Look Back in Panic: Tyranny in Seed and Full Flower

Wise man Robert Parry and his kindred crew at Consortiumnews.com continue to do yeoman service in detailing the most important -- and most overlooked -- story of our time: George W. Bush's seizure of dictatorial power. Two current articles, by Robert and Nat Parry, lay out the situation with grim clarity: Bush's Mysterious 'New Programs', by Nat, and Robert's An Upside-Down Media. Do yourself a favor -- no, do your duty as a citizen (of the United States or the world), and read them in full.

I've been clanging this same bell -- in my much more obscure and less effective way -- for years now, beginning in late September 2001, with a piece on the inherent dangers of the sweeping powers a spineless Congress granted to Bush in its joint resolution of September 15: a "blank check for tyranny" that Bush has been busy cashing ever since. As I wrote then, just ten days after the terrorist attacks:

...An extraordinary document, unprecedented in U.S. history. Although modeled on the Tonkin Gulf resolution that opened the spigots for the Vietnam War, and on the narrowly passed measure that belatedly gave George Bush I constitutional cover for the vast army he had already marshaled in the Persian Gulf, the emergency powers awarded last week to George Bush II surpass anything yet seen in the American republic.

Never has a president been given such sweeping authority. It's true that some have taken it: most notably Abraham Lincoln, who used what he called his "inherent powers" to quash civil liberties, jail dissidents, even suspend the writ of habeas corpus, the cornerstone of 800 years of Anglo-American jurisprudence. But these draconian measures – imposed, after all, when the Union was under sustained assault by a million homegrown rebels, not 19 God-maddened criminals on a suicide run – were met with violent protests, Congressional investigations, bitter partisan invective and court challenges.

Yet there was nary a peep out of the modern guardians of the Republic in the Senate as they voted Caesar this dictatorial power. For note carefully that it is Bush alone who decides who is a terrorist; it is Bush alone who decides what constitutes the "aiding" of terrorism.

The Congressional lambkins of course believe that Bush will not abuse these powers. And no doubt he and his Praetorians will show the same tender concern for liberty, legality and constitutional authority they displayed last year when they sent hired thugs to break up the vote recount in Miami, then successfully urged the Supreme Court to strip Congress of its clearly defined constitutional responsibility to resolve disputed elections, thereby shutting down the vote and transforming callow Octavian into the manly Augustus who rules today.

Poor lambkins, so trusting. But what else can they do? What can any of us do? We must all now trust that this man who can't hold his liquor will be able to hold near-absolute power without getting drunk on it....

We must trust that Caesar will only sip at the cup of power that's been given him, just enough to rouse his spirits without disordering his senses. For it's entirely up to him now; Congress has abandoned its ancient duty to represent the people. If he decides you're a terrorist – you are. If he decides you helped them – you did. Vengeance is his; he will repay.

Don't you feel safer already?

....Meanwhile, In the aftermath of terror, a fog of deceit is rising from the Potomac, as deadly as the asbestos haze hanging over Manhattan. Congress is being shut out of intelligence briefings; it is to act as a rubber stamp, nothing more. Dick Cheney has taken charge as "War Minister," as the press approvingly calls him. The new war will be run by the same people who ran the last one: the one against the "terrorist evildoer" who is still in power 10 years later; the evildoer with whom Dick Cheney did $23 million worth of business – after the war – as head of Halliburton.

The same people who hired a PR firm – Hill and Knowlton – to control public perception of the Gulf War; who imposed press censorship far beyond that seen even in World War II. To this day, most Americans don't know what was done in their name during the last war; don't know that Bush I was an enthusiastic backer of Saddam Hussein, supplying him with arms and materials for weapons of mass destruction almost to the day he crossed into Kuwait; don't know that American soldiers were ordered to massacre surrendering Iraqi conscripts; or that Bush I, with an army on the scene, allowed Saddam to slaughter thousands of Iraqi Shiites trying to overthrow him – with Bush I's encouragement – just after the war.

You can't even speak of such things; you sound like a madman, a crank raving on the street. There's no context where this history can resonate, no way for it to inform the debate on how America should respond without repeating past mistakes. It's all hidden in the fog, decades of murk; and the fog is rising again.

It's a cold, brutal fact, hard to face, hard to stomach, but impossible to deny: We are all living in a world of lies – lies that don't even know they are lies, because they are the children and the grandchildren of lies. [From "Panic Attack: A Blank Check for Tyranny,"  in Empire Burlesque, the book.]

**Now those seeds of tyranny are full-blown -- a putrid flowering, dripping blood, oozing poison, befouling the air. The Parrys dissect this foul fruit with surgical precision; read it and weep -- and mourn, and rage.**

Chris Floyd