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News :: DNC : Environment : Human Rights
Editor, Free Voices, eZine of the People
by Brandon Batzloff
Email: freevoices (nospam) lycos.com
17 Jul 2004
How to Cancel an Election and Supress Dissent at the Same Time
By Brandon Batzloff
Editor, Free Voices, eZine of the People
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."
- George W. Bush 12.18.2000
Recent news about the possibilities of election delays have brought American's face to face with what we fear most-the end of democracy. Questions about such delays were prompted by Attorney General, John Ashcroft and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge's announcement that Al Qaeda was planning on attacking the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Since that time there has been a flurry of news and announcements that only serve to make things a little more confusing. To truly understand what is happening we must look at the facts. We must examine the words of those in power to see what they are trying to accomplish and compare that to what they have accomplished in the past.
We will start at the beginning, with Ridge's announcement and work forward from there. We will examine preparations for state sponsored violence in Boston and New York for the upcoming Democratic and Republican National Conventions, as well as briefly viewing the positions the Democrats and Republicans have taken. Finally, we will view the mechanisms and the real possibilities of delay or cancellation of the election.
He's a Terrorist, She's a Terrorist
The existence of information that the United States would soon be attacked was first announced on May 26th, shortly before the G8 Summit in Sea Island, Georgia. At that time it was declared that the G8 Summit, Democratic National Convention (DNC), and Republican National Convention (RNC) would all be targets of terrorist attacks according to credible intelligence. At that time the Governor of Georgia declared a state of emergency allowing the National Guard to begin military patrols in the streets of small Georgia towns.
Is it any coincidence that all three events are the sites of mass protests by Americans against their government? Could this call for heightened security simply have been a measure to scare away protestors and give those in authority greater power to deal with them? Quite likely. It worked well at the G8 Summit. Only 600 protestors actually showed up.
We know that this call for heightened security was false. On June 1st, former CIA Analyst, Ray McGovern wrote about the fact that the intelligence gathered to show that an Al Qaeda operative had disclosed plans of an impending attack, was not what it appeared to be.
"….the 'Al Qaeda spokesman' was actually 'Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades'- a fact later conceded with some embarrassment by the FBI. According to a senior U.S. intelligence official, this 'group' may consist of no more than one person with a fax machine. The 'Brigades' have nonetheless claimed responsibility for the power blackout in the Northeast last year, a power outage in London, and the March 11 train bombings in Madrid. NBC news analyst Roger Cressey, a former deputy to counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke, notes, 'The only thing they haven't claimed credit for recently is the cicada invasion of Washington'" (McGovern).
Nonetheless, on July 2nd the Justice Department, Department of Homeland security, and CIA again insisted that there would be terrorist attacks at the DNC or RNC. The difference is that Al Qaeda is believed to no longer be an organization of Muslim Arab extremists, but includes members of African countries as well. "Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation are also starting to conduct interviews in communities where potential terrorists might seek to blend in with local populations" (Johnston). In other words the FBI is now interrogating members of African-American communities across the country to find out if they are connected with terrorists. The African-American community has a long history of resistance to authoritarianism in the American political system. Is it possible that this is the reason they are being "interviewed?"
If people of color who are politically active are being openly viewed as having connections to Al-Qaeda, what does that mean for other concerned Americans? Pasquale J. D'Amuro, Director of the FBI's New York office has announced that 1100 agents have been assigned to collect information on people. They are working in conjunction with a consortium of police and law enforcement agencies from ten states (Johnston). We now know that the average activist is considered a potential terrorist because of a widely publicized incident in New York. On July 8th, two NYPD officers arrived at the home of the parents of a local activist who was planning on attending protests at the DNC. They disclosed to the activist's parents that they had obtained his school and medical records as part of their surveillance of him. They were advised to warn their son not to go to Boston to protest (Vamont).
Activists exercising their First Amendment rights are being viewed, not only as enemies of the state, but as possibly being Al Qaeda terrorists. This paranoia extends so far that, according to Urszula Masny-Latos of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), Senator John Kerry's Secret Service has approached several building owners in Boston to ask if they can place snipers on their roofs during the DNC. It is very disturbing to think that members of our own government view the citizens as such a threat that they would see killing them as a viable option.
At one time it may have been possible that an event like the DNC was viewed as an opportunity for American citizens to interact with the political process, indeed, to take part in the electoral process that we are guaranteed in a democracy. Kerry's Secret Service and the FBI do not see it that way. They have ordered the closing of the public transit system and closure of over forty miles of roads within five miles of the convention.
If anyone should happen to be on the transit system when it is working, they are advised to call the police about suspicious people. Their definition of suspicious includes nervousness, sweating, and baggy clothes (MBTA). Effective, July 17th, the police will begin searching anyone carrying a package (Transit). Anybody approached by the police on the transit system is encouraged to call the NLG Police Accountability Project at 617.227.6015. Keep in mind that the Supreme Court recently ruled that it is illegal to withhold your name from an officer (Holland).
Clearly, both the Republicans and Democrats are afraid of the American people, and with good reason. They are both extremely irresponsible when it comes to the lives and well-being of the people of this country. We tend to focus on the wrong doings of the Republicans simply because Mr. Bush sits in the Oval Office, but the Democrats have a trail of bodies behind them as well.
We should not forget that it was the neo-liberal policies of President Bill Clinton which brought our country further into conflict with developing countries. Clinton was definitely not a peace loving president. His policies were responsible for the deaths of more than half a million children in Iraq. It was also under his watch that civilians were slaughtered in bombings of both Iraq and Kosovo.
Senator John Kerry is no exception. It has been reported that he is vetting Zbigniew Brzezinski for a cabinet position in his administration (Dreyfuss). Brzezinski is known for writing the book The Grand Chessboard, in which he outlines eight imperatives for global domination by the United States. Kerry also voted in favor of the invasion of Iraq when it was clear that the Bush regime had not made a case for invasion. It has even been observed that his speeches about the war are very similar to the speeches given by Richard Nixon during his presidential campaign (Stanton).
His similarity to Nixon may be more than is comfortable to admit. People often forget that Nixon's involvement in the Watergate scandal was preceded by an election he lost to John F. Kennedy, in which it is generally believed that voting fraud in Chicago accounted for part of Kennedy's victory.
It is well documented by this point that George W. Bush and his henchmen were responsible for what many call an election coup in 2000. Several forms of voting fraud took place including disenfranchising more than 50,000 African-American voters in Florida (Unprecedented). Since presuming the office of president, George W. Bush has been at the head of a very successful effort to create the most powerful government in American history with regard to government interaction with citizens. It is not logical to believe that Bush would be playing by the rules in the 2004 election. Why would he give up the power?
Likewise, it would not be logical to believe that Kerry believes Bush will play by the rules. This is not to say that he also has some election fraud schemes up his sleeve, but it would not be surprising. There is far too much at stake in the amount of power that will be available to whoever wins the ability to sit in the White House in the next term. Of course, the very idea of both candidates trying to rig the election is purely circumstantial, but there is never evidence of this type of activity until it actually takes place. We will just have to wait and see.
Canceling the Election
When John Ashcroft and Tom Ridge warn us that terrorists are going to attack the DNC and RNC, it would seem they really mean there will be protests against the events. With the amount of blood on the hands of both candidates, it is understandable that they would fear the same treatment they have given others. This fear is not terribly realistic. American activist culture is almost completely non-violent. Outside of this, most American's are so disgusted with politics that they simply do not want to be involved. Low voter turnouts are not apathy so much as mass protest votes. Rather than voting for the lesser of two evils, most Americans would rather not vote for evil at all.
As Ray McGovern stated, "I do not suggest they would be perverse enough to allow one [terrorist attack] to happen, or-still less-to orchestrate one. But there is ample reason to believe that they would take full political advantage of a terrorist attack-or even just the threat of one." If a terrorist attack were to take place, or if the great American propaganda machine can make police riots at the DNC and RNC appear to be more than they are. It is possible that they could spin the murder of activists by Secret Service snipers in their favor and begin charging peaceful activists for terrorism, thus creating the terrorist threat that they claim exists.
Is it realistic to believe that Bush will take illegal steps to remain in power? Urszula Masny-Latos seems to think so. "If Bush is losing, will he declare Marshal Law? We don't know. Can he do it? Of course he can." This might sound like an oversimplification of the situation, but let's look again at Tom Ridge's request for election delay plans. Was he asking for new laws to be enacted? No. If the president declares a national emergency, as Bush did after the September 11th attacks, the election can be delayed or cancelled. The legality of this is very fuzzy (Pitt) simply because there has never been a leader of this country who was willing to take the step of canceling an election (Abraham Lincoln refused to do it during the Civil War, believing that it would end Democracy). Ridge was asking for clarification on how to proceed once a seemingly planned national emergency is declared.
Unfortunately, such an event would not be something that Congress would have the power to change. Under Executive Order 11921, written by Gerald Ford, Congress has no ability to review the National Emergency for six months (Pitt). As we have seen since the 2000 election, six months can change everything.
What if the regime is unable to portray protests at the DNC or RNC in a way that would facilitate a call for a National Emergency? They have other plans as well.
The last two weeks of July are an important time for Bush. If he can draw media attention away from the DNC by something as spectacular as the capture of Osama Bin-Laden, he might not need to cancel the election. In fact one of his aides stated that, "It would be best, if the arrest or killing of HVT [High Value Target such as Bin Laden] were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July" (Weissman). So far the hunt has not gone so well.
Another option is to incite an attack against the US military by a new enemy. On July 16th, seven aircraft carriers rendezvoused near Hawaii for the Rim Pacific (RIMPAC) '04 exercises. Never in history has such a large concentration of naval power been collected. Vessels from six other countries are joining the American fleet to take part (Barber). Taiwan is also reported to be taking part in the exercises. The Chinese are somewhat worried by this development and see it as a direct threat. They admit that they do not have the military strength to take on seven carriers. In response, the Chinese have started a program to increase military strength in order to have that ability within ten years (Johnson).
Also on July 16th, The New York Times printed an article about China not being a true democracy. The article stresses that Jiang Zemin, former Chinese president is still in control of the country and claims that he views himself "as having entered the pantheon of Communist giants, along with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping…." (Kahn). The article goes on to explain that Zemin's position as unofficial leader of China are leading to a possible power conflict within China as well as a military conflict with Taiwan. Is it possible that this article is propaganda to back an upcoming military conflict with China? If so this is a conflict that could definitely create a national emergency. China does have nuclear capabilities, after all.
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, journalist for the Russian newspaper Pravda almost always refers to Mr. Bush as the American dictator in his articles. This may not be far off the mark. We could even go so far as to view the current election as a power struggle for that type of totalitarian control. Unfortunately, the American people will suffer no matter what the outcome of this struggle is.
If the Bush regime succeeds in canceling the election, the last tattered remnants of our Democratic Republic will be gone. The plan has been made public, so we, as citizens, must be very conscious of everything that occurs over the next several weeks. We must be prepared to support the victims of state violence at the DNC in Boston and at the RNC in New York no matter what the authorities say is true. It is obvious that we cannot trust them. They are fighting for power and control over our cities, our homes, and our lives.
We have witnessed the greatest expansion of power in American history, and we may very well now be seeing the ultimate result of such expansion. It is now the unfortunate choice of every American to decide where they stand. John Ashcroft once warned that "if you are not with us, you are against us." Such dualistic thinking and reactionary political strategies have forced everyone in this country into one of two categories. Now you either support the oppression of the American people and the end of the Democratic Republic, or you support the rights of all Americans to speak their minds, to have the ability to vote, whether or not they choose to, and to be involved in the electoral process at all stages. Every one of us has the ability to help determine the outcome of this crisis. It is important that we all make the decision before it is made for us, as the course of our individual lives hang in the balance.
Copyright © 2004 by Brandon Batzloff
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