- September 11, 2001. The entire nation is shocked as
TV replays the havoc of that day of infamy over and over and
- But quite frankly, I am still waiting for the second
shoe to drop. As a lowly Infantry Assistant Squad Leader, I knew that
when we gained an advantage over a German position, we were to exploit
the opportunity and see what further damage we could inflict. We were
trained to maximize our tactical advantage.
- In every imaginable way, America was up against the
ropes on 9/11. I remember telling my wife, "I wonder what will happen
next? Will they unleash the terror of either biological or chemical
attacks? Will they invade our computer systems and bring the country
to a standstill? What ace do they have up their sleeve?" But nothing
happened. The first punch was thrown. Our defenses were down and the
knockout punch was never delivered. It didn't make any sense to me
then, and it still doesn't eleven months later. Why has the other shoe
- Possible explanations are that bin Laden is a dumb
turkey or that he did not have the wherewithal to conduct a second
strike. Neither one of these alternatives seems credible. I don't
think bin Laden was overly worried about the ability of our
intelligence apparatus to stop a follow-up blow. They seemed to have
had some opportunity to stop the first strike and for whatever reason
they failed to do so. Since the best predictor of future performance
is past behavior, bin Laden could readily have believed he didn't have
too much to worry about from the C.I.A. or the F.B.I.
- While Al Qaeda was sitting on the sidelines, our
President was quick to follow up. He now had the opportunity to unite
the nation against a seemingly real threat. He would emerge as a
decisive leader who knew what was good for the nation. However, his
measures far exceeded prudent security procedures. He sought to alarm
the American people by insisting there is an "Axis of Evil" and
issuing periodic messages of impending attacks to frighten our
- A central bureau to protect our Vaterland was
created. This President, who had always railed against government
control of the people, now instituted the most widespread network of a
centralized agency. It was given power to proceed against suspects
without due process of law and anyone was a suspect who was declared
to be a potential threat by the Attorney General. No proof was needed
other than the word of Ashcroft, a man whose emotional maturity is
- A benumbed Congress passed the USA Patriot Act the
month following 9/11.
- Many clauses of this Act deny constitutional rights.
Under a Supreme Court guided by Constitutional principles rather than
dogmatic ideologies, the Act would most likely be adjudged
unconstitutional but with our current Supreme Court, all bets are
- The fact that this administration would not think
twice to deny civil liberties to citizens who stand in the way of its
agenda is not earthshaking news - it is troublesome news, but not
totally unexpected, since it does not seem to be out of character for
this administration. After all, the appointment of an Attorney General
who takes his marching orders from the moralism of his personal
religion rather than the Constitution also foreshadows the direction
of things to come.
- Doreen Miller wrote a very incisive article on the
dangers of the USA Patriot Act entitled "High treason in the U.S.
government." It is must reading in order to understand the potential
threat to any citizen who raises his or her voice for freedom.
Whatever policies King George III instituted to limit the freedom of
the American Colonists were mere child's play when compared to the
dictatorial powers handed the Executive Branch by the U.S. Congress to
limit freedom and abrogate the Bill of Rights.
- The paragraph in Ms. Miller's column that most
caught my attention reads: "U.S. government officials would have us
believe that this 342- page, complexly nuanced document was allegedly
crafted after September 11 in the time span of little over a month. To
accomplish this feat would have required the in-depth study of fifteen
other lengthy acts and statutes which it modifies and amends."
- Let me revert to the major premise of a previous
column I wrote for YellowTimes.org, "Economics 101: Turning water into
wine." In it I make the point that dissection is not comprehension. I
am more concerned with the possible reasons behind the Act rather than
its actual clauses. Taking my cue from Ms. Miller, I assume also that
this Act had been drawn up, or at least in draft, before the event of
- The President was not generating the steam he
desired. Before 9/11, the economy had started to look a bit shaky and
the President's advisors knew that people are inclined to vote their
pocketbooks. So, the President tried to buy the American people with a
tax refund and a tax cut. He then used the Bully Pulpit to persuade us
to go out and buy and buy in order to shore up the economy.
- But the ploy did not work; most of the refund went
to the super-rich. The tax refund didn't produce the desired results.
In the meantime, collections by the Treasury declined. The dotcoms
began to crumble. Interestingly, by Executive Order, the President
impounded his Father's Presidential papers at the very time that they
should have become public property. What's being hidden?
- The executive team was holding its collective breath
to find an opportunity, any opportunity, to make the President look,
well, presidential. Being a rather smart group of folks, they were
ready for any eventuality. The intelligence community must have heard
rumors of a potential terrorist attack. (If they did not, why are we
spending billions on their activities?) What better opportunity to
solidify the grip of the Executive Office over the American people
than a threat to their collective security? A terrorist attack would
provide a golden opportunity to weld the will of the American people
into a united front against the attackers of our cherished
- It's a similar scenario as the attack on Pearl
Harbor. Does it not make sense that long before 9/11, the
Administration undertook the writing of the USA Patriot Act? They just
waited for a proper event providing justification to deprive the
citizenry of its freedom. In the intense emotionality generated by
9/11, it would have seemed unpatriotic to question this Act or to vote
against its passage.
- But why would the President, sworn to uphold the
Constitution of the United States, limit Civil Rights and have in
readiness an Act that virtually allows him to declare martial law? If
there is a loss of popularity, an erosion of faith by the populace in
the leadership, how could the people's opinion be coerced to put their
trust in the President?
- In his book "Motivation and Personality," published
in 1954, Abraham Maslow makes the case that human needs arise in an
orderly, predictable manner. At the bottom of his "Pyramid" is the
need for food. A hungry person will give up everything else to obtain
food in order to survive. Once the need for food is satisfied, the
behavioral dynamics of life drive the individual to the next level,
the "Safety Need." This not only includes basic creature comforts such
as housing and clothing, but also personal safety. The next step is
the need to interact socially with others. After that life moves to
the level of "Self-Esteem," then "Self-Actualization" or "Self-
Realization," "Wisdom," and finally the need for the
- Here is what Maslow says about the Safety Need: "The
safety needs can become very urgent on the social scene whenever there
are real threats to law, to order, to the authority of society. The
threat of chaos or nihilism can be expected in most human beings to
produce a regression from any higher need to the more prepotent safety
needs. A common, almost expectable reaction is the easier acceptance
of dictatorship of military rule."
- In view of above thought we can begin to understand
the frenzy of the Executive Office to keep people's sense of safety in
a state of imbalance. A sense of insecurity makes it easy to impose
autocracy on a nation. Hitler scared the German people with the threat
of Communism as well as the threat of continuing economic chaos in
Germany imposed by the Versailles Treaty.
- In case anyone questions the intent of Oval Office
to impose a potential reign of terror on America, he or she has only
to look at some of the clauses of the Act. The Attorney General has
the right to designate anyone as a terrorist who appears to be one!
Section 213 permits government agents to go into the home of anyone
who appears to be a terrorist and seize whatever they deem to be of
importance in proving the person to be subversive. This "unreasonable
search and seizure" can be conducted while the suspected individual is
away from his home.
- Again let me urge you to read Ms. Miller's article
that dissects the Act rather well.
- Why would anyone who has sworn to uphold the
Constitution of the United States, promulgate such a devious Act? The
Act shreds the Magna Carta no less than did Anderson's shredding of
Enron documents. It is an Act potentially depriving us of our civil
rights no less than did imprisonment of dissidents in Russian gulags
or German Concentration Camps. Why?
- I think the answer can be found in the basic
ideological concepts embraced by this administration. It is an
erroneous assumption but one deeply ingrained in the psyche of our
species. Goethe puts the problem into focus. He said, "What is
important in life is life; not a result in life." Life is the very
opposite of a cold, decaying, rotting body. Life is dynamic, ongoing,
changing, and active. Life is always becoming. Death is a result.
Death has "become." The swirling, expanding, developing, moving
universe presents prima facie evidence that this undivided whole of an
implicit order represents not a "result" but rather a "becoming."
Results are merely points of death along the days of our lives. Unless
results are only seen as temporary stopping places, the intentioned
springboard for new ventures, they constitute frozen, lifeless
- Our religious tradition teaches, in spite of all the
evidence to the contrary, "God rested on the seventh day." Religion
declares that the universe is an accomplished fact. Wrapped in this is
the implication that all moral values have also been set in concrete.
Incised in granite were all the Commandments, rules, regulations,
laws, executive orders, and even the Supreme Court decisions on how
men and women should behave. In other words, the world "became"
whenever the Almighty ordained it. Traditional lore does not see life,
society, culture, and the world as becoming, but rather as static
revelations of God. Therefore, those who believe that God ordained an
unchanging, eternal order feel compelled to force all things and all
people into that divinely, predestined system. The defenders of the
true faith believe that they are ordained of God to use all means fair
or foul to instill that fixed eternal totality into the dumb sinners
who will not accept the absolute and final act of creation.
- So, local informers are being deputized to spy on
all these ungodly creatures. Because they are ungodly they have no
rights as human beings. In essence, they are subhuman because they
refuse to knuckle under the dictates of the enlightened ones. Whatever
means are needed will be used to whip the population into line. Those
resisting that eternal order will be eliminated since they are
anathema to the faithful.
- Makes sense? Well, it does if you have bought into
the philosophy proclaiming that on the seventh day all acts of
creation ceased. A static view of life makes sense if you reject the
fact that at this very moment new stars are born and old stars are
dying. It makes sense to be a reactionary if you don't believe that
living things mutate, change, and evolve. It makes sense if you close
your eyes to the fact that the important thing about life is life. If
you think that life is a fixed result - the reactionary results of a
misguided religious sentiment - then by God you are under orders to
get rid of the non- believing bastards.
- Those who seek to impose their will on the people
are not above the use of any means to whip the masses into line. A
quote often attributed to Julius Caesar (although not appearing in any
of his writings) is: "Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in
order to whip up the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism
is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as
it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever
pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the
leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry.
Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism,
will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How
do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar."
- Sound vaguely familiar?
- Belief in an absolutely static universe in which God
has fully revealed the totality of all creation, all moral values, all
political dynamics, becomes the touchstone forcing people to
substitute this lifeless form in place of life. It is a form lacking
in vitality and movement. It is a form perceived in the frozen
grimaces of the leaders of the dead. Such a manifestation of death
only seeks a provocation to spew its rotting offal over an entire
- Fearing for their very lives if they do not obey,
the masses embrace their spiritless leaders. These living dead seek to
kill love and light, learning and laughter. They have laws in place to
whisk away, without due process of law, anyone they deem to be a
threat to their celebration of death and destruction of the human
spirit. These self- serving moralists whose thoughts are generated in
the catacombs of their lusterless brains, do not understand that the
meaning of life is life!
- They fail to understand the child-like innocence of
the living. The dragons of these alien life forms seek to dominate the
desert realm of their empires by peddling their petty "Thou Shalts!"
and "Thou Musts" as the voice of God. The living dead do not see each
day as a new beginning and a self-rolling wheel. They miss the holy
Yea of the dawn rising over the ebon darkness of ignorance and
prejudice. They force life into the straight jacket of dead creeds,
the mummified bodies of lifeless dogmas, and the corpses of extinct
ideologies. (After Nietzsche's Three Metamorphoses in "Thus Spake
- And that, I believe, is the fundamental reason
calling into existence the Patriot Act. It allows the dead to kill the
- [John Brand is a Purple Heart, Combat Infantry
veteran of World War II. He received his Juris Doctor degree at
Northwestern University and a Master of Theology and a Doctor of
Ministry at Southern Methodist University. He served as a Methodist
minister for 19 years, was Vice President, Birkman & Associates,
Industrial Psychologists, and concluded his career as Director,
Organizational and Human Resources, Warren-King Enterprises, an
independent oil and gas company. He is the author of "Shaking the
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