Using the U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act and other measures issued by Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft, the administration has launched a domestic war at home against the people of the United States that complements its global war for empire. It is an effort to intimidate and stifle dissent and resistance.
In the days immediately after September 11, the Bush administration presented Congress with a 300+ page wish list of repressive legislation considered over the years by the ultra-right. The so-called "Patriot Act" substantially expanded the FBI and CIA's authority to coordinate and conduct domestic spying in the absence of probable cause or suggestion of criminal misconduct. This includes routine monitoring of Internet and e-mail activity, covert searches and seizures, expanded electronic eavesdropping, and reviewing and cataloging of our financial, educational, consumer and library records.
The Ashcroft Justice Department is openly resurrecting a counterintelligence-based model of law enforcement used by J. Edgar Hoover covert actions, political disruption and racial profiling that was officially (if not actually) repudiated in the 1970s, in the wake of popular uprising and opposition to FBI and CIA programs such as COINTELPRO and Operation CHAOS.
In 1976, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded that, although the government had attempted to justify its actions in terms of "national security" and prevention of violence, the major purpose of the government's intelligence and counterintelligence programs was "the maintenance of the social and economic order" (i.e., the power of the wealthy elite, the capitalist system and the military-industrial complex that sustains them). Things are no different today.
"National Security" is being used as a pretext for the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security and other repressive measures. As a "senior U.S. official" told the Washington Post in the months after September 11, these measures are "not being driven by problems that prosecutors or investigators are having. It is just a good time to get everything. It is totally politically and public-perception driven."
Instead of being intimidated, people are uniting across the country to fight back against Bush and Ashcroft by organizing political actions and by defending communities and groups targeted by the government. There is growing recognition that the problems at hand require systemic change, not merely a "party" change within the two-party system. After all, it was both sides of Congress that so swiftly ratified the Patriot Act.
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