Saturday, April 28, 2007

Kurt Nimmo
Another Day in the Empire
Thu, 26 Apr 2007 12:05 EDT

The fact our rulers would lie and lie mightily should not come as a surprise, as they are mostly psychopaths, and psychopathy is defined as a condition characterized by lack of conscience and manipulative behavior. "The psychopaths, those human-looking predators without conscience, have no love for the rest of humanity," notes Henry See, citing the work of Andrew Lobaczewski. "It is a life and death struggle between them and us because they know that if the true nature of their existence as humanity's natural predator ever come to light, they would lose everything."

Lies. For the Bush neocons, they are second nature, as predictable as the sun coming up in the morning. Bush and crew lied about the events of September 11, 2001, about "al-Qaeda" in Afghanistan, about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.

Pat Tillman, the football star who walked away from an NFL career to fight a manufactured enemy in Afghanistan, where he was shot dead by his own troops, was shamelessly exploited by the Pentagon, and became part of yet another lie.

"His family was initially misled by the Pentagon and did not learn the truth for more than a month. Tillman was awarded a Silver Star based on fabricated accounts - who fabricated them still isn't clear after several investigations," reports the Ledger Independent. "We don't know what the secretary of defense knew, we don't know what the White House knew," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. "What we do know is these were not a series of accidents, these stories. They were calculatedly put out for a public relations purpose.... Even now there seems to be a cover-up."

Of course there was a cover-up - that's what government officials do. Pathological lies come easy and right as rain for the likes of the pathocrats who lord over us.

"I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day were, in fact, legendary," former Pvt. Jessica Lynch told the committee. "The bottom line is the American people are capable of determining their own ideals for heroes, and they don't need to be told elaborate tales."

However, with all due respect to Ms. Lynch, the American people do need to be told "elaborate tales," in fact elaborate and engineered lies designed to hornswoggle the commoners, who in the past were motivated to tar and feather government officials for lesser crimes, for instance levying excise taxes.


We are more outraged over celebrity actors with anger management problems yelling at their daughters. We can't be bothered with illegal wars predicated on malfeasance and mendacity - not when Shyamalia the Hooters girl is showing cleavage one channel over. If indeed we are the least bit interested in politics, we can tune in to Sheryl Crow and producer Laurie David confronting Karl Rove over the issue of global warming, never mind there "is absolutely no convincing scientific evidence that human-produced greenhouse gases are driving global climate change," as climatologist, Dr. Tim Ball, would have it.

The fact our rulers would lie and lie mightily should not come as a surprise, as they are mostly psychopaths, and psychopathy is defined as a condition characterized by lack of conscience and manipulative behavior. "The psychopaths, those human-looking predators without conscience, have no love for the rest of humanity," notes Henry See, citing the work of Andrew Lobaczewski. "It is a life and death struggle between them and us because they know that if the true nature of their existence as humanity's natural predator ever come to light, they would lose everything."

Indeed, they would lose everything, but as it now stands humanity, at least the slice here in America, can't be bothered with these "intraspecies predators," not when rumors regnant offer details on Paris Hilton's promenade with Kevin Federline in Las Vegas.

Pity the masses for their inability or unwillingness to call out the predators, for their ignorance carries an ultimately burdensome, if not fatal, result.

"President Bush is a liar. There, I said it, but most of the mainstream media won't. Liberal pundits Michael Kinsley, Paul Krugman and Richard Cohen have addressed the issue on the Op-Ed pages, but almost all news pages and network broadcasts pretend not to notice," writes Eric Alterman, with obvious frustration. "In the one significant effort by a national daily to deal with Bush's consistent pattern of mendacity, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank could not bring himself (or was not allowed) to utter the crucial words. Instead, readers were treated to such complicated linguistic circumlocutions as: Bush's statements represented 'embroidering key assertions' and were clearly 'dubious, if not wrong.' The President's 'rhetoric has taken some flights of fancy,' he has 'taken some liberties,' 'omitted qualifiers' and 'simply outpace[d] the facts.' But 'Bush lied'? Never."

But of course, Eric, and for obvious reason - the corporate media is owned and operated by the same psychopaths, the Washington Post and the New York Times constitute their purview.

As Lobaczewski writes, "all ponerogenic associations have in common ... their statistically high concentration of individuals with various psychological anomalies," malformations shared by "gangs, criminal mobs, mafias, cliques, and coteries."

Naturally, media owned by a psychopathic death merchant outfit such as General Electric, a megacorporation with a $43 billion media empire, will naturally engage "various psychological anomalies" in order to stay atop the dung heap - or, more accurately, a massive and stinking mountain of dead bodies, numbering in the millions - and it is quite naive, if not downright half-witted, for Mr. Alterman to think otherwise.

Dana Milbank, regardless of what Eric Alterman writes, is a Yalie, a member of Skull and Bones, and works for the CIA's favorite newspaper. No doubt he is quite enthusiastic about his job as a corporate scrivener and doubtless as well he is well-compensated for the effort. But then the Nation magazine, where Mr. Alterman writes, is owned by Katrina vanden Heuvel, daughter of William J. vanden Heuvel, the onetime executive assistant to the founder of the CIA, William Joseph Donovan. Vanden Heuvel later became a board member of the Farfield Foundation, billed as a "philanthropic foundation," in fact a CIA front organization.

If you can say anything about the media psychopaths and their pathocratic buddies in government, it is they are accomplished at manipulation, a hallmark of psychopathy. Frank "Wisner's gang of weirdos," as the closet queen J. Edgar Hoover described the CIA, was and is certainly accomplished at manipulation, as Operation Mockingbird, that is to say the wholesale compromise of corporate media, is a well-oiled machine going on some sixty odd years now. Thus it should come as no surprise criminal - indeed, genocidal - lies keep a tight ship.

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, may call for the Oversight and Government Reform Committee to haul former Secretary of Forever War, Donald Rumsfeld, and Gen. John Abizaid, then-chief of the U.S. Central Command, before his committee to explain the lies surrounding the death of former NFL star and Army Ranger Pat Tillman, but this is an exercise in futility, at best a roadside spectacle, soon obviated by larger, more portentous news stories, for instance Courtney Love's decision to keep her "butt in shape" through diet and exercise.

"How high up did it go?" Henry Waxman demands to know.

Well, Hank, if the truth be told - and even if it is, no doubt it will be preempted by the Sports Babes' draft analysis - we can bet our bottom dollar it runs all the way to the top.

Finally, and sadly, considering the fact Mr. Waxman needs to ask is indication enough he will never get there

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

So You Think You've Got "Rights"?

Scott Horton
Harper's magazine
Sat, 21 Apr 2007 19:09 EDT

In June, a case is slated to go to trial in Northern Virginia that will mark a first step in a plan to silence press coverage of essential national security issues. The plan was hatched by Alberto Gonzales and his deputy, Paul J. McNulty - the two figures at the center of a growing scandal over the politicization of the prosecutorial process. This may in fact be the most audacious act of political prosecution yet. But so far, it has gained little attention and is poorly understood.

In the summer of 2005, Alberto Gonzales paid a visit to British Attorney General Peter Goldsmith. A British civil servant who attended told me "it was quite amazing really. Gonzales was obsessed with the Official Secrets Act. In particular, he wanted to know exactly how it was used to block newspapers and broadcasters from running news stories derived from official secrets and how it could be used to criminalise persons who had no formal duty to maintain secrets. He saw it as a panacea for his problems: silence the press. Then you can torture and abuse prisoners and what you will - without fear of political repercussions. It was the easy route to dealing with the Guantánamo dilemma. Don't close down Guantánamo. Close down the press. We were appalled by it." Appalled, he added, "but not surprised."

Britain has of course never had a media with the freedom of the American press. John Milton railed against the abusive requirements of licensing without making headway. Britain had the tradition of Royal Prerogative, a tradition of branding political rabble rousers with the mark "SL" for "seditious libeler." Of course, many of those seditious libelers emigrated to America, which helps explain why this was an issue contributing to a revolution that broke out in 1776. The erstwhile colonists heard Milton's appeal and followed it, producing a decisive parting of the ways in the English-speaking world. But that's all very inconvenient history, which is certain soon to be expunged from the history books. After all, those who control the present, control the past. And Gonzales had come down with a very bad case of Official Secrets envy.

By May 2006, Gonzales was on ABC's "This Week" program, convinced he had found the link. Could the United States gag the media to prevent its publication of classified information? "It depends on the circumstances." Gonzales explained, "There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility. That's a policy judgment by the Congress in passing that kind of legislation. We have an obligation to enforce those laws." This, to be sure, is the same Alberto Gonzales who appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee and insisted in the face of an incredulous Senator Arlen Specter that the Constitution incorporated no guarantee of habeas corpus. He is an attorney general possessed of a copy of the Constitution which is strangely different from that ratified by the states in 1789 and amended to include the Bill of Rights in 1791. And he is the attorney general who felt that the limitations of FISA with respect to surveillance without warrants didn't matter, though he couldn't coherently articulate a reason why. (That, after all, is why you have John Yoo.) When he says "we have an obligation to enforce those laws," he means of course to enforce the laws the way he and the president secretly understand them.

Even before Gonzales came to the Justice Department, secrecy had emerged as the hallmark of the Bush Administration. Security classifications were wielded with vigor to protect information which was politically sensitive, and measures were taken to put real teeth in the protections. At the same time, the administration consistently made clear that it viewed security classifications essentially as a partisan political tool. As emerged in the prosecution of Scooter Libby, Cheney, Rove, and Bush all discussed declassifying highly sensitive information when they felt the declassification would serve to embarrass a political critic.

Rather than approach Congress with a proposal to enact the British Official Secrets Act - a proposal which would certainly be defeated even in the prior Republican-led Congress - Gonzales decided to spin it from whole cloth. He would reconstrue the Espionage Act of 1917 to include the essence of the Official Secrets Act, and he would try to get this interpretation ratified in the Bush Administration's "vest pocket" judicial districts - the Eastern District of Virginia and the Fourth Circuit. The key man for this project was to be Paul J. McNulty, the man he soon picked as his deputy.

In May 2005, they had found the perfect case. Lawrence Franklin, a key aide to Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, passed a classified policy memorandum to two employees of AIPAC, a lobbying group geared to advocate Israeli interests with the U.S. Government. It seems clear that Franklin and the two AIPAC employees had a common object, which was to invite critical public attention to U.S. policy towards Iran.

The case was passed to Paul J. McNulty while he was the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Even at that point, Virginia's Eastern District had a well-established reputation as the most political U.S. attorney's office in the country. Among McNulty's key cases had been the "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh and the mentally unhinged Moroccan "twentieth hijacker" from 9/11, Zararias Moussaoui. Both cases had been sensationalized in the media. Less well known were the dozen odd cases of contractor abuse emerging from the Abu Ghraib scandal, investigated by the Pentagon's CID, and referred to McNulty. Nothing ever came of those cases; indeed, McNulty made sure of that.

McNulty quickly concluded that the AIPAC case would provide the perfect opportunity for the Gonzales project - converting the Espionage Act into the equivalent of the British Official Secrets Act. The core of the extraordinary theory advanced by McNulty can be found in these words from one of its recent briefs:

The government respectfully submits that an 'ordinary person exercising ordinary common sense' [...] would know that foreign officials, journalists and other persons with no current affiliation with the United States government would not be entitled to receive information related to our national defense.

By this theory, any receipt by an unauthorized person of classified information and correspondence concerning it is converted into an act of espionage, and thus made prosecutable.

The object of this exercise has been broadly misunderstood by many who have followed it - and particularly by Iraq War critics who delight in a perceived slap-down of AIPAC. But this is tragically short-sighted. If the prosecution succeeds, the Bush Administration will have converted the Espionage Act of 1917 into something it was never intended to be: an American copy of the British Official Secrets Act. It is likely to lead quickly to efforts to criminalize journalists dealing with sensitive information in the national security sector, as well as their sources.

Let's imagine America with the Gonzales-McNulty contortion of the law in effect. We'd never know how the Bush Administration came to embrace torture as a tactic in the war on terror. We'd know nothing about the torture-by-proxy system developed with key administration allies such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen - not to mention the system of "blacksites" established by the CIA in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. We wouldn't know that the administration was violating the FISA statute with a massive surveillance program. And to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, that's just the known unknowns.

This would be a dream world for Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales. And a nightmare for the rest of us. And the AIPAC case could, if it succeeds, bring the nation much closer to its realization.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Here's the Deal Folks:

Kudos to Naomi Wolf for having the guts to lay out the true fix we are in, when our Congress critters don't have the cojones to do so. And notice that she had to do it overseas.

Blue Ibis

SHOCK! UK Guardian Spells It Out - Bush Administration Is A Dictatorship!

Naomi Wolf
UK Guardian
Tue, 24 Apr 2007 17:00 EDT

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all

Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.

They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.

As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration.

Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word "homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.

It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - as the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realise.

Conason eloquently warned of the danger of American authoritarianism. I am arguing that we need also to look at the lessons of European and other kinds of fascism to understand the potential seriousness of the events we see unfolding in the US.

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

After we were hit on September 11 2001, we were in a state of national shock. Less than six weeks later, on October 26 2001, the USA Patriot Act was passed by a Congress that had little chance to debate it; many said that they scarcely had time to read it. We were told we were now on a "war footing"; we were in a "global war" against a "global caliphate" intending to "wipe out civilisation". There have been other times of crisis in which the US accepted limits on civil liberties, such as during the civil war, when Lincoln declared martial law, and the second world war, when thousands of Japanese-American citizens were interned. But this situation, as Bruce Fein of the American Freedom Agenda notes, is unprecedented: all our other wars had an endpoint, so the pendulum was able to swing back toward freedom; this war is defined as open-ended in time and without national boundaries in space - the globe itself is the battlefield. "This time," Fein says, "there will be no defined end."

Creating a terrifying threat - hydra-like, secretive, evil - is an old trick. It can, like Hitler's invocation of a communist threat to the nation's security, be based on actual events (one Wisconsin academic has faced calls for his dismissal because he noted, among other things, that the alleged communist arson, the Reichstag fire of February 1933, was swiftly followed in Nazi Germany by passage of the Enabling Act, which replaced constitutional law with an open-ended state of emergency). Or the terrifying threat can be based, like the National Socialist evocation of the "global conspiracy of world Jewry", on myth.

It is not that global Islamist terrorism is not a severe danger; of course it is. I am arguing rather that the language used to convey the nature of the threat is different in a country such as Spain - which has also suffered violent terrorist attacks - than it is in America. Spanish citizens know that they face a grave security threat; what we as American citizens believe is that we are potentially threatened with the end of civilisation as we know it. Of course, this makes us more willing to accept restrictions on our freedoms.

2. Create a gulag

Once you have got everyone scared, the next step is to create a prison system outside the rule of law (as Bush put it, he wanted the American detention centre at Guantánamo Bay to be situated in legal "outer space") - where torture takes place.

At first, the people who are sent there are seen by citizens as outsiders: troublemakers, spies, "enemies of the people" or "criminals". Initially, citizens tend to support the secret prison system; it makes them feel safer and they do not identify with the prisoners. But soon enough, civil society leaders - opposition members, labour activists, clergy and journalists - are arrested and sent there as well.

This process took place in fascist shifts or anti-democracy crackdowns ranging from Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s to the Latin American coups of the 1970s and beyond. It is standard practice for closing down an open society or crushing a pro-democracy uprising.

With its jails in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, of course, Guantánamo in Cuba, where detainees are abused, and kept indefinitely without trial and without access to the due process of the law, America certainly has its gulag now. Bush and his allies in Congress recently announced they would issue no information about the secret CIA "black site" prisons throughout the world, which are used to incarcerate people who have been seized off the street.

Gulags in history tend to metastasise, becoming ever larger and more secretive, ever more deadly and formalised. We know from first-hand accounts, photographs, videos and government documents that people, innocent and guilty, have been tortured in the US-run prisons we are aware of and those we can't investigate adequately.

But Americans still assume this system and detainee abuses involve only scary brown people with whom they don't generally identify. It was brave of the conservative pundit William Safire to quote the anti-Nazi pastor Martin Niemöller, who had been seized as a political prisoner: "First they came for the Jews." Most Americans don't understand yet that the destruction of the rule of law at Guantánamo set a dangerous precedent for them, too.

By the way, the establishment of military tribunals that deny prisoners due process tends to come early on in a fascist shift. Mussolini and Stalin set up such tribunals. On April 24 1934, the Nazis, too, set up the People's Court, which also bypassed the judicial system: prisoners were held indefinitely, often in isolation, and tortured, without being charged with offences, and were subjected to show trials. Eventually, the Special Courts became a parallel system that put pressure on the regular courts to abandon the rule of law in favour of Nazi ideology when making decisions.

3. Develop a thug caste

When leaders who seek what I call a "fascist shift" want to close down an open society, they send paramilitary groups of scary young men out to terrorise citizens. The Blackshirts roamed the Italian countryside beating up communists; the Brownshirts staged violent rallies throughout Germany. This paramilitary force is especially important in a democracy: you need citizens to fear thug violence and so you need thugs who are free from prosecution.

The years following 9/11 have proved a bonanza for America's security contractors, with the Bush administration outsourcing areas of work that traditionally fell to the US military. In the process, contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars have been issued for security work by mercenaries at home and abroad. In Iraq, some of these contract operatives have been accused of involvement in torturing prisoners, harassing journalists and firing on Iraqi civilians. Under Order 17, issued to regulate contractors in Iraq by the one-time US administrator in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, these contractors are immune from prosecution

Yes, but that is in Iraq, you could argue; however, after Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security hired and deployed hundreds of armed private security guards in New Orleans. The investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill interviewed one unnamed guard who reported having fired on unarmed civilians in the city. It was a natural disaster that underlay that episode - but the administration's endless war on terror means ongoing scope for what are in effect privately contracted armies to take on crisis and emergency management at home in US cities.

Thugs in America? Groups of angry young Republican men, dressed in identical shirts and trousers, menaced poll workers counting the votes in Florida in 2000. If you are reading history, you can imagine that there can be a need for "public order" on the next election day. Say there are protests, or a threat, on the day of an election; history would not rule out the presence of a private security firm at a polling station "to restore public order".

4. Set up an internal surveillance system

In Mussolini's Italy, in Nazi Germany, in communist East Germany, in communist China - in every closed society - secret police spy on ordinary people and encourage neighbours to spy on neighbours. The Stasi needed to keep only a minority of East Germans under surveillance to convince a majority that they themselves were being watched.

In 2005 and 2006, when James Risen and Eric Lichtblau wrote in the New York Times about a secret state programme to wiretap citizens' phones, read their emails and follow international financial transactions, it became clear to ordinary Americans that they, too, could be under state scrutiny.

In closed societies, this surveillance is cast as being about "national security"; the true function is to keep citizens docile and inhibit their activism and dissent.

5. Harass citizens' groups

The fifth thing you do is related to step four - you infiltrate and harass citizens' groups. It can be trivial: a church in Pasadena, whose minister preached that Jesus was in favour of peace, found itself being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, while churches that got Republicans out to vote, which is equally illegal under US tax law, have been left alone.

Other harassment is more serious: the American Civil Liberties Union reports that thousands of ordinary American anti-war, environmental and other groups have been infiltrated by agents: a secret Pentagon database includes more than four dozen peaceful anti-war meetings, rallies or marches by American citizens in its category of 1,500 "suspicious incidents". The equally secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (Cifa) agency of the Department of Defense has been gathering information about domestic organisations engaged in peaceful political activities: Cifa is supposed to track "potential terrorist threats" as it watches ordinary US citizen activists. A little-noticed new law has redefined activism such as animal rights protests as "terrorism". So the definition of "terrorist" slowly expands to include the opposition.

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release

This scares people. It is a kind of cat-and-mouse game. Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the investigative reporters who wrote China Wakes: the Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power, describe pro-democracy activists in China, such as Wei Jingsheng, being arrested and released many times. In a closing or closed society there is a "list" of dissidents and opposition leaders: you are targeted in this way once you are on the list, and it is hard to get off the list.

In 2004, America's Transportation Security Administration confirmed that it had a list of passengers who were targeted for security searches or worse if they tried to fly. People who have found themselves on the list? Two middle-aged women peace activists in San Francisco; liberal Senator Edward Kennedy; a member of Venezuela's government - after Venezuela's president had criticised Bush; and thousands of ordinary US citizens.

Professor Walter F Murphy is emeritus of Princeton University; he is one of the foremost constitutional scholars in the nation and author of the classic Constitutional Democracy. Murphy is also a decorated former marine, and he is not even especially politically liberal. But on March 1 this year, he was denied a boarding pass at Newark, "because I was on the Terrorist Watch list".

"Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that," asked the airline employee.

"I explained," said Murphy, "that I had not so marched but had, in September 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the constitution."

"That'll do it," the man said.

Anti-war marcher? Potential terrorist. Support the constitution? Potential terrorist. History shows that the categories of "enemy of the people" tend to expand ever deeper into civil life.

James Yee, a US citizen, was the Muslim chaplain at Guantánamo who was accused of mishandling classified documents. He was harassed by the US military before the charges against him were dropped. Yee has been detained and released several times. He is still of interest.

Brandon Mayfield, a US citizen and lawyer in Oregon, was mistakenly identified as a possible terrorist. His house was secretly broken into and his computer seized. Though he is innocent of the accusation against him, he is still on the list.

It is a standard practice of fascist societies that once you are on the list, you can't get off.

7. Target key individuals

Threaten civil servants, artists and academics with job loss if they don't toe the line. Mussolini went after the rectors of state universities who did not conform to the fascist line; so did Joseph Goebbels, who purged academics who were not pro-Nazi; so did Chile's Augusto Pinochet; so does the Chinese communist Politburo in punishing pro-democracy students and professors.

Academe is a tinderbox of activism, so those seeking a fascist shift punish academics and students with professional loss if they do not "coordinate", in Goebbels' term, ideologically. Since civil servants are the sector of society most vulnerable to being fired by a given regime, they are also a group that fascists typically "coordinate" early on: the Reich Law for the Re-establishment of a Professional Civil Service was passed on April 7 1933.

Bush supporters in state legislatures in several states put pressure on regents at state universities to penalise or fire academics who have been critical of the administration. As for civil servants, the Bush administration has derailed the career of one military lawyer who spoke up for fair trials for detainees, while an administration official publicly intimidated the law firms that represent detainees pro bono by threatening to call for their major corporate clients to boycott them.

Elsewhere, a CIA contract worker who said in a closed blog that "waterboarding is torture" was stripped of the security clearance she needed in order to do her job.

Most recently, the administration purged eight US attorneys for what looks like insufficient political loyalty. When Goebbels purged the civil service in April 1933, attorneys were "coordinated" too, a step that eased the way of the increasingly brutal laws to follow.

8. Control the press

Italy in the 1920s, Germany in the 30s, East Germany in the 50s, Czechoslovakia in the 60s, the Latin American dictatorships in the 70s, China in the 80s and 90s - all dictatorships and would-be dictators target newspapers and journalists. They threaten and harass them in more open societies that they are seeking to close, and they arrest them and worse in societies that have been closed already.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says arrests of US journalists are at an all-time high: Josh Wolf (no relation), a blogger in San Francisco, has been put in jail for a year for refusing to turn over video of an anti-war demonstration; Homeland Security brought a criminal complaint against reporter Greg Palast, claiming he threatened "critical infrastructure" when he and a TV producer were filming victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Palast had written a bestseller critical of the Bush administration.

Other reporters and writers have been punished in other ways. Joseph C Wilson accused Bush, in a New York Times op-ed, of leading the country to war on the basis of a false charge that Saddam Hussein had acquired yellowcake uranium in Niger. His wife, Valerie Plame, was outed as a CIA spy - a form of retaliation that ended her career.

Prosecution and job loss are nothing, though, compared with how the US is treating journalists seeking to cover the conflict in Iraq in an unbiased way. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented multiple accounts of the US military in Iraq firing upon or threatening to fire upon unembedded (meaning independent) reporters and camera operators from organisations ranging from al-Jazeera to the BBC. While westerners may question the accounts by al-Jazeera, they should pay attention to the accounts of reporters such as the BBC's Kate Adie. In some cases reporters have been wounded or killed, including ITN's Terry Lloyd in 2003. Both CBS and the Associated Press in Iraq had staff members seized by the US military and taken to violent prisons; the news organisations were unable to see the evidence against their staffers.

Over time in closing societies, real news is supplanted by fake news and false documents. Pinochet showed Chilean citizens falsified documents to back up his claim that terrorists had been about to attack the nation. The yellowcake charge, too, was based on forged papers.

You won't have a shutdown of news in modern America - it is not possible. But you can have, as Frank Rich and Sidney Blumenthal have pointed out, a steady stream of lies polluting the news well. What you already have is a White House directing a stream of false information that is so relentless that it is increasingly hard to sort out truth from untruth. In a fascist system, it's not the lies that count but the muddying. When citizens can't tell real news from fake, they give up their demands for accountability bit by bit.

9. Dissent equals treason

Cast dissent as "treason" and criticism as "espionage'. Every closing society does this, just as it elaborates laws that increasingly criminalise certain kinds of speech and expand the definition of "spy" and "traitor". When Bill Keller, the publisher of the New York Times, ran the Lichtblau/Risen stories, Bush called the Times' leaking of classified information "disgraceful", while Republicans in Congress called for Keller to be charged with treason, and rightwing commentators and news outlets kept up the "treason" drumbeat. Some commentators, as Conason noted, reminded readers smugly that one penalty for violating the Espionage Act is execution.

Conason is right to note how serious a threat that attack represented. It is also important to recall that the 1938 Moscow show trial accused the editor of Izvestia, Nikolai Bukharin, of treason; Bukharin was, in fact, executed. And it is important to remind Americans that when the 1917 Espionage Act was last widely invoked, during the infamous 1919 Palmer Raids, leftist activists were arrested without warrants in sweeping roundups, kept in jail for up to five months, and "beaten, starved, suffocated, tortured and threatened with death", according to the historian Myra MacPherson. After that, dissent was muted in America for a decade.

In Stalin's Soviet Union, dissidents were "enemies of the people". National Socialists called those who supported Weimar democracy "November traitors".

And here is where the circle closes: most Americans do not realise that since September of last year - when Congress wrongly, foolishly, passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 - the president has the power to call any US citizen an "enemy combatant". He has the power to define what "enemy combatant" means. The president can also delegate to anyone he chooses in the executive branch the right to define "enemy combatant" any way he or she wants and then seize Americans accordingly.

Even if you or I are American citizens, even if we turn out to be completely innocent of what he has accused us of doing, he has the power to have us seized as we are changing planes at Newark tomorrow, or have us taken with a knock on the door; ship you or me to a navy brig; and keep you or me in isolation, possibly for months, while awaiting trial. (Prolonged isolation, as psychiatrists know, triggers psychosis in otherwise mentally healthy prisoners. That is why Stalin's gulag had an isolation cell, like Guantánamo's, in every satellite prison. Camp 6, the newest, most brutal facility at Guantánamo, is all isolation cells.)

We US citizens will get a trial eventually - for now. But legal rights activists at the Center for Constitutional Rights say that the Bush administration is trying increasingly aggressively to find ways to get around giving even US citizens fair trials. "Enemy combatant" is a status offence - it is not even something you have to have done. "We have absolutely moved over into a preventive detention model - you look like you could do something bad, you might do something bad, so we're going to hold you," says a spokeswoman of the CCR.

Most Americans surely do not get this yet. No wonder: it is hard to believe, even though it is true. In every closing society, at a certain point there are some high-profile arrests - usually of opposition leaders, clergy and journalists. Then everything goes quiet. After those arrests, there are still newspapers, courts, TV and radio, and the facades of a civil society. There just isn't real dissent. There just isn't freedom. If you look at history, just before those arrests is where we are now.

10. Suspend the rule of law

The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gave the president new powers over the national guard. This means that in a national emergency - which the president now has enhanced powers to declare - he can send Michigan's militia to enforce a state of emergency that he has declared in Oregon, over the objections of the state's governor and its citizens.

Even as Americans were focused on Britney Spears's meltdown and the question of who fathered Anna Nicole's baby, the New York Times editorialised about this shift: "A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night ... Beyond actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or any 'other condition'."

Critics see this as a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act - which was meant to restrain the federal government from using the military for domestic law enforcement. The Democratic senator Patrick Leahy says the bill encourages a president to declare federal martial law. It also violates the very reason the founders set up our system of government as they did: having seen citizens bullied by a monarch's soldiers, the founders were terrified of exactly this kind of concentration of militias' power over American people in the hands of an oppressive executive or faction.

Of course, the United States is not vulnerable to the violent, total closing-down of the system that followed Mussolini's march on Rome or Hitler's roundup of political prisoners. Our democratic habits are too resilient, and our military and judiciary too independent, for any kind of scenario like that.

Rather, as other critics are noting, our experiment in democracy could be closed down by a process of erosion.

It is a mistake to think that early in a fascist shift you see the profile of barbed wire against the sky. In the early days, things look normal on the surface; peasants were celebrating harvest festivals in Calabria in 1922; people were shopping and going to the movies in Berlin in 1931. Early on, as WH Auden put it, the horror is always elsewhere - while someone is being tortured, children are skating, ships are sailing: "dogs go on with their doggy life ... How everything turns away/ Quite leisurely from the disaster."

As Americans turn away quite leisurely, keeping tuned to internet shopping and American Idol, the foundations of democracy are being fatally corroded. Something has changed profoundly that weakens us unprecedentedly: our democratic traditions, independent judiciary and free press do their work today in a context in which we are "at war" in a "long war" - a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe, in a context that gives the president - without US citizens realising it yet - the power over US citizens of freedom or long solitary incarceration, on his say-so alone.

That means a hollowness has been expanding under the foundation of all these still- free-looking institutions - and this foundation can give way under certain kinds of pressure. To prevent such an outcome, we have to think about the "what ifs".

What if, in a year and a half, there is another attack - say, God forbid, a dirty bomb? The executive can declare a state of emergency. History shows that any leader, of any party, will be tempted to maintain emergency powers after the crisis has passed. With the gutting of traditional checks and balances, we are no less endangered by a President Hillary than by a President Giuliani - because any executive will be tempted to enforce his or her will through edict rather than the arduous, uncertain process of democratic negotiation and compromise.

What if the publisher of a major US newspaper were charged with treason or espionage, as a rightwing effort seemed to threaten Keller with last year? What if he or she got 10 years in jail? What would the newspapers look like the next day? Judging from history, they would not cease publishing; but they would suddenly be very polite.

Right now, only a handful of patriots are trying to hold back the tide of tyranny for the rest of us - staff at the Center for Constitutional Rights, who faced death threats for representing the detainees yet persisted all the way to the Supreme Court; activists at the American Civil Liberties Union; and prominent conservatives trying to roll back the corrosive new laws, under the banner of a new group called the American Freedom Agenda. This small, disparate collection of people needs everybody's help, including that of Europeans and others internationally who are willing to put pressure on the administration because they can see what a US unrestrained by real democracy at home can mean for the rest of the world.

We need to look at history and face the "what ifs". For if we keep going down this road, the "end of America" could come for each of us in a different way, at a different moment; each of us might have a different moment when we feel forced to look back and think: that is how it was before - and this is the way it is now.

"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands ... is the definition of tyranny," wrote James Madison. We still have the choice to stop going down this road; we can stand our ground and fight for our nation, and take up the banner the founders asked us to carry.

· Naomi Wolf's The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot will be published by Chelsea Green in September.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Reasonable Question to Ask IMO

Flashback: To one of gems that only sites like Signs of the Times can bring you. The rest of the media are too cowed/bought off to do so. You don't suppose this is one of the secondary reasons the US is putting pressure on Iran? It certainly clear that AIPAC is calling the shots in Congress. Oh, and that "Israel wiped off the map" comment? See HERE for the real skinny. CNN ain't gonna tell you.

Long live real free speech.

Blue Ibis

Iranian president sticks by anti-Israel comments

12 Dec 2005

TEHRAN - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday stuck by comments casting doubt on the Holocaust that drew censure from the U.N. Security Council and widespread condemnation by world leaders.

Ahmadinejad, echoing statements he made in Saudi Arabia last week, was quoted by state television and the semi-official ILNA news agency as accusing the West of using the Holocaust as an excuse to favor Israel.

"If the killing of Jews in Europe is true and the Zionists are supported because of this excuse, why should the Palestinian nation pay the price?" he said.

Speaking at a conference entitled "International Congress to Support the Islamic Revolution of Palestine", Ahmadinejad said Islamic countries had done too little to support Palestinians.

The conference was attended by Khaled Meshaal, chief-in-exile of the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

"The Islamic world should avoid its existing passiveness and handle the Palestinian issue more actively," said Ahmadinejad.

"As you see, since the Palestinians have become more active their situation has improved," he said.

Since taking office in August, Ahmadinejad has spoken out frequently against Israel in terms which were almost unheard of under his reformist predecessor Mohammad Khatami.

European diplomats say his anti-Israel comments, which have included calling the Jewish state a "tumor" that should be "wiped off the map", may cause a delay in planned talks between the European Union and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program.

Comment: Of course, all right-thinking people understand that the claims that Israel wields disproportionate influence over American and European politics are nothing but lies and thinly -veiled anti-Semitism and that there is no evidence to back up such proposterous accusations... right?...

Oh, If Only It Were So

What's April Fool's without a satirical news column? And far from wishing it was so, it all IS SO, except the part where Bush miraculously acquires a conscience. Which requires growing a soul, which come to think of it, requires some kind of functional brain. Probably too many miracles to ask for.

From the pen of intrepid roving SOTT reporter Ignacious O'Reilly:

Exclusive: Bush admits guilt in handling of 9-11

Ignacious O Reilly
Signs of the Times

Sun, 01 Apr 2007 16:09 EDT

President George W. Bush surprised reporters at a White House press conference this afternoon when he admitted that not only had he not done enough to prevent 9/11, but that the real perpetrators were actually members of a US shadow government that had been controlling US politics for over 100 years.

Mr. Bush, who was speaking from within a human shield made up of large and bulky Secret Service agents, had decided that his Christian convictions made it necessary for him to tell the truth after watching a re-screening of Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ.

"I am willing to endure the consequences," said a shaken Bush. "The Jews killed our Savior, and Mossad, working with members of my administration, attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon."

Mr. Bush also denounced the American media for their sycophantic coverage of post-9/11 events.

"While courageous French reporters were uncovering the truth, journalists from our own country were mindlessly repeating whatever Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, Cheney, and I were telling them. It has been a black day for America. We owe our French allies an apology. Let the word 'French' from this day on be synonymous with 'freedom'."

Mr. Bush then outlined what had really happened.

As many objective observers had long suspected, Bush confirmed that Al-Qaeda was a front for US intelligence. After the Afghan war against Soviet rule, deep cover CIA agents, with close links to the Pakistani intelligence service and the Bush family mafia, worked to turn the organisation against America. Given US policy in the Middle East, particularly its brazen support for the genocidal policies of Israel against the Palestinians, this was easy. A few well-placed operatives were able to turn Al-Qaeda into a useful tool for the next phase of what Mr. Bush termed Operation Save the Earth.

US shadow government planners have long been aware that the early 21st century would be a time of great upheaval. Climate change would cover vast agricultural areas under snow and ice, reducing the world's food supplies. Oil would run out, leading to major disruptions of industrial civilisation. Cometary impacts were also expected to destroy large sections of the planet. A radical solution was needed to save the world's elite, hence Operation Save the Earth was born in the 1920s.

The project drew up a timetable for the elimination of the majority of the world's population by 2010.
[This one just too farfetched? Check the article HERE]

The first step was the backing of Adolf Hitler in Germany. This lead to millions of deaths and the perfection of technologies that would be useful later in controlling the US population. Thousands of Nazis were later brought to the US after the war to continue the development of these systems. The existence of the Communist world was the justification of the militarization of the US economy and the basis for instilling a culture of fear. Political choices were narrowed to the corporatist political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats.

World rage at the horrors of the war led to the establishment of the United Nations. This organisation was used by propagandists to scare US citizens into believing the threat of One World Government was an external threat while the US carefully put into place its hegemony.

Returning to the question of 9/11, Bush said that the shadow government, which included highly placed Israelis known as 'NeoCons', as well as US citizens, planned the attack on 9/11 as the justification for the penultimate phase of Operation Save the Earth. This phase would include the complete control over human communication and movement prior to population reduction. By fomenting the phony "War on Terror," the pieces would be put into place for the establishment of martial law where populations could not be controlled through propaganda and brainwashing. It would also justify US intervention across the globe to secure the resources that would be necessary for the elite after they moved into their underground cities to sit out the coming Dark Age of population reduction and the cometary holocaust.

"They felt that it was necessary to have an American presence as widely spread over the globe as possible, with the hope that no matter how bad the wars and cataclysms, some small piece of our democracy and freedoms would continue as a model for those poor wretches who faced the dangers on the surface," the President said.

The only way to mobilize support within the US for the grabbing of resources was "a new Pearl Harbor," such as had been suggested by Richard Perle and other Neo-cons prior to the Bush Presidency.

"The plans were out in the open," said Bush. "You can read the papers they published. But this was part of the game these people were playing. They were trying to see how much they could get away with in public."
[apparently, almost anything they want . . .]

The 9/11 operation was carried out over several years through the close supervision of Mossad working in the US.

"The so-called 'Islamic terrorists' were actually being run by the Israelis," confirmed Bush. By choosing Saudi nationals as the "terrorists", the Israelis sought to set US opinion against their Arab neighbor.

The plan almost unraveled when the explosion at the Pentagon only created a three-yard wide hole in the façade.

"Rummy was worried after that," said Bush. "He thought it would give the game away. But after consulting with his bosses, they convinced him that no one in the US would believe that it could have been an inside job."

Another dark moment came went word leaked out that the Pakistani intelligence chief had been caught with $100,000 to be paid to the "Islamic terrorists."

Continuing on, the President talked about Iraq.

"Of course, I wanted to pin it on Saddam. He tried to kill my Daddy. But no one ever told me anything about what was really happening. It served Rummy and Cheney's plans to go into Iraq, so I guess they encouraged my desire to blame Saddam."

Bush said he hadn't known about the shadow government until last week, although whenever he visited with his Vice President, he felt a sort of cold, evil shudder come over him.

"I never thought anything of it. I used to feel that way all the time when I was with Daddy." Bush said that he learned the truth from Condi Rice.

"She came in to see me last week complaining that 'they' were trying to make her the fall guy for the whole operation. I said, 'Well, Condi, they can't make you the fall guy because you're a woman.' That was when she had the guts to sit me down and tell me the whole truth."

"When she was done, I remembered the cold dread of evil I had felt after the space shuttle was blown out of the sky a few years ago. I knew she was telling me the truth."

Comment: A little 'April Fools' joke, of sorts, because if the truth, rather than lies were the most valued commodity in this world, something very similar to the above report would have already made the headlines in all of the world's mainstream media outlets. As it is, the truth only lives on News sites like Signs of the Times.