Wednesday, December 21, 2005

ON SPINNING THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

This administration goes beyond the pale. Even Republicans are beginning to bail from Bush ideology and his blatant and astonishing departure from the solid foundation of basic law and principle that is supposed to guide our country.
Give me liberty or give me death. Remember?

Doesn’t Bush understand that Americans are hard wired to face the consequences of foes, either domestic or foreign, and we will deal head on with the enemy, at whatever the cost, on our own and chosen terms, guided by the principles of the Constitution, rather than lose our liberty?

Lose our freedom to the likes of an appointed President?

An imposter and former draft dodger? A chicken hawk? I should think not.

But Bush has never understood the legal and psychological underpinnings of our society, really. He and Cheney dwell in an alternative reality driven by the lust for power, greed and global hegemony. They are not one of us. And yet, they ensnared and captured many of us into believing in their twisted ideology.

Why?

I wonder how the average college student will feel when (s)he finds out there is no more financial aid available to offset tuition costs? Or when (s)he finds that scholarships routinely available to middle and low income families no longer exist? The outcome - a career beckons at WalMart? Part-time workers, no benefits, minimum wage……learning to live near homeless?

I wonder how the senior citizen will feel when (s)he finds out that their prescription drug plan no longer covers the meds necessary to keep her or him healthy, if not alive, or if their doctor will no longer accept Medicaid or Medicare patients. Paying $100.00 for one month of only one kind of medication on a fixed income of social security (average of $900.00) per month? Enter the grave a few years sooner?

Please remind me, college kids and seniors, why did you vote for Bush or not vote at all?

Lawmakers today, especially Republicans, demonstrated clearly that they care more about protecting Alaska’s environment than they do about you.

You need to think about this. Hint: Cheney broke the tie on your benefits. Cheney broke the tie, smirking and sneering as Cheney is known to do. He voted with the majority of Republicans to slash your benefits. You need to do whatever it takes to get to the polls in 2006. No excuses. Your lawmakers who voted against your benefits are not your friends. They don't care about you. In Texas, that would include Kay Bailey Hutchison.....a mere Bush rubber stamp. A former cheerleader and news anchor who went into politics because she couldn't get into a law firm. These are the kinds of people who voted against your benefits.

Give us liberty or give us misery and a painful but certain death.

Moving on to hard facts in the news today, minimally covered by MSM, as they scramble to keep up with non corporate, mostly volunteer liberal and progressive bloggers and on line news sources. ….

FACT CHECKING THE GOP LIE AND DISINFORMATION MACHINE ON THE CONSTITUTION AND OUR RIGHTS AS AMERICAN CITIZENS.

Er - you might want to reframe from making that long-distance phone call to a friend or relative tonight, especially if you feel like venting and railing against Bush and Cheney. BIG BROTHER IS HERE AND IS LISTENING.

Naturally the GOP is trying to implicate Democrats in all of their Constitutional nose thumbing, illegal and un-American acts.

ON THE RECIPIENTS OF ABRAMOFF'S DIRTY MONEY: Bush said both parties are equal opportunity recipients of Abramoff's money. NOT SO SAYS BLOOMBERG.COM

BLOOMBERG REVEALS MORE REPUBLICANS FED AT THE ABRAMOFF TROUGH THAN DEMS

ON THE WIRETAPPING CRIME: Bush said Democratic members in the House and Senate knew about it. Right wing lie spinning machines (e.g. Dredge, etc.) are screaming about Clinton and Carter and how they enabled wiretapping, too. THINK PROGRESS ran a fact check on Dredge's allegations and naturally GOP fascist loyalist Dredge lied as usual.

THINK PROGRESS FACT CHECKING GOP LIES

The GOP is also screaming that if Democrats had a problem with wiretapping they could have squealed about it to the press some time ago. DAILY KOS counters with no, they could not, for to do so would mean breaking the law.

DAILY KOS HERE

EVEN CONSERVATIVE PUBLICATIONS ARE RETICIENT ABOUT BUSH'S ILLEGAL WIRETAPPING.

Ken identified a piece in the Washington Times today (a conservative newspaper)
that is against warrantless wiretapping. (In the olden days, conservatives used to fear Big Brother more than anything alive or dead and routinely accused liberals of enabling BB).

The Washington Times is a right-wing organ owned by the Moonie organization. They usually cheerlead for Bush at the speed of light. This piece is by Bruce Fein, former Associate Deputy Attorney General under President Reagan, and it is very clearly against the warrantless wiretaps.

Abstract: "President Bush presents a clear and present danger to the rule of law."
-K


. . unlimited?
By Bruce Fein
December 20, 2005


According to President George W. Bush, being president in wartime means never having to concede co-equal branches of government have a role when it comes to hidden encroachments on civil liberties.
Last Saturday, he thus aggressively defended the constitutionality of his secret order to the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the international communications of Americans whom the executive branch speculates might be tied to terrorists. Authorized after the September 11, 2001 abominations, the eavesdropping clashes with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), excludes judicial or legislative oversight, and circumvented public accountability for four years until disclosed by the New York Times last Friday. Mr. Bush's defense generally echoed previous outlandish assertions that the commander in chief enjoys inherent constitutional power to ignore customary congressional, judicial or public checks on executive tyranny under the banner of defeating international terrorism, for example, defying treaty or statutory prohibitions on torture or indefinitely detaining United States citizens as illegal combatants on the president's say-so.
President Bush presents a clear and present danger to the rule of law. He cannot be trusted to conduct the war against global terrorism with a decent respect for civil liberties and checks against executive abuses. Congress should swiftly enact a code that would require Mr. Bush to obtain legislative consent for every counterterrorism measure that would materially impair individual freedoms.
The war against global terrorism is serious business. The enemy has placed every American at risk, a tactic that justifies altering the customary balance between liberty and security. But like all other constitutional authorities, the war powers of the president are a matter of degree. In Youngstown Sheet & Tube v. Sawyer (1952), the U.S. Supreme Court denied President Harry Truman's claim of inherent constitutional power to seize a steel mill threatened with a strike to avert a steel shortage that might have impaired the war effort in Korea. A strike occurred, but Truman's fear proved unfounded.
Neither President Richard Nixon nor Gerald Ford was empowered to suspend Congress for failing to appropriate funds they requested to fight in Cambodia or South Vietnam. And the Supreme Court rejected Nixon's claim of inherent power to enjoin publication of the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War in New York Times v. United States (1971).
Mr. Bush insisted in his radio address that the NSA targets only citizens "with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. Before we intercept these communications, the government must have information that establishes a clear link to these terrorist organizations."
But there are no checks on NSA errors or abuses, the hallmark of a rule of law as opposed to a rule of men. Truth and accuracy are the first casualties of war. President Bush assured the world Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction before the 2003 invasion. He was wrong. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared Americans of Japanese ancestry were security threats to justify interning them in concentration camps during World War II. He was wrong. President Lyndon Johnson maintained communists masterminded and funded the massive Vietnam War protests in the United States. He was wrong. To paraphrase President Ronald Reagan's remark to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, President Bush can be trusted in wartime, but only with independent verification.
The NSA eavesdropping is further troublesome because it easily evades judicial review. Targeted citizens are never informed their international communications have been intercepted. Unless a criminal prosecution is forthcoming (which seems unlikely), the citizen has no forum to test the government's claim the interceptions were triggered by known links to a terrorist organization.
Mr. Bush acclaimed the secret surveillance as "crucial to our national security. Its purpose is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States, our friends and allies." But if that were justified, why was Congress not asked for legislative authorization in light of the legal cloud created by FISA and the legislative branch's sympathies shown in the Patriot Act and joint resolution for war? FISA requires court approval for national security wiretaps, and makes it a crime for a person to intentionally engage "in electronic surveillance under color of law, except as authorized by statute."
Mr. Bush cited the disruptions of "terrorist" cells in New York, Oregon, Virginia, California, Texas and Ohio as evidence of a pronounced domestic threat that compelled unilateral and secret action. But he failed to demonstrate those cells could not have been equally penetrated with customary legislative and judicial checks on executive overreaching.
The president maintained that, "As a result [of the NSA disclosure], our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk." But if secrecy were pivotal to the NSA's surveillance, why is the president continuing the eavesdropping? And why is he so carefree about risking the liberties of both the living and those yet to be born by flouting the Constitution's separation of powers and conflating constructive criticism with treason?

Bruce Fein is a constitutional lawyer and international consultant with Bruce Fein & Associates and the Lichfield Group.

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