Dear friend of Radio Liberty,
“The liberty of my country is gone, and I go after it!”
Patriot-martyr James Otis, Jr., 1769
“A man’s house is his castle; and whilst he is quiet, he is as well guarded as a prince in his castle. This writ, if it should be declared legal, would totally annihilate this privilege. Custom-house officers may enter our houses when they please; we are commanded to permit their entry. Their menial servants may enter, may break locks, bars, and everything in their way; and whether they break through malice or revenge, no man, no court may inquire.”
James Otis, Jr., from his five-hour courtroom presentation against “Writs of Assistance,” 1761. (1)
“A nation of slaves is always prepared to applaud the clemency of their master, who, in the abuse of absolute power, does not proceed to the last extremes of injustice and oppression.”
British historian Edward Gibbon. (2)
To his contemporaries, the heroic Massachusetts attorney James Otis, Jr. was a “flame of fire.” A brilliant and principled advocate of individual liberty and the rule of law, Otis was one of the most capable lawyers of his era and a ruthlessly effective polemicist. John Robinson, a customs agent – that is, tax collector – paid an ironic tribute to Otis’s rhetorical skill.
The imperial bureaucrat, infuriated by Otis’s essays and pamphlets denouncing his corrupt and abusive reign, attacked him with a cudgel in a coffee-house, inflicting a severe head injury that may have exacerbated a previously existing psychological affliction. Otis was never the same man following that attack. Intermittently lucid, he would wander the streets of Boston muttering to himself and often enduring ridicule from people who didn’t appreciate how much he had suffered and sacrificed for the freedom of his country. America had achieved its independence by the time death took Otis in 1783 in a singularly unlikely fashion: He was fatally struck by lightning while standing in the doorway of a friend’s home.
During a parliamentary debate in 1769, Otis exclaimed, “The liberty of my country is gone, and I go after it,” and followed that announcement by grabbing his hat and striding purposefully from the room. Some observers chuckled at what they thought was a piece of oratorical performance art; others, who were aware of Otis’s declining mental health, knitted their brows in concern. The gesture may have been theatrical, but it was hardly the product of a delusion: the American colonies in 1769 were descending rapidly into servitude, and their freedom could only be retrieved by those willing to pursue it. Though we are heirs to the sacrifices of Otis and his fellow patriots, our circumstances are, in some ways, even more dire.
Since 1215, when British nobles compelled King John to sign the Magna Carta at Runnymede, the principle of habeas corpus has been the foundational guarantee of individual liberty. The “Great Writ” of habeas corpus (Latin for “present the body”) requires that an individual arrested for a crime must be immediately brought before an independent judge and either formally charged or set free. This is intended to prevent kings and other rulers from conducting arbitrary arrests and open-ended imprisonment, without trial, of people regarded as enemies of the State.
Article I, section 8 of the U.S. Constitution specifies that “the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” The United States presently confronts neither an invasion nor a rebellion that would supposedly justify the temporary suspension of habeas corpus – let alone the permanent abolition of that guarantee in the name of a universal war against unspecified enemies that will continue in perpetuity.
In early December, 2011, the U.S. Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an all but veto-proof measure appropriating $662 billion in funding for the military. That measure contained a provision – section 1031, an amendment introduced by Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut) permitting the U.S. military to arrest, interrogate, and detain indefinitely U.S. citizens identified as terrorist suspects or “unprivileged belligerents” – both here and abroad. (3)
Abhorrent as it is, the NDAA is not a revolutionary development; instead, it fortifies and institutionalizes existing policies. Five years ago Congress passed the Military Commissions Act, under which the president was given permission to imprison anyone he chooses to designate as an “unlawful enemy combatant.” Although then-Senator Barack Obama opposed the 2006 Military Commissions Act, he signed into law a virtually identical measure when it was folded into the 2010 Defense Authorization Bill. (4)
The NDAA itself is the immediate outgrowth of the “Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010,” a measure proposed by Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut). One section of that bill dealing with "Detention without Trial of Unprivileged Enemy Belligerents," stated that suspects "may be detained without criminal charges and without trial for the duration of hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners."
That provision, in slightly modified form, was incorporated into the NDAA. Those subject to military detention, according to the NDAA, include anyone “who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.” The carefully ambiguous language translates into a license to imprison practically anybody who is accused of providing unspecified “support” for any group the U.S. government doesn’t like.
This assessment is neither alarmist nor hyperbolic. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the bill, admitted in a floor speech that Section 1031, “the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”(5)
In principle, this means nothing less than universal martial law, to the extent the U.S. military has the power to enforce it. On that assumption, U.S. citizens identified as “enemies” can be seized anywhere on the planet, including on American soil, and imprisoned under military jurisdiction either at home or abroad. Proposed amendments that would remove or modify that language were voted down by the “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.”(6)
Scott Horton, a legal affairs commentator for Harper’s magazine, lecturer at Columbia University Law School, and international legal activist on behalf of human rights, describes the NDAA as nothing less than a wholesale repeal of the 5th and 6th Amendments and a repudiation of the habeas corpus guarantee. In an interview with Antiwar Radio, Horton drew a provocative parallel between the NDAA and the decades-long “emergency law” in Egypt that provided the foundation for military rule in that country (which persists today, and is actually growing more pronounced). (7)
Winston Churchill, who was military governor of Mesopotamia and hardly averse to exercising executive power as British Prime Minister, insisted that the “Great Writ” was the critical boundary separating civilization from despotism: “The power of the Executive to cast a man in prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government, whether Nazi or Communist.” (8)
That foundation was actually laid during the Bush administration – and President Obama is rapidly building on it – with the enthusiastic support of elements of his constituency who had condemned similar abuses under George W. Bush. President Obama threatened to veto the measure – not because it annihilates whatever is left of the Anglo-Saxon guarantees of individual liberty, but rather because it intrudes on what he regards as plenary presidential authority to imprison or execute people at whim. In fact, proposed language exempting U.S. citizens from military detention was removed from the bill at the behest of the White House, as civil liberties activist David Kopel points out.
The powers claimed by the Obama administration are hardly limited to summary imprisonment. The White House acknowledges the existence of a secretive “kill list” of citizens subject to summary execution – whether by way of a hit team, or a drone-fired missile. In recent weeks, the administration has carried out two executive-ordered “hits” in Yemen. The first was against alleged terrorism advocate Anwar al-Awlaki, the second was his 16-year-old son (who had gone to that country in a frantic effort to find his father).
A president claiming the authority to kill a citizen without even the most rudimentary form of due process certainly wouldn’t scruple to imprison citizens without trial or judicial review of any kind. The only dispute between the White House and the Senate involves the question of primacy – specifically, whether the president’s powers are supreme and illimitable, or whether they are subject to legislative restrictions of some kind.
At least some of the conservatives who supported the NDAA – and who applaud the indefinite detention and “enhanced interrogation” (that is, torture) of accused terrorists – were enraged by news of a Department of Homeland Security report that targeted the “right” as a potential source of domestic terrorism. Blinded by unalloyed partisanship and an unhinged zeal to destroy perceived enemies both foreign and domestic, conservatives of that variety failed to appreciate the potentially suicidal danger of equipping the office of the president with such extensive and unaccountable powers. During debate over the measure, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) warned that Americans could find themselves targeted for expanded scrutiny – and even imprisonment – simply for owning firearms, or conducting in “Prepper” or “survivalist” – type activity to provide a measure of household security.
“Someone who has guns, someone who has ammunition that is weather proofed, someone who has 7 days of food in their house” could be treated as a potential terrorist and be subject to indefinite military detention, warned Freshman Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) in a detailed and impassioned Senate floor speech opposing S.1867. (9) Stewart Rhodes, a former U.S. Army Paratrooper, Yale Law School graduate, award-winning essayist, and former congressional staffer, describes the newly enacted measure as tantamount to “a declaration of war against the American people, authorizing the Obama Administration and all future administrations to treat Americans the same as citizens of occupied Iraq or Afghanistan, subjecting us all to military jurisdiction and the jurisdiction of the international laws of war, rather than our Bill of Rights and our domestic criminal laws, upon the mere say so of Obama or one of his minions.”(10)
John Locke, whose writings about the protection of individual liberty through law had a profound effect on Jefferson and the other anti-government extremists who won our independence from Great Britain. Slavery, Locke pointed out, consists of being "subject to the incessant, uncertain, arbitrary will of another man" and that "absolute arbitrary power" is the practice of "governing without settled standing laws."(11) The NDAA, like similar measures that preceded it, is designed to leave Americans at the mercy of those wielding arbitrary power. They may not exercise it all the time, or may do so only rarely. They may leave us undisturbed – and then assail our liberties with concentrated, lethal viciousness. The point is that what liberties we enjoy we exercise only through their charity, rather than as a matter of right – which is what our birthright as Americans requires. To the extent our liberties can be taken from us at the whim of those who presume to rule us, we are slaves in principle – and, with increasing frequency, in practice.
What do our rulers do with the power they have usurped from us? In perfectly predictable fashion, they are enriching themselves and their cronies by siphoning away all of the remaining wealth - not just in the United States, but in Europe, Africa, Latin America, and anywhere else there are productive people to be plundered. And they are doing so with remarkable insouciance, as was demonstrated in an astounding story carried by a breathtakingly vulgar example of those priorities was recently revealed by Bloomberg’s Businessweek:
“Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson stepped off the elevator into the Third Avenue offices of hedge fund Eton Park Capital Management LP in Manhattan. It was July 21, 2008, and market fears were mounting. Four months earlier, Bear Stearns Cos. had sold itself for just $10 a share to JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Now, amid tumbling home prices and near-record foreclosures, attention was focused on a new source of contagion: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which together had more than $5 trillion in mortgage-backed securities and other debt outstanding....
Paulson had been pushing a plan in Congress to open lines of credit to the two struggling firms and to grant authority for the Treasury Department to buy equity in them. Yet he had told reporters on July 13 that the firms must remain shareholder owned and had testified at a Senate hearing two days later that giving the government new power to intervene made actual intervention improbable....
At the Eton Park meeting, he sent a different message, according to a fund manager who attended. Over sandwiches and pasta salad, he delivered that information to a group of men capable of profiting from any disclosure.
Around the conference room table were a dozen or so hedge-fund managers and other Wall Street executives - at least five of them alumni of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., of which Paulson was chief executive officer and chairman from 1999 to 2006.... After a perfunctory discussion of the market turmoil, the fund manager says, the discussion turned to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Paulson .... went on to describe a possible scenario for placing Fannie and Freddie into “conservatorship” - a government seizure designed to allow the firms to continue operations despite heavy losses in the mortgage markets.” (12)
Paulson's act, observed Janet Tavakoli, founder of Chicago-based financial consulting firm Tavakoli Structured Finance Inc., was a museum-quality specimen of "crony capitalism" - the unfathomably corrupt union of a large, unaccountable political and economic interests. Another name for this arrangement is corporatism. When it is further combined with foreign militarism and domestic regimentation, the proper description is "fascism."
The plunderbund Paulson represented continues to raid what remains of America's wealth in an effort to prop up its allies overseas.
According to an AP account: Central banks will make it cheaper for commercial banks in their countries to borrow dollars, the dominant currency of trade. It was the most extraordinary coordinated effort by the central banks since they cut interest rates together in October 2008, at the depths of the financial crisis.
But while it should ease borrowing for banks, it does little to solve the underlying problem of mountains of government debt in Europe, leaving markets still waiting for a permanent fix. European leaders gather next week for a summit on the debt crisis.
The European Central Bank, which has been reluctant to intervene to stop the growing crisis on its own continent, was joined in the decision by the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England and the central banks of Canada, Japan and Switzerland.
This is a dilatory maneuver, of course. It may purchase a very brief delay in the full onset of the Eurozone's debt contagion, which will inevitably propagate itself throughout the entire global economy. Those responsible for this latest bailout are simply draining the lifeblood from less privileged people while the elites make their preparations to deal with the unfolding financial apocalypse.
Make no mistake: This is a collapse that is already underway, not an impending one. This is illustrated in a telling anecdote offered by former Federal Reserve Board member David Zervos, who attended an event about the "peripheral Eurozone" at the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank:
“There was one other highlight from the conference worth noting purely for entertainment value. The presenter from Greece kept getting his bank card DK'ed [declined] at the ATM. In addition, he could not find anywhere to exchange his cash euros for dollars, so he was effectively broke in the US. Yes highly ironic! Being a good American (and ex FRB employee) I came to his rescue and swapped him some dollars for euros at a friendly rate!”(13)
Actually, Zervos's generosity was atypical of the Federal Reserve Board's behavior, since he bailed out the impecunious Greek with his own money, rather than stealing from others through currency debasement – which is the banksters’ preferred mode of operation. That process will continue and escalate as the world’s ruling elite works to indemnify itself against the consequences of its own corruption – until the entire world economy is destroyed.
Gerald Celente, founder and director of the Trends Research Institute, and one of the most perceptive and reliable economic and social forecasters, predicts that 2012 will witness an event he calls an "Economic 9/11," followed by the imposition of "economic martial law."
"In the New Year, they're going to bring down the gavel on the system," Celente predicted in an interview on the Lew Rockwell Show (hosted by the Chairman of the free market-promoting Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama). Following the Christmas holiday, he continued, we will see a "bank holiday in some form" in the first quarter of 2012. This will lead to scapegoating - and perhaps even Soviet-style show trials - of people who will be cast as economic "wreckers."
"They're going to blame commodities speculators - especially in gold - for bringing down the financial system as they're trying so hard to save it,'" Celente declared. The official line will be that "These evil speculators were doing these dirty deals to undermine confidence in the dollar and the integrity of the United States Government -- and all the little sheeple will applaud." (14)
In addition to large-scale plunder by the banking oligarchy, Celente points out, petty crime by opportunistic predators is increasing. He noted that several buildings near his home in rural New York had been cannibalized by thieves who stripped out the copper to be sold as scrap.
Those who have some understanding of the escalating crisis should follow what Celente calls the "Three-G Survival Plan - Guns, Gold, and a Getaway Plan."
Perspicuous as Celente is, he omitted the fourth, and by far the most important, “G” from his formula - God. Only by investing our faith and trust in His promises, and living the principles He taught in the Sermon on the Mount and through His singular life, will we be able to withstand what lies ahead of us.
Written by William Grigg
I believe William Grigg is correct. Difficult times lie ahead. There will be rampant inflation, civil unrest, rolling black-outs, economic disruption, and a world-wide conflict. What can you do? You can help me inform people, and, with God’s help, spark a spiritual revival. How? Please call some of the people listed in your phone book. Your approach, and a link to what you will say, is available at www.radioliberty.com.
Some people will reject your call, but some will listen. Your job is to contact people. God will determine the result.
If you have a question please call me when I have an open lines program. If you don’t have access to a computer, you can contact me at 800-544-8927.
Barbara and I appreciate your faithful prayers and your loyal support.
Yours in Christ,
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