Big Brother, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft
is waging war on political dissent.
report on FBI surveillance activities, regarding
anti-war rallies in Washington and San Francisco
(first, reported by The New York Times), surprises
few anti-war activists, especially free speech
supporters who knew Ashcroft's drafting of the
Patriot Act would be most effective in possible
protest intimidation. What is troubling is the
timing of the actions, particularly when the majority
of Americans now doubt President Bush's policy
of preemption. Ashcroft's sanction of such surveillance
does more than simple attempts to diminish the
opposition activities, rather the use of Gestapo
"secret files" to gather information to eventually
silence’ the opposition itself.
confidential memorandum to law enforcement detailing
its surveillance recommendations leaves open the
most troubling conclusion.
Presidential Advisor Karl Rove indicated to other
White House political operatives earlier in the
year, President Bush's standing among likely voters
was due to fall to lower levels due to the stagnant
economy and (possibly) the outcome of the Iraq
conflict. That being said, with the economy still
making little headway and security in Iraq disintegrating,
concern of political instability taking hold amongst
mainstream Americans has been raised to new levels.
And in the light of new terror attacks in Turkey
overseas and unknown international terror infiltration
here at home, Attorney General John Ashcroft has
made it his mission to infiltrate domestic opposition
as a precautionary measure.
only problem is, as Saddam Hussein was to Osama
bin Laden, again the Bush administration is using
scapegoat tactics to conceal the lack of information
on true domestic terror threats.
scapegoat technique will do little to alleviate
American's fears if there is another terrorist
attack on U.S. soil, especially one as devastating
as September 11th. Besides that, in the year 2003,
we are firmly in "the Bush era." Karl Rove and
his ilk cannot portray the poor military execution
of the al Qaeda threat as a "Clinton legacy."
a Republican House and Senate, President Bush
has no excuses (those ran out with the Iraq war
FBI now snooping on protestors, there actually
may be some advantages for opposition leaders.
With files and dossiers now being collected on
groups such as ANSWER (Act Now To End War And
Racism) and IndyMedia (an alternative news collective),
groups may be able to petition for access to their
files and the scope of any intelligence-gathering
programs they may be listed under in accordance
with the Freedom of Information Act. On a more
cynical note, many of these groups would welcome
new recruits to bolster such as a grassroots movement
of people seeking an end of violence through peaceful
means and government reform (even those paid for
by Uncle Sam).
Bush and Ashcroft are serious about attempts to
reign in domestic terror threats, the FBI should
be used to interview and help gather information
on state militias and separatist groups which
have not debated in their clandestine activities,
since Tim McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing
in '95. It is worthy to note that the Bush administration
has made few comments about this movement, even
though these groups, such as the Church of the
Creator and Ku Klux Klan have large web presences
and active fundraising organizations.
or not FBI surveillance will extend as a national
policy amongst local law enforcement remains to
be seen, but an earlier precedent was set last
February when Denver police finally agreed to
stop police files on citizen protestors, including
the end, the issue of surveillance is a political
issue which can be decided if the voters feel
their tax money is being wasted (which it is)
in the issuance of media backlash (which is already
occurring). For both the public and private sectors,
there is wholesale agreement that the basic right
of freedom of speech may be affected, especially
when the Patriot Act (trumpeted by Ashcroft) was
sold as a method of deterring foreign terrorists
within the country.
there are better ways to support the patriotism
of U.S. troops out in Iraq, Afghanistan, then
a politically-malignant, indirect means to influence
those patriots who wish those soldiers would come
home soon and safe. Unfortunately for the President,
bad press on this issue made it more difficult
for him to be reelected in 2004 as he will need
a moderate-conservative coalition to overcome
an undoubtedly, strong Democratic candidate.
being said, Bush has very little to fear from
domestic protesters, simply wanting actual political
inclusion in foreign policy. However, he does
have to fear angry voters in the voting booth
far, he is doing little to change their minds.
© 2003 Tommy Ates. All Rights Reserved.
Posted: December 7, 2003