Fear Is Eroding American Rights

June 09, 2009
By Paul Craig Roberts

The power of irrational fear in the US is extraordinary. It ranks up there with the Israel Lobby, the military/security complex, and the financial gangsters. Indeed, fear might be the most powerful force in America.

Americans are at ease with their country’s aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, which has resulted in a million dead Muslim civilians and several million refugees, because the US government has filled Americans with fear of terrorists. “We have to kill them over there before they come over here.”

Fearful of American citizens, the US government is building concentration camps apparently all over the country. According to news reports, a $385 million US government contract was given by the Bush/Cheney Regime to Cheney’s company, Halliburton, to build “detention centers” in the US. The corporate media never explained for whom the detention centers are intended.

Most Americans dismiss such reports. “It can’t happen here.” However, in north-eastern Florida not far from Tallahassee, I have seen what might be one of these camps. There is a building inside a huge open area fenced with razor wire. There is no one there and no signs. The facility appears new and unused and does not look like an abandoned prisoner work camp.

What is it for?

Who spent all that money for what?

There are Americans who are so terrified of their lives being taken by terrorists that they are hoping the US government will use nuclear weapons to destroy “the Muslim enemy.” The justifications concocted for the use of nuclear bombs against Japanese civilian populations have had their effect. There are millions of Americans who wish “their” government would kill everyone that “their” government has demonized.

When I tell these people that they will die of old age without ever seeing a terrorist, they think I am insane. Don’t I know that terrorists are everywhere in America? That’s why we have airport security and homeland security. That’s why the government is justified in breaking the law to spy on citizens without warrants. That’s why the government is justified to torture people in violation of US law and the Geneva Conventions. If we don’t torture them, American cities will go up in mushroom clouds. Dick Cheney tells us this every week.

Terrorists are everywhere. “They hate us for our freedom and democracy.” When I tell America’s alarmed citizens that the US has as many stolen elections as any country and that our civil liberties have been eroded by “the war on terror” they lump me into the terrorist category. They automatically conflate factual truth with anti-Americanism.

The same mentality prevails with regard to domestic crime. Most Americans, including, unfortunately, juries, assume that if the police make a case against a person and a prosecutor prosecutes it, the defendant is guilty. Most Americans are incapable of believing that police or a prosecutor would frame an innocent person for career or bureaucratic reasons or out of pure meanness.

Yet, it happens all the time. Indeed, it is routine.

Frame-ups are so routine that 96% of the criminally accused will not risk a “jury of their peers,” preferring to negotiate a plea bargain agreement with the prosecutor. The jury of their peers are a brainwashed lot, fearful of crime, which they have never experienced but hear about all the time. Criminals are everywhere, doing their evil deeds.

The US has a much higher percentage of its population in prison than “authoritarian” countries, such as China, a one-party state. An intelligent population might wonder how a “freedom and democracy” country could have incarceration rates far higher than a dictatorship, but Americans fail this test. The more people that are put in prison, the safer Americans feel.

Lawrence Stratton and I describe frame-up techniques in The Tyranny of Good Intentions. Police and prosecutors even frame the guilty, as it is easier than convicting them on the evidence.

One case that has been before us for years, but is resolutely neglected by the corporate media, whose function is to scare the people, is that of Troy Davis.

Troy Davis was convicted of killing a police officer. The only evidence connecting him to the crime is the testimony of “witnesses,” the vast majority of whom have withdrawn their testimony. The witnesses say they testified falsely against Troy Davis because of police intimidation and coercion.

One would think that this would lead to a new hearing and trial. But not in America. The Republican judicial Nazis have created the concept of “finality.” Even if the evidence shows that a wrongfully convicted person is innocent, finality requires that we execute him. If the convicted person is executed, we can assume he was guilty, because America has a pure justice system and never punishes the innocent. Everyone in prison and everyone executed is guilty. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be in prison or executed.

It is all very simple if you are an American. America is pure, but other countries, except for our allies, are barbaric.

The same goes for our wars. Everyone we kill, whether they are passengers on Serbian commuter trains or attending weddings, funerals, or children playing soccer in Iraq, is a terrorist, or we would not have killed them. So was the little girl who was raped by our terrorist-fighting troops and then murdered, brutally, along with her family.

America only kills terrorists. If we kill you, you are a terrorist.

Americans are the salt of the earth. They never do any wrong. Only those other people do. Not the Israelis, of course.

And police, prosecutors, and juries never make mistakes. Everyone accused is guilty.

Fear has made every American a suspect, eroded our rights, and compromised our humanity.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by French President Francois Mitterrand. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice.

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