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Posts Tagged ‘Constitution’

from the Project Syndicate

by Naomi Wolf

Is it possible to fall out of love with your own country? For two years, I, like many Americans, have been focused intently on documenting, exposing, and alerting the nation to the Bush administration’s criminality and its assault on the Constitution and the rule of law – a story often marginalized at home. I was certain that when Americans knew what was being done in their name, they would react with horror and outrage.

Three months ago, the Bush administration still clung to its devil’s sound bite, “We don’t torture.” Now, Physicians for Human Rights has issued its report documenting American-held detainees’ traumas, and even lie detector tests confirm they have been tortured. The Red Cross report has leaked: torture and war crimes. Jane Mayer’s impeccably researched exposé The Dark Side just hit the stores: torture, crafted and directed from the top. The Washington Post gave readers actual video footage of the abusive interrogation of a Canadian minor, Omar Khadr, who was seen showing his still-bleeding abdominal wounds, weeping and pleading with his captors.

So the truth is out and freely available. And America is still napping, worrying about its weight, and hanging out at the mall.

I had thought that after so much exposure, thousands of Americans would be holding vigils on Capitol Hill, that religious leaders would be asking God’s forgiveness, and that a popular groundswell of revulsion, similar to the nineteenth-century anti-slavery movement, would emerge. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, if torture is not wrong, nothing is wrong.

And yet no such thing has occurred. There is no crisis in America’s churches and synagogues, no Christian and Jewish leaders crying out for justice in the name of Jesus, a tortured political prisoner, or of Yahweh, who demands righteousness. I asked a contact in the interfaith world why. He replied, “The mainstream churches don’t care, because they are Republican. And the synagogues don’t care, because the prisoners are Arabs.”

It was then that I realized that I could not be in love with my country right now. How can I care about the fate of people like that? If this is what Americans are feeling, if that is who we are, we don’t deserve our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Even America’s vaunted judicial system has failed to constrain obvious abuses. A Federal court has ruled that the military tribunals system – Star Chambers where evidence derived from torture is used against the accused – can proceed. Another recently ruled that the president may call anyone anywhere an “enemy combatant” and detain him or her indefinitely.

So Americans are colluding with a criminal regime. We have become an outlaw nation – a clear and present danger to international law and global stability – among civilized countries that have been our allies. We are – rightly – on Canada’s list of rogue nations that torture.

Europe is still high from Barack Obama’s recent visit. Many Americans, too, hope that an Obama victory in November will roll back this nightmare. But this is no time to yield to delusions. Even if Obama wins, he may well be a radically weakened president. The Bush administration has created a transnational apparatus of lawlessness that he alone, without global intervention, can neither roll back nor control.

Private security firms – for example, Blackwater – will still be operating, accountable neither to him nor to Congress, and not bound, they have argued, by international treaties. Weapons manufacturers and the telecommunications industry, with billions at stake in maintaining a hyped “war on terror” and their new global surveillance market, will deploy a lavishly financed army of lobbyists to defend their interests.

Moreover, if elected, Obama will be constrained by his own Democratic Party. America’s political parties bear little resemblance to the disciplined organizations familiar in parliamentary democracies in Europe and elsewhere. And Democrats in Congress will be even more divided after November if, as many expect, conservative members defeat Republican incumbents damaged by their association with Bush.

To be sure, some Democrats have recently launched Congressional hearings into the Bush administration’s abuses of power. Unfortunately, with virtually no media coverage, there is little pressure to broaden official investigations and ensure genuine accountability.

But, while grassroots pressure has not worked, money still talks. We need targeted government-led sanctions against the US by civilized countries, including international divestment of capital. Many studies have shown that tying investment to democracy and human rights reform is effective in the developing world. There is no reason why it can’t be effective against the world’s superpower.

We also need an internationally coordinated strategy for prosecuting war criminals at the top and further down the chain of command – individual countries pressing charges, as Italy and France have done. Although the United States is not a signatory to the statute that established the International Criminal Court, violations of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions are war crimes for which anyone – potentially even the US president – may be tried in any of the other 193 countries that are parties to the conventions. The whole world can hunt these criminals down.

An outlaw America is a global problem that threatens the rest of the international community. If this regime gets away with flouting international law, what is to prevent the next administration – or this administration, continuing under its secret succession plan in the event of an emergency – from going further and targeting its political opponents at home and abroad?

We Americans are either too incapable, or too dysfunctional, to help ourselves right now. Like drug addicts or the mentally ill who refuse treatment, we need our friends to intervene. So remember us as we were in our better moments, and take action to save us – and the world – from ourselves.

Maybe then I can fall in love with my country again.

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Posted 10/6/08 at RonPaul.org

Texas Straight Talk

A weekly column

The Do-Something Congress

It has not been a good week for the Republic.  It took quite a bit of trampling of the Constitution, but the bailout bill passed, as I suspected it would.

 The bailout failed the first time it was brought to the House.  Undaunted, the Senate pressed on by attaching the bailout as an amendment to another House passed bill that was pending in the Senate.  The new bailout version had new taxes, so according to the Constitution it should not have originated in the Senate. 

 

The rallying cry heard all over the Hill the past two weeks was that Congress must act.  Our economy is facing a meltdown.  Would this bill fix it?  Nobody could really explain how it would.  In fact, few demonstrated any real understanding of credit markets, of derivatives, of credit default swaps or mortgage-backed securities.  If they did, they would have known better than to vote for this bill.  All they knew was that this administration was saying some frightening things, and asking for a lot of money.  And when has Congress ever been able to come up with a better solution to a problem than to throw more of your money at it?  So that is what Congress did, enacting a financial PATRIOT Act in the process.

 

In its embarrassment at being called a “Do-Nothing Congress” the 110th Congress took decisive action and did SOMETHING.  No matter that it was the wrong thing.  In fact, it wasn’t until the Senate had a chance to load it up with even MORE spending, when it was finally inflationary and horrible enough, at $850 billion instead of a mere $700 billion, that it passed – and with a comfortable margin, in spite of constituent calls still coming in overwhelmingly against it.  57 members switched their vote!

 

The market went down anyway.  Our nation is now just that much more in the hole.  You will pay your part of this mess through inflation, and very likely hyperinflation.

 

Sometimes doing nothing is much better than thrashing about aimlessly.  When one is caught in quicksand, for example, or when one doesn’t understand economics and finds oneself in the position Congress was in for the past two weeks, with decades of irresponsible monetary policy coming to a head.  Why should we trust the same people who said just a few months ago that the economy was perfectly sound?  The same people who just knew there were weapons of mass destruction?  The same people that crammed the PATRIOT Act down our throats?  Why not consult the people who had the foresight and understanding to see this coming?  They would have recommended such logical actions as repealing the Community Reinvestment Act, which forces banks to make bad loans, or allowing the market to set interest rates instead of the Federal Reserve system.  How about abolishing the Federal Reserve altogether?  There are many things that could have been done, but don’t expect Congress take a course of action that comes from a place of understanding and competence when they could just spend money.

 

This bailout will be the legacy of the 110th “Do-Something” Congress, along with record low approval ratings.  Here’s hoping the 111th Congress will be a “Do the Right Thing” Congress, and will focus on repealing and abolishing what is wrong with government instead of reinforcing it.

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This man should be given a lot of credit for standing up and speaking out, seemingly alone, against all the blatant Washington corruption and lies. Give him whatever support you can.

An email received from Robert Wexler:

robertwexler.jpg

Today, in hearings on Capitol Hill, I confronted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on her role in the lies, exaggerations, and misdirection that led us into the Iraq war.

During my questioning, Secretary Rice falsely stated that she never saw intelligence casting doubt on the Bush Administration claims that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. This unbelievable statement is flatly contradicted by numerous government reports and CIA testimonials. (To watch the video of my exchange with Secretary Rice, click here.)

Secretary Rice’s responses demonstrate once and for all that we need aggressive oversight over this out of control Administration. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has ignored the constitutional right of Congress to provide such oversight.

It is time Congress took aggressive action to assert our rights on behalf of the American people.

The House of Representatives must immediately hold former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten in contempt of Congress for their failure to respond to congressional subpoenas.

I have been aggressively lobbying Members of Congress to support a vote on contempt, and I am thrilled to report that Speaker Pelosi told me directly that she agrees it is well past time to vote on contempt. I am anticipating that the House will shortly vote on resolutions of both civil and criminal contempt for both Miers and Bolten.

No one should be immune from accountability and the rule of law.

Not Harriet Miers or Josh Bolten.

And especially not Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush or Dick Cheney.

It is time to defend the Constitution and our rights as a co-equal branch of government.

I will continue to take on the Bush Administration for their outrageous abuses just as I confronted Condoleezza Rice today and Attorney General Mukasey last week. (Click here to see my questioning of Mukasey.)

With your help we will hold these top Bush officials in contempt and continue our efforts to hold impeachment hearings for Vice President Dick Cheney.

Thank you, as always, for your great support.

Yours truly,

Congressman Robert Wexler

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An email received from the American Freedom Campaign:

liberty_by_katta80.jpgWith your participation, the American Freedom Campaign can help stop one of the most outrageous political power grabs in this nation’s history. At stake is not only our Constitution, but also the lives of Americans. Please continue reading this alert and then take immediate action by clicking on one of the links below.

Recently, I wrote about President Bush’s plan to sign an agreement with the Iraqi government, making long-term economic and military commitments, without congressional approval. The negotiations over this agreement continue and the final outcome may not be known for months.

What is known for certain, however, is that the Bush administration cannot be trusted. That is why three members of the U.S. House of Representatives are poised to introduce a resolution that would make it absolutely clear that President Bush CANNOT, under the Constitution of the United States, make long-term, binding military or economic commitments to a foreign government without congressional approval.

Click on the following link to urge your U.S. representative to co-sponsor this resolution and push for its immediate consideration on the House floor:

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2165/t/1027/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=22955

Since my last email on this subject (“Tell Congress: George Bush is not king,” January 28), the Bush administration has started to backtrack on its contention that it could make certain military commitments to Iraq without congressional approval.[1] While this is certainly a good sign — and we should all be proud that we helped change their tune — it would be foolish to take the administration at its word. Instead, Congress must proactively assert its own authority under the Constitution and clearly convey its position to the public.

A resolution proposed by Congresswomen Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, and Maxine Waters would accomplish these objectives. As stated in the resolution itself, its primary purpose is to reaffirm “the importance of following constitutional processes when the United States Government makes national commitments regarding the use or maintenance of the United States Armed Forces.” This resolution is not “anti-war;” it is “pro-Constitution.”

The House needs to pass this resolution. And the more co-sponsors it has, the more likely its passage becomes.

So please send an email to your U.S. representative today and urge him or her to co-sponsor this important piece of legislation. Just click on the following link to get started:

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2165/t/1027/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=22955

Thank you for taking action in support of the Constitution.

Best,
Steve

Steve Fox
Campaign Director
American Freedom Campaign Action Fund

[1] “Gates seeks to reassure Senate on Iraq agreement,” Boston Globe, February 7, 2008.

http://www.boston.com/news/world/articles/2008/02/07/gates_seeks_to_reassure_senate_on_iraq_agreement/?page=1

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Wow, just seems to always go from bad to worse under this New World Order American Fascist regime. Might as well say it as it is…

Reading all the different reports about how DHS eagerly and hurriedly hustles about putting together camps, prisons, weapons, rules, RFID methodologies and systems, and spy satellites, and then they go about recruiting your neighbors in order to fill those prisons and camps is mind-boggling. And all with no laws or oversight committees to ensure that what they are doing is within the bounds of our Constitution or legal system. Looks like they are an organization working to set up systems and processes to impound and imprison Americans who do not agree with the Fascist system.

And into that fraying mess of DHS along comes H.R. 1955 – Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act . Oh boy. Like throwing gasoline on the fire. Now DHS has a friend – the neighborhood bully.

And the average American who loves their democratic way of life? We’re looking left, we’re looking right, we’re looking up and we’re looking down but I don’t think that we can look enough places or fast enough for all that these fascists goons have in store for us. For us it’s bye, bye democracy, Constitution, Bill of Rights, and American freedoms…  :*(   It is sad to read and acknowledge that this is even happening.

Oops I was thinking and expressing my viewpoints which go against the USG (this will soon be a crime) and digressing but the following piece brought it all on:

Thinking for Yourself is Now a Crime

Global Research, January 7, 2008

What was the greatest failure of 2007? President Bush’s “surge” in Iraq? The decline in the value of the US dollar? Subprime mortgages? No. The greatest failure of 2007 was the newly sworn in Democratic Congress.

The American people’s attempt in November 2006 to rein in a rogue government, which has committed the US to costly military adventures while running roughshod over the US Constitution, failed. Replacing Republicans with Democrats in the House and Senate has made no difference.

The assault on the US Constitution by the Democratic Party is as determined as the assault by the Republicans. On October 23, 2007, the House passed a bill sponsored by California Democratic congresswoman Jane Harman, chairwoman of a Homeland Security subcommittee, that overturns the constitutionally guaranteed rights to free expression, association, and assembly.

The bill passed the House on a vote of 404-6. In the Senate the bill is sponsored by Maine Republican Susan Collins and apparently faces no meaningful opposition.

Harman’s bill is called the “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act.“When HR 1955 becomes law, it will create a commission tasked with identifying extremist people, groups, and ideas. The commission will hold hearings around the country, taking testimony and compiling a list of dangerous people and beliefs. The bill will, in short, create massive terrorism in the United States. But the perpetrators of terrorism will not be Muslim terrorists; they will be government agents and fellow citizens.

We are beginning to see who will be the inmates of the detention centers being built in the US by Halliburton under government contract.

Who will be on the “extremist beliefs” list? The answer is: civil libertarians, critics of Israel, 9/11 skeptics, critics of the administration’s wars and foreign policies, critics of the administration’s use of kidnapping, rendition, torture and violation of the Geneva Conventions, and critics of the administration’s spying on Americans. Anyone in the way of a powerful interest group–such as environmentalists opposing politically connected developers–is also a candidate for the list.

The “Extremist Beliefs Commission” is the mechanism for identifying Americans who pose “a threat to domestic security” and a threat of “homegrown terrorism” that “cannot be easily prevented through traditional federal intelligence or law enforcement efforts.”

This bill is a boon for nasty people. That SOB who stole your girlfriend, that hussy who stole your boyfriend, the gun owner next door–just report them to Homeland Security as holders of extreme beliefs. Homeland Security needs suspects, so they are not going to check. Under the new regime, accusation is evidence. Moreover, “our” elected representatives will never admit that they voted for a bill and created an “Extremist Belief Commission” for which there is neither need nor constitutional basis.

That boss who harasses you for coming late to work–he’s a good candidate to be reported; so is that minority employee that you can’t fire for any normal reason. So is the husband of that good-looking woman you have been unable to seduce. Every kind of quarrel and jealousy can now be settled with a phone call to Homeland Security.

Soon Halliburton will be building more detention centers.

Americans are so far removed from the roots of their liberty that they just don’t get it. Most Americans don’t know what habeas corpus is or why it is important to them. But they know what they want, and Jane Harman has given them a new way to settle scores and to advance their own interests.

Even educated liberals believe that the US Constitution is a “living document” that can be changed to mean whatever it needs to mean in order to accommodate some new important cause, such as abortion and legal privileges for minorities and the handicapped. Today it is the “war on terror” that the Constitution must accommodate. Tomorrow it can be the war on whomever or whatever.

Think about it. More than six years ago the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked. The US government blamed it on al Qaeda. The 9/11 Commission Report has been subjected to criticism by a large number of qualified people–including the commission’s chairman and co-chairman.

Since 9/11 there have been no terrorist attacks in the US. The FBI has tried to orchestrate a few, but the “terrorist plots” never got beyond talk organized and led by FBI agents. There are no visible extremist groups other than the neoconservatives that control the government in Washington. But somehow the House of Representatives overwhelmingly sees a need to create a commission to take testimony and search out extremist views (outside of Washington, of course).

This search for extremist views comes after President Bush and the Justice (sic) Department declared that the President can ignore habeas corpus, ignore the Geneva Conventions, seize people without evidence, hold them indefinitely without presenting charges, torture them until they confess to some made up crime, and take over the government by declaring an emergency. Of course, none of these “patriotic” views are extremist.

The search for extremist views follows also the granting of contracts to Halliburton to build detention centers in the US. No member of Congress or the executive branch ever explained the need for the detention centers or who the detainees would be. Of course, there is nothing extremist about building detention centers in the US for undisclosed inmates.

Clearly the detention centers are not meant to just stand there empty. Thanks to 2007’s greatest failure–the Democratic Congress–there is to be an “Extremist Beliefs Commission” to secure inmates for Bush’s detention centers.

President Bush promises us that the wars he has launched will cause the “untamed fire of freedom” to “reach the darkest corners of our world.” Meanwhile in America the fire of freedom has not only been tamed but also is being extinguished.

The light of liberty has gone out in the United States.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com

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map.jpgThe United States is now a code black country – no/to little statutory protection, no/to little privacy enforcement and an enforcer of identity cards, biometrics and heavy visual surveillance – according to Privacy International‘s recently released report. We ARE the police country that everyone feared would come about soon.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

  • No right to privacy in constitution, though search and seizure protections exist in 4th Amendment; case law on government searches has considered new technology
  • No comprehensive privacy law, many sectoral laws; though tort of privacy
  • FTC continues to give inadequate attention to privacy issues, though issued self-regulating privacy guidelines on advertising in 2007
  • State-level data breach legislation has proven to be useful in identifying faults in security
  • REAL-ID and biometric identification programs continue to spread without adequate oversight, research, and funding structures
  • Extensive data-sharing programs across federal government and with private sector
  • Spreading use of CCTV
  • Congress approved presidential program of spying on foreign communications over U.S. networks, e.g. Gmail, Hotmail, etc.; and now considering immunity for telephone companies, while government claims secrecy, thus barring any legal action
  • No data retention law as yet, but equally no data protection law
  • World leading in border surveillance, mandating trans-border data flows
  • Weak protections of financial and medical privacy; plans spread for ‘rings of steel’ around cities to monitor movements of individuals
  • Democratic safeguards tend to be strong but new Congress and political dynamics show that immigration and terrorism continue to leave politicians scared and without principle
  • Lack of action on data breach legislation on the federal level while REAL-ID is still compelled upon states has shown that states can make informed decisions
  • Recent news regarding FBI biometric database raises particular concerns as this could lead to the largest database of biometrics around the world that is not protected by strong privacy law

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Call me paranoid, call me a conspiracy theorist, call me whatever you want… The events happening in our once beloved United States of America (which if you weren’t aware is no longer the United States of America but just the United States) has been greatly concerning. Somethings brewing and it’s getting to the boiling point.

The Media Ownership Act yesterday are the beginnings of the death toll for regular citizens. Our news and information will be censored and manipulated like we have never seen before. With digital television, a requirement for cable users, television viewing will become awash with trash, garbage and advertising. It’s just a matter of time before there will be something else coming up to clamp down on the Internet. Mark my words.

Blackwater is moving into the 824 acre chicken ranch inside a national forest and next to Potrero in California and they don’t really care what the neighbors think. Plans are to spruce up the old digs by adding a helipad, 15 shooting ranges, a driving track and an armory. Potrero, approx. 800 residents, have been fighting Blackwater’s takeover since they found out they were coming officially 10/12/07.

Next year in order to leave the States you’ll be required to have at least two forms of identification – could be a passport, a drivers license and/or a birth certificate. The drivers license systems are being debated as it means reworking for most states since the new licenses require that they be RFID’d. I read somewhere that four forms of ID will be required to get a new drivers license… Otherwise you’re not going anywhere outside the borders.

With the stuff I’ve read on the Halliburton prison camps; the destruction of our Constitutional rights and freedoms; phone tapping; FDA approval of untested psychotic medications; the crashing housing market; the dropping dollar; the downward spiraling economy; the reckless abandonment of our laws by our elected officials, police and other authorities; the increasing police brutality; build up of insensitivity and lack of compassion; the ‘in-fighting’ (seemingly being perpetuated by the government) occurring between Americans; the endless war on ‘terror’; and a bunch of other stuff out there and it has me thinking that we are headed toward martial law in the not-to-distant future. I know people keep bringing this up but it’s looking pretty suspicious.. It’s not a ‘war on terror’ it’s a war on the American people!

Also, I feel very much like a part of the “mark of the beast” scenario with all the RFID chipping and talk about our government being able to track and follow us even into our living rooms. All in the name of the ‘war on terror’ crap. I do not feel safe and secure, I feel scared. I hope and PRAY that I am wrong about this…

And quotes like this make my spine shiver:

“Today, America would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order. Tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told that there were an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well-being granted to them by the World Government.” Dr. Henry Kissinger, Bilderberger Conference, Evians, France, 1991

You catch the line about “well-being granted to them” like we have the elitists to be thankful for our lives. Are we going to be begging for food like the people in Gaza if we don’t tow the elitist agenda?

I don’t know how much longer we can sit at our computers and bitch, piss and moan about our government. And I don’t know when people start becoming a target by a government agency like DHS because of their ‘dissension’ or if we are targets now – “blacklisted.”

Do people follow ALL OF THE NEWS or just what they want? Am I the only one cruising around reading and following all this stuff?

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The signs are all there for anyone to see, and time is getting short for action

By Michael Nenonen

Reading Naomi Wolf’s The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2007), I realized the hour is later than I thought.

Many of us have watched the Bush regime’s actions with a growing feeling of horror intertwined with a sense that somehow we’ve seen all of this before, but we aren’t sure where. We’re confused because what we’re seeing conflicts with unexamined and deeply held assumptions we have about American freedom. Wolf’s short but meticulously documented book shows that what is happening in America has indeed happened many times before, not in the United States, but rather in places like Chile, Italy, Russia, and Germany. In each case, people couldn’t understand why they didn’t recognize where they were heading before they passed the point of no return.

It’s shifting fast

Wolf argues that the United States is undergoing a “fascist shift” from an authoritarian but still relatively open society to a totalitarian society. The techniques for forcing this shift have evolved over the last century and are now studied by aspiring tyrants the world over. These methods are even part of the formal curriculum in places like the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, previously known as the School of the Americas, in Fort Benning, Georgia, where thousands of Latin Americans have been trained by the United States government in the most savage techniques of insurgency and counterinsurgency. Fascists use ten basic strategies to shut down open societies. They invoke an external and internal threat in order to convince the population to grant their rulers extraordinary powers. They establish secret prisons that practice torture, prisons that are initially few in number and only incarcerate social pariahs, but that quickly multiply and soon imprison “opposition leaders, outspoken clergy, union leaders, well-known performers, publishers, and journalists.” They develop a paramilitary force that operates without legal restraint. They set up a system of intense domestic surveillance that gathers information for the purposes of intimidating and blackmailing citizens. They infiltrate, monitor, and disorganize citizens’ groups. They arbitrarily detain and release citizens, especially at borders. They target key individuals like civil servants, academics, and artists in order to ensure their complicity or silence. They take control of the press. They publicly equate dissent with treason. Finally, they suspend the rule of law. All of these strategies are being employed in America today.

Consider the evidence

The Bush administration and its supporters have consistently portrayed the security threat posed by international terrorists as a threat to the very survival of Western civilization in order to justify permanent war and to keep the American public in a state of panic and paranoia.

The prisons at Guantanamo and God-knows how many CIA “Black Sites” torture their inmates, even though human rights organizations have demonstrated that the majority of at least Guantanamo’s inmates are innocent victims of mass arrests. The inmates are designated as “enemy combatants” who have no rights under international or American law. And there is nothing stopping American presidents from filling these prisons with American citizens. In an April 24 2007 article for the Huffington Post, Wolf writes that thanks to the Military Commissions Act of 2006, “the president has the power to call any US citizen an ‘enemy combatant’. He has the power to define what ‘enemy combatant’ means. The president can also delegate to anyone he chooses in the executive branch the right to define ‘enemy combatant’ any way he or she wants and then seize Americans accordingly. Even if you or I are American citizens, even if we turn out to be completely innocent of what he has accused us of doing, he has the power to have us seized as we are changing planes at Newark tomorrow, or have us taken with a knock on the door; ship you or me to a navy brig; and keep you or me in isolation, possibly for months, while awaiting trial.” She points out that while currently Americans in such situations will be spared any torture except psychosis-inducing isolation and can look forward to eventual trials, these rights typically evaporate in the final stages of a fascist shift.

They’re called “mercenaries”

Military contractors are the regime’s paramilitary force. Blackwater’s mercenaries, many of whom were trained by Latin America’s most horrific police states, have operated in Iraq outside of Iraqi, American, and military law, and have murdered uncounted innocent Iraqis with impunity. Domestically, Blackwater was contracted to provide hundreds of armed security guards in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and there’s evidence that they fired on civilians. Blackwater’s business plan calls for their use in future disasters and emergencies throughout the United States, and it’s supported by some of the biggest powerbrokers in America.

American intelligence agencies are now bypassing court orders to wiretap citizens’ telephones, spy on their e-mails, and monitor their financial transactions, and the USA Patriot Act forces corporations, booksellers, librarians, and doctors to turn over previously confidential information about Americans to the state.

Thousands of human rights, environmental, anti-war, and other citizens’ groups have been infiltrated by government agents, many of whom have clearly acted as agent provocateurs in order to undermine the groups’ solidarity and to legitimize police actions against them.

Political opponents listed

America’s Transportation Security Administration maintains a terrorist watch list of tens of thousands of Americans who are now subjected to security searches and arbitrary detention at airports. The list includes people like Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy and respected constitutional scholar Walter F Murphy.

US Attorneys, CIA agents, military lawyers, and other civil servants who’ve disagreed with the Bush administration have been threatened and fired. David Horowitz and his colleagues have mounted a well-funded nation-wide intimidation campaign that has university students spying on their professors and that has successfully coerced regents at State Universities to discipline or fire left-leaning professors like Ward Churchill. The regime’s supporters have organized campaigns to damage the careers of artists like the Dixie Chicks for criticism of the president and his policies.

The administration has Fox News in its pocket, it has paid journalists for positive coverage, it has disseminated misinformation through the media, and it’s ferociously attacking critical journalists. Arrests of US journalists are at an all-time high. The Bush administration’s outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame was done in retaliation against her husband, Joseph Wilson, whose New York Times op-ed piece exposed lies that the Bush administration used to lead the nation to war. Worse than this, independent journalists appear to be marked for death by American forces in Iraq. In her Huffington Post article, Wolf writes, “The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented multiple accounts of the US military in Iraq firing upon or threatening to fire upon unembedded (meaning independent) reporters and camera operators from organisations ranging from al-Jazeera to the BBC. . . . In some cases reporters have been wounded or killed, including ITN’s Terry Lloyd in 2003. Both CBS and the Associated Press in Iraq had staff members seized by the US military and taken to violent prisons; the news organisations were unable to see the evidence against their staffers.” The goal of these tactics, as she writes in The End of America, is to create “a new reality in which the truth can no longer be ascertained and no longer counts.”

Dissent = treason

In recent years, prominent Republicans like Ann Coulter, Melanie Morgan, and William Kristol have accused liberal journalists of treason and espionage for publishing leaked material damaging to the administration, and in February 2007, Republican Congressman Don Young said “Congressmen who wilfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are sabateurs, and should be hanged.” This would be amusing, were it not for the Bush administration’s revival of the draconian 1917 Espionage Act after half a century’s slumber.

And finally, the Bush administration shows contempt for the law. In The End of America, Wolf writes that Bush has used more signing statements than any previous president, and by doing so has relegated “Congress to an advisory role. This abuse lets the President choose what laws he wishes to enforce or not, overruling Congress and the people. So Americans are living under laws their representatives never passed. Signing statements put the president above the law.” He has also gutted the Posse Comitatus Act, which was created to prevent the president from maintaining a standing army for use against American citizens. Wolf writes that the 2007 Defence Authorization Bill lets the president “expand his power to declare martial law and take charge of the National Guard troops without the permission of the governor when ‘public order’ has been lost; he can send these troops out into our streets at his direction—overriding local law enforcement authorities—during a national disaster, epidemic, serious public health emergency, terrorist attack, or ‘other condition.’” On its own, this is an incredible expansion of presidential power, but when combined with the use of military contractors like Blackwater it gives the president almost dictatorial authority.

Wolf shows that fascist shifts don’t happen overnight, but rather over a course of years during which the fascists’ plans unfold at an accelerating pace. Germany in 1933 was further along this path than it was in 1931, and Germany in 1935 was farther along than it was in 1933. Similarly, America in 2007 is farther along the path than it was in 2005, or will be in 2009, provided that a massive pro-democracy movement, complete with impeachment proceedings, doesn’t reverse the shift while there’s still time. A simple Democratic victory in the 2008 presidential election won’t do the job unless the institutional and legal environment created by the Bush administration is thoroughly dismantled. Regardless of whether the next president is a Republican or a Democrat, he or she will inherit a legacy of centralized power that a democracy simply can’t tolerate.

Left behind

Unfortunately, during the shift opposition politicians and activists still tend to perceive the world through a democratic frame of reference, and this prevents them from seeing that their opponents are no longer operating within this frame. As the opposition is tying its boxing gloves, the fascists are breaking out the machetes.

Wolf’s work has its problems. She doesn’t acknowledge that Black and Indigenous Americans have long lived under quasi-fascist rule, she doesn’t examine the role that previous administrations have played in setting the stage for the Bush regime, and she doesn’t acknowledge the roles played by corporatism, widespread social dislocation and the radical Christian right in the rise of a fascist American zeitgeist. Despite this, The End of America needs to be read by as many people as possible.

Wolf writes about America, but Canadians don’t have any cause for comfort. Canadian and American military forces are already deeply enmeshed. Thanks to NAFTA, we’re tied at the hip to the American economy, while the Security and Prosperity Partnership is integrating our countries’ security forces and harmonizing our no-fly lists. The Harper government is eager to kowtow to the Americans, even to the point of refusing to advocate for Canadian citizens on American death rows. The powerful think tanks and lobbying groups that influence our provincial and federal governments, such as the Fraser Institute and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, either can’t see the shift for what it is or they don’t care. More than all of this, however, is the simple reality that once the shift is complete, the American government will act even more irrationally and belligerently than before. Canada has resources like oil and water the United States is going to need, and the Canadian border is less defensible than the French border was in 1940.

Americans and Canadians have to fight back more fiercely than ever before, to organize and lobby and fill the streets with mass protests, to raise awareness and forge alliances with anyone opposed to totalitarianism regardless of whether they’re liberals, socialists, or conservatives. We have to take all the steps that have rescued dying democracies in the past, and to take them immediately, in the desperate hope that it isn’t already too late.

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Say NO to H.R. 1955/S. 1959 

There’s a petition available to sign up and tell your Senator that you don’t want him/her to pass this lousy bill titled the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. You should click on the link and be part of the change in this country. Don’t allow the government to take away your 1st amendment rights.

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