Wind: 17 mph
*ANSWER: Because the same strategy and tactics used to coerce the United States into the war in Iraq, now recognized as a military and strategic blunder of historic proportions, were used to coerce the seizure and destruction of the Faillace sheep flock, Warren’s most significant historic event, hereinafter called the Warren Iraq.
The 10-year anniversary of the seizure of the Faillace sheep flock, on March 23, 2001, has just passed, and it is worth reconsideration of this seminal event, which is now recognized as not just a single colossal blunder and an isolated miscarriage of justice. The seizure and destruction of whole flocks of sheep by the USDA for no scientifically demonstrable reason staggers on to this day at the behest of the beef industry. Similarly, the pursuit of the interminable war in Iraq staggers past its eighth anniversary at the behest of the oil industry and the military-industrial complex, for reasons that were proven false long ago.
In early 2001, the recently appointed Bush II administration needed to finish the job begun by the Bush I administration of securing Iraq’s oil production for Dick Cheney’s pals in the oil industry. They also needed to divert the suspicion of the origin of “Mad Cow Disease” onto some other species than cattle, to placate their cronies in the beef industry and the all-powerful pharmaceutical industry, which uses a lot of beef byproducts. So these were the solutions sought, and all they needed to do was create the problems that would justify the solutions.
The events of September 11, 2001, presented a cause to invade Iraq, even though Iraq had no involvement whatever in the attacks, and the assertion by one man that Iraq harbored “weapons of mass destruction” have been proven false by his own admission.
There were present in Vermont several flocks of sheep that had been imported from a European region that had experienced isolated occurrences of mad cow disease in cattle. Even though sheep had never before and have never since been shown to contract or transmit the disease, the USDA pounced on this as a reason to show big beef and big drugs that they were “doing something” about mad cow disease.
Although the war in Iraq and the Warren Iraq were completely distinct campaigns, the strategy and tactics employed to prosecute them both reveal some very striking similarities. They both began with the creation of a false emergency to justify an irrational and illegal action and solidify public opinion and campaign funding in support of it.
The Bush crowd vilified the whole nation of Iraq by demonizing the CIA’s old paypal
Saddam Hussein who ran the place. And they (and the Clinton crowd previously) vilified three flocks of sheep imported from Europe, with full approval of the USDA, by Larry and Linda Faillace of Warren, Vermont. The strategy of seizing and destroying the flocks of sheep thrilled the beef and drug industries as it removed the onus of domestic mad cow disease off of them completely. And it also served as a test with only a few farmers’ lives at stake to see how much manipulation of public opinion, scientific veracity, and the legal process they could get away with. It was so successful that it quickly became a pre-9/11 precursor to the tactics later employed in goading the U.S. and Britain and others into invading and occupying Iraq, to the delight and huge benefit of Iraq’s old enemy Iran.
Other examples of these tactics employed in the Warren Iraq, and later much more disastrously in the war in Iraq, were:
· Repeated use of misinformation and disinformation to give an aura of veracity to false information.
· Tampering with and distorting and destroying evidence, and withholding of exonerating evidence.
· Unwarranted ground, air, and electronic surveillance and invasion of privacy.
· Unwarranted abrogation of civil and procedural rights and illegal invocation of emergency powers.
· Obsession with secrecy and perjury to maintain secrecy and illicit manipulation of the judicial system.
· Disparaging a foreign (French-speaking) nation in order to bolster an atmosphere of jingo-patriotism. Belgium was ridiculed before the sheep seizure, as was France in the buildup to the Iraq war.
· Taking an unfounded pre-emptive strike against a presumed weak and unresourceful entity in order to favor your corporate controllers.
Of course, the USDA and armed U.S. Marshalls could never have pulled off the Warren Iraq without the collusion of the state of Vermont at the highest levels. Our entire Congressional delegation at the time – Leahy, Jeffords, and Sanders – stood together in front of national TV and agreed to allow the action to take place. Our doctor Governor Dean, who could have and with a little research should have seen through the fraud, promoted it anyway. Our entire Legislature, save a few knowledgeable individuals, refused to consider a resolution requesting further information and verification before the sheep were slaughtered. And, most shameful of all, our agriculture department and health department went along without questioning the scam, the latter even advising against eating the Faillace cheese with no identified reason or precedent whatever.
Ten years and a day after this travesty took place, the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution, although possibly warranted, has expired.
However, it turns out that Chuck Ross, who was Senator Leahy’s director of Vermont offices during the maneuvering that led to the sheep seizure and held the post until recently, has been appointed secretary of agriculture by Governor Shumlin. Therefore, it is now incumbent upon Mr. Ross, in keeping with Senator Leahy’s often professed interest in truth and reconciliation and Governor Shumlin’s professed interest in transparency in state government, to publicly disclose the entire unredacted state archives related to the Faillace and Freeman sheep seizures at no cost to the recipients. This action would once and for all provide to the Faillaces, the estate of Houghton Freeman, and the Warren Historical Society a complete record of all state and accessible federal transactions and correspondence in the matter of the sheep seizure and destruction of 2001, and finally lift the veil of secrecy surrounding the event.
Barry Simpson lives in Warren.