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Bush Zones Go National | The Nation

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Bush Zones Go National

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The Bushites are using federal, state and local police to conduct an undeclared war against dissent, literally incarcerating Americans who publicly express their disagreements with him and his policies. The ACLU and others have now sued Bush's Secret Service for its ongoing pattern of repressing legitimate, made-in-America protest, citing cases in Arizona, California, Virginia, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Texas--and coming soon to a theater near you!

Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush by Jim Hightower. Copyright © 2004 by James Hightower.

CLARIFICATION: In Jim Hightower's "Bush Zones Go National" (Aug. 16/23) the FBI internal newsletter referred to in a discussion of spying on Americans is not contemporary; it dates from 1971. (9/2/04)

About the Author

Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower has been called America's favorite populist. He's been editor of The Texas Observer, president of the...

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This old American democratic tradition already has deep support at the grassroots.

People are wriggling free of the fetters of corporate culture.

If incarceration is not enough to deter dissenters, how about some old-fashioned goon-squad tactics like infiltration and intimidation of protesters? In May of 2002 Ashcroft issued a decree terminating a quarter-century-old policy that bans FBI agents from spying on Americans in their political meetings and churches.

Not only were federal agents "freed" by Bush and his attack dog Ashcroft to violate the freedoms (assembly, speech, privacy) of any and all citizens, but they were encouraged to do so. This unleashing of the FBI was done in the name of combating foreign terrorists. The Bushites loudly scoffed at complaints that agents would also be used to spy on American citizens for political purposes having nothing to do with terrorism. While officials scoffed publicly, however, an internal FBI newsletter quietly encouraged agents to increase surveillance of antiwar groups, saying that there were "plenty of reasons" for doing so, "chief of which it will enhance the paranoia endemic in such circles and will further service to get the point across that there is an FBI agent behind every mailbox."

Likewise, in May of last year, the Homeland Security Department waded butt-deep into the murky waters of political suppression, issuing a terrorist advisory to local law enforcement agencies. It urged all police officials to keep a hawk-eyed watch on any homelanders who [

Warning:

Do not read the rest of this sentence if it will shock you to learn that there are people like this in your country!] have "expressed dislike of attitudes and decisions of the US government."

MEMO TO TOM RIDGE, SECRETARY OF HSD: Sir, that's everyone. All 280 million of us, minus George Bush, you and the handful of others actually making the decisions. You've just branded every red-blooded American a terrorist. Maybe you should stick to playing with your color codes.

Last November, Ashcroft weighed back in with new federal guidelines allowing the FBI to make what amount to pre-emptive spying assaults on people. Much like the nifty Bush-Rumsfeld doctrine of attacking countries to pre-empt the possibility that maybe, someday, some way, those countries might pose a threat to the United States, the Bush-Ashcroft doctrine allows government gumshoes to spy on citizens and noncitizens alike without any indication that the spied-upon people are doing anything illegal. The executive directive gives the FBI authority to collect "information on individuals, groups, and organizations of possible investigative interest."

The language used by Ashcroft mouthpiece Mark Corallo to explain this directive is meant to be reassuring, but it is Orwell-level scary: What it means, says Corallo, is that agents "can do more research." "It emphasizes early intervention" and "allows them to be more proactive." Yeah, they get to do all that without opening a formal investigation (which sets limits on the snooping), much less bothering to get any court approval for their snooping. A proactive secret police is rarely a positive for people.

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