Bulletin N° 791
We recommend this classic 1957 anti-war film by Stanley Kubrick, based on the novel of the same name by Humphrey Cobb.
"Paths of Glory"
Subject : and more on War . . . .
27 March 2018
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
If the history of events leading up to the First and Second World Wars can teach us anything, it is about the paralytic disbelief of la classe dominée in the face of an approaching war; a total underestimation of the malignant chicanery of the ruling classes who repeatedly have defended their capitalist interests by initiating wars of mass destructing that have cost the lives of tens of millions of ordinary people, while making a small class of capitalist investors fabulously wealthy. The number of victims in these wars is staggering, and the audacious decision-making process by military and civilian personnel is mind numbing. This god-like power over the rest of mankind, who have been culturally eviscerated - rendered passive and confused by fear and disinformation - is unacceptable!
The threat of a global conflagration, on the one hand, and the real thing, on the other, are two different enterprises. The first aims to produce fear and submission (always within the framework of a profit-seeking enterprise) that will disarm if possible the targeted population of the future foot soldiers; the second is a morose operation of fratricide for both the victims and their executioners, which always ends badly for the 99% who have been manipulated to support the killing of one another.
The 26 items below offer CEIMSA readers more information about ruling class strategies, tactics and logistics in the expansion of today’s corporate capitalist wars on poor nations, who signify new investment opportunities to further exploit “surplus populations”; and about growing popular resistance to corporate propaganda and psychological warfare which aims to disarm the designated victims so they will submit to the imperatives of imperial conquest at home and abroad, and always at a great cost to their collective well being . . . .
Professor emeritus of American Studies
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
Today we’re in the streets with more than a million people in the March for Our Lives. We’re following the lead of young people who say enough. These brave youth are bringing fresh energy to the resistance and making breakthroughs on common sense gun control that no one thought was possible just months ago. This bodes well for the struggle ahead.
At the recent Strategy Summit hosted by the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center, Chris Shelton, President of the Communications Workers America declared: “The fight for our country’s future starts with The Resistance, standing up every day against the petulant, racist, fascist-coddling, phony populist, pro corporate, lying lunacy that cascades out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on an hour-by-hour basis.”
That about sums it up for us. We know what’s wrong. We owe it to the students leading today’s marches to do something to make real change happen.
Our experience on the doors tells us that working people and a governing majority will stand with us if we share a positive message that really resonates with them. They want to hear a visionary message about progressive populist politics -- not just a list of what we are against.
People’s Action is doing this with our Rise Up: From Protest to Power platform. We are serious about fighting for racial, gender, economic and environmental justice that repairs the damage Trump and the Right have done to our democracy.
Millions marched to protest gun violence and demand reform
The Powerful Silence of the March for Our Lives
Three of the young women who spoke on Saturday made silence awkward. And shameful. And, in all that, striking.
“One Life Is Worth All the Guns in America”:
Students Demand End to Violence at March for Our Lives
The U.S. Doubles Down as Empire Declines
US empire is in decline. Reports of the end of the US being the unitary power in world affairs are common, as are predictions of the end of US empire. China surpassed the United States as the world economic leader, according to Purchasing Power Parity Gross National Product, and Russia announced new weapons that can overcome the US’ defense systems.
What is happening in the United States, in response, is to do more of what has been causing the decline. As the Pentagon outlined in its post-primacy report, the US’ plan is more money, more aggression and more surveillance. Congress voted nearly unanimously to give the Pentagon tens of billions more than it requested. Military spending will now consume 57% of federal discretionary spending, leaving less for basic necessities. The Trump administration’s new nominees to the State Department and CIA are a war hawk and a torturer. And the Democrat’s “Blue Wave” is composed of security state candidates.
The US is escalating an arms race with Russia and China. This may create the mirror image of President Reagan forcing Russia to spend so much on its military that it aided in the break-up of the Soviet Union. The US economy cannot handle more military spending, worsening austerity when most people in the US are in financial distress.
Empire Files: War With North Korea - Propaganda vs. Reality
On top of overtly genocidal threats, the Trump Administration has announced new terms: that they "will never accept a nuclear North Korea." But, the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea already has nuclear weapons. Does that mean a war is imminent?
US Empire: Global Imperialism and Internal Colonialism
by James Petras
The dynamic of contemporary US imperialism is built around two structural features: the drive toward global military expansion, conquest and occupation backed by the intensification of exploitation of domestic labor and pillage of the domestic economy.
March 21, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - In this paper we will challenge the notion that overseas economic exploitation has transferred income to ‘buy-off’ the domestic working and middle classes, in the course of consolidating imperial hegemony.
We will argue that the empire is no longer based on robust overseas growth but rather the empire today is a costly and declining proposition.
We will proceed to outline the costs of militarized imperialism and the relative economic decline of the empire.
We will then turn to analyzing how the US imperial state has resorted to financing the empire though its regressive tax, regulator and budgetary policies.
We will conclude by refuting the notion that the US turn to protectionism will revive the US economic empire.
15 Years. More Than 1 Million Dead. No One Held Responsible
The War in Iraq's latest anniversary passed in all-American
by Charles P. Pierce
The most New York Times. It carried a very plain and simple headline: of writing of the week came in Tuesday’s
"Fifteen Years Ago, America Destroyed My Country"
My short visit only confirmed my conviction and fear that the invasion would spell disaster for Iraqis. Removing Saddam was just a byproduct of another objective: dismantling the Iraqi state and its institutions. That state was replaced with a dysfunctional and corrupt semi-state. We were still filming in Baghdad when L. Paul Bremer III, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, announced the formation of the so-called Governing Council in July 2003. The names of its members were each followed by their sect and ethnicity. Many of the Iraqis we spoke to on that day were upset with institutionalization of an ethno-sectarian quota system. Ethnic and sectarian tensions already existed, but their translation into political currency was toxic. Those unsavry characters on the governing council, most of whom were allies of the United States from the preceding decade, went on to loot the country, making it one of the most corrupt in the world.
Except for Sinan Antoon’s richly deserved jeremiad, the 15th anniversary of the worst foreign policy disaster in modern American history went sailing by largely unremarked, at least in this country. After all, over here, everyone was too busy keeping track of the latest news involving the vulgar talking yam the country had installed as president, how he was still truckling to Russian oligarchs, how he was still being run to ground by Bob Mueller, and about how he was being outwitted and out-lawyered by a lady from the adult entertainment industry.
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
‘Hostiles’ and Hollywood’s Untold Story
by Jada Thacker
Hollywood’s recent attempt to depict Frontier life captures the reality of “hostiles” shooting various weapons at one another, but the real history is more interesting, Jada Thacker explains in this essay.
A theatrical poster for the recent American Western movie “Hostiles” depicts its principal characters – a Frontier widow, a hardboiled Indian fighter, and an Indian chief – with a helpful blurb stating the story’s theme with the subtlety of a striking rattlesnake: “We are all hostiles.”
Some critics think the movie somehow ought to have been a different one – that it should have included a bit more of this, or a bit less of that…whatever. Maybe they have a point. Though it hardly seems fair to ding “Hostiles” for being an imperfect example of the ideal Frontier fantasy.
But it is fair to criticize a movie for being a perfect example of a movie genre that consistently ignores the most essential themes of the American Frontier. “Hostiles” succeeds brilliantly as the latest addition to a very long list of movies that focus laser-like attention on hostile Frontier characters, rather than on the consequences of Frontier hostility.
Has Russia Had Enough?
by Paul Craig Roberts
This morning I watched a briefing the Russian Foreign Ministry provided for the diplomatic community where international toxic substances experts presented information concerning the alleged nerve agent used in the alleged attack on Skripal and his daughter. This information has been known for some time, and none of it has been reported in the Western presstitute media.
In the briefing the Russians once again relied on facts and existing agreements that govern the investigation of such events and asked why the British were demanding explanations from Russia when the British refuse to comply with established procedures and refuse to produce any evidence of what the British allege to have occurred.
The response from the US and French embassy representatives was simply to state that they needed no evidence to stand in solidarity with their British friends, that Russia was guilty by accusation alone, and that they would hold Russia accountable.
“No, Putin Isn’t Bluffing on Nukes”
by Scott Ritter
Pentagon Admits Missile Defenses Powerless
in Face of Russian Hypersonic Weapons
In testimony before the US Senate Armed Services Committee, StratCom commander Gen. John Hyten struggled to find the right words before admitting that there is nothing in the US arsenal that could stop Russia's new hypersonic weapons.
"We have a very difficult – well, our defense is our deterrent capability. We don't have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us, so our response would be our deterrent force, which would be the triad and the nuclear capabilities that we have to respond to such a threat," Hyten said, responding to Senator Jim Inhofe's question about what kind of defense the US could mount against the threat of hypersonic missiles.
US Can't Stop Hypersonic Weapons,
Air Force General Says
by Jeanna Bryner
Reformer or War Criminal? Saudi Crown Prince Welcomed in U.S. as Trump Touts Weapons Deals
Senate Fails to Stop US Support for Saudi Attacks on People of Yemen
by Alex Ward
The US Will Therefore Continue to Help Commit War Crimes in Yemen.
A bipartisan effort to end US involvement in a bloody, three-year war in Yemen failed in a close Senate vote on Tuesday afternoon.
The vote demonstrated growing pushback on President Donald Trump’s coziness with Riyadh, which is leading the war effort in Yemen. That same day, the president met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who was visiting Washington during a country-wide tour. A disparate group of senators — Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) — drafted and introduced the resolution to stop America’s support for the bloodshed. “This is one of the great humanitarian disasters of our time,” Sanders told Vox in an interview last week. But the GOP-controlled Senate voted to table — that is, kill — the resolution that says America shouldn’t assist Saudi Arabia in its three-year fight against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. By a 55-44 margin, a majority of Republicans and some Democrats effectively said the US can still help Riyadh, by refueling its planes and providing intelligence in the Saudi’s brutal air campaign.
Illegal Wars: The New American Way
by Maj. Danny Sjursen
Maj. Danny Sjursen is a U.S. Army officer and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan...
The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States
as he determines to be necessary … in order to … defend the national security
of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq. …
—H. J. Res 114 (107th): Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq, Oct. 18, 2002
It’s all so obvious to a detached observer. Nonetheless, it remains unspoken. The United States of America is waging several wars with dubious legal sanction in domestic or international law. The U.S. military stands astride the Greater Mideast region on behalf of an increasingly rogue-like regime in Washington, D.C. Worse still, this isn’t a Donald Trump problem, per se. No, three successive administrations—Democratic and Republican—have widened the scope of a global “war” on a tactic (terror), on the basis of two at best vague, and at worst extralegal, congressional authorizations for the use of force (AUMF). Indeed, the U.S. is veritably addicted to waging undeclared, unwinnable wars with unconvincing legal sanction.
Chomsky: 'The Republican Party Is the Most Dangerous Organization in Human History'
by Lynn Stuart Parramore
The renowned linguist and cognitive scientist on where we stand as an economy, as a country, and as human beings.
Meet The Man Behind Cambridge Analytica, Who Made Trump President
This is the story of Robert Mercer, the far-right billionaire that is a major investor in Cambridge Analytica that data scrubbed Facebook for Trump, brought Bannon to the White House, and made his daughter the major owner of Breitbart News and board member of Cambridge Analytica
The Untold Story of John Bolton’s Campaign
for War With Iran
by Gareth Porter
“Everyone knows Bolton is a hawk. Less understood is how he
labored in secret to drive Washington and Tehran apart.”
In my reporting on U.S.-Israeli policy, I have tracked numerous episodes in which the United States and/or Israel made moves that seemed to indicate preparations for war against Iran. Each time—in 2007, in 2008, and again in 2011—those moves, presented in corporate media as presaging attacks on Tehran, were actually bluffs aimed at putting pressure on the Iranian government.
But the strong likelihood that Donald Trump will now choose John Bolton as his next national security advisor creates a prospect of war with Iran that is very real. Bolton is no ordinary neoconservative hawk. He has been obsessed for many years with going to war against the Islamic Republic, calling repeatedly for bombing Iran in his regular appearances on Fox News, without the slightest indication that he understands the consequences of such a policy.
The Russian Military Warns:
a Major War in Syria Is Imminent
by Arkady Savitsky
“Experience has shown that the US will strike first and think about explanations later.”
On March 17, the Russian General Staff warned about an imminent attack on Syria. The statement did not elaborate. Of course, some information is classified but an independent and impartial analysis of publicly available information leads one to the same conclusion. Let’s look at the facts.
There are warships deployed by US Navy in the Red Sea, the Mediterranean, and the Persian Gulf. They are ready to launch roughly 400 long-range Tomahawks against a target in the Middle East on any given day. Sea-launched cruise missiles were used to strike Syria in April. Anything that is at all related to the military operations on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean is hush-hush information, but it’s an open secret that the strategic bombers based there can launch at least a hundred cruise missiles and then use other high-precision munitions in a follow-up attack. On average, one bomber carries 20 AGM-86 ALCMs. Five bombers are believed to be normally stationed on this island that is off-limits to inquisitive outsiders. This means that at least 500 cruise missiles can be fired on short notice.
Paul Craig Roberts: Can Nuclear War Be Avoided?
by Paul Craig Roberts
Two factors are driving the world to nuclear war. One is the constant stream of insults, false accusations and broken agreements that the West has been dumping on Russia year after year. The other is Russia’s response, or, perhaps more correctly, the lack thereof. Articles documenting Washington’s betrayals and provocations of Russia are available online and on my website. There is no point in repeating them here. I have pointed out that the Russian government’s factual, diplomatic, and legal responses actually produce more provocations and insults. See, for example, https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/03/17/war-is-on-the-horizon/ Stephen Lendman agrees (http://stephenlendman.org/2018/03/russia-expelling-23-uk-diplomats-way-inadequate/ ) and so does Peter Koenig ( https://thesaker.is/russias-reaction-to-the-insults-of-the-west-is-political-suicide/ ).
Russia has two alternatives to the self-defeating response the government has chosen. One, recommended by Peter Koenig and myself, is to turn her back on the West, cleanse herself of all Western embassies, businesses, media, and NGOs, and cease relying on Western communication systems and bank clearing mechanisms. The West has nothing Russia needs. The West is exhausted and corrupt. The future lies in the East of which Russia is a part. Russia should focus on the partnership with China and relationships in the East and simply stop responding to blatantly false accusations and provocative insults.
Russia can be part of the West only if Russia surrenders to Washington’s hegemony. One would have thought that by now the Russian government would have figured out that Washington is determined to marginalize and isolate Russia, discredit Russia’s government, dislodge Putin and install a puppet like May, Macron, and Merkel, and failing these efforts to push Russia to the point that her only alternatives are to surrender or go to war.
The Central Bank Bubble's Bursting:
It Will Be Ugly
by Tyler Durden
Central Banks over the last decade simply created credit out of thin air. Snap a finger, and credit magically appears. Only central banks can perform this type of credit magic. It’s called printing money and they have gone on the record saying they are magic people.
The global economy has been living through a period of central bank insanity, thanks to a little-understood expansion strategy known as quantitative easing, which has destroyed main-street and benefitted wall street.
China urges U.S. away from 'brink'
as Trump picks trade weapons
by Ryan Woo, Adam Jourdan
“China doesn’t hope to be in a trade war, but is not afraid of engaging in one,” the Chinese commerce ministry responded in a statement.
China warns U.S. it will defend own trade interests
FILE PHOTO: Containers are seen at the Yangshan Deep Water Port, part of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, in Shanghai, China February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song
by Ryan Woo, Hallie Gu
The United States has flouted trade rules with an inquiry into intellectual property and China will defend its interests, Vice Premier Liu He told U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a telephone call on Saturday, Chinese state media reported. The call between Mnuchin and Liu, a confidante of President Xi Jinping, was the highest-level contact between the two governments since U.S. President Donald Trump announced plans for tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese goods on Thursday.
The deepening rift has sent a chill through financial markets and the corporate world as investors predicted dire consequences for the global economy should trade barriers start going up. Several U.S. chief executives attending a high-profile forum in Beijing on Saturday, including BlackRock Inc’s Larry Fink and Apple Inc’s Tim Cook, urged restraint. In his call with Mnuchin, Liu, a Harvard-trained economist, said China still hoped both sides would remain “rational” and work together to keep trade relations stable, the official Xinhua news agency reported
US warship triggers fury in Beijing after sailing near to disputed South China Sea islands
by Chris Baynes
American navy accused of 'serious political and military provocation'
As Facebook Ire Grows, Senator Says Zuckerberg
"Ought to Be Subpoenaed"
As the damning details of Facebook's largest-ever data breach at the hands of pro-Trump data firm Cambridge Analytica continue to pour in -- and as the social media giant's share price continues to plummet as a result -- Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Monday called on CEO Mark Zuckerberg to "testify under oath" before Congress to explain why his company took so long to notify users that their information had been compromised. "Zuckerberg ought to be subpoenaed to testify if he won't do it voluntarily," Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters late Monday, echoing demands of other lawmakers. "He owes it to the American people who ought to be deeply disappointed by the conflicting and disparate explanations that have been offered."
The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine
by Anderson and Brett Horvath, Illustration by Cody Fitzgerald
There’s a new automated propaganda machine driving global politics. How it works and what it will mean for the future of democracy.
March 22, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - “This is a propaganda machine. It’s targeting people individually to recruit them to an idea. It’s a level of social engineering that I’ve never seen before. They’re capturing people and then keeping them on an emotional leash and never letting them go,” said professor Jonathan Albright.
Albright, an assistant professor and data scientist at Elon University, started digging into fake news sites after Donald Trump was elected president. Through extensive research and interviews with Albright and other key experts in the field, including Samuel Woolley, Head of Research at Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project, and Martin Moore, Director of the Centre for the Study of Media, Communication and Power at Kings College, it became clear to Scout that this phenomenon was about much more than just a few fake news stories. It was a piece of a much bigger and darker puzzle — a Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine being used to manipulate our opinions and behavior to advance specific political agendas.
By leveraging automated emotional manipulation alongside swarms of bots, Facebook dark posts, A/B testing, and fake news networks, a company called Cambridge Analytica has activated an invisible machine that preys on the personalities of individual voters to create large shifts in public opinion. Many of these technologies have been used individually to some effect before, but together they make up a nearly impenetrable voter manipulation machine that is quickly becoming the new deciding factor in elections around the world.
Most recently, Analytica helped elect U.S. President Donald Trump, secured a win for the Brexit Leave campaign, and led Ted Cruz’s 2016 campaign surge, shepherding him from the back of the GOP primary pack to the front.
Paul Jay On The Trump Administration: One of the Most Dangerous Times in Human History
(Interview on Ausust 25, 2017)
Comment: “I think the (place?) we call "America" is finished. I mean, the remnants of what once was will still be here...but it'll start looking more and more like how Mexico has functioned for the last 110 years or more. In Mexico, rich, white, Europeans and their descendents have systematically suppressed any form of social, economic, and/or political advances of and/or for the indigenous people (which, by the way, is most of the population of Mexico mind you) of Mexico. Meanwhile, U.S. Neo-Cons/Corporatados/politicians (a.k.a. The Club) force NAFTA down the throats of the poor, working poor, and working class of Mexico...and a few short years later... subsequently also forcing CAFTA down the throats of the poor, working poor, and the working class of the Central American countries destroying the livelihoods of millions of people.
“Then, bigoted, and might I mention, poorly educated white, working class "Americans" who also are misled by the corporate, Wall Street traded (news?) companies who spew disinformation in the form of political and religious propaganda, guide these unaware consumer zombies to repetitively spew the lies of their corporate mind/thought/opinion controlling masters like the caged parrots they are when more and more disenfranchised (and literally terrorized) unemployed "Latinos" immigrate to "El Norte" (for those of you who don't understand Spanish: The North...a.k.a. the U.S.A.) in order to find work so they can live...and feed their families.”
From: Mark Crispin Miller
Sent: Thursday, 22 March, 2018
Subject: [MCM] Who's been making chemical weapons in East Ghouta? The world's "free press" won't say....
A must-read article.
"Moving into the East Ghouta village of Al Shiffuniyya in the past few days, the Syrian army found a chemical weapons factory abandoned by Jaish al Islam. The material includes shelves loaded with bottles of chemicals, rows of plastic barrels, what seemed to be an underground mixing chamber, a large metal drum with the manufacturer’s logo stamped on the side (‘Hill-Rom Mediplus Air Plant’), a sheaf of dockets bearing the logo of Jaish al Islam and what seemed to be instructions for the mixing of chemicals. Founded in 1829 the Hill-Rom company manufactures medical equipment under the slogan ‘Bring home into the hospital.’ How its products (other machines bore the company’s name) ended up in East Ghouta is an obvious question, to which the answer might lie in Hill-Rom’s operations in Saudi Arabia, the chief backer of Jaish al Islam.
"Foreign reporters were present in East Ghouta to report on the opening of the ‘humanitarian corridor.’ None seemed to have responded to the Syrian government’s invitation to visit Al Shiffunia. Sharmine Narwani went and duly reported on what she saw in the factory, as well as the lush crops being grown outside in what is supposed to be a food-starved region under siege: Sharmine Narwani, Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett, with their reporting and commentary, have completely exposed the fraudulent nature of mainstream ‘reporting’ on the crisis in Syria. The list of corporate media outlets which completely ignored this hard evidence of the manufacture of chemical weapons included the following, in no particular order, according to a survey of their internet sites: Al Jazeera, Washington Post, the New York Times, the BBC, the Guardian, the ABC network (the US) and the ABC (Australia), CNN, CBC (Canada) and the Daily Telegraph (London)."
All The Shit That’s Fit to Print against Syria and Russia
by Jeremy Salt
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
On October 20, 2011, Libya’s Muammar al-Gaddafi was brutally murdered by a mob of NATO-backed ‘rebels’, after first being beaten and violated in the most barbaric fashion. History leaves no doubt that not only was the Libyan leader murdered on this day but Libya itself.
The regime-change crew who dominate Western governments have a long indictment sheet against their names. Since 9/11 they have wrought havoc and human misery on a grand scale in their determination to reshape and own a world that has never been theirs to own. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya – Syria currently embroiled in a pitiless conflict for its survival as a secular, non-sectarian state – this is the miserable legacy of nations which speak the language of democracy while practising the politics of domination.
Of the aforementioned victims of Western imperialism, there is a strong argument to be made that Libya’s destruction constitutes an especially grievous crime. After all, in 2010, the year before it experienced its ‘revolution’, the United Nations Development Programme considered Libya a high development country in the Middle East and North Africa. In concrete terms this status translated to a literacy rate of 88.4%, a life expectancy of 74.5 years, gender equality, and various other positive indicators. In addition, Libya enjoyed 4.2% economic growth in 2010 and could boast of foreign assets in excess of $150 billion.
On Being Demonized in Your Own Country
Understand this: I’m an American veteran. I’m also a Muslim-American in a country in which, in these years, that hasn’t exactly been the happiest category to fall into. Now, let me tell you a little story.
Recently, I had an ominous dream. It was noon on a grey, cold January 20th, 2020, and Donald Trump was being sworn in for his second term as president. Massive inaugural crowds cheered him exuberantly as a gentle snow fell upon a sea of MAGA red-hats and TRUMP banners waving in front of the Capitol.
In my dream, however, the Capitol wasn’t quite the same as I remembered it from my days stationed there as a young Navy sailor. It seemed almost war-torn as clouds of dark smoke billowed up on the horizon and the sound of gunfire could be heard somewhere in the distance. In my dream — don’t ask me how — I could also hear the terror-filled voices of people screaming or crying out for help as ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents, clad in black uniforms, stormed local Washington homes and businesses, arresting people and loading them onto large unmarked cargo trucks.