DAVID BLUNKETT has proudly announced he is setting up a 'British FBI'. The Serious Organised Crime Agency is to have 5,000 staff, whose job will be to tackle crime. If Blunkett's agency is really a copycat FBI, then it's not top criminals who have something to fear.
J Edgar Hoover ran the FBI for over 40 years. His first big job with the US Justice Department was spying on 'revolutionary and ultra-revolutionary groups' in the US. Hoover made an index of 450,000 people he considered to be dangerous reds. He orchestrated a massive series of raids on suspected Communists and anarchists in November 1919 across the US, with mass deportations.
He hounded activists like Emma Goldman, who he got deported despite her 34 years in the US. Hoover became head of the Bureau of Investigation in 1924. It became the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935. Hoover's agents persecuted Americans who supported the fight against fascism during the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939.
After the Second World War Hoover's FBI joined forces with senator Joe McCarthy to spearhead a witch hunt against left wingers. The FBI got Ethel and Julius Rosenberg executed for being Communist spies.
Hoover denied there was any such thing as organised crime. In 1959 he had 489 agents spying on suspected Communists and four worrying about the Mafia. Hoover used his Mafia links to blackmail politicians and build his influence. The FBI later unleashed a campaign of terror against anti Vietnam War and civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King. Hoover was still its head when he died in 1972.
In this week 5 years ago - 1999
THE Macpherson report into the death of black teenager Stephen Lawrence accuses the police of being institutionally racist. Home secretary David Blunkett and police chiefs have been trying to roll back the impact of the report ever since.
Health secretary John Reid has just refused to acknowledge that the NHS is also institutionally racist, after a report into the death of David 'Rocky' Bennett.
Factory schools teach nothing
AS THE British school exam system plunges into even greater chaos, perhaps Tony Blair will turn for inspiration to South Korea, which he visited last July. In South Korea 80 percent of school pupils attend private after-school classes from 6pm to 11pm every night. The private classes are part of an $11 billion industry.
This fanatical approach to education means pupils are taught to pass exams, but not to think for themselves, take initiatives or take pleasure from learning.
Does hunting beat school?
NEW LABOUR are big on tackling truancy. They imprison parents, post special squads to hunt truants in shopping centres, and fine parents whose kids miss school.
So will the truancy police be heading for the Suffolk village of Eye? Local children skipped school so they could be beaters at a local pheasant shoot, to the headteacher's annoyance.
If something similar happened in an inner city school there would be an outcry about lawless youngsters embracing a culture of violence. When it's hunting there's barely a murmur.
Turning books into a flash car
THE TORIES running Poole council in Dorset know a thing or two about getting around. The mayor's Car Working Party decided they needed a bigger car to ferry them to official functions, even though there's only two of them.
They decided on a stretch limo costing £64,000. They could have chosen to pay for this by forgoing an increase in allowances for councillors, brought in last year at a cost of £100,000. Instead, they decided to axe the mobile library servicing the town.
One man (in the audience) show
THE LABOUR Party is still helping out Alastair Campbell, Blair's ex spin doctor. Falling sales for Campbell's one-man show have led to the possibility that Campbell might do an Iain Duncan Smith. Former Tory leader Smith attracted a humiliating 67 punters to a theatre designed for 500 in Liverpool two weeks ago.
Rumours are circulating that sluggish ticket sales led to the cancellation of Campbell's shows in Glasgow and Richmond, Surrey. But the Labour Party is trying to bail Campbell out. Chris Lennie, Labour's deputy general secretary, has written to Labour members in the capital with a special offer:
'The Labour Party would like to offer you the opportunity to buy tickets for the London performance of Alastair Campbell's one-man show at the Royal Festival Hall on Monday 1 March. Tickets for this one-off event are priced at £10 or £15 plus booking fee, but we can offer them to you at the special discounted price of £9 or £14 with no booking fee. We are also offering a further opportunity to meet Alastair Campbell at an after-show reception. This unique offer is available at a price of only £50 for one ticket or £75 for a pair.'
Tickets were still available when Socialist Worker went to press.
MPs taught a lesson
SNOTTY POLITICIANS love to criticise standards of learning and young people's 'anti-social' behaviour. But when 17 MPs went on a 'Ministerial Listening Tour' to meet around 450 teenagers, it was the MPs who got a lesson. One minister said, 'I expected cynicism from the kids, but it was way beyond cynicism. It was a presumption that you're engaged in work which involves deceit, spinning and personal ambition.'
This just shows how well informed the young people were. The young people said the politicians were rude, evasive and overdressed. The MPs whispered to each other when they should have been listening, stared blankly at pupils, and left early without explaining why.
Figure it out - $103 billion
That's how much the Iraq war has cost the US so far, and it's rising every minute. This would pay for healthcare for 62,687 children, for 2,785,730 teachers or 3,709,601 college scholarships.
'The medal for journalists who were in Iraq during the war recognises the personnel who risked so much to remove Saddam Hussein's oppressive regime.'
ADAM INGRAM armed forces minister on why 'embedded' journalists will be honoured
'On 16 February 2002 Bush signed a secret national security council directive establishing the goals and objectives for going to war with Iraq according to classified documents I obtained.'
ROWAN SCARBOROUGH Pentagon correspondent for the right wing Washington Times in a new book on US defence secretary and hawk Donald Rumsfeld
'My favourite album is The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan with its songs such as 'Masters of War'. I see those songs as being against a particular war at a particular time.'
GEOFF HOON defence secretary and enthusiast for war against Iraq
'Come you masters of war, You that build all the guns, You that build the death planes, You that build the big bombs, You that hide behind walls, You that hide behind desks, I just want you to know I can see through your masks.'
BOB DYLAN lyric for song 'Masters of War'