Police State America - a look
back and ahead
by Stephen Lendman, 12/07
Year end is a good time to look back and
reflect on what's ahead. If past is prologue, however, the outlook
isn't good, and nothing on the horizon suggests otherwise. Voters
last November wanted change but got betrayal from the bipartisan
criminal class in Washington. Their attitude shows in an October
Reuters/Zogby (RZ) opinion poll with George Bush at 24% that tops
Richard Nixon's worst showing of 25% at his lowest 1974 Watergate
point. And if that looks bad, consider Congress with "The
Hill" reporting from the same RZ Index that our legislators
scored a "staggering 11%, the lowest (congressional) rating
in history," but there's room yet to hit bottom and a year
left to do it. Why not with lawmakers' consistent voter sellout
and failure record that keeps getting worse.
It's been that way ever since 9/11 with
both sides of the aisle complicit with the administration. This
article looks back at the record, and year end is a good time
to review it. It's hard imagining another as bad with a President
defiling the law and once telling Republican colleagues the Constitution
is "just a goddamned piece of paper."
He didn't just say it. He governs by it,
gets away with it, and former Defense Department analyst Daniel
Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame, says "a coup has occurred
(with another to come from) the next 9/11....that completes the
first (that's) seen a steady assault on every fundamental (aspect)
of our Constitution (to create) an executive government (to) rule
by decree" no different from a police state.
Author Naomi Wolf spells it out in her
April, 2007 Guardian article - "Fascist America, In 10 Easy
Steps." In it, she argues the Bush administration is following
the same script any "would-be dictator must take to destroy
constitutional freedoms," and she lists them. They range
from "invoking a terrifying internal and external enemy"
to "creat(ing) a gulag" to spying on everyone to harassing
opposition to controlling the media to calling dissent treason
to "suspend(ing) the rule of law." She also notes how
much "simpler" it is to shut down democracy than "to
create and sustain" it, and that's today's threat.
It's not with jackboots in the streets
but by a steady "process of erosion" with the public
largely unaware and distracted by media mind manipulators. It's
happening today, and Wolf sounds the alarm with the words of James
Madison saying "The accumulation of all powers, legislative,
executive, and judiciary, in the same hands....is the definition
of tyranny," and that's the condition now in America. This
article reviews the record for the past seven years. It's not
Even the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan
Williams, (unlike every Pope in memory) condemned it in a wide-ranging
UK Muslim magazine interview. It was quoted in a November 25 Sunday
Times column headlined "US is 'worst' imperialist" and
wields its power more reprehensibly than Britain ever did in its
heyday. He explained that American overseas adventurism led to
"the worst of all worlds" and expressed pessimism about
the current state of western civilization and Washington's own
misguided sense of mission.
He critiqued the "war on terror"
and stated America lost the moral high ground post-9/11 and needs
to launch a "generous and intelligent programme of aid to
the (nations it) ravaged;....check (its) economic exploitation
of defeated territories" and demilitarize them. He called
the West fundamentally adrift and our "definition of humanity
(isn't) working." He denounced America's violence and belief
it can solve problems left for "other people (to clean up
and) put....back together - Iraq, for example." Another is
the condition at home.
Since taking office in January, 2001,
George Bush signed a blizzard of Executive Orders and attached
dozens of "signing statements" to hundreds of law provisions
even though nothing in the Constitution allows this practice,
and the Supreme Court banned line-item vetos. He continues to
do it while Congress and the courts condone his claiming unconstitutional
"unitary executive" authority to ignore the law and
do as he pleases in the name of "national security"
on his say alone.
It began on 9/11 when George Bush addressed
the nation and declared a "war on terrorism," asked
for world support to win it, and began what became "our government's
emergency (preventive war strategy) response plans." The
scheme was to ignore the law, go to war, and destroy our civil
liberties to keep us safe from "rogue states, 'bad guys,'
and evil-doers" throughout an "arc of instability"
from the South American Andean region (mainly Colombia) to North
Africa through the Middle East to the Philippines, Indonesia and
elsewhere in Asia. Congress as well acted right out of the box
with two audacious resolutions that surrendered its authority
to the executive, allowed him to proceed, and signaled what would
The first one came September 18, 2001
in a joint "House-Senate Authorization for Use of Military
Force (AUMF)" that authorized "the use of United States
Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks
launched against the United States." A second followed in
the October, 2002 "Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use
of the United States Armed Forces Against Iraq," and the
rest is history. This article reviews other key congressional
legislation to the present along with George Bush's blatant abuse
of presidential power.
His first action came November 13, 2001
when he issued Military Order Number 1 that one analyst called
a "coup d'etat," and "watershed moment in (the)
country," that was a hint of what would follow. This order
violated the spirit and letter of a civil society under constitutional
law with a firewall separating it from the military. No longer,
and it got worse later on when its provisions resurfaced by act
of Congress. That's discussed below. First, Military Order Number
1 and what's in it:
-- it let the President usurp authority
to capture, kidnap or otherwise arrest any non-citizens (and later
citizens as well) anywhere in the world if he claims they're involved
in international terrorism and to hold them indefinitely without
charge, evidence or allowing them due process in a court of law.
-- however, IF trials are allowed, they
would be by special ad hoc "military commissions," not
civil courts and in secret, with evidence obtained by torture
allowed, those found guilty given no right of appeal, and they
can be secretly executed.
-- no civil court has authority in these
cases even if victims are identified and legal counsel wishes
to represent them.
Few knew then that on November 13, 2001
US citizens lost their civil liberties, but that would come out
later on. It's still ongoing with Congress and the courts complicit
in the willful destruction of our democracy that was already on
life support. Today, it's gone.
Use of National Security ((NSPDs) and
Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPDs)
In the Bush administration, NSPDs replaced
the Presidential Decision and Review Directives under Bill Clinton
and others under different names since the Kennedy administration
began the practice. Earlier ones remain in force unless superseded.
They're much like Executive Orders (EOs) with the "full force
and effect of law," relate to national security, and for
that reason remain classified unless or until made public. In
seven years, George Bush issued dozens of NSPD's that are too
many to review as well as over 20 Homeland Security Presidential
Directives (HSPDs). A few key ones are discussed below.
The October 25, 2001 NSPD-9 deserves special
note and was titled "Defeating the Terrorist Threat to the
United States." On March 23, 2004, Donald Rumsfeld gave this
explanation of its classified contents to the 9/11 Commission:
-- "To eliminate the Al Queda network;
-- To use all elements of national power
to do so -- diplomatic, military, economic, intelligence, information
and law enforcement;
-- To eliminate sanctuaries for Al Queda
and related terrorist networks -- and if diplomatic efforts to
do so failed, to consider additional measures."
On April 1, 2004, the White House released
this statement on the directive:
The NSPD called on the Secretary of Defense
to plan for military options "against Taliban targets in
Afghanistan, including leadership, command-control, air and air
defense, ground forces, and logistics (along with similar efforts)
against Al Queda and associated terrorist facilities in Afghanistan."
Here's the problem. The administration
adopted these measures on September 4, 2001, seven days before
9/11. George Bush then signed them into binding law in NSPD-9
on October 25, 2001 to conceal when they originated.
Other important NSPDs relate to:
-- combatting WMDs;
-- developing and deploying an anti-ballistic
missile defense that's for offense, not defense;
-- deploying nuclear weapons and domestic
-- the Iraq war;
-- a national space policy as part of
the goal for "full spectrum dominance" over all land,
surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum
and information systems to deter any domestic or foreign threat
or challenge to our global hegemony; and,
There's one other crucially important
NSPD-51/HSPD-20 on April 4, 2007 - National
Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive
This is a combined directive from the
White House and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish
"Continuity of Government (COG)" procedures under a
"Castastrophic Emergency" defined as follows:
"any incident (such as a terrorist
attack), regardless of location, that results in extraordinary
levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting
the US population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government
COG is then defined as:
''a coordinated effort within the Federal
Government's executive branch to ensure that National Essential
Functions continue to be performed during a Catastrophic Emergency."
Crucial to understand is that this combined
directive gives the President and DHS unprecendented powers free
from constitutional constraints. Under NSPD-51, the President
can declare a "national emergency" and declare martial
law without congressional approval. It allows him to create a
de facto militarized police state with him as dictator and DHS
as a national Gestapo to an even greater degree than it is already.
It also empowers the Vice-President to implement the directives'
provisions as part of the "Continuity of Government"
plan that in the case of Dick Cheney gives him even more power
than George Bush the way this administration operates. This combined
directive alone is the face of "police state America"
in real time if it's implemented, and it wasn't likely enacted
as window dressing. But there's lots more besides.
Other HSPDs relate to:
-- combatting "immigrant terrorism;"
-- a national response plan to domestic
-- critical infrastructure identification,
prioritization, and protection;
-- national preparedness;
-- comprehensive terrorist-related screening
-- domestic nuclear detection; and others.
Congressional Legislation After 9/11
Post-9/11, Congress acted in lockstep
with the President and continues to pass laws any despot would
love. Written, on the shelf, and ready to go long before 9/11,
the USA Patriot Act was passed and signed by the president 45
days later on October 26, 2001. The legislative process capitalized
on a window of hysteria to grant unchecked powers to the executive
but created three grave civil liberties threats in the process:
-- the erosion of Fifth and Fourteen Amendment
due process rights by permitting indefinite detentions of undocumented
immigrants that can now apply to anyone anywhere in the world;
more on that below;
-- the First Amendment loss of freedom
of association that the Supreme Court considers an essential part
of free expression; now anyone may be charged and prosecuted because
of his or her claimed association with an "undesirable group;"
-- loss of the Fourth Amendment right
to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and as a consequence,
the loss of privacy; the Act grants the administration unchecked
surveillance powers to access personal records; monitor financial
transactions; student records; conduct "sneak and peak"
searches through "delayed notice" warrants; authorize
roving wiretaps; track emails, internet and cell phone use; use
secret evidence in prosecutions; deny immigrants the right to
counsel if they're unable to get their own; and ends built-in
safeguards to let domestic criminal and foreign intelligence operations
share information so CIA can now spy domestically.
The Act also creates the federal crime
of "domestic terrorism" that broadens the definition
and applies to US citizens as well as aliens. It states criminal
law violations are considered domestic terrorist acts if they
aim to "influence (government policy) by intimidation or
coercion (or) intimidate or coerce a civilian population."
By this definition, anti-war or global justice demonstrations,
environmental activism, civil disobedience and dissent of any
kind may be called "domestic terrorism." The Patriot
Act was just for starters. Much more was ahead with a bipartisan
Congress acting like a gift that keeps on giving and the President
The Homeland Security Act (HSA) of November
25, 2002 followed as a sweeping new anti-terrorism bill, and like
the Patriot Act, was planned long before 9/11. It created the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by combining previously
separate government agencies under this new authority to prepare
for, prevent and respond to domestic emergencies and give the
federal government broad new powers to protect the nation within
and outside our borders. In March, 2003, its largest investigative
and enforcement arm was then established - the US Immigration
and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). It was charged with protecting
public safety by identifying and targeting "criminal"
and "terrorist" threats to the country who in most cases
are NAFTA and globalized trade victims here out of need, not choice,
and who aren't terrorists.
DHS is part of the administration's plan
to centralize unprecedented military and law enforcement power
in the executive branch that aims for greater global dominance
- to rule the world unchallenged including repressively at home
by suppressing civil liberties in the name of "national security."
DHS and USA Patriot Act are two frightening measures to do it.
DHS is insidious. It encroaches on local
authority by "mandat(ing) federal supervision, funding, and
coordination of 'local first responders.' " This refers to
police and "emergency personnel" comprising local law
enforcement. The Homeland Security Act (HSA) doesn't mandate local
control. Instead, it provides coordination and guidance as a first
step measure with more to come. That's why US Northern Command
(USNORTHCOM) was established in October, 2002 as an unprecedented
move to militarize the mainland plus Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Gulf
of Mexico and Straits of Florida and, for the first time ever,
allow troops to be deployed on US streets to counter drugs, an
"insurrection" loosely defined, and combat crimes with
nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. In other words, the President
may now deploy military forces on US streets in the interest of
"national security." This power is unprecedented and
So is another affecting everyone. It's
largely below the radar since it was was scheduled to be fully
operational in late September, 2006. It's the Pentagon's New Offensive
Strike Plan called the Joint Functional Component Command for
Global Strike and Integration - or simply Global Strike Command.
It grew out of the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that was
updated more belligerently in early 2006. NPR is a declaration
of preventive war on any nation, group or force anywhere on earth
the administration calls a "national security" threat
and could be used by NORTHCOM against US-based targets along with
a HSA crackdown if martial law is declared.
HSA goes further still by creating a sweeping
domestic intelligence agency called the Directorate of Information
Analysis and Infrastructure Protection. It's to create and maintain
an all-inclusive intrusive public and private information data
base on everyone. It can include virtually everything - financial
transactions and records, medical ones, emails, phone calls, purchases,
books and publications read, organization memberships, and any
other personal habit or pattern.
USA Patriot Act and HSA end the distinction
between foreign and domestic intelligence gathering and, up to
now, the sacrosanct firewall between them. They also no longer
allow "critical infrastructure information" from a federal
agency to be disclosed through a FOIA request as part of an official
policy of secrecy characteristic of police states. There's much
more in both Acts as well that's frightening, dangerous and unknown
to the public. In sum, they end constitutional protections whenever
the executive suspends the law in the name of "national security."
That's how "police state America" works that's hidden
from public view.
The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005
Torture is official state policy for the
Bush administration as its preferred means of intimidation, retribution
and social control. The McCain Detainee (anti-torture) Amendment
in October, 2005 was a futile effort to deter it. It was passed
and weakened by the Graham-Levin Amendment, became the Detainee
Treatment Act of 2005, and was attached to the 2006 Defense Department's
Appropriations Act. George Bush signed the legislation after which
he gutted its provisions relating to detainees in one of his notorious
"signing statements." Its language gave himself the
right (irrespective of the law) to "protect the American
people from further terrorist attacks" using all his self-given
powers as a "unitary executive" that places him above
the law, Congress, the courts, the people, and world public opinion.
The legislation's final form went further
as well. It denied detainees habeas rights, let US forces use
any cruel, abusive, inhumane or degrading treatment in the interests
of "national security," prohibited detainees from bringing
suits as a result, and allowed statements gotten coercively to
be used as evidence against them. It also followed previous policies
as far back as September 17, 2001 when George Bush signed a secret
"finding" authorizing CIA to kill, capture and detain
"Al Qaeda" members anywhere in the world, rendition
them to black site torture-prisons for interrogation, and obtain
it by any means. From then to now, torture and abuse of anyone
have been standard operating procedures for the Bush administration
with complicity from Congress and the courts.
Other Repressive Legislation and More
The 107th, 108th, 109th and 110th Congresses
will be remembered for likely having done more than all others
before them to defile the rule of law and our constitutional protections.
They conspired with a rogue administration, wrecked the republic,
and for the 109th Congress, October 17, 2006 stands out shamelessly
as a day that will live in infamy.
The Military Commissions Act
In a White House ceremony, George Bush
signed the Military Commissions Act (MCA) now known as "the
torture authorization act," but it's more far-reaching than
that. It grants the administration extraordinary unconstitutional
powers to detain, interrogate and prosecute alleged terror suspects
and anyone claimed to be their supporters. It also lets the President
call anyone anywhere in the world an "unlawful enemy combatant"
and empowers him to arrest and incarcerate those accused indefinitely
in military prisons without needing corroborating evidence proving
guilt. The law states for persons detained that "no court,
justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider
any claim or cause for action whatsoever.... relating to the prosecution,
trial, or judgment of a military commission....including challenges
to the lawfulness of procedures of military commissions."
MCA further scraps habeas protection (dating
back to 1215 in the Magna Carta) for domestic and foreign enemies
of the state, citizens and non-citizens alike, and says "Any
person is punishable... who....aids, abets, counsels, commands,
or procures" and in so doing helps a foreign enemy, provides
"material support" to alleged terrorist groups, engages
in spying, or commits other offenses previously handled in civil
Other key elements of the act include:
-- legalizing torture against anyone and
lets the President decide what procedures can be used on his own
-- denying detainees international law
protection and lets the executive interpret it;
-- empowering the President to convene
"military commissions" to try anyone he designates an
"unlawful enemy combatant," and hold them in secret
--denying speedy trials or any at all;
-- allowing evidence obtained by torture
or coerced testimony to be used against detainees in trial proceedings;
-- permitting hearsay and secret evidence
to be used; and
-- denying due process, destroying human
dignity, mocking the rule of law, and establishing the principle
of kangaroo court justice for anyone the executive targets.
Revising the 1807 Insurrection Act and
Ending 1878 Posse Comitatus Protection
Also on October 17, 2006, the president
privately signed into law a hidden provision in Sections 1076
and 333 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act
for Fiscal Year 2007. It amended the Insurrection Act of 1807
and Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 that prohibit using federal and
National Guard troops for law enforcement inside the country except
as constitutionally allowed or expressly authorized by Congress
in times of a national emergency like an insurrection. The executive
can now claim a public emergency, effectively declare martial
law, suspend the Constitution for "national security,"
and deploy federal and National Guard troops on the nation's streets
to suppress whatever he calls disorder. That means First Amendment-guaranteed
peaceful public demonstrations and all organized acts of dissent
are no longer constitutionally protected. Neither is the republic
in "police state America."
The new law also authorizes the Pentagon
to transfer state-of-the-art crowd control weapons and technology
to state and local responders. It's to militarize them and blur
the distinction between federal and local law enforcement agencies
as an operational police state tactic.
The Real ID Act of 2005
Congress passed the Act that threatens
personal privacy, it's scheduled to become effective in May, 2008,
and it will require states to meet federal ID standards if in
takes effect next spring. That's now in question as two dozen
or more states passed laws prohibiting its use and refused to
The federal law mandates that every US
citizen and legal resident have a national identity card that
in most cases will be a driver's license. It requires that it
contain an individual's personal information and means this ID
will be needed to open a bank account, board an airplane, be able
to vote, or conduct virtually any other essential type business.
In the future, the law may also require
that the card contain a radio frequency identification (RFID)
technology computer chip that will be able to track all movements,
activities and transactions of everyone, everywhere, at all times.
In other words, with this technology embedded, the card will become
an empowered police state dream (and an Orwellian nightmare) to
be able to monitor everyone having one all the time wherever they
However, growing state opposition to the
law puts its status in doubt. It's because it's costly to establish
and administer and will create a bureaucratic nightmare besides.
It thus looks likely it won't be adopted in its current form,
but it may be revised and reintroduced, so don't yet count this
one out as some are ready to do. As of now, measures have been
introduced in the House and Senate to repeal it by adopting national
ID standards in other legislation and increase federal funding
for it. So going forward, the issue of mandating national ID measures
is very much alive. It looks like something on it will emerge
as federal law going forward, but the cure may be worse than the
disease if states adopt it to give "police state America"
another repressive tool.
Pervasive Spying on Americans
Under George Bush, spying is a national
pastime, but it's no joke. The New York Times reported on December
16, 2005 that his administration had been secretly spying on Americans
without warrants since late 2001. He authorized the National Security
Agency (NSA) to intercept international communications of US citizens
with known links to Al Queda, related "terrorist" organizations,
or for any other reasons at its discretion. The operation was
called the "Terrorism Surveillance Program."
It made no difference to the administration
that wiretapping without probable cause or judicial oversight
violates Fourth Amendment protections and the 1978 Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act (FISA). In the current atmosphere, the rule of
law is out the window, Congress and the courts condone it, and
that's the problem.
It surfaced again when Congress passed
the Protect America Act of 2007 that amends FISA with doublespeak
language Orwell would love. It supposedly aims to close "communication
gaps" but will allow virtual unrestricted mass data-mining
monitoring and intercept of domestic and foreign internet, cell
phones and other new technology as well as transit international
phone call traffic and emails. The Act claims to restrict surveillance
to foreign nationals "reasonably believed to be outside the
United States" and must be renewed. In fact, the law targets
everyone including US citizens inside the country if the Attorney
General or Director of National Intelligence claim they pose a
potential terrorist or "national security" threat, but
no evidence is needed to prove it.
This law allows virtual unrestricted warrantless
spying of anyone for any claimed "national security"
reason. It thus renders the notion of illegal searches and privacy
rights null and void. But that already went on earlier post-9/11
through other unconstitutional speech-related monitoring activities.
One was the short-lived Operation TIPS that was dropped when civilian
informers refused to be spies. Then, there was the Pentagon's
Total Information Awareness (TIA), later renamed Terrorism Information
Awareness, that was also ended under pressure but resurfaced in
new form so illegal military spying continues. The Threat and
Local Observation Notice (TALON) program was part of it to collect
domestic intelligence through a huge database focused on "terrorism"
that means everyone legally opposing Bush administration practices
MATRIX is another new data mining tool
that stands for the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Exchange Program.
It violates our privacy by mass monitoring the lives and activities
of ordinary people on the pretext of learning whether they may
be engaging in any type terrorist or criminal activity.
Privacy isn't mentioned in the Constitution,
but Supreme Court decisions affirmed it as a fundamental human
right. In addition, it's protected under the Ninth Amendment,
the Third prohibiting quartering troops in homes, the Fourth prohibiting
unreasonable searches and seizures, and the Fifth safeguarding
against self-incrimination. MATRIX and other intrusive laws violate
the letter and spirit of the law and permits Patriot and HSA justice
in "police state America."
Executive Orders Issued by George Bush
George Bush loves big numbers. They show
up in budgets and spending, in his number of signing statements
to congressional legislation, and in over 250 Executive Orders
(EOs) in almost seven years. A key one is reviewed below.
July 17, 2007 Executive Order (EO): Blocking
Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts
The US Constitution has no provision that
gives a President power to make new law through one-man executive
order decrees. That never deterred others in the past from issuing
them, but none ever abused this practice more than George Bush
who's issued over 250 of them thus far with more sure to come.
This one on July 17 is especially egregious
but right in character for a President who disdains the law and
shows it. It starts off: The President's power stems from "the
authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the
laws of the United States of America" as well as the International
Economic Powers Act he also invokes.
The order continues: "....due to
the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security
and foreign policy of the United States posed by acts of violence
threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts
to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq
and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people,"
George Bush, in fact, unconstitutionally usurped authority to
criminalize the anti-war movement, make the First Amendment right
to protest it illegal, and empower himself to seize the assets
of persons violating this decree.
By this action, the President again, on
his own authority, violated the Constitution, criminalized dissent,
and moved the nation another step closer to tyranny in "police
Secrecy As Policy under George Bush
In November 1, 2001, George Bush signed
Executive Order 13233: Further Implementation of the Presidential
Records Act. In so doing, he established an official administration
policy of secrecy in violation of the 1978 Presidential Records
Act, the 1974 Freedom of Information Act, and James Madison's
1822 warning that "A popular Government, without popular
information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to
a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both." He also violated
the Supreme Court's 1977 decision in Nixon v. Administrator of
General Services that ruled "executive privilege" is
subject to "erosion over time" after a president leaves
office, and Congress decided that little or none of an executive's
communications with his advisors should remain secret after 12
Secrecy threatens democracy because it
avoids accountability and empowers an imperial president way beyond
issues of national security that are justifiable. On his own authority,
George Bush placed limits on presidential records, the Freedom
of Information Act, and a free and open society by giving himself
the power to classify information for national security and create
a whole new array of categories called "sensitive" information
that includes anything he so designates. The result is that classified
information doubled since 2001 and efforts to declassify material
was stopped by invoking the "State Secrets" privilege
to avoid court challenge. These actions characterize police states
and represent another threat to a free and open society under
an administration that disdains the law and operates freely without
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA)
On November 27, 2006, George Bush signed
AETA into law to amend the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of
1992. The new Act has broad and vague language to criminalize
First Amendment activities advocating for animal rights like peaceful
protests, leafleting, undercover investigations, whisleblowing
and boycotts. It shows how out of hand things have gotten with
animal protection advocacy now a crime.
Under the old law, anyone convicted of
a physical disruption causing $10,000 in damages to an animal
enterprise was subject to a $10,000 fine or 10 years to life imprisonment.
The new AETA is even harsher with penalties far exceeding comparable
offenses under other laws. It expands the original Act by changing
activity "for the purpose of causing physical disruption"
to actions "for the purpose of damaging or disrupting"
an animal enterprise. In this case, "disruptive" means
any activity that results in "losses and increased losses"
over $10,000 by peaceful protests for consumers boycotts, advocating
harmful practice reforms, or a whisleblower doing the same things.
The Act also goes further. It allows for
expanded surveillance of animal rights organizations to include
criminal wiretapping and makes it easier for a court to find probable
cause for the vague crime of economic damage or disruption than
for one requiring hard evidence a person or group plans to commit
The bill exempts "lawful public,
governmental or business reaction to the disclosure of information
about an animal enterprise," but that provision only applies
to economic disruption claims, not damage and makes it hard to
distinguish between the two. In addition, AETA:
-- expands the kinds of facilities covered
by adding ones that use or sell animals or animal products;
-- it covers any person, entity or organization
with a connection to an animal enterprise;
-- it applies to any form of advocacy;
-- it criminalizes threatening conduct
and protected speech as well as communication with individuals
who engage in these practices; and
-- it potentially includes any form of
communication such as emailing across state lines to boycott abusive
-- it protects corporate animal abusers
with a vested interest in silencing dissent; and
-- it effectively singles out any form
of civil disobedience or protest activity and brands animal advocates
as terrorists even when nothing they do causes physical harm;
even worse, the bill's language is so broad and vague it's hard
to know the difference between legal and illegal behavior; this
Act is another nail in the coffin of free expression, the rule
of law in a free society, and the right of everyone to be protected
by law, not targeted by it.
The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown
Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (HR 1955)
The House overwhelmingly passed this measure
on October 23 that some observers call "the thought crime
prevention bill." It's now in the Senate (S 1959) where if
passed and signed by George Bush will establish a commission and
Center for Excellence to study and take action against "thought
criminals." The commission will be empowered to subpoena
and investigate anyone that will automatically create a perception
of guilt that may be highlighted in the media for added emphasis.
This Act is a direct assault on democratic
freedoms in the current atmosphere with both parties and a President
determined to end them. The bill's language hides its possible
intent as "violent radicalization" and "homegrown
terrorism" may be whatever the administration says they are.
"Violent radicalization" is defined as "adopting
or promoting an extremist belief system (to facilitate) ideologically
based violence to advance political, religious or social change."
"Homegrown terrorism" is used to mean "the use,
planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group
or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within
the United States or any (US) possession to intimidate or coerce
the (US) government, the civilian population....or any segment
thereof (to further) political or social objectives."
This and other repressive laws may be
used against any individual or group with unpopular views - those
that differ from established state policy, even illegal ones,
and historian Howard Zinn is concerned. He says: "This is
the most recent of a long series of laws passed in times of foreign
policy tensions, starting with the Alien and Sedition Acts of
1798, which sent people to jail for criticizing the Adams administration."
Under Woodrow Wilson in WW I, "the Espionage (and) Sedition
Act(s) (jailed) close to a thousand people (who spoke) out against
the war." From HR 1955 and other post-9/11 laws, authorities
now have the same power to target anti-war protesters or anyone
expressing views this Act alone calls "terrorist-related
propaganda." Persons charged and convicted face stiff penalties
in an effort to deter others. This measure is still another step
toward full-blown tyranny in "police state America."
Sections 1615 and 1622 of the 2008 Defense
These provisions authorize DOD to militarize
the country under martial law by merging the military with state
and local law enforcement during a national emergency described
as "an incident of national significance or a catastrophic
incident." It also gives the Defense Secretary extraordinary
power to determine what military capabilities are needed, to provide
them to "active (and) reserve components of the armed forces
for homeland defense missions, domestic emergency responses, and
(to provide) military support to civil authorities (for) at least
The Act designates the Joint Chiefs of
Staff Chairman to review NORTHCOM civilian, reservist and military
positions and increase their number in preparation for a potential
catastrophic event requiring "homeland defense missions,
domestic emergency response, (and the need for) military support
to civil authorities."
Section 1622 then establishes a Council
of Governors to advise the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland
Security and the White House "on matters related to the National
Guard and civil support missions."
The Act is more proof of "police
state America." It establishes a martial law apparatus to
be used in case of a "catastrophic event" of any kind
and empowers the President or Vice-President under NSPD-51 to
implement it in a "national emergency" without congressional
Operation FALCON - Police State America
in Real Time
Mike Whitney won a 2008 Project Censored
Award for his February, 2007 article titled "Operation FALCON
and the Looming Police State." In it, he reported that the
Bush administration "carried out three massive sweeps in
the last two years, rolling up more than 30,000 minor crooks and
criminals" that he calls a "blueprint for removing dissidents
and political rivals" reminiscent of Nazi Germany or any
other repressive police state. Those chickens now reside at home,
but the public is largely unaware and unconcerned. We all should
be as Whitney raises a "red flag for anyone who cares at
all about human rights, civil liberties, or simply saving his
Operation FALCON stands for "Federal
and Local Cops Organized Nationally" and came out of the
Bush Justice Department and right-wing think tanks "where
fantasies of autocratic government have a long history" and
are now playing out in real time. The scheme centralizes power
in Washington and uses resources of local authorities for its
Whitney traces its short history starting
in the week of April 4 - 10, 2005 when over 10,000 criminal suspects
were arrested in "the largest criminal sweep in the nation's
history" in a "single initiative." Its aim was
"quantity," not "quality," but Whitney asked
why did the Feds get involved in local police work and suggested
something more sinister was involved "than just ensuring
public safety." His answer - "to enhance the powers
of the 'unitary' executive" by giving Washington power over
local law enforcement, and that makes perfect sense under an administration
obsessed with wanting unchallengeable control.
Operation FALCON II followed a week later
from April 17 - 23 and swept up another 9037 "alleged fugitives."
The final FALCON III came from October 22 - 28, 2006 with 10,773
more arrests. Each sweep was the same and concentrated on alleged
criminal types out of character for a federal operation, so clearly
another motive was involved. Further, no one arrested was charged
with a terrorist-related crime, and that alone looks fishy. Whitney
thought so and called FALCON "new drills for a new world
order" that's waging permanent war, defiles the law, ignores
checks and balances, condones torture, repealed habeas, and illegally
spies on everyone.
Muslim and US Immigration and Customs
Enforcement agency (ICE) Sweeps
As FALCON targeted petty crooks and criminals,
Muslims are the administration's main "war on terrorism"
victims. Post-9/11, thousands were mercilessly harassed and persecuted
through mass witch-hunt roundups, detentions, prosecutions and
deportations. Their assets were frozen, and legal immigrants among
them were subjected to secret federal immigration court status
hearings where those found guilty of minor past infractions were
illegally held or returned to their countries of origin where
they faced possible arrest and torture.
Others fared even worse and became political
prisoners. Professor Sami Al-Arian was one of them because of
his faith, beliefs and activism. Palestinian refugee, scholar,
academic, community leader, civic activist, and freedom and justice
advocate for his people made him a Bush administration target.
His ordeal began when he was arrested in February, 2003 and unjustly
charged with supporting terrorism, conspiracy to commit murder,
racketeering, giving material support to an outlawed group, extortion,
perjury and other offenses proved spurious in his subsequent trial
in which he was exonerated. Yet he remains imprisoned under harsh
conditions as the Bush Justice Department finds ways to hold him.
Another victim was Dr. Rafil Dhafir, a
Muslim American of Iraqi descent and practicing oncologist until
his license was suspended. He was convicted in a shameless kangaroo
court trial of 59 of 60 trumped up charges of violating the Iraqi
Sanctions Regulations (IEEPA) for using his own funds and what
he could raise through his Help the Needy charity to bring desperately
needed essential to life humanitarian aid to Iraqis under sanctions.
He's now serving a 22 year sentence in a special Terre Haute,
IN "Communications Management Unit" (CMU) for Muslims
and Arabs for his "crime of compassion" (see dhafirtrial.net,
Katherine Hughes) where he, like Sami Al-Arian, is a Bush administration
"trophy" prisoner in the "war on terrorism."
Undocumented Latino immigrants have also
been targeted with ICE shock troops mandated to do it. The agency
was established in March, 2003 as the largest DHS investigative
and enforcement arm and charged with protecting the public safety
by identifying and targeting "criminal" and "terrorist"
threats to the country. In most cases, they're innocent victims
of NAFTA and globalized trade coming north to survive. ICE heads
them off at the border, hunts them down ruthlessly once they're
here, and boasts how well their multi-billion dollar budget lets
them conduct a reign of terror against vulnerable people.
Workplace assaults continue, and on October
3, ICE said it swept up and deported (or will deport) more than
1300 "criminal aliens, immigrations fugitives, and immigration
violators" in the "largest-ever" operation of its
kind in the Los Angeles area. Most were Mexican nationals, but
some were from 30 other countries, and ICE called them "immigration
violators." They're Bush administration targets in its "war
on terrorism" that soon may come for us.
Police State America Preparations
Today, dissent is an endangered species,
and preparations are underway for mass detentions in the "war
on terrorism" targeting anyone seen as a threat. Halliburton
is the beneficiary with a DHS contingency contract worth nearly
$400 million to build US-based camps for "detention and processing"
in case of an "emergency influx of immigrants....or to support
the rapid development of new programs (for planned) expansion
facilities (for anyone with capacity for 5000 or more persons)."
This language is cover for planned US-based
concentration camps for anyone labeled an enemy of the state or
threat to "national security." The plan is clear - to
have facilities in place if martial law is declared with plenty
of reasons to fear it's coming. Why else these camps and why all
the repressive laws, EOs, NSPDs, and HSPDs put in place if they
weren't for a purpose.
The Pentagon is also ready with a DOD
action plan called "Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil
Support." It envisions an "active, layered defense"
both within and outside the country that pledges to "transform
US military forces to execute homeland defense missions in the....US
homeland." It lays out a strategy for increased reconnaissance
and surveillance to "defeat potential challengers before
they threaten the United States." It also "maximizes
threat awareness and seizes the initiative from those who would
These are ominous developments that suggest
a likely real or contrived homeland terror attack severe enough
to warrant suspending the Constitution and declaring martial law
with the public acquiescing out of fear. If it comes, anyone may
be targeted as a "national security" threat, indefinitely
detained in a camp, and no evidence is needed for proof. The state
and military will be empowered by law to act preventively through
mass roundups and detentions that appears the reason for three
test-run FALCON operations.
Full-scale militarization of the country
is already lawful under the 1988 Reagan administration's "national
security emergency" EO 12656. It was meant for "Any
occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological
or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens
the national security of the United States." "Police
state America" has been in the works a long time, and it
now may be near the boiling point.
The Role of Blackwater USA in Police State
Most people know about Blackwater but
not how it operates. We better learn because it's coming to a
neighborhood near you, and that means trouble. Author Jeremy Scahill
wrote the book on the company he calls "the world's most
powerful mercenary army" and describes it as a "shadowy
mercenary company (employing) some of the most feared professional
killers in the world accustomed to operating without worry of
legal consequences (and) largely off the congressional radar."
It has friends in high places who give it "remarkable power
and protection within the US war apparatus" with unaccountable
license to practice street violence with impunity to include cold-blooded
murder wherever their paramilitaries are deployed.
For now, that's mostly abroad, and controversy
surfaced about the company after its mercenaries killed two dozen
or more Iraqis and wounded dozens more in al-Nisour on September
16. It was the latest incident involving a company with a disturbing
history of unprovoked violence and then claiming self-defense.
Blackwater is contracted to provide security services for US diplomats,
officials and others that once was assigned to the military at
one-sixth or less what the company charges under an administration
that believes anything government can do private business does
better, so let it whatever the cost.
Using Blackwater and other paramilitaries
is part of the scheme to militarize America, and New Orleans is
its first test case. Scahill wrote that "about 150 heavily
armed Blackwater troops dressed in full battle gear" arrived
in the Crescent City right after Katrina hit and spread out into
the city's chaos. Others came later. Their cover was to provide
hurricane relief, but that was a ruse as local residents still
around in the wrong places soon discovered. They patrolled like
Gestapo in SUVs with tinted windows and their logo on the back.
Others used unmarked cars with no license plates, and relief wasn't
their mandate. They came to secure neighborhoods from their legal
residents and treat those wanting to return like criminals. They
wore flak jackets, carried automatic weapons and had extra guns
strapped to their legs. They weren't for show.
Instead of helping hurricane victims,
they came as vigilantes to terrorize them and be empowered by
federal, state and local authorities to do it. Blackwater USA
is the face of paramilitarism on US streets as the "war on
terrorism" comes to a neighborhood near you with New Orleans
the first test case to see if the company can operate here the
way it does in Iraq and get away with it. It's doing it.
More than two years after Katrina, New
Orleans is still a disaster zone, and many thousands of its residents
are still without homes. Instead of helping them rebuild and restore
their lives, federal funds instead go to private mercenaries to
protect the privileged from desperate people needing help. Blackwater
is another element in place in "police state America"
where the streets of Boston, Boise or Buffalo may one day resemble
Baghdad and bring the "war on terror" to the homeland
with chilling implications of what that means.
A Look Ahead in Police State America
This article began and will end with the
same chilling thought. It past is prologue, the outlook isn't
good in "police state America" under neocon rule that
won't appreciably change when the White House has a new occupant
in 2009. The nation is at war and laws are in place that end constitutional
protections, militarize the country, repress dissent, and our
government is empowered to crush freedom and defend privilege
from beneficial social change it won't tolerate. It's the price
of imperial arrogance we the people are paying, and that won't
end until the spirit of resistance gets aroused enough to stop
it in our own self-defense. We better hope that happens in time
with potentially little of it left.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on TheMicroEffect.com
Mondays at noon US Central time.