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‘Amerika’s Decaying Facade of Democracy’

Land of the free.

It sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Just don’t try to exercise said freedom. That can come with serious helpings of intimidation and punishment. Pepper spraying, clubbing, incarceration.

Actually, thanks to our United States Senate this week -- with a stunning bipartisan vote of 93 to 7 -- you now can get efficiently and LEGALLY “disappeared” for exercising your HERETOFORE constitutional freedoms. Free speech. Assembly, etc.

Meanwhile, the REAL terrorists continue to get plenty of mileage out of the faux-War on Terror. It comes in handy for removing the rights and securities of any citizenry, even ours.

Anyone with half a brain and a working conscience knows who the REAL terrorists are walking around, or rather being transported in private jets, limos, yachts, or in the case of our electees, taxpayer-enabled first class modes of transportation.

Economic and military terrorism have been linked for quite a while. This week, with the profound help of the US Senate, every inch of, as well as inhabitant of, the planet can now be officially considered a target to be captured, exploited, bullied, exterminated, detained by the US government. International and domestic laws are being flagrantly defied by our traitorous, oath-taking reps in what David Brooks recently labelled "POST-MORALITY AMERICA."

American karma has boomeranged back on us. Maybe not onto the truly deserving rat bastard ruling class elites and their pimped out politicians (of which there are a hell of a lot more coming out of their pimped out closets than even I reckoned on. Thursday’s 93 to 7 vote!). But surely karma is coming after those of us who to one degree or another have grown up with the sentimentalized myth of American exceptionalism. You know, the truth, justice and the American way stuff.

We average American civilians are just the NEWEST victims of the military-industrial-security- and I will add financial-complex. The enslaving matrix for us 99 percenters tightly woven by the heart of darkness, ever self-aggrandizing 1 percenters. The profits-over-people people.

We need to face down how much steeper the slippery slope to full-out oppression got this week. The fast hardening of soft fascism.

How long before just asserting even generalized, anti-war moral arguments will be deemed as enabling the ever-useful al Qaeda or Taliban or simply Islamist enemy? I’ll bet Senators Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman are already primed to arrest such serious people of conscience. Will those PATRIOTS for democracy (I mean the people of conscience, NOT Graham or Lieberman) who continually fight for justice, truth and the idealized American way be facing down militarized assaults and indefinite internments for criticizing our government reps who are so very deserving of criticism, censure and IMPEACHMENT!

Bill Van Auken of wsws:

The Senate legislation serves only to expose the already existing structure of police-military dictatorship that has been erected behind the decaying facade of American democracy over the past decade, as well as the full complicity of both major parties in this process.

The nationwide police violence and repression unleashed against the Occupy Wall Street protests have provided a glimpse of the real character of a government that is of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. Under the conditions of unprecedented social inequality, joblessness and social misery that sparked these protests, even the most rudimentary forms of democratic government become untenable. Naked state repression is required to impose the dictates of the financial elite.

Van Auken summarizes the traitorous bill:

The US Senate voted Thursday night to approve a military funding bill that codifies into law the criminal state practices begun under Bush—and continued under Obama—in the name of the “global war on terror.”

It explicitly authorizes the military’s indefinite detention without trial of American citizens and mandates that all non-citizens charged as terrorists—including those arrested on US soil—be detained indefinitely by the military rather than brought to trial in a civilian court.

The legislation was part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which provides $662 billion to finance the US military machine and its multiple wars abroad. The act passed the Democratic-controlled body by an overwhelming margin of 93 to 7, underscoring once again that there exists no serious constituency for the defense of democratic rights within any section of the American ruling elite or its two big business parties.

Thrown out by this legislation is the right guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution for all those accused of a criminal offense to a “speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury,” and the core provision of the Fifth Amendment declaring that no person shall be deprived of liberty “without due process of law.” It legalizes the abrogation in practice over the past decade of the bedrock principle of habeas corpus, which requires that the state bring a detained individual before an independent court and show just cause for imprisonment.

The bill also bars the use of any funds authorized for the Pentagon to shut down the infamous prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and restricts the release of anyone currently detained there. It thus permanently enshrines within US law an institution that has turned the United States into a pariah nation around the globe.

snip

In 1918, the socialist leader Eugene V. Debs was thrown into prison under the draconian Sedition Act for delivering a speech opposing the First World War and calling for the working class to take power and carry out the socialist transformation of society. Even then, however, the government had to try him before a jury. The legislation passed Thursday renders such democratic niceties superfluous. Now such an offense would be punishable by disappearance into a military-run concentration camp.

Van Auken offers cold comfort in the possibility of an Obama veto to the vile legislation:

It [Obama administration] has gone significantly further than its predecessor, asserting the right to assassinate US citizens, with the president ordering their deaths without presenting a shred of evidence against them. It has implemented this supposed “right” in the drone missile murder of Anwar al-Awlaki, the New Mexico-born Muslim cleric, as well as others over the past year. If the White House is willing to murder US citizens without charges or trials, it has no principled basis for objecting to their military imprisonment and indefinite incarceration.

The Obama administration’s concern is not with constitutional rights, but rather with preserving its extra-constitutional, quasi-dictatorial presidential powers to carry out war and repression without any interference by the legislative branch.

Paul Craig Roberts offers some scathing and compelling insights about the surreal level of criminality, amorality and lack of empathy of our government and our mainstream media.

Whatever the outcome [of vote by Greek citizens re bailout and EU membership], keep in mind that the entire Western political and investor world was shocked that a politician, instead of simply imposing a back room deal, said he would let the people decide. Letting the people decide is a no-no in Western democracies.

If you need more evidence of this mythical creature called “Western democracy,” consider that Western governments are no longer accountable to law. Contrast, for example, the sexual harassment charges that are plaguing US presidential candidate Herman Cain’s campaign with the pass given to high government officials who clearly violated statutory law.

What follows is not a defense of Cain. I take no position on the charges.  The real point is different.  In America the only thing that can ruin a politician is his interest in sex.  A politician, for example, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, cannot be ruined by violating United States and international law or by treating the US Constitution as a “mere scrap of paper.”  Bush and Cheney can take America to wars based entirely on lies and orchestrated deceptions. They can commit war crimes, murdering large numbers of civilians in the cause of “the war on terror,” itself a hoax.  They can violate US and international laws against torture simply “because the president said so.” They can throw away habeas corpus, the constitutional requirement that a person cannot be imprisoned without evidence presented to a court. They can deny the right to an attorney. They can violate the law and spy on Americans without obtaining warrants. They can send due process to hell. In fact, they can do whatever they want just like Hitler’s Gestapo and Stalin’s secret police. But if they show undue interest in a woman or proposition a woman, they are dead meat.

Very few commentators have said a word about this.  The House of Representatives did not impeach President Bill Clinton for his war crimes against Serbia. They impeached him for lying about a sexual affair with a White House intern. The US Senate, which had too many sexual affairs of its own to defend, didn’t bother to try to convict.

This is Amerika today. A president without any authority whatsoever, not in law and certainly not in the Constitution, can assassinate US citizens based on nothing except an assertion that they are a “threat.”  No evidence is required. No conviction. No presentation of evidence  in any court. Just a murder. That is now permissible to the Amerikan president. But let him try to get a woman who is not his wife into bed, and he is a cooked goose.

In Amerika there is no such thing any longer as torture; there is only “enhanced interrogation.”  A mere word change has eliminated the crime. So torture is permissible.

In Amerika today, or in the UK and the EU, anyone who tells the truth is a “threat.” Julian Assange of Wikileaks, who made public information leaked to him by US government sources horrified by the criminal actions of the United States government, is now, as a result of Amerikan pressure on UK courts, being turned over to Sweden, which, for favors from the “world’s only superpower,” will turn him over to the US regardless of law to be prosecuted on trumped-up charges.

Western “civilization” is totally corrupted by American money. There is no integrity anywhere.  For a decade Washington has been murdering women, children, village elders, and journalists in the name of the hoax “war on terror.”

Colleen Rowley eloquently and pointedly explains the usurpation of republic by empire:

The political, military industrial, corporate class in Washington DC continues to re-make our constitutional republic into a powerful, unaccountable military empire. Yesterday the U.S. Senate voted 93 to 7 to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012 which allows the military to operate domestically within the borders of the United States and to possibly (or most probably) detain U.S. citizens without trial. Forget that the ACLU called it "an historic threat to American citizens", this bill is so dangerous not only to our rights but to our country's security that it was criticized by the Directors of the FBI, the CIA, the National Intelligence Director and the U.S. Defense Secretary! For the first time in our history, if this Act is not vetoed, American citizens may not be guaranteed their Article III right to trial.

The government would be able to decide who gets an old fashioned trial (along with right to attorney and right against self-incrimination) and who gets detained without due process and put into a modern legal limbo. Does anyone remember that none of the first thousand people the FBI rounded up after 9-11, and which were imprisoned for several months (some brutalized) were ever charged with terrorism? Does anyone remember that hundreds of the Gitmo detainees who were handed over to their American military captors in exchange for monetary bounties were found, after years of imprisonment, to have no connection to terrorism?

When in doubt about a case, what do you think the government will again do? Does it prefer to submit its evidence to a jury's scrutiny and its witnesses to the trouble of being cross-examined in court by a defense attorney or would it be easier to have no questions asked and dump the accused into detainee prison without rights? I think we already know that answer from the nearly ten years of experience at Guantanamo.

Senator Lindsey Graham declared that suspected citizens open themselves up "to imprisonment and death". "And when they say, 'I want my lawyer,' you tell them: 'Shut up. You don't get a lawyer.'"

Of course, the politicians will say we are just talking about a few cases. But in fact the sky's probably the limit given the current legal ambiguity in the Patriot Act expansion of "material support for terrorism" to now include humanitarian aid and even mere advocacy speech without any need to prove an accused person intended to support any kind of terrorist violence. The Department of Justice has been currently using this ambiguity for over a year to investigate twenty three American citizens who are anti-war activists in Chicago and Minneapolis. Additionally, the "war on terror" will undoubtedly expand even more when it is de-linked from 9-11 -- see "The War on Terrorism Congress Never Declared -- But Soon Might" by Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor, expert on these issues and associate dean for scholarship at American University Washington College of Law:

snip

Given this expansion of the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force contained in the 2012 NDAA to encompass undefined "associated forces", we could witness the US government targeting a large range of political dissidents, human rights activists, humanitarians, and maybe even "occupiers".

The NDAA is deliberately confusing for political purposes but much is at stake. Obama's determination as to whether or not he will veto the problematic 2012 war funding bill will determine how Benjamin Franklin's glib response to the woman waiting outside the Constitutional Convention is ultimately answered. Franklin and other founding fathers had created "a Republic, Madam, if you can keep it". But a lawless Military Empire could now await where U.S. "emergency war powers" trump the Constitution, where the Commander in Chief becomes king for a term(s), the military enters into police state actions in violation of 130 years of Posse Comitatus law, and the Constitution becomes as quaint as the Geneva Conventions were for Alberto Gonzalez and the Bush Administration.

Corrupted, compliant politicians have already allowed their fears to get the better of them by going along with pre-emptive war in violation of the Nuremberg Principles and international law and torturing in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention against Torture. So why should they also not go for detaining American citizens without constitutional rights or trial?

The American way hasn't been about truth or justice for a good long time. It's even less so after this week.

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letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Hi lib,

Thrown out by this legislation is the right guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution for all those accused of a criminal offense to a “speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury,” and the core provision of the Fifth Amendment declaring that no person shall be deprived of liberty “without due process of law.” It legalizes the abrogation in practice over the past decade of the bedrock principle of habeas corpus, which requires that the state bring a detained individual before an independent court and show just cause for imprisonment.

Our democracy is gone. We may be able to reclaim it. But the odds are now long. Even if O doesn't use the full power of this law extensively, you can bet that the next Republican President will.

When you add this law to the power of corporations to pay for creating false pictures of reality to ensure that no one but corporate shills can be elected President, it's R.I.P. American democracy.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

We all thought habeas corpus was a bedrock principle. Since 1305 it has been regarded as "just" ... but NOOOOOOOOO.... NOT FOR POST-MORALITY AMERICA!

We assumed Obama would not have a problem with restoring that.

How can people actually support him?

malagodi's picture
Submitted by malagodi on

Fascist... police state... pepper spray... freedom... democracy... upper case for emphasis... blah blah blah. Aren't we all just outraged at that the unrestricted freedoms and social democracy that never existed are being stolen from us.

OMG.

Of course, the President will take the grandstand principled position of vetoing this measure, which prepares the legal ground for the practical implementation of martial law.

Actually, it's just bad timing. My guess is that hostilities break out just after the nomination is secured at the Democratic convention, at which point the 99% become patriots again.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

is that what you are saying? But evil is being institutionalized and codified ... chillingly amorally and Orwellianly making legal = the unethical and criminal, and that will escalate it even more and wear down the next generation who will lack even a context for illumination of what could be if there were no power-addicted patriarchal paradigm but a shift to a humanist one.

Submitted by regulararmyfool on

"Actually, thanks to our United States Senate this week -- with a stunning bipartisan vote of 93 to 7 -- you now can get efficiently and LEGALLY “disappeared” for exercising your HERETOFORE constitutional freedoms. Free speech. Assembly, etc."

Yes, that is right.

They just handed President Obama the legal power to turn the United States into a dictatorship and clean house.

Now if Wimpy will grow a pair.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

From Ray McGovern:

Are Americans in Line for Gitmo?

"Though the 9/11 attacks occurred more than a decade ago, Congress continues to exploit them to pass evermore draconian laws on “terrorism,” with the Senate now empowering the military to arrest people on U.S. soil and hold them without trial, a serious threat to American liberties

"Ambiguous but alarming new wording, which is tucked into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and was just passed by the Senate, is reminiscent of the “extraordinary measures” introduced by the Nazis after they took power in 1933.

"And the relative lack of reaction so far calls to mind the oddly calm indifference with which most Germans watched the erosion of the rights that had been guaranteed by their own Constitution. As one German writer observed, “With sheepish submissiveness we watched it unfold, as if from a box at the theater.”

"The writer was Sebastian Haffner (real name Raimond Pretzel), a young German lawyer worried at what he saw in 1933 in Berlin, but helpless to stop it since, as he put it, the German people “collectively and limply collapsed, yielded and capitulated.”

"“The result of this millionfold nervous breakdown,” wrote Haffner at the time, “is the unified nation, ready for anything, that is today the nightmare of the rest of the world.” Not a happy analogy.

"The Senate bill, in effect, revokes an 1878 law known as the Posse Comitatus Act, which banned the Army from domestic law enforcement after the military had been used —and often abused — in that role during Reconstruction. Ever since then, that law has been taken very seriously — until now. Military officers have had their careers brought to an abrupt halt by involving federal military assets in purely civilian criminal matters.

"But that was before 9/11 and the mantra, “9/11 changed everything.” In this case of the Senate-passed NDAA – more than a decade after the terror attacks and even as U.S. intelligence agencies say al-Qaeda is on the brink of defeat – Congress continues to carve away constitutional and legal protections in the name of fighting “terrorism.”

"The Senate approved the expanded military authority despite opposition from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and FBI Director Robert Mueller – and a veto threat from President Barack Obama.

"The Senate voted to authorize – and generally to require – “the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons” indefinitely. And such “covered persons” are defined not just as someone implicated in the 9/11 attacks but anyone who “substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”

"Though the wording is itself torturous – and there is a provision for a waiver from the Defense Secretary regarding mandatory military detentions – the elasticity of words like “associated forces” and “supported” have left some civil libertarians worried that the U.S. military could be deployed domestically against people opposing future American wars against alleged “terrorists” or “terrorist states.”

"The Senate clearly wished for the military’s “law and order” powers to extend beyond the territory of military bases on the theory that there may be “terrorsymps” (short for “terrorist sympathizers”) lurking everywhere.

"Is the all-consuming ten-year-old struggle against terrorism rushing headlong to consume what’s left of our constitutional rights? Do I need to worry that the Army in which I was proud to serve during the 1960s may now kick down my front door and lead me off to indefinite detention — or worse?

"My neighbors have noticed, after all, that I now wear a longish beard and, sometimes, even a hat like Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. And everyone knows what a terrorsymp he was. “If you see something, say something!”

"Worse still, a few of my neighbors overheard me telling my grandchildren that President Obama should be ashamed to be bragging about having Awlaki, an American citizen, and later his 16 year-old son murdered without a whiff of due process. “If you hear something, say something!”

Submitted by libbyliberal on

This from Chris Floyd back in 2005:

"This was vividly demonstrated in … Bush’s State of the Union address in January 2003, delivered to Congress and televised nationwide during the final frenzy of war-drum beating before the assault on Iraq. Trumpeting his successes in the Terror War, Bush claimed that “more than 3,000 suspected terrorists” had been arrested worldwide – “and many others have met a different fate.” His face then took on the characteristic leer, the strange, sickly half-smile it acquires whenever he speaks of killing people: “Let’s put it this way. They are no longer a problem.”

"In other words, the suspects – and even Bush acknowledged they were only suspects – had been murdered. Lynched. Killed by agents operating unsupervised in that shadow world where intelligence, terrorism, politics, finance and organized crime meld together in one amorphous, impenetrable mass. Killed on the word of a dubious informer, perhaps: a tortured captive willing to say anything to end his torment, a business rival, a personal foe, a bureaucrat looking to impress his superiors, a paid snitch in need of cash, a zealous crank pursuing ethnic, tribal or religious hatreds – or any other purveyor of the garbage data that is coin of the realm in the shadow world."

"Bush proudly held up this hideous system as an example of what he called “the meaning of American justice.” And the assembled legislators…applauded. Oh, how they applauded!"

Time to wake up and smell the fascism!

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