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In El Salvador, they held elections while a civil war was raging. In Nicaragua, they held elections while the country was being invaded by brutal mercenary soldiers funded by the U.S. In India, the world’s largest democracy, elections are routinely held in the midst of bombing and terror campaigns. Even in the American protectorate of Iraq, people are being asked to contemplate conducting an election-their first-in the midst of a brutal insurgency But here in the U.S., self-styled cradle of democracy, the prospect of a single act of terror by Al Qaeda has the Homeland Security Department, the Election Assistance Commission and the Justice Department looking into postponing the November 2 presidential election.
Talk about inviting an act of terror and handing a massive victory to your enemy!
Al Qaeda’s appetite for electoral interference was certainly whetted by its success in helping to bring down the conservative, pro-Iraq War government of Jose Maria Aznar in Spain last spring. The bombing of a Madrid train station just days before that nation’s parliamentary elections galvanized the electorate to vote for the left opposition, which had long called for the removal of Spain’s troops from Iraq. I have no doubt that this has led some bomb-crazed terrorist plotters to imagine pulling off the same kind of thing in the U.S.
Spaniards, of course, were used to terrorism, having lived with bombings by Basque separatists for decades, and with a brutal civil war still a vivid memory for the oldest among them, and they went to the polls as scheduled in massive numbers-in fact in greater numbers than they probably would have had there been no terror attack.
That may well be what has Bush’s cronies in the above-mentioned oxymoronically named government departments and agencies in a tizzy.
The last thing the Bush administration wants is an aroused electorate–especially an electorate that decides that it has botched the so-called War on Terror.
And so we have the sorry spectacle of these government bureaucrats seriously considering ways, for the first time in the history of America, to actually put off the election of a president.
Note-we’re not talking about a war against America. We’re not talking about an armada of bombers and missiles striking American cities or destroying the Pacific Fleet (and while we’re on that, the U.S. managed several elections quite nicely during World War II, when the very survival of the nation was at stake). What we’re talking about here is at best a bomb or two, or a hijacked plane or two, and perhaps a few hundred casualties-all that Al Qaeda is probably capable of. Nasty perhaps, but hardly a threat to the Republic.
Americans and their elected representatives (who may be asked by the Justice and Homeland Security Departments to pass legislation allowing for an election postponement), should be crying “Shame!”A t the very least, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry should be loudly decrying the plotting. Instead, all he’s had to say on the matter is that it’s “too soon to comment.”
And where is the media?
The story was broken in the current issue of Newsweek magazine. Reuters, the British news agency, ran a piece on it on Sunday. Associated Press also had a piece, but it ignored the Newsweek story, which had mentioned the high-level involvement of Ridge, Homeland Security and the Justice Department. The New York Times ran the AP story on its electronic site, but as of Tuesday, the newspaper of record’s print pages had still ignored what should be a page one item. Even National Public Radio, supposedly an alternative source of news and information, has passed on this story.
This whole idea, as our unelected vice-president might put it, should be considered a F*#&ing outrage!
It’s also an invitation for spectacular abuse. Just imagine if Bush were down 10 percent in the polls days before the election. With defeat assured, imagine the pressure Republican tacticians like Karl Rove could put on the FBI and CIA to let some terror plot slip through, so they could shake things up and garner another couple months’ time to try and turn things around.
“These are times that try men’s souls,” wrote Tom Paine in the dark days of the American Revolution, when it looked as if the British might crush the rebellion.
That was then. This is now. These are times that try men’s and women’s credit cards. Have we Americans become such wusses that a bomb or two would scare us from the polls on election day?
If so, I guess we deserve the government we get.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of Counterpunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” to be published this fall by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other
work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org