The most important casualties of Sept. 11 are
respect for truth and American liberty. Propaganda has replaced deliberation
based on objective assessment of fact. The resurrection of the Star
Chamber has made moot the legal protections of liberty.
The U.S. invasion of Iraq was based on the deliberate suppression of fact.
The invasion was not the result of mistaken intelligence. It was based on deliberately
concocted "intelligence" designed to deceive the U.S. Congress, the
American public, and the United Nations.
In an interview with Barbara Walters on ABC News, General Colin Powell, who
was secretary of state at the time of the invasion, expressed dismay that he
was the one who took the false information to the UN and presented it to the
world. The weapons of mass destruction speech, he said, is a
"blot" on his record. The full extent of the deception was made
clear by the leaked top secret "Downing
Two and one-half years after the March 2003 invasion, the U.S. Congress and
the American people still do not know the reason Iraq was invaded. The U.S.
is bogged down in an expensive and deadly combat, and no one outside the small
circle of neoconservatives who orchestrated the war knows the reason why. Many
guesses are rendered – oil, removal of Israel's enemy – but the Bush administration
has never disclosed its real agenda, which it cloaked with the WMD deception.
This itself is a powerful indication that American democracy is dead. With
the exception of right-wing talk radio, everyone in America now knows that the
invasion of Iraq was based on false information. Yet, 40 percent of the public
and both political parties in Congress still support the ongoing war.
The CIA has issued a report that the war is working only for Osama bin Laden.
The unprovoked American aggression against Iraq, the horrors perpetrated against
Muslims in Abu Ghraib prison, and the slaughter and mistreatment of Iraqi noncombatants,
have radicalized the Muslim world and elevated bin Laden from a fringe figure
to a leader opposed to American hegemony in the Middle East. The chaos created
in Iraq by the U.S. military has provided al-Qaeda with superb training grounds
for insurgency and terrorism. Despite overwhelming evidence that the "war
on terror" is in fact a war for terror, Republicans still cheer
when Bush says we have to "fight them over there" so they don't come
If fact played any role in the decision to continue with this war, the U.S.
would not be spending hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars to provide recruits
and training for al-Qaeda, to radicalize Muslims, and to destroy trust in the
United States both abroad and among its own citizens.
American casualties (dead and wounded) of this gratuitous war are now approximately
20,000. In July, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said the war might continue for
12 years. U.S. casualties from such protracted combat would eat away U.S. troop
strength. Considering the well-publicized recruitment problems, America would
require a draft or foreign mercenaries in order to continue a ground war. Like
the overextended Roman Empire, the U.S. would have to deplete its remaining
wealth to pay mercenaries.
Dead and wounded Americans are too high a price to pay for a war based on deception.
This alone is reason to end the war, if necessary by impeaching Bush and Cheney
and arresting the neoconservatives for treason. Naked aggression is a war crime
under the Nuremberg standard, and neoconservatives have brought this shame to
There is an even greater cost of the war – the legal system that protects liberty,
a human achievement for which countless numbers of people gave their lives over
the centuries. The Bush administration used Sept. 11 to whip up fear and hysteria
and to employ these weapons against American liberty. The Orwellian-named PATRIOT
Act has destroyed habeas corpus. The executive branch has gained the unaccountable
power to detain American citizens on mere suspicion or accusation, without evidence,
and to hold Americans indefinitely without a trial.
Foolishly, many Americans believe this power can only be used against terrorists.
Americans don't realize that the government can declare anyone to be a terrorist
suspect. As no evidence is required, it is entirely up to the government to
decide who is a terrorist. Thus, the power is unaccountable. Unaccountable power
is the source of tyranny.
The English-speaking world has not seen such power since the 16th and 17th
centuries when the Court of Star Chamber became a political weapon used against
the king's opponents and to circumvent Parliament. The Star Chamber dispensed
with juries, permitted hearsay evidence, and became so reviled that "Star
Chamber" became a byword for injustice. The Long Parliament abolished the
Star Chamber in 1641. In obedience to the Bush regime, the U.S. Congress resurrected
it with the PATRIOT Act. Can anything be more Orwellian than identifying patriotism
with the abolition of habeas corpus?
Historians are quick to note that the Star Chamber was mild compared to Gitmo,
to the U.S. practice of sending detainees abroad to be tortured, and to the
justice (sic) regime being run by Attorney General "Torture" Gonzales
and his predecessor, "Draped
Justice" Ashcroft, who went so far as to say that opposition to the
PATRIOT Act was itself the mark of a terrorist.
The time-honored attorney-client privilege is another casualty of the "war
on terror." Taking their cue from the restrictions placed on lawyers representing
Stalin's victims in the 1930s show trials, Justice (sic) Department officials
seek to limit attorneys representing terrorist suspects to procedural niceties.
Lynne Stewart, attorney for Omar
Abdel Rahman, was handed a letter by a Justice (sic) Department prosecutor instructing
her how to represent her client. When she did what every good lawyer would do
and represented her client aggressively, she was arrested, indicted, and convicted.
Many conservative lawyers have turned a blind eye because Stewart is regarded
as a left-wing lawyer whom they dislike. Only a few civil libertarians, such
as Harvey Silverglate,
have pointed out that prosecutors cannot create felonies by writing letters
to attorneys. Stewart was convicted for violating a prosecutor's letter (technically,
a Special Administrative Measure). This should make it obvious even to the blind
that American democracy has lost all control over law.
Federal officials have sensed the sea change in American law: arbitrary actions
and assertions by federal officials are taking the place of statutory legislation.
We saw an example recently when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
announced that news media covering the New Orleans hurricane story were prohibited
from taking pictures of the bodies of inhabitants drowned when the levees failed.
Nowhere is FEMA given authority to override the First Amendment. Yet, FEMA officials
saw no reason not to issue its decree. Rome had one Caesar. America has them
throughout the executive branch.
We see the same exercise of arbitrary authority in break-ins by police into
New Orleans homes in order to confiscate legally owned firearms. No authority
exists for these violations of the Second Amendment. No authority exists for
the forceful removal of residents from non-damaged homes. Tyrannical precedents
are being established by these fantastic abuses of government authority.
In the U.S. today nothing stands in the way of the arbitrary exercise of power
by government. Federal courts have acquiesced in unconstitutional detention
policies. There is no opposition party, and there is no media, merely huge conglomerates
or collections of federal broadcasting licenses, the owners of which are afraid
to displease the government.
The collapse of the institutions that confine government to law and bind it
with the Constitution was sudden. The president previous to Bush was impeached
by the House for lying about a sexual affair. If we go back to the 1970s, President
Richard Nixon had the decency to resign when it came to light that he had lied
about when he first learned of a minor burglary. Bush's failures are far more
serious and numerous, yet Bush has escaped accountability.
Polls show that a majority of Americans have lost confidence in the Iraq war
and believe Bush did a poor job responding to flooded New Orleans. Many Americans
hope that these two massive failures have put Bush back into the box of responsible
behavior from which Sept. 11 allowed him to escape. However, there is no indication
that the Bush administration sees any constraints placed on its behavior by
The identical cronyism and corrupt government contract practices, by which
taxpayers' money is used to reward political contributors, so evident in Iraq
is now evident in New Orleans.
Despite having been fought to a stalemate by a few thousand insurgents in Iraq,
the Bush administration continues to issue thunderous threats to Syria and Iran.
To press its fabricated case against Iran's alleged weapons of mass destruction
program, the Bush administration is showing every foreign diplomat it can corral
an hour-long slide show titled, "A
History of Concealment and Deception." Wary foreigners are reminded
of the presentations about Iraq's WMD and wonder who is guilty of deception,
Iran or the Bush administration.
Now that the war in Iraq has established that U.S. ground forces cannot easily
prevail against insurgency, the Bush administration is bringing new military
threats to the fore. The neocon orchestrated "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear
Operations" abandons the established doctrine that nuclear weapons are
last resort options. The Bush administration is so enamored of coercion that
it is birthing the doctrine of preemptive
nuclear attack. U.S. war doctrine is being altered to eliminate the need
for a large invasion force and to use "preventive nuclear strikes"
in its place.
Is this the face that the American people want to present to the world? It
is hard to imagine a greater risk to America than to put the entire world on
notice that every country risks being nuked based on mere suspicion. By making
nuclear war permissible, the Bush administration is crossing the line that divides
civilized people from barbarians. The United States is starting to acquire the
image of Nazi Germany. Knowledgeable people should have no trouble drawing up
their own list of elements common to both the Bush and Hitler regimes: the use
of extraordinary lies to justify military aggression; reliance on coercion and
threats in place of diplomacy; total belief in the virtue and righteousness
of one's cause; the equating of factual objections or "reality-based"
analysis to treason; the redirection of patriotism from country to leader; the
belief that defeat resides in debate and a weakening of will; refuge in delusion
and denial when promised results don't materialize.
As Professor Claes Ryn made clear in his book, America
the Virtuous, the neoconservatives are neo-Jacobins. There is nothing
conservative about them. They are committed to the use of coercion to impose
their agenda. Their attitude is merciless toward anyone in their way, whether
fellow citizen or foreigner. "You are with us or against us." For
those on the receiving end, the Nazi and Jacobin mentalities come to the same
The Bush administration has abandoned American principles. It is a Jacobin
regime. Woe to its citizens and the rest of the world.