We Are Family
They say prayer has the power to heal
So pray for me, mother
In the human heart an evil spirit can dwell
I'm a-tryin' to love my neighbor and do good unto others
But oh mother, things ain't going well - Bob Dylan
The Manson Mythos, sad to say, seems endlessly relevant.
In The Shadow Over Santa Susana, author Adam Gorightly quotes Preston Guillory, a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff at the time of the Tate-LaBianca slayings, in conversation with Paul Krassner. Guillory shares this revelation:
A few weeks prior to the Spahn Ranch raid, we were told that we weren't to arrest Manson or any of his followers. We had a sheaf of memos on Manson - that they had automatic weapons at the ranch, that citizens had complained about hearing machine guns at night, that firemen from the local fire station had been accosted by armed members of Manson's band and told to get out of the area. Deputies started asking, "Why aren't we gonna make the raid sooner?" I mean, Manson's a parole violator, we know there's narcotics and booze. He's living at the ranch with bunch of minor girls in complete violation of his parole. Deputies at the station quite frankly became very annoyed that no action was being taken about Manson....
Now here's the kicker. Before the Tate killings he had been arrested at Malibu twice for statutory rape. Never got [imprisoned for parole violation]. Manson liked to ball young girls, so he just did his thing and he was released, and they didn't put any parole on him. But somebody very high up was controlling everything that was going on and was seeing to it that we didn't bust Manson.
Manson was left alone, Guillory told Krassner, because "something big was coming down." Krasnner asked "Why were you given such an order?" to which Guillory replied "I don't know. We didn't question our superiors." Krassner pressed: "Did you at least speculate as to the reason?" Yes, Guillory conceded: "Oh, we just figured they were gonna kill Black Panthers."
We were getting intelligence briefings that Manson was anti-black and he had supposedly killed a Black Panther. Manson was a very ready tool, apparently, because he did have some racial hatred and he wanted to vent it. But they hadn't anticipated him attacking someone other than the Panthers.
There's a lot of that these days, though much less speculative than Guillory's thoughts and several orders of degree more complicit. "No one could have imagined them taking a plane" and crashing it into the World Trade Center. No one could have foreseen the severity of Katrina. "No one anticipated the level of violence" in Iraq. But it's irrelevant here whether the celebrity Scientologist went off script or stayed on mission. The point is that Manson and his followers were untouched before the killings because authorities anticipated mayhem, not because they didn't, and for whatever reason they wanted to see some blood shed. In this respect, and almost certainly without suspecting it, the family became an undeputized branch of the LA County Sheriff's Department.
Early in his you ain't seen nothin' yet speech of last week, George Bush sited the bombing of Samarra's Golden Mosque as the principal trigger event for Iraq's sectarian violence: "Al Qaeda terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq's elections posed for their cause, and they responded with outrageous acts of murder aimed at innocent Iraqis. They blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam — the Golden Mosque of Samarra — in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq's Shia population to retaliate. Their strategy worked." Yet even though they never made America's front page, there were always compelling reasons to suspect a different calculus, and other hands on the trigger. For instance, Kurt Nimmo noted that "at least two witnesses saw 'unusual activities by the Iraqi National Guard in the area around the mosque.' Two mosque guards reported four men in ING uniforms had blindfolded them and planted explosives. A second witness, Muhammad al-Samarrai, the owner of an internet cafe in the area, was told to stay in his store and not leave the area. From 11 pm until 6:30 am, ten minutes before two bombs were detonated, the area surrounding the mosque was patrolled by 'joint forces of Iraqi ING and Americans,' according to al-Samarrai."
In April 2004 Michael Karem, then special adviser to Paul Bremer, voiced concern over the exceptional corruption and thuggish sectarianism of Bayan Jabr, the Shia Minister for Housing and Construction in Iraq's Coalition Provisional Authority pajama parliament. A few days after composing a memo detailing his concern, Karem and senior aide Robert Clay were called to a meeting with the CPA's deputy administrator, Vice Admiral Scott Redd. "We were thrilled at the end of the meeting," said Karem. "Everybody was shaking their head about the corruption. They said that they were going to get rid of the minister."
But something else happened, because some else - somebody very high up, to borrow Guillory's words - had other plans:
Days later, he and Clay were asked to return to Redd's office. They walked in expecting to hear that Jabr had been fired. Instead they were told that their services with the CPA were as of that moment terminated; the minister would stay on. “We were told that we had lost effectiveness because we couldn't work with the minister,” Karem recalled. “We were in shock.”
Jabr was promoted to Minister of the Interior and, according to Harper's Ken Silverstein, his appointment "corresponds almost precisely" to the rise of Iraq's death squads. (A coincidence doubled-up soon after by the arrival of the Death Squad's own Goodwill Ambassador, John Negroponte, as the next Green Zone bully boy.)
Of course the Golden Mosque and Bayan Jabr are already old stories by the measures of Iraq's dissolution and our own time's seeming acceleration, but almost daily new filigrees of outrage are added to them. In Baghdad's latest "pacification" campaign, government-backed militias are withholding food and preventing the evacuation of wounded, while US troops make no effort to intervene. "This military siege is killing us," said Sunni Abu Sady. "The Americans are doing nothing, as if they are backing the militias."
It was evident even before the invasion that the war's intention included making a failed state of Iraq. That that's not yet conventional wisdom shows just how much too many still want to believe bad policy is made in good faith. As Keith Gottschalk gingerly asked Canada's mainstream left last week:
...isn't it even barely possible, although it seems mad, that everything that has happened in Iraq, this “progressive destructive chaos,” has been the plan from the get-go and that civil war was not only expected but hoped for? If you must rule a people or a nation for the benefit of their natural resources and geopolitical value, would it not be a possible tactic to allow them to destroy themselves first without committing too many of your own people to the effort?
Was Bush's speech, as Xymphora speculated, code to enact a Sunni genocide? Will the atrocity about to fall upon Iran become a Shia holocaust? I think the vision from the White House is grander than either proposition. There's a Mansonic logic at play here, and it's been playing since Bush's first stolen election.
Despite multiple offenses and parole violations, Spahn Ranch wasn't raided before Tate-LaBianca because the police were expressly told they should not arrest Manson or his followers. Despite the grievous injuries they've inflicted upon the nation and the constitution, George Bush and Dick Cheney will not be impeached because Democrats have elected, for some reason, to take impeachment "off the table." Like an unmolested Manson sending his family on "creepy crawly" burglaries of canyon homes Bush will not be stopped by the law, because behind the law are the gods of Helter Skelter who are not yet finished with him. As Guillory said of Manson, so Bush is "a very ready tool" who currently enjoys the unprecedented and seemingly unaccountable permission to do the unthinkable. And because he can, something big is coming down.
Only after his chaotic work is done and the last doorpost daubed in gore may he be brought low. Not to justice, because American presidents never are, but perhaps to a singular injustice that has sometimes made their acquaintance. Until then, he may as well tell us as another Texan reportedly did, "I am the devil, and I am here to do the devil's business."