Happy New Year
Source Dan Scanlan
Date 03/12/31/16:54

At year's end, signs of dictatorship abound in Washington

By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

December 30, 2003-As 2003 winds to a close, it is perhaps timely to
assess the state of affairs in the nation's capital. As a long time
resident of Washington, DC, it is striking how this city has
changed-and not for the better.

The telltale signs of dictatorship and fascism abound in this city on
the Potomac. Some of the signs-concrete barricades and 8-foot walls
around monuments-are apparent. Others, like video cameras, although
more subtle, are every bit as ubiquitous. For those who have never
visited Washington, DC, or who traveled here during better times, the
city that is suppose to represent the aspirations of the American
people is now a hollow shell of its former self.

The White House Ellipse is now a security bivouac. The grassy area
that once played host to Frisbee games between dogs and their owners,
touch football scrimmages, and throngs of tourists marveling at the
south façade of the White House are largely gone. They have been
replaced by chain link fences, concrete Jersey barriers, menacing
black Secret Service SUVs, squad cars, and security "men in black"
armed to the teeth. Sitting in the midst of this security encampment
is the National Christmas Tree. Once surrounded by rosy-cheeked
youngsters who marveled at its thousands of ornaments and lights up
close, the tree is now viewed after dark from afar-its future as
endangered as its rooted relatives in the Rocky Mountain and Alaska
National Forest and Wilderness areas.

Vice President Dick Cheney sent out thousands of Christmas cards this
year that extolled the Bush administration's international imperial
agenda by suggesting God approves it. Taking a quote by founder
Benjamin Franklin out of context, Cheney's card read, "And if a
sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable
that an empire can rise without His aid?" Fascists, imperialists, and
colonialists throughout history have tried to invoke God's name in
justifying their global ambitions. The Bush-Cheney regime is no
different and hopefully it will meet the same fate as its fascist and
imperial antecedents.

Across Constitution Avenue, the Washington Monument is surrounded by
an 8-foot wall, reminiscent of the one that used to divide Berlin and
the one now being built to bifurcate the West Bank. A similar wall
surrounds the U.S. Capitol-the so-called "peoples' house," and one
has been erected on one side of the Supreme Court. The steps of the
Supreme Court are now largely restricted to access by "we the
people." The Capitol Building is constructing an underground security
control center that will soon screen Girl Scouts and 4-H Club members
as suspected terrorists.

If you are doing a news report or a documentary and set down a camera
tripod on the National Mall or at any of the monuments, you will be
confronted by nasty Park Police, who order you not to film without
permission from the Park Police. Bush's thugs in the Interior
Department even go after their own. US Park Police Chief Teresa
Chambers was recently fired because she had the temerity to question
orders from above to use her thin forces to take on even more
"homeland security" surveillance duties.

The famed Washington Metro system now bans the sale of newspapers in
its stations. Newspaper vending machines have been boarded up. Trash
piles up on subway platforms and trains because waste containers on
the concourses are also banned. Recorded announcements appeal to
passengers to report anyone who looks "suspicious." Recently there
was an incident in the Metro Center station in which a vicious Metro
police German shepherd viciously lunged at a man's seeing-eye dog.
The police dog's handler seemed amused by the incident while the poor
blind man was truly as upset and disoriented as his canine companion.
The ghosts of Bull Connor of Alabama (who ordered German shepherd
attacks on African American civil rights marchers) and the dog
handling Nazi guards of Auschwitz must be smiling down on Washington,

Retractable barricades now appear around the Senate and House office
buildings. Streets around the Capitol, with their barricades and
guards, resemble Checkpoint Charlie in East Berlin or the armistice
site at Panmunjom on the 38th parallel of Korea. Even the once
publicly-accessible Library of Congress, complete with its own
barricades, seems to say in agony, "I'm closed to the public."

Fly out of or into Washington's National Airport and you're informed
that if anyone stands up within 30 minutes from takeoff or landing,
the plane will be diverted to another airport under military escort.
Of course, none of the planes involved in 911 took off from National
Airport. But in an era of Code Orange terror alerts being declared
around every American holiday, the people just do as their told and
don't ask why.

The Christmas Code Orange alert named Washington, DC, as a likely
target. Washington's tourist industry, already pummeled by 9/11,
cannot take many more hits. But for an administration that has done
everything to block access to government buildings and monuments by
tourists, such alerts seem to fit in nicely with its overall goal of
turning the nation's capital into a sterile and gray Pyongyang or
Cold War era East Berlin. No sooner had the Texans taken over the
White House, Washington area caterers felt the pinch. Gone are the
diplomatic receptions and elaborate state dinners for visiting
dignitaries. Washington's caterers, florists, limousine drivers,
hotels, upscale bars, and trendy restaurants immediately felt this
trickle down effect of Bush's low class approach to diplomacy. Around
my place of employment, a number of restaurants have shut their
doors. They include a trendy martini bar and restaurant, an upscale
Spanish tapas restaurant, an Italian deli, a health food eatery, and,
unbelievably, a Chinese restaurant. How many more Code Oranges and
phony terrorist alerts can this city take? Not many, I would suggest.
The glamorous days of Kennedy's Camelot and Reagan's "Morning in
America" at the White House are now in the distant past for America's

Drivers and passengers who drive past the Pentagon on Virginia state
highways are confronted by menacing Humvees with their high caliber
machine guns pointed at the traffic. Virginia State Police cars are
required to stop suspicious vehicles on the highways long before they
approach the Pentagon. One such "suspicious" vehicle stopped and
searched during the past year was the Oscar Mayer "Weiner Mobile." A
number of commercial vehicles driven by dark skinned and hirsute men
have been stopped, questioned, and searched by police engaged in
blatant "ethnic profiling." Targets have included tow truck
operators, couriers, caterers, and airport shuttle van drivers.

Tours of the White House are out. So is the famous White House Easter
egg roll (it is now reserved for the kids of Bush's cabal and select
service peoples' children). Public tours of the FBI are a thing of
the past, so are those of the Pentagon. Forget strolling through the
Capitol Building unless you pay for an organized tour (the GOP
trickle up theory in action).

Sirens constantly wail in the nation's capital and its Virginia and
Maryland suburbs. One security expert has reported that Washington,
DC, Metro Police have sometimes been instructed to turn on their
sirens for no reason because police in Israel discovered that sirens
are a psychological deterrent to would-be terrorists. Add the sirens
to the almost constant noise from patrol helicopters, fighter
aircraft, and the extremely high-pitched whine from unmanned aerial
vehicles and you realize you no longer live in the capital of the
Free World, but some bizarre Twilight Zone version of the capital
city of an America in its death throes after some sort of nuclear

The Canadian embassy near the Capitol now appears more and more like
an American embassy in some Third World dictatorship or behind the
Iron Curtain. It represents a land that is still largely free--and is
becoming home to a growing number of American emigrés-but is under
increased political pressure from the fascists in Washington to adopt
totalitarian ways. Just as Hitler constantly berated neighboring
Poland and France for Germany's ills, the Bush fascists have accused
Canada of being responsible for last August's major power failure and
now charge Canada with being responsible for the first mad cow
outbreak in the United States. Both charges are patently inane.

Take part in a constitutionally-protected demonstration in Washington
and you are instantly espied by video surveillance cameras situated
around the capital, in monuments like the Lincoln and Jefferson
Memorials, on roof tops of office buildings, on helicopters and in
glass bubbles disguised as street lamps. Cameras will soon be
installed on Potomac River dinner boats so John Ashcroft can know who
you are dining with and perhaps even what you are talking about.

Washington's homeless, while still relatively large in numbers, have
been strategically moved away from places where they once found
refuge. Lafayette Park, across from the White House, has been emptied
of many of its homeless "residents," while other areas such as
Farragut Square and a small park across from the State Department are
now largely devoid of the homeless. Where have they gone? It is a
question that is often asked around Washington these days, but many
fear the answer they might receive.

The Washington Post has become nothing more than a version of the old
Soviet-era paper Pravda. In fact, its nickname has become "Pravda on
the Potomac." Rather than investigate the mysterious "suicides" of
anti-Iraq war foreign policy experts who were reported to have jumped
from Washington buildings and the mysterious death of a Bush family
domestic employee in nearby Alexandria, Virginia, the Post continues
to sycophantically treat the Bush regime as a legitimate,
run-of-the-mill administration-publishing puff pieces on Bush's dogs
and White House Christmas decorations. White House press credentials
are considered as good as gold these days and the Post will bend over
backwards and forwards to keep its access to the West Wing.

The Washington corporate media acts as virtual public relations
agents for the dictatorship. Instead of concentrating on the myriad
scandals that envelop the Bush-Cheney regime, corporate broadcasters
conduct propaganda-oriented interviews with the fascistic political
leadership. Tim Russert of NBC's "Meet the Press" allows First Lady
"Pickles" Bush to get away with comparing President Kennedy's famous
Inaugural Address on America setting an example for the rest of the
world to her husband's pathetic reasons for preemptive warfare. In
response to Russert airing a tape of a speech by Dr. Martin Luther
King on volunteerism, Pickles invokes Colin Powell, as if she were
trying to say, "Yes, King's speech is okay, but our colored man also
said something important and better." Eva Braun could have not been
more condescending to the regime she blindly served.

There is a chance to try and return the nation's capital to the
American people. Let us hope and pray that next Christmas the White
House will be boxing up the Bush family possessions for their
shipment back to the Crawford "Ranch." With a new administration,
perhaps, just perhaps, this city will begin to return to better days.

Wayne Madsen has lived in Washington, DC, for 16 years. He is a
journalist, author, and syndicated columnist. He co-authored
"America's Nightmare: The Presidency of George Bush II."

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