BuzzFlash Reader Commentary
December 5, 2002
BUZZFLASH READER COMMENTARY
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health officials want to shut down roads and airports, herd people into
sports stadiums and, if needed, quarantine entire cities in the event
of a smallpox attack".- the Boston Herald, Nov. 8, 2001
"Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's announced desire for camps for U.S. citizens he deems to be 'enemy combatants' has moved him from merely being a political embarrassment to being a constitutional menace." -the Los Angeles Times, Aug. 14, 2002 http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/08.15B.ashcr.camps.htm
Bush administration is developing a parallel legal system in which terrorism
suspects -- U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike -- may be investigated,
jailed, interrogated, tried and punished without legal protections guaranteed
by the ordinary system. . . . " - the Washington Post, Dec.
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These days, it's hard to read anything without thinking, "this can't be true." We're living in an age of secret bunker governments and stealth legislation, however, and unlikely scenarios are tempered with the realization our old reality is gone. This America differs drastically from the country we knew two years ago, when tales of felons ogling our e-mail would have been capped with a punch line. Yet here we are, scratching our heads, while guardians of the public trust shill for the state. When Chris Matthews responds to Christopher Hitchens' charges against Henry Kissinger by braying about how "our very free notion of the first amendment," allows Hitchens to say "anything he wants about somebody," (as if Hitchens were making things up), our airways are either populated by the misinformed or by those paid to propagandize.
Luckily, we can still count on some to deliver hard truths. In an October 2001 article entitled "Liberties Lost: Unintended Consequences of the Anti-Terror Law," for example, former White House counsel John Dean lamented that the "right to dissent" was in jeopardy. Charging that the USA PATRIOT Act twisted the definition of domestic terrorism to include "home-grown political activists," his concern was well-founded -- especially now that no-fly lists target peacenik clergymen and any act "that appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population," is considered terrorism. But though the Patriot Act's sunset clause assured temporary expanded powers, if our loss of liberty is unintended, why does Homeland Secretary legislation permanently authorize 'data-mining' ala John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness snoop shop? Is it unintentional? Or is it something else? Consider, if you will, the history of America's creeping fascism, from 1950 on:
1950: Congress approves the Security Act of 1950 which contains an emergency civilian detention plan that remains in effect for more than 20 years; the US government establishes the first program to develop human mind control techniques. Known under a variety of codenames (most notably MKULTRA) throughout its 23 year history, this program is designed to exert such control, according to declassified documents, that an individual will do another's bidding, "against his will and even against such fundamental laws of nature such as self-preservation." 25 years later, the Rockefeller Commission uncovers CIA plans for "programmed assassins" and says MKULTRA led to American citizens being drugged, kidnapped and tortured on American soil.
1954: The McCarthy hearings begin. Nearly 50 years later, McCarthyism is revisited as assorted professors appear on assorted lists. "The simple exercise of the First Amendment, of saying that we should be able to criticize our government, is enough to put you on Lynne Cheney's list," historian Howard Zinn remarks.
Jan. 17, 1961: Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers his farewell address. "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military/industrial complex," he warns. "The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
March 13, 1962: Defense Secretary Robert McNamara receives Operation Northwoods, a plan to wage terrorist attacks against American citizens and blame Fidel Castro as a pretext for war with Cuba. http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/jointchiefs_010501.html "We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba," the document reads. "Casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation," it continues. All Joint Chiefs of Staff sign off on the plan, but it's nixed by the civilian leadership. "The whole point of a democracy is to have leaders responding to the public will," Body of Secrets author James Bamford tells ABC News in May, 2001, "and here this is the complete reverse, the military trying to trick the American people into a war that they want but that nobody else wants."
1967: President Johnson establishes the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, assisted by an Army task force and plans to use military force to squelch civil disturbances take root. On May 4, 1970, four students are killed at Kent State University when the Ohio National Guard fires at unarmed protesters.
1971: Sen. Sam Ervin's Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights uncovers a military intelligence surveillance system used against thousands of American citizens, and stumbles upon Operation Garden Plot, the United States Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2. According to information released under the Freedom of Information Act in 1990, Plan 55-2 gives federal forces power to "put down" "disruptive elements" and calls for "deadly force to be used against any extremist or dissident perpetrating any and all forms of civil disorder."
1975: Journalists Ron Ridenhour and Arthur Lublow investigate Operation Cable Splicer, a subplan of Operation Garden Plot, designed to control civilian populations and take over state and local governments. Bill Moyers later lists Operation Cable Splicer and Garden Plot among examples of ways "the secret government [has] waged war on the American people." Sen. Frank Church's Committee to Study Government Operations sheds light on government-sanctioned civil rights abuses, the CIA's Mafia connections and the Nixon administration's role in Chile's 1973 coup.
1977: In a Rolling Stone article, Carl Bernstein estimates that "400 American journalists [have] been tied to the CIA at one point or another," giving credence to former CIA director William Colby's boast that "the Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any major significance in the major media."
1982-84: Col. Oliver North helps draft secret wartime contingency plans, which, according to a 2002 report in the Sydney Morning Herald, provide for "the imposition of martial law, internment camps, and the turning over of government to the president and FEMA." Columnist Jack Anderson reports that FEMA's emergency "standby legislation" is meant to "suspend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, effectively eliminate private property, abolish free enterprise, and generally clamp Americans in a totalitarian vise."
1984: The Rex-84 "readiness exercise" program is conducted by 34 federal departments and agencies under Ronald Reagan's directive. Reportedly established to control illegal aliens crossing the Mexican/U.S. border, the exercise tests military readiness to round up and detain citizens in case of massive civil unrest.
1985: The Federal Communications Commission eliminates the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to present balanced coverage of controversial issues and kept their power to mold public opinion in check. In Dec. 2002, the Daily Howler http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh120402.shtml chronicles ways the Republican National Committee relied on media propaganda during the 2000 election, while a Dec. 3, 2002 Chicago Sun Times headline reads, "Talk radio key to GOP victory."
July 5, 1987: The Miami Herald reports that while deputy director, John Brinkerhoff modeled FEMA's martial law program after Louis Giuffrida's proposal to squelch black militant uprisings by placing "at least 21 million American Negroes" into "assembly centers or relocation camps." In Feb. 2002, Brinkerhoff writes a paper for the Anser Institute for Homeland Security defending the Pentagon's desire to deploy troops on American streets.
Aug. 1987: Though the Iran-Contra scandal involves criminal activity far more serious than 1974's Watergate burglary, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush emerge from the hearings virtually unscathed. Several Iran-Contra figures are awarded top jobs in George W. Bush's administration.
Summer, 1994: A memo leaked from the Director of Resource Management for the Department of the Army discusses plans to "establish civilian prison camps on [military] installations." Rep. Henry Gonzalez later admits that there are "standby provisions" and "statutory emergency plans. . . whereby you could, in the name of stopping terrorism, apprehend, invoke the military, and arrest Americans and hold them in detention camps."
Dec. 13, 2000: Al Gore concedes the presidential election after the Supreme Court installs George W. Bush President of the United States. Alan Dershowitz later writes that this unprecedented decision "threatens to undermine the moral authority of the high court for generations to come."
Sept. 11, 2001: President Bush activates a Cold-War era shadow government, installing cabinet members in underground bunkers. When this plan is uncovered months later, members of Congress claim they were not consulted.
Oct., 2001: The Patriot Act is railroaded through Congress and the Senate, without the benefit of committee hearings or extended debate, shortly after Democratic legislators are targeted in yet-to-be solved anthrax attacks.
Nov. 2001: The Bush administration issues executive orders allowing for the use of special military courts and empowering Atty. General John Ashcroft to detain non-citizens indefinitely; the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (MEHPA) is introduced to governors of all 50 states. MEHPA calls for mandatory vaccinations and allows for confiscation of citizen's real estate, food, medicine and other private property; and outlines plans to herd afflicted citizens into stadiums.
Feb. 13, 2002: Iran-Contra criminal John Poindexter is chosen to head the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness Program, giving this five-time felon power to monitor citizens' internet use, e-mail, travel plans, credit-card purchases and other personal data. On Feb. 18, London's Guardian newspaper runs a story on the implications of Poindexter's appointment. The American media follows suit nine months later.
April, 2002: The US military creates a Northern Command to assist in homeland defense. Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge encounters difficulties studying Reagan's national security plans for using the military for law enforcement, since Bush #43 sealed Reagan's presidential papers in Nov., 2001.
Summer, 2002: Former presidential counsel John Dean writes an article asking, "Could terrorism result in a constitutional dictator?" A month later, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Bush administration might employ Reagan-era security initiatives, installing "internment camps and martial law in the United States." The LA Times reports on Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's "desire for [detention] camps."
Fall, 2002: During the midterm elections, Vietnam veteran and triple amputee Max Cleland is shamelessly depicted as "unpatriotic" for voicing concerns over homeland security legislation. Questions regarding Paul Wellstone's plane crash, voting machine irregularities or exit poll glitches remain taboo.
Nov. 25, 2002: After the 32 page Homeland Security Bill ballooned to nearly 500 pages overnight, and was railroaded through the Senate and Congress, it is signed into law. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) says the bill "expands the federal police state," Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) says it represents "the most severe weakening of the Freedom of Information Act" in 36 years and Sen. Robert Byrd worries amendments "expand the [administration's] culture of secrecy." Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) claims that "the ability of a special interest group to secretly insert provisions into law for its own narrow benefit and to the detriment of the public interest raises fundamental questions about the integrity of our government."
Nov. 27, 2002: Cover-up King Henry Kissinger is chosen to head the Sept. 11 independent Commission. Robert Sheer reports that "history puts credibility at zero in the 9/11 probe."
Dec. 4, 2002: Solicitor General Theodore Olsen goes before the Supreme Court in an attempt to overturn the Miranda decision, which has restrained police interrogations for decades. "This is a case to be concerned about,'' University of California law professor Charles Weisselberg says. "To see the solicitor general arguing that there's no right to be free from coercive interrogation is pretty aggressive."
Thomas Jefferson warned, "When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny." It's difficult to fathom what we're stuck with now, when we consider from whence we came. As the Constitutional Convention came to a close, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin what type of government had been formed. "A Republic, if you can keep it," he replied.
Given our free fall within the last two years, and the fact that the morning "news shows" are more concerned with J-Lo's wedding dress than with our evolving police state, one can only imagine our founding fathers' reactions to recent history -- and to the shaky condition of our Republic today.
A BUZZFLASH READER COMMENTARY
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