By BENJIE OLIVEROS
Progressive analysts are raising the alarm over the rise of fascism. And they are not referring to neo-nazi groups in Europe, although these are on the rise too especially after the 2008 crisis, and governments in Europe began shifting the blame for the lack in jobs to immigrants.
They are referring to the US government. John Pilger of Alternet wrote:
On 11 June, following the revelations in the Guardian by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg wrote that the US had now “that abyss”.
“Snowden’s revelation that Washington has used Google, Facebook, Apple and other giants of consumer technology to spy on almost everyone, is further evidence of modern form of fascism – that is the “abyss”. Having nurtured old-fashioned fascists around the world – from Latin America to Africa and Indonesia – the genie has risen at home. Understanding this is as important as understanding the criminal abuse of technology.”
Actually this modern-day, high technology-driven fascism has been on the rise since 9/11. And this did not arise from the need to protect America from its perceived enemies. The 9/11 crashing of four planes on US soil just provided the then Bush administration with the justification to launch its borderless ‘war on terror.’ It could be remembered that the US in 2001 was reeling from a crisis that was triggered by the bursting of the high-tech or dot.com bubble.
In a month’s time, the US Congress passed the Patriot Act, which gave the government broad powers to conduct surveillance, wiretaps, and other forms of intelligence gathering. It allowed indefinite detentions and searches of homes, businesses, and even telephone, email and financial records without the owner’s knowledge.
Edward Snowden’s expose’ that the National Security Agency (NSA) is spying on US citizens is not new; he just provided an insider information about it. A Truthout article “Why NSA Spying Isn’t New” enumerated some of the intelligence gathering projects undertaken by the US government.
This was followed by the practice of kidnapping suspects, also known as extraordinary renditions, detaining and torturing them in secret prisons all around the world.
In August 2002 and March 2003, the Bush Administration’s Office of Legal Counsel and the Department of Justice issued legal opinions allowing for enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding or water cure. These legal briefs became knows as the Torture memos.
Then there are the drone attacks or the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to launch missile strikes against perceived ‘terrorists.’ According to an article The Strategic Effects of a Lethal Drones Policy: Understanding drones in a broader context published by the website American Security Project, the first drone strike was conducted in November 5, 2002 when a US Predator drone fired a hellfire missile at a car travelling in Yemen killing six people.
“Under President Bush there was a drone strike about once every forty days; under President Obama that increased to one drone strike every four days.”
I have written in a previous analysis that since Obama became president, the CIA has conducted nearly 320 drone attacks in Pakistan alone, killing more than 3,000, 900 of whom are civilians, including at least 176 children.
Drone strikes do not present the whole picture. There are also the lethal operations being conducted by the Joint Security Operations Command (JSOC). An article ‘Top Secret America’: A look at the military’s Joint Special Operations Command written by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin and published by the Washington Post on September 2, 2011 read:
“CIA operatives have imprisoned and interrogated nearly 100 suspected terrorists in their former secret prisons around the world, but troops from this other secret organization have imprisoned and interrogated 10 times as many, holding them in jails that it alone controls in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“Since 9/11, this secretive group of men (and a few women) has grown tenfold while sustaining a level of obscurity that not even the CIA has managed. “We’re the dark matter. We’re the force that orders the universe but can’t be seen,” a strapping Navy SEAL, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said in describing his unit.”
“Two presidents and three secretaries of defense routinely have asked JSOC to mount intelligence-gathering missions and lethal raids, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in countries with which the United States was not at war, including Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, the Philippines, Nigeria and Syria.”
“The CIA doesn’t have the size or the authority to do some of the things we can do,” said one JSOC operator.
“The president has given JSOC the rare authority to select individuals for its kill list — and then to kill, rather than capture, them. Critics charge that this individual man-hunting mission amounts to assassination, a practice prohibited by U.S. law. JSOC’s list is not usually coordinated with the CIA, which maintains a similar but shorter roster of names.”
“Created in 1980 but reinvented in recent years, JSOC has grown from 1,800 troops prior to 9/11 to as many as 25,000, a number that fluctuates according to its mission. It has its own intelligence division, its own drones and reconnaissance planes, even its own dedicated satellites. It also has its own cyberwarriors, who, on Sept. 11, 2008, shut down every jihadist Web site they knew.”
This is the same command that conducted the lethal raid on Osama Bin Laden.
If you sum this all up, US and non-US citizens are being monitored without their consent and on the basis of secret warrants; arbitrary arrests and extraordinary extraditions (read: forcible abductions), and indefinite detention without trial are being done on a regular basis; torture was made legal; and political assassinations and extrajudicial killings through drone strikes and lethal raids are being ordered with impunity. There is practically a total disregard for the Bill of Rights, human rights conventions and international humanitarian law.
If fascism is being equated with authoritarianism, ultranationalism, militarism, and the rule of the extreme right, then there really is a rising fascism. All that is left of the people’s rights is their participation in periodic elections.
It is also within the context of what is happening in the US could we better understand why, despite the strong calls for the Philippine government to end the impunity in human rights violations, especially extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture, the Aquino administration has not lifted a finger to do so.