The Martial Plan
Police State Tactics Transform A Nation - Our Own Mondo Washington
By James Ridgeway <The Village Voice>
Dec. 25, 2003
WASHINGTON-Every day the U.S. looks more like a police state.
An internal Justice Department probe, based on surveillance videos made
by the government inside federal detention facilities, shows that the U.S.
harassed, beat, and kept in solitary confinement without access to family
or lawyers men it picked up off the streets of New York after 9-11. More
likely than not, these men were seized on grounds that some cop or FBI agent
thought they looked like Osama followers. Or that a business partner or
neighbor decided he could get the man's money or property by charging him
first with theft and then telling the cops, "Oh, by the way, I think
the guy is Al Qaeda," a claim that one magistrate after another accepted
as the reason to set bails so high no one but a millionaire could pay to
And this doesn't even scratch the surface of what's been going on. Lawyers
were not told the numbers of courtrooms to where their clients were being
shuttled because the room locations were secret. Members of Congress, government,
the press, and the judiciary knew from the very get-go that any FBI agent,
acting on his or her own, could make an affidavit asserting that any individual
was a suspected terrorist.
Every day, Ashcroft and Bush work the country toward something like martial
law, though the administration has suffered setbacks, like last week's rulings
by two federal appellate courts in Padilla v. Rumsfeld and Gherebi v. Bush.
Both of those decisions, for now at least, hamper the government's ability
to simply lock up suspects indefinitely.
But the government has other targets and other ways of dealing with them.
The most recent crackdown seems to be on the foreign press-the source of
much of the substantial critique of its policies.
U.S. immigration authorities are detaining foreign correspondents on grounds
they have not obtained special visas permitting them to operate here, reports
the Associated Press. True, there is a law stipulating a special visa for
journalists, but few have ever heard of it and it is seldom enforced. No
more. No one ever told the visiting journalists it had suddenly been revived.
As a result, immigration officials aren't allowing reporters from abroad
to come in under ordinary 90-day tourist visa waivers.
Peter Krobath, chief editor for the Austrian movie magazine Skip, was seized
and held overnight in a cold room with 45 others who landed without visas.
Is he an Osama follower? A disguised fedayeen from Saddam's clan? No. He
is guilty of flying to the U.S. to interview Ben Affleck.
Thomas Sjoerup, a photographer for the Danish paper Ekstra Bladet, had to
give the American authorities fingerprints, a mug shot, and a DNA sample,
and he was promptly sent back home anyway.
Six French journalists were marched across a terminal at Los Angeles International
Airport in handcuffs, having had their belts and shoelaces removed. The
International Press Institute, based in Vienna, along with the International
Federation of Journalists, headquartered in Brussels, is protesting this
The U.S. response? An embassy official in Vienna insisted that the government
was only acting in accordance with the letter of the law.
Additional reporting: Ashley Glacel, Phoebe St John, and Alicia Ng
Web posted at: http://www.rense.com/general46/trasn.html
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