Will I Spend My Retirement in a DHS Internment Facility?
‘Twas the week before extra-constitutional detention legalization and all through the House and Senate, hardly a rat-bastard, pimped-out-by-the-oligarchy, political or media creature was stirring, not even my own NY senators and rep!
I am away on vacation, despite remnants of the flu, lower back stress and a job that is thin-ice, one part-time day at a time precarious. I desperately needed a vacation since this bottom rung corporate job is as empathyless-ly and amorally run as our country. I am happy at long last to be around long-distance family. Nonetheless I am having fitful dreams along with bouts of insomnia about the deterioration of what used to be the American republic.
I grant you, I have been living in low grade anxiety for some time. All those hellish years of Bush. Then Obama’s stunning post-election goose-stepping over the reinstitution of habeas corpus, over the prosecution of the detainment and torture regimes. However, I consider this coming Thursday’s official codification of anti-democratic extra-judicial power to the executive branch (enabled by a stunningly betraying legislative branch) as a tipping point into full-out fascism.
The lack of a national conversation, let alone outcry, on the upcoming done-deal trashing by this Congress, the VAST VAST VAST majority of this Congress, along with the President, of our fifth and sixth amendments, the core principles of “due process”, makes Kevin McCarthy’s horror in the 1956 movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers seem like a picnic. Again, two of the three branches of this government of heretofore “checks and balances” are betraying us. Do we now pin our hopes on the “Sure, corporations are people and can economically terrorize, rape, pillage all they want” judicial branch?
Bill Van Auken of wsws on the situation:
For that matter, the passage of a law that shreds the founding principles of the American republic has raised barely a murmur of concern from the corporate-controlled mass media. They have no intention of making this a matter of public debate. For millions of American working people, however, the action is of the gravest importance.
These amendments spelled out basic democratic freedoms—including freedom of speech and of the press; freedom from unreasonable search and seizure; the right to due process; and the right of anyone accused of a crime to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury. They were passed in order to codify the democratic gains of the American Revolution and to protect the people of the new republic from a return to the abuses that had been carried out against them under the colonial rule of the British monarchy. They represented a concretization of the “inherent and inalienable” rights proclaimed by the Declaration of Independence to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
The bill of rights was ratified 220 years ago this very month, Van Auken points out, which in a sanely governed society would warrant celebration not annihilation!
Habeas corpus was tossed out by the Bush regime and kept out by Obama. Habeas corpus had been an Anglo-Saxon common law even before the Magna Carter of 1215.
The first Geneva Convention? 1864. Labeled quaint by Bush's John Loo. Permanently shelved by Obama.
At what human costs were our citizen rights acquired? From what unimaginable and noble sacrifices?
The Sons and Daughters of Liberty must be spinning in their graves. In fact, there must be a lot of graves-spinning activity going on right now. Graves-spinning assuredly inspired by and illuminating tragically the massive “learned helpless” passivity of the VAST VAST VAST majority of the American citizenry and vile wrong-headedness of its governing class.
Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Revere, Lincoln, FDR, Eleanor R., S. Anthony, M. Sanger, JFK, MLK, RFK, et al. So many champions of human rights and freedoms.
How about the millions of U.S. veterans who sacrificed so much for "truth, justice and what used to be the 'intended' American way." (Jingoistic hot air seems to be all that remains in the halls of power of that national ideal.) How about the millions of loved ones of such vets who either lost them to war or tended their physical and psychological wounds? What would they make of it, of our hypocritical oath-taking representatives cake-walking us blithely to fascism, given cover by a craven mass media also pimped out to oligarchy? So busily distracting us now with the electioneering gamesmanship of 2012, as if any of us 99 percenters actually have a dog in the race. As if there is still an actual free republic left to be governed.
I am grim and girded. I keep thinking we have reached bottom in terms of shock and awe at the behavior of this 1 percenters’-driven Orwellian government. Apparently, we are not even close to experiencing the deepest levels of up close and personal horror, oppression and abuse from the continuing dismantling of our democracy and the over-militarization of America by the faux-representatives. Puppeteers for the further crushing of our civil rights so as not to impose any restraint on the profit over people elite!
When genuine liberals henceforth refer to American fascism it can no longer be labeled “hyperbolic.” Soft fascism has now hardened in America.
Margaret Kimberley of Black Agenda Report:
The classic government models of “fascism” are approaching 80 and 90 years old (Germany and Italy, respectively), regimes from a different world. Today, fascism looks like…us. And American fascism’s leaders need not be Aryan, or even pale. “The Obama administration insisted on keeping the language which permitted American citizens to be detained by the military without trial.” So, let’s update the historical record: Obama is the First Black Fascist President of the United States.
New York’s House Rep. Jerrold Nadler on Saturday re the “detainee” portion of the NDAA bill on a remarkably relevant (thus rare) news commentary show, Up with Chris Hayes.
... the breathtaking and frightening claim of power by Presidents Bush and Obama, the claim on their say so that they can take any American, or anybody else for that matter, and throw them in jail forever with no trial claiming that he [or she] is a terrorist or allied with terrorists.
The only Dems or Independents standing up for our constitution in the Senate voting against the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012: Durbin (IL), Harkin (IA), Cardin (MD), Franken (MN), Merkley (OR), Wyden (OR) and Sanders (VT). My senators aren’t on this very short list. Are yours?
Christopher Anders of the ACLU focuses on the nature of Gitmo’s “legal black hole” where so many supposed “enemy combatants” were tossed after 2002, not only those captured on battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Innocent detainees having had to endure not only indefinite detainment and interrogation but torture per Wikileaks revelations. Anders:
The Guantanamo Files, released by WikiLeaks in April, included classified documents on more than 700 past and present Guantanamo detainees, giving us an unusual window into the true meaning of “enemy combatant.” Among those locked up were children, the elderly, the mentally ill, and journalists. An Al Jazeera cameraman was detained at the camp for over six years and then suddenly released without ever facing charges. Nearly 100 of those imprisoned were known to have depressive or psychotic illnesses. Officials in charge found it appropriate to detain an 89-year-old Afghan villager suffering from senile dementia and a 14-year-old boy who had been the innocent victim of a kidnapping. On top of that, authorities used unreliable evidence obtained through torture to justify their detentions.
Anders emphasizes that by passing the NDAA with the initial vote, 97 to 3, the Senate indicated its approval of the cruel and inhumane Gitmo system. Once again in America we have stunning and amoral “after the fact legitimization” of what is grotesquely illegitimate. This anti-human rights bill also now makes it harder to transfer innocent detainees out of Gitmo. Bush’s and sadly Obama’s anti-human rights legacies are “codified” in this legislative ratification of imperialist and dictatorial power.
The conscience of the majority of the American citizenry, let’s face it, was not terribly activated by human rights being taken away from foreigners at the brutal hands of our government, but now that those hands will be reaching for American citizens one would think there would be more consciousness and outrage. Do citizens think they are cushioned by their own apathy, to let those loud-mouthed, negative and more radical people of conscience in America suffer whatever consequences a corrupt government deigns without their own freedoms and security being swept away, too?
What adds to the dumbfounding and confusing dimensions of this devastating vote is that the US military establishment itself is opposed to the unconstitutional transfer of power to the executive branch and thus ramping up of overwhelming and inappropriate responsibilities to the military. Rania Kalek in Alternet:
Almost the entire national security establishment has come out against this bill as well, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director Robert Mueller, DOJ National Security Division head Lisa Monaco, and CIA Director David Petraeus, who believe these provisions are harmful and counterproductive to national security.
Kalek also emphasizes the dramatic change as to what is now considered the “official battlefield” of the War on Terror. It now includes the very kitchen table, for example, upon which I have a laptop.
Receiving far less attention, though equally as important, is section 1031, which expands the definition of who is eligible for military detention and where the battlefield in the War on Terror lies.
The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) only authorizes force “against those nations, organizations, or persons” who the President determines “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks” of Sept. 11, “or harbored such organizations or persons.”
But under Levin/McCain, the AUMF extends the scope of the War on Terror even further, by authorizing force against “a person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.” As Glenn Greenwald points out, “This is intended to allow force to be used against groups that did not even exist at the time of 9/11 — such as the ones in Yemen and Somalia — as well to allow force against persons who may not be a member of those groups but who provide ‘substantial support.’”
Bill Van Auken points out that the overmilitarization of America has been particularly obvious with the disturbing police crackdowns against the Occupation movement:
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.
Glenn Greenwald writes:
Section (1) is basically a re-statement of the 2001 AUMF. But Section (2) is a brand new addition. It allows the President to target not only those who helped perpetrate the 9/11 attacks or those who harbored them, but also: anyone who “substantially supports” such groups and/or “associated forces.” Those are extremely vague terms subject to wild and obvious levels of abuse .... This is a substantial statutory escalation of the War on Terror and the President’s powers under it, and it occurs more than ten years after 9/11, with Osama bin Laden dead, and with the U.S. Government boasting that virtually all Al Qaeda leaders have been eliminated and the original organization (the one accused of perpetrating 9/11 attack) rendered inoperable.
The terror which the president directs towards people in the rest of the world will soon have the potential to be directed against every American citizen. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was recently passed by both the Senate and the House. This bill, which authorizes military spending, also has a provision which will permit the president to place any American citizen under indefinite military detention and to do so without charge or trial. The Democratically controlled Senate voted overwhelmingly, 93 to 7, in favor of this effort to end any semblance of democracy. If Bush had attempted such an openly tyrannical measure, Democrats might have called it fascism, but they will do no such thing as long as their party is in power. That too is a hallmark of tyranny and despotism. Any true opposition to the power structure is silenced and marginalized, and allegedly different interests support the same ends.
The “F word,” fascism, conjures up images of Hitler and Mussolini but that simplistic notion prevents a thorough examination of the direction our country is taking. We may be able to vote periodically, but the decisions are made long before we get to our local polling site. The candidates may claim to bring hope and change, but they are the candidates precisely because they have promised to do no such thing. One can debate the nomenclature used to describe our political system, but it is clearly undemocratic, even when Democrats rule.
How else would one describe a country that is ruled by a small core of super wealthy individuals? The rich, the 1% in Occupy Wall Street parlance, decide who will serve as president and who will be elected to the Senate, and to the House of Representatives, and gubernatorial offices across the country. They make sure that their needs are met, while actively undermining the needs of the 99%. Bank bailouts, housing bubbles and high unemployment are all indicators of the lack of democracy in the country that lays claim to the word it no longer recognizes.
After Bloomberg’s shameless and violent paramilitary crackdown in the dead of night on OWS in Zuccotti Park last month, I attended the general assembly meeting there the night after. I was awed by the resilient communal spirit of the occupiers facillitating and attending the meeting.
Suddenly there was a disturbing distraction to the proceedings. Some occupiers were sitting on top of a wall ledge on the south edge of the park. A few overzealous police officers were ordering them to get down. To my mind it seemed gratuitous power-flexing by the police.
After hundreds of NYC Occupiers were roughed up and/or arrested, their tents and personal items damaged or destroyed, and metal barricades erected around every last inch of the encampment's borders, with that night only four police-monitored entrances available, in which each entrant was carefully inspected (for sleeping bags?) while going in and clandestinely, no doubt, had his or her photo taken. After hundreds of occupiers now had to find alternative sleeping accommodations this "get off the ledge" power dictum to a tiny cluster of peaceful occupiers seemed insult to injury.
A young man near me began to aim a stream of expletives at one aggressive officer hassling a young woman in particular. I inhaled worriedly, sure that his provocation would not bode well for the individuals in direct line of police engagement. Would one hot head cop and one hot head occupier derail the civilized Occupation community this evening tending to its vital and noble business?
Suddenly an attractive dark-haired young woman stood up on the ledge, cupped her hands around her mouth and queried loudly, “Should I get down from the wall?” I twisted my head to view the crowd of occupiers behind me re-chanting her message earnestly but without inflated hysteria. How empowering for her and all of us was that rhetorical ritual! She would not get down unless called to by her Occupy community.
I looked back to the feisty young woman and had to blink. Every inch of the ledge was suddenly -- it seemed automatically -- filled with bodies defiantly sitting. Had there been a lot more sitters all along and I had not registered them, or, more likely, had countless occupiers hastened to the wall to join the woman and her comrades? The message of this passionately bonded proactive community was clear, if she were to be forcibly removed and arrested so would they all be. I’d call it a “checkmate” moment for the police.
I was awed by the display of loyalty as well as savvy.
The most aggressive policeman was clearly enraged by the dazzling dynamic and seemed all the more motivated to force the issue, but four of his fellow officers were backing away, encouraging him to let it go.
I exhaled, believing that was the end of it. But from the front of the meeting, a message was chanted back to us that the meeting may be momentarily terminated. Again, no strident messaging. The voice of calm, conveying "Please stand by, we will handle this as we have handled so much already. More maturely than we have been treated, certainly." The police apparently were deciding if the wall incident should be used by them for more broadscale power-flexing.
The meeting was allowed to go on. A meeting that was taking care of business. The business of finding sleeping accommodations for 300 people, which they did, informing people where they could go to retrieve whatever remnants of their personal possessions had not been destroyed by the violent police, informing the community of the status of their fellow occupiers who had been arrested, and sharing and soliciting preliminary plans for further action.
That wall incident was a metaphor for me of POSITIVE cronyism in America. I rail often in blogs about the danger of group-think cronyism, whereby passive people rationalize their passivity and disdain passionate citizen pushback, enabling other passive people to stay passive. A defaulted power of the community of watchers, of let the other guys’ do it, as soft fascism hardens in America. It doesn’t have to be that way. What was role modeled at the Zuccotti wall was a profound lesson. UNITED WE STAND! Divided we have fallen and will fall further.
As more and more American citizens will be singled out for detention for exercising what should be the right of free speech and assembly, will fellow citizens rush to the “wall” and save them or allow them to be disappeared into Congress' and the President’s latest legal and immoral black hole? Will too many of us watch and let it happen to our fellow citizens of conscience, rationalizing wrongly it is about them and their over the line presumptuousness, and not support their messaging of truth to power. Not appreciate that they are fighting for our and our children’s futures.
Chris Floyd wrote a strong diatribe against American exceptionalism in denying the scope of reality, evil reality, concerning the Iraq war, especially with the administration's and media's obscenely sentimentalized and skewed national conversation about its faux-ending . I will borrow some of Floyd’s words in this discussion of the danger of apathy among the citizenry:
The divorce from reality here is beyond description. It is only the all-pervasiveness of the disassociation that obscures its utter and obvious insanity. There is something intensely primitive and infantile in the reductive, navel-gazing, self-blinding monomania of the American psyche today.
New age motivator Louise Hay once declared, “The point of power is always in the present moment.” We as a nation of abused citizens have got to get far more serious. We can do it. We have got to wake up and smell the fascism and do something about it. THE POINT OF POWER IS IN THE PRESENT MOMENT!