General Wesley Clark: Some WWII-Style Internment Camps Are Just The Thing We Need To Fight Domestic Radicalizationby Tim Cushing
Jul. 20, 2015
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So, we're engaged in a war of sorts. Against capital-T "Terror." It's a very ambiguous war that couples troop deployments with a dense mesh of surveillance programs. As is the case with all wars, there are those "up top" who see the only way to fight back -- or just "secure" the nation -- is to expand the government's powers.
Many horrible decisions have been made during times of war. In the past, some of these moves may have seemed more justifiable. The enemies were more tangible. They moved above ground, using vehicles and infantry. The stakes were higher, with countries being invaded and their citizens forced to live in uninterrupted terror. The United States government did some very regrettable things -- most notably, the forced incarceration of US citizens of Japanese descent in internment camps.
Most people look back at this with disgust -- an example of what not to do during times of war. But a lot of that hindsight vanished along with the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The government took control of the situation in the immediate aftermath, with an emphasis on "control." Spying powers and military authorities were vastly expanded. An entirely new agency -- the Department of Homeland Security -- came into being and swiftly became the Border Patrol-on-steroids, expanding "papers, please" harassment across, and into, the country. The TSA set up shop in every airport and swiftly proved more capable of abusing power than securing air travel.
Fourteen years on and very few lessons have been learned. Many government officials seem to still be under the impression that every day is another September 11th. Or would be, if not for these expanded powers. There but for Executive Order 12333 go we as a nation. Security has a cost, but the estimate keeps changing.
Officials keep hoping we can head off another attack by catching "radicals" and "extremists" before they can do any damage. The FBI has set up an entire cottage industry based on little more than entrapment. Maybe these people being "radicalized" are just too hard to find. Maybe that's why the FBI has to do 90% of the "radicalization" on its own before swooping in to save the nation from daydreamers and shit-talkers who have the misfortune of being "befriended" by its undercover agents.
General Wesley Clark has a solution. In an interview with Thomas Roberts on MSNBC, General Clark (who was last seen at Techdirt telling Congress that P2P software was a threat to national security) suggests a return to the WWII good old days might be the only way to stamp out the threat of self-radicalizing "lone wolves." (via Crooks and Liars)
We have got to identify the people who are most likely to be radicalized. We've got to cut this off at the beginning. There are always a certain number of young people who are alienated. They don't get a job, they lost a girlfriend, their family doesn't feel happy here and we can watch the signs of that. And there are members of the community who can reach out to those people and bring them back in and encourage them to look at their blessings here.So, the nation's intelligence agencies need to be looking for underemployed weirdos who can't maintain a relationship or exude positivity about their current situation. Then they need to do something about these potential "lone wolves." Like, put them all in one place where we can keep an eye on them.
But I do think on a national policy level we need to look at what self-radicalization means because we are at war with this group of terrorists. They do have an ideology. In World War II if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn't say that was freedom of speech, we put him in a camp, they were prisoners of war.Free speech for some, indefinite detainment for others! USA! USA! USA!
So, if these people are radicalized and they don't support the United States and they are disloyal to the United States, as a matter of principle fine. It's their right and it's our right and obligation to segregate them from the normal community for the duration of the conflict. And I think we're going to have to increasingly get tough on this, not only in the United States but our allied nations like Britain, Germany and France are going to have to look at their domestic law procedures.Nothing says "you're never getting out of here" like "for the duration of the conflict." Does anyone foresee an end to the War on Terror in their lifetime? (You youngsters milling around towards the back waiting for your Ubers and Amazon drone deliveries are encouraged to speak up.) How about in their kids' lifetimes? There is no endgame. There is only constant wariness and the endless grasping for more control and power.
This is a war we can't end. We can't even bow out and awkwardly "agree to disagree" like we did in Vietnam and Korea. It is the true "forever war." Even if ISIS becomes just another Al-Qaeda and fades from prominence, something else will take its place. There will always be those who feel violence is the only way to get results. But General Clark wants certain kinds of speech to be punished with neverending imprisonment. He wants a return to one of the most morally-dark moments in American history. For national security.