Detainee Bill and the Dawning of a Fascist America
As Steve Douglas notes, “the Schmittian drives for the arrogation of all power into the hands of a ‘unitary executive’ Presidential dictatorship,” in the case of both Hitler and Bush, are “essentially, identical.”
In the wake of the Reichstag fire in early 1933, blamed on the Comintern, Hitler and the Nazis, with “the support of a terrified populace … suspended civil rights and civil liberties, fattened their war machine and rode the fascist tide into a full-blown dictatorship,” writes Harvey Wasserman.
After the Reichstag fire, Paul von Hindenburg signed the fateful emergency decree, thus providing Hitler’s SA and SS with the legality required to round up the opposition and throw them in makeshift concentration camps run by local Gauleiters and SA leaders. “The rest, as they say, is history,” notes Wasserman.
Bush, or rather his neocons, who subscribe to the Schmittian drive “for the arrogation of all power into the hands of a ‘unitary executive’ Presidential dictatorship,” have their own gesetzvertretende Verordnungen or “law-substituting decrees,” or rather Constitution-substituting decrees, in particular scrubbing the Fourteenth Amendment.
“The military trials bill approved by Congress lends legislative support for the first time to broad rules for the detention, interrogation, prosecution and trials of terrorism suspects far different from those in the familiar American criminal justice system,” explains the Washington Post. “President Bush’s argument that the government requires extraordinary power to respond to the unusual threat of terrorism helped him win final support for a system of military trials with highly truncated defendant’s rights…. Included in the bill, passed by Republican majorities in the Senate yesterday and the House on Wednesday are unique rules that bar terrorism suspects from challenging their detention or treatment through traditional habeas corpus petitions. They allow prosecutors, under certain conditions, to use evidence collected through hearsay or coercion to seek criminal convictions.”
Naturally, we are told this “arrogation of all power into the hands” of the unitary decider will apply only to “foreign nationals,” that is to say Muslims. Hitler said much the same.
The enemies of the fatherland were foreigners—and their German fellow travelers—members of the comintern (communist international), Hitler declared, and such subversion required austere measures, including interning thousands in concentration camps, subjecting them to interrogation, torture, and summary execution.
As Marty Lederman points out, the so-called “military commissions bill,” if read literally, “means that if the Pentagon says you’re an unlawful enemy combatant—using whatever criteria they wish—then as far as Congress, and U.S. law, is concerned, you are one, whether or not you have had any connection to ‘hostilities’ at all.”
This definition is not limited to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It’s not limited to aliens—it covers U.S. citizens as well. It’s not limited to persons captured or detained overseas. And it is not even limited to the armed conflict against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, authorized by Congress on September 18, 2001. Indeed, on the face of it, it’s not even limited to a time of war or armed conflict; it could apply in peacetime.
For some, it is a relatively easy task to dismiss Lederman out of hand as a paranoid crank, or possibly another conspiracy nut.
However, even the Los Angeles Times warns of the draconian aspect of this law. “[T]he bill also reinforces the presidential claims, made in the Padilla case, that the commander in chief has the right to designate a U.S. citizen on American soil as an enemy combatant and subject him to military justice,” writes Bruce Ackerman, a professor of law and political science at Yale.
This atrocious, Hitlerian bill authorizes “the government to seize and detain indefinitely, without charge or trial, anyone who ‘purposefully and materially supported hostilities’ even if not engaged in armed conflict, including U.S. citizens arrested inside the United States,” explains Human Rights First.
“Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said that by including those who ’supported hostilities’—rather than those who ‘engage in acts’ against the United States—the government intends the legislation to sanction its seizure and indefinite detention of people far from the battlefield,” notes the Washington Post.
“In short,” writes John Dean, “this could include anyone the federal government (Bush and Rumsfeld will delegate and re-delegate this authority) labels ‘an unlawful enemy combatant.’”
Nazi Germany provides a historical example of what we can expect in the months ahead. William L. Shirer, author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, explains how tribunals operated under fascism. Hitler’s courts
consisted of three judges, who invariably had to be trusted party members, without a jury. A Nazi prosecutor had the choice of bringing action in such cases before either an ordinary court or the Special Court, and invariably he chose the latter, for obvious reasons. Defense lawyers before this court, as before the Volksgerichtshof, had to be approved by Nazi officials. Sometimes even if they were approved they fared badly. Thus the lawyers who attempted to represent the widow of Dr. Klausener, the Catholic Action leader murdered in the Blood Purge, in her suit for damages against the State were whisked off to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where they were kept until they formally withdrew the action.
Under Bush’s Detainee bill, however, the secretly accused, snatched off the street and disappeared in classic Gestapo fashion, will not be allowed to select an attorney—one will be appointed by the Inquisition.
At least the Nazis bothered to construct a cover for their tactics, describing the detention of the opposition as Schutzhaft, or protective custody. Bush and the neocons offer no such cover, instead proffering the same old threadbare and transparent palliative—in order to protect the American people from ubiquitous and around-every-corner terrorism, promised to last for generations, the state is unfortunately forced to resort to eviscerating the Constitution, not that most Americans have an inkling of what the document spells out—the rights and the responsibilities—or will they particularly care so long as they are free to shop and watch football and sit-coms.
Of course, the neocons need big fat dossiers of intelligence on “homegrown” enemy combatants in order for the neocon Inquisitor Generals to proceed.
The NSA, Pentagon, and the FBI with its Joint Terrorism Task Force are in the process of gathering this crucial data and entering it into the Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) database, a project initiated back in 2003 by the neocon Paul Wolfowitz, now don of the World Bank loan sharking operation.
So keen are the neocons to gather intelligence on American “enemy combatants,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England issued a memorandum directing intelligence personnel to receive “refresher training on the policies for collection, retention, dissemination and use of information related to U.S. persons,” that is to say traitors, mostly involved in criminal plots to exercise constitutionally guaranteed liberties such as free speech and the right to assemble, now anathema to the fascist state, as it was to Hitler and his minions.
But never mind. Not only are most Americans blissfully unaware of the immense peril they face—thanks to a complicit and soft-pedal corporate media—many of them faithfully support the fascist state, as the German people did before them.
As the above quoted Shirer writes: “The overwhelming majority of Germans did not seem to mind that their personal freedom had been taken away, that so much of culture had been destroyed and replaced with a mindless barbarism…. The Nazi terror in the early years affected the lives of relatively few Germans and a newly arrived observer was somewhat surprised to see that the people of this country did not seem to feel that they were being cowed…. On the contrary, they supported it with genuine enthusiasm. Somehow it imbued them with a new hope and a new confidence and an astonishing faith in the future of their country.”
It will be too late on the day a predatory bureaucrat from the Ministry of Homeland security steals your land or appropriates your wife—a fate inflicted upon countless bovine vassals by rulers and their henchmen down through the dark shadow of history.
Our Machiavellian rulers, wearing expensive suits instead of the ermine of royal heraldic authority, are determined to reduce the planet to a hellish realm of corporate lords, worker drone vassals and serfs, and a small number of liege fiefs lording over the former.
Bush’s detainee bill is a large paving stone in that direction.
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