As I was walking past the television at work (I wish they would turn it off), I caught a glimpse of the familiar images of state-sponsored television, which in turn became the stern face of the Attorney General, defender of The Constitution of The United States of America, John Ashcroft.
He was speaking in regards to the case of The United States of America vs. John Walker.
As I listened, the words passing his lips brought forth a torrent of thoughts. They were not respectful thoughts.
I truly don’t like feeling this way. It goes against my grain — my sense of respect for authority, my impressions of hierarchical structure. It’s just not the way I was brought up. As a child, I never heard my parents say anything disparaging of neighbors or relatives.
Authority is sacred, or at least a reflection of the sacred; and leadership is the rarest of commodities. Special wrath is reserved for shepherds who lead their flocks into wilderness, and into danger.
His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.
Much more often than not that seems to reflect life in Washington D.C.
But why, exactly, does our government hold such special enmity for Walker?
According to Reuters, “In one training camp in Afghanistan in June, Walker learned from one of his instructors that bin Laden had sent people to the United States to carry [out] several suicide operations.” Also, “… Walker learned by radio on Sept. 11 or 12 of the attacks. It was his understanding that bin Laden had ordered the attacks and that additional ones would follow …”
If true, it does seem fairly clear, and I’m most certainly not speaking legally, that he is an enemy of the people of The United States.
But the specific charges enumerated against him seem to have something to do with citizenship. Our government obviously considers him an American citizen, as he is not to be tried in a military court — President Bush has said military tribunals will be used against only foreign nationals.
But I have to admit, I’m having trouble with this whole notion of citizenship.
Just what is a citizen?
When the Apostle Paul was arrested in Jerusalem, the authorities bound him, as a preparation for torture. Paul asked them, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?” The centurion made haste to tell the chief captain that Paul was a Roman citizen; for which the captain replied to Paul, “With great sum obtained I this freedom.” Paul countered, “But I was free born.”
The chief captain straightaway changed his tune, ensured that Paul would receive an immediate (next day) hearing, and “was afraid … because he had bound him.” The result was also that Paul would receive a change of venue in Cæsarea to increase the probability of a fair trial.
Paul did not hesitate to play the citizenship card. Earlier, before his arrest, he appealed: “I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city of Cilicia, a [Roman] citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.”
So this citizenship thing, at least in certain times and places, even in the pagan Roman Empire, would seem to be something important.
Citizenship by Proximity
However, I find it quite difficult to reconcile this concept of citizenship with that which our current State seems to recognize.
For example, one aspect is that which might be called “citizenship by proximity”:
A female foreign national can issue forth her child one foot and one minute across the United States border, and the child is an “American citizen.”
Despite the World Trade Center tragedy, millions of illegal aliens continue to pour across our border, with as many as ten percent of those being from Islamic nations. But the Multicultural State is undeterred: once again, amnesty for three million more illegal aliens is being considered.
Hardly anyone seems to notice, or care, about massive voter fraud in our local and presidential elections. No one knows how many illegal aliens vote in our elections, nor how many foreign legal residents. No one seems to worry about the Mexican illegal aliens, legal residents, or American “citizens” that vote in Mexican elections; nor do they discourage El Presidente Fox from campaigning on our own soil.
This is no subterranean conspiracy. The Multicultural State is openly thrilled beyond expression that there will be no majority race in the United States by 2050. The estimate for my home state of Texas has been enthusiastically revised to the left, to 2006; and, according to The Death of The West, Mr. Clinton was delighted to announce in a speech to Portland State in 1998 that my hometown of Houston has joined New York City as having no majority race. And my goodness, Houston is, as they say, Houston Proud — or at least Houston’s distinguished leaders are. During the recent debate between mayoral candidates, Lee Brown railed against opponent and Houston City Council member Orlando Sanchez for enforcing immigration laws. (Brown won.)
To top it all off, it has been observed that there is a new euphemism afoot for illegal aliens: citizens!
So apparently, a person’s citizenship, and the rights pertaining thereof, change the moment he crosses the border of a nation-state.
So understanding our new definition of citizenship, why is the U.S. so angry with John Walker? Since the newest immigrant coming to America can cherish all the longstanding traditions of our nation the moment he steps foot on our soil, and since all cultures are equal, can we be surprised at all by Walker’s affection for his new home and loyalty to his new government in Afghanistan?
Some Citizens Are More Equal than Others
I’m also a bit confused on who has what rights.
Lets take a look at our government’s accusations against John Walker. He is accused, among other things, of:
Providing support to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network.
Knowingly and purposely allying himself with certain terrorist organizations.
Providing support and resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations.
Engaging in prohibited transactions with the Taliban.
One of the more interesting things to recently come to light is that the Taliban spent several days visiting Unocal headquarters in Sugar Land, Texas, in December 1997. (This was not the Taliban’s first opportunity to receive the royal treatment from Unocal.) The trip was made in order to secure a contract for constructing a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to Pakistan.
What eventually interrupted the negotiations was not a concern with cozying up to a state that sponsors terrorists, but the increasing instability caused by the civil war in Afghanistan.
In fact, there has been increasing evidence that the United States had planned to intervene in Afghanistan last summer. An explosive new book (still only in French), Ben Laden: La vérité interdite (Bin Laden : The Forbidden Truth), by Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquié, offers an explanation as to why these plans changed.
In a CNN interview about the book, former chief U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler tells Paula Zahn that “The most explosive charge … is that the Bush administration … slowed down FBI investigations of al Qaeda and terrorism in Afghanistan in order to do a deal with the Taliban on … an oil pipeline across Afghanistan.” He adds, “… the FBI’s deputy director, John O’Neill, actually resigned because he felt the U.S. administration was obstructing the prosecution of terrorism.”
According to James Ridgeway of The Village Voice, Brisard and Dasquié know their stuff. Brisard “prepared the West’s first report on al Qaeda back in 1997, at the request of the French government.” Their sources include Laili Helms, the Taliban’s unofficial emissary in the U.S., and the niece of the former CIA head. She “described one incident after another in which, she claimed, the Taliban agreed to give up bin Laden to the U.S., only to be rebuffed by the State Department.”
The U.S. continued to covertly support the Taliban, hoping that Supreme Leader Mullah Mohammed Omar would break with bin Laden. As recently as March 2001, Omar’s personal representative came to Washington, accompanied by Helms.
But now that America and Afghanistan have furnished the blood oblation of its innocents, things are back on track.
Amidst great salutation, the United States’ new special envoy to Kabul, Zalmay Khalilzad, has arrived in Afghanistan, and “condemned the Taliban as sponsors of terrorism.”
Mr. Khalilzad is an interesting fellow. He was born in Afghanistan, was a State Department official for Reagan who “argued vociferously in favour of providing surface-to-air missiles and other sophisticated weaponry to the very mujahedin groups that later gave birth to the Taliban,” was Undersecretary of Defense under Bush I, and was a defense analyst for the Rand Corporation.
In 1997, “he urged the Clinton administration to take a softer line on the Taliban.” You see, he was a paid advisor to: Unocal. And now he’s come home. And he is “an influential adviser to President Bush.”
And around and around we go.
Now, taking a look at our government’s accusations against John Walker, don’t they sound just a teensy bit hypocritical?
And who is pretending to act in our self-interests, pretending to protect our rights — Mr. Walker, or the members of our government?
John Walker’s greatest sin appears to be that he was only a so-called “private citizen” as opposed to a so-called “public servant.”
Citizenship Is a One-way Street
Mr. Khalilzad drew up a risk analysis report for Unocal, as any good businessman would. Does anyone draw up risk analysis reports for American citizens? If they do, you couldn’t prove it by me.
United States intelligence has long known the risk to American lives, and from where the danger comes, why it exists, and how to remedy it. The answers may not always be very palatable, but to be certain, the murders at the World Trade Center were not made possible by intellectual obfuscation, but by hubris, stubbornness, and conflicting interests.
John Walker pays the price for his own actions, but We The People pay the price for the actions of our government.
Whatever remnant of rights we once had, purchased by patriots’ blood — the right of association, the right to free speech, the right to bear arms — they exist only inasmuch as they do not hinder the Empire’s designs.
And it’s so obvious a child can see it: You are a citizen of The United States of America when they want you to be. Only when they want your money, your freedom, your sons and daughters, or your life.
To the State, citizenship is a one-way street.
“We may never know why [Walker] turned his back on our country and our values, but we cannot ignore that he did. Youth is not absolution for treachery …” Perhaps not, Attorney General Ashcroft.
What’s your excuse?
Brian Dunaway [send him mail] is a chemical engineer and a native Texan.