January 14, 2013
History Repeats …
In the classic history of Nazi Germany,
Thought They Were Free, Milton Mayer
“What happened here was the gradual
habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by
surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret;
to believing that
the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on
information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that,
even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released
because of national security.
And their sense of identification with
Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and
reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.
“This separation of government from people,
this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly,
each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a
temporary emergency measure
or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social
And all the crises and reforms (real
reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow
motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter
Similarly, America has - little by little - gone
from a nation of laws to a nation of
powerful men making laws in secret.
Indeed, even Congress
doesn’t know half of
what others are doing.
Secretive, unaccountable agencies are making
life and death decisions which effect our most basic rights. They
provide “secret evidence” to courts which cannot be checked… and often
withhold any such “evidence” even from the judges.
“I find myself stuck in a paradoxical
situation in which I cannot solve a problem because of contradictory
constraints and rules - a veritable Catch-22,” the judge wrote.
“I can find no way around the thicket of
laws and precedents that effectively allow the Executive Branch of our
Government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on
their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws, while keeping
the reasons for their conclusion a secret.”
The government uses “secret evidence” to
spy on Americans, prosecute
terrorism charges (even against
U.S. soldiers) and even
And the government
goes after whistleblowers… and reporters who
say too much (and
U.S. government spokesmen pretend - just as the
Nazis - that:
The situation is so complicated that the
government has to act on information which the people could not
It is so dangerous that, even if the
people could not understand it, it could not be released because of
Like the iron fist of the Nazis… Americans
must submit to “roving surveillance” and warrantless searches, without
the requirement of a Judge’s authorization.
Surveillance laws are part of a larger
arsenal of weapons against political dissidents and whistle blowers.
Most Americans don’t know the Patriot Act
charges relying on secret evidence and secret grand jury statements.
Under the Patriot Act, Americans have no right to know who has accused
them of what criminal activities, or the dates of the alleged offense.
They’re not even told what law was broken.
The government has power to lock up
Americans on military bases or other prisons without a hearing or trial.
We can be detained indefinitely without any rights of due process at
All of this happened in Germany - as in America
today - because the governments
whipped up so much fear of attack
by demonizing the enemy and declaring an open-ended war that people
became complacent and stopped thinking for themselves.
As Mayer notes about Nazi Germany, people were
too apathetic or scared to stand up for others:
Pastor Niemöller spoke for the thousands and
thousands of men like me when he spoke (too modestly of himself) and
said that, when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little
uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing.
And then they attacked the Socialists, and
he was a little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist, and he did
nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he
was always uneasier, but still he did nothing.
And then they attacked the Church, and he
was a Churchman, and he did something - but then it was too late.”
same is true in modern America.
Mayer points out:
“You see,” my colleague went on, “one
doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each
act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You
wait for the next and the next.
You wait for one great shocking occasion,
thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in
resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t
want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not? - Well, you are
not in the habit of doing it.
And it is not just fear, fear of standing
alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.
“But the one great shocking occasion, when
tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes.
That’s the difficulty.
If the last and worst act of the whole
regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands,
yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked - if, let us say, the
gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’
stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33.
But of course this isn’t the way it happens.
In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them
imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next.
Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a
stand at Step B, why should you at Step C?
And so on to Step D...
The same is happening to
Indeed, the American government appears to be
following the Nazi playbook. The U.S. government - like the SS - may label
anyone who disagrees with government policy as
crazy or a
potential terrorist… and is claiming
more tyrannical powers that
even Hitler claimed.
If you think we’re exaggerating, just listen to
what the prosecutors who convicted the Nazis of war crimes say…
Ferencz - a former chief prosecutor for the Nuremberg Trials against the
Nazis - declared:
A prima facie case can be made that the
United States is guilty of the supreme crime against humanity -
that being an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign nation.
In addition, he
[A Nuremberg defendant said that he didn't
feel bad for killing children and other innocent people] “because we
relied on the head of state, Hitler. He had more information than I had,
and he told us that the Soviets planned to attack, so it was necessary
in presumed self-defense.”
It’s very disappointing to find that my
government today is prepared to do something for which we hanged Germans
as war criminals.
Another Nuremberg prosecutor, Henry King,
Jr., said that the
Guantanamo trials violate the Nuremberg principles and Geneva
medical experimentation on prisoners certainly violates the Nuremberg
leading constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley notes that the
government is violating the Nuremberg principles by
failing to punish those who created our recent policy of torture.