Georgian opposition rally last year. It was broken up by Saakashvili’s American-trained secret police.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili was accused of pushing the country to the brink of catastrophe in an open letter published in a Tbilisi-based newspaper. In it, a group of more than a hundred Georgian human rights activists, scholars, and artists demanded detailed answers to the many questions that arose in the wake of the so-called Five Day War in South Ossetia. President Saakashvili said on 29 August that Georgia needed what he called the “Patriot Act” to deter possible attempts to overthrow the government through foreign intervention. The opposition fears that the President could use the document to temporarily restrict civil liberties and drag out his stay in power. The biggest question asked by the authors of the open letter is why this war started in the first place. To find the truth, they want the government to stop censoring the mass media, above all, television. The signatories also tried to answer the questions they asked. They hold Mr Saakashvili and his team fully responsible for the catastrophic consequences of the war and the Russian retaliation.
Mincing no words, the authors say that “with its incompetent, undemocratic, and antinational policy” the Georgian government long prepared the ground for the catastrophe, a catastrophe that the letter claims was inevitable. “They say everyone is to blame for what happened. An aggressive Russia. The cold-blooded West that allegedly ignored Georgian warnings. The opposition, whose last year’s protest action allegedly hindered the President’s effort to build up the country’s armed forces. Of course, “Russian agents”, a so-called ‘fifth column’… In a word, it’s everyone’s fault, everyone’s but President Saakashvili’s…” Whether there will be any public discussion of the open letter signed by, amongst many others, political scientists Shalva Pichkhadze and Giya Khukhashvili, film director Rezo Esadze, five-time world chess champion Nona Gaprindashvili, Goga Zhvaniya, the brother of the late Prime Minister Zurab Zhvaniya, popular journalists Mamuka Glonti and Vakhtang Komakhidze, no one knows. In the meantime, President Saakashvili is trying, with little success, to make everyone believe that he has rallied around himself all Georgian patriots.
On 5 September, six Georgian political parties, prodded by the President, signed a so-called Charter of Politicians of Georgia, whose third point reads that internal political processes in Georgia “should always remain within the frames of the Constitution”. The parties of the opposition coalition, as well as some other opposition parties, including the Republican and Labour parties, refused to sign it, saying it is nothing but propaganda for Saakashvili. Now, President Saakashvili is pinning high hopes on the Patriot Act. What it is going to look like, no one knows yet. One thing is clear though… it’s going to be a carbon copy of a similar document enacted in the US in October 2001…
10 September 2008
Voice of Russia World Service
Yes… what about the so-called “Patriot Act?” I remember that such measures were not felt necessary at the height of the Cold War, at a time when the danger was much higher, indeed. The muzzling of American freedom began under Clinton, with PC becoming ascendant, and it picked up pace under Bush, who turned federal facilities into armed camps. Can you believe that when I went to a federal office to request a new Social Security card the armed guards demanded that I either take a multi-tool off my key-ring or they would confiscate it? (I don’t blame them; they were only following their lunatic standing orders.) Somehow, I doubt that al Qaeda bombers have targeted the Leo O’Brien Federal Building on South Pearl Street in Albany NY.
Obviously, there is no good-sense and level-headedness here. To use Bush’s own words, “disproportionate force” is routinely wielded by the US federal government. It is a truism that “if you try to defend everything, you defend nothing”. It is also hellishly expensive. Reflect on the fact that one of the reasons that the US economy is tanking is due to the cost of the paranoid security apparatus erected by Bush & Co. Fortification of government buildings costs money. Guards cost money. Bureaucrats cost money. Chertoff and his flunkies cost money, quite a bit, in fact. One of the reasons that the Soviet government fell is that it could not sustain the cost of its pervasive security apparatus… do you think that lightning shall strike twice in the same place? Hmm… shall the Department of Homeland Security find a place in the dustbin of history alongside the KGB? Good question, isn’t it?