Freedom and democracy are dying:
the top ten signs

"We're not a free country anymore. Because the people who are smart enough and powerful enough to take out a president 'like that' and get away with it. . . are probably involved in other areas of the government. In other words, the country is being run by people we did not vote for."
-- researcher Gary Mack, in The Men Who Killed Kennedy

By Maureen Farrell

Given time, inconsistencies in the official story always take their toll. Some fibs, like Condoleezza Rice's assertion that nobody imagined planes being used as weapons, are uncovered early on; while deeper mysteries, like John F. Kennedy's murder, unravel less quickly.

Though it took nearly 40 years and a team of British forensic scientists to finally prove, with 96.3 per cent accuracy, that JFK's assassination was the result of a conspiracy ("Study Backs Theory of 'Grassy Knoll,'" the Washington Post, March 26, 2001), by the time anyone heard Richard Nixon's taped confession that the Warren Commission was "the greatest hoax that has ever been perpetuated," more than three-quarters of Americans realized we'd been duped. Deemed a coup d'etat by forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht, the Kennedy killing was, above all, a plot to usurp American democracy. "The only way you prevent [future coup d'etats]" Wecht said, "is to expose those elements of government and society in this country that were responsible for the killing of John. F. Kennedy."

Are those sinister elements still at work?

Since coup d'etat deux (the 2000 election), we've had ample reason to believe so. The blatant lies told by this administration notwithstanding, we've been bombarded with a parade of decidedly undemocratic outrages. These have included the Patriot Act, secret detentions and an underground government.

Still hovering out there in the journalistic ether, these concerns have been touched upon, ever so gently, but new horrors slither steadily into peripheral view each day. And though Bush, Inc. continues to implicate itself, somehow it's protected -- while "we the people" are increasingly at risk.

Here are 10 brand new reasons to be alarmed:

1) The New Jersey Senate Race: Did Sen. William Frist actually say that New Jersey's Supreme Court was "overriding the will of the people?" What? By giving them a choice? The GOP's recent appeal to the Supreme Court to try to overturn the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision reeks to election high heaven.

"The 2000 presidential election set a precedent for the Supreme Court to get involved in state election fights," an unnamed (and hopefully deeply embarrassed) GOP spokesperson said. What's that saying about two wrongs not making a right? Unless you're an ethically-challenged hypocrite? If the GOP prevails, any illusions that this country is free will be shattered and democracy will be officially dead.

2) Iraq: Set aside, for a moment, the illegality and immorality of an Iraq attack. Ignore the charade behind Bush's U.N. appearance. And forget that, though generals warn of Armageddon, Richard Perle brays about cakewalks. Because in addition to concerns over lives, dollars and stability, one question begs an answer: What about the will of the American people?

According to Intervention Magazine, calls to Senate and House members are running 2-1 against giving George Bush a "blank check," while the radio program, Democracy Now! reports 22 out of 26 Senate offices saying constituents are expressing "overwhelming" opposition to an Iraq attack. None of this meshes with what we're being told. How can Congress "speak with one voice" in favor of war, if constituents are against it? Is consent being manufactured and democracy undermined?

"If the real motives were made clear," author Michael Klare wrote, "that this is a grab for oil . . . it would make our motives look more predatory than exemplary."

Filling in for Bush's #41 fabrications about discarded incubator babies, we now have blatant lies regarding Al Qaeda ties and weapons capabilities. But though some might be fooled into thinking our cause is just, others wonder: What else is Bush lying about?

3) The Project for the New American Century: Defined by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jay Bookman as a "group of conservative interventionists outraged by the thought that the United States might be forfeiting its chance at a global empire," the Project for the New America Century (PNAC) seems to have provided the blueprint for our dangerously misguided foreign policy.

With six of Bush's cabinet members (including the strangely Strangelovian Paul Wolfowitz) being directly involved, and Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Jeb Bush being among the recipients of its findings, PNAC is troubling for one important reason: Its published report, "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces And Resources For a New Century," has became our nation's playbook.

"America's 'core mission,'" these neo-cons wrote, is to "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major-theatre wars." The report was written in 2000, suggesting that "forever" war was planned even before the election.

Democracies don't function this way. Banana republics do.

4) The National Military Strategy Of the United States of America: "They hate us because we don't know why they hate us," asserted one writer following Sept. 11.

Nowhere is arrogance more glaring than in the recently released "National Military Strategy for the United States of America." Clarifying America's first strike policy and quest for global dominance, this new national strategy is Wolfowitz's vision of American Empire revisited. When the Wolfowitz Doctrine was leaked to the New York Times in 1992, former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown warned that our desire to control the world's resources, while squelching any chance for opposition, would present a "grave danger of nuclear war," and Sen. Kennedy accused the Pentagon of looking for ways "to justify Cold War levels of military spending."

Now that Wolfowitz's dream has become stated policy, there's been nary a peep. Foisted upon us, without the benefit of democracy, this bellicose, imperialistic policy makes the world a decidedly more dangerous place.

5) The Universal Military Training and Service Act: In December, 2001, HR 3598 was introduced in the House. And though President Bush stated last spring that "the country shouldn't expect there to be a draft," if passed, this bill will require all young men to report for 6-12 months of military training and education. Selective Service System official Lewis C. Brodsky believes that the nation should be prepared to conduct a draft, and Virginia's Gov. Mark Warner agrees.

Commenting on legislation that links driver's license applications to Selective Service registration (which 26 states have passed within the last two years), Gov. Warner said, "In this time of war, we need to make sure that we have a full sign up Selective Service," while adding, "I think most boys would be proud to do it."

When the body bags start pouring in from Iraq, Iran, or wherever our neo-con dictators lead us, Warner's thesis will be put to the test.

6) Dick Cheney's Stonewalling: As White House aides, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld persuaded President Ford to veto the Freedom of Information Act. But with Nixon's excesses freshly remembered, Congress overrode it. Since then (or at least until Team Bush shot it full of loopholes), the FOIA has protected the public's right to know.

Dick Cheney's refusal to turn over energy task force information, however, is an unprecedented and infuriating ploy to shield the executive branch from accountability.

Aside from prompting questions regarding what Cheney is hiding, a new concern emerges: When this matter is decided by the Bush-appointed judge assigned to the case (or, if need be, by the Supreme Court), if the vice president prevails, any faΩade that our selected officials are "public servants" will be forever stripped away.

7) Military Oddities: If tales of wedding party bombings and desert massacres weren't weird enough, stories concerning our military operations are getting progressively stranger. Recently, a BBC reporter in Afghanistan met up with American soldiers who handed him a laminated government-issued card. It instructed soldiers on how to interact with journalists. "How do you feel about what you're doing in Afghanistan?" one question read. "We're united in our purpose and committed to achieving our goals," came the scripted reply. "How long do you think that will take?" another asked. "We will stay here as long as it takes to get the job done - sir!" (For more information, see, pipeline, Unocal, Afghanistan).

This comes at a time, as the Washington Post reports, when the U.S. government is muzzling the media. Though Newsweek was able to cut though the propaganda regarding "Operation Mountain Sweep," journalists covering Guantanamo have no such luck. There, military personnel may only be interviewed under the watchful eye of media escorts, who accompany journalists everywhere, including the bathroom. Adding to the intrigue, 30 detainees have tried to commit suicide, and one Army staff sergeant assigned to guard detainees suddenly disappeared.

8) West Nile Virus: Understandably sensitive after being targeted during last fall's anthrax mailings, Sen. Patrick Lehey asserted that West Nile virus might be part of a bio-terror program. Conjuring visions of mad scientists injecting and infecting mosquitoes with teensy tiny needles (while cackling maniacally, of course), his claim was dismissed.

But as the Boston Globe recently reported, West Nile virus is now "causing" polio, though both stem from a different family of viruses. How then, one wonders, could this strain be nature-made? And wasn't West Nile added to Saddam Hussein's "made in the U.S.A." germ warfare cart during his Reagan/Bush era shopping spree?

Even so, Dr. Leonard says the issue runs deeper. Pointing to malathion, Anvil 10:10 and other toxins being sprayed to "protect" Americans from virus-bearing mosquitoes, he believes there is a "great likelihood" that the CIA is hyping West Nile to get the public to accept pesticide sprayings.

Citing declassified documents and congressional records proving America's role in Third World "depopulation programs," he says these sprayings weaken the immune system and increase susceptibility to deadlier forms of bio-terrorism and risky vaccinations. In other words, he believes some U.S. citizens might be slated for "depopulation," too.

Too X-Filish? Regardless, there's no reason to doubt the doctor's expertise on malathion and the immune system -- which, in itself, doesn't bode well for those living in heavily sprayed areas, should smallpox vaccinations be implemented.

9) Missing Children Media Hype: Can anyone explain the media hype surrounding missing children this summer, despite FBI statistics that show that kidnappings are on the decline?

After several nights of kidnapping-related alerts, a mother from Texas, whose infant was stolen the day before, interrupted regularly scheduled programming to give a nationally televised press conference - even though she didn't speak English and her baby was returned unharmed. This was 0 per cent newsworthy, 100 per cent surreal.

Oddly enough, the very next day, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a front-page story on why parents should consider having their children implanted with microchips. "We have [global positioning system] units for our cars," Applied Digital spokesperson Matthew Cossolo told the Inquirer. "If your car is stolen, we can locate it. Do we love our cars more than our children?"

When televised assaults are presented alongside front-page commercials, masquerading as news, the Orwellian implications are too striking to overlook.

10) The Patriot Act, Secret Detentions, the Shadow Government, Military Tribunals, Concentration Camps, Enron, Thwarted Investigations and "Veritable Blueprints" Regarding Sept. 11: Though these are all "old concerns," together they serve as one big reminder of what has befallen our nation in the past year. Bush can scoff at Hitler comparisons all he likes, but America no longer feels like the land of liberty.

Democracy is dying, Mr. President, and you're tugging at the noose.

Which brings us back to square one. "One of my greatest shames, as a journalist," Hunter S. Thompson said in a recent interview, "is that I still don't know who killed Jack Kennedy."

Considering where we're headed, it's the nation's shame, too.

Freelance writer and media consultant Maureen Farrell specializes in helping authors get booked on radio and television talk shows. Her views regarding threats to American democracy were shaped, in large part, by her experiences with these authors, many of whom have been proven prophetic since the 2000 election in the USA. Other articles she has written are posted at the website: