With each passing day, it becomes more evident that the main purpose
behind Bush's illegal, warrantless domestic spying program is not collecting
intelligence on terrorists and would-be terrorists – a task for which
the government's existing draconian powers of surveillance were more than sufficient.
As many people have noted, Bush already possessed the legal right to order the
immediate surveillance of any person in the country, subject to the sole restraint
of having to seek approval from the secret FISA court within 72 hours. Given
the established record of this court's near-total acquiescence to thousands
of such requests over the years, it is simply impossible to believe that it
would not grant its ex post facto approval to any surveillance ordered by Bush
which had even the most tenuous connection to a potential terrorist threat.
This undeniable reality leaves us with only one logical conclusion: Bush's secret
spy program is designed for activities not covered by FISA's copious security
blanket. It is now apparent that these activities include using the vast powers
of federal, state and local governments to spy on the Bush Administration's perceived
political "enemies" – a vast group, given that the Bushist definition
of an "enemy" is anyone who opposes any of their policies. (The Bushists
don't have "opponents," in the traditional sense – honorable rivals
in the give and take and compromises of ordinary politics ; like all radical extremists,
they have only "enemies" who must be "destroyed.")
The Raw Story gives us an excellent, and harrowing, glimpse of this authoritarian
Geheime Staatspolizei in action – against those well-known dastardly
terrorists, the pacifict Quakers – in
this story by Kevin Zeese. It's a detailed account, backed by documents
pried out of the National Security Agency itself during litigation.
And by the way, the Nazi allusion is not far-fetched, especially if we refer
to the Gestapo in the early years of Hitler's tyranny – the best point
of comparison to the still-nascent but growing despotism of the Bush Regime.
Consider this brief description
from Wikipedia: "The role of the Gestapo was to investigate and combat
"all tendencies dangerous to the State." It had the authority to investigate
treason, espionage and sabotage cases, and cases of criminal attacks on the
Nazi Party and Germany.
"The law had been changed in such a way that the Gestapo's actions were
not subject to judicial review. Nazi jurist Dr. Werner Best stated, 'As long
as the [Gestapo] ... carries out the will of the leadership, it is acting legally.'"
That last paragraph sounds chillingly familiar. Actions "not subject to
judicial review" – this covers not only Bush's warrantless spying,
but also the Regime's whole approach to the captives it seizes in the self-declared,
eternal "Terror War." Bush has fought at every step to keep these
prisoners outside any judicial review whatsoever – save for the rigged
"military tribunals" that he himself has concocted. And of course
Dr. Best's "philosophy" is directly echoed by Alberto Gonzales, John
Yoo and other acolytes of the "unitary executive" – unbridled,
arbitrary power for a "war president," who stands beyond the reach
or restraint of any law or treaty, able to order torture, aggressive war, even
murder ("extrajudicial killing").
Broad, vague, overexcited historial comparisons ("These Bush guys are
exactly like Nazis! It's the Third Reich come again!") are incorrect, unsubstantiated
and pointless. The particulars of any given political tyranny cannot be replicated
in different historical and cultural situations; as Tolstoy says (in a vastly
different context), each unhappy family is unhappy in its own special way. But
the lineaments of tyranny – its mental framework, its DNA – are
remarkably consistent over time and place and cultures, with the same rhetoric,
the same justifications, the same tendency toward eliminationism (see Dave
Neiwert for more on this), and many of the same policies – such as
spying on domestic enemies, evading judicial review, inflicting torture, waging
war, etc. – which are the logical, inevitable outgrowths of authoritarian
The Bushists aren't Nazis; they are themselves, and bad enough for all that.
But they are demonstrably infected by the common human disease of tyranny
that erupted with such unprecedented virulence in Hitlerite Germany and Stalinist