THE WINDS ARE CHANGING IN THE REPUBLIC
Global Eye – – Weather Report
Chris Floyd – 2001-11-20
It won’t come with jackboots and book burnings, mass rallies and
fevered harangues. It won’t come with “black helicopters” or tanks on
the street. It won’t come like a storm — but like a break in the
weather, that sudden change of season you might feel when the wind
shifts on an October evening: Everything is the same, but everything
has changed. Something has gone, departed from the world, and a new
reality has taken its place.
As in Rome, all the old forms will still be there: legislatures,
elections, campaigns — plenty of bread and circuses for the folks. But
the “consent of the governed” will no longer apply; actual control of
the state will have passed to a small group of nobles who rule largely
for the benefit of their wealthy peers and corporate patrons.
To be sure, there will be factional conflicts among this elite, and a
degree of free debate will be permitted; but no one outside the
privileged circle will be allowed to govern or influence state policy.
Dissidents will be marginalized — usually by “the people” themselves.
Deprived of historical knowledge by an impoverished educational system
designed to produce complacent consumers, not thoughtful citizens, and
left ignorant of current events by a media devoted solely to profit,
many will internalize the force-fed values of the ruling elite, and act
accordingly. There will be little need for overt methods of control.
The rulers will often act in secret; for reasons of “national
security,” the people will not be permitted to know what goes on in
their name. Actions once unthinkable will be accepted as routine:
government by executive fiat, the murder of “enemies” selected by the
leader, undeclared war, torture, mass detentions without charge, the
looting of the national treasury, the creation of huge new “security
structures” targeted at the populace. In time, this will seem “normal,”
as the chill of autumn feels normal when summer is gone.
It will all seem normal. President George W. Bush signed an executive
order last week overturning a law requiring the release of presidential
papers 12 years after the end of an administration, The Associated
Press reports. Bush officials say the president has “reinterpreted” the
law — ordinarily the job of the Supreme Court under the old republic —
to mean that no papers can be released unless both the current
president and the former president in question agree to it.
Historians, journalists or ordinary citizens seeking information about
the actions of past administrations will have to file suit to show
a “demonstrated, specific” need for access to the blocked material. The
mere assertion of a “right to know” about governmental affairs will not
be sufficient. Such a right no longer exists.
A Bush spokesman acknowledged that anyone requesting to see such
documents would be tied up in expensive court battles for years. But
the use of executive fiat to abrogate the function of the Supreme Court
and overturn a law passed by the people’s representatives was necessary
to protect “national security,” the spokesman said.
Of course, a sitting president already has the authority to withhold
any past documents that might endanger national security. But Bush’s
new edict will allow the quashing of presidential papers that might be
politically embarrassing or reveal criminal behavior by past
Seem normal. Former special prosecutor Kenneth Starr predicts that the
curtailment of civil liberties, including the use of torture, will be
approved by “at least five Supreme Court justices,” The Washington Post
reports. (No points for guessing which five.) The Quiescent Quintet
will gladly give “heightened deference to the judgments of the
political branches with respect to matters of national security,” says
Indeed, the Bush administration is now openly considering the use of
torture to compel testimony from suspected terrorists — or anyone
designated as a suspected terrorist, Slate.com reports. True, a few
girlie-men are still fretting about “constitutional rights,” but the
clever dicks in the Oval Office have that one sussed: Recalcitrant
prisoners can always be exported to friendly regimes, like Egypt or
Kenya, where they don’t bother with such prissy concerns.
Information “extracted” there can then be used in U.S. trials.
Wouldn’t evidence acquired by such heinous and unconstitutional methods
be thrown out by the courts? Ordinarily, yes — under the old republic.
But in America’s new weather, the judiciary will no doubt “give
heightened deference to the judgments of the political branches,” etc.
And if all else fails, a handy executive order can always “reinterpret”
the constitution to accommodate the needs of “national security.”
Normal. Armed with the sweeping new powers of the “U.S.A. Patriot Act”
passed late last month, the Bush administration is acting to “shift the
primary mission of the FBI from solving crimes to gathering domestic
intelligence,” The Washington Post reports.
In other words, the feds will move from protecting the people to spying
on them. The CIA has also been given authority to take part in domestic
surveillance and investigation for the first time. These
domestic “black ops” will be overseen by a secret court appointed by
the chief justice — William “Top Quint” Rehnquist.
Like the chill of autumn. This week President Bush demanded that
Congress pass his “economic stimulus” bill by the end of the month, The
New York Times reports. The bill would give $25 billion in federal
money directly to the nation’s wealthiest corporations, including IBM,
GM and GE, refunding taxes they paid over the last 15 years. In all,
the bill will give $112 billion in tax breaks to the wealthiest
individuals and corporations over the next two years.
It won’t come like a storm. It will all seem normal. Like a break in
the weather, a shift in the wind.