Martial Law

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Many folks
accept, some with a sense of high probability, that the US will
suffer a terrorist attack, perhaps of horrific proportions. If that
happens, as General Tommy Franks and others have suggested, democracy
could well fail and the US Constitution could be brought down and
replaced by martial law. An attack would leave a terrified US populace,
many of them so desperate for a sense of order, so lustful for revenge
against the terrorists (to be identified by the War Machine, of
course) that they will follow the US Government in lockstep. Nuke
Iran and Syria immediately (as neocons have wanted to do for quite
some time)? No problem. Arrest and intimidate anyone who dares speak
out against the government? Hey, national security is at stake.
Vigilantism waged against dissident u201Ctraitorsu201D? We're fighting for
the survival of Western civilization, for God's sake.

But that can't
happen here!

Well it can
happen here. Consider the moral character of those in the White
House and consider the demonstrated failure of Congress to stop
them on their long march to disaster. Americans would be wise to
adopt the attitude toward government leaders held by their ancestors.
In 1787, citizens harbored disdainfully little trust in government.
After viewing the original version of the US Constitution, they
found no explicit enumerations of a citizen's right to bear arms,
to speak freely, to get a fair trial, etc. Show it to us in writing,
demanded the patriots and thus, two years later, was born the Bill
of Rights. They assumed, and so should we, that government leaders,
unchecked, have limitless potential for harm toward the citizenry.

This is the
government, after all, that runs a gulag network of CIA prison camps.
These facilities were u201Cblacku201D (so secret that they didn't ostensibly
exist) until being outed, anonymously, to the Washington Post. One
camp, fittingly, is in a former Soviet compound in Eastern Europe.
Who the prisoners are, how they are interrogated or even how many
make it out alive is unknown. While Dick Cheney fights tooth and
nail to prevent any reining in of American brutality in the questioning
of prisoners overseas, President Bush threatens to veto the John
McCain anti-torture bill that passed in the Senate 90-9. If we,
the people, allow government leaders to commit unnamed, unaccounted-for
tortures upon those we hold in far-flung gulags — in u201Csupportu201D of
a war that these leaders can't explain to the American people or
the world — it won't be surprising when, in the event of domestic
chaos at home, they visit like horrors upon their own citizens.

Senator Joe
Lieberman, Honorary Co-Chairman of the hawkish, right-wing Committee
on the Present Danger and a firm supporter of the war in Iraq, has
this to say: “The fear…of federal military usurping state and
local authority and, in the worst case, martial law imposed by a
president has to give way to the reality of lives on the line.”
Senator John Warner expressed similar sentiments in a letter to
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Both men were speaking in
the context of natural disasters, after the post-Katrina government
rescue debacle. Since Katrina, the mention of martial law is trendy
in government circles and in the media. The trouble is: it's a short
conceptual leap from the pushing of a recalcitrant homeowner out
of a hurricane zone at the end of a federal bayonet, to the violent
dispersal of angry crowds gathered to voice disapproval of a fascist

How would the
neocon think tanks view martial law? Michael Ledeen, a fellow of
the American Enterprise Institute, and close and trusted White House
adviser, has this to say on p. 173 of his book Machiavelli
on Modern Leadership: Why Machiavelli's Iron Rules Are As Timely
and Important Today As Five Centuries Ago
: u201CParadoxically,
preserving liberty may require the rule of a single leader — a dictator
— willing to use those dreaded ‘extraordinary measures,’ which few
know how, or are willing, to employ.”

According to
the Boston Globe, Ledeen in a 2003 speech to the American
Enterprise Institute, asserted our nation's insatiable lust for
war by claiming that “All the great scholars who have studied American
character have come to the conclusion that we are a warlike people
and that we love war. . .What we hate is not casualties but losing.”
Did anyone in the media ever challenge an administration spokesman
to defend Ledeen's staggeringly wrongheaded, anti-American values?
Did any of the (self-described) scholars at AEI that day ask why
the GD fool would say such a thing? President Bush, for his part
has personally offered these congratulations to the AEI: u201CAt the
American Enterprise Institute, some of the finest minds in our nation
are at work on some of the greatest challenges to our nation. You
do such good work that my administration has borrowed 20 such minds.u201D

The leaders
of the War Machine — with their gulags, their lies, their senseless,
immoral war — do not treat enemies and purported enemies terribly
well. In the event of martial law, it would be nave indeed to suspect
that they would treat Americans any better. Patriots — left, right
and center — should unite under the American flag to stop the War
Machine today while they still can. The impeachment of Bush and
Cheney is the obvious place to start. We, the people, should demand
it of the US Congress, just as statesmen and citizens of their time
demanded the Bill of Rights. Congress should be ordered, as well,
to act responsibly and responsively and in the best interest of
the sovereign Republic of the United States of America, not in the
interest of neocon warmongers.

12, 2005

Nolan [send him mail] is a
freelance writer from Taunton, MA. His work recently appeared in
Common Dreams and His fiction has appeared in the
Dublin Writers Workshop Electric Acorn. He is currently finishing
a novel.

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