Marketing Fear

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The Bush administration would have us believe that there are terrorists lurking in every dark alley, sizing up shopping malls, public water reservoirs, and elementary schools in preparation for an attack. While government pronouncements tell us our leaders are making us safe, the reality is they are marketing fear as a way to manipulate the public into giving up its democratic rights. I oppose the Patriot Act and want to see it terminated.

          Other countries treat terrorists as international criminals, search them out, bring them to trial, incarcerate them, and then get on with civic life. Unfortunately, since 9/11, the US government has been fabricating and marketing irrational fear in every conceivable way available to them. Since then, in the name of National Security, we have been advised:

          These bizarrely unrealistic fears that the administration has been feeding us since 9/11 should be listed as an addictive substance and controlled by the FDA. Just as a reality check the odds of an American dying from an act of terrorism in this country in the year 2001 (which includes 9/11) was 1 in 100,000. In that fearful year you were:

          All these causes of death were far greater than the terrorism threat, but there were no laws passed, no countries bombed, no emergency expenditures of billions of dollars per month, no National Guard units dispatched, no orange alerts, no preventive war, no preemptive strike, no ‘war on terrorism’, and no U.S.A. Patriot Act. The public and our government fully accepts all these as just part of life. Yet we are told that we are in ongoing immanent danger from terrorists, we are constantly in harm’s way and that at any moment any one of us in this vast country may be killed by a terrorist attack.

          And now the January 19, 2006 NPR news says Osama’s newly released tape, among other things, suggestion talking about a truce. Our president’s response: “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.” And Vice President Chaney on the following day: “The only way to deal with terrorists is kill them.”

          This is macho junior-high school talk. If the administration is going to label this thing a war, they should play by the rules of war, one of which is negotiating truces when the possibility is offered. Precluding negotiations (as is done when we label them ‘the axis of evil’ etc.) leave us no path except military force. Through negotiations we could presumably learn a lot and agree to nothing. We might actually find Osama bin Laden.

          In order to better protect ourselves from a 9/11 recurrence, we certainly need to implement and carry out a number of rational acts such as electronic luggage surveillance and making cockpit doors impenetrable on commercial airplanes. However, we do not need restrict individual civil liberties as included in the U.S.A. Patriot Act. More than 150 years ago President Madison stated that "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the rights of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation."

          My primary concern in all this has to do with what became of the system of checks and balances built into our democratic system of government by our founding fathers? Congress is charged with the responsibility of holding the executive branch accountable to the law. What does accountability mean? At what point will the leaders of this administration be called to account for their actions?

          Against the will of our allies, we engaged in a war which was not declared by Congress, and which is theoretically over because it was announced as having been won by our president on the deck of an aircraft carrier over two years ago. We are now occupying a foreign country which we unilaterally stripped of its national sovereignty. And we did this for reasons which, one after another other, evaporated into mis-statements, faulty and contorted intelligence, and finally outright lies. Iraq was not a hotbed of terrorism before we invaded and occupied it. It now is, and we have made it that way.

          Preventive war as the basis of U.S. foreign policy is the most radical, extreme, and fundamental change (perversion) of our foreign policy in my lifetime. It is being used to disavow many of our long standing global treaty agreements, including judicial decisions, nuclear arms accords, controls on biological weapons, environmental protection, the international system of justice, the humane treatment of prisoners and to restrict our constitutional freedoms. This administration has neglected and damaged alliances with most of the very nations we need to have join us in the long term fight against global terrorism. Does this represent “the will of the people”?

          Where is Congress in all this? I want my Congressional representatives to oppose the extension or expansion of the Patriot Act. I want them to hold the administration accountable for the national and international laws which they have chosen to flaunt. I want our freedoms protected, not restricted, abridged, or curtailed in a fabricated defense of our national security. I want the administration called to account for the unlawful telephone tapping of our own citizens.

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Bill Dillon (KG4QFM)
Pat Watt (KG4QFQ)
This page was last modified on August 9, 2009

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January 23, 2006
by Bill Dillon