>December 3, 2007
>America is Going Fascist
>The signs are all there for anyone to see, and time is getting short
>by Michael Nenonen
>Reading Naomi Wolfs The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young
>Patriot (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2007), I realized the hour is later
>than I thought.
>Many of us have watched the Bush regimes actions with a growing
>feeling of horror intertwined with a sense that somehow weve seen all
>of this before, but we arent sure where.
>Were confused because what were seeing conflicts with unexamined and
>deeply held assumptions we have about American freedom.
>Wolfs short but meticulously documented book shows that what is
>happening in America has indeed happened many times before, not in the
>United States, but rather in places like Chile, Italy, Russia, and
>In each case, people couldnt understand why they didnt recognize
>where they were heading before they passed the point of no return.
> It's shifting fast
>Wolf argues that the United States is undergoing a fascist shift
>from an authoritarian but still relatively open society to a
>The techniques for forcing this shift have evolved over the last
>century and are now studied by aspiring tyrants the world over.
>These methods are even part of the formal curriculum in places like
>the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, previously
>known as the School of the Americas, in Fort Benning, Georgia, where
>thousands of Latin Americans have been trained by the United States
>government in the most savage techniques of insurgency and
>Fascists use ten basic strategies to shut down open societies.
>They invoke an external and internal threat in order to convince the
>population to grant their rulers extraordinary powers.
>They establish secret prisons that practice torture, prisons that are
>initially few in number and only incarcerate social pariahs, but that
>quickly multiply and soon imprison opposition leaders, outspoken
>clergy, union leaders, well-known performers, publishers, and
>They develop a paramilitary force that operates without legal
>They set up a system of intense domestic surveillance that gathers
>information for the purposes of intimidating and blackmailing
>They infiltrate, monitor, and disorganize citizens groups.
>They arbitrarily detain and release citizens, especially at borders.
>They target key individuals like civil servants, academics, and
>artists in order to ensure their complicity or silence.
>They take control of the press.
>They publicly equate dissent with treason.
>Finally, they suspend the rule of law.
>All of these strategies are being employed in America today.
> Consider the evidence
>The Bush administration and its supporters have consistently portrayed
>the security threat posed by international terrorists as a threat to
>the very survival of Western civilization in order to justify
>permanent war and to keep the American public in a state of panic and
>The prisons at Guantanamo and God-knows how many CIA Black Sites
>torture their inmates, even though human rights organizations have
>demonstrated that the majority of at least Guantanamos inmates are
>innocent victims of mass arrests.
>The inmates are designated as enemy combatants who have no rights
>under international or American law.
>And there is nothing stopping American presidents from filling these
>prisons with American citizens.
>In an April 24 2007 article for the Huffington Post, Wolf writes that
>thanks to the Military Commissions Act of 2006, the president has the
>power to call any US citizen an enemy combatant.
>He has the power to define what enemy combatant means.
>The president can also delegate to anyone he chooses in the executive
>branch the right to define enemy combatant any way he or she wants
>and then seize Americans accordingly.
>Even if you or I are American citizens, even if we turn out to be
>completely innocent of what he has accused us of doing, he has the
>power to have us seized as we are changing planes at Newark tomorrow,
>or have us taken with a knock on the door; ship you or me to a navy
>brig; and keep you or me in isolation, possibly for months, while
>She points out that while currently Americans in such situations will
>be spared any torture except psychosis-inducing isolation and can look
>forward to eventual trials, these rights typically evaporate in the
>final stages of a fascist shift.
> They're called "mercenaries"
>Military contractors are the regimes paramilitary force.
>Blackwaters mercenaries, many of whom were trained by Latin Americas
>most horrific police states, have operated in Iraq outside of Iraqi,
>American, and military law, and have murdered uncounted innocent
>Iraqis with impunity.
>Domestically, Blackwater was contracted to provide hundreds of armed
>security guards in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and
>theres evidence that they fired on civilians.
>Blackwaters business plan calls for their use in future disasters and
>emergencies throughout the United States, and its supported by some
>of the biggest powerbrokers in America.
>American intelligence agencies are now bypassing court orders to
>wiretap citizens telephones, spy on their e-mails, and monitor their
>financial transactions, and the USA Patriot Act forces corporations,
>booksellers, librarians, and doctors to turn over previously
>confidential information about Americans to the state.
>Thousands of human rights, environmental, anti-war, and other
>citizens groups have been infiltrated by government agents, many of
>whom have clearly acted as agent provocateurs in order to undermine
>the groups solidarity and to legitimize police actions against them.
> Political opponents listed
>Americas Transportation Security Administration maintains a terrorist
>watch list of tens of thousands of Americans who are now subjected to
>security searches and arbitrary detention at airports.
>The list includes people like Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy and
>respected constitutional scholar Walter F Murphy.
>US Attorneys, CIA agents, military lawyers, and other civil servants
>whove disagreed with the Bush administration have been threatened and
>David Horowitz and his colleagues have mounted a well-funded
>nation-wide intimidation campaign that has university students spying
>on their professors and that has successfully coerced regents at State
>Universities to discipline or fire left-leaning professors like Ward
>The regimes supporters have organized campaigns to damage the careers
>of artists like the Dixie Chicks for criticism of the president and
>The administration has Fox News in its pocket, it has paid journalists
>for positive coverage, it has disseminated misinformation through the
>media, and its ferociously attacking critical journalists.
>Arrests of US journalists are at an all-time high.
>The Bush administrations outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame was
>done in retaliation against her husband, Joseph Wilson, whose New York
>Times op-ed piece exposed lies that the Bush administration used to
>lead the nation to war.
>Worse than this, independent journalists appear to be marked for death
>by American forces in Iraq.
>In her Huffington Post article, Wolf writes, The Committee to Protect
>Journalists has documented multiple accounts of the US military in
>Iraq firing upon or threatening to fire upon unembedded (meaning
>independent) reporters and camera operators from organisations ranging
>from al-Jazeera to the BBC. . . . In some cases reporters have been
>wounded or killed, including ITN's Terry Lloyd in 2003. Both CBS and
>the Associated Press in Iraq had staff members seized by the US
>military and taken to violent prisons; the news organisations were
>unable to see the evidence against their staffers. The goal of these
>tactics, as she writes in The End of America, is to create a new
>reality in which the truth can no longer be ascertained and no longer
> Dissent = treason
>In recent years, prominent Republicans like Ann Coulter, Melanie
>Morgan, and William Kristol have accused liberal journalists of
>treason and espionage for publishing leaked material damaging to the
>administration, and in February 2007, Republican Congressman Don Young
>said Congressmen who wilfully take actions during wartime that damage
>morale and undermine the military are sabateurs, and should be
>This would be amusing, were it not for the Bush administrations
>revival of the draconian 1917 Espionage Act after half a centurys
>And finally, the Bush administration shows contempt for the law.
>In The End of America, Wolf writes that Bush has used more signing
>statements than any previous president, and by doing so has relegated
>Congress to an advisory role. This abuse lets the President choose
>what laws he wishes to enforce or not, overruling Congress and the
>people. So Americans are living under laws their representatives never
>passed. Signing statements put the president above the law.
>He has also gutted the Posse Comitatus Act, which was created to
>prevent the president from maintaining a standing army for use against
>Wolf writes that the 2007 Defence Authorization Bill lets the
>president expand his power to declare martial law and take charge of
>the National Guard troops without the permission of the governor when
>public order has been lost; he can send these troops out into our
>streets at his directionoverriding local law enforcement
>authoritiesduring a national disaster, epidemic, serious public
>health emergency, terrorist attack, or other condition.
>On its own, this is an incredible expansion of presidential power, but
>when combined with the use of military contractors like Blackwater it
>gives the president almost dictatorial authority.
>Wolf shows that fascist shifts dont happen overnight, but rather over
>a course of years during which the fascists plans unfold at an
>Germany in 1933 was further along this path than it was in 1931, and
>Germany in 1935 was farther along than it was in 1933.
>Similarly, America in 2007 is farther along the path than it was in
>2005, or will be in 2009, provided that a massive pro-democracy
>movement, complete with impeachment proceedings, doesnt reverse the
>shift while theres still time.
>A simple Democratic victory in the 2008 presidential election wont do
>the job unless the institutional and legal environment created by the
>Bush administration is thoroughly dismantled.
>Regardless of whether the next president is a Republican or a
>Democrat, he or she will inherit a legacy of centralized power that a
>democracy simply cant tolerate.
> Left behind
>Unfortunately, during the shift opposition politicians and activists
>still tend to perceive the world through a democratic frame of
>reference, and this prevents them from seeing that their opponents are
>no longer operating within this frame.
>As the opposition is tying its boxing gloves, the fascists are
>breaking out the machetes.
>Wolfs work has its problems.
>She doesn't acknowledge that Black and Indigenous Americans have long
>lived under quasi-fascist rule, she doesn't examine the role that
>previous administrations have played in setting the stage for the Bush
>regime, and she doesn't acknowledge the roles played by corporatism,
>widespread social dislocation and the radical Christian right in the
>rise of a fascist American zeitgeist.
>Despite this, The End of America needs to be read by as many people as
>The Nazis were an artifact of history that ceased to be ...