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NSA, FISA and the DNA of Tyranny
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Wednesday, 11 January 2006 17:06

With each passing day, it becomes more evident that the main purpose behind Bush's illegal, warrantless domestic spying program is not collecting intelligence on terrorists and would-be terrorists – a task for which the government's existing draconian powers of surveillance were more than sufficient. As many people have noted, Bush already possessed the legal right to order the immediate surveillance of any person in the country, subject to the sole restraint of having to seek approval from the secret FISA court within 72 hours. Given the established record of this court's near-total acquiescence to thousands of such requests over the years, it is simply impossible to believe that it would not grant its ex post facto approval to any surveillance ordered by Bush which had even the most tenuous connection to a potential terrorist threat.

This undeniable reality leaves us with only one logical conclusion: Bush's secret spy program is designed for activities not covered by FISA's copious security blanket. It is now apparent that these activities include using the vast powers of federal, state and local governments to spy on the Bush Administration's perceived political "enemies" – a vast group, given that the Bushist definition of an "enemy" is anyone who opposes any of their policies. (The Bushists don't have "opponents," in the traditional sense – honorable rivals in the give and take and compromises of ordinary politics ; like all radical extremists, they have only "enemies" who must be "destroyed.")

The Raw Story gives us an excellent, and harrowing, glimpse of this authoritarian Geheime Staatspolizei in action – against those well-known dastardly terrorists, the pacifict Quakers – in this story by Kevin Zeese. It's a detailed account, backed by documents pried out of the National Security Agency itself during litigation.

And by the way, the Nazi allusion is not far-fetched, especially if we refer to the Gestapo in the early years of Hitler's tyranny – the best point of comparison to the still-nascent but growing despotism of the Bush Regime. Consider this brief description from Wikipedia: "The role of the Gestapo was to investigate and combat "all tendencies dangerous to the State." It had the authority to investigate treason, espionage and sabotage cases, and cases of criminal attacks on the Nazi Party and Germany.

"The law had been changed in such a way that the Gestapo's actions were not subject to judicial review. Nazi jurist Dr. Werner Best stated, 'As long as the [Gestapo] ... carries out the will of the leadership, it is acting legally.'"

That last paragraph sounds chillingly familiar. Actions "not subject to judicial review" –  this covers not only Bush's warrantless spying, but also the Regime's whole approach to the captives it seizes in the self-declared, eternal "Terror War." Bush has fought at every step to keep these prisoners outside any judicial review whatsoever – save for the rigged "military tribunals" that he himself has concocted. And of course Dr. Best's "philosophy" is directly echoed by Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo and other acolytes of the "unitary executive" – unbridled, arbitrary power for a "war president," who stands beyond the reach or restraint of any law or treaty, able to order torture, aggressive war, even murder ("extrajudicial killing").

Broad, vague, overexcited historial comparisons ("These Bush guys are exactly like Nazis! It's the Third Reich come again!") are incorrect, unsubstantiated and pointless. The particulars of any given political tyranny cannot be replicated in different historical and cultural situations; as Tolstoy says (in a vastly different context), each unhappy family is unhappy in its own special way. But the lineaments of tyranny – its mental framework, its DNA – are remarkably consistent over time and place and cultures, with the same rhetoric, the same justifications, the same tendency toward eliminationism (see Dave Neiwert for more on this), and many of the same policies – such as spying on domestic enemies, evading judicial review, inflicting torture, waging war, etc. – which are the logical, inevitable outgrowths of authoritarian rule.

The Bushists aren't Nazis; they are themselves, and bad enough for all that. But they are demonstrably infected by the common human disease of tyranny that erupted with such unprecedented virulence in Hitlerite Germany and Stalinist Russia.

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