupy Congressional offices, including Nancy Pelosi’s office. Young environmental activists from the Sunrise Movement, anti-war activists from Code Pink and even congressional staffers have engaged in numerous occupations of congressional offices and interrupted congressional hearings.
What will happen to groups such as Code Pink if they occupy congressional offices with Republicans in control of the White House, the Congress and the courts? Will they be held for years in pretrial detention? Will they be given lengthy prison terms based on dubious interpretations of the law? Will they be considered domestic terrorists? Will protests and civil disobedience become impossible?
McBride said those who walked to the Capitol were not aware that the Department of Justice had created arbitrary markers, what McBride called an “imaginary red line that they draw around the Capitol grounds.” Anyone who crossed that invisible line was charged with violating Capitol grounds.
He railed against the negative portrayal of the protestors in the media, the White House and Democratic Party leadership, as well as a tainted jury pool in Washington composed of people who have close links to the federal government. He said Change of Venue motions filed by the defense lawyers have been denied.
“The D.C. jury pool is poisoned beyond repair,” McBride said.
“When you just look at what the January 6 Committee did alone, never mind President Biden’s speeches about ‘insurrectionists,’ ‘MAGA Republican extremists’ and all this stuff, and if you just consider the fact that D.C. is very small, that people who work in the Federal Government are all by definition, kind of victims of January 6 and what happened that day, their institutions and colleagues were ‘under attack.’ How can anybody from that town serve on a jury pool? They can’t. The bias is astounding.”
Jacob Chansley, the so-called “QAnon shaman” who was adorned on Jan. 6 in red, white and blue face paint, carried an American flag on a spear-tipped pole and wore a coyote-fur and horned headdress, pleaded guilty to obstruction. He was sentenced to more than three years in prison.
Chansley, who says he is a practitioner of ahimsa, an ancient Indian principle of non-violence toward all living beings, was not accused of assaulting anyone. He was diagnosed in prison with transient schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.
Guy Wesley Reffitt, who did not enter the Capitol building, nevertheless was sentenced after three hours of deliberations to seven years and three months in prison on five charges, including “two counts of civil disorder, and one count each of obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a firearm, and obstruction of justice.”
His obstruction of justice charge came from “threatening” his two teenage children to prevent them from reporting him to law enforcement.
Daniel Ray Caldwell, a Marine Corps veteran, who sprayed a chemical irritant at a group of police officers outside the Capitol and entered through the Senate Wing doors where he remained inside for approximately two minutes, was sentenced to more than five years in prison. He spent, like many who have been charged, nearly two years in pretrial detention.
Even the charges against Rhodes, who faces 20 years in prison, and other militia leaders of groups such as the Proud Boys are problematic. The New York Times reported that, “despite the vast amount of evidence the government collected in the case — including more than 500,000 encrypted text messages — investigators never found a smoking gun that conclusively showed the Proud Boys plotted to help President Donald J. Trump remain in office.”
The government has relied on the testimony of a former Proud Boy, Jeremy Bertino, who is cooperating with prosecutors to build an “inferential case” against Enrique Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola, the five defendants in the current Proud Boy case.
Bertino, on cross-examination, admitted that in previous interviews with the government, he repeatedly told investigators that the Proud Boys did not have an explicit plan to halt the election certification and that he did not anticipate acts of violence on Jan. 6.
The F.B.I. had as many as eight informants in the Proud Boys that included its leader, Enrique Tarrio, during the storming of the Capitol, raising the very real possibility of entrapment.
“They’re changing the laws,” McBride said.
“Look at the 1512 charge, the obstruction charge. That was used for document shredding in Enron. It has no applicability to Jan. 6 whatsoever. They took it. They repurposed it. They weaponised it against these people and made it impossible for them to defend themselves. When you look at the civil disorder charge, they are saying that if January 6 was one big civil disorder, and if you had any type of interaction with a police officer that day that may or may not have caused the police officer to step away from his duties for a moment, you can go down with civil disorder and get five years in jail.”
Barred from Washington
Ryan Nichols, a Marine Corps veteran, is living under house arrest in Texas after nearly two years in pretrial detention, much of it in solitary confinement, in Washington, D.C and Virginia jails. He faces five felony and three misdemeanor charges. Prosecutors say Nichols assaulted officers and obstructed an official proceeding.
He has been ordered to “stay away from Washington, D.C.” except for business related to his case, according to court documents. He has had to submit to “location monitoring technology” and is denied access to the internet and his phone except to perform functions related to his case.
He cannot have contact with anyone involved in the Jan. 6 events, including co-defendants. Nichols must remain in his home 24 hours a day except for medical and court appointments. He is permitted to attend Sunday church services at Mobberly Baptist Church in Longview, Texas. He is facing 20 years in prison. He is scheduled to go to trial on March 27.
I spoke with Bonnie Nichols, Ryan’s wife, by phone from their home in Longview, Texas.
Ryan was arrested on Jan. 18, 2020. The F.B.I. surrounded their house at 5:30 am in armored vehicles. They unscrewed the bulbs from flood lights and cut the wires to the couple’s security cameras before kicking in the front door. The couple and their two children, then aged 4 and 6, were at Bonnie’s parents house during the raid. The F.B.I. confiscated their weapons, electronics and documents, including Social Security cards.
“We wanted to cooperate,” she said. “We didn’t know anything was wrong. They asked Ryan to come in for questioning. Ryan went and turned himself in. They arrested him and I didn’t see him again for over a year and a half.”
Ryan, who had no criminal record, ran a nonprofit called Rescue the Universe where he carried out search-and-rescue operations after natural disasters. He was denied bail. He was sent to a holding facility in Grady County Oklahoma for two months before being flown to Washington, D.C. where he was met by some two dozen U.S. Marshals.
His feet were shackled. His arms were shackled to a chain around his waist. He was placed in long term solitary confinement and denied video calls or visitation from his family, including his children. He was denied access to his trial documents for nearly a year and prohibited from attending religious services in the jail.
Ryan, whose most serious offense appears to be incendiary rhetoric calling for a “second American revolution,” spent nearly 22 months in solitary confinement. Depressed, struggling to cope with the physical and psychological strain of prolonged isolation, he was eventually placed on suicide watch. He was strapped to a bench in a room where a light was never turned off. Guards would periodically shout through a window “Do you feel like killing yourself?”
Those on suicide watch who said “yes” remained strapped to the bench. Those who said “no” were sent back to their cells. Ryan was often prohibited from having nail clippers — the guards told him he could chew his toenails down — or getting a haircut unless he agreed to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
When Ryan appeared before Judge Thomas Hogan, who finally released him on Nov. 23, 2022, he told Ryan, with his long unkempt hair and fingernails, that he looked like Tom Hanks in the film Cast Away.
Every night, for the two years Ryan was held in solitary confinement, Bonnie and her two small boys would say prayers that Ryan would one day come home. She said she and her family have received numerous death threats.
“Ryan deals with insomnia,” Bonnie said of her husband.
“He deals with extreme anxiety, depression and paranoia. He will not even go outside of his backyard because he’s scared that if he goes outside, that they’re going to take him back to jail. He has liver issues from the food that he ate because they fed him baloney sandwiches and trash while he was in D.C. He’s having a lot of medical issues. He also has lower testosterone than a 60-year-old man because he wasn’t able to have any sunlight. His vitamin D levels are low. The list goes on and on. This man does not sleep at night. He has nightmares. He whimpers at night in his sleep because he has dreams that he’s back in D.C. I mean, he’s a mess. This is the result of what has happened to him. He has vision loss. He doesn’t see as good as he used to.”
Ryan’s family, like many families of those charged, are struggling financially. Bonnie said their savings are gone. She and Ryan are heavily in debt. She has set up a fundraising page here.
“We are God-loving patriots,” she said. “Who’s going to be next? It’s not about Republican or Democrat or white or Black, Christian, or Muslim. We are all children of God. We are all U.S. American citizens. We are all entitled to our constitutional rights and freedom of speech. We can all come together and agree on that, right?”
The cheerleading, or at best indifference, by Democratic Party supporters and much of the left to these show trials will come back to haunt them. We are exacerbating the growing tribalism and political antagonisms that will increasingly express themselves through violence.
We are complicit, once again, of using the courts to carry out vendettas. We are corroding democratic institutions. We are hardening the ideology and rage of the far-right. We are turning those being hounded to prison into political prisoners and martyrs. We are moving ever closer towards tyranny.
Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and NPR. He is the host of show “The Chris Hedges Report.”
Author’s Note to Readers: There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestring budget, and I will not waiver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at chrishedges.substack.com so I can continue to post my Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, “The Chris Hedges Report.”
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I was appalled to see this expression of sympathy for fascists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis in a nominally “left” publication. How, exactly, does use of the word “lynching” in the headline and describing the jury pool in Washington DC as “tainted” (a city which is 50 percent or more African-American) distinguish the author from Nick Fuentes? Chris Hedges was once a principled journalist, but his pessimism has gone off the deep end. His appearance at the Libertarian-dominated “Rage against the Machine” rally has been followed up with a screed that distorts the facts of January 6 and says virtually nothing about Trump and the politics of his increasingly fascist movement. Are you aware that Joseph McBride, his principal source, appeared at CPAC at a table with Donald Trump Jr. and Ashli Babbitt’s mother? You can look it up.
Say it ain’t so, Martin … “sitting at the same table?” Why, associating with people with cooties gives one cooties too, doesn’t he know that?
No sympathy for “fascists” … in fact, common principles of law and the constitution are too good for them. Just hang ’em high, amirite? Because selective justice and rule of law is the best guarantor of justice for the common people.
Identifying any side in this topsy-turvy political arena as all Good or all Evil pretty much winds up at a crossroads where people decide either to kill the messenger (I’m pretty sure Chris Hedges is familiar with that) or to believe/disbelieve the message based on who’s delivering it or to accept/reject based on analysis of what the message means or to ignore it altogether.
It’s where a swirl of propaganda sweeps the land. Where a dusty wind turns a rusted sign, pockmarked by bullet holes, that reads This Way, arrows pointing in every direction. No wonder it’s so difficult to parse such a key dilemma of our times: how to reconcile points of view that are diametrically opposed, other than by swinging from one extreme to another? And in this deliberately created confusion, the so-called legal system acts as the fulcrum used to catapult political messages and to settle scores, as forces of police power from Collateral Murder to cops in the street abuse discretion & act with impunity.
That, as I see it, breaks down doors for vindictiveness, venality & violence to take over. As someone at the recent Belmarsh Tribunal said: We are all Julian Assange now. People have become props for these power mad fools.
I join those who applaud Hedges for even attempting to sort through this chaos.
When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head
Feed your head
(from “White Rabbit”, Jefferson Airplane, 1967)
The liberal MSM misrepresents the events of January 6 just as thoroughly as they do Russiagate and the Ukraine war etc. Those here who are confident they know what happened from following the MSM would do well to look a little further. I suggest a good start would be to watch Glenn Greenwald’s System Update #17 on Rumble.
Credit to Hedges for addressing this minefield of a topic. Since I comment so often on this forum I don’t want to be a coward by saying nothing on this occasion. Trouble is, I really don’t know how I feel about what Chris wrote about.
I know what I saw with my own eyes on January 6.
Do you have an alternative Chris? There are probably many who are not hard-core Democratic partisans that would not be OK with having had NO arrests, investigations, trials, and convictions.
The machinations of “justice” you portray above are those that make black people run from the police even if they have done nothing or something minor like a traffic violation: they know or believe that once in custody they will be found guilty of “something” even if it is all lies, and once thrown upon the tender mercies of our judicial/incarceration system they may never be free or a functioning part of their family again. Just sayin.’
Code Pink wouldn’t be planning to capture/kill the Speaker of the House, and Senate Minority + Majority leaders.
Nor would Code Pink have armed assistants waiting with guns in an Arlington VA Comfort Inn.
The FBI, as soon as it got wind of Code Pink’s plan, would arrest Code Pink leaders.
The Sec. of Defense would not work to support Code Pink’s “coup plot”.
By pretending that all of the Capitol invaders were simply yahoos, and there was no official support for the coup, Hedges has treated is readers like fool and indeed sided with a good number of violent Christian fascists.
Except Nancy Pelosi voted against greenlighting the invasion of Iraq.
That’s a big war Pelosi didn’t support.
Why not get basic facts about her House voting history correct next time. Because facts don’t matter to you.
You’re also, along with Hedges here, supporting a subset of capitol invaders whose plan was to capture/kill Pelosi, Schumer, and McConnell so as to force the installation of Trump for a second term.
Did all of the thousand who are being prosecuted know of this plan? Likely no. But some did–the ones with guns waiting in a Days Inn across the river in VA. Yes, Hedges is excusing these specific coup plotters herein. Then in a major lie of omission Hedges and your ilk forget that a faction in the Pentagon allowed this attack to occur.
Put down the pipe buddy.
Pelosi supported Obama’s bombing campaign against Libya which was a crime against humanity, of which the aftershocks the Libyan people are still suffering from to this day. She’s also a rabid Russophobe who doesn’t seem to care that she’s putting the world on the brink of nuke war. Finally, Pelosi’s supported the racist colonialist paranoid state of Israel her entire career, genuflecting to the Zionists’ every whim. She also never fails to support wasteful gargantuan defense [sic] budgets after gargantuan defense budgets.
The goofballs who engaged in the civil unrest at the Capitol on J6 took not one gun into the building and of course killed no one. The “invaders” were totally done with their civil unrest only a couple hours after it began. Your paranoia over these goofballs is laughable. Newly released footage supports the fact that they were by and large non-violent and pretty much aimlessly wandered about the hallways, often being escorted by relatively friendly police officers. yes, assaults against law enforcement are to be condemned, of course, but this group was less violent than the identity politics obsessed Soros funded BLM and Antifa during the summer of 2020.
The powers-that-be have been very successfull in pitting the rest of us against each other. How to even begin repairing the damage I couldn’t say….let’s work on that/
Hedges raises valid concerns about how things could backfire on liberal protestors “next time” –whenever that is.
Hedges’ account reads like a defense attorney desperately trying to cast his seriously guilty defendant in a more favorable light.
Yes the incarceration system of our country is abusive and inhumane. I’ve been imprisoned in it for far less, including time spent in the hole and chained up and hobbling in shackles even though I did nothing to resist authority at any time during or after my arrest–for simply being a marijuana grower.
In apparent truth, it’s very hard to have much sympathy for a sap like Ryan Nichols. First, he swallowed Trump’s lies. Then he aggressively acted on them.
As reported in a link Hedges provides:
“Other photos and videos show the pair standing first in front of a smashed window and then, inside the building, …
…Video shows both men on the ledge of the window, with Nichols holding a bullhorn and a crowbar.
“If you have a weapon, you need to get your weapon!” Nichols can be heard yelling into the bullhorn. “This is the second revolution right here folks! … This is not a peaceful protest,” he yells.
Nichols was also caught on video spraying what appears to be pepper spray at an unknown agent guarding the Capitol building, the criminal complaint said.
The two men were recorded with other rioters chanting “Heave! Ho!” as the crowd “rocks back and forth in the direction of the entrance,” the complaint said.”
“Investigators also discovered a second Facebook page allegedly operated by Nichols. One post was a picture of a bullet and said, “By Bullet or Ballot, Restoration of the Republic is Coming.”
On Dec. 28, 2020, Nichols posted on the same Facebook page that “Pence better do the right thing, or we’re going to MAKE you do the right thing,” the criminal complaint said.” hxxps://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/former-marine-arrested-capitol-riot-appeared-ellen-rescuing-dogs-during-n1255345
Well, if you screw with the police the way “Marine vet/humanitarian” Nichols did, then you can expect to be screwed back, especially when cops die in performance of their duties to actually protect the Constitution. Note: Nichols was not protecting the Constitution he had once sworn to uphold when he helped storm the Capitol, or allegedly assaulted cops trying to stop him.
His actions were mega-MAGA STUPID!
I also wonder if he resisted and complained once he was captive. Just try that and see how well it works.
Run counter to the cops the way Nichols did and it’s not surprising that he got treated that way.
While I agree with Chris Hedges’ concerns about the ‘casual’ pre-trial incarceration, I too have to disagree with his downplaying of the violence on the 1/6/21 protest. There were definitely some people at that event who had the intent to violently overthrow the US government, which is a virtual textbook definition of treason. I definitely believe in the right of US citizens to peacefully protest against US policies and have marched in some of these protests myself, but I for one draw the line when it turns to non-defensive violence, especially when people end-up getting KILLED, which occurred on 1/6.
The only person who died on Jan 6 was Ashley Babbit. The rest of the fake deaths were made-up lies. There is a reason why the 40000 hours of videotape were withheld-now that it’s released the Kangaroo Court Committee has been exposed as the pack of liars every thinking person had long ago recognized. People who get their news from MSM are not thinking people; the CIA does their thinking for them. Jan 6 protesters had to be discredited to protect the rampant fraud in the 2020 election from being exposed.
Aside from the persecution issues addressed here I would like to see more info on what actually took place. The event is murky and has been skewed left and right into a crowd bent on violence, to a crowd urged on/entrapped by the feds, to a crowd mostly intent on protest with only a few violent types involved, etc. Coverage has been confusing. The term “insurrection” appears to be wild exaggeration.
Hoping to see fact-based review of what happened . . . ?
Mr. or Ms. Scambling
You claim that “The term ‘insurrection’ appears to be wild exaggeration.” What those MAGA people and alleged super patriots were doing in the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2001 could hardly be considered to be a day at the beach considering the fact that their goal was to stop the certification of votes regarding a presidential election and where they had shouted “Hang Mike Pence!” as well as going after Nancy Pelosi and other House members. It should also be pointed out that these alleged choir boys were egged on by a certain individual named Donald Trump who told the crowd during a speech which he had given that they should march to the Capitol and “fight like Hell” and which, unsurprisingly, is exactly what they did.
What is just as egregious is that Congress had had over a year of committee meetings to try to determine what had taken place on that day despite the fact that it should have been obvious to any intelligent and rational person who has been paying attention that it was Trump’s incendiary words which caused the rioters to storm the Capitol building in order to bring a halt to the certification process. And to this day Trump has still not been charged and tried in a court of law for witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and failure to pay his taxes. And one can bet the mortgage that if those things had been carried out by one of the unwashed masses, then that individual would have been sitting in a jail cell by now. But not in the allegedly greatest country in the world where the elites like Trump know that they have little to fear from the two major corporate political parties.
Well said. While I object strongly to the extremist/punitive “justice” system and how people are mistreated, the protagonists of 1/6/21 knew what they were doing, and were aware of possible consequences.
Thanks for these responses. Would like to see more.
Jan 6 was s joint production of Pelosi, the FBI and the Capital police. The FBI had agents provocateur in place. Watch Tucker Carlson to see the video highlights, and hopefully it will be released to all of us since it is the people’s capital and cameras! Already the MSM is screaming bloody murder because their fake narrative has been disrupted beyond repair by only two Carlson shows, with many others to come.
If this was an insurrection, why has no one been charged with insurrection?
People with any knowledge of history know that insurrection involve weapons, especially in a nation with 400 million guns. Claims of unnamed people waiting with weapons at an obscure motel are irrelevant.
Appreciate all this discussion. Research of MSM materials shows a split on “insurrection” with the FBI refusing to use that term as applicable to any significant, organized planning to overthrow the government. Others use it alternatively with “coup” and one source I can no longer find stated even just two persons with violent intent to overthrow constitutes “insurrection.”
Here is a review from Jan 2023 for the events and the “insurrection” side of it:
Aside from that question (was it or wasn’t it an insurrection) most importantly this discussion focuses on two problems: a) the horrendous and dangerous split in this country leading to the January 6 event; b) proper response to ineffective and abusive government other than trespass and violence.
I agree with commentator Bruce Edgar below on this problem–sympathy with the problem but keeping to non-violent response and effort to resolve the problems.
The difficulty here lies in what appears to be an ineffectual voting system due to R and L “leaders” sold out to special interests. My own hope, personally, for many years has been that a powerful third party might arise, with a genuine people-oriented leader who simultaneously has a sane foreign policy. There must be many millions of us who could contribute one dollar to such a campaigner.
Is such an emergence likely? No, I’m afraid it is not.
Yes, “The law”, taxes and prison are for “tbe little people”. Trump will not go to prison. The only time rich people go to prison is if they rip off other rich people, like Bernie Madoff. As usual, the entire stage-managed spectacle is a freak show. Feggedaboudit
Meanwhile the perps of the largest financial crimes in US history walk free with billions of $$, rewarded for their crimes. War criminals and abusers of power walk free with book deals and media engagements. Corporate crooks get paid 10s of millions for one year’s “salary”. Who says crime does not pay?
Time for a Tour: Visiting the People’s House
If you are planning a trip to the U.S. Capitol and want to know more before you arrive, or if you would like to lead your students on a virtual tour of the House of Representatives, take a few minutes to wander through this online exhibit. You will find video tours of historic rooms and spaces, some of which are not open to the public; research resources; and teaching materials that will help bring the U.S. House to your classroom.
Tour the House Chamber
Legislative activities in the House of Representatives begin and end in the House Chamber. The grand space in which Members meet to debate and vote on legislation was designed in the 19th century—and redesigned over the years—with these needs in mind. . . .
The tipping point has been passed; there is no longer a generally agreed upon public reality from which to judge private, public or authoritative behavior…and such a public reality lost cannot be recovered by any ‘normal’ processes of restitution. Hedges has been pointing this out for a long time, yet seems not as clear on its meaning in this piece.
The ‘infection’ of exclusion and bigotry spreads by the excesses of zealots into those who are more naturally inclined to rationality and reason, eventually becoming the inevitable designs of a whole society animated by fear, uncritical anger and retribution. Fight the infection, yes, but be prepared for its consequences. As Hedges points out in this piece, a vendetta is being acted out against the most vulnerable and least responsible actors in this political drama. What is not so clearly drawn out is that a final ‘all against all’ unintended consequence of capitalism has seated itself firmly in the social consciousness replacing all other forms of the real, ignoring or polarizing every other concern.
I am surprised so many Americans and others in the so-called free world, whatever that is, hate free speech, civil rights, and the right to protest. Actually, when looking at the history of mankind, I should not be surprised. It is our history. And there is nothing that will change that in the future since history always tries to repeat itself. Anyway, there are eight billions of us inhabiting this rock and even if the number suddenly dropped down to three billion, roughly the number at the time JFK was assassinated, things would not change much from what has happened since then, even with technology (artificial intelligence)now on the verge of taking over life because it was created by people.
Additional facts: The very sordid history of the U.S. legal system is that it has always been used to protect the elite classes.
None of the real political culprits – the list is too long to name them all, acting against all of the American peoples’ best interests has ever served a day incarcerated.
Trump departed the presidency already two years, one month and eighteen days ago, yet he is still pulling the strings of the GOP swamp from behind the facade of a democratic Congressional legislature.
When are the general American public going to awaken to the deceit of this pathological narcissist sociopath; this one “demented, dangerous, and sadistic” individual “bad apple”? When is his case actually going to come to trial, let alone his actually going to have to pay any penalty for the incitement to violence and obstruction of congressional procedures he instigated during his entire presidential term, or better still, serve any time in prison?
Special Administrative Measures (SAMS) apply to those who the secretive swamp state feels threatened by; while there are Special Legislative Measures, which only apply to the preferred members of the ruling classes of the realm!
How would we the people even know whether the “Classified Information Procedures Act, or CIPA, begun under the Reagan administration” is not being used against us by our secretive, double-speaking, hypocritical legislators in the Trump affair, when ‘we’ ourselves are, en masse, relegated out-of-hand to the status of deplorable defendants?
The politization of law enforcement and the judicial system is not new, but it may now be worse than ever as the Deep State and its tools, the intelligence agencies, the corporate press, the Democratic Party and “traditionalist” Republicans have come out of the closet to blatantly do whatever they feel is required to maintain us in a state of perpetual belligerence and polarization, abroad and at home, as this article makes clear.
January 6, was the date of then House Speaker Pelosi’s Reichstag fire. Pelosi refused President Trump’s offer of National Guard troops to guard the Capitol. She ordered the doors opened to lure the protestors inside while FBI’s paid instigators did their best to amp up the crowd noise. Pelosi made sure she had her daughter’s film crew on hand to capture her theatre performance: “If he comes, I’m going to punch him out. I’ve been waiting for this. For trespassing on the Capitol grounds, I’m going to punch him out. And I’m going to go to jail, and I’m going to be happy,” Pelosi said in the self-incriminating footage. This would all be so much comedy, save for the years-long prison terms being handed out to innocents who walked into Pelosi’s trap. The infamous films of the sneering German judge who vilified the Reichstag defendants is being re-enacted in Washington D.C. today by the same sort of vengeful partisans wearing black robes.
Russiagate effectively converted American liberals into raving fanatics, and merciless at that. As non-systematic observer, I got impression that GOP was more of a pioneer on that, but without systematic weaponization of social networks that had cadres overlapping with FBI, and unleashing FBI and pliable court system on the mainstream opponents.
Of course, folks outside Overton window were getting such treatment much earlier, especially radicals, but numbers and escalation matters. You cannot silence such a big segment of the population (yet, using Ukrainian methods it is actually possible). What next? “Battle ground states” becoming literally battle grounds? Population splits into segments with long lists of grievances, not all fictitious, thin residues of reasons may evaporate.
I completely concur with Mr. Hedges article. I would add that we are already in a tyrannical system.
The article states that:
“At least 1,003 people have been arrested and charged so far for participation in events on Jan. 6, with 476 pleading guilty, in what has been the largest single criminal investigation in U.S. history, according to analysis by Business Insider.”
While I am a huge admirer of Chris Hedges, what he inexplicably leaves out, in not only this sentence but also in the rest of the article, is that Donald Trump has not, even after two years, been charged with leading a coup which tried to overthrow the government on Jan. 6, 2021. Many of Trump’s Republican congressmembers have also not been arrested for having supported Trump and that coup attempt. Arresting over 1,000 people is basically an empty gesture as long as Merrick Garland’s office refuses to arrest those who were behind the Jan. 6, 2001 insurrection. Or does Hedges believe that it is somehow better to look forward instead of punishing those who tried to overthrow the U.S. government? This is probably why Trump sleeps like a baby at night since he understands that people like Hedges and the Democratic party apparently do not believe that those in power should be held accountable for their heinous actions.
“Or does Hedges believe that it is somehow better to look forward instead of punishing those who tried to overthrow the U.S. government?”
This allegation was not proven and it may well be untrue. The idea of criminalizing opposition is not novel, but the results, as we can observe in Latin America (most influenced by examples from USA) and other places are discouraging, to put it mildly. Such criminalization was used widely in post-2014 Ukraine, and
a. prevented political solutions to the crisis
b. convinced bulk of Russian and most of “global South” that Western version of “democracy” and “human rights” is a total sham, with rights being favors bestowed upon some, denied to others (everybody “pro-Russian”, “anti-Semitic” or in other category from ever growing list).
The reason Trump hasn’t been charged with “leading a coup to overthrow the U.S. government” is that there is no evidence that would hold up in court and there certainly was no coup.
The persecutors does not even regard these people as citizens expressing their right to protest and differences in opinions. I believe USA is beyond hope already. When Republicans eventually gets elected, there is a high chance that certain degree of vengeance will be exacted against the current Democrats who did this. And to and fro over the next few decades, with the chasm widening and the society split with irreconcilable hostility towards each other.
It will become a never-ending cycle of retribution. After all, this entire fiasco is clearly the result of Hillary Clinton’s inability to accept her defeat in the 2016 election, choosing instead to petulantly blame Putin and Russia for colluding with Trump to steal that election. The Democrats in Congress fabricated an entire false narrative constructed of whole cloth called “Russia-gate,” which was discredited entirely when finally investigated by a leading official from the FBI (Robert Mueller) even though he was arguably allied with the Democrats.
These supporters of Trump (perhaps) imagined they saw the same signs of fact manipulation and scurrilous lies surrounding the electoral loss of their candidate, and simplistically thought they could encourage justice from the system, not overthrow it. I daresay most of these “deplorables” being subjected to inordinate amounts of pre-trail detention and overkill when eventually sentenced to prison, would love to know (but dare not ask for fear of even lengthier jail time) why Reps. Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler and other conspirators who fabricated “Russia-gate” should not join them in prison.
Having failed to put Trump behind bars, essentially for being the political opposition over the past six years, we’ve got the entire lot of Loco Joe’s Democratic partisans, and the absolutely barking mad “big guy” himself (Lord Biden), endlessly doubling down in their blind crusade to bring down Putin and Russia, taking the entire world to the edge of a nuclear abyss–not out of any well reasoned philosophy or policies, not out of any necessity or imperative, but simply because they’ve been lathered up to embrace war fever by a powerful faction of pure and evil warmongers that got themselves entrenched in the vital machinery of both political parties.
They have all become maestros in the use of hatred and bombast to totally destroy the “other,” whether that term means individual identity groups domestically or entire nations on the planetary level. If the “Neo-cons” fail to eradicate the Russian nation (and the US along with it), look for the next wave of “teabaggers” (or whatever they will call themselves) to seek their vengeance in a resumption of the game both sides have been playing for decades to conclusively demolish the American economy and its entire middle class. That’s what’s gonna happen, no matter who gets blamed.
I have some optimism that the looming cycle of retribution will not go out of hand. I must admit that I avoid exposure to the maniacal visage of Adam Schiff etc., otherwise I would be as pessimistic as you are.
Thank you for having the courage and political wisdom to speak out on this unfairly shunned subject. So many on the left have finally jumped on the Julian Assange bandwagon (rightfully so and better late than never), but virtually no one on the left is protesting political prisoners right here in the USA. Worse than the corrosive show trials and trumped up prosecutions, the damage being done to America’s democratic institutions is incalculable. Your call for concern is much appreciated.
There is a nightly vigil outside the DC jail for J6 inmates that has been going on since August. Read “Report from Washington: DC Gulag Vigil for January 6 Political Prisoners”.
I join with Cat in thanking Chris for this eye-opener. And I join with Cat in pointing out that one cannot be a supporter of Julian Assange and condemn the persecution, and travesty of “justice” applied to him, without also condemning any abuse of defendants in the January 6 assault on the Capital, whether it be the arrests, the pretrial process, the trial itself or the long prison sentences.
I agree. I don’t care what these people did, this kind of treatment is not supposed to happen in a constitutional democracy with strong guarantees for civil liberties. This is more befitting of Communist Romania or Pinochet’s Chile.
Dramatic and affecting personal stories for sure. It is one thing to visit the capitol and be admitted by standard protocols. Perhaps frisked or whatever. It is another thing to see and hear windows smashing, police pushed back, sprayed or struck, doors and windows broken open with enormous mob effort. At that point, anyone other than a “man boy” would see the implications and the horror. I have sympathy for those who did not originally arrive with violent or malicious intent. There are curiosity seekers after all. But once such mayhem begins, it is stupid to take advantage of “easy” access. It’s more than a serious mistake. Some things do have to matter, after all. Even for “man boys.”
I agree, bruce edgar. They weren’t 5 years old, or 15 or 25. They were all big and grown up. A loud, angry demonstration is a human right. Attacking police, violently opening doors and windows, and entering demanding custody of senior government officials, are all serious crimes. It doesn’t matter what legal meat axe is used on these people, after all they are most likely to have a hang’em high mentality.
It’s ironic the Jan 06 white Racist Lynch Mob are now feeling legal system teeth ripping their lives apart. They have done so much to make these barbarities normal, even regarded as ‘justice’, exported widely to certainly cripple dissent. So don’t expect too much sympathetic whimpering from me.
I thought it was hysterical to see Trump’s monkeys embark on a final disgrace of US politics. Have none of these highly educated leaders ever read, ‘Frankenstein’? It was amusing to see Tea Party monsters chasing their creators through the Capital. Pence, Pelosi, MTG, must have wondered if shouting their names, as they were cornered, would have produced any recognition or mercy. These kinds of leaders have always thought they would be pulling on the rope, not swinging from it.
After 1956 riots in Poznan (Communist Poland) during the city headquarter of communist party were burned, the court reduces sentences of participants to few months, citing expert opinion about diminished capacity induced by participation in a crowd. It was a “trial of ten”, the idea of mass arrests, “American style”, did not appeal to Communist authorities. At that time, there was a swing away from Stalinism in Soviet block, but Stalinist thinking (or fascist?) seem to enjoy a revival.
The Democrat tribalists (the un-left) have shown themselves to be vindictive beyond all belief and measure. From the time of president Wilson when they threw thousands of socialists including the great Eugene Debs into jail to now, Democrats can aways be relied on to be so convinced of the rightness of their actions, that they will commit any immorality to stop their enemy of the day.
As one of the accused great unwashed said, Democrats will not win forever … the shoe will be on the other foot when a competent right winger (not the dolt Trump) wins and runs the show.
Both factions of the uniparty and their most fanatical supporters are petty, vindictive, and stupid. They are sucking the rest of us into hell, and will succeed should the rest of us allow it.
“Barnett was photographed in Nancy Pelosi’s office with his leg propped up on her desk. Barnett was convicted by a federal jury,…”
I loved seeing this pic!
The desk of a millionaire Washington flunkie who never lifted a finger for Med4All, does next to nothing to make the minimum wage a family supporting living wage, never did a thing for a full student loan debt jubilee, supports every single Washington war against underdogs across the globe, genuflects to Israel to such a sickening degree that it makes you nauseas, and is a rabid Russophobe and Sinophobe putting us all on the brink of world annihilation.
She deserves the muddy boot of every working person in the country stamped all over her dam n desk!
My favorite was the photo of the man toting the portable Speaker’s lectern through the rotunda. Dems had the vapors over how “disrespectful” this was. Wrong. The lectern is the people’s lectern, and Pelosi devoted her entire career to serving corporate oligarchs at the expense of working Americans. Her condescension for anyone not in the top 10% income bracket is overwhelming. As such, the lectern should have been liberated and returned to the people.
Adam Johnson did get 75 days in jail and a $5000 fine after pleading guilty to breaking and entering the Capitol. Got off easier than a lot of these people; thanks to Hedges for giving a few of them a public voice.
I loved the pic also–at least n the abstract. And I share your anger and resentment at a corrupt and hijacked congress. Definitely. But we do have structures in place to legally trash politicians whom we revile, and with whom we disagree. It’s called voting. I also know, as certainly you do, that our voting system is a duopolis charade. It has been for a long time. That’s more than troubling, more than frustrating. But the burden is still on us to address it. For now, our only recourse is to stage enormous non violent gatherings–protests that clearly express public disapproval. But for this to work, we need an educated electorate to listen, to pay attention. We want a revolution, but first we have to change ourselves. That is daunting as well. But to force entry to the seat of government is a serious matter. It is an insurrection, a kind of revolution.
It’s bad enough that this is Trump’s fiasco—-but I wonder, at least for Trump supporters—since most were there because of Trump. I also realize that when people get involved in large groups, that very often anger becomes the stream of action for attacking others. I am thinking that fining a lot of these people would be better than throwing them in jail.
After reading some of the comments of prison guards and others—-fairness does not seem to be the value of the day. Perhaps the lesson is, If Trump is leading something—it no doubt will bring disaster for many . But too, why would any of those going to D.C. —why would they think that bringing guns and other implements of pain to Congress and breaking in—–why would anyone with a brain see these actions as positive?
Perhaps it all comes about when Americans are unhappy, with jobs, money offered, or finding that so many jobs have left this nation for overseas—that the America they thought they had no longer exists. And too, if there were more citizens who worked to improve the system, instead of defying it—- maybe America would be a much more intelligent place to live. I do wonder what road American leaders have chosen to follow because so much is no longer working for so many Americans. : (
‘Their vision for America, Christian nationalism, white supremacy, blind support for Trump and embrace of reactionary fact-free conspiracy theories.’ Where is your evidence that any of this accurately defines the Jan. 6 protestors? Why the need to impugn these political prisoners? If you are going to call someone a racist, you ought to provide at least one example. By smearing these people in this way, you feed the hatred of the cowards who are using the powers of the U.S. government to punish others solely for holding different political views.
Every Journo wanting to remain in good standing must stress their ‘bona fides’ first…his conscience and reasoning caught up in the second half of the piece, but the most important thing is these people are dirty, dumb, and evil first.
Come on man, you didn’t see the signs, their T-shirts “Pinochet Was Right”, etc, the home-made gallows, or hear what they said when they were interviewed? The “Jesus for Trump” people? How about now, the implementation of neo-Jim Crow laws in Mississippi, South Carolina (let’s execute women who have abortions!) look it up, the racism, bigotry and misogyny is not hard to find, unless you’re willfully looking past it. But I agree, a lot of these folks are being treated wrongly, being over-punished, if you will. And Christian Nationalism is indeed a thing! You know this. The ignoring of the walls between church and state are being demolished in “red” states. They want a theocracy, sensible people do not. I’m sure this off-the-top-of-my-head response won’t convince, but it can’t be denied either, because it is happening.
“There is little that unites me with those who occupied the Capitol building on Jan. 6. Their vision for America, Christian nationalism, white supremacy, blind support for Trump and embrace of reactionary fact-free conspiracy theories leaves a very wide chasm between their beliefs and mine.”
Nah, we can’t treat them like the boogeyman. There’s some good stuff we can align with them on: their econ populism and “isolationism” are two very good things that would benefit the bottom 90% of American workers. Red Brown alliances are crucial in the face of the Ziocon/neocon take over of the country. Plus, we could use some strict (yet humane) enforcement of our borders.
The policies you suggest lead me to conclude that you are more Brown than Red. Socialists should never ally with fascists – it will always end badly for socialists and for the working class.
The policies I suggest would better the lot of 90% of U.S. citizen workers of all colors and ethnicities. Not sure what in the heck you’re for but hardcore economic populism and antiwar sentiment (isolationism) is as red as anything. If these crucial things are brown in your mind, I can’t help that.
Oh, and there’s nothing wrong with border enforcement. Cesar Chavez, the AFL-CIO, Bernie and other progressives over the years have been all for it, it’s only over the past ten years or so that they’ve become lukewarm about it bc of their terror at being deemed “racist.” See the last chapter of Diana Johstone’s incredible book “Circle on the Darkness” for a healthy nationalist perspective.
From your title I was hoping that you’d provide serious commentary about the Jan 6th event, but I’m afraid that you didn’t come very close to the mark when you began by claiming you (and I suspect your readers here) had very little in common with its participants.
The main story here is not that a bunch of right-wing extremists received extreme treatment from the powers that be, it’s that the powers that be have for decades been taking our nominal democracy (AND EVERYONE IN IT – including the people who think of themselves as The Good Guys who you only caution might experience this kind of treatment in some Republican future) down a spiral staircase to tyranny.
Our democracy is terminally ill due to domination by deliberate polarization (which you just helped contribute to – so soon after having asked people to rise above it and join in The Rage Against the War Machine rally) and governmental corruption. A lot of the people who helped elect Trump in 2016 were just people who were so fed up with our government’s perverted nature that they demanded change that might help set it right rather than continue the status quo. Four years later they just saw the same old games being played again by the same players (see below) and decided that additional action was needed.
The only reasonable conclusion one can draw from voting behavior is that polarization (between the two major parties) works, at least at the national level. People vote party rather than their actual interests because those two parties fool them into thinking they represent their interests. The corporate and other special interests (including the media and ‘deep state’ players like the intelligence and other administration services) work with the parties to shepherd voters into behavior that preserves the status quo because the status quo is in everyone’s interest save for the voters’.
The Democrats have the game down pretty much pat: they promise voters all sorts of good things while campaigning and then find all kinds of reasons they can’t deliver anything which might upset their actual controllers when push comes to shove (Republicans often collaborate with them in such efforts because as long as everyone but the voters wins the competition between them is not very serious).
Well, that’s just the Cliffs Notes version of what you might have concentrated on. Hope you’ll do better next time, because you did cover quite a bit of useful ground this time, just not with the best focus.
“domination by deliberate polarization” is the claim by extreme centrists that all we need is to have nice, friendly talking with one another and all will be okay. Not a word about the USA’s domination by the forces of capital, forces which have for a very long time made the working class which produces all the wealth poor, disempowered and weak. It is understandable that some in the working class would turn to simplistic solutions offered by fascists when the Left is barely existing in the USA after its thrashing more than a century ago. The USA needs a workers’ socialist revolution.
When Chinese authorities leveled the same sort of charges on Hong Kong protestors they were pilloried in the media. Not so with the Washington rioters which goes to show how the utterly the MsM manipulates public opinion on precisely the same issues.
Great point. Also true of the “color revolutions” including Ukraine.
Chris, it’s not “Christian nationalism” there’s no such thing,
that you want to rightfully condemn, it’s religious nationalism,
the ideology of the Nazis against the religious socialists in
Germany pre-World War II.
As a former student of James Luther Adams, re-read religious
socialism in his “Paul Tillich’s Philosophy.”
By confusing these concepts, the Christian message loses its
power for judging the evil descending on our country.