In spite of the daily deaths of American soldiers and escalating social chaos in Iraq, George W. Bush has long since declared victory in his war against that country. Bush says he's "moved on" from little details about the truth of what's happened in Iraq. While American families cope with their loved ones' returns in flag-draped coffins, Bush has "moved on" to flag-draped campaign fundraisers where wealthy donors pay thousands of dollars for the honor of his presence.
George W. Bush loves to declare victory. He's declared victory in Afghanistan, where almost 100 people have been killed this week in attacks by the Taliban and Al Quaida. Some victory.
Now Mr. Bush is getting ready to claim victory in America as well. I guess that means that America had better watch out!
The Bush Administration has relied heavily upon the odd ideas of Attorney General John Ashcroft for this latest victory campaign, which relies upon the aptly named "Victory Act" as its newest weapon. This newest of Bush's victories, you see, will be won over the American Constitution and it's freedoms, or so they hope
The Victory Act ("VICTORY" stands for the Vital Interdiction of Criminal Terrorist Organizations Act of 2003 - I guess the "Y" stands for "yodeling" or "yahoo") takes the attack on Americans' freedoms begun with the Patriot Act, adds on the devastating flavor of Total Information Awareness, and completes them with the special spice of secrecy, taking away the system of checks and balances upon which our democracy is based. How does it do so? We're glad you asked:
Once the government takes the kind of leap beyond reason seen in the Victory Act, there are no longer any limits upon the power of Attorney General John Ashcroft's Justice Department. Through him, the FBI is in danger of becoming the secret police of Republican government morality, taking Americans away in the middle of the night and detaining them in undisclosed location without giving them an opportunity for a trial. This kind of thing is already happening to American citizens accused of being terrorists. Now that Ashcroft wants to categorize drug offenses as terrorism, who will be immune from such detention.
In Ashcroft and Bush's new America, mere suspicion will become a crime deserving the punishment of the permanent revocation of all constitutional rights. In such a perverted legal system, the Constitution becomes nothing but a facade for a society that is ruled by a feared Department of Justice that has the power to punish anyone for anything, whenever it wants, without restraint.
The fact that the Bush Administration has even prepared the Victory Act, much less asked Senator Orrin Hatch to introduce it for passage in Congress, demonstrates that the people who now rule under the authority of George W. Bush have nothing less than the accomplishment of such a totalitarian police state as their goal.
The Bush Administration loves to pretend that its efforts to replace the American democracy with a dictatorial police state are just little accidents, mere slips of the tongue that they do not really mean what they appear to mean. Thus, John Ashcroft's TIPS project, which was designed to encourage Americans to spy on their neighbors and report their activities to the federal government, was dismissed as just a little misstep. The Pentagon's Total Information Awareness, which once again we must remind you is still in development, was categorized by George W. Bush as just a little project of a crackpot in the military's basement (a crackpot who was commissioned by the Bush Administration, and who has decades-long ties with George W. Bush's father, running back to before the Iran-Contra Scandal of the 1980s). The Patriot Act, which currently allows government agents the ability to spy on ordinary Americans as they have not done since the FBI's investigation of Martin Luther King, Junior, is mis-characterized by John Ashcroft as an innocent tool in George W. Bush's War on Evildoers. Earlier this year, when the Justice Department's draft of what they called the "Domestic Security Enhancement Act" and everyone else called "Patriot Act II" was exposed by Bill Moyers and other journalists, the Bush Administration said it was no big deal, even though the draft described enacting exceedingly harsh restrictions on Americans' basic freedoms.
Put these pieces all together, in addition to the many other brash violations of Americans' basic freedoms since the beginning of this second Bush Administration, and a clear pattern emerges. It takes the most dedicated efforts at denial to avoid the conclusion that George W. Bush and John Ashcroft are engages in a systematic, purposeful attempt to eliminate the freedoms that American citizens are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights (except the right to own guns - for some reason Bush and Ashcroft won't touch that one)./p>
Of course, much of America is in denial - and for good reason. We've been frightened quite a bit over the last few years, and many of us are desperate to feel safe again, so desperate that we don't really care what Bush and Ashcroft have to do to make us safe. Both George W. Bush and John Ashcroft have encouraged this fear at every opportunity, pelting us with endless Orange Alerts about evildoers in our midst who may strike at any time.
This week, John Ashcroft is taking what is being called his "Victory Tour", making speeches all over America in order to defend his efforts to take fundamental freedoms away from ordinary Americans. The main component of his justification of the loss of American freedom is the claim that the first responsibility of government is to ensure the safety of the people it represents.
To put it bluntly: This idea is just plain wrong.
No government has ever been or will ever be capable of ensuring the safety of its citizens. Life is not safe, and it never will be. John Ashcroft and George W. Bush could put half the population of America in detention camps, and we still wouldn't be safe.
We wouldn't be safe from terrorists or criminals, because a terrorist or criminal lurks within the heart of each of us.
Even more basically, in such an extreme security state, the citizens would not be safe because the government itself would have become more dangerous than any other possible human threat.
A government that sacrifices the freedom of its citizens in the name of security is engaged in an oxymoronic, quixotic quest that can never be successful, because such a government, unrestrained by the careful system of checks and balances that a democracy requires, will inevitably descend either into chaos or into a brutal totalitarian dictatorship in which the government becomes the greatest terrorist organization possible, holding its citizens hostage for their entire lives, through violence and fear.
Believe it or not, I don't believe that such a brutal end is what John Ashcroft and George W. Bush intend. I believe that these two misguided leaders honestly believe that they are on a holy crusade against evil, and that whatever powers they would give themselves would only be used for good, honest, productive ends. Bush and Ashcroft are of a sort that truly believe that evil is a real, external Satanic presence in the world that can be absolutely defeated if good people are able to obtain enough power.
They mean well. However, the record shows that the good intentions of George W. Bush and John Ashcroft have given little protection to the American people. Abuses of the powers given by Bush and Ashcroft to agents of the federal government are many and well-documented.
With every blow to our constitutional freedoms, American democracy crumbles further. Yet, with every blow to our constitutional freedoms, Bush and Ashcroft feel more powerful, and so believe that they are getting closer and closer to ultimate victory in their War on Evildoers.
The kind of victory that George W. Bush and John Ashcroft desire is the kind of victory that America must do without.
Believe it or not, this article has not even begun to scratch the surface of the threat posed by the Victory Act and related legal challenges to the American Constitution. George W. Bush and John Ashcroft have huge numbers of people at their disposal, dedicated solely to the very projects that most threaten the integrity of the Bill of Rights.
Luckily, there are others who oppose the efforts of Bush and Ashcroft. They don't have the resources of the federal government, but they do have the grassroots support of the American people. Below, are listed some of the organizations that are struggling to keep track of and counter the Bush Administration's campaign to establish a new American order of security and fear. I urge you to follow these links to find out more about the Victory Act and other efforts of the Bush Administration to alter our democratic way of life.
- J. Clifford Cook,
staff writer, Irregular Times
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