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There is No War On Terror
June 19, 2002
By Adrian Johansson

As each day seems to bring a new reason to be afraid of the threats this country is facing, I forced myself to stop and think objectively about what is happening to our nation and our way of life. No I am not talking about terrorist threats, suicide bombers, box cutter-wielding "Islamists" or dirty bomb plots that somebody might be thinking about possibly looking into planning. No, I am talking about the perceived loss of rights (civil and human) that we all should fear, if just a little bit.

First off, I am a Democrat, and a proud one at that. I would have voted for Bill Clinton for a third term if at all possible, so this tells the freepers to go ahead and stop reading if you don't believe that I can be at all objective. What has gotten me thinking about where we are headed, is that my first child was born in December, and I don't want her to have to live in a nation that fears terrorism, but I also don't want her to live under a dictatorship or a government that tramples upon the basic civil and human rights that we were once guaranteed.

The thought process begins, in my case, on September 11th, 2001. I, along with the rest of he world, watched in horror at what was happening, not really able to accept it as real as the scale of the devastation was so immense. In the following days, Numbness turned to anger, and I found myself actually respecting the words and actions coming from our president. I felt that we needed to act swiftly and decisively, America needed to strike out at the terrorist network(s) behind the attacks on our country.

We began to see some wavering on the Bush Doctrine though. We weren't hearing about swift and decisive anymore, we were hearing words like "protracted" and "indefinite" when the administration was polled on the projections of how long the American people could expect our soldiers, sailors and airmen to be in harm's way.

But, still in the short term aftermath of 9/11, the American people gave the administration some leeway, because it seemed to be the right thing to do. Eventually, the administration decided that our military (The military that we were told was "decimated" by the Clinton administration) was ready to go into Afghanistan to root out the "evildoers". We sent our troops into the mountains and caves where the Taliban and Al Qaeda we known to be hiding. We captured the enemy troops and their sympathizers, we blew up the caves that were used as safe havens and kept on the trail of bin laden and his band of thugs.

The combatants that we captured were taken into custody in an Afghan prison and questioned and debriefed. We packed up the ones who seemed to be most valuable in terms of information, and sent them to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There they were treated not in accordance with the Geneva Convention, because the administration said that it didn't apply, but were locked in cages and questioned with no rights to counsel or against self-incrimination.

At the same time, hundreds of "material witnesses" were being rounded up and confined, with no contact to the outside world, all in the name of national security. Public perceptions started to change, somewhat, and people started to ask questions. In response to these questions, the administration marched out Attorney General Ashcroft, his job was to remind people that as Americans it was our patriotic duty to keep quiet and support the "war" effort, to do otherwise could be construed as unpatriotic.

Nine months hence, we still haven't captured bin Laden or Mullah Omar (the main objectives in the early days of the War On Terror). We haven't yet shut down Al Qaeda, either, if the constant warnings from the FBI, CIA, Homeland Security and Attorney General are any indication. These warnings, usually unsubstantiated and conflicting with one another (depending on the agency releasing them) seem be nothing more that a rallying cry whenever tough questions about the administrations handling of pre-9/11 warnings, foreign policy or domestic issues.

A report was starting to gain momentum last week that the White House staff was being given Cipro (the anthrax battling antibiotic) in September of last year, even before the first anthrax letter was even sent. This was last Monday morning, and immediately thereafter, Ashcroft held a press conference form Moscow, of all places, to tell us that the FBI had arrested a terrorist operative (in May, mind you) that was planning to use a so called "dirty bomb" in Washington DC.

The next day we heard that Ashcroft had overstated the progress that the dirty bomber had made, and he was only suspected of being in the very early, preliminary stages of plotting the possible use of some sort of dirty bomb, and had not acquired any materials to do so, and made no plans. But the FBI and Attorney General felt that he was at least thinking about doing it.

Ashcroft simply had him labeled as an "enemy combatant" and shipped him off to Charleston Navy Yard to be put into the brig, indefinitely. I am by no means defending Mr. Padilla -- he certainly doesn't sound like a very savory character -- but if the thought of being able to lock people up, without trial, indefinitely, does not scare this country into questioning what our "elected" government is doing to its citizens, then we may as well all plan on giving up all of our rights.

How does the government keep this up? How can they get away with violating the rights of those that should be considered innocent until proven guilty? In a word -- patriotism. The administration has done its best to whip the nation into a patriotic frenzy to get us behind the "war effort."

Let us not fool ourselves, there is no War On Terror. The administration is going after the evildoers in a half-hearted, half-assed manner. The president and his administration have told us that they "Don't govern by polls" -- I say they are poll junkies. Every perceived threat that the president stares down, every "terrorist" that he arrests keeps up the numbers and keeps him happy.

Karl Rove has suggested that the GOP use the war as a campaign issue, and use it they are. They wave flags, talk about Homeland Security, and ominously warn that "you are either with us or against us." For a student of history, this is a wonderful way to see what it would have been like if World War II had ended differently.

In the end, after trying to think objectively about the state of the nation, I realize that, as a Democrat, I was being objective all along -- the current administration, if left unchecked, will destroy the way of life that we have come to enjoy for generations and generations. I fear for my daughter and the country that she has to look forward to growing up in.

"Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar." -- Julius Caesar.

Adrian Johansson is a Democrat living in Republican-occupied Florida.

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