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“Al-Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America and he’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights.”
– Sarah Palin at the RNC
“[T]he looser ‘preemptive strike’ rationale being applied to situations abroad could migrate back home, fostering a more permissive attitude on the part of law enforcement officers in this country.”
– FBI Special Agent Colleen Rowley
“We followed our [RNC] Welcoming Committee members to many cities around the country. We consulted with the terrorism task force in those cities. We received information, etc. [Did you have infiltrators?] Yes, we did. [Were they paid?] Yes.”
– Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher
“[S]ix or seven officers came into my cell… one officer punched me in the face…And then they slammed—and I fell to the ground, unconscious. And the officer grabbed me by the head, slammed my head on the ground and re-awoke me …to consciousness. I was bleeding everywhere. … They put a bag over my head that had a gag on it. And they used pain compliance tactics on me for about an hour and a half. They pressed—they separated my jaw as hard as they could with their fingers…. They …bent my foot backwards. I was screaming for God and like screaming for mercy, crying, asking them why they were doing this.”
– Elliot Hughes, member of the RNC Welcoming Committee, arrested at gunpoint days before the RNC, charged along with the other RNC8 Defendants with “conspiring to riot in furtherance of terrorism.”
The police state actions before and during the RNC are not a dystopic America but the real America of 2008 and a harbinger of even worse to come. Beneath the carefully staged and tightly cordoned off circus of “democracy” at the convention rots the corpse of the Bill of Rights:
Of what significance can a person’s right to see the charges leveled against them be when there’s a war on terrorists to be waged? What need do people accused of crimes have to see who has accused them – are they not guilty by virtue of being accused? What end is fulfilled to allow the accused to cross-examine their accusers? Why waste the court’s time with such absurdities? What purpose does it serve to have perfectly good evidence ruled inadmissible, so what if it was extracted employing electric shock and waterboarding? These people are guilty, guilty, guilty! Why just look at them: do they not look guilty? What more evidence do we need? 9/11! 9/11! 9/11! We must wring the truth out of them, whatever it takes, the preservation of freedom demands it! Planting police undercover officers in the ranks of these protestors and provoking them into doing illegal or violent acts, even if those undercover officers have to do it all themselves, is necessary to protect the precious rights we enjoy as Americans. Country First! Anyone who dares tell us that we must not violate Constitutional rights in order to protect Constitutional rights deserves waterboarding! Strap him down! Give me that bucket of water! I’ll show him who’s free!
* * *
It was only a matter of time before the obscenity of war crimes and torture being carried out on other countries and peoples would return home to be inflicted directly upon Americans who dare to speak out against these atrocities.
It isn’t only Arabs and Muslims anymore. It isn’t only American citizens who’ve converted to Islam. It’s now American citizens – whatever their religious views – who can be summarily rounded up in pre-emptive actions, charged with terrorism, and tortured – on the grounds that they might do something.
Bush declared “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” Except our malapropist president has uttered a tautology once again: being part of “us” means being one of the terrorists. It means defending the use of monstrous measures in the name of fighting monsters. As Pogo put it: “We have met the enemy and he is US.”
Unhinged from the Law and from Facts
Accusing someone of being a terrorist, like the magical incantation of witches and warlocks, turns any feeble twig into an invincible sword. Invoking “national security” allows the White House and its representatives to do and say anything at all.
You can almost hear Bush saying this under his breath: “It’s good to be king.” Only, come to think of it, he’s said out loud a number of times: “If this were a dictatorship things would be a heck of a lot easier – just as long as I’m the dictator.”
It’s good to listen in on anybody’s conversations, peer over their shoulders at their email, track their financial transactions and track their associates.
What has Congress – the People’s Representatives – done to monitor the country against the predations of dictators and the whims of police agents?
Congress has peered down the precipice of an unchecked executive branch and they have jumped in feet first, but not without – God be Praised! – waving their American flag pins and bibles as they descend down the bottomless pit, into the infamy reserved for those who looked tyrants in the face and cringed like cowards.
But there’s a new president coming! Surely he will save the Republic!
“Change” “change” “change” they cry.
In the face of an openly lawless, felonious, war crimes, spying and lying White House they will rescue us, no doubt!
“[Y]ou reserve impeachment for grave, grave breaches, and intentional breaches of the President’s authority.” — Barack Obama
Whaa..at?! Are you saying that Bush and Cheney have not intentionally breached their authority? What country have you been living in? Are these not grave, grave breaches – even if the standard for impeachment was as high as you say it is, which it isn’t? What could be graver than this? Perhaps arresting your political rivals in the Democratic Party and torturing them – would that rise to the standard?
How long before something like that happens?
“Change” “change” “change” they cry.
Are not their change invocations so appealing to so many because of the failure of Obama, McCain, Biden and others to stop the White House and the government from doing the things that need to be changed?
When those who are the guardians of the ship of state fail to do their duties, what happens to the ship? Who will police the police?
The police will police the police. Surely you trust the police? You’re not one of those commie-pinko-terrorists, are you? Hold still while I turn you in to Homeland Security.
The Unbearable Darkness of Duplicity
If agents provocateurs are infiltrating protesters’ ranks and engaging in violent and provocative acts to justify police crackdowns, then what’s to become of civil liberties, freedom of speech and assembly, the right to dissent and the health of civil society? Are the police and the government not now in possession of “Get Out of Jail Free” cards with which they can do absolutely everything and get away with it? Is this not recognizable as the tried and true plaints of scoundrels, authoritarians, fascists and tyrants?
When you give unlimited powers to the government with the only restraint the equivalent of the foxes guarding the hen house what do you expect to get? Do you think that you will be safe? Because if you do, you’re the world’s biggest fool and you deserve the fate you get.
If you’re not one of these then it’s time to show it and stand up. If you’re against this but don’t show it then it doesn’t count. If you act but act too late then it doesn’t matter.
There are no “maybe it will get better” rationales left if you’re paying any attention.
Speak out against the railroading of the RNC8 because they stand in the breach against the flood that is coming that will drown us all.
The shooting of wolves from helicopters is not a metaphor here for the people, is it?
DENNIS LOO is an associate professor of Sociology at Cal-Poly Pomona. He is the co-author of Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney. He can be reached at http://dennisloo.blogspot.com.