is the season of demystification. What people of my generation
never understood about the mass delusions of recent history--Nazism,
Stalinism, holocaust, genocide, thought crimes, totalitarian
spying--is all becoming crystal clear.
who grew up since the youth and social justice movements
of the 1960s used to ask ourselves: How could the intelligentsia
in Germany have been so acquiescent in the 1930s? Could
Germans really not have known that mass extermination
of Jews was under way? Why didn't the Jews fight back?
Why did they let themselves be annihilated? Why was there
nobody able to pinpoint the precise nature of what was
happening, until after it was over? How could these things
have happened, and could they ever happen again?
course they couldn't happen again! There is no Great Depression
now. The world is so much more interconnected, information
travels so fast and wide, nothing can remain hidden for
too long, there simply isn't the stomach to embark on
mass repression and annihilation of entire peoples, the
liberal consensus about protecting human rights is too
strong, wealth is so spread out that ordinary people put
portfolios before pogroms, too many institutionalized
liberal barriers exist to counter a dictator making the
world over in his brutal image.
is what some of us continue to believe.
doesn't matter. What we see and read and hear and intuit
as about to happen takes secondary place to what our rational
faculties tell us about the nature of the modern world.
are in mass denial, mass psychosis, mass deceit once again.
we already forgotten what Adorno and Horkheimer said about
the enlightenment always coming to a dead-end? Do we not
know that capitalism, after a certain point, always ends
in concentration camps? Do we not already have the Hitler
of the twenty-first century lording it over the world?
was not an isolated maniac, a once-in-history occurrence.
Hitler is how capitalism purges itself from time to time.
It takes itself to its most extreme Darwinian selectivity,
makes transparent the brutalities that remain beneath
the surface for the most part, until, when the purge is
over, people are more than willing to live with those
little things they used to complain about the system.
What? Wealth and income inequality? No real meaning in
life? Liberalism that functions only to paste over the
blackest indignities against ordinary workers? Fine, we'll
live with all that. As long as there are no concentration
camps, mass deportations, genocide, totalitarian recruitment
of all in the spying, snitching, self-destroying venture.
Please, just not that!
there is no doubt that the whole idea behind forcing Bush
to the presidency was for America to enter the era of
concentration camps, mass deportations, cultural genocide,
and the redundant addition of Orwellian, or hard, totalitarianism
to its already existing Huxleyan, or soft, totalitarianism,
in order to ratchet things up to such a depressing level
that mere survival, mere existence as we knew it before
apocalypse would become a breath of fresh air.
are being made to dramatically lower our level of expectations.
it still not clear what is happening?
a few weeks ago, there was little mention in the media,
even in most of its alternative, progressive form, of
words like "fascism," "totalitarianism,"
"dictatorship," "police state," "martial
law," "genocide," "concentration camps,"
etc. So the dirty work of laying the foundations of the
genocidal state occurred in full sight, with open "coverage"
by the media.
entire framework for martial rule under the most extreme
conditions of surveillance was allowed to come into existence;
and it is happening even as we speak, with the Department
of Homeland Security (DHS), essentially the president's
nearly 200,000 strong paramilitary, coming into being
as the entity that will harbor the brownshirts of this
country, and give them license to annihilate common decency.
is Bush's sticking point with congress over DHS? That
there not be civil service protections for the 170,000
workers that will fall under its jurisdiction. No whistle-blower
and freedom of information protections. So if you don't
fall in with whatever it is that they have planned for
us, you can be fired immediately--no thirty-day notice!
And replaced with any of a legion of workers with fascist
sympathies more than happy to embark on the genocide.
alarm bells are going up now, but it is too late. The
dirty work has already been done. It has already been
demonstrated what is possible to achieve with one orchestrated
"attack." Wait till the next bioterror "attack,"
or anything using "weapons of mass destruction"
is orchestrated, and every dissenting voice will shut
up. Then the brownshirts will go into action.
things above all are necessary to complete the genocidal
state. The national ID card, which will be unlike anything
anyone's ever seen or dreamed of. Eventually, every fact
about your life--where you travel, who you speak with
on the phone, what government aid you have received that
you were or were not qualified for, what books you read,
what magazines you subscribe to, what organizations you
belong to, how much money you have and what bills you're
behind on, what diseases you've been treated for or are
susceptible to--will potentially be instantly available.
So if you're stopped by the police--and the line between
police and intelligence and military is being blurred
to nothingness--and you've ever done anything that as
a good bourgeois following the lines of responsible capitalist
living you ought not to have done, you're in trouble.
national ID card is coming. If nothing else, as soon as
the second massive "attack" occurs, its execution
will go into overdrive. As a sidenote, one of the companies
eager to assimilate every known bit of data available
to American corporations about the trivialities of your
life--which are not so trivial anymore when the spooks
are putting everything into a profile of terrorists, or
dissidents, which are now one and the same thing--is Choicepoint,
the same company that illegally purged tens of thousands
of black voters in Florida under Jeb Bush and Katherine
the military must be allowed to supersede civilian authority--in
"emergencies" of course, except that the state
of emergency, as in all dictatorships, will become permanent.
The second "attack" will be the excuse to let
the military take over. We've already heard that the military
will monitor the 2002 and 2004 elections, that it will
"quarantine" people in case of bioterrorism,
that it should have, according to Tom Ridge, shoot-to-kill
and arrest powers. Senator Biden agrees that the Posse
Comitatus Act of 1878, which forbids military involvement
in civil affairs, ought to be subject to review. The idea
has already been put forth. It is as good as accepted
doctrine. The Northern Commander, General Ralph Eberhart,
is for scrapping the Posse Comitatus Act as we know it.
The Northern Command, functioning with the new DHS, will
take us to Stalinist Russia, Hitlerian Germany.
they want to do more than anything else is an excuse to
search people's homes, go door to door, ask for everyone's
papers, make anyone who fits the "terrorist"
or dissident profile disappear without a trace, as they
already have been doing on a small, preparatory scale.
East German style TIPS (the Terrorist Information and
Prevention System) program will recruit more than a million
service workers--phone, gas, mail, delivery people--to
send in tips about suspicious people or activities to
the government. What is suspicious? If I read books on
terrorism to write a scholarly article, I'm suspect. The
librarian or bookstore owner is already being forced to
turn over this information. Millions of "tips"
about suspicious people will end up in a permanent database,
to be used as and when necessary.
wonder about the Germans, how could they not have known?
Today, millions of people of Arab and South Asian and
Islamic origin walk the streets of America, sometimes
even in distinctive garb or identifying marks, not knowing
what is to befall them. Will some of them end up in concentration
camps, perhaps in Arizona on the U.S. border? Will they
be among the mass roundups that will result in the deportation
of hundreds of thousands of people? Will mother be separated
from child, husband from wife, and will many do so with
some degree of willingness to preserve their own life?
Bush administration fought hard to replace a liberal member
of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights with a hard-right
ideologue. This same Peter Kirsanow now says that in the
event of a second attack--which we've already been assured
is inevitable--Korematsu (the Supreme Court decision of
1944 upholding the internment of Japanese Americans) would
make a comeback, that there would be no civil rights for
certain ethnic or religious groups.
he's already said what's on everyone's mind. Now do we
wonder why the Jews didn't leave Germany? Why the Japanese
in California professed patriotism to the end, thinking
it couldn't happen to them?
every immigrant is deportable now, even if you have never
done anything to break the law. Ashcroft says that all
non-citizens are to report a change of address within
10 days, or face deportation. Even if you follow this
procedure, will the INS admit to having received the notification,
if you're among those targeted for deportation?
who believe that an American attack on Iraq will be enough
to soothe the military beast, and that a second "attack"
on America itself will not be orchestrated, are sadly
mistaken. An attack on Iraq will come, but that doesn't
necessarily let the military take over this country, it
doesn't allow the national ID card plan to go full-speed
wonder if the Bush administration will not open itself
up fatally to the charge of a second major lapse in intelligence
if they allow a second, even bigger 9/11 to occur. That's
already been taken care of. They've told us that a second,
bigger attack is inevitable and we've accepted it. The
anthrax perpetrator has been suspected for months, including
now by the New York Times's Nicholas Kristof--as a dangerous
man with white supremacist sympathies working at a military
biodefense lab--and there has been no outrage about the
FBI's failure to expose him. No, the remnants of liberal
opposition will fall quickly in line to defend the homeland.
They will not want to subject themselves to the charge
of engaging in "conspiracy theory," just as
they've failed to see all the evidence pointing to the
wonder why in Germany and China and Russia neighbor snitched
upon neighbor, parents and siblings sacrificed each other
to preserve their own lives, people refused to see what
was happening in front of their eyes to maintain their
sanity. Is it still mysterious? Does one not find oneself
hoping for an attack on Iraq--even though all scenarios
lead to a nuclear or chemical weapons exchange of some
sort, thereby leading to calamity for the people of that
region--in order that we the privileged liberals in the
U.S. may be spared concentration camps for a while? We
used to wonder how the most civilized nations could tumble
seemingly overnight into utter darkness.
wonder how a mother could have made a choice between children,
to send one to the gas chamber only in order to preserve
the other for a while. It won't be long before we snitch
on our closest and dearest ones to save our own skins
for a while.
will be afraid to think dangerous, political thoughts,
since thought has already been criminalized. It matters
who you speak to, what you read, what you write--and so
thought must shut down for four or eight or twelve years,
until the beast has gone into retreat and it is safe to
come out into the open. We will watch ourselves, in O'Brien's
final imperative, to the extent that we will stop believing
what we believe, what we see in front of our eyes, so
that two plus two is never four, only what the rulers
tell us. The boldest amongst us, used to thinking of ourselves
as heroic and invincible, will be like lambs.
is all coming, and if you don't see that, then--well,
maybe it will be all right in the end, and we will come
away mostly unscathed.
Shivani studied economics at Harvard, and is the author
of two novels, The Age of Critics and Memoirs of a Terrorist.
welcomes comments at: mailto:Anis_Shivani_ab92@post.harvard.edu
Ashcroft's Detention Camps Time To Call For His Resignation
Nat Hentoff, Village Voice, September 4 -
September 10, 2002
Turley is a professor of constitutional and public-interest
law at George Washington University Law School in D.C.
He is also a defense attorney in national security cases
and other matters, writes for a number of publications,
and is often on television. He and I occasionally exchange
leads on civil liberties stories, but I learn much more
from him than he does from me.
example, a Jonathan Turley column in the national edition
of the August 14 Los Angeles Times ("Camps for Citizens:
Ashcroft's Hellish Vision") begins:
General John Ashcroft's announced desire for camps for
U.S. citizens he deems to be 'enemy combatants' has moved
him from merely being a political embarrassment to being
a constitutional menace." Actually, ever since General
Ashcroft pushed the U.S. Patriot Act through an overwhelmingly
supine Congress soon after September 11, he has subverted
more elements of the Bill of Rights than any attorney
general in American history.
the Justice Department's new definition of "enemy
combatant"-which won the enthusiastic approval of
the president and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld-anyone
defined as an "enemy combatant," very much including
American citizens, can be held indefinitely by the government,
without charges, a hearing, or a lawyer. In short, incommunicado.
American citizens-Yaser Esam Hamdi and Jose Padilla-are
currently locked up in military brigs as "enemy combatants."
(Hamdi is in solitary in a windowless room.) As Harvard
Law Professor Lawrence Tribe said on ABC's Nightline (August
bothers me that the executive branch is taking the amazing
position that just on the president's say-so, any American
citizen can be picked up, not just in Afghanistan, but
at O'Hare Airport or on the streets of any city in this
country, and locked up without access to a lawyer or court
just because the government says he's connected somehow
with the Taliban or Al Qaeda. That's not the American
way. It's not the constitutional way. . . . And no court
can even figure out whether we've got the wrong guy."
Hamdi's case, the government claims it can hold him for
interrogation in a floating navy brig off Norfolk, Virginia,
as long as it needs to. When Federal District Judge Robert
Doumar asked the man from the Justice Department how long
Hamdi is going to be locked up without charges, the government
lawyer said he couldn't answer that question. The Bush
administration claims the judiciary has no right to even
more Americans are also going to be dispossessed of every
fundamental legal right in our system of justice and put
into camps. Jonathan Turley reports that Justice Department
aides to General Ashcroft "have indicated that a
'high-level committee' will recommend which citizens are
to be stripped of their constitutional rights and sent
to Ashcroft's new camps."
should be noted that Turley, who tries hard to respect
due process, even in unpalatable situations, publicly
defended Ashcroft during the latter's turbulent nomination
battle, which is more than I did.
in his Los Angeles Times column, Turley tries to be fair:
"Of course Ashcroft is not considering camps on the
order of the internment camps used to incarcerate Japanese
American citizens in World War II. But he can be credited
only with thinking smaller; we have learned from painful
experience that unchecked authority, once tasted, easily
becomes insatiable." (Emphasis added.)
insists that "the proposed camp plan should trigger
immediate Congressional hearings and reconsideration of
Ashcroft's fitness for important office. Whereas Al Qaeda
is a threat to the lives of our citizens, Ashcroft has
become a clear and present threat to our liberties."
August 8, The Wall Street Journal, which much admires
Ashcroft on its editorial pages, reported that "the
Goose Creek, South Carolina, facility that houses [Jose]
Padilla-mostly empty since it was designated in January
to hold foreigners captured in the U.S. and facing military
tribunals-now has a special wing that could be used to
jail about 20 U.S. citizens if the government were to
deem them enemy combatants, a senior administration official
said." The Justice Department has told Turley that
it has not denied this story. And space can be found in
military installations for more "enemy combatants."
once the camps are operating, can General Ashcroft be
restrained from detaining-not in these special camps,
but in regular lockups-any American investigated under
suspicion of domestic terrorism under the new, elastic
FBI guidelines for criminal investigations? From page
three of these Ashcroft terrorism FBI guidelines:
nature of the conduct engaged in by a [terrorist] enterprise
will justify an inference that the standard [for opening
a criminal justice investigation] is satisfied, even if
there are no known statements by participants that advocate
or indicate planning for violence or other prohibited
acts." (Emphasis added.) That conduct can be simply
"intimidating" the government, according to
the USA Patriot Act.
new Steven Spielberg-Tom Cruise movie, Minority Report,
shows the government, some years hence, imprisoning "pre-criminals"
before they engage in, or even think of, terrorism. That
may not be just fiction, folks.
to General Ashcroft's plans for American enemy combatants,
an August 8 New York Times editorial-written before those
plans were revealed-said: "The Bush administration
seems to believe, on no good legal authority, that if
it calls citizens combatants in the war on terrorism,
it can imprison them indefinitely and deprive them of
lawyers. This defiance of the courts repudiates two centuries
of constitutional law and undermines the very freedoms
that President Bush says he is defending in the struggle
as the camps are being prepared, the braying Terry McAuliffe
and the pack of Democratic presidential aspirants are
campaigning on corporate crime, with no reference to the
constitutional crimes being committed by Bush and Ashcroft.
As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis prophesied: "The
greatest menace to freedom is an inert people." And
an inert Democratic leadership. See you in a month, if
I'm not an Ashcroft camper.