• In the Dead of the Night

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    the latest massive corruption and incompetence of our nation's intelligence
    bureaucracy was being revealed, top administration brass huddled
    in secrecy to work out the details of their next ratchet step toward
    a police state. Their furtive power grab reveals an increasingly
    clear pattern of behavior from the Bush White House.

    after 9/11, A.G. Ashcroft ramrodded through the USA Patriot Act,
    granting federal cops unprecedented power to spy on and detain broadly
    defined "terrorists" and those who "aid" them,
    effectively suspending much of the Bill of Rights. Congress lacked
    the chance to debate or even read the bill prior to the vote, after
    being oh so conveniently forced to vacate their offices by an anthrax
    scare likely perpetrated by a top government scientist still on
    the loose. Only Wisconsin's Senator Feingold had enough doubts to
    vote nay.

    reeling from mounting evidence that the administration allowed the
    9/11 attacks through gross stupidity, negligence or lust for power,
    the Washington Post reports
    that four top White House officials were tasked to secretly draw
    up plans for the new cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security.
    For 10 days starting on April 23, White House Chief of Staff Andrew
    Card, Homeland Security czar Tom Ridge, chief counsel Alberto Gonzales
    and budget director Mitchell Daniels met “in a bunker-style, secure
    conference room beneath the White House.”

    everything else in this long-running drama, the timing is oh so
    convenient because on May 3, the very day the first draft was compete,
    the story that the FBI ignored warnings of pending attacks broke
    in the media, subsequently snowballing into the usual finger-pointing
    and culminating in last week's congressional testimony from FBI
    “whistleblower” Coleen Rowley. The upshot of these revelations is
    that our federal bureaucracy, under the control of the president,
    is woefully unprepared to protect us from terrorists. This certainly
    isn't news to those who've been paying attention.

    new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was finally sprung on
    us just last week as an administration fait accompli. And
    just in case you thought your country even resembled a democracy,
    think again. The White House thought the “element of surprise would
    give their proposal a better chance of success. Early leaks…would
    have allowed opponents, particularly committee chairmen who stand
    to lose authority under the proposal, to gain the initiative.” That’s
    right, telling citizens what their government is planning would
    give them a chance to discuss the matter in public, and maybe even
    try to stop this latest power grab. But turf
    in Congress will probably give way quickly as Republican
    backers offer generous porky payouts, while threatening the patriotism
    card against any who balk, or try change the subject back to the
    failure of the Bush administration to stop the attacks.

    “22 federal agencies under one umbrella with a $37.5 billion budget
    and 170,000 employees,” making it “the biggest US government department
    after the Pentagon.” And with the Pentagon’s ongoing wars continuing
    to manufacture ever more enemies of America, and the FBI/DEA/ATF/INS/BLM/SS
    creating its share of disaffected indigenous victims, those numbers
    are sure to grow as the creation of a terror-free homeland becomes
    as illusive as a drug-free one, and for many of the same reasons.

    massive new bureaucracy will not prevent future attacks. As they
    become flooded with oodles of data from their ubiquitous eavesdropping,
    sorted and mined for nuggets with expensive new computers and software,
    they won't be able to separate the signal of pending attacks from
    the noise. What DHS will provide is the hammer to aggressively enforce
    the USA Patriot Act, and they could even brand as terrorist facilitators
    those Americans who visit certain websites, blow off steam online,
    or engage in healthy political speech. "If you're not with
    us, you're with the terrorists," says our leader, and soon
    he'll have the muscle to back it up.

    affected cabinet secretaries and a few senior Republican congressmen
    were given one day's notice of the new plan. Once Tom Ridge is likely
    made Secretary Ridge, our revamped federal government will effectively
    be run by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ridge and Ashcroft, with Congress
    relegated to the status of a yapping Chihuahua, and the American
    people reduced to a cowering giant kept submissive with daily doses
    of propaganda and antidepressants.

    analogy to godfather II Michael Corleone secretly plotting his vengeful
    ascendancy with his consigliere and head thug is truly frightening,
    as the ongoing Washington soap opera of power politics plays out
    like a slow motion putsch. With this history of furtive paranoia,
    “chilling” doesn’t begin to describe what these people are capable
    of when the “inevitable” next attack comes, as they operate like
    the scariest of terrorist cells hatching their dangerous schemes
    in complete secrecy while hunkering in their hardened bunkers.

    facts are just what's been reported in the press. With freedom of
    information officially rendered DOA by this administration, it may
    be years before we can know the really scary details.

    libertarians, terrified of appearing extreme, are expressing their
    usual bland “concerns.” Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic
    Privacy Information Center, thinks
    we need to “ask larger questions about where this administration
    is taking the U.S. government,” but from their extreme actions it’s
    pretty clear where that is. As Bob Dylan told us years ago, “You
    don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.”

    12, 2002

    Bottoms [send him mail]
    writes, works and lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

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