"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!"
-Homer J. Simpson

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Bush's Thought Police

I don't toss the word "fascist" around very often because, like communist, it applies to a very specific type of political/cultural agenda and programme.

The people who do toss those types of terms around lose a lot of respect from reasonable people like myself.

However, I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine if the shoe fits, in this case, as it were.

First we have to examine the issue of the thought police. You know, the idea that ideas are the problem.

Well take a look at this article from the New York Times. It seems that the though police are moving one step closer.

A consortium of major universities, using Homeland Security Department money, is developing software that would let the government monitor negative opinions of the United States or its leaders in newspapers and other publications
Not that they need the software because, as it turns out, we find that there is a bit of a problem with the Secret Service. They are in fact, literally acting as the thought police

On June 16, Steve Howards was walking his 7-year-old son to a piano practice, when he saw Cheney surrounded by a group of people in an outdoor mall area, shaking hands and posing for pictures with several people....Howards and his son walked to about two-to-three feet from where Cheney was standing, and said to the vice president, "I think your policies in Iraq are reprehensible," or words to that effect, then walked on.... Ten minutes later they were approached by the Secret Service... placed in handcuffs and taken to the Eagle County Jail.
It turns out that this is standard operating procedure for the Secret Service under Bush.

"When President Bush travels around the United States, the Secret Service visits the location ahead of time and orders local police to set up "free speech zones" or "protest zones," where people opposed to Bush policies (and sometimes sign-carrying supporters) are quarantined. These zones routinely succeed in keeping protesters out of presidential sight and outside the view of media covering the event."
And so are the arrests:

"At a Bush rally at Legends Field in 2001, three demonstrators -- two of whom were grandmothers -- were arrested for holding up small handwritten protest signs"

"last year, seven protesters were arrested when Bush came to a rally at the USF Sun Dome. They had refused to be cordoned off into a protest zone hundreds of yards from the entrance to the Dome."

The Justice Department is now prosecuting Brett Bursey, who was arrested for holding a "No War for Oil" sign at a Bush visit to Columbia
And it gets even worse, as the article goes on to point out.

Attempts to suppress protesters become more disturbing in light of the Homeland Security Department's recommendation that local police departments view critics of the war on terrorism as potential terrorists. In a May terrorist advisory, the Homeland Security Department warned local law enforcement agencies to keep an eye on anyone who "expressed dislike of attitudes and decisions of the U.S. government." If police vigorously followed this advice, millions of Americans could be added to the official lists of suspected terrorists.
That's right, if you disagree with the war or the government then you must be a terrorist.

And for the record, the above quotes come from an article published in the Dec. 15 issue of the American Conservative. Which is not exactly some liberal rag.


where were we?

Oh yes, if you disagree with the war or the government then you must be a terrorist.

And what does the Bush Administration want to do to terrorists?

Oh, that's right.

Torture them.

In secret prisons

As Crooks and Liers points out, Bush won't even deny this stuff

Matt Lauer: And yet you admitted that there were these CIA secret facilities. OK?

President Bush: So what? Why is that not within the law?

Matt Lauer: The head of Amnesty International says secret sites are against international law.

President Bush: Well, we just disagree with him.

The interview goes on to discusee the legal niecities of "strap[ing] someone to a board and you make them feel as if they’re going to drown by putting them underwater" They didn't quite get to the fact that the new law might even allow the government to torture the family members of suspected terrorist. It turns out that Salon has obtained Army documents that show several cases where U.S. forces abducted terror suspects’ families.

Not only is the terrorist torture bill that was just passed by the Republicans obsence ont he face of it, but add this into the mix:

Buried amongst the untold affronts to the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and the very spirit of America, the torture bill contains a definition of "wrongfully aiding the enemy" which labels all American citizens who breach their "allegiance" to President Bush and the actions of his government as terrorists subject to possible arrest, torture and conviction in front of a military tribunal.
The only possible way that this could come into affect would be to deal with US citizens. Why would a foreign terrorist have any allegiance to the United States to breach in the first place? Why would this clause be needed if they were truly using it to fight terrorism?

Continuing on...

The New York Times draws our attention to the Roman Empire where

By the oldest trick in the political book — the whipping up of a panic, in which any dissenting voice could be dismissed as “soft” or even “traitorous” — powers had been ceded by the people that would never be returned.
They are talking about the Roman response to a terrorist attack and the redefining of a hundered-year-old consitution. The parallels with the current situation are stunning

Those of us who are not Americans can only look on in wonder at the similar ease with which the ancient rights and liberties of the individual are being surrendered in the United States in the wake of 9/11. The vote by the Senate on Thursday to suspend the right of habeas corpus for terrorism detainees, denying them their right to challenge their detention in court; the careful wording about torture, which forbids only the inducement of “serious” physical and mental suffering to obtain information; the admissibility of evidence obtained in the United States without a search warrant; the licensing of the president to declare a legal resident of the United States an enemy combatant — all this represents an historic shift in the balance of power between the citizen and the executive.
So...... Facism? Let's look at the list, shall we?

Thought police? check
Secret prisons? check
Torture? check
Spying on all citizens? check
Denial and restriction of habeas corpus? check

Sounds a little too close to comfort for my liking.

So we have the situation where anyone who expresses dissent with the government (as defined by some computer program and massive NSA wiretapping) can be consisered a terrorist, and can be arrested for that by the secret service or the police. (Keeping in mind the Homeland Security Department's recommendation that local police departments view critics of the war on terrorism as potential terrorists) Then, the government can do pretty much whatever they want to these 'terrorists' once they get them in thier secret prisons. Including torture of themselves and familiy members. And again, all you need to be "eligable" for torture according to the torture bill is to "who breach their "allegiance" to President Bush and the actions of his government"

A bit much... eh?