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Coup d' etat: a term Americans must learn
by Gil Villagran, MSW (gvillagran [at] casa.sjsu.edu)
Thursday Nov 22nd, 2007 8:55 AM
A bureaucratic coup d' etat has already occurred in our nation, constructed by the Bush-Cheney "unitary executive" oval office's steady assault on the Constitution.
Coup d' état: a term Americans must learn

By Gil Villagrán, MSW
El Observador, San Jose Novermber 9, 2007


Coup d' état is defined as "a sudden overthrow of a government by a group of persons in or previously in positions of authority of a state." Such takeovers are common in many countries, often by military officers who determine they must overthrow the elected president to save the nation from chaos. This happened last week in Pakistan, in Chile in 1973 with the army assaulting their own presidential palace with tanks and aircraft, in Guatemala in 1953, the same year as in Iran. Most coups are conducted by dissatisfied generals against elected civilian authority. The most famous coup was led by Hitler in Germany.
The U. S. is a nation of elected civilian authority, where the military takes order rather than gives orders, and we have been spared martial law, so far. However, there are more subtle ways that takeovers of civilian rule can occur without having soldiers in our streets, running civil society by command. Some political writers believe that our nation is in the midst of a bureaucratic coup d' état.

Daniel Ellsberg, former Defense Department analyst who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers revealing the manipulated intelligence to justify the Vietnam War, writes that a coup has already occurred. He argues that "the apparatus of a police state has been patiently constructed, largely secretly at first but eventually leaked out, (now) known and accepted by Congress. The last five years have seen a steady assault on every fundamental of our Constitution...in checks and balances, limited government, Bill of Rights, individual rights, an independent judiciary." Ellsberg's analysis is that the Bush-Cheney administration follows an ideology of "a single-branch government under an Executive president, with unrestrained powers."

This "unitary executive," a construct of Bush oval office insiders, claims that the Constitution grants inherent executive powers, which neither the Congress nor the Judiciary can limit, nor even review or question. Indeed we have witnessed the elected Congress sidelined in many cases of disagreement with a President who does not negotiate with what is constitutionally a co-equal partner of government. Bush's infamous signing statements are evidence of the President's decree that by attaching a statement to laws the Congress has passed and he himself has signed, that he openly asserts his intention to ignore such laws, although no one else can do so but his Executive branch. Current examples of this are torture, warrant-less spying, suspension of habeas corpus (where you could be arrested, detained indefinitely, without charges and a civil trial). He has already signed 1,150 such statements, in effect asserting: I am above the rule of these laws which I approve for all others.

Are we now living in a democracy or a dictatorship? A question all American must seriously consider.