Chris Hedges: Trump Will Crush Dissent With Even Greater Violence and Savagery
The tools of state repression that will end up in the hands of a Trump administration were built by both Republicans and Democrats, says the Pulitzer prize-winning journalist
SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: Its The Real News Network, I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. One of the major concerns that many have about a president Trump is that given his authoritarian tendencies he would be prone to use powers of the presidency to a far greater extent, than say President Obama did. One of these powers that most people are not aware of is embodied in the National Defense Authorization Act. The NDAA. Normally, this act is simply to provide funding to the US military however in 2012 the NDAA included several controversial provisions. Such as giving the President authority to indefinitely detain civilians. Shortly after the NDAA was passed Chris Hedges with several other people challenged the Obama Administration in court. Now, we have the possibility of a Newt Gingrich who might be presiding over such matters and who will be advising a president Trump.
He’s uttering the possibility of reestablishing a committee on un-American activities. Let’s have a look at his response in recent interview he did.
NEWT GINGRICH: Remember, San Bernardino, Fort Hood and Orlando involved American citizens. We’re gonna ultimately declare war on Islamic supremacists and we’re gonna say, if you pledge allegiance to ISIS you’re a traitor and you have lost your citizenship. And we’re gonna take much [inaud.] positions. In the late 1930s President Franklin Roosevelt was faced with Nazi penetration in the United States. We originally the House of Un American Activities Committee to go after Nazis. We passed several laws in 1938 and 1939 to go after Nazis. And we made it illegal to help the Nazis. We’re gonna presently have to take similar steps here.
PERIES: Now joining us to talk about all of this is Chris Hedges. Chris is a Pulizer Prize winning journalist. A columnist at Truthdig and Alternet. He was the Middle East bureau chief for the New York Times. And has reported extensively from the Middle East. Chris, good to have you back.
CHRIS HEDGES: Thank you.
PERIES: Chris, what do you make of that clip we just ran of Newt Gingrich and what this holds for us in terms of the NDAA’s implementation inside the country?
HEDGES: Right, well section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law by Obama in mid 2011, essentially permits the government to carry out acts of extraordinary rendition on the streets of American cities against US citizens who quote unquote substantially support – whatever that means – Al Qaeda, the Taliban or something called associated forces and other nebulus term. The system of due process can hold them indefinitely in military detention centers – including in our black sites overseas – such as Guantanamo or anywhere else.
That section has been renewed every year. I went to the Southern District Court of New York and sued Obama. We won. The Obama Administration appealed its position. We went to the second circuit. The second circuit denied my standing, which essentially means they denied my right to bring the case. We filed a cert, a petition to the Supreme Court to ask them to hear it and they also denied my right to bring the case. Essentially, enshrining this in law. During this 2 year legal battle, the lawyers Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran approached the democratic leadership around Pelosi and said, because they do have to renew it every year, all you have to do is insert in that language that this does not apply to US citizens and we will drop the lawsuit. Of course they didn’t do that because it does apply to US citizens. It was written for the containment of US citizens in a moment of unrest. It overturned the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act which prohibits the military from acting as a domestic police force.
Why? Because climate change, economic dislocation, the ruling elites, all understand that the possibility of widespread unrest is possible and they wanna use the military as a mechanism by which that unrest is crushed. Obama, when he signed it into law said that he wouldn’t use it, that he gave it no legal – that it didn’t mean anything legal and he could use it if he want to. But in a statement he said he wouldn’t. We have seen most all of our constitutional rights including our right to privacy, overturned by judicial fiat. Unlimited corporate campaign contributions through Citizens United becomes the right to petition the government, a form of free speech. This is ending the traditional notions of constitutional rights, habeus corpus, due process, of course as we saw with section 1021 of the NDAA has been removed.
On and on and on again, coupled with the most sophisticated security and surveillance apparatus in human history. All of this is in the hands of figures like Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, John Bulton, and others. And given what I expect, its going to be a seismic reaction to the ineptitude and the inability on the part of the Trump presidency to respond to the most pressing issues facing the majority of Americans. They will use all the tools at their disposal. And they were handed these tools by the Republican and Democratic party. This is something that all of us, Ralph Nader perhaps being at the forefront, who have been fighting against the legal erosion of our civil liberties, have been warning about for some time and now its here.
PERIES: The courts are one mechanism of challenging Trump but there are many people out there who believe that really only way to challenge this is on the streets and we saw much of that taking place last night and since you are the author of a very famous book called, Days of Destruction Days of Revolt, what’s should activists and those who are resisting a Trump presidency do about these kinds of situations here.
HEDGES: Yeah, the only mechanism we have left is civil disobedience. But let’s not pretend democracy died on November 8th. We haven’t been living in a functioning democracy for some time. There are no institutions left that can authentically be considered democratic, they’re all essentially controlled by corporate power. The mass media, academia, the political establishment. So, civil disobedience just as we saw before. But the difference is the state, under a Trump administration will respond even more violently and even more savagely. I think you caught a glimpse of that in the Newt Gingrich clip. Anybody who descents will be considered a traitor maybe a terrorist. They will certainly be demonized in a subservient corporate media by a Trump administration. So, I think yes that is the response. Unfortunately that was the response and as a response we should have stepped outside the mainstream a long time ago, so we didn’t end up now in the grip of an administration that is going to run Russia over all the constitutional legal restraints.
PERIES: I thank you for joining us and I think many people are looking for moral guidance so we’re looking forward to having you back at this critical moment in history.
HEDGES: Okay, thank you.
PERIES: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
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