Detention

This Week in Doom Sept. 16: Florence


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on September 15, 2018

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

 ― Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 5 Scene 5 


Hurricane Florence stormed the East Coast this week inducing dread that roiled millions and left seventeen dead as of Sunday. When they tot up the final losses, what they'll miss are the people who died from stress induced by weather reporting hysteria.

The Weather Channel stands alone. They started weather reporting hysteria as a cynical marketing strategy. They have put their reporters front and right in the middle of the storm. They stand in knee-deep water, windbreakers flapping and report the fact that it is raining to people who can already see that it is wet.

The above pic comes from a video report offered up by TWC's Mike Seidel making the rounds on social media. Seidel appeared to be waging a valiant struggle against the elements, swaying back and forth with mighty effort against the vicissitudes of Florence as he filed his ever-so-essential report. And then… just watch the vid. 

As someone who stared down the barrel of a catastrophic loss on as recently as Wednesday, I find this "hurricane porn" emotionally manipulative. Seidel should resurface as a Starbucks barista, after hurricane survivors throw him a blanket party. 

TWC had an explanation of sorts for Seidel's weather kabuki

“It’s important to note that the two individuals in the background are walking on concrete, and Mike Seidel is trying to maintain his footing on wet grass, after reporting on-air until 1:00 a.m. ET this morning and is undoubtedly exhausted.”

One might ask why they didn't put Seidel on concrete if the "footing was so soft." Or one might just roll their eyes. Such is TWC's credibility.

TWC's cred was flushed when they started naming winter storms. The hyper marketing of the weather stems from the fact that TWC knows that during extreme weather events, a captive audience is locked in on their channel 24/7.and the more fear they stimulate, the longer they can sell into captive eyeballs. What's next, naming thunderstorms? Droughts? 

Marketing-all-the-time is just part of the total commodification of everything in American life.  It's been said that the only original American art form is advertising. Everything is marketing, and ABC stands for, "always be closing" in a land where the only value is in the rightmost cell of the spreadsheet.

On Monday night, Florence was elevated to a category four.and dialing up an catastrophic threat to the East Coast.  I was staring starkly at the prospect of losing my house and everything in it. The National Weather Service called Florence a “storm of a lifetime.” Hyperbole in storm-related jargon is just part odf the skill set, but seemed apt this week.

Cat 1s have previously blown through Norfolk.  In 2005, Hurricane Isabel uprooted enough trees that we were without power for ten days. During several storms and nor'easters, water reached the front steps. The prospect of a direct hit by a Cat 4 on my home left little to the imagination. I contacted my flood insurance company to learn the steps for filing a claim and what to do in the aftermath, just to be prepared. In 30 years of living here, I had never taken this step.

After checking the evacuation zone maps, I made room reservations near my work located out of evacuation zones. I had previously waited out Isabel there with my daughter, and knew it was flood resistant. My workplace is a seriously hardened facility, with 24-7 security, redundant generators and layers of technology. As I told my wife, she'd have ice, filtered water, wi-fi and cable TV, with a couch to watch it on. Thus elevating the chances for a couple of broken down feebs to weather the storm.

At that we were better off than prisoners in South Carolina, where officials announced that they would not be evacuating inmates at least two prisons inside the evacuation zone. During Katrina, Louisiana's legal slaves were abandoned to the elements for four days.

So, after the intervention of both a high-pressure system and Pat Robertson to bend Florence to the south and west, I drew a deep lungful of relief. Even on Friday, the prospect of serious flooding and tornadoes remained high, but abated as the storm wended west. The governor lifted the mandatory evacuation order, and we returned home on Saturday.

Riding that much cortisol for so long exacts costs: both my neighbor and my wife's friend's brother had heart attacks yesterday. The stress induced by TWC's disaster porn assigns costs not counted in flood casualty statistics. While coincidence is not causation, we do know that stress is a killer.

A report from the local paper tells our story: Braced for disaster, Hampton Roads dodges Florence's destructionThe difference in our prospects from Tuesday to today cannot be overstated. For all this, and for the many good wishes we received, we are grateful. With no thanks to The Weather Channel. Meanwhile, our neighbors to the south continue to endure Florence.


Speaking of Hurricanes

Inured to denying facts and devoted to inventing alternatives worlds with the aplomb of a Tolkien, the Lout-In-Chief tweeted this on Wednesday as Florence approached:

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…

8:37 AM – Sep 13, 2018

followed by…

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

…..This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age,  just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!

8:49 AM – Sep 13, 2018

Contrast Trump's self-serving asserions with this heartfelt cry of pain.

They died in pain, at home, of kidney failure unable to access the dialysis clinic for weeks.
They died, gasping for hours near the end, when the oxygen tank they needed to breathe gave out.
They died in the dark and the heat of unsanitary ICU units, of burns or gunshot wounds received before the hurricane that they almost certainly would have survived otherwise.
They died, burning up with fever, of leptospirosis from being in touch with flood waters during the effort to save their neighbors.
They died in fear and confusion after being forced to go off their regular medication.
They died of heat stroke.

They died of diseases of antiquity, in a crisis of neglect unworthy the greatest, wealthiest and most powerful nation in human history.

They died. But we lived. And we remember.

–Eleazar David Melendez


Short takes:

Paul Manafort’s flip is a major turning point in the Mueller investigation

The biggest news this week involves a blowhard of a different sort. Paul Manafort strick a deal with the Special Counsel and pled guilty to a number of charges, limiting his financial exposure from legal fees while committing him to cooperate with Mueller's office for all items great and small. Mueller has been seeking Manafort for nearly a year. Now he’s got the deal he wanted and unparalleled access to information that will put away the next set of tools of the Russian Mafia.

READ IT HERE: Paul Manafort's entire plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller


#Flint: County Officials Accused of Faking Children’s Blood Lead Test Results

We are now 1,605 days into the ongoing crisis with the water in Flint, Mich. The residents are being told that their tap water is below the federal threshold for lead contamination.


Two Russian men charged in nerve agent poisoning of former spy in Britain say they were just tourists

Two men accused by Britain of poisoning a former Russian spy and his daughter with a nerve agent claim they had traveled to England as tourists and were not Russian military intelligence agents. They were identified by security cameras.


Mysterious Evacuation Of Solar Observatory Overlooking White Sands Smells Like Espionage

The National Solar Observatory was host to some serious woo-woo stuff, as it was evacuated for a week and the FBI is investigating. No one is talking. Shrouded in mystery in a state known for secretive military testing and UFOs, the lengthy evacuation has spawned a wealth of speculation. The official story is that the closing is "a security issue." Rumor had it that the Chinese were using the antenna array for spying.


Detention of Migrant Children Has Skyrocketed to Highest Levels Ever

Population levels at federally contracted shelters for migrant children have quietly shot up more than fivefold since last summer. According to The New York Times, the population has reached 12,800, contrasted with 2,400 in May 2017. On the eve of Florence's landfall it was revealed that the administration had transferred $10 million from FEMA and DHS had transferred $169 million from other programs to ICE for detention and removal of migrants.

Your tax dollars at work.


Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

The New Miranda Rights

Off the keyboard of RE

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
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Published on the Doomstead Diner on April 29, 2015

Visit the New Diner News Page for Daily Updates from around the Collapse Blogosphere

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Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

Your list of  NEW Miranda RightsTM

 

1- You have the Right to be indefinitely detained in an undisclosed location of our choosing

2- You have the Right to remain silent while we beat the shit out of you.

3- You have the Right to an Attorney, if you can afford one.  If you cannot afford one, the Court will appoint a newly graduated Lawyer from Hacks, Dimwits & Shysters to represent you, if he can find your file under the other 400 he has on his docket.

4- Anything you say can and will be manipulated by our Audio Geeks in the IT Department to say WTF we want it to say no matter what you actually do say.

5- You have the Right to be a Debt Slave, pay Taxes and Vote for the Candidates we choose.

6- You have the Right to read, watch and listen to the Propaganda we pitch out at you every day.

7- You have the Right to drink the waste water from the Fracking company in your neighborhood.

8- You have the Right to enlist in the Military and go over to Afghanistan to make sure our Pipeline goes through.

9- You have the Right to send your kids to substandard schools with underpaid teachers unless you can afford really expensive Private Schools

10- In case we forgot anything, you also have the Right to be FUCKED any other way we can think of.

 

Map

Slouching Towards Nuremberg

Off the Keyboard of Morris Berman

Posted originally on the Morris Berman Blog on May 9, 2012
Cross Posted on Counter Punch and Tikkun

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasboard of the Diner

Strange things are happening in the United States these days, and every day seems to bring additional scary news.  The similarity to the erosion of civil liberties in Germany during the 1930s is a bit too close for comfort. Many will regard this statement as hyperbole, and, to some extent, it is. But let’s take a close look at what is going on before we dismiss the comparison out of hand.

In terms of the historical record for Germany, legal discrimination against Jews certainly existed before the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, and grew steadily over time. There was always a feeling in the Jewish community—most of whom regarded themselves as Germans, after all—that “OK, that’s the worst of it.” Hence, the decision to stay. Then came the next set of restrictions, and again the response: “This is as far as it will go.” It was like the classic experiment of turning up the heat on frogs placed in warm water. Gradually, they get boiled to death, because the increase of heat is incremental.  It was only toward the end of the thirties that the choice began to look like: jump or die. Finally, it became simply, die.
In 1933, the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service banned “non-Aryans” from the civil service.
In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws deprived Jews of German citizenship and prohibited marriage between Jews and “Aryans.” They also prohibited sexual intercourse between Jews and “Aryans,” and the employment of “Aryan” females under forty-five years of age as domestic workers in Jewish households. In addition, Jews could not work as lawyers, doctors, or journalists; could not use state hospitals; and could not be educated by the state past the age of fourteen. They could not enter public parks, libraries, or beaches, and could not receive winnings from the national lottery.
In 1938, Jews with first names that were not characteristically Jewish had to adopt the middle name Sara (if female) or David (if male). Passports of German Jews were stamped with a “J”.
In 1939, Jews living in German-occupied Poland had to wear the yellow star. This was extended to all Jews living within Nazi-controlled areas in 1941.
By way of comparison, one thing that makes me particularly nervous is what has been called the “conspiracy of silence.” Almost nobody spoke up in Germany as this process was unfolding, and the American public has been similarly silent about the events documented below. Indeed, I would venture to say that 98% of the American public (maybe more) is unaware of events such as these, or of the passage of repressive legislation, and that they wouldn’t care even if they did know about it. (“Hey, I ain’t no Ay-rab!”) The classic quote that has come down to us is from Martin Niemoeller, a German pastor and theologian who wound up in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps (he was liberated by the Allies in 1945). It goes something like this:
“First they came for the communists, but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me, but by that time there was no one left to speak out.”
It is no accident that Chris Hedges entitled a recent article “First They Come for the Muslims”(see below, Item IV). God forbid something like that might happen in the U.S., but the signs of a gradual slide towards Nuremberg, and concomitant citizen apathy, are very much present in the current political milieu. Let’s have a look at what has been going on in the decade since 9/11. I’m going to discuss the following topics:
I. The creation of a political climate in which the police are out of control, arbitrarily free to intimidate anyone for virtually anything
II. The persecution of whistleblowers, protesters, and dissenters
III. The dramatic expansion of the surveillance of American citizens on the part of the National Security Agency (NSA)
IV. The corruption of the judicial system by means of show trials of Muslim activists
V. The construction of political detention centers, also known as Communication Management Units (CMU’s)
VI. The shredding of the Bill of Rights by means of the National Defense Authorization Act
VII. Future scenarios: The “disappearing” of intellectual critics of the U.S. government?
I. The creation of a political climate in which the police are out of control, arbitrarily free to intimidate anyone for virtually anything
The evidence for this is perforce anecdotal, but events such as the ones discussed below are getting to be so common that we have to keep in mind that when you have accumulated enough anecdotes, the result is called “data.”
-In June 2011 the sheriff of Nelson County, North Dakota, called in a Predator B drone from the local Air Force base to capture three men who had stolen some cows. Once the unmanned aircraft located the suspects, police rushed in to make the first known arrests of U.S. citizens with the help of a Predator spy drone. It turns out that predator drones are frequently used for domestic investigations all over the U.S.—by the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and by state and local law enforcement officials.
-In July 2011 police in a small town in Georgia shut down a lemonade stand being run by three girls, ages 10-14, who were trying to save up for a trip to a local water park. The police said that they didn’t know what was in the lemonade; and in addition, that the girls needed a business license, a peddler’s permit, and a food permit in order to run the stand. The permits, by the way, cost $50 a day.
-In January 2012 the library system of Charlton, Massachusetts, called the police to collect some overdue books charged to Hailey Benoit—a five-year-old girl.
-Also in January 2012, a young couple was arrested in Baltimore for asking a police woman directions to highway I-95. They spent the night in jail.
-In April 2012 the Supreme Court ruled that jail authorities may strip search people arrested for minor offenses before they are jailed while awaiting a hearing. Individuals have been strip searched for offenses such as biking with an inaudible bell, walking a dog without a leash, and driving with a noisy muffler. The sexual humiliation involved in these searches, writes Naomi Wolf, is clearly a way of keeping the masses in line, politically docile. How long, she asks, before saying anything controversial online or on the phone (see Item III, below) will result in the “guilty” party facing arrest and sexual humiliation?  I think we need to pause a moment before we summarily dismiss this as paranoia.
II. The persecution of whistleblowers, protesters, and dissenters
This has been going on throughout the past decade, first under President Bush, and then more aggressively under President Obama.  According to the New Yorker, “the Obama Administration has pursued leak prosecutions with a surprising relentlessness.”To which the New York Times added:“In 17 months in office, President Obama has already outdone every previous president in pursuing leak prosecutions.” In the famous case of Bradley Manning, who revealed government documents to Wikileaks, Mr. Obama publicly declared him guilty before he went to trial or was convicted of a crime. The overall result is that the government has basically criminalized public servants who speak out to expose waste or corruption or unethical behavior. Whistleblowing and dissent have, in themselves, become criminal activities.
-Since 2006 the filmmaker Laura Poitras, who made a documentary about the U.S. occupation of Iraq, has been detained and questioned at airports more than forty times. Government agents confiscate her computer and notebooks without a warrant. She is hardly an isolated case. With no oversight or legal framework for its activities, the Department of Homeland Security routinely singles out individuals who are suspected of no crimes, detains them at the airport when they return to the U.S. from an international trip, and then seizes their laptops, cameras, cellphones, notebooks, and credit card receipts.
-William Binney, an intelligence official who worked for the NSA for nearly forty years, resigned in October 2001 when massive domestic spying became the norm. Binney and several other NSA officials reported their concerns about this to Congress and the Department of Defense. In 2006, he exposed the NSA practice of installing secret monitoring rooms in major U.S. telecommunications facilities.  Finally, in 2007, a dozen FBI agents charged into his house with guns drawn, pointed their weapons at his head, and interrogated him at length. Three other ex-NSA employees were raided the same day.
– You can now go to jail in the United States simply for speaking. In July 2011, environmental activist Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in prison for his repeated declaration that environmental protection required civil—i.e., nonviolent—disobedience. One wonders if the same judge, Dee Benson, would have also put Rosa Parks and Mahatma Gandhi in jail, had he been around during their lifetimes.
-In March 2012 the president signed H.R. 347, the so-called trespass bill, into law, which allows the government to jail anyone protesting near someone with Secret Service protection for up to ten years. This makes it quite easy for the government to criminalize protest per se, because the exclusion zones defined by the law have no clear boundaries. In fact, they can be as large as the law wants them to be; which means that the free speech zone is a moving target.
III. The dramatic expansion of the surveillance of American citizens on the part of the National Security Agency (NSA)
-On 19 July 2010 theWashington Post reported that 854,000 people work for the National Security Agency in thirty-three building complexes amounting to 17 million square feet of space, in the DC Metro and suburban area. Every day, collection systems at the NSA intercept and store 1.7 billion emails and phone calls of American citizens, in what amounts to a vast domestic spy system. Writing in the New Yorkeron 23 May 2011, Jane Mayer reported that the NSA has three times the budget of the CIA, and has the capacity to download, every six hours, electronic communications equivalent to the entire contents of the Library of Congress. They also developed a program called Thin Thread that enables computers to scan the material for key words, and they collect the billing records and the dialed phone numbers of everyone in the country. In violation of communications laws, ATT, Verizon, and BellSouth have opened their electronic records to the government. At the height of its insanity, the Stasi in East Germany was spying on 1 out of 7 citizens. The U.S. is now spying on 7 out of 7.
-To make the surveillance of American citizens even more comprehensive (assuming that is even possible), the NSA is currently building the biggest-ever data complex in Bluffdale, Utah, as part of a secret surveillance program code-named “Stellar Wind.” The center, scheduled for completion in 2013, will be twice as large as the U.S. Capitol, and contain 100,000 square feet of computer space, at a cost of $2 billion. In addition, the NSA has established listening posts throughout the country as part of this operation.  All in all, there are now 1,271 government agencies and 1,931 private companies that work on programs related to counterterrorism and homeland security in about 10,000 locations across the U.S. The goal is to store and review the e-mails, phone calls, online shopping lists, and virtually every bit of information about every single American. Everything you do, from traveling to buying groceries, will be displayed on a graph. William Binney (see above, Item II) has stated that we are about two millimeters away “from a turnkey totalitarian state.”
IV. The corruption of the judicial system by means of show trials of Muslim activists
This was discussed at length by Chris Hedges on truthdig, 16 April 2012. That very week, Tarek Mehanna, a U.S. citizen, was sentenced to 17½ years in prison. He was convicted of conspiring to kill American soldiers in Iraq and giving material support to al-Qaeda. No proof of these charges was provided. What seems to have been the more relevant issue is that Mehanna had spoken out against U.S. foreign policy, and had refused to become a government informant.
These types of trials have been going on since 9/11. In them, federal lawyers are allowed to prosecute people on “evidence” that the defendants are not allowed to see. Stephen Downs, a lawyer who has defended Muslim activists since 2006, has documented the phony charges used to label these people as terrorists and then put them behind bars, typically for long stretches of time. He told Hedges: “People who have committed no crime are taken into custody, isolated without adequate recourse to legal advice, railroaded with fake or contrived charges, and‘disappeared’ into prisons designed to isolate them.” Basically, they are condemned before they have committed a crime, in a process that Downs calls “pre-emptive prosecution.”
Downs discovered all this in 2006, when Yassin Aref, the imam of a mosque in Albany, New York, was entrapped in a government sting operation. What then happened, he told Hedges, was that the government “put together a case that was just one lie piled on top of another lie, and when you pointed it out to them they didn’t care. They didn’t refute it. They knew it was a lie….But the facts are irrelevant. The government has decided to target these people.” Essentially, he went on, the government lawyers “must know they’re prosecuting people before a crime has been committed based on what they think the defendant might do in the future.” These are, in other words, kangaroo courts.
The bottom line, of course, is that if you destroy the judicial system, then finally nobody is safe. The government could wind up railroading anyone they don’t like, and I very much doubt that this possibility is far-fetched.  First they came for the Muslims…
V. The construction of political detention centers, also known as Communication Management Units (CMU’s)
Where do the suspected Muslim terrorists go? It turns out that the government is using secret prison facilities to house inmates accused of non-violent activities, i.e. of allegedly being tied to terrorist groups. As it turns out, these are not just Muslim groups; the CMU’s are also being used to house environmental activists. The first CMU was built in 2006 in Terre Haute, Indiana; in 2008 a second facility was constructed in Marion, Illinois. Restrictions on contact with the outside world are quite severe—for example, having all phone calls monitored and limited to fifteen minutes per week. Among the so-called terrorists housed in these units are the following:
-Rafil Dhafir, an Iraqi-born oncologist from Syracuse, New York, who created a charity called Help the Needy to provide food and medicine to the people of Iraq who had been suffering from U.S. economic sanctions. He was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison for violating those sanctions. (I cite some of these in Dark Ages America; they include a ban on the importation of medicine and toilet paper.)
-Daniel McGowan, an environmental activist who committed two acts of arson to protest logging in the Pacific Northwest, was sentenced to seven years. He was not convicted of any terrorist crime or being affiliated with any terrorist group, although the government claimed that he was a member of the Earth Liberation Front, which they regard as a domestic terrorist organization.  One thing that did not help was his public visibility, both through media appearances and his website.
-Andrew Stepanian, recently released—the first prisoner ever to be released from a CMU. He spent three years in jail, which included six and a half months at the Marion facility, for trying to shut down an animal testing laboratory. He was then put under house arrest in New York. In fact, he was not accused of any violent crime or property destruction.
What distinguishes the CMU’s from other jails is that they are political prisons. All of the defendants are incarcerated there for what appear to be ideological reasons. Meanwhile, the definition of “terrorist” continues to grow (see below, Item VI); it won’t necessarily stop with Muslims or environmental rights activists.  Significantly, the word“ecoterrorism” was coined by corporations in the early 1980s. The CMU’s even contain antiwar tax protesters. In general, the legal wall separating “terrorist” from“dissident” is starting to break down, if, indeed, it hasn’t already.
VI. The shredding of the Bill of Rights by means of the National Defense Authorization Act
The NDAA, also known as the “indefinite detention bill,” was signed into law by President Obama on 31 December 2011. It has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by Mr. Obama or any future president to military detain U.S. citizens. As in pre-Magna Carta days, you can simply be swept up and put away forever—disappeared—with no explanation of why, no right to call a lawyer or anybody else, and no right to a trial.  You can actually be tortured to death, if the government decides it is in the national interest. The NDAA is probably the greatest rollback of civil liberties in the history of the United States. Under the Act, literally anyone can be described as a “belligerent,” or as they are now called, “covered person.” The president claimed that he signed the bill only to provide funding for American troops, and that he had been reluctant to sign it because it included American citizens. This b.s. was subsequently exposed by one of the bill’s sponsors, Senator Carl Levin, who revealed that it was Mr. Obama himself who insisted that the indefinite detention clause include U.S. citizens.  Meanwhile, the White House had been conducting a misinformation campaign to secure this incredible dictatorial power while portraying the president as some type of reluctant absolute ruler. It is also important to note that there was virtually no coverage of this issue on the part of the mainstream media. In effect, as Naomi Wolf has written, the U.S. “is sleepwalking into become a police state.” The New American website posted the following comment on the new law:
“The universe of potential ‘covered persons’ includes every citizen of the United States of America. Any American could one day find himself or herself branded a‘belligerent’ and thus subject to the complete confiscation of his or her constitutional civil liberties and nearly never-ending incarceration in a military prison.”
You don’t have to be convicted of terrorism to be rounded up, under this new law; you only have to be suspected of terrorist activity. And as Senator Rand Paul pointed out prior to the passage of the bill, the Department of Justice now has a list of “identifying characteristics” of terrorists that includes having one or more fingers missing from your hands; having more than seven days’ worth of food in your house; and having a loaded weapon on your property—which describes half the households in the United States. In effect, with the NDAA, if the government, for any reason, doesn’t like you—for example, if you are simply a critic of the U.S., nothing more—they can brand you a terrorist and put you away forever, with literally no one knowing what happened to you.
Note also that even before the passage of this law, the president had the legal right, even though it violates the Geneva accords, to designate anyone on the planet an enemy, and have him or her assassinated. Thus on 30 September 2011, Mr. Obama had two American citizens, Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, assassinated because of suspected—i.e. not proven—al-Qaeda membership and terrorist activity.  Two weeks later, the CIA killed al-Awlaki’s sixteen-year-old son. The real problem in these cases is not whether these people were actually guilty of terrorism; it’s that the Constitution says that no matter how heinous the crime, every American citizen has a right to his or her day in court. If I remember correctly, it does not say that the president has the right to rub them out without a trial.
(Just as an aside, there are, in general, more people under “correctional supervision” in America than there were in the Russian gulag under Stalin, at its height. Writing in the New Yorker on 30 January 2012, Adam Gopnik declared: “Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today.”)
VII. Future scenarios: The “disappearing” of intellectual critics of the U.S. government?
This leads me to my final point. The distinctive characteristic of American democracy, from 1776, was the protection of the individual and the preservation of individual rights. That no longer exists. Anyone is a potential terrorist now; anyone can be persecuted, prosecuted, and in effect, destroyed. Democracy is only  possible if dissent is not only permitted, but also respected. This too is finished. What does this mean for someone such as myself?, is something I lay awake nights thinking about. I have published three books, and half a collection of essays, showing where we have gone wrong, predicting our eventual collapse—indeed, this repression is part of that collapse—and arguing that the U.S. no longer has a moral compass; that it is spiritually bankrupt. I run a blog that is anything but polite: it says the U.S. is finished; that it is basically a corporate plutocracy, run by a gangster elite; that the American people are basically morons, with little more than fried rice in their heads; and that anyone with half a brain and the means to do so should emigrate before it’s too late. I’m not really a threat to the U.S. government, largely because I am not a political activist and because it’s not likely that more than 74 people out of 311 million regularly read my blog (it’s probably more like 24, in fact). But as the definition of terrorism widens in this country, what is to prevent the creation of a category known as“intellectual terrorism” from arising, and putting folks like myself in that category? What is to prevent the government from calling such activity a clear and present danger to national security? As must be obvious by now, the government can do anything it wants to now; as in Nazi Germany, we now have a government of men, not of laws. Indeed, the “laws” are little more than a pretext for whatever the government wishes to do.
Is the following scenario completely paranoid? Five or ten years down the line, as I fly into the DFW Airport en route to giving a lecture somewhere, or simply visiting friends, I am suddenly surrounded by government agents, whisked off to a holding cell, and eventually sent to Guantanamo. Nobody knows what happened to me, and I’m not allowed to phone anyone—not my lawyer, not a friend, and certainly not Chris Hedges, who is probably being tortured in the adjoining cell. Two points to remember here, historically speaking:
-When a country puts laws such as torture or indefinite detention or arbitrary assassination on the books, sooner or later it will use these legal instruments. They won’t just lie dormant, in other words. As in the case of technology, once the mechanisms are there, the temptation to employ them simply becomes too great to resist. That is what is happening today.
-In a world that is politically construed along Manichaean lines—which, as I have argued elsewhere, America has been doing since Day 1—the first line of attack is against the enemy outside. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about Protestants or Catholics or al-Qaeda operatives or infidels of any kind, the first order of business is to go to war with them. But as the British anthropologist Mary Douglas shows in her book Purity and Danger, or Norman Cohn demonstrates in The Pursuit of the Millennium, if the war goes on long enough, inevitably the enemy is also seen to be a fifth column, i.e. within the walls of the body politic itself.  They become Huguenots or Marrano Jews or heretics of whatever stripe, and as in the case of Goya’s famous painting, Saturn Devouring His Son, the country begins to eat itself alive. Everybody becomes an enemy; no one is safe any longer. And so I believe that I, and you, really do have reason to worry.
Somewhere along the line, God stopped blessing America. We are not marching to Pretoria; rather, we are slouching towards Nuremberg.  To quote Edward R. Murrow, Good Night, and Good Luck.
References
(c)Morris Berman, 2012

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