Historians will record that between November 2000 and February 2002, democracy-as envisioned by the creators of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution-effectively came to an end. As democracy died, the Fascist American Theocratic State ["The State"] was born. This new fascist era was designed and implemented primarily by Republican organizations and individuals who funded, supported and ultimately inserted George Bush II in office.
Equally complicit in this atrocity was the Democratic Party, itself having become corrupt and beholden to its own interests. But the greatest tragedy in this horrific turn of events was that the public and media embraced fascism's coming. It should be noted that the Green Party's valiant efforts were too little, too late. Three events accelerated the demise of American Democracy.
The Election of 2000 (the American version of a coup), the 911 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon primarily by terrorists from Saudi Arabia (a vaunted but corrupt U.S. "ally" that funded both the terrorist Al Qaeda network and the Taliban) and the US response to it, and the spate of corporate bankruptcies, most notably Enron, which provided clear evidence-to those who dared look at it-that the American democratic process was a sham.
The Bush administration, composed of a number of former Enron officials in its upper ranks, could only describe the worst financial collapse in the world's history as a "tragedy" as if it were akin to a hurricane or earthquake and not man-made. The administration then proceeded to convince a nation of lemmings that Enron was not a political scandal but merely an unfortunate mistake that must not be repeated. However, other Enron-like collapses began being reported with similar disastrous consequences for pensioners and workers.
Indeed, a long train of abuses and usurpations took place at a frightening pace in that short 15-month period. Prior to 911, proponents of the The State were busy dismantling tried and tested treaties and agreements, such as the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, painstakingly hammered out by President Richard Nixon and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev-and panning others such as the Kyoto Agreement on the environment and the Oslo Accord on Israeli-Palestinian peace. It's worth noting that the US was voted off the UN Human Rights Commission during that timeframe and, in spite of that, appointed three suspected human rights violators (John Negroponte, Otto Reich, and Elliott Abrams) to positions of high office within the US Department of State and National Security Council. Post-911 saw suspension of US constitutional and international law and modifications to suit the needs of The State.
Soon thereafter, an inaptly named USA PATRIOT Act and the establishment of US Military Tribunals would be enacted in the same lightning fashion as when Adolph Hitler scrapped the German Constitution in the wake of the 1933 Reichstag fire. Pentagon spokesman began looking beyond 911. They branded "activists, anarchists, and opportunists" as the terrorists of tomorrow. In fact, the FBI began scanning the Internet for web sites that contained what The State considered seditious and unpatriotic content and, in a few cases, began shutting them down in a sort of cyberspace version of Nazi book burning.
With the apprehension of John Walker Lindh in northern Afghanistan, Americans were inundated with the misdeeds of the "American Taliban," the Traitor. Not since the witch hunting days of Joe McCarthy and the execution of the Rosenbergs had the country been swept up in a tempest of quick accusations of traitorous activities. Off the Orwellian telescreens run by the three cable news networks was any mention of the close contacts between American oil companies, like UNOCAL, and the Taliban, and the fact that the firm, unlike Lindh, made cash payments to the regime in return for the much-sought-after trans-Afghan oil and natural gas pipeline.
This was done with the active encouragement of key members of both the Clinton and Bush II administrations. U.S. laws prohibiting such influence peddling, like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, were overlooked. This hypocrisy and the overarching influence of oil over The State's foreign policy is described in a new book by ex-CIA agent Robert Baer, a veteran covert operator in the Islamic world. He states that he found "that the tentacles of big oil stretch from the Caspian Sea to the White House." Big Oil would convince the Bush administration to turn an ill-advised and ineffective counter-drug war in Colombia into a counter-insurgency operation aimed at protecting the pipelines of US oil companies.
Bypassed was a congressional law limiting the number of US private military personnel in Colombia to five hundred. Bush announced that he wanted as many military privateers as it took to "stabilize" the entire Andean region. Meanwhile, Bush's CIA shock troops began destabilizing the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who began to appear as a candidate for the "Axis of Evil" for his independent views of US foreign policy. With the statement, "You're with us or against us," The State signaled to its long term allies that it reserved the right to establish a new world order based on the great Western Way. Dictatorships and totalitarian regimes were now praised by government officials as freedom loving nations.
Military dictators became heroes. George Bush II used the opening of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City to push American nationalism and his stone-faced grimace directed at the passing of the team from Iran - one of Bush's "Axis of Evil" nations-evoked memories of that other nationalist-based Olympic opening ceremony, that in Berlin in the Summer of 1936, a ceremony that saw Hitler making snide remarks to his Reich lieutenants on the presence of African-American sprinter Jesse Owens on the American team. Under the guise of a war that would never end, The State became brazen in its mission. On the domestic front, clear distinctions between the government and the corporation, and the government and the military evaporated. Government propagandists, formerly corporate propagandists, proclaimed that The State would be an easy brand to sell to the people. In fact, the State Department appointed a Madison Avenue advertising executive as head of its International Public Diplomacy Bureau to pitch "America" abroad as if it was a brand of running shoe, detergent, or deodorant.
Meanwhile, The State gave carte blanche authority to the CIA to assassinate foreign leaders-an edict that abrogated President Gerald Ford's 1976 Executive Order banning such murders. Responding to the policies of The State, senior military officers began questioning why right-wing Bush political appointees in the Defense Department scrapped the concepts of US military/international coalition peacekeeping and humanitarian operations in favor of "stability operations" and "unilateralism." The defense budget ballooned to $400 billion while the wealthiest individuals and organizations received tax reductions and bailouts from the government. Those same recipients would fire close to a million people and rape their pension plans conveniently forcing them back into the workplace.
The State raided the Social Security and Medicare accounts to transfer billions of dollars to defense contractors and out of the pockets of senior citizens who were promised assistance with prescription drugs by a now utterly exposed ruse-a "Compassionate Conservative Bush administration." In a country gone mad, cattle and crops would be designated matters of "national security" as an un-elected occupant of the White House ineloquently declared, "the nation has to eat". Meanwhile, The State's media machine would equate the speeches of George Bush II, an individual who relies on cue cards with a short list of antonym pairs like "good man" and "evil doer," to those of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Government officials would proclaim on many occasions that any dissent to and from the government's initiatives would be branded as unpatriotic and terrorist.
In that environment thousands of Americans and those of color were pilloried by the government and their fellow citizens for questioning The State's actions. Demonstrators who opposed the corporate power grab in a world that ignored labor and social protections were described as commercial and economic terrorists. The White House Press Secretary urged Americans to watch what they say and do in response to barbs by a television comedian. What would come next, the creation of an American Stasi? Just so. The State initiated the Citizen Corps, in which local residents were encouraged to form their own councils to, among other things, report suspicious activity and gather intelligence, thus cementing the people's support for The State. The State acted swiftly to reprogram American culture.
Artwork antithetical to officials in the Department of Justice was hidden from public view by an Attorney General who opposes the same cultural and social pastimes-dance, drinking of alcohol, and viewing of sculptures-that once subjected an Afghan to death by an edict of the Taliban. Flag burning prohibitions were introduced into law. God, whose name was placed on US currency and inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance in the 1950s, became indistinguishable from The State. The State's sanctioned religion was literal biblical paternalism, militant in its own way. In this environment it was no surprise that women, once again, lost dominion over themselves and their wombs as the state proclaimed the unborn, born, and subject to The State. Practitioners of The State argued that freedom was to be defined as the ability to wealth maximize.
In this form of raw materialism, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."-those transcendent concepts debated so heartily and openly by the authors of the US Constitution-became desiccated commodities. The State melded God and Country and Business into one credo. With the Supreme Court firmly with The State - having sanctioned the accession to power of a president lacking a plurality in either the contested state of Florida or the United States-it, along with an Executive beholden to religious zealots, planned to strike down other laws, including a woman's right to choose, over the long term. But 911 appeared.
The Federal courts saw their power to sanction government break ins of homes and offices, wiretap telephones and e-mail, and bug premises usurped by a law enforcement and intelligence establishment that instead of being forced to answer for their lack of knowledge about the events of 911, was showered with billions of dollars and new unsupervised powers. Viewed within the acid bath of wealth maximization, 911 became an unexpected bonus for The State in its mission to build the fascist and theocratic underpinnings of its government. With a frightened Congress, receptive corporate media, and a largely uneducated and nervous public, The State brilliantly orchestrated the destruction of the open society.
Prior to 911, The State knew, with the exception of a pitiful few, that Congress could be bought. But it viewed the media and public as a holdout and feared rebellion on editorial pages and at the voting booth. But in the aftermath of 911, with the media now indistinguishable from the "war effort" and the public instructed to fly and buy for patriotism, The State achieved in a mere 15 months, the utter decimation of American democracy.
John Stanton is a Virginia-based writer on national security affairs and Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist who writes and comments frequently on civil liberties and human rights issues.