By Richard L. Clinton
May 5, 2003
Comment from Inge Hanle
The day after 9-11, I told some of my friends that we were
about to witness the implementation of a dictatorship that would dwarf the
ruthlessness of both Hitler and Stalin, partly because the capacity and
availability for technological abuse, destruction and annihilation has now
escalated to incomprehensible proportions.
When the Patriot Act was then passed with obscene rapidity, without disclosure
of its contents and implications to the American public - the majority of
whom still have no idea of the laws that now legalize the application of
indiscriminate police-powers, with no recourse to the due process in law
- my worst fears were confirmed. We now stand before the passing of Patriot
Act II, which can only be described as the "devil's dream chess".
And still the media remains silent, and the public is left largely ignorant
of what is unfolding.
Even worse, many people in our society have been so "desensitized",
and/or conditioned through fear into a "we' and 'they' mentality, that
many will not care as long it happens to someone else - so conditioned have
many become to accepting the propagandized rationalization of "THEY
probably deserved it - crucify them!". It will not concern some until
it is THEY who find themselves in solitary confinement, without access or
recourse to due process, or secretly and silently "just disappear"
from the face of the earth (which Patriot Act II legalizes).
The tentacles of tyranny have infiltrated into the very fiber of our nation
- and it is high time that we wake up to the reality of what has already
happened. Apparently history has not been a very good teacher, and we have
forgotten that "Freedom requires and demands eternal vigilance".
The OPINION below, with the alarming examples given, should startle and
concern everyone, and cause them to shudder at the implications. We have
choices. The question is "Do we have the backbone to make them?"
In the words of Winston Churchill. "If you will not fight for right
when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your
victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when
you will have to fight with all odds against you and only a precarious chance
of survival. There may be even a worse fate. You may have to fight when
there is no hope of victory; because it is better to perish than to live
Two old friends of mine -- a Jewish couple in their 80s, both retired university
professors who fled Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and eventually became
U.S. citizens -- made a stunning remark to me a few months ago: "You
know, all our lives we have blamed our parents and our parents' generation
for allowing Hitler to gain control. Now we're beginning to see how powerless
they must have felt to stop what was happening all around them.
" My friends' melancholy comment came back to me and
a palpable chill ran down my spine when I read about the Gestapo-style arrest
of U.S. citizen Maher "Mike" Hawash. Two weeks ago, police took
the 38-year-old Intel software contractor from his Hillsboro home and put
him in solitary confinement (according to his wife) in a federal prison.
No charges have been filed against him, and his attorneys reportedly are
forbidden to discuss the case. What is happening to our country?
I already had heard on National Public Radio a New Jersey
attorney's account of having been appointed as counsel for Jose Padilla,
the U.S. citizen arrested in Chicago nearly a year ago for supposedly planning
to concoct a "dirty bomb" -- radioactive materials packed around
a conventional explosive. After only one or two brief meetings, she was
abruptly denied access to her client, who was transferred to a brig somewhere
in South Carolina, where he remains in solitary confinement to this day,
unindicted for any crime and unable to see or speak with his lawyer. Can
this really be happening in the United States?
A few weeks ago a professor in the University of Idaho School
of Law reported that FBI agents staged a predawn raid -- in full SWAT team
regalia -- on the apartment of a Saudi doctoral candidate in computer science,
dragging him away from his terrified wife and children and astonished neighbors.
The Washington Post has reported that around the country
"at least 44 people" were being held, like Mike Hawash, under
the same distorted and unprecedented interpretation of the "material
witness" law, designed for grand jury participants. This is clearly
an outright suspension of habeas corpus, the 700-year-old cornerstone of
individual civil rights in Western jurisprudence, which protects us from
arbitrary arrest and imprisonment.
The "war on terrorism" -- the surrogate for the
Cold War so desperately needed by the military-industrial complex to justify
its hugely disproportionate bite out of the federal budget -- has, of course,
served as the oh-so-convenient excuse for the erosion of our freedoms. And
the contemptible timidity of our elected representatives, who rushed to
pass the ill-named and patently unconstitutional U.S. Patriot Act unread
and undebated, helped to provide a fig leaf of legality for this abridgement
of our civil liberties.
Never has the plaintive confession of Pastor Martin Niemoeller
sounded so relevant:
"They came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak
up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I
wasn't a trade unionist. . . Then they came for me, and by that time, nobody
was left to speak up."
Richard L. Clinton is a political science professor at Oregon
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