The same language, images, manipulation that would-be despots have used in the past to break down existing democracies are being employed now. ... Mussolini created the blueprint, Hitler followed suit, Stalin studied Hitler and these methods just get passed down to the next generation of dictators throughout the world. NeoFascism in ten easy steps:
1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
2. Create a gulag
3. Develop a thug caste
4. Set up an internal surveillance system
5. Harass citizens' groups
6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
7. Target key individuals
8. Control the press
9. Dissent equals treason
10. Suspend the rule of law
Can't happen here, you say? You don't think so?
In Boulder, two days ago, a rosy-cheeked thirtysomething mother of two small children, in soft yoga velours, started to tear up when she said to me: "I want to take action but I am so scared. I look at my kids and I am scared. How do you deal with fear? Is it safer for them if I act or stay quiet? I don't want to get on a list." In D.C., before that, a beefy, handsome civil servant, a government department head -- probably a Republican -- confides in a lowered voice that he is scared to sign the new ID requirement for all government employees, that exposes all his most personal information to the State -- but he is scared not to sign it: "If I don't, I lose my job, my house. It's like the German National ID card," he said quietly. This morning in Denver I talked for almost an hour to a brave, much-decorated high-level military man who is not only on the watch list for his criticism of the administration -- his family is now on the list. His elderly mother is on the list. His teenage son is on the list. He has flown many dangerous combat missions over the course of his military career, but his voice cracks when he talks about the possibility that he is exposing his children to harassment.
Jim Spencer, a former columnist for the Denver Post who has been critical of the Bush administration, told me today that I could use his name: he is on the watch list. An attorney contacts me to say that she told her colleagues at the Justice Department not to torture a detainee; she says she then faced a criminal investigation, a professional referral, saw her emails deleted -- and now she is on the watch list. I was told last night that a leader of Code Pink, the anti-war women's action group, was refused entry to Canada. I hear from a tech guy who works for the airlines -- again, probably a Republican -- that once you are on the list you never get off. Someone else says that his friend opened his luggage to find a letter from the TSA saying that they did not appreciate his reading material. Before I go into the security lines, I find myself editing my possessions. In New York's LaGuardia, I reluctantly found myself putting a hardcover copy of Tara McKelvey's excellent Monstering, an expose of CIA interrogation practices, in a garbage can before I get in the security line; it is based on classified information. This morning at my hotel, before going to the sirport, I threw away a very nice black T-shirt that said "We Will Not be Silenced" -- with an Arabic translation -- that someone had given me, along with a copy of poems written by detainees at Guantanamo.
Still don't buy it?
I read the news in a state of something like walking shock: seven soldiers wrote op-eds critical of the war -- in The New York Times; three are dead, one shot in the head. A female soldier who was about to become a whistleblower, possibly about abuses involving taxpayers' money: shot in the head. Pat Tillman, who was contemplating coming forward in a critique of the war: shot in the head. Donald Vance, a contractor himself, who blew the whistle on irregularities involving arms sales in Iraq -- taken hostage FROM the U.S. Embassy BY U.S. soldiers and kept without recourse to a lawyer in a U.S. held-prison, abused and terrified for weeks -- and scared to talk once he got home. Another whistleblower in Iraq, as reported in Vanity Fair: held in a trailer all night by armed contractors before being ejected from the country.
Last week contractors, immune from the rule of law, butchered 17 Iraqi civilians in cold blood. Congress mildly objected -- and contractors today butcher two more innocent civilian Iraqi ladies -- in cold blood.
Is it clear yet that violent retribution, torture or maybe worse, seems to go right up this chain of command? Is it clear yet that these people are capable of anything? Is it obvious yet that criminals are at the helm of the nation and need to be not only ousted but held accountable for their crimes?
Is it treason yet?