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State Crimes Against Democracy
Riffing on the themes in framing SCAD research

The following is a review of Sage Publications’ American Behavioral Scientist (Volume 53, No. 6, 783-794)(February 2010) (ISSN 0002-7642)(J201), Sense Making Under “Holographic” Conditions: Framing SCAD Research.

Comprising six separate articles (listed below), it is a powerful, passionate, well-researched addition to the literature of “state crimes against democracy” (SCAD). I have written to the authors to express my thanks, to ask permission to quote from the articles, and to ask them to participate in the Deep Politics Forum. The references – which include Ahmed, Blum, Chossudovsky, Four Arrows, Fetzer, Griffin, Naomi Klein, Chalmers Johnson, Robert Groden, John Marks, Mike Ruppert, Lisa Pease, Scahill, Shorrock, Peter Dale Scott, Webb, Tarpley, Susskind, and Barry Zwicker and others --constitute a valuable addition and guide as others seek to inquire.

The volume can be ordered for $24 for the whole issue. Contact SAGE Journals Customer Service department via e-mail at or phone 1-800-818-7243. The six articles are:

1) Matthew T. Witt and Alexander Kouzmin, "Sense Making Under 'Holographic' Conditions: Framing SCAD Research." American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 783-794.

2) Lance deHaven-Smith, "Beyond Conspiracy Theory: Patterns of High Crime in American Government", American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 795-825.

3) Christopher L. Hinson. "Negative Information Action: Danger for Democracy." American Behavioral Scientist, 2010 53: 826-847.

4) Laurie A. Manwell, "In Denial of Democracy: Social Psychological Implications for Public Discourse on State Crimes Against Democracy Post-9/11," American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 848-884.

5) Kym Thorne and Alexander Kouzmin, "The USA PATRIOT Acts (et al.): Convergent Legislation and Oligarchic Isomorphism in the 'Politics of Fear' and State Crime(s) Against Democracy (SCADs)," American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 885-920

6) Matthew T. Witt, "Pretending Not to See or Hear, Refusing to Signify: The Farce and Tragedy of Geocentric Public Affairs Scholarship," American Behavioral Scientist 2010 53: 921-939.

Several important definitions:

Behavioral scientist

According to WikiPedia: “The term behavioural sciences (or behavioral sciences) encompasses all the disciplines that explore the activities of and interactions among organisms in the natural world. It involves the systematic analysis and investigation of human and animal behaviour through controlled and naturalistic experimental observations and rigorous formulations. (E. D. Klemke, R. Hollinger, and A. D. Kline, (ed) (1980))….

Behavioural sciences includes two broad categories: neural - decision sciences - and social - communication sciences. Decision sciences involves those disciplines primarily dealing with the decision processes and individual functioning used in the survival of organism in a social environment. These include psychology, cognitive science, organization theory, psychobiology, and social neuroscience.

On the other hand, communication sciences include those fields which study the communication strategies used by organisms and its dynamics between organisms in an environment. These include fields like anthropology, organizational behaviour, organization studies, sociology and social networks.”

State crimes against democracy
State crimes against democracy (SCADs). SCADs are “actions or inactions by government insiders intended to manipulate democratic processes and undermine popular sovereignty. Further Internet search easily turns up the references to and from the above”. The quote is from the abstract for the noted article by Lance deHaven-Smith.

Holographic State is defined by Matthew Witt and Lance deHaven-Smith as“an emergency governmental praxis” [that] “manifests the capacity to render “realities” and policy prescriptions [to be] profoundly illusory – profoundly “holographic”.”

In the text that follows, all material quoted from the above-referenced appears in plum.

The beginning essentials aside now, let’s dive in.

After I got involved in reading this collection of academic papers, I couldn’t help but think of the plentitude of rich phrases that could be used by serious writers and researchers on the related topics like jazz composers use chord progressions for further development and improvisation. The very first sentence in the abstract for first article registers a turn of phrase that is apt and descriptive: “The ellipses of due diligence riddling the official account of the 9/11 incidents continue being ignored ….”. The ellipses clearly speak to the tremendous gaps in storyline, in logic, and investigation; that they are being ignored by governmental officials, journalists, and “the scholars of policy and public administration” the authors address. The abstract speaks of heuristics and models; the article itself addresses “the chimerical presence and perfidious legacy of state criminality against democracy”.

A heuristic approach speaks to problem solving, learning and discovery, [], or “strategies using readily accessible, though loosely applicable, information to control problem solving”. Databases, concept-mapping tools, “distributed, decentralized network of independent citizen activists and researchers” and “open-source intelligence gathering and dissemination systems” have been described elsewhere. One visible, obvious and leading example is

One of the phrases that quickly caught my eye was this: “the probabilistically implausible, comprehensive failure of NORAD”.

The energy-maneuverability ellipse in that concept is large enough to allow lumbering jumbo jets to sneak around undetected by people lacking orientation and situation awareness, and thus unable to act decisively, despite working in training-rich, technologically-dense environments years after expensive, intensive and well-disseminated Pentagon-based research into tactical decision-making under stress (TADMUS). It’s almost as if the nation’s defense had been OODA-looped. [See “Dick Cheney, 9/11 and the OODA Loop” in three parts here and here ]

Another wonderfully evocative “chord progression” in the SCAD symphony by Witt and Kouzmin is this: “the profound disavowal of still-burning, molten questions originating at Ground Zero gone begging by the American media”.

One of the simplest and yet most enticing suggestions put forth by Witt and Kouzmin is not foreign to veteran researchers, particularly those familiar with the work of Peter Dale Scott; they suggest that analysts “look for ‘event clusters’ of suspicious incidents that are characterized by similar tactics, targets, beneficiaries, and/or synchronous policy consequences. This approach reveals telling patterns in state political criminality, patterns pointing to plausible actors and institutional vulnerabilities.”

The abstract for Lance deHaven-Smith’s paper "Beyond Conspiracy Theory: Patterns of High Crime in American Government" reads as follows:

“This article explores the conceptual, methodological, and practical implications of research on state crimes against democracy (SCADs). In contract to conspiracy theories, which speculate about each suspicious event in isolation, the SCAD construct delineates a general category of criminality and calls for crimes that fit this category to be examined comparatively. Using this approach, an analysis of post-World War II SCADs and suspected SCADs highlights a number of commonalities in SCAD targets, timing and policy consequences. SCADs often appear where presidential politics and foreign policy intersect. SCADs differ from earlier forms of political corruption in that they frequently involve political, military, and/or economic elites at the very highest levels of the social and political order. The article concludes by suggesting statutory and constitutional reforms to improve SCAD prevention and detection.”

That abstract could be deconstructed for “chord progressions” that could keep some of us busy for months, perhaps years.

He goes on to say: “The SCAD construct is designed to move beyond the debilitating, slipshod, and scattershot speculation of conspiracy theories by focusing inquiry on patterns in elite political criminality that reveal systemic weaknesses, institutional rivalries, and illicit networks.”

After his list of “officially corroborated” and suspected SCADs, he notes that “the concept of SCADs was developed, in part, to replace the term conspiracy theory which, since the 1960s, has been associated with paranoia and hare-brained speculation. Considered as a label, conspiracy theory does a poor job of characterizing speculations about political intrigue, yet the label remains popular because it functions normatively to protect political elites from mass doubts about their motives and tactics…. On the surface, the term conspiracy theory refers to a suspicion that some troubling event was the result of a secret plot, but the term’s usage implies something else…. [T]he conspiracy theory label, as it is applied in public discourse, does not disparage conspiratorial thinking or analysis in general, even though this is what the term suggests. Rather, the broad-brush “conspiracy theory” disparages inquiry and questioning that challenge official accounts of troubling political events in which public officials themselves may have had a hand. Deployed in public discourse to discredit and silence those who express suspicions of elite criminality, the label functions, rhetorically, to shield political elites from public interrogation.”

Someone might cue up a series of YouTube videos of press conferences and speeches over the past ten years or longer that support and underline this point, STARTING WITH STERN WARNINGS FROM TWO SUCCESSIVE PRESIDENTS. I’d like to note, too, that in addition to disparage the “authors” of related statements, it is a significant suggestion to the reader that there is no there there, and that time spent on inquiry is wasted time. Indeed, it has become a well-worn tool of the defenders, debunkers and disinformation brigades along with other labeling. DeHaven-Smith notes, however, that conspiracy theorists have contributed to this disjunctive dispute by focusing on events in isolation. “Amateur investigators have developed a large popular literature on the assassination of President Kennedy and a number of other political crimes in which state complicity is suspected or alleged. The research has discredited official accounts of many incidents, thus casting suspicion on the government. But such ad hoc research has failed to actually solve the crimes under analysis or even to identify the agencies and officials most likely to have been the perpetrators.”

I note again that I have invited the authors to join and participate at Deep Politics Forum. Amateur investigator that I am, I lack subpoena power, a staff, funding support, or the ability otherwise to conduct forensic investigation, convene deliberative bodies, empanel juries, or do much more than write to my elected representatives. I have done so in one vivid case, with no response. Significant efforts are underway in other organizations to conduct a campaign reminding or enlightening officials as to their duties under the laws of misprision of treason. The media, with the exception of some corners of the Internet, have been virtually impenetrable and are still profoundly disavowing scads of information, research, analysis, testimony and the obvious gaps in due diligence.

deHaven-Smith has constructed a three-page chart of crimes against American democracy, charted with perpetrator’s motive or policy implication, suspected or confirmed perpetrator, and a degree of confirmation (low, medium, high) of governmental role. Another smaller chart looks at corruption and reform.

He calls attention to the Constitution and The Federalist Papers. I wonder about the role and impact of the generalized degradation of the rule of law in recent years and its impact on statutory and constitutional reform.

One point, in particular, caught my attention, especially in light of what we know now about Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, MK-Ultra and its related adjuncts, and the generalized and focused efforts that fall under the heading of MindWar, PsyOps, Bernaysian propaganda, neuro-cognitive warfare, and the like. In discussing Watergate, he noted, “The plumbers had broken into Fielding’s office in search of information needed by CIA profilers for preparing an analysis of how to “break” Ellsberg emotionally.” That caught my attention because I had recently read of “the April rules”, approved in April 2003 by a “working group” convened under the auspices of the Secretary of Defense, which listed twenty-four techniques for breaking someone’s resistance. [See page 50 of “Standard Operating Procedure” by Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris, Penguin Press, New York 2008] This is also, perhaps, of interest in exploring methods of intimidation of Congressional representatives and perhaps lesser bureaucrats.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this offering by deHaven-Smith:

“… When suspicious incidents occur that alter the nation’s objectives, disrupt presidential elections, provoke military action, or otherwise affect the national agenda, Americans tend to accept the self-serving accounts of public officials, seldom considering the possibility that such incidents might have been initiated or facilitated by the officials themselves. The role and function of the universally understood concept of “agent provocateur” is grossly neglected in the idiom of American political discourse. This mass gullibility, which itself invites SCADs, is unlikely to change until SCAD detection and prosecution are improved…. The potential for SCADs is large because elite political conspiracies are difficult to detect and investigations are in the hands of the very people who actually need to be scrutinized. However, social scientists have the requisite conceptual resources, methodological skills, and scholarly independence to make antidemocratic corruption visible. Once it is rendered visible, it will no longer be tolerated.”

Let us hope, and get active.

Christopher Hinson’s "Negative Information Action: Danger for Democracy" is about secrecy, "negative information actions", their subversion of checks and balances and the rule of law in a democracy, and sets forth a Negative Information Action Model. It is a deep review of Iran-Contra. [The three-page appendix lists 120 actions cross-referenced by nine different types of NIA by ten different actors.] In Hinson’s e-mail to me, he noted, “While my article briefly mentions the Bush administration, please keep in mind that my article does not specifically relate to 9/11, but rather it addresses the public and legal accountability of government officials who attempt to cover-up criminal and embarrassing behavior.” He notes that the framework and structure of the national security state and its approach to secrecy is “vulnerable to misuse when high-ranking policy makers seek to evade congressional oversight, hide criminal acts, conceal embarrassing information, silence critics, or manipulate popular perceptions of international incidents.”

Lacking contact with or permissions from the other authors, let me skip to the final paper by Witt entitled "Pretending Not to See or Hear, Refusing to Signify: The Farce and Tragedy of Geocentric Public Affairs Scholarship".

The entire paper, like the entire collection now bound as Volume 53, Number 6, is worth the expense and time, no worse than a first-rate hardbound work of nonfiction. Witt’s conclusive, percussive statement stands like an exclamation point and further emphasis for the insights that preceded it.

The first four paragraphs, on the role of “reality TV” [“Hegelian passion plays”], their “unprecedented banality”, “infinitely regressive copies of nothing real”, as performance art in “the social construction of reality du jour”, are stunning in their insight and impact and worth the price of admission. They shall find a happy home elsewhere.

I am hard-pressed not quote the entire paper. Wanting to leave room in your intellectual palate for a discussion of the other articles, a desire to acquire the entire work, and further riffing and thematic composition on your part, I shall offer up three final quotes as dessert, palate cleanser, and aperitif.

The pastry is actually from Lance deHaven-Smith’s work noted earlier:

“If lone gunmen have been roaming the country in search of political victims, it is difficult to understand why they have not struck more widely, especially given that most officials receive no Secret Service protection.”

The seltzer acting as palate cleanser:

“The ‘people’ don’t merely distrust public servants because the people are not fools; the people distrust public servants because, in actual concurrences, they have screwed the people over.”

The aperitif is Witt’s quote from Morgan Reynolds:

“Anyone who penetrates the fog of state deception to the truth, the reality behind the false appearances, effectively desanctifies [sic] the state in the eyes of the previously deceived public.”
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
Take a bow Ed. What a great collection.

I had to grin at the following:

Quote:“The ‘people’ don’t merely distrust public servants because the people are not fools; the people distrust public servants because, in actual concurrences, they have screwed the people over.”

The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14
Thank you, David. The curtain calls belong to the authors; I am just an old second-rate emcee.

Dr. Witt sent on the following corrections and notes:

"The holographic state quotation should refer to "emergent" not "emergency".

The "event clusters" item called out by Alex and myself in introduction piece is actually in reference to Lance's paper. Alex and I are not the ones, ourselves, producing that insight.

The "seltzer acting as palate cleanser" [segment] should replace "concurrences" with "occurrences"."

It is hoped that Dr. Witt (and perhaps several of his colleagues) will join us here at Deep Politics Forum.
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"

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