Bipartisan 'two-front war'
aimed at working people
U.S. assault at 'home and abroad' is meeting resistance
BY MAURICE WILLIAMS
New York City Independent Media Center/John Tarleton
Members of Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) hold rally January 21 on Martin Luther King Day holiday at Union Square in Manhattan before leaving on bus to protest detention of Arab and South Asian immigrants at Hudson and Passaic County jails in New Jersey. The New Jersey actions drew some 300 people.|
"This is a two-front war," U.S. president George Bush declared to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "Overseas we're fighting and at home we're fighting." Speaking to 300 mayors at the January 24 meeting, Bush laid out in no uncertain terms the course U.S. imperialism seeks to follow against working people at home and abroad.
Included in the steps the U.S. rulers would like to take are further militarization of the country, expanded spying operations at home, and harsher measures against immigrants.
In a prelude to his State of the Union address, itself cast in a war atmosphere, the president announced proposals to double the budget for "homeland defense" to $38 billion and add $48 billion to the country's military budget. The president also proposed to boost spending for "border security" to $11 billion, including a 29 percent increase for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Bush used the meetings to outline the financial allocations for Washington's assault on workers at home and abroad.
Central to the war at home, Bush said, are measures targeting immigrants. High on the list are those who have overstayed their visas. "The INS estimates that 40 percent of the people who are here illegally have overstayed their visa," he said. "One of the things we want to make sure of is we find the 40 percent to make sure they're not part of some al Qaeda network that wants to hit the United States. And so we're looking, we're listening, and we're following every single lead."
To facilitate the hunt for visa overstayers Bush stated plans to increase funds for the INS and double the number of its agents. After touring the Coast Guard cutter Tahoma in South Portland, Maine, he also announced January 25 a proposal to develop a national tracking system to monitor the arrival and departure of noncitizens at U.S. airports, ports, and Canadian and Mexican border crossings. The budget increase for the INS would largely be used for computer systems to keep a list of the more than 30 million visas issued in the country each year. A computer network to track foreign students, which was approved by the U.S. Congress six years ago, will be online next year.
The INS has also established a new Bureau of Immigration Enforcement that will oversee border patrols, investigations, and spying operations as part of the projected crackdown on an estimated 3 million immigrants who have expired visas.
In making these moves the U.S. rulers are cognizant of the fact that many of those who do not have their papers all in order are working people, employed across the country in factories, mills, field jobs, restaurants, and many other industries. They have increasingly joined struggles for workers' rights, led union organizing drives, and fought attempts to criminalize and dehumanize sections of the working class.
In the effort to tighten border restrictions, Bush said the budget he plans to present to Congress February 4 will include funds for 800 additional customs agents, as well as the Coast Guard's largest annual funding increase in history, the Washington Post reported. Coast Guard officials said some of the additional money would also be used for maritime "SWAT teams" and sea marshals.
Rulers meet resistance
Despite its attempts to press full steam ahead targeting workers' rights, the U.S. rulers have been encountering growing resistance to their attacks. For example, 300 people rallied on Martin Luther King Day in Jersey City and Paterson, New Jersey, to protest the detention of more than 350 Arab and South Asian immigrants. They are being held in county jails with no charges against them after being rounded up as part of Washington's "anti-terror" campaign.
Protesters in Paterson shouted, "INS, FBI, No more kidnaps, no more lies!" while marching in front of the Passaic County jail. Among the demands raised by the demonstrators were the repeal of the USA Patriot Act, release of detainees being held for immigration violations, release of their names, and immediate access for inmates to legal information and representation.
Assault helicopters for 'war at home'
In the wake of the events on September 11 Washington has stepped up the militarization of the United States with some 8,000 National Guardsmen deployed at airports across the country. The White House Office of Homeland Security said the February 3 Super Bowl in New Orleans will be given special security status, complete with SWAT teams and National Guard troops patrolling inside and outside the stadium. Fighter jets and military attack helicopters will patrol the skies. And to make all the football fans feel safer, military experts are also considering equipping security forces with portable antiaircraft missile launchers.
Not to be outdone on homeland defense, Connecticut governor John Rowland announced January 24 that the state's National Guard had acquired three of eight promised Black Hawk helicopters from the federal government.
Under the guise of preventing "future terrorist attacks," Bush said spending for "homeland defense" would include an additional $3.5 billion to provide training and equipment for more than 550,000 cops in cities across country. "We will hire an additional 300 FBI agents to help fight the war on terror," he added.
Military command at home
The government has increased the number of sky marshals and deployed hundreds of Coast Guard cutters and aircraft to patrol ports. The U.S. Air Force Reserve has also flown more than 800 combat air patrols over Washington, New York, and more than two dozen other cities.
Washington is taking further steps to establish a domestic military command in preparation for the use of U.S. troops against workers and farmers inside its borders. An article in the January 27 Washington Post reported on White House plans to give a four-star general authority over domestic deployments such as Air Force jets patrolling skies above U.S. cities, Navy ships running coastal checks, and Army National Guard troops policing airports and border crossings.
"This particular review will go ahead and establish the command," said an unnamed Defense Department official. "And then we will lay out a series of considerations over the course of the next several months to make it all happen."
Meanwhile, government officials in New York City have created new counterterrorism and intelligence posts. The intelligence commissioner will have officers assigned to every precinct in the city and be in charge of "investigating terrorism, international crime, drug trafficking and money laundering," the New York Times reported. The intelligence division will also share information with the CIA, FBI, and other cop agencies around the country and the world.
David Cohen, who spent 35 years as a top CIA official, has taken the job of the city's deputy commissioner of intelligence. Cohen oversaw Washington's espionage around the globe during his stint as CIA director of operations. He said he intended to ensure "strong intelligence"--meaning spying operations--in New York.
CIA broadens domestic spying
Also under the banner of fighting the "war on terrorism," the U.S. Congress has now given the CIA broader powers, including new legal authority to snoop on U.S. residents, and has granted billions of dollars to go along with this new arrangement. The spy agency can also now obtain private records of institutions and corporations seized under federal court-approved searches. It can read secret grand jury testimony without prior approval from a judge. Legislation is currently being discussed in Congress that would allow the CIA to intercept e-mail messages sent to the United States from abroad, without requiring the agency to obtain a warrant.
At the same time, the CIA has begun shifting spies from overseas to domestic stations. According to the Los Angeles Times, the CIA shut down an office in Germany that monitored Iranians and relocated some of the staff to Los Angeles, which has the largest Iranian population of any city outside Iran.
Another example of moves by city and state governments across the country to put in place repressive measures to curtail workers' rights is a package of antiterrorism bills promoted by Maryland governor Parris Glendening. The legislation provides more wiretapping authority for cops to spy on telephone conversations. The bills also create a 15-member state security council that broadens emergency powers of the governor, including authorization to confine people to their homes or neighborhoods under the pretext of a chemical or biological attack, such as the recent anthrax scare incidents.
More wars after Afghanistan
"The fight against terrorism will not end in Afghanistan," Bush told a meeting of the Reserve Officers Association the day before speaking at the mayors conference.
He said that the military budget for the next year "will be the largest increase in defense spending in the last 20 years" and noted that the additional expenditures would go toward more precision weapons, missile defenses, high-tech battlefield equipment, and unmanned aircraft--equipment that has proven effective for Washington in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Congress has already allocated $328 billion for military spending for the current fiscal year. According to the New York Times, Pentagon officials said some of the additional funds would be allocated for more tanks, warships, and fighter jets. The additional funds would bolster even more Wash-ington's military edge over its imperialist rivals in Europe and Japan.
Highlighting the war against Afghanistan, Bush declared his intention to use military force to assert Washington's imperial prerogatives around the world. "We've totally destroyed the [Afghanistan] government," he boasted. "We said, if you hide a terrorist...you're just as guilty as the terrorists, and we will hold you accountable, as the Taliban has found out."
Repressive measures set up by Clinton
The Bush administration's bipartisan course of waging more wars abroad, further steps toward militarization of United States, and establishing repressive measures initially targeting immigrants and ultimately all workers is being built on the groundwork prepared by the Clinton administration. During years the great liberal was in office he engineered an increase of 100,000 more cops on the streets, while the U.S. prison population doubled to 2 million inmates.
During those years the U.S. ruling class escalated its assaults on immigrant workers, with the INS, now the largest federal cop agency, deploying some 15,000 armed agents, and stepping up factory raids and deportations to record numbers. Nearly 300,000 immigrants were deported from 1997–99.
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act and the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, both of which Clinton signed into law in 1996, expanded the powers of the INS to seize and deport undocumented immigrants without the right to judicial review or appeal. The laws authorized the INS to jail noncitizens based on "secret evidence" without bail in detention centers. Some two dozen people already had been imprisoned based on secret evidence, long before the September 11 World Trade Center attacks.
In early 1999 Clinton called for spending $2.8 billion to establish a domestic military command. Several months later the Pentagon announced that it was changing its command structure to include for the first time the training of military forces for domestic use. The move was justified as an antiterrorism measure, but it laid the basis to use U.S. armed forces against the struggles of workers and farmers in this country.
Bush threatens Iran, Iraq, and
Korea in address to Congress
Proclaiming that "our war against terror is only beginning," President George Bush targeted Iran, Iraq, and north Korea for belligerent threats in his January 29 State of the Union address before Congress. He said that the three countries "constitute an axis of evil" and "pose a grave and growing danger."
The U.S. president pointed to Wash-ington's "most visible military action" in Afghanistan as the harbinger for the course of U.S. imperialism in the world, describing his dispatch of U.S. troops to the Philippines and threats against Somalia, where U.S. warships patrol the coastal waters.
Over the past several weeks Washington has stepped up propaganda against Tehran. Bush claims the Iranian government "exports terror" while repressing the Iranian people. A few weeks before his State of the Union speech he said the U.S. government "will take action against Tehran" if he deems it is trying to foster instability in Afghanistan.
The U.S. capitalists have never reconciled themselves to the overthrow of the shah of Iran in 1979, when a massive revolutionary upheaval of oil workers, peasants, and other working people toppled the U.S.-backed regime. This uprising dealt a blow to one of Washington's pro-imperialist pillars in the region and the U.S. government has sought to push back the gains of the Iranian toilers ever since.
In his speech Bush accused the north Korean government of "arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens." Washington maintains military pressure on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which refuses to bow to U.S. imperialist dictates.
Coming out of World War II workers and peasants on the Korean peninsula mobilized in a revolutionary struggle that led to the overturn of capitalist property relations, including a deep-going land reform, nationalization of industry, and other social measures in the north. In response, the U.S. rulers waged a bloody war against the Korean people from 1950 to 1953, resulting in the deaths of more than 3 million Koreans and the destruction of cities, factories, and mines as a result of Washington's saturation bombings.
The war ended in a defeat for U.S. imperialism, which failed to crush the workers state in the north. Today Washington maintains Korea as a divided nation, with its 37,000 occupation troops, nuclear missiles, and a naval force based in south Korea.
Before the joint session of Congress, Bush declared that "Iraq continues...to support terror," although so far the U.S. rulers have been unable to produce any evidence linking Baghdad with the events on September 11. Bush's threats against Iraq register the fact that Washington has not given up on trying to attain what it failed to do in the 1990–91 Gulf War: the overthrow of the Iraqi government and the installation of a protectorate to do its bidding and act as a gendarme against the struggles of the Arab masses. --M.W.
Bipartisan 'two-front war'