Top 10 Signs of the Impending
U.S. Police State
From secret detention centers
to warrantless wiretapping, Bush and Co. give free rein to their
by Allan Uthman, Buffalo Beast
www.alternet.org, May 26, 2006
Is the U.S. becoming a police state? Here
are the top 10 signs that it may well be the case.
1. The Internet Clampdown
One saving grace of alternative media
in this age of unfettered corporate conglomeration has been the
internet. While the masses are spoon-fed predigested news on TV
and in mainstream print publications, the truth-seeking individual
still has access to a broad array of investigative reporting and
political opinion via the world-wide web. Of course, it was only
a matter of time before the government moved to patch up this
crack in the sky.
Attempts to regulate and filter internet
content are intensifying lately, coming both from telecommunications
corporations (who are gearing up to pass legislation transferring
ownership and regulation of the internet to themselves), and the
Pentagon (which issued an "Information Operations Roadmap"
in 2003, signed by Donald Rumsfeld, which outlines tactics such
as network attacks and acknowledges, without suggesting a remedy,
that US propaganda planted in other countries has easily found
its way to Americans via the internet). One obvious tactic clearing
the way for stifling regulation of internet content is the growing
media frenzy over child pornography and "internet predators,"
which will surely lead to legislation that by far exceeds in its
purview what is needed to fight such threats.
2. "The Long War"
This little piece of clumsy marketing
died off quickly, but it gave away what many already suspected:
the War on Terror will never end, nor is it meant to end. It is
designed to be perpetual. As with the War on Drugs, it outlines
a goal that can never be fully attained -- as long as there are
pissed off people and explosives. The Long War will eternally
justify what are ostensibly temporary measures: suspension of
civil liberties, military expansion, domestic spying, massive
deficit spending and the like. This short-lived moniker told us
all, "get used to it. Things aren't going to change any time
3. The USA PATRIOT Act
Did anyone really think this was going
to be temporary? Yes, this disgusting power grab gives the government
the right to sneak into your house, look through all your stuff
and not tell you about it for weeks on a rubber stamp warrant.
Yes, they can look at your medical records and library selections.
Yes, they can pass along any information they find without probable
cause for purposes of prosecution. No, they're not going to take
it back, ever.
4. Prison Camps
This last January the Army Corps of Engineers
gave Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root nearly $400
million to build detention centers in the United States, for the
purpose of unspecified "new programs." Of course, the
obvious first guess would be that these new programs might involve
rounding up Muslims or political dissenters -- I mean, obviously
detention facilities are there to hold somebody. I wish I had
more to tell you about this, but it's, you know... secret.
5. Touchscreen Voting Machines
Despite clear, copious evidence that these
nefarious contraptions are built to be tampered with, they continue
to spread and dominate the voting landscape, thanks to Bush's
"Help America Vote Act," the exploitation of corrupt
elections officials, and the general public's enduring cluelessness.
In Utah, Emery County Elections Director
Bruce Funk witnessed security testing by an outside firm on Diebold
voting machines which showed them to be a security risk. But his
warnings fell on deaf ears. Instead Diebold attorneys were flown
to Emery County on the governor's airplane to squelch the story.
Funk was fired. In Florida, Leon County Supervisor of Elections
Ion Sancho discovered an alarming security flaw in their Diebold
system at the end of last year. Rather than fix the flaw, Diebold
refused to fulfill its contract. Both of the other two touchscreen
voting machine vendors, Sequoia and ES&S, now refuse to do
business with Sancho, who is required by HAVA to implement a touchscreen
system and will be sued by his own state if he doesn't. Diebold
is said to be pressuring for Sancho's ouster before it will resume
servicing the county.
Stories like these and much worse abound,
and yet TV news outlets have done less coverage of the new era
of elections fraud than even 9/11 conspiracy theories. This is
possibly the most important story of this century, but nobody
seems to give a damn. As long as this issue is ignored, real American
democracy will remain an illusion. The midterm elections will
be an interesting test of the public's continuing gullibility
about voting integrity, especially if the Democrats don't win
substantial gains, as they almost surely will if everything is
Bush just suggested that his brother Jeb
would make a good president. We really need to fix this problem
6. Signing Statements
Bush has famously never vetoed a bill.
This is because he prefers to simply nullify laws he doesn't like
with "signing statements." Bush has issued over 700
such statements, twice as many as all previous presidents combined.
A few examples of recently passed laws and their corresponding
dismissals, courtesy of the Boston Globe:
* Dec. 30, 2005: US interrogators cannot
torture prisoners or otherwise subject them to cruel, inhuman,
and degrading treatment.
* Bush's signing statement: The president,
as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides
that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing
* Dec. 30, 2005: When requested, scientific
information ''prepared by government researchers and scientists
shall be transmitted [to Congress] uncensored and without delay."
* Bush's signing statement: The president
can tell researchers to withhold any information from Congress
if he decides its disclosure could impair foreign relations, national
security, or the workings of the executive branch.
* Dec. 23, 2004: Forbids US troops in
Colombia from participating in any combat against rebels, except
in cases of self-defense. Caps the number of US troops allowed
in Colombia at 800.
* Bush's signing statement: Only the president,
as commander in chief, can place restrictions on the use of US
armed forces, so the executive branch will construe the law ''as
advisory in nature."
Essentially, this administration is bypassing
the judiciary and deciding for itself whether laws are constitutional
or not. Somehow, I don't see the new Supreme Court lineup having
much of a problem with that, though. So no matter what laws congress
passes, Bush will simply choose to ignore the ones he doesn't
care for. It's much quieter than a veto, and can't be overridden
by a two-thirds majority. It's also totally absurd.
7. Warrantless Wiretapping
Amazingly, the GOP sees this issue as
a plus for them. How can this be? What are you, stupid? You find
out the government is listening to the phone calls of US citizens,
without even the weakest of judicial oversight and you think that's
okay? Come on -- if you know anything about history, you know
that no government can be trusted to handle something like this
responsibly. One day they're listening for Osama, and the next
they're listening in on Howard Dean.
Think about it: this administration hates
unauthorized leaks. With no judicial oversight, why on earth wouldn't
they eavesdrop on, say, Seymour Hersh, to figure out who's spilling
the beans? It's a no-brainer. Speaking of which, it bears repeating:
terrorists already knew we would try to spy on them. They don't
care if we have a warrant or not. But you should.
8. Free Speech Zones
I know it's old news, but... come on,
are they fucking serious?
9. High-ranking Whistleblowers
Army Generals. Top-level CIA officials.
NSA operatives. White House cabinet members. These are the kind
of people that Republicans fantasize about being, and whose judgment
they usually respect. But for some reason, when these people resign
in protest and criticize the Bush administration en masse, they
are cast as traitorous, anti-American publicity hounds. Ridiculous.
The fact is, when people who kill, spy and deceive for a living
tell you that the White House has gone too far, you had damn well
better pay attention. We all know most of these people are staunch
Republicans. If the entire military except for the two guys the
Pentagon put in front of the press wants Rumsfeld out, why on
earth wouldn't you listen?
10. The CIA Shakeup
Was Porter Goss fired because he was resisting
the efforts of Rumsfeld or Negroponte? No. These appointments
all come from the same guys, and they wouldn't be nominated if
they weren't on board all the way. Goss was probably canned so
abruptly due to a scandal involving a crooked defense contractor,
his hand-picked third-in-command, the Watergate hotel and some
If Bush's nominee for CIA chief, Air Force
General Michael Hayden, is confirmed, that will put every spy
program in Washington under military control. Hayden, who oversaw
the NSA warrantless wiretapping program and is clearly down with
the program. That program? To weaken and dismantle or at least
neuter the CIA. Despite its best efforts to blame the CIA for
"intelligence errors" leading to the Iraq war, the picture
has clearly emerged -- through extensive CIA leaks -- that the
White House's analysis of Saddam's destructive capacity was not
shared by the Agency. This has proved to be a real pain in the
ass for Bush and the gang.
Who'd have thought that career spooks
would have moral qualms about deceiving the American people? And
what is a president to do about it? Simple: make the critical
agents leave, and fill their slots with Bush/Cheney loyalists.
Then again, why not simply replace the entire organization? That
is essentially what both Rumsfeld at the DoD and newly minted
Director of National Intelligence John are doing -- they want
to move intelligence analysis into the hands of people that they
can control, so the next time they lie about an "imminent
threat" nobody's going to tell. And the press is applauding
the move as a "necessary reform."
Remember the good old days, when the CIA
were the bad guys?