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JS: So, I want to start off by asking you about a phrase that you use in your latest book. You say that we now have a counterinsurgency warfare model of politics. What do you mean by that?

BH: So, what I mean by that is that basically all of the [ways] in which we govern abroad and at home is now funneled through a particular way of thinking about the world. It’s a mentality. It’s a way of thinking about society that triggers particular kinds of strategies and politics that result from that. And the way of thinking about society is this counterinsurgency paradigm of warfare.

So, counterinsurgency started in the 1950s – well, it started long before then, but it kind of crystallized with Western powers in the 1950s and 60s in Algeria, and Indochina before then, and in Vietnam for the Americans. And it was a particular way of thinking about society, the way society is structured into three groups. With, on the one hand, a small active minority who are the insurgents, and a large passive majority who can be swayed one way or the other, and then a small minority of counterinsurgents.

And that way of thinking has become internalized, second hand. Most, I would say, many in America, but certainly our political leaders are looking at the world through that lens when they look at other countries when they look domestically at their own population, and as a result of that it triggers particular kinds of counterinsurgency practices, really. And three practices particularly that I think when you look at what we’re doing both abroad and at home, you see resonances of them everywhere. The first is the idea of getting total information awareness. That’s always been the key linchpin of counterinsurgency theory, is to get total information on the total population.

And that’s what distinguishes it from just getting good intelligence. It’s that you have to get total intelligence on the total population, not just targeted to people who you suspect, but on the total population. So that you can make a distinction between or you can identify that small group of active insurgents. And you need the information on everyone so that you can make that separation, those fine distinctions between someone who is in that active minority or someone who’s just [in the] you know, passive masses. So that’s the first strategy. The second strategy is then that you have to rid of the active minority that you identified, just that small group of individuals, the insurgents, and you do that through any means possible. And then the third strategy is to win the hearts and minds of the masses, basically.

And I think that starting after 9/11. We saw that way of thinking become the dominant way of governing abroad particularly with the war in Iraq, but then more generally with the use of drones outside of war zones et cetera, use of total information through the NSA in the way in which everything was captured about everyone to the most minor detail. And then also trying to pacify the masses in Iraq through kind of some provision of services or just distribution of cash. But then eventually, when this way of thinking comes back to the United States through different forms of pacification of the masses. Particularly right now, I would say through forms of distraction, really.

JS: How does this counterinsurgency warfare model of politics apply in the Trump era?

BH: The Trump Administration is kind of a crystallization, or it seals the deal really on this on this model of governing. But what I want to emphasize though is that it wasn’t unique to Trump. And so, it goes back and it threaded through the Obama Administration and the Bush Administration.

I’ll come back to that in a second. But when you see it today, what you see predominantly is through Trump’s creation of an internal enemy. So, one of the things that drives counterinsurgency ways of thinking is having an internal enemy that, the internal enemy which is that identifiable small class of the active insurgents.

And I think that Trump [has] really rested his entire way of governing us by creating internal enemies out of whole cloth, really, in this case. It started with the Muslims and Muslim Americans and the idea that we needed a Muslim ban.

But when you listened to the rhetoric that surrounded the Muslim ban, it was this rhetoric about, “Muslims are coming into the country. We got to keep them out and even the ones who are here aren’t patriots. They don’t call the police when they have information. We need a registry for them. We need – there was talk about –

JS: Surveillance on mosques.

BH: – Well, exactly, right. All of the surveillance on the mosques and on all of the Muslim businesses, everywhere. And so, all of that was the creation of a dangerous element in this country, which were the Muslim Americans. And we saw it, of course with Mexican Americans, with talking about Mexicans as criminals, as rapists. You saw it just recently with the whole caravan episode, right. I mean, I think that the caravan episode was an effort to create an internal enemy because it was not only identifying and indexing this real group of individuals, but I think it was, through those groups of individuals, it was pointing at all of the undocumented persons who are in this country and who substantiate that threat.

JS: If that philosophy is as you say, what is the purpose then of identifying these people as you say, as sort of the insurgents?

BH: It’s a coherent strategy that not only kind of identifies the danger and then, of course, tries to eliminate the danger, right. But is doing that in part to pacify the masses to win the support of the masses to bring them on Trump’s side. And of course, that was exactly a strategy for the whole week preceding the midterm elections, right? It was to win the hearts and minds of Americans by targeting this dangerous internal enemy that was coming to the border but that also is in the country, is in the country already. It’s these undocumented residents.

So, it’s got these different prongs to it and in part, what’s always been unique about counterinsurgency theory from the 1950s is that it is focused on the population in this interesting way. So, when you read all of the text by the great counterinsurgency commanders — the French, and British, and some Americans, and texts that were written for and by the RAND Corporation on counterinsurgency — one of the central pillars of this way of thinking is that the battle is over the population. It’s over the masses.

– Jeremy Scahill interviews Bernard Harcourt, “THE COUNTERINSURGENCY PARADIGM: HOW U.S. POLITICS HAVE BECOME PARAMILITARIZED.” The Intercept, November 25, 2018.

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“They buried Harry Snedden with honor last week. They placed his cap upon a Canadian flag, which lay across his coffin, and from the crowded pews of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in suburban Toronto they sang him to rest, privately measuring the

meaning of his death. Afterward, in a solemn processional, they marched— 1,100 policemen, six abreast, their shoes bright with polish, their hands gloved in white—through the very streets Constable Snedden had patrolled and not far from where he had been shot, with his own gun, while trying to break up a domestic dispute.

At 22, fit and industrious, Harry Snedden had contemplated a long career in his chosen profession and, for his family and friends, his death had the awesome absurdity of random fate. But police forces everywhere viewed it as one more justification for their campaign to restore capital punishment. In fact, Snedden died less than two weeks after a national gathering of police chiefs had urged a federal referendum on the death penalty and only days after Justice Minister Otto Lang and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau—once regarded as firm abolitionists—had themselves mused out loud about just such a possibility.

Ottawa’s apparent turnabout on the issue may have stunned party loyalists, but it plainly tickled the police. “Thank God,” sighed AÍ Evelyn, president of Toronto’s 5,300-member police association. “Let’s have a referendum. There’s no doubt in my mind that the majority wants capital punishment.”

There is no doubt, either, that on the hanging question—as on many others— Canada’s cops have become increasingly outspoken. “We’ve had to,” explains Halifax policeman Joe Ross, the militantly pro-hanging vice-president of the Canadian Police Association. “There’s not a week goes by that police aren’t shot at. We have to be more political—for our own protection.”

And so they are. From St. John’s to Surrey, the nation’s 65,000 policemen are making themselves heard as never before. Frequent conclaves, media blitzes and the long parade of appearances before legislative committees have given this country’s most visible minority a new and sometimes disturbing dimension. The newest centurions are not only peace officers, but lobbyists, influential shapers of opinion.

“Those who would enforce the law are now trying to determine how the laws should be made,” warns Toronto lawyer Harold Levy. “That concerns me. Every time the Criminal Lawyers Association goes to Ottawa to present a brief, the police chiefs have been there before us. This is not public relations and this is not education. It’s very close to intimidation.”

Whatever it is, the police show little inclination to stop. Joe Ross’s 600-member Police Association of Nova Scotia hopes to make capital punishment the major issue in next spring’s federal election. Its Ontario counterpart has set a $100,000 fund-raising target to promote the police viewpoint—one shared by 68 per cent of all Canadians, according to last April’s Gallup poll. Says Toronto Police Superintendent Frank Barbetta (see box): “I think the death penalty is a deterrent and I think it’s a fit punishment, not just for the murder of police officers and prison guards—that was never our contention—but for all premeditated murder.”

The new tempo of police politics does not stop with capital punishment. At almost every level, Canadian police forces are now engaged in a quest for more equipment, more personnel, more money and more -power. Especially power. Among their specific demands: the right to open mail (with a judicial warrant); changes in the Human Rights Act, to prevent criminals from gaining access to federal police files; withdrawal of Ottawa’s freedom-of-information proposals; enough federal aid to double the size of police intelligence units, to fight organized crime; and amendments to the Criminal Code that would make any car owner liable for all offences involving his vehicle—even if it were stolen. Insists Stan Raike, newly elected president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police: “The war on crime is a war indeed.”

Still, the campaign for extra clout comes when the growth rate of crime itself is levelling off. For example, between 1961 and 1967 crimes of violence increased by an average of 12 per cent annually.

But between 1975 and 1977, the average rate of growth plummeted to less than one per cent per year. Asks Dr.

Paul Reed, director of Statistics Canada’s justice division: “You’re wondering why the police need more power? I would encourage you to wonder.”

But statistics are a fruitless game; they yield more questions than they answer. Is the curve dipping because the most crime-prone age group (15 to 24) is maturing? Or is it because in an era of economic restraint, police forces—the source of most crime statistics—see no advantage in reporting new crests in the wave? No one can say conclusively.

One category that shows an indisputable advance, however, is cannabis offences, which now account for one in every eight charges laid against adults (compared to one in 57 nine years ago).

In several American states, possession of marijuana or hashish is no longer a crime and even the Canadian Bar Association—never exactly aggressive in pursuit of reform—and the government’s own 1972 LeDain Commission have called for decriminalization of simple possession. Yet last year alone, more than 40,000 possession charges were laid.

The gargantuan effort expended to curb dubious violations of the Criminal Code is not restricted to cannabis. Laments Osgoode Hall law professor Alan Grant: “Senior officers know they’re catching the mackerel and leaving the whales; that’s what accounts for their frustration.”

Something certainly accounts for it. Although, as University of Saskatchewan law professor Brian Grosman notes, “public support for the police in this country is at an all-time high,” police morale is with few exceptions at an all-time low. Easy bail, plea bargaining, criminals acquitted by loopholes in the law, soft judges, quick parole—these are the verses of the policeman’s complaint. Staring into a coffee cup in northern B.C., an RCMP constable reflects: “Out of 20 charges you might get five or six convictions. We don’t get any support from the court. You spend hours on an investigation, paper work, court time. There’s no incentive for initiative. That’s why the guys are getting out.”

Even beyond the courtroom, though, a policeman’s lot is not a happy one these days. In Moncton, for example, Chief Greg Cahoon, a former RCMP sergeant, has upset his force with sweeping policy changes. Several senior officers have resigned. More recently, Cahoon has tried to force team policing upon the department.

In Charlottetown, friction between Chief Donald Saunders—imported from Ontario in 1974—and his staff continues. A 1977 provincial inquiry said the force was flying on a wing and a prayer, had lost public confidence and should immediately adopt formal rules and regulations—a code it had astonishingly managed to do without.

The Newfoundland Constabulary wants the right to carry guns; Halifax cops are threatening a strike; and the Quebec Policemen’s Federation (9,800 members—among the most militant blue-knight organizations in the country) predicts politicians will soon try to destroy police unions. “The storm clouds are forming,” says Guy Marcil, the federation’s executive director. “For the next three years, we won’t be fighting to gain new things, but to keep what we have won in the past.”

All of that is but a barely audible murmur to the raucous vibrations touched off by police forces in Ontario. At week’s end, the province’s police commission had completed one investigation (finding “management by crisis” in Thunder Bay), had two more under way and two others were contemplated. In tiny Ingersoll (pop. 8,200), Chief Ronald James had the temerity to suggest recently that epileptics be barred from the town’s restaurants. “Some guy barfing on the floor is not good for business,” the chief maintained.

Even Metro Toronto’s well-greased operation is sputtering. Three killings by police officers last month have raised anxious questions about police racism, emergency task forces and the adequacy of training techniques.

The most serious abuse occurred in Waterloo, Ont., former home of the Henchmen motorcycle gang, a group whose lifestyle blended into the community as punk rock blends with Beethoven. In 1977, the Waterloo Regional Police Commission hired a new police chief—Syd Brown. He was a daring and controversial choice, in part because he had been a constable—and only a constable—for 23 years.

Brown made numerous changes in Waterloo, many of them positive. He gave junior officers more authority, believing then and now that officers on the street are more in tune with reality than desk-bound administrators. But he also set up an eight-man tactical squad. This past March, it raided the Henchmen clubhouse. Ostensibly, it was a drug raid. In fact, it was an exercise in terrorism. Gang members, an Ontario Police Commission inquiry was subsequently told, were handcuffed and forced to kneel against a wall while police walked on their legs. They were made to run a gauntlet of police punches. They were beaten with nightsticks. Their clubhouse was destroyed. An improperly trained police dog inflicted more than 20 bites. Only one charge, for possession of marijuana, was laid.

“Hell, even the Pope made mistakes,” offers Constable Charles Neegy, now standing guard outside the coronary unit of Kitchener-Waterloo General Hospital where Brown, with pulse rate of 28, was admitted last month. “I tell you, Syd brought policing out of the dark ages. None of this hiding behind bushes to trap some motorist for speeding. We were doing police work.” The commission inquiry is expected to recommend next month that Brown be relieved of his duties.

The Henchmen affair and other probes have made the whole process of police investigating themselves a matter of considerable debate. Two Ontario commissions in recent years have urged formation of a citizen review board to monitor complaints of police conduct. So far, the cops have lobbied successfully against its creation.

Out west, the B.C. Police Commission has established an enviable track record, overseeing an average 1,100 citizen complaints a year, about 25 per cent of which involve allegations of police brutality. Most are unfounded. “The police are more cautious now,” says Vancouver’s senior Crown Prosecutor Bruce Donald. “The squads set up under the Police Act can lead to formal hearings. The guy on the street is thinking: ‘Why should I put my ass on the line? All I face is a truckload of grief.’ ”

Indeed, police relations with the publie, the press and the courts seem generally more amicable west of Ontario. The central grievance of Winnipeg’s 1,007 cops is wages (they rank about 50th nationally), but it hasn’t affected performance. Violent crime in the. city’s core declined 9.7 per cent last year, thanks largely to Operation Affirmative Action, which took policemen out of their cruisers and put them back on two-man foot patrols.

Still, tension is the rule. New recruits are better trained and better educated, but they are still governed by old ideologies. They are especially puzzled by what they regard as Canada’s double standard on police morality: it’s okay to beat and harass—it’s even expected. But woe unto the constable who gets caught. Says York University sociologist Hans Mohr: “We ask them to do a lot of the dirty business we can’t be bothered with and then we say, ‘Why did you shoot? Was that chase necessary?’ But the examination is healthy. We are finally zeroing in on the issue: what police powers are really needed?”

That question is not likely to be settled soon. If anything, the debate over police powers and accountability seems certain to swell in the months ahead, changing the way Canadians view their policemen and adding new meaning to the year’s cosmic salute: may the force be with you.

– Michael Posner,

“The New Centurions: Law and order on the march,” Maclean’s. October 2, 1978.

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“The militarization of America’s police has been hotly debated in recent years. Critics argue that effectively turning cops into soldiers risks alienating them from the communities they supposedly serve.

New research provides evidence supporting such warnings. It finds the use of SWAT teams—perhaps the most common and visible form of militarized policing—neither reduces crime nor enhances public safety.

It reports this aggressive approach to law enforcement is disproportionately used in minority communities. And finally, it finds portraying officers in military gear decreases public support for the police.

“Curtailing militarized police may be in the interest of both police and citizens,” concludes Jonathan Mummolo, an assistant professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University. His study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mummolo measured the impact of militarization using a variety of methods. Among his data sources were “a nationwide panel measuring the presence of active SWAT teams,” and a list of every SWAT team deployment in the state of Maryland over a five-year period (8,200 in all).

SWAT teams,” he notes, “often received advanced combat training,” and their formation “represents a heightened commitment to the use of militarized equipment and tactics.”

He found “the vast majority of SWAT deployments occur in connection with non-emergency scenarios, predominately to serve search warrants.” What’s more, these teams “are more often deployed in areas with high concentrations of African-Americans, even after adjusting for local crime rates.”

Perhaps most importantly, he reports “there is no evidence that acquiring a SWAT team lowers crime, or promotes officer safety.” All in all, he adds, “the benefits of increased deployments appear to be either small or nonexistent.”

But there are costs involved, as the second part of the study shows. Mummolo conducted two studies of Americans’ attitudes toward the police: one online, featuring 1,566 people, and another conducted by Survey Sampling International, featuring 4,465 people.

Participants read a fictitious news article in which a police chief argues his department deserves a larger budget. The report was paired with a one of four photos featuring a group of policemen “standing guard during a local protest.”

The images depicted various degrees of militarization, ranging from one in which five officers stand in traditional uniforms to another featuring cops in riot gear posing with an armored vehicle. Participants were then asked about their support for police spending and their confidence in the force.

The results: Seeing the armored-vehicle photo “caused support for police funding in the United States to fall by roughly four points in the (online) survey, and two points in the SSI survey,” Mummolo reports. “Support for funding the department in the news article also fell.”

Strikingly, among people taking the latter survey, viewing that image also led to “a 3.2 point drop in respondents’ desire for more police patrols in their own neighborhoods.”

It seems few people are enthused about having a pseudo-army patrolling their streets. And they assume a police force that can afford that kind of equipment doesn’t need additional taxpayer dollars.”

– Tom Jacobs, “THE MILITARIZATION OF POLICE DOES NOT REDUCE CRIME.” Pacific Standard, August 20, 2018.

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“Wins Liberty By Mad Dash Through Stores, Upstairs, Down,” Globe and Mail. July 13, 1938. Page 04.

Youth Leaps From Window; Drops 20 Feet

Crashes Through Trap-Door, Into Cellar, Continues His Flight

Lost Mid Orangemen
===
Peterborough, July 12 (Special).- Arnold Cameron, 24, of Sunderland, has not been apprehended at a late hour tonight after he escaped from the local police station while having searched this morning.

County, Provincial, and city police are seeking the young man who was arrested a few days ago and charged with stealing a diamond ring and a sum of money.

Cameron appeared in court this morning, but the Crown did not offer any evidence against him since his case had already been reported in Ontario Parole Board and Chief Inspector Swaizie was on hand with warrants to have him returned to Guelph Reformatory for violation of his parole. When Cameron was taken downstairs he was searched and Sergeant John Thompson was about to place place him in the cells when he broke away from the officer. The officer started to follow, but realized the cell door was open and that eight or ten prisoners might escape.

H. B. Reid, Hamilton balliff, was a visitor in the police station at the time and took up pursuit of the flying Cameron, who dashed out a laneway and across the market. He then entered the Florence Ladies’ Wear store, dashed through it and up into a photographic studio, where Albert Cripps, the only one in the building at the time, nearly captured him. Cameron, cornered in the dark room, smashed his way through a composition wall to race downstairs, across the street and through a department store where he knocked two women customers flying in his mad dash.

Cameron was then corned in an apartment house, but as the officers surrounded the building he jumped twenty feet from a second-story window as Detective Piercy approached the room in which he was hiding. 

He lit on a trap door leading to a cellar entrance and crashed through it with apparent little injury, for he sped away through the city streets and was lost in the crowd of Orangemen celebrating the Twelth of July. 

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“Let’s begin with the basics: violence is an inherent part of policing. The police represent the most direct means by which the state imposes its will on the citizenry. They are armed, trained, and authorized to use force. Like the possibility of arrest, the threat of violence is implicit in every police encounter. Violence, as well as the law, is what they represent.”

— Kristian Williams, Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America.  AK Press, 2015. pg. 32

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“The bank robbery at Rainy River was committed in the Province of Ontario. The administrators of the law should be ready to take great pains and go to any expense in proving to the desperadoes that this is not a good Province for depredators of their class.”

– from the Toronto Globe, July 6, 1909. Page 04.

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