As we reach the middle months of 2003, the Republican Party is attempting to drum up support in the House and Senate to repeal the clause in the hated Patriot Act that gives it an expiration date. Lead by Bush lackey senator Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah), they are attempting to make the laws granted by the Patriot Act permanent, as opposed to time-constrained. The Act is otherwise due to expire in 2005.
Given that most of the actions made possible by the Patriot Act have secret results, most people will never know whether or not it's working. Yet, the representatives that the voting public put into office look to continue whatever secret results it's producing, at the cost of their own freedom of speech and privacy. As you have no doubt read by now, the Patriot Act gives a wide range of government agencies unprecedented rights to spy on practically anyone they choose. Given that the population of the USA is approaching two hundred and eighty million, and the potential population of terrorists is probably about 0.000000001% of that (probably less), they are effectively giving the government the right to spy on the people that put all of them into office, all in the name of paranoid nationalism. The numerous spy-related agencies in the various branches of the government (CIA, FBI, DHS, NSA, etc.) can therefore do pretty much whatever they want, as there's no longer anything holding them back and they no longer require authorization to carry out their spying, to put someone in prison, to label a person or group a "terrorist threat," to stop peaceful protests against the unconstitiutional powers they now wield, or to attack or villify any nation they please (though this one is mostly left to the president and his cronies).
None of them seem to realize that, under the Patriot Act, what Richard Nixon and his henchmen did at Watergate in the early 1970s, one of the darkest moments in American politics, would be completely legal.
Looking at this from a historical standpoint, the United States is looking more and more like the monster it fears so much with each passing day, and especially with each new "antiterror" law passed. The lawmakers have become so paranoid and obsessed with terrorism, that they're willing, even eager, to pass unconstitutional laws to assauge their unmitigated and irrational fears.
Or so it seems:
1. Characterized by or favoring absolute obedience to authority, as against individual freedom: an authoritarian regime.
2. Of, relating to, or expecting unquestioning obedience. See Synonyms at dictatorial.
It's no secret that most of President Bush's cabinet is made up of former (or even current) corporate CEOs. In true Republican staple diet fashion, almost all of them are affiliated in some way with big business. (Fifteen of twenty-one cabinet members, in fact, though not all of them are oil executives.) This benefits big businesses with almost every law passed, which is really no surprise given that the government currently holds a Republican majority, but still. There are more fit candidates than, say, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has acted as CEO for a number of defense contractors and probably still owns stock in one or two of them. The conquest of Iraq (it can be called no less than conquest) would give the United States (and Great Britain) all the Iraqi oilfields, which would benefit Bush and much of his cabinet, namely Vice President Dick Cheney (former CEO of Halliburton, right up until the 2000 election; since the action in Iraq has begun winding down from high gear, who else but Halliburton would be awarded the management rights to every oilfield in Iraq? Three guesses and the first two don't count), energy secretary Spencer Abraham (who, to date, has received nearly one million dollars in campaign money from General Motors and Ford), secretary of the interior Gale Norton (Ford, BP Amoco, Delta Petroleum, and NL Industries), White House chief of staff Andrew Card (General Motors), and national security advisor Condoleezza Rice (Chevron). Not to mention George W. Bush, himself a failed oil tycoon.
It should be noted that prior to the current war, Iraq has made no aggressive actions towards the United States since the Gulf War ended in 1991. Saddam Hussein is still in power, but apart from occasionally mocking the United States, the only thing he's done wrong that would catch the government's attention is not bending to the United Nations disarmement program. The United Nations has said repeatedly that he most likely doesn't have anything to disarm, anyway. This war is clearly not being waged for any humanitarian objectives. It's about oil, no more, no less. They have it; the United States wants it. Take a good, hard look at the war. What else could it possibly be about?
1. Of, relating to, being, or imposing a form of government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control over all aspects of life, the individual is subordinated to the state, and opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed: “A totalitarian regime crushes all autonomous institutions in its drive to seize the human soul” (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.).
Also like many totalitarian governments of years gone by, the United States government is increasing its need to have permanent enemies and scapegoats, with the current target being the vague and ever-present "terrorism," and of course Iraq and its ruler, Saddam Hussein. The fact that the Patriot Act gives such broad rights of persecution makes it seem very much like the Red Scare the country endured during the 1950s, when the government pulled out all the stops in its obsessive search for communists in the United States, apparently failing to realize that communism doesn't really work unless you've got a group of several hundred thousand to suppress while in a position of power (and even then, it's really sketchy), and that individual communists (inasmuch as a commune can exist individually) are not a legitimate threat. Likewise in modern times, any terrorists operating within United States borders would have to be painfully aware that attempting anything even remotely considered terrorism is not really going to be effective, or even possible, at this point in time due to the hightened national paranoia and the "extra security" the lawmakers traded for the right to privacy, and privacy is generally required to plot a terrorist act. The Patriot Act has effectively defeated privacy, and since we can't verify whether or not the Patriot Act actually works, it's the threat of Patriot that is probably discouraging potential terrorist more than Patriot itself is. That's probably what the internal rationale is regarding the ridiculous ferver against terrorism; shake but don't stir. Given the current Republican majority in the House, Senate, and cabinet, that is unlikely to change until the current American regime changes, and it seems unlikely that we'll be treated to a premature end to the Patriot Act's effects, unless the current regime is deposed, which is probably just as unlikely as the constitutionality of these stupid new laws ever being challenged, for fear by the challenger of breaking those laws.
The United States is slowly but surely becoming its own professed enemy; a terrorist state. What we are currently doing, domestically and in Iraq, can be called no less. Sooner or later the rest of the world is not going to stand for it any longer, and we'll get what's coming to us. I have never been more ashamed to be called an American.
Presidential Profile: George W. Bush's Cabinet --
Your Rights Online: Congress to Make PATRIOT Act Permanent -- http://yro.slashdot.org/yro/03/04/09/1534234.shtml
GOP wants to keep anti-terror powers, broad spying tools would become permanent -- http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/04/09/MN257910.DTL