Thursday, March 5, 2009

Inches away from dictatorship

Back when it was very politically incorrect to say it, some of us were warning that the Bush II regime was intent upon destroying any remaining vestige of civil liberties in the US. As documents from that particular regime are becoming available for public consumption, it appears there was good reason to be concerned. Here's what Naomi Wolf has to say (h/t CENSORED NEWS):
For three years, since writing End of America, I have been arguing that the Bush team sought irretrievably to subvert our liberty. Fortunately, this appalling and conceivably irrevocable subversion of the tenets of freedom was narrowly averted by citizens at every level -- from the grassroots to the courts -- resisting in time. But the release this week by the Justice Department of the "secret memos" sought valiantly by the ACLU confirms that Bush's legal architects were building up the framework for something even scarier than our most anguished projections.

You can see the documents themselves online -- but, as usual, there is a gap between the cautious journalistic interpretation of the event and the dense legalese in which they are written, and no one yet has really explained to citizens who are not attorneys what these memos claimed to give Bush the right to do. This is my initial reading of these documents:

Most dramatically, one memo asserts that Bush can deploy the military within the United States -- all of the military if he so wishes -- overriding Posse Comitatus, which has kept us safe from military policing for over a century. As many heard me warn in October and November of last year, when the first troops were sent to US streets, history shows that once the military is deployed domestically to "keep order" in a civil society, it is over. This memo is especially galling, since last fall's red alert from us was met with alarm by citizens but by ridicule by mainstream media outlets. Turns out we were right. This `deployment' memo proves that Bush indeed, as we feared, wanted the power to deploy military for domestic policing purposes, a mission that Northcom spokesmen denied -- apparently falsely -- when a few critics from non-mainstream platforms raised the alarm last November about the deployment of the First Brigade from Iraq to the US. This memo shows that Bush sought the power to deploy any number of U.S. military into the U.S. itself for any reason he chose; direct them to rip through your home without a warrant, even if you have not been charged with anything; seize material and documents; and even gave Bush the power to use deadly force against you -- yes, you, innocent US citizen -- "in self-defense." In your homes and streets -- not on a faraway battlefield. Major David Antoon confirmed that this power -- to send US military to control, arrest and even shoot US civilians in self-defense -- was in Bush's hands last fall when I asked Antoon about it. Turns out this memo shows Bush indeed wanted to have that power.

Another memo would give the power to Bush -- at his discretion -- to close down or censor newspapers, radio and the Internet - override the First Amendment in the interest of "national security." So if he had deployed, say, ten brigades -- 37,000 warriors -- in key cities (he deployed three before the election and 20,000 are due to be deployed domestically by 2012 unless we stop it), you would not be able to hear about it through the news media if he invoked this power to suspend free speech. And if you protested -- if you dared -- well, his actions would have been -- thanks to John Yoo and others, who will go down in history along with the criminal Nuremberg lawyers as one of Satan's willing attorneys -- perfectly legal.

Yet another memo gives Bush not only the right to call any US citizen an "enemy combatant" and hold him or her indefinitely - a danger we knew about, and one that we have tried hard to alert citizens to, a warning that has seemingly penetrated collective consciousness. The newly released memo demonstrates that was the very surface of the powers over US citizens Bush claimed. For three years when I have cautioned citizens about this power Bush invoked to seize US citizens as "enemy combatants" I reassured them that he did not yet have the power to torture US citizens, "only" drive them mad through prolonged isolation in a navy brig. Well, this memo asserts Bush's right to do whatever he wants to innocent US citizens in this kind of custody, and rejects the notion that Congress would have any role in how US citizens are held or treated -- say, by the hypothetically deployed military - on US soil. It seems also to claim the right to hold innocent US citizens in domestic military custody while Bush has the right to do anything he wants to them. Anything he wants. Remember this is an administration in which Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld and Cheney have now been proven by Jameel Jaffer's revelations in Administration of Torture to have known about and okay'd not just waterboarding as a policy but ok'd the discretion for interrogators to use tactics such as electrodes attached to genitals, sexual assault, threats against family members, suffocation, the beating of prisoners' legs to "pulp," and in some cases the covering up of their murders. This memo gives Bush the authority to do those things if he wants to innocent US citizens.

Still another memo gives Bush the right to ignore any international treaties -- to take over any country, say, or render and citizen anywhere, and do whatever he wants to the citizens of any country against any law, without consent of Congress.

The Washington Post called these memos "legal errors." We need to stare them in the face and understand them: they are evidence that the groundwork was laid out that gave the president the legal power effectively subvert the Republic. We need to understand the full darkness of what we narrowly escaped -- for now, our work is hardly begun. We need to build these lessons into our history and to use the terror they represent to dismantle the last of Bush's evil legacy -- a legacy that could have been activated by any US president in the future, including Obama or McCain -- and see these memos for what they are: the revealed architecture of an intended edifice of what amounts to treason again our republic and against all of us, regardless of belief, station of life, or political party.

As I noted in passing last September while remarking on the transfer of wealth to the rich that is euphemistically referred to as "stimulus" (or as I prefer to call it, The Great American Swindle):

This is the same sort of scam that ruling elites used when imposing University of Chicago-style "Shock Therapy" on such nations as Chile in the early 1970s, as well as numerous other nations in the Americas, Russia, and Eastern Europe throughout the 1970s and into the 1990s. What "shock therapy" amounted to was a transfer of wealth to the rich, the hollowing out of whatever government services had once existed, and the mass unemployment and displacement of large portions of each nation's population. Not too surprisingly, the newly impoverished did not take too kindly to such economic regimes imposed by duress, and would take to the streets. Equally unsurprising was the standard governmental response: mass disappearances, torture, genocide. If there's any silver lining to be found, it's that these regimes do tend to eventually get overthrown - though not until the joint's been looted and a lot of corpses litter the ground.

What I'm about to say I say so quite dispassionately: there is a very real possibility that this is now our fate. The pattern seems too familiar. We can view the various pieces of "anti-terrorism" legislation - starting with the Clinton regime, and accelerated under the current Bush regime - as preparation for the "crisis". Once a critical mass feels some very real pain - and I'm not talking about merely not affording that shiny new iPod, but such basics as food and shelter - the legal mechanisms needed to be in place in an attempt to coerce the populace into submission. One can also interpret the recent news that the US is committing an Army brigade to "homeland security" stateside, as preparation as well. For those curious, I'm sure the usual trappings of a republic will remain - I doubt there'll be martial law per se or cancellation of elections. The latter are needed to keep the ruse of "democracy" alive a bit longer. If the swindlers are able to pull this off, a lot of folks are going to be hurting and will be very angry, and I wouldn't be surprised if we start getting word of "disappearances" here in the "land of the free." After all, the Prez has the power to declare such malcontents as "enemy combatants." I would expect that protests will be more brutally dealt with - the scene of the RNC in St. Paul a few weeks ago serves as a harbinger.

I'll repeat once more: be shock resistant. Keep calling things by their true names and be ever vigilant. I certainly would not advise breathing deeply now that the Bush II version of dictatorship was narrowly avoided. Enough of the groundwork for dictatorship put in place by Bush II and Clinton is still sufficiently functional. There is much that will need to be done in the way of informing ourselves and each other in the coming days, weeks, and months. Bear in mind that ideas are bulletproof - including the idea that the ruling elites need us far more than we need them.

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