Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com.
On May 27, 2015, the Swiss government arrested seven men in Geneva at the behest of the United States. The individuals were officials from the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) the body which governs international soccer.
The United States Justice Department charged these FIFA officials with corruption in awarding soccer World Cup sites. The existence of bribery in awarding international sporting events such as the World Cup and Olympic games has been an open secret for many years. It was the American claim of jurisdiction to carry out these prosecutions which caught the world by surprise.
It seemed odd that the Justice Department would take an interest in a sport that this country generally ignores. There are obviously ulterior motives in this case, the latest example of a country determined to exert control over the rest of the world in every possible way.
The Justice Department asserts that it has jurisdiction in this case because American banks were used as part of the bribery schemes. That technically does give the United States standing, but this supposedly good case makes for very bad law. Russian president Vladimir Putin was on target with his assessment. "This is yet another obvious attempt to extend their [United States] jurisdiction to other states.”
America is claiming jurisdiction over other states and any human beings it chooses anywhere in the world. There are individuals sitting in United States prisons who are not American citizens or residents and whose alleged crime did not take place in or against this country. Mahdi Hashiwas a Somali-born British citizen until 2012. In that year an accusation of terrorist involvement led the U.K. to act in concert with the United States and strip him of citizenship. He was then arrested in Djibouti with two other men while en route to Yemen and rendered to New York.
Hashi was indicted and convicted of giving "material support to terrorism.” That charge can be made in an American court because of Hashi’s alleged involvement with al Shabaab, classified as a terrorist group by the United States government. What is "material support?” It is anything the government wants it to be and the charge can be made against anyone, particularly against a stateless person who is without legal protection.
The war on terrorism is the ruse for prosecuting cases like Hashi’s and supposed concerns about financial corruption are the stated reason for going after FIFA. The true goal of the United States in these and other instances is to end democracy as it ought to be practiced. Nearly every policy enacted by our government is meant to diminish the rights of individuals and other nations and to increase the power of the American state and corporations.
The Drug Enforcement Agency can take money and property without due process through civil forfeiture. The National Security Agency has records of every email and every phone call made in the United States. Journalists and whistle blowers have no protection and are prosecuted under one hundred year-old espionage statutes. The text of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been kept secret even from members of congress. They are allowed to read the legislation only in a secure location but can’t have copies of the text or even their own notes. There isn’t a pretense of democracy left if members of Congress are prevented from seeing legislation they are asked to approve.
Graft and corruption aren’t priorities for the Justice Department if big banks are the criminals in question. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has her job in part because she made a career of letting the most powerful criminals in the world go free. HSBC and Citigroup got away with paying fines for their malfeasance but not one individual who concocted a ruinous financial scheme was rounded up like the FIFA officials were.
There is always a political motive for these attacks on the rights of group and individual sovereignty. One of the goals of the FIFA crackdown is an attempt to damage Russia and perhaps even take their 2018 World Cup and give it to another country. Despite all protestations to the contrary, it is likely that the outcome of these criminal cases will be another effort to curtail any Russian influence, even in the world of sports. The United States and other western nations are obsessed with Russia, which has withstood sanctions, western meddling in Ukraine, and the attempt to destroy it as a leading energy producer.
The timing of the arrests also ended the effort to expel Israel from FIFA because of its treatment of Palestinian players. The arrests and the effort to unseat Joseph "Sepp” Blatter from the FIFA presidency stopped this movement that had gained powerful momentum. The justice Department killed many birds with one stone. The United States bullies the world, protects Israel and continues war by other means against Russia.
The United States will continue behaving like a mafia boss if the international community cowers in fear. But that day is ending. The house of cards will fall, as the enemies America has chosen work closer together. The next BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit will be held in Russia in July. They may take the World Cup from Russia but they can’t stop the monster they created. Then we will see who prosecutes whom.