Government Secrets Past and Present
by LYDIA HOWELL
The CIA just released what was referred to as the “Family Jewels,” documents of how the spy agency violated its ban against spying on Americans, in the 1960s and ’70s. Dick Cheney is resisting a subpoena from the Senate Judicial Committee to turn over documents related to Bush's secret program of wiretapping Americans without getting the required special warrants. The National Security Agency and the Justice Department are also part of the subpoena. The family of Pat Tillman, NFL star-turned-soldier, killed by “friendly fire” in Afghanistan, has fought for almost three years trying to get the Pentagon—who covered up the circumstances of Tillman's death—to release documents. Where accused “terrorists” are being sent in other countries, what “interrogation” techniques (aka torture) are used, and who most of them are remains “classified.”
Like the Cold War-era of anti-communism, Bush's so-called “war on terrorism” is the latest excuse for governmental secrecy. But, unlike those Red Scare days, the Bush Administration—with Congress' collusion, until recently—the cloak of secrecy seems made of some super-duper ever-expanding fabric that just grows and grows.
Too many Americans have no historical memory and don't recognize that we've been here before. Thirty years ago, the 1975 Church Committee exposed FBI and CIA illegal surveillance of the civil rights and the anti-war movements, and CIA involvement in Nixon's Watergate-related illegal activities against political opponents. The precedent for those abuses from the 1950s to the early 1970s occurred during J. Edgar Hoover's earliest days, targeting labor union activists just after WWI in the Palmer Raids.
There's the relentless claim that “we can't let the enemy know what we're doing.” Allegedly, ''everything changed after 9/11.” But some things DIDN'T change; the government seems to always misuse and abuse surveillance powers given in the midst of a “national security” scare.
Almost six years after the 9/11 attacks, the “intelligence” about nonexistent WMDs and nuclear weapons programs is in tatters. The Iraq connections to Al-Qaeda are discredited to all. Americans see we were systematically lied to--except those who get all their news from Fox and the right-wing radio shock jocks. Can it be that skepticism, and a longing for the light of day on what the government is doing, is finally returning?
Some people still say that ''if you're not doing anything illegal, who cares if someone taps your phone, reads your mail, links up to your computer .…” What about the new CIA “Family Jewels” documents revealing that over 9,900 nonviolent Americans were spied on for opposing the Vietnam War?
How many Americans do you think are being spied on for opposing the invasion and occupation of Iraq?
It's been reported that Quaker peace groups have been under surveillance and Green Party members have been put on “no-fly” lists. As antiwar sentiment grows, the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and other governmental agencies seem to discover and foil more and more ''terrorism plots'' here in the U.S. The only problem is that these people never have any actual weapons, and their commonality seems to be that they are all Muslims and/or people of color--African-Americans and Caribbean or African immigrants-- and a Latino like Jose Padilla, driven mad by almost five years of solitary confinement and torture, without charges, trial or conviction for any crime.
Could it be that these “terror plots” are simply fear mongering, in order to gain more billions of public money for “security” and to keep expanding police state power?
Let's get real about terrorist acts. Most of them don't have the sophistication of September 11. Look at suicide bombings in Israel or Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City. From countless American landmarks to your local shopping mall, if there were actual terrorists running amok in the U.S., there would have been more actual attacks.
The real target of Bush's national security police state is dissent and political opposition, while keeping the American public in fear.
It is overdue for Americans to loudly demand that the shroud of secrecy covering government be ripped away. We can't afford to wait another 30 years to find out what the government is doing under the guise of protecting us.
For more on the CIA's Family Jewels see:
National Security Archive - Jun 21, 2007