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Furious Americans

by Thomas Fischermann Monday, Sep. 22, 2003 at 10:30 AM

"Mistrust toward overly curious state snoopers is an American characteristic.. Furious Americans mix among the mourners. `Fascism is Un-American', `Patriots against Bush' and `Act American!' were proclaimed at civilrights demonstrations

Furious Americans

Washington Manipulates the Anniversary of September 11 for its own Agenda

By Thomas Fischermann

[This article originally published in: DIE ZEIT 38/2003 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]

In New York the commemorative ceremonies on the second anniversary of September 11 continue. For three-and-a-half hours since early morning, the gaping hole at Ground Zero was filled with the families of the victims. The families observe a quiet and depressing ceremony with moments of silence. The names of the victims are read aloud.

Mourning, farewell and healing are not the only emotions these days. Americans get worked up in remembering the terror day two years ago. There isn’t only rage at the suicide culprits or the ringleader Osama Bin Laden who was seen on videotape a few days ago.

“Seen in retrospect, the terrorists achieved an astonishing success,” rails Bill Scannell, a civil rights activist and constitution defender from Austin, Texas. “America is becoming less American from day to day. A surveillance state is arising.”

Scannell’s websites are clearly different than the mourning announcements on the Internet, in magazines, on television and on signs around Ground Zero (“We will never forget”). Scannell’s webpages include and The webpages call to all kinds of protests and boycotts and warn of a consequence of September 11 that the Washington administration exploits the anti-terror frenzy for its own purposes and excessively expands the authorities of its security forces.

Large established civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) protested loudly month after month against the supposed anti-terrorist measures. New laws on interrogating suspects, building dubious data-banks with notes on political convictions and participation in demonstrations, shady military prisons in Guantanamo Bay, indefinite incarceration of illegal immigrants, gradual restriction of travel freedom – for example the right to travel through the entire country without an identification card -, the interconnection of police and secret services interested in data bout traveling foreigners from Germany for example and forcing international authorities to cooperate with carrots and sticks. “The terrorism information program was never intended as a surveillance institution for Americans”, John M Poindexter wrote ambiguously a few days ago in the New York Times. Last month he had to resign as director of the “Information Awareness Office” because he had gone too far with his data collection.

Mistrust toward overly curious state snoopers is an American characteristic. That one must show papers or identification at every street corner was until recently a popular American stereotype about Germany. People no longer know what they should think since September 11. “I see many reactions of people whose freedom rights are now incredibly whittled down to gain a little questionable security”, Scannell says. His websites include several responses with themes like “Go to Afghanistan”.

Many civil rights activists assu9me that many additional laws that Bush and his Attorney General John Ashcroft urge these days don’t have much to do with terrorism itself. A considerable outcry was heard when pResident Bush gave a strongly worded speech for more police powers a day before September 11 and then before jubilant recruits at an FBI training facility. His most controversial proposal was allowing “administrative subpoenas” and search orders without judges or juries. This was against terrorism, Bush said (some security experts doubt whether it will help much, for example against fraudulent doctors in the Public Health system). According to Mother Jones magazine, the FBI and other divisions of the Department of Justice have executed 18,000 “anti-terror” search orders and subpoenas since September 11, intercepted thousands of telephone calls and emails and carried out 170 “emergency-arrests on account of espionage”. This was more than in the last decades all together. Most cases involved a violation of immigration rules, misuse of social security numbers, drunkenness on airplanes and so on.

This explains why other furious Americans mix among the mourners. “Fascism is un-American”, “Patriots against Bush” and “Act like Americans” were proclaimed on the signs of civil rights demonstrations in Boston and Manhattan. More protests are planned for the coming weeks.

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