Democracy in the U.S. in Danger?

Oh boy – there’s nothing like catching up on the news after a few days at the beach. As the credit crisis is in the process of turning the global economy into a lump of coal, the divisive language of the election here is stoking emotions in each political camp. This is a dangerous brew, and in the midst of this, Democracy Now has an update on the Army Brigade Combat Team assigned to NORTHCOM. Colonel Michael Boatner tries to reassure folks that this is just to protect them, say, a “WMD-like event.” Matt Rothschild raises some important concerns with deploying an active Army unit on U.S. soil, like the National Security Presidential Directive 51, in which the administration asserts broad powers to declare a catastrophic emergency and for the executive branch (= the President) to take over government.

Another issue is this question: why is this unit a combat unit? If “the primary purpose of this force is to provide help to people in need in the aftermath of a WMD-like event in the homeland” as Boatner states, why are they training Army grunts, fresh from Iraq, in the use of tasers and rubber bullets? Naomi Wolf argues that this is already a coup d’état – that the Bushistas are getting ready to take over.

So one might argue that ONE brigade is only about 3000 – 4000 soldiers – albeit heavily armed, combat experienced soldiers. But there are thousands of Blackwater mercenaries all over the country. They just need a few regular troops deployed to give them legal cover and they can operate with a LOT of – uh – discretion. The mercenaries are practically unaccountable, as the Iraqi’s have experienced. Combine that with the current financial crisis, the hastily passed “bailout” and the billions of discretionary dollars allocated to the President in that piece of legislation, and you are looking at a fairly typical blueprint for the closing of an open society – or a coup d’état: scare the legislature into giving the head of state more power, deploy an army in the country, declare martial law and voilà – George has his own little banana republic!

NOT IN AMERICA though – right?! Yeah, but Democracy has been under threat in this country before. And don’t get me wrong – I am not pretending that I think I know what’s happening. I just try not to pretend nothing is happening. And I suggest we all stay very, very vigilant.

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