By Paul Craig Roberts
Americans have been losing the protection of law for years. In the 21st century the loss of legal protections accelerated with the Bush administration’s "war on terror," which continues under the Obama administration and is essentially a war on the Constitution and U.S. civil liberties.
The Bush regime was determined to vitiate habeas corpus in order to hold people indefinitely without bringing charges. The regime had acquired hundreds of prisoners by paying a bounty for terrorists. Afghan warlords and thugs responded to the financial incentive by grabbing unprotected people and selling them to the Americans.
The Bush regime needed to hold the prisoners without charges because it had no evidence against the people and did not want to admit that the U.S. government had stupidly paid warlords and thugs to kidnap innocent people. In addition, the Bush regime needed "terrorists" prisoners in order to prove that there was a terrorist threat.
As there was no evidence against the "detainees" (most have been released without charges after years of detention and abuse), the U.S. government needed a way around U.S. and international laws against torture in order that the government could produce evidence via self-incrimination. The Bush regime found inhumane and totalitarian-minded lawyers and put them to work at the U.S. Department of Justice (sic) to invent arguments that the Bush regime did not need to obey the law.
The Bush regime created a new classification for its detainees that it used to justify denying legal protection and due process to the detainees. As the detainees were not U.S. citizens and were demonized by the regime as "the 760 most dangerous men on earth," there was little public outcry over the regime’s unconstitutional and inhumane actions.
As our Founding Fathers and a long list of scholars warned, once civil liberties are breached, they are breached for all. Soon U.S. citizens were being held indefinitely in violation of their habeas corpus rights. Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, an American citizen of Pakistani origin, might have been the first.
Dr. Siddiqui, a scientist educated at MIT and Brandeis University, was seized in Pakistan for no known reason, sent to Afghanistan, and was held secretly for five years in the U.S. military’s notorious Bagram prison in Afghanistan. Her three young children, one an 8-month-old baby, were with her at the time she was abducted. She has no idea what has become of her two youngest children. Her oldest child, 7 years old, was also incarcerated in Bagram and subjected to similar abuse and horrors.
Siddiqui has never been charged with any terrorism-related offense. A British journalist, hearing her piercing screams as she was being tortured, disclosed her presence.. An embarrassed U.S. government responded to the disclosure by sending Siddiqui to the U.S. for trial on the trumped-up charge that while a captive, she grabbed a U.S. soldier’s rifle and fired two shots attempting to shoot him. The charge apparently originated as a U.S. soldier’s excuse for shooting Dr. Siddiqui twice in the stomach, resulting in her near death.
On Feb. 4, Dr. Siddiqui was convicted by a New York jury for attempted murder. The only evidence presented against her was the charge itself and an unsubstantiated claim that she had once taken a pistol-firing course at an American firing range. No evidence was presented of her fingerprints on the rifle that this frail and broken 100-pound woman had allegedly seized from an American soldier. No evidence was presented that a weapon was fired, no bullets, no shell casings, no bullet holes. Just an accusation.
Wikipedia has this to say about the trial: "The trial took an unusual turn when an FBI official asserted that the fingerprints taken from the rifle, which was purportedly used by Aafia to shoot at the U.S. interrogators, did not match hers."
An ignorant and bigoted American jury convicted her for being a Muslim. This is the kind of "justice" that always results when the state hypes fear and demonizes a group.
The people who should have been on trial are the people who abducted her, disappeared her young children, shipped her across international borders, violated her civil liberties, tortured her apparently for the fun of it, raped her, and attempted to murder her with two gunshots to her stomach. Instead, the victim was put on trial and convicted.
This is the unmistakable hallmark of a police state. And this victim is an American citizen.
Anyone can be next. Indeed, on Feb. 3 Dennis Blair, director of National Intelligence told the House Intelligence Committee that it was now "defined policy" that the U.S. government can murder its own citizens on the sole basis of someone in the government’s judgment that an American is a threat. No arrest, no trial, no conviction, just execution on suspicion of being a threat.
This shows how far the police state has advanced. A presidential appointee in the Obama administration tells an important committee of Congress that the executive branch has decided that it can murder American citizens abroad if it thinks they are a threat.
I can hear readers saying the government might as well kill Americans abroad as it kills them at home--Waco, Ruby Ridge, the Black Panthers.
Yes, the U.S. government has murdered its citizens, but Dennis Blair’s "defined policy" is a bold new development. The government, of course, denies that it intended to kill the Branch Davidians, Randy Weaver’s wife and child, or the Black Panthers. The government says that Waco was a terrible tragedy, an unintended result brought on by the Branch Davidians themselves. The government says that Ruby Ridge was Randy Weaver’s fault for not appearing in court on a day that had been miscommunicated to him. The Black Panthers, the government says, were dangerous criminals who insisted on a shoot-out.
In no previous death of a U.S. citizen by the hands of the U.S. government has the government claimed the right to kill Americans without arrest, trial, and conviction of a capital crime.
In contrast, Dennis Blair has told the U.S. Congress that the executive branch has assumed the right to murder Americans who it deems a "threat."
What defines "threat"? Who will make the decision? What it means is that the government will murder whomever it chooses.
There is no more complete or compelling evidence of a police state than the government announcing that it will murder its own citizens if it views them as a "threat."
Ironic, isn’t it, that "the war on terror" to make us safe ends in a police state with the government declaring the right to murder American citizens whom it regards as a threat.
By Paul Craig Roberts
Which organization is the greatest threat to the Second Amendment —the anti-gun Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence or Idaho’s pro-gun Sportsmen for Wildlife?
This might seem like a stupid question until you learn that the Idaho organization recently held three “predator derbies” in which competitors vied to see who could slaughter the most wolves over a two-day period. Similar assaults on wildlife occur in other western states. In Alaska, “sportsmen” gun down wolves from airplanes.
The wanton slaughter of wildlife for the fun of killing creates hostility toward firearms among the general public. After all the effort environmentalists made to reintroduce wolves into natural habitat, the wolf killing competitions can’t go down very well with millions of Americans.
Trophy hunters, who kill polar bears with high-powered rifles (from safe distances of course), also contribute to anti-gun attitudes.
A large percentage of the American population cannot empathize with the thrill of killing a magnificent animal. Many Americans have an aversion to people who get their jollies by murdering animals. Banning guns becomes a way to protect wildlife. People who love their pets have empathy for animals and none for hunters.
We need the Second Amendment for our own protection and for our constitutional rights. If one right can be taken away or marginalized with regulation, so can all other rights.
Americans are going to have a difficult time holding on to the Second Amendment. An armed population is not compatible with the police state that President Bush and the Republicans created and that President Obama and the Democrats have ratified.
The danger to the Second Amendment is great enough without waving wildlife slaughter in the public’s face. The National Rifle Association and wildlife slaughter groups need to exercise judgment and not go out of the way to inflame feelings against guns.
Recently while visiting a friend, I happened by chance to see a segment of a hunting experience on the television hunting channel, sponsored, I believe, by the NRA. A man and his wife or girlfriends were after a beautiful 8-point stag. When the woman “harvested” the deer, she jumped with joy and flung her arms around her man.
It made even my friend, a hardened gun-nut, cringe at the joy she experienced from killing a beautiful animal.
According to my friend, hunting is not supposed to be an indulgence in blood lust. Bringing home venison as an alternative to factory farming’s beef, pork, and fowl pumped full of antibiotics and hormones is one thing. To search out a magnificent animal for the fun of killing it is another.
Hunting African big game has become more a killing experience than a hunting one. The main reason for the hunt is bragging rights.
A couple of years ago my friend took me to his gun club to fire an antique Winchester rifle like the ones in the cowboy movies of my youth. A club member was trying to sight-in a .375 H&H magnum big game rifle. His shoulder was taking a terrible punishment, so much so that he was flinching every time he fired. Flinching was throwing him off and he couldn’t get a group in order to know how to adjust his sights.
I engaged him in conversation and learned that he had been goaded by his friends into keeping up with them competitively by going to Africa and killing a lion. He had booked a trip and paid $25,000 for the experience of shooting a lion, but his heart was no longer in it. He had made his deposit before he learned that the way lions are hunted today is devoid of valid bragging rights.
No one is on foot in the veldt with a double-barreled rifle taking the risk of missing or encountering a pride. Here is the way modern big game hunting works. First, he said, you go shoot a hippopotamus. The beast is cut up and the chunks are hung from trees or posts. The hunter ascends to a platform 20 feet off the ground and 50 or 60 yards from the hanging hypo meat and waits for the lion. When the lion rears up for the meat, the hunter fires.
While recounting the procedure, he looked sheepish and regretful. I have often wondered if he went through with the trip or gave up being an equal among his great white hunter associates.
Many hunters understand that predators are essential to healthy ecosystems and are as averse to slaughtering predators as members of Defenders of Wildlife, who are thrilled by the sight and presence of wild animals. These mindful hunters understand that inhumane wolf slaughter competitions threaten the public’s acceptance of hunting and guns as well as the health of deer and elk populations.
The U.S. Forest Service is, alas, showing poor judgment on a par with the organizers of predator derbies. This government agency is fast-tracking oil-drilling in the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming. The Shoshone is home to endangered grizzly bears, lynx, and wolf. But the Forest Service thinks that the profits of an oil driller are more important than the health of what might be the last complete natural ecosystem in the 48 states.
This raises the question whether government does protect the environment. The George W. Bush administration seems to have cleaned all environmentalists out of the Forest Service and the EPA, just as it banished civil libertarians and constitutionalists from the Department of Justice (sic) and its appointments list to federal judgeships. As far as I can tell, Obama has taken no corrective measures.
During the 1980s it was an article of faith among conservatives and Republicans, usually the same, that environmentalists ran the government and were destroying the economy.
There is no sign of that now. Alaska is faced with a new round of oil drilling in pristine areas. The initial oil onslaught on Alaska was done in the name of “energy independence”. But it was a lie. The oil is “heavy oil”, unsuited for the American refineries. It is exported to Japan.
In Florida I have watched developers, aided and abetted by state and county governments and Florida’s Department of Environmental Policy, destroy the environment and a way of life. Now the beautiful beaches of the Florida panhandle, with their clear water and white sands, are threatened by Texas oil man M. Lance Phillips.
Mr. Phillips wants Florida panhandle residents to give up their tourist economy, their beautiful beaches and water, the values of their beachside homes, their beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico and its extraordinary sunsets in order that he can make profits by despoiling the views, the sunsets, the beaches, the water, and the value of residents’ properties by placing his platforms and oil rigs in the Florida Gulf.
They will be just three miles offshore, he says, which is in plain view and just perfect for ruining everything.
Mr. Phillips has a stable of minions, and they are at work holding staged “debates” in which they promise a New Florida Economy, jobs, and no oil spills.
It is not clear who can stop him. Not the Republican governor or the Republican members of the legislature. These “representatives of the people” are already in his pocket.
The only hope is the seaside developments that the developers have built. Destin, Florida, would be destroyed if offshore Destin looked like offshore Texas or Louisiana.
In South Walton county, upscale Gulf front developments such as Seaside, site of the movie The Truman Show, and Rosemary Beach might have some clout with Florida’s government. Perhaps the best hope is St. Joe, the former paper company, which owns one million acres in the Florida panhandle including miles of beach front. Driven into the real estate business by environmentalists opposed to its paper mill at Port St. Joe, this company has been the 800 pound gorilla of panhandle politics.
It is ironic, isn’t it, that those who care about the beauty of where they live and the livelihood that this beauty provides are now dependent for its defense on the real estate developers who first assaulted the undisturbed beauty of the Florida panhandle.