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Missing the Target

Hillary Clinton Blasts Steel Vise of Government Crushing Dissent

By DAVE LINDORFF | July 6, 2010

Finally, a politician has stood up and boldly denounced the creeping fascism that is gradually crushing democracy and political activism.

Not mincing her words, or trying to justify the jackboot, Secretary of State and 2008 presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton roundly condemned government actions that she said are “closing in the walls” on unions, rights advocates and organizations that press for social change or that shine a light on government shortcomings.

“Democracies don’t fear their own people,” she declared in ringing tones. “They recognize that citizens must be free to come together to advocate and agitate.”

Clinton even got the normally taciturn President Obama to join her, releasing a statement in which he said he was concerned about “the spread of restrictions on civil society, the growing use of law to curb rather than enhance freedom, and wide-spread corruption that is undermining the faith of citizens in their government.”

Does this mean that the US government is finally going to reverse course? Will it now stop importing thousands of cops dressed in combat gear when there is a gathering of heads of state, as was done last September in Pittsburgh for the G-20 summit–where hundreds of peacefully assembled students were teargassed, clubbed and arrested in a scene that has now become all too familiar at legal protests? Does it mean a reversal of the latest Supreme Court decision making it a crime to give funds to a charity deemed by the government to be providing aid to “terrorism” even if the donor had no idea where the organization’s funds were going? Will the Justice Department drop the prosecution of NSA, CIA, and military whistleblowers? Will the cynically named PATRIOT Act, with its provisions for arrest for thought crimes, for guilt by association, and for detention without charge, be annulled? Will police-backed union-busting be outlawed? Will the government stop sending undercover spies to monitor the activities of peace organizations and other activist groups? Will the Transportation Security Administration purge its no-fly list of non-violent political activists and focus just on known threats to the safety of planes? Will the National Security Agency finally stop its wireless monitoring of millions of law-abiding citizens’ electronic communications? Will the US Coast Guard stop enforcing a corporate blackout by British Petroleum with threats to arrest on felony charges journalists and others who attempt to photograph, on public land, evidence of the destruction of the Gulf Coast by the BP blowout? Will the Obama Justice Department finally begin a serious campaign to root out the massive corruption in Washington that has caused most Americans to give up on their government as a lost cause?

You’d certainly think so to listen to the pronouncements of Clinton and Obama.

But no. The problem is that they weren’t talking about the USA. They were talking about other countries–China, Venezuela, Cuba, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Iran, for example.

The truth is that as harsh as those countries may be on critics and activists in their own societies, the US, supposedly the “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave,” is in sorry shape today in terms of its vaunted freedoms of speech, assembly and press. Police-state tactics are now the norm at peaceful demonstrations. People are being arrested and held without charge with increasing frequency. The president has authorized the extra-judicial state murder of American citizens overseas deemed by himself to be threats to the country. Most Americans simply assume today that their phones and internet use are being monitored by the NSA. And most Americans today clearly see Washington as a cesspool of corruption where money buys not just access but special laws designed to enrich the powerful and screw the “small people.”

If Clinton and Obama were sincere in saying that democracy and political activism were under threat, they’d look to what is happening in their own country before criticizing other countries. This kettle here has gotten pretty black over the past decade and needs a good scouring, before we can go out and start pointing out threats to freedom abroad.

Clinton chose an apt metaphor in her misdirected warning about the threats to democracy and democratic activism. Noting that the Iron Curtain that Winston Churchill famously warned against 60 years ago had fallen, she cautioned that now, “we must be wary of the steel vise in which governments around the world are slowly crushing civil society and the human spirit.”

It is absolutely true that governments the world over are turning the screw on that vise, making use of more advanced electronic surveillance capabilities, and of improved technologies for “non-lethal” force–everything from rubber bullets and tasers to sound “guns” and even microwave beams–for breaking up demonstrations. But this is happening in the US too, where laws and court decisions are also slowly squeezing the margins around what is considered permissible dissent.

We all submit to this creeping fascism at our own risk.

Clinton, speaking at the meeting in Poland of a 16-nation group called the Community of Democracies, Clinton called for an organization to monitor the attacks on freedom, and said the US would continue to fund organizations that challenged such threats in other countries. Neither she nor President Obama said anything about funding some organization to monitor the erosion of democracy here in the US. Perhaps we Americans should take matters in our own hands and start funding the groups that are challenging this ongoing theft of our own freedom.

Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback). He can be reached at

July 6, 2010 - Posted by | Civil Liberties


  1. Bill Moyers once commented, as someone who had been part of Washington power and then an outsider, that it was easier to see the truth from the outside. All the Washington characters have become somewhat pathetic in that they alone can’t see what the rest of the country is seeing with greater clarity all the time. Washington IS the problem. It is political corruption that enables all the other corruptions, from endless unethical wars to the economic looting.

    The country can hope for the politicians to awaken, but Washington’s worldview doesn’t extend beyond the next campaign contribution. They will be the absolute last to know.

    Comment by G Street | July 6, 2010

  2. “Democracies don’t fear their own people,” she declared in ringing tones. Memo to Hillary. We don’t live in a democracy. We live in a republic. There is a difference. Ask the Greeks and Romans of yesteryear. They were the original republics, converted to “democracies” and promptly folded. There is a reason why the founding fathers wrote about the republic countless times. Never about democracy. They knew the difference. Google it.

    Comment by robertsgt40 | July 8, 2010

  3. what she means is; ‘do as we say, not as we do.’

    Comment by james ha | July 8, 2010

  4. She should know since she’s one of the ones turning the vise.

    Comment by j r | July 8, 2010

  5. The issues that made Hillary not only unelectable, but completely distasteful to the American voter remain. If she runs, one would expect it to be worse the next time.

    Comment by F. Thomas | July 8, 2010

  6. Hillary Clinton Blasts Steel Vise of Government Crushing Dissent
    Jct: Yes, the hypocrisy is stunning. A nation stripped of its civil rights by the Patriot Act, the scariest gulag on the planet right now with their renditions to torture chambers, and she doesn’t realize everyone’s going to smirk that the witch is describing her own nation! Har har har.

    Comment by KingofthePaupers | July 8, 2010

  7. Shillary sure is funny, isn’t she?? I mean, this crap spewing forth from her armageddon fomenting face, is enough to make one re-define ‘dripping irony’ at a much more nauseating level than previously imagined.

    This whore for Israel has done more war mongering and boot on citizen grinding than just about every single one of her predecessors in the U.S. Dept. of Snakes n Liars.

    I can’t imagine people in Jew Dork will vote for this whore, but then again, Jew Dork is so infested with ZIONISTS WHO LOVE THIS SLUT, nothing would surprise me any longer.

    Shillary, go to Israel and run for a seat in the Knesset, they’re waiting for your ass there!! JUST GO!!!


  8. Maybe she sees the writing on the wall and is ready to bail ship with the rest of the rats.
    If I were her, I’d be flipping sides right about now before the tar and feather are brought out.
    She is an intelligent woman after all.

    Comment by rob | July 8, 2010

  9. “Democracies don’t fear their own people!”

    What a joke, so somebody who hangs a banner of protest in a public center gets sentenced for 3 years? Reality America?

    Comment by Holocaust Gaza | July 9, 2010

  10. The Hildabeast it would seem cannot decide wether it is a prostitute, or a whore.

    Comment by Easterling | July 9, 2010

  11. I’m not usually swayed by Lindorff but this article is spot on. As for Clinton – mere mouthings as she is central to America’s biggest problems.

    I have a question for enquiring minds re:-

    “Will the US Coast Guard stop enforcing a corporate blackout by British Petroleum with threats to arrest on felony charges journalists and others who attempt to photograph, on public land, evidence of the destruction of the Gulf Coast by the BP blowout”

    America has a shiny new ‘Department of Homeland Security’ (sounds very Nazi, doesn’t it?), so if its’ brief genuinely IS homeland security, why are they not all over the Gulf of Mexico ‘securing the Homeland’?

    Why? Has anyone asked Napolitano? Chertoff? Emmanuel? Heck, why not ask Israel, America’s owners?

    Comment by satya | July 10, 2010

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