More than a year ago, I reported on the mission of Frank “Bagman of Empire” Wisner to Egypt (“Egypt: Let the Looting Begin,” Center for a Stateless Society, February 4, 2011). Wisner, formerly of Enron and AIG, was Obama’s plenipotentiary to Egypt, tasked with managing the post-Mubarak succession in as U.S.-friendly a direction as possible. Wisner’s father, by the way, was another Bagman of Empire; as a founding spook of the OSS and CIA he managed the overthrow of Arbenz and Mossadegh. Wisner had co-chaired (with another noted bagman, James Baker) a commission that developed a post-Saddam vision for the governance of Iraq. Just reading the “100 Orders” issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority, and the corporate looting pursuant to them, should give you a good idea of Wisner’s agenda.
Today’s column is about another Bagman of Empire: John Timoney.
Richard Moore wrote twelve years ago, in “Escaping the Matrix” (Whole Earth Catalog, Summer 2000) about the Empire importing technologies of repression from the imperial Periphery to the Core and using them to manage the domestic population.
It’s nothing new. It’s as old as Caesar bringing the legions from Gaul back across the Rubicon. But now it’s being done in reverse. A high-level maestro of political repression from the American domestic police apparatus has found lucrative employment in Bahrain.
Timoney had already established himself as a notable carpetbagger of repression within the United States. As Philadelphia’s Police Commissioner, he supervised the police riot at the August 2000 GOP Convention. His Gestapo tactics there, and later as police chief of Miami during the anti-FTAA protests, were dress rehearsals for the police repression of Occupy protests in hundreds of cities across America: Gassing and breaking the bones of unarmed people, preemptively arresting organizers, planting evidence — you name it, Timoney’s been there and done that.
From the outset of the Seattle movement, Timoney was its J. Edgar Hoover — warning shrilly of the “International Anarchist Conspiracy” to disrupt meetings of neoliberal institutions. He agitated relentlessly to apply the RICO statute to the anti-globalization movement. Timoney is a close associate of Tom Ridge, going back to the latter’s provision of political cover to Timoney’s police riot, and after the post-9/11 establishment of the US Department of Homeland Security was rumored to have close informal ties to much of the Department’s leadership. Although his prospects for high office in Fatherland Security never materialized, he went on to an extremely lucrative career as lobbyist for the security-industrial complex. And as police chief of Miami, he got a chance to further refine his jackbooted thuggery from the Philly days.
Now Timoney — along with fellow carpetbagger John Yates, assistant commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police — serves the Bahraini royal government. You know, the despotic Bahraini state that’s been engaged in brutal and murderous repression of the Arab Spring uprising there for the past year. Timoney, it seems, is for sale to any petty tyrant with petrodollars burning a hole in his pocket who wants to do a really high-class job (ahem) “using chemical weapons against his own people.”
It’s been said that to a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Give people a bunch of big hammers, and they’ll start looking for new ways to use them. Likewise, if your Empire has a need for torturers, thugs and detention camp guards, you’ll find all the volunteers you need to keep Abu Ghraib, Gitmo or Philly running. But once you have those guys (and gals, pace Lynndie England), they become an established constituency.
Somebody once quipped that the French Empire was built by retired army officers. Marijuana criminalization began, in part, as patronage for G-men unemployed by the repeal of Prohibition. Sometimes, likewise, MPs who get a taste for inflicting pain and domination on the powerless in squalid holes like Abu Ghraib or Baghram AFB come home and decide to become cops or prison guards (remember Dim in A Clockwork Orange?). And sometimes American cops become advisers to foreign despots’ secret police.
All uniformed thugs are brothers under the skin. And repression is becoming an industry without borders.