The Makings of a Police State-Part VII

Perpetual Wars & the Permanent Wartime Presidency

WarTimePresidentWith almost a decade under its belt, our multi-front war on a vaguely defined notion of terrorism targeting never-really-defined enemies across the world and here in the newly rephrased ‘homeland’ has come to define the state of our nation. Even the meager limitations on presidential powers of the last six decades have in effect been nullified and replaced with a newly declared and interpreted authority mirroring those of past emperors and kings, and of any classic authoritarian regimes’ rulers. One look at the last decade’s successfully won legal arguments on behalf of the executive, the presidency, is enough to establish the common theme that ‘the war on terror is global and indefinite in scope, and that it effectively removes all traditional limits of wartime authority to the times and places of imminent or actual battle.’

Whether it is illegal domestic eavesdropping or unlawful detention and torture, these newly claimed and boldly practiced presidential entitlements rely on one factor, and that is the extraordinary claims of presidential war-making power. Here is a perfect example of the new permanent wartime presidency in action; boldly, loudly, and unfortunately thus far successfully:

On occasion the Bush administration has explicitly rejected the authority of courts and Congress to impose boundaries on the power of the commander in chief, describing the president's war-making powers in legal briefs as "plenary" -- a term defined as "full," "complete," and "absolute."

The current status of our nation’s president’s war-making powers is defined, recognized, and has been practiced as ‘plenary;’ complete and absolute. Now, let’s add to this the fact that our multi-fronted war on terror is global and indefinite, a war open-ended in time and with no national boundaries. What do we have with this equation? A permanent wartime presidency with absolute powers. The Constitution indeed granted the president the power to fight with any resources Congress makes available in wartime, and accordingly the executive is expected to do whatever it takes to protect the nation, even if it leaves some room for abuse of this power. But did our founders factor in the notion of indefinite, open-ended, perpetual wars, and with them, a permanent wartime presidency status? The Constitution gave presidents the freedom to defend the nation, but what about the nation’s need to protect itself against the abuses of this freedom, including the creation of perpetual wars accompanied with indefinite and absolute presidential powers?

The following excerpts are from the Devil’s Advocate, John Yoo:

Critics of presidential war powers exaggerate the benefits of declarations or authorizations of war, and they also fail to examine the potential costs of congressional participation: delay, inflexibility, and lack of secrecy. Legislative deliberation may breed consensus in the best of cases, but it also may inhibit speed and decisiveness. In the post-Cold War era, the United States confronts several new threats to its national security: proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the emergence of rogue nations, and the rise of international terrorism. Each of these threats may require pre-emptive action best undertaken by the president and approved by Congress only afterward.

The Constitution creates a presidency that can respond forcefully and independently to pre-empt serious threats to our national security. Instead of demanding a legalistic process to begin war, the framers left war to politics. Presidents can take the initiative and Congress would use their funding power to check him. As we confront terrorism, rogue nations, and WMD proliferation, now is not the time to engage in a radical change in the way our government has waged war for decades.

Mr. Yoo considers a thorough congressional review and authorization based on findings and careful review as tending to ‘exaggerate the benefits of declarations or authorizations of war.’ If put in an appropriate context, this exaggeration could probably have prevented a preemptive attack on Iraq based on false and made-up intelligence on nonexistent WMD, and we may have saved thousands of American soldiers’ lives, tens of billions of dollars of taxpayers’ hard-earned money, and would have prevented the loss of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians’ lives. Only in John Yoo’s book of ‘cost & benefits analysis’ would this make it to the ‘exaggerated cost column.’

As for ‘Congress would use their funding power to check him,’ his pretend innocence would not get a pass from even the most naïve or ignorant. Considering where the real funding of the inhabitants of our congress comes from, taking into consideration the old adage ‘thou shall not bite the hand that feeds you,’ and understanding the power of ‘bacon sent home,’ who is Mr. Yoo kidding here; really?

Let’s look at it from the other side of the fence. What executive office wouldn’t want to possess this level of power? How many presidents would resist gravitating towards the enormous powers granted to a Commander in Chief in practice? How many of today’s ‘viable’ presidential candidate’s bread is heavily buttered by the war industry? Here is how Richard Norton Smith put it during an interview:

However you define national emergency, whether it's a foreign war, whether it's a civil war, whether it's an economic depression, whether it's a Cold War or the current war on terror, the fact is power gravitates towards the president…It's a tug of war, Jim, that's been going on, a constitutional tug of war between the executive and the legislative branch. And what I was picking up off what Ellen said I think the last 75 years has, if anything, distorted what the founders intended. Because of the Great Depression, because of World War II, because of the Cold War, now the war on terror, the fact is that that tug of war has actually been very one-sided. I don't think this is the presidency that the founders really envisioned.

A Little Bit of History

On November 19, 1973, the Special Committee on the Termination of the National Emergency presented Senate Report 93-549 at the first session of the 93rd Congress. The Introduction to the report, an examination of existing War and Emergency Powers Acts, states:

Since March 9, 1933, the United States has been in a state of declared national emergency. In fact, there are now in effect four presidentially-proclaimed states of national emergency: In addition to the national emergency declared by President Roosevelt in 1933, there are also the national emergency proclaimed by President Truman in 1950, during the Korean conflict, and the states of national emergency declared by President Nixon in1970 and 1971.

These proclamations give force to 470 provisions of Federal law. These hundreds of statutes delegate to the President extraordinary powers, ordinarily exercised by the Congress, which affect the lives of American citizens in a host of all-encompassing manners. These vast ranges of powers, taken together, confer enough authority to rule the country without reference to normal Constitutional processes.

Under the powers delegated by these statutes, the President may: seize property; organize and control the means of production; seize commodities; assign military forces abroad; institute martial law; seize and control all transportation and communication; regulate the operation of private enterprise; restrict travel; and, in a plethora of particular ways, control the lives of all American citizens.

With the melting of the Cold War-the developing détente, with the Soviet Union and China, the stable truce of over 20 years duration between North and South Korea, and the end of U.S. involvement in the war in Indochina-there is no present need for the United States Government to continue to function under emergency conditions.

As we all know the establishment did not let the ‘melting Cold War’ argument stand. During the Reagan era the Cold War reached new heights, with a massive military buildup in an arms race with the USSR, before it came to an end. It wouldn’t be difficult to imagine the panic experienced by the real powers as the Berlin wall and with it the several-decade Cold War came crumbling down. How could the massive Military Industrial Complex, and those feeding upon it, survive this ‘ending,’ and find a way to sustain itself? How about maintaining the role and power of the Executive Intelligence Complex? The creation, existence, and practices of these agencies were based on and justified by the ‘Evil Empire,’ and with it gone, so was the justification sold to the public for the existence of many dependent upon it here in the States.

Sure there were other wars; Gulf War, Kosovo... But those were mini-wars; peanuts. What was needed, that is for the sustainability, survival, and even the fantasy of expansion, was another long-lasting war. Not a dingy little country or two, and certainly not a clear-cut enemy and pinpointable target to hit and be done with. No. In fact, learning from experience, it had to be something that could not end with some darn wall coming down, or a massive regime being taken out. An open ended war; a war with undefined enemies in many colors, with many tongues, and scattered across the world; a war that could be pointed at one place, then at another, and yet another without having to fit any military definition of target or strategy; a war with no boundaries; a war with no possible end. A war that couldn’t even be defined as a war, yet could act as the mother of all wars - a Perpetual War.

If anyone laughed at even the fantasy of such an absurd objective, they certainly weren’t the ones who had the last laugh. All that was needed to make it happen was the creation of a state of emergency. After all, it had been done for a long time, and done so very successfully. People were used to it - living under various degrees of a state of emergency for many decades. Just take it up a notch or two, then sit back and watch the panic take root and spring into full bloom. Jazz it up with a disaster-loving and panic-driving media, and the state of emergency will go into full effect. And from there - hello Perpetual War.

Here is more on the report by the Special Committee on the Termination of the National Emergency:

A majority of the people of the United States have lived all of their lives under emergency rule. For 40 years, freedoms and governmental procedures guaranteed by the Constitution have, in varying degrees, been abridged by laws brought into force by states of national emergency. The problem of how a constitutional democracy reacts to great crises, however, far antedates the Great Depression. As a philosophical issue, its origins reach back to the Greek city-states and the Roman Republic. And, in the United States, actions taken by the Government in times of great crises have-from, at least, the Civil War-in important ways, shaped the present phenomenon of a permanent state of national emergency.

Because Congress and the public are unaware of the extent of emergency powers, there has never been any notable congressional or public objection made to this state of affairs. Nor have the courts imposed significant limitations ... the temporary states of emergency declared in 1938, 1939, 1941, 1950, 1970, and 1971 would become what are now regarded collectively as virtually permanent states of emergency (the 1939 and 1941 emergencies were terminated in 1952). Forty years can, in no way, be defined as a temporary emergency.

Forty years can, in no way, be defined as a temporary emergency;’ really? Obviously it can, and it was. Not only that, it actually got worse. Today they don’t even bother adding ‘temporary,’ and leave it out completely. How could you win or lose, and declare the end of the ‘war on terror’? Is it possible to capture and neutralize that one last boogie man, announce that the last of the terrorists has been terminated, and then go about dissolving Homeland Security, Motherland Security, Fatherland Agency, Intelligence Czars, Domestic Eavesdropping…? How about the entire industry, the thriving many trillion dollar industry, with the ‘war on terror’ as their sole reason for existence? Obviously this would not fit the vision put in place by the few who matter, and the many grown dependent on them.

The Mother of all perpetual wars, War on Terror, followed by unjustified and undeclared wars: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iran... Who are the enemies? Bad Taliban, Semi-bad Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Al-Qaeda Supporters, Possible Al-Qaeda, Islamists, Fanatics, semi-fanatics, fanatic-looking dudes, Iran-ists, and with them all the civilians ‘just our collateral damage.’; babies, women, elderly…Kidnapping, torture, assassinations, black sites, black operations, black budgets…

Here at home: airport security check-points, no-fly list, semi-no-fly-list, many secret lists, tapping all phone calls, monitoring all e-mails, billions of secret documents, thousands of secret operations & plans.

For the winners in the Perpetual War, the military-intelligence-surveillance industrial complexes, the empire presidency and its advocates, and the parasitic class who lives beneath and off of them…the state of Perpetual War is a long-held dream coming true.

For the losers, we, the public majority, the mothers losing their sons and daughters to wars, the spouses left to deal with their returning amputated loved ones, many in need of medical care but with no coverage or assistance, the hard-working class dutifully parting with needed dollars and foregoing all expectations, the seekers of liberties…the realities of these made-up emergencies, and the real consequences of these vague wars are either not registering, or are being accepted and paid for silently.

This applicable quote comes to mind: “Inter arma silent leges: in time of war the laws are silent.” And, I feel like extending the line by adding”…for as long as the people wish to remain silent.”

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  1. This is a good article with some great insights, however, what does this propose? Is it claiming the war on terror is artificial and/or contrived for nefarious purposes, and not a sincere response to real situations and events?

    We need to always keep government in check, and people are starting to awaken more, but is there no legit threat posed by small bands of extremists, funded via intelligence networks and rogue states, and other terrorist financing and operational infrastructure?

    Is there no legit threat of a nuclear device (or several) going off in a number of major cities, set off by rogue actors, who obtained the weapons on the black market or a failed nuclear state?

    There is a real enemy behind all this, should we not have tools and reasonable policy to deal with it? Was the world and the Iraqi people better with Saddam in power? Were the Afghanistan people better under harsh Taliban rule?

  2. Great post. My own dystopian vision of all this is this:

    The Perpetual War is a class war waged by the worldwide corporate power elite against the masses of humanity. It’s goal, nothing less than the slaughter of 4/5 of the world’s population and the maintenance of the elite’s power and priviledges at the expense of everyone else. It is transforming the planet into a worldwide torture state and using these perpetual wars to keep the masses divided in a game of “Let’s You and Him Fight”. I also see it as a mechanism for corporate transcendance and supplantation of government in all it’s forms. It’s the “Last To Starve” syndrome writ large as we slouch towards an extinction guaranteed by corporate rapaciousness. All this done with the MSM circus distracting us from no bread and either ignoring or coopting mass expressions of discontent as exemplified by the Tea Bag movement.

    So what is our future? I see the elites as Ralph Richardson here, ruling amid the mean ruins of the Golden Age.

    But then, I’m just Mr. Cheery today.

  3. Here’s a interesting link that in many ways fits into what’s happening now:

    Are signing loyalty oaths that far away under Obama?

  4. Thanks Sibel for the good information and informative post.

    drlax15m, The war on terror is most definitely contrived and designed to keep us in a state of perpetual war, with all the power and profit from it benefitting the few and oppressing the rest. We have been screwing with the governments and peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan for decades. The US has been supplying arms and training, manipulating the forces and governments in these lands directly and indirectly for a very long time.

    Were the Iraqi people asking us to come in and topple their government, kill over a million of civilians, destroy the infrastructure along with landmarks and architecture? Missing and pilfered are countless antiquities and works of art. Did they ask us to take over the oil industry and assign the resources to our allies? I think not. And now we have built a HUGE military base guaranteeing a perpetual US presence there.

    The Afghanistan people will support whoever helps them live the way they choose. There is still so much corruption and lack of a central government operating there. To think we can change things there is naive. They are just holding out until we tire of sending troups and resources there. Then they will operate as they have for centuries, as small pockets of tribes with localized tribal rulers.

    It is time we get out of there and time to dismantle our huge military machine. We have exacerbated the “terror” situation, provoking these peoples with our Imperialist agenda, trashing their lands and ignoring their culture and traditions.

  5. 344thBrother says:

    Rod Serling at Moorpark College in 1968 from T’s link above. Good one T astute enough to bear the repeat.

    Gee what a surprise, the same COG people who are stealing power from the people now in the background, were in and around the White House back then. GHWB, Baker, Kissinger, Cheney, Rumsfeld… (Did I mention connections to 911?)

    Rod Serling:
    “I would rather have a son or daughter of mine march through the streets of Chicago protesting injustice—than I would siring a Chicago policeman who’ll club anyone who’ll get in his way—and that includes sixteen-year-olds, newspaper photographers, and senior citizens.

    And if anyone wants to raise the spectre of “provocation”—I say this categorically. There is no provocation extant short of a motive of self defense to excuse as representative of law and order wading in with a billy-club under the pretense of saving the sovereign city of Chicago. Of the four hundred young people currently held under arraignment for so-called assault and battery, half of them are under eighteen and half of those under a hundred and twenty pounds.

    Suddenly we are a nation whose new battle slogan is law and order. Last year it won countless numbers of elections. It’s the great new American euphemism. Law and Order. It is now interchangeable with God, Motherhood, the Constitution and the Holy Grail. But how empty and how suspect is this sloganry when it points up the incredible selectivity on the part of America’s citizenry—how picky and choosey they are when it comes to moral outrage. ”


  6. camusrebel says:

    Sibel, in your long list of “enemies” you left off 2 of their favorites for adaptability and interchangeableness, “insurgent” and what all of us could be declared at any moment, “enemy combatant”.

    When I’m president we’re gonna call it our Brother-and-Sister land and it will be the earth.

    When the FBI assisted the “terrorists” bomb the WTC in 1993, there goes your peace dividend. Remember that phrase? Didn’t last long.

    Of course it is all make believe. Lax, Sibel has provided proof of people in our government smuggling nuclear materials. What has been done?

    Al-CIA-duh and the WOT is complete theater. Truth shall set us free.

  7. More from Mr. Serling:

    A time-honored concept of Anglo-Saxon justice declares that a man is innocent until proven guilty. I believe that in a democratic society a man is similarly loyal until proven disloyal. No testaments of faith, no protestations of affection for his native load, and no amount of signatures will prove a bloody thing—one way or the other as to a man’s patriotism or lack thereof. The concept of the loyalty oath is a new one in the United States—in its present form it dates back less than twenty years. It’s been around for a number of decades in different countries under decidedly different forms of government. It was a requirement in Nazi Germany and in Fascist Italy, and is currently a prerequisite for the status of citizenship in the Soviet Union.

    Under dictators, the so-called loyalty oath is a necessary adjunct to a relationship between man and his government. Both the Fascists and the Communists have a pathological distrust of their own people. To require a signature under an oath of allegiance seems to me or presume guilt and an attendant disloyalty. I simply can’t honor that kind of premise—and I won’t honor it. And it’s for that reason that I did not sign the oath required of me to speak here for pay. But parenthetically it might be noted that if indeed, I were hell bent to subvert the government of the United States, I would certainly have no qualms about signing anything.

  8. TippyCanoe says:

    To drlax15m, history and US foreign policy woes didn’t begin 8 1/2 years ago. There’s a 30 year history void that everyone seems to ignore.

    Folks need to be enlightened to what their gov’t has done covertly, secretly and with THEIR taxpayer dollars to the peoples of the world. Specifically those citizens who have become so afraid of ‘terrorists’ which are a creation by the hands of their own government. Not only did the US gov’t fund and train what became al Qaeda, they also funded the creation of the Taliban via the Pakistani ISI. This is historic record, but it’s like there is a 30 year time frame lack of citizen awareness of US involvement in this process that led to 9/11. No one understands or will look at this; it’s just lost in memory. Specifically Operation Cyclone. If you look at history, you can even see the wheels come off the bus of this covert gov’t plan gone awry under the Clinton administration in redacted documents in the National Security Archives where the Pakistani ISI ‘loses control’ of the Taliban. Guess what? We paid for it with our tax dollars.

    I’m not making this stuff up. Research Zbigniew Brzezinski, William Casey and Charlie Wilson’s roles in all of this. Even Benazir Bhutto told GHW Bush that we were creating a Frankenstein. This ‘Muslim threat’ is our own doing. Even Zbig has no regrets saying, “What’s a few stirred up Muslims?” all the while pumping in billions of US tax dollars to fund these radical madrassas, hence the problem….
    It goes way deeper than the Wiki, but this should get you started:

    No one listed to Colleen Rowley, Sibel Edmonds, Norman Manetta, Karen Kwiatkowski, Robert Wright, Anthony Shaffer, Scott Ritter, Michael Schuer and the hundreds of other military, CIA, FBI and government officials who have spoken out about 9/11 and the Commission Report. And sadly, they probably still won’t look or listen.

    These wars rage on and are expanding – costing hundreds of billions, Gitmo is still open, we still torture ‘terrorist’ who were bought & paid for with US tax dollars, and so many people in this nation think that ‘terrorists’ live under their beds. Meanwhile, 9/11 to this day is still used as justification to take more of your liberty and justify executive branch over-reach. The weed will always come back until you pull the root. Simple really. As a result, you cannot separate your loss of liberty from the events of September 11th and the past & present foreign policy of the United States. And if people won’t confront it, you can expect a continued loss of liberty. And that’s all I gotta say about it.


  9. This just in. Another Democrat is leaving Congress. Is this because:
    (a) Lobbyist money is WAY better than the roughly $100,000 a year they currently make?
    (b) They’re seeing some writing on some wall somewhere. And saying I don’t want to go down with Obama?
    or (c)They want to work in the private sector.

  10. Nice insight Sibel. The war on terror is such a valuable replacement for the Soviet Union, at least for those in the war business. Even better, there can be no victory and no foreseeable end to this new enemy. 9/11 was so fortuitous for those in the war business. Consider how different their business affairs would be if the events of that tragic day had not occurred.

  11. 1. Careful, sparks here, the monster might growl this year of the Tiger! As Sibel said on a recent podcast – and I still chortle when I listen to it – “Yap Yap Yap” . Talk is cheap when the real solution is only uprooting the obvious, ever-more-thin veil enrobing this Go-Zi-Ru
    (Godzilla, Japanese pronunciation) which was born from the
    loins of decent and unwitting US taxpayers.

    Well, wheeew, we can breathe easy for now inasmuch as internet still has the ability to demonstrate these actualities; just so many sizzling electrons. For the meanwhile oil is gonna flow flow flow, along with the central Asian narcobribes and the bully bullets from wonderland.

    2. All of it comes down to so much rhetoric; some folks need
    a recovery program to break free from the talk and no
    action! As we breathe more and more citizens seem
    anaesthetized in this masquerade-cum-nightmare, incapable of
    distinguishing between ideology and propaganda; unspeakable,
    again -as it was in the 30s when the Nazis came machine-gunning to power.

    3. Anyone remember how there really were elements of
    revolution in the 70s? Mario Savio ( ) comes to mind immediately
    here.Gotta be brave enough:

    “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so
    odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t take part.
    You can’t even passively take part.And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop.And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.” – Mario Savio, 1964

    4. Speaking of 70s – we’ve been here before. Gotta credit
    rock group Steppenwolf with acurately though in rock lyrics
    detailing the events in their song “Monster” ( ):

    “Our cities have turned into jungles
    And corruption is stranglin’ the land
    The police force is watching the people
    And the people just can’t understand
    We don’t know how to mind our own business
    ‘Cause the whole worlds got to be just like us
    Now we are fighting a war over there
    No matter who’s the winner
    We can’t pay the cost
    ‘Cause there’s a ***monster on the loose***
    It’s got our heads into a noose
    And it just sits there watching”

    5. Thanks for the article. Perhaps Lenin might have called
    it yet another ICKPA (spark), and Jefferson, have hailed it
    as another check or balance.

  12. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, the Pentagon, Israel and defense contractors got scared, especially when there was talk of a ‘peace’ dividend.
    Money that had been spent fighting the Communist ‘boogieman’ could be spent on schools, health care, infrastructure, etc.

    But all those dreams were blown away within a year, when we had another ‘boogieman’ created, the Muslim world with 1.5 billion people to fear, hate and kill.

    These days, Israel’s economy is doing fine. The Pentagon’s budget is at an all time high and defense contractors are making record profits, all the while America is falling apart.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  13. Welcome back Sibel. Stay childlike and wise. I always seek practical solutions. People survived the communist oppression. Now it is our turn to be tried. A lot of grim responses so far, but keep the faith. Yes, I know DIA geeks that rest in retirement, blissfully oblivious – or if there is a chance they might wake up – then a brain virus or some psychotronics can cure the problem. Cousin Bird had an aneurysm when he started waking up to how evil the Elite were in D.C. However, the Elite have limited ability to think, because they rely upon geeks. Geeks of the world unite. Marines of the world you can think on your own. Let’s get ‘er done.

  14. Great insights Sibel. I think we’d all do well to remember that these people only rule with our consent. It takes a surprisingly small segment of the population to shake apart that consent! That’s where Gandhi’s statement is so appropriate, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Talk is cheap, but action is contagious. Keep up the good work!

  15. mcthorogood says:


    It takes a surprisingly small segment of the population to shake apart that consent!

    I disagree with that statement. There is a huge inertial mass in American Society consisting of functionally illiterate people. People, who are able to sign their name, but who are unable to comprehend the meaning of this paragraph. People sitting passively in front of their T.V.’s in a highly suggestible sleep.

    So how would a small segment of the population begin to move the masses, when our fourth estate is such a sham, and the MSM controls the minds of such a large segment of our brain-dead population?

    Tea-Baggers are people who have been stirred awake by the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. These people are angry and if you ask them why, they are only able to recite talking points.

    We have the “best government money can buy” and until a major segment of the population learn to think for themselves, nothing will ever change.

    P.S. An estimated 30-40% of U.S. adults read at a 4th or 5th grade level

  16. Holy crap!!

    these effing people are just too effing depraved.

    where the hell is God??? I sure hopes he knows what He’s doing!!

  17. @Greg Bacon

    Actually, no, the new boogieman was the Latin drug traffickers yet they, the biggest traffickers, all somehow worked for George HW Bush and the CIA who were bringing it in to the blacks and Hispanics…hahahaah sick!!!

  18. Sorry for the long text which follows. I’m a fan of Kucinich, though I don’t doubt that he’s susceptible to pressure from the Big Ugly, as we all seem to be, at least eventually.

    That’s a point on which I wish KingFisher would comment, since his posts usually offer a matter of fact/semi-objective point of view. KF, I’m talking about our susceptibility. If you could comment on the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, how do you see bravery and who do you consider brave?

    Thanks in advance for, I’m sure, a respectable answer.

    Kucinich’s Prophetic “Prayer for America” Speech
    8 Years Ago Today
    Many have called Dennis Kucinich’s “Prayer for America” speech one of the most eloquent and significant summaries of post 9/11 America. He delivered it eight years ago today.

    The Kucinich campaign staff urges you to read and to distribute this prophetic message which even after eight years maintains a fresh sense of urgency.

    Thank you
    The Re-Elect Congressman Kucinich Committee
    A Prayer for America
    I offer these brief remarks today as a prayer for our country, as a celebration of our country. With love of democracy. With love of our country. With hope for our country. With a belief that the light of freedom cannot be extinguished as long as it is inside of us. With a belief that freedom rings resoundingly in a democracy each time we speak freely. With the understanding that freedom stirs the human heart and fear stills it. With the belief that a free people cannot walk in fear and faith at the same time. With the understanding that there is a deeper truth in the unity of the United States. That implicit in the union of our country is the union of all people, everywhere. That all people are essentially one. That the world is interconnected not only on the material level of economics, trade, communication, and transportation; but interconnected through human consciousness, through the human heart, through the heart of the world, through the simply expressed impulse to be and to breathe free.

    I offer this prayer for America.

    Let us pray that our nation will remember that the unfolding of the promise of democracy in our nation paralleled the striving and accomplishment of civil rights. That is why we must challenge the rationale of the Patriot Act. We must ask why should America put aside guarantees of constitutional justice?

    How can we justify in effect canceling the First Amendment and the right of free speech, and the right to peacefully assemble?

    How can we justify, in effect, the canceling the Fourth Amendment, probable cause, the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure?

    How can we justify, in effect, canceling the Fifth Amendment, nullifying due process, allowing for indefinite incarceration without a trial?

    How can we justify, in effect, canceling the Sixth Amendment, the right to prompt and public trial?

    How can we justify, in effect, canceling the Eighth Amendment which protects against cruel and unusual punishment?

    We cannot justify widespread wiretaps and internet surveillance without judicial supervision, let alone with it.

    We cannot justify secret searches without a warrant.

    We cannot justify giving the Attorney General the ability to designate domestic terror groups.

    We cannot justify giving the FBI total access to any type of data which may exist in any system anywhere, including medical and financial records.

    We cannot justify giving the CIA the ability to target people in this country for domestic intelligence and intelligence surveillance.

    We cannot justify a government which takes from the people our right to privacy and then assumes for its own operations a right to total secrecy.

    The Attorney General recently covered up a statue of Lady Justice showing her bosom as if to underscore there is no danger of justice exposing herself in this administration.

    Let us pray, oremus, that our nation’s leaders will not be overcome by fear. Because today there is great fear in the Capitol. And this must be understood before we can ask about the shortcomings of Congress in this current environment.

    The great fear began when we had to evacuate the Capitol on September 11. It continued when we had to leave the Capitol again when a bomb scare occurred as members were pressing the CIA during a secret briefing. It continued when we abandoned Washington during the anthrax scare, when anthrax, possibly from a government lab, arrived in the mail. It continued when the Attorney General declared a nationwide terror alert and then brought the destructive Patriot Bill to the floor of the House of Representatives. It continued in the release of the Bin Laden tapes at the very same time the President was announcing our country would withdraw from the ABM treaty.

    It remains present in the cordoning off of the Capitol. It is present in the camouflaged armed national guardsmen who greet members of Congress each day we enter the Capitol campus. It is present in the labyrinth of concrete barriers through which we must pass each time we go to vote.

    The trappings of a state of siege trap us in a state of fear, ill-equipped to deal with the Patriot Games, the Mind Games, the War Games of an unelected President and his undisclosed Vice President.

    Let us pray. Let us pray that our country will stop this war. “To provide for the common defense” is one of the formational principles of America. Our Congress gave the President the ability to respond to the tragedy of September 11. We licensed a response to those who helped create the terror of September 11th. But we the people and our elected representatives must reserve the right to measure the response, to proportion the response, to challenge the response, and to correct the response.

    Because we did not authorize the invasion of Iraq.

    We did not authorize the invasion of Iran.

    We did not authorize the invasion of North Korea.

    We did not authorize the bombing of civilians in Afghanistan.

    We did not authorize permanent detainees in Guantanamo Bay.

    We did not authorize the withdrawal from the Geneva Convention.

    We did not authorize military tribunals suspending due process and habeas corpus.

    We did not authorize assassination squads.

    We did not authorize the resurrection of COINTELPRO.

    We did not authorize the repeal of the Bill of Rights.

    We did not authorize the revocation of the Constitution.

    We did not authorize national identity cards.

    We did not authorize the eye of Big Brother to peer from cameras throughout our cities.

    We did not authorize an eye for an eye.

    Nor did we ask that the blood of innocent people, who perished on September 11, be avenged with the blood of innocent villagers in Afghanistan.

    We did not authorize this administration to wage war anytime, anywhere, anyhow it pleases.

    We did not authorize war without end.

    We did not authorize a permanent war economy.

    Yet we are upon the threshold of a permanent war economy. The President has requested a $45.6 billion increase in military spending. All defense-related programs will cost close to $400 billion.

    Consider that the Department of Defense has never passed an independent audit.

    Consider that the Inspector General notified Congress, recently, that the Pentagon cannot properly account for $1.2 trillion – that’s trillion – in expenditures. Correct, that it cannot account for $1.2 trillion in transactions. Consider that in recent years the Department of Defense could not match $22 billion worth of expenditures to the items it purchased. Consider that it has written off as lost billions of dollars worth of in-transit inventory and stored nearly $30 billion worth of spare parts it did not need.

    Yet the Pentagon’s budget grows with more money for weapons systems to fight a cold war which ended, weapon systems in search of new enemies to create new wars. This has nothing to do with fighting terror. This has everything to do with fueling a military industrial machine with the treasure of our nation, risking the future of our nation, risking democracy itself with the militarization of thought which follows the militarization of the budget.

    Let us pray for our children. Our children deserve a world without end. Not a war without end. Our children deserve a world free of the terror of hunger, free of the terror of poor health care, free of the terror of homelessness, free of the terror of ignorance, free of the terror of hopelessness, free of the terror of policies which are committed to a world view which is not appropriate for the survival of democratic values, not appropriate for the survival of a free people, not appropriate for the survival of a nation, not appropriate for the survival of the world.

    Let us pray that we have the courage and the will as a people, and as a nation, to shore ourselves up, to reclaim from the ruins of September 11th our democratic traditions.

    Let us declare. Let us declare our love of democracy. And declare our intent for peace.

    Let us work to make nonviolence an organizing principle in our own society.

    Let us recommit ourselves to the slow and painstaking work of statecraft, which sees peace, not war, as being inevitable.

    Let us work for a world where someday war becomes archaic.

    Let us work for a world where nuclear disarmament is an imperative. This is the vision which the proposal to create a Department of Peace envisions. Forty-three members of Congress are now cosponsoring the legislation.

    Let us work for a world where America can lead the way in banning all nuclear weapons not only from our land and sea and sky but from outer space itself. This is the vision of HR 3616: A universe free of fear. Where we can look up at God’s creation in the stars and imagine infinite wisdom, infinite peace, infinite possibilities. Not infinite war, because we are taught that the kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven.

    Let us pray. Pray that we have the courage to replace the images of death which haunt us, the layers of images of September 11th, faded into images of patriotism, spliced into images of military mobilization, jump-cut into images of our secular celebrations of the World Series, New Year’s Eve, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the strobic flashes which touch our deepest fears, let us replace those images with the images of people working to rebuild their democratic institutions. With images of the work of human relations. Of the work of reaching out to people, helping our citizens here at home. Of lifting the plight of people everywhere.

    That is the America which has the ability to rally the support of the world.

    That is the America which stands not in pursuit of an axis of evil, but which is itself the axis of hope and faith and peace and freedom.

    America, America. God shed grace on thee. And crown thy good with brotherhood and sisterhood.

    America, America. Long may Thy land be bright with Freedom’s holy light

    America, America. Let us pray for our country. Let us love our country. Let us defend our country not only from the threats without but from the threats within.

    America, America. Crown thy good. Not with weapons of mass destruction. Not with invocations of an axis of evil. Not through breaking international treaties. Not through establishing America as king of a uni-polar world. But through looking at America as a nation among nations and viewing the world as an interconnected whole.

    Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good with sisterhood and brotherhood. And crown thy good with compassion and restraint and forbearance and a commitment to peace and democracy here at home and in the world. And a commitment to economic democracy here at home and throughout the world.

    Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good America. Crown thy good.

    Thank you.

  19. @Sibel, although I tried to correct you a while back, I’m really digging your “Yap, yap, yap” spelling. Looks like it’s a hit. My apologies.

  20. @zaknick: No god – live with it.

  21. @ZicaTanka: God may be – live with it.

  22. Lobbyist money is WAY better than the roughly $100,000 a year they currently make

    The current salary (2010) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year.

    House Leadership
    Speaker of the House – $223,500
    Majority Leader – $193,400
    Minority Leader – $193,400

    Add in a pension plan that only requires five years to be vested, one that will eventually pay out 80% of your base salary.

    And their ‘expense’ money, which is around 1.5 million a year for Reps and around 2 million for Senators.

    The Speaker of the House gets close to 5 million a year for her ‘expenses.’

    So the actual yearly pork package drawn by our Congress is closer to 2 million per critter… And don’t qoute me, but I believe that ‘expense’ money is paid in cash, since it’s not a salary.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  23. Speaking of pork, I used my smoker to make a mighty tasty one. Not sure them politicians would taste so good. Too much fat. God is. Speak Truth to power. Who do you think Truth is? Hau kola. Hau mitake asa. Washte.

  24. ZT, thanks for the memories. I started working for Dennis about the time of this prayer. Passed out a few of the pamphlet versions. Still have his bumper sticker on my car. My only other one reads: “The War on Terror is a lie/ 9-11 Was an Inside Job”

    It’s not quite running into a burning building to save 3 kids and a puppy, but driving around the DC metro area with that sentiment proudly displayed, I submit, shows some degrees more courage than keeping all your strong views and passions cramped up in cyberspace.

    Most of my other public actions in support of my beliefs or people who share them has been as part of a group. Bumper stickers used to be much more prevalent. I’m sure a sociologist could opine for days on why.

    Or maybe I am just a miserable malcontent. The 9-11 sticker is on top of one that reads, “Stop bitching and start a Revolution”

  25. CR, I’d have to agree with you about the bravery. I realized how little bravery I had when I was in Jr. High and president Reagan came to town. My mom and I went to the civic center with some signs on sticks. When I saw the line outside a quarter mile long, I got too scared to stand next to her and the relatively small group of protesters. I just wandered around by myself and flipped off the limo as it went by. Not very brave.

    Simon, do other intangible nouns get to have identities?

  26. Kingfisher says:

    “When I saw the line outside a quarter mile long, I got too scared to stand next to her and the relatively small group of protesters. I just wandered around by myself and flipped off the limo as it went by. Not very brave.”
    I wouldn’t beat yourself up about this, ZT. I imagine the situation you describe would be similar to the feelings people get from public speaking. It is something most people can’t jump right into and it requires baby steps at first.

    We all have fears inside us. They are wrinkles that need to be ironed out. It’s that we come to deal with them, which is important.

  27. @ZT Speaking of ‘intangible nouns’, I got curious about the origins of Zicatanka from my knowledge of the Lakota language. It appears to translate as ‘ape’ or ‘great ape’. I suppose this infers something. Please clarify if you wish. I enjoy your posts. No problem there.

  28. Hey, Simon, thanks for the message, koda. It’s Big Turkey. Usually used in reference to the domesticated variety served up at Thanksgiving. Zica (ZEE-cha) is turkey. I haven’t seen the reference to ape before, but I studied Dakota which is very close to Lakota (there’s also Nakota in the same family). I grew up in South Dakota where Lakota is still fluently spoken by many. Dakota, on the other hand is dying and there are very few fluent speakers and even fewer who spoke it as a primary language. It was my instructor’s first language.

    And thanks, KF, for the encouragement. I do my best, but that memory always helps me respect the courage of others.

  29. another day flies by. Rich and energetic. The drones will have flown, will be flying still, heading this way and that. Do they have insignia?

    Interesting to consider NIST report on building 7 claimed the total 6.5second drop into its own footprint was due to snapping shear-studs between floor beams and concrete slabs in the model. which led to ‘thermal expansion’ by ‘office furnishings fire’ of floor beams, pushing the girder between column 44 and 79 off its welded/bolted seat, thus and thereafter cascading in ‘sequential collapse’ over the other 80 very cold columned 47 storied high rise connections, 2.6seconds at acknowledged free fall. Like jumping out of a plane free-fall.
    only trouble was, For NIST to get the shear studs to break in the model, they had to heat the beams ONLY and not the concrete they were SET INTO.[NIST NCSTAR 1-9:352: “No thermal expansion or material degradation was considered for the concrete slab, as the slab was not heated in this analysis”.]
    So this whole construct of war, this whole disaster of our time, is built on simulated shear studs[of the apocalypse] breaking in a rigged model by a politicized government department computer construct.

    Just thought I’d tell you that while we were here.

  30. 2 Years left till retirement. WE already have 22 acres in Peru and 9 acres in Brazil where our modest home is almost complete. With the retirement money and savings, we can finish out our days away from this place we once were proud to call home. I wish we could go now. I don’t want to be here anymore and I am saddened to see what our country has become. I know it will only get worse as time goes by and we have made up our minds not to spend our last years some place where we are no longer happy and don’t want to be. I thank GOD we never had kids to have to worry about. I don’t know where the planet is heading, but America is already gone. I’M afraid of BIG change, always have been and It will be alien to be away from this rat race, but good for our souls. Don’t blame me for giving up on my country, blame our country for giving up on it’s people. I cant wait to go through that last airport screening. It’s so so sad that the last memory we have will be of that…………….

  31. Excellent article, I think you are on to something about war as a dark organizing principle, not as mythicized appearance (like the story of WTC7s collapse) makes it seem as necessity–I think it filters all the way through society, people’s personal myths make them susceptible to the greater national war myths. Speaking of Kucinich speaking about civil rights, MLK said something like this that war and the war economy is part of the sickness of all aspects of the nation. There are so many amazing ideas out there that I think that the future of the country that necessarily must diverge from this dark organizing principle is potentially bright as can be. Here’s one for Max, forget the 22 acres, if you know what you’re doing, you can take less than one that no one else wants!

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