Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The incoming police state

George Orwell wrote "1984", first published in 1949, so that future generations would recognize all forms of totalitarianism and tyranny.  Aware of Nazi, Italian and Spanish fascist regimes as well as Soviet communism, he had also observed English imperialism firsthand while he was working in Burma. In "1984", he identifies tyranny as (see Why Orwell wrote "1984"):
  • constant surveillance of the citizenry
  • fictitious government with the real government completely unknown
  • perpetual war
  • torture of citizens
  • drumming the masses with hate propaganda while they were kept in a constant state of fear
  • revisionist history
  • a fictitious enemy
  • entices and entraps its own dissidents 
Naomi Wolf, in her book, "The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot", outlines 10 steps that an open society takes toward becoming a closed society. Read Naomi Wolf's article in, 'The Guardian': Fascist America, in 10 easy steps.

A documentary has been made based on Wolf's book: 'End of America'. I've previously written about Naomi Wolf here. Her latest article is, "We May Be Witnessing the First Large Global Conflict Where People Are Aligned by Consciousness and Not Nation State or Religion".

 Here's Wolf's list (the comments are mine):

Step 1: Invoke an Internal and External Threat

Authorities say terrorists but these days that seems to include Muslims and dissidents inside and outside of America.

Step 2: Establishing Secret Prisons Where Torture Takes Place

It's not just Guantanamo Bay, about which Bush has said something like , "I want Guantanamo Bay in the equivalent of legal outer-space". For suspected "black sites" the name recently used to describe secret prisons operated by the CIA generally outside US territory and legal jurisdiction, see Black Site on Wikipedia. Also, see this article by Glenn Greenwald:  How the U.S. government uses its media servants to attack real journalism.

Step 3: Develop a Paramilitary Force

Think Blackwater. Since renamed Xe Services. Blackwater was present in New Orleans during the aftermath of Katrina. (Source: Blackwater Down)

Step 4: Surveillance of Ordinary Citizens

Warrantless, roving wire tapping. Complete internet snooping and filtering. (Hi NSA/FBI/CIA/etc!)

Step 5: Infiltrate Citizens' Groups

The CIA has done this for years.

Step 6: Detain and Release Ordinary Citizens

This happened to Naomi Wolf herself:

Step 7: Target Key Individuals

The US has a secret watch list of more than 1 million Americans. Are you on it?

Step 8: Restrict the Press

Sure there's some censorship by the authorities. See this. And then there's censorship by Google, Facebook, Yahoo! and the telecoms. See thisthis and this. There's also the closing down of information made available to the public. For example, in 2006 the Federal Reserve stopped reporting M3 and related statistics. The government now classifies 77 million documents a year of which 16 million are classified top secret. (See  and source1 and source2).

The most dangerous restriction of the press is the self-censorship by the press.  For example the main stream media dismisses, ridicules and attacks real investigative journalism. See again: How the U.S. government uses its media servants to attack real journalism.  Also, see The US Media.

Step 9: Recast Criticism as Espionage and Dissent as Treason

The government is coming down hard on whistle-blowers. Bradley Manning was being held in torturous conditions and is still awaiting trial. If you protest or criticize the government you could be labeled a terrorist and striped of all your rights as an American citizen. One day the government could round up everyone on its watch list and detain them indefinitely. Or worse.

Step 10: Subvert the Rule of Law

The executive office has bestowed on itself more and more authority in the name of national security and an ineffectual congress. Glenn Greenwald, an author and a former Constitutional and civil rights litigator, who regularly writes about the declining rule of law in his Salon column, his latest piece is especially heartbreaking: The human toll of the U.S. drone campaign.

We think we live in an open society, that we have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the rule of law reigns supreme. In many ways we do have freedom of speech in America but our free speech has been limited to Republican and Democrat's views. If we venture outside outside that very limited band of free speech, the first line of defense is the US propaganda machine.

For example, there is no strong anti-war movement anymore. NPR has never met a war it didn't like:
The president of National Public Radio (NPR), Kevin Klose, is the former head of all the major, worldwide US government broadcast propaganda outlets, including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, and the anti-Castro Radio Marti, which broadcasts into Cuba from Florida. NPR, it can be said, has never met an American war it didn't like. It was inspired to describe the war against Yugoslavia as Clinton's "most significant foreign policy success."
--William Blum in Rogue State
"Rahm Emanuel, [Obama's White House chief of staff], took pains to weed out anti-war candidates." (source) The last bastion of the anti-war crusade comes from older people who remember the anti-Vietnam war protests. Here are three of those dissenters:
  1. Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and co-author of, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, gives an excellent description of America's transformation in: The Day America Died.
  2. William Blum, worked for the State Department, one of the founders and editors of the Washington Free Press and author of "Killing Hope" and "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower", maintains a blog at killinghope.org.  His latest post is certainly worth the read and fits in quite nicely to this discussion:  Anti-Empire Report #99.
  3. Tom Engelhardt, book editor by trade, fellow of the National Institute, co-founder and co-editor of the "The American Empire Project", also creates and maintains TomDispatch. His latest article is very good, "Tomgram: Engelhardt, Wall Street by the Book".
Naomi Wolf's, "End of America", focuses on the Bush administration but the national security complex grew in size and scope since the national security act was enacted in 1947. The Secret Government PBS 1987 Bill Moyers which in part describes this secret shadow government:

(Further reading: The institutions.)

From: Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State:
Calling the reaction to al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack a “war” ensured that the government could justify classifying everything associated with fighting it. Under President George Bush, journalists’ efforts to figure out how the United States was waging this war against al-Qaeda were often criticized by senior administration leaders, members of Congress, cable television pundits, even the public. Many of those journalists hoped that would change under the presidency of Barack Obama. It is true the president and his cabinet members have not publicly disparaged the news media as much as his predecessor did. But behind the scenes, the situation is actually much worse. President Obama’s Justice Department has taken a more aggressive tack against the unauthorized disclosure of classified information by pursuing more so-called leak investigations than the Bush administration.
Naomi Klein, in her book "Shock Doctrine" describes how natural, economic or other disasters can be used as a distraction as substantive changes in policy are implemented very quickly while the people are stunned in a state of shock from the disaster. She calls it the "disaster capitalism complex." The book is fabulous and the documentary based on it can be purchased here. Two examples of "Shock Doctrine" in the US were the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, both well described in her book. (Aside: Paul Craig Roberts has something to say about 9/1,1 which is the best I've read, The Critics of 9/11 Truth: Do They Have A Case?)

Skipping ahead to those calling for mass protests:

Enter Occupy Wall Street

The discourse has changed. It's now class warfare.  It's now the 99% vs. the 1%. Maybe it's the 99.9% vs. the 0.1%, but really it's only the very, very few that have hijacked our democracy and corporations, bought off our politicians and judges, created and attended secret organizations where they colluded and conspired, committed fraud, caused the financial meltdown and put short term bonuses ahead of the long-term viability of the corporation to which they were entrusted. Read this: Chris Hedges Arrested in Front of Goldman Sachs. Matt Taibbi of RollingStone magazine, who has written extensively on Wall St, debunks the conservative spin and lays the bulk of the blame on the banks who were scheming up ways to make money: Mike Bloomberg's Marie Antoinette Moment. Bill Moyers has something to say too: Our Politicians Are Money Launderers Not Too Different from Tony Soprano.

Most of the 1% are in favor of paying more taxes:
"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi
Noam Chomsky doesn't think that the United States will succumb to fascism. I hope he's right but I think it has a lot to do with us not allowing ourselves to be brainwashed into it. Noam Chomsky Speaks to Occupy: If We Want a Chance at a Decent Future, the Movement Here and Around the World Must Grow. Certainly, the national security complex will not relinquish its power voluntarily:
One reason America is stuck at Yellow Alert — “Significant Risk” of terrorist attack accompanied by no specific information — and stuck with such an enormous complex of organizations and agencies trying to defend the country is that being wrong is too costly for politicians in Washington. “Who wants to be the guy that says we don’t need this anymore and then three weeks later something happens?” asked Obama national security adviser James Jones, former commandant of the Marine Corps. “I don’t think you can ever get it back” to a smaller size. (Source: Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State.)
This is what a police state looks like:
But there's real hope. John Perkins of, "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" fame, is also encouraging us to fight back with the only way we have left:  “These are the Times. . .”

Note: I apologize for the plethora of links. The following two articles are short and will give you an excellent overview: