by Paul Craig Roberts. (Pictures and bolded notations by Lasha Darkmoon) – Darkmoon Jan 4, 2012
Writers who are critical of Washington’s illegal wars and the overthrow of the US Constitution could soon find themselves in indefinite detention. This is because criticism of Washington’s policies can be alleged to be aiding Washington’s enemies—which might include charities that provide aid to bombed Palestinian children and flotillas that attempt to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.
The Bush/Obama regimes have put the foundation in place for imprisoning critics of the government without due process of law. The First Amendment is being all but restricted to rah-rah Americans who chant USA! USA! USA! Washington has set itself up as world prosecutor, forever berating other countries for human rights violations, while Washington alone bombs half a dozen countries into the stone age and threatens several more with the same treatment, all the while violating US statutory law and the Geneva Conventions by torturing detainees.
Washington rounds up assorted foreign politicians, whose countries were afflicted with civil wars, and sends them off to be tried as war criminals, while its own war crimes continue to mount. However, if a person exposes Washington’s war crimes, that person is held without charges in conditions that approximate torture.
Bradley Manning is the case in point. Manning, a US soldier, is alleged to be the person who released to WikiLeaks the “Collateral Murder” video, which, in the words of Marjorie Cohn, “depicts U.S. forces in an Apache helicopter killing 12 unarmed civilians, including two Reuters journalists. People trying to rescue the wounded were also fired upon and killed.”
One of the Good Samaritans was a father with two small children. The video reveals the delight that US military personnel experienced in blowing them away from the distant skies. When it became clear that the Warriors Bringing The People Democracy had blown away two small children, instead of remorse we hear an executioner’s voice saying: “that’s what he gets for bringing children into a war zone.”
The quote is from memory, but it is accurate enough. When I first saw this video, I was astonished at the brazen war crime. It is completely obvious that the dozen or so murdered people were simply people walking along a street, threatening no one, unarmed, doing nothing out of the ordinary. It was not a war zone. The horror is that the US soldiers were playing video games with live people. You can tell from their commentary that they were having fun by killing these unsuspecting people walking along the street. They enjoyed killing the father who stopped to help and shooting up his vehicle with the two small children inside.
This was not an accident of a drone, fed with bad information, blowing up a school full of children, or a hospital, or a farmer’s family. This was American soldiers having fun with high tech toys killing anyone that they could pretend might be an enemy.
When I saw this, I realized that America was lost. Evil had prevailed.
I was about to write that nothing has been done about the crime. But something was done about it. An American soldier who recognized the horrific war crime knew that the US military knew about it and had done nothing about it. He also knew that as a US soldier he was required to report war crimes. But to whom? War crimes dismissed as “collateral damage” are the greatest part of Washington’s 21st century wars.
A soldier with a moral conscience gave the video to WikiLeaks. We don’t know who the soldier is. Washington alleges that the soldier is Bradley Manning, but Washington lies every time it opens its mouth. So we will never know.
All we know is that retribution did not fall on the perpetrators of the war crime. It fell upon the two accused of revealing it–Bradley Manning and Julian Assange.
Manning was held almost two years without charges being presented to a court. In December’s pre-trial hearings all Washington could come up with was concocted accusations. No evidence whatsoever. The prosecutor, a Captain Fein, told the court, if that is what it is, that Manning had been “trained and trusted to use multiple intelligence systems, and he used that training to defy that trust. He abused our trust.”
In other words, Manning gave the world the truth of a war crime that was being covered up, and Washington and the Pentagon regard a truth teller doing his duty under the US military code as an “abuser of trust.”
Captain Fein could not have put it any clearer. If you tell the truth and reveal Washington’s war crimes, you have aided the enemy. Captain Fein’s simple sentence has at one stroke abolished all whistleblower protections written into US statutory law and the First Amendment, and confined anyone with a moral conscience and sense of decency to indefinite detention and torture.
According to American officials, Manning is treated with kindness and consideration. This treatment consists of the following:
Solitary confinement in a small cell for 23 hours a day, forcibly naked and without his prescription glasses so that he is effectively blind. He is allowed his glasses only when reading; but if he pauses for a moment to muse on what he has read, his glasses are confiscated in case he attempts to commit suicide with them. (2) Being hassled every five minutes with the infuriating question “Are you okay?” and being forced to answer “Yes.” (3) One hour of “exercise” a day which involves walking round in circles in the prison yard with heavy shackles round his legs. His exercise is stopped instantly if he stumbles or pauses even for a second. (4) He is not allowed to exercise in his cell to make up for his spitefully confiscated exercise while in the prison yard. (5) At the whim of his jailers, he is forced to stand naked outside his cell while other prisoners are paraded past and allowed to mock his sufferings.
There is no record of Bradley Manning having been waterboarded so far, but future American detainees now face this additional prospect under the draconian National Defense Authorization Act passed by Obama on December 31, 2011.
On June 2, 2010, George W. Bush proudly confessed, “Yeah, we waterboarded…I’d do it again.”
President Barrack Obama appears to be equally unconcerned about the torture of American citizens. When recently asked about the prosecution of Bush administration officials for torture, he answered evasively, “I’m a strong believer that it’s important to look forward and not backwards.”
Washington, in a brazen display of hypocrisy, accuses other countries of human rights abuses, while Congress has passed and President Obama has signed an indefinite detention and torture bill that US Representative Ron Paul says will accelerate America’s “slip into tyranny” and “descent into totalitarianism.”
In signing the Bill of Tyranny, President Obama indicated that he thought that the tyranny established by the bill did not go far enough. He announced that he was signing the bill with signing statements that reserved his right, regardless of any law, to send American citizens, deprived of due process and constitutional protection, abroad to be tortured.
This is the US government that claims to be a government of “freedom and democracy” and to be bringing “freedom and democracy” to others with bombs and invasions.
The past year gave us other ominous tyrannical developments. President Obama announced that he had a list of Americans whom he intended to assassinate without due process of law, and Homeland Security, itself an Orwellian name, announced that it had shifted its attention from terrorists to “domestic extremists.” The latter are undefined and consist of whomever Homeland Security so designates.
None of this was done behind closed doors. The murder of the US Constitution was a public crime witnessed by all.
Local and state police forces have been militarized not only in their equipment and armament but also in their attitude toward the public. Despite the absence of domestic terror attacks, Homeland Security conducts warrantless searches of cars and trucks on highways and of passengers using public transportation. A uniformed federal service is being trained to systematically violate the constitutional rights of citizens, and citizens are being trained to accept these violations as normal. The young have no memory of being able to board public transportation or use public roadways without intrusive searches or to gather in protest without being brutalized by the police. Liberty is being moved into the realm of myth and legend.
In such a system as is being constructed in public in front of our eyes, there is no freedom, no democracy, and no liberty. What stands before us is naked tyranny.
While America degenerates into a total police state, politicians constantly invoke “our values.” What are these values? Indefinite imprisonment without conviction in a court. Torture. Warrantless searches and home invasions. An epidemic of police brutality. Curtailment of free speech and peaceful assembly rights. Unprovoked aggression called “preemptive war.” Interference in the elections and internal affairs of other countries. Economic sanctions imposed on foreign populations whose leaders are not in Washington’s pocket.
If the American police state were merely an unintended consequence of a real war against terror, it could be dismantled when the war was over. However, the evidence is that the police state is an intended consequence. The PATRIOT Act is a voluminous and clever attack on the Constitution. It is not possible that it could have been written in the short time between 9/11 and its introduction in Congress. It was waiting on the shelf.
The dismantling of constitutionally protected civil liberties is purposeful, as is the accumulation of arbitrary and unaccountable powers in the executive branch of government. As there have been no terrorist events within the US in over a decade except for those known to have been organized by the FBI, there is no terrorist threat that justifies the establishment of a political regime of unaccountable power. It is being done on purpose under false pretenses, which means that there is an undeclared agenda. The threat that Americans face resides in Washington, D.C.
I suspect that turning things around internally through the political system is not in the cards. Our chance to resurrect liberty might come from Washington’s hubris. Imperial ambitions and drive for power can produce unmanageable upheavals and a loss of allies. Overreach abroad with a demoralized, unemployed and downtrodden population at home are not the ingredients of success.
How much longer will the Russian government permit NGOs funded by the US Endowment for Democracy to interfere in its elections and to organize political protests? How much longer will China confuse its strategic interests with the American consumer market? How much longer will Japan, Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, and the Middle East oil states remain US puppets? How much longer can the dollar retain the reserve currency role when the Federal Reserve is monetizing vast quantities of debt?
America’s salvation will come when Washington suffers defeat of its hegemonic ambitions.
The American public has no way of knowing whether tortured detainees are terrorists or political opponents. Why are Americans prepared to take the word of a government that told them intentionally the lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was a threat to America?
Power attracts the worst kind of persons. As Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prove, democracies are not immune to the evil use of power. Indeed, identical inhumane treatment of prisoners goes on inside the US prison system for ordinary criminals.
Over-fed goon cops taser little children and people in wheel chairs. They body slam elderly grandmothers. The police are a horror. They represent a greater threat to citizens than do criminals.
Punishment without crime is now the American Way.
In one decade the US has been transformed from a free society into a police state. The American population, to the extent it is aware of what has occurred, has simply accepted the revolution from the top.
Americans seem to welcome the era of tyranny into which they are now entering.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. This is edited and quintessentialized version of The Outlook For Liberty is Dismal, with additional material by Lasha Darkmoon.