Are we headed toward martial law? Last week, Peter Kirsanow, a Bush appointee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, said in Detroit that he envisions a situation in which the public will demand internment camps for Arab-Americans. If terrorists attack the U.S. for a second time and if "they come from the same ethnic group that attacked the World Trade Center, you can forget about civil rights," he said.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration currently is in the midst of a charade over the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which states that the military cannot engage in domestic police functions. In recent years, that restriction has proved to be more myth than anything else.
The U.S. general in charge of the Northern Command, which oversees defense of the continental U.S., has suggested that the military may come to have a larger role in policing the country against terrorism. The Bush administration has its attorneys looking to see whether the Posse Comitatus Act, which was adopted to get federal troops out of the South after the Civil War, should be changed. The act has little muscle and was breached repeatedly in the Waco siege. Military personnel and technology were used at Waco to train domestic-security agents, fly choppers, supervise the use of equipment and go over final plans for the assault. Special Forces were used to train ATF agents before the Waco operations, and they were at Waco during the siege. National Guard troops from Alabama and Texas were used in the initial phases of Waco.
RATS IN THE BELFRY
From the Vietnam War through the armed guerrilla wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, churches in the U.S. have been widely viewed as sanctuaries for protesters, not the place for ratting them out. But buried in President George W. Bush's domestic terrorism program is a suggestion that along with letter carriers, meter readers and cable technicians, churches will play an important role in "a national reporting system that allows these workers, whose routines make them well-positioned to recognize unusual events, to report suspicious activity."
Bush himself, in an April speech in Knoxville, Tennessee, spoke of the need for a Citizen Corps and, as a step in that direction, urged citizens to gather around their religious institutions. "It means organizing a program in your church or your synagogue or your mosque," he said, "to help hear the universal call of loving somebody just like you'd like to be loved yourself."
The Citizens' Preparedness Guide even lists "Places of Worship" in its table of contents and suggests that in addition to schools and other public places, churches could be useful in making "preparedness a part of [people's] daily lives. . . . Places of Worship provide a valuable support network and an opportunity to share information about preparedness." And it adds, "Consider incorporating your place of worship into your Neighborhood Watch Programs." It also adds, "Hold meetings to discuss preparedness and distribute copies of this guide to your congregation."
In the recent past, police and federal agents repeatedly have tried to infiltrate churches, but they have usually not succeeded. Immediately following Sept. 11, FBI agents began visiting mosques, and now mosques and other Muslim organizations of various types have come under close federal scrutiny.
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"We're not here to spy on each other," said David W. Dyson, pastor of the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn. Peter Laarman, senior minister of Judson Memorial, called the idea "a total violation of what the spirit of religious community should be."
But David Harris, executive director of American Jewish Committee, said it wouldn't be wise to overreact negatively to Bush's scheme. "I only have what I see in front of me, and at first glance, it doesn't necessarily have a sinister overtone to it. . . . I think that it could certainly be interpreted very benignly. . . . I mean people need to be alert, and that seems to be logical and sensible under the very unusual times we live in. It seems to be commonsensical."
Joe Loconte, point man at the Heritage Foundation for the conservative political program aimed at having faith-based institutions deliver social-welfare services, contended that there is nothing wrong with using "congregations in a civil society," adding, "Congregations are a natural source. It's just a great collection of people in the urban context." He pointed out that "congregations were the foot soldiers in the civil rights movement."
THE GREAT CASH OF 2002
While the Crash of 2002 is being attributed to corporate officials misleading investors through slick accounting practices and outright lies, only a tiny slice of the top guns responsible for these dealings have been charged with civil or criminal offenses. In fact, many of them have walked away from the crash with hundreds of millions of dollars in salaries, forgiven loans and other bundles of loot. Consider the disposition, so far, of six major crack-ups: ENRON: Filed for Chapter 11 in December 2001. Numerous class-action civil suits. No civil or criminal charges. Execs: CEO Kenneth L. Lay resigned in January 2002 after pulling in $152.6 million during 2001. CFO Andrew Fastow was fired in October 2001 after scoring $4.2 million in 2001. WORLDCOM: Filed a $107 billion bankruptcy over the weekend. The SEC has charged the company with defrauding investors by improperly accounting for $3.9 billion in expenses. Execs: CEO Bernard Ebbers quit on April 30, 2002; his compensation last year was $34.5 million. Outstanding loans of $336 million were forgiven. CFO Scott Sullivan was fired on June 25, 2002; his compensation in 2000 stood at $11.3 million, and he is reported to be building a $15 million house in Florida. GLOBAL CROSSING: Filed for bankruptcy with $12.4 billion in debt on Jan. 28, 2002. Execs: Chairman Gary Winnick cashed out $734 million in stock since 1998. John Legere, who became CEO in October 2001, got $1.1 million in salary, $3 million in "severance" when he moved from a subsidiary to the parent company, and $3.5 million more in a signing bonus. A total of $15 million in compensation in the months leading up to bankruptcy; $10 million in forgiven loans. CFO Dan Cohrs, still employed, got $7.6 million for stock he sold and $250,000 incentive pay to stay with the company. QWEST:Currently $27 billion in debt and the subject of a federal criminal investigation. Execs: CEO Joseph Nacchio, sacked in June, made $217.3 million last year. He sold $248 million in stock during his tenure. CFO Robin Szeliga, removed from that job on July 8 but still executive vice president, got $2.2 million in compensation during 2001. DYNEGY: SEC is investigating. No civil or criminal charges. Execs: CEO Chuck Watson, who resigned May 2002, got $6.5 million in 2001 and still is Dynegy's largest stockholder. CFO Rob Doty, who resigned on June 19, 2002, got $316,856 in salary and $1.3 million in bonuses in 2001—and may still receive $2.7 million in severance. TYCO: CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski was indicted for allegedly evading New York state sales taxes on $13 million in paintings he bought last fall, as well as for allegedly tampering with evidence involving the paintings. Kozlowski quit in June amid allegations he had Tyco buy him a Manhattan apartment and Florida house. Execs: Kozlowski and CFO Mark Swartz secretly sold $500 million in Tyco stock while claiming publicly that they were holding their Tyco shares. SEC filings show that Kozlowski made a cool $300 million since 1993. Additional research by Gabrielle Jackson, Cassandra Lewis, Joshua Hersh and Caroline Ragon.