(Article changed on June 10, 2013 at 21:36)
During the Nuremberg Trials after WWII, the Allies and the American People scoffed at the men convicted of "War Crimes" when they used the excuse "I was only following orders". Following orders was no excuse for committing atrocities during a war they claimed.
Now we are witnessing a dramatic reversal of that thinking. We are actively involved in another war, "The War on Terror". This is a misnomer of course, you really can't declare war on "terror", but try telling that to the people that have declared this and who now uphold it. To these people, the American people are now threatened by an unseen enemy beyond their capabilities to understand. Terror is lurking around every corner and we are all at risk. The "Homeland" is under attack by these forces and we must take "precautions".
The truth is that the American people are being feed the worst kind of radical bullshit than at any time since the end of World War II. Now, everyone that takes a job in the military or in the defense industry must "follow orders" whether they are right or wrong.
The simple truth is that people are pleased that this information has been brought to their attention. They might want to shoot the messenger, but they relish the message. It appears that many of us that have been warning about the unwanted influence of the military industrial complex have been right all along, the people in power cannot be trusted.
The question before us is what are we as a nation going to do about it? How long has our government been spying on us and when did it start? Most importantly, what can we do about it? Can we bring all of the people involved to trial? Of course not, this will be just another blip on the radar for the government. From now on, they will be more careful. A few heads will roll, but they will be relatively minor characters and the punishment will be light.
Unless, of course, you are "traitors" like PFC Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden. Just forget about what we claimed at Nuremberg today, things have changed. Now, the concept of "following orders" is a sound one. We are the "good guys", right? We must forget that we faced the Nazi's and the USSR without spying on the entire nation, this enemy is different. These people are really, really scary. It takes a trade-off between our civil liberties and our national security to see this through, according to the President (A constitutional law scholar).
This nation will probably say little when the two aforementioned people are handed out their punishment for "not following orders". They have broken "their oaths", so to speak. It didn't matter that most military men convicted at Nuremberg had taken a personal oath to Adolph Hitler though, they should have known better. When the German people were asked (by me) how they let it all happen, they replied that by time they understood what was happening, it was too late.
The question I would like to ask here is just how much are we willing to abide by? If we are not a democracy than why do we portray ourselves as one? If we have no actual civil liberties, why do we pretend that we do? Here are some of the things our government has done to "the people".
1. Infiltration: Agents and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit and disrupt. Their very presence served to undermine trust and scare off potential supporters. The FBI and police exploited this fear to smear genuine activists as agents.
2. Psychological warfare: The FBI and police used myriad "dirty tricks" to undermine progressive movements. They planted false media stories and published bogus leaflets and other publications in the name of targeted groups. They forged correspondence, sent anonymous letters, and made anonymous telephone calls. They spread misinformation about meetings and events, set up pseudo movement groups run by government agents, and manipulated or strong-armed parents, employers, landlords, school officials and others to cause trouble for activists.
3. Legal harassment: The FBI and police abused the legal system to harass dissidents and make them appear to be criminals. Officers of the law gave perjured testimony and presented fabricated evidence as a pretext for false arrests and wrongful imprisonment. They discriminatorily enforced tax laws and other government regulations and used conspicuous surveillance, "investigative" interviews, and grand jury subpoenas in an effort to intimidate activists and silence their supporters.
4. Illegal force: The FBI conspired with local police departments to threaten dissidents; to conduct illegal break-ins in order to search dissident homes; and to commit vandalism, assaults, beatings and assassinations. The object was to frighten, or eliminate, dissidents.
The Patriot Act which foreshadowed all that has followed it. The John Warner Defense Bill that authorized Federal troops to be used for peacekeeping purposes and allows the President to federalize a State's National Guard and deploy them in another State (removes "Posse Comitatus"). The FISA Acts, the NDAA, it goes on and on.