Our Next 9/11: The Reaction to the Reaction

By Thomas Neuburger

"If you’re looking for a president with a track record of boosting foreign intervention, expanding the surveillance state, and steadfastly backing Israel despite its war crimes, Joe Biden is your guy." —Branko Marcetic, Jacobin

An angry mob of Proud Boy types, off-duty cops and ride-along Trump supporters broke into the Capitol, an angry reaction to a propagandized, misplaced fear that "democracy" was being shattered by election theft, and the reaction to the reaction was swift.

Condemnation — appropriate in my view — was heaped on the perpetrators, complicit and enabling Republicans (that's you, Josh Hawley), and on Donald Trump himself. I've written elsewhere ("About Last Night") that he should be impeached once again for inciting this mob, despite the shortness of his remaining term, just to draw a line no president will dare cross again.

But the reaction to this reaction has been much more than swift; it looks like it's also going to be excessive. The Establishment State and its semi-corporate allies are setting the stage for another round of surveillance and lock-down measures, aimed to be sure at preventing another assault on anywhere elites gather to rule, but also aimed at making sure any threat to Establishment power anywhere can't begin to form.

And never forget, crushing dissent in America has always meant crushing the left.

Another 9/11?

This may be this generation's 9/11 (yes, the original was 20 years ago, a generation away from the present date). That 9/11 brought the Patriot Act, still with us, and universal ("collect it all") Pentagon surveillance of, well, all of us:

“Rather than look for a single needle in the haystack, [NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander's] approach was, ‘Let’s collect the whole haystack,’ ” said one former senior U.S. intelligence official who tracked the plan’s implementation. “Collect it all, tag it, store it. . . . And whatever it is you want, you go searching for it.”

That plan, ironically named the Patriot Act, and all that followed from it, lives today, long after the terrorists struck New York, long after we entered, destroyed, and left Iraq, and 20 years after we started a war of choice to destroy Afghanistan, a war the Establishment refuses ever to end. Guantanamo too is with us; its prisoners will die before it's closed, like broken medieval men chained to walls, waiting to starve to death.

Joe Biden, both personally and professionally, is a warrior. Personally, he wears his hackles on his sleeve.

He's also a warrior professionally. He was one of the strongest supporters of the Iraq War in the Senate, then lied for decades about why he supported it (he claimed to have been fooled by Bush's fake intelligence) rather than admit fault.

As Branko Marcetic writes at Jacobin, "If you’re looking for a president with a track record of boosting foreign intervention, expanding the surveillance state, and steadfastly backing Israel despite its war crimes, Joe Biden is your guy."

The Reaction to the Reaction, H.R. 4192

Now comes the muscular reaction to the mob's reaction, Biden's promise to reinvigorate the war on "domestic terrorism":

Democrats have a "domestic terrorism" law ready to go, H.R. 4192, "Confronting the Threat of Domestic Terrorism Act," introduced by Adam Schiff in the last Congress. Many think it will form the basis for Biden's new assault on speech and political action.

Here's how the ACLU characterizes Schiff's proposed law: "By reifying and broadening domestic terrorism authorities, H.R. 4192 would unnecessarily expand law enforcement authorities to target and discriminate against the very communities Congress is seeking to protect."

In a letter to Congress written in opposition to the bill, the ACLU wrote:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) strongly urges you to oppose H.R. 4192, which is unnecessary because the offenses it creates largely duplicate existing crimes, and harmful because it expands authorities that law enforcement has abused to target marginalized communities. In light of recent mass shootings and the surge in white supremacist violence, lawmakers are understandably seeking to take action. But proposals like H.R. 4192 are the wrong approach. This bill is yet another iteration in a series of problematic proposals that would further entrench domestic terrorism frameworks, and cause more harm to the communities that Congress is seeking to protect.

The full text is here. The letter also cites abuse of the Patriot Act and notes, "Law enforcement agencies’ use of these authorities undermines and has violated equal protection, due process, and First Amendment rights. Law enforcement agencies already have all the authorities they need to address white supremacist violence effectively."

Will the Capitol Assault be this generation's 9/11, at least in its lasting aftermath? Stay tuned.

But don't take any bets it won't. The power-hungry (and increasingly insecure) bipartisan state would love nothing better than to expand its control over any effective dissent.

Including the dissent of all those hated socialists.

And including yours.


(I've launched a Substack site to greet the post-Trump era. You can get more information here and here. If you decide to sign up — it's free — my thanks to you!)