Column No. 91 By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH - January 5, 2006
Here, once again, is my short definition of fascism: “Fascism is a politico-economic system in which there is: total executive branch control of the government; no independent judiciary; no Constitution that embodies the Rule of Law standing above the people who run the government; no inherent rights or liberties; a single national ideology that first demonizes and then criminalizes all political, religious, and ideological opposition to it; and total corporate determination of economic, fiscal, and regulatory policy.” (If you want to see my longer definitions, please refer to my columns of May 27, 2004 “On Fascism -- And The Georgites” and of Jan 27, 2005 “Comparing George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler”).
No sooner had I finished writing (on Dec. 14-15) the column published last week that, as I noted at the end of it, relevant events suddenly started occurring at breakneck speed. This column is based on two Short Short Shots about those events that I published on the Weblog of Michael Carmichael’s The Planetary Movement. The President of the United States, George W. Bush, and surrogates including the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, made a series of speeches and statements given over the weekend of Dec. 16-18, 2005, concerning actions in domestic surveillance that he has been taking since shortly after 9/11. He and they claimed that he can do just about anything he wants to in the realm of the criminal justice system, in investigating and otherwise dealing with American citizens, regardless of the law and the Constitution, just as long as he says that he is acting within the law and the Constitution, and is doing what he is doing in order to “protect American lives” in his role as Commander-in-Chief.
On CNN on the morning of 12/19/2005, Alberto Gonzales, the Attorney General who as White House Counsel had described the Geneva Conventions concerning treatment of prisoners-of-war, part of the Constitution by its own requirements, as “quaint,” described the Foreign Intelligence Services Act of 1978 as “out-of-date.” The FISA clearly prohibits the use of foreign intelligence services for spying on US citizens. Just as Gonzales did not advise the President to attempt re-negotiation of the Geneva Conventions, he did not in this instance advise the President to go to Congress to have the FISA amended to meet the president’s stated needs. No, he told the President that under his C-in-C powers, he could just do what liked to do. George liked those words, which sound an awful lot like “dictatorship,” and went ahead and did it.
In my view, this action and its defense by the Georgites has much more to do with establishing the precedent for assumption of dictatorial l power by him in any circumstance he “deems necessary under his power as C-in-C” than it does with any specifics of possible al-Qaeda terrorism. And then, even more frightening that the domestic spying-without-a-warrant actions, is the incident which takes up the last third of this column. It shows that the purpose of the Patriot Act, as I have been saying for quite some time, goes well beyond “dealing with foreign terrorism.” Here is what I had to say about these events further on the PlanetMove Weblog.
As is now very widely known, even in the halls of the U.S. Congress, even by some Republicans, on Dec. 16, 2005 The New York Times published a lengthy article on how the President, by Executive Order, set up a domestic extra-legal, extra-judicial spying operation shortly after 9/11. Although the Georgites often take actions that have no legal or Constitutional authority behind them, in this case the President presumably acted under the powers given to him by the original "Patriot" Act (which among other things repealed the Fourth Amendment protection against extra-judicial search and seizure) to do just about anything he wants to US citizens and non-citizens alike residing in the United States once he, on his own authority, labels them as "terrorists."
Interestingly enough, the President offers different explanations of his actions at different times. Sometimes it's the "Patriot" Act, sometimes it's his authority as Commander-in-Chief, sometimes it is the broad "Iraq Attack" authority the Congress gave him in the fall of 2002. Whatever the supposed source of his authority is at any given moment, the White House knows that there is something fishy about it, because a) they meet on it repeatedly and b) they tried as hard as they could to prevent knowledge of it from becoming public. This is even in the light of how the President has taken every opportunity to boast about it, and how it is "protecting America," once it has become public.
Bush has already indefinitely imprisoned without any judicial/legal rights one US citizen, Jose Padilla, under his claimed "Power of the Presidency" to do just about anything he wants to in the realm of spying upon, investigating, and locking up individual citizens. Only a long and costly court struggle has changed the Padilla situation, so that he finally has access to the public criminal justice system. But regardless of the details of the Padilla case, the President's claimed power to deprive US citizens of their rights in the criminal justice system is the central issue of the "Patriot" Act.
This is why this Act (and now the Iraq Attack resolution thrown in by the Georgites for good measure) is the equivalent of the Nazi-German Enabling Act of March 27, 1933, as I have written on numerous occasions in this space. The matter of spying on library records is a distraction, a sideshow that may actually have been put into the mix by the Georgites so as to distract Congress and the American people from the real issue: the establishment of Presidential dictatorial power over any and all actions of US citizens, just as long as he labels them as "terrorist." (I should note that I wrote the above sentence the day before the story about the library spying that I discuss below broke. Obviously, the library spying powers are hardly trivial, which makes the whole thing even worse.)
Does the President need this secret wire/electronic-communications tap program in order to fight terrorism? No. What Federal judge would deny a warrant to the FBI (domestic security agency) coming before him or her with an affidavit of probable cause in a case of suspected terrorism? None. (And in this instance the judge before which investigators would go presides over a secret court dealing with intelligence matters, presumably chosen for sympathy with Administration power in this regard. [Actually, none ever have: see The Progress Report of Dec. 19, 2005, http://www.americanprogressaction.org/site/apps/nl/newsletter2.asp?c=klLWJcP7H&b=917053). However, there are still a number of judges (although the number is dwindling fast as more and more Georgite judges are placed on the bench) who would a) deny a warrant to an agency that is specifically prohibited by law from domestic surveillance, the National Security Agency, and b) to any agency asking for a warrant for spying for reasons of assumed “terrorism” without some indication of probable cause that that would be the case.
This is what Cheney and his puppet are concerned with. They want to be able to spy on and then lock up without recourse to the public, rights-protected, criminal justice system, as they deem necessary, any American citizen for what they would label “terrorism.” This would eventually include opposing the government on any issue they deem having to do with anything they would call “terrorism” without having to make some kind of reasonable case for supporting that accusation. Certainly opposition to their current foreign and domestic policies could be labeled by them as "terrorism." After all, they and their surrogates on the Privatized Ministry of Propaganda have repeatedly referred to their opponents as "traitors." It is a short step from traitor to terrorist, and to simplify matters for Bush, both words begin with a "T."
The Times held their article for one year under White House pressure. That's not good. The Times released the article on the day the Senate took up reauthorization of the Patriot Act. That's good. Hopefully Senator Feingold and those Democrats with a devotion to Constitutional Democracy, and maybe even a few of those so-called "moderate" Republicans who will be called to account here, will get to the real, central issues of the Act. If they do, we may have seen the beginning of the end of the march toward Georgite Theocratic Fascism which to my mind has to this point been inexorable.
That was the essence of my first piece on The Planetary Movement on this issue. Then came this one, and all of a sudden I am very pessimistic again.
"Agents' visit chills UMass Dartmouth senior [he had requested 'suspect' book thru library loan program]. By AARON NICODEMUS, Standard-Times staff writer (12/17/05, email@example.com)
"NEW BEDFORD -- A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called 'The Little Red Book.'
"Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program.
"The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said."
How many more of these do we need for people to understand that fascism isn't coming to the U.S.; it's here. In small doses for the time-being, but here nevertheless. As Bush said over the weekend of 12/16-18, he can and will do anything he pleases to "protect" the American people against anything that he deems, defines, or desires to be, the "threat of terrorism."
Of course, visiting a student who checked out a copy of Mao's "Little Red Book" couldn't possibly have anything to do with "fighting terrorism" as Bush has defined it. For him, terrorism starts and ends with al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden and those directly related to him. He made that clear in his radio address of Dec. 17. That Mao was one of history's ultra-secularists while bin Laden's dream would be to establish a world-wide theocratic-Islamicist empire puts them at each other's throats, or would do so were Mao alive. Actually, the present-day Chinese government is engaged in a low-level but ongoing occasionally armed struggle against Fundamentalist Muslim separatists in their own Wild West.
This use of domestic spying by an agency confined by the law to functions outside of the United States, without bothering to apply for a search warrant (which would have to be based on probable cause) even from a totally secret "anti-terrorism" court, concerning a matter that has not the hairsbreadth connection to Islamicist terrorism, is about domestic oppression, and nothing else.
We heard words about "fighting terrorism" in Berlin in the Spring of 1933. And in that Springtime for Hitler, unless you were a Communist or a certain kind of socialist, Hitlerite fascism came in on little cat feet just as the Georgite fascistic fog is enveloping us in the U.S. As George Santayana said, he who fails to learn from history is condemned to repeat it. At least the Germans of the late Weimar Republic and Early Nazi Periods had the excuse that nothing like Hitlerism had ever happened before. As Georgite theocratic fascism inexorably advances, the American people and their elected representatives do not have that excuse.