19:54 GMT +319 February 2017
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    United States has problems with democracy

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    MOSCOW. (Gennady Yevstafyev for RIA Novosti.) A chain of scandalous revelations about Washington's human rights violations both in the U.S. and abroad is increasingly worrying even those who look with patience at the conduct of the current U.S. Administration.

    These condescending people believed that the painful lessons learned in Iraq and other places would sober up the men in Washington, but this hasn't happened.

    The recent arguments about secret U.S. jails in third countries, and "flying prisons" prove that Washington has not learned any lessons from previous scandals involving an illegal concentration camp for Afghans located at the Guantanamo naval base in Cuba, not to mention the crimes committed by U.S. officials in the secret Iraqi prison of Abu Grabe.

    Let's examine the case of Khaled El-Masri, whom the American Civil Liberties Union helped take the CIA to court for creating a chain of secret prisons and torturing prisoners. Even though he is a German citizen, he was illegally abducted in Macedonia and subjected to illegal and prohibited methods of investigation: torture, regular beatings, and the use of drugs. It appeared that he was completely innocent, and was merely mistaken for someone else. This is not the only case.

    Indicatively, a number of prisons were located in "new democracies," such as Poland and Romania, whose leaders are impudent enough to lecture Russia on "democratic principles." Indeed, they are the real veterans of Western democracy. Their mentors are much the same. While accusing North Korea of abducting the Japanese in the remote Cold War years, they are not at all squeamish about using the methods which have long become an anachronism in our enlightened times.

    Leaders of the "Axis of the Good" have not proved to be so angelic. It is crystal clear that from the very beginning the republican administration has laid claims to a monopoly of some "legitimate" violence on a global scale. The world doesn't seem to notice a serious weakening of democracy in the country, which used to be its pioneer. It doesn't see that America has been habitually exploiting, for its own purposes, the language of freedom and equality since the times of Alexis-Charles-Henri Clerel de Tocqueville. But the words quite often hid the disgusting deeds which were mentioned earlier.

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the only leader in the Bush administration, who still enjoys credibility abroad, was chosen to settle the scandal. Despite all the finger pointing, neither Rice, nor other U.S. leaders have apologized for the crimes of their compatriots. But even this deplorable fact is not even important in this situation. What matters is that it will get worse. Many facts of U.S. domestic policy bear this out. The emergence of new organizations is one of them.

    Policymakers in Washington had hardly regained their senses before the revelation, in the beginning of 2005, about the Strategic Support Branch, or "Project Icon," which has been active at the Pentagon for two years, when more unpleasant surprises were unearthed on the domestic scene. The U.S. press reported that the Pentagon has continued to expand its programs on the collection and analysis of intelligence within the U.S. Three years ago Donald Rumsfield set up an almost unknown Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) within the Pentagon itself. Its purpose is to investigate crimes in the U.S., including cases of treason, foreign and terrorist subversion, and even economic espionage.

    Thus, the U.S. Department of Defense has received the right to keep a close eye on American citizens in the U.S. equaling that of the police, the Prosecutor's Office and other law-enforcement bodies, which are traditional in democratic societies.

    Keith Martin, director of the Homeland Security Office, said that the FBI, chief policeman of the United States, was obliged to share information on individuals with CIFA, and that this removed one of the few remaining barriers preventing the government secret services from interfering in the private lives of Americans and compiling files on anyone whom they chose.

    There is a reason behind this unparalleled mushrooming of secret services and organizations. The CIA sustained a major defeat and is losing its position. Now it has become a scapegoat for the disaster in Iraq. A huge mechanism of accumulating reports on "unclear activities" code-named TALON, is being set up outside the CIA. Apparently, the military is to play the leading role. At one time there existed serious restrictions on the collection of information concerning U.S. citizens by the military, a principle which had justified itself in the U.S. and other democratic countries. But under the circumstances, many restrictions, which have become major international principles, are in the way of the current White House team. The U.S. is slowly but steadily crawling into the ranks of few disreputable countries, mostly with military regimes, where police functions are steadily eroding their democratic foundations.

    Prominent French political scientist Emmanuel Todd made this discouraging conclusion about the recent trends in U.S. domestic political life: "...God is not saving America these days. It sees evil all around, but this happens because things in the country itself are taking a bad turn. This degradation compels us to realize what we are losing: America of 1950-1965, a land of massive democracy, freedom of self-expression, expansion of social rights, defense of human rights. It was the country of the good."

    This warning by Todd is quite acceptable albeit with serious reservations about "the country of the good." It is abundantly clear that having lost its global ideological resource, the United States has been increasingly leaning on the use of force and illegal methods.

    Lt.-Gen. (Ret.) Gennady Yevstafyev served in the Foreign Intelligence Service.

    The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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