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Coup d‘ Etat in Washington

and Silent Surrender in America and the World

by Andre Gunder Frank (*)


Be wary of conspiracy theories, beware of real conspiracies, and be aware of a grab of power. It has happened in Washington and its instigators are pursuing a policy of faits accomplis that attracts ever more people to jump on the band wagon. Pat Buchanan however says that it has already offended much of the American public. The Bush administration has made a real Coup d‘Etat and achieved its apparently unknowing acceptance by America and the World. Even Hitler and Mussolini came to power by electoral routes and Stalin and Latin American dictators had to resort to violence to make their coups d‘etat. Bush and his small coterie required none of these to get to the seat of power. Since then, he has repeatedly and grossly violated his oath of office to „preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.“

The Coup

To begin with, Bush‘s accession to the Presidency was in violation to the Constitution. It is not that he received a minority of the popular vote, because the Constitution provides for the President‘s election by the Electoral College. But Bush received the Electoral College vote by fraud, for he lost the decisive popular and thereby electoral vote in Florida. His brother Jeb as Governor of Florida with the help of Mrs Harris as Secretary of State [ who it has been alleged without evidence was his lover, but who certainly herself declared that she expected high political favors for her actions] first deprived hundreds of thousands of black and presumably Democratic voters of the vote through incarceration, intimidation, and other means. The Republican Cuban Mafia sent its goon squads physically to prevent a recount in Broward County. Mrs. Harris did all she could, which was plenty, to interfere with recounts in other counties in Florida. The alleged recounts that were made were a sham. They only recounted votes that were NOT counted in the first count by voters who had been unable to punch holes all the way through the voting cards without leaving the infamous hanging chads. Yet much more importantly one either before the decision or afterwards when the newspapers did it again, NO one ever recounted the votes that HAD been for the Democrats but were discounted because voter mistakenly also punched a second hole on a confusing ballot. Yet even the third and most conservative candidate Pat Buchanan declared publicly that these duplicate votes in heavily Jewish and Democratic counties were surely not for him but for the Democratic Party candidate. These votes [or even half of them if they had been allotted also to other candidates] would have given a decisive majority of the popular vote and therefore of the Electoral College votes in Florida to the Democrats. Yet they were never counted or recounted for the Democrats.

In the end Bush was not elected, but was SElected in the Supreme Court by the decisive political swing vote of Justice Kennedy. Justice Scalia‘s vote was already in the bag and he had two sons working for the Bush campaign. The Supreme Court‘s appeal to the 14th amendment, which guarantees due process of Law to all, was ironically biased. For it was selectively applied without due process to squash the popular vote in Florida, but the same due process procedures were not applied to challenged votes in any other State. That in itself was already a de facto coup d‘ etat.

Then, several members of the House of Representatives called for a challenge of the Electoral College under Constitutional provisions that permit the Congress to do so if the challenge has the support of at least one member of both houses. Yet they were not joined by even a single Senator, who would have made the challenge legally effective. In other words, the Congress simply acquiesced to this power grab by the Bush administration through a Coup d‘etat with the help of the Supreme Court but in clear violation to the Constitution. That was the beginning of the violation of the Constitutional separation of powers and checks and balances. Since then, the Bush administration has carried these violations farther than any previous one in the history of the United States. Not even President Lincoln in the Civil War, nor President Roosevelt in the Second World War nor his previous attempt to stack the Supreme Court, ever grabbed and concentrated as much power for the executive branch while marginalizing the Legislative branch and the Judiciary.

Beware of Conspiracy Theories. But be aware that it was really Vice-President elect Dick Cheney who then put together the Bush Administration, selecting whom to place in which positions of power, especially in defense affairs. And beware of PNAC, the Project for a New American Century, which was already lobbying Washington with their plans for a „Pax Americana“ in 1992, 1997, and 2000 among other notable dates. PNAC issued a long report in September of 2000 entitled „Rebuilding America‘s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century.“ Its statement of principles calls for a massive increase in military power, U.S. military domination of Eurasia to prevent the rise of hostile powers; and pre-emptive [not just pre-ventive] military action against states suspected of developing weapons of mass destruction. PNAC‘s prescriptions have been converted into official US policy and praxis by the Bush Administration.

PNAC founding members and signatories of its statements include - Cheyney himself, - Lewis Libby, Cheney‘s top national security assistant and now the Vice-President‘s chief-of-staff - Donald Rumsfeld, also a founding member, now Secretary of Defense - Paul Wolfowitz, now Deputy Defense Secretary and arguably the groups ideologue - Elliot Abrams, pardoned by Bush Sr. in the Iran/Contra scandal and now member of the National Security Council - John Bolton, Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security - Richard Perle, the most outspoken hawk in the Reagan administration who advocates dumping the United Nations, then chairman of the powerful Defense Policy Board, who was forced to resign one of his positions over a conflict of interest scandal, - Randy Scheunemann, President of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, who was Trent Lott‘s national security aide and who served as an advisor to Rumsfeld on Iraq in 2001 - Bruce Jackson, now Chairman of PNAC and former vice president of weapons manufacturer Lockheed-Martin who headed the Republican Party Platform subcommittee for National Security where he called for - as had Wolfowitz for some years - the removal of Saddam Hussein - William Kristol, noted conservative writer for the Weekly Standard, a magazine owned along with the most hawkish Fox News Network by Ruppert Murdoch - Norman Podhoretz, editor of the right wing Commentary - and others, like Robert Kaplan and Douglas Feith.

The core group of PNAC now hold the highest positions of policy making power in the Pentagon and much of it in the White House. They have also planted one of their group in the State Department to keep an eye and check on Colin Powell who is the only major foreign policy player who is not a member of this inner sanctum. An interesting sidelight is that Wolfowitz, Perle and Feith also went to Isralel to serve as advisors to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon‘s party, for whom they drew up a battle plan against the Palestinians. Behind them lies the strange ideological bed-fellow political alliance of two of the most powerful lobbies in the United States: Organized Zionism and Christian Fundamentalism. For good measure, throw in the Cuban Mafia as well.

Another matter to consider are some of the connections of these same people with the private sector. Two examples should suffice to give a general idea. Cheney was chairman of Haliburton Inc., which in turn owns Brown & Root and other habitual contractors of the Defense Department for major construction and/or petroleum projects around the world. One of these companies was awarded a 1 Billion dollar contract to re-build the Iraqi oil fields in case they should be damaged in the war. Another, of which the now „Prime Minister“ of Afghanistan was a director, is first in line to build the proposed oil and gas pipeline across Afghanistan from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean. The Bush family and George W. Bush himself have long standing business relations with the Carlyle Group, which also represents the Bin Laden family, including Osama, with whom they have also maintained direct relations.

The White House and the Executive Branch generally has made full use of its new power to serve its economic and political allies. Those who made the largest campaign contributions have been handsomely rewarded with government hand-outs and regulations, or rather de-regulation. The Bush administration has issued at least 200 separate executive orders to roll back regulations enacted by previous administrations, even Republican ones, to protect the environment and/or Public Health and Safety. Executive Order has received a whole new meaning: Special interests write an order that is passed to the President for his signature, whereby mostly without knowing what he is doing he converts it into an Executive Order.

The Pentagon has petitioned the White House to exempt it from existing environmental protection regulations that hamper their disposal of spent munitions and other hardware and thereby interfere with ‚‚national security. „The President deliberately appointed as Secretary of the Interior a person known for her ties to the timber and oil industries to whose exploitation she seeks to open thousands of acres of federally owned lands as well as the Alaska Wilderness for the construction of a new pipe-line - all in the interest of course of ‚‚national security.“

The Bill of Rights and Constitution

More serious still, the Bush administration has shredded the Bill of Rights, abrogated the Constitution, and even violates the age - old common law of Habeas Corpus, which prohibits the detention and holding of anybody against his will without due process of law. Elsewhere in the Executive Branch, President Bush appointed and lent full support to Attorney General John Ashcroft who was already known for his racist and authoritarian inclinations. Although many Senators had doubts about his appointment, the Senate ratified it anyway. Since then, Attorney General Ashcroft and his staff have converted several arms of the Department of Justice into those of a police state. The Executive has encouraged and permitted the Attorney General and the Department of Justice Judiciary Branch to violate the Bill of Rights and the Constitution on multiple counts. For instance, the US Government already claims the right to monitor all e-mail and to bug telephone conversations without specific judicial permission.

The Bush Administration brought Admiral Poindexter back into government after his participation in the Iran-Contra Scandal and lying about it to Congress. His new mission is a project, called Total Information Awareness (TIA): to develop computers to monitor „vast quantities of data generated by US civilians in their daily lives: Academic transcripts, ATM receipts, prescription drugs, telephone calls, driving licences, airline tickets, parking permits, mortgage payments, banking records, emails, website visits and credit card slips“ [The Guardian November 23, 2002]. In critique of all this and the Patriot Act, only the lone voice in Congress of Representative Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) has asked „How can we justify in effect canceling - the First Amendment and the right of free speech, the right to peaceably assemble? - the Fourth Amendment, probable cause, the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure?

- the Fifth Amendment, nullifying due process, and allowing for indefinite incarceration without a trial?

- the Sixth Amendment, the right to prompt and public trial? - the Eighth Amendment, which protects against cruel and unusual punishment?“ The fourteenth amendment guaranteeing due process of law is being violated every day.

And Justice for all?

The Constitution makes all the rights it guarantees extensive to anybody in the US, but the Attorney General has declared that non- citizens are not worthy of protection by the Constitution. We do not know yet how much of a loss that is because the Department of Justice and its Immigration and Naturalization Service[INS] have also proposed to divest naturalized and even native-born American Citizens of their citizenship, again in clear violation of the Constitution. And even those who remain citizens are under constant threat to have their rights violated without due process under the fourteenth amendment, or to be detained in violation of Habeas Corpus. They are denied representation by legal counsel and trial in civil courts, as provided for by the Constitution. In particular, hundreds of thousands of American residents and Citizens of Arab descent or even of features that appear to individual agents of the Department of Justice or the police‘s racial profiling as perhaps being Arab, or Muslim, or who knows what else have been called in for questioning. When they appeared in Los Angles, they were detained without charge. They now live in constant fear of the infamous knock on the door at 3 AM that was made infamous by Hitler‘s Gestapo and Stalin‘s GPU. That is so if they are even favored by a knock on the door before a blast of gunfire of shooting first and asking questions later, which has also happened.

So far as we know of over 700 people who have remained in detention since September 2001; though there may be many more, since nobody knows or says where they are, or who they are, or what they are accused of. Indeed, only a dozen of these have ever been charged with anything. The others remain out of sight and out of mind except for their families who are not allowed even to secure legal representation for them. So do the innocent Afghani prisoners brought in shackles to Guantanamo where it still keeps them without accounting to anybody, and the countless ones still detained under horrible conditions in Afghanistan. How come there is no public outcry about any of these? Instead, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS reports on June 18, 2003 that Names of 9/11 Detainees Can Remain Secret, Court Rules,“ and „Attorney General John Ashcroft hailed the ruling [in which] ...for the first time in U.S. history, a court has approved secret arrests“ [].

On the other hand, the same Executive Branch has divested the Judiciary of powers and the citizenry of judicial protection by illegally transferring powers of the Judiciary to itself. Perhaps only the most visible tip of the iceberg of this process is the Bush Administration and Pentagon declaration that it will bring normally civil suits before military tribunals that operate under rules of court marshal and other procedures of Military „Justice“ that can order death sentences without appeal. Moroever, the accused do not know whereof, cannot chose legal counsel, and their conversation with whom can be overheard by the authorities. The prestigious very conservative publicist William Saffire refers to them as ‚‚kangaroo courts“ and observes that „no longer does the judicial branch and an independent jury stand between the government and the accused. In lieu of those checks and balances central to our legal system, non-citizens face an executive that is now investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury and jailer or executioner. In an Orwellian twist, Bush‘s order calls this Soviet-style abomination ‚a full and fair trial‘.“

The Land of the Free

John Ashcroft has also issued instructions to the Department of Justice to resist as far as possible the delivery of documents under the Freedom of Information Act. And the Executive itself has severely restricted the kind and number of documents of its own that it is prepared to make public. In other words, transparency and therefore control or even critique of the ever widening powers and their use by the Executive Branch is itself being severely restricted. On the other hand, the Executive Branch has multiplied its own access to information. During the congressional debate on John Ashcroft‘s USA Patriot Act, an American Civil Liberties Union fact sheet on the bill‘s assaults on the Bill of Rights revealed that Section 215 of the act „would grant FBI agents across the country breathtaking authority to obtain an order from the FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] court . . . requiring any person or business to produce any books, records, documents, or items.“ That includes bookstores and public libraries being obliged to divulge who is reading what. This is now the law, alas, the Congress has been intimidated into passive acceptance of virtually everything and anything the Executive proposes and demands. It passed the Patriot Act that severely restricts civil liberties virtually without reading it.

The proposed Patriot Act # 2 has not even bee submitted to the Congress for study and yet the version leaked by the Press suggests that it proposes even more of a police state than the first one. When the Leader of the Democratic Majority in the Senate voiced only the mildest doubts about Bush‘s military moves, he was immediately reprimanded by his Republican Majority Leader counterpart Lott, for ‚‚how dare he criticize the President in time of war!“ Both have been forced to resign since then, but for scandals unconnected to that one. Moreover, the Executive has been more than secretive about the events and circumstances of September 11, 2001; and the Congress has not launched any serious inquiry of its own. Neither have the Media. There has not even been any public inquiry or disclosure into the failure of the Air Force or National Guard to scramble fighter aircraft to investigate the airliners that had clearly gone off course. That is every day routine standard operating procedure, but it was called off or at least not enacted during the 90 minutes that elapsed between the crash into the first World Trade Tower and the one into the Pentagon - that is IF the Pentagon was damaged by an aircraft which has been seriously questioned if only because no evidence has ever been made public that it was hit by an airplane and not, as some allege, by a missile. Nor has the government given any account of its receipt and disregard of multiple forewarnings from intelligence agencies among its allies in Pakistan, Russia, Germany, France, Israel. In other words, the very circumstances that allegedly require all these domestic and foreign responses by the Bush Administration are themselves wrapped in a shroud of self-imposed secrecy.

The violation of the Constitutional provisions for the separation of powers is particularly flagrant regarding the powers reserved to the Legislative Branch of the Congress and the Constitutional prohibition against military action in domestic civil affairs. Bush also disregards the Constitutional provision that only Congress may declare war, and it violates the 1976 War Powers act that Congress passed to regulate that Constitutional provision after it had been grossly violated in the Vietnam War. The Bush administration has de facto also abrogated the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act that prohibits military participation in the enforcement of civil law, and it violates the general Constitutional provision against the military action in domestic affairs. Instead, the Bush Administration has visibly mobilized the Armed Forces and National Guard around all US airports and elsewhere, and the Pentagon is drawing up plans for its intervention in endless domestic affairs. It stands to reason that the machine gun toting military presence in the passenger areas of airports has not added one iota to security but serves only to terrorize the public into blind and passive acceptance of the violation of their civil rights there and elsewhere. Even the government has stated repeatedly that any other terrorist attack on the US is not likely to copy that of September 11, 2001 but to take totally different forms against which this military presence would offer no defense. Indeed, it would not have prevented that of September 11 either. The pretext that the country is at war is being used as cover for US government terror of its own at home and abroad; and the country is being militarized as never before, not even in war time.

The Pentagon is extending its actions in American Civil Affairs ever more, also by establishing a new office of Under Secretary of Defense for Homeland Security, which then created a northern command to coordinate military response to domestic threats. The Pentagon also has a new Under Secretary for Intelligence, Stephen Cambone, who said the existing agencies will continue with their work but that his unit will ensure that they are meeting the intelligence needs and priorities laid out by the Pentagon, also at home [Boston Globe June 8, 2003].

Pax Americana

The Pentagon is also expanding into previously unimagined places and roles overseas. There are now well over 100 US military bases around the world, and current US military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, Colombia, the former Yugoslavia, South Korea, the Philippines, and former Soviet states such as Georgia. The latest details, disclosed by the Wall Street Journal on June 10th, include plans to increase U.S. forces in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa across the Red Sea from Yemen, setting up semi-permanent „forward bases“ in Algeria, Morocco, and possibly Tunisia, and smaller facilities in Senegal, Ghana, and Mali that could be used to intervene in oil-rich West African countries, particularly Nigeria. Similar bases--or what some call lily pads--are now being sought or expanded in northern Australia, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Kenya, Georgia, Azerbaijan, throughout Central Asia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Qatar, even Vietnam, and Iraq. The new republics in former Soviet Central Asia and the former Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe are a particularly strong magnets for U.S. military presence, and a glance at the map will show that the US is systematically encircling China. Moreover, the Pentagon military missions are marginalizing the State Department diplomatic ones, with the senior military officer having more resources and greater influence than the US ambassador [Boston Globe, June 8 2003].

Even so, the Associated Press reports on February 24 that „ senior U.S. officials have been quietly dispatched in recent days to the capitals of key Security Council countries where they are warning leaders to vote with the United States on Iraq or risk „paying a heavy price.“ Although this kind of blackmail has been SOP in all American administrations, the Bush Administration has carried the threat and practice to previously unheard of new heights. President Bush declared in his State of the Union address referring to the battle against terrorism, as John Foster Dulles had during th Cold War, essentially that those who are not with us, are against us - and will pay a heavy price.
„We are in the process of taking a fundamental look at our military posture worldwide, including in the United States,“ said Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz on a recent visit to Singapore, where he met with military chiefs and defense ministers from throughout East Asia about U.S. plans there. „We‘re facing a very different threat than any one we‘ve faced historically.“ But recall that this is the same Wolfowitz of Arabia talking who drew up his and PNAC‘s plans to face this ‚‚different threat‘‘ already in his memos of 1992, 1997 and 2000.

The Law of the West

The Busch administration has also set aside centuries of International law. It wages illegal war, prohibited by numerous international treaties and by the United Nations Charter. Indeed it makes war without even declaring it, which even Hitler took the trouble to do. The US armed forces wantonly violate Geneva conventions of crimes against humanity, genocide, weapons of mass destruction such as depleted uranium, cluster bombs, massive ‚‚Daisy Cutter“ bombs, destruction of civilian facilities to provide as power, water, and sanitation, and even neutral international waterways as when it deliberately blocked shipping on the Danube.

The Bush Administration [though Presidents Clinton and Bush Sr. also already earlier] have completely emasculated the United Nations instruments and procedures set up by the US and its allies after World War II to preserve the peace. Bush even had the gall to go to the UN and charge it with dereliction of duty and of its reputation by failing to give its stamp of approval for his War against Iraq - when the clear duty of the UN and especially of its Security Council is not to make war but to keep the peace. His government and his lackey press mislead the public into believing that a Security Council resolution could legalize his war.
The fact is that even with an SC resolution, his father‘s War against Iraq in 1991 was in clear violation of Articles 2, 27, 41, 42, 43 and 53 of the UN Charter, among others. The failure of the NATO states even to consult the UN before going to War against Yugoslavia and as did President Clinton and NATO, and then present President to wage War against Afghanistan without the slightest provocation from its government, and then to make War on Iraq in clear violation of the expressed desires of the UN membership only illustrate the total abandonment of the UN as an institution and instrument for peace. On the contrary, after the US bombs a country into shambles, it then goes to the UN to ask it to pick up the pieces, or in plain English allegedly to legitimize the US military occupation of the country it had just destroyed. But not only that, violation of international law also constitutes ipso facto violation of national law, because Senate ratification of an international treaty converts it into US law as well. Moreover, domestic democracy has been sacrificed to waging international war as well, as when NATO did so against Yugoslavia without even a single member country government troubling itself to ask its parliament or Congress for authorization to do so.

In a word, the US has replaced existing International law by new Law IN the West on the model of its own old Law OF the West. Then in the 19th century, vigilante lynch mobs formed ad hoc posses to go hang whomever they wanted; and now the US is imposing this Vigilante „Law“ on the rest of the world by force. And as the vigilantes bought off or terrorized the sheriff and the judge to ‚‚legitimize“ themselves, so is the US doing the same world wide in the real world as though in both instances following the scripts of fictitious Spaghetti Western films.

The Media

And what of the Fourth Estate - the Media? They are strictly the mouthpiece of the Administration. Note their behavior at White House, State Department, or Pentagon news conferences. All their questions are limited to technicalities about the implementation of Administration policies that are themselves accepted carte blanche. Never ever has any representative of the media posed a question that challenges the basis of the official policy in even the most timid way. Indeed, not only what the press says or does not say reflects the policy and press- releases of the Administration. The very Media selection of what is or is not ‚‚news,‘‘ e.g on the 630 Evening News of ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox, and shame on PPS for carrying the just as bad Jim Lehrer News Hour, is a simple reflection of what the White House or the State Department have declared to be ‚‚news‘‘ that morning. No matter how world shaking an event, if it has not shaken the piper, it does not merit mention by the media. But whatever the White House or the State Department declares to be news IS news.

Their pieces in the press are little better. In a survey of op-eds in the Washington POST over four months, Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman found twice as many columns for as against the war, and in February 2003 the count was 24 in favor and 10 against, while the POST itself brought 9 editorials of its own to support the war. And that was regarding a war that had the highest popular opposition ever. The TV and radio talk shows are even more dominated by defenders of Administration policy. No matter that the Administration cooks, blends, massages and even simply invents the news; as is finally emerging regarding the non-existent weapons of mass destruction, which were the alleged reason for waging War against Iraq.

The Home of the Brave from 1984 to 2003

George Orwell would have to regard his dire predictions of Big Brother for 1984 as a benign Alice in a charming Wonderland version of Animal Farm compared to the 2003 Bush and Ashcroft reality of double-think and new-speak in which however some are no longer equal than others, either at home or abroad, but still WAR IS PEACE - really - the President said so.

Zum Thema

The Project for the First People's Century versus the Project of the New American Century

Thomas Friedman und die Einbildungskraft / Von David Hartstein

American Power: A great debate has just begun / By William F. Engdahl