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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/19/10

Into a Thousand Pieces

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I cannot think that espionage can be recommended as a technique for building an impressive civilisation. It's a lout's game.

Rebecca West
(1892-1983), British author. Introduction to 1982 edition of The Meaning of Treason (first published 1949).

It is only the enlightened ruler and the wise general who will use the highest intelligence of the army for the purposes of spying, and thereby they achieve great results.

Sun Tzu (6th-5th century B.C.), Chinese general. The Art of War, chapter 13, axiom 27 (c. 490 B.C.; edited by James Clavell, 1981).

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Bible: New Testament. John 8:32. These words of Jesus are inscribed on the wall of the main lobby at the C.I.A. headquarters, Langley, Va.

After my February 4, 2010 article "Pacem in Terra" for, there was so much which was left unsaid about the assassination of President Kennedy and the probable complicity of members of our own intelligence and military communities, as well as many of the corporate elite, I felt that some more questions needed to be asked and answered about that coup d'etat in 1963.

The need for this was demonstrated in an article by Glenn Greenwald on on February 4, 2010, "On the Claimed War Exception to the Constitution," about articles in the Washington Post and the Washington Times. These articles reported that Admiral Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence, admitted to a Congressional committee that President Bush's policy of "targeting selected American citizens for assassination if they are deemed to be terrorists" was being continued.


It doesn't surprise me; but if elements of our government are willing to assassinate a President, what hope do any of the rest of us have. The carte blanche and lettre de cachet are far older than the French terms that we now use to describe them. Same with words like star chamber and indefinite detention: tyrants have used them under different names for centuries. Now we call them FISA Courts and Detention Camps at Guantanamo, but the purpose is the same.

Remember the letter given by Cardinal Richelieu to Milady in the elder Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers, much to the Cardinal's later regret: "The bearer of this document has done what they have done, in my Name, and for the good of the State. Richelieu." Expediency has a cost far beyond that which most politicians ever count upon. If they are fortunate, it is escape to exile just ahead of a lynch mob.

Republicans are up in arms because the Christmas Day "Underwear" Bomber was read his rights by the FBI under the Miranda decision. Their refrain seems to be, "Please Dear Leader: give us more safety from all of the evil people who want to hurt us. We don't need our Miranda rights: we are good little boys and girls; completely unlike those people over there who want to hurt us and destroy our way of life. What way of life is that? We are the freest nation in the world with more rights and liberties than any other country. That is the reason we can afford to toss so many of them away."

Yeah, right.

Republics die by internal rot, not external force. Rich Republicans, George W. Bush's famous "haves and have mores," believe that the country can remain politically and financially strong, even as they deliberately remove every bit of what they believe is superfluous support and protection from the oversight of the nation's financial institutions and corporations in the name of ever higher profits. Bertrand Russell was quite correct in his essay "Freedom in Society," "Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate."

Thomas Paine foresaw the same long term object of these plutocrats machinations two hundred years ago: "They contend in favour of their own, that the portion of liberty enjoyed in England is just enough to enslave a country more productively than by despotism, and that as the real object of despotism is revenue, a Government so formed obtains more than it could do either by direct despotism, or in a full state of freedom, and is, therefore, on the ground of interest, opposed to both." (The Rights of Man, Common Sense, Rights of Man, and Other Essential Writings of Thomas Paine, Signet Classics, 2003, p.180.)

As for the less wealthy Republicans, they have been manipulated into believing a series of great lies over the last eighty years. These lies are based on the premise that adherence to some ideological principle--abortion, gun control, lower taxes, being against affirmative action, the threat of Communism, segregation--is more essential for the long term good of the nation and themselves, than making certain that they, their families, their friends and their neighbors have the bare necessities of modern life. These necessities include quality jobs with reasonable pay and hours (including vacations and sick leave), decent housing, a good education, affordable comprehensive health care, protection from unfair competition in business and the workplace, and protection against old age and disability. On top of all this, there should be a tax system that made certain that those who could most afford to pay taxes--and by logical extension made the greatest use of the Commons, which is to say the infrastructure and natural resources owned by all of us--were the ones who did so.

The power elites have accomplished this deception by overemphasizing America's tradition of individualism in our various media, and underplaying the history of American community cooperation. A barn raising was a community affair, as were harvests, plantings, building dams and bridges, etc., not to mention providing a common defense against attacks by hostile native Americans or outlaws, in America's pioneer days. We have been left with what Theodore Dreiser wrote of in his 1932 article Individualism Seen in Destructive Phase: "...the American citizen"with his faith in individualism and what it will do for him"has now led him to the place where his fellow individualists of greater strength, cunning, and greed are in a position to say for how much, or rather, for how little, he shall work, for how long, and whether, he shall be allowed to make any complaint or even seek redress in case he is unhappy or dissatisfied, ill-treated, deprived, or even actually starved. In fact, his faith in this individualism"has caused him to slumber while his fellow individualists of greater greed and cunning have been seizing his wealth, his church, his press, his courts, his judges, his legislators, his police, and quite all of his originally agreed upon constitutional privileges so that, today, he walks practically in fear of his own shadow;" ( The Progressive, January 9, 1932.)

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Richard Girard is a polymath and autodidact whose greatest desire in life is to be his generations' Thomas Paine. He is an FDR Democrat, which probably puts him with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in the current political spectrum. His answer to (more...)

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