Where Were You When They Took Your Rights Away?

By David Swanson

Can you name the one country on earth where the government can steal elections, strip away basic rights, spy on citizens, and launch wars based on lies, but where the people do not take over the nation’s capital in protest?

If you said the United States, you’ll be wrong on September fifth when Camp Democracy begins on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
http://www.campdemocracy.org

At long last, Americans are preparing to say “Enough is enough,” and to do what Ukrainians, Mexicans, or any other people not drugged into acquiescence would do when things got this bad: occupy the capital city to demand peace, justice, and accountability.

The goal of the many organizations and individuals working to prepare for Camp Democracy is to provide a space for everyone who is fed up with lies and criminality to come and demand change. In fact, at the suggestion of Cindy Sheehan who will come to Camp Democracy following Camp Casey (Aug. 16 – Sept. 2 in Crawford, Texas), we’re calling it Camp Democracy at Fort Fed Up. Our demands will not be for anarchy or disorder, but for a restoration of the rule of law. This is a tough-on-crime movement. We just have a different notion of who the criminals are. And when we get tough, we use nonviolence.

Camp Democracy will offer training in nonviolent protest, as well as in media production, activism, and PR. There will be workshops provided by top scholars and activists on a variety of issues – all of them connected by the democracy deficit, the shifting of resources against our will to war and away from useful endeavors. A schedule of events is posted on the right side of the website http://www.campdemocracy.org and we’ll be building toward the International Day of Peace on September 21, when the Declaration of Peace has pledged to begin civil disobedience. http://www.declarationofpeace.org

While we are working hard to provide tents, bathrooms, stages, and necessary equipment, to arrange for places to stay and food to eat, and to schedule a rich array of educational and inspirational activities, Camp Democracy will become whatever the people who take part choose to make it. The effort is nonpartisan and will seek to hold Congress Members accountable as well as Bush, Cheney, and gang. But one focus of the camp will be impeachment. Speakers leading workshops on the subject will include Howard Zinn, Marcus Raskin, John Nichols, Dave Lindorff, Barbara Olshansky, and many more.

This morning I was a guest lecturer at a college course on modern history. We spent two hours discussing impeachment, impeachable offenses, and where the Bush Administration’s actions fit in history. This is where I think they fit: as a significant threat to end the oldest democracy on the planet. Never before has an American president offered anything close to this wide-ranging assault on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the powers of the legislative and judicial branches of government.

Here’s a sampling:

• Illegal spying in violation of FISA and the Fourth Amendment, openly confessed to, openly promoted in signing statements, known to involve phone calls, phone records, internet use, bank records, and observation of legal nonviolent activities.
• Illegal detentions in violation of the Fourth Amendment, International law, U.S. Law, and a recent Supreme Court ruling.
• Rounding up of thousands of citizens and legal residents for detention or deportation.
• Torture, maintenance of secret camps, and extraordinary rendition, in violation of the Fourth Amendment, International Law, US Law, and openly promoted in signing statement and administration policy papers.
• Illegal war – launched illegally under international law, launched in violation of the U.S. Constitution which requires that the Congress declare war, and launched on the basis of feloniously misleading Congress and the American public.
• Use of a variety of illegal weapons.
• Illegal targeting of civilians, journalists, and hospitals.
• Illegal seizure of another nation’s resources.
• Illegal use of funds in Iraq that had been appropriated for Afghanistan.
• Leaking of classified information in order to mislead the Congress and the public, and in order to punish truth tellers.
• Leaking of identity of an undercover agent.
• Retribution against whistleblowers.
• Use of signing statements to reverse 750 laws passed by Congress.
• Production of phony news reports at home and abroad.
• Dereliction of duty in neglecting global warming, hurricanes, hunger, AIDS, and warnings of 9-11 attacks.
• Facilitating Israel’s attacks on Lebanon.
• Obstruction of investigations by Congress, the 9-11 Commission, and Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.
• Stealing elections.

When is it enough? When does it become clear that history will view us as those who let it all go to waste, as those who sat by as they came for the Muslims and then they came for the immigrants and then they came for the next group on the list, as those who saw the nation sliding into fascism and let it slide… or as those who rose up and resisted and restored what was most worth saving in a system of government based on the rule of law?

The time is now. On the Camp Democracy website you can arrange to share cars, vans, busses, trains, or planes, as well as tents or rooms. Please plan to join us, and please contribute what you can to help cover expenses. Together we can turn everything around. Other people in other nations have done so. It’s much easier than you think.
http://campdemocracy.org/sponsor