How about now?


Leah from Corrente just put this up. It’s a remarkable post by Katherine at Obsidian Wings from last December, and I guess we’re republishing it as well, on the occasion of today’s hearings with Abu ‘Gonzo’ Gonzales.

Look. We have a President here who is making a claim of unlimited power, for the duration of a war that may never end. Oh, he says it’s limited by the country’s laws, but they’ve got a crack legal team that reliably interprets the laws to say that the President gets to do whatever he wants. It amounts to the same thing.

I am not exaggerating. I am really and truly not.

September 11 started the war. When will it end? Maybe never. Where is the battlefield? The entire world, including the United States. Who is an enemy combatant? Anyone the President says is an enemy combatant, including a U.S. citizen–no need for a charge, no need for a trial, no need for access to a lawyer. What if they’re found not to be an enemy combatant? We can keep them in prison anyway, and we don’t have to tell their families they’re alive or their lawyers that they were cleared. What can you do to an enemy combatant? Anything you want. Detain him forever, for the rest of his life, because this is a war like any other and we have always been able to detain POWs for the duration of the war.

But you don’t need to follow the Geneva Conventions, because this is a war like no other in our history. And oh yes–if the President decides that we need to torture a prisoner for the war effort, it’s unconstitutional for Congress to stop him. They took that position in an official memo, and they have not backed down from it. They have said it was “unnecessary” but they have never backed down from it.

They are not only entitled to do these things to people; they are entitled to do them in secret. When Congress asks for information about them, they can just ignore it. And they are entitled to actively deceive the public about all this.

That’s the power they claim. At what point are we going to take that claim seriously?

Well, it’s funny about that. Now there’s this. Newsweek, Feb 13th Issue: “Exclusive: Can the President Order a Killing on U.S. Soil?”

We’ll up Katherine’s ante a bit. It’s begun to seem, recently, like something more than a super-cosmic coincidence that the Bush Administration has been carefully setting up a system whose every particular matches the classic template of dictatorial powers and political repression (‘terror’ is such an ugly term). The only thing glaringly missing from such a scheme would be a large, Federally-organized enforcement arm directly under the authority of the president — and smarter people than us have already been scratching their heads at the Administration’s push against posse comitatus, and at the new Federal mystery-police thingo in the Patriot Act.

You’d certainly think that the Administration would be more worried about appearances than it is — or, for that matter, that with all these startling ‘anti-terrorist’ powers springing up all over the place, that they’d have a serious and abiding interest in securing the country and catching terrorists. Which, funnily enough, they don’t.

Let’s rejoin Katherine for one sentence. (The entire post lives here.)

At some level, I think we read these things and think: well, they can’t really mean that.

She’s right. But it might be useful to imagine: If you were a brash right-wing billionaire, for instance, or a GOP party zealot, or a Straussian neoconservative, or any of a number of such characters, and you wanted to set up an apparatus of political repression in America in order to push your opponents permanently off the political map, how
would you go about it? It’s both a legal problem and a logistical one — these things don’t simply happen on their own; they require planning and hard work. Purely instrumentally, you’d need either to change the Constitution in a way that would be quite difficult to achieve, and that people would tend to notice with all sorts of attendant mess and fireworks, or you’d need to find very specific ways around its protections.

Your to-do list would lack the shock of the unfamiliar. It’s the standard panoply of generalissimo powers, issued in emergency decrees after every Latin American coup or African power-grab. You’d want to be able to conduct widespread surveillance on people of your choice without probable cause that they’d committed a crime, and if you decided to arrest and detain someone, you’d want to do it without judicial oversight and away from public scrutiny. There’d need to be some kind of setup for secret interrogations, with or without torture, and you’d have to be able to indefinitely ‘disappear’ people, if and when you felt it necessary, whether in prisons or (under your authority) by means of execution. This program didn’t get off the ground, but it shows the kind of playbook you’d be using (it might have read better in the original East German edition). There’s also the sticky, little-assimilated detail that Bush’s NSA surveillance program was apparently authorized before 9/11 — sticky details abound; it’s quite a jam-smeared, sticky world in which we now live. But in any case, if you wanted to set up
something like that, with all the legal claims properly paper-trailed and all the operational links in their proper places in the chain, it would take time, canny lawyering, and a certain admixture of restraint and boldness, and you’d probably want to have a huge propaganda apparatus constantly pumping out fog so that America didn’t understand (or believe) what kind of government you were striving toward. It might take several presidencies to get your ‘permanent majority,’ but you’d move forward with due alacrity when you were able.

But they wouldn’t do that, would they? And as Katherine asked, at what point are we going to take their claims seriously?

We’d just like to know what happened to Billmon, that’s all. All else is rank speculation. ;>

Note: Written by Gavin, posted by Seb. Just to confuse things a little.


Comments: 37


“They hate our freedoms.”


Youse guys are gonna git disappeared writin’ treasonous unAmerican shite like that. I’ll pass notes to ya from the next cell down. Ugh.

I want my America back. I hate this Germany circa 1934 thing we’ve got going on. Maybe what I really need is a passport.


Without meaning to belittle her or her post in any way, Katherine’s post is just a reiteration of Krugman’s adaptation of Kissinger’s theory of “revolutionary powers” (what is it with astute people and the letter “K”?): “In Kissinger’s analysis, what happens is that members of the established order:

find it nearly impossible to take at face value the assertion of the revolutionary power that it means to smash the existing framework. [They] therefore tend to begin by treating the revolutionary power as if its protestations were merely tactical; …as if it were motivated by specific grievances to be assuaged by limited concessions. Those who warn against the danger in time are considered alarmists; those who counsel adaptation to circumstances are considered balanced and sane… But it is the essence of a revolutionary power… that it is willing, indeed eager, to push its principles to their ultimate conclusion.”

You leave out Digby’s contribution to this line of inquiry, namely the answer to the question “Surely they wouldn’t want President Hillary to have these powers”. The answer, by the most pessimistic but these days increasingly plausible reading, is that they don’t think there will ever be a president Hillary again. And what would you do if you wanted to ensure that? Why, you’d remove legitimate Democratic voters from the rolls in swing states, you’d install easily hackable unverifiable voting machines made by party donors and you’d send violent mobs to disrupt vote counts, and just to be sure you’d start unprovoked wars and label anyone who opposes them a traitor. Oh look, they did.


I just want to scream.

I guess now I know how the Muslim protestors think they feel. The difference is the thing they’re outraged over happened in another country.

I don’t suppose they’d ever be able to protest outrageous things in those countries where it’s been the most violent — which (according to my highly unscientific analysis) tend to be police states.


If that freaks you out, check out this link:

The headline link was: “Haliburton Building Concentration Camps in the U.S.?”

Combined with a new federal police force…


But, they’re protecting our freedom by…by…by taking it away. That’s it! They’re taking our freedom away before the terrorists can.


Now that’s strategery!


It’e not much of a stretch to imagine the extension of this to universal camera surveillance, all the time. First for traffic and crimefighting, and at the Superbowl. It will sudddenly become a matter of urgent national security for them to spend billions on video analysis software and techs. Al Qaeda might be among us, and they have to record and analyse the video of everything that happens on American soil.

To keep us safe.

Insect-size freedom drones, sneak and peeks in American houses and businesses.

Yeah, that’s tinfoil hat territory isn’t it. Talk about digging up Orwell’s corpse and raping it.


Yep. If we don’t have any Freedoms, then the Terrists can’t destroy ’em!



[People] find it nearly impossible to take at face value the assertion of the revolutionary power that it means to smash the existing framework. [They] therefore tend to begin by treating the revolutionary power as if its protestations were merely tactical;

It certainly doesn’t hurt to make sure your people lie constantly, so nothing that comes out of their mouths can be trusted, and play the stupid inarticulate hick, so it’s obvious he just mis-spoke!


Yeah, the combo of the Halliburton detention camps (supposedly for “immigration emergencies.” right. whatever) and the National Police Force (which, for the life of me screams “Escape From New York.” so how long ’til they fence off NYC and make it a max-security prison?) makes me jumpy. No good can come of this.


Just as an FYI — we already have a “uniformed secret service division” as proposed in the new Patriot Act. (I assume that’s the Federal gestapo referred to in the post.) I work a block from the White House and see them everyday, generally accompanied by pleasant little exchanges, such as:

SS: Hey, good morning!
Me: Yeah, right, go fuck yourself!

(Kidding, actually the SS cops around my building are pretty nice guys.)

Now, I don’t know if they actually have the authority to arrest someone without a warrant, as proposed in the Patriot Act reauthorization. I’ve been trying to think of a way to test this proposition. It’s tricky though. It’s has to be something offensive enough to get you (actually me, AACK!) arrested, but harmless and meaningless enough to be seen as a completely ridiculous arrest.

I’ve thought about flipping the bird at Cheney’s motorcade as he comes into work in the morning or leaves in the afternoon while standing right in front of one of the SS officers (actually, it’s a standing tradition in our office that we all stand and flip the bird when we hear his motorcade, but we’re in our offices, not in standing in front of the SS.)

But, I dunno. I think the guys might just kinda laugh…

Anyway, thoughts and suggestions are welcomed.


Ha Ha Ha you paranoid leftist pinkos enjoy your new tinfoil chapeaux — I hear they’re all the rage at the DailyKos!!! You think everyone is out to get you. You’re pathetic. I can’t wait until we finally wipe you all out.


I can’t wait until we finally wipe you all out.

First they came for the paranoid leftist pinkos, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a paranoid leftist pinko . . .


Chapeux! That’s French, Sner! *kisskisskiss*


Thanks, Wingnut, for reminding us of one necessary element Kissinger and Catherine’s quotes leave out: a sizable chunk of the population that gladly accepts the propaganda program.

Out of fear of the enemy “without and within” they find comfort following Dear Leader in lockstep and being members of the movement.

They chuckle with glee at, if not dismissing entirely, the reports of atrocities. They “understand” that these things are necessary for their protection, either that or the reports are hysterical fictions of partisan critics.

After the regime falls, some of these people have a crisis of conscience, others cling to the past by denying history, and everybody else moves on. Pretty good deal for the conformists.

That is, IF the regime falls.


I was sure the blatant self-contradiction and correct use of the contraction of “you are” would have given me away.

Totally forgot about the Francais.


I got fake-wingnut’d.


I knew it was a teh job. Chapeau is a teh l4m3â„¢ spesh.


they’ve been gunning for posse comitatus for a while – i wrote about it here:

pt. 1 is about katrina & martial law, pt. 2 is about their history of animosity towards posse comitatus.

oh, and speaking of voting reform:

mark crispin miller is an excellent resource!


teh, I knew that was you…but you really have to watch it these days. I think we’re getting a little paranoid *Note to doc/neocon* around here lately…


You forgot the final step… they launch the bombs so baby Jesus comes back. It`s all about the Jesus.


I always had the Minutemen pegged as the future paramilitary of the Republican party.


Ein Volk
Ein Reich
Ein IQ point…


Anybody creeped out by the GWB Stalinist personality cult?


You forgot the final step… they launch the bombs so baby Jesus comes back. It`s all about the Jesus.

Posted by: profbacon

No way. The Jesus thing was just a ploy to get them elected.

And if you think they’ll need to disapper voters, and use the Diebold to get incorrect vote counts in the next election, then I’m just shocked that you actually believe they’ll even agree to hold the next election.


I lose track: are we Oceania or Eurasia?


I knew it was a teh job. Chapeau is a teh l4m3â„¢ spesh.

Yeah, geeze, teh, I halfway thought it was another lame-ass “ventriloquist’s puppet.” Though, admittedly, “chapeaux” isn’t much like him….


Chicago Tribune: Government “Cyberstorm” wargame treats bloggers as threats. Of course, they would never do that in real life….


Welcome to Shrub’s and Rove’s dream about Amerika’s future.
Voting machines that don’t tally votes correctly…
Mediums that bend over backwards to try to be “fair and balanced” and not seek the truth…
Government helping churches in “Faith-based” initiatives that will make churches follow the money (that’s why the Founders separated Church from the State, boys and girls!)…
Demonization of populations both internal and external…
‘Don’t throw the Constitution in my face. It’s just a God-damned piece of paper!!!’
Endless WAR!!!

We’re here NOW!!!


Yeah, what did happen to Billmon? I think he earned a one-way ticket to Egypt.


Billmon’s a human being. Probably a lot like the rest of us: a bit overwhelmed, tired, not seeing much effective pushback, and has had his outrage meter overloaded.

He’s also a little prone to take things personally. It’s a shame. He’s a great analyst and writer.


Yeah. Add me to the list of folks who miss Billmon’s voice. I hope he is doing well.


It’s the standard panoply of generalissimo powers, issued in emergency decrees after every Latin American coup or African power-grab.

I am not making this up: the other day I heard Bush start a sentence with, “I proclaimed…” Did anyone else notice this?


And now Billmon’s website is not responding. These guys are thorough.


Could it happen here?

Damn straight it could, and it’s happening right in front of our eyes: The Rise of American Fascism.

Some analysts have couched it in slightly different language, e.g., neo-oligarchism, crypto-totalitarianism, but what they describe is indistinguishable from a dictatorship. The Bush signing statements effectively nullify Congress, and the Judicial branch is being loaded with rubber-stamping puppets.

An awful lot depends on this November’s elections. A Democratic majority in the House or Senate – preferably both – might allow us enough breathing room to survive the next three years. But if we fail to do that, civil resistance and revolution are thinkable options. Doing nothing means we watch our country turned into a peon state of plebian serfs toiling beneath the… Fergawdsake, just describing it forces one to adopt “class struggle” terminology.

Something very strange is happening.


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