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pberq Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 09:39 AM
Original message
An American Gulag
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/editorialsopinion...

<snip>
The U.S. plan to lock up suspected terrorists for life in secret locations without evidence is a horrifying development.

Torturing prisoners, denying them legal safeguards and essentially refuting their existence is what rogue regimes and lawless nations do. Reading about it in China's Xinhua News Agency is especially disconcerting. The Bush administration is not only doing all this now, but making systematic plans to create an American gulag of prisons and prisoners without names and cells without numbers. From the old Soviet Union to Communist China to the banana republics of Latin America and Castro's Cuba, that's what others do.

According to reports in The Washington Post, the military and CIA have hundreds of detainees for whom they have no evidence to hold longer or who have exhausted their usefulness as intelligence sources, or never provided any information.

U.S. authorities refuse to let them go or put them in proximity to U.S. civilian or military judicial systems.

(More). . .
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 10:00 AM
Response to Original message
1. As in the USSR, this is a sign of declining legitimacy in the government.
Edited on Sat Jan-08-05 10:00 AM by bemildred
Governments that in fact rule by the consent of the governed do not
have to resort to these unconstitutional methods. The facts: that the
US government finds it necessary to resort to the most blatant propaganda,
police state methods, election rigging, and the highest criminal
incarceration rate in the world, are merely signs of the coming political
collapse.
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Jack Rabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 11:26 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. It is certainly a sign of declining legitimacy of world leadership
The problem with the Soviet analogy, my friend, is that the Soviets locked up their own citizens in Gulags. It was not customary from them to go overseas to do so, although they did so now and then after setting up their imperial satellite system after World War II (ee.g., Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968). So far, the neoconservative modus operandi is to lock up foreigners and leave Americans alone. I emphasize so far.

Another major distinction between the neoconservatives and the Soviets is that propaganda in the Soviet Union (or Nazi Germany, for that matter) was under the direct control of either the state or the Party, whereas propaganda in neoconservative America is privatized. Bush does not need to worry about bad press; he certainly doesn't get as much as he deserves. While this makes the relationship between the neoconservative state and its propaganda arm precarious at times, the effect is much the same. As long as the corporate-owned media don't turn on the neoconservatives, the American public knows only what the neoconservatives want them to know. It isn't as efficient as the totalitarian model, but it still works to the advantage of the ruling elite. Americans believed the lies both prior to the invasion of Iraq (Saddam had a huge biochemical arsenal, Saddam had ties to al Qaida) and many people still believe those lies; many who no longer believe the neocon lies that preceded the war now believe the alibi that the problem was inept intelligence agencies, when in fact the neoconservatives were manufacturing intelligence which both "supported" the lies prior to the war and established the false alibi afterward. Another of people know very well that neoconservatives are lying whenever they move their lips, but don't care; they believe that a world dominated by an American corporate empire would be beneficial to mankind. Examples of this kind of thinking can be seen in some of the posts in the long, year-old thread (Why the left was wrong) in FA.

In any case, most of the challenge to the American corporate empire comes not from within the US, but from its subjects abroad. They, of course, don't get to vote in US elections, even assuming such are free and fair. For now, Bush and his gang of liars and thieves will be content to lock up those on the front line of opposition. That will also meet minimum opposition, since many of these people really are terrorists who would, if given a chance, hijack a plane and slam it into an office building in the US.

However, locking up every potential terrorist indefinitely in an offshore gulag is a cumbersome process. Sooner or later, the neoconservatives will have to either admit that these terrorists have some legitimate grievances that must be addressed or turn on the intellectuals who give air to those grievances, people such as Arundhati Roy. So far (again), they haven't done that because most Americans have never heard of any best-selling developing-world novelist. However, Ms. Roy and those like her have an international audience. When challenges to the the neoconservative agenda and the US corporate empire move beyond the fruitless acts of terrorism we have seen thus far and become effective worldwide boycotts and divestment campaigns, and are perhaps accompanied with diplomatic sanctions, then the neocons may turn on the leftist intellectuals and subject them to an international version of the Dirty Wars associated with the likes of the Argentine junta or General Pinochet in Chile.

You are right, of course, to point out many of the other signs of the decay of American society. We have a high incarceration rate, much of it related to a war on drugs (which may be seen as a war on an alternate economy that has arisen to challenge an economy that did not adequately provide for all people). The election rigging has become more obvious: GOP "poll watchers" were, in fact, right wing goons whose purpose was to intimidate people who might vote for Bush's opponents; as criminals launder money through dummy businesses, so do the neoconservative launder stolen votes through unaccountable voting machines. And, once again, what do the American people know about this? Only what the GOP's privatized propaganda machine tells them.

There may be other signs yet to come. Bush still wants to push an enhancement of the Patriot Act through congress. Will such an enhancement contain language allowing the President or a cabinet officer to strip an American of his citizenship, as was drafted by Justice Department lawyers two years ago? If such provision becomes law, we can lay aside any remaining claim neoconservative America has to being a democratic state.

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pberq Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 01:40 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. propaganda is privatized????
". . .propaganda in neoconservative America is privatized. . ."

Oh yea? How about this:

http://www.counterpunch.org/webb12172004.html

<snip>
That same CIA memo goes on to explain that the Agency maintains "relationships with reporters from every major wire service, newspaper, news weekly and TV network." The memo continues, "In many instances we have persuaded reporters to postpone, change, hold or even scrap stories that could have adversely affected national security interests or jeopardized sources or methods."

In fact, the relationship between the CIA and the press is exposed in detail in the many stories about Gary Webb that have surfaced since his death.

Here's another one from counterpunch.org:

http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn12182004.html

<snip>
Few spectacles in journalism in the mid-1990s were more disgusting than the slagging of Gary Webb in the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. Squadrons of hacks, some of them with career-long ties to the CIA, sprayed thousands of words of vitriol over Webb and his paper, the San Jose Mercury News for besmirching the Agency's fine name by charging it with complicity in the importing of cocaine into the US.

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pberq Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 01:53 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. Here's some more
Edited on Sat Jan-08-05 01:59 PM by pberq
http://www.onlinejournal.com/Commentary/011004Hasty/011...

<snip>
Especially after he died so mysteriously, why shouldn't we believe the late CIA Director William Colby, who bragged about how the CIA "owns everyone of any major significance in the major media?"

<snip>
That George Bush was the CIA director who kept the names of what were estimated to be hundreds of American journalists, considered to be CIA "assets," from the Church Committee . . .
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Jack Rabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 02:11 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Response to pberq
No matter what pressure the government may put on the media and no matter who the CIA considers an "asset", journalists do not work for the government but for private industry. A journalist is dirctly responsible to his editors and publishers, who are in turn responsible to somebody whose claim to be able to tell other people what to do rests solely on the fact that he has a lot of money; the journalist is not responsible to the Director of Central Intelligece or anybody in the White House or Pentagon.

In short, the media is private industry. I rest my case.
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pberq Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-09-05 10:50 AM
Response to Reply #8
11. It's more complex than that
As bemildred alluded to in an excellent post below, we have an illusion of an independent media.

I wonder if you could comment on the media response to Gary Webb's Dark Alliance?

Yes, nominally, the media is owned by private concerns. However, the connections between the giant media conglomerates and the government is deep, if hidden. There is much evidence suggesting that large coroporate interests are what decide government policy. So in effect, it is the government that is being controlled by these powerful business elites, and that they use control over the media to further their agenda.

Here is more from Counterpunch:

http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn12182004.html

<snip>
This business of Uncle Sam's true face brings me to Gary Webb and why they hated him. Few spectacles in journalism in the mid-1990s were more disgusting than the slagging of Gary Webb in the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. Squadrons of hacks, some of them with career-long ties to the CIA, sprayed thousands of words of vitriol over Webb and his paper, the San Jose Mercury News for besmirching the Agency's fine name by charging it with complicity in the importing of cocaine into the US.

There are certain things you aren't meant to say in public in America. The systematic state-sponsorship of torture by the US used to be a major no-no, but that went by the board this year (even though Seymour Hersh treated the CIA with undue kindness in Chain of Command: the Road to Abu Ghraib) . A prime no-no is to say that the US government has used assassination down the years as an instrument of national policy; also that the CIA's complicity with drug dealing criminal gangs stretches from the Afghanistan of today back to the year the Agency was founded in 1947. That last one is the line Webb stepped over.He paid for his presumption by undergoing one of the unfairest batterings in the history of the US press, as the chapter from Whiteout we ran on our site yesterday narrates.


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Jack Rabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-09-05 01:43 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Yes, it is more complicated
Edited on Sun Jan-09-05 01:50 PM by Jack Rabbit
However, you seem to have the cart before the horse. The media is independent (or, more correctly, those who own the media are independent). It's the government that isn't. The same people who own the media own the government. Bush is not the enemy; he is a stooge of the enemy.

I doubt that the real powers that be tell the government to assassinate this Prime Minister or that labor leader, but they don't mind, either. They want to make sure theat US power is used to promote their profits overseas and protect them from pesky people who might want to arrange their local economies to their benefit.

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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 08:17 PM
Response to Reply #4
9. Attempting to address things somewhat in order:
I would submit that the US does lock up it's own citizens in gulags, as
noted in your fifth paragraph. There is a vast array of public and
private prisons, and they serve much the same function as with the
Soviets, to instill fear of the State. We even have slave labor in prisons.
Admitted, the justifications given are different, but then it
is certainly true that the USA differs in many ways from the USSR and
Russia. The USSR, also, did freely imprison it's subject peoples, and
in truth we have always done so too. What is interesting here is that
the government's right to do this is now in dispute, and the government
finds it necessary to build and use and maintain these secret facilities. I take
that as a sign that it is more difficult to keep these things outside
the arena of public debate.

Your comment on the difference in the state propaganda organs in the
USA and the USSR seems correct. But this seems to me merely an indication
that the political system here is more sophisticated. Instead of the
government propagandizing the citizenry directly, we have "independent"
news sources, an implementation of the third-party testimonial
technique from Public Relations theory. It must be admitted that
outside the constraints of the MSM we may still speak freely and
safely as we choose, and I do not wish to minimize the importance of
that difference, it is a cause for hope and optimism.

It seems to me that the threat to the current ruling elites is both
from within and without. The American Empire is the enemy of the
American Republic, and the failure of the Empire and the jingo
foundations it is built on will have far reaching consequences that
I make no claim to predict. It is worth pointing out in this context
that the final fall of the USSR manifested in a revolt of the Russian
people against the burdens that the Empire imposed on them.
One can see elements of the same sort of issue of unfair burden of
"empire" in the opposition of interests between the Israeli settler
population and those that live within the green line. It is clear
in any case that the American people, the working class, are and have
been paying a high price to maintain the Empire, and that at least
some of us are getting restless and vocal about it again.

The failure and impotence of the Democratic party since its internal
insurrection and reform in 1968 lies at the root of the current
impasse and is central to the strategy of the ruling duopoly in
thwarting the restoration of some semblance of democratic rule. It
is no accident that we have had but two Democratic presidents since
then, both small state governors running as outsiders and both
hamstrung and vilified in every way possible from inauguration to
exit from office, and after. Nor is it an accident that from the
Republican side we have had foisted upon us one amiable and "reliable"
moron after another, whose praises are sung to the rafters by the
MSM, and whose policies and agendas are all designed to return us
politically to the halcyon days of the Grant administration.

I agree without comment on your last three paragraphs.
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Jack Rabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 08:36 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. That is an excellent response
Thank you for your insight.
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 10:01 AM
Response to Original message
2. this makes me sick
I've started telling people that if they don't hear from me, that I suddenly disappear, raise some holy HELL and try and find out. We all need to raise some hell about this right now, or the next person they come for could be us.
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GetTheRightVote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 10:05 AM
Response to Original message
3. This is just one more reason we should be sick of all our leaders
Dems or Repubs, they are letting these kinds of conditions exist, and all due to our stolen elections which they did not stand up for except Sen. Barbara Boxer and our Reps in the House.

I am not going away !!!!!

:mad:
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dand Donating Member (636 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-08-05 01:16 PM
Response to Original message
5. Democrats are permitting these Fascist Bastards
to run rampant. The whole system seems to be rotten. One arrogant power mad colossal blunder after another, and never a check or balance. Republicans in complete lockstep and Democrats groveling like little pups.

What a fucking joke.
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