* PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS: Thinking for Yourself is Now a Crime

2008-01-06

Richard Moore

____________________
Who will be on the "extremist beliefs" list? The answer is:
civil libertarians, critics of Israel, 9/11 skeptics,
critics of the administration's wars and foreign policies,
critics of the administration's use of kidnapping,
rendition, torture and violation of the Geneva Conventions,
and critics of the administration's spying on Americans.
Anyone in the way of a powerful interest group--such as
environmentalists opposing politically connected
developers--is also a candidate for the list.
____________________


Original source URL:
http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts01042008.html

January 4, 2008
Jane Harman and Liberty's Lost Light
Thinking for Yourself is Now a Crime
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

What was the greatest failure of 2007? President Bush's "surge" in Iraq? The 
decline in the value of the US dollar? Subprime mortgages? No. The greatest 
failure of 2007 was the newly sworn in Democratic Congress.

The American people's attempt in November 2006 to rein in a rogue government, 
which has committed the US to costly military adventures while running roughshod
over the US Constitution, failed. Replacing Republicans with Democrats in the 
House and Senate has made no difference.

The assault on the US Constitution by the Democratic Party is as determined as 
the assault by the Republicans. On October 23, 2007, the House passed a bill 
sponsored by California Democratic congresswoman Jane Harman, chairwoman of a 
Homeland Security subcommittee, that overturns the constitutionally guaranteed 
rights to free expression, association, and assembly.

The bill passed the House on a vote of 404-6. In the Senate the bill is 
sponsored by Maine Republican Susan Collins and apparently faces no meaningful 
opposition.

Harman's bill is called the "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism 
Prevention Act."When HR 1955 becomes law, it will create a commission tasked 
with identifying extremist people, groups, and ideas. The commission will hold 
hearings around the country, taking testimony and compiling a list of dangerous 
people and beliefs. The bill will, in short, create massive terrorism in the 
United States. But the perpetrators of terrorism will not be Muslim terrorists; 
they will be government agents and fellow citizens.

We are beginning to see who will be the inmates of the detention centers being 
built in the US by Halliburton under government contract.

Who will be on the "extremist beliefs" list? The answer is: civil libertarians, 
critics of Israel, 9/11 skeptics, critics of the administration's wars and 
foreign policies, critics of the administration's use of kidnapping, rendition, 
torture and violation of the Geneva Conventions, and critics of the 
administration's spying on Americans. Anyone in the way of a powerful interest 
group--such as environmentalists opposing politically connected developers--is 
also a candidate for the list.

The "Extremist Beliefs Commission" is the mechanism for identifying Americans 
who pose "a threat to domestic security" and a threat of "homegrown terrorism" 
that "cannot be easily prevented through traditional federal intelligence or law
enforcement efforts."

This bill is a boon for nasty people. That SOB who stole your girlfriend, that 
hussy who stole your boyfriend, the gun owner next door--just report them to 
Homeland Security as holders of extreme beliefs. Homeland Security needs 
suspects, so they are not going to check. Under the new regime, accusation is 
evidence. Moreover, "our" elected representatives will never admit that they 
voted for a bill and created an "Extremist Belief Commission" for which there is
neither need nor constitutional basis.

That boss who harasses you for coming late to work--he's a good candidate to be 
reported; so is that minority employee that you can't fire for any normal 
reason. So is the husband of that good-looking woman you have been unable to 
seduce. Every kind of quarrel and jealousy can now be settled with a phone call 
to Homeland Security.

Soon Halliburton will be building more detention centers.

Americans are so far removed from the roots of their liberty that they just 
don't get it. Most Americans don't know what habeas corpus is or why it is 
important to them. But they know what they want, and Jane Harman has given them 
a new way to settle scores and to advance their own interests.

Even educated liberals believe that the US Constitution is a "living document" 
that can be changed to mean whatever it needs to mean in order to accommodate 
some new important cause, such as abortion and legal privileges for minorities 
and the handicapped. Today it is the "war on terror" that the Constitution must 
accommodate. Tomorrow it can be the war on whomever or whatever.

Think about it. More than six years ago the World Trade Center and Pentagon were
attacked. The US government blamed it on al Qaeda. The 9/11 Commission Report 
has been subjected to criticism by a large number of qualified people--including
the commission's chairman and co-chairman.

Since 9/11 there have been no terrorist attacks in the US. The FBI has tried to 
orchestrate a few, but the "terrorist plots" never got beyond talk organized and
led by FBI agents. There are no visible extremist groups other than the 
neoconservatives that control the government in Washington. But somehow the 
House of Representatives overwhelmingly sees a need to create a commission to 
take testimony and search out extremist views (outside of Washington, of 
course).

This search for extremist views comes after President Bush and the Justice (sic)
Department declared that the President can ignore habeas corpus, ignore the 
Geneva Conventions, seize people without evidence, hold them indefinitely 
without presenting charges, torture them until they confess to some made up 
crime, and take over the government by declaring an emergency. Of course, none 
of these "patriotic" views are extremist.

The search for extremist views follows also the granting of contracts to 
Halliburton to build detention centers in the US. No member of Congress or the 
executive branch ever explained the need for the detention centers or who the 
detainees would be. Of course, there is nothing extremist about building 
detention centers in the US for undisclosed inmates.

Clearly the detention centers are not meant to just stand there empty. Thanks to
2007's greatest failure--the Democratic Congress--there is to be an "Extremist 
Beliefs Commission" to secure inmates for Bush's detention centers.

President Bush promises us that the wars he has launched will cause the "untamed
fire of freedom" to "reach the darkest corners of our world." Meanwhile in 
America the fire of freedom has not only been tamed but also is being 
extinguished.

The light of liberty has gone out in the United States.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan 
administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial 
page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny 
of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: •••@••.•••
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