One way a government mobilizes support for morally dubious actions is to make those actions sound like the right thing to do. Decisions made for other reasons entirely, for reasons of strategy, say, or economic advantage, are cloaked in religious rhetoric, and when our leaders claim the moral high ground, we the people want to believe them.
Recent caricatures show how Muslim terrorists like Osama bin Laden and Christian crusaders like George W. Bush use nearly identical rhetoric to justify their actions. Both abuse their religious traditions to manipulate believers in those traditions.
This gets a person with a strong conscience into a real pickle. The simple fact is, any person willing to act on the convictions of a strong conscience is as much an enemy of the state as an avowed terrorist because he or she will not accept the designer lies of the state as the motivation for its morally dubious actions.
Perhaps this is illustrated best with a historical example. Let’s use Operation Paperclip.
The United States and its Western European allies agreed after World War II to deny immigration rights and work opportunities to Nazis with scientific and technological expertise who were more than trivially connected to the Third Reich. Those who joined the party before 1933 or advanced in the SA (Brown Shirts) or the SS or were identified by credible witnesses as participating in atrocities were included in that category.
Contradictions arose, however, after the war. Denying German scientific expertise to the Soviets and using it ourselves became primary motivations for wanting those Germans here, working for us. Over time the need for German proficiency in aerospace design, lasers and other advanced research superseded moral concerns for what they had done during the war.
Operation Paperclip was the name of the project that assimilated Nazi scientists into the American establishment by obscuring their histories and short-circuiting efforts to bring their true stories to light. The project was led by officers in the U.S. Army Although the program officially ended in September 1947, those officers and others carried out a conspiracy until the mid-’50s that bypassed both law and presidential directive to keep Paperclip going. Neither Truman nor Eisenhower were informed that their instructions were ignored, and if there is a lesson to be learned from Operation Paperclip, it is that, as Elie Wiesel said of the Holocaust, the world can get away with it.
Please note: Those who documented Operation Paperclip are not “conspiracy theorists.” They are journalists and scholars who described a genuine conspiracy.
Fast forward 50 years.
When Total Information Awareness–the effort to mine and correlate vast amounts of data about Americans and non-Americans alike–became public knowledge, it was assailed for further eroding civil liberties already undermined by the Patriot Act, rights previously guaranteed by the Constitution.
Asked at a news conference about Total Information Awareness, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld laughed and said, well then we’ll change the name and do it anyway.
Rumsfeld was just stating the obvious. Data mining has long been an important area of research for the intelligence establishment. The ability to filter out irrelevant data and align the many signals transmitted by our daily transactions into profiles with predictive value has been pursued for a long time. Rumsfeld was just saying, OK, if there’s a problem with the name, we’ll change the name and do it secretly.
It’s the combination of eradicating rights guaranteed by the Constitution such as habeas corpus and modern technologies that enable the national security state to know and anticipate the tendencies of the souls of its citizenry, all in the name of counterterrorism, that makes us nervous.
This is not a conspiracy theory. It is a literal description of what our leadership is doing
Back in the early days of Paperclip, when those with consciences and/or memories of Nazi atrocities tried to stop the steamroller, they were accused of being communist agents or sympathizers or useful idiots who did not know they were manipulated by the Communist Party.
Real enemies during the Cold War became the justification for labeling persons of conscience enemies too, a strategy that was canny and intentional.
Today real terrorists are the justification for targeting persons of conscience as if they are enemies not only of America but of the American Empire too.
“Even before 9/11, U.S. armed services professionals were engaged in operations in 150 countries a year,” noted Robert Kaplan approvingly in the 2003 Pitcairn Trust Lecture on World Affairs. “It is already a cliche to say that by any historical standard the United States is more an empire, especially a military one, than many care to acknowledge.”