The Mind of James Donahue

Attack on Liberty

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A Government That Fears Its People Is In Trouble

A frightening aspect about the United States is that our government closely resembles the old Roman Empire.

Our forefathers created what was once a republic, although this concept has been almost lost in a quagmire of "democratic" ideals promoted by minorities and special interest groups. The Roman Empire, which was a brilliant idea for government in its day, survived for nearly a thousand years. I think Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and all of the others who framed our government just over 200 years ago thought that with any luck, their new nation might survive even longer.

Unfortunately, nobody could foresee the inventions of bureaucracies, back-room power brokers and secret winks among the "good-old-boys" that slowly eroded the underpinnings of our government. Even though we enjoy the distinction of being the last remaining "superpower" on the planet, we came under deadly attack on Sept. 11. Did it happen because we became complacent, lazy and over-confident? Whatever the reason, we discovered in one terrible act that our enemies are gathering both at and within our borders.

I fear that the United States is in danger of becoming one of the shortest existing republics in history.

You can tell when a government is in trouble when it begins to fear its people. Such a government takes steps to control the people it is supposed to serve. It forms a police state. It develops a complex internal spy network, even encouraging neighbors to report on neighbors and children to report on their parents. It controls the media. It takes away the right to bear arms. It breaks down individual human freedoms "for the good of the whole." All of this is happening in the United States today.

Before the attack, the erosion was already going on in subtle ways that went almost unnoticed. The official news media didn't bother to report our losses of liberties. You learned about each onset of the invasion through underground reports published on the World Wide Web. Because it is international in scope, nations have had to resort to the extreme of total prohibition of personal use of the Internet to control the free dissemination of information occurring there.

That we have just been hit by the worst kind of terrorist attack in history has weakened most public resistance to our government's resolve to take away our constitutional freedoms. What citizen would dare to speak out at this time against our nation's efforts to stop terrorism? I worry that this national patriotic wave is setting all Americans up for intense government suppression that will not end once it is in place.

For example, a movement is underway to give the FBI, CIA and other intelligence agencies the freedom to tap telephone, Internet and fax conversations. The idea is to use sophisticated computer listening devices to pick up catch phrases and report who said what, when, and to whom. Once in place (if not already) anyone who carelessly makes a remark that sounds remotely subversive might find an FBI agent knocking at his door. The thought crimes of George Orwell's classic novel "1984" are becoming reality before our eyes.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is proposing an Intelligence Appropriations Bill (SH-216) that would make it a felony for a government employee to reveal any information deemed "classified" by the President. Under provisions of the National Security Act of 1947, the President is free to classify essentially whatever he pleases. In other words, government whistleblowers who leak certain information to the media could be prosecuted and sent to prison. As a journalist, I see violations of First Amendment rights written all over this bill.

Because Congress has officially declared war against an unknown force identified only as terrorism, the rules involving a free exchange of government information have dramatically changed. Information that the public has a right to know may be withheld in the interest of national security. When fighting does break out, I predict that few, if any, news reporters will be allowed on or near the battlefield. As it was during the Gulf War and the recent bombing campaign over Bosnia, our war news will be handed out at daily news briefings in military headquarters, located miles from the action. In other words, the people will be spoon fed the news that government officials want them to have, and no more.

The President's creation of a new Office of Homeland Security has another ominous feel about it. Mr. Bush says the office will "co-ordinate a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard our country against terrorism and respond to any attacks that may come." Without explaining exactly how it would be done, the President said the office will direct the various federal police and intelligence gathering agencies, pulling them all under one roof.

The late Arizona radio personality and government critic William Cooper suggested in an editorial on his web site that the Office of Homeland Security will merely be "another expensive layer of government to  coordinate the other expensive layers of government. That way the other incompetent agencies and the new incompetent agencies will all have a dedicated budget. We the people will have new protectors who will not do any better job than the old protectors."

Such an office, reinforced by a rapidly drafted anti-terrorism bill designed to give police unprecedented new powers, many of them threatening constitutional rights of privacy and freedom of expression.

Here, in a nutshell, are some of the problems attached to this bill:

--The FBI and other police agencies would be allowed  to seize billing information, including credit card numbers, from Internet companies without a court  order.

--Permit the use of electronic surveillance gathered  by foreign governments with methods that violate  Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable  search and seizure.

--Includes a threat of capitol punishment for anyone convicted of terrorism against the United States. The act of creating a virus that hits government and personal Internet web sites would be identified as a terrorist attack.

In addition, Attorney General John Ashcroft is asking for legislation to:

--Expand the definition of a terrorist to anyone who knows they are in any way involved with an  organization that supports terrorism. In other words, if you fail to report on a neighbor, or an associate   in an organization that you think might possibly be linked to a terrorist plot, you are branded a terrorist. I see shades of Nazi brown shirts in this.

--Make it illegal to possess chemicals that can be  used as biological weapons in quantities that cannot  be justified by a peaceful purpose. We can see broad implications in this that go even beyond the foolishness created by our failed war on drugs.

--Make it illegal to give expert advice, like teaching aviation, to terrorists. This implies that the
aviation school that inadvertently instructed the men who hijacked the four airliners Sept. 11 could be charged with a criminal offense. I wonder if this will affect lawyers who attempt to defend individuals charged with terrorist crimes.

--Allow the seizure of property of any person, organization or country that attacks the United
States. This could have broad implications and leaves a potential for extensive misuse by police agencies. Similar state laws involving drug violations have led to police seizures of homes, cars and entire family estates.

--Open educational records of suspected terrorists. Under present laws, authorities cannot look at educational records without the consent of the student or the parents.

The thing that has made the United States a great nation is our guarantees of constitutional freedoms. My fear is that in our rush to protect ourselves from unseen and unknown terrorists, we are in danger of giving up the very freedoms that make us unique.

That many of our legislators voiced "deep concerns" about threats to individual liberties when Ashcroft first introduced his notorious list does not comfort me. A media editorial blitz, and compromising statements by other leaders has since been methodically melting public resistance. I worry that many people are becoming convinced that it would be a good thing to sacrifice "some of our freedoms" in exchange for personal safety.

All of this is totally unnecessary. Technical remote viewers are standing by, prepared to offer their services to immediately stop all threat of terrorism in our country. But as of this date, our government, our military, the FBI, the CIA, the ATF and all other police agencies are refusing to let them work. Authorities are not even responding to their advice. For example, the remote viewing team, working with  Maj. Edward Dames, found two living survivors buried  in the rubble of the World Trade Center within days after the attack. But both survivors perished because nobody believed the report, and nobody bothered to search in the recommended area to find them. Efforts by Dame's team to assist police in Oregon in a search for a kidnapped and molested little girl earlier this year were spurned by local police and the FBI. Even though the remote viewers found the location of the girl's body and even could identify her killer, the police refused to consider the information. Sadly, according to the police, this crime remains

What other important terrorism information is being ignored?

Authorities seem unwilling to believe that a new technology exists that allows trained people to see anything, anywhere, either in the past, present or future, and stop a terrorist act before it happens. Is this because they fear that such a technology will  make their old system of defending our nation
obsolete? Is our government willing to sacrifice thousands more of our citizens just to protect a heavily established and powerful political
bureaucratic system?

Our situation may have been best described by the late American cartoonist Walt Kelly the day his character, a swamp possum named Pogo, announced: "We have met the enemy and he is us."


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