"When you gonna wake up, and strengthen the things that remain?"
-- Bob Dylan
The secret policemen snatched the citizen from his house. There were no charges, no warrants, no warnings. They spirited him away to a secret location; no one knew where he had gone, why he'd disappeared. The covert agents grilled him, in secret, for three months. They told him that if he didn't cooperate, he'd be declared an enemy of the state -- then they could salt him away in a military prison or the regime's concentration camp and hold him there, without charges, for as long as they wanted.
Then, if they wanted, they could haul him before a military tribunal, try him in secret and, if they wanted, have him executed -- with no judicial oversight, no recourse to appeal save one: a plea for mercy from the regime's unelected leader. This usurper, who liked to be known as "The Commander," had given himself the arbitrary authority to strip any citizen of their liberty, and he alone -- no court, no council, no legislative body -- held the ultimate power of life and death over anyone he thus decreed an "enemy."
After months in secret captivity, the prisoner -- a young truck driver with a history of mental problems -- broke down. In a secret court session, he confessed to planning a series of crimes against the state. The success of this covert operation was announced by the head of the regime's internal police forces. His declaration -- that a citizen had been snatched, interrogated, threatened and broken in secret, outside every stricture of the country's old constitution -- was greeted with cries of admiration in the national press.
Yes, it was just another day in the New America -- the fearful, fawning, fortress-land that Bush and bin Laden have made. The above facts -- openly attested in the mainstream media -- are the raw guts of truth beneath the fancy PR frocks and propaganda implants that mask the inner moral rot of the Bush Regime.
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Iyman Faris, a U.S. citizen originally from Kashmir , was nabbed, threatened and processed in the exact manner described above. Attorney General John Ashcroft said Faris was a key al-Qaida operative, prowling America's highways in his monstrous diesel truck, looking for likely terror targets and sending back coded messages to his nefarious foreign controllers.
True, a few feds grumbled that Faris -- who was reportedly fingered by top al-Qaida operatives now in U.S. custody -- might not actually be the Fu Manchu mastermind of Ashcroft's ever-fevered imagination. For one thing, the mentally disturbed trucker's chief threat to the Homeland seems to have been a quixotic plan to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge -- with a blowtorch. In fact, some insiders suspect yet another prank by the captured Qaida honchos, who've sent U.S. agents on wild goose chases all over world in pursuit of various kibitzers, hangers-on and assorted small fry.
A few days after the Faris "triumph," the Regime took things a step further, actually removing a terror suspect from the judicial system and plunging him into the limbo-land of military custody. Illinois graduate student Ali al-Marri had been imprisoned since December 2001, after Ashcroft told his agents to round up "anyone with a Muslim-sounding name," the Village Voice reports. Held for months on minor charges, al-Marri, a Qatari national, was finally accused of being a "sleeper agent" -- again, on the say-so of the Qaida jokesters already in irons.
But al-Marri maintained his innocence, refusing to "cooperate" with Ashcroft's agents. So the Commander himself intervened, declaring the miscreant an "enemy combatant" -- although federal agents admitted he'd neither taken up arms against the United States nor planned any terrorist attacks, Knight-Ridder reports. Even so, he's now at the mercy of Bush's khaki kangaroo court.
The charges against Faris and al-Marri might well be true. Or partly true. Or totally false. We'll never know -- because the entire process was sealed from public view. But whatever their actual degree of guilt or innocence, the prisoners have served their main purpose: advancing the Bush Regime's assault on the United States ' dying constitutional republic. These cases are an important step in further habituating the American people to the idea of secret arrests, secret detentions, closed hearings and arbitrary rule by a militarized state apparatus -- much as the illegal invasion of Iraq has accustomed them to the idea of aggressive war, of murder in the name of corporate loot and extremist ideology. A new kind of American state is being forged, where arbitrary authority replaces law, and obedience outweighs liberty.
Yes, things are far gone in the "Homeland" these days. No protest about secret arrests. No protest about the dictatorial powers that Bush has awarded himself, including the authority to order the assassination of anyone in the world he designates an "enemy." Bush even boasts about these extrajudicial killings, which have included at least one U.S. citizen; indeed, the Commander was showered with applause in Congress when he laughingly referred to them in his official State of the Union address. Again, this has all been reported openly -- yet has stirred barely a flicker of public opposition.
History has shown us this sad spectacle many times before: a people sleepwalking into tyranny and disaster. A people lulled into a stupor by alternating currents of fear and frivolity, afraid to cast off their comforting ignorance -- their willful ignorance -- of the crimes being committed in their name. Afraid to face the truth, afraid to fight the lies, afraid indeed to wake up -- and strengthen the things that remain.
American Public's False War Beliefs 'Striking,'
Twin Cities Pioneer Press, June 24, 2003
Distorted Intelligence?" (second item)
Newsweek, June 25, 2003
The Triple Life of a Qaeda Man
Time Magazine, June 22, 2003
Bush Declares Qatari Man an Enemy Combatant
Knight-Ridder, June 23, 2003
John Ashcroft's Intolerance
The Economist, June 19, 2003
Ohio Truck Driver Pleads Guilty in Plot with Ties to al Qaeda
New York Times, June 19, 2003 (fee required)
Our Designated Killers
Village Voice, Feb. 14, 2003
A U.S. License to Kill
Village Voice, Feb. 21, 2003
A Fate Sealed Under Secrecy
Newsday, June 22, 2003
Scout Had Low Profile
Washington Post, June 21, 2003
Ohio Trucker Strikes Deal in Terror Case
Associated Press, June 19, 2003
America's Secret Prisoners
Newsweek, June 18, 2003
Man in Brooklyn Bridge Plot Spurred Early FBI Interest
New York Times, June 21, 2003
Judges Uphold U.S. Detention of Hamdi
Washington Post, Jan. 9, 2003
CIA Weighs 'Targeted Killing' Missions
Washington Post, Oct. 27, 2001
Bush Has Widened Authority of CIA to Kill Terrorists
New York Times, Dec. 15, 2002
Drones of Death
The Guardian, Nov. 6, 2002
Coward's War in Yemen
Spiked, Nov. 11, 2002
Drones of Death
The Guardian, Nov. 6, 2002
U.S. Can Target Al-Qaida Suspects
Associated Press, Dec. 3, 2002
Fatal Strike in Yemen was Based on Rules Set Out by Bush
New York Times, Nov. 6, 2002 (fee required)
'Grey Fox' Hit Team Closes in on Prize Scalp: Saddam
The Observer, June 22, 2003
Special Ops Get OK to Initiate Its Own Missions
Washington Times, Jan. 8, 2003 (fee required)
A U.S. License to Kill
Los Angeles Times, Jan. 11, 2003 (fee required)
With This Judge, Who Needs Terrorists?
Houston Chronicle, June 21, 2003
Do Hamdi and Padilla Need Company? Ashcroft's Plan for Internment Camps
Findlaw.com, Aug. 21, 2002
General Ashcroft's Detention Camps
Village Voice, Sept. 10, 2002
Qatari Man Designated an Enemy Combatant
Washington Post, June 23, 2003
Dark Star Chambers
CounterPunch, June 18, 2003
Missile Strike Carried Out with Yemeni Cooperation
Washington Post, Nov. 6, 2002
US Again Uses Enemy Combatant Label to Deny Basic Rights
Human Rights Watch, June 23, 2003
State of the Union Address: President George W. Bush
The White House, Jan. 28, 2003