Morphing the Gestapo

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I was – a bratty, independent kid, with a twisted sense of humor
who enjoyed doing illegal things: Entrance into anyplace at all
displaying the "No Dogs or Jews Allowed" signs was fun,
even though it was clearly understood that — if discovered — neither
dog nor Jew would ever be seen again, regardless of age. The best
game of all, though, was diving into the Berlin Olympic Pool, and,
hiding behind my Teutonic looks, smiling innocently at the guards.
But those men were just ordinary cops. When it came to the Gestapo,
it was best to quickly and quietly disappear. Oh yes. The Gestapo
meant business.

Benjamin Franklin said, "Those who would give up essential
liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty
nor safety," he was right on!

1930's Germany, "safety" meant "power." The
popular sentiment was: "Power will keep us safe. After all,
we are the good people, the ones who want to clear the planet earth
of all who hinder progress, of all who stand in the way of our good
intentions — and the more power our Empire has, the safer we will
be, the safer we will make the world." The national slogan,
shouted joyfully in the streets, was, after all, "Heute
Deutschland, Morgen Die Welt" (translation: Today Germany,
tomorrow the World.)

Germans, then, willingly gave up essential liberty to purchase that
safety of power, and the Nazis did an excellent job of facilitating
that. They invented the Gestapo, which was an acronym for
Geheime Staats Polizei. (translation:
Secret State Police.) And the Gestapo was formidable, indeed.

form-fitting uniform jackets, complete with epaulets; black breeches
tucked into jack-boots polished to such perfection that they gleamed
in all weather; black hats with visors so glossy, they shone in
the dark. Oh, yes, these men were quite rightfully feared.

1930's Germany, it was completely proper, fitting and expected for
persons to turn in to the authorities anyone even remotely suspected
of in some way subverting the government. Neither a suspicion nor
an informant was too small: Children over the age of eight, all
of whom were members of the Hitler Jugend if they were boys
and Bund Deutscher Mdchen if they were girls, were expected
to turn in family members — including parents — if they were overheard
speaking disrespectfully or seditiously of Hitler or any members
of his administration. These kids were trained and propagandized
to simply put the "safety" of their great country over
the "liberty" of their families. Thus, if even one's own
kids were gleeful informants, can you imagine what the neighbors

someone was turned in, the Gestapo showed up to do the honors.
No warrant was needed. Time of day or night was irrelevant. Folks
simply got hauled off, and, once taken away, never returned. Gestapo
interrogation methods were simple: Torture them till they talk.
Most of the time — even if these prisoners had absolutely nothing
of value to report — they eventually broke under the torture and
simply blurted out whatever they thought the inquisitors wanted
to hear. Once they had spoken, off they went to their deaths at
the local extermination camp, and if they chose not to speak, well,
then the torture continued till they died in the interrogation chamber.

here we are in 2005, in the United States of America, busily trading
essential liberties for the safety of power…We, too, understand
that "safety" means "power." In today's America,
the administration has taught us carefully and clearly that: "Power
will keep us safe. After all, we are the good people, the ones who
want to clear the planet earth of all who hinder progress, of all
who stand in the way of our good intentions — and the more power
our Empire has, the safer we will be, the safer we will make the

do not have a Gestapo, of course. Intimidating black uniforms
with jack boots and shiny hat visors to match are as out-dated as
33 1/3 RPM music albums. And, after all, the Gestapo wasn't
very secret. Our current fascist government is so much smoother,
sophisticated, slicker than the Nazis ever were. We just have organizations
called FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation) and CIA (Central Intelligence

as reported by the Associated Press (June, 2005), we also have an
expanded, broader version of the Patriot Act, which gives the government
more liberties with our liberties than ever before. The purpose
of this expansion "Has, as its significant purpose, the collection
of intelligence…."

June 29, 2005, CNN TV, along with the LA Times-Washington Post
News Service, announced that, In June, 2002, President
Bush directed the creation of a new National Security Service within
the FBI
. This little gem specializes in intelligence and other
"national security matters" under the grim direction of
John Negroponte, who — given his background of association with
South American terrorists — is pretty savvy when it comes to such

new service combines counterterrorism, intelligence and espionage
units, and has been mandated to operate in secrecy as needed. "It
will give control of all human intelligence operations to the CIA."

new department is enthusiastically endorsed by FBI Director Robert
Mueller, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, CIA Director Porter
Goss, and Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff. What a great
new way to prevent terrorism. Now, we not only have secret agents
who can conduct all business in secret, but can also use torture

You ask, "Now where did you get that from?"

current administration clearly understands the value of torture.
After all, when the populace found out about the torture in Abu
Ghraib and at Guantánamo — amongst other places — there was no public
outcry. Those inquisitors were – and continue to – simply keep
us all safe from terrorists. Good job. Not only that, but, now,
torture is an officially sanctioned governmental procedure.

very purpose of the international Geneva Conventions, formulated
in 1949 by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human rights, was created to prevent — ever again — the kind of
insane torture and ruthless extermination perpetrated by Nazi Germany.
When interrogated, "No physical or mental torture, nor any
form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure
from them information of any kind whatsoever." The Geneva Conventions,
as a matter of fact, were updated in 1977 to provide greater protections
for victims of armed conflict. To wit: "The presence within
the civilian population of individuals who do not come within the
definition of civilians does not deprive the population of its civilian
character." (Article 50)

just this spring, Alberto Gonzales, our own Attorney General, opened
the door to torture when he stated, "The Geneva Conventions
are quaint: They are obsolete."

all know that torture techniques such as "waterboarding,"
electroshock, the use of attack dogs on naked prisoners were/are
commonplace at Guatanomo. In an article by Robert Zeller (06/24/05,
"The Triangle") the USA torture system is made even clearer:
The USA, now, routinely sends persons for interrogation to nations
that openly condone torture. "Flogging, anal rape, fingernail
extraction, amputation, submersion in boiling water and mock executions
are standard procedure, often under the eye of American agents"
Agents — from the FBI and CIA — are sent as escorts with these prisoners,
in order to note all information resulting from these techniques.
According to Robert Zeller, "In so doing, the officials who
direct these agents are in direct violation of the federal War Crimes
Act, a 1996 statute that carries the death penalty."

on June 28, 2005, officially refused to back a United Nations protocol
against torture, because of fears that this could allow international
monitors to visit terrorist suspects in Guantánamo Bay.

is the secrecy of our "new" FBI/CIA actually new? On June
6, 2002, the
Portland Oregonian reported
that former University of
South Florida professor, Sami Al-Arian, had his phones bugged, microphones
planted in his office, and faxes as well as computer conversations
recorded. And, all this took place well before the official conversion
of the FBI to "Secrecy." Matter of fact, it was done for
nine years, and no evidence was ever discovered making him in any
way less than a good US Citizen.

July 1, 2002, FBI agents searched the San Diego home of Rep. Randy
"Duke" Cunningham. No reason was given. No reason HAD
to be given. No one is exempt from these new secret agents and what
they choose to do. Ordinary citizen or legislator — it doesn't matter.
In they come, and away we go

who gets hauled off in the night? France Sénécal,
who hosts a weekly interview program at Radio
Station KDVS 90.3 FM
at University of California — Davis, reports the
horrifying family experience of “Sitara,” a long-time member of
“Critical Resistance” who has often been interviewed on France’s

no advance notice, with no warning whatsoever, Sitara’s aunt
and uncle were taken away by government agents during the week of
June 22, 2005. They have since been locked away in a detention prison
in West Virginia. Sitara states, "They came from Afghanistan
about ten years ago, and have since been involved in a long asylum

uncle and 19-year-old cousin were home after cousin's graduation
from High School on June 22. Suddenly, on graduation day, the doorbell
rang, and there stood the government officials and police, saying,
"We need to take you for questioning about an investigation
we are doing at Dulles airport (where my aunt worked, and my uncle
also, until his work permit expired and wasn't renewed.). They told
my 19-year-old cousin that his folks would be back that evening,
but, instead, they simply disappeared."

their West Virginian detention camp, the story they are told regarding
the reason for their detention keeps changing, and no one knows
what's going to happen to them. Will they be deported? And, is the
young cousin also in danger? No one knows.

how far are we removed from the Gestapo of Nazi Germany?
As Robert Zeller states, "It (fascism) comes through creating
legal nonpersons of citizens and noncitizens alike. It comes through
violating human rights standards, sanitizing torture and condoning

Hermann Goering stated at the Nuremberg trials: "Voice or no
voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.
That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked
and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing
the country to greater danger."

June 14, 2005, Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill compared US interrogators
at Guantánamo with Nazis and other historically infamous figures.
By June 21, 2005, he had been pressured by the administration to
the point that he issued the following: "Some may believe that
my remarks crossed the line. To them, I extend my heartfelt apologies."
In this regard, Durbin represents the entire nation: All of us see
what sits in front of us. All of us are aware of what is going on.
All of us understand that our endorsement of the Patriot Act, the
new FBI/CIA does away with our essential freedoms. But, none of
us want to "cross the line." Are we that close to the
mentality of the German citizenry of the Nazi era? Seems that way,
doesn't it…. Heil Hitler.

7, 2005

Colmes is an independent writer in Portland, Or. The
Iron Butterfly
is the title of her book and her web site is:
Her email address is:

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