Police State Europe
by Stephen Lendman
Churchill once said: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” More recently, former Obama White House chief of staff/current Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel said earlier: “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
Post-9/11, America enacted the repressive USA Patriot Act, eviscerating Bill of Rights protections, the Homeland Security Act establishing a national Gestapo, along with various other police state laws and presidential diktats - destroying fundamental freedoms.
After January’s Charlie Hebdo/kosher market attacks, French lawmakers enacted legislation authorizing mass surveillance powers, similar to sweeping NSA spying on US citizens - permitting warrantless mass phone tapping and online communications monitoring.
After French President Francois Hollande called last Friday’s Paris attacks “an act of war,” a state of emergency was declared, suspending constitutional rule - followed by lawmakers enacting France’s version of America’s Patriot Act.
Both measures were written well in advance, put on the shelf, ready to be introduced and enacted into law once a convenient crisis occurred permitting it.
According to French political analyst Gilbert Mercier, “(t)he French government's reaction was both panicked and swift, and it immediately embraced repressive authoritarian measures similar to those that had been set up by the Bush administration in the aftermath of 9/11/2001.”
“Just like 9/11 in the United States, it seems that the way France's bloody Friday will be exploited matters more than the tragedy itself.”
“There is no better justification to crack down on civil liberty, freedom and other principles that define the essence of democracy than the good old permanent global war on terror” - especially in the wake of a significant incident like last Friday, arousing worldwide angst.
France is now a full-blown police state - absent constitutional protections. Heavily armed soldiers patrol publicly. Authorities afforded themselves sweeping powers to make “preemptive arrests without probable cause, of any individual deemed…to be suspect or dangerous,” Mercier explained - putting government critics at risk, leaving them vulnerable to arrest, prosecution and imprisonment for anything called endangering national security.
Edward Snowden exposed the infrastructure of US police state powers, exceeding the worst of earlier totalitarian regimes. Big Brother watches everyone.
War on Islam continues at home and abroad. Thousands of political prisoners languish in America’s global gulag, operating at home and abroad, the public largely mindless of what’s happening.
Fear-mongering propaganda convinces people to believe sacrificing their fundamental freedoms protects their security.
On Monday, Hollande addressed parliament, calling for sweeping imposition of police state authority. He wants constitutional law changed, permitting permanent martial law under a state of emergency - ending the fading remnants of “liberte, egalite, (and) fraternite” if enacted.
Hollande claimed he wants terrorism combatted “compatible with the rule of law,” while asking parliamentarians to subvert it in the name of national security.
In early November, Britain’s home secretary Theresa May introduced a new Investigatory Powers Bill - permitting enhanced surveillance powers. Prime Minister David Cameron wants accelerated efforts to enact it into law. Its draconian provisions include:
- requiring web and phone companies to maintain records of web sites visited by all online UK users for at least 12 months;
- authorizing for the first time bulk collection of personal communications, affecting everyone;
- permitting police and other security services to hack into and/or bug phones and computers; and
- requiring phone and Internet companies to cooperate with state authorities, among other enhanced draconian security provisions.
Cameron announced adding 1,900 new GCHQ (Britain’s NSA equivalent) spies - saying, “I am determined to prioritize the resources we need to combat the terrorist threat.”
Critics call the new measure a “breathtaking attack on Internet security.” The London-based Open Rights Group advocates for online openness - “a society built on laws, free from disproportionate, unaccountable surveillance and censorship.”
It urged careful “scrutini(y) and debate” before rushing to enact the Investigatory Powers Bill, assuring nothing in it compromises fundamental online freedoms.
Independent terrorism legislation reviewer Lord Carlile called for “expedited” enactment. Legal expert David Allen Green tweeted: “Not a single person calling for more legal powers for security powers can explain how those powers would actually prevent atrocities.”
“France *already* had the state surveillance powers which the UK security lobby are now urging. The Paris atrocities still happened.”
Expect enhanced security measures instituted in other European countries, including likely repressive legislation. Italy tightened security at key sites and along its borders, especially with France.
Rome visitors now see heavily armed soldiers patrolling in front of the Colosseum, inside St. Peter’s Square and at other sites. Expect open borders now to close.
Belgium and Hungary imposed spot vehicle checks. Local authorities in some European countries vowed to impose their own draconian measures if national governments failed to act.
In Germany, Bavarian finance minister Markus Soeder said “(t)he days of unchecked immigration” are over, “illegal entry can’t continue. Paris change(d) everything.”
US intelligence officials believe Paris attackers used encrypted communications - urged far-reaching reexamination of government policy on data collection and surveillance.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch MConnell (R. KY) wants America’s security laws reviewed and enhanced to “reflect the modern threat.” CIA director John Brennan called Paris attacks “a wake-up call.”
Expect enhanced draconian legislation and other measures to follow - in America and across Europe. Orwell’s full-blown nightmare approaches.
Benjamin Franklin once said sacrificing freedom for greater security assures losing both. It’s happening in plain sight.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.