Will Grigg, the editor of Pro Libertate, has a new e-zine. Will ran a piece of mine in his initial issue. Will does great work – I hope people check out his hot new ‘Net publication here.
“Liberating” Iran, Enslaving the USA
The price of “regime change” in Iran might be the loss of what remains of our constitutional republic.
By James Bovard, Contributing Writer
The Bush administration is reportedly considering the use of tactical nuclear weapons against suspected Iranian nuclear facilities. Many people have commented on how the U.S. military is already overstretched and cannot afford another major war. But little attention has been focused on how the American political system is also at the breaking point.
If the U.S. attacks Iran, experts predict that Hezbollah and other terrorist groups will launch counterattacks against American targets here and abroad. Hezbollah is widely perceived as being far better organized than was Al Qaeda in 2001. Hezbollah’s attacks drove the U.S. military out of Beirut in the early 1980s and helped drive the Israeli Defense Force out of Lebanon in 2000 and again in 2006. Can the federal government defend Americans against a competent, determined terrorist opponent? Unfortunately, numerous reports by the Government Accountability Office and other federal auditors reveal that U.S. antiterrorism defenses continue to be little more than bureaucratic papier mache:
*In late 2005, undercover federal investigators smuggled enough radioactive material through U.S. checkpoints on the Canadian and Mexican borders to build two “dirty” bombs.
* Transportation Security Administration airport screeners are as incompetent at detecting weapons and other threat objects as were the private screeners on the job in 2001, according to an Inspector General report last year.
*The Homeland Security Department is one of the worst managed conglomerations in the history of modern Washington. The department’s response to Hurricane Katrina mixed equal parts farce and fraud. And a major terrorist attack will not be show up on radar screens and lumber along at 35 miles per hour for days prior to impact.
Attacking Iran will put American civilians in the terrorist crosshairs, with little or no federal Kevlar to protect them. The key question is not whether terrorists will attack but how the American people will likely respond and how politicians could exploit the situation.
There is no reason to expect the American people to be less docile than they were after 9/11. The percentage of Americans who trusted the government to do the right thing most of the time doubled in the week after 9/11. It became fashionable to accuse critics of Bush administration policies of being traitors or terrorist sympathizers. Each time the feds issued a new warning of a terrorist threat after 9/11, the president’s approval rating rose by an average of almost 3 percent, according to a Cornell University study. The craving for a protector dropped an Iron Curtain around many people’s minds, preventing them from accepting evidence that would shred his political security blanket.
The Bush administration has a record of exploiting terrorist attacks to seize nearly boundless power. After the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration effectively temporarily suspended habeas corpus, railroaded the Patriot Act through Congress, authorized warrantless domestic wiretaps, and nullified restrictions on torture by the CIA and U.S. Military. The Bush administration now claims that the Authorization to Use Military Force resolution passed by Congress in September 2001 raised the president’s power above the Bill of Rights.
If there are new terror attacks at home, how much more latent presidential power will administration lawyers claim to discover within the penumbra of the Constitution? How broad would the roundup of suspects be? How many years would it be until Americans learned of how much power the government had seized? Is there any reason to expect that a series of attacks would not quickly result in attempts to proclaim de facto martial law?
While the Bush administration is seeking to create a sense of urgency regarding the Iranian nuclear program, a U.S. National Intelligence Estimate estimated that Iran is 10 years away from manufacturing a nuclear bomb. But Bush is seeking to stir up a crisis regardless.
If Bush does bomb Iran, the chain reaction could wreck American democracy. The Bush administration shows no signs of developing either an allergy to power or an addiction to truth. The American republic cannot afford to permit a president to remain above the law and the Constitution indefinitely. Anything that raises the odds of a terror attack reduces the odds of reining in the government.
James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy and 8 other books.
(Copyright James Bovard 2007)