Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Last Roundup

Scott Horton has posted an interview with freelance investigative journalist Christopher Ketcham at Antiwar.com Radio that I highly recommend.

Ketcham discusses his latest article for RadarOnline, "The Last Roundup", in which he tells of a government data base (or perhaps network of government data bases) allegedly code named "Main Core", which may contain names and personal information on as many as 8 million Americans considered to be potentially obstructive of Uncle Sam's "Continuity of Government" operations in the event of some kind of national crisis or emergency. These individuals "could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention," according to Ketcham.

Ketcham notes in his article that "Continuity of Government" planning and its attendant lists of suspects is nothing new, and dates back to the early Cold War era. And let's not forget Uncle Sam's rounding up of over 100,000 harmless Japanese Americans into concentration camps following the Pearl Harbor attack.

In 1950, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover supervised the compilation of "the names, identities, and activities" of "suspect" Americans into what was called a "security index" that expanded quite rapidly. Hoover informed President Harry Truman that "suspect individuals would be held in detention camps overseen by 'the National Military Establishment'." The list consisted of "professors, teachers, and educators; labor-union organizers and leaders; writers, lecturers, newsmen, and others in the mass-media field; lawyers, doctors, and scientists; other potentially influential persons on a local or national level; [and] individuals who could potentially furnish financial or material aid" to unnamed "subversive elements."

This "security index" was maintained into the 1980s until the Reagan administration--you know, that paragon of "small" and constitutionally "limited" government--transferred the index to FEMA, though the agency had already been maintaining similar lists of its own since the mid-70s, when it was called the "Federal Preparedness Agency."

Lt. Col. Oliver North of Iran-Contra fame was allegedly involved in supervising similar activity from within the Reagan White House, utilizing a database software program called "PROMIS," which was designed to track various "suspect" individuals by culling information from several different data bases. Ketcham notes that "Main Core" could possibly still have PROMIS legacy code lingering from North's heyday as a water boy for Big Brother.

What's been truly disturbing, of course, is the Great Leap Forward of the national security/domestic spying apparatus since 9/11. But even what has come to public view over the past several years pales in comparison to some of the stuff to which Ketcham alludes in his article and the interview with Horton.

There are presumably plans in effect that would effectively transform the United States into a total police state in the event of some kind of "national emergency"--a natural disaster, or, say, a massive terrorist attack a la 9/11. Martial law would be imposed and a "parallel government" consisting of military rule over state and local jurisdictions would go into effect, with a very select list of people in charge of implementing and managing the new police state. (Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were both on this list as far back as the 1980s. Why is it that whenever you see one, the other is sure to be hovering close by, like Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader?)

Ketcham reminds us that Bill Clinton signed an Executive Order during his tenure, essentially reinforcing an order issued by Kennedy in the early 60s, stating that the president of the United States can decide all by his lonesome what constitutes a "national emergency." President Bush, Jr. has essentially maintained similar claims in his own executive orders, presidential directives and other high-fallutin' Most-Grand-High-Poobah declarations. In other words, if Dubya considers so much as a clogged toilet in the White House men's room to be a "national emergency," your subversive ass could be adorned with Gitmo jammies and headed to a "detention center" toute suite.

Ketcham maintains that according to his sources--which he says consist of various former government employees intimately knowledgeable of such operations--certain aspects of this "shadow government" are already in effect, and have been since 9/11/01. Ketcham says that there are about 100 or so officials rotating through various secret facilities in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, where they are supposedly supervising all sorts of clandestine surveillance all on their lonesome.

There is much other creepiness and spookdom discussed in both Ketcham's article and the interview with Horton of which you, dear reader, should avail yourself.

Interestingly, Horton pointed out during the interview that as ominous as all this sounds, it doesn't seem very realistic to think that the Feds' fantasy fascist police state could actually be implemented in practice, a view with which I tend to agree. After all, how could the same highly centralized bureaucracy that could barely get ice to hurricane-ravaged New Orleans without first shipping it through a long, circuitous route from Pennsylvania to Alabama to Nebraska possibly effect a fascist total state upon a country of more than 300 million people? Especially when its military arm is stretched far and wide across the entire span of the globe, including some 200-250,000 or more troops bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq?

I fear that Ketcham's reply, however, is all too true: Americans are more pliant, spineless and obedient than ever before. Government bureaucrats wouldn't have to do too much themselves if they succeed in brainwashing a critical mass of people into believing that any of their neighbors, their friends--even their spouses or children or parents--are potential enemies, possibly collaborating with "Islamofascist" terrorists to overtake the country.

Think about it: This is the country where all sorts of bizarre hallucinations have held sway over the majority of the population. Americans are the people who actually believed that the Germans could practicably have sailed across the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean to submit them all to Nazi rule, even as Hitler's forces were simultaneously struggling to occupy vast swaths of Europe and fight the Soviets. This is the country where so many people actually believed that there was a vast communist conspiracy from within that could have enslaved us all to Moscow, even as our own government was conspiring to round up anarchists and assorted "leftists" in Korea for mass executions and subsequently napalmed Vietnamese peasants. This is the country where so many people speak of the ominous implications of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons capability--for which there is absolutely no evidence--while others essentially excuse the U.S. government's own history of nuking civilian populations and the vast nuclear arsenal it currently maintains, as well as overlook or justify the very likely possibility that Israel's government maintains around 150 or so nuclear weapons of its own and refuses to share any details thereof with other countries.

Given some particularly spectacular catastrophe, especially a massive terrorist attack, I'll bet you dollars to donuts that all it would take is some stern-looking government-paid "experts" to go on CNN and Fox News to extol the virtues of surrendering one's freedom for the common good of national security in order to psychologically deputize millions of people as willing agents of the state.

Ketcham mentions that one encouraging fact is that there are about 500-600 million private guns going around in a nation of a little more than 300 million people. But what good are those guns in a fascist state if a majority of the people fall under the mental sway of propaganda and misinformation following another horrific terrorist incident? What if they actually agree with the government that all those guns are to be pointed at anyone--Arabs, antiwar protesters, political dissenters of varying stripes--other than the power-hungry control freak bureaucrats? After all, what sense does it make to turn against the very people who claim to be protecting you and keeping you safe?

Who do you really think these guys would side with?

Then again, I could be wrong.

I'd like to think that if these homegrown Nazis in Washington ever got crazy enough to actually go the whole fascist hog, most people would wholly reject it and organize themselves into various networks of cooperative resistance utilizing a wide array of strategies. (Carl Watner particularly has some interesting things to say on this subject.) I'd like to think that a massive power grab by the state would provoke the people of this country to effectively drive a stake right through its heart, followed by nothing but a final shrill death shriek as it's reduced to a mere puddle of harmless ooze, much like the hydra-headed beast of a science fiction flick.

But I'll take absolutely nothing for granted.

(Cross-posted at the Strike-The-Root blog.)

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