John Ashcroft and the Fourth Reich?
For what seems like dog’s ages already, I’ve been hearing the plaintive wail of the permanently panty-bunched about how George W. Bush is turning the United States into a police state. These kinds of noises usually are made by people who still believe in the viability of real police states, like the Soviet Union, Communist China, the “people’s paradise” police state of Cuba and, more recently, the colossally autocratic, mega maniacal, murderous police state of Iraq. Now, when one considers that in the real police states mentioned above, one could be detained for “questioning” for no reason at all, where torture was a common method of extracting “confessions”, where no legal rights (as we would understand them) exist, I wonder what the heck they mean.
I’m sure no one has noticed mass executions or arrests in the United States recently. I mean, no one I know has come to me and said something along the lines of “hey, did you notice a lot of people are missing in the office today?”. There isn’t the samizdat floating around that people are just “disappearing”, or at least, none that I can detect. John Ashcroft has yet to issue his own version of the “Night and Fog Decree”.
Hmm, let’s see – just how much of a police state do we live in?
Well, to begin with, I would hardly call it a police state when I can travel anywhere I want to go without being, unreasonably, asked for identification. No one that I know has been stopped on a busy street or walked up to in a sidewalk café and asked to present “your papers, please?” I can still read what I want. I have 90 channels of crap on cable television, all offering different kinds of expression and opinions on a wide variety of topics. As far as I know, newspapers and TV broadcasts are not being censored by the government (although they are being censored by the media, which often has a different political agenda than the government), unless of course, you count Geraldo not being able to jump into Iraq with a bunch of Green Berets as censorship.
I don’t believe that being asked to take your shoes off in an airport is objectionable – it’s a pain in the ass, but it’s a relatively minor irritation when one looks at the other side of the coin, which is airliners-cum-guided missiles.
We can still vote for whom we wish (appropos of there being no one to really vote for), even if both major parties either sound like each other on some issues, or automatically gainsay the other based on ideology. Californians have been able to get the chance to recall their Governor for being an idiot, you know, just like what happens in Cuba all the time. People are putting up web sites to egg Hilary on to run for President, which indicates that if G.W. is a despotic police state ruler, he’s a pretty bad one. In fact, the government does a better job of making sure I don’t come back from Mexico with more tequila than I’m allowed then it does of policing the borders of this police state of ours. What kind of police state is this is if I can’t bring back more than two bottles of liquor without a hassle but a million Mexicans a year can get in and take all the really good landscaping positions?
So, where is all this police state stuff happening? Because I don’t see it.
The hue and cry is over the U.S.A. Patriot Act, an act of legislation that was enacted in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The thrust of the Patriot Act is to make it easier for the government to chase, capture and prosecute terrorists, and to make it easier for intelligence agencies to co-operate and share information that has National Security importance. This was a necessary evil due to the fact that over the years since Vietnam and Watergate, Congress has done an outstanding job of hampering our Federal law enforcement and intelligence apparatus, usually for political reasons. The Patriot Act is intended to undo some of that damage (remember, the FBI couldn’t get a warrant to search Zacharias Massoui’s computer? That was because it would have been considered possible evidence of another crime he was involved in which was not related to the one for which the FBI originally got the warrant for).
Think about this for a second – if this was a true police state, don’t you think you would know it? Think about what kind of power G.W. and Ashcroft have over you right now, even without a U.S.A Patriot Act.
Bush sits at the head of a vast apparatus of police and intelligence agencies: FBI, CIA, INS/Border Patrol, ATF, Coast Guard, Treasury Department, Secret Service, NSA, National Reconnaissance Office (which runs a satellite network that can read the Surgeon General’s Warning off a pack of cigarettes from 200 miles up in space), the National Guard, National Park Police, Customs Service and a dozen other alphabet-soup agencies you never heard of, and probably never will. He also commands the most effective, technologically advanced military force the word has ever seen. That’s just for a start. Ever think about having your mail tracked, or maybe even read? Ninety percent of your life runs through the Post Office (which has it’s own police force, by the way), and if someone wanted to, not only could they read your incoming and outgoing mail without you knowing it, they could also collect a list of names and addresses of the people you correspond with. Guilt by association, perhaps? Sure, it might be impractical, but it is theoretically possible. Let’s not forget all those new federal Employees of the Federal Transportation Agency, who have the authority to open luggage and scan packages and ask you take your shoes off in the airport, and who have the authority to conduct a strip search if they feel like it, and have a plausible excuse for doing it.
What the Patriot Act does is redefine the concept of probable cause in the obtaining of search warrants, relaxes some of the evidentiary responsibilities of the government when dealing with national security issues in the prosecution of terrorists (like keeping sources and methods secret), and generally, makes it easier for the FBI to do their jobs. However, it’s not as if the government has carte blanche to do whatever it wants. While the requirements for obtaining warrants might be loosened, they still have to get one before they can go forward. That decision is still up to a judge – he still has the legal right to refuse one if he feels the cause doesn’t pass a smell test.
So, is the Patriot Act the first step in the evolution of the American police state? I doubt it, or I should say, I doubt it with regards to the current administration. I would be much more worried if, instead of Bush and Ashcroft, this kind of power was in the hands of a Clinton, Gore or Kennedy. We’ve already seen all three subvert the legal process for personal gain or to get back at their enemies. I would literally defecate if any of them ever got into the White House and had access to this kind of power.
But, the screaming retards that are making the most noise over the Patriot Act (on the Left of the political spectrum) are really hiding their true argument. Their objection to the Patriot Act is not that the power it gives Federal law enforcement would be abused (they want to retain that capability for themselves if they ever regain control of the government), but that it could be used in a wider range of nasty activities, most of which they support (even if only secretly). Primarily, however, their objection to it is that it is Bush and Ashcroft who have this authority. The Left so viscerally hates both men that it will stop at nothing to ensure that everything they touch or have access to must be shown in the least positive light.
Then again, I can see some other potential dangers (from a Leftist’s point of view) that might have them urinating in their pants. Let’s say, in the process of tracking down a terrorist or organized crime figure, the government, with a warrant granted under the Patriot Act, also finds out that the person in question was a pedophile and actively engaged in distributing and creating child pornography. The seriously-hard Left routinely dismisses such activity under the auspices of “personal preference” and “free speech”. God forbid, if, the government in investigating terrorism managed to read a dirty e-mail from a pedophile to a 10 year old and managed to get information on additional pedophiles. That would be an “invasion of privacy”, not something beneficial to society, but rather, a violation of a criminal’s rights. This is how they think, and this is what they’re afraid of – not that the Patriot Act might actually help catch a terrorist, but that it can be used to prosecute crimes or expose rotten behavior, which might be discovered incidentally.
And if you’re nutty enough to believe that the government might actually wait to get a warrant if danger was imminent, think again. Remember Predator? That was supposed to be this super-intrusive, electronic listening system that was designed to listen into phone calls, e-mails, television and radio signals, cell phones, etc., and which might have heard a piece of the 9/11 plotter’s plans. Well, Predator was emasculated by the Left as a violation of privacy rights under the 4th amendment. Apparently, discussing the hijacking of four airliners in order to use them as guided missiles is a Constitutionally protected right to a Leftist. Do you seriously think that if Predator caught a whiff of something terrible that was about to happen, that the government would sit on it’s hands waiting to go through the legal niceties? Not after 9/11 they won’t. Do you think for a second that if the Government reacted to Predator information, which later turned out to be erroneous, that the American public would be amused or angry? Heck no, they want to know their Government is on the ball in this department, even if it was a false alarm. If anything, such an event would give people confidence in the government (which would be an event on par with the second coming of Christ), provided no one got killed by mistake. Now, what happens if the government listens to your phone conversations or monitors your e-mail, finds nothing wrong and thus, does nothing about it? No harm no foul? Would you even know it was done? This is what Predator was doing prior to 9/11, and no one knew anything until the French complained about it. So, what the heck is the deal?
The people who shout the loudest about a police state are those that would readily create one for their own benefit, and who have already excused police state tactics because one of their one was involved.
Anyone remember Waco? If there was ever an example of a police state run rampant, that was it. Makes you wonder just what David Koresh knew, and why they were so hot to get at him.
Initially, we were told that the raid was made by armed ATF agents storming the house with scaling ladders and battering rams to serve a search warrant. Whatever happened to knocking on the door? Apparently, Koresh had committed the mortal sin of having guns in his church – quite a lot of them, actually. What no one mentioned, or maybe they did only in passing, is that Koresh was a federally licensed firearms dealer. So, was it a cache of highly dangerous weapons to be used in a criminal enterprise or was it inventory?
To make matters worse, when the ATF agents storming the compound got their asses handed to them, another excuse was needed to get inside the house and arrest everyone. That excuse was provided by Janet Reno, to cover up the weak case against Koresh and the even weaker execution of the raid – there were children being sexually abused in that house. It was always “for the children” in the Clinton Administration. It was so urgent to get to the sexually abused children that the government conducted a 50-day siege of the compound. In the end, they had to burn the children in order to save them. That, my friends, is how a police state operates, and that is what a police state does – it harasses people, ultimately kills them, and then gives you 62 reasons why it had to be done, none of which would pass as logical, even at an idiot’s convention. Don’t even get me started on what the Clinton/Reno team did to Elian Gonzolez – using police state tactics to return a small boy to another police state
I don’t see Mr.Ashcroft burning down churches, barging into people’s homes with guns blazing, or arresting children found hiding in closets in order to curry favor with a dictator. The people who yell the loudest about Bush’s and Ashcroft’s intent, motives and the potential for abuse are not warning us about what this administration would do with this kind of power – they’re really warning us about what they would do with that kind of power.