One-Party Government A Threat To American Liberties
In one month we will know if Americans understand the
danger of the Bush administration`s fanatical
preoccupation with terrorism combined with one-party
control of the executive and legislative branches. If
voters let pass the opportunity in the November election
to take Congress out of Republican hands, America will
experience a more rapid descent into a police state.
The Bush administration`s response to 9/11, an event
about which we have incomplete and unreliable
information, has been to trample important civil
liberties such as habeas corpus, the
attorney-client privilege, privacy,
due process, and prohibition against
Today, "detainees" incarcerated by US
government officials are held indefinitely without
charges or warrants—essentially imprisoned without
trial, denied access to lawyers and family, and tortured
in an effort to attain self-incrimination, while US
citizens are spied upon without court warrants.
These are the distinctive features of a police state.
They have brought President Bush and his government into
conflict with the US Constitution, the Geneva
Conventions, and US statutory law. To sanctify these
violations of Constitution, treaty, and law, last week
the US Republican Congress passed a warrantless
surveillance bill and a detainee bill that destroys
privacy and removes court protections and Geneva
Conventions protections from detainees.
Many Americans are unconcerned about these
developments, because they believe only real terrorists
are affected. In fact, the majority of "terrorist
detainees" are innocent people sold to Americans as
"terrorists" for bounties. Pakistani President
Pervez Musharraf says,
"We have earned bounties totaling millions of dollars."
Amnesty International`s Claudio Cordone says of
that organization`s report released September 29,
"Bounty hunters, including police officers and local
people, have captured individuals of different
nationalities, often apparently at random, and sold them
into U.S. custody."
Moreover, the definition of "terrorist suspect"
is subject only to the discretion of the arresting
officials. No evidence has to be presented or even
possessed to justify the detention of the person as a
terrorist. As no evidence is required, anyone can be
branded a terrorist suspect.
Consider, also, that laws tend to be expansively
interpreted. For example, the Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)
was intended to apply to organized crime. Today a RICO
claim can arise in
almost any context, including
divorce cases. It is applied to individuals,
legitimate businesses, and
political protest groups.
President Bush, Vice President Cheney and a variety
neoconservative and Republican writers are
attempting to broaden the definition of terrorist to
include truthful critics of Bush`s Iraq war.
In making this charge, Bush is damning the National
Intelligence Estimate prepared by US intelligence
concluded that the war in Iraq was making Americans
less safe by breeding more terrorism.
If Bush can accuse the CIA of "embracing terrorist
propaganda," any columnist or reporter who reports
truthfully can be put in the "against us" camp
and interned for giving
"aid and comfort to the enemy."
By passing the detainee and surveillance bills,
Congress has given the executive branch the power to
silence dissent. Naive Americans believe that there is a
difference between the government having arbitrary and
unaccountable powers to arrest enemies and using these
powers against its own citizens. But governments always
use the powers they gain. Otherwise, there is no point
to the US Constitution, which was written to restrain
the growth of government power. If government can be
trusted with arbitrary and unaccountable power, the US
Constitution has no purpose.
The Democrats, of course, have done nothing to
protect us from Bush`s illegal war or from his assaults
on the Constitution and civil liberty. Democrats have
been intimidated by the threat of being politically
placed in the "against us" camp, and Democrats
are as much in the pockets of AIPAC, the oil industry,
and the military-industrial complex as Republicans.
Nevertheless, one-party rule magnifies error by
marginalizing dissent and debate. The Republican
Congress acquiesces to the Republican executive in order
to maintain a common front that the opposition cannot
penetrate. Detrimental policies and laws harmful to
liberty are passed for the sake of party power, not
because they are good for Americans or true to the
The Democrats don`t deserve to be in office any more
than do the Republicans, but by putting Democrats in
office, voters can strengthen Americans` ability to
dissent from Bush`s police state measures and Bush`s
commitment to interminable wars in the Middle East.
One-party rule suppresses dissent within the government
and, thus, makes dissent all the more difficult outside
Freedom and democracy in America are already impaired
by a heavily concentrated media ownership that no longer
serves the public interest.
A one-party government combined with a
corporate-controlled press is no recipe for maintaining
freedom and democracy in America.
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Paul Craig Roberts
him] was Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration.
He is the author of
Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider`s Account of
Policymaking in Washington;
and the Soviet Economy and
Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy,
and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of
The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
of Justice. Click
here for Peter
Brimelow`s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts
about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.