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9/11 Consequences

Twenty Things We Now Know Five Years After 9/11

By Bernard Weiner, Co-Editor The Crisis Papers

August 29, 2006

The imminent fifth anniversary of 9/11 provides the proper moment for a good, ol’-fashioned sum-up of the past half-decade under CheneyBush, especially because so much has happened in the past 12-months:

The Bush Administration’s Katrina debacle, Iraq being sucked deeper into the civil-war vortex, Afghanistan turning once again into a major war theater, more and more military leaders speaking out about the disaster that is CheneyBush foreign policy, the defection of so many moderate conservatives from their GOP home, the plummeting of Bush’s popularity to not much more than his fundamentalist base, the revelation that Bush&Co. have been spying on citizens’ phone calls and emails without court warrants, the indictment of CheneyBush’s chief aide Scooter Libby for obstruction of justice in the case of the White House’s outing of a covert CIA agent, the “rendering” of detainees abroad for extreme torturing, etc. etc.

I’ll get to the annual list in a moment. But first let’s step back and take a deeper overview. Buckle your seat belts, here we go.

Editor’s Note: Excellent review of the downstream consequences — intended and otherwise — of the September 11 attacks.

WHAT 9/11 PERMITTED BUSH TO DO

Whatever you may think of 9/11, and the extent of involvement of Bush&Co., it’s crystal-clear that the events of that tragic day were and continue to be used as an excuse for a wide variety of immoral and illegal actions by the CheneyBush Administration. The radical agenda that was barely on the public’s horizon five years ago has since become all too evident, both domestically and in terms of foreign/military policy, which is why so many traditional conservatives are abandoning the extremism of the Republican Party.…

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Illness Persisting in 9/11 Workers, Big Study Finds

By Anthony DePalma
The New York Times
September 6, 2006

The largest health study yet of the thousands of workers who labored at ground zero shows that the impact of the rescue and recovery effort on their health has been more widespread and persistent than previously thought, and is likely to linger far into the future.

The study, released yesterday by doctors at Mount Sinai Medical Center, is expected to erase any lingering doubts about the connection between dust from the trade center and numerous diseases that the workers have reported suffering. It is also expected to increase pressure on the federal government to provide health care for sick workers who do not have health insurance.

Roughly 70 percent of nearly 10,000 workers tested at Mount Sinai from 2002 to 2004 reported that they had new or substantially worsened respiratory problems while or after working at ground zero.

The rate is similar to that found among a smaller sample of 1,100 such workers released by Mount Sinai in 2004, but the scale of the current study gives it far more weight; it also indicates significant problems not reflected in the original study.

For example, one-third of the patients in the new study showed diminished lung capacity in tests designed to measure the amount of air a person can exhale. Among nonsmokers, 28 percent were found to have some breathing impairment, more than double the rate for nonsmokers in the general population.

The study is among the first to show that many of the respiratory ailments – like sinusitis and asthma, and gastrointestinal problems related to them – initially reported by ground zero workers persisted or grew worse in the years after 9/11.…

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“A Total Rollback Of Everything This Country Has Stood For”

September 29, 2006
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The Senate has agreed to give President Bush extraordinary power to detain and try prisoners in the so-called war on terror. The legislation strips detainees of the right to challenge their own detention and gives the President the power to detain them indefinitely. The bill also immunizes U.S. officials from prosecution for torturing detainees who the military and the CIA captured before the end of last year. We get reaction from Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

On Capitol Hill, the Senate has agreed to give President Bush extraordinary power to detain and try prisoners in the so-called war on terror. The editors of the New York Times described the law as tyrannical. They said its passage marks a low point in American democracy and that it is our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts. The legislation strips detainees of the right to file habeas corpus petitions to challenge their own detention or treatment. It gives the president the power to indefinitely detain anyone it deems to have provided material support to anti-U.S. hostilities. Secret and coerced evidence could be used to try detainees held in U.S. military prisons. The bill also immunizes U.S. officials from prosecution for torturing detainees who the military and the CIA captured before the end of last year.

The Senate passed the measure sixty five to thirty four. Twelve Democrats joined the Republican majority.…

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Are You an ‘Unlawful Combatant’? Maybe So…

There has been a great deal of discussion about the Military Commissions Act
of 2006
[.pdf], recently passed by both houses of Congress, and most of it has
to do with the provisions allowing torture of alien detainees, that is, of non-citizens
apprehended in, say, Afghanistan or Iraq, and their treatment at the hands of their American captors. Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and John Warner,
all Republicans, grandstanded for weeks over the torture provisions, then capitulated.
Another “Republican maverick,” Arlen Specter, zeroed in on the real
issue, however, when he said the bill would set us back 800 years by repealing
the habeas corpus protections against arbitrary arrest and jailings — and then went ahead and voted for it, anyway.

Liberal opposition mainly centered around the morality
— or, rather, immorality — of torture, but the debate largely ignored the ticking time-bomb at the heart of this legislation, scheduled to go off, perhaps, in tandem with some future crisis, e.g., another terrorist attack on American soil: the redefinition of the “unlawful combatant” concept that lays the foundations for this administration’s reconstruction of the gulag. Here is the new, broadened definition, as enunciated in the legislation recently passed by the House:

“The term ‘unlawful enemy combatant’ means ñ (i) a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who is part of the Taliban, al-Qaeda, or associated forces); or (ii) a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the president or the secretary of defense.”

It doesn’t say “alien” or “terrorist,” although it specifically includes members of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.…

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How the Bush administration EPA told public air safe to breathe after 9/11attacks

Jenna Orkin, of WTC Environmental Organization www.wtceo.org, describes the envirotoxic disaster of 9/11, horrendous health effects on residents and rescuers, and lies of the administration that led to the situation.
“Jenna…details how the Bush administration Environmental Protection Agency told the public that the air in Lower Manhattan after the attacks of 9/11 was safe to breathe even while knowing is was not. This raises the question: if the Bush administration was willing to sacrifice the health and the lives of United States citizens, what else would they be willing to do?”

 

 
 

Defeating the Bill of Rights–Bush’s Lone Victory

November 22, 2006

Defeating the Bill of Rights
Bush’s Lone Victory

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

George Orwell warned us, but what American would have expected that in the
opening years of the 21st century the United States would become a country in
which lies and deception by the President and Vice President were the basis
for a foreign policy of war and aggression, and in which indefinite detention
without charges, torture, and spying on citizens without warrants have displaced
the Bill of Rights and the US Constitution?

If anyone had predicted that the election of George W. Bush to the presidency
would result in an American police state and illegal wars of aggression, he
would have been dismissed as a lunatic.

What American ever would have thought that any US president and attorney general
would defend torture or that a Republican Congress would pass a bill legalizing
torture by the executive branch and exempting the executive branch from the
Geneva Conventions?

What American ever would have expected the US Congress to accept the president’s
claim that he is above the law?

What American could have imagined that if such crimes and travesties occurred,
nothing would be done about them and that the media and opposition party would
be largely silent?

Except for a few columnists, who are denounced by “conservatives”
as traitors for defending the Bill of Rights, the defense of US civil liberty
has been limited to the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International,
and Human Rights Watch. The few federal judges who have refused to genuflect
before the Bush police state are denounced by attorney general Alberto Gonzales
as a “grave threat” to US security.…

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Death by Dust: The frightening link between the 9-11 toxic cloud and cancer

by Kristen Lombardi
November 28th, 2006 5:22 PM
Village Voice

See also:
Believe 9-11 is causing cancer?
An open thread in Power Plays

It was October 6, 2004, three years after Ernie Vallebuona’s three-month stint as a rescue and recovery worker at ground zero in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, and he was hunched over and trembling, racked by a pain like nothing he had experienced in his 40 years of sound health. He had just returned to his Rockland County home after finishing the midnight-to-8 a.m. shift in the NYPD vice unit, where he’d reported to work for the last six years. Vallebuona had bought some fish from a street vendor near his office, on the Lower East Side. And as he drove the 35 miles from Manhattan to New City, he chalked up a searing stomachache to food poisoning. Maybe the vendor had filleted that fish with a dirty machete?


Photo: To date, 75 recovery workers at ground zero have been diagnosed with blood cell cancers that a half-dozen top doctors and epidemiologists have confirmed as having been likely caused by that exposure. Ernie Vallabuona (left) is one of them. photo: Scott McDermott

By the time he pulled into his driveway, the pain had grown excruciating, too horrible for him to even lie in bed that day. The chills swept over his body; so did the shakes. He called his doctor, who suggested ulcer medication. His mother advised him to forget that diagnosis and consult a… Continue reading

Take Action — Traveler Tracking Program May Violate US Law

by Catherine Komp

Dec. 11 — A US Department of Homeland Security program that compiles data on millions of travelers and determines how likely they are to be terrorists may be operating illegally, according to privacy advocates and some members of Congress.

The Automated Targeting System (ATS) gathers travelers’ data from foreign governments, from numerous Customs and Border Protection sources, and from the Passenger Name Record, a controversial system used by the United States and Europe to gather travelers’ information from airlines and travel agencies.

ATS has long been used to track imported and exported cargo. But recent revelations by the Department show ATS is also being used to scrutinize airline passengers and cars entering or leaving the United States. The system draws on the collected data to assign a risk factor to each person or vehicle in order to help border patrol agents decide whether travelers “should receive additional screening because the traveler may pose a greater risk for violation of US law.”

It is unclear how long ATS has been used to screen humans. The DHS announced it had expanded ATS to include monitoring people in a November 2 notice in the Federal Register. However, the Department did not say when the expansion took place and some DHS officials have said the program has been in place for years.

Calling the program “equitable,” the agency said it “uses the same risk assessment process” for all individuals.

The DHS has announced it will keep the personal data gathered by ATS for up to 40 years to “cover the potentially active lifespan of individuals associated with terrorism or other criminal activities.…

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Exposing the 9-11 Dust and Deceit

visdust

Information about New Film and Interviews at Visibility911.com

Visibility 9-11 last week published a three-part series focusing on the 9-11 dust and its aftermath. One week after September 11th, Christie Todd Whitman, then Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, stated, “Given the scope of the tragedy from last week, I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington D.C., that their air is safe to breathe and their water is safe to drink”, even though the EPA had information to the contrary.

In fact, the 9-11 dust was extremely caustic and in August of 2003, the EPA issued a report documenting changes made by the Bush administration to the EPA’s initial cautionary statements, which were originally worded to warn the public of the dangers in the dust. These warnings were changed to reassurances and the public never heard the truth. These lies have resulted in at least 70,000 people getting sick from breathing the toxic dust, and now, over five years later, they are dying. If you think our own government isn’t capable of deliberately allowing its own citizens to become sickened and die, think again.

Interviewed in this series:

Jenna Orkin of the World Trade Center Environmental Organization

orkindust

Penny Little, producer of the new 9-11 documentary 9-11 Dust and Deceit at the World Trade Center

911 D and D

John Feal, president of the Feal Good Foundation.

johnfeal

You can hear this series of interviews and watch the trailer of the new film, “9/11 Dust and Deceit at the World Trade Center” at the Visibility 9-11 Dust Special webpage.…

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Drawing the Lessons of 9-11 (Review of The Hidden History of 9-11-2001)

by Sid Shniad

The Hidden History of 9-11-2001
Research in Political Economy
2006 Volume 23.
Ed. by Paul Zarembka

Governments have long found it useful to manufacture rationale for pursuing war and repression. The sinking of the Battleship Maine at the outset of the Spanish-American-Cuba War is the classic example. When President Harry Truman wanted to offer assistance to anti-Communist forces in Greece and Turkey in 1947, Republican senator Arthur Vandenburg promised his support if Truman would “scare the hell out of the American people.” In 1962, the Pentagon mounted Operation Northwoods, a plan involving false-flag actions, state-sponsored terrorism and the hijacking of planes on U.S. and Cuban soil designed to generate American public support for an invasion of Cuba. Then there was the case of the distraught young Iraqi woman testifying before U.S. Congressional hearings in the run-up to Gulf War I about babies being tossed out of incubators by Saddam Hussein’s soldiers.

The essays included in The Hidden History of 9-11-2001 lead to the conclusion that the attack on the World Trade Center may have been the biggest false-flag operation of them all. This 2006 issue of Research in Political Economy examines different aspects of 9-11, which, taken together, provide a serious challenge to those who dismiss the possibility that a government-based conspiracy was behind the events of 9-11.

The first section of the journal debunks the information provided by the U.S. government about the number and identity of the hijackers. Following that, other authors provide evidence indicating that it was impossible for the burning jet fuel from the planes to have caused the collapse of the World Trade Center towers; that a series of military war games taking place on 9-11 caused confusion in military circles and prevented normal emergency response operations to kick in; and that the insider trading in the shares of the airlines that were hijacked that day lays open the possibility that huge sums were made by people who were aware in advance of what was coming.…

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New York Stories: 9/11 First Responders

Note: The Mt. Sinai study, referred to by David Miller, can be found here, with other resources from Mt. Sinai for individuals affected by WTC toxins.

Report from NY911Truth.org:
“9/11 First Responders: Voices From The Pit”
Sunday, June 25th at Community Church

I’m not sure how David Miller found us, but he has been attending our Sunday events for at least 3 months. NY 911 Truth has been enriched by his presence. Between hearing of his experience as a first responder with his National Guard unit, reading the many recent articles about the plight of responders, and meeting several other responders at a conference sponsored by SUNY-New Paltz, we’ve had our eyes and hearts opened to a unique aspect of the 9/11 tragedy.

We knew we had to have an event dedicated to calling attention to the cause of responders, survivors, and also downtown residents who were all told by the EPA, the air was safe to breath. However, 14 rescue dogs died and nearly 5 years later many responders have died, thousands are very sick, can’t work, and are in dire straits financially. Adding insult to injury, 1 billion dollars of federal funds are sitting in an offshore bank account and many have had to fight to get workers comp due to incredibly slick maneuvering by government agencies. Our event began with comments from Father Frank Morales who served as chaplain at Ground Zero in the early weeks after the attacks. He shared an essay about his experience which was deeply moving.…

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Bloomberg Seeks U.S. Aid for Treatment of 9/11 Illnesses

Bloomberg Seeks U.S. Aid for Treatment of 9/11 Illnesses
By SEWELL CHAN

Bloomberg testifies at a Sentate hearing

WASHINGTON, March 21 — Testifying at a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg pleaded for at least $150 million in annual federal aid to monitor and treat thousands of people who became ill after being exposed to dust and debris at ground zero.

The mayor also called for the creation of a special fund to compensate those who became sick, urging that the city and its contractors be protected from potentially ruinous liability as a result of lawsuits brought by rescue and recovery workers who have argued that they were not adequately protected from the environmental hazards left by the World Trade Center’s collapse.

Senators from both parties expressed sympathy for the mayor’s arguments, which were delivered at the start of a three-hour hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

A panel appointed by Mr. Bloomberg last month put the total cost of evaluating and treating everyone potentially affected by the trade center attack at $392.6 million a year. The panel called for the federal government to provide, at a minimum, $153 million a year to sustain health programs run by the Mount Sinai Medical Center, the Fire Department and Bellevue Hospital Center.

Mr. Bloomberg told the committee’s chairman, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, that he supported a bill they introduced that would provide $1.9 billion for 9/11 health monitoring and treatment between 2008 and 2012.…

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Conservatives demand restoration of Constitution — American Freedom Agenda

The American Freedom Agenda’s (AFA) mission is twofold: the enactment of a cluster of statutes that would restore the Constitution’s checks and balances as enshrined by the Founding Fathers; and, making the subject a staple of political campaigns and of foremost concern to Members of Congress and to voters and educators. Especially since 9/11, the executive branch has chronically usurped legislative or judicial power, and has repeatedly claimed that the President is the law. The constitutional grievances against the White House are chilling, reminiscent of the kingly abuses that provoked the Declaration of Independence.

The 10-point American Freedom Agenda would work to restore the roles of Congress and the federal judiciary to prevent such abuses of power and protect against injustices that are the signature of civilized nations. In particular, the American Freedom Agenda would:

  • Prohibit military commissions whose verdicts are suspect except in places of active hostilities where a battlefield tribunal is necessary to obtain fresh testimony or to prevent anarchy;
  • Prohibit the use of secret evidence or evidence obtained by torture or coercion in military or civilian tribunals;
  • Prohibit the detention of American citizens as unlawful enemy combatants without proof of criminal activity on the President’s say-so;
  • Restore habeas corpus for alleged alien enemy combatants, i.e., non-citizens who have allegedly participated in active hostilities against the United States, to protect the innocent;
  • Prohibit the National Security Agency from intercepting phone conversations or emails or breaking and entering homes on the President’s say-so in violation of federal law;
  • Empower the House of Representatives and the Senate collectively to challenge in the Supreme Court the constitutionality of signing statements that declare the intent of the President to disregard duly enacted provisions of bills he has signed into law because he maintains they are unconstitutional;
  • Prohibit the executive from invoking the state secrets privilege to deny justice to victims of constitutional violations perpetrated by government officers or agents; and, establish legislative-executive committees in the House and Senate to adjudicate the withholding of information from Congress based on executive privilege that obstructs oversight and government in the sunshine;
  • Prohibit the President from kidnapping, detaining, and torturing persons abroad in collaboration with foreign governments;
  • Amend the Espionage Act to permit journalists to report on classified national security matters without fear of prosecution; and;
  • Prohibit the listing of individuals or organizations with a presence in the United States as global terrorists or global terrorist organizations based on secret evidence.
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The Terror Entrepreneurs

Terrorized by ‘War on Terror’: How a Three-Word Mantra Has Undermined America

By Zbigniew Brzezinski

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The “war on terror” has created a culture of fear in America. The Bush administration’s elevation of these three words into a national mantra since the horrific events of 9/11 has had a pernicious impact on American democracy, on America’s psyche and on U.S. standing in the world. Using this phrase has actually undermined our ability to effectively confront the real challenges we face from fanatics who may use terrorism against us.

The damage these three words have done — a classic self-inflicted wound — is infinitely greater than any wild dreams entertained by the fanatical perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks when they were plotting against us in distant Afghan caves. The phrase itself is meaningless. It defines neither a geographic context nor our presumed enemies. Terrorism is not an enemy but a technique of warfare — political intimidation through the killing of unarmed non-combatants.

But the little secret here may be that the vagueness of the phrase was deliberately (or instinctively) calculated by its sponsors. Constant reference to a “war on terror” did accomplish one major objective: It stimulated the emergence of a culture of fear. Fear obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue. The war of choice in Iraq could never have gained the congressional support it got without the psychological linkage between the shock of 9/11 and the postulated existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.…

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Court Ruling May Stop 9/11 Air Quality Lawsuits

Apr 20, 2007

(CBS/AP) NEW YORK An appeals court ruling could spell trouble for New Yorkers
suing the Environmental Protection Agency and its former chief for saying that
sooty Lower Manhattan air was safe to breathe after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

A three judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared this
week that EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and other agency officials
can’t be held constitutionally liable for making rosy declarations about air
quality in the days following the World Trade Center’s destruction.

The opinion, written by the court’s chief judge, Dennis Jacobs, said opening
EPA workers up to lawsuits for giving out bad information during a crisis could
have a catastrophic side effect.

“Officials might default to silence in the face of the public’s urgent
need for information,” Jacobs wrote.

The ruling, filed Thursday, applied only to a suit brought by five government
employees who did rescue and cleanup work at ground zero, but it contained language
suggesting that similar legal claims could face trouble.

It specifically mentioned a class action lawsuit brought by lower Manhattan
residents who claim Whitman jeopardized their health by declaring that “the
air is safe to breathe” at a time when, according to the EPA inspector
general, a quarter of dust samples were recording unhealthy asbestos levels.

Last year, U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts, refused to dismiss that case,
calling Whitman’s statements “conscience-shocking.”

That decision is now on appeal and has yet to be argued before the 2nd… Continue reading

9/11 FIREFIGHTER LUNG AILMENTS ON THE RISE

By SUSAN EDELMAN

April 22, 2007 — Twenty-six firefighters who toiled at Ground Zero came down with sarcoidosis, an inflammatory illness that often attacks the lungs, in the five years after 9/11 – a significant increase, a new study has found.

The study has angered the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which complains that the NYPD has refused to acknowledge that 9/11 caused sarcoidosis in cops.

Half the firefighter cases were diagnosed in the first year after 9/11 – a rate six times higher than the average for the Bravest in the 15 years before 9/11, according to a paper to be published in CHEST, a medical journal.

The results “strongly argue for improved respiratory protection” at future fires, disasters and toxic sites, says the report, whose authors include FDNY top doctors David Prezant and Kerry Kelly.

The PBA, which has its own registry of ailing WTC responders, counts 19 cops with sarcoidosis.

Unlike the FDNY, the NYPD has been reluctant to link the disease to 9/11.

The NYPD has also rejected some cops’ medical bills for sarcoidosis.

“First they denied any connection between the WTC and sarcoidosis. Now that there’s scientific evidence, they refuse to accept it,” PBA president Patrick Lynch told The Post.

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Commissioner Ray Kelly welcomed line-of-duty death benefits recently given the daughter of detective James Zadroga, 34, a 9/11 responder who died of respiratory illness.

“The department hasn’t refused to acknowledge a link. The medical division is reviewing the cases,” Browne said.

susan.edelman@nypost.com
Source URL: http://www.nypost.com/php/pfriendly/print.php?url=http://www.nypost.com/seven/04222007/news/regionalnews/9_11_firefighter_lung_ailments_on_the_rise_regionalnews_susan_edelman.htm

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Making Martial Law Easier

Working for the Clampdown: What might the president do with his new power to declare martial law?
By James Bovard

04/25/07 “American Conservative” — – How many pipe bombs might it take to end American democracy? Far fewer than it would have taken a year ago.

The Defense Authorization Act of 2006 [Ed.: Details at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h109-1815], passed on Sept. 30, empowers President George W. Bush to impose martial law in the event of a terrorist “incident,” if he or other federal officials perceive a shortfall of “public order,” or even in response to antiwar protests that get unruly as a result of government provocations.

The media and most of Capitol Hill ignored or cheered on this grant of nearly boundless power. But now that the president’s arsenal of authority is swollen and consecrated, a few voices of complaint are being heard. Even the New York Times recently condemned the new law for “making martial law easier.”

It only took a few paragraphs in a $500 billion, 591-page bill to raze one of the most important limits on federal power. Congress passed the Insurrection Act in 1807 to severely restrict the president’s ability to deploy the military within the United States. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 tightened these restrictions, imposing a two-year prison sentence on anyone who used the military within the U.S. without the express permission of Congress. But there is a loophole: Posse Comitatus is waived if the president invokes the Insurrection Act.

Section 1076 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 [Ed.: Details at www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h109-5122"] changed the name of the key provision in the statute book from “Insurrection Act” to “Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order Act.” The Insurrection Act of 1807 stated that the president could deploy troops within the United States only “to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.” The new law expands the list to include “natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition”–and such “condition” is not defined or limited.…

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Fascist America, in 10 Easy Steps

By Naomi Wolf, Chelsea Green Publishing
April 28, 2007

Alternet Editor’s note: This is adapted from Wolf’s forthcoming book “The
End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot
.”

End of AmericaLast
autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took
a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In
a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down —
the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential
areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened
some limits on travel and took certain activists into custody.

They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at
history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open
society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in
more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective.
It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy, but history
shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to
take the 10 steps.

As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to
look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated in the United States
by the Bush administration.

Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering
that… Continue reading