Washington is just full of “confidential” memoranda that, somehow, get published in the newspapers; they waft down the boulevards of the Imperial City like snowflakes in a storm, until the city is knee-deep in them.

There was Rummy’s supposedly super-secret missive expressing something less than breezy optimism about the war he and his neocon buddies insisted on starting.

There was the memo from Defense Department official Douglas Feith, in which the neocons “leaked” to the Weekly Standard yet more of their completely bogus “intelligence” as “proof” that Saddam and Osama were in cahoots all along. The Defense Department denied it, although we doubt that author Stephen Hayes and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol will be hauled into court a la Dan Ellsberg and the New York Times.

Now we have an internal FBI memo, in which the Bureau admits to an ongoing effort to spy on the antiwar movement. Quelle surprise! I’m shocked, shocked – not!

You’ll note that all of these “leaks” somehow benefited the authors of these memoranda: Rumsfield got to distance himself from the unfolding disaster of Iraq-nam. Feith got to recycle warmed over disinformation from the Office of Special Plans, which had such a large supply of lies left over when the war “ended”: the Weekly Standard must’ve gotten them at fire sale prices.

And the War Party certainly benefits from the news that the feds are keeping a close eye on the antiwar movement – after all, who wants their name to be on a government list of possible “extremist elements,” as the memo puts it, who might be “planning violence”?

Oh, man, you wouldn’t believe what those antiwar “extremists” are up to! According to our intrepid G-men:

“Protesters have sometimes used ‘training camps’ to rehearse for demonstrations, the Internet to raise money and gas masks to defend against tear gas. The memorandum analyzed lawful activities like recruiting demonstrators, as well as illegal activities like using fake documentation to get into a secured site.”

Yikes! Not training camps?! Visions of wild-eyed anarchists learning how to make Molotov cocktails dance in the head, but the reality is much more prosaic: it’s just a bunch of hippies playing touchy-feely games with each other, and training in techniques designed to minimize violence. So don’t get too scared. And this business of getting into “secured facilities” is supposed to mean, what? Trying to get into the American Enterprise Institute auditorium, no doubt.

And what about this business of using the Internet to raise money? I mean, how subversive can you get? Of course, the way the government raises money is to put a gun to your head and say: pay up – or else! We, on the other hand, have to persuade people to donate. That the lords of Washington can’t comprehend the concept of voluntary contributions is profoundly weird, yet all too believable.

This business of “recruiting demonstrators” may seem innocuous, even harmless, but the question is: recruited for what? Under the grossly misnamed “Patriot” Act, any demonstration where a fight breaks out can be classified as a “terrorist activity” – and all the participants and organizers rounded up as “enemy combatants.” The legal groundwork for wholesale repression has certainly been laid.

While this may seem unlikely in the present context, if only because of the outcry that would ensue, keep in mind the latest pronouncement of General Tommy Franks, until recently the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, who predicted that a military dictatorship would be the inevitable result of another terrorist attack on U.S. soil:

“It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important.”

As the country turns against the war, and the protest movement gains momentum, what else could stop a colossal defeat of the neoconservative War Party but General Franks’ chilling scenario?

The whole point of the neocon project is the overthrow of our Old Republic, and the creation of a New Rome: another 9/11 would certainly provide them with a pretext to take action to accomplish their goal. Their loyalty is to the Empire, an entity that has yet to be fully born, and if the birth of an American Imperium has to be helped along by a catastrophe of historic proportions – perhaps one that dwarfs 9/11 in its horrific severity – well, then, so be it. So what if they have to destroy part of the country in order to “save” the whole nation from what they regard as a huge defeat. Utilitarianism has its uses.

Our lives are overshadowed by the mystery of the first 9/11, even as the threat of another looms on the horizon. While the government refuses to hand over vital information about that seminal event to their own official Commission, they hold the prospect of another even worse disaster over our heads, a Sword of Damocles aimed straight at the heart of our “democracy.” General Franks’ worries are based on the latest intelligence, which, according to Newsweek, consists of a lot of “chatter” indicating another 9/11 is imminent:

“‘You have rapid-fire, back-to-back significant Al Qaeda attacks,’ one counter-terrorism official tells Newsweek in the December 1 issue [on newsstands Monday, November 24]. ‘It’s starting to look like this could be the buildup to a grand finale on U.S. soil.'”

But we may not even have to wait for a dramatic “grand finale” of the American Republic, ending in a terrorist conflagration on American soil, before the clampdown begins. Liberal democracy in wartime is demonstrably less liberal with each passing day. John Ashcroft and his neoconservative minions are setting up a police state apparatus that threatens to surpass – in power and evil intent – that of the Commies, with its comprehensive network of spies.

Oh, but we’re not spying, we’re just “gathering intelligence,” the Thought Police protest. Yeah, so was the Stasi, and their teachers, the KGB. If a Democrat administration tried to pull this sh*t, conservatives would be – literally – up in arms.

Thank the gods that some on the Right, like Bob Barr, Phyllis Schlafly, Grover Norquist, David Keene, Donald Devine, and the heroic Howard Phillips, still display the old fighting spirit of their intellectual forefathers, and are fiercely resisting this outrageous usurpation.

But the usurpers, unfortunately, have a trump card, and that is fear. Fear that they, the government, might fail in their sworn duty to protect and defend us – it’s happened before, after all. General Franks is right. For all my pessimism, much of which might be attributed to a certain moodiness of temperament, I never thought I’d be writing these words, but a dictatorship in this country is a very real and growing possibility.

The “democracy” that we’re so presumptuous as to want to export to the rest of the world may be about to undergo a radical makeover. Unlike those pulled off by the Fab Five, however, this is one transformation that is not going to be an improvement.

Read more by Justin Raimondo

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is editor-at-large at Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].