Posts Tagged ‘terrorism


Environmentalists, peace activists, are now “terrorists”: in the national security state


In November 2005, activists from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network peacefully protested against the failure by then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr to significantly curb pollution from coal-fired power stations in Maryland. After their protest, Maryland police categorized them as terrorists and added them to a federal database of people to be monitored. Lisa Rein and Josh White report that other groups spied on by an undercover police operation included those opposing the death penalty, the Iraq war, “the manufacture of cluster munitions, globalization and the government’s expansion of biodefense research at Fort Detrick.” The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, which has been acting for some of those spied on, commented that records made public so far reveal the “infiltration of activist meetings, dossiers on activists’ political affiliations … and more spying on individuals who have never committed any crime and were never suspected of committing any crimes.”

FROM Washington Post, November 19, 2008:

Maryland State Police labeled members of a Montgomery County environmental group as terrorists and extremists days after they held a nonviolent protest at an appearance by then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. at a Bethesda high school.

Police files released to the activists reveal that the governor’s security detail alerted the state police’s Homeland Security and Intelligence Division to what troopers guarding Ehrlich described as “aggressive protesting” by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network in 2005.

A review by The Washington Post of those and other files given in recent days to many of the 53 Maryland activists who were wrongly labeled as terrorists in state and federal databases shows an intelligence operation eager to collect information on the protest plans of a broad swath of nonviolent groups from 2005 to at least early 2007.

Those groups included not only death penalty and Iraq war protesters who were spied on by undercover troopers in a 2005-06 surveillance operation exposed in July, but also those who opposed abortion, the manufacture of cluster munitions, globalization and the government’s expansion of biodefense research at Fort Detrick.

The intelligence officers were particularly interested in determining the groups’ intentions ahead of specific rallies scheduled in the Washington area.

The files, whose release and eventual purge were urged in an independent review of the undercover surveillance operation, are heavily redacted in black ink. Many contain about five pages, consisting largely of tidbits of information about each person and his or her protest group. Some list what they call “monikers” for the activists, which are also blacked out.


Canada: The “Indirect” Torture State

Even more examples of how the Canadian federal state has betrayed its own citizens and collaborated in having them tortured abroad, and once again a story involving Syria. (Given all of the propaganda about Syria supporting terrorist groups, it’s interesting to note how Western governments inform Syrian authorities of the alleged/concocted “extremist” and “terrorist” ties of particular individuals, knowing the kind of treatment they will get in Syria.) What is also amazing, besides the double talk about Syria, is that there is no outpouring of massive, public protest in Canada. Perhaps that is in part due to the fact that mass media, such as the CBC, couch the entire issue: these are “Arab-Canadian men”, so not quite Canadian, and the role of the RCMP and CSIS was “indirect” — as one of the torture victims said in response:

The RCMP fully knew that I would be tortured if they sent questions. They sent it anyways. Does it make a difference if Justice Iacobucci said directly or indirectly? Well apparently directly means that the Canadian official would be the one holding the whip.

Update: Haroon Siddiqui at The Toronto Star did a good job of noticing that most of the media headlines did not match the content of the stories that followed. Instead, most headlines tended to minimize the level of Canadian complicity. Syria was motivate to imprison and torture these individuals at the urging of Canadian officials in institutions such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and Foreign Affairs. No consular protection was afforded to these citizens. In one case, Canada urged Egypt not to release one of them after had been transferred there from Syria. CSIS furnished the questions to be used in the Syrian interrogations.

In other words:

This is a country where citizens are sent to be tortured with the assistance of the government.

Find a different way of framing this situation, in a manner that is just as plausible if not more so. If you cannot, ask yourself about what kind of state rules over you, and wonder about how different “liberal democracy” is from any of the other monstrous torture regimes, including the U.S. of course. Then ask yourself why you do nothing about it, and what that says about your role.

Sphere Related Content


The Making of the Imperial Presidency, the National Security State, and the Transition to Authoritarianism, Part 3

In the Name of Patriotism (Who are the Patriots?)

Hon. Ron Paul Texas before the U.S. House of Representatives May 22 , 2007

In this third and possibly final part of this series (see Part 1 and Part 2), I do nothing more than serve as a repeater, amplifier, and highlighter, by presenting the materials below from Dr. Ron Paul. I must confess that until recently I have paid very little attention to Ron Paul, knowing that he was a Republican presidential candidate in 2008, that he has a determined following, and that some compared him to Ralph Nader. In a period where John McCain has adopted the label of “maverick,” it seems that Ron Paul stands out most strikingly as an anti-imperial Republican, a staunch critic of the invasion of  Iraq and the development of the national security state, and his talks come across as unusually erudite, articulate and cultivated for someone working in a Republican framework. In many other ways, Paul remains firmly within the Republican fold, and I do not present what follows as an overall endorsement of Paul. An online collaborator was kind enough to send me the materials below, and I invite the reader to really spend time either watching the videos in sequence, or reading the transcipt that follows, or both listening and reading along.


Before the U.S. House of Representatives

May 22, 2007

In the Name of Patriotism (Who are the Patriots?)

For some, patriotism is “the last refuge of a scoundrel.” For others, it means dissent against a government’s abuse of the people’s rights.

I have never met a politician in Washington, or any American for that matter, who chose to be called “unpatriotic.” Nor have I met anyone who did not believe he wholeheartedly supported our troops wherever they may be.

What I have heard all too frequently from various individuals is sharp accusations that because their political opponents disagree with them on the need for foreign military entanglements, they were “unpatriotic, un-American, evil doers deserving contempt.”

The original American patriots were those individuals brave enough to resist with force the oppressive power of King George. I accept the definition of patriotism as that effort to resist oppressive state power. The true patriot is motivated by a sense of responsibility, and out of self interest — for himself, his family, and the future of his country — to resist government abuse of power. He rejects the notion that patriotism means obedience to the state.

Resistance need not be violent, but the civil disobedience that might be required involves confrontation with the state and invites possible imprisonment.

Peaceful non-violent revolutions against tyranny have been every bit as successful as those involving military confrontation. Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. achieved great political successes by practicing non-violence, yet they themselves suffered physically at the hands of the state.

But whether the resistance against government tyrants is non-violent or physically violent, the effort to overthrow state oppression qualifies as true patriotism.

True patriotism today has gotten a bad name-at least from the government and the press. Those who now challenge the unconstitutional methods of imposing an income tax on us, or force us to use a monetary system designed to serve the rich at the expense of the poor, are routinely condemned. These American patriots are sadly looked down upon by many. They are never praised as champions of liberty as Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. have been.

Liberals, who withhold their taxes as a protest against war, are vilified as well — especially by conservative statists.

Unquestioned loyalty to the state is especially demanded in times of war. Lack of support for a war policy is said to be unpatriotic. Arguments against a particular policy that endorses a war once it’s started, are always said to be endangering the troops in the field. This, they blatantly claim, is unpatriotic and all dissent must stop. Yet it is dissent from government policies that defines the true patriot and champion of liberty.

It is conveniently ignored that the only authentic way to best support the troops is to keep them out of dangerous, undeclared, no-win wars that are politically inspired. Sending troops off to war for reasons that are not truly related to national security — and for that matter may even damage our security — is hardly a way to “patriotically” support the troops.

Who are the true patriots: those who conform or those who protest against wars without purpose? How can it be said that blind support for war, no matter how misdirected the policy, is the duty of the patriot?

Randolph Bourne said that “war is the health of the state.” With war, he argued, the state thrives. Those who believe in the powerful state see war as an opportunity. Those who mistrust the people and the market for solving problems have no trouble promoting a “war psychology” to justify the expansive role of the state.

This includes the role the federal government plays in our personal lives as well as in all our economic transactions. And certainly the neo-conservative belief that we have a moral obligation to spread American values worldwide, through force, justifies the conditions of war in order to rally support at home for the heavy hand of government. It is through this policy, it should surprise no one, that our liberties are undermined, the economy becomes overextended, and our involvement worldwide becomes prohibitive.

Out of fear of being labeled unpatriotic, most citizens become compliant and accept the argument that some loss of liberty is required to fight the war in order to remain safe. This is a bad trade-off in my estimation, especially when done in the name of patriotism.

Loyalty to the state and to autocratic leaders is substituted for true patriotism — that is, a willingness to challenge the state and defend the country, the people, and the culture. The more difficult the times, the stronger the admonition becomes that the leaders be not criticized.

Because the crisis atmosphere of war supports the growth of the state, any problem invites an answer by declaring “war” — even on social and economic issues. This elicits patriotism in support of various government solutions while enhancing the power of the state. Faith in government coercion and a lack of understanding of how free societies operate, encourages big government liberals and big government conservatives to manufacture a war psychology to demand political loyalty for domestic policy just as is required in foreign affairs. The long term cost in dollars spent and liberties lost is neglected as immediate needs are emphasized.

It is for this reason that we have multiple perpetual wars going on simultaneously. Thus the war on drugs, against gun ownership, poverty, illiteracy, and terrorism, as well as our foreign military entanglements, are endless.

All this effort promotes the growth of statism at the expense of liberty. A government designed for a free society should do the opposite: prevent the growth of statism and preserve liberty. Once a war of any sort is declared, the message is sent out not to object or you will be declared unpatriotic. Yet, we must not forget that the true patriot is the one who protests in spite of the consequences, condemnation or ostracism, or even imprisonment that may result.

Non-violent protesters of the tax code are frequently imprisoned — whether they are protesting the code’s unconstitutionality or the war that the tax revenues are funding.

Resisters to the military draft, or even to selective service registration, are threatened and imprisoned for challenging this threat to liberty.

Statism depends on the idea that the government owns us and citizens must obey. Confiscating the fruits of our labor through the income tax is crucial to the health of the state. The draft, or even the mere existence of the selective service, emphasizes that we will march off to war at the state’s pleasure. A free society rejects all notions of involuntary servitude whether by draft or the confiscation of the fruits of our labor through the personal income tax.

A more sophisticated and less well known technique for enhancing the state is the manipulation and transfer of wealth through the fiat monetary system operated by the secretive Federal Reserve. Protesters against this unconstitutional system of paper money are considered unpatriotic criminals and at times are imprisoned for their beliefs. The fact that, according to the Constitution, only gold and silver are legal tender and paper money is outlawed, matters little. The principle of patriotism is turned on its head.

Whether it’s with regard to the defense of welfare spending at home, confiscatory income tax, an immoral monetary system, or support for a war fought under false pretense without a legal declaration, the defenders of liberty and the Constitution are portrayed as unpatriotic while those who support these programs are seen as the patriots. If there’s a “war” going on, supporting the state’s efforts to win the war is expected at all costs. No dissent!

The real problem is that those who love the state too often advocate policies that lead to military action. At home they are quite willing to produce a crisis atmosphere and claim a war is needed to solve the problem. Under these conditions the people are more willing to bear the burden of paying for the war, and to carelessly sacrifice liberties which they are told is necessary.

The last six years have been quite beneficial to the “health of the state,” which comes at the expense of personal liberty. Every enhanced unconstitutional power of the state can only be achieved at the expense of individual liberty.

Even though every war in which we have been engaged civil liberties have suffered, some have been restored after the war ended, but never completely. This has resulted in a steady erosion of our liberties over the past 200 years. Our government was originally designed to protect our liberties, but it has now instead become the usurper of those liberties.

We currently live in the most difficult of times for guarding against an expanding central government with a steady erosion of our freedoms.

We are continually being reminded that “9/11 has changed everything.” Unfortunately, the policy that needed most to be changed — that is our policy of foreign interventionism —has only been expanded. There is no pretense any longer that a policy of humility in foreign affairs, without being the world’s policeman and engaging in nation building, is worthy of consideration. We now live in a post 9/11 America where our government is going to make us safe no matter what it takes. We’re expected to grin and bear it and adjust to every loss of our liberties in the name of patriotism and security.

Though the majority of Americans initially welcomed this declared effort to make us safe, and were willing to sacrifice for the cause, more and more Americans are now becoming concerned about civil liberties being needlessly and dangerously sacrificed. The problem is that the Iraq war continues to drag on and a real danger of its spreading exists. There’s no evidence that a truce will soon be signed in Iraq , or in the war on terror or drugs. Victory is not even definable. If Congress is incapable of declaring an official war, it’s impossible to know when it will end. We have been fully forewarned that the world conflict in which we’re now engaged will last a long, long time.

The war mentality, and the pervasive fear of an unidentified enemy, allows for a steady erosion of our liberties, and with this our respect for self reliance and confidence is lost. Just think of the self sacrifice and the humiliation we go through at the airport screening process on a routine basis. Though there’s no scientific evidence of any likelihood of liquids and gels being mixed on an airplane to make a bomb, billions of dollars are wasted throwing away toothpaste and hairspray and searching old women in wheelchairs.

Our enemies say boo, and we jump, we panic, and then we punish ourselves. We’re worse than a child being afraid of the dark. But in a way, the fear of indefinable terrorism is based on our inability to admit the truth about why there is a desire by a small number of angry radical Islamists to kill Americans. It’s certainly not because they are jealous of our wealth and freedoms.

We fail to realize that the extremists, willing to sacrifice their own lives to kill their enemies, do so out of a sense of weakness and desperation over real and perceived attacks on their way of life, their religion, their country and their natural resources. Without the conventional diplomatic or military means to retaliate against these attacks, and an unwillingness of their own government to address the issue, they resort to the desperation tactic of suicide terrorism. Their anger toward their own governments, which they believe are co-conspirators with the American government, is equal to or greater than that directed toward us. These errors in judgment in understanding the motive of the enemy and the constant fear that is generated have brought us to this crisis where our civil liberties and privacy are being steadily eroded in the name of preserving national security. We may be the economic and military giant of the world, but the effort to stop this war on our liberties here at home in the name of patriotism, is being lost.

The erosion of our personal liberties started long before 9/11, but 9/11 accelerated the process. There are many things that motivate those who pursue this course — both well-intentioned and malevolent. But it would not happen if the people remained vigilant, understood the importance of individual rights, and were unpersuaded that a need for security justifies the sacrifice of liberty — even if it’s just now and then.

The true patriot challenges the state when the state embarks on enhancing its power at the expense of the individual. Without a better understanding and a greater determination to reign in the state, the rights of Americans that resulted from the revolutionary break from the British and the writing of the Constitution, will disappear.

The record since September 11, 2001, is dismal. Respect for liberty has rapidly deteriorated.

Many of the new laws passed after 9/11 had in fact been proposed long before that attack. The political atmosphere after that attack simply made it more possible to pass such legislation. The fear generated by 9/11 became an opportunity for those seeking to promote the power of the state domestically, just as it served to falsely justify the long planned-for invasion of Iraq .

The war mentality was generated by the Iraq war in combination with the constant drum beat of fear at home. Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, who is now likely residing in Pakistan, our supposed ally, are ignored, as our troops fight and die in Iraq and are made easier targets for the terrorists in their backyard. While our leaders constantly use the mess we created to further justify the erosion of our constitutional rights here at home, we forget about our own borders and support the inexorable move toward global government — hardly a good plan for America.

The accelerated attacks on liberty started quickly after 9/11. Within weeks the Patriot Act was overwhelmingly passed by Congress. Though the final version was unavailable up to a few hours before the vote –– no Member had sufficient time to read or understand it — political fear of “not doing something,” even something harmful, drove Members of Congress to not question the contents and just vote for it. A little less freedom for a little more perceived safety was considered a fair tradeoff — and the majority of Americans applauded.

The Patriot Act, though, severely eroded the system of checks and balances by giving the government the power to spy on law abiding citizens without judicial supervision. The several provisions that undermine the liberties of all Americans include: sneak and peak searches; a broadened and more vague definition of domestic terrorism; allowing the FBI access to libraries and bookstore records without search warrants or probable cause; easier FBI initiation of wiretaps and searches, as well as roving wiretaps; easier access to information on American citizens’ use of the internet; and easier access to e-mail and financial records of all American citizens.

The attack on privacy has not relented over the past six years. The Military Commissions Act is a particularly egregious piece of legislation and, if not repealed, will change America for the worse as the powers unconstitutionally granted to the Executive Branch are used and abused.

This act grants excessive authority to use secretive military commissions outside of places where active hostilities are going on. The Military Commissions Act permits torture, arbitrary detention of American citizens as unlawful enemy combatants at the full discretion of the president and without the right of Habeas Corpus, and warrantless searches by the NSA (National Security Agency). It also gives to the president the power to imprison individuals based on secret testimony.

Since 9/11, Presidential signing statements designating portions of legislation that the President does not intend to follow, though not legal under the Constitution, have enormously multiplied. Unconstitutional Executive Orders are numerous and mischievous and need to be curtailed.

Extraordinary rendition to secret prisons around the world has been widely engaged in, though obviously extra-legal.

A growing concern in the post 9/11 environment is the federal government’s lists of potential terrorists based on secret evidence. Mistakes are made and sometimes it is virtually impossible to get one’s name removed, even though the accused is totally innocent of any wrongdoing.

A national ID card is now in the process of being implemented. It’s called the Real ID card and it’s tied to our Social Security numbers and our state driver’s license. If Real ID is not stopped it will become a national driver’s license/ID for all America .

Some of the least noticed and least discussed changes in the law were the changes made to the Insurrection Act of 1807 and to Posse Comitatus by the Defense Authorization Act of 2007.

These changes pose a threat to the survival of our republic by giving the president the power to declare martial law for as little reason as to restore “public order.” The 1807 Act severely restricted the president in his use of the military within the United States borders, and the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 strengthened these restrictions with strict oversight by Congress. The new law allows the president to circumvent the restrictions of both laws. The Insurrection Act has now become the “Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order Act”. This is hardly a title that suggests that the authors cared about or understood the nature of a constitutional republic.

Now, martial law can be declared not just for “insurrection” but also for “natural disasters, public health reasons, terrorist attacks or incidents” or for the vague reason called “other conditions.” The President can call up the National Guard without Congressional approval or the governors’ approval and even send these state guard troops into other states. The American republic is in remnant status. The stage is set for our country eventually devolving into a military dictatorship and few seem to care.

These precedent setting changes in the law are extremely dangerous and will change American jurisprudence forever if not reversed. The beneficial results of our revolt against the king’s abuses are about to be eliminated and few Members of Congress and few Americans are aware of the seriousness of the situation. Complacency and fear drive our legislation without any serious objection by our elected leaders.

Sadly, those few who do object to this self evident trend away from personal liberty and empire building overseas are portrayed as unpatriotic and uncaring.

Though welfare and socialism always fails, opponents of them are said to lack compassion. Though opposition to totally unnecessary war should be the only moral position, the rhetoric is twisted to claim that patriots who oppose the war are not “supporting the troops”. The cliché “support the troops” is incessantly used as a substitute for the unacceptable notion of “supporting the policy” no matter how flawed it may be. Unsound policy can never help the troops. Keeping the troops out of harm’s way and out of wars unrelated to our national security is the only real way of protecting the troops. With this understanding, just who can claim the title of “patriot”?

Before the war in the Middle East spreads and becomes a world conflict, for which we’ll be held responsible, or the liberties of all Americans become so suppressed we can no longer resist, much has to be done. Time is short but our course of action should be clear. Resistance to illegal and unconstitutional usurpation of our rights is required. Each of us must choose which course of action we should take — education, conventional political action, or even peaceful civil disobedience, to bring about the necessary changes.

But let it not be said that we did nothing.

Let not those who love the power of the welfare/warfare state label the dissenters of authoritarianism as unpatriotic or uncaring. Patriotism is more closely linked to dissent than it is to conformity and a blind desire for safety and security. Understanding the magnificent rewards of a free society makes us unbashful in its promotion, fully realizing that maximum wealth is created and the greatest chance for peace comes from a society respectful of individual liberty.

Sphere Related Content


The Making of the Imperial Presidency, the National Security State, and the Transition to Authoritarianism, Part 2

“America did not change on September 11. It only became more itself.”
— Robert Kagan, neoconservative.

In Part 1 of this series we looked at the ways in which the thinking and the tools used in foreign imperial engagements have been imported back into the U.S. itself. In addition we witness the ways in which “external threats” have been used to alter the American political landscape leading to the fortification of an imperial presidency and the curtailment of the legal bases and protections of civil rights and personal liberties. The imperial presidency therefore is both the medium and outcome of the national security state — George W. Bush had previous mechanisms of national security that he could utilize, and he took matters many steps further. The “global war on terror” has been costly not only in many parts in the world, but also in the U.S., beyond the impact of a financial drain on an economically weakened and indebted U.S.

In Part 2 the reader is invited to spend some time with Andrew Bacevich, a scholar in international relations at Boston University, a retired army colonel, a member of the American Empire Project, and a contributor to a range of publications including The Nation and He is also the author of The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. The focus here is squarely on the imperial presidency.


The key sources for this post are:

One of Bacevich’s central points is that the U.S. Congress has either given the President too much power, or has allowed the President to wield power largely unchecked. As a result, the presidency has become the central institution of power, with consequences for American democracy:

Because of this … fascination with the presidency, the President has become what we have instead of genuine politics, instead of genuine democracy… We look to the next President to fix things and, of course, that lifts all responsibility from me to fix things. So one of the real problems with the imperial presidency is that it has hollowed out our politics and, in many respects, has made our democracy a false one. We’re going through the motions of a democratic political system, but the fabric of democracy really has worn very thin.

The larger argument in which this point is situated is that Americans are making the mistake of thinking that the biggest problems and threats they face are largely external in origin, when instead they are home made and reside within. Part of the reason that America’s current cultural, economic, and political problems stem from within the U.S. itself is that Americans have participated in an illusion of being chosen by history to lead the world:

As prophet, [Reinhold] Niebuhr warned that what he called “our dreams of managing history” – dreams borne out of a peculiar combination of arrogance, hypocrisy, and self-delusion – posed a large and potentially mortal threat to the United States. Today we ignore that warning at our peril.

Since the end of the Cold War the management of history has emerged as the all but explicitly stated purpose of American statecraft. In Washington, politicians speak knowingly about history’s clearly discerned purpose and about the responsibility of the United States, at the zenith of its power, to guide history to its intended destination….

especially among neoconservatives and neoliberals, the conviction persists that Americans are called up on to serve, in Niebuhr’s most memorable phrase, “as tutors of mankind in its pilgrimage to perfection.”

It is not that Bacevich is arguing that presidents are the main determinants of imperial expansion abroad and national security restrictions at home, nor does he absolve them of any culpability either. His argument is more of a cultural and historical one, one in which moral responsibility also plays a role:

Certainly, the president and his advisers, along with neocons always looking for opportunities to flex American military muscle, bear considerable culpability for our current predicament. Yet to charge them with primary responsibility is to credit them with undeserved historical significance. It’s the equivalent of blaming Herbert Hoover for the Great Depression or of attributing McCarthyism entirely to the antics of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

The impulses that have landed us in a war of no exits and no deadlines come from within. Foreign policy has, for decades, provided an outward manifestation of American domestic ambitions, urges, and fears. In our own time, it has increasingly become an expression of domestic dysfunction – an attempt to manage or defer coming to terms with contradictions besetting the American way of life. Those contradictions have found their ultimate expression in the perpetual state of war afflicting the United States today.

The solution, Bacevich argues in line with Niebuhr, lies in learning modesty and humility, in “ratcheting down expectations,” in giving up Messianic dreams of America as world leader.

The enemy of humility is sanctimony, which gives rise to the conviction that American values and beliefs are universal and that the nation itself serves providentially assigned purposes. This conviction finds expression in a determination to remake the world in what we imagine to be America’s image.

Bacevich ends the first chapter of his book, The Limits of Power, with some sharply prescient admonitions:

…ironically Iraq may yet prove to be the source of our salvation. For the United States, the ongoing war makes plain the imperative of putting America’s house in order. Iraq has revealed the futility of counting on military power to sustain our habits of profligacy. The day of reckoning approaches. Expending the lives of more American soldiers in hopes of deferring that day is profoundly wrong. History will not judge kindly a people who find nothing amiss in the prospect of endless armed conflict so long as they themselves are spared the effects. Nor will it view with favor an electorate that delivers political power into the hands of leaders unable to envision any alternative to perpetual war.

Rather than insisting that the world accommodate the United States, Americans need to reassert control over their own destiny, ending their condition of dependency and abandoning their imperial delusions. Of perhaps even greater difficulty, the combination of economic, political, and military crisis summons Americans to reexamine exactly what freedom entails. Soldiers cannot accomplish these tasks, nor should we expect politicians to do so. The onus of responsibility falls squarely on citizens.

For more, please see the two videos linked to above, and the readings that follow.

Online articles by Andrew J. Bacevich

“Russia’s Payback”
Andrew J. Bacevich, THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE August 15, 2008. “NATO disrespected Russia for too long. Now the Alliance must regroup.” Bacevich weigns in on the situation in Georgia.

“Illusions of Victory”
Andrew J. Bacevich, THE NATION, August 12, 2008. An article based on THE LIMITS OF POWER.

“Sycophant Savior”
Andrew J. Bacevich, THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE October 8, 2007. Prof. Bacevich critiques General Petraeus approach to Iraq and Washington, D.C.

“I lost my son to a war I oppose. We were both doing our duty.”
Andrew J. Bacevich, THE WASHINGTON POST, May 27 2007. Prof. Bacevich’s OpEd about losing his son in Iraq.

“The American Tradition”
Andrew J. Bacevich, THE NATION, July 10, 2006. Prof. Bacevich critiques Peter Beinart’s THE GOOD FIGHT and the idea of a non-empirical, “usable” history favored by pundits on the right and left.

“Why read Clausewitz when Shock and Awe can make a clean sweep of things?,”
Andrew J. Bacevich, THE LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS, June 8, 2006. Review of COBRA II, by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor about the Iraq War.

“Prophets and Poseurs: Niebuhr and Our Times,”
Andrew J. Bacevich, WORLD AFFAIRS JOURNAL, Winter 2008. The continuing relevance of Reinhold Niebuhr.

“Present at the Re-Creation,”
Andrew J. Bacevich, FOREIGN AFFAIRS, July/August 2008.Prof. A critique of Robert Kagan’s article in the NEW REPUBLIC, in which Kagan, an influential neo-conservative, claims to be turning to realism.

“The Semiwarriors,” Andrew J. Bacevich, THE NATION, April 5, 2007.
How James Forrestal’s concept of “semiwar” has changed US foreign policy and help create an imperial presidency.

“What Isolationism?,” Andrew J. Bacevich, LA TIMES, February 2, 2006.
Bacevich argues there are no isolationists in the US.

Andrew Bacevich on Charles Maier (pdf)
In his interview with Bill Moyers, Bacevich references Maier’s term “Empire of Consumption”. Here, Bacevich is on a roundtable discussing the book in which Maier outlines the term.

Sphere Related Content


The Making of the Imperial Presidency, the National Security State, and the Transition to Authoritarianism, Part 1

This series of posts actually began with Preparing for Domestic War in the U.S.?. The focus here is on the ways that the “global war on terror” has been used as a front for a domestic war against democracy and personal liberty in the U.S. itself, with the main tools being legislative changes handing the president’s office greater power than ever before; spying on citizens’ emails, phone calls, and mail; and the overall training environment in which Americans are taught and conditioned to think in terms of fear, threats, plots, and conspiracies on a daily basis.

The irony is immense when George W. Bush proclaims that the main motivation of the “terrorists” to attack the U.S. is that “they hate our freedoms” and “they hate free nations.” Yet, it is not Al Qaida that has implemented sweeping national security measures and domestic surveillance in the U.S., nor is it Al Qaida that is preparing for martial law in the U.S. That assault on U.S. freedoms comes entirely from the White House. Given Bush’s designation of what motivates a terrorist, given his declaration that “You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror,” he seems to have clearly placed himself in the terrorists’ corner. Is that just hyperbole? If not, one must answer the question of which agents are responsible for executing Al Qaida’s alleged assault on U.S. freedoms, because clearly Al Qaida has no power to dictate the terms of the American response to its actions.

Importing Empire

Time and again, one of the lessons of imperialism is that while at first the citizens of the imperial home country might be motivated by nationalism to cheer the actions of their state, they inevitably become subject to a state that “imports” the lessons of domination and oppression from abroad, having entered into a “national security” mode for governing all human affairs, of all humans, home and abroad. Imperial power does not easily bifurcate itself between home and away, especially not when the same agents of empire reside and work at home in the state. This is merely an observation: never has there been an imperialist state that was also a fully functioning democracy with the full range of liberties for its citizens that we come to expect today.

More recently in U.S. history, the administration of Richard M. Nixon imported imperial power struggle from its deployment abroad:

it is crucial to remember how deeply Watergate was rooted in the Nixon administration’s determination to interfere unilaterally and often secretly in the affairs of countries around the world. The administration’s profound addiction to domestic spying really took flight with the secret bombing of neutral Cambodia and the protests that erupted when that horrific campaign became public knowledge. Awful as the crimes of Watergate were, they were a pale domestic reflection of how an unrestrained presidency exercised power in Southeast Asia, Chile and elsewhere — parts of the world that are still recovering. Then as now, there was a continuity, all too easily overlooked, from an administration’s claims of executive privilege at home to unilateral action abroad. (source: Bruce Shapiro, “Restoring the Imperial Presidency,”, June 17, 2002. )

Interestingly, in the administration of Gerald Ford that immediately took over as Nixon resigned, two of Ford’s aides — one Dick Cheney and one Donald Rumsfeld — were active in opposing the Congressional passage of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which Ford indeed vetoed and was overridden by Congress.

Unilaterialism at Home

While some right wing commentators chose to make light of Bush’s international unilaterialism in pressing ahead with the invasion of Iraq, a country that had never attacked the U.S. but had only been attacked by it, what they missed is that Bush brought this unilaterialism home, and declared himself a “war president.” In the run up to the invasion of Iraq, these are some of the details we would have read:

George W. Bush has surpassed his predecessors in the assumption of imperial powers–most conspicuously, perhaps, in his tendency to conflate America’s war against terrorism with his own existential destiny. “I will not forget this wound to our country,” he told the nation shortly after September 11. “I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.” In assuming this pivotal role, moreover, Bush has made it clear that he will allow no bounds on his exercise of national power.

From this, it’s a short step to other manifestations of imperial decision-making, such as the August 26 opinion by White House lawyers that Bush does not require Congressional approval for an attack on Iraq. Supposedly, the 1991 resolution secured by the elder Bush for Operation Desert Storm is sufficient. “We don’t want to be in the legal position of asking Congress to authorize the use of force when the President already has that full authority,” a senior White House official told the Washington Post. (source: The editors, “The Imperial Presidency,” The Nation, Sept. 16, 2002.)

Maintaining Empire at Home

Over the past year, and moreso in recent weeks, those who wished to inform themselves would have learned about increasingly alarming measure to enact martial law and use Pentagon troops at home, against American dissenters. This where the undoing of Posse Comitatus comes in, an act instituted in 1878 to prevent the U.S. Army from engaging in domestic law enforcement. The aim was to prevent the politicization of the military given growing concern that it was becoming an independent force in its own right in the American political landscape.

Writing in October of 2000, Major Craig T. Trebilcock, a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps in the U.S. Army Reserve, wrote in “The Myth of Posse Comitatus“:

The Posse Comitatus Act has traditionally been viewed as a major barrier to the use of U.S. military forces in planning for homeland defense. In fact, many in uniform believe that the act precludes the use of U.S. military assets in domestic security operations in any but the most extraordinary situations. As is often the case, reality bears little resemblance to the myth for homeland defense planners. Through a gradual erosion of the act’s prohibitions over the past 20 years, posse comitatus today is more of a procedural formality than an actual impediment to the use of U.S. military forces in homeland defense.

In actuality, over the last 20 years the U.S. military has been used within the U.S. to deal with civil unrest, illegal immigration, and the aftermath of natural disasters. In 2007, with the introduction of the John Warner Defense Appropriation Act (H.R. 5122.ENR, see Section 1076), Posse Comitatus was further undermined, with troops given the right to:

1. …restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States…where the President determines that…domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order;
2. suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy…

This Act was overwhelmingly passed by Congress on Sept. 29, 2006.

In addition to the state’s own domestic spying and indefinite detention powers, which have been applied to U.S. citizens and legal residents, the private sector has also committed itself to sharing information with the FBI in a project known as INFRAGUARD:

InfraGard is an association of businesses, academic institutions, state and local law enforcement agencies, and other participants dedicated to sharing information and intelligence to prevent hostile acts against the United States.

Business leaders who belong to InfraGuard have been briefed on what to do when martial law is declared:

All of a sudden we [in a meeting with the FBI and Homeland Security] were knee deep in what was expected of us when martial law is declared. . . Then they said when-not if-martial law is declared, it was our responsibility to protect our portion of the infrastructure, and if we had to use deadly force to protect it, we couldn’t be prosecuted,’ he says . . .

‘We were assured that if we were forced to kill someone to protect our infrastructure, there would be no repercussions,’ the whistleblower says. “‘It gave me goose bumps. It chilled me to the bone.

Final Steps Toward Martial Law?

“Helping ‘people at home’ may become a permanent part of the active army,” says a now notorious article from the Army Times (“Brigade Homeland Tours Begin Oct. 1,” Gina Cavallaro, Tues., Sept. 30, 2008):

The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.

Now they’re training for the same mission – with a twist – at home.

Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks….

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack….The brigade will not change its name, but the force will be known for the next year as a CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force, or CCMRF (pronounced “sea-smurf”).

“I can’t think of a more noble mission than this,” said Cloutier, who took command in July. “We’ve been all over the world during this time of conflict, but now our mission is to take care of citizens at home … and depending on where an event occurred, you’re going home to take care of your home town, your loved ones.”

While Posse Comitatus is effectively at an end, and U.S. military forces are deployed within the U.S., and an Imperial President who acts without congressional authorization presides over all of these instruments converging in his hands, and the private sector and large parts of the populace fall in line with national security ideology, then what to do with potential dissenters and resisters?

This is where detention centres, like the ones built to house arrested prostesters in Denver for the recent Democratic National Convention, come into play again:

KBR, the Halliburton subsidiary recently reprimanded for gross overcharging in its military contracts in Iraq, won a $385 million contract to build the centers. According to the Halliburton website––“the contract, which is effective immediately, provides for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs.”

What new programs might those be? The web was abuzz with speculation after the contract was awarded on January 24. Pacific News Service gave the most detailed analysis. It connected the new “immigration emergency” plans with older plans that involved imposing martial law.

Certainly the detention centers raise the specter of WW II Japanese internment camps. The new facilities could be used for round-ups of Muslim Americans or other American citizens tagged as “enemy combatants.”

The use of military personnel and military contractors in the event of a Katrina-like disaster, which the Halliburton contract provides for, brings us closer to martial law, whether it is officially declared or not.

For more information and a roundup in video format of the topics covered in this post, please see the following two, relative short videos:

Vote for the bailout, or it’s time for martial law – Rep. Sherman of Ohio

U.S. Army prepares to invade the U.S.

Sphere Related Content


The Ugly AmeriKKKan

“It” had to happen. Of course “it” has deep roots and its inculcation and reinforcement has been ongoing, and “it” is nothing new. By “it” I mean that deep seated racism, fear, and hate mongering would come to the surface and out in the open in the U.S. presidential election. I do not advocate America-bashing, especially as I am talking about Amerikkka, a notion of nationhood predicated on ignorance of the world, white supremacy, and hatred for Others. Amerikka does not dwell inside America alone, but can be found in Canada on the front lines of barricades erected by First Nations in protest against land seizures, and can be found in France with state-sponsored Islamophobia, in the U.K., in Denmark, and so on. Amerikkka stands out these days most clearly as a NATO phenomenon, the alliance that has plunged itself into Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan now, bringing violence and hatred directly to a nation that never attacked any NATO member.

Things have taken an uglier turn this week, with Amerikkka intent on showing the world its ugliest face. In a Washington Post report for Tues., Oct. 7, 2008, titled “Unleashed, Palin Makes a Pit Bull Look Tame,” we see some of the nasty evidence of what happens when unscrupulous and ignorant politicians, desperate to secure an edge against their own dismal failure, resort to race-baiting and fear-mongering. Sarah Palin, who when adrift comes across as a foggy tag cloud of buzz words, spoke in unusually clear terms when promising to propel hate:

Okay, so, Florida, you know that you’re going to have to hang on to your hats, because from now until Election Day, it may get kind of rough.

The Post takes us inside the rally:

Barack Obama, she told 8,000 fans at a rally here [Fort Myers, Florida] Monday afternoon, “launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist!” This followed her earlier accusation that the Democrat pals around with terrorists. “This is not a man who sees America the way you and I see America,” she told the Clearwater crowd. “I’m afraid this is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country.” The crowd replied with boos….

Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, “Sit down, boy.”

The reception had been better in Clearwater, where Palin, speaking to a sea of “Palin Power” and “Sarahcuda” T-shirts, tried to link Obama to the 1960s Weather Underground. “One of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers,” she said. (“Boooo!” said the crowd.) “And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, ‘launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,’ ” she continued. (“Boooo!” the crowd repeated.)

“Kill him!” proposed one man in the audience.

The Nation provides us with even nastier glimpses into the McCain-Palin lynch mob rallies. Ari Berman in his article for Oct. 8, 2008, titled “McCain’s Ayers Attacks Backfire,” writes:

Sarah Palin was on the verge of inciting a race riot in northern Florida yesterday. At her rallies, the Republican faithful hurled a racial epithet at a black sound man, and screamed “kill him” and “treason!” at Barack Obama.

Boy, you guys just get it!” Palin responded. This reaction, presumably, was what Palin had in mind when she urged John McCain to “take the gloves off.”

The interesting thing about what has taken form on the political landscape in the body of Sarah Palin is the return to core Amerikkkan values: it’s not just Muslims who are the problem — Zionists don’t take heart just yet — but also Jews. This is part of the traditional core of the KKK value system, where Blacks and Jews were targeted as threats, as dangerous Others, as contaminants. And what do we read from a mainstream source such as TIME (“Does Sarah Palin Have a Pentecostal Problem?” Thurs., Oct. 9, 2008)?

Palin’s religious background must initially have been seen as a positive to McCain campaign vetters, who assumed that her faith would appeal to the conservative base of the party that has always been suspicious of McCain. But ever since she joined the ticket in late August, the Alaska governor’s various religious affiliations have caused headaches. First came reports that her pastor at the nondenominational Wasilla Bible Church was connected to Jews for Jesus, an organization that seeks to convert Jews to Christianity. Prominent Jewish leaders, including the co-chair of McCain’s Jewish outreach effort, have since demanded to know whether Palin also believes that Jews must be converted….

And finally, a videotape surfaced of a 2005 service at the Wasilla Assembly of God Church, the Pentecostal church that Palin attended for most of her life. In the scene captured on video, Palin stands at the front of the sanctuary while a visiting African pastor prays that God will help her gubernatorial campaign and protect her “from every form of witchcraft.” Later in the same service, the pastor complains that “Israelites” held too many prominent positions in business, a comment that has further alienated Jewish voters.

Of course to suggest that this reflects Palin’s beliefs is to engage in her same guilt-by-association tactics…but with one important difference. TIME is not some underground magazine. What it writes is very public, and read fairly widely, both online and offline. Unlike Barack Obama, who  engaged in gross overkill in condemning, rejecting, disowning, and repudiating those he was associated with whose beliefs are different from his own…we have heard only silence from Palin on these fronts. No rejection, no condemnation. She is free to define herself as against bigotry and racial hatred, but instead chooses silence about her associations, while defining the Other in fanning the flames of racism and bigotry among her own followers. Until she corrects the record, the message is fairly clear. This is a Crusader leading citizens (see the videos below) who seemingly have been radically separated from anything resembling good sense, civilization, and humanity, having been intellectually and morally brutalized by churches, media and an education system in the gutter and by generations of nurtured hatreds.

As I said, one could only hope that all of this was confined to the U.S. alone. The fact of the matter is that we can find this at home too. In my case, home happens to be Canada at the moment, and I have previously spoken of the hysteria whipped up over “Native terrorism” every time a group of Mohawk women gather with placards (see here).

It is difficult to deny that the U.S. has taken on many of the same traits of the so-called “failed states” it claims to see in the world: heightened domestic poverty, violence at home and abroad, religious fundamentalism, widespread ignorance, and a “lousy economy” indicative of a “lousy government” (that was John McCain’s own characterization of Iran in his first televised debate with Barack Obama, ironic words indeed).

When John McCain misspoke recently, referring to his fellow Americans as “my fellow prisoners,” he said a mouthful: this really appears to be a culture incapable of escaping itself, as if waiting for reform by the most drastic means possible: environmental breakdown, an economic depression, humiliation abroad, and perhaps civil war at home. It’s as if the people we see in these videos have given up all hope on themselves, submerging themselves in old and worn anger systems, seeking refuge from memory and reason in an anger that erases all doubt, remorse, and impending anguish. These do not look or sound like courageous, enthusiastic, progressive people. Instead they come across as goons, and mothers of goons, looking for a fight, possessed by criminal ideas.

When viewing some of the mob members in the videos below, I confess my weakness: it is nearly impossible to sympathize with the self-made plight of these people, and I wish they would face the calamities they cause worldwide with greater immediacy at home. If their self-harm could be contained at home, one might become more generous. At this point, whatever “tragedies” serve to erode the U.S.’ “great power” status can only, regardless of the alternatives and short-term consequences, herald a vast improvement to the global human condition. The only chance many Americans have of escaping their worst selves is to start by inverting the meanings propounded by their leadership: the parasitic oligarchs as some would call them, the ultra-wealthy and coercive holders of state and financial power. When the likes of McCain complain about “radical leftists,” it is precisely then that Americans should seek these people out, that underground of American self-criticism that seeks serious social transformation, Americans not Amerikkkans, ones whose courage deserves our support so that they will persevere.

“That One”

“That one” is a phrase one might use normally to refer to objects, or to criminals in a lineup, to children, to dogs…to slaves. That one: singular for “those people.” Just look at the sinister and maniacal look on McCain’s face as he says those words, as if to tell the audience: “See your golden boy here, he who dwarfs my manhood? Right, let me tell you something ugly about him…it.”

“Kill him [Obama]!” at McCain’s rally

“Kill him [Obama]!” at Palin’s rally

The McCain-Palin Mob, part 1

The McCain-Palin Mob, part 2

…and, the Ugly Canukkk

A news report filed by the CBC in the spring of 2006, featuring reactions against the Six Nations blockade at Caledonia, Ontario.

Sphere Related Content


Attack Iran, Elect McCain, Wait for the Punch(line)

Imagine that there has been a steady beat of war drums supporting the notion of attacking Iran, sooner rather than later. This in the midst of a fuel price crisis that “suddenly” reveals the Persian Gulf to be the holder of the world’s most essential commodity. This is in the midst of two wars that have occupied America for longer than it was involved in the Second World War. And of all places on earth to get stuck in — Afghanistan. Learn nothing, and never learn, could be the motto of this brave new world. Let’s watch how an educational system fails its population, how a civilization lies to itself about its immortality, and see people who cannot escape their culture even when it hurts them most. The two theories that are most lacking in are: (1) a theory of stupidity, and, (2) a theory of evil. (My thanks to a professor in New York who in a passing, mocking, deconstruction of Marx once said that the real motor force of history is the struggle between stupidity and evil. He then added that the Democrats tend to stand for stupidity, and the Republicans for….) At least the philosopher knows when is the time to come out and say, “Here is my book ON BULLSHIT.”

Imagine that other sets of “experts” see John McCain as having a good “fighting chance.” He’s a war hero (an American in any war is now a hero, or any American who dies abroad). He’s “tough” on “national security” because stomping on other countries, with but usually without provocation, is good for America. He’s white. He doesn’t care for abortion, legal for 35 years now, but some still cannot adjust. It’s as if miles of job seekers, mountains of food stamps, and ghost lots filled with foreclosed homes are not enough. They need more pain.

Elect McCain. Attack Iran.

It’s at times like these that I turn away from the anthropological journal article, the conference, the scholarly monograph, the arid theorizing, and I turn to the poet and philosopher. It’s at times like these that one needs an Ani Difranco, who will speak clearly, with perception, with feeling, and with real insight, about what should be self-evident:



feed de devil





June 2019
« Aug    


de ark-hive






allyuh can borrow but yuh cyar steal or sell de t’ing

Creative Commons License

pay de devil

trinidad street graffiti images courtesy of; all other photos courtesy of caribbeanfreephoto, under Creative Commons licenses.


allyuh care about is numba

  • 47,273 hits since long time, nah


subscribe by email

Progressive Bloggers