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