In the twenty-four hours between Bobby [Kennedy’s shooting and his death, Congress hurriedly passed a statute— drafted well in advance (like the Tonkin Gulf Resolution of 1964 and the Patriot Act of 2001) — that still further augmented the secret powers given to the Secret Service in the name of protecting presidential candidates.32
This was not a trivial or benign change: from this swiftly considered act, passed under Johnson, flowed some of the worst excesses of the Nixon presidency.33
The change also contributed to the chaos and violence at the Chicago Democratic Convention of 1968. Army intelligence surveillance agents, seconded to the Secret Service, were present both inside and outside the convention hall. Some of them equipped the so-called “Legion of Justice thugs whom the Chicago Red Squad turned loose on local anti-war groups.”34
In this way the extra secret powers conferred after the RFK assassination contributed to the disastrous turmoil in Chicago that effectively destroyed the old Democratic Party representing the labor unions: The three Democratic presidents elected since then have all been significantly more conservative.
Turning to Watergate and Iran-Contra, both of these events were on one level setbacks to the repressive powers exercised by Richard Nixon and the Reagan White House, not expansions of them. On the surface level this is true: both events resulted in legislative reforms that would appear to contradict my thesis of expanding repression.
We need to distinguish here, however, between the two years of the Watergate crisis, and the initial Watergate break-in. The Watergate crisis saw a president forced into resignation by a number of forces, involving both liberals and conservatives. But the key figures in the initial Watergate break-in itself – Hunt, McCord, G. Gordon Liddy, and their Cuban allies — were all far to the right of Nixon and Kissinger. And the end result of their machinations was not finalized until the so-called Halloween Massacre in 1975, when Kissinger was ousted as National Security Adviser and Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller was notified he would be dropped from the 1976 Republican ticket. This major shake-up was engineered by two other right-wingers: Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney in the Gerald Ford White House.35
That day in 1975 saw the permanent defeat of the so-called Rockefeller or liberal faction within the Republican Party. It was replaced by the conservative Goldwater-Casey faction that would soon capture the nomination and the presidency for Ronald Reagan.36 This little-noticed palace coup, along with other related intrigues in the mid-1970s, helped achieve the conversion of America from a welfare capitalist economy, with gradual reductions in income and wealth disparity, into a financialized plutonomy where these trends were reversed.37
I have, therefore, a recommendation for the Occupy movement, rightfully incensed as it is with the plutonomic excesses of Wall Street over the last three decades. It is to call for an end to the state of emergency, which has been in force since 2001, under which since 2008 a U.S. Army Brigade Combat Team has been stationed permanently in the United States, in part to be ready “to help with civil unrest and crowd control.”69
Democracy-lovers must work to prevent the political crisis now developing in America from being resolved by military intervention.
Emphasis added. Read the whole thing.