Institutionalization of Tyranny
By Paul Craig Roberts
January 20, 2013 "Information
- Republicans 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
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
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
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.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury
for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street
Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard
News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many
university appointments. His internet columns have attracted
a worldwide following.
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