[sixties-l] Fwd: US Panel Calls for stepped-up repression and police spying

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Tue Jun 13 2000 - 21:32:23 CUT

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    >World Socialist Web Site
    >WSWS : News & Analysis : North America
    >US panel calls for stepped-up repression and police spying
    >By Joseph Tanniru
    >12 June 2000
    >A report issued by the National Commission on Terrorism was released last
    >week, outlining the panel's proposals for strengthening the repressive
    >powers of the US government in the name of fighting "terrorism." The
    >report uses this pretext -- unrelated to any actual increase in terrorist
    >activities -- to justify measures that would curtail basic civil liberties
    >and increase the power of US intelligence agencies and the military.
    >The Commission was established after the 1998 bombings of US embassies in
    >Kenya and Tanzania. Its official purpose was to develop strategies to
    >counter the alleged growing terrorist threat to the US. It is composed of
    >six Republicans and four Democrats who were appointed by the House of
    >Representatives and Senate.
    >In general, the report states that the United States should be more
    >aggressive in tracking down and prosecuting those labeled as suspected or
    >potential "terrorists." One of its most controversial proposals is that
    >the activity of foreign students visiting the US be tracked more closely.
    >"A small minority may exploit their student status to support terrorist
    >activity, " the report argues, and therefore intelligence agencies should
    >follow the identity and activity of all foreign-national students.
    >This plan is not only overtly racist, but it ignores the reality that the
    >bulk of terrorist attacks in America, and certainly the bloodiest, have
    >been perpetrated not by foreign students or immigrants, but by homegrown
    >American fascists like Timothy McVeigh. But there is no suggestion that
    >the CIA monitor the activity of all American students, because a "small
    >minority may exploit their student status to support terrorist activity,"
    >or that similar measures should be applied to discharged veterans of the
    >US military (like McVeigh and Terry Nichols) or other social groups from
    >which a terrorist might possibly emerge.
    >It is worth recalling that the immediate response of the US government and
    >media to the Oklahoma City bombing was that foreign terrorists must have
    >carried it out, before it came to light that the atrocity was, in fact,
    >the activity of fanatic right-wing Americans. In any case, the latest
    >proposal continues the demonization of foreigners and immigrants. It
    >represents an attack on the civil liberties of foreign students, who are
    >all smeared by the report, based on their ethnicity and nationality, as
    >potential supporters of terrorism.
    >The report also suggests that the military assume control of the response
    >to any major terrorist attack. Currently, such control would be allocated
    >to civilian agencies such as the FBI and the Federal Emergence Management
    >Agency (FEMA). It is argued that the military is more organized, with
    >better communications systems, and would therefore be more capable of
    >handling a major crisis on US soil.
    >This suggestion -- part of a general growth in the importance of the
    >military for the US government -- is quite extraordinary, given the
    >traditional exclusion of the military from domestic affairs. The
    >Commission's chairman L. Paul Bremer asserts that the report is "not
    >recommending martial law. " Nevertheless the motives behind the proposal
    >are clear. It could be used, in the event of any threat deemed "terrorist
    >" in nature, to justify the deployment of the army in restoring order. As
    >an editorial in USA Today points out, the military is used in domestic
    >affairs only by those "who like the swiftness with which soldiers
    >imprison and repress civilians. "
    >Another proposal would weaken restrictions on the information-gathering
    >practices of the CIA with regard to the pursuit of suspected terrorists.
    >"The CIA has created a climate that is overly risk averse, " when it comes
    >to employing so-called unsavory individuals. Prohibitions on the use of
    >unsavory persons are meant to prevent the agency from following mistaken
    >leads and to prevent the prosecution of innocent individuals based on the
    >testimony of unreliable sources. Bill Harlow, a spokesman for the CIA, was
    >quick to point out that these restrictions did not hinder the agency's
    >activity. "There has never been a case, " he said, "when higher-ups were
    >asked to authorize utilizing unsavory people that they didn't say, Go
    >ahead.' "
    >Other proposals include:
    >* declaring Greece and Pakistan to be countries "not fully cooperating"
    >with US anti-terrorist plans. Bremer states that over the past 25 years
    >there have been 146 attacks against American targets in Greece, only one
    >of which was solved. Both the Greek and the Pakistani governments reacted
    >strongly against the proposal. "The report's content, " said Greek
    >Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, "bears no relation to reality. "
    >* declaring Afghanistan a "state sponsor of terrorism ";
    >* stopping the process of US reconciliation with Iran, on the grounds of
    >Iran's supposed support of terrorism;
    >* passing stricter laws on the manufacture and transport of materials that
    >could be used in biological weapons.
    >The justification for all of these suggested measures is the supposed
    >increased threat of terrorist attacks to the US. This rationale is
    >extremely dubious, given that of the 393 acts worldwide deemed to be
    >"terrorist" in nature last year, only two occurred in North America.
    >Certainly the foreign policy of the US government has provoked
    >anti-American sentiment among some groups, however this alleged "terrorist
    >threat" is being used to justify the strengthening of the American state,
    >the infringement of basic liberties, and the removal of restrictions to
    >domestic intelligence activity. As with the justification for the
    >construction of a missile defense system, the official rationale --
    >whether it is the threat from "rogue states" or that from terrorists --
    >serves as a pretext for ulterior strategic aims of the US government. The
    >measures proposed by the National Committee on Terrorism, if carried out,
    >will be used to attack all opposition to the policies of the US state.
    >The proposals are merely a part of a wider strengthening of US military
    >and intelligence agencies. A recent report reveals that in 1999 permission
    >was given to the FBI and the National Security Agency to carry out a total
    >of 880 wiretaps, a dramatic increase over previous years. In 1993, the
    >year before Clinton took office, the number was 484, and in 1990 it was
    >These activities have come under attack by civil liberties organizations,
    >in part because the government is not required to divulge the rational
    >behind the decision to seek a tap. "We're concerned, " said James Zogby
    >of the Arab-American Institute, "over the disregard we see for civil
    >liberties in this administration. " The secret federal court that was
    >established in 1978 to regulate the tapping has provided only a rubber
    >stamp for federal spying, approving 13,600 taps and disapproving only one.
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