America's Democratic Collapse

Chris Hedges, Pulitzer prize-winning reporter and former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, posted his keynote address from an event on Wednesday, May 28, at Furman University’s Younts Conference Center on AlterNet. The event was held to protest the invitation of George W. Bush to give the university’s commencement address.

The address is a succinct and cutting argument against America’s current slide into corporate fascism. Pass it on.

From the address:

As the pressure mounts, as this despair and desperation reaches into larger and larger segments of the American populace, the mechanisms of corporate and government control are being bolstered to prevent civil unrest and instability. It is not accidental that with the rise of the corporate state comes the rise of the security state. This is why the Bush White House has pushed through the Patriot Act (and its renewal), the suspension of habeas corpus, the practice of “extraordinary rendition,” the warrantless wiretapping on American citizens and the refusal to ensure free and fair elections with verifiable ballot-counting. It is part of a package. It comes together. It is not about terrorism or national security. It is about control. It is about their control of us.

Sen. Frank Church, as chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence in 1975, investigated the government’s massive and highly secretive National Security Agency. He wrote:

“That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. Telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology. I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capability that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”

When Sen. Church made this statement, the NSA was not authorized to spy on American citizens. Today it is.

We should all be grateful to Chris for his patriotic dissent. Read the full address here.

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