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Homeland Insecurity
November 20, 2002
By Maureen Farrell

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"In the next 5 to 10 years, we are all going to live in a global version of Nazi Germany." - David Icke

"Basically, all the conspiracy theories about secret societies wanting to take over the world are wrong." - Daniel Pipes

Anyone who's ever tuned into the History Channel's "Secret Societies" recognizes these quotes from its opening segment. As part of the "History's Mysteries" series, "Secret Societies" is a fun, often sensational journey inside the world of would-be cabals and plots for world domination. Featuring volleyed testimony from various experts, the program mixes factual information and historical trivia with open speculation on the role secret societies may have played in these events. "Do shadowy and clandestine groups really rule the world?" host Arthur Kent campily inquires, before hinting at hidden subtext behind historical moments.

During the 1980 presidential campaign, for example, the History Channel reports that Ronald Reagan repeatedly expressed a distrust of secret societies and promised that Skull and Bonesman, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) member and Trilateral Commission alumni George Bush would not be offered a position in his administration. Yet during the Republican Convention, Reagan broke tradition by making a late-night dash from his hotel room to the convention floor and declaring George Bush his running mate. The Iran hostage situation was miraculously resolved the day Reagan was sworn in.

Ever since Prescott Bush was penalized for trading with the Nazis during World War II and the words "George Bush of the CIA" surfaced on a 1963 FBI report on the JFK assassination, the Bush family has been tied to speculation. And certainly, October Surprises and Iran/Contra add to the intrigue while links between the Bushes and the Hinkleys and Bushes and bin Ladens have not gone unnoticed. Regardless how entertaining this speculation may be, however, reasonable people have historically heard the word "conspiracy" and rejected theories outright - even those theories that later proved to be true. And given a choice between the conspiracy theorists and debunkers, they've tended to take the road less kooky.

In the History Channel-extracted exchange above, for example, CFR member Daniel Pipes clearly asserts the more sensible view. Serving on three editorial boards and working on four presidential campaigns, this author of CONSPIRACY: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From once headed the Foreign Policy Research Institute, which is funded, in large part, by conspiracy-monger Richard Mellon Scaife. Pipes is also known for his latest endeavor, Campus Watch, wherein he actively encourages "the paranoid style" by targeting professors who don't toe his politically correct line. Monitoring Middle East Studies professors, Pipes' group scours educators' work for bias and enlists students and academics who are "interested in promoting American interests on campus" to spy and tattle. A professor who is concerned about Dick Cheney's $73 million in business transactions with Iraq (even as sanctions continued to kill 5,000 Iraqi children monthly), for example, might be wise to keep his mouth shut, else possibly be listed on Pipes' website and become besieged with hate mail and death threats. What was Pipes saying about paranoia, again?

Now that debunkers like Pipes have been linked to conspiracies to squelch dissent and Bush's official national security policy openly expresses a desire for dominance and control, is it any wonder conspiracy theories thrive? From the 2000 election to unanswered Sept. 11 questions to outright fabrications over Iraq, the president has repeatedly proven that he will lie shamelessly in order to garner more power for himself and his cronies. The shroud of secrecy under which the administration operates only serves to fuel speculation, while last minute GOP sneakiness, like the maneuvers that ballooned the 32 page Homeland Security Bill to nearly 500 pages virtually overnight, prove once again whose side theses folks are on.

One hastily added amendment to the Homeland Security bill, for example, which was rumored to have been added at the White House's request, is the provision under which pharmaceutical companies would be protected from lawsuits. Currently, 150 lawsuits have been filed against vaccine manufacturers, alleging that mercury preservatives within measles, mumps and rubella vaccines caused their children's autism (the New York Times recently dubbed this "the not-so-crackpot autism theory"). This amendment, which has nothing to do with Homeland Security, would limit compensation to $250,000. Paul Wellstone's amendment which would prevent companies who avoid paying US taxes by moving offshore from contracting with the Homeland Security Department was removed.

Even more sinister, however, is that new provisions reintroduce proposals which were previously rejected by most states in last years' Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (MEHPA). Calling for mandatory vaccination, MEHPA allows for confiscation of real estate, food, medicine and other property; and outlines plans to herd afflicted citizens into stadiums. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson urged state legislatures to adopt the act, providing all the proof conspiracy theorists needed to prove that the U.S government was using 9/11 to impose a reign of tyranny. The mysterious deaths of 15 microbiologists following the attacks didn't help.

Yet according to the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, under this Homeland Security provision, MEHPA would be all but reborn under section 304, subsection C of the bill. Tommy Thompson would be given sweeping powers to unilaterally declare an emergency and order forced vaccinations, detainment and quarantines. Bemoaning that the provision was "snuck into the bill at the last minute," Rep. Ron Paul (R, TX) said, "It is hard to think of a more blatant violation of liberty than allowing government officials to force people to receive potentially dangerous vaccines based on hypothetical risks."

Representative Paul also complained that Homeland Security Bill "expands the federal police state" and "gives the federal government new powers and increases federal expenditures," while media watchdog groups reported that other provisions added would make requests under the Freedom of Information Act easier to squelch. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said the disclosure rules represent "the most severe weakening of the Freedom of Information Act in its 36-year history," adding they had been inserted in the bill "behind closed doors." Sen. Robert Byrd also voiced concerns that the amendments would "give the president carte blanche to expand the culture of secrecy that now permeates this administration."

If passed, last minute changes to the bill would also give the federal government permission to monitor citizens' internet use, e-mail, travel plans, credit-card purchases and other personal data. Headed by John Poindexter, in the Information Awareness Office, Americans can rest assured that "bringing dignity to the White House" means hiring a five-time felon to keep an eye on them. The Information Awareness' logo, an all-seeing eye hovering atop a pyramid contains the slogan "Scientia Est Potentia" ("Knowledge Is Power") and is eerily similar to the illuminati symbol on the dollar - which fuels conspiracy theorists all the more.

"What people are going to see is going to make their hair curl," David Icke promised the History Channel. "What's been going on, in front of their face and behind their back, all their lives, while they thought a completely different story was unfolding."

After the latest example of stealth legislation designed to take away liberties under the guise of national security, our hair is already Shirley Temple tight. Provisions snuck into Homeland Security legislation make mockery of "the land of the free," and it's hopeful that the good Senators who still consider themselves public servants will apply the brakes to this legislation.

But the very fact that these provisions have been considered, and have already been snuck through the House, is troubling in itself. At the moment, conspiracy theorists seem far less extreme than those hell-bent on ruining the America we love.

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