Wolfowitz finally fessed up to the obvious last week: the
alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were merely a pretext
for ousting Saddam. That few seem troubled by this brazen admission
is a sad cultural indicator. Can you imagine FDR spilling the
beans on Pearl
Harbor or LBJ coming clean on the Tonkin
Gulf two months after the fact? A nation must be nearing
the end of its decadent twilight when its politicians no longer
bother to cover up their lies.
any good Straussian,
though, Wolfowitz understands the need for "noble
lies." If most folks had known how
weak Iraq truly was, then war would have been politically
impossible. Our D.C. betters had to make the war seem relevant
to American interests, so they screamed "anthrax!"
gas!" and "nukes
in six months!" All for the greater good, of course.
They knew that once the war was over, everyone would bask
in its wondrous results (a dictator's comeuppance, the dawn
of Arab democracy), and forget its original justifications.
"pragmatic" approach to foreign policy always has
domestic ricochets. Citizens of the empire know the following
response to government misconduct all too well: "Who cares
about legal technicalities? The only people who will suffer
when the police search every car on demand/raid every home at
will/read every e-mail with impunity are the criminals."
In a country where Bill
O'Reilly passes for Socrates, such "arguments"
are quite effective. The perfect tautology anyone arrested is
a criminal, and any criminal should be arrested. Beneath the
airtight logic, though, are some troubling assumptions. Those
who consider Amendments
4 and 5 mere "technicalities" don't understand
that they're about much more than due process. Just as Article
I, Section 8 is less a procedure for declaring wars than
an impediment to starting them, the Bill of Rights hinders the
prosecution of crimes that shouldn't be crimes in the first
do realize that the use of present tense in the last sentence
was wishful thinking. After a decade of politically-motivated
law enforcement from Reno and Ashcroft, we're all criminals
just waiting to be collared. "Suspicion of terrorism"
is simply another way for the feds to get a foot in your door.
Remember, they don't need to prove that you're a terrorist;
they only need to call
you a terrorist in order to unearth your real sins. As one
agent assigned to the Byron Cecchini case put it, "You
prosecute what you can prosecute."
Cecchini is an idiot racist in Virginia who perpetrated
one of the ghastliest hate crimes in recent memory: unlawful
use of the Nike swoosh on a few t-shirts. That wasn't the basis
for the search warrant, of course. No, Cecchini was alleged
to be a Nazi gun-nut terrorist who was planning to break his
pact with Stalin and invade Poland and hold rallies in Nuremberg
and bomb London and bomb Guernica
and generally kill everybody. Which was true, except for the
gun-nut part and everything after. It seems that the suspect
demonstrated his true
fealty to Nazism by not owning any guns. The sneaky bastard
also deleted any Reichstag
plots from his hard drive, and discarded any beer
hall putschers from his Rolodex. But the feds don't hop
out of bed for a pre-dawn raid and then leave with nothing.
No WMDs? No problem. Like good foreign policy, good police work
is all about justifying the bullet after it leaves the barrel.
Byron Cecchini's a loathsome fellow, and probably not much of
a civil libertarian, either. But he has now joined the likes
Hatfill and Jose
Padilla as one more trial balloon on the way to full exploitation
of the PATRIOT
Act. Rest assured that the public's silence is being read
as approval by John Ashcroft, who can hardly wait to take down
the administration's real
enemies. Get ready for Guantanamo,
you Bushies enjoy your lock-'em-up spree while it lasts, though,
gonna have fun thumbing through your LifeLogs.
Five years from now, after you have crushed everyone who would
defend your rights on principle, you may see us again