Gulag Ameripelago, Pt. 2 (Knock, Knock, Knock . . . )

(Part 1 is here)

Atlantic Free Press (AFP) is a new news and opinion blog founded by Chris Floyd and the folks at Empire Burlesque, which has been on my sidebar for quite awhile. This story is a little over two years old, but even more relevant these days:
Death squads in America?
Written by Tom Maertens
Saturday, 12 June 2004

Tom Maertens served as National Security Council director for proliferation and homeland defense in the George W. Bush White House, and as deputy coordinator for counterterrorism in the State Department on 9/11.

Five years after 9/11, it's clear that the Bush administration's costly War on Terror has failed on two counts. It has undermined our civil liberties and made the world more dangerous. The direct cost of the war in Iraq, according to Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel economist, has already exceeded $1 trillion, including long-term veterans' care and similar costs. Along with the war has come enormous destruction and loss of life, and major damage to our international standing.

deathsquads And there are more terrorists in the world than ever before, a fact the administration plays up to curtail our freedoms. In the aftermath of 9/11, the administration succeeded in passing an extreme version of an internal security law, called the USA Patriot Act. It permits secret arrests, sneak and peek searches, and obtaining bank, credit, library and Internet records, all without a warrant. The administration also instituted wiretaps and intercepts on millions of Americans' e-mail messages and phone calls without warrants, a program recently ruled unconstitutional by a federal court.

In 2005, Bush quietly created the National Clandestine Service, which authorizes the CIA to operate within the United States -- despite past abuses such as Operation Chaos -- and reinstituted domestic spying by the military through the Counter Intelligence Field Activity (CIFA), in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. He also created the National Security Service, putting elements of the FBI under his direct control, the closest we have had to a secret police agency in our 200-year history. The FBI now sends out 30,000 National Security Letters per year, demanding personal information without benefit of a warrant. It has imposed gag orders on every aspect of NSLs, making it illegal to reveal that one has been received. How does this differ from secret police tactics?

Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union show that the government conducted surveillance on as many as 150 peaceful protest or social groups, including Greenpeace, Catholic Workers, and Quakers in Florida.

The Bush administration has used the threat of terrorism to silence peaceful protest at public events. It has happened all over the country, including to two women in Cedar Rapids who were handcuffed, led off to jail and strip-searched for "disrupting" a Bush rally. Terrorists, perhaps? One was wearing a Kerry/Edwards button; the other carried a small antiwar sign.

Perhaps no event demonstrates more clearly the dangerous authoritarianism of the Bush crowd than the arrest of two American citizens, Jose Padilla and Yasir Hamdi, who were held for 3½ years in solitary confinement with no charges, no court appearance and no lawyer. The Bush administration declared them "enemy combatants" -- Enemies of the State -- and threw them in prison indefinitely, just like a Third World dictatorship . . .
This morning, Jason Miller at Tom Paine's Corner posted this (clips):
American Prison Camps Are On The Way

Kellogg Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, is constructing a huge facility at an undisclosed location to hold tens of thousands of Bush's "unlawful enemy combatants." Americans are certain to be among them.

Americans are certain to be among them.

By Marjorie Cohn

Guerilla News Network

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 governing the treatment of detainees is the culmination of relentless fear-mongering by the Bush administration since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Because the bill was adopted with lightning speed, barely anyone noticed that it empowers Bush to declare not just aliens, but also U.S. citizens, "unlawful enemy combatants."

Bush & Co. has portrayed the bill as a tough way to deal with aliens to protect us against terrorism. Frightened they might lose their majority in Congress in the November elections, the Republicans rammed the bill through Congress with little substantive debate.

Anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on Bush’s list of “terrorist” organizations, or who speaks out against the government’s policies could be declared an “unlawful enemy combatant” and imprisoned indefinitely. That includes American citizens . . .

Subsequent [to the Alien and Sedition Act of 1798] examples of laws passed and actions taken as a result of fear-mongering during periods of xenophobia are the Espionage Act of 1917, the Sedition Act of 1918, the Red Scare following World War I, the forcible internment of people of Japanese descent during World War II, and the Alien Registration Act of 1940 (the Smith Act).

During the McCarthy period of the 1950s, in an effort to eradicate the perceived threat of communism, the government engaged in widespread illegal surveillance to threaten and silence anyone who had an unorthodox political viewpoint. Many people were jailed, blacklisted and lost their jobs. Thousands of lives were shattered as the FBI engaged in "red-baiting." One month after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, United States Attorney General John Ashcroft rushed the U.S.A. Patriot Act through a timid Congress. The Patriot Act created a crime of domestic terrorism aimed at political activists who protest government policies, and set forth an ideological test for entry into the United States.

In 1944, the Supreme Court upheld the legality of the internment of Japanese and Japanese-American citizens in Korematsu v. United States. Justice Robert Jackson warned in his dissent that the ruling would "lie about like a loaded weapon ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need."

That day has come with the Military Commissions Act of 2006. It provides the basis for the President to round-up both aliens and U.S. citizens he determines have given material support to terrorists. Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Cheney's Halliburton, is constructing a huge facility at an undisclosed location to hold tens of thousands of undesirables.

In his 1928 dissent in Olmstead v. United States, Justice Louis Brandeis cautioned, "The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding." Seventy-three years later, former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, speaking for a zealous President, warned Americans "they need to watch what they say, watch what they do." . . .
Most people, even among the realist hard Left, believe that massive internment is at best a remote possibility and that the Supreme Court will declare The Military Commission Act unconstitutional. Don't bet on it. Even with a possible Democratic majority in place.

As regular readers here realize, I'm almost convinced of the likelihood of a contrived "false flag" "terrorist event" in the US prior to the 2008 presidential elections, resulting in martial law and the last brick in the blood-red road to a totalitarian police state.

Even if this doesn't happen and there is a Democratic Party victory this November and in 2008, why do think things will change? Looking at the history of Democrats and war, there is no evidence whatsoever to believe they won't use these terrifying laws and other mechanisms to their own advantage.

Heavy hitters among the Dems, such as Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, are already recipients of massive amounts of corporate money. Neoliberalism is no different than neoconservatism in its aims. It is ridiculous to believe that Bill Clinton was much different than the Bushes. That is a fantasy of a pathologically selective memory. And the voting records of most Democatic senators and congresspeople, especially the DLC types who still rule the party in spite of Howard Dean, are more than an adequate clue of what may be coming.

[Go right to Part 3]

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