Posts tagged Police State
thanks to Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com
Shortly prior to the start of the London Olympics, there was an outburst of hysteria over the failure to provide sufficient security against Terrorism, but as Harvard Professor Stephen Walt noted yesterday in Foreign Policy, this was all driven, as usual, by severe exaggerations of the threat: “Well, surprise, surprise. Not only was there no terrorist attack, the Games themselves came off rather well.” Walt then urges this lesson be learned:
[W]e continue to over-react to the “terrorist threat.” Here I recommend you read John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart’s The Terrorism Delusion: America’s Overwrought Response to September 11, in the latest issue of International Security. Mueller and Stewart analyze 50 cases of supposed “Islamic terrorist plots” against the United States, and show how virtually all of the perpetrators were (in their words) “incompetent, ineffective, unintelligent, idiotic, ignorant, unorganized, misguided, muddled, amateurish, dopey, unrealistic, moronic, irrational and foolish.” They quote former Glenn Carle, former deputy national intelligence officer for transnational threats saying “we must see jihadists for the small, lethal, disjointed and miserable opponents that they are,” noting further that al Qaeda’s “capabilities are far inferior to its desires.”
In the next paragraph, Walt essentially makes clear why this lesson will not be learned: namely, because there are too many American interests vested in the perpetuation of this irrational fear:
Mueller and Stewart estimate that expenditures on domestic homeland security (i.e., not counting the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan) have increased by more than $1 trillion since 9/11, even though the annual risk of dying in a domestic terrorist attack is about 1 in 3.5 million. Using conservative assumptions and conventional risk-assessment methodology, they estimate that for these expenditures to be cost-effective “they would have had to deter, prevent, foil or protect against 333 very large attacks that would otherwise have been successful every year.” Finally, they worry that this exaggerated sense of danger has now been “internalized”: even when politicians and “terrorism experts” aren’t hyping the danger, the public still sees the threat as large and imminent. As they conclude:
… Americans seems to have internalized their anxiety about terrorism, and politicians and policymakers have come to believe that they can defy it only at their own peril. Concern about appearing to be soft on terrorism has replaced concern about seeming to be soft on communism, a phenomenon that lasted far longer than the dramatic that generated it … This extraordinarily exaggerated and essentially delusional response may prove to be perpetual.”
Which is another way of saying that you should be prepared to keep standing in those pleasant and efficient TSA lines for the rest of your life, and to keep paying for far-flung foreign interventions designed to “root out” those nasty jihadis.
Many of the benefits from keeping Terrorism fear levels high are obvious. Private corporations suck up massive amounts of Homeland Security cash as long as that fear persists, while government officials in the National Security and Surveillance State can claim unlimited powers, and operate with unlimited secrecy and no accountability. In sum, the private and public entities that shape government policy and drive political discourse profit far too much in numerous ways to allow rational considerations of the Terror threat.
This is a profound and eye-opening video that should be considered and weighed in our minds.
Are we in such danger that we need to create a society that is constantly surveilled, spied on and subject to secret prosecution?
We are nearing a tipping point in one direction or another—our choice is our fate.
Well…The Apostle Paul did his best work from prison—perhaps we will do ours there as well.
Paul Joseph Watson
Saturday, November 26, 2011
The Senate is set to vote on a bill next week that would define the whole of the United States as a “battlefield” and allow the U.S. Military to arrest American citizens in their own back yard without charge or trial.
“The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself,” writes Chris Anders of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.
Under the ‘worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial’ provision of S.1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which is set to be up for a vote on the Senate floor Monday, the legislation will “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who supports the bill.
The bill was drafted in secret by Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), before being passed in a closed-door committee meeting without any kind of hearing. The language appears in sections 1031 and 1032 of the NDAA bill.
“I would also point out that these provisions raise serious questions as to who we are as a society and what our Constitution seeks to protect,” Colorado Senator Mark Udall said in a speech last week. One section of these provisions, section 1031, would be interpreted as allowing the military to capture and indefinitely detain American citizens on U.S. soil. Section 1031 essentially repeals the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 by authorizing the U.S. military to perform law enforcement functions on American soil. That alone should alarm my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but there are other problems with these provisions that must be resolved.”
This means Americans could be declared domestic terrorists and thrown in a military brig with no recourse whatsoever. Given that the Department of Homeland Security has characterized behavior such as buying gold, owning guns, using a watch or binoculars, donating to charity, using the telephone or email to find information, using cash, and all manner of mundane behaviors as potential indicators of domestic terrorism, such a provision would be wide open to abuse.
“American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea? And why now?” asks Anders.
The ACLU is urging citizens to call their Senator and demand that the Udall Amendment be added to the bill, a change that would at least act as a check to prevent Americans being snatched off the streets without some form of Congressional oversight.
We have been warning for over a decade that Americans would become the target of laws supposedly aimed at terrorists and enemy combatants. Alex Jones personally documented how U.S. troops were being trained to arrest U.S. citizens in the event of martial law during urban warfare training drills back in the 90′s. Under the the National Defense Authorization Act bill, no declaration of martial law is necessary since Americans would now be subject to the same treatment as suspected insurgents in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.
If you thought that the executive assassination of American citizens abroad was bad enough, now similar powers will be extended to the “homeland,” in other words, your town, your community, your back yard.
Keeping British troops out of our homes without a warrant was one of the MAJOR reasons for the American revolution. Today, we have reverted to those police state measures by allowing law enforcement to write their own search warrants instead of having a Judge issue them legally.
For a 5:00 clip, this sums up a huge part of our problems today.
Defying Hitler is a mesmerizing memoir written by the German journalist Sebastian Haffner (a pseudonym for Raimund Pretzel) shortly after he emigrated from Germany to England with his Jewish wife in 1938. In it, Haffner explores a question similar to one that has haunted me since 9/11. He examines how a highly cultured and civilized nation could slip so quickly into the barbaric totalitarianism of Nazi rule. My version of this question is, how could America, a nation with deep roots in individual freedom, so quickly slide into a police state?
No mystery surrounds the motives of ambitious politicians or their lackeys, such as bureaucrats, but an abrupt pivot of society requires the acceptance or acquiescence of a majority of people who are neither. Key to the explanation for Nazi Germany and current America is the steady and profound reshaping of society’s institutions, from the school system to law enforcement, from the courts to the hospitals. The institutions began to express a different vision of society; for example, instead of expressing the rule of law and due-process protections, the courts came to embody the opposite.
In an essay first published in Modern Age (Winter 1980), Murray Rothbard elegantly explained the importance of this slow but profound shift within institutions. Human beings are born neither good nor evil, he argued, but with a capacity for both. Therefore it is essential “for social institutions to encourage the good and discourage the bad.” This was a strong theme within Rothbard’s advocacy of anarchism.
The state is the only institution which can use the revenue from this organized theft [taxes] to presume to control and regulate people’s lives and property. Hence, the institution of the state establishes a socially legitimatized and sanctified channel for bad people to do bad things.
A “free society,” by contrast, does not establish a legitimatized “channel for theft and tyranny.” Instead, it “discourages the criminal tendencies of human nature and encourages the peaceful and the voluntary.” Thus to the extent a society’s institutions or social infrastructure personify freedom and not state control, then to that extent “harmony and mutual benefit of voluntary interpersonal exchanges” will be maximized.