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Trump’s Reichstag

By Patrick Vitalone.


“I think some people may seize upon that uncorroborated, un-vetted information.” – C.I.A. Director John Brennan

Americans wait, either in anticipation or horror, for Trump’s Reichstag fire.

After months of failed agreements to prevent a Nazi majority in government, German President Paul von Hindenberg appointed Hitler as Chancellor in January of 1933. It was a long way for Hitler to come. Ten years earlier, he was a mere extremist condemned to a prison sentence for attempting a violent coup. His prolonged absence would have crippled the National Socialists, were it not for fellow nationalists in government facilitating an early release. Free after a mere nine months in jail, Hitler then chose legal legitimacy as his path to power. And so began a ten-year ascent into Weimar Germany’s penultimate office.

One month after Hitler took his seat, tragedy struck the Reichstag. In February of 1933, the historic government building was set on fire in five different corners. Premeditated arson. Police escorted parliament-members outside, working late as they choked on billowing smoke. The building was then cordoned off. Journalists trickled past and interviewed those outside. The spectacle fascinated everyone present that day, even Chancellor Hitler as he arrived twenty minutes later in his black automobile.

“This is a God-given symbol!” Hitler said as he got out of the car, staring at the flames with wide-eyed vigor. The fire rose as he stood, reaching the Reichstag dome and tower. The burning building filled Hitler with mystic symbolism; witnesses say he began to yell. “These sub-humans do not understand how the people stand at our side!” He was heard through the commotion. “In their mouse-holes, out of which they now want to come, of course they hear nothing of the cheering of the masses!”

Emerging from a cloud of smoke was a man, wearing neither shirt nor coat as he ran into the cold night. Police quickly arrested the “incendiary”, an unemployed Dutch brick-layer and communist who admitted to the crime. He was tried and executed.

It was a solemn morning after for Nazi opponents. In response to the arson, Chancellor Hitler passed the Reichstag Decree, suspending civil liberties. Germany quickly became a one-party nation thereafter.

“The [Communists] intended [the Reichstag fire] to be the signal for a bloody uprising and civil war. Large-scale pillaging in Berlin was planned for as early as four o’clock in the morning on Tuesday. It has been determined that starting today throughout Germany acts of terrorism were to begin against prominent individuals, against private property, against the lives and safety of the peaceful population, and general civil war was to be unleashed.” – Reichstag Degree

In trucks armed Brown-Shirts roamed German cities, terrorizing ideological rivals with their violence. Parliamentary seats once occupied by the Left became vacant for the Right. In Weimar Germany, Hitler didn’t take power in one day. A totalitarian state was enshrined over time. The special interests that threatened German safety, either real or not, were the catalyst to dictatorship. After the Reichstag, Hitler reached his ambitions as Fuhrer.

Dictatorship is not unthinkable in today’s United States. President Reagan once said that “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” America may be exceptional in many ways but it is not exempt from history. Empty promises, obscurity in campaign finance and economic ambiguity have given rise to an agitated public across both parties. The wealthiest citizens have used lobbyists and media outlets for personal gain; all while middle America’s bridge and tunnel infrastructure fail; effective education disappears; and health care access becomes more expensive. Even American food safety and drinking water have become suspect. At one time our nation’s basic necessities, these public expenses appear to be luxuries today; each subject to a powerful whimsy. It appears the United States is rife with special interests.Americans believe that electing honest and responsible leaders is the answer. And they are right. Democracy and term limits allow government to begin anew if the People fail to elect sound leadership. But if Americans feel betrayed by their own leadership; then the very belief in American democracy may be suffer.

Enter the 28 pages. One year after the Twin Towers fell, the 9/11 commission began its investigation. Within two weeks it experienced scandal as Henry Kissinger, appointed Head of the Committee, resigned. The position would have required he disclose his private consulting clients. Through misstatements and inaccuracies, after two years the report concluded that mismanagement across the F.B.I. and C.I.A. allowed for the terror attack. To this day, 28 pages from that very report remain classified as top-secret, unreleased to the American public. “The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11 and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier” said United States Senator Bob Graham after being permitted to read the documents under close supervision.

Americans have long understood 9/11 as the work of unsanctioned Saudi extremists; disgruntled Al-Qaeda Wahhabis rejecting Western values as they move easterly. The attack’s mastermind, Osama Bin-Laden, is a wholesome family’s son gone rogue; for whatever his reasons, Osama bin Laden hated American culture. This ideological divide is the War on Terror; but the 9/11 report’s entirety could upend that narrative; replacing it with one that launches Trump into new levels of power. “These documents speak for themselves.” United States congressmen Stephen Lynch has said. “We have a situation where an extensive investigation was conducted, but then the Bush [administration] decided for whatever purposes to excise 28 pages from the report.”

It is not clear what information remains in the classified pages. The Senators, Congressmen and unnamed government officials who have read the pages under the same scrutiny say their release is both important and will have a significant impact on the American world view. If Trump is to become any kind of dictator, let alone win the general election; he needs legitimacy. His fortune does not translate into success on sensitive issues like war and diplomacy; issues that affect American safety. His extreme statements still trouble moderates; many have labelled his comments as unworthy of the Office of the President of the United States. But if the 28 pages reveal something troubling and true—a foreign policy relationship that extends across the Bushes, Clintons and Obama and involves 9/11—Trump may then present the Office as unworthy of the American People; ineffective and encumbered by foreign entanglement.

There is no question that Trump knows about the 28 pages. Not only has he mentioned his interest in their release on national television, but according to an unnamed source at 28pages.org, told his supporters at a campaign event, “It wasn’t the Iraqis that knocked down the World Trade Center. We went after Iraq, we decimated the country, Iran’s taking [it] over; but it wasn’t the Iraqis. You will find out who really knocked down the World Trade Center, because they have papers in there that are very secret. You may find it’s the Saudis, okay? But you will find out.” Trump has championed questionable causes in the past; earning a reputation for more than a “little hyperbole.” Because his reputation is still subject—unlike Hitler or Mussolini he has never shed blood nor served in his country’s armed forces; something John McCain can rightfully claim—it is a new legitimacy that Trump needs before he can take power. Combining the information found in the 28 pages with the Bush family’s alleged links; Obama’s circumvention of the entire issue; and the Clinton reputation for all kinds of deceit; establishment Democrats and Republicans alike have allowed themselves to appear as a cabal or oligarchy; one that allowed for an inexcusable American tragedy. With the printed 28 pages in his clenched fist, “treason” is the word Trump will use from his podium.

Calls for the 28 pages to become declassified have increased. Major media outlets now ask questions once considered conspiracy theory. More have come from the 9/11 families; urging President Obama to release the material. Two members of Congress heeded the call; one Massachusetts Democrat and one North Carolina Republican put forward a bill to allow the 9/11 families financial recourse from the Saudi Arabian government. The bill, titled the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act—or JASTA—soon picked up support. After learning about the bill, Saudi Arabia threatened to sell its American assets. President Obama, who admits he has not read the classified documents but is aware of their implications, announced he would veto the bill and then flew to Saudi Arabia to resolve the relationship. As a result, Saudi Arabia remains invested in the United States economy and JASTA lies dormant in Congress.

The Kingdom’s threat offended the American Public; leading the Saudi Government to temper its response. “[JASTA] would turn the world for international law into the law of the jungle.” Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said, clarifying official Saudi intentions. “We [meant] that a law like [JASTA] is going to cause investor confidence [in the United States] to shrink. And so not just for Saudi Arabia, but for everybody.” Michael Springmann, former head of the US consulate’s visa department in Saudi Arabia, told Russian media outlet RT that “what the Saudis fear is that there is information in there that talks about how the Saudis helped recruit terrorists for Afghanistan . . . Yugoslavia, Iraq, Syria and Libya.”

Americans and Saudis are both concerned. Ignoring the wider geopolitical stability at stake, the two nations share a genuine friendship that extends back into the the 1930s. A Franco-British coalition once shut out a young United States from oil exploration in Mesopotamia. It was Saudi Arabia under its Royal family that extended Americans an olive-branch through a strategic oil partnership that exists to this day. Without Saudi Arabian help, America may never have reached its unparalleled global position. Despite recent changes, Saudi Arabia continues as ally of the United States with over $750 billion invested in the American economy, and the two nations share intelligence when combatting groups like ISIS. That may not matter to Donald Trump. A terror attack on American soil is a wicked thing, but revealing something that extends into our alliances and leadership would give Trump a new majority in public trust. “The importance of the [Twin Towers] is such that we have to rebuild.” Donald Trump said to German news at Ground Zero on September 11th, 2001. It’s not business. To Trump, the 9/11 tragedy is personal.

Releasing the documents would provide Trump with the renewed legitimacy he needs; and it could create a chaos thrusting him into uncharted power. If Americans read the declassified 28 pages and lose confidence in the existing leadership; Trump will gain unrivaled support. Adolf on a fiery night, except the Twin Tower smoke cleared in 2001. Democrats and Republicans who oppose Trump’s golden will become part of the problem; his supporters soon turn on those that protest or boycotted the convention. Red and Blue does not matter when both appear subjects of a treasonous oligarchy. And to Trump, it is an oligarchy that attacked his city. Trump and his supporters will do as he has promised: attack and kill fellow Americans. His admirers, now organized into squadrons, take to the streets with guns, clubs and knives. The police may turn the other way, depending on the city. Some places become sanctuaries, arming themselves against Trump’s gold-or-gray-or-blue-shirts. Other cities remain loyal, becoming quiet under black Trump banners. Anyone who does not fall in line will be punished. The discord will push Donald into higher levels of power. His abuse of power will enrage the opposition; encourage their own violence. And in an ongoing twist of irony; the protests will allow civil liberties to become suspended. Everyday Americans will soon ask for order, all they had wanted was to conduct business and raise children in peace. Trump, potentially wielding the largest army on earth—one with weapons under the sea and up into the stars—will promise safety. He may take American freedom as payment. “I don’t want to take any cards off the table.” Trump said.

An American dictator would be a markedly new chapter in world history, but it is not unprecedented. Many Trump supporters believe in a noble cause. Behind the clamor there is a morality; America’s institutions are crumbling, and the things that once made it great have now grown weak. Suppressing civil rights to “make America great again” can be done with morality, legitimacy; it is how Lincoln suppressed riots in the Southern Confederacy. Armed rebels in those places lost their right to habeas corpus; a trial by their peers. The United States Union Government was able to imprison anyone that threatened its order. The cause was moral: American lives were in chains. Lincoln ended slavery.

With Trump as the Republican Candidate, he now has a national voice. It is unclear how he will use that voice and how the election will unfold as a result. The 28 pages remain classified and may stay that way. For the time being, American interest in the information is minor. But if Trump takes up the cause on the campaign trail, the election could take an entirely different direction, one from which America may never turn back.


Patrick Vitalone is a writer from New England who focuses on politics and international culture. He can be found on Twitter and his website.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Saturday, May 7th, 2016.