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War on Terrorism or Police State? (by Rep. Cynthia McKinney

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    July 25, 2002 War on Terrorism or Police State? by Rep. Cynthia McKinney http://www.counterpunch.org/mckinney0725.html The attacks of September 11th, 2001
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 29, 2002
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      July 25, 2002

      War on Terrorism or Police State?

      by Rep. Cynthia McKinney


      The attacks of September 11th, 2001 caused significant changes throughout
      our society. For our military services, this included increased force
      protection, greater security, and of course the deployment to and
      prosecution of the War on Terrorism in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Sadly,
      one of the first acts of our President was to waive the high deployment
      overtime pay of our servicemen and women who are serving on the front
      lines of our new War. The Navy estimates that the first year costs of this
      pay would equal about 40 cruise missiles. The total cost of this overtime
      pay may only equal about 300 cruise missiles, yet this Administration said
      it would cost too much to pay our young men and women what the Congress
      and the previous Administration had promised them.

      In another ironic twist, the War on Terrorism has the potential to bring
      the US military into American life as never before. A Northern Command has
      been created to manage the military's activity within the continental
      United States. Operation Noble Eagle saw combat aircraft patrolling the
      air above major metropolitan areas, and our airports are only now being
      relieved of National Guard security forces. Moreover, there is a growing
      concern that the military will be used domestically, within our borders,
      with intelligence and law enforcement mandates as some now call for a
      review of the Posse Comitatus Act prohibitions on military activity within
      our country.

      In the 1960s, the lines between illegal intelligence, law enforcement and
      military practices became blurred as Americans wanting to make America a
      better place for all were targeted and attacked for political beliefs and
      political behavior. Under the cloak of the Cold War, military intelligence
      was used for domestic purposes to conduct surveillance on civil rights,
      social equity, antiwar, and other activists. In the case of Dr. Martin
      Luther King, Jr., Operation Lantern Spike involved military intelligence
      covertly operating a surveillance operation of the civil rights leader up
      to the time of his assassination. In a period of two months, recently
      declassified documents on Operation Lantern Spike indicate that 240
      military personnel were assigned in the two months of March and April to
      conduct surveillance on Dr. King. The documents further reveal that 16,900
      man-hours were spent on this assignment. Dr. King had done nothing more
      than call for black suffrage, an end to black poverty, and an end to the
      Vietnam War. Dr. King was the lantern of justice for America: spreading
      light on issues the Administration should have been addressing. On April
      4, 1968, Dr. King's valuable point of light was snuffed out. The documents
      I have submitted for the record outline the illegal activities of the FBI
      and its CoIntelPro program. A 1967 memo from J. Edgar Hoover to 22 FBI
      field offices outlined the COINTELPRO program well: "The purpose of this
      new counterintelligence endeavor is to expose, disrupt, misdirect, or
      otherwise neutralize" black activist leaders and organizations.

      As a result of the Church Committee hearings, we later learned that the
      FBI and other government authorities were conducting black bag operations
      that included illegally breaking and entering private homes to collect
      information on individuals. FBI activities included "bad jacketing," or
      falsely accusing individuals of collaboration with the authorities. It
      included the use of paid informants to set up on false charges targeted
      individuals. And it resulted in the murder of some individuals. Geronimo
      Pratt Ji Jaga spent 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. And
      in COINTELPRO documents subsequently released, we learn that Fred Hampton
      was murdered in his bed while his pregnant wife slept next to him after a
      paid informant slipped drugs in his drink.

      Needless to say, such operations were well outside the bounds of what
      normal citizens would believe to be the role of the military, and the
      Senate investigations conducted by Senator Frank Church found that to be
      true. Though the United States was fighting the spread of communism in the
      face of the Cold War, the domestic use of intelligence and military assets
      against its own civilians was unfortunately reminiscent of the police
      state built up by the Communists we were fighting.

      We must be certain that the War on Terrorism does not threaten our
      liberties again. Amendments to H.R. 4547, the Costs of War Against
      Terrorism Act, that would increase the role of drug interdiction task
      forces to include counter intelligence, and that would increase the
      military intelligence's ability to conduct electronic and financial
      investigations, can be the first steps towards a return to the abuses of
      constitutional rights during the Cold War. Further, this bill includes
      nearly $2 billion in additional funds for intelligence accounts. When
      taken into account with the extra-judicial incarceration of thousands of
      immigration violators, the transfer of prisoners from law enforcement
      custody to military custody, and the consideration of a 'volunteer'
      terrorism tip program, America must stand up and protect itself from the
      threat not only of terrorism, but of a police state of its own.

      There does exist a need to increase personnel pay accounts, replenish
      operations and maintenance accounts and replace lost equipment. The
      military has an appropriate role in protecting the United States from
      foreign threats, and should remain dedicated to preparing for those
      threats. Domestic uses of the military have long been prohibited for good
      reason, and the same should continue to apply to all military functions,
      especially any and all military intelligence and surveillance. Congress
      and the Administration must be increasingly vigilant towards the
      protection of and adherence to our constitutional rights and privileges.
      For, if we win the war on terrorism, but create a police state in the
      process, what have we won?

      Cynthia McKinney represents Georgia's Fourth Congressional District. This
      is article is a reprint of her remarks before the House Armed Services
      Committee on H.R. 4547, The Costs of War Against Terrorism Act.

      She can be reached at: cymck@...

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