The End of American Liberty

by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

"Your papers please" has long been a phrase associated with Hitler’s Gestapo. People without the Third Reich’s stamp of approval were hauled off to Nazi Germany’s version of Halliburton detention centers.

Today Americans are on the verge of being asked for their papers, although probably without the "please."

Thanks to a government that has turned its back on the US Constitution, Americans now have an unaccountable Department of Homeland Security that is already asserting tyrannical powers over US citizens and state governments. Headed by the neocon fanatic Michael Chertoff, the Orwellian-sounding Department of Homeland Security has mandated a national identity card for Americans, without which Americans may not enter airports or courthouses.

There is no more need for this card than there is for a Department of Homeland Security. Neither are compatible with a free society.

However, Bush, the neocons, Republicans and Democrats do not want America to any longer be a free society, and they are taking freedom away from us just as they took away the independence of the media.

Free and informed people get in the way of power-mad zealots with agendas.

It is the agendas that are supreme, not the American people, who have less and less say about less and less.

George W. Bush, an elected president, has behaved like a dictator since September 11, 2001. If "our" representatives in Congress care, they haven’t done anything about it. Bush has pretty much cut Congress out of the action.

In truth, Congress gave up its law making powers to the executive branch during the New Deal. For three-quarters of a century, the bills passed by Congress have been authorizations for executive branch agencies to make laws in the form of regulations. The executive branch has come to the realization that it doesn’t really need Congress. President Bush appends his own "signing statements" to the authorizations from Congress in which the President says what the legislation means. So what is the point of Congress?

As for laws already on the books, the US Department of Justice (sic) has ruled that the President doesn’t have to abide by US statutes, such as FISA or the law forbidding torture. Neither does the President have to abide by the Geneva Conventions.

Other obstacles are removed by edicts known as presidential directives or executive orders. There are more and more of these edicts, and they accumulate more and more power and less and less accountability in the executive.

The disdain in which the executive branch holds the "separate and equal" legislative branch is everywhere apparent. For example, President Bush is concluding a long-term security agreement with the puppet government he has set up in Iraq. Prior to September 11, 2001, when the President became The Decider, a defense pact was a treaty requiring the approval of Congress.

All that is now behind us. General Douglas Lute, President Bush’s national security adviser for Iraq says that the White House will not be submitting the deal to Congress for approval. Lute says Bush will not be seeking any "formal inputs from the Congress."

"There is no question that this is unprecedented," said Yale Law School Professor O. Hathaway.

Bush can do whatever he wants, because Congress has taken its only remaining power–impeachment–off the table.

The Democratic Party leadership thinks that the only problem is Bush, who will be gone in one year. Besides, the Israel Lobby doesn’t want Israel’s champion impeached, and neither do the corporate owners of the US media.

The Democrats are not adverse to inheriting the powers in Bush’s precedents. The Democrats, of course, will use the elevated powers for good rather than for evil.

Instead of having a bad dictator, we’ll have a good one.


 


 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
September 4-6, 2015
Louis Proyect
Migrating Through Hell: Quemada-Diez’s “La Jaula de Oro”
Charles R. Larson
Class and Colonialism in British Cairo
September 03, 2015
Sal Rodriguez
How California Prison Hunger Strikes Sparked Solitary Confinement Reforms
Lawrence Ware
Leave Michael Vick Alone: the Racism and Misogyny of Football Fans
Dave Lindorff
Is Obama the Worst President Ever?
Vijay Prashad
The Return of Social Democracy?
Ellen Brown
Quantitative Easing for People: Jeremy Corbyn’s Radical Proposal
Paul Craig Roberts
The Rise of the Inhumanes: Barron, Bybee, Yoo and Bradford
Binoy Kampmark
Inside Emailgate: Hillary’s Latest Problem
Lynn Holland
For the Love of Water: El Salvador’s Mining Ban
Geoff Dutton
Time for Some Anger Management
Jack Rasmus
The New Colonialism: Greece and Ukraine
Norman Pollack
American Jews and the Iran Accord: The Politics of Fear
John Grant
Sorting Through the Bullshit in America
David Macaray
The Unbearable Lightness of Treaties
Chad Nelson
Lessig Uses a Scalpel Where a Machete is Needed
September 02, 2015
Paul Street
Strange Words From St. Bernard and the Sandernistas
Jose Martinez
Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalencies on Police Violence
Henry Giroux
Global Capitalism and the Culture of Mad Violence
Ajamu Baraka
Making Black Lives Matter in Riohacha, Colombia
William Edstrom
Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry
David Altheide
The Media Syndrome Between a Glock and a GoPro
Yves Engler
Canada vs. Africa
Ron Jacobs
The League of Empire
Andrew Smolski
Democracy and Privatization in Neoliberal Mexico
Stephen Lendman
Gaza: a Socioeconomic Dead Zone
Norman Pollack
Obama, Flim-Flam Artist: Alaska Offshore Drilling
Binoy Kampmark
Australian Border Force Gore
Ruth Fowler
Ask Not: Lost in the Crowd with Amanda Palmer
Kim Nicolini
Remembering Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People