The Institutionalization of Tyranny

The Militarized Police State Form of Big Government

tyrannyRepublicans and conservative Americans are still fighting Big Government in its welfare state form. Apparently, they have never heard of the militarized police state form of Big Government, or, if they have, they are comfortable with it and have no objection.

Republicans, including those in the House and Senate, are content for big government to initiate wars without a declaration of war or even Congress’ assent, and to murder with drones citizens of countries with which Washington is not at war. Republicans do not mind that federal “security” agencies spy on American citizens without warrants and record every email, Internet site visited, Facebook posting, cell phone call, and credit card purchase. Republicans in Congress even voted to fund the massive structure in Utah in which this information is stored.

But heaven forbid that big government should do anything for a poor person.

Republicans have been fighting Social Security ever since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed it into law in the 1930s, and they have been fighting Medicare ever since President Lyndon Johnson signed it into law in 1965 as part of the Great Society initiatives.

Conservatives accuse liberals of the “institutionalization of compassion.” Writing in the February, 2013, issue of Chronicles, John C. Seiler, Jr., damns Johnson’s Great Society as “a major force in turning a country that still enjoyed a modicum of republican liberty into the centralized, bureaucratized, degenerate, and bankrupt state we endure today.”

It doesn’t occur to conservatives that in Europe democracy, liberty, welfare, rich people, and national health services all coexist, but that somehow American liberty is so fragile that it is overturned by a limited health program only available to the elderly.

Neither does it occur to conservative Republicans that it is far better to institutionalize compassion than to institutionalize tyranny.

The institutionalization of tyranny is the achievement of the Bush/Obama regimes of the 21st century. This, and not the Great Society, is the decisive break from the American tradition. The Bush Republicans demolished almost all of the constitutional protections of liberty erected by the Founding Fathers. The Obama Democrats codified Bush’s dismantling of the Constitution and removed the protection afforded to citizens from being murdered by the government without due process. One decade was time enough for two presidents to make Americans the least free people of any developed country, indeed, perhaps of any country. In what other country or countries does the chief executive officer have the right to murder citizens without due process?

It turns one’s stomach to listen to conservatives bemoan the destruction of liberty by compassion while they institutionalize torture, indefinite detention in violation of habeas corpus, murder of citizens on suspicion and unproven accusation alone, complete and total violation of privacy, interference with the right to travel by unaccountable “no-fly” lists and highway check points, the brutalization of citizens and those exercising their right to protest by police, frame-ups of critics, and narrow the bounds of free speech.

In Amerika today only the executive branch of the federal government has any privacy. The privacy is institutional, not personal–witness the fate of CIA director Petraeus. While the executive branch destroys the privacy of every one else, it insists on its own privilege of privacy. National security is invoked to shield the executive branch from its criminal actions. Federal prosecutors actually conduct trials in which the evidence against defendants is classified and withheld from defendants’ attorneys. Attorneys such as Lynne Stewart have been imprisoned for not following orders from federal prosecutors to violate the attorney-client privilege.

Conservatives accept the monstrous police state that has been erected, because they think it makes them safe from “Muslim terrorism.” They haven’t the wits to see that they are now open to terrorism by the government.

Consider, for example, the case of Bradley Manning. He is accused of leaking confidential information that reveals US government war crimes despite the fact that it is the responsibility of every soldier to reveal war crimes. Virtually every one of Manning’s constitutional rights has been violated by the US government. He has been tortured. In an effort to coerce Manning into admitting trumped-up charges and implicating WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, Manning had his right to a speedy trial violated by nearly three years of pre-trial custody and repeated trial delays by government prosecutors. And now the judge, Col. Denise Lind, who comes across as a member of the prosecution rather than an impartial judge, has ruled that Manning cannot use as evidence the government’s own reports that the leaked information did not harm national security. Lind has also thrown out the legal principle of mens rea by ruling that Manning’s motive for leaking information about US war crimes cannot be presented as evidence in his trial.

Mens rea says that a crime requires criminal intent. By discarding this legal principle, Lind has prevented Manning from showing that his motive was to do his duty under the military code and reveal evidence of war crimes. This allows prosecutors to turn a dutiful act into the crime of aiding the enemy by revealing classified information.

Of course, nothing that Manning allegedly revealed helped the enemy in any way as the enemy, having suffered the war crimes, was already aware of them.

Obama Democrats are no more disturbed than conservative Republicans that a dutiful American soldier is being prosecuted because he has a moral conscience. In Manning’s trial, the government’s definition of victory has nothing whatsoever to do with justice prevailing. For Washington, victory means stamping out moral conscience and protecting a corrupt government from public exposure of its war crimes.

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Paul Craig Roberts, Boiling Frogs Post contributing author, is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has been reporting on executive branch and cases of prosecutorial abuse for two decades. He has written or co-written eight books, contributed chapters to numerous books, and has published many articles in journals of scholarship. Mr. Roberts has testified before congressional committees on 30 occasions on issues of economic policy, and has been a critic of both Democratic and Republican administrations. You can visit his website here.


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  1. All true Mr Roberts… but what do you expect the powerful to do? Give away their power and control and access and so forth?… Or try to secure it and consolidate it and of course acquire more wealth? You guessed it.

    Democracy is a fiction on America… But the people have now been effectively locked out of control of their own government and destiny… It’s been taken from the, legally by 0.1% and it appears that there is nothing we, the people can do about it except complain, protest, get arrested and silenced… and resist such as no pay taxes.

    Let’s have a taxpayer’s revolt! No taxation without representation!

  2. flogchopsuey says:

    Institutions tend to be sociopathic or even psychopathic due to their very nature. Corporations are mandated to maximize profit and rewarded for extracting more than they contribute. States generally put security above all, only ceding power at rare junctures and gathering power the rest of the time. Institutions began with god/king concepts within the context of the city/state and the rest is history, teaching us that the ends justify the means. For sanity to prevail, sociopathic and psychopathic behaviors need to be recognized as such. As the planet becomes overwhelmed with excessive exploitation, all institutions will have to be reinvented. As some have said, the non-hierarchical communication made possible by the information age could be the catalyst.

  3. jschoneboom says:

    Well said and thanks for saying it. Unfortunately we are getting what we deserve. It’s true there’s been an enormous investment in propaganda, so one feels sympathy for the sheep who absorb it uncritically. Still, some of us have been able to figure it out, and the disgusting thing is not only that it’s so few, but that when confronted with the evidence, so many people will just smile at you like you’re cute, or insane. To me that is the surreal encapsulation of our times: the bemused smile.

  4. flogchopsuey says:

    Yes, I know the smile. It can break your heart, but it is a small smile, a smile of separated souls, whose only community is the community of vultures. You can look back through this site over the years and see how many commenters have come and gone, and how Ms Edmonds has persevered and grown the BFP. You can see the caliber of those who collaborate with her in providing content. You can see that the truth community is in flux, and that there are efforts to get a meaningful foothold. All the while, surrounded by, living within a society that is insane. A boiling frog is silly to philosophize endlessly as the temperature rises. On the other hand, jumping out of the water into a flaming burner is not advisable. I have lifted a finger or two. I have risked my credibility and my livelihood by taking unpopular stands. The tallest tree will be cracked in the wind. The spirit of a great experiment that started in Philadelphia centuries ago is now spread globally in seed form. The carcass of empire is not where you will find your inspiration, but you will find it in the next wave. There are ebbs and flows, but our true brothers and sisters are now even on the streets of Alexandria. We can learn and “sense” globally and act locally. This has never been done before. An evolutionary leap has now made this possible. There is a kind of smile we need to remember. With this smile, the whole world smiles with you.

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