"They [the president and National Security Advisor] have the right to send our children, men and women now, in the name of democracy to go kill people and be killed and torture and perhaps be tortured in return, which is always going to be the end result of torture. And so, I think there's nothing wrong with holding these people to the highest possible standards. It doesn't happen enough. But that's what we have to do." - Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

From its inception, America has stood for the principle that everyone is under the law. There are no kings or power elite that stand outside the law. Yet this has been overlooked in the midst of the escalating debate over the Bush administration's alleged authorization of torture.

Much of the debate thus far has focused on President Obama's decision not to release photos depicting alleged abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan by American service personnel. However, this is but a smokescreen issue for the more troubling question: Who should be held responsible for these abuses?

"You had to live - did live, from habit that became instinct - in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized." - George Orwell, 1984

The U.S. government now has at its disposal a technological arsenal so sophisticated and invasive as to render any constitutional protections null and void. And these technologies are being used by the government to invade the privacy of the American people.

In a 2005 article in the Village Voice titled "Capitalizing on the Flu," James Ridgeway predicted that a "flu pandemic would spark enough fear to make it a greed pandemic." As Ridgeway observed, "With a worldwide market estimated at more than $1 billion, there's big money in a flu plague." In fact, the pharmaceutical industry has gone to great lengths through its lobbying and government contracts to ensure that it will get a good piece of the plague pie. Now with the swine flu set to become a global pandemic, Big Pharma is raking it in.

Responding to the somewhat hysteria-induced demand for drugs to protect against the swine flu, pharmaceutical companies have ramped up production of Tamiflu and Relenza, two anti-viral drugs being touted for their ability to fight the flu. Eleven million doses of the flu-fighting drugs, about one-quarter of what has been stockpiled by the U.S. government, have already been sent to the states.

News-media sycophants, in typical fashion, have taken up the hew and cry over Tamiflu's life-saving properties. Yet little is being said about the very real dangers that these drugs, particularly Tamiflu, pose to your health and mental welfare.

John W. WhiteheadTwo years ago, I alerted people to the fact that the groundwork was being laid for a new kind of government in which virtually everyone is a suspect and it will no longer matter if you're innocent or guilty, whether you're a threat to the nation or even if you're a citizen. What will matter is what the president -- or whoever happens to be occupying the Oval Office at the time -- thinks.

At the time, I was voicing concerns about the liberties the Bush administration was taking in its application of the term "enemy combatant." Today, under the Obama administration, the perceived threat is coming from an altogether different direction: "right-wing extremists."

John W. WhiteheadThe Commonwealth of Virginia is in the throes of a massive budgetary crisis, with a current shortfall of just under $3 billion. As a result, a reduction in services, job losses, and funding cuts for secondary and higher education are expected. Lawmakers, officials, and state employees also face the difficult task of paring down their budgets in the face of dwindling financial support from the Commonwealth. As Delegate Terry G. Kilgore stated, "Everyone needs to be concentrating on the budget this year. The budget transcends everything."

United NationsThe world has moved one step closer to total censorship. For the fourth year running, on December 18 the United Nations General Assembly passed a defamation-of-religion resolution that threatens to undermine the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given up by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." - Martin Luther King Jr.


With the government's relentless assault on our pocketbooks and freedoms, the economic and fiscal picture for many Americans is bleak. The national debt is approaching $10 trillion. People are losing their homes and jobs, and 5 million have fallen into poverty. At the same time, lucrative tax breaks exist for the corporate rich, while the average citizen is heavily taxed. The Constitution and civil liberties have been undermined at every step. And don't expect any of these developments to let up anytime soon.

"In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." - Thomas Jefferson

As I detailed in part one of this article, the next president will inherit more than a financial catastrophe when he assumes office. He will also inherit a shadow government - an authoritarian regime that is fully staffed by unelected officials, fully operational, and ready to take over the running of the country at a moment's notice.

This is all part of the government's Continuity of Government (COG) plan, which was laid out in two May 2007 directives issued by President Bush. These directives, which do not need congressional approval, provide that the president (or his appointees) will take control of the government in the event of a "national emergency" - loosely defined to mean "any incident" that disrupts governmental functions or "severely affects the U.S. population." This could mean anything from a terrorist attack to a hurricane. Particularly significant is the absence of a plan to repopulate or reconvene Congress or the Supreme Court, which would give unchecked executive, legislative and judicial power to the executive branch.

Mount Weather "All men having power ought to be mistrusted." - James Madison

America's next president will inherit more than a financial catastrophe when he assumes office. He will also inherit a shadow government - one that is fully staffed by unelected officials, fully operational, and ready to take over the running of the country at a moment's notice.

Reader issue #702 "In America, the law is King. For as in absolute governments, the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other." - Thomas Paine


As usual, the contenders for the White House are making a lot of promises about what they will change if elected. They're singing the siren song all politicians adopt by telling us exactly what we want to hear: reduce taxes, lower gas prices, reform Social Security, and provide us with more and more benefits. In other words, they're going to give us something for our vote - maybe. But reading between the lines, it's what Barack Obama and John McCain aren't saying that should cause voters to pause.